Get Authentic with Marques Ogden
Get Authentic with Marques Ogden

Episode 56 · 2 weeks ago

Get Authentic with Marques Ogden- William Santana Li


William (“Bill”) Santana Li has served as our Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) since April 2013. Mr. Li is an American entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience from working in the global automotive sector and founding and leading a number of startups. From 1990 to 1999, Mr. Li held multiple business and technical positions at Ford Motor Company across four continents.

During this inspiring interview, we chat with Bill about starting his business from scratch, to now being a company that trades on The NASDAQ, along with being one of the top security companies in the world!  To check out other podcast episodes, click this link Marques Ogden | Keynote speaker - Executive Coach

Yeah, yeah, Hello everyone, and welcome to another elite episode of the Get Authentic with Marcus Show. I'm your host, Marcus Ogden and today we're joined by William Santali. But before we bring Bill up to the stage, I want to thank one of our amazing sponsors. I want to thank head Start Equity owned by Brian Hay, a multi family real estate investment firm based on San Antonio, Texas. We're putting on an event Jay Ray fifteen in San Antonio to help people understand how to have a strong mindset to create multiple streams of income for them and their families. Now Here he is my good friend, Bill. How you doing today, Bill? I'm all right, Marcus, good to see you. Thanks uh for having us in greetings from Silicon Valley. Appreciate my friend, appreciate it. So Bill, before we get started with the interview, first question, what does the word authentic slash authenticity mean to build? Uh? One of our tenants at night Scope in our brand DNA, which is also should match the culture DNA and the product DNA is pure. The concept of purity of purpose, UH, integrity, honesty, everything that you can word into uh feel into that particular word and just frankly being yourself. A lot of folks get on camera or are very different than they're off camera. Um, you know, just kind of be yourself and and try to treat everyone equally as best possible. We're all human, we all have our own little quirks, but as best you can, try to be authentic. You know, Bill, I love how you said sure, and I love how you said alignment of core values to your mission to the brand, etcetera. Why do you feel, Bills? Some people struggle with being sure or being really okay with their quirks and saying this is who I am, accept it, love me, don't like me, whatever, Because I've learned if I am talking to somebody, it's who I am, and I don't tell me anybody else because I can only be Marcus Opward. Humans are really complicated. Uh. In some cases, it could be how you were brought up. Uh. Some cases has nothing to do how you're brought up. It's who your friends were or who your classmates were, um, and who you hang out with, and you end up being either the you know, lowest common denominator of that or if you're always the smartest person in the room, you're kind of in the wrong room. Um, and I think humans are too complicated for me to attempt to answer that question, like why people do stuff like I work on robots. Everyone's worried about the robots. Honestly, I worry about the humans like I don't know. I love it. So Bill, tell on this a little bit more about nights Scope. You know, you guys are a nasty public traded company. You know, tell us a bit more about what you do nights Scope and how you actually started this brand overall. Sure. Um, So we have this crazy mission at night Scope to make the US the safest country in the world. So we build a very unique set of technologies. It's a combination of four really hard things into one. So we build autonomous security robots and their combination of self driving technology like a driving car, uh, robotics,...

...artificial intelligence, and electric vehicles. Uh. And these machines are patrolling across the country today to give officers and guards smart eyes and ears for them to do their jobs UH much much more effectively. Love it, love it, love it. So let me ask you this question, Bill, what is it about your background share with all listens, like you know a little bit about your upbringing to how you created such an impactful business, because again, safety helping out you know, officers guards, that's a very noble thing to do, is absolutely needed on every front and universities and cities and build everywhere. Right, But what was it about your backstory that made you want to get into this work and create nights What what was the why behind starting or the brand of night Scope? Alright, life is short, make a big impact. Love what you do. And for me, it's probably a combination of two things. On the professional side, I'm uh by way of trade of former uh Ford Motor Company executive. I spent a lot of time in Detroit designing cars, engineering, I'm helping, you know, building plants and all kinds of stuff. And Ford was an awesome training ground to to do what I'm doing today. Uh And I leave Autonomous technology is gonna turn the world upside down. I'm just not in agreement on how you commercialize the technology. Um, we're we're kind of the car all walk run people as opposed to I want to go to Pluto and I'm not gonna stop at Mars or the moon. Um. And that's kind of the professional answer. The personal one is. I was born in New York City. Uh, someone hit my town at nine eleven, and I'm still profoundly piste off about it and my life. I'm dedicating to better securing our country. I've spent nearly a decade on it now just getting night Scope off the ground, and I'm prepared to spend another two or three day decades uh to achieve that mission. Wow, you know, let's get real for a moment. We interviewed on our podcast Colonel Mark Bulk. Colonel Mark Volt. Bill was in the Pentagon when nine eleven hit. He was in the building. He remembers feeling a crash and he went outside and he saw the plane was two floors below him. Right then he went into his hero mode. He was a colonel in the army and told everybody to get out, and then he went into an intense hero mode, went back in the building, saved who he could, he got out and reagu When he got out, Bill two minutes later, the entire building handcake and he would have never made it. When you talk about nine eleven, you talk about there piste off boils. I can I remember where I was? Everything I was in d C go in the Howards football practice. So I'll never forget where I was that day. What was it about that that made you say, you know what, I don't make it my submission to keep make security be a top flower. And that is for me, right builp an entire country, well kind of an engineer. So it's like, what's the root cause of the problem? Um? And do we have the tools to to fix it? You know, my aunt and uncle used to work in those towers I grew up, you know, seeing those Um, and it just hit an emotional chord and it's still until this day, UM and so and so instead of like trying to worry about that immediate incident or what have you, is like likely this could happen again, kind of kind of high Um And the company and the country is not set up. And this is either very popular or unpopular what I'm about to say, But um, the country today is you know, as one Secretary Defense,... person in charge. We give the two million troops every level capability you might ever imagine with an eight hundred billion dollar budget. And there's a lock keyed Martin a Raytheona bowing to build that soldier whatever he or she might need in a theater of war. What is not popular to say is on our own soil, we do not have that. We have a million security guards, a million law enforcement professionals trying to secure two million Americans across fifty states with the technological equivalent of a number two pencil and a notepad. There is no one in charge. There's no risk capital, there's no innovation process, and there's no way the government in the private sector is going to just fix this onto themselves. Crime and terrorism have a two trillion dollar negative economic impact on the US every single year, and it's a hint tax we all pay in blood, tears, and treasure. I don't believe the founders of our country ever expected us to build a society We're going to work, going to school, or going to a movie theater literally came with the risk of being shot or killed. Sorry, not acceptable. So instead of arguing about the problem or whatever, we decided to like, Okay, well, let's just go build a company to fix the damn problem. M you know what, They'll let's get real for a moment. You know the real thing about our show. It's authentic, right. I want people to speak their mind and as authentic as a as a version as it is. Right, You made a really good point and I never thought about, you know, only a million guards or a million officers protecting three hundred thirty two million people across fifty states. That's a lot. And I didn't even think about a two trillion dollar negative impact on our economy. Right that in itselfish just mind boggling and a one of time. About something else, you said a word that I really think a lot of great leaders are building their brands off of innovation inventing. You talked about that, how important is innovation when it comes to being a disruptor? Right Bill? In any type of business? Because I feel people who are successful like yourself do companies and they have these forthicking ideas, are very innovative and think about of the box ways to reach key goals. How important Bill is innovation in the growth trajectory of night Skille. I mean we're based here in Silicon Valley. It's the hub of innovation for the world. Um you cannot. You can make ten percent improvements, improvements by blocking and tackling and just basic tactics, um uh, and improving the business. If you want to make a ten x twenty x hundred x improvement on something. You're not gonna do it by not having an innovation in technology, UM, an innovation in in a business model, or frankly, what we're trying to do is a massive innovation in public safety, which requires not us by ourselves deciding to do this. We need a massive cross section of the country to go, yeah, we're done. We we can't keep doing this. We need a different way, right, And we would be really naive and arrogant to think that Nightscope by itself is going to make the US the safest country in the world. We're gonna need every single leader, every single mayor, every teacher, every student, every guard, every officer to stand up and go enough enough. This is not how we're supposed to operate, and we need to change our ways. And we're hoping to be part of that that leadership discussion. You know, how us let's get real. I really really respect how Bill said Nightscope can't do it alone. And I always say, Bill, the human mind is designed to do a lot of things, but it's not designed to do everything. And I think people who feel...

...that their company is gonna be the sole answer can fix every problem. Like you said, it's very naive and we're arrogant because that's not realistic. And I love how you said nice Scope wants to be a leadership player at the table discussing how to bring about change. And let me ask that question. You know, as a leader, as an innovator, you all faced, we all face struggles and child so I remember we're back. You see that. I gotta cut you off. Markets. Everything always goes exactly according to plan. Everything's always smooth, you know, there's no issues, So my bad, I'm sorry. Yeah, I mean because Jeff Jeff Basos started Amazon, it was like, yeah, it's gonna be this big company and all this download from the cloud. It's fine. Yeah, same thing with Tesla. They are like yeah, yeah, let your cars just go ahead and do that, right everybody exactly, So the thing is great leaders like Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, you know, you know, you know, a musque, they all had challenges to overcome. What are some of the challenges that nights Cup has faced along the journey, Because again it's to me, Bill, it makes total sense, like you know, protection, you know, eyes making things easier for for human beings. Like to me, it makes absolute perfect sense. If that's what it needs, let's go to work. But we all know that's not the case. What are some challenges you face along the journey trying to get nights go to the forefront about security for our great country. Probably three things come to mind, um, in no particular order. I think, first, you've got a market communities, chiefs of police, sheriff's um, security companies that are not at the forefront of technology will be polite about it, um, and so asking folks to kind of change their ways. And oh, by the way, to the changes. Hey, that robot that you've seen on the silver screen is now literally in front of you, operating seven fully autonomous, completely hands off. Like that takes a little bit of there's a little bit of disbelief there. Like some people think like, hey, really cool prototype, when are you gonna launch? It's like he's been operating across the country for years now. UM. So I think just the getting the market educated, which a lot of folks you know, don't like to do, or you know, if it makes things a lot harder. I think where I covered it earlier, technology, what we're doing is technically very difficult. Uh. There's been a recent article to just um uh frame what I've been asserting for nearly a decade now, over a hundred billion dollars got invested in self driving, autonomous whatever. There's two companies working on it. Their collective revenue is close to zero, if not zero's actually shipped anything. I believe night Scope is the only company in the world operating seven across an entire nation, you know, generating millions of dollars of revenue with real customers in the real world. Um So, I think that speaks to how hard this is. If like a hundred billion dollars went into a sector, nothing came out. Okay, maybe it's difficult. Um And I think third was just the capital formation process for startups in in is just broken. I live here in Silicon Valley. A couple hundred billion dollars goes into startups every year. We couldn't convince anybody to go do this. You know what I was told Marcus was back in April or that whole year, basically a bill. You're out of your mind. This will never work. It's hardware and it's software too complicated. You should pick one. UM and physical securities not an investment thesis. You need to go away, and because I've I meant what I said earlier profoundly piste off about what happened. Um, I'm like, Okay, I guess I'm gonna go have... financially engineer this somehow. So we ended up raising over a hundred twenty million dollars from five thousand investors to build all this technology from scratch here in the US and listed the company on NASDAK January of this year. So, you know, the statistical probability of founding a company, getting it funded, growing it, listening at not on NASDAC, and then we just announced last week we bought a company. You know, it is really tiny percentages of having that ability to to get to that to that level on stage. What we're doing is in the national security interests of the United States of America. I should not have had to do that level of frankly stupidity of having to raise capital from thirty five thousand investors to force the outcome of what we needed to get done. To get done right. There should be a hundred elon moss. Why are there not a hundred elon mosques. It's because the capital providers can't seem to innovate they criticize the innovation and want to disrupt every single sector except their own. They can't seem to efficiently provide capital to the some of the best entrepreneurs in the world, and only the tiniest and tiniest percentages make it. Why is that, you know? It's so impactful, ads and gentlemen. I want to really just share is that he raised a hundred and twenty million dollars from thirty five thousand investors. And what's really impactful to me about that bill is that you never ever gave up on the journey when people said, nah, too hard hardware, Harvard Software, Nah, now security, I'm not really gonna be a thing now. You know this is gonna be too complicated, Let it go. And it goes back to ladies and gentlemen that mindset is more important than execution. It builds mindset. Would have been oh, here we go again. I've been told No, oh, here we go again. This is not what I don't feel like this today. He wouldn't have nights go right ahead. Yeah, I mean, basically, it's not like I asked thirty five thousand people and they all said yes, right, like a ton of people like I don't even want to count how many said no. Um. And the little trick for the entrepreneurs and founders listening is the is the concept it works for me, and that doesn't work for everybody is negative fuel. You keep telling me no, And maybe it's a chip on my shoulder from being a New Yorker or whatever, but he telling me no. And the more painful I'm gonna make it for you that you told me no? Right, I had you know, people, I was just on a call this week, like, I can't believe I met you five years ago. I could have invested and and you know, didn't write you a check now and now I'm kicking myself. I was like, well, you know, but you gotta take all that negativity, um and turn it into fuel for yourself. And you know, I often half a joke that the founder's diet goes something like this. You get punched in the face for breakfast, you get kicked in the stomach for lunch, and then you get body slam for dinner, and then you need to wake up the next morning all smiley, get on the camera and get back in the ring and get back at it like nobody cares. You need to just fight through it. And you gotta be able to for long periods of time. You know, working eighty hundred hundred twenty weeks for not months, but years on end will take a toll on you. But you've gotta be able to have some source of energy. And it's just take what's there everybody telling you know all day long, and it's like, yeah, well, look the company's public now, which operated over one point seven million hours across the country. We're hopeful to get a US federal government authority to operate that by the end of the year. Like keep telling me no, like you don't want to bet against the night Scalpe team. You have a question for you,...

Bill, Have you ever heard of Mohammed Ali? Okay? I answered yes? Have you ever heard of Ernie Shavers? Now? Sir Ernie Shavers fought Mohammad Ali for the championship belt in the early nineteen seventies. I met Ernie Shavers at an event in Las Vegas. Ernie told me he knew he was gonna lose to Mohammed Ali in the championship fight. When this happened, he knocked Ali down the first time Ali got up. He expected that, but when Ali got up the second time, Ernie said, oh my god, literally I hit him with everything I had and he got up off the canvas. And when he saw Ali get up of the second time, Bill, he said it to me, said Mr Augten, call me. I said, that's called me, Marcus. Ernie, I knew I lost. I knew I lost. And he lost the fight like three or four rounds later, and my hob and Lolly kept the belt. And I bring that up, Bill, because again people telling, you know, people saying, oh, you're not gonna naked, Bill, it's it's not gonna be successful. Bill, I should have wrote you a check then, Bill, That's what drives great entrepreneurs, That's what drives great leaders. But Marcus was one coore. What class did you go to? What school did you go to? They teach you that they don't and they don't don't know. That was hard knock. That was no. You gotta be in it. You gotta be in it, and you know you can't fail if you don't quit, right and man. And so last question I have Bill, for the budding entrepreneurs listening. You said a lot of great things. Negative fuel. Don't tell me no, I mean you say a lot of things. What's the one thing you would tell a buddet entpreneur listen they need to do to get moving towards turning their goals into accomplishments. I think I'll not give you the normal answer. I'll give you something that might be a little off center, but no one wants to talk about it because most folks didn't go through what I went through. But for those founders and entrepreneurs that are trying to build your company, and you're raising capital and getting your seed round on your Series A, preferred, your Series B, your serious C and D, do not do not sell board seats to the largest bidder. Just because someone wrote you the largest check in our financing does not mean that they are qualified, They have the right demeanor, they are strategically the most valuable to you, that they will vote their shares according to all the best practices and governance, meaning thinking through the entire shareholder base and not their own class of stock. And so I got heavily criticized for eight nine years of being the sole director at night Scope. And I did that on purpose because I believe founders should have the right to pick the brand, hire the team, recruit UH folks, get clients, build products and services, signed the lease for the building whatever it is. For the life of me, I don't understand why founders don't have the right to pick the right board at the right time, with the right skill mix. And this part of that capital formation process is broken. And then people, now you've got Nasdaq and n Y s C and states passing laws and regulations to force leaders to have, you know, a diverse board or mandating a you know, gender equality or whatever it might be. And what I was able to do right before the public listing was pick six unbelievable independent board members with the right skill mix, the right demeanor, the right motivations at the right time in their careers UH to be part of...

...the night skill board. And that board that I architected is forty plus percent minority, eighty plus percent female. And since I'm half Asian and half Latin, it's a diverse name me aboard on n Y c ornas that can then match that you can't. And that is why you need to think through the governance structure as you raise capital um And I mean I can go on Marcus, but that to me would be that really important bit of advice that no one else will share, that is impactful, that is brilliant, and that is an amazing way to end this phenomenalite episode. Again, lays and gentlemen. This was sponsored by Headstart Equity and Brian head. But but here's the authentic tip for the day in life, right, learn how to deal the knows. But in life, like Bill say, learn how to control your destiny and don't sell out your vision to the highest bidder. Learn how to craft something special. His board is I'm gonna probably go out on the limits, say, probably. There's nothing else like it in the Nasdad Company New York Stock Exchange Company, because it's what the diversity I always talk about this. Bill dem Check, the CEO P and C Bank, said, diversity is what makes their banks so unique because people coming from different backgrounds, ethnicities coming together to solve problems increases your problem solving a bility. And it's not just diversity markets. These are highly qualified, exceptional people that built you know, billion you know companies that they sold for a billion you know twice, have built you know, entire practices for a major consulting firm for the U S Department in the Homeland Security have built companies, have run them, and these are professionals. And I was able to do that because I kept saying no to everybody else until we got what we needed to get done. And again another great tip, patience is a virtue. Learn how to be patient, methodical, and cognitive in your approach. Doing that will give you the best chance to succeed like Bill and nice Scope are doing. Again. This was an amazing elite episode with William Santelli a k a. Bill, Tanna saying sorry with William Santana Lee a k A. Bill, Great guy, great information. I hope you learn some things today like I did again this Marcus Often, the host of the Get Off with Marcus Show. Thanks for tuning in. Have a great day. S.

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