The Other Side of the Table, A day at CDL

Lauren Yoshida
5 min readApr 28, 2018

It was almost a year ago when I decided to set one of my first long term goals, as I was not sure what I wanted to pursue after high school. This goal of mine was to create my own company in the next ten years to help create our future and help make the lives of many more efficient. Back then I had no idea of what I could be capable of or how things work in the startup world, but after a day at CDL I have a new mindset in the startup world. Just one day taught me how I should be thinking and how to be a mindful entrepreneur and so much more. I learned so much from both the investors and entrepreneurs, their perspective as well as receiving some great life advice from many of the mentors.

How our afternoon session looked like

During this day, I got the amazing opportunity to shadow Elizabeth Caley, an amazing female in the tech field giving lots of valuable help. She is currently the director at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, an organization that is accelerating scientific discoveries by connecting the scientists to share their knowledge but before this she worked at Microsoft and other startups including one of her own. For those who are wondering what CDL is its a program that gather entrepreneurs, innovators and investors to collaborate and help grow these startups. Throughout the morning I got to meet with 7 different startups and we talked about everything from hiring new employees to raising how much money when to scaling efficiency. This part of the day taught me what investors look for, what the entrepreneur needs to be doing, so I came up with a list of three questions I need to ask myself constantly when I create my own company.

  1. What keeps you up at night?

In other words what is keeping you from putting the metal to the pedal? This was a common question Elizabeth asked in our boardroom as we met with the companies and to my surprise the answers varied from hiring someone new to raising money to the fact that a company is just not growing fast enough. This really resonated with me because these are the things they need to be doing to keep their companies growing. But to me this is a the question I need to continue asking myself on a daily basis, how do I continue to grow as a person and what are my priorities to do so.

2. How does this help your consumer?

A company that is good and useful is a company that helps their consumer in some way or another whether its pricing art or sorting through data. It is common for startups especially the CEO or founder to get caught up in their own excitement and build something their end consumer does not need nor want. It seems obvious but it is really not, almost all the companies that came in was doing things but were not thinking about their consumer most startups could solve this problem by doing use cases to make sure it is what the consumer wants.

3. How do you stay ahead of everyone else?

A very common question to everyone starting their own company, but especially companies working with artificial intelligence, machine learning, quantum computing and all these exponential technologies. You need to be asking yourself how you can differentiate yourself and then stay ahead of the rest of those companies. It’s more common than not that there is a company working on the same thing who is more advanced and better than you.

These are just a few questions that were talked about, there were definitely many more things talked about that were equally as interesting. In the afternoon, we sat in a giant room where all the investors gathered to give feedback and talk about each of these companies. It was interesting to hear many different views on each company and their goals after only hearing one throughout the morning. In this time I talked to Michael Hyatt, who gave me some great advice on life, he told me to learn to argue and learn to ask. This was interesting to me, he said men tend to ask more whether it is their salary or the desk they want at a new company whereas women won’t say anything until they see or find out what the man got, in other words men tend to be more persistent and comfortable asking. I thought this through more and realized that it is true and I am now trying to speak up when I can and be more willing to argue and ask especially when there is nothing to lose. I also got a chance to talk to Ash Munshi, who gave me some life advice as well. He told me that I need to keep working and learning and go deep into a topic and be technical, which is something we talk about at TKS. Ash also mentioned to do what you love and if you are doing something thing you do not like after a week if you still do not like it stop. This goes with having a passion, doing what you love as a entrepreneur adds so much to your company and creates a drive. Which is why money is a side effect of hard work for him.

For me the whole day was non-stop learning and a great experience which I took so much out off. Now I think I might be able to start my company in less than 5 years. Here are my three main takeaways.

  1. Have a mindful mindset.

Having a mindful mindset is key to building a company, you need to keep in mind what needs to get done and just talk the talk and not walk the walk. This ties into the questions I told myself I would constantly ask myself now and when I have a company of my own. You need to be mindful about these things to keep your startup growing and to be successful.

2. Have a Boss Mentality.

After talking to Michael I realised how important it is to have this Boss Mentality which is to be relentless, confident and have the mentality that you are a CEO of a billion dollar company. I realised that I need to have a boss mentality more often whether its at a conference or at school. If I want something it is my job to go get it because no one will do it for me. I need to speak up for myself.

3. Continue to work hard and learn.

Being in a world with so many new technologies so which will get very complicated it is important that as a person wanting to make an impact you need to expand your knowledge and work hard at doing this. Without this drive to learn and work both the startups and investors would not have found themselves at CDL.

All in all it was a great day with so much learning! It was so valuable and incredibly inspiring, from Elizabeth Caley to the startups I got to meet. I can’t thank everyone enough who helped make this amazing day possible.



Lauren Yoshida

Innovator, Developer, Founder of Photome Labs, Space Enthusiast