The conversation this week is with George Bryant, a partner of Fulton Analytics. Fulton Analytics is a Minnesota-based data analytics strategy and consulting company committed to delivering data success. Their data success framework aligns people's processes and technology toward agile data transformation. George has a passion for soccer as well as being a head coach for a number of teams around the Twin Cities.
If you are interested in learning about how AI is being applied across multiple industries, be sure to join us at a future AppliedAI Monthly meetup and help support us so we can make future Emerging Technologies North non-profit events!
Resources and Topics Mentioned in this Episode
George Bryant 0:00
I don't want to highlight something that that doesn't often get talked about when it comes to data integrity as well. In large part a lot of people interpret data integrity to be unclean rotten data, like there's gaps in it. And that's absolutely true. But the other the other form of data integrity that people don't visualize so much in their minds is the process driven data integrity, where if you have the option, let's say let's use the medical as the as the example, if you have adult, pediatric for kids and neonatal and other such buckets, then if you have a bucket that says other, and there's people that just select other for everything, that's not bad data is just not helpful. And therefore you can do the analysis on those other fields and suppress or sort of say what other in those scenarios but data integrity due to ambiguity as well. And that's, that's a key part of the conversation that doesn't come up when it comes to the cleanliness of data, and the usefulness of data as well. Just because every field is populated doesn't mean that every field is actually useful, and therefore you actually get in the right message.
AI Announcer 1:04
Welcome to the conversations on applied AI podcast where Justin Grammens and the team at emerging technologies North talk with experts in the fields of artificial intelligence and deep learning. In each episode, we cut through the hype and dive into how these technologies are being applied to real world problems today. We hope that you find this episode educational and applicable to your industry and connect with us to learn more about our organization at applied ai.mn. Enjoy.
Justin Grammens 1:35
Welcome, everyone to the conversations and applied AI Podcast. Today we're speaking with George Bryant, a partner of Fulton Analytics. Fulton Analytics is a Minnesota based data analytics strategy and consulting company committed to delivering data success. Their data success framework aligns people process and technology towards agile data transformation. George has a passion for soccer as well being a head coach for a number of teams around the Twin Cities. Thanks, George, for being on the program today.
George Bryant 1:59
Justin Grammens 2:00
Awesome, good, you know, give a little bit of an intro on on where you're at today with regards to being a partner at at Fulton but a lot of our listeners are kind of curious on what was your background? You know, when he got out of college or whatever, maybe what was the path to get you to where where you are today?
George Bryant 2:13
Oh, mine's a little more bizarre than some I won't lie. So when I come out of school schooling, this in this terms was back in England. So our system is slightly different. There's less reliance on various forms of education, but basically, so I came out eating and and so what a lot of people do they go to university, or college to do all those things, I did not do that I actually went down the path of working full time, just because growing up, I was very good at school, I just wasn't very good at doing school. So one thing that sort of came out of that was I'm much better at doing just hands on learning and going out and doing that. And so that's kind of where I started. And I think as with most people in the data world, I kind of accidentally found it, or it found me whichever way you want to put it both are good. So to get to where I am today, only I went through a journey of just I was working full time, I think I was doing 60 plus hours a week quite comfortably. And I was I was happy doing it, I had no problem. But then because I was younger, I kind of thought to myself, well, if I'm gonna do that, then let's do something interesting with the life first. So I packed my bags, I moved to China for three years. And then that's where I met an American lady came over here, and then started doubling down in that data world because that's kind of the job I fell into and got pulled over into the data and analytics environment and started just doubling down and working all the way through. And now I'm here running, when I consult in the firm, as you're introduced for and I'm having loads of fun doing it. That's excellent. You know, as you were talking about just working a lot of hours, you know, there's this concept of to get mastery, you have to hit 10,000 hours, you know, do you think you've hit your 10,000 hours already? Oh, we've so I haven't been you know, I've not been doing it right. But quite frankly, I think I must be well beyond that is quite to be honest. Oh good. I mean it were you always sort of interested in data and analytics and stuff like that growing up? Or was it something that maybe to switch just sort of flipped one day? I think it's always been that want to do some that sort of self analysis. So he was so good for you, I look back at my childhood and think, Well, I was creating graphs out of ridiculous things that the coins I had, or little competition I had with these little toys where they would have to try and you know, get themselves into a certain position to for me to them to judge it and then creating graphs over time. And even back in the day when you had them then big massive floppy disk things not the not the square blue ones, the really big ones that are made of not floppy than anything and creating a program with those just doing some visuals and then seeing variables and understanding subconsciously what to do with them to change color to change size. And so I think it's always kind of been there. But then as I did move into adulthood and started doing some of that work, it just sort of naturally picked itself up. So when working in a shop, I'd be the one looking at the report saying well we should move that because it's doing better and it will do than its nationally highest sales, but we're not utilizing, and just sort of doing my own analysis on things without ever realizing it was truly what I was doing.
Justin Grammens 5:08
Cool. I mean, is there any type of market segment that you like to focus on at, either at Fulton or, you know, you know, with regards to your own personal passions
George Bryant 5:17
We're industry agnostic, we've, we really go with all industries, because everyone needs analytics, and everyone needs various forms of like data consistency, and integrity and, and anything that goes beyond that. So when it does come to the answers of those questions, they're generally a lot more personal. I think, when it came to learning, some of the tools that are out there, working with a dataset that you are, have a passion for or familiar with, is definitely the best way to learn something. So in my case, that was soccer. As you referenced at the beginning, I ended up creating a for historic to current day, complete ecosystem dashboard of stadium and everything for West Ham United, which is the team who I followed back in England, and it spanned back 120 years. And it really helped me understand the tools that I was working with at that time, which I think at that point, it was probably. So there's, there's a whole lot of learning I did with that data set. But these days, I generally find myself really enjoying the emergency medical sort of air ambulance industry, through a lot of luck, just like anything else, we've gotten to one company that, you know, when you go into you go into a company, and you're getting your insight you're getting you're learning and all those different things, and you're getting some great outcomes. And there's there's some pride in that. But when your outcomes are, we genuinely contributed to saving three, four minutes on on, you know, emergency medical things, those outcomes are literally lives in some cases. And so we've been told examples where the things some of the things we've created have have genuinely done that. And so when that's the outcome that comes from something, you're just much more likely to just gravitate towards something like that. I mean, that's much more satisfying than saving X insurance company, a large sum of money, which is still nice, but nothing compared to something like that. So I've really doubled down in that industry in recent months.
Justin Grammens 7:05
That's phenomenal. No, yeah, I totally know what you mean, it's kind of using technology to make this world a better place, rather than, you know, saving millions for millionaires, I guess in some ways. So there's definitely an altruistic value in that and I can I can absolutely empathize with that type of work. So what like, what is the day in the life of a person I hear that you're at this startup, I guess, would you guys still consider yourself a startup small company?
George Bryant 7:28
We're definitely a smaller company. Yeah, we're not we're not one of these larger corporate sort of ones. And it's still run by Robert Garrett's my business partner myself, we do have one other person in the leadership. Now just because you do get to a point where you can't handle everything and do it well. But we're still small company in that regard. For Dana life for someone like me in particular, is probably different to shouldn t employees. But so what I generally do is I spend my time supporting our employees. And at this point, we have 20 plus. And I also a large amount of my time goes to pre sales and architecture conversations, and everything in between those ecosystems and, and what that entails, I'm lucky in that there are still, some of the ways that I get to train people is by going on to projects with some more junior people, and actually doing the development still. So I stay in touch with my development skills, I still get to do the thing that I ultimately enjoy. But I also get the enjoyment of starting something up and passing it on and allowing that knowledge to keep going through. So one thing that that kind of occurred to me as part of that in recent months, and the risk of sounding potentially the wrong way in terms of arrogance, but what I have discovered is over the last four years, by doing that process, so much of what happens at fortune is in some part an image of how I perceive sheep world in regards to data preparation and data movement and analytics. Just because you know, when you're when you're the one training the majority of people, and they start picking up your concepts and the way that you do things because through experience, you discover that stuff. It's really kind of very nice. And and of course it is a blanket statement. It's not always as simple as that. But I get a lot of fulfillment by going through that process. It's a lot of fun.
Justin Grammens 9:16
It's exciting. We bring in junior engineers here to I guess I hate to use the word Junior but you know, I guess people that are just out of school for example. And you know, they they haven't seen a lot of the a lot of the things that somebody who has been doing this for 27 years has and you know, one things that I think about is is somebody took a chance on me.
George Bryant 9:33
Oh Exactly. Yeah.
Justin Grammens 9:34
Back in the late 90s I was starting to develop software on for the internet and I didn't know jack man. Most people didn't know Jack, we were all sort of figuring it out. But a lot of people over the course of my career I've been really lucky to have some people put kind of put me under their wing and be like No, this is how you really work on this stuff. So you probably feel that sense a little bit now being able to get back guessing you maybe had somebody to help mentor you along the way.
George Bryant 9:56
Oh 100% And they all the people remember you know even when I was back in England my my manager back there was this Irish guy called column Mooney, most stereotypical name, I think it was first in in the world. But he was from Dublin. And he just saw something in me. And so whenever he moved company, he'll bring me with him. I was, of course all about that. And that was fun. So he knew what I was about. I knew what he was about, I could roll in and be comfortable and, and help set the stage for things. And the other example of that is, you know, in America when at some point I worked at Ameriprise when I first arrived in America, and for context that I've been here, I think I worked it out the other day to be just over 13 years now. So it's been, it's been quite a long time. But back then one of the things that I was actually hired to do as my first job in America was to literally just moving moving stocks and equities, between accounts, nothing too exciting, not too far above data entry, but still something quite fulfilling as well, that the reason I got I got found out and moved to it in that scenario is because I discovered that there was a toolbar that you could use, which was just sort of some custom code that would literally scrape and move things around. So I use that. And so when they come pick me up, I thought I was in trouble to be quite honest. And they said, No, you're in the wrong department, you're coming with me. And they dragged me over. And that was that was truly Well, I got into the data analytics space and started down on that. So it Yeah, you're right. It's literally just one or two people. And I don't know what my our employees interpretation of me are. But there's definitely a couple that I've, I really have all of them I put a lot of time into. And I hope that they're successful with the foundation that that I can give them.
Justin Grammens 11:37
That's excellent, no, cool. Very, very good. I know, I'd love stories to giving back and you're talking about data. What are some challenges, I guess, that you're seeing when you go into organizations? Just generally, I guess, with regards to companies saying I want to improve X or improve y or like you say with some of this, you know, emergency medical stuff? Like, what are the challenges, I guess?
George Bryant 11:56
Every company is different. So one thing I do have the benefit of is in my position where I do where I'm on a lot of the pre sales, but I'm I don't I'm not an account manager, by any means by an oversight on a lot of different technical projects going on at any given time. So last few years, that means I get a very large bandwidth as to the types of things that come up. And I think it really comes down to anything, I think the products that go well, it doesn't necessarily matter what the technology is, it doesn't necessarily matter what the what the issues with the data are, you can work them out because you can work with them. If they're engaged and they're good, then everything will work itself out. Even if even if that conclusion is we're not quite the right fit. And you know that we're not quite in the direction that they want to go in. That's a that's an okay, conclusion. And people don't always recognize that. In fact, we've had a project fail not in regards to what we delivered was bad. It was the federal in regards to where we thought we had this in place. But we didn't. But we even got the feedback of I'm so surprised, this didn't work out. But we're still happy because of this process that we went through with you in order to discover these things that we didn't know before. That's not a bad thing. But when things are tougher, it does come down to you know, the flexibility of people to learn the flexibility of people to understand and, and listen, and pretty much the same life things. So if you have the empathy to understand what's happening, and the ability to work with people to sell, okay, well, there is an issue here, let's work together to do that, and CO collaborate. That's really where the success comes. And so inevitably, not everybody is built in the same way, from a data perspective, I do want to switch back to being much more depth perspective side. So 100%, the largest piece of dialog, people come to us and they say we want this kind of reporting, we want the ability to do the machine learning the the AI, the all of these advanced features that and frankly, nine times out of 10 the dialogue is the date is nowhere near ready for that we have a lot of work to do first. And it's having people understand that if you try and ask questions of a data set, and the data set isn't prepared for that, then you're going to get false positives, that data cleanliness is going to make a difference to the outcomes of what it is that you're trying to apply to. And so as a result, you know, sometimes the tougher conversations are, we can get you there, but you do have to walk before you can get there. So ultimately, I think the answer is probably to paraphrase is probably data integrity and understanding how that data is can be cleaned up. And I don't want to highlight something that that doesn't often get talked about when it comes to data integrity as well. In large part a lot of people interpret data integrity to be unclean, wrong data, that there's gaps in it, and that's absolutely true. But the other the other form of data integrity that people don't visualize so much in their minds is the process driven data integrity where if you have the option let's say let's use the medical as the as the example if you have adult pediatric for kids and neonatal and other such buckets then, if you have a bucket that says other, and there's people that just select other for everything, that's not bad data is just not helpful. And therefore you can do the analysis on those other fields and suppress or sort of say what other in those scenarios, but there's data integrity due to ambiguity as well. That's the key part of the conversation that doesn't come up when it comes to the cleanliness of data. And the and the usefulness of data as well. Just because every field is populated doesn't mean that every field is actually useful. And therefore you actually getting the right message. And the way that people should usually approach that is, or what's your process, why you put in there? Do we not have enough buckets? Are we just Oh, really just being a bit lazy, and just selecting the easiest thing, just to get through the process? And so that process, refinement is a huge part of data integrity as part of the whole conversation?
Justin Grammens 15:49
That's fascinating. Yeah, so there's probably a lot of just human elements, right? So and probably some user interface or user experience, but just, I guess, the soft side of it, you're right, like, why, why are people doing this this way? So you're, as you said, the data isn't wrong, it's just maybe not useful. It's a great, great aspect to think about, do you guys run into situations where people just don't have enough data? So you're like, you know, look, I we're gonna need another six months to wait to kind of let us get more information as well.
George Bryant 16:16
Honestly, no, not often. I've never thought about that. That question, to be honest. But I would surmise that the majority of companies that company not formed to step in are ones that do have, or have taken themselves as far as they can on their own, which means they inherently aren't going to just have no data available. There is some scenarios where there are new systems, but generally, there's legacy data that you can apply to the behind it in order to give you that history. But honestly, we don't normally come across that. And I think in the scenario where we would, you know, of course, part of the feedback can be, well, it's just not an update to do anything with. But that doesn't mean you can't start putting some of the groundwork in there, in order to say, well, we can already see in these 1000 rows that you have is too small a sample size, however, we can see where their issues are, where the date is going in, maybe it's better to try and address them and fix them as part of your process now, rather than waiting for six months, and then having that data be less useful at those points. So there's always something you can do with a dataset, even if it's minimal, that genuinely I wouldn't come I don't think we come across that scenario, particularly often.
Justin Grammens 17:22
Gotcha. I'm assuming you guys are hiring or have been hiring or like whatnot. But what are the skill sets? Or the tools that you guys kind of use in the trade
George Bryant 17:30
Oh we might be, we might be one of those memes on it? No. Okay, we genuinely, we hire for personality over okay, technical skills. And, obviously, we have to identify that there's an aptitude with a consultant and the way that consultants have to apply themselves, there does have to be an element of soft skills and personality that that's inherent to that area of the industry. Whereas there are in other in other jobs with doing the same thing. There's, there's less than there's less a reliance on that. So we've definitely not hired for that in the past. And it never goes right, thankfully. So we look for the aptitude as part of the first round. But you know, it's the conversation for the people that really tells you who they are. And if I may, I have a ridiculous example that probably shouldn't have happened, but it but it did. And that is pre COVID, I had an interview with a guy, and I met him at a brewery. Because you know, sometimes that's getting someone and just sitting down with them is sometimes the easiest way to understand how someone is. So at the brewery, and unbeknownst to us, they start a trivia night. I don't know, maybe I was just in a mood that day, but I am I just sort of asked him if he wants if he wanted to do the trivia. So he said yes. And just sort of went along with it. So I just went to the group of girls to our left and just said, Can we join your team for a while, and we did. And that was probably the probably the most obscure interview I've ever given. Or he's probably ever received. But now he's one of our longest standing employees. And he's fantastic. Because what you what you get from those, those disaster scenarios are, you know, his ability to just say, alright, let's let's just go with it and roll with it and see what happens. And that taught me so much more about him than then sitting behind the desk and saying, you know, where do you see yourself in five years conversation, which is a bad example, you know, I mean, yeah, I try and get to the nitty gritty of who they are and what their personalities are. I think even in another example, it was a kid out of college and I just said to him outright, that is the most out of the book response I've ever heard throw that away and just just telling me what it is you want or what you know. And it was it was just every stereotype and an answer that you could get and I was just old enough of it and just said no, no come on. I want to know you not know what you've been told to say.
Justin Grammens 19:44
Huge amount of respect for you because yeah, people can always pick up on their the tools and especially in the role of a consultant. You're right, you're putting them in front of a customer. And those soft skills need to be there and they need to understand and work with customers on a personal level. Having been in the services business here for a long time. I absolutely know what you mean. Because that can make or break your business right there. If you don't have the customer first mindset
George Bryant 20:06
It is something to be cognizant of, at the very minimum. Yeah. And there are exceptions. But that's, that's that's life as well. And that that's fine.
Justin Grammens 20:13
Well, you know, we touched on soccer a little bit, are there other hobbies, other stuff you do outside of doing data analytics?
George Bryant 20:19
Well, I have children, their own world, and they're, they're just getting to the age where they do their own activities. Now, I'm a single father. So you know, so luckily, I do have the, luckily, um, luckily, I have them a good chunk of the time 50%, which is not what everyone has. So on a personal level, having the ability to help with all of these things, and having the flexibility of working from home to take them to all activities. That's really where my, a lot of my things go. Besides that I have I have been in the public speaking circuit for a little while now, for a few years of I don't think I've done much in the last four years, for obvious reasons, or three years, I should say, though, I've started picking a few things back up again. And I'm just glad that people are back in person doing a lot of these conversations and starting to entertain more of the impersonal element. Because I always found that I feed off of a crowd a lot more than I do when I'm just doing a virtual presentation. I find the cues from from people in the room on what you could get away with a lot easier to read them getting a bit silly and not being able to know whether that's that's appreciated or not. It's you know, read in the room, that kind of thing.
Justin Grammens 21:26
Cool. Well, you're going to speak at the applied AI meetup here later on, right? Yes. Are you are you speaking anywhere else at all? 23.
George Bryant 21:35
Sorry, yes, there's a few places that I'm planning on speaking. So one of the things that references back to the air medical industry that I've you know, I'm speaking at one of the conferences for a vendor that we work primarily with to show the capabilities of what that tool is able to do. And it's a lot more non technical audience with which is challenging, or more clinical and operations based. So that's, that's a lot of insight, there's a lot of enjoyment around that it's different to what I would normally do. But otherwise, I will be applying for for a couple of other medical conference orientated places. And I'm looking to get back into those those SQL Saturdays that go around the country quite a lot, they're starting to pick back up again. And I'm hoping to get a little bit of traveling under my belt all over again. So that's going to be a lot of enjoyment there. So hopefully speak in a fair amount. And back to the mentorship piece with though with the employees, there's a there's a couple of them that are looking to get into that circuit as well. So guiding them through their first ones, helping them come up with good presentations, that that's also front and center. For me, I'm really looking forward to that one. Because that one's not a work requirement. That one's a personal brand and hobby requirement. If they want to do that. It's up to them. And so the only people obviously involved are the ones that want to do that and are excited for it. So I'm, I'm looking forward to doing a little bit of that as well.
Justin Grammens 22:53
It's awesome. We have liner notes with each one of our episodes. So we'll we'll definitely put links off to some of these events and stuff. But I, you know, I don't know much about SQL Saturday, and maybe some of our listeners, maybe don't, could you enlighten us a little bit about what what that was, or is?
George Bryant 23:07
Basically that the concept is, is that there's, there's a whole series of conversations you can have there, you submit your presentation, it's not a you know, you don't need a certificate in order to present but basically people presenting what they're good at. For some people, that's Power BI for some people, and it's Python within whatever scenario, they're in AI, data engineering, all the way back to DBA, data management and even career and sort of emotional and social economical things around the career on the workplace. So there's a few user groups essentially that that run through the year monthly, usually that then every now and then or once a year, the majority of them turn around and say, Okay, well, this is our one, we're going to do it here we're going to have speakers from across the country come through. And those are the ones which I applied to do. Wow. And it really it's a, it's a community orientated thing. So you, you come across a lot of familiar faces after a while. And yeah, they're just fun. And for company like Fulton when it's local, when the Minnesota one happens, you know, we get ourselves a booth and all of those things, but otherwise, we use it as a, you know, where we try and take it less seriously of just sort of go around and, and build up our personal brands on there to be the experts at what it is that we in the category of things that we fall into.
Justin Grammens 24:22
Sure. And so I'm assuming that these events, like you say they happen around the country very various months, and they happen on Saturday. They do so and you and you have to know SQL to do this or not really.
George Bryant 24:35
SQL like I said Power BI all the different things whenever I do it. I think it's different every time I try and keep myself entertained. What have I been doing recently? So I think the latest one I did was sort of like Master Data managing the absence of spending $100,000 on martyr better management, little hacks and tricks that you can do to win things, but it's really kind of broad on the amount of topics that you can apply yourself to.
Justin Grammens 24:58
That's cool. Yeah, like I say, Well For sure, put some links to that organization. Do you have a Minnesota date yet this this this next year are
George Bryant 25:05
there is the there, actually there one is in December, they're virtual. So I'm not going to be doing that one personally. The next one I have is there's one Atlanta that should be happening beginning of next year that I'm hoping to get accepted for. I'd like to say I have one in April, which will be the flight vector Conference, which is very niche and probably not for everyone unless you're in a medical but there's there's a handful of other ones I spoke in Tampa a couple of weeks ago for AMTC, which is the air medical transport community, sort of yearly event where the more executive level and with all of those kinds of things. So as for what's going to come the next year for the sequel, Saturday's the only one I'm aware of so far is Atlanta. So at the moment, it's only Atlanta. So we'll see what happens.
Justin Grammens 25:47
The whole reason I've sort of started the applied AI group was just I just love getting people together. Right. And it's, it's, it's just a fun, fun way to learn from each other and network. And it's always like a one plus one equals three type thing where there's just so much benefit. We're like, we're actually looking to do some more hands on workshop ease type type stuff. So So while we have these monthly meetups that really span the gamut, you know, from people talking about, does it does aI have sense and feelings into it? You know, we had a guy Scott some months ago, that was really talking about what's going to happen once AI surpasses human comprehension, all that type of stuff to something that's much more hands on, which is awesome. And so we really try and keep the group like really wide open, but I'm looking to do some weekend events where it's a little bit more have come in here, some data set, here's some stuff that people can play around with. Because there's just a lot of people that are just enthusiastic about it, but they don't even know where to start,
George Bryant 26:37
though. That's, that's very true. And so back to the advice of just pick up a data set that you know, something that you understand, in my case, it was soccer, it could be anything for anyone football and baseball, always good examples for people that are into those sports to doesn't have to be sport, by all means, but just getting those I have a sustainability one just said, that's quite interesting to me. You asking the questions you want to know, it's for it's easier to work with, then, you know, I've got some finance stuff. Oh, look, it goes up and down. You know,
Justin Grammens 27:07
yeah. And unless you're a bean counter or whatever, you probably won't care about it as much. So like you say, as long as you scratch your own itch, definitely something you're gonna be working on nights and weekends. How do people reach out to you LinkedIn a good place?
George Bryant 27:18
LinkedIn is a great place, I'm assuming you probably got the euro for that one, too. But that's, you know, that's definitely something that I have the ability to and desire to go into and see a lot more than than other places. I am on Twitter as well, though my LinkedIn is connected to it. And if I even remembered what my Twitter handle was, there'll be amazing, but omnileads Otherwise, it's the email address George dot Brian at Fortner, linux.com analytics.com. Those are the primary ways.
Justin Grammens 27:44
Good deal. Is there any other topics or things that you know that I didn't cover that you maybe wanted to touch on?
George Bryant 27:50
I think the other one was, I wouldn't mind going into one of the presentations that I was going to do at SQL Saturday, Chicago, perhaps your EP, she got cancelled. But one of the things because I have quite a large advocacy around behavioral stuff just because I was diagnosed as adult ADHD probably only about four or five years ago. And I think in retrospect of looking back at how I was and how a lot of people in the industry view and the stereotypes around ADHD in particular, but it's not the only one, there's anxiety, ADHD, and a lot of the behavioral elements, there is definitely become a lot more recognized in the COVID era, there's no doubt that that has been a benefit in regards to that. Because I think people are a lot more cognizant of what those things mean, and the mental health conversation that comes with them. But to get my example, I mean, honestly, on a more human element, it did take me it's only about two years ago, I could actually start having a conversation about this stuff without just feeling like I was going to burst into tears in any moment. But just because it's a very stressful thing. So we kind of wanted to share a story of around that. And I think it may shed some light as to how other people felt during the pandemic, in particular, when everyone was locked down. And just to see if there's anything that other people sort of, you know, to create an openness to, so that people do feel like it's okay to talk about this stuff without putting up you know, I think there's definitely Avenue where with that isn't still a bit of a stigma. So if you're willing to humor me, I wouldn't mind should just tell him that story briefly. You know, even when it came to the education, I was absolutely fine at school, I was not very good at the applied side at the homework part because that ultimately was where I just couldn't get that focus. So that was back in school and so that that's is dictated a lot a large part of my life. And and when I look back, and retroactively, those periods of Oh, am I just lazy and you know, always sort of why why am I like this sort of things kind of got answered when I got that diagnosis. But what really came out was what really triggered getting that diagnosis was before the pandemic happened. I was I was at a company out of Kentucky. So therefore because I live in Minnesota, it was 100% remote and over those eight years Once I think I broke down to completely just get the most dysfunctional sheet, you know, I couldn't focus on the thing, I couldn't get anything done. And it was genuinely I didn't even know why they had me around because I was pretty much useless. But it didn't matter how hard I tried, I couldn't do it. It was it was a big struggle. And so inevitably, when you get to that point, you start questioning yourself, well, go what what am I this is this is terrible. And so I did pursue the diagnosis, and it ended up being the best thing I could do. Because even though it doesn't really make any difference, it made a large part of the conversation tangible for me to pick up and, and be able to deal with. So roll on to a then get a contract with Ecolab of all places, which was really on site every day of a huge requirement. And I just started thriving again, I was able to do my work, I was functional, and I was happy. And I really got my mojo back my confidence back. And I knew and I was back to knowing what I was good at what I was doing, and being able to contribute to everything that I was involved with them in a big way in that that made me really happy. So when the when the pandemic hit, and I was set on, they said, Okay, everyone's got to work from home, having just come from the ever experienced, if you might earn like a year or two before, I think that hit a low point in terms of mental health, because I just knew as soon as they announced it, and I read the email, I broke down there. And now for I don't know how I'm going to survive this just because of what happened to me before. But what that did do was it prepared me to be able to understand what the stresses of working from home are ahead of time, which I think in reality actually put me in a spot ahead of a lot of people because I don't think there was many people that were actually prepared for what that meant, and how that sort of came together. So through that experience, I was again, able to sort of have discussions with other people connect some people together and not completely closed myself off and be able to, you know, really come out of that in you know, and it was tough for a long time. But I've haven't had the diagnosis before that as well, I've now managed to work my schedule around how I work how my brain works, where my peak times are, should I ever be at a predict search, you know, and work around that thing. So I advocate for people to be a lot more open about these things more so now than ever, because I think there's a lot more tangible to a lot more people. You know, I think even now, I think there's still a lot of people struggling with with the working from home with elements of loneliness and that stuff. And, and not just in, I'm on LinkedIn, and I'm trying to create memes and crap like that, and I saw too much of that it was getting kind of annoying, that from a genuine human element, people should realize that this is a thing and that it's a tangible thing for people to, to latch on to and give their best in terms of trying to, you know, get help with those kinds of things. And understanding that from a manager looking down perspective, it also means from a management perspective, which is the larger message, just because someone is struggling doesn't mean that they're not functional and unable to do the work, that you do have to have the conversation with them. You are, you know, you're duty bound as a leader and a manager to, to understand what someone is going through in order to come up with that. And I have a brother who's aspose, as well. So I grew up with a lot more tolerance with with this kind of thing than then I think a lot of the people ran me through that tangible, you know, context and experience. And so I think, you know, when you do, even again, to the interview process piece that we were discussing before, even when you reference things like that, understanding that, you know, someone is extremely nervous, or someone may not pick up on all of the audio and visual cues that other people find a lot more natural is something that, you know, that doesn't mean they're not good for the job. And so looking beyond beyond the surface, and understanding what's happening on how someone's functioning is something that it doesn't happen quite enough. And I see it tangibly, even with even with people who have discussed candidates with soil, they were like this, I don't like that. Well, I understand that. But did you consider this element of Did you understand that this was happening in their life at the time? And therefore if that was you, would you have been any different and, and having those conversations and just being open about it?
Justin Grammens 34:11
Thank you, George, for sharing that personal story. And I think, you know, the the point of this conversation, the point is podcast is really what I want it to be, I want it to be a conversation, right? So it's not really all about us getting hardcore around artificial intelligence, it's really, I really like to bring people's stories to the forefront and think that they've run into and I think you're right, it's a duty as a manager to understand their employees, but just even us as humans, that people aren't perfect. And there's a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes. And it takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable. I think that's the word that I would use is to be vulnerable and open yourself up and say, Look, this is what's going on with me. And you know, this is the way that I react to this. And people need to understand, and it's you're not going to be perfect all the time. And man COVID COVID was tough and especially for people that were Would that sit in front of a computer screen all day? People say, Well, you just pick up and do that at home? Well, yes, you can. But it's a totally different, it becomes very isolating. And my is my story a little bit. Yeah. So and, you know, and honestly, after COVID ended, it was a huge mind exercise for me not to go back down in the basement. So for me, I would, you know, I get the kids out to school, actually, they wouldn't go to school back that up, they weren't going anywhere. And they were basically running around the house and trying to do online learning, which is a joke. So I'm trying to deal with them. But then, you know, the basement was my little oasis that I had in my utility room just to sort of get stuff done. But it's very lonely. And once we decided to sort of essentially come back to the office if you want, so employees don't have to come back to the office here. But if you do want to come back, and for me, I was like, I kind of want to go back to the office, I would find myself just just just naturally going back down into my cave, right. And it's hard to break out of that. I'm happy to say that I like a mixture of both. But when you're stuck at home all the time, it can absolutely feel like prison is that was a sense that,
George Bryant 36:01
Oh, absolutely. And so now now my experience is that, you know, I thrive in my home office, because I've set it up. And I've got my routine now. And that really works. But there's absolutely a scenario for I mean, foreign doesn't have their own offices, but we do have clients that have offices. And so we make a point of saying that, you know what, some things are easier to achieve in person, you want to do that data validation, you want to do that testing, you want to just meet and greet and be part of a nice community that's not necessarily yours forever. It's, you still need those things. And they do make relationships and work and, and, you know, the outputs that you're creating for people better. And so it's, it's good that we have the control and not. And so I did the other day, and I thought back on, you know, I used to drive out one to two hours every day, be in the office for the whole day. And I just got wonder how did I survive this. I was on a client yesterday for half a day and came back just hoof. It's quite intense to do that. I just don't know how, as I look back how we ever managed to do that, and great for the people that really thrive off it. I'm just happy for the balance these days. It's very nice. And I'm privileged enough to be in a position where I can create my own balance. And I understand not everyone's there, but that that for me is what I strive for over over the rest of the things that I hear people like
Justin Grammens 37:22
on and back to your sharing. Yeah, I think we all need to be a little bit more open that people can need to work and have might have issues that we don't know about. Right? So don't be so quick to judge people on how they work or what they're doing. Because in certain scenarios, yeah, you don't you don't understand.
George Bryant 37:37
It's a it's a big topic. And you know, the only on the flip side of it, I mean, I never say these things in regards to you can still be struggling and not make it, how to phrase it, articulate this, hopefully correctly and not come across like a pothead. So I mean, I have my struggles, I have the things that I work with, but I still have to, I have to work to create those the environment for myself, for me to thrive in. It's not an excuse, or a crutch to lean on. It's something that you have to acknowledge and work towards, that doesn't mean it's always going to be successful. And that's where management and leadership say, Okay, well use your time to create the environment for yourself that, you know, that doesn't mean we all have a crutch to lean on whenever we whenever we it's not going quite away. So I think that, you know, that's the argument that a lot of people have with those things. And I think that that, you know, with balance with everything, there's a balance, and that's a tangible thing as well. You know, and it's and I think it's fair to have both sides of that,
Justin Grammens 38:36
for sure. Well, great. George, we talked about a lot today, lots of Lot, lots of interesting stuff. And I appreciate you, you know, spending close to 45 minutes here with us going through all of this stuff. It's It's fascinating, I think, you know, the the one thing that I would say is, you know, it's through everything that you've gone through from coming from another country and China and moving to Minnesota, I mean, I have a huge amount of respect for you for going out on a limb and starting your own company. Right. You know, being being being an entrepreneur, finding something you're passionate about and building a business around it. Not many people do that. And so I think you should be proud of what what you've built. And you know, I guess a lot of people get are fearful of potentially coming up short and kind of what you said in your in your last comment there is, you know, it's something that you just work on and improve it.
George Bryant 39:20
It's a risk but if for context when I have tried a company before this, a sports analytics company called Finbar goes east. I think I still have two trademarks on my international trademark. Apparently I was very confident in myself, but yeah, it failed. But then you do learn from that but I had the advantage of being able to work full time whilst doing that on the side. So it was quite intensive. But I mean, if you're able to make those decisions, do this kind of thing, then that's excellent. If not, then you know, there is a risk involved and it's just down to to sort of either take that leap, but whatever. If you're going to take the lead, you just got to make sure you thought it through. That's the only advice anyone can ever give just You know, you can just say I'll just go ahead and do it. Yeah, go ahead and what go ahead and jump off of a curve without looking No. Do your plan and do your due diligence and at some point, just go say, Alright, I'm ready. And well, I'm not ready, but I'm gonna do it anyway. Yeah, yeah.
Justin Grammens 40:15
Well in the world of data, make sure you have as much data as you can before you actually make that leap. I guess that's what I was. Yeah, that's,
George Bryant 40:23
why not steer that way.
Justin Grammens 40:25
For sure. Well, great, George. Again, I appreciate appreciate the time and look forward to having you at our applied AI meetup here in the coming months and with for keeping in touch. So thanks again. Go looking forward to it. Thank you for your time.
AI Announcer 40:38
You've listened to another episode of the conversations on applied AI podcast. We hope you are eager to learn more about applying artificial intelligence and deep learning within your organization. You can visit us at applied ai.mn To keep up to date on our events and connect with our amazing community. Please don't hesitate to reach out to Justin at applied ai.mn If you are interested in participating in a future episode. Thank you for listening