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Exploring The Future of Health through Dreams and AI
Episode 429

Antonio Estrella, Managing Director at Taliossa

Exploring The Future of Health through Dreams and AI

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Exploring The Future of Health through Dreams and AI

Episode 429

Recommended Books:

Comatose

AI Superpowers

Mentioned Link:

Tony’s website

Exploring The Future of Health through Dreams and AI with Antonio Estrella, Managing Director at Taliossa transcript powered by Sonix—the best audio to text transcription service

Exploring The Future of Health through Dreams and AI with Antonio Estrella, Managing Director at Taliossa was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the latest audio-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors. Sonix is the best way to convert your audio to text in 2019.

Welcome to the Outcomes Rocket podcast, where we inspire collaborative thinking, improved outcomes and business success with today's most successful and inspiring health care leaders and influencers. And now your host, Saul Marquez.

Saul Marquez:
Welcome back to the podcast. Today I have the privilege of hosting Tony Estrella. He's a Managing Director at Taliossa, Investment and Advisory for Health Tech and Ensure Tech Startups. He's also a fiction novelist. Tony's a global thought leader and fiction writer and digital health with experiences working in Asia, the US and Europe as a startup founder, investor, corporate innovation leader and strategic advisor. Tony currently sits on the board as an independent director for CXA group and Savonix as both an investor and advisor. Tony partners with Asia focused companies who are working to develop solutions to change the face of cancer, human longevity and population health with core IP stemming from A.I. Genomics, block chain and smart devices. His previous work within both life insurance at MetLife and Pharma with Pfizer, it was focused to drive measurable business impact, allowing him to help entrepreneurs enhance their product market fit and commercial growth plans across Asian markets. His debut fiction novel, Comatose, which will touch on here and today's discussion is a fiction novel about lucid dreaming. And it's all about health tech fiction. Something that we'll cover with Tony as well. It's available in bookstores today in the UK and on Amazon globally. Tony has done tremendous amount of work and spent some time at University of Pennsylvania's Wharton getting his MBA there. The London Business School and the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Science and Electrical Engineering. So a tremendous individual and it's a privilege to host him here today. Tony, thanks for joining.

Tony Estrella:
Thanks, Saul. Pleasure to be here. And thanks for inviting me to share some of my thoughts and insights with with your audience.

Saul Marquez:
Absolutely, my friend. So tell me a little bit about your journey. How did you decide on health care?

Tony Estrella:
So I academically studied electrical engineering, and that's actually where I caught the bug for being more entrepreneurial minded and how I focused my professional life. I used to build and race solo electric race cars.

Saul Marquez:
Really.

Tony Estrella:
Fun little coffee that I helped build up then. And I started my career in consulting and then I paid. It was great. You know, lots of ways to learn and be mentally, intellectually challenged. But in 2000, I had just finished doing work in Silicon Valley and that was the first Internet wave and lots of excitement about transformation. And as I started business school, I really thought about where did I want to dedicate my time and energy in terms of industry focus? And for several different reasons, including personal ones, health care just jumped out. I love the fact that you can build technology and it helps people live longer, have better quality of life. I had a couple of personal friends who had dealt with health issues. I had an aunt who passed away from kidney failure. And so all that just came together for me to say I can wake up every morning feeling excited that what I do is helping at least one individual live a better life.

Saul Marquez:
Love that man. Yeah, it's a compelling reason to choose the field. And with your knowledge and background, you've been able to make a big impact. And so I'd love to hear from you, Tony. What you think is should be the big thing on health leaders agenda and how are you approaching it?

Tony Estrella:
Back when I started my first business in 2001, there was a lot of emphasis in terms of where's the health care industry in the US, living in the US at the time. And, you know, if you fast forward through time, there's still an enormous amount of focus in the US and the health care sector. And as digital health or health tech has grown, the US market clearly is an important one. But I'd say that equally as important on every health leaders minds should be, what can they learn from what's happening in Asia and is Asia, whether Asia is an opportunity or not? Is there are there things that Asia offers in accelerating growth in scale and product that can be leveraged for further business? And a couple of facts about Asia that I think are important. You know, it's four plus billion people, 44 countries, over two thousand languages spoken and, you know, enormously large region. And from a investment perspective, this in 2018, we saw that Asia approaching the same amount of investment into health tech startups as in the U.S. now. So within the next 12 to 18 months, you'll see that Asia actually will have more capital being deployed from the venture community into startups. So when I say that every health leader, every medical leader should look at Asia. It's because the region is just so large today with a much greater growth potential, the number of people that countries. So, you know, there was a book I read recently by Kai Fully, who was a venture investor in China who was formerly headed up Google. And used to work for Apple and driving their early A.I.. And he does an amazing job of painting the picture for China's one country and an important region around where they're going with AI and how it's different than the US. And I think that's the key thing. The takeaway for health for health leaders is it's just a different technical environment, data standards and in the way that 10 cent and Ali Baba and Baidu have changed China much the same way that Google, Facebook, Apple changed the West. There's lots of learning that can happen.

Saul Marquez:
Man, that's fascinating stuff. Tony and folks, I forgot to mention to you that Tony lives and works in Singapore. So he's been there for the last five years. This time around. But definitely a global health leader focused on Asia that knows the ins and outs. So a critical, critical piece of information there for everybody to know. Tony, without a doubt, there's there's opportunity over there. The money's flowing over there. Give us an example of what you've seen as working and creating results.

Tony Estrella:
Yeah. The landscape for Asia is complex. As I said, there's lots of countries. And so before I answer that question, let me give a little bit of context as to how to think about the region. So one is, you know, I mentioned China and you can group Hong Kong and China together from thinking about one of six hubs in the region. The other hubs are the Indian subcontinent, which obviously is driven largely by India. But there's other countries there. Third would be Japan. Fourth would be the Korean Peninsula Peninsula, which includes South Korea. Fifth to be Southeast Asia, which is Singapore, and then sixth to be Australia and New Zealand. And I didn't do these in any order of size sizes kind of went to south.

Saul Marquez:
And do you agree?

Tony Estrella:
Yeah. And, you know, each hub has similarities that that make it a logical grouping, whether it's economic stage of development or cultural and lifestyle history or climate. There's still a lot of diversity with each one. So Southeast Asia, Singapore, you know, each country there is still drastically different, but there's enough linkages to make it common and start there. And then when you go to the question of what what is created results and improved outcomes, I think that number one is looking at the impact of population health models and gathering data in Asia and what companies are starting to do with that. It's a complex ecosystem here where it's not like the US, where data exists in a way that's usable by health care organizations immediately from day one or it's been able to be and then used within six to 12 months time. I'd say the early winds that are happening right now from a health care perspective is knowledge of what data is important, how to bring it together and how to start using that data in a way that makes health care organizations start collaborating. That's the digital health I think has done a tremendous job of doing. The US is whether it's through accelerators or whether it's through innovation programs, companies collaborate of all sizes. And I think that's the stage of where Asia is today. That collaboration is just starting to take place.

Saul Marquez:
That's really great. And so far for the folks listening, whether it be a hospital executive or an entrepreneur, what would be your your advice as to how they could learn from models in Asia that they can apply in the US and maybe it's research you've worked on, Tony. Or a pathway that they could follow to download on that.

Tony Estrella:
Yeah. So let me start with a tangible example, which is one of the companies I'm on the board for is a company called Savonix. And Savonix in a nutshell is tackling the cognition challenge globally and in Asia especially that's dementia is the leading factor in focus for the business. And this is a U.S. headquartered startup. The CEO is a clinically-oriented person, although she's had lots of commercial experience as well.

Saul Marquez:
And I'll interject here for a second and say you guys haven't listened to Mylea's, she's the CEO of Savonix. Her episode go to outcomesrocket.health type in Savonix with an ex and you'll you'll hear that interview. An extraordinary leader in healthcare, definitely essence into that one. But TOny, sorry to interrupt. Just wanted to to plug that.

Tony Estrella:
No problem. No problem. And so, you know, when I when I first met her, I was at the time working for MetLife and they had asked me to help them build a group called Lumina Lab to help them figure out for a life insurance business in Asia what's a cohesive healthcare strategy for the region and where does digital health and help desks to help tech startups fit in? And we decided on Japan and dementia as a key area of focus. There's a clear customer problem there. The country had a focus for providing solutions to the individual suffering from dementia, but also their families and MetLife wanted to figure out what to do. And so is it actually J.P. Morgan went then as most people go in January and I met Mylea there. And we had a conversation about what she was doing in her background and it seemed to be a good fit. And we we then went through the approach of take innovation group and try to figure out the right pilot structure to plug them in. And, you know, as you would see in a lot of different multinationals, you want to figure out how to get break into a logjam and see. And I think so lesson one for any company thinking about Asia is that there is a lot of organizations who are out there trying to create bridges into ham and cheese, which is fantastic because back in 2014, 2015, it was just getting started. And now we have life insurance companies or pharma companies, government programs. And there's lots of options of where to go. And that helps you get in the door, helps you get through a pilot. And then I think the second lesson that I would say is that while I've broken this down into six hubs, start with those hubs and thinking about customer challenges. But quickly, zero in on a specific country because you want to solve a problem in a meaningful enough way that then you have data points in Asia. And once you have that, then you can figure out how to start scaling the relationship with one or more organizations. And that's what happened with Savonix. We started first with a pilot in China and then we looked at the results for that. And then that led to other pilots and eventually led to a skilled relationship. And that type of structure really can help businesses in the U.S. or in the West. Figure out how to get a foothold in Asia. And, you know, it's not always a life insurance company. You can have companies like Metro Pad in the U.K. partnering with 10 cents in China. And that helps them break, get in the door and takes local resources. You know, the Chinese market and married that to the technical expertise that a company brings in, whether it's a Savonix cognition or metro pad with what they're doing for hospital outpatient support. So be another one in the last point, I would say is it is important to have a local investment partner as well. And so the more that you can grow in scale and then bring in investors who understand the region, it will help your U.S. based investors understand how they need to adapt and fund and scale the business as it grows.

Saul Marquez:
Some great takeaways there, Tony. And folks, the beauty of podcasting hit the rewind button and listen to it again. Pause it and get somewhere where you could take some notes because Tony definitely laid down a great framework for you to scale and expand into Asia. Give us an example of something that hasn't worked out, Tony. And what what did you learn from it?

Tony Estrella:
So I mentioned I've been a startup person and one of the companies that I was and we hired the wrong person for the role. And even today, as I sit on the board, not just Savonix, but of a company called CXA, one of the most common conversations we have is work structure, a team building, hiring the right people. And, you know, there's many lessons that can be learned from not having that happen and being caught in a trap where you can't necessarily get rid of the person who isn't working optimally because you're dependent on them at this point in time. But, you know, you need something different and better for the business at that stage. And so I suffered through that, as most founders do when they're running their business. And in bringing this back to Asia, I think it gets even a little more complicated when you want to have people who understand local culture and language and help them build your business. And what I'd say to to as a lesson for companies looking to grow in Asia is you want to start with trusted people and organizations to help you identify the right hires and looking at people solely based off of what's on paper is not necessarily enough. You want to make sure you get some background and get to know others who might have worked with individuals because you know, you can burn through cash and lots of scenarios. And hiring the wrong person is definitely one of those scenarios.

Saul Marquez:
That's a great, great example. Tony. And one that that we all struggle with and and work to find a good balance to get the right people in the door, to get the job done. So as far as you know, I want to I want to hone in a little bit more on your book. And so you published the book. So I want to hear what you want to share with the listeners, what the focus of the book is and why you did it, why you wrote it.

Tony Estrella:
Yeah, I think they always enjoy talking about the subject. You know, I've actually been told that there are not a lot of people like me out there who have built the commercial oriented career and then had a fiction novel that came to life as well.

Saul Marquez:
You're a rare breed. Tony, you're a rare breed.

Tony Estrella:
Take that as a compliment.

Saul Marquez:
It is.

Tony Estrella:
Well, so for me, the thing that turned this fiction writing journey from an idea and a potential hobby into something tangible and real was I ended up drafting the first manuscript in a year and I submitted it for William Faulkner writing competition in the US. And it got selected. Semifinalist.

Saul Marquez:
Nice.

Tony Estrella:
It's just awesome. You know, I'd say as a novelist to get recognized by this group of people who focus on books and weed out good from bad. I was excited and I went through.

Saul Marquez:
It's a validation, right?

Tony Estrella:
Yes. That's really good validation. And so I ended up with several publishing offers and I ended up taking an offer to launch this book in the UK. And so that's why right now the bookstore focuses in the UK and Waterston and foils. Eventually I'll get to other markets like Singapore and the US. But like any entrepreneur, you want to first get data, figure out what works in marketing and then figure out what to grow in scale. And that's what I'm doing at the starting point. For a bit of context. the book is called Comatose and it's a book about lucid dreaming. And lucid dreaming is where you not only know that you're dreaming, but you control yourself in your dreams. So this story is a is a thriller that becomes a globe trotting adventure that ultimately explains why we dream. So the way it links to health tack is the four main characters all go through some traumatic health event in this book, Comas Being One. That's the title. And in order to paint the picture of what their experience was like, I had to describe the hospital. The Future, which included how A.I. and hologram robotics and smart devices were commonly used in a hospital environment, patient engagement management, etc.. So it's taking the views of where I spend my my life in the health tech space and applying it in the fiction space. And the interesting parallel here is storytelling is a powerful mechanism. Every entrepreneur and every investor knows that. Every MNC executive knows that you don't get results and you can't tell a compelling story. And fiction is a way of telling compelling stories and and parallel hears is climate change. And we are all hopefully concerned about where the planet is going and some of the challenges we faced. And there's actually an entire category of fiction for climate change, which is called Lifeline and paints a picture. Yeah. And it paints a picture of where things can go both good and bad. And you know, what I'd love to say is that my book is the first the first health tech fiction book that, you know, there's there's others that quickly join in. And we create a way to paint the vision of the future that helps investors and entrepreneurs and even end the end person who we're all trying to help to know where is the future going and give us hope and a positive view of reality.

Saul Marquez:
Love that. And health tech fiction is interesting, right, because we get the opportunity to think about the things that are around and available. And then and then what could be. I did a workshop with IDEO and we went through some creative exercises and they encouraged us to even think of the ridiculous things. And what ended up happening is one of our most ridiculous ideas. We applied and actually worked in some areas. So I love I love this exercise and this call to action, Tony, that you've given us to apply yourself to health tech fiction.

Tony Estrella:
Good. I hope I hope people do it. And does not have to be books, Right.. It's articles, you know, just even, you know, painting a short presentation that paints a picture for where we can go. It's all storytelling. So we just gotta continue to help shape people's visions of the future.

Saul Marquez:
I love that. So folks will include links on how to get Tony's book and with this podcast, it'll be in the show notes. Just go to outcomesrocket.health in the search bar type in Tony Estrella. It's E s t r e l l a. You'll be able to find all that there, Tony. It's time for the Lightning Round. You ready?

Tony Estrella:
Yeah. Let's go.

Saul Marquez:
What's the best way to improve health care outcomes?

Tony Estrella:
Focus on problems and iterate on solutions.

Saul Marquez:
What's the biggest mistake or pitfall to avoid engagement?

Tony Estrella:
It's people thinking that it's easy when it's really not.

Saul Marquez:
How do you stay relevant despite constant change?

Tony Estrella:
Have a great team people that push your thinking and don't necessarily always agree with you, but create healthy debate.

Saul Marquez:
Love that was one area of focus that drives everything in your work?

Tony Estrella:
A person by name. And what I mean is it's easy to abstract all your work into a PowerPoint and to word document. But once you know that you're solving this picture for Harry Thomas or for leave, now, you know, give the person you're solving a problem for a name and you'll think about them much more often.

Saul Marquez:
That's powerful, man. I love that one. And so these next two or more on a personal note for the listeners to get to know you, Tony. What is your number one health habit.

Tony Estrella:
Sleep. And no surprise there and actually a little little sidebar here on that, which is I actually dreamt comatose. I jumped the book.

Saul Marquez:
You did?

Tony Estrella:
Yeah, I. I focus a lot on sleep hygiene. And it was something that I did. I didn't know sleep hygiene until I learned about what it meant. But I've always had this process of winding down my brain before I go to sleep. And lucid dreaming is something that happens to most people over the course of their life. But most adults don't lucid dream or not even lucid dream, but even dreams sometimes. And actually, I've had these rich and vivid dreams that a lot of it comes from good sleep hygiene, which you can break down into getting restful sleep, so your body and your brain recharge. And then the other part of it is having great dreams which can help create inspiration for yourself. And so for me, that that's an important one. And you can link sleep is one of the core lifestyle factors that you need to manage better along with nutrition and exercise as a way to stay or to create overall health for yourself.

Saul Marquez:
Man, that is so interesting. And when when you think about dreaming, you know, like have a dream. A lot of people, just including myself, reserve that, OK? You know, I'm gonna dream meaning think about what I really want. But how about going to sleep? Sleeping really well and actually dreaming and remembering it and bringing it into real life. I love that. Tony.

Tony Estrella:
Yeah. I have I have some brandy lighter joke that it's like, wow, you're actually like working even when you're sleeping. Yeah, I guess so. But it's not it's all fun. I get really rested when I wake up.

Saul Marquez:
That's too funny, man. I love that. And what would you say your number one success habit is?

Tony Estrella:
Making sure that I maintain a creative outlet so that my world doesn't always about problem solving. It's a surprising correlation that when you give your brain a break to not be always focused on the task at hand, that will actually find a way to solve it anyway. So, you know, for some people and maybe creative is not necessarily the completely descriptive word because I've run marathons, for example, and I when I'm running, I also get the same feeling, which is that, you know, just focusing on the long run that my brain just work through whatever it was going to and then creative writing helps me do that as well. So I would say for anyone, it's just making sure that you give yourself a little bit of a change in focus, that you create stronger connections between both sides, your brain, but also just let things work themselves through your system.

Saul Marquez:
Some great tips there, Tony. I love that and appreciate you sharing. So apart from your book, of course, which is comatose. What book would you recommend to the listeners?

Tony Estrella:
You mentioned a little bit earlier in this podcast. I just finished this book is it's called A.I. Superpowers by Kai-Fu Lee. And it does an incredible job of painting the picture of how China's Internet has developed differently than the Western Internet. And as a result of that, it then talks about where AI can go. It's different each country. And so even if all you read was the first third of the book, just to understand how different it is to operate and can build a business in China, it's fantastic for that. And then the rest is really helpful as well. So that's a business book. And then, you know, being a fiction writer, I'd be remiss to not at least mention another fiction book that is fun to read as well. You know, I really have gotten into the James essay query series, The Expanse, the next book in the series, it's come out. It's kind of for anyone going through Game of Thrones withdrawal. This is this is this book is actually written by George R. Martin, has had a couple of junior writers help him in the early books. And one of them is one of the two co writers of this book. So if you go to go to the bookstore, go look at it online. The first testimonial on the book is from George R.R. Martin, because, you know, here it was this person. So it's it's different than Game of Thrones. It's not like the you know, it's not good evil. It's a space opera, but it's multiple books, multiple series. And I've had a lot of fun reading it.

Saul Marquez:
Fantastic recommendations. Tony, again, folks, just go to outcomesrocket.health in the search bar type in Tony Estrella. E S T R E L L A. And you'll be able to find our entire discussion, the transcript, the show notes, as well as links to his book Comatose and also all the other resources we've discussed. Tony, this has been really, really a really great conversation. I'd love if you could just leave us with a closing thought and then the best place for the listeners could continue the conversation with you.

Tony Estrella:
Yeah. So in terms of the closing thought given all the things we've talked about, I think I'll bring it back to sleep. I think a fun topic about sleep is that in researching it and looking at it from my book and it's also applies to dreams and comas where our knowledge of that. So the spaces is about the same as what we do about space travel in the early 1950s. Keeping in mind that the first person to walk in space 57 and women to the moon and sixty nine. We know the basics, but we have a lot of unanswered questions and I'm excited to play an active role in where sleep science goes as part of how I can link my my two lives together. And I'd welcome for to hear people's opinions around their own sleep stories, sleep habits, sleep hygiene, lucid dream stories. So I'm keen to do, you know, if people get in touch with me. So my Web site is TonyEstrella.com. And you can find stuff from my book there. You can also just message me from that. And there's also Twitter @estrellavino.

Saul Marquez:
Outstanding. And is it VINO?

Tony Estrella:
That's right.

Saul Marquez:
Outstanding, Folks, there you have it. Ways to connect with Tony to continue the conversation. Get your sleep. Keep on dreaming and proven health care. So, Tony, I just want to say a big thanks for joining us today. Really, really have enjoyed our conversation.

Tony Estrella:
Yeah, same here. Thanks so much.

Thanks for listening to the Outcomes Rocket podcast. Be sure to visit us on the web at www.outcomesrocket.com for the show notes, resources, inspiration and so much more.

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