Prepare to be captivated as we journey with Manuj Aggarwal, a former factory worker turned AI thought leader. Manuj's story, laden with perseverance and resilience, will leave you inspired. Having scaled the heights of AI and entrepreneurship, he's now at the forefront of the Web3 world, championing a fusion of AI, blockchain, and existing web technologies. Get ready to be enlightened as Manuj tells his story of transformation and innovation.
Our conversation takes an exciting turn as we explore the powerful intersection of AI and neuroscience. Manuj, through his extensive experience, unpacks how these two fields can offer ground-breaking solutions for individuals and businesses alike. Not only do we tackle the fears and misconceptions around new technologies, we also highlight the incredible possibilities AI holds for the global economy.
This episode was recorded through a StreamYard call on June 21, 2023. Read the blog article here: https://webdrie.net/from-factory-worker-to-ai-thought-leader-manuj-agarwals-journey-into-the-web3-world-and-the-power-of-ai-and-neuroscience/
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My journey started in India and my career was that of a factory worker, and I used to make $2 a day, and during that period I learned a lot about the world, about how business works, about people, about how businesses produce value.Joeri:
Hello everyone and welcome to the Web3 CMO Stories Podcast, season 3, episode 6. My name is Joeri Billast and I'm your podcast host, and today I'm really excited to be joined by Manuj Agarwal. Hi Manuj, how are you?Manuj:
Hello, thank you so much. Excited to be here.Joeri:
Happy to have you because, guys, I will call you Manu because it's easier for me. So, Manu, you have an interesting background. you have been in AI already for 15 years. I thought I was like early using AI, but you are a really long history in AI. You even have patterns with AI, which makes it interesting. and also you have also some activities in the Web3 world, which is why I invited you. But, Manu, let's start from the beginning. Start a bit by sharing your journey from working in a factory to becoming global thought leader in AI and entrepreneurship, and maybe also, if there are some pivotal moments that you have, your thoughts I will discuss.Manuj:
Yeah, thanks for that. Well, my journey started in India and my career was that of a factory worker I used to make $2 a day, and during that period I learned a lot about the world, about how business works, about people, and about how businesses produce value. But, at the same time, working in that factory also taught me there is more to life than just working 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. So the pivotal moment, as you talked about, was something that happened during my lunch hour at the factory. I read some amazing success stories of other entrepreneurs and some business magazines, and that inspired me to say, okay, if other people can turn around their life and improve it, then anybody should be able to do it. All I needed was a way to create more value, a new skill, something that people wanted, and that led me to find that skill that I needed to learn. And I landed up on software technology, computers and I realized I was not only good at it, it was fun And a lot of people needed that especially. This is what we are talking about like around the early 90s. So the internet was just coming out and the whole technology wave was just taking shape. So that was the pivotal moment that led me into embracing technology and doing the work that I was doing. And then, obviously, that was the beginning and then after that, many things happened and if you want to go into that, I can, I can go into that. But many things happened in my personal life, in my professional life, which sort of led me to the path that I am in today and got heavily like heavily into AI. Since 2007 started working with a lot of startups, and Fortune 500 companies, and made a lot of impactful software technologies which has produced over 500 million dollars In value, and impacted about 10 million lives. So, yeah, it has been quite a journey, very interesting ups and downs, but learned a lot and had a lot of fun.Joeri:
Yeah, I hear that you're passionate about it, so your passion is obviously there. so AI is one thing. We mentioned already Web3, which is also new technology, you also mention AI, of course, but can you tell us how you came into the Web3 space?Manuj:
It's very interesting the terminologies that our technology industry adopts, so that three if you talk to 100 people, you know 100 people will give a slightly different definition of web three. The way that I am looking at web three is basically a combination of AI, blockchain, already existing web technologies AR, and VR, which is almost to say that this is going to be like a virtual world parallel to our physical world. And this virtual world everything that we are doing in the physical world, transacting with each other, going to movies, you know, exchanging value all of this will be possible, but using technologies like blockchain, like AI, and so that is the exciting part where I don't think even people can imagine how they will have a virtual avatar that will have its own life, its own persona, its own personality, and it will represent them in the virtual world and they will be experiencing the web three world, you know, as an avatar. But that's where I believe we are going as humanity. We will, most likely because we already have something like that, right, we already have a public persona in our lives and a private persona. We don't behave the same way publicly as we behave privately, right? I think that is exactly sort of the paradigm that will be extended into the digital space, where we will have a digital persona and a private persona, and so now how that impacts society. How will that unfold? It's an exciting prospect, but I don't think people have their heads fully wrapped around how it will unfold. Initial steps have been taken to build the metaverse and all of that stuff, but I think the technology is still evolving. I would love to know your opinion about that as well.Joeri:
Yeah, you know, for me, if you mention Web3, for me, indeed, as you said, it's, for me it's an umbrella term metaverse is part of it, NFTs are part of it, you know the blockchain is part of it, cryptocurrency is part of it. For me, what I'm doing, I'm more. You know, I'm working with NFTs, I'm working with the metaverse. Those are the things as a marketer which I really like. So, yes, it's, people understand different things. It's really early. Therefore, you know, also for AI, you are in that space already a long time, but for a lot of people, it's new. I know I read that in, I think, in your pile when I was preparing this episode that you also have experienced with a blockchain project, with a partnership I think it was with IBM, right?Manuj:
Yes, yes, yes, yeah, I mean we've been working with blockchain as well. see, my personal philosophy is to always look for the next wave of technology, and always try to be on the cutting edge of technology. so my company we are always looking for, you know, innovations that are world- changing. so, even with blockchain, I think we started working with it around like 2012 or so, and one of the major projects that we delivered was for the mining industry. This is not crypto mining, but this is like real copper and silver and gold mining, and the idea is that a lot of the mining ore is done, the mining is done in very remote mines and then there's a global network of collaborators or businesses which come together to take that mining or and convert it into real metal right, and so there's a lot of manual work done in that supply chain, a lot of paper- based work, a lot of theft, a lot of loss happens. So imagine a mining ore shipment that is worth about 50 million dollars. So even if they lose 1% of it, that's like half a million dollars lost. So we put all of that on a blockchain so that people can track every bit of mining ore that is being transferred from, say, a mine in Mexico to Europe and then to Asia and then back to North America, so you can track the whole supply chain from mine to a finished metal based on blockchain.Joeri:
Right, yeah, the blockchain for those things is also important. Actually, you know, earlier today I was in a roundtable in the metaverse talking about AI and all these different. So those technologies, blockchain, and AI all come together. It's really interesting. You are Manu and you have really experienced as an entrepreneur. You've met Obama, you have met Bill Gates. I've read that. So do you have any advice for entrepreneurs or marketers that want to make an impact in the world of AI and Web 3?Manuj:
So I want to clarify I have not met Obama, I have not met Bill Gates. They have noticed the work that our company has delivered and they mentioned our work in their speeches. So I want to clarify it, you know, because sometimes yeah. So the idea here is see, there is no limit to what anybody can achieve. It's always. The first step in achieving your goals is to get absolute clarity in terms of what people are looking to achieve. You know what they want to experience in life. And once you have that clarity, the second thing that I noticed was a lot of people get into a mode where they say, okay, if I want to make a lot of impact on the world, if I want to become well known, if I want to become a thought leader, then I need to learn these things, I need to become a PhD. I mean, I you know, I need to get a lot of experience, a lot of education. All of a lot of those things take a lot of time and effort, and that is not to say you should not make an effort. But what I have learned is it's not about what you know, it's about who you know, because somebody, let's say, if you, if you're trying to make an impact on your own, you may be able to impact 10 people, but if you come to know another person with a big network, through that person, you can make an impact on 100 people. Or you can meet another credible, know influential person who can help you accelerate your business. So it's my mantra in life has become it's not what you know, it's who you know. So if you start to dedicate time towards building your network and you are clear on your goals, then so many doors start to open that you cannot even imagine I could have never imagined somebody like Obama or Bill Gates talking about the work that that I have done and that was a result of knowing a lot of people. You know a network of people through which the work gets noticed. You, get your name associated with some of the most influential people, and the last thing I will say is this whole notion of credibility and influence is like a contagious disease. Okay, so if you stand next to a credible and influential person, just like a contagious disease will catch you. Their credibility and influence will catch you because once you're seen and heard by influential people, then you also become an influential person. Does that make sense?Joeri:
yeah, i like that and you know, manu, that's also, you know, one of the advantages that I have with doing this podcast, because of course, it's free. It takes a lot of time, a lot of effort, but it's building the network. You know, i had Mark Schaefer's a guest on my podcast, Joe Pulizzi, Jay Acunzo, people from the Web3 space that are really, you know, like fans, and so it's really building your network, as you say. And now, actually, you know, three weeks ago we published a book together with 35, 36 marketers. It was Mark Schaefer's I would say the name on it, but Mark Schaefer and friends. So, because of the networking, i know those people, so really helps talking to having them in the network but also having interesting conversations.Manuj:
And actually, yeah, that's you know. Now we are meeting on my podcast, So we have a conversation, we get to know each other, So this is really interesting.Manuj:
So we talked about yeah, you mentioned already the metaverse, Web3. How do you see AI playing the role in Web3, or maybe in the metaverse itself? How do you see those technologies interact?Manuj:
See, I believe the metaverse is going to be hinted at the quality of AR VR because, as human beings, we want to experience through our multiple senses. So, vision sound, you know the immersive experience. So let's say, you know I am really passionate about traveling, and obviously, due to my time schedule, and my parenting schedule, I may not be able to travel the world. But imagine if I can go into the metaverse and I can say, okay, I want to go to Paris today And I want to experience Paris in an immersive fashion where I can actually my senses, feel that I'm in Paris, I am on the top of Eiffel Tower and all of that stuff. These experiences will be possible with AI because it will be able to create real- time sensations, sounds, and sights, and all of that things, even smells, to simulate that. You know, true metaverse, true virtual reality that I can experience in my life. So AI is going to be underpinning everything. It's already underpinning everything. I mean we are recording this video, recording underneath the covers. Ai is doing the magic to optimize the traffic so that we are able to talk to each other in high definition in real- time, even though we are sitting, you know, far apart, right? So AI is already there And, as technology is evolved, AI is going to be critical to help us optimize things, create new ideas, because I believe we are approaching if we are not already there, we are approaching a point of singularity where AI is going to become more intelligent that human being. So it will make sense that AI actually helps in inventing those technologies. And then one, though those technologies are mature and we are experiencing it, they're also using AI to create that experience, right?Joeri:
Yeah, AI is everywhere. Also, you know, for this podcast, you know I use Buzzsprout as my platform. It also has AI now. you know it creates direct, it suggests titles, it creates a transcript, and so on. Before I had to use different tools, also for my blog, I had to copy content writer, you know, create a blog about it, about the podcast. Now it's 95% is done by AI. You mentioned it already. Building a network for me also, building communities, building relationships, it's really important. You have a background, I think, in psychology or human psychology, neuroscience. How did you say you learned this about building this relationship? Did your background help you? Did you learn it on the go? How did that happen?Manuj:
See. So this is where you know, the second pivotal moment happened in my life. So about 10, 12 years ago, I had some extreme experiences in my life which led me to depression and to the point I was almost suicidal. And then I wanted to fix myself, I wanted to find solutions to that problem And I talked to a lot of therapists and psychologists And so all that led me. I mean, these therapists, they gave me some insight, but they didn't really give me any groundbreaking sort of, you know, relief. And then, through that journey, I found meditation, and I found that meditation really helped me change my perspective, which then brought me to really understand the mechanics of the mind, neuroscience, and psychology. So I've been diving deeper and deeper into that realm due to that experience, but then more so because I realized how much role AI plays in shaping our mind and how our mind and AI are basically a continuum of the same thing. So my work became how to use AI and the knowledge about human psychology and neuroscience to create really impactful solutions. So these solutions can help companies and individuals gain more visibility, you know, increase customer satisfaction, reduce their risk, and increase their revenue. All of these things are quite possible And they work really magically once you combine the power of neuroscience and AI.Joeri:
Wow, and so, as I understand, that's one of the services that you deliver with your company. It's around AI, is that?Manuj:
Yeah, yeah, exactly exactly. So it's a little bit of a complicated situation. When we explain neuroscience and AI, a lot of people say, okay, this sounds very complicated, but we focus on what the company is looking to do. Meaning, for example, we are helping one company improve its employee engagement and culture using AI and neuroscience. Another one is about teaching music to their students in a better way using AI and neuroscience. So the way that we do it is sort of a little bit complicated. We sort of help people understand at the surface level, but the results that they are looking for are amazing. So we basically ask the client okay, tell us what exactly you are trying to achieve, what is the best- case scenario for you? And then, utilizing these tools, we implement the system that gets them the results very quickly and easily, and it's almost like magic like a lot of people don't believe it.Joeri:
Yeah, indeed, you have to see it, But with those magic, you hear a story about people getting a bit scared of new technologies. It's always, of course, new technology is people. they have the real early adopters and you have all the rest that come later. What are the challenges that you see It's magic, but what are the challenges with AI that you see with your customers, for instance?Manuj:
See, the biggest challenge right now is fear and misinformation. As you said, a lot of people don't understand it And they have to watch movies like Terminator. So the first fear is oh, is AI going to take over humanity or it is going to kill all people? Then there is a fear of job loss. Then there is a fear that people like Elon Musk are saying stop AI. So all these fears are playing into people's minds, which is a typical reaction that humans showcase whenever a new technology is introduced. So the first step for us is to help them understand what these fears are. These are valid fears. These are not like hallucinations, but rational thinking. These fears are very baseless And the idea is that people need to start using AI today, otherwise, in two to three years, they will be left behind People's other competitors will be using AI and they'll be miles ahead of them. The second thing is the magnitude of opportunity that is in front of us that also people don't realize. So the CEO of IBM has said that AI is going to add about $10 trillion to the world economy by 2030. So the world economy today is about $96 trillion. That means in the next seven years, ai is going to add more than 10% of the world GDP into the economy. So even if you get 0.01% of that wealth transfer, how is that going to transform your life? And this is what people don't realize, because if you compare this to like when the internet was coming along, in the first seven years I don't think it added more than, say, $100 billion to the world economy. And then the smartphone came along. Maybe it added maybe a few hundred billion or maybe even a trillion, but this time AI is adding about $10 trillion. So the magnitude is immense And that's what people need to realize.Joeri:
Yeah, indeed, There are so many opportunities. People don't realize it. I think can we even realize it. you know how fast it goes. what is even possible, Manu, wow, what are you actually the most excited about? Okay, it goes really fast. A lot of AI about this, new technologies. What are the things? I know you're passionate about it. So what is exciting you the most?Manuj:
See, i think what's so exciting is, first of all, i think we are entering an age of hyper personalization, where we will be able to get exactly what we want. Like with mass production, industrialization, we used to get cheaper goods, but we lost personalization. We cannot buy the shirt we are wearing in like 10 different colors or different custom made sizes or what have you. So that's one thing hyper personalization will come. I think we are entering the age of abundance, where most of us will be able to afford everything that we want without working, you know, 80 hours a week or what have you, because a lot of the heavy lifting will be done by AI. Then I'm excited about a lot of the advances that will happen in solving big problems finding cure for diseases like Alzheimer's or cancer, you know. Finding solutions for climate change, you know these kinds of things will become easier because a machine with the IQ of 1000 will be able to help us find those solutions much better and faster right. And then I'm excited about, like, how it will transform society, like I believe in the next seven years, by 2030, we will see companies going public with one employee only. You know we will. Most likely, in 10, 20 years, we will have a situation where every car or vehicle is driven by AI, and I believe it will be illegal for humans to drive on the road. So these kinds of transformations are going to happen, and that's what's exciting.Joeri:
Wow, yeah, these are really interesting thoughts. you know that you just talked about. It's also a really positive message to end this podcast with Manu. If people want to reach out to you if they want to connect with you, where would you like to send them?Manuj:
Yeah, so find me on LinkedIn. I'm active there and let me know that you heard me on this CMO Stories podcast and what are you trying to achieve and how we can be instrumental in your success.Joeri:
Amazing. Thanks again, Manu. It was a pleasure to have you.Manuj:
Thank you so much Thanks. It was a pleasure here as well.Joeri:
So, guys, if you are now listening to this episode and you're also passionate about AI and Web3, like Manu and like me and you think that people around you can also benefit from this episode, Feel free and I would even encourage you to share this episode with them so that they can also get all the value bombs in this episode. If you are not yet subscribed to the show, I think now is a good moment to do that And, of course, I hope to see you back next time. Take care, Web3 can take your miss to new heights and you're ready to harness its power, but feeling lost and overwhelmed. Therefore, join my W3X Web3 Mastermind. Send me a personal message for more info. You can find me everywhere on social media. There's only one person with my name, Joeri Billast. Talk soon.