Digital Community in a New Normal (w/ Kyum Kim)

Zach sits down with Kyum Kim, the co-founder of Blind, to discuss the journey of the platform and its role in building inclusive and equitable communities. Blind is a trusted community where 4.1M+ verified professionals anonymously discuss and share career insights and experiences – check the links in the show notes to find out more!

Struggling with your Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) work? Kanarys—a Black-founded company—has your back. Regardless of where you are on your DEI journey, we arm you with the insights you need now to take action now. From audits to assessments to data-informed strategy, we’d love to be the partner you have been looking for. Email stacey@kanarys.com or learn more at https://www.kanarys.com/employer.

Connect with Kyum on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Check out Blind’s website. They’re also on Instagram and Twitter.

TRANSCRIPT

SPEAKER 1 0:00

Hey, what’s up, y’all? This is Zack we live in corporate. And, look, it seems to be here, right. Now I know a lot of the podcasts y’all listen to, you know, they take a break, right? But we don’t stop. Okay, no days off. I know sleep. That’s super toxic. That’s not true. We’re actually all taking a break right now. But we want to make sure that we’re still giving you content that centers and amplifies black and brown folks at work. And so what we decided to do was do something called 12 days of podcasts. So we’re dropping a podcast every day for content that we recorded discussions that we had earlier this year, that we’re really excited about, but we couldn’t air earlier in the year because of just the chaos of 2020. But we want to make sure that you get this content that you hear what’s going on. So we’re really excited about what we’re about to share with you. Before we get there. We’re going to tap in with Tristan, see on a second.



SPEAKER 2 1:07

What’s going on living corporate fam is Tristan from lay field, resume consulting, and I’ve teamed up with living corporate to bring you all another weekly career tip. So today, let’s discuss career coaches. The first career coaching firm started back in 1946. Back then, and through the 80s. Career coaching was largely reserved for CEOs and executives, and career support for workers lower in the ranks typically took the form of apprenticeships. By the time millennials got into the workforce, all of that was gutted, and we were left to figure out our careers on our own. Now, fast forward to today, and the Times had definitely changed. There are companies now that provide their employees career coaches on day one, not necessarily so they can figure out their next step, but so they can make the most of their current step. With job searching becoming increasingly difficult career coaches like myself have risen to the occasion to try and assist job seekers and navigating them. Now that coaching is on the rise, it’s imperative that we have a discussion around who should seek out a coach, and why you should be selective about the coach you decide to work with. If you think you need a career coach you more than likely do. But there are a few questions you need to ask yourself. Number one, do I understand that a career coach won’t do all the work for me? Number 2am, I ready to put in work to attain the career I want? And number three, do I have a budget to work with a coach? If you answer no to any of those questions, odds are you’re not ready for Career Coach just yet. Think about a career coach like a basketball coach. They don’t play the game, but they help you practice and give you all the tools you need to win. In order for you to take your game to the next level, you have to be zoned and you have to be ready to invest in yourself to get there. Most coaches are going to take you through a process that requires dedication with a capital D. If you are ready to execute on your goals, then more than likely you aren’t ready for a coach just yet. Also, remember that all coaches do not have the same methods and every coach is not for every person, you should do your research on your coach, Google them take advantage of any free consultation or exploration calls. And if you want to go further, don’t be afraid to ask for a client reference. Believe me, any good coaches vetting you just as much and should encourage you to assess if you all are a fit. After all, you’re spending money and they’re spending time and I’m sure neither one of you want to waste those precious resources. This tip was brought to you by Tristan of lay field. Resume consulting, check us out on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook at lay field. Resume or connect with me, Tristan Lay field on LinkedIn.



SPEAKER 1 3:47

Digital communities are more important than ever before. And it’d be I think a missed opportunity if live in corporate wasn’t able to talk to someone who is heading up one of if not the largest said communities in the world. And we have such a person with us today. Kyum Kim. Kyum Kim is the co-founder and COO a head of operations for blind, blind is a posting app, a community building app for all types of professionals, over 2.7 million users across the world. Use this app to connect talk about life work and living. And we have Kim on the show. And we’re excited to talk to him Kim what’s going on, man. Welcome to the show.



SPEAKER 3 4:31

Hi, thanks for having me here.



SPEAKER 1 4:32

How are you doing? You know, I’d be remiss not to ask, how’s it going? How’s your family in the midst of this pandemic?



SPEAKER 3 4:40

Yeah, I’m actually doing pretty well. I had a long, relaxing weekend and feel refreshed in Monday morning. And yeah, I’ve been working out of my apartment since early March, living with my wife and three other cats. And it’s been great. I mean, I spend much more time with my family, I guess. So some things are challenging. Definitely. But in terms of spending time with my family, it has been great.



SPEAKER 1 5:04

Now for those of us you know, who don’t know you, we’re going to talk about blind but we needed, you know, for us to talk about blind even talk about your story too. So would you mind telling us a little bit more about yourself?



SPEAKER 3 5:13

My name is Kyum Kim, and I’m an entrepreneur from South Korea living in the Bay Area. I started my career in Korea as a sales rep at a hyper growth e commerce start-up. And it was a company that when I first joined was about 15 employees. And in two years, it became 1000. It was a really exciting experience. And I really fell in love with start-ups ever since which kind of led me to founding blind. And to give you more context about blind is an anonymous community for verified professionals. And with updated user numbers, we have 3.5 million users worldwide right now.



SPEAKER 1 5:51

3.5 million Will forgive me I definitely Wow, okay. Okay.



SPEAKER 3 5:56

Yeah, we’re growing. And to give a little bit more context about the product, it’s a community similar to Reddit, but all the users are verified with their work email. So once a user signs up, users get access to two different channels. One is a private channel where they can connect with their co-workers, privately. And there’s another channel, which is public where they can talk to people in other companies and industries. And we disconnect all the activities of the users with the verification process to really ensure anonymity here.



SPEAKER 1 6:30

That’s just so many, that’s so many people. It’s so like, I guess I’m trying to figure out like, where in the history like when, as you were building up that first of all, why blind?



SPEAKER 3 6:43

Sure. So blind basically started with an idea to provide a safe place to talk about work, our founders all have experience working in big tech companies. And what we felt was in a professional setting, it is really hard to just express your mind when you’re working for a company. So anonymity plays a significant role here, because professionals can’t be their true selves when they’re attached to their real identities. And the reason is, they fear retaliation from the companies. But more often, they fear being judged by their peers, because it’s really hard to gauge what others think. And this actually prevents them from asking the necessary questions or providing valuable feedback. So we had this idea where blind addresses the fear of saying the wrong thing. Instead of avoiding potentially contentious conversations, we decided to kind of mobilize them to create a mutual understanding and growth within the organization. So that was kind of our motivation behind the product. And the reason we decided to attach these professionals to verified identities is to maintain enough context to make the discussions relevant. And the discussions now ranged from company specific discussions such as promotions, internal reviews, and of course, diversity and inclusion, executive changes, and more. So the layoffs and furloughs recently happening within the companies and in the industry channels, we have discussions such as HR issues, interviews, compensation, work culture, asking about work culture, and other companies and of course, work pieces. Those are the popular the popular topics that we have.



SPEAKER 1 8:23

And so then let me ask this and then so I have so many questions that I find this whole, I find this like this concept, like really intriguing, like semi anonymous, digital communities, like How have your executive partnerships, or the companies that you work with? I would presume I’m not trying to spill all your beans, right. But I would presume that when you have these like company specific groups, or channels, that that data, that feedback is in packaged and then shared back with those companies in some way. Right? Like they’re able to get like raw, honest questions and feedback back about from their employees, again, in a much more approachable or just like transparent way. And I’m curious to know, like, what’s been your experience and how companies receive that feedback or receive that data?



SPEAKER 3 9:10

Sure. That’s a really great question. And actually, we have not worked with the companies at all to this point. And the reason being, we were definitely trying to become a platform where we can provide insights to companies as well. But at first, we thought our mission was to get the trust from the users first. So whenever we have company channels, when I talk about these channels, it’s not a company sponsored channel is just a channel that anyone can come in and participate without the permission of the company or anything.



SPEAKER 1 9:47

Okay, got it. So it’s just like, what does it look like to take 3.3 point five? Yes. 3.53 point 5 million points of input and feedback. So is blind looking to do any type of like, large scale research to individually share that out? Or like, what is that? What’s next with that? Because I just I can’t imagine having like, what a whole, like a state full of people? Like what’s the like I just I mean, I mean, I don’t work from line, right? So I’m not I’m not supposed to get into some like, super detailed, like, sure. But I’m just curious like how do you envision like maximizing the value of having all of that feedback and data?



SPEAKER 3 10:31

Sure. So we are starting to look for ways to become this fair intermediate between our users and the companies and users, meaning the employees at these companies. And our first priority has been always maintaining the security and trust of our users. And what we found out recently do talking to these professionals or leaders at companies is that we’re in a good position to actually become an advocate to the employee, while being the advisor to the company. Because we have a lot of data that is being collected. These are not the information that can identify an individual. But these are information about insights or sentiments within the company. And we do have some unique advantages over other employee insight tools or HR tools out there, because employees at these companies visit blind 10 to 15 days per month on average, which means we have a lot of real time behavioural data for these users. And these insights are pretty honest and filtered. So interestingly, we did a survey about company sponsored surveys, and 25% of our users said, they are not being honest, in company sponsored surveys. Yeah, there are surveys, which is kind of funny. But on blind, there’s no need to fear retaliation from the companies or even your co-workers. So people tend to give us much more honest answers. And we can also provide benchmarks. So since you know, we are open for any company out there, we have 1000s of users, maybe 10s of 1000s of users at many different companies. So we can actually benchmark and compare companies, which are going to be valuable for viewership. And those metrics will actually give them an idea on where they are. So an example of that is, we have 2 million search queries generated every month. And 90% of the search queries are company names. So we know when an employee at PwC searches for Google and what keywords are associated with that. So with those kind of data, we can build kind of a job market trend, which is just real time. And we can see where the professionals are looking and what priorities they have. And through their behavioural data, we can see what kind of qualities they look for in a company. So those are kind of insights that we’re kind of looking into right now and trying to make into a product going forward.



SPEAKER 1 13:13

Let’s talk about blind because you will you alluded to it a bit. Right. So you talked about blind and how engages on topics of diversity and inclusion. I’m curious, when you think about blind in the fact that like, you’re taking the majority of people out there, and you’re bringing the majority into a platform? And I’m not sure how much of this like you want to hear that you guys have. But like, is it fair to say that, like black and brown people make up like a minority of the users online? Or would you say that you see greater black and brown participation on the app than you would like in the common US population?



SPEAKER 3 13:51

So it is really hard to tell what race racial background our users have, because it’s an anonymous apps. But we do see a lot of discussions that talk about minorities. And also we do have a lot of discussions about immigrants, because our user base is heavily concentrated in tech and finance industries. Yeah, there are a lot of immigrants and a lot of work. These are discussions there. So we’re assuming that we do have significant amount of users from those demographics, but I can’t tell you the exact numbers because we just don’t have the information.



SPEAKER 1 14:29

The reason I ask is because, you know, you made a statement about like, you know, people are able to be free here because they feel like they’re free from being retaliated against. And I just think is really curious Kim, because it’s like, you know, how still, despite all of these efforts that companies make, how unsafe employees still feel at work to like, really be themselves or like, really ask questions that may quote unquote, expose them, right. Like there’s still a ways to go for companies, if they really want to get you know, honesty from there. Employees, you know what I mean?



SPEAKER 3 15:01

Yeah, yeah, definitely.



SPEAKER 1 15:03

I guess I’m also trying to figure out like, when you talk about like, this tool, and when we look at like the growth of this tool, where have you seen blind go in light of this pandemic? And like, kind of how has it changed? Have you seen like the way that the app is being used change? Have you seen engagement on the app change and shift? Since the pandemic has started? Like, what, if any trends or patterns have you noticed?



SPEAKER 3 15:29

Sure. So we saw a lot of changes, actually. And our product was usually used to find out new job opportunities before the pandemic. I mean, there were other discussions time from time to time. But after the pandemic, there were a couple of stages to the conversation. So when the first death happened in the United States, I can enter February, that’s when companies started implementing work from home policies. And people turned to blind when there’s a lot of uncertainty. And users started coming into blind and started talking about which companies are implementing more foreign policies, and which companies are not and how they’re feeling about staying the office, I go into the office. And so we created a spreadsheet for these users to submit information on which companies are doing working from home. And we got a lot of good feedback from that. And then the conversation kind of shifted to job security concerns. And now a lot of people are talking about layoffs. And this is what’s amazing about anonymous communities what happened afterwards, because then the community started reaching out to each other offering to help. So we’ve had layoffs spreadsheets generated on the app. And it just basically gives people a chance to put their name on a spreadsheet if they were unfortunate, because of the pandemic. And we opened the referral channel so people can ask for referrals to different companies. And we also have a crowdsource job boards right now. And it’s really amazing on how helpful these people are in an anonymous context, because it basically they’re strangers. But there are a lot of people who are reaching out to each other to help them find new opportunities. Because oftentimes, if you’re on a work visa, you need to find a new job within the 90 days. And this is a time when people definitely in your head.



SPEAKER 1 17:25

I just think it’s incredible that like, and again, I maybe I sound kind of old, but it’s like is 2020, but like we’re using this app, and this tool like to really connect and bring together millions of people. And I’m curious as to you know, when you think about blind over the next, I don’t know, like 18 months? Where do you see it going in terms of its user capabilities? And like user experience? Where do you see it going in terms of its role in connecting companies with their employees a little bit better? And then where do you see it going in terms of its space, or it’s positioning in this market? Because you have you know, you have your competitors, right, like, I think like the biggest competitor is, is fishbowl. And so I’m curious, just to kind of get your point of view, as you think about the vision of blind in the near future.



SPEAKER 3 18:12

Yeah, sure. Um, I think it’d be helpful if I start with what I think line is to the industry. And I think fine, is actually transforming the way people communicate within companies. Because traditionally, corporate communication had, it was two ways, basically. So it was company versus employees. So it’s either company delivering a message to all answers to employee’s questions, or requests, or the employee submitting feedback. But last 10 years, I think has been kind of the era of content related to companies, which represents well in platforms like Glassdoor there has been a lot of like review platforms and company rankings. And I think that’s going to stay. But I think what blind does additional to that is the rise of employee networks. So while before information was shared privately within the companies and lived on these content platforms afterwards, now it’s going to be shared on these networks. And whether it be companies like reputation, information about the company will live on these networks. And that’s what basically blind is. So now, instead of information being transmitted two ways, it’s multiracial. And it’s becoming accessible to people who didn’t have these access to these informational networks. So that said, our mission, of course, is to expand our product beyond tech and finance. And we believe these kind of employee networks are necessary in any professional space. So our goal is to build a strong foundation there. And yeah, as I mentioned before, we’re starting to look for ways to how to really help the companies because that’s the only way we think We will actually add more value to our users by giving the companies the right insights and the right feedback and right advisory from the data that we have from the usage that we have. So that is kind of the direction we’re going. We do have some products on the line, but nothing really concrete. As of yet. It’s surprisingly really interesting to compare it with traditional consumer marketing. Because when you think about traditional marketing, marketing, traditional products, it was usually the company’s just advertising to consumers and consumers have a choice to weather buy or not. But now all the sentiment about the product lives on social networks, and it lives everywhere. And referrals are much more stronger than ever, in consumer marketing. And I think the same is going to happen for the companies and it is already happening. It’s not only us tackling the market, so I think we’re in a really good position to be the pioneers in that space right now.



SPEAKER 1 21:02

Man, I agree, you know, I have to shout you out. Because I do believe that the future of work is going to continue to include and blind proves it and need for a semi anonymous platform for marginalized employees to have a greater voice and to be heard. I think that like these types of digital communities that are still verified, right, so you know, that this person works at x play. So you know, this person where X and Y place, or that they do this thing, they come from this industry, but it flattens access and information in a lot of different ways. Because it’s semi blind, right? It’s like, I think that’s really cool. And I just want to thank you for being on the show, before we let you go, any parting words, or shoutouts.



SPEAKER 3 21:50

Shoutouts to you for inviting me on the show. And I guess like, since you’re doing a great job in working with diversity, equity and inclusion, I think my last words there before I hang up is what we observed over time is that when we create a space where you have just enough identity to have a context in conversation, but when you strip away that other identity, we saw that surprisingly, people are much more open to each other. Because there’s no need to become like the political, you know, you’re no longer competitors. You’re no longer you don’t no longer have that professional facade. And as an immigrant entrepreneur from Korea, I’ve had my heart share as well. And I always think that what if I had the access to blind five years ago when I first came to the US, and it’s fascinating, because if I had the access to all this information, my job would have been much easier. And I think that’s what really excites me in the morning, because we are opening up access to a lot of information that wasn’t accessible. If you didn’t go to a certain school, or if you were not part of a demographic network, or, you know, there’s a lot of these like private networks within but on blind people are just mutually equal. So I think that’s the beauty of our platform. And in terms of diversity and inclusion, I think we have been playing a role where at least we make the thing field level for these people by giving them access to be information. So yeah, I think that that would be my last comment, I guess.



SPEAKER 1 23:36

Kim, this has been super dope, y’all. You know we do we’re having these conversations every single week. Make sure you check us out. And look till next time, you’ve been talking to Kyum Kim, co-founder, CEO of blind 3.5 million user, you probably feel listeners, you probably have at least heard of it if you’re not on it. But if you haven’t checked out blonde, make sure you check out the show notes. Sign up, do your thing. And we’ll catch y’all next time y’all peace. And we’re back. Listen, I want to thank you for real if you’re listening to this, thank you so much. For engaging, we live in corporate, it has been a hell of a year and a hellacious year at the very same time. But we’re thankful for just being here. And we hope that you come back. Shout out to y’all make sure you sure live in corporate with a friend or two with a relative as you do your socially distance Christmas gatherings. And we’ll catch you soon. All right, peace.



SPEAKER 4 24:47

Living corporate is a podcast living corporate LLC. Our logo was designed by David Dawkins. Our theme music was produced by Ken Burns. Additional music production by Anton Franklin from musical elevation post production is handled by Jeremy Jackson. Got a topic suggestion. Email us at living corporate podcast@gmail.com. You can find us online on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and living dash corporate.com Thanks for listening. Stay tuned.

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