Student ReviewVince Hall

Non Artist · Hong Kong

InterviewTranscript

  • All right, three, two, one. Hey everyone, Harry Whelchel here today. I have Vince Hall with me. We're going to be talking about how Vince got his first client in about three months helping data scientists with their careers. So Vince, why don't I turn it over to you? Can you just tell everybody a little bit about yourself, your business and what you guys do?

  • All right, hi. Yeah so Vince Hall and I coach data scientists to get jobs and to get better jobs. So generally the idea is we want people to be working with people they identify with, have similar values, working in industries that they believe in and getting salaries where they feel appreciated. So, I guess I started in May. So, then, got my first client in August and working with a former colleague now. So back when I started I was working a full-time job and I was just doing this business part-time and then

  • Vince.

  • Yep.

  • Real quick, let me just jump in. So yeah, how did you decide to do this business? What were you doing before this? Talk a little bit about that.

  • Okay. So also working part-time on the business I was trying to do coaching people to do machine learning in Python, and

  • Do you have a background in that?

  • Trying to getting going. Yeah, so been doing data science for several years now and I did a machine learning PhD. And so I thought, there seemed to be a lot of people interested in that sort of thing.

  • What drew you originally

  • Uh, but then

  • to a machine learning?

  • Okay. So I guess it started when I was studying, I was trying to decide what to do for masters and PhD and I was kind of interested in everything. So it was hard to narrow down but I thought if I do machine learning, then I can use the machines to quickly learn any subject, or hopefully I'll be able to get into a whole lot of different projects and different subjects. That was the thinking.

  • Did you study computer science as an undergraduate?

  • So I studied physics as undergrad and then it was like an interdisciplinary masters and then a PhD. So the PhD was between the chemistry department and the engineering department.

  • Interesting. Very interesting. What made you decide to go that masters PhD track? Did you think about becoming a professor at some point or being an academia or kind of what drew you to that path?

  • Yeah, I suppose so. So I wanted to do something. So coming from physics wanted something a bit more life sciences, maybe neuroscience, but then machine learning is sort of the technology equivalent of that I think. So, all right.

  • What do you mean by that? You felt like it was kind of like,

  • So

  • You're bringing the machines to life?

  • Yeah. So it's like machine learning seems to get inspiration from how the human brain works, learning things and generalizing. So that's kind of my thinking and neural networks, that was especially that sort of thing.

  • Got it. Yeah. The metaphor for the brain has changed over time and now it's very ert, the mind and the computer, comparing the computer to the brain, and the brain to the computer. It's like, I can see that. Yep. Okay. Interesting. 'Cause I used to say, the mind was like a machine back in like the industrial era and now they're like the big metaphor is the computer, but then it goes back the other way. Now, people are writing code and programs that are modeled after neurons and the brain. Is that what you're getting at?

  • Yeah yeah, that's right. It's like ebbing and learning in neurons and networks and yeah.

  • Interesting. So you said you got on that path, you were doing the masters and the PhD. What happened after the PhD? Did you go into academia for a while or did you get into industry?

  • So I wanted to do a data science job and managed to get my first job after PhD was data science. And then, so let me see. It's about six years doing different data science jobs, and one of those

  • Why did you decide to go into industry instead of staying in academia?

  • Yeah, good question. So I kinda wanna get into bigger groups that are doing more impactful work. So in academia you have small groups and you work on something for a bit and then you publish and you move on. And if you're lucky, some companies get involved and they use it. But I felt that if I was working in a company, then I could be working in much bigger groups and having thousands of customers, millions of customers, and in the end I did end up writing code that worked for, on the order of a hundred thousand people in my first job at least.

  • Cool, so it sounds like you personally are not only just interested in the science, learning, study it yourself, but also seeing an impact in your work, seeing that your work is helping people or solving different problems, is that fair?

  • Yeah, that's good.

  • Nice, nice. So, okay, what types of jobs were you in? Were they all very similar or they different?

  • So, well the first one was working in a medium sized company, vehicle telematics, so that is this tracking vehicles and seeing if people are good drivers and it was in a small group, our boss was the founder of the company. And then the second job was actually back in academia, but funded by a car company.

  • Oh.

  • So it's, again, vehicle data, and again small group, but the car company wanted to pick up that technology straight away, as soon as I finished 'cause especially with their research vehicles, they just had too much data to deal with. So what I was doing was like a data compression. So they wanted to use that straight away, but then

  • Are vehicles and automotives, is that a really in demand industry for machine learning right now, in data science?

  • Seems must be quite a lot going on. And also where I live in the west midlands of England, there are a lot of car companies, a lot of people around here are employed by these car companies or funded by them. Yeah.

  • Got it. Cool.

  • Yeah, but, in my next job was working in a startup and this was med tech, so looking at the magnetic field of the heart, trying to make a scanning device that can see if you're having a heart attack. It shortens your trips to hospital, 'cause most people go into hospital they have chest pains and they think, am I having a heart attack? And then eight, 12 hours of testing and then they find 85% of people not having a heart attack, so it's kind of a huge use of resources. So we want to minimize that. That's the idea.

  • That sounds really different than the automotive stuff is. So was it cool to be able to have that skillset and go from working on one problem and then something that's totally different?

  • Yeah yeah, so that's the sort of thing that I really like about data science and machine learning, I guess I'm more specialized in machine learning sort of things, you can just suddenly shift to something totally different. There was a lot to learn in the subject area, but it's still, there's some really useful work in that area, something like that.

  • Yeah. I mean, I know, so I wasn't a data scientist. I was a software engineer, I just remember that was one of my favorite things, is just knowing that, there was just so much demand and there's so many different problems to solve out there that when you would interview or when people, when you thought about where you wanted to go next, there were so many different industries, you could learn about all these different things and kind of bring your skillset to bear on that problem. And so that's really cool about the field of data science and that's a part of it. So, you're working in medical technology. Did that technology get to market, or was that kind of more of an early stage phase when you were there?

  • Oh yeah, it was just early phase, so still going, still trying to get it to market. My contract came to an end and then people still carrying on with that.

  • Cool. So, you were having these different interesting roles in data science. What made you decide to help other data scientists with their careers?

  • Okay. Yeah, so I've always kind of wanted to start my own company and yeah, it's nice to be doing this research as well, but so I want to have more flexibility and more ability to work on the research that I'm most interested in. And I've always wanted to really have my own thing, which I can grow in my own way, so.

  • Where does that come from? Did you follow businesses growing up? Do you have entrepreneurs in your family? What kind of peaked your interest in that path?

  • It just seems like I thought, how do people become really, really successful? And the answer usually seemed to involve being in companies, having a lot, owning a lot of a company or founding a company and that sort of thing. So, I think a lot can be done and you can scale up your work and you can get a whole lot of people to work for you, there's just so much that can be done. Whereas, in academia you can work on really cutting edge stuff, but there's always, how are we going to get money? What can we do here? And it's very small scale.

  • Yeah.

  • It's really interesting work.

  • And what's also interesting, I mean, I think there are people out there that debate, a lot of folks think if you really want to be doing cutting edge data science, that actually it's happening in industry more than academia at the moment. I guess it depends on the type of work, the type of problems, but a lot of people think, in Google, in Facebook, in Palantir, and I don't know, I'll probably name any billion dollar private unicorn company, they probably have very interesting data science teams and problems and stuff, and datasets that you can't get access to in academia, if that makes sense.

  • Yeah I think that's totally right. The times changed 'cause used to be all the interesting stuff was happening in academia or a lot of it, and now I think it's, some really cutting edge stuff with massive, awesome stuff's happening in companies.

  • Yep.

  • And yeah, so it's even in the UK, it was all, if you do physics or maths or something like that, and you're clever, you want to earn lots of money, you don't go to academia, you go to the city of London and then trade stuff but now

  • Finance.

  • But now it seems more like tech startups are stealing all those good people.

  • But what is interesting is it that, some people are saying because the data science, solving these problems requires massive datasets, it's really hard to start startups in that field because they don't have the data. And so that's why you're seeing all the data scientists, the machine learning people move into the big tech companies, because you have to find some creative way to get the data that you need if you're a small company. So for you, what's interesting is, because you want to start a company and you're also bootstrapping something, it's small, it's lean, efficient and you're also interested in data science. To me, it's cool that you figured out that you should help people advance in their careers. And that would be a good way to start a business and kind of check both those boxes, rather than just try and go and start, some sort of data science startup right out the gate when you don't have the resources and the data to do that if that makes sense.

  • Yeah. So I thought about how can I not have epic costs? I'm quite interested in robotics, for example, but massive startup costs there and med tech I was working with massive startup costs and huge regulation, because you're dealing with people's lives here. So that's why, and you see, how can I figure out how to do something and not have massive hard, ah, sorry, startup costs and then do kind of the same thing each time, so I can get really good at it.

  • Yep.

  • And that could take nine months to start up each new project. So, I thought, I like consulting, but then training people to do things rather than doing it, so rather than done for you or done with you.

  • Yep.

  • So, that's more, can get going quickly, similar each customer.

  • So as we think about your business and what you're doing, what do you think makes you unique when it comes to coaching people to get better jobs in data science, to get their first job in data science? What do you think makes you guys really differentiated from other folks doing it? If other people are doing this.

  • Yeah, yeah so I know other people are doing career coaching and I know other people are doing recruiting, which quite similar, but I haven't heard of a lot of people doing, who are data scientists and machine learning people and engineers, doing that sort of thing. So, I have a business partner and we're both engineers and data scientists, that sort of thing, so we really know the industry, really know the work and done interviews, lot of interviews on both sides, hiring side and being hired side.

  • Yep. Cool. So you actually, you have personal professional experience in the shoes of your client, seeing what they want to do, experiencing it on both ends the hiring side, the interviewing side. Yep, so that would definitely be really, really useful as you think about how to best help them. So, let's go back to right before we were working together, think back to like the month or two before that, what were you doing before working with me?

  • Okay. So I was, it was obviously five months or so into trying to find people on Facebook and sell them the coaching and doing machine learning with Python.

  • Yeah you were doing something a little bit different, right? You were trying to teach them

  • Yeah.

  • The skills, right?

  • Yeah, the coding and that sort of thing. So I wasn't really sure. I was thinking, is this really the right sort of thing to do? There are a lot of free or very cheap courses out there. Is this really what I want to be doing? And then I talked to you and you said, why not do basically career coaching, teach the soft skills because there's not really a lot of that going around and come get clients who already know most of the hard skills 'cause they've been to university and that sort of thing. Maybe they're already in a data science job. Help them get the next best job, better job.

  • Yep. So, I love it. So before we dig into that further, when you were doing, trying to teach people machine learning, the actual Python, the hard skills and stuff, how was that going? Had you had any leads, had you had any clients? What was that like?

  • So I got one client, and they were paying over months they were paying installments. And then it was very low to get actually, reduced my price quite a lot. And then COVID-19 stuff was getting started. And I guess it was already two months in and

  • Were you getting frustrated at all with

  • Yeah.

  • Just like the pace of your results or your traction?

  • Surely yeah. Yeah so that one person couldn't pay anymore and they said can we take a break until until my family get some more money basically. And that hasn't restarted, so. Frustrating.

  • Yeah. So, how were you trying to generate leads back then?

  • Okay. So I was trying to make friends with people on Facebook and go into groups where people are interested in data science and trying to answer some questions that they had, that sort of thing. But yeah, it was very part-time as well and

  • You were still working.

  • Yeah, working the job, I guess I wasn't doing all that well. Oh yeah, I had a Facebook page as well about this and a website that wasn't doing anything.

  • Yeah. So speak to, what were some of your frustrations at that time, going through round one of the business?

  • So I guess a lot was finding that there are a lot of people who are interested, but they can't pay, or they just think, I could get something much cheaper somewhere else. Yeah. And also there's the problem of starting up. So it's like, why don't I go to someone who's really established? Why would the client come to me?

  • Got it. So you're having a hard time finding people that could pay, or who, yeah. Maybe they would say they don't have money or they can't afford it, but maybe they just perceived that, maybe they did, but they had a hard time getting them bought into to invest and then maybe some beliefs around, and doubts and concerns about how can you compete when you're just starting up? You don't have any track record yet. Got it. Yeah. So, as you're going through this, where did you first hear about me?

  • I think you connected with me probably answering some questions. I saw you on a Facebook group about entrepreneurship, seemed to notice you there and then you friended me and started chatting.

  • Okay, cool. And what peaked your interest?

  • You seemed to be very helpful. And then I saw your interviews with people, with your clients that you've really helped. And it just seemed to really work for me. I thought, yeah, that's what I need. I need someone to coach me one-on-one and, or in a small group. And a lot of the clients that you had seemed to be quite similar to me.

  • Nice. Nice man. So as you think back over the last couple of months, we don't have to go through every single detail, but maybe can you speak to one, two, three things that you've really benefited from, that you've learned, that you've improved through the process of working with me?

  • Okay. So one of the things is scale. So I want to be connecting with a whole lot more people, so I'm really trying to do that. And quite successfully I think so yeah, just touching on that quickly, what else? So I think

  • So that's kind of on lead generation. So figuring out just like what it actually takes to generate leads, how many conversations you need to be having, actually getting a firsthand taste of that and seeing what it takes, is that kinda what you're getting at?

  • Yeah. And I guess just, and it's also just keep building things, don't expect it to happen straight away. Don't be really worried that it's happening a little bit slower for me, I guess. I've not been going super focused, difficult, like with having a job for a bit, but not anymore. And having kids at home with lockdown and summer holidays and stuff. Yeah, so another thing, I think that's really good is really good on helping people to showcase, how they've helped people. And, so I'm kind of getting started from nothing, but you helped me, you gave me some advice there, you get some social proof. So, and people can view that before talking to me in strategy sessions, and yeah.

  • Have you found that to be helpful, having those assets?

  • Yeah people seem to like that and people really seem to get good advice from there and enjoy that.

  • Nice. That's awesome.

  • So let me see. Yeah, write sales script. I think that was really good. Think you helped me a lot there, and structuring offer, yeah, quite a lot of different things.

  • So yeah. Number of different things. Just kind of seeing how to do the basics at a higher level, deeper, just doing those things well. Do you feel like you're still, tuning those things, practicing those things, getting better every day, working on those things?

  • Yeah, I reckon so yeah. So I managed to get my first client, but there's still more to do, and there's a lot more to do, a lot more to learn. I need to get better at sales, better at, talking more freely and listening and digging deeper. I'm getting there.

  • You are. You definitely are. So yeah, what's on deck for you in the next 30 days, 60 days?

  • Okay. Getting result for my client and getting them a nice job, but also, teaching them how to generate those leads for jobs basically, so teaching them how to network effectively and how to build their network. Lots of different skills to give them, and then finally getting them that job that they're really looking for.

  • Awesome. Yeah, that'll be huge. Getting that success story is going to be really critical to going to the next level for sure.

  • Yeah. And then I really want to get an interview from him and I really want to make sure he's happy and then people can see I've helped out this person. I'm sure it will get easier after that and then getting going with more clients.

  • Yep.

  • So that's what I'm aiming at in the next few months.

  • Yeah and I would just say, as you do that, as we work on that long in parallel, see if you can get a couple of other clients, and have a nice little cohort 'cause they'll get inspired and motivated by being together, working together, seeing each other, having wins and things like that. So, don't stop on the sales.

  • Oh no, no.

  • So yeah, more broadly, kind of more abstractly, are there any areas of your life personally, professionally, do you feel like have changed or improved through this process?

  • Yeah, so having my own business is nice. I have more control over my time, so I'm not so stressed about, got to do all this work at these times. When's the boss going to phone? That sort of thing. I guess I'm probably getting better at talking to other people and if people get stressed, kind of getting to the bottom of what is the root cause here and what can we work out, how can we work out a solution? Anything else.

  • That's perfect. So better control of your time, better flexibility with your time. And also just better communication skills. It sounds like also better emotional intelligence, being able to understand the other person, what they're feeling and help them diagnose their issue, and get to the root issue, is that fair?

  • Yeah yeah.

  • That's awesome man. These skills, interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, those things, time management, things like that, you're right, this is all a big part of growing as a business person, business owner and these skills no matter what you do over your career, your life, they're just so valuable, but they're really soft, you know?

  • Yeah. And I guess

  • That's awesome.

  • You hinted at, I feel now it's more about get some things done and actually you work really hard on those things for a bit. And then I can go back to other things in my life and working with my family and painting the bathroom or whatever, and before it was epic things, I'd have to work all the day through. So trying to get progress, but I feel like I'm making more progress this way. I feel, it's more about getting it done, not being busy.

  • Yep. I see. So also seeing the difference between just being busy with make work, are you really spending your time wisely? Versus maybe really understanding what is the key thing you need to do, doing that, but then giving yourself grace, once you've done it to, if you have to do a chore, you have to do this or that and having that flexibility and being less, I remember with me when I was starting out my career, yeah you just think that if you're chained to your desk, you're spending hours there, you're productive, but if you're not doing productive things, it's not really moving anything forward, you know?

  • Yeah.

  • Nice man. So, as you think back to our sales conversation, why did you decide to do business with me?

  • Okay. So it just, well even before the sales conversation, it seemed like there's a lot of track record for you. You've done some really good stuff. And I thought that you could do that for me. And I think I'm right. And yeah. So in the sales call, it was an easy chat and you seemed to be helpful. So yeah, I wanted to go forward with that and I didn't want to put off business anymore. I wanted to really get started building this business. And so yeah, we did.

  • Yep. So was there anything at the very end that kind of had to kick you over the fence? Or were you pretty decided even before we started the conversation?

  • So you were saying, I was a bit worried about time because I was still in a job and you were saying, I can still do a lot in my spare time, in the months to come. So yeah, I think I managed to do quite a lot in that time.

  • Got it. So yes. You had a sense of doubt, hesitation about your schedule at the time and then we were able to address that and we got you going. Now having actually done that, and you were working on this for a while part-time with your job, did you find that that was true? Did you feel like you were making progress, learning, doing okay even though you're doing it part-time?

  • Yeah I felt like I was learning a lot. I felt like I was getting things done, moving along with the process, building up everything to start the company, starting up properly yeah.

  • Yeah and I think that goes to the point we just talked about earlier about often people aren't making progress, not because they're not putting in enough hours, it's because they're not doing the right things in the right order or doing those things well enough. And once you have someone

  • Sure.

  • To show you how to do that, it's like you can all of a sudden really utilize that one Saturday or those, the Saturday and like two or three evenings a week or whatever time you have available and all of a sudden you're moving forward again.

  • Yeah. And also because a lot of it is, so your training is available on, I can get it on my phone and I can also do a lot of Facebook stuff, connecting with people, finding people to connect with, finding data science groups, chatting to people. I can do a lot on my phone. So I didn't just do it a spare a moment here or there wherever I am always have my phone with me. So that was a lot easier than previous work, as well.

  • Nice. So would you recommend others work with me?

  • Yeah definitely.

  • Well, thank you for that. Who do you think is a good fit in particular?

  • Okay, so I guess my experience is just starting out pretty much from nothing. You're very helpful in that. So you've got a great wealth of stuff, that wealth of knowledge that is definitely useful to anyone doing that. And also others who people seem to do really well with you, where they already have a business and they're making some money, it might not be so predictable every month. And you help them to get that really scaled up. So people seem to do really, really well, in those.

  • Yeah. I like that. I think that makes sense. On that kind of first person, person just starting out. I wouldn't sell yourself short. You aren't really starting from zero. Think about the things you have. You are, well-trained, you're a technical professional, you had industry experience. So you had a lot of raw materials, of expertise and professional experience, life experience, work experience, career experience, that just needed somebody's help to package up and then show you how to add the sales and marketing skills that you need to turn it into a business. So I wouldn't say you were starting from zero by any measure of the imagination. Do you see what I'm getting at? Do you agree?

  • Sure. Yeah. No, I mean, I was okay with jobs, but not in business. So getting started with business, yeah, there's a lot that I learned from you and I'm still learning.

  • Yep. And I would say, so I like to think of it as like, people like you who are technical professionals, people that have real experience, but they're looking to start a business. They're looking to change from a job to a business and they want somebody to show them the ropes to allow that to become predictable, for them to get there faster. And yeah, I love working with people like that because they have, again, they have the skills, they have the raw materials, they just don't know it yet. Or they don't have the sales and marketing piece. They need a few dots connected for themselves. And once they do that, they're off to the races.

  • Nice. Yeah,

  • Yeah. So why should someone listening take action right now?

  • Yeah, so, my biggest fear is not taking too many risks, but it's not taking risks. I think, basically, what do they say? You don't regret the things that you, basically the risks you take, you regret not trying to do something. And someone once said to me, when I was even younger, so I'm pretty young now, staring in my career, you don't get to work on as many projects as you think, your career kind of goes quickly. So don't wait. There's never going to be a good time. Just make it happen now. And there's so much to grow because yeah, there's just so much you can do, but if you don't get started, then you're never going to do it and you'll just regret not doing it.

  • Yep. Yeah it's interesting man. I feel like most of the people that I talk to, it's not that they're trying to, it's not like they think about it, it's like they're buying, an iPod and they're trying to figure out, do I want the black one, the white one, the red one, they're shopping around in different options. It's either they're going to do it or they're not going to do it. That's the choice. It's either stay where I am status quo, or make a change. And that status quo can be insidious man. People don't even realize that is a choice. That's what you're doing. You're making an active decision to just stay where you are. And I love what you said about, people actually like taking healthy, calculated risks. It's important, that's what life and growth, growth and learning and change comes after doing that. And there is risk in not doing anything either. There's massive risk, but it's just harder to see, if that makes sense. But I would ask you this, now having done it, do you feel like it was a risky decision or do you feel like it was not really that risky at all?

  • I think in the start, in the beginning, it's kind of risky 'cause you're thinking if you don't have a lot of savings, then you're thinking, how do I keep going the next few months? But, there's just so much growth that can happen from having a business, like personal development and money and so many options that I think it's so worth it. And, am I answering the question?

  • Yeah. So, you're glad you made the decision. You glad you jumped in and yeah, that's awesome. Good man, well, I'm excited for you. This is so great. Everyone moves at their own path, their own journey, their own pace. I think you're doing great. You're knocking things down. You're predictably moving forward, advancing toward these milestones. So keep it up with it, man. I can't wait to see what you do next. Just a couple other questions. So lastly, what would be your number one piece of advice for other coaches and consultants?

  • Okay. Let me see. I guess it's really important to focus on helping people and if you are starting a business or that sort of thing, don't focus on the money because then you'll probably just flip from one thing to another. Oh, that's going to make me money, that is, now that. I think you'll get good at nothing. Focus on being really helpful to people and then people will want to come and work with you.

  • Yep. I love it, man. Yeah. The folks who are just trying to make money online are like, oh, what's the right niche? What's the right thing? And they're like shopping around what business to do. It's like, that is not a recipe for success. It's like you said, picking one group of people, just focusing on helping them, if you keep working and getting better and better, 10% better every day at helping those people, eventually they're gonna wanna start paying you money for them to help you. And then they're gonna wanna pay you a lot more money. And then, you're in business. It's just like a natural progression, but people don't realize yeah, you just have to get good. You have to legitimately put in the work, get good at helping one group of people solve a problem in a predictable way, and if you can do that, it's really fun and it's not that difficult. It's not rocket science.

  • Great. Yeah.

  • Awesome man. Well, if people want to learn more about you, your business, where can they find out more about you online?

  • Well yeah, so my website is vincehallconsulting.com and people can go there and check out a bit about me and I'm also on Facebook and LinkedIn, but that's the easiest place to get to. And then people can book a quick chat with me, just see if I can help out so it's a free chat.

  • Nice. So yeah, either go to your website, vincehallconsulting.com, check you out on Facebook, send you a friend request, send you a message, something like that as well.

  • Yeah, so I think on Facebook

  • Awesome.

  • I'm Vince Hall 1. I think that's it.

  • Okay, cool. Well Vince, thanks so much, man. Yeah, let's keep going and can't wait to see what you do in the next 30 to 60 days, man.

  • Excellent. Thanks Harry. It's been really good.

  • All right, man. Cheers, bye.

  • Cheers.

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