Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with Jessie Li, an independent consultant at Singapore Management University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center, and Founder of Fat Garage, an interesting website covering Chinese entrepreneurs in niche markets, such as asteroid mining, synthetic biology, and more.
Jessie Li: [00:00:00] I remember very clearly, um, in the middle of June as we post our first Twitter, because I posted on, um, 15th of June, I guess, then we have our WeChat group. Now it’s getting, it’s growing to like 230 people.
Norman Chella: [00:00:18] Yes. Hello there. Welcome to RoamFM. Here we dive into the minds, workflows and machinations of the Roamcult, the believers of Roam Research.
My name is Norman Chella and I am on a mission to deconstruct wisdom from all walks of life. So we can understand each other better. Before we start this episode. I just want to give a quick shout out to Matt Brockwell, who has given us an amazing five star review of RoamFM on the Podchaser page for the show he writes.
So here’s what I love about this podcast. Roam Research is a powerful platform, but its true super powers seem to emerge out of the interactions between any given user’s particular personality and their context of use by taking one step back and talking about things more personally, Norman really spotlights the human dimensions, that shape how we learn things.
This podcast is not just about Roam, more importantly, it’s about people and how we all explore the universe. Looking forward to more episodes in this ongoing adventure. And with that, I say, thank you, Matt so much for the kind warm words. And I am also looking forward to this amazing adventure as we go along with every single episode.
If you, my dear friend are interested in giving us an amazing review for me to read out loud in the next episode, do check out our Podchaser page as well as our Apple podcast page to hand in a little review and I read each and every single one. So do, let me know. I always love hearing from listeners. So I really do appreciate this once again. Thank you, Matt. And now to the episode.
In this episode, we talk with Jessie Li, who is an independent consultant at Singapore Management University to grow the entrepreneurial ecosystem in China. As well as the founder of Fat Garage, which is an interesting website covering Chinese intrepreneurs in ultra niche markets, such as asteroid mining, synthetic biology, and many more.
To be more Roam-specific, she founded the Roam China community, or roam/cn, a collective of interested Roam users from all walks of life, all in Mandarin and filled with videos, articles, and other resources to help you grow, to help develop all kinds of use cases in using Roam research.
So in this episode, we talk about how she stumbled into Roam using Roam for her use case, how she takes her notes and growing the Roam China community, what is needed, how does she grow it, and what kind of interesting minds attract as a result. We went through quite a range of topics here without further ado. Please enjoy my chat with Jesse Li. Ms. Jessie Lie. Welcome to RoamFM. How are you doing?
Jessie Li: [00:03:04] Hi, Norman, I’m doing well. Thanks for having me.
Norman Chella: [00:03:07] Okay. This is going to be pretty exciting because, uh, I would love to hear more about your side of the story on how you use Roam and the Roam/cn community like Roam, the Mandarin Chinese Roam community.
But before we get into that, Uh, Jesse, I took a look around your website, Fat Garage, and I know that you’ve done quite a number of things. So, uh, let’s uh, let’s do a little time travel before we even get into the tool itself, uh, to the dark times. I want to hear more about your origin story. What were you doing before you stumbled into the tool Roam Research and how did you discover it?
Jessie Li: [00:03:45] Actually, uh, I just do a brief introduction of myself. So now I’m, I am a independent consultant for Singapore Management University innovation and entrepreneurship center. Um, my job is basically to develop any deploys and initiatives for the university’s IE center, um, to engage startups and know, um, the whole ecosystem entrepreneurship ecosystem in China. I’m doing marketing business development and also some events here. So yeah, that’s my, basically my working identity. Besides my working identity. I also, I’m running my own media called, uh, like you said, Fat Garage. Um, so later last year, I guess I start my so-called this special journey. I set up my own website and set up my, um, you know, uh, WeChat channel.
I also do, uh, you know, a bunch of side project, like the Fat Garage podcast and Fat Garage newsletter. So yeah. Uh, I am creating content there under the topic of, um, the cryptocurrency, which is basically my main focus and, um, also because of my job reasons, so I’m also focused on the, you know, entrepreneurs and the innovation space.
So, uh, I also do interviews for a lot of cool founders in China, in the space of, yeah, I’m very, you know, very niche market I think. Because I think my focus is kind of different. I don’t focus on the very, uh, popular and the general, industry instead, I’m focusing on some, you know, deep tech space, like the asteroid mining, I think synthetic biology. I think it’s called that.
Yeah. So, so this kind of area, because I think that’s this may be not working in the short term, but I think that’s the longterm perspective for human beings. So that’s why I’m focusing on, um, such kind of, you know, uh, areas and I’m paying special attention to the founders in such space and as well as the crypto space.
Yeah. So that’s for the Fat Garage, mainly I meaning I’m creating content various kinds of forums, like articles, podcasts, and videos. I’ve made several videos, before, just due to the curiosity. Yeah. So yeah, that’s basically, for a Fat Garage, uh, apart from that, I don’t know. It’s. Oh, it’s okay to say that I am also a crazy dancer.
So, so, um, um, I just, uh, I just began learning dancing last year. Uh, it has been a whole year so far, and I really, really passionate about, about this. So I called myself a crazy dancer. Yeah.
Norman Chella: [00:07:08] Uh, what genre of dancing? What kind of dancing?
Jessie Li: [00:07:11] Uh, now is Hiphop. Previously. it was urban.
Norman Chella: [00:07:16] Oh, okay. Awesome. We might have some similarities there because I did jazz hip hop when I was living in Tokyo.
Yeah. So I was part of a dance crew and we performed a few times. So yeah, no, it would be cool to see a cool to see performances. Uh, maybe you already have videos of those, uh, in your Roam or something like that,
Jessie Li: [00:07:35] because, you know, you know, you know what I just, after I met Roam, I think all of the media, like media forms, we can all import them into Roam.
Like what I said, the articles and podcasts, I already did a podcast database for in Roam Research because they, it has to, you know, I was fascinated by the timestamp function, you can just type in, in the, in the time and, and, and see the show, uh, whenever you want.
Norman Chella: [00:08:07] Oh, I would love to dive into that actually, because I mean, well, we’re, I mean, we’re on a podcast right now. So obviously, I have a huge vested interest in anything podcast related, especially a podcast database, but pausing on that note first, why the name Fat Garage?
Jessie Li: [00:08:25] Oh, that’s a very good question. I haven’t explained this in English before. I think I have, I’ve done this several times in Chinese, but it’s, it’s kept changing. So let me think of a current version for that.
So I think initially I named it Fat Garage, because in Chinese, uh, it is called 胖车库, which means that half months, um, garage. It is half months garage, why it is half months. Um, I guess half months is just a symbol for a period of time, which means you do not have to prepare such a long time where you do not have to prepare so well to start something up and also, um, which means you, you, you, you can start now and see, you know, Just do it, take actions and see how high it is going.
That’s the whole idea of the half months. And another one is, is garage. So I think in the, in Western world, garage is kind of representing for uh, like, you know, some successful stories like. For entrepreneurs, right? The, the, the Jobs and the, you know, so some, some, uh, very successful, uh, founders, um, you know, uh, starting from the garage.
So that means, um, so yeah, I guess that’s, that’s the, that’s the meaning of the name? Yeah, that’s the current version.
Norman Chella: [00:09:56] Okay. That’s interesting. Yeah. Cause I was trying to figure out, uh, the meaning behind it.
Jessie Li: [00:10:01] But as I said in Chinese, the. Hmm, that is a word and yeah, it’s word, but it’s a, how to say. It is formed by half and months.
I don’t know how to explain it.
Norman Chella: [00:10:18] Yeah, it’s a two, I think it’s two characters that when you combine it together, it becomes the word fat.
Okay. Yeah. Uh, I probably would never have known that those two characters, like if you put them separately, it would mean that right. It could mean progress or a specific set of time.
Okay. That’s interesting. It just also catches my attention because if you read the two words only in English, like not knowing the context, it’s, it’s a bit, uh, I mean, I’m, I’m going to say bluntly. It sounds ridiculous. Right. But it, it, it sticks because it’s memorable. So I was just, I actually was just genuinely curious why you, why you named it that way and then.
You know, if I Google Fat Garage and I would go to the website and it starts talking about specific pieces of tech or entrepreneurship, et cetera, I was trying to make that connection. Like why, why fat? Like
Jessie Li: [00:11:11] yeah. That’s a good point.
Norman Chella: [00:11:14] Yeah. So, uh, you did bring up the point of, uh, a podcast database and I’m totally, really, really interested in that, but it’s under the overarching theme of, uh, how you use Roam.
So how did you discover the tool actually?
Jessie Li: [00:11:31] Well, it is also very interesting. I mean, the beginning story of, it’s quite a coincidence. Um, I mean, previously I was actually roaming on the internet because I want to find it. I want to find something that is, um, very simple for me to like take notes done, but I, I don’t want to use the, you know, Apple’s, uh, you know, other notes.
I don’t want to use that because it’s like, um, It’s a way too simple, I guess. Yeah. So I’m roaming on the internet and I will want to find such tool for me to store my ideas. And I wanted these ideas to, like growing day by day. Um, and maybe I can find some connections when I look back. So, um, Yeah, it’s it’s generally, um, I think can be called like a note taking tool at that that time.
So I searched it on Product Hunt and there are like two, uh, two apps coming out. I guess the first one will be Roam. The second I’ve forgotten the name. Maybe, maybe Notion, maybe other, other sayings, like, yeah. So, so I cannot remember. So I just think the first one. Yeah. And, um, I just, I registered. And it was quite simple at that time and do not have so many functions, like what, what is, uh, like today, but it is, um, pretty clear that there is daily notes.
There is a graph overview that you can see all your ideas and all you like, um, uh, moments for every day. So yeah, at that time I was, um, I think it’s just meet my demand meet my need. So, so I keep it, um, daily and also, um, and that’s how I think my use case is just daily notes. And I also recommend this tool to my friend, my best friend, who is living in Singapore now.
I said, you can use this tool because you read a lot, you take a lot of notes, right? You use OneNote, or Evernote, you can try this tool. Maybe you can find some, you know, interesting synergies where’s the store. And the, he said, okay, um, let’s, let’s just try it and, um, see how it is going with separately.
Um, use this tool. Uh, for, for, I think a month after like a month, I asked him how, how, how do you feel about this tool? Because I only take daily notes. I want you to know how you’re feeling because you raised a lot of you, you take a lot of them and he said, it is really amazing. You can see my, you know, my graph here. I was, I was shocked.
Oh my God, it’s totally different from mine because I only take daily notes, you know, and I was so jealous and I said, okay, Can you can teach me how to like how to do it? And he said, it is real simple. There is just links. You can just link those things together. I said, whoa. I think maybe this is a better use case than, than mine.
So yeah. I think that’s the beginning story of me finding the tool.
Norman Chella: [00:14:52] Oh, this is pretty fascinating because you, you just, you were discovering this tool with someone with your best friend and a month later, your graph is completely different. I liked that you said that you were jealous of his graph.
That’s a very specific way of saying it. I’ve never heard of someone looking at somebody else’s Roam graph and said. I wish I had that graph or I wish I wish I had that, uh, these connections. So at the time when you were using Rome only as a daily notes, did you never thought to make linked references or go beyond by, you know, making diagrams or was it just because you, you felt at the time, all that you needed was just a way to store the words that you’ve written? Was it only after if you’ve seen your best friends’ graph that you realize the potential of the tool and how it will help me work flow? I would love to hear your take on that.
Jessie Li: [00:15:47] Yeah, so yeah, it is true that my needs at that time is just to take daily notes and like your said um, I do explore some special like, uh, like tips or features of, like the diagrams, like the, at that time to do they have Kanban or something?
Norman Chella: [00:16:12] maybe
Jessie Li: [00:16:14] no. So, so it’s at that time, I think it’s quite simple. So I didn’t use Twitter a lot at that time. Because I only tweet, um, before, before I met Roam, I only tweet about like some, some, you know, daily like mood or daily stories, um, daily takeaways on Twitter and, uh, and the people around me, I don’t think there are many people who use Roam.
So I only do it in, in, in the daily notes. And I seldom figure out like what’s other use cases maybe, or what’s others, you know, um, special, interesting use cases. After I saw his graph, then, then it blows my mind that I think there’s toys is way more than that. I mean, you can, you can just figure out way more than that.
So, so I started searching on like on Twitter. On Roam’s website, the help page. Is there anything interesting? And I saw a bunch of that and I, I started to realize that I should, I should learn Roam by now. Yeah, instantly.
Norman Chella: [00:17:31] I feel like that transition from like a level one Roam user to a level two is just looking at it like the perspective of the tool or your perspective of the tool at the time, it’s just a note taking app.
And then only after seeing, or being exposed to how other people use it is when you realize like, Oh, okay, you will need some level of mastery and you can get like this, you know, this amazing graph or these amazing connections. I love that. Like, I, I call it that. Um, that’s, that’s like an example of the aha moment and I’m not sure if you’ve ever had that before.
Of like, for me, my aha moment was when I would have written something down or capture something and I was going to make a page about it. But then I already made a page about it. I’m like what? I don’t remember that. And so I was curious when you started, um, when you realize that there’s more to this tool and you are starting to look at more use cases and all that, what were some of the examples that blew your mind when you were trying it out on your own graph that made you realize that all your notes can be used more beyond just daily note taking?
Jessie Li: [00:18:37] There are two, um, So let’s say maybe two kinds of scenarios. The first one will be is it’s also depending on my needs to figure out the special features of Rome. So I think Roam can do a lot of things, um, by using these features, like the tables, like the kanban where we can do like to do list, which is the, the main function of Trello the tool.
So you can eat, you can just, you know, uh, transfer from Trello to Roam. And for the tables you can transfer from the word to Roam. Like for diagrams, maybe you can transfer from other tools to Roam and not have to use so many other tools because you can finish your like task or finish your, your business just in Roam.
One of the special features is which is flow blowing my mind. Um, I think it’s discovered it’s developed with, by a cult in the Western community on Twitter. He developed a business model canvas, I guess it is called that. I think that’s a very interesting use case because. Oh, that makes me think if we can, you know, um, design or develop all this useful, like method or, or a methodology models, business models, or such kind of things into Roam, and we make it a database, it will be so you, so, you know, so much useful.
At that time, I was trying to like test myself the business kind of thing. And I, uh, did like, um, maybe 40 minutes to an hour. It is not so easy, I guess. So I just, I just do it. I just did that. And, um, Had shown very well. And I show it to another like VC friend and he said, Oh, it’s interesting. Maybe we can do more such kind of stuff.
And, um, it will help the founders will help anyone who, who in the IE space to, you know, have a better, uh, visualized thing. So, yeah, that’s the, one of the use cases that blows my mind, um, uh, about the specific features. So apart from that, um, aha moments and other aha moments is that I find myself, um, input a lot.
I think nowadays I input more and more, um, compared to with past myself. It is really interesting. I just know that, um, if I improve something in your Roam, I don’t have to worry about what I have to do with the content. I mean, Yeah. So I just input there and it’s getting larger and larger. I don’t feel like very anxious.
It is kind of weird because previously when I input something into my like Apple notes, I will feel very anxious because I think there are a lot of garbage there. I find if I do not filter it, because there are a lot of things there. But in Roam, you do not have such kind of feeling because, you know, um, when you input there.
You will finally get back and find, maybe find some connections there, no matter you, you use the bi-link or, or whatever, templates you, whether you filter it down, whether or not. You just know that you can find the connections there. So, so that’s basically what I felt about, about, you know, the amazing part of Roam.
Norman Chella: [00:22:36] Yeah. And I, I shared that sentiment. Uh, I shared that feeling and actually I really liked the point of, uh, I really liked the point of more input. I have noticed that my habits have changed to, to shift towards, uh, wanting to write more and therefore I will write more into my Roam. No matter what it is, is it about? And I, and I think we can definitely dive into this, uh, on your end, because the kinds of things that I would put into my Roam can range from resources I’ve read to podcasts, I’ve listened to, uh, to even like a daily journal of what I thought or what I feel or what I’m worried about. Uh, or even meeting notes from a friend or like someone I interacted with, what did we talk about? What questions did he ask or something like that. So everything is accepted into Roam.
So that’s what makes it really, really interesting. And because everything’s accepted and you can find it and there’s a way to connect it, no matter what. That’s where the lack of anxiety can come in. And so it’s okay for, for you to write anything you want in there. And eventually you will find a way to get it back.
So on that point, so let’s dive into your workflow a little bit, since you did bring up the podcast database, it totally went to ask about, but let’s start off with something a little bit more general. When you want to capture something. What is your workflow? Do you have a specific taxonomy? Do you have a specific method that you follow?
Have you built something that really fits with how you look at things?
Jessie Li: [00:24:04] I think I make separate templates for my workflow. The first is the daily routine. I have like two version of daily routine. One is a simple version and another is a little bit complicated. So the simple version is generally categorized by, you know, work and roam/cn activities, and Fat Garage and dance, just categorize very clearly. Yeah. And also I will add another part of what it do I want to highlight for the day. Maybe something like interesting or something I expected to happen. So yeah, that’s the simple version and other will be a little bit complicated because there are a lot of questions to ask myself as like a, it’s like a deep reflection of myself every day.
I seldom use that because this question is too hard to answer. Yeah. So, so I keep a simple version daily, to kind of track my past, uh, in terms of work and running roam/cn community, and also my hobbies. Yeah. Also also a way to push myself, to learn more, to feel more, to explore more.
Um, and another one is the writing process. I guess. It’s a note taking process. I think that this will be used by a lot of people because, um, a lot of things should be automatically, automatically done. So I will categorize, several templates for reading like articles,and I give it a list like categories, and all the source related to, uh, why I read this and notes and metadata.
Um, another important thing is to evergreen notes. I find this is super useful for me. I got this, I got inspired by Zach who is, uh, also an active, um, Chinese, cult. He gave me the idea of how to take evergreen notes. Is it called zettel?
Norman Chella: [00:26:24] Yes. So
Jessie Li: [00:26:26] that idea, I think I saw this, this, this method many times, but I haven’t tested myself. So after he recommended to me, I just, you know, we, we did a kind of a face to face, like tutorial. Yeah. he gave me the idea of what a zettel is and how you can like manage your other notes into a zettel notes.
Norman Chella: [00:26:56] So you have many different templates for your CRM, for your podcast, for your books and all that. And this is a really good segue because you brought up a member of Roam, China, to help you with understanding different concepts to really make the most out of your Roam. But I’m curious, how did you start the Roam China community?
Jessie Li: [00:27:18] Well, that is also a very interesting story. Um, so I think the beginning of, Roam China, I have to tell you that, um, I started, it is because of personal reason.
Because previously, um, when I, um, when I see like your own Western community and I saw, wow, this is really cool. I think this will be common culture for, um, for either a product or a, um, you know, certain kind of phenomena. So, but at the same time, I want to. You know, catch up the trend myself. So I, at that time, I think the initial intention is to help myself to understand Roam better, to use it as often as possible to like figure out more use cases.
Um, because there are not, I guess there are not a lot of people in China using this tool at that time. So I set up a, bilibili account and named it as the roam/cn, which means Roam China. So bilibili is actually the YouTube, Chinese version of YouTube. So the, the things that I do is that I, um, I interpret a lot of tutorial videos, um, from the Western community, a lot of awesome tutorial videos, um, by, by some cults.
So, um, But the general idea is to help myself, as I said before, to understand better at that time, because only in the community it’s only me. So, so, but what I can do is just interpret videos. Um, and also I will do some original, um, creation of my use cases. The original videos, tutorials, but he’s really, really simple.
I do not have so many complex, you know, skillsets to do like very, uh, professional videos. And, um, I just want, um, There to be a lot of, you know, useful resources there and people that people can easily find, and maybe they can do something better, elaborates or extend these use cases, which is my wish at that time.
So, yeah. Um, I think the first video that I interpreted is the is the interview of Connor, which is the, uh, who is the, uh, the founder. Yeah, the founder Conor is the, his interview on 20minutesvc. I really, really, really liked that one. I, I thought I should interpret that video into Chinese and, um, I want more people to know Conor’s vision and mission and what is to, is kind of like different from other note, taking tools, why is Conor different from other founders, why we need such kind of, you know, um, missions and such kind of founders.
So yeah, I think that one is really inspiring for me. And, um, so, so I, I, I did that interpretation and put it just on the top and I also find it another, I have to call Zack again. So Zack is actually, interpreting the whitepaper. He Is the first person who is doing the Chinese version of the whitepaper of Roam.
Yeah, I think these two are actually the very beginning resource of Roam-like community. Which also shows the culture and the vision of Roam. Yeah. So, uh, what I want to say is that I started it from the bilibili channel, uh, finding different video tutorials. And after that, I guess, um, maybe half months later, um, Victor and Jamie, um, find me and they said, I want to like join you too.
Like we can, um, We can cocreate something and, uh, and discover it how, how we can like grow this community like to a larger one. So, because it will have a bigger impact, to more people. So at that time I was really happy because, you know, Someone just find you’re and share the same, like feeling and the certain like vision of you and the Victor is very active in like making the videos.
He even makes very good clips. See, on my Twitter, the first Twitter that the video clips is made by him and Jamie is kind of a very logical person. He is a very geek. Hey, he’s a very big geek. I would just say, he make a lot of interesting, like use cases for rural, um, I have, I have never sort of, I have never expected before, so he teach me a lot.
So yeah, so I guess we three formed the very early team of the RoamCN. And later we post our first, you know, announcement on Twitter. And I even @Roamresearch official account and said “Oh roam/CN is established”. Please congrats us, it’s really funny. And yeah, I want more people to know, like, to show some attention like to, of course we want the attention from people. Like we’re doing something very cool and we all extend, extending it.
We want to extend the Roam/cn, influence, like Roam’s impact to a wider audience.
So, yeah, and later, we have our own, like WeChat group. We set our own WeChat group. We have our first WeChat circle, which is the forum on WeChat. People can post their, thoughts there. And I think in the middle, maybe one months later, I guess we have our first newsletter.
I suggested that idea because I think we should have some, you know, hardcore product that can give people, that can track the past of how a Roam/cn is working, how the official Roam community is developing. And what’s the most updated and most fresh ideas in and new fashion and what’s really happening in the Roam community. And we will collect some, you know, very cool use cases developed by our amazing cult. We feature that in our newsletter. I think in the middle of, um, I guess it in the middle of June. Oh, sorry. In middle of July, I forgot the time we got to the first newsletter and we send out and then people say, Oh, it’s pretty good, I guess. And, um, they really like the, some of the tutorials that we interpreted, from the Western community as well.
Norman Chella: [00:35:14] Wow. That’s a extremely comprehensive answer. Thank you so much for that really. It’s it’s, it’s one thing to, uh, try to look around the bilibili channel to see what everyone’s doing. Uh, although I, I don’t really speak Mandarin, so it’s kind of hard for me to know what’s happening. Uh, but it’s nice to hear your take on it. So thank you so much. When you were building up the WeChat group. I’m curious about this now. You started off with the three of you?
Jessie Li: [00:35:43] I remember very clearly. It’s in the middle of June in the middle of June as we set up, uh, sorry. As we post our first Twitter, because I posted on, um, 15th of June, I guess then we have our, WeChat account, WeChat group. And now it’s, now it’s getting, it’s growing to like 200. 30 and 30 people, I guess.
Norman Chella: [00:36:12] 234. Oh, wow. So it’s, do they, how did they discover the WeChat?
Is it mainly through Twitter or is it mainly through other people Googling about room research and then they find out that there’s a Chinese community. I’m actually very curious about where do people or where are people coming from?
Jessie Li: [00:36:30] So actually I think very few of them are from Twitter or from like Google. Because Chinese people, we cannot easily access to all this. Yeah. So I think, I think most of them are from recommendation or refer or other people’s referral or because we have a lot of, because, uh, WeChat is, is a very special ecosystem. If you want to join a group. If you be invited to the group.
Or we can share the, like some QR code, but if the group is over 100 people, then you cannot scan the QR code and join, you can only join by invite. So, yeah, I guess we have a lot of, um, um, individual groups, um, and WeChat and there are certain categories, like efficiency, like a product like note taking like.
You know, certain kind of a lot of a list of groups. And I think people will find, um, they join in the Roam/cn group, they find this useful, they will recommend to other people, um, in, in those groups and people will like join in.
Norman Chella: [00:37:51] Do you see, uh, an overlap and maybe if you could, you know, uh, share more on this, I might be completely wrong, but do you see a lot of overlap with Roam China’s community members and other communities on Wechat that have similar interests. Maybe there’s like a, is there like a Chinese Zettelkasten community or a note taking community and you see the same members like bleed over to yours. Do you see a lot of that?
Jessie Li: [00:38:20] Yeah, I do see some of that, but I have to mention that, uh, you just gave me a very good hint of this.
I do see a lot of intersection, not a lotbutf some of the intersections, but I’m really what I’m really amazed at is that is by the diversity of, of the Roam/cn community, because previously I have also run several groups. They are not so diverse, I guess. They are like technology or, or entrepreneurs, or I think they are pretty like not so diverse people from like very different backgrounds, very different industry or different interest, or even very different age.
They’re from like, from the high school to like 50 year olds. Like people. So they are quite, I think they’re quite diverse in backgrounds, in case.
Norman Chella: [00:39:28] I like that. I like that it’s very welcoming, um, the many different kinds of members you get, especially from different backgrounds and experiences and maybe even skill level as well, but yeah, please.
Jessie Li: [00:39:41] Yeah. And we do not categorize them in, you know, under certain topics like. You are entrepreneur or you are blockchain people, or you are like note-taking. We do not ask this. You know, we would do not categorize people like this. You can do whatever you want. Well, you can say whatever you want to say. You can share any thought that you want to share. So, so the topics are very, very diverse and yeah, and, and, and, um, Yeah.
Norman Chella: [00:40:15] Okay. Interesting. There’s a, the makings of a Roam-specific community that cater for a wide variety of people. And it really just shows, um, how universal the tool is, especially in terms of how technical can someone be in that they will show that through their workflows, how they use Roam, but then you’d be compared that with say, you know, uh, an investor or a developer or someone in the startup space, they may have different workflows, but still it works for everybody. So, uh, I really liked that. So, so here, here’s a question for you, since you are following the trends, for Roam Research, maybe you already have idea of the roadmap for Roam Research, where they’re going with their tool and how they’re going to connect all these graphs together and all of these possibilities.
So the question is what would the future of the Roam China community look like maybe five years from now, as you’re seeing Roam Research grow? Since you’ve been, you know, with the tool since beta and now you’re seeing it official, you’re growing a community, you’ve got over 200 members from different walks of life.
How do you see the group in five years? Or maybe even more.
Jessie Li: [00:41:33] Wow, very good question. I never think of that long. Just, I think, the group is like, the community’s occurring very faster than I have expected. It’s just like one and half months or two months. We get here. So five years? Wow. Yeah. So previously I was thinking, um, maybe not directly answer your question.
Um, previously I was thinking how Roam. Will it be like in five years? I do have such imaginations before I also, writing in my articles. I wrote several articles in terms of how, I see Roam as, way beyond a note taking tool. And that time, I was describing like, my imagination has aspects.
First. I think Roam will be a better university for, global citizen, global, like people who are willing to learn. I deepened my thinking, there’s a use case by, a kid who is doing like kids tutorials for kids. I’m rolling. I think, I think you already know that. And, um, another like parents, um, and other mother, she is, um, she’s also writing an article on RoamBrain.
She’s mentioning about how her case is using your own for their study, for their life, for their like creativity. So I think this is really, really. You know, blowing my mind. And I think that if that will be the future, I think it’s, it’s such amazing thing. So just imagine that the kids can do such kind of tutorials to help other kids to learn.
And if we have such kind of thing on, um, on the social media, on Roam, they can easily build this kind of, you know, database themselves, then they can easily share with others. They can become the teacher. I mean the kid can become the teacher. They can teach themselves and they can teach others.
And they can exchange their knowledge. So if you’re thinking beyond that for, for adults, for, for the people who are continuing, learning and growing and rating, you know, they, they are taking a lot of inputs. They are taking a lot of, you know, um, materials and they can also build such kind of databases and they can also become teachers.
So if there are a lot of such people gathering on Roam, it will be a university, I guess. So actually we are sharing our knowledge with each other. We’re teaching each other. We are, um, very open, um, Open to each other. I think that that, that will be a very, very beautiful future. Um, that’s for, for the university idea.
And the second is, I thin Roam can be a better media. So why I say this is that I’m not so satisfied with the current situation, current status of the media actually. Especially for, for Chinese, you know, for, for China, because I think there are a lot of noises out there. I don’t think we need. So, so many medias that spreading out of this similar information and most of the time is the fake or, or confusing information to people.
I don’t think we need so many. We need several, um, authorities or several like health professionals is enough. I mean, but what we need is the media who can incentivize people’s curiosity. I think that’s a function, that’s the vision that that’s what the media should do, right? The media should incentivize people’s, motivate people’s like curiosity or that people think what the future will be or what we can do right now or what we can like explore. Previously, I was thinking of what the future form of media and I guess I was thinking that Wikipedia is maybe is a better idea because it’s a growing database. It’s a growing thing, and people can find okay information in there.
So it’s not so biased, it’s not so confusing and you can get what ever you want there. But it’s also diverse. It’s not just one answer out there. It’s also diverse. So, uh, after I saw Roam I think it is, is really possible because, um, I guess Rome is also share the function of Wikipedia because we have all these, uh, bi-links so we can, uh, elaborate, we can exstend our knowledge, our inputs into a lot of directions and we can also connect them together and show the dots and show the graphs. So. Yeah, that makes me think that, this is a better way. And what’s more, because the media is, um, is made up by the content creators. If we got pretty good content creators and we can engage them well, I think that will be a workable thing. Workable pattern. For running a media.
Previously, I thought, did someone said that Roam can be combined with Substack which is a subscription? Um, yeah, so, um, I also imagined that if, Roam can combine with such kind of like a subscription, you know, model or even more because I was highly, I was highly influenced by the blockchain methodology.
I guess if in the future it can be combined with the token economy or some certain kind of mechanism design stuff, it will be, um, I don’t know because it’s really, I think it’s really far away. So I just, I just thought it is one of the possibilities of the use cases. Yeah. So that’s that’s for media and third one, I think Roam can be a better linking or Twitter, because I’ve imagined that Roam is very interesting to build the connections between people.
Because, um, if you see the graphs, a lot of dots there, you can easily, um, get an idea of what is, um, this people’s interests or this is this people’s, um, focus or what this people, um, is like, So you can easily like interact, interact with the one who is like-minded. So, yeah, that’s, that’s what I have imagined before for Roam like in the future, under the three topics.
For roam/cn actually we’re not building it as, uh, it’s very interesting. This is the first time that I thought this community is, is very different from other communities because we are running it in a very special way. Like especially for the Chinese community, we’re running it in a very chaotic way.
Which means we do not actually assign the tasks to different people. Although we have like, um, maybe 12, uh, collaborators, 12, um, um, You know, collaborators in our, you know, in our team. So we do not actually have a very, very clear like workflow, very, very clear, like assignments to each other, uh, who should do this, we should do that.
Who should, you know, in charge of this? So we just separate two things. One is the video part and the other is the text part. And, uh, whoever is interested in either part, if you can just contribut that. But me, Victor and Jamie, we three, we have to like keep the content high-quality and keep the community keep running.
Um, so yeah, that’s the only thing that we were we’re doing now, but it, it is not inefficient. It’s actually surprisingly kind of efficient and people can just contribute based on their interests, based on their capability, based on their talents. So they can contribute whatever you want. And I think in the future, if we can, we can keep running like this and we can engage more people with special talents.
And we do find some collaborators who have, who are very talented in certain ways. We, we, we, we got like a, like a portrait portrait or, or a graph of, of this people’s like this person’s, um, capability and the what’s he is good at. If we can get, uh, a lot of people, we can attract a lot of people with different talents, with different skillsets.
We can figure out more things, more use cases to, to develop. But I do not have a certain target of like how many members to it.
Or how large the group will be. I do not have a clear mind, but I just want to say that we want to engage as many talented people as possible to our groups. And because this people also share one mindset of you can only help others. Once you get better yourself, you should get better and better, you should improve yourself. As quickly as possible, then you can help others. If you can not make yourself better, then it’s very hard for you to like help others.
So I’m very happy that I, I find more and more people like share the same like vision and they do not ask, asking for anything back because we are working together like volunteering. People just spend their spare times just spend their time out of work, um, and help the community to, to grow and to learn together. So I’m very grateful. I’m very, very appreciate that.
Norman Chella: [00:53:33] Oh, that’s amazing. Uh, I liked that, you know, despite. Not having like a clear number, metric or anything like that. That’s fine because, because all things related to Roam, they don’t tend to stay rigid. I think that’s like the chaotic part of the tool that we really come to see reflected in anything that we do that’s related to Roam Research. So it’s nice to know that you’ve really seriously considered about the feature of the tool itself and how it connects if you’re a group. So.
Jessie Li: [00:54:06] Oh, I have one thing. One more thing to mention. Um, now we are building a public graph for roam/cn. Actually, we wanted like a collective, uh, so-called collective intelligence for our like, cn members. We, we import, we import and, uh, we collect the, uh, interesting, uh, work of our community members. Uh, No matter articles or podcasts or, you know, uh, videos.
We, I think videos is a little bit harder. Maybe texts, maybe articles and podcasts and some, you know,very short, but very insightful thoughts. We will all gather this into our public graph and we will put out a newsletter, um, texts version there as well as, um, recently we have, um, recently we have developed a new, um, A program called face-to-face tutorial is like an online face-to-face tutorial, um, a program for our cn cult.
Every time we will invite, um, a little bit more advanced users for Roam and we invite him and, um, and meanwhile we invite one community member who is really active and join and, uh, maybe three or four people. We do a Roam calls just like what we are doing like this and that we record the tutorial and also, um, like post it on bilibili.
So, so we will keep this, um, This work into our Roam public database and open to the public. If you want to see some of the collective intelligence of our, in our whole community, you can check, check out there.
Norman Chella: [00:56:07] Yeah, no, I would definitely want to see a public graph. Yeah.
Jessie Li: [00:56:12] I think this in the longterm, I will, I will pay very special attention to this because I think this is a very good experiment for, for a decentralized collaboration for a decentralized intelligence. Oh, very interesting to see. It will be very interesting to see the, how it is growing, I guess. Yeah.
Norman Chella: [00:56:37] Yeah. And you’re trailblazing the example for one community aggregated graph, uh, uh, example, which is very, you know, we we’ve, Roam has only just been fully, formally out of beta only recently. So we’re only starting to see the number of use cases grow. Um, not only in terms of the variety of it or how, how people use it differently, but also the scale, because now you’re talking about, uh, all the different things that people can put in, uh, into one graph and with a community, you know, in the hundreds, uh, contributing to one graph and, you know, into the thousands as well for the next couple of years, I’m sure that seeing this, uh, beautiful mess of a graph, uh, make connections, uh, and seeing what comes out of that will be a pretty fascinating, so, uh, all the best.
And I will definitely see, uh, I will, I’ll definitely check out, uh, any, any updates on that graph on the bilibili channel.
Uh, now we are coming up on time, but, uh, I do want to close off our chat with a couple of segments at the end. So how would you describe Roam to someone who hasn’t started using it yet?
Jessie Li: [00:57:52] Wow, that’s the most, that’s the hardest question though. Because you know, I have recommended to like go to a lot of my friends with different backgrounds from VCs to students, to, to my cousin, to, you know,
I will explain to them that Roam is. I really want to use the description on the website, which is the networked thought tool, but it’s, it’s kind of complicated. So, so I think for different people, I have to use different description. Um, but you’re, I will say it’s. It’s way more a note-taking tool.
It is a tool that can make your thoughts connected and just set a second brain for you. Um, whenever you want to input something and whatever you want to input. You don’t have to worry about all these things what you have to, and Roam just gave you the freedom to, uh, focus on focus on the creation part and focus on the connecting parts.
So it’s very different from Evernote. It’s very different from OneNote and it’s very different from Notion. So, because this stray, this rate is very commonly is it’s very, uh, it’s usually, uh, compared about others. Um, and people were asking me, Oh, what’s the difference between Roam and Notion? I would say it’s totally different thing.
You just have to try yourself. It’s very simple and it’s, you know, it’s very simple for you to use and it’s, it’s a growing stuff and you can find so much fun there. There it’s like a playground. You can develop a lot of features yourself. It’s very funny.
Yeah. I will say this to my friend, then they, okay. Okay. I will try it. And, but I think for, for beginners is, is really hard for them to get what you felt right now. You feel so passionate, but they cannot feel the same thing. I think it’s the only way is, is for them to, to just test to themselves. If they have certain needs, they do not have certain strong, like curiosity or strong needs. I don’t think they will. You’ll see it very, very often. Yeah.
Norman Chella: [01:00:38] Okay. Right. I’m getting some more ideas in trying to introduce the tool to people with a different, like a playground full of features. Um, yeah. And I can really, I can really share the sentiment about it being fun because it’s kind of hard to call a note-taking tool fun.
You normally look for a note taking app because you need, like there’s a demand for it. Like you have an inherent desire to write something down and if you don’t write it down, it bothers you. Right. It’s like a problem. It’s like a problem for you. You want it to solve. But I think, uh, the way that Roam does it, it makes it feel like, Oh, I’m having fun, writing everything down. It doesn’t matter what it is. Uh, and eventually there’ll be some connections there. I like that. I need to make sure that every time I introduced the tool to someone, uh, just to share how fun it is, uh, uh, that’s, uh, that’s one thing. And I’m also
Jessie Li: [01:01:30] What do you use to describe to others, but what, what are your, your latest?
Norman Chella: [01:01:36] Oh, how would I describe it?
Oh, okay. Um, it’s, it’s very difficult. Uh, and, and I’ve had, I’ve had that. I know now I’m on now I’m in the hot seat for this because I’m literally copying your answer. So, uh, I did use the, I did use what the website, how the website describes the tool, like a network thought tool, but. That’s just a bunch of jargon put into a sentence.
It doesn’t really, it describes what it is, but it doesn’t describe how it helps you. So when you, when you look at it from that angle, then you have to reword it in a way where Roam is a tool that helps you solve your problem. And then your problem is switched between, it changes right. Depending on the use case.
So for someone who keeps forgetting their notes, it’s like, Oh, it’s a tool for you to help. Remember what you wrote five years before and connect it with what you wrote two days ago. Right. That’s one way, uh, or Roam is a way for you to build a clone of yourself through writing through writing. Right?
Cause I always, I always take the analogy of, uh, if you know, the Marvel movies, Iron Man always has Jarvis. So Jarvis is that assistant, like the AI assistant that always helps him with, with like having orders or doing the things around the house, the Roam like that, but in word form. So you’re building a clone of yourself.
When you look at certain pages or certain notes, uh, you switch contexts. And when you switch contexts, Roam helps you according to that context. Some people would use it too. You know, coach themselves, some people would use it to help them think or to write more. Some people will use it to keep track of people that they met.
Right. So that’s like a conversational thing and some people will use it for something else. So Rome adapts or is organic and it helps you with that specific use case. At least that’s how I would do it. I wish I had an amazing metaphor to just describe it. I’m still on the search for it right now. And I think that’s why I started this show in the first place, because I feel like I’m just stealing answers from all my guests on how to describe it because I’m having trouble describing it myself. Also. Final question. What does Roam mean to you?
Jessie Li: [01:03:56] What does Roam mean to me?
Um, wow, this is. This is also a hard question. Why you always ask hard question? Oh.
Norman Chella: [01:04:11] Welcome to the podcast.
Jessie Li: [01:04:15] Um, I think Roam means. Yeah, I’ll put it this way, Roam means a new lifestyle and a new mindset for me, I think, uh, at this moment I will use this tool as a new lifestyle, maybe three words, a new lifestyle, a new mindset and the real second brain for me.
A new lifestyle means previously, um, Before I used Roam, I do not have so many, um, freedom and confidence in myself because I see a lot of things, what I’m doing, I cannot see the connections there. And, you know, in the Chinese culture is kind of, um, you do not have you, you do not have, you know, so much freedom in thinking or. The environment is like this, and even from, from the education. So Roam just gave you, like gave me, sorry, give me a very new, how to say the, the kind of freedom to have confidence in myself. What do you have been focusing on, what you have been paying attention to? Or what do you have interested in? All this have a reason.
There is a reason in there. There is not, all these things, they are not meaningless or they’re not useless. Sometimes you just cannot see the results in the short term, but yeah, there will be some potential connection or potential synergy in the future. And when you look back, when you, when, when, when the future yourself look back, you can find the certain paths of your past self and current yourself. You can connect the dots.
So I think Roam just gave me such kind of confidence, um, and lead me to a new lifestyle that you should believe in yourself. You should like, believe what you are believing and yeah, it’s just about confidence.
And second is a new mindset. It’s the intersection of your interest, how you can find the intersection of your focus. Of what you have been paying attention to? Because I have, I think I have a very diverse, um, focus in various aspects. I am very interested in like, uh, um, the things I haven’t expected before. Um, I have been interested in certain topics like the science, the technology, and as well as the arts.
But previously I cannot connect those things together. I just randomly gave each of them my attention. And, um, you are not getting certain direct result from it. For example, if you do not make money from it and you are thinking, Oh, this part, I have wasted my time, you know? Putting my attention to arts, putting my attention to science, into physics and into, into biology, into all this knowledge or all this, um, is things you will feel like you are wasting your time actually.
Actually after I use, I used Roam, I find maybe, and it is very possible for you to find the intersection of all these focuses and you put them together, maybe in the future. Um, you can find some, you know, potential use cases or potential opportunities for yourself and also for, for, I don’t know for communities or I don’t know.
Yeah. And, and the third one, I see Roam as a better second brain. This is very for sure, because it is designed for a second brain. Yeah, I think Roam will be my Google. I hope it will be my Google in the future. Uh, as I input more, as I input a lot of, uh, myself, a lot of, uh, you know, thoughts of myself and also a lot of insights of others.
So, yeah, I hope it can be the second brain, the Google for me, so I can easily search for whatever I want in the database.
Norman Chella: [01:09:21] That could also help with trying to describe Roam to other people. It’s like a Google for your thoughts and then like connecting it, right? Yeah. Yeah. Totally. Yeah. I know. I’ll credit it to you. I’ll credit it to you. Okay. I will. So what I’ll do is whenever I introduced to the tool, I will link the block where you mentioned this. And send them to us and then send them to block so that they can have a look at it later on. And it’s all totally all totally your credit.
Uh, I am just the messenger. I’m just here to share this amazing insight, um, to the world and also into my private Roam, because obviously I will be Googling my own thoughts, but, uh, I really do agree because. If Roam can be your Google, the possibilities in trying to search back all of the thoughts that you brought about or everything that you’ve paid attention to, you can look at what you’ve been thinking about from outside the box.
And that gives you the environment to really make the connections like, Roam really helps with that. But you know, in the end, it’s up to you to make that connection. Like it’s up to you to make that link. And it’s up to you, what you do with that link. So all the possibilities as a result of Googling, your thoughts are as a result of searching what you’ve been paying attention to.
It’s what makes Roam so fun. So, uh, Jesise, seriously, thank you so much for sharing all of this. And I really enjoyed our conversation. If we want to contact you to maybe find out more about Roam China or roam/cn rather, or about you, or about how you use your Roam, what’s the best way to contact you. I’m assuming a, is the best way to contact you the Twitter account?
Jessie Li: [01:11:04] Yeah, I suppose you do not have a WeChat, right?
Norman Chella: [01:11:08] Uh, no, no, I, I don’t sadly, I mean, I can set, set something up. For our listeners. If you want to reach out to Jessie, you can always, contact her, on her Twitter, I guess that’s the best way to do it. Right. Um, so I will be putting in her Twitter account, in the public Roam graph, the show notes to this episode, uh, right below.
So Jessie, thank you so much and I will see you you on Twitter.
Jessie Li: [01:11:32] Thank you.
Norman Chella: [01:11:33] Thank you for listening to the show. Make sure to hit subscribe in your favorite podcast listening app and for a full version of the show notes. To this episode, you can check out the public Roam graph. The link to that will be in the description right below for more updates, comments, feedback, and suggestions.
You can reach out to me at @RoamFM on Twitter, keep roaming your thoughts, and I will see you in the next episode. Take care.