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🎙️ | Bernard Leong, Analyse Asia
My super special guest is Bernard Leong (@bernardleong). Bernard is currently the group chief digital and information officer at a Singapore construction conglomerate. But also, is the founder of Analyse Asia, a weekly podcast on technology, business and media with notable industry players and thought leaders all over Asia.
In this conversation, we cover the podcast scene within Asia, why podcasts are harder in Asia-Pacific compared to the US, and solving podcast distribution and monetisation problems.
Analyse Asia is the gold standard for what I want my podcast to be, so interviewing and learning from Bernard was unreal. Thoughtful, knowledgeable, and extremely kind, I cannot rave enough about how much I enjoyed this podcast.
Please enjoy my conversation with Bernard Leong.
Listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favourite podcast platform.
My takeaways and lessons:
More work is needed for Asian based podcasts than US ones
“40% of my audience comes from the U. S. Market. What people do not know is that when I invite a non-native English speaker to my podcast, think of mainland Chinese or even think of someone who Japanese was not very fluent in English. A lot of the work is actually done on editing the speaker because they speak in broken parts. So one of the things that you really need to do at the sound of the thing is to make sure that all the empty spaces is being cut off during the editing process so that it sounds very fluid or at least they can put together a sentence. I think this is that under appreciated stuff I usually have.”
Monetisation is tricky, even for a popular podcast like Analyse Asia
“podcast as a medium — it’s not very popular in our part of the world. I think the question then you have to start asking is, if you want to monetisation strategy, should you go for the US market, […] or should you focus on your local market? If you’re going to focus on your local market, then certain strategies has to change. And I’m beginning to think about those changes that I want to make that actually move towards that. […] The second problem is that the sponsorship piece right, it’s actually very, very difficult because I think local companies do not know how to use the podcast medium. It’s not about just reading your ad. It’s actually more about like, Can I take your and be a user?
Distribuition is also tough to crack
“So the key of it is to figure out how to distribute content to get people interested in the fastest way possible. Now podcast is a long form medium to tell a story. I think there are a few paths to this now, which also have started me on the path of doing something that I’ve been avoiding for years, which was to do video. So with video, things have changed a lot. […] you can also use the video distribution to push the audio distribution. So I’ve seen a couple of trends, but these are very early trends, but also it depends a lot on who you are interviewing, so I probably wouldn’t do everyone in video. I’m very selective about who I should put on video and who I should put an audio that also gives me a lot more flexibility.
[00:00:31] – [First question] – Bernard’s Background
[00:04:12] – Why podcasts are harder in Asia-Pacific
[00:06:47] – Charlie Rose’s interview style as an influence
[00:09:01] – The Shokunin method for running a podcast
[00:12:26] – Analyse Asia’s tools for creating a successful podcast
[00:17:28] – Why Bernard took a break from podcasting
[00:21:22] – Monetisation problems for APAC podcasts
[00:30:22] – Podcast subscriptions and what to offer
[00:32:31] – Finding and keeping a good podcast editor
[00:35:58] – Distribution problems for APAC podcasts
[00:41:06] – Doing in-person interviews or live events?
[00:50:13] – Behind the scenes of Analyse Asia interviews
[00:54:31] – How to offer guests a seamless podcast experience
[00:56:00] – Life advice and wrapping up
Connect with Bernard and Analyse Asia:
[0:00:31] Kalani Scarrott: Okay, how are we? My guest today is Bernard Leong. Bernard is currently the group chief digital and information officer at a Singapore construction conglomerate. But for the focus of today’s conversation, he is also the founder of Analyse Asia, a weekly podcast on tech, business and media with notable industry players and thought leaders all over Asia. So in this conversation we cover the podcast seen within Asia why podcasts are harder in Asia Pacific compared to the US and solving podcast distribution and monetisation problems.
Selfishly, I learned a tonne today and I had an absolute blast, but I think there’s plenty of good nuggets for you, too. So please enjoy my conversation with Bernard Leong. Thank you so much for coming on, a big one for me, especially Analyse Asia is kind of the barometer that I aim for and what I want my podcast to be, But I think a fun point, maybe to start today is with your background. So could you tell me a little bit about your background in theatre during your PhD days at Cambridge? And how that initially helped you with making the podcast and its influence?
[0:01:32] Bernard Leong: I think just to give everyone a very quick background. I’m currently working as a group chief digital and information officer in Singapore Construct Conglomerate. Prior to that I actually worked with Airbus as their head of drone services for Asia Pacific also ran the China business and also with Amazon Web services as their head of machine learning and artificial intelligence for ASEAN. Then, even before that, I actually made my career as a chief digital officer for SingPost’s retail business as well. So my background, right with such a very, very non-linear background, I actually did my PhD in theoretical physics. Then you must be wondering you talk about my theatre background and my theatre background actually came when I was in high school, actually studied for the Trinity speech and drama. I think I was about Grade five. There was the last to actually did script drama. Some of my friends have gone on to become playwrights in the Singapore scene, but I have actually never known to be in the front was actually me to be doing Sound likes. And I think my last job in us when I did a day to play for my hostel. You know, our college, they call it in Cambridge was actually assistant producer. It’s only when I went to the UK I became a full producer, and then now what the teacher taught me, it taught me a lot about the stage because I was also a trained actor in speech and drama. So I was able to focus a lot on thinking about the likes sound and how the stage is being presented. So when you think about doing a podcast is an audio product, right? So you need to think about how does it mean your podcast stand out? How do how does the way you project your sound? Your enunciation. Strangely, when I first started, Analyzation actually went to a professional coach to get my pronunciation correct. These are the things that people don’t talk about, right? Why? Because I am Singapore in. I have a Singapore, Singapore and exit, and the thing is that for American listener or even a European listener, for that matter, they will need a little bit of difficulty in understanding me. So that background came to helping me to think about the podcast. And also it also helps me to think about how to set the stage for the people. That interview, How do I think about interviewing? I would like to tell people I think of an interview like a chess game there is before which have to prepare that you do source saucer gas, put the questions in place. Then there is The interview is self. Then there is the reaction. Where? How do you ask the follow up? Because you like you. You want me to talk all the time, right, being sitting on the other officer position. And then that’s the post, which is the production where there’s actually a lot more work that needs to be done for Asian podcast as compared to any U. S podcast out there.
[0:04:12] Kalani Scarrott: Can I drill down on that last bit? Why do you think there’s more work required?
[0:04:15] Bernard Leong: I think. First of all, one of the one of the open secrets and analyse Asia is that I always tell people 40% of my audience comes from the U. S. Market. What people do not know is that when I invite a non-native English speaker to my podcast, think of mainland Chinese or even think of someone who Japanese was not very fluent in English. A lot of the work is actually done on editing the speaker because they speak in broken parts. So one of the things that you really need to do at the sound of the thing is to make sure that all the empty spaces is being cut off during the editing process so that it sounds very fluid or at least they can put together a sentence. I think this is that under appreciate the stuff I usually have. The Chinese speaker came to me and say, How do you make my voice sounds so good on your podcast? And my friends were wondering. So I think the question of trying to make yourself listenable when I talk about the audio called Destiny before I am now having a team behind me to do all this work. I actually have done that The thing myself for before I took a break for 2.5 years that I didn’t process. Even my wife is like, Why are you cutting? This was like, I’ve got things like, uh, that’s not enough even cut things like, um, any speaker. If you think about the way they speak, they would like to put in filler words like, I think I believe sort of. I eliminate most of them because I’m dealing with the American audience. They want things to be Crips. They want things to listen to easily. And funny that you say this right. I actually have even my own audience coming to me, saying that I only spent 20 minutes on your podcast because you cut down all the words that doesn’t I can’t hear from typical Native Asian speaker. So I think some people do realise the effect of what the high quality podcast means. And I think by putting a lot of thought and that also comes back to the theatre background piece right where you need to figure out how to be able to present that interview. That process of conversation between two people in the best possible way possible, and I use a lot of my editing skills and I used to think about it. And then when I start imposing my standards on now, my editorial team, at first they were like, Why do you need to throw away all these things? And then I was telling them, Look, you are thinking from the point of view of Asian Speaker, but I’m thinking of a point of view of American speaker. That’s where my audience really is,
[0:06:47] Kalani Scarrott: and that’s the post side. But for the interview style, you’ve mentioned Charlie Rose as a role model for your interview style. So could you tell me about his influence on you and how you conduct interviews?
[0:06:55] Bernard Leong: So the unfortunate part of it, even as a role model, I heard that he was also being investigated because of the media movement. But I think let’s not focus on the person to focus on the interview style. I think the important part on how Charlie Rose interviews his guest is to start the conversation in a very easy, friendly and non-confrontational way. I think one of the best interviews that he has ever done, and I think the American media has always talked about how competitive the late prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kwan Yew speaks. And that interview, if you watch how Charlie Rose get him into the conversation. It was very friendly, very slow, But it managed. He managed to, within the entire conversation and capsule it some of the most difficult topics of his prime ministership and some of the controversial things that are done that he has as well. But he was able to pull him into the conversation and just make it interesting and not being the guest is actually the main subject of the day, not him being the main subject of day. So when I think about interviewing my guess, I think the most recent one way I interviewed Carl Davis from Three Arrows Capital. I have my own positions on the whole crypto crash, but I didn’t talk about it during that interview. That interview cow was my subject, and I let him talk and he actually said more than what I thought he would have said. And that was that was the way I think about a conversation, and that’s why I learned a lot from the way how Charlie Rose interviews his guests and actually used to listen to his audio interviews because I was trying to pick a star where there is more suitable for myself because I’m not a confrontational person. So I tend to use it in a way where I need to be able to be friendly and bring the person into the conversation. Or maybe even Carrie Fisher, who everybody knows her through the recording now her podcast, her new one. After the way she says, Just let them talk. You don’t need to do anything. Just let them talk and they will talk.
[0:09:01] Kalani Scarrott: And from that same article, you’ve mentioned that if I correct me, if I’m wrong the shokunin method for how you plan to run the podcast, you can explain what that is. And is that still the case for how the podcast is run?
[0:09:11] Bernard Leong: Yeah, so the Japanese had system called the shokunin. It means a craftsman being across men. So when you think about when I talk about building a very high quality audio podcast, so I used to be able to make sure that the podcast is done with the right sound quality I do my best. There are days where my guest may not be in a very convenient location and do the interview. Then I also focus a lot about how the workflow is okay. I started with a very basic workflow. So the thing is that I can only spend five hours on each episode because I have my day job, which is a very demanding job. And then I have my tree kids now as well. And so I needed that five hours and I broke the five hours into units. So it starts off from sourcing the guests so there will be emails, but also did a CRM on them. So that what for what CRM is a customer relationship management. Think of every guest as a customer, and then after that there will be a back and forth, and then there will be a set of questions that we will pre agree on, and then after that, we’ll go into the actual recording. Upon completion of the recording, it goes into production and then into publication and then through distribution, where a lot of the just not what you were asking me about. What is the work that Asian startups need to do a pretty big weakness for all Asian podcasts, including mine is actually in distribution. So I can talk about that a little bit more later when we when we when we go deeper into some of the things that have changed. But I think this is some of the things that we really think about getting the workflow now. What I also do is that because I have a very dedicated workflow, I try to minimise the amount of time I do my work to the point where some of the things that start auto meeting them. I’ll give you 11 of the biggest chunk of the entire world flow was actually editing. The podcast that takes me the most time, typically is about 3 to 5 hours. Actually, there’s a heuristic. So for people who do not know if you’re in theatre, you know this trade secret. If it’s a text, it takes you less than a millisecond to edit for an audio. It takes you one times treat the amount of time, meaning for every minute of audio you record you need three minutes to edit, and then for every video is one times 10, which is for every minute of video you need to do 10 minutes reality. And hence this. This is the part that I think most of my podcast. Most of the podcasters I’ve observed, I see a lot of my Asian podcast as friends because one of the interesting feature of doing podcasting is a non zero sum game, which is which is a big surprise. I like tax based news sites or even video. I think it’s also a non zero sum game. So the key difference of debt trying to get the editing correct, I think, is one of the big issues I see across all podcasting issues.
[0:12:26] Kalani Scarrott: And yeah, it’s a hard thing to learn to, like me. Starting from scratch took me a long time to get it figured out and even extension. That is tools. So you’ve been running the podcast 58 years now. So how have the tools changed over time and yeah,
[0:12:41] Bernard Leong: yeah, So I will tell you some trade secrets here, So I started using GarageBand, which is the simplest heading into I know some of the other producers of the podcast they use Abdel be edition or audacity, which I think these are the common ones. Lately I’ve shifted into two, which is very useful is called the script. What is so beautiful about this script? In fact, this is rather ironic. I actually recommend to Charles Anderson from typos podcast to first. And then you use it for two years and tell me this is the best tool you have ever recommended to me and I still haven’t used it. So until when I came back the first 2020 hours of starting to do the work flow of starting restarting the podcast again, I spent a good chunk of, I think, an hour or two to do the script. And then I discovered the great to Okay, what makes what makes this script good too? Imagine editing your audio file just like the way you added a word document. So think of the days where I used to have, in fact, in 2015, when I first started because I’m pretty well skilled in products I was thinking is I actually did ask Andrew and who was the foremost expert in Ai, And I say we stay away where you know I can use all the audio files. I learned everybody’s, uh sort of and then start doing a press a button and then auto, Daily said, is actually doable in a I. And the script has that feature, so that one thing that told me probably of the three hours I spent on editing, uh, that’s a good chunk of probably at least an hour, 33.3% of trying to eliminate filler words has suddenly become a button. So you can in the script you can do delete all rooms and us. You can delete or repeat words. Okay, but then you still need to you can still need. Sometimes the fellow was maybe a transition. So you have to be very careful. So you have to go and listen to that part, and then you cut it properly so that you don’t lose the transition as well. So it’s a constant debate between me and my idea to sometimes about what is supposed to be cut.
[0:14:51] Kalani Scarrott: Yeah, and can you normalise audio in the script as well? And all that?
[0:14:54] Bernard Leong: There’s a studio format. So the good news is that when I first recommended the two. That was like four or five years ago. Now it’s an extremely good product, not just for audio, but it’s also for video as well. So I think that’s the one big change on that. Okay, microphones, right. I started using a pretty simple microphone, which is the one on my Mac book pro. And then I used to think that the boss audio one that I think I recommended in that article, that road. But I’ve changed to now. Yeti studio microphone That came about when my other co host, Carol, recommended to me when she was my producer and researcher positions for the two years I was away. Then, for video, I’m started to use a Logitech C. R. 29. I think it’s the video format, and then I think most of the other things, like publishing a social change for me. So for a long time, analyse Asia was on WordPress. I have recently changed it, I think when I came back, there was also the other 1st 20 hours. I saw my website from WordPress into Ghost Pro, so I went from a self hosting because I know how to host websites itself. to not letting someone do the whole thing for me hosting a podcast, I think best is to do it on lip sync. But in fact, I used to do blueberry. Okay, I will tell you why I speak the so it’s not because I don’t like blueberry. I like the guys. That problem was blueberry was banned in China.
[0:16:27] Kalani Scarrott: wow. Okay,
[0:16:28] Bernard Leong: okay. And if you have a 10% market in China, you’ve got a big problem right? So 10% audience come from China. So I actually went through Burberry, and you say I don’t know why I got them and like Okay, fine. I have to move. So these are some of the things that people don’t realise. That’s very, very important. So I think in terms of the distribution tools, a lot is in using the standard social media. But I think for analyse Asia with the two channels where I find most effective for my audience is linked in and Twitter. I actually haven’t think about any community engagement, but I can talk about it more because I have a I think over this past one year, three months after I came back, I started to take a deeper look into what the future looks like. And I’m starting to do a lot more experiments on things that actually I can share about a bit later.
[0:17:27] Kalani Scarrott: Yeah, before we get into community distribution, you’ve touched on a couple times already. But you want to talk about when you took the break from the podcast and maybe why? And the story there.
[0:17:36] Bernard Leong: So the story, the official statement is that I guess my daughter, my kid, just came out. Estella. And, uh, I actually have three kids by then, and I’m a pretty hence on, like, 7 to 9. I do not use any device and just spend time with them. I think the workload that I was in Amazon during that time, so it was very, very tiring, and hence I needed to take a break for a while. But I think the good news for that was that that 2.5 years of brick and because I was being subjected to Amazon training, I’ve come back with a much more fresher perspective. I think the insists on high standards is definitely that if you are, if you know the Amazon 16 leadership principles, Not 14. You will know that the consistent high standards one of the most important. But the other thing I learned was that I once I have finished the Amazon tenure, it has given me the confidence and the tools to be able to figure out how to grow a company from 15 million to a billion is probably the last piece on mine collection of tools to get to is how to think about scaling as such. But I think tools are tools, right? So if you try to apply the same set of tools, you can apply the same set of tools to your podcast. So one of the things that really after during that break I do miss interviewing people. So yes, I do. Okay. But it was also good because I took a step back. Caroline Six roles. She was the host, but I was the editor, so I started to think a lot about what are the tools being used and how to think about publication as well. And then there were a lot of things I saw that needs to be improved from being a full time producer than being a host plus producer as such. So what happened was that I decided that when I come back these are the 20 changes I’m going to make. So the first being descriptive the website CMS because I’m thinking of a solution model in the future. So all these changes that have made across this year and some of the experiments I’ve just started with is basically to help me to set the foundations for the next step of the evolution of this podcast, I think very, very funny people always, uh, final Amazonians we talk about the nature of day one After eight years of this podcast, I still think of. I’m still at day one, and I still think that we are still very far away from what I think the best podcast in the world is, and some of the podcast that I start off at the same time I know the people in the U. S. They have actually grown into full actual business. One interesting one, which actually I’m very thankful for them because they actually promote my podcast a lot. And they use my podcast as a reference material was acquired. I think a lot of people listen to acquire. Yeah, Funny if you listen to a Tencent episode, they actually mentioned my name and my podcast, and they told them I was the one who referred to them. Uh, what was There was a Chinese book on Tencent’s history, and they actually managed to find someone who translated the book in English, that summary. So they were able to use some of the data there on that and actually know the founders I go to require Member. So I talked to them a lot, and I find that they have because of I think the relative geography is that in the US and I mean Asia and I find that they’re ruled to modernisation while the hard work is all the same. But the returns that God is actually far bigger than what I thought analyse Asia should have been.
[0:21:22] Kalani Scarrott: Yeah. Do you want to talk a bit about Monetisation because I’ve got from an old article as well? He said this was in 28 he said he hadn’t taken sponsorship yet because the advertising networks were just not focused on that medium. Has that changed? I’ve seen ads on the podcast recently. But, yeah, How do you approach Monetisation and sponsors? And Yeah,
[0:21:38] Bernard Leong: I think the first thing is that if you take up sponsorship, let’s say you take affiliate ads from Lip Sync or any of the podcast platform out there, or even like your meat rolls. Basically, you have to take the U. S. So that’s number one. Now, if you think of analysed Asia’s positioning, you’re no different from dealing with a record a temporary show acquired. So you’re no differentiation there, so even you give a promote quote. Your chances of conversion is actually far less as compared to all the other podcast is in the US, So even if you have the audience, but you do not have the if you’re sharing the same audience with the U. S. Podcast, you’re in a very advertising will never work for you. I think I’ve seen that very rarely. So what I did was I just test run a few eggs because my wife start up, so it’s easier for me to figure out how to think about it. And so that’s the problem. The one problem, too, is that podcast as a medium. It’s not very popular in our part of the world. I think the question then you have to start asking is, if you want to monetisation strategy, should you go for the US market, which I’ve been thinking a lot on, or should you focus on your local market? If you’re going to focus on your local market, then certain strategies has to change. And I’m beginning to think about those changes that I want to make that actually move towards that. So that’s the first thing about advertising. The second problem is that the sponsorship piece right, it’s actually very, very difficult because I think local companies do not know how to use the podcast medium. It’s not about just reading your ad. It’s actually more about like, Can I take your ad NBA user? I’ll give you an example, right? If I say I use one of the products of somebody selling snacks, subscription service next, and I’m a user of that service, it will be far, far easier for me to sell. Give a promote called and people can purchase and even talk to the founder because it’s a start up or I could be using one of the ABS, for example, Maybe a grab or go to AB. You know where I can talk as a customer as well as and I think that’s something that nobody has tried it. I think the only closest company that I’ve seen that but the accident appeared in Asia podcast. But in the U. S. Podcast especially, they actually leverage a lot of the advertising by geography locking. So a lot of the business podcast I listened to has a special way, and I think only if you are in the US, because I did a VPN and I downloaded the episode in a separate channel and I realised the eggs were different so that Joe targeting peace is not that yet. And then there is this question about CEO in podcast. Let me just tell you, I tried podcast consultants to talk about CEO. After spending $200 I told myself, There’s no such thing called Podcast CEO is just correct. The only thing you need to do is to do transcript. But the problem with everyone also in the region doing is that they run an AI to transcribe the content, but because we are not native English speakers. We ended up having a very low quality transcript. So the question then is what differentiates reading your transcript and listening to you. So I think people are not thinking dive very deep into the rudiments of that. And I think that that is also the reason why sponsorship don’t work as well. So I think these are the key factors in terms of thinking about the model. The irony is my podcast is growing. Okay, so I reached my first million in five years. All right. There was a lot of effort. So to tell everybody how I did my status, I count the downloads the place from every major podcast platforms. So that’s your apple podcasts. Spotify your SoundCloud because those were the tree that I use. On top of that, also count the lip sync downloads. Now your lipstick downloads are not indicated of your actual downloads. The reason is that a lot of people do not realise this. When Spotify takes the first download from you, he tries to cash. So I’ve seen my actual Spotify numbers versus my lip sync Spotify numbers. It’s gone by at least 3 to 4 orders of magnitude.
[0:26:02] Kalani Scarrott: Ohhh
[0:26:04] Bernard Leong: even the States is the question right? And then charitable will try to chart you according to your interview. So if you’re a niche player like myself and you know who your audience are, I can talk a little bit more about who my actual audience are, and I only discover them too accident or two people writing to me. But the actual growth rate was there. So the second million that means when Carol was on the seat was achieved in June 2021. So it means that for the same 2.5 years, the second million comes in the set in in 2.5 years. So you have the speed. And the reason why this happened is because if you ask if you live as long as I do in the podcast scene for eight years, you have a big back catalogue and your big back catalogue. And also taking your podcast title is the compounding effect. So I’ve actually compounded the second millions actually achieved by the compounding of the first million. Now here’s the interesting thing. I’m reaching my third million in March 2023 and there is half the amount of time, twice the speed of my second million. So think of that, right? And yet I still can’t monetise
[0:27:15] Kalani Scarrott: home. Why do I have which?
[0:27:19] Bernard Leong: Which comes back to the question of What can we monetise? I had a 400 episode We Carol, my co host, who’s based in China, and we had a pretty honest heart to heart talk in front of our audience, and we talk about all the different ways we can monetise the podcast, and I’m thinking it’s very, very hard about it. I think there are a few things that needs to change, and I can go down a little bit more on it. But I think that there’s just some things that we need to think about changing, like the way how we should think about advertising and definitely we need subscriptions. I’m pretty sure I have 1000 true friends. I have never talked to them before, so in that fashion, so I’m going to try to reach out to them, and then the other thing I need to think about is how do I do community management, which is something I have never really focused on because I spent a lot of time producing each episode, but I never think about how to grow my own communities as
[0:28:18] Kalani Scarrott: well. It’s a tough one to because there’s just so many different things and even sponsorships. It sounds good in theory, but I was talking to the information country, and it’s like it’s so much more work than what I thought it would be, too.
[0:28:28] Bernard Leong: But there isn’t a different type of advantage if you’re in Asia. But if you can produce a good podcast but in a different language, say, a Bahasa Chinese or even Japanese, you may be able to go past what I call the download rates because your content is actually interesting. So they’re actually a couple of podcasts that you and I may not talk about, but they’re actually doing very well such I know a pretty well known Japanese tech podcast where they monetise because the type podcasters and Japanese. So this is one of the things I’m thinking how to fix. My podcast currently goes because I can speak Mandarin, So question mark for me is, should I do a Chinese version of Analyse Asia? Carols can speak Mandarin as Well, so great. There is a way. There is a way for us, right? So I think the question of language localisation is one big one that you can get the advantage. But I think substitution is the way to go. Community management is the way to go. And good news for all Asian podcasters here. Web tree is global. The n F T s. Why are we not thinking about it? Because a lot of the NFC companies, actually basically Asia Pacific even worse is based in South East Asia. Why are we not thinking about this hard enough? So I think that the one big change you have maybe before 2019 is that the tools for Monetisation have changed, and I think we’re actually right at the very, very early cups of that change. We’re not even at the like what I call the beginning. Yet I think we still have that inflated expectations if you think of the Gartner hype cycle for NFS. But I think once the hype is broken, which I was I wish I think is the next year or so, then I think that there is going to be clear. Monetisation mode to thinking about how to monetise content in Asia.
[0:30:22] Kalani Scarrott: So with the podcast specifically and for subscriptions, what do you think you should offer? Because I’ve toyed with it and it’s like, Do I put transcripts behind a paywall? Do I offer extra episodes? Have you? What have you thought about in that?
[0:30:33] Bernard Leong: Okay, I’m not going to be very innovative in the membership part, but I think I’m going to do a very basic membership model to focus on two things. One is community management. So for this court, I’m actually going to be investing in bringing a proper community manager into Analyse Asia to help me to manage the community, get the feedback from the users for the listeners of the podcast. The second is that if you subscribe as a member on Analyse Asia, you will get to see selected transcripts for free. But the for full transcript. I’m going to be imposing that you’ll pay a subscription fee where the subscription fee is. The number is, I don’t know, but my sense is somewhere between 5 to 10. So acquired has done this model, but they also add podcast episodes, which something I’m also thinking about, but I think to do this Monetisation for memberships. You have to be very delicate on that. I don’t I don’t need to go full steam to provide everything or everything. I just need to give the right set of privileges that can allow me to experiment iterate an inventor moment on that. So I think, Yeah. So from there, you slowly picked it up, and then you probably see maybe I might have a master plan and just say, Okay, let’s just do these three things, Correct. If you do these three things correct that maybe these are the metrics. I think we will grow by and that’s how we know. Yeah, you can do that. I think people should try. I don’t think it’s It looks deep for us in this part of the world. But the nature of telling the story is also changing as
[0:32:16] Kalani Scarrott: well. And I suppose for you, if you’re so conscious of you have a day job, you have family. It’s yeah, not adding too much extra work, and you play as well. So you do an amazing job. Yeah. So envious.
[0:32:27] Bernard Leong: Yeah, I used to tell my editor I’m paying you with all the Bitcoin trading money.
[0:32:30] Kalani Scarrott: That and how did you find a podcast editor like, How did you did you go through multiple, different people before you settled on one and your style or Yeah,
[0:32:38] Bernard Leong: I got to reference. I tried different people. Carol is probably the first person, and she also became the host of the show. But of course, she also moved on. She’s now in a different career, and she definitely can host the show in her own merit as well. So I found a pretty good editor, his basis soul, his American. So he understands the context, how he will ask me questions. He will focus a lot on how I should through the podcast, how to improve. And we do a lot of things, like every now and then. I’ll check through my audio specifications, and it’s also good that he was also audio host as well. So he knew how to guide me into thinking about that process. So it’s a lot to reference the other things, like transcript. You probably can look through up work, or maybe even to other. They used to be 55. Best quality is very lousy so I wouldn’t encourage that. But we’ll also suggest is that whatever you want to get people to do for you, even from transcripts, actually read the transcript myself and actually do the other thing. So if you saw the one I did for three arrows, I did get a professional transcription work done. And then on top of it myself, I have to go in and actually reacted to the level that I considered as high quality something that I’m willing to read. So that’s the first time I actually showed a transcript product. I’m deliberately telling my audience that I’m already thinking about this, but I’m not going to do the A I transcribed model where you just see a bunch of trash garbage in garbage out. I’m going to be spending some time today, and what will you be paying for? Is that quality work that actually helps you to make sense of that? I mean, the Bloomberg’s out there. They, they actually sell the transcripts as part of the trans subscription package, but they also do it in a very high quality. So you have to think about. I think it’s unfortunate we all hobbies. I think you and I ran our podcast. We started as hobbies when we think to take it to the next step or we have to become more and more professional. So even talking about transcripts, I don’t take it like that. I know a lot of my fellow Asian podcasters do that. Okay, I see that transcripts as well. And even sometimes my wife is that bugging me? Why aren’t you doing your transcripts? And I know the quality is just not there. If you just go and read it yourself sometimes the A I don’t transcribe the words properly for Asian speaker, So let’s not kid ourselves as well. You’re not going to read after probably 34 paragraphs because the air transcribed is not working very well. You know, whether you’re doing ref or this script as well. Even the script doesn’t do very well for you should native voices, which makes it interesting.
[0:35:23] Kalani Scarrott: I think my bootstrap method is I get three ws their transcripts like $2 and same thing garbage in garbage out. But then I go through myself and fix it all up, so there’s probably 10% corrections, so
[0:35:33] Bernard Leong: yeah, so. But you are also a good native speaker, right? So it makes it easier for you, whereas when you try to start interviewing the actual Asians, because they are non native with the exception of Singapore in. But I still have Americans telling me that English is not my native language, so I’m not going to have a debate with them over this. But that’s the point, right? So the excellent speakers are at a disadvantage here.
[0:35:58] Kalani Scarrott: So you touched on the style of the conversation about distribution. Is that changing for you and approaching to that
[0:36:04] Bernard Leong: distribution is the one that’s the hardest to crack, and the reason why it’s hard to crack is because of the numbers. When we think about the US Podcast Association podcast, I think we are about two orders of magnitude below Alright, even for me being vocally self critical. So the key of it is to figure out how to distribute content to get people interested in the fastest way possible. Now podcast is a long form medium to tell a story. I think there are a few paths to this now and so, which also have started me on the path of doing something that I’ve been avoiding for years, which was to do video. So with video, things have changed a lot. So I think the Cow Davis interview, which I did, was the first of the video podcast but won’t be the last where, just by taking a few video grammes and started posting into, say, TikTok or YouTube, things have change. It changes the way how you think about distribution. Funny, you can also use the video distribution to push the audio distribution. So I’ve seen a couple of trends, but these are very early trends, but also it depends a lot on who you are interviewing, so I probably wouldn’t do everyone in video. I’m not going to go off video because it doesn’t make sense, but I might. What I might do is I’m very selective about who I should put on video and who I should put an audio that also gives me a lot more flexibility. Number one Number two. If you’re trying to do any regional executives who are my podcast, trance society are not going to go video that easily because the entire PR team needs to be sitting on to that call. No way you can do a video like what we are doing. In fact, this episode we can both go into video if we really want to write. But the nature of how we wanted to get the right video, how do we want to make it work? That is something that we have to be a little bit more deliberate. So the way of telling the story is going to change. I’m not afraid of sharing what I’m doing, because I know that there probably wouldn’t be one person who’s going to get it right. There probably be a few people is going to get it right, and once you can get it right on there, then you can start to create a different discovery mechanism. So that’s number one video is distribution number one. Number two is, I think, the lack of understanding of your audience, which nobody does. So this is a trick, I thought, Charles, when on this podcast, I said, What you should be doing is not keep listening to yourself is to go to listen to yourself and see what Spotify recommends, and then start asking yourself, Who should you be on who’s sure you should be on in order to get yourself recommended across as well. So hecking that recommendation engineer. And why do I know this? Because my PhD was in theoretical physics and I do machine learning. I was doing things like identifying M. R. Any targets in 2003, which, surprisingly today m r. Any targets are being used for vaccines. So whatever machine learning I know, I know how the heck the algorithms. So I know how Spotify algorithm works. I used to sell recommendation engines from AWS to a lot of companies around the region, but the idea is that you need to know who are listening to your podcast and what other podcast they listened to. So in my mind, it’s like Okay, maybe because I’m very reclusive and I don’t think a lot about that. But the hecking is correct. You need to be targeted. So there was a period of time. I would be very selective and say, OK, I’ll go through different podcast for awhile and then I’ll see whether when I go to their podcast is mind. The top of their recommendations is if I’m not, that means there’s two things I learned one. The audience is different. That’s good because it’s better discovery if it’s the same that sharks were in trouble. Because if all this podcast are all leading back to me, then we have a problem because you’re not discovering new audience as such. So even from a very algorithmic way, the beauty of there was a very good mathematical result that the best results that comes out of a social network is not true. The strong links you have within your hub is actually true the weak links that you have. So, in fact, it’s the same reviewing, like looking for a job doing everything. It’s actually the weak links that you have are the ones that helps you to get to the growth effect faster. So I think for the past few years, when I think about even thinking about how to hide the recommendation engine, I’m also very mindful of Am I touching the same audience who are listening to me? I also listening to them. I might try someone else who have never known who I am, maybe in a travel side and, you know, have a different, different narrative. So I think understanding that targeting is the second time in distribution that people don’t talk about
[0:41:06] Kalani Scarrott: and the beauty of podcasts we can scale easy. It’s all remote now as well. Have you ever thought about doing more in person interviews or events? Or have you ever thought about that?
[0:41:15] Bernard Leong: I’ve thought about that. Like I said, I have only five hours per episode and most likely with video is probably end up to be 15. So question mark, then how do I create those times? I’m thinking about smaller scale events because I’m trying to figure out a lot more of my audience. I think the before I even get to the physical events. I need to understand my audience better, which I think we never haven’t talked about it as well. Again, I will tell you a very interesting story. So I realised that almost get near my first million place download. So whichever streams that my audience are not the people who will go to Apple podcast to give me the five star rating and comments. Okay, so that’s question number one. So who are they? So it turned out that I was pretty lucky when I was hitting Airbus as the head of drone services. I was a VP. So I was invited to go to the World Economic Forum in Vietnam to give a talk on drones. Okay about agriculture and so very interesting. That day, I thought because it was a very small area, so I think the way of the panels. But then my segment was overflowed on that day, so But I finished the thing. It was with JDS head of, uh, technology, their CEO and we were talking about drone services. A few people came up to me something giving them the business cards. And some of the people are very important because the chief of staff was standing right beside them and they walked up to me, one of them being one of the CEOs of the largest petroleum in the region. Go figure who is. But the first thing he came to me, I was talking because you’re giving me the card. You must be thinking about doing drawing services for your oil pipelines. Inspection, etcetera. It turns out that I’m a fan of your show. By the way, how do you hear how they get onto your show?
[0:42:58] Kalani Scarrott: What
[0:42:59] Bernard Leong: funny. That’s not the only one. Another one was the CEO of the largest one of the large agricultural From so there I say I am a fan of your show, by the way. So I started to realise my actual audience are decision makers who wants to get a sense of what is going on. But they look for pretty high quality podcasts and they were trying to figure out. And then, of course, that I talk about emails, right? I get emails from hedge funds from VC funds institutional funds over the years to ask me very, very basic questions. Is Lazada real is grab real? Do you actually use this app like things that I think that what they’re actually doing? They’re doing these religions, but they see me as their contour to understand. In fact, one of the founders I recently invested in a Web three business, by the way I was in Singapore between this period of time and your podcast was my entry to the market. So I was like, Oh, okay, uh, that was that was the founder of Staging Labs Francois. And he was telling me straight out, like I discovered a podcast to try to make my way to Asia. So I’ve now known who they are. I mean, anecdotally, etcetera also get think tanks as well. So one of the things that people do not talk about is also the effects that I don’t monetise. What do I get right? I do get a lot of what I call a personal brand as well. For example, I was invited to speak at I think at least two fortune firing companies and timeless leadership summit in Singapore. I was there as a keynote speaker for there by invitation closed door session. I did caterpillar as well for the APEC summit as well. So these are the things that people talk to me and I’m also recently us Ting Tang has a who has come to me and actually presented to pretty distinguished guests. I would probably not talk about who they are, but because it was very close down. I’ve actually become in the middle of the night, but I was being asked about what I think about the Taiwan situation, how the China thing is. So if I would think about today where my actual positioning what My audiences I’m probably a person who facilitates the perspective of telling the story from Asian point of view. So the reason why they come to me, it’s not because they want to hear the same old narrative from the Americans, you know, they’re analysts, how they think of the Asian market. They want someone who is fairly neutral. Singapore very lucky. We’re right in the centre of everyone. So they wanted someone to tell them No, I think maybe a perspective thinking about Taiwan is not accurate. This is the way we think about it, and we are neutral about it. How do we think of China growth influence in the region? This is how we think about it, not how you think about it. So I think when you establish that perception and that’s how I know who my audience really are, then it becomes the methods of even thinking about. Monetisation has to be more deliberate because it’s your It’s very, very difficult to monetise this group of audience. Unless you have a very clear idea. What is it that they require? What is the thing that they listen to you? That makes sense. I hope that for a lot of people out there. They’re wondering why the hell they didn’t want to monetise its Not that I don’t want to, I think, is that you need to understand your audience a lot. And besides, it’s a side project. So the amount of effort that I spent on my work and even thinking about this podcast I even told Charles in this podcast, saying that this is like my fourth child. I need to figure out what to do with it at some point. And then there’s this breakpoint that I like two times that I’m going to think about as my inflexion 20.1 is that Episode 500 the other episode 500 survived that I still go through them the next breakpoint Episode 5 1000. So the question of about thinking about your audience is pretty important, and I think over the years I have built out that audience and I know who the audience is. And one interesting thing that I’m pretty lucky. Diametrical, almost of the regional is like this. Like the Scott Bowman from Google, your January from Facebook. They are not known to the U. S. Market, but they are the decision makers in APEC. I probably got most of them. I think primary from S a P mission from service now whorish from all of this. But these people spent an hour with me, and I’m probably one of the few who could get shy. To come to my podcast and do a review on China every year for the last five years and running is because it tells you that there’s a lot of deliberation on my end to keep maintain equality. Uh, what people don’t know is that I do not want to publish anything if it’s not good enough. So there is that tension of trying to get a high quality brought out first, get it right, get the right audience for right or for wrong. When people think of my podcast is the standard. I’m very honoured, but I don’t think I’m there because once I start thinking about the quiet out there, the founders podcast out there. Carol Fishers the term varies or even Jason Calacanis, for that matter, or get ready for as well, then your perspective change. The market’s actually much, much bigger than that.
[0:48:10] Kalani Scarrott: I used to do a little bit of work with invest like the best, doing their transcripts and some bags, and he throws away like a third of episodes. Maybe like it’s pretty crazy.
[0:48:17] Bernard Leong: Yeah, but they had a business model, right? Because Patrick O’Shaughnessy is in the investment business, right? And I do retail crypto trading. I definitely made a lot more doing crypto trading, and that’s how I pay for my bills of my team around me. But the question then is here and that market as well. So you need to start thinking about Monetisation properly as well. But the money is not that it’s not well spent as well spent because we are maintaining the quality of the podcast, and that’s why the growth is accelerating. So if I were to dial it back and said, Okay, I think we all have the same set of problems, what can we do as Asian podcast? So the one thing we never do very well, and I’m going to say this, I said in every Asian podcast. But I think no one seems to have understood this is that in the U. S. Podcast. That’s advantage of network effects. Let’s say Elon Musk appeared in one podcast and goes to the next podcast. The incremental effect for all of the podcast is that there’s a rising tide lifts all boats. We don’t have the effect because I can tell you I study your audience. I study everyone’s audience already disjointed. Maybe we have some commonalities, like Johnny from Asian Laboratory Team Romero from disrupting Japan. But we don’t have a very clear way of creating that amplification effect. And I think that is one of the challenges that we see in this region. And I think this is something that needs to happen first so that we get enough network effects. And then I think we should be able to have a local advertising network. The problem with also the local advertising network, is that they are busy back and they need to run a business immediately. Are rather they bootstrap first figure out what we really need, then trying to sign the advertisers, but then couldn’t justify why we cost this amount for them to advertise on. Because the union economics doesn’t work
[0:50:13] Kalani Scarrott: anything else like we haven’t covered that you still want to talk about.
[0:50:16] Bernard Leong: I think I think a couple of things right. So I think we talked about the Monetisation. We talk about distribution. I think the other thing that is pretty interesting to talk about is where do I find the time to do all this interview? So to tell my audience out there, I do it at 9 to 10 PM at night, most of my podcast down in the night so that it doesn’t interrupt my official working hours. Okay, so that so that nobody knows about that.
[0:50:42] Kalani Scarrott: And I guess I have to do that. That’s crazy.
[0:50:44] Bernard Leong: Yeah, I for some of the guests to agree to my timetable, I think the other thing that I’m beginning to be a little bit more conscious of is so there’s a rule in Analyse Asia that actually allowed because the podcast is edited. So during the course of the interview, if my guess is something that he or she shouldn’t have on the spot after the recording ends, he or she can say, Hey, I need this to be edited. You’ll be deleted, no questions asked. I don’t have a story in the video. The video goes in the trash bin and the little forever. However, I’ve taken this route because it facilitates me to push publication very, very quickly. It gives me the flexibility, but not from the top companies, but from what I call middle tier or maybe PR firms as well. And I like this one or two of them now. Okay, they started challenging me to get a copy of that audio where the rules of engagement has already been set at the start. So I don’t know whether this is a p r from something like maybe somebody should challenge burning and test his patients on that. But every time, Rebecca, this is my red line. Yeah, and I always tell them if Google Matter and South China Morning Post have no problems doing this, I don’t see why you have a problem. So it becomes a issue. I would give advice out there if you are comes person, don’t rely on your PR from Just engage me Direct. In fact, the best interviews I have with God with then report or even Mitch. It’s all done through direct engagement. There is no PR from in the middle because the game theory of it and let me explain again, hear me and to them. I am a senior executive myself. I have no interest in embarrassing anyone in my podcast because I’m not. An American journalist was looking to get a quick, But what I’m interested to do is to listen to their point of view. Let them tell their own stories, and I’ll ask questions about it and let the audience make a decision, whether this is PR or whether there’s some depth to the conversation itself. I think podcasters have to understand this. We are condors. We tell a story in a way. We interview as like you compounding curiosity Friday matter, right? We are also curious people we are trying to learn. We’re not trying to this our side projects. We are not here for final, etcetera. Even, I think even the way how the PR firms work in this part of the world is so traditional. That is, like expect, dated to the 19 eighties, where the Americans are re showing you can do TikTok influence. You can make a bit of a blip, sometimes turn the blip into a PR move, right? Good news or bad news is better than no news, right, but it’s not the way they think about it, and I think they do not advise their clients very well in that aspect. I think they do not see the podcast medium as a right medium for itself. So I think that is where I would say these are the things that I don’t talk about. I’m also very thankful that because I started podcast favourite early 2008 with earlier podcast. I also had a media outlet that was acquired by tech in Asia. So I was pretty fortunate that a lot of the journalists that I know are now very important people in the market and hence that’s why I could get access to so many of them. So that’s also the network effects. It’s super compounding that network effect that I’m thankful for. I never see as entitlement or etcetera. I think their support over the years when they come on the show, and I should never get a chance to express their gratitude to them and friends who are now important influences as well. So I think I’ll take this chance here to talk about that, to express my gratitude to all the guests coming on the show as well.
[0:54:30] Kalani Scarrott: Perfect. You know, I have such a similar view. Like I want to have fun. I want my guest to have fun. I want to make this as easy as possible. So in the spirit of that selfishly for me, how is your podcast being experience being with me or what would you say? Things people can improve upon easily in terms of either booking or scheduling or questions. How do you do it? Maybe.
[0:54:49] Bernard Leong: I think it was pretty smooth, right? I think the best time was I think I was asking was not like, just going to look like and then we were pretty much work on the Google dollars because we were using similar flows as the trial was like, Yeah, I’m just going to help out some of the questions there. And then here are some of the things I think we can discuss, and I came in to share a lot more also because I’m also thinking while agreeing to doing this interview because I didn’t thought about accepting any requests for this month, I was actually right starting to write a proper blog post called The State of Analyse Asia to which I’m going to publish in the next two days. Okay, I will send you a link on that, talking a lot about the traffic, talking about the current plans and the future of plans to be more method article, I think in terms of where how your podcast is, we will know when we hear the final product and when you can ask the audience out there who are listened to, it isn’t good at all. Whether there are people who learn something from this podcast, I think that will be the That will be the real testament of our interview here because I don’t do a lot of interviews in this part of the world. But partially is not because I don’t have the time to do it because of family, because of work as well.
[0:55:59] Kalani Scarrott: I’m extremely grateful for having on because I’ve learned a tonne and I think this is really a podcast game as well. So incredibly grateful. Thank you so much. Anything else you want to cover today before I let you go?
[0:56:09] Bernard Leong: So you want to have an advice for your life experience? University students actually only have one very basic advice in 12 words: Learn from everyone. Follow no one. Observe their patterns. And work like hell.
[0:56:23] Kalani Scarrott: the perfect way to finish. Bernard, thank you so much for coming on today to blast.
[0:56:27] Bernard Leong: Thank you very much for having me on and look forward to speak again soon