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How to become a Data Entrepreneur, Validating ideas, Feedback from stakeholders

Updated: Oct 6, 2022

MindSpeaking Podcast Episode 9 - Lillian Pierson, CEO of Data-Mania

▶️ Watch the podcast with video on YouTube:


00:00 Introduction

00:24 Introduction of the guest

01:53 Who is Lillian Pierson?

03:31 Product management and growing data-intensive businesses

04:30 What makes you so passionate about products?

05:33 Being an entrepreneur or building their own business

07:48 What can you learn from product managers?

12:42 Stakeholder's feedback

18:29 What made you move to Thailand and how did those career choices develop? 21:25 Dream about traveling the world, living abroad, and being an entrepreneur

25:02 How to slow down

28:48 What have you learned about teaching online?

31:33 Moment of reflection

33:18 How do you think Data scientists need to be taught differently?

36:10 About Data-Mania

39:51 Where to follow Lillian Pierson

40:53 Conclusion

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📙 People Skills for Analytical Thinkers

Introducing Lillian Pierson

Gilbert Eijkelenboom:

I could make today's introduction very, very low because today we have linear sees a data scientist and engineer and also an entrepreneur and many years ago people could die and too many telemetries, but it has not always been that she will tell you everything about his lineage as a data scientist structure. He has over 1.3 million also, she has written six data published eight. So this episode will be especially useful if you're an entrepreneur, looking to become a world leader. But it will be about how to validate your ideas, how understand your stakeholders, and get feedback. So they can learn a lot about them and not get disappointed at the end where your product so you will learn about the career choices you make, what you have learned from living abroad. And if you want to become an entrepreneur or leader this episode, witness. I hope you enjoy this episode, Livia. Eileen, welcome to the show.

Lilllian Pierson:

Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here today.

Who is Lilian Pierson

Gilbert Eijkelenboom:

Thanks for making the time to talk about many things, including entrepreneurship, and your business people out. But let's start with the story about you. So how did you end up in data centers about that journey?

Lillian Pierson:

Sure. So I've always been a data person and by that evening, my risk five stepfathers had a computer and I was always curious about it and playing with his spreadsheets when I was seven. And my first job was data entry and medical billing. So I was just always leaning toward data, my entire career. And I took a job and went to college for environmental engineering. And when I got a job in the field, there were different aspects of that world. Some were built systems design, and then some more hype, like data modeling, for building the hydraulics and also for hydrology for Wells, well sourcing of water and stuff like that. So they're doing also did data modeling. Yes, there was a lot of data in both and that was because they hired me because I was a GIS and could work with data. So when there is another job and that was in the data field exclusively, which started back in 2011. So this is kind of what I was good at, and I just go with that and try to get away from doing anything I didn't enjoy doing.

Product management and growing data-intensive businesses

Gilbert Eijkelenboom:

That sounds like you follow your path and eventually ended up in more product management and growing data-intensive businesses, right?

Lillian Pierson:

Yeah, so the first my first product that I built at a project that was back in 2005, which was an MVP, for the county that helps them organize the petroleum cleanup at different sites where there's contamination. So and then from there, where's he's been launched in about 35 products, most of them data products since then, so if you haven't put me into like a class, class or category in terms of professional roles, it would be I would place myself as a product manager head of product. Roles just do.

What makes you so passionate about products?

Gilbert Eijkelenboom:

What makes you so passionate about products is that there are so many different roles possible, right, but your profile and your experience, what makes you passionate about

Lilian Pierson:

Well, I love the scalability of products. And I love bringing them to market and spend a lot of time delivering services. And I did feel as an entrepreneur, I took the route that IT services for a while I did consult and I just fell in love with products because they're so scalable. So I dug deeper into that and it's been nice because I've learned like different product management frameworks, and how those to kind of translate like what I've been doing as an entrepreneur and to the product role, and just learning the language of the employees in these types of growth. So yeah.

Being an entrepreneur or building their own business

Gilbert Eijkelenboom:

I can imagine there are a lot of people listening who are currently employed, but who do have a dream of being an entrepreneur or building their own business. And you speak a lot about validating your idea before you create something before you bring it to market. What is the best process if you have any tips for people?

Lillian Pierson:

Yeah, for sure. Yeah, I'm putting together a five-day Live series to help people with this. And the thing is, if you want to start your own business, the best way to validate your ideas is, the easiest way to monetize and start validating your ideas and getting to know your customers is to build your services. So then you can understand the mind of your customer and what they need and then you can figure out how to shape your service into a product. That said a lot of companies need to repeat as product managers a lot of companies communicate to craft their need, develop their minimum marketable product around customer data and not spend time delivering services, trying to figure out what their customers need. And so, in that case, you would want to do customer interviews and surveys to identify what your customers need and then iterate around that to design. build out metrics and definer MVP and then see, yeah, develop it and launch it. So there's this speaking as an entrepreneur, like I started as an entrepreneur, right, I even started as a product manager. So it's different sides of the same point, when you get in there, but being a product manager for as an employee is here a lot easier. Because you don't have to worry about profits and loss and like there are a million things you have to do as an entrepreneur that you don't have to do a as an engineer.

What can you learn from product managers?

Gilbert Eijkelenboom:

What do you think? Data scientists, people that are employed as data scientists? What can they learn from product managers for entrepreneurs who validate their ideas? Do you see any parallels or what are some takeaways? Oh, for

Lillian Pierson:

sure. Yes, of course. So I'm coming out with a product soon it's gonna be workshop format, called the value prop articulator and, for sure, a lot of data professionals mentioned that they don't know how to articulate the value proposition of care or the project in a product. So they are it's if you've been delivering data services, then it's very easy to be focused on the details and not on the big picture right? So that to get ahead in your career, you need to get in performance for a company and you need to deliver ROI. Right. So it all comes down to stepping back and finding your like collecting data about who your stakeholders are on a sheet your stakeholders that are going to be your customers. And you know, especially if you have a squeaky wheel that some person if you have a squeaky wheel so obstinate about data in general, then that person would be the person you want to go and we have some deep conversations without understanding like what it is really and need and want and cater for your product or your project around their requirements because they're going to be you know, they're going to be basically the limiting factor. So you want to like make identify who is a limiting factor here and make sure you accommodate their needs and expectations. In the very beginning and then when you're going ahead to pitch your idea for your product, you want to have very clear messaging about the benefits and features of the product or the project and get their sign-off. Get sign-up from stakeholders and then you can go ahead and build the technical plan. And then you sign off on that. And then when you get signed off on your technical plan, you can start building so the problem with implementation people is and I've done this of course I've done this myself that's a trap of implementation where we get these MCs about this to be cool. So start building and it's not cool at all like business people are like dude, like, you know, you got to think like a business owner. So business owners like okay, I'm paying like how much all this money this person was like wasting time they have no idea about the business, the ROI, you know because they're not trained to like think that far. Do you know what I'm saying? So it's, it's a recruiting. It's why I'm creating it like creating a six-hour workshop on this whole series of customer interviews and then customer personas and then your MVP and your MMP and then pitching, pitching your project to the leadership but then even they're gonna say, Yeah, you do a great job. They're gonna say, yes, that doesn't mean you start, you know, with any new technical question, like what technologies and like, there's just so much planning that's required, but they don't generally teach anywhere and most, most of you then taking like coding courses on Udemy, you're just not going to think to do that stuff. But it's super important to protect the investments that the business is making in technologies, data resources, and you know, skill sets, personnel, which are very expensive, you know, so if you one more thing I will say is if you're gonna go to college and invest $100,000 on education, you're going to take a look around, right? You're going to look around at the options and you're going to do a test market. It's the same thing with a data, a new data project, like that, 's what technical when it comes down to it like, so it's not your $100,000 but it's your company's. So like there's got to be a thorough assessment of the alternatives before jumping into any

Gilbert Eijkelenboom:

right. And to me, it's not just about knowing what to do. But also it's about a mindset, a more business-focused mindset. Would you agree?

Lillian Pierson:

Yeah, for sure.

Stakeholder's feedback

Gilbert Eijkelenboom:

How do you think we can develop this because you offer a lot of great materials and courses on this. What I can imagine is it's not just about giving a framework and telling people to do it, but also in their business, in their profession, in general, to be more on the lookout for feedback or more receptive to business stakeholders what they need and what they want. You can develop this mindset. One thing you mentioned about companies positive mindset.

Lillian Pierson:

Yeah, that's a great question about feedback, especially stakeholder feedback. That was like the most valuable thing you can get. Instead of like constructive feedback we can find that you can't go to a shop and buy custom advice about what people need and want. So it's like when people share that with you, it's like, great, I can make this even better. I can reduce problems in the future. I can make this you know. Yeah, it's feedback that is very important. Now, I use I guess how I started so I offer a series of three digital that take people through the process of building the strategic plan. Now, in all honesty, I learned about a perfect pickup as the consultant of the engineering, technical consulting strategy number. We always walk through the process of like, you started you define what's the mission of the organization, what's proficient and then define like, okay, here are the needs, who needs assessment, and then how to propose solutions to in the companies and then also satisfied organization and Regional Commission. But once you establish them you have to start with visibility and like doing an assessment of the current state and what they have available. Be honest Like say, for what feels like hey, go buy some random expensive software. Something that's a competitor capable of doing the same thing, you know, what went on with the business and technology and then when you make recommendations for solutions, the Alternatives Analysis. So the alternative analysis is that look at capital costs, in your cost operation, and it's not just like now it's like regular startup costs seven years from now. 10 years from now, the pros, the pros, and cons of each of these options. And you look at it from a financial perspective. You look at like, okay, so, if we record the data might be cheaper now, but that, you know, the warranty is less and there is, you know, maybe a greater chance of failure of component pieces. So really evaluating your alternatives on a cost basis before making recommendations and then when you make recommendations, you propose that it's like that was my first learning or how about technical planning as relates to business as one might see what many analytical or technical people do or like to do is focus on the solution.

Gilbert Eijkelenboom:

Thanks so much, in terms of the final stakeholder's thing, with customers being so busy thinking about this customer feedback on their work?

Lillian Pierson:

I think that it might come from because I'm an engineer. I'm a licensed professional engineer, and systems engineer. But I didn't do all of this cost calculations and cost reductions in college. So when I looked at the data scientists, they wouldn't be statisticians, computer scientists, or mathematicians, right? They're not the kind of training engineers off the list. For some reason. I don't even know why. But when you go into a product manager, you're an engineer. So to make it this different type of STEM education that supports that function, where you're making the type of

Gilbert Eijkelenboom:

People that are very dark and working with background, what made you decide to make choices?

Lillian Pierson:

Yeah, I decided I decided that I wanted to travel the world. So then I got a job working with data, data. So I built that business as a side hustle while I held that job, and then a few years we record everything I needed to quit my job and so I did and the first movement whatever Bobby and then went through and when we are trying to do memory to Bobby and then I would just sit and like loneliness.

I'm going to move back to the United States and then modify just immigrants pay us rates, you know, like pay possibly anything with us. Where would be my favorite place in the world? And I knew what was going on here. So I came here at the end. So it hasn't paid for my travel recruit to stop in Las Vegas. And yeah yeah, I've heard some wonderful things you were thinking about moving back to us, but

yeah. You know, it's countries. But if I hadn't met him, I think I probably would have been here because it's not optional. To travel the world by yourself. Yeah, definitely.

Dream about traveling the world, living abroad, and being an entrepreneur

Gilbert Eijkelenboom:

Because many people dream about traveling the world living abroad and being an entrepreneur. What do you want to say to those people who had those dreams?

Lillian Pierson:

Oh, yeah, cuz you're gonna find out. I mean, it's gonna it's not going to be the rest of your life, even if you think it might be. But you're going to find yourself. You got to find out who you are. So when I left the United States, I didn't know if I liked it. Because I thought maybe it had been conditioned on this by society, and I went out and like pushed it to the extreme. So I was living in Sacred Valley with a bunch of Indians around and like dwelt, like read of like thick mud, five degrees Celsius and no negative five or something with no. I mean, I figured out who I was, like, because like trying out, I've never had the chance to be and then I'm like, Oh, I like shopping, or whatever it is, you know, you get out there you're taking what the real defining defining

Gilbert Eijkelenboom:

yourself already knows the answers

Lillian Pierson:

I thought was talking more about real estate Yeah, so to help you and mentor you with making that thing happen, but just try to limit yourself to making something happen. But a lot of times, what you're going to get through that approach is not as good as if you would take a moment to slow down into just like, I don't wanna get into spirituality on this call. Because I know this is a corporate data professional who are not going to but I will say that our brains are capable of processing a lot more information than we can handle on a conscious basis. So if we slow down enough, what, what's practicing, we have a big problem in your brain. We're trying to come up with an answer. It's the same thing if you slow down long enough. You're like, let your brain your subconscious figure it out. You're going to come up with a much more direct path to what you're working on, and probably a lot better than when you were working on tapping into the same thing, trying to figure out the most efficient way to get as much done as possible with doing real work as possible.

How to slow down

Gilbert Eijkelenboom:

I get all benefits from meditation. I meditate every day. If I do meditate every day for I to slow down. As you mentioned, how do you slow down?

Lillian Pierson:

Yeah, I hadn't I was doing a wide range like I do every day. For years. I slow down I got a massage all the time. That's accessible

Yeah. But it's probably not as good for your brain, you know? Like, if you meditate, you're gonna get your brain it's still aware. So you're gonna get these great answers these great solutions to the thing you're facing in your life but if you just check out and then you wake up, I don't know that your brain you know what I'm saying? What happened to me in our solutions, but I mean, I can help

Gilbert Eijkelenboom:

you there were still pretty aware or conscious, right? Don't do anything, go for walk. Massage. Those bones of the vital signs. We're not thinking about anything or everything

Lillian Pierson:

they normally do and then it's like finding a solution. That's just, you know, 10 times more elegant than what like his wind twisted outplanting. Unfortunately, like unconscious variants, normally you're not processing below the surface. So what did happen over a million people, most of it, but I could travel the world. Through live workshops for all different types of countries people. But then it could get exhausting. When I got my business online. It takes up will travel, travel the world-class. It was really like, really cool at first right? But when you know as a child at home, if you are traveling to set up every month, and it doesn't seem too luxurious, they're so awesome glamorous, that you know, you can't just want to get off this plane and this doesn't seem worth it. And so that's why I brought my business online in 2019 and started just selling everything online. Instead of doing face-to-face services.

What have you learned about teaching online?

Gilbert Eijkelenboom:

workshop or online business or online teaching is very different compared to an interactive workshop, where you're there present life questions, everything, interaction. Well, what have you learned about teaching online? Do you know how to make it effective?

Lillian Pierson:

What I love so much, but I feel like it's so much better than face-to-face. This face-to-face just drags on. It's like six hours, eight hours. How do you keep these people from getting bored? You know, they're just sitting there and it's like, okay, how do I keep this exciting for them? And the workshop I had to do so it wasn't enough. I tried to try to make it more interactive where you stopped and like we're kind of piece of the strategy or whatever, that the client would be training. So 3030 35 hours of just training in a week is a lot to pull people through without them just, you know, like keeping it exciting. It's just tough, but you can just set it up online, and like, for me, I'm like 1,000,000% action-oriented like I want to hear zero theory about anything. And I don't want to share a theories about anything. So I share what works. And I get people to like, Okay, here's the principle, here's what you need to do now do it and they get the athlete to do the action because that's how you're going to learn right? And I feel like most things can be taught that way. We don't like college you have to go through so much theory that was probably necessary but like in the professional world with just doing doing a one hour workshop and then having digital products that support the transformation. of that workshop is plenty particularly with a q&a afterwards because it he cut out all the BS theory and like all the like taking this, like email, like, like people want to spend. Seems like the old way about something like okay, you have to have your butt in the seat. For 40 or 50 hours a week. So we're gonna force you to be here. So let's fill up all this space and time needlessly. And it's like, Dude, come on, like, can we just like really do something powerful and it kind of, like, do something that's changing the change, like, you know, make an impact and then we'll have a lot of focus on presenting and talking.

Gilbert Eijkelenboom:

I think we'll learn by doing very action oriented. How do you build a liner versus to be building this section

Lillan Pierson:

with my products and programs is to build in mindset. So related to whatever the topic is undergoing some sort of reflection of like leadership, sales and marketing, if it's planning to livery if it's finance, there's always lessons learned in a way we can like look at situations differently and grow from them and become better leaders and our leaders but develop our relationship with ourselves like creating our own selves, and the others being kinder to ourselves. That's where I like to pick up my training isn't mind set, mindset upgrade mindset, that we would help people that support them and make them feel good and also help them feel prepared for what's to come next. Not only supported by me, but also supported by themselves.

Gilbert Eijkelenboom:

That's a strong mindset and how you think there's I just need to be taught differently, or tactical, or general.

Lillian Pierson:

I think you can be the scientist more how to start to grow your business. So in that sense, they need to help a lot of times. It's probably true in some of this, this is one side of the company need to help stepping back from everything themselves. This is a journey. This is like everyone's, like trusting other people that they can do a better job it's not better than the other person and stop trying to just figure it out. So working your hours, figure everything out the little Lego anything unless it's no one else. And so that is actually helping people just like understand that there are alternatives and that you can set up to be a leader instead of trying to get to vote likely somebody you can't be a great civilization person. obsess about the details of the mistake and your brain. So at a certain point you have to decide you know, what you want. That's what professionals do wants to be an individual contributor for the rest of their lives for years and years for so that's awesome. And if you want to get the leader, you don't actually need necessarily to get in there figure out more implementation because that's not gonna get you to a leadership capacity, you know,

Gilbert Eijkelenboom:

so it's stepping away from that and picking up new ways of working and communicating, coping with professional stressors and so the different skills and mindset maybe little bit of work, but there's maybe a few questions. What would you like to share about?

Lillian Pierson:

Well, we support professionals and entrepreneurs, and we are moving towards fully offering products in order to assist in our Hedstrom Kinto. coaching, coaching Omar, I can guarantee I'm excited to be a chief marketing officer for a data startup SAS car, so really excited about that. All services are so bad so bad, the products business I've been around a long time. Here's my ultimate process. We can create impact without having to build them in order to speed and scale their impact without actually wonder like keep growing as a professional. So what we do

Gilbert Eijkelenboom:

I just wanted to open up the floor for anything you want to share. And what we really want to take away or less than or take away from this episode.

Lillian Pierson:

I can actually open up if you're thinking of starting a company do not do what almost everyone does. Try to figure it out on your own because if you're anything like I was when I did that for years and that leaves $800,000 in lost revenue for me personally, I'm too smart to pay for business and so that I like making two years so, if you would like to learn more steps to monetize your small business that they invite you to take my master class and the one thing that I will leave a link to it in the description of the show and then living whatever it is you want to do with your career with your life because connecting with political conversations, you're gonna wake up you're gonna be so be willing to take a risk and get out there and follow your passion. When you get to be 65 which will be very sad that you will say I wonder what you know, I wonder what would have happened if I had to get through that you just have to do it.

Gilbert Eijkelenboom:

Discord message we're gonna tell you

Lillian Pierson:

why? Email And then also on

Gilbert Eijkelenboom:

the show not too long ago, I learned a lot about how to be a better data science data scientist. So thanks a lot for

Lillian Pierson:

Thank you for having me on. Thank you for your time.

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