Lately.AI CEO Chats Career and Making GenAI Personal, with Rachel T. Coble and Liz Dean of MetroStar's MockIT Podcast - Featuring Lately CEO Kate Bradley Chernis

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Speaker 1: (00:00)

And he lovingly shook me by the shoulder and said, you can't work for other people. And there's no shame in that. I'm gonna go kicking and screaming, and how I look totally dictates how I feel, and I'm shallow enough to admit that, to be honest with you. And there's power in that. Then you feel like it's a two-way street and not a one-way street. And when that happens, you turn listeners into fans or customers into evangelists, which is the business I'm in now. I'm

Speaker 2: (00:28)

Rachel cobol.

Speaker 3: (00:29)

And I'm Liz Dean. Welcome

Speaker 2: (00:30)

To Market. This podcast interviews industry experts from AI innovators to UX architects, to nonprofit leaders, and lots of people in between,

Speaker 3: (00:39)

We explore the back of the napkin ideas that impact the nation, so you don't have to dig for the discoveries yourself. Enjoy and don't forget

Speaker 2: (00:45)

To like and subscribe.

Speaker 3: (00:47)

Hi everyone. Welcome to our latest episode of Mock. During this episode, we talked to Kate from lately ai. She is the co-founder and CEO of an awesome and cool AI company.

Speaker 2: (01:00)

Yes. Kate was your regular rock chick on the radio before she decided she needed to go out and do her own thing. We learned a lot about her background and the start of lately, ai, which is a gin, a gin ai company that is designed to embody the voice tone and brand identity of its users is really cool. I wish I would've thought of it and made it. Um, sadly I didn't , but we did get to talk to the person who did . So we really think you're going to enjoy this episode. And after you watch, don't forget to like and subscribe. I saw on your LinkedIn like bio that you love a good eye cream.

Speaker 1: (01:38)

Oh, I do.

Speaker 2: (01:39)

Yeah. What's your favorite eye cream right now?

Speaker 1: (01:43)

Yeah, so I use, um, I, what is it called? It's over there. Um, it's called, it's Environ is the Brand. And they have, I know it's very good. That sounds fancy. And then, um, I also use another company, I think it's called something Bio BO Biolog or something French. Who knows? Yes. Have you heard of it? Yes. Res or some, I don't know. I see a girl, her name is Maria Vera. So she just tells me what to do and I bought a Lima laser and those things are amazing. Ooh. So like, do yourselves a favor, like a as advertised. It does it. I mean, I'm 50 people. I turned 50 in January. I would not

Speaker 2: (02:25)

Miss that. So I'm going to do writing down your eye cream,

Speaker 1: (02:29)

I mean, there's definitely stuff I need to work on. Like, there's a gray hair right there.

Speaker 2: (02:33)

Oh. I mean, I am in my twenties and I have, I was looking at them last night in the mirror. I was like, oh my gosh. .

Speaker 1: (02:38)

It just happens. I mean, I started taking neutrophil actually last year because I was like, nice, no, you know, no. Like, I can't have gray hair, thinning hair, flat hair, .

Speaker 2: (02:51)

You're like, we can't have the trifecta and

Speaker 1: (02:53)

Like jowls and all of it at once. Like, and that's what happens is I was just talking to someone about this, like, you know, people tell you all about your period and all that stuff. Mm-Hmm. . But no one says, Hey, by the way, sometime around 45 to 50, all this terrible is gonna happen all at once to you. can't

Speaker 2: (03:10)

Wait. .

Speaker 1: (03:11)

Yeah. It's, it's, uh, it's just, so, it's Kim comes as a surprise. I was like, wow. So I

Speaker 2: (03:17)

Hate that. I, I also hate that nobody told me growing up that I thankfully wasn't a teenager who had a lot of bad acne. And then I hit like 23 and I got insane acne. Oh yeah. Had to keep going to the dermatologist and almost got put on Accutane. And I was like, this is not fair. I'm in my twenties. I'm gonna go straight from Accutane to Botox. This is not cool. .

Speaker 1: (03:40)

Totally. And I think, I don't know, it's stress, it's hormones like, and if you have kids, like there's a whole other com compartmental thing or you know, I don't know. But it's growing old is not fun. No,

Speaker 2: (03:51)


Speaker 1: (03:52)

Cut it, it's,

Speaker 2: (03:53)

It doesn't sound super fun, but I, I hope I grow old, but it doesn't sound enjoyable at the same time. ,

Speaker 1: (04:00)

It's funny because like, there is, so I was talking about the stress issue. Like, I, so, excuse me. So many things are out of my control that the one thing I can control, I feel like is this. And to some degree, so like, I train twice a day. I go for a walk once a day. Thank you. Um, I intermittent fast. Like I just decided, you know, I'm gonna go kicking and screaming. And how I look totally dictates how I feel. I'm, I'm shallow enough to admit that, to be honest with you. And there's power in that, right? Like when you walk in a room and you feel really good, I feel like I can do whatever I want, you know? And it's depends. It's whoever, whatever your definition of feeling good and looking good is, it doesn't have to be some, you know, biblical definition. But for me, especially when I'm walking into a room full of white guys, older white guys, which is what it is a lot, you know, um, there is power in looking good.

Speaker 2: (05:00)

Yeah, I totally agree. I feel so much better when I put my, I work mostly from home and the days that I don't look like this most days, um, rough. I feel like I'm way less productive. Mm-Hmm. . So did you always kind of do that even when you were in radio? 'cause I feel like the joke is in radio, it's like face for radio or something like that. . That's cutthroat. That's the joke. That's true.

Speaker 1: (05:26)

That is the joke. Um, so and so, so listener, in case you don't know, my, um, I had a former career in radio. My last gig was broadcasting to 20 million listeners a day for XM Satellite Radio, right. In Washington DC over on New York Avenue. And I was there when, I think they just built that metro stop. And so, um, by the way, there was a, there's a parking lot, a gated parking lot at xm. And if you didn't get in the parking lot, there's only 200 spaces and there were like 300 of us. Oh, I would call someone to come walk me in because it was so dangerous over there. Ooh. Right. This is like 2006 I guess, or something like that. 2004 maybe. But anyways, um, yeah, the face for radio thing, I mean, certainly there was, at xm I think there were like three or four women.

Speaker 1: (06:12)

I mean, there was no women on the air there. Usually you never are. They're usually never are. And so that was definitely kind of weird. Um, and then, you know, my radio voice is a little bit different. , my normal voice . 'cause you learned to kind of do that stuff. Um, but when I was in radio, for the most part in the internet, like was just happening. There was no social media. You couldn't look up what people looked like or anything. So we were able to really lean into the theater of the mind. Mm-Hmm. And for folks who don't know what that is, that's when your imagination fills in the blanks. Because if you're listening, obviously you, you're not getting the whole kitchen sink. You, your imagination has to figure out. Well, or, or think of like, it's like when you read a book and then you go see the movie and you're off is better Yeah.

Speaker 1: (07:03)

Than the movie. Same, same idea. Um, and I fell in love with that. I mean, I, we had so much fun. I was so lucky. The first radio job that I had in Vermont, um, at WNCS, it was these fun people that, first of all, we all got to program our own shows for the most part. Like there was a guide, but you had a hand in it. It was live. So you would do overnights and just like, up a bunch before you got on, like, right. And I tried out all kinds of voices and different techniques and oh God, some of it is so embarrassing. I still have, 'cause I have cassettes of this, you know? Um, and once in a while I do listen to them. But I was so lucky to be with people who, like, we would make up scenarios like that were not true because we're just messing with people on the air, you know, and stuff like that.

Speaker 1: (07:53)

And it was really super fun. And, and I got to understand like, there's a real, and you guys know this from, from the show, there's a real, again, power. I'm into power apparently today. Um, and being able to read a room that you can't see. Do you know what I mean? Absolutely. Absolutely. And that's a gift you, it's, it's not a thing that people learn. You either have it or, or you don't. Um, it's like, you know, can you give good phone? Basically , right? . Um, but if you're talking to 20 million listeners, like, you have to make people feel as though you're talking to them, that individual person. Right. And that was my gift. And I, um, was also a fiction writing major in college and in radio. I figured out quickly that the only way to make any money was to be in the commercial side.

Speaker 1: (08:44)

So production is what they call it, producing, writing commercials, um, using your voice for drops, uh, to id the station and stuff like that. And that was the art part. 'cause then you get to create these soundscapes and everything. And, um, I'd written hundreds of commercials. And so I started to see this parallel that we were talking about between listening and reading and the theater of the mind. And if I was doing my job well, so wielding the mic versus wielding the pen, you, you know, that the listener slash reader is gonna fill in that blank. So there's gonna be this unknown component to your journey, to your story, to your time on the air. And you still have to get them to the right place. You still, I'm still gonna drive the ship here, but if I am allowing you that role, guess what? It feels like you, you have an ownership in the journey in the music I'm playing in the conversation I'm having to myself honestly, but to you. Right, right. And then you feel like it's a two-way street and not a one-way street. And when that happens, you turn listeners into fans or customers into evangelists, which is the business I'm in now.

Speaker 2: (09:58)

Oh, I love that. . Oh my gosh. How did you know you wanted to like, transition out of radio? Because it sounds like it was something you were really good at and that you loved.

Speaker 1: (10:10)

Yeah, it's a sad story actually.

Speaker 4: (10:13)

, I'm, I'm a crier, so I hope it's not that sad.

Speaker 1: (10:19)

It's not that sad. But I was, um, excuse me. I'm just, I don't know why I'm drinking a milky coffee during our show, but I am. But

Speaker 2: (10:26)

I have one too. It's okay. . Go for it.

Speaker 1: (10:29)

It's got me, but it's my little treat. Like, so after I do my walk in the morning, then I can have a, a calorie bomb and this is it. Well, um, so anyways, at in radio at xm, I, I was at the best place. Everybody wanted to be there. I was at the show, you know, this is the job the whole world wanted. And I, I got it. And it was a sick building. Everybody was getting cancer, tinnitus or tinnius or whatever it is. Like all these people were, it was so stressful. It was like a really terrible hostile work environment. And if you're a woman, forget about it. Mm-Hmm. sexual harassment galore. Even I participated in it because it was rewarded as part of like this super boys club. And you didn't know it was wrong because everyone was doing it. But the hostile part I had never experienced before and I couldn't figure out like, why wasn't I getting an a plus when I was doing superior work? And like, people were like actually out to get you. And like, I had this terrible boss who always said, rolls downhill, which meant like he took it out on me. Oh, you know? Oh yeah. And, uh, boo

Speaker 4: (11:31)


Speaker 1: (11:31)

It was, it was so awful. Like the, all the sound booths, you know, these tiny, there's a hundred of them probably. And we would go and record our shows 'cause most of it was not live. Mm-Hmm. . And you'd be in there for hours and hours. And he would, he would make me have meetings with him in, in these tiny rooms that are soundproof Oh. And down a dark hall and then yell at me like, you know, just take his day outta me. And so I started having all this, all my body started reacting to it. So I had, of course, of course I had, um, a huge rash on my whole torso. No one could explain it for like a year. Then I fell down the stairs and I tore my peronial tendon in my ankle. And I was in a cast for almost a year and a half because it kept being re-injured.

Speaker 1: (12:15)

And XM thought I was faking my injury so I could Par Park, have a handicap parking spot. Oh gosh. Which is like insane. Oh my gosh. And I know, and I was training, there was a trainer in the gym. There was a gym at, inside the building at xm. And so like, I had been injured in my life a million times. Physical therapy and like, my physical therapy told me to like, work out with my trainer and do all these exercises. And they were like, we have you on camera. And I'm like, so what , I mean, I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing. It was like really awful. Oh my gosh. And, um, no, I mean, this is terrible. And then the, um, like I remember HR was accusing me of, I had to be doing all these doctor appointments, trying to figure out what was wrong with me. And I had panic attacks and suddenly I couldn't type anymore. Oh my God. Imagine this. Yeah. So like, I had the worst pain in the world. It was epicondylitis and tendonitis and no one would help me. So like, they were, this is a long story, sorry, but no, I mean,

Speaker 3: (13:11)

I'm locked in .

Speaker 1: (13:14)

Women need to know, other people need to know when something this is wrong. And that if it happens to you, it's wrong. Mm-Hmm. . But, um, I, I was, um, I couldn't, I was going to all these appointments trying to figure out what was wrong with me. I mean, I remember one, um, neuropathy kind of person at this hospital sticking like these long wires, like guitar strings down my arm through my nerves to find out if I have nerve, nerve damage. It was so painful. Like, and I was doing east stuff west stuff. Like anything I could find, we, we could apply to get an intern from xm. And so I applied and they wouldn't give it to me. Oh. 'cause they didn't believe anything was wrong with me because look, I have pants. They, they are broken. Right. Oh my gosh. So I paid an intern myself outta my own pocket. I made 50 grand, which was nothing. Right. I was eating ramen and two buck chuck. 'cause I discovered Trader Joe's Trade Joe's

Speaker 3: (14:07)

Because we don't have,

Speaker 1: (14:07)

That's where I'm from. Yeah.

Speaker 3: (14:09)

, it went

Speaker 1: (14:10)

Back when it was two bucks, remember now I think it's four. Um,

Speaker 3: (14:13)

And, uh,

Speaker 1: (14:15)

And then, so I was like literally telling this person to type for me. And, um, then, then I found software. I found Dragon naturally speaking. Oh yeah. Right. Voice activated software, which I have used for 12 years. Do you use it? Liz too?

Speaker 3: (14:29)

Uh, one of my old bosses, like legit broke his hand and, and couldn't type. So he would, um, I would hear him like, uh, dictate dic dictate, dictate, uh, dictating , uh, press releases because he, he really couldn't type. Oh, that's rough. So yeah. Yeah. Me neither. It was like 50 50. Well, I think they've even improved as they've gotten a lot.

Speaker 1: (14:53)

Yeah. You have to train it, you know, but, and, and it's like, it's learning a second language. 'cause there's differently, different, different, different ways to, you know Yeah. Boost it and everything. But yeah, my team knows. 'cause Dragon doesn't make typos. It makes sound alike typos. And, um, so when you're re my team knows this. They, if you just read it out loud, you can tell what I was actually saying. But like, it'll call, um, it's called VCs, feces many times.

Speaker 3: (15:17)

. Yeah. We would have to re-go through all of them. He would send them to me and then I would edit them like, you know, normal 'cause I could type and stuff like that. And yeah, you would have these sort of, you need to put in like the commas and the periods. Yeah.

Speaker 1: (15:30)

No, you say that you actually, well, you can put them, but you, but I'll say it. So I'll, like, when I'm like, sometimes I'll be working with one of my, my co-founders on a document, and I'll start talking to him like I'm talking to Dragon. And I'll be like, okay, yes. Exclamation mark, space bar, , you know, whatever.

Speaker 3: (15:47)

I'm gonna start talking like that. My teams would be like, stop. Pretty funny.

Speaker 1: (15:52)

Stop. Full stop. I'll ca I'll catch that. Yeah. Um, yeah, it's crazy. Smiley face. You know, you can say emojis. So, um, anyways, I found Dragon and I was trying to teach myself and it at XM wouldn't let me put it into my work computer because Oh God, this company hated you. Whatever reason, this was terrible. And then I, I had to buy a laptop and a credit card because I wanted, I had to be able to take it around from home. Yeah. 'cause I couldn't do any work. And I found this woman, there were four Dragon coaches in the country. Like no one knew this software. And she happened to be, uh, in Arlington, I think. And she took me to the Pentagon and she let me try all this stuff that, that people with disabilities try. Like the, we called it the Bindi, which is like the mouse and you wear in your head and Yeah. All this stuff. And she, I had no money to pay her, but she was a fan of my, of my station and I had all kinds of CDs. So I gave her like a couple hundred CDs. And um, her name was K Wait, I have a whole file. I forget where K begins with a K, Kendra. No, not Kendra. Something like that. . Anyways, um, so, uh, and then eventually, like I had a lawyer and I left XM in a kind of a blaze of, not glory, but they put a poster, you and

Speaker 3: (17:11)

Me leaving .

Speaker 1: (17:12)

Yeah. It was like, like we, I was out on workers' comp and like we were, there was a, we were trying to soothe them for sexual harassment, but nobody would stand up for me. I couldn't get anybody to corroborate my story. And like, I didn't, I was too young too. I didn't know, like I didn't know that these things were wrong, so I didn't know to save them or mark them down. Yeah, yeah. You know, which is kind of weird, especially

Speaker 3: (17:33)

In the early aughts, like nobody's talking about it. Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1: (17:36)

Me too didn't exist. Yeah. Like none of this, like, somebody had to tell me this is a hostile work environment. I was like, what's that? You know? Because

Speaker 3: (17:43)

Not every job was like this .

Speaker 1: (17:45)

Anyways, um, what I loved about, so that's why I left Radio

Speaker 5: (17:50)

. I don't blame you 'cause I

Speaker 1: (17:53)

Physically couldn't do it anymore. But the irony, right? So the irony that I use Dragon naturally speaking, I mean, I talk for a living guys. Like I have a Sennheiser mic here, a nice one because like, this is what I'm still doing. Um, but what, this is an important part of the story. So, so I essentially was crying all the time. I was in pain. I'm terrified. I'm like, what am I gonna do? I can't even go get a job at like the grocery store 'cause I can't use the cash register. Mm-Hmm. or you know what, whatever. And, um, I started to get better with Dragon and I got another job in, in a music company that was another boys club is the same thing. And my dad one day just had it with me. . And he like

Speaker 5: (18:36)

Dads do

Speaker 1: (18:38)

Like they do. Um, and he lovingly shook me by the shoulder and said, you can't work for other people. And there's no shame in that. Those were his words. So he got me on two things. Number one, of course there was this other possibility. My dad owned his own business, my mom owned hers. It hadn't occurred to me. But the shame was another thing because that's what had happened, is I thought this was all my fault. Right? Mm-Hmm. . I thought I had done something wrong to disappoint my male boss. Right? Yeah. I thought it was me. And that's the tape that always runs and it still runs for me today. Like, it's my first inkling always is like, what did I do to cause this? Right? Yeah. This, a lot of women do this by default, I find. And then a bunch of stuff happened in the same week. My then boyfriend, now husband heard my dad, and he's so kind. He went to the Barnes and Noble 'cause that's what you did then. And I saw

Speaker 5: (19:35)

Barnes Noble. There you go.

Speaker 1: (19:39)

Yes. . Um, and so the book was Guy Kawasaki's Art of the Start. Yes. Which is a famous book. You know, that book was Yeah. Yeah. It's, everybody knows that book. So I, I started reading it and um, it's like right in the first or second chapter, he says, don't make a plan, just get started. And I was like, well, I don't need this book, obviously . So I,

Speaker 5: (20:00)


Speaker 1: (20:00)

Chucked the book and then this is all the same week. Um, I was also reading this, I call it the barf of a book, um, the Secret. Do you guys know that book? I don't. The Secret. Is it good? It's terrible. Oh,

Speaker 5: (20:13)

I'll tell you The Secret.

Speaker 1: (20:14)

Yeah. Um, it's terrible because it's super cheesy and like it's a self-help book. Oh. I don't do well with that. The Moral, no, me neither. But like, I was trying everything in my power. Mm-Hmm. . Like, I gotta it, this is not working. You know? So the moral of the story is the, the secret is not a secret at all. It's a mindset. And so if you walk around with a mindset like, you know, I can do this as opposed to I hate my life. and I in pain all the time. . Right? That's not bad. That's a, that's not gonna get you anywhere. And I, it occurred to me in this moment that I, I had played softball, um, in, I dunno why I, I also played soccer at a bunch of other things. But I thought of softball immediately and I thought, well, how do I feel when I hit a line drive?

Speaker 1: (20:57)

And I feel like I rule in that moment. . That's how I feel. I don't feel like I'm terrible. I suck. Right? Mm-Hmm. . And that's what was coming out of my mouth all day long. And I smoked and I was really good at smoking. And so like, I was just this toxic toxic ball of fire, you know? And, um, then that week, two clients wanted to not mail, but hand deliver me a product for this job I was at, which is unusual because they were fans of mine at xm. Ooh. And it turns out that they were, um, angel investors, these two great guys, Scott and Al. And they gave me $50,000 to start my first company.

Speaker 2: (21:41)

Oh my gosh. Cry power of connections right there. It was marketing. You did a marketing agency first, correct?

Speaker 1: (21:52)

I, I actually, so I didn't, I don't really talk about this, but what we did was a widget .

Speaker 1: (21:58)

So back in the early days of the internet, there were these things called widgets, people , um, that were like tiny webpages that would sit on top of a wi webpage. So now it's kind of like, um, if you pull up a clock on your Mm-Hmm. desktop or calculator or something. Like that's a widget. Yeah. Um, but they could live anywhere. Yeah. Yeah. And so our widget was two songs a day, and it was a new song and an older song, and they fit together for a reason, which is how I was programming on the air also. Like, this is, that's another long story we can go down. But anyways, and it was called The Daily Dose. And my, my company was called Outlands Media. I'm a huge Andy Summers fan. Mm-Hmm. Uh, Andy Summers is the guitar player for the police. I like short guitar players. I married one .

Speaker 2: (22:48)

Hey, you gotta try you outta Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

Speaker 1: (22:51)

Thank you. Yeah, he's, he's just, uh, hot, hot and bothered. And, you know, the love of his life is a blonde named Kate . And I did meet him and he was kind of mean to me at first, but then I said, you're my Keith Keith Richards. And then he was nice to me. .

Speaker 2: (23:04)

, we all love an enemy still. Lovers tropes. I, that is one of my favorites. It's one of my favorites too. .

Speaker 1: (23:12)

Um, so yeah, so, uh, outlands Media had the Daily Dose and that was doing really well. Like, we had like 6,000 listeners and I wasn't monetizing it and I didn't know anything about startups or software or anything. Yeah. Um, like I kind of was learning how to code, but somebody else was coding it for me. And I just kind of did. And I got all these people to work for me for free, like my old DJ friends to Nice help do some songs with me. And like, it was fun, but it, it was just kind of this crazy endeavor. And then, um, my aunt was the principal at the National Disability Institute, which is in Washington DC Mm-Hmm. . And she had this really unique gift of pulling together nonprofit for-profit and government entities and getting them to collaborate Icon, that's a hard thing to do.

Speaker 1: (24:04)

for real. She really was, is this incredible woman and had this great, great kind of thing going on. And they had Walmart involved in a project that was about, um, empowering the poor to lift them out of poverty through, um, income tax preparation, EITC credits and, and financial education. And Walmart was, had a vested interest because many of their employees live below the poverty line and the National Disability Institute. So 54 million Americans, most of them also living under the poverty line. Um, and it was Bank of America. This is the boring part. At and t the IRS, um, Goodwill, United Way Worldwide, all these huge companies working together. And there were 20, about 20,000 marketers over three years, um, across all of their local entities. All of there were, um, you know, every, there were banks, there were colleges, there was libraries. Like all these people were participating, participating in free tax prep.

Speaker 1: (25:02)

And it was unsexy as hell. Right. talk about disability and tax prep. I mean, it's not . The acronyms are from Hell . Um, and as you can imagine, and so I, she, she was like, listen, this is a big project. You're really good at marketing. Um, I need someone who's smart to sit on all these calls. There's a lot of calls. And I, I, you know, I can't be everywhere at once. So I was on my first couple of calls and you know, guys, I'm not very polished. You've met me for half an hour here and you know this already. And I don't know what I sat in that first meeting, but I'm sure it was that it was met with some eye rolls and . I went home. , I probably swore, I hope I didn't, but I might have. Um, I went home and I just started organizing what I understood the project to be in a big spreadsheet.

Speaker 1: (25:50)

And before I know it knew it, I had like two dozen tabs going down, tens of thousands of rows. And I was just organizing everything from like, okay, well who's whose social media channels are there from all of those entities? You know? And then what are those people doing? Oh, there's YouTube videos. What are we making? What's it, what is the content? Oh, there's press releases. Well, where are those? Who's getting them? And then I could see all these redundancies obviously, but I could also see things like, well, the messaging that we used in this newspaper ad in Salt Lake City went, did really well in this zip code. So why don't we try that messaging on Facebook and see how that does and aim it at that same kinda location or something. And I was Right. and like I could see, were you doing this all by hand? Were you doing this all by hand? Yeah. Okay. Wow. This is 2012. My brain

Speaker 2: (26:42)

Does not work this way, but I'm glad there are people in the world who do this. Like, you're .

Speaker 1: (26:48)

It was, we like, so Twitter had just, I mean, MySpace I think was just barely dying. Twitter had just started, like, this is early. Right. And we got Walmart to agree to a social media campaign. I remember. And anyways, so, so this spreadsheet system I developed got the project 130% ROI year over year for the three years I did it.

Speaker 2: (27:10)

That's crazy. Yeah.

Speaker 1: (27:12)

That was crazy. Incredible.

Speaker 2: (27:13)

Spreadsheets, spreadsheet. My husband, who's an accountant out there is like, who?

Speaker 1: (27:19)

Spreadsheet. Yeah, exactly. And like, what's interesting though is like, I was looking at those words like, if words work here, why can't they work here? And and also what is working with the words? Like why are these the words that are serving this social post well, or this blog well, or, or whatever it was. And that is sort of how we get to lately, right? Mm-Hmm. . So I'm in the business of getting people to do what you want them to do with words. Yeah. Right. That's what all communication is about. Take out the trash, buy my. ,

Speaker 2: (27:52)

Do your homework. Exactly. .

Speaker 1: (27:55)

You know. Um, and so that I, sorry, long story then a friend of a friend at this point, I had like a small agency when we changed the name to Outlands Media from Music to Media. And, um, outlands, by the way, is the name of one of the police's records. Deur, which is a made up word. Um, well, Amor isn't, but Outlands just means like, outlaws of love is the, is the phrase like outlaw. And I fancy myself a a wild beast. You know,

Speaker 2: (28:29)

Can't be tamed.

Speaker 1: (28:30)

Can't be tamed. Yeah. Exact can't, can't be employed. Um, and a friend had, had knew about my spreadsheets from the Walmart project and said, you should really meet my friend Steve. And so I started to meet Steve and, um, Steve came from Venture World, from Software World, and before I knew it, he was like, you know, we just need $25,000 and we can automate your spreadsheets . Yeah. And, um, we'll make some wire frames. And I, I don't, I didn't know these words. What's the wire frame? , like, you're gonna automate my spreadsheets, don't check my hands off, don't talk to my spreadsheets. You know? And, um, 25 grand, like you said, like I was eating ramen and two buck check and we were about to buy our first house. Like, I'd, that's where my savings was going. And I was like, you're crazy. And he pulled that money out of his own pocket and hired. Wow. Um, Jason, who's now my co-founder who had worked for Steve previously, and they came over on a Sunday night after Christmas. It was holiday, eight o'clock at night. I had two glasses of wine and I was. I was like, off, I'm on vacation, you know, showed me the best time to make

Speaker 2: (29:38)

Decisions after two glasses. Glasses of wine. And after Christmas,

Speaker 1: (29:41)

. I know, right? I'm like, get outta here.

Speaker 2: (29:43)

You're in a great mood. Or very overstimulated . Yeah,

Speaker 1: (29:45)

Yeah, yeah. You know, and, um, anyway, so they showed me the wire frames and I was like, oh, I get it. And um, then I got beat up for 10 years and was punched in the face every day, every day. Since it feels like, do you still

Speaker 2: (30:01)

Feel like you're getting punched in the face?

Speaker 1: (30:02)

Yes. I feel terrible . I really do. I,

Speaker 2: (30:05)

Do you ever feel, feel pressure that you've been in this Gen I space for so long and now a ton of people are talking about it? Especially with like, things like Chacha BT and you talked about all the time. Do you ever feel overwhelmed? Like you have to educate everyone around you about how they're not gonna lose their jobs if they're a writer or that it's not gonna take over the world all a, um, I robot or whatever. my fear. .

Speaker 1: (30:31)

Yeah. I mean the pressure, you know, we were too early is the answer. Nobody understood what we were doing and we didn't even understand it. We didn't set out to build an AI company. Mm-Hmm. . Um, and we actually didn't even know we had built ai and one of our mentors pointed it out to us. .

Speaker 2: (30:47)

I love that.

Speaker 1: (30:48)

Yeah. It was pretty like my CTO Brian is wonderful. And, and, um, we got a grant from IBM Watson, uh, at that time, so we could go. Yeah. So we hadn't, we don't anymore, but we had an integration with Watson and learned a lot then. And then another investor was really excited about the AI and said, I'm gonna work for you for free and I'm gonna introduce you to my friend Kway, who's an AI genius, and let's double down on this. And so luckily we agreed to take that turn, but we were, we, we had set out to automate my spreadsheets. Like, so we had built this really robust kind of marketing organization platform. Again, not very sexy, um, but really valuable. And it was hard for us to sell that, um, at the time. And we were trying to sell it to SMBs too.

Speaker 1: (31:39)

So we built an enterprise product, but we were selling it to SMBs and, you know, marketing is hard. People don't understand it as you know. Yeah. . Um, and so that wasn't really working. And then, um, I don't know how long you guys want me to go on with the story, but, but as long as in 2020, a bunch of stuff, there's always this co coalesce of events, you know? Um, which I find is interesting in life when, like, for me anyways, when major change, it's just like, how many, how many signs do I need to see at once? You know, ,

Speaker 2: (32:17)

I just also can't believe that 2014 was 10 years ago. Yeah. It kind of makes me wanna throw up a little bit. I know .

Speaker 1: (32:23)

I know, I know. It's so crazy. Like, 'cause I had just, um, I wrote on, well, actually, I should sort of read this to you 'cause it's so I think APO Pro, but I was, you know, LinkedIn reminds you when your Oh yeah. Anniversary is or

Speaker 2: (32:38)

Whatever. Oh, yes. And also just on this topic, I force myself to read my Facebook memories every day. You do. Just to humble myself, my God. Because I had God when I was like 13 and the things I would put on the internet, I just, I read it just to remind myself who I am and what I've, where you've come from. , where I've come from. ,

Speaker 1: (33:02)

Good for you. I totally had to delete that stuff because it was like, not CEO appropriate.

Speaker 2: (33:07)

It's true. Humbling. Every day. . Like, I'll write something and be like, wow, I I am a writer. And then Facebook will be like, yeah, well you wrote this in 2012. So ,

Speaker 1: (33:19)

That's hilarious. Little, uh, self-check there. Yeah,

Speaker 2: (33:23)


Speaker 1: (33:23)

So here I'll read you guys what I wrote. Like, um, so I wrote, um, 10 years ago I launched lately ai, yesterday I turned 50. That's a decade of ai pitch decks, sales decks, so many decks, pivots, podcasts, shame, joy, denial, bus trips to NYC, starting up smoking again. Quitting smoking flights to San Francisco. Accelerators, spotting time wasters early on, hitting revenue goals, missing payroll, identifying patterns, iterating, crying, not dying. Glad handing, zooming, celebrating self-blame introductions, no weekends. Making friends with total strangers across the globe. Working vacations, cohort analysis, hotels, parting ways with some fortifying relationships with others, panic texts, virtual high fives, eureka disappointment perspective, and lost sleep. It's been the most fascinating, exhilarating and exhausting decade of my life. 50 sure as hell is nifty.

Speaker 2: (34:29)

Oh, I love that end. Yeah. , that is so good. You forgot to put in there that you also survived your company survived a whole pandemic .

Speaker 1: (34:37)

The whole pandemic. I know. Like, it was so well, so, so that time, so here we are, like 2020. It was actually in, so in 2019 we got into an accelerator in San Francisco. Mm-Hmm. with Jason K it was like kind of a big deal. And this week in Startups is his, his podcast. And so now we're feeling like we're in the big leagues here. So I am going to fly on a plane to San Francisco every week. Once a week for, yeah. For four months. Okay. And remember, I don't get any work done on a six hour plane ride. Me either. I have voice activated software, right? Mm-Hmm.

Speaker 2: (35:14)

. I just don't get it done because I'm terrified of flying. So I just sit there paralyzed. But

Speaker 1: (35:19)

well, you could have talked to me. We, we would've been, I would've distracted you because I couldn't do any work. You know, can't, I can't.

Speaker 2: (35:25)

Perfect. Look at you guys seats next to each other. Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 1: (35:28)

I met a lot of people, which like, I don't like to do that. Like, I like to be really efficient and get done. So it was torture twice a week. I'm like doing nothing all day long, basically. Oof. You know, reading a book or something. And, uh, anyways, and you were going out to do pitch, you're doing a basically a pitch competition more or less. So like you're on stage rewriting your pitch each time. Yeah. Which, that takes work and it's, and you're doing it in front of a bunch of white guys who are gonna rip you apart, which is what they do.

Speaker 2: (35:55)

A nightmare. Yeah.

Speaker 1: (35:57)

It feels terrible. I mean, it was really stressful. And, um, anyways, um, we came outta that. I was about to close a fundraising round. I couldn't close it because all my meetings got canceled 'cause it was Covid. Yeah.

Speaker 2: (36:11)

March, 2020. And Covid . Oh my gosh. Yeah. It's March. Yeah, it's March right now. It's

Speaker 1: (36:17)

March four years ago. And I had this, I had one term sheet, but it was awful. And, uh, it just, I couldn't, nobody wanted to, to follow on with it. And it just, the terms were bad and the guy was such a bag. He totally was like, this body doesn't happen on its own. That's what he told me. . I know. Um, anyways. And then, um, so many stories. So, so I took out a loan from, I have got a really loyal investor, Adam Gross, who's been, he's so great. Sometimes, sometimes he does yell at me and I need it , sometimes I yell, yell at him back, you know. But, um, he, he intimidates me to be honest with you, but he's always loyal. And uh, he loaned us 50 grand 'cause it was a weird time. And I was just like, I don't know what the hell is happening, but like, I need to make payroll and I need to go hide. I was, it was such a stressful thing. I need to go hide in the sand. And everybody wanted to zoom cocktail with me. And I'm, I zoomed for a living. You, I hated the Zoom

Speaker 2: (37:15)

Cocktail .

Speaker 1: (37:15)

I hated that. I'm like, I don't wanna zoom with anybody. off. Like I'm, this is great. I get to be alone. Great. You know, that's what I want. And so I stuck my head in the sand and watch the Kardashians for like a week. And um, then my co-founder was like, Hey, have you seen the bank account? And I'm like, why? And he's like, well, there's more in it than when you left. And I was like, what? That's nice. The reason

Speaker 2: (37:40)

Was gonna be like a, we need to get back to work. There's no money. .

Speaker 1: (37:45)

Well, we grew the company 240% in monthly recurring revenue in Covid that year.

Speaker 2: (37:50)

Wow. Do you think it's because so many people were like, oh my gosh, I can't hire people to do these like content jobs or social media jobs. I just don't have the money right now. So they're all trying to do it themselves. .

Speaker 1: (38:02)

Yeah, exactly. That was a big part of it because we were still selling to SMB by the way. Um, but also we introduced video, which we worked, we, we were only

Speaker 2: (38:12)

The rise of TikTok in 2020 .

Speaker 1: (38:15)

Yep. That was really big. And we, I'll tell people what lately does later, but um, and then two other things happened. Um, a guy, you know, called Gary Vaynerchuk did an experiment and used lately to start an entirely new Twitter channel. Mm-Hmm. . Um, actually Jim Thompson who worked for Gary, who's my friend now did it, did it for Gary. And we got Gary a 12000% increased engagement. Oh,

Speaker 2: (38:38)

That's crazy.

Speaker 1: (38:39)

And now I could just, instead of trying to tell people what we did, which was hard, we didn't know how to say it at all, then I could just show my, hold my phone up and show them Gary's feed, you know? Nice. It's

Speaker 2: (38:50)

Like a little inch feed case study that you could easily show people. Vanna

Speaker 3: (38:53)

Whiteley right there. Yeah,

Speaker 1: (38:55)

Yeah, yeah, yeah. It was really, it was so funny because there's occasionally people who, especially women who don't know who Gary is and I'm like, he's the Oprah for men. You know,

Speaker 2: (39:05)

Oprah ruined my bachelor viewing on Monday. So I have B for the Oprah right now.

Speaker 1: (39:10)

Oh, I'm glad fan. Let's just talk about something. What is wrong with the grammar? The grammar on the Bachelor and the Bachelorette? It is not Joey in MA's apartment. .

Speaker 3: (39:21)


Speaker 1: (39:21)

It's Joey's and mine.

Speaker 2: (39:24)

I just take

Speaker 3: (39:25)

Everything that happens

Speaker 2: (39:26)

On that show with a great

Speaker 3: (39:27)


Speaker 1: (39:28)

There's every year, I'm always amazed at how people get that wrong. They're like,

Speaker 2: (39:34)

I'm amazed at a lot of things that happen every year, a lot of

Speaker 1: (39:37)

Things. But that one really just gets me all the time. And he is like, they're like, um, 'cause it's so the rule is you just say your own. You say yourself and that's how you know. Yeah. So it's my apartment. Yeah. So it's Joey's and my right or they're, what's the other one that they'll say like,

Speaker 3: (39:52)

Uh, you and me go like, or like Rachel and me go and should be Rachel and I go, or me thank and Rachel go, thank you Rachel. And I go, oh, I pick that up on, um, sitcoms. And I'm like, come on guys. Like everyone's watching you come, you,

Speaker 1: (40:07)

Yeah. We don't need to be morons. Like, I mean already, like, we just grunt, we just grunt at each other with emojis. Like we just,

Speaker 2: (40:16)

I would still watch The Bachelor if all it was with them grunting at each other. To be honest, it's the only trash TV I religiously watch. And this season for you has been so delicious. Joey Maria,

Speaker 1: (40:27)

I'm a Maria

Speaker 2: (40:28)

Fan. I'm Maria. I'm a Maria fan. She's the only one in the season so far that I've followed on Instagram because I'm like, yeah girl, ,

Speaker 1: (40:35)

You tried, she

Speaker 2: (40:36)

So hard to make her a villain. And I was like, no, I know. She's the people's princess. You can't make her a villain. She's

Speaker 1: (40:42)

A people's princess.

Speaker 3: (40:43)

Are you gonna bring up the cake?

Speaker 1: (40:44)

I wish you guys live near me.

Speaker 2: (40:46)

. I, oh my God, I truly, it's, it's one of the best things that's ever happened. I started

Speaker 1: (40:51)

Watching, he's my husband, like leaves the room immediately. .

Speaker 2: (40:53)

Does he ever stand behind the couch though? And like, watch these .

Speaker 3: (40:58)


Speaker 1: (40:59)


Speaker 3: (41:00)

Then, and

Speaker 1: (41:01)

I get so mad because he'll make a, some comments and I'm like trying to listen. I'm like, can you just shut up? You know, like, pause

Speaker 2: (41:08)

A comment. He want, I need hear what Joey says. .

Speaker 1: (41:10)

Yeah. I want to see him cry some more. That weenie. Yeah.

Speaker 2: (41:13)


Speaker 1: (41:13)


Speaker 2: (41:14)

He's kind just love him. See, I love him. My best friend's obsessed with him. She was like, I'd be as mistress if he, if he picks someone on the show. He, if he

Speaker 1: (41:22)

Wanted, he's really nice though though, but

Speaker 2: (41:24)

Like, he's a side piece, albeit, I was like, girl, that's

Speaker 1: (41:26)

A side piece. The crying though. I don't like, I'm sorry. Like, he's very emotional. I it's okay for men to cry, but like I don't, I

Speaker 2: (41:33)

He's the most emotional of the bachelor's for a

Speaker 1: (41:35)

While. Yeah. I don't like, I like that my man doesn't cry. Sorry. He doesn't

Speaker 2: (41:39)

Really either.

Speaker 1: (41:41)

Um, so hold on, let me finish this story 'cause it's important. Yeah. Backtrack. . Okay, back to me. Okay, so sorry. Gary Vanner checked, did his thing. As you pointed out, COVID is happening. People are trying to f everyone started a podcast suddenly , you know, everyone's trying to market their stuff. Bow, you know. Yeah. There.

Speaker 2: (41:59)

Hey .

Speaker 1: (42:02)

Whoa. And then, um, wait, then two other things happen, which is, so like I said, my Uber powers turning listeners into fans, our customers into evangelists. And so we live this at lately from the inside out with our, how we treat each other by employees. I can't tell you how many times they've voluntarily not to take a paycheck. I mean, it's obscene, honestly. Um, you know, thank you Jesus. Um, but then like also we would do that with our customers as well. So there not a day has passed since March of 2020 where somebody hasn't spontaneously written about us on social in one way or the other. Right. That's awesome.

Speaker 1: (42:45)

Yep. So that happened. So like, we look like a $15 million company on, on LinkedIn or wherever because people are always talking about us. And then, um, the other thing that happened, and the reason this all happened is 'cause we started to to what's called dog food your own product. So that's like drinking your own champagne. Um, and so, and it, Purina was tanking and then they did a commercial where like somebody's dog from an employer, employee's dog ate the product on the camera and loved it. And then that's how the pro, that's how they sold. But that's dog fooding. Anyways, so we only use lately to do all of our marketing. That's about to change. 'cause I just, I'm raising around right now finally. And I'll have money to spend. But, um, so it works. This is what lately does lately studies everything you've written on social for about a year.

Speaker 1: (43:36)

And we're looking specifically for two kinds of patterns. So like Rachel, when you write something and it works, you know, we can see a baseline of good, bad, whatever. What goes into that? What's the DNA? So I can see the patterns of your sentence structures, the words that you use, the ideas that are in those messages. I can even see the characteristics of the content. Is it a link in an image, video and text, whatever. And so now I can see the, the high performing patterns. And then the second thing I can see is when your unique target audience clicks, likes and comments and shares your content, what's going into that? What are the words that make them do that? For example, so this is called your unique model at Lely and it learns in real time all the time. And we are not a layer on top of chat, CBT or anybody else. You asked about the pressure around that. So like, we're sitting pretty here because this is my own model that we built. Right? And all of your data stays private because we're not actually we're, it's your data, it's your analytics. I'm just putting my math on top of it. Right?

Speaker 2: (44:37)

Love that .

Speaker 1: (44:39)

That's really good. And so now that I have this model, we give you the human multiple opportunities to course correct and analyze the model. Because by the way, that's the only way AI learns. If you're not doing that with cha GBT, you're basically throwing a rubber duck at everybody. . You know, like it's just garbage gives

Speaker 2: (44:56)

You the same 10 sentences over and over and over again. .

Speaker 1: (45:00)

Yes. And they're totally irrelevant. Like they, you know, it loves

Speaker 2: (45:03)

The word wrong Do for some reason.

Speaker 1: (45:05)

Yeah. It's so hilarious. I know. It's just crazy.

Speaker 2: (45:08)


Speaker 1: (45:09)

Words. Um, my husband wrote me a valentine from, from from AI and it was really funny. Um, anyways, so, so with the model now you feed it long form content. So you could put this podcast into Lately, which you will, my girl Emma's gonna ask you for this podcast. Perfect. Lately's gonna transcribe the podcast and it's gonna read the transcript with your model. And it's looking to match up parts of the transcript in the model. Lift them out, lift out the quotes, is what it's doing. And then it's also gonna lift out the, either the video or the audio of this podcast and match the quote. So now you have little teaser of something wonderful that you or Liz or I said. And then, um, it's looking for kind of non-sequitur. 'cause it doesn't wanna say, uh, listen to this podcast with Kate Bradley Turner that nobody ever knows . They wanna instead say like, you know, um, um, hostile, hostile work environment gone wild. I don't know, something like that. It's looking

Speaker 2: (46:05)

For, it's on the tool Sound

Speaker 1: (46:06)

. Yeah. Sexy bits to pull out something interesting, you know. Um, and it does this with text, like blogs, newsletters, press releases, any video webinar. So like, I do this, I I'm on your podcast 'cause I'm gonna use it. I'm gonna take this lately's gonna generate couple dozen posts for me more actually, but that's so many I'm gonna use. That's so cool. I'm gonna drive all the traffic to a link back to your website, wherever this podcast is gonna live later. And get it back to you. And guess what? You're gonna reshare it every time I do or thank me because I put your name in lights. Right? Our

Speaker 2: (46:37)

AV person in the corner is probably like drooling. He's like, yes, . There

Speaker 1: (46:41)

You go. What we

Speaker 2: (46:42)

Do excited. He's like, yeah, .

Speaker 1: (46:45)

It's so easy. So it's like super win-win love and, and be, since we started dog fooding our own product, that's how we've been able to like, create this flywheel of fans and that's how we generate all of our, um, all of our customers. So we have a lot of inbound. We convert at a rate of 98% from trial to sale and um, we're able to reach the customers that we want because it's doing, it's doing itself on us, right? Yeah. It's looking for my unique target audience. So, um, we pivoted to Enterprise recently, which has been fun.

Speaker 2: (47:21)

Doesn't sound stupid. Take some sarcasm there.

Speaker 1: (47:26)

Some of it's fun. It's hard. It's hard. I mean it's not hard, but it's different. And like here, what's interesting though is this is like, we're doing the same kind of marketing, um, more or less like, because the users are the same, whether it's who's your guy in the background? Is it Chris? Did you say

Speaker 2: (47:43)

Craig .

Speaker 1: (47:45)

I had the C Craig. Hi Craig. Um, so whether it's Craig or like my friend Jonathan at Phillips Electric, like you're all online. 'cause you have to be on social for your job. It's your job, . It doesn't matter what size company you work at, right? Yeah. And if you're smart, you're looking smart. People are looking to get a raise , right? That's what they're thinking about. In order to get a raise, you wanna make the company more money. That's what you wanna do. The lazy people are just thinking, I just wanna, I just wanna save time so I can go eat lunch early , get my job done and not really care about it. But, and that mind shift is changing as you pointed out, Rachel, because now that everybody's cottoning on to AI is really just automation. Yeah. That is what it is, right? It's not actually intelligent. Sorry,

Speaker 2: (48:34)

Personal. No, I love that. It's dumb ,

Speaker 1: (48:37)

It's dumb. And it requires the smart ones, you know, us to like help it out and get, get the job. Not only get the job done, but like to make, make the evangelist. Like that's what we, this is the, this is why I'm in the business I'm in, you know? So anyways, all that stuff happened and um, then the hit the fan and I cried some more. And you

Speaker 2: (48:59)

Sound just like me, . I cry all the time. .

Speaker 1: (49:05)

It's so, it's so funny. Like I, you know, when people are like, it's not business, it's personal and I just think that is a crock because, you know, it is

Speaker 2: (49:14)

Personal. Everything is personal. Personal.

Speaker 1: (49:16)

Everything is personal. Yeah. And certainly there's some stuff you have to learn to just like let it roll by. Yeah. You know, I mean, if I had a heart attack over everything that actually triggers a heart attack, you know, I would've died a million times already. , you know. But like, I remember I was trying to teach my husband this like a couple years ago. It was in Covid actually. I just remembered, or it occurred to me that the to-do list is always going to be there and it is always going to be overwhelming. Yeah. I, I am not going to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It's just not happening. So I had to, I have to figure out a way to change my perspective of, you know, how I'm taking that in. And that's why I train twice way. That's why I go for my walk. I, I do my meditation when I go for my walk. Like, I do this so I won't kill myself or somebody else. You know? I love that

Speaker 2: (50:08)

Because I'm the same way. I think in adulthood, that was the thing that always stressed me out was there's always something you have to check off. Like you put off paying that bill and then you pay it and you're like, well I'm done. But then something else gets added onto your, to-do list that you don't wanna check off, but you need to check it off. That was hard for me to get over. Good for you. .

Speaker 1: (50:26)

It's still, and it's still hard, you know, like you can't, that sometimes I just give up and I just say I'm going to the gym. I can't even deal with this. Like I just, I can, I can control that scenario. Yeah. You know, and um,

Speaker 2: (50:39)

At least that's a healthy cope coping mechanism. I'm like, I can't control this. I'm going to McDonald's and getting a ice cream sundae and a Diet Coke because that's what I do. Yeah. Like that sounds great.

Speaker 1: (50:52)

. That does sound great. Like it once day. Well guys, I think I've, I've like talked your ear off. No,

Speaker 2: (50:58)

That's okay. We wanna respect your time, but thank you so much for coming on. I feel like we've learned so much about you and I've had a blast. Hope you had a blast. .

Speaker 1: (51:08)

I love you guys. I super wish you lived down the street so we could watch the Bachelor together because

Speaker 2: (51:12)

Like that is batch party. It's so fun. Yes.

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