Andrew Ting - Lawyer, Professor, Growth Company Veteran
In a world where so many chase money and power, losing sight of what's truly important in life can be easy. For many people, the decision to work in the education field is about more than just a paycheck. It's about making a difference in the lives of others. It's about having a positive impact on the future. Andrew Ting, a lawyer, professor, and start-up veteran tells the story of how he found his purpose in teaching and how that has shaped his broader professional interests. Andrew is the Chief Legal Officer at Panorama Education, which supports positive outcomes for more than 15 million students in 21,000 schools and every state in America. They provide teachers, school district leaders, and families with tools to help students improve their academic progress, social-emotional development and well-being. Join Andrew as he talks about his professional journey and how he has found value and purpose in his portfolio of professional activities.
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Andrew Ting - Lawyer, Professor, Growth Company Veteran
On A Career Centered Around Purpose And Curiosity
My guest is Andrew Ting, who I came across on LinkedIn at some point in the past year. There's a message in there about the value of LinkedIn and expanding your network, because Andrew and I met through the platform and are speaking for the first time now. He is a lawyer, a professor, and a startup veteran.
By the time this show is released, he will have started a new job with a firm called Panorama Education as their Chief Legal Officer. Panorama provides educational software to the K-12 space. Prior to joining Panorama, Andrew was the General Counsel for Koalafi, a FinTech that applies machine learning and big data analytics to point-of-sale finance. Prior to that, he held general counsel roles at Canapi Ventures, SpringHarbor Financial, and Promontory Financial. He started his career as a strategy consultant working for Braun Consulting. After getting a law degree, he went to work for the law firm Latham & Watkins.
Andrew also teaches Startup Law at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business and Business Planning at George Washington University's Law School. He's a charter member of TechGC, a legal influencer for 4cLegal, and an advisory board member for the ACC NCR Leadership Academy. He earned his Bachelor's Degree in Social Studies from Harvard University and his JD from Harvard Law School. He and his family live in the Washington DC area.
Andrew, welcome. Thanks for doing the show with me. It's good to meet you.
It’s my pleasure.
You’re a lawyer by background, but you've spent a lot of time on the business side of your career in the startup space. How did you gravitate toward that world?
I like to make an impact, whether it's providing legal advice or growing a business. I don't find that there's a big division between legal work and business work. In fact, most of my jobs have probably been more than half of my time not dealing with legal issues. I’m dealing with issues that require good judgment.
I'm not a lawyer, but I find myself doing a lot of legal-related things. We joke that you will become a closet lawyer to a degree when you become enough of a general manager because there are legal aspects to everything. I have the inverse of what you said...
You were the General Counsel for Koalafi. Tell our readers a little bit about that business, what it's about, and what your day-to-day was like there.
I led the legal team, compliance team, and government relations team of Koalafi. Koalafi services about 500,000 or so Americans a year. When they go into 1 of our 7,000 retail partners to buy a mattress, furniture, or auto parts, and don't want to pay all the money upfront, we give them a loan or a lease. I made sure that the customers were treated fairly and transparently and made sure we got to the right thing, but also the legal thing.
You were in the mortgage space earlier. You've been in that lending space for a few different companies that you've worked for over the years.
In the last several years, I've worked at financial services companies, trying to help people buy the things they need, whether it's a home, furniture, mattress, or whatever. Financial services firms are complicated. There are a lot of laws governing them. In the end, we want to do the right thing for the individual customer. I was talking to a friend who's worked in mortgage for several years. He was talking about lending in underserved areas and how you can help build intergenerational wealth. You have the dad buy a house. It gets passed down to the kids. It's a way out of the renting cycle.
Has that sense of purpose always been particularly important to you in what you do?
The purpose matters. We spendf so much time and effort in our jobs, and law, by its nature, is abstract and technical. It's sometimes hard to say, “At the end of the day, what did I do tangibly? I read a law. Did it make sense?” It's gray, and I decided to go this way instead of that way. That's one of the reasons I decided to make the transition to education. I teach at two universities to directly impact people. With that being said, helping people in buying things they need was a noble mission as well.
Let's go back to the beginning for you. You went to Harvard undergrad. You started as a strategy consultant. Did you envision yourself being a lawyer? Did you know you wanted to go to law school then or not?
Not at all. I have had a winding path in terms of my career. I've worked as a Graphic Designer and at the IT help desk at Harvard. I thought I wanted to be a physicist. I started as a Physics major and then went to Social Studies, which is Social Philosophy. I didn't know of any lawyers growing up. I grew up middle class. The thought of going to law school never crossed my mind, possibly until my senior year.
That’s why I chose consulting because it seemed a good general path. You’re working with a lot of different clients, and it’s a good exposure to different industries. I did that for a year and then applied to Harvard Law School and got in there. I worked mostly for clients in the pharmaceutical industry, selling drugs, and marketing drugs. The drugs that I marketed were for multiple sclerosis. The drug named Avonex is a good drug. I helped put together a focus group of folks who were experiencing multiple sclerosis. I was trying to build an online community of therapists, support networks, and resources they need. It was good work.
From there, you applied to law school and went [back] to Harvard. When you were in your law school years, what type of law did you foresee yourself practicing when you graduated?
I've always been interested in the intersection of technology and the law. Initially, I thought I wanted to go to court and do intellectual property litigation or patent litigation. I found it dreadfully boring. It’s not to disrespect the folks who make a great living and enjoy helping clients with crucial work. I remember I went to the federal circuit court which handles the appeals in Washington, DC.
We spent three days on a case with the US post office, going through the dictionary, definitions, and the patents for mail sorting. I was bored by the end of it. I found that litigation was more "winner takes all." I'm like, “Let's do a deal. Let's have everybody win. Let's build a long-term relationship instead of sweeping the other guy off the table.” I decided to try to become a technology transactions lawyer instead. I went to Latham & Watkins.
You went to Latham & Watkins. You did a bit of IT Law, but you did do some M&A, too. How has that time that you spent in that law firm been foundational to the rest of your career in terms of the skillsets you took with you?
I started off in the technology transactions group. It’s an awesome experience. I started doing venture capital work, working with startups, and getting them financing. I was leveraging my technology skills to understand what made them tick.
As I got more senior, the partners said, “Andrew, if you want to advance, you need to do big deals, not like the venture capital deals for $1 million here and $2 million there.” I started doing bigger private equity deals and deals for public companies. Some of them were large Fortune 500 public companies in the US. I started doing international work in London where you are based and around the world. I did a secondment in Singapore for a summer, and it was a lot of fun.
After several years of Latham, I had accumulated a broad and deep corporate skillset with technology work, financing, equity, debt, corporate governance, and some IPOs. I was proud of the experiences that I had accumulated. I could be the lawyer leading calls for a $1 billion M&A or financing deal. I thought to myself, “Do I stay in this job, or do I go?” For me, one framework I use is, “If I picture myself five years from now and I'm doing the same thing I'm doing now, how do I feel about it?”Purpose matters. We spend so much time and effort in our jobs, and law, by its nature, is very abstract and technical. It's sometimes hard to say at the end of the day, 'What did I do today tangibly?' Click To Tweet
I felt a little sick because, that yearI had billed about 2,700 hours. I was married. I met my wife at Harvard Law School. She's a hard-charging lawyer. We had two little kids. They were 1 and 3 years old at the time. It wasn't good for my family, myself, or my health to work that hard. I thought, “My skills have plateaued.” I had already discovered that I could do it. I said, “I'm going to start returning recruiter calls and go onto the next thing.”
I was struck in reading your background by how much breadth you had in your law firm years. Usually, when people go into a law firm, they tend to get pigeonholed pretty quickly. That ends up driving the optionality that they've got or lack of it later on. In your case, you had a lot of different work. You were lucky in that respect.
It was a deliberate decision to try to become broad and deep. It was not the preferred path. The preferred path is to specialize and become the best you can be in a particular niche. That works at a huge global law firm like Latham & Watkins or the Magic Circle of firms in London. You can have each specialty part working, and the whole body works together, but it's a little limiting if you only do one thing. I wanted to do everything and be a general lawyer.
I switched practice groups four times. I had to learn from scratch each time. For most of my career, I was always behind my peers because they had specialized from Day 1 or Day 2. I made up with an ability to learn quickly, efficient project management and a focus on relationships with people. My clients know me, and they say, “Andrew, it's fine. You can call me back after you figure it out.” It’s because they know, like, and trust that would I figure it out.
It's good when you've built that reputation for yourself. The point you were making about looking out five years, “Am I going to be happy doing what I'm doing?” is a good way to think about it. I get asked a lot of times about, “What would you do differently in your career?” Certainly I can say, “I stayed in some places too long.” I only realized afterward that I should have left some of these places that I'd worked before I did because they had run their course for me.
The change does seem to be accelerating now at different jobs. My father worked at the University of Southern California for many years. Now, who stays at the same job for 20 years, 10 years, or even 5 years? I stayed at the Koalifi for two and a half years. It was a momentous and eventful tenure, but nobody has asked me why I left so early. I’m like, “Two years was fine. It felt interesting.”
We think a lot in my company about attrition, retention, and how to manage it. We're fortunate. We have a pretty low attrition rate. I'll readily say to people, “I don't expect you to spend your whole life here. Few of us are going to spend our whole careers here.” I've had a couple of people who work for me who hit their 30-year anniversaries in 2022. It is amazing when you think about it, but it's becoming rarer. People are moving around more regularly. In some cases, they completely change career directions. They do the portfolio career and do different things at once, which is a little bit what you've been doing over the past many years with the teaching as well.
I tried to diversify and not put all my eggs in one bucket. I don't think there's any one job or one relationship that can satisfy all the parts that make J.R. or Andrew happy. Instead of feeling resentful that one job can't do it all, I start to do other things on the side like you're doing with PathWise, for example. Even though it's a lot of late nights, I find on the whole that it's more meaningful.
I've learned something from every conversation like this one that I have. The writing that I do gives me an opportunity to organize my thoughts. If I didn't do it, I probably wouldn't get them as well-organized. I use that in my day-to-day. There's this symbiotic relationship between what I do in my job, what I think about, how I'm trying to help people in my spare time.
How did you get into teaching?
It's a long story, but to keep it short, I became friends with a pretty nerdy associate at the law firm. I was probably the only one who would read these academic articles and talk about and debate them. He left the law firm. After a few years, he became a tenured professor at the George Washington University Law School.
He always thought, for whatever reason, that I would be a great teacher. I put my name in and waited for an opening. I got a call in the middle of the fall semester saying that a professor who had taught business planning class for 30 years had had a medical emergency and could not finish the semester. They asked me to step in. My teaching career started. I took the class that was offered to me. I had to learn a lot of transactional tax work and complex stuff quickly to not just learn it but teach it.
It was a hard path to becoming a teacher. I remember a brief personal anecdote, probably the worst presentation I ever gave, where I was suffering from a hernia, but I had to teach a class because there were schedules and exams going on. My hernia surgery was scheduled, but had not yet happened. I remember trying to teach transactional tax for three hours on a Monday night until 9:00 PM to my students. None of them realized that I was in so much pain pushing against the podium so my guts wouldn't fall out.
The most important thing isn't the material, even though my students like that I take a practical teaching approach based on experience, not just on academics. I've done real stuff. I helped them find jobs and have conversations about what they wanted to do. The law often isn't a fun profession. I’m being honest with them and giving them a spirit of exploration.
I was teaching a leadership class. I met a professor at Georgetown Business School, Janine Turner, who teaches Communication. She sponsored me to teach a class. I pitched a class on entrepreneurship called Startup Law. I've had several hundred students in that class over the last few years at Georgetown Business School. My students have gone on to found promising companies. I'm proud to advise them on technology and corporate issues. It's a virtuous cycle. I'm grateful for that opportunity.
I would imagine that your class at Georgetown is popular. Entrepreneurship is always something that people who go to business school at least think about. Getting into the legal aspects of it and your being able to bring, “I've been there, I've done it” experience must help give an extra level of insight into that class.
It's had the maximum enrollment for an elective in the last couple of years. I'm proud of that. The most common comment from my students in their student evaluations is, “This class should be required curriculum,” which I find is rare praise.
I went to Harvard for my Business School degree. Our Entrepreneurial Finance was unquestionably the most popular class, along with Capital Markets. Those are the two elective classes that were by far the hardest to get into at the time. I can't remember having anything that went into trying to teach much of the legal aspects of things. It's great that you're able to do that at Georgetown.
I've always felt that law's one of these inertial things for a lot of people. They do it because they feel like they should go to law school. They get there and realize that it's not for them. In your conversations with the business school students and law school students, do you see a difference in terms of the clarity of thought that they have around their careers? Is one group more clear than the other?
I would say everybody's confused, but they know they're confused. They know that they need to go into the working world and try things. A lot of lawyers go to law firms because they have a lot of law school debt. The law firms pay a lot of money. I ask them, “How many of you want to stay and make a law firm partner?” One-third several years ago would raise their hands. Now, it's probably 1 or 2 people per class.
Most of them want to do it for a few years and then do something else. Maybe it's some selection bias because I'm the guy who went in-house to go work for a business and be more on the business side. I worked with other executives to grow a business. I'm a business person with legal skills. We all converged. You are a lawyer, too, but came in from the business side as a closet lawyer.
The business school students wanted everything. Probably about two-thirds of the class had their own side businesses or were doing things for small businesses. A lot of them will take corporate jobs but are working on the weekends or at night to do what they want to do, have their own something, and build their own thing. It's exciting to tap into that entrepreneurial energy, try to shape it, and guide it.
That perspective on becoming an entrepreneur has changed since I was in graduate school. At the time, the mantra was, “If you want to be an entrepreneur, great, but it's a full-on experience. It's going to consume you. It will take every bit of your savings and all of your free time.” In the scheme of things, it was a narrow definition of entrepreneurship relative to now, where the idea of a side hustle has become more common.Many business school students will take corporate jobs but work on the weekends or nights to do what they want to do and build their own businesses. Click To Tweet
If any of your readers want to invest in promising startups, I have a dozen students who are hustling for money. I respect and salute them. I enjoy starting businesses. For some of the companies where I've started out as general counsel, I started giving them legal advice from a handful of people to hundreds of people, or $1 billion in revenue. What addicts me is the growth journey of starting with a dedicated team, scaling, thinking about the products and services that meet the demand, and flexing for it. It's an amazing and exhausting growth journey, but all good things in life take time.
You're in the midst of another change in your career direction. By the time this is released, you'll have started your new job. Do you want to talk a little bit about the new company you’re joining and what you're going to be doing?
After several great years in financial services as a lawyer and general counsel but also a few years as a professor, I decided that education, teaching, mentoring, developing people, and bringing out the best in people were near and dear to my heart. I was able to get a Chief Legal Officer position at an education technology company. For your readers, I started in July 2022.
The company is called Panorama Education, and they serve about 10 million or so kindergarten through 12th-grade students in the United States. Especially during the pandemic, they’re helping kids stay in school, do well in school academically, get social and emotional support, and helping teachers and school districts and administrations give students the support they need, identify troubling behaviors, and address them before small things become big things.
Who hires the company? Is that the school district?
We have a software platform that collects all the student data and actions them to make the teacher's job easier and says, “Andrew needs 'xyz'.” They do a parent-teacher conference or whatever other extra support is needed to make sure students are doing their best.
You said it's kindergarten all the way up through 12th grade. I wish you the best of luck with that. Will you keep teaching while you're doing this?
Absolutely. At Panorama, a lot of employees are former teachers. It's very much a mission-oriented education company. They celebrate that I continue to teach.
You've also got a little bit of a side hobby in terms of your commitment to posting on LinkedIn about things you're thinking about and that you've experienced, or other things going on in the world. Talk a little bit about that and what you hope to make of that. Is it a hobby, or do you see it evolving into something more than that?
During the pandemic, I was feeling a little bit isolated because we were stuck at home, not seeing people. I wasn't going to the office much. I said, “I'm on LinkedIn. I'll try posting once or twice a week.” I don't know honestly what my personal brand is. That's probably a good thought exercise. I post on leadership, personal development, professional development, gratitude, mindfulness, conversations with my kids, Asian-American identity and perspectives, and legal issues like the FinTech panel that I posted about. For whatever reason, it's become quite popular.
Even when I step out in the hallway at my condo, my neighbors will say, “I saw that. That was great.” People I've worked with will say, “That's amazing. You're inspiring.” I've reconnected with people I knew from law school I haven't talked to for several years. I had a conversation with an old friend that I hadn't talked to because she thought of me after seeing my LinkedIn posts.
It's amazing that despite all my inconsistent content, people have gotten this sense of authenticity and something resonated. What's my secret sauce? I have no idea. Most of my good ideas come when I wake up around 5:00 in the morning. I think if I should go back to sleep or not, and then I don't. I go over to my computer and start typing something. There you go.
It's an evolving journey. The common theme is authenticity and trying to be a thoughtful, kind person, and sensitive person. I'm still the same guy I was before I started publicly putting things out. I'm a somewhat private person. I do a lot more listening than talking if you meet me. It seems to resonate, and people seem to appreciate the content. I'll keep doing it.
I don't know how long you've been on LinkedIn. I've probably been on LinkedIn for twelve years, something like that or maybe longer. It's changed a lot over time. It feels like there's a little bit of a cultural battle going on on LinkedIn in the sense of, “Is it about recruiting? Is it only about work? Should you post about personal things?” There's a lot of debate that seems to be going on, not just the political topics but also the personal ones. It will be interesting to see how it continues to evolve as a platform for sharing.
In the scheme of things, all of us bring our whole selves to work and at home. It's impossible to fully separate things. I was distracted by [the shootings that] happened in Highland Park, Illinois [on July 4]. I don't post about things like that often, but I did that time. We lived there for seven years. Two of my kids were born there, and it was personal. We've spent most of the last twenty years in Boston. When the marathon bombing happened in Boston, that was personal, but it was different.
You see people who have had their own experiences like that, medical issues, or whatever. They post about it and it resonates with a lot of people. They also annoy a lot of other people who feel like it should be more of a work-focused platform. I know your posts about some of the anti-Asian bias you've experienced was probably the single most viewed post that you've had. Clearly, it's resonating when you post.
Most of my audience and followers are not in the United States. I have a ton of followers from Southeast Asia and India. India has the number two amount of LinkedIn followers. I have no idea why they follow me. Some of them send me nice messages, but it reminds us that your platform, JR, is a global platform. The stuff we say that's out there might give somebody the courage to make a change.
I watch with a little bit of amusement the number of countries where people have downloaded my podcast. It's in the 30s at this point. It's a global world. People can find content from pretty much anywhere. All these platforms make it much easier for people to find their voice and to talk about things that get them excited.
You talk about getting up and doing some of your best writing in the wee hours of the morning. Do you find that there are particular times that are best for you to do certain things?
I'm a morning person and not a late-night person. Everybody has a different rhythm. I wake up, and it's quiet. I'm not being distracted by emails or commitments. That's probably the best think-time. I'm rested. I thrive in quiet times. One of the hardest things I've found about being an executive is you'll have 6 to 7 meetings a day. You need time to think and focus on work. There's always the meeting and the emails respond to, the Slack message, or the text message on your phone, etc. I'm a morning person. I do confess when working at home, though, I like to take a 15 to 30-minute nap in the early afternoon. That helps to refocus me and get me energized for the rest of the day.
One of the highlights of the pandemic for me was the ability. when you need a quick snooze in between meetings, to do that. It’s harder to do it in the office. Instead, you go and grab your fourth coffee of the day.
I've slept on the floor several times in my old office, discreetly turning off the lights, closing the door, and arranging the desk chair. It's not immediately obvious if somebody looks inside.
We pretty much all sit on the floor in our office in an open layout. There's not that same opportunity.
You've changed directions at a couple of points in your career. Do you feel like you're at a point, particularly with this tilt into learning in education and development? Do you feel like you've found your home, or is this your home for now?Life is a book. Each chapter of life would be boring if somebody gave you the script of your life. Click To Tweet
Life is a book. Life would be boring if somebody gave you the script of your life and said, “Live it. See you in 50 years.” I like to have different, interesting chapters. I figured that I might go back to FinTech. I still have my network. I'm talking at a panel. There are categories of jobs in the industries that exist now that didn't exist several years ago, like crypto. One of my friends took a crypto investing job.
Crypto is having a little bit of winter right now, but there will be winters. There'll be a lot of companies that shake out. You have to be opportunistic and see what's on the horizon, but probably it's balancing opportunity and innovation versus stability. My philosophy of money is I don't like to worry about money. I want to work for a good stable company, preferably high-growth rather than a start-up. It's exciting, but also the fundamentals are good. People understand the value that the company brings to its customers.
How big was Koalifi when you joined it?
When I joined, it has about 220 people or so. By the time I left, it was probably about 300 people.
It was a decent size, past the bootstrapping part of being a start-up.
We have hundreds of thousands of customers a year. It’s established.
Looking back over the roles you've had, what are the strengths that you innately have that you've drawn on again and again?
I had to take a battery of personality tests for various executive search firms when I was recruited for different roles. I took one, which made me raise my eyebrows. It had different values that appealed to you. For me, it was love. Love was number one. I’m good at building relationships. I'm a fundamentally values-oriented person. I'm good at watching people, connecting with people, being empathetic, understanding what's important to them, and speaking their language. It goes from a genuine curiosity about people, which is good.
It may stem from when I was a kid. I would spend hours a week watching people and have no idea what they would be saying. We would go to family gatherings. People would speak a different dialect of Chinese. Everybody spoke English, but they wanted to speak the dialect. I have watched people and understood what they were saying by what they were doing.
Love is an odd thing for a strategic, cunning lawyer and law executive, but it evens me out. If I think of myself as a general counsel or a general counselor, I understand the needs of the client by connecting with people that get things done, building a team, motivating a team, and bringing out the best in students and people who work for me. It all starts to tie together.
It goes back a little bit to what you were saying about litigation versus M&A law. "Winner takes all" versus trying to come up with a win-win. There are all different lawyers who are good at many different things and you've branched out beyond that as well.
It’s an ever-expanding journey.
What are you working on developing in terms of your style or skillset?
The switch from financial services to education. There's a lot of substantive legal knowledge that I need to develop in Education Law. I'll hire people to supplement my own personal knowledge, but that's the most pressing thing for me. It's specialized. The number one thing is to be busy for the next few months. I'm comfortable leading teams of about a dozen people. Legal teams are generally fairly small. Over time, I like to get more experience in managing more people. Direct reports are one layer down, but managing more complex operations would be an interesting challenge.
When you get into operations, it is a whole other level of detail that you end up having to wade into. I was talking with somebody about it. You go from flying at 50,000 feet and being able to think these big thoughts to having to worry about every detail. I was talking to a friend of mine from Fidelity. He's thinking, "Do we have enough people on the phone at this hour and this week of this year?"
He and I both used to work at Fidelity. Monday mornings during tax season were busy. It was almost impossible to bring in enough people to support that. That's one little example but it’s the detail that you have to get into in the ops space.
You made a passing reference to hiring. You talk about hiring for some of that technical knowledge that you lack coming into the education space. What do you look for in people more generally when you're hiring?
I look for conscientious people who love learning. I would take people with potential over people who can plug in and do the same thing every day, wanting to stay in a niche. I have a bias because I work at high-growth companies where a lot of roles are undefined, and you're expected to wear a lot of hats. I would like to have people who are energized about that and say, “I don't know anything about that. I'm a little scared, but I'll learn. This is a great growth opportunity. Catch me if I fall, and guide me, please, but let's go for it. Let’s charge for it.”
Now that I'm more experienced, I enjoy teaching people and bringing out the best in them. In the last few companies that I left, my deputy GC became the general counsel after I left. They were scared, but it was a great opportunity for them. They're all grateful that I gave them that stepping stone. I still continue to take phone calls with them and guide them on situations, etc. It's part of the living legacy that you bring behind to develop people.
When you're interviewing people, do you have 1 or 2 go-to questions that you almost always ask?
There's no particular go-to question. I tend to improvise a lot based on the conversation. I tailor my focus to soft spots, interesting tidbits, or something that pulls on things. It's a little odd. Even in interviews, like 30 to 45 minutes, I've had people cry and say, “You understand me so well.” I'm like, “I'm just a guy that you talked to for half an hour.”
The experience of being listened to is, unfortunately, not that common. People are looking at their phones. Their attention spans are limited. These work relationships become deep and real. I'm proud of that even though I'm certainly not superhuman. I'm a guy trying to get a couple of hours of sleep at the end of the night. We do our best to be a force for good or a force for love.
In your case, it’s a force for love since that's your most treasured value. You talked earlier about the gentleman that you worked with at the law firm who ended up becoming a tenured professor and helped get you into teaching. Who else has helped you along the way and how?Always be learning. Always be authentic. The meaning of life is to keep asking questions because your meaning changes over time. Click To Tweet
My mentor is a guy named Mark Roellig. He was the Chief Legal Officer at MassMutual and Chief Administrative Officer for many years. I started to follow him because he wrote a series of exceptionally insightful leadership articles in the Association for Corporate Counsel Docket Magazine. He has had one a month for years. After a while, I was like, “I'm going to email this guy and say thank you.” He's been gracious with his time.
I talked to him on Monday morning. He saw on LinkedIn that I was going to another position. He reached out to me and said, “Can I be useful?” We talked about 30, 60, 90-day plans. He's retired now, but his legacy is bringing up the next generation of legal executives. He's somebody who comes to mind who's taught me. There's one law firm partner named Joel Trotter who has influenced a lot of my own substantive skills. Another person named Angela from Boston taught me a lot about how to handle people with integrity and listen to your client, who's always learning and entrepreneurial.
The cool thing about a professional journey is that you try to work with a lot of different people, absorb the styles that resonate with you, and become you. I was joking with Mark that you can learn a lot of things from a bad boss about what not to do. It's useful learning up to a certain point, and then it becomes painful. I've been lucky in my career relatively.
Curiosity and learning have come out a lot in the discussion we've had. What's at the top of your learning agenda, other than learning the ropes of the new job?
One great thing about Panorama Education is it's a company of teachers and learners. They assigned me four textbooks to read before day one. I've downloaded them on my Kindle. I'll read them on vacation. Some are on instructional design, how teachers and schools measure students' individual performance, and the links between academic performance and behavioral issues, too.
The better interventions hit not just Reading, Math, or whatever, but also specific behaviors like being able to stay focused, attention, transitions between recess to the classroom, and how to calibrate the right behaviors that reinforce each other. You can't address academic stuff in isolation and ignore a student who needs to take a break. They need that before they can refocus and learn.
It's completely alien to financial services and lending. I'm grateful that they decided to take the chance to hire me for this job. It was great to read a 400-page textbook on instructional design, optimizing interventions, and multi-tiered systems of support. It’s geeky, but my number two value behind love is intellectual curiosity. I love to learn. I'll be working with talented product designers who are taking that textbook and operationalizing it into software used by tens of millions of students in the US. You can take ideas and try to make these students’ lives, their parents’ lives, and their family lives better.
We could have a whole conversation about the education industry. When we were kids, you were dependent on the teacher and whatever textbook the school district chose. With a few exceptions, that was about the extent of external resources that school systems would rely on. All the online content that's available and the software companies, like the one that you're about to start with, are a completely different game. It's changed the way that school systems think about it. The teachers integrate all of that in. It's an exciting space to be in.
There's the richness of all the content out there, quality content like PathWise, but there are millions of voices out there. What's the sorting algorithm? Our attention span is so finite that we can only focus and choose to do certain things each day and not be overwhelmed. That's something that I grappled with. I say no to a lot more things than I say yes to.
You can certainly get pulled in too many different directions. I like to believe that, on average, the best content is rising to the top. There's some great stuff out there that people have put onto YouTube, TikTok, or whatever. In the classic world of a limited number of media outlets, they never would have found their way out there.
We were talking about LinkedIn earlier. Something that they're doing is resonating, and it's great that they have got that way to communicate. There is the whole paradox of choice thing, like the millions of videos. Where do I start?
Is there any final advice you want to give our readers about career management, leadership, gratitude, or any of the other things that you tend to speak about?
I'm grateful for the opportunity to speak with you and hope that we can continue our conversation through articles or however I can be useful to you, your platform, and your readers. I enjoy PathWise’s email newsletters. I save them, click through the links, savor them, and archive them for later. Always be learning and be authentic. The meaning of life is to keep asking questions. Your meaning will change over time. Accept the ground shifts and surf them.
I am honored that I'm one of the things that you said yes to. I'm sure there are a lot of different things that you could go do. I wish you the best of luck as you start this new job and new industry and get to further your passion for education and helping people become better versions of themselves. Thank you for your time, Andrew. I wish you the best of luck.
Thank you, for you and everything you do.
I appreciate it. Take care.
That wraps up this session brought to you by PathWise. If you're ready to take control of your career, visit PathWise.io. If you would like more regular career insights, you can become a PathWise member. It's free. You can also sign up on the website for the PathWise newsletter and follow PathWise on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Thanks and have a great day.
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About Andrew Ting
Andrew Ting is a lawyer, professor, and start-up veteran. Up until last month, he was the General Counsel for Koalafi, a fintech the applies machine learning and big data analytics to point of sale finance. Prior to that, he held General Counsel roles at Canapi Ventures, Spring Harbor Financial, and Promontory Financial. He started his career as a strategy consultant working for Braun Consulting, and after getting a law degree, went to work for the law firm Latham & Watkins. Andrew also teaches Start Up Law at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and Business Planning at George Washington University’s Law School. He is a Charter Member of TechGC, a Legal Influencer for 4cLegal, and an Advisory Board member for the ACC NCR Leadership Academy. Andrew earned his Bachelors’ degree in Social Studies from Harvard University and his JD from Harvard Law School. He and his family live in the Washington DC area.