We sit down with social influencer, entrepreneur, community builder, public speaker, blerd, and AI subject matter expert Tim Salau to discuss his journey into tech.
Learn about Tim Salau here: http://www.timsalau.org/
Connect with us: https://linktr.ee/livingcorporate
Zach: What’s up, y’all? It’s Zach with Living Corporate, and yes, you’re listening to a B-Side. Now, yes, of course we’ve introduced the purpose of a B-Side before, but every episode is someone’s first episode. So for our new folks, B-Sides are essentially random shows we have in-between our larger shows. These are much less structured and somehow even more lit–that’s right, even more lit–than our regularly scheduled shows. Sometimes they’re discussions that the hosts have, sometimes they’re extended monologues, or sometimes they’re, like, a one-on-one chat with a special guest. Today we have a very special guest, Tim Salau. Now, this is from Kathryn LeBlanc, who did a profile on Tim. “Tim Salau is an ex-Googler, UX wiz, and LinkedIn video creator extraordinaire. Tim somehow manages to spare enough time to run a Facebook group called Mentors and Mentees. The group provides high-quality advice for young professionals looking to launch or level up their careers. Tim is also a LinkedIn campus editor and recently just began his journey with Microsoft as an artificial intelligence product manager, AND on top of all of that, Tim is Living Corporate’s first brand ambassador. Tim, welcome to the show, man. How are you doing?
Tim: [laughs] I’m doing well, man. You boosted me a lot there. I appreciate it.
Zach: Okay, look. So today we’re talking about non-conventional entries into tech. Talk to us about your journey into tech.
Tim: Man, my journey into tech was very, very interesting. So my background is in psychology. I went to Texas Tech University to get my psychology degree, and then from there I started learning a little bit about digital media as well as, you know, how psychology can apply a lot to technology. Around my junior year I realized I really wanted to get into UX as a vertical, and since UX is really big in the tech arena I decided that I wanted to go make a career out of that because I really enjoyed an internship I had that junior year, the summer before my senior year. So from there I decided I wanted to go to grad school at the University of Texas in Austin and study something called a Master’s of Information of Studies, which would allow me to develop kind of a deeper understanding of UX and kind of the psychological principles of how information and people work together. And, I mean, from there I’ve just been pretty much practicing and learning as much as I can in the field, whether it be on my own accord or at school or, you know, going to any kind of event that will allow me to just soak up as much knowledge as possible. And now I find myself really focused on artificial intelligence, and I think I was able to break in by just talking to the right people, man, and kind of being in the right spaces at the right time.
Zach: So, you know, you talked about–just now you talked about how you’re leaning into and learning as much as you can. So you and I have joked about this, but you have, like, I don’t know 70 bajillion LinkedIn training certifications, right?
Tim: [laughs] Yeah, man. I’m working. I’m working. I think learning is–learning is the easy part. Applying it all is the hard part, right? But I think some people find it hard to start learning and find the sources, but I think we’re in an information age where it’s incredibly accessible.
Zach: Right. And let’s continue down the path of being self-taught, right? So I think it’s easy to assume that being self-taught is easy because you’re creating your own rules to follow. Like, there isn’t a pace, and the content is there for you to stay engaged how you like. For some though that’s more immobilizing than anything else. What advice would you have for folks who are struggling with the idea or just the anxiety of that type of learning?
Tim: I think find out what learning methods work for you. Being self-taught, for me I found that it’s a–it’s not just one learning method I use. I go from watching YouTube, LinkedIn learning videos, to, you know, finding hands-on ways to apply what I’ve learned, to talking to people who are the experts and just kind of getting their perspective on the field and, you know, seeing what they’ve gone through. I think for people–usually they think that they have to go straight to being experts. They have to go straight to really, like, being able to–like, for example, let’s say create some sort of machine learning model, right? Like, it would scare you because you’re like, “What the hell? A machine learning model?” Like, “How do I get started doing it? That seems like such a hard thing to do.” So, like, the initial thought is that “Oh, man.” Like, “I can’t do this,” but if you literally go on YouTube and search “how to,” right, there’s a five-minute video, I guarantee you, that will kind of walk you through it step by step, right? And you may not even master it after you watch that video, so what you do then is–okay, you go ahead and you go apply that knowledge, right? And you may not even master it after that, but what you do after that is you go to talk to someone that’s actually done it, right? And let them know, “This has been my experience,” and I think it’s really a matter of making experience of learning, right? Put yourself in a position to either, you know, go offline and visit one of the events or wherever this knowledge is being shared, and really put yourself in this mindset that learning isn’t one-dimensional. It’s not monolithic. It’s just not me, you know, just watching someone do it, it’s me making an experience of it.
Zach: So let’s talk about Mentors and Mentees, right? So what and how–what is it, and how does it fit into your other work in tech?
Tim: So Mentors and Mentees, about a year ago I was–I mean, a lot of people were reaching out to me about career advice and, you know, kind of my career path and everything, and I’ve always been into mentorship. I’ve actively mentored many people, probably too many people, because I always have–I have an executive board of mentors myself, so I understand how valuable it is. So I created Mentors and Mentees, a community group for people who are interested in kind of finding different perspectives, to help them kind of nurture their career paths and whatever problems that they may have. So right now the group is on Facebook, and I have plans to kind of create more around it in the future, and it’s essentially a resource for anyone that is kind of confused on whether it be their job search, right? You know, whether it be salary negotiations or how to–how to transition from a different position into a new one within the same organization in a totally new industry. So the whole notion of Mentors and Mentees was just to create that space, that community, and it was actually something that was missing not only on Facebook but at large, right? Kind of, like, this very democratized space where you get an international audience and a wide variety of different perspectives to kind of, like, come to the table and share their experiences. So it was just a passion project, but now it’s growing into a brand for me, man, and, you know, I have a lot of work that I have to do to continue to grow it.
Zach: So continuing on that path talking about just working. So I know, you know, recently you announced, and you’ve been celebrating–again, congratulations again–around the placement with Microsoft.
Tim: Thank you, brother.
Zach: Yeah, no, you’re welcome. In your IG story, you talked about being–like, just being an African kid and, like coming from the mud so to speak, right? And building this path for yourself. So what advice do you have for minorities who come from all sorts of backgrounds and see tech as, like, this far off, distant, mythical–like, it’s too obscure to even grasp. Like, what advice would you have for them?
Tim: I think first thing is a change of perspective. Tech permeates everything. I think a lot of people see tech as only a centralized thing, but more so see it as a–technology as a distributed kind of vehicle to a lot of different change, whether it be in the health sector, in the transportation sector, in the education sector, right? So change your perspective. It’s not just like–everyone says “I’m trying to get into tech.” Really in whatever capacity you’re working in or whatever field that interests you, you will be affected by tech in some, you know, way or form, right? So it’s a matter of understanding, “Well, if I really want to build my technical aptitude,” or “If I really want to get into this field, how do I apply tech to a problem I want to solve? How do I apply tech to where I’m going next? How do I bring in the knowledge that’s being shared, whether it be in the space of artificial intelligence, in the space of bot design, in the space of UX, how do I bring that to the work that I do as someone who wants to be a health practitioner or someone that wants to go into journalism, right? So I think changing that perspective is the #1 thing I encourage someone who wants to get into tech, quote-unquote, to do, right? See how they can apply it to a problem they want to solve and they where they want to go next. And once you make kind of that change of mindset, once you set that stance to change your mindset, you’ll start to see that, “Okay, wow.” Like, [inaudible] tech. It’s a component of tools that I could use to really actually do better, not necessarily in my job function and role but also within my community. What really got me into tech is the fact that I was obsessed. I was really obsessed with the fact that one, UX and psychology was a way where we could create digital experiences that people would understand, and it would follow them throughout their day, throughout their life, and it could be shared, and as I grew and developed my passion, I developed a deeper obsession with this whole notion of community, right? How does technology really integrate into our communities? How do we build that digital aptitude, that digital literacy, and how does it extend beyond just, you know, one person being able to do it to multiple people and then an organization and so on forth? And I think me being really obsessed with community but being obsessed with the topics, I found ways where, “Okay, there’s a lot of different ways I can use tech to scale what I’m trying to do, the problem that I’m trying to solve.” The fact that, you know, I don’t think a lot of people have that, you know, digital aptitude to really maybe start their own business or find themselves successful in that first role after their job, right? How do I one break down that education block, right? And how do I use tech to scale my solution. So changing your perspective and then seeing how you can use the tools that you have across the tech landscape, whatever it is that you’re interested in to kind of scale your solution, is the best way to go about it.
Zach: Man, this has been awesome, man. Before we let you go, do you have any shout outs, any other parting words?
Tim: Man, I think that you gotta stay hungry. [laughs] You have to stay hungry and really find your obsession, find what you really are interested in and the problems that you want to solve.
Zach: Now, where can people who want to learn more about Tim Salau–where can they engage you?
Tim: Well, [laughs] I’m not a great [omni-channel?] presence, so you can find me on my Facebook page and profile at TimSalau, on Instagram at TimSalau as well, and especially on LinkedIn, one of my favorite platforms, at TimSalau as well. Feel free to connect with me, send me an [in?] mail, let me know if I can be of help to you in anything, as well as join the Mentors and Mentees community if you’re a professional and you have a perspective to share and you have a story to share. The community is for you, and it’s a great membership base for you to learn from others as well. So definitely join our Mentors and Mentees community.
Zach: So a couple of things. First of all, yes, definitely. We’re gonna put some air horns right here for Mentors and Mentees.
[Sound Man complies]
Zach: But also, Tim has been super gracious as I’ve been jacking up his last name this entire conversation. He hasn’t corrected me one time, so shout out to you for being gracious. So air horns to Tim on that as well.
[Sound Man complies again]
Zach: So for the audience one more time, can you pronounce your name? The first and last name so we all have it right.
Tim: Tim Salau. So it’s T-I-M, my first name, and my last name is S-A-L-A-U. Tim Salau.
Zach: I’ve been saying straight up Salu this whole time. You did not correct me one time. The humility is so real. All right.
Tim: [laughs] It’s okay.
Zach: All right, so to be clear, that does it for us on the Living Corporate podcast. Make sure you follow us on Instagram at LivingCorporate, Twitter at LivingCorp_Pod, and subscribe to our newsletter through living-corporate.com. If you have a question you’d like for us to answer and read on the show, make sure you email us at email@example.com. This has been Zach, and you’ve been talking with Tim Salau. Peace.
Tim: Yeah. [laughs]
Kiara: Living Corporate is a podcast by Living Corporate, LLC. Our logo was designed by David Dawkins. Our theme music was produced by Ken Brown. Additional music production by Antoine Franklin from Musical Elevation. Post-production is handled by Jeremy Jackson. Got a topic suggestion? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find us online on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and living-corporate.com. Thanks for listening. Stay tuned.