So This Is My Why | Issue 24

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Hey STIMYers!

For those working in Wilayah Persekutuan, hope you enjoyed your unscheduled public holiday! (although Malaysian politician, Ong Kian Meng, eloquently lays out how irresponsible this move was here).

Today, we’re covering AI, newsletter empires, cute cats as a tool for misinformation, a $3 million Squid Game production that has garnered more YouTube views than the trailer for the actual Squid Game show & a nifty Secret Santa tool for your upcoming Christmas parties (if this latest variant doesn’t ruin it all for us 😫).

So let’s get going!

STIMY Ep 64: Ansgar Koene

Ansgar Koene - Global AI Ethics & Regulatory Leader EY London

Ansgar Koene is the Global AI Ethics & Regulatory Leader at EY, Senior Research Fellow at Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute at the University of Nottingham, a Trustee at 5Rights and chair of the IEEE Working Group P7003 Standard for Algorithm Bias Considerations.

Today with Ansgar, we’ll be talking about all things artificial intelligence.


  • 8:50 Every model is wrong, but some models are useful
  • 16:49 Ethical concerns around the use of Twitter
  • 18:12 Issue of consent & privacy
  • 20:56 Types of recommender systems used by online platforms
  • 26:07 Using youth juries in the Unbias Project
  • 27:25 A series of “nudges” that manipulate our behaviour
  • 29:59: Oversight committees
  • 31:52 Who should bear editorial responsibility?
  • 36:25 Inherent algorithm bias
  • 40:30 Opening & streamlining access to platforms also restricts your freedom of expression
  • 44:19 How effective current regulation is
  • 49:23 Ansgar’s thoughts on Facebook stopping use of its facial recognition technology
  • 51:31 How effective was the #deleteFacebook movement?
  • 55:22 Why young people feel “disempowered” when using social media
  • 1:00:50 YouTube Kids versus Instagram Kids

​Other places to listen to: Website, Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, Listen Notes

Looking for past STIMY guests? Check out:

  • Esther Wojcicki: Author, Educator & Mother – on her T.R.I.C.K. methodology to raising successful people like her daughters (e.g. Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube)
  • David Grief: Senior Clerk to Essex Court Chambers on how he has nurtured the careers of international judges in the UK Supreme Court & other international European courts (including the former Chief Justice of England & Wales)
  • Ooi Boon Hoe: CEO, Jurong Port – on what it’s like to run one of Singapore’s two major commercial shipping hubs

With Karl Mak (founder of Hepmil Media Group – SGAG, PGAG, MGAG) on how he built Southeast Asia’s largest meme startup.

Favourite Finds of the Week

Interview with Alex Lieberman

You might recall a previous STIMY newsletter where I mentioned how Morning Brew is one of my favourite business newsletters. It shares the latest business & tech news in easily digested bites & Business Insider just acquired a majority stake for a reported $75 million.

I’ve been bingeing on all things Morning Brew this week because…

I’ll be interviewing Neal Freyman (Managing Editor & Employee #4 at Morning Brew) this coming week!​

Here are some high-level takeaways from some of Alex’s interviews in building Morning Brew:

  • Morning Brew started off as a PDF newsletter & having raised $750k from friends and family, they spent 3 years focusing on 3 pillars to grow it as a business: to write, grow and sell.
  • Their first investor was the University of Virginia: Alex, one of the co-founders, had received a sponsored LinkedIn post from them & figured that this indicated how they had a marketing budget to promote their program. Alex reached out asking the university if they wanted to sponsor ads on Morning Brew and they did! A grand total of $ 2,700 for 3 ad spots. For comparison, Morning Brew’s current rates are $100,000 for a full-day takeover;
  • Their first big sponsor happened because they had been approached to complete an RFP (before they even knew what an RFP was). They lost the bid, asked the company how they had first heard of Morning Brew and realised that one of the company’s higher ups (i.e. the then CMO) was a Morning Brew reader. Alex then went into their mailing list, tracked down the person to thank them for the introduction & from there, they decided to do another RFP which Morning Brew won.
  • In 2018/19, Morning Brew’s subscriber count went from 100,000 to over 1 million. Profits skyrocketed from $3 million to $13 million. – definitely going to be covering this in my interview with Neal!
  • Morning Brew was a 100% advertising business when COVID-19 hit. For 1.5 months, they worried that Morning Brew would cease to exist as there was a mass exodus of advertisers in March/April 2020. However, they quickly recovered. Morning Brew’s open rates were higher than ever. But during this time, they also explored how they could diversity Morning Brew’s income, which is how they landed on Morning Brew’s latest vertical: Education.

Article: Cute Cats Help Spread Misinformation

This New York Times article lays out the old school trick some publishers have been using to spread misinformation: Publish cute videos/GIFs of animals – which have a tendency to go viral – to first draw an audience to themselves.

Once the audience is “caught”, redirect the audience to the other pages they own, which spread misinformation/conspiracy theories.​

You might think you’re just following a page for cute cats but you’ve actually fallen for the “engagement bait” & unknowingly subscribed to misleading content from the same publisher.​

Cute cats, begone!

Perfection or Excellence?

A recent article published by the British Psychological Society talks about perfection v excellence based on 2 different studies involving (i) 279 Canadian undergrads; and (ii) 401 Canadian undergrads. They sought to determine whether there was any truth in the common critique that perfectionism kills creativity.

The results of both studies showed that if participants strove for excellence, greater originality & openness to experience was shown. And the exact opposite was true if participants aimed for perfectionism.

MrBeast's Squid Game

MrBeast has done it again.​

He took a $3.5 million investment to bring to life all of the deadly games portrayed in Squid Game, complete with 456 random people to participate in the games & a $456,000 prize money at stake (participants who get eliminated/choose to leave get anywhere between $1,000 to $10,000 each) and…​

It has garnered 42 million views in a day, and over 135 million views after 7 days. 🤯

Upcoming STIMY Guests

  • Neal Freyman – Managing Editor, Morning Brew
  • Phil Libin – Co-Founder of Evernote & mmhmm

Also, do you know anyone with an interesting/inspiring story? Or someone whose backstory you’d love to hear?

Feel free to hit me up @ sothisismywhy(at) 😊

Until next week!

Ling Yah

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