Originally from Honolulu, Joshua Davies has spent the last 20 years working internationally, with the last 15 based in Asia and currently in Hong Kong. His roots began in university education where he taught a variety of communication and business courses. Joshua served on many boards and in various non-profit organizations helping fellow educators and professors improve the curriculum design and classroom delivery. Throughout his career, he worked with businesses and global organizations until he made a full transition to corporate communication. Joshua heads up the firm Knowmium, serving as lead Conversation Architect and training Fortune 100s worldwide in persuasive communications. With Knowmium, he studies the “how” of deeper talk— unpacking fossilized speech patterns and crafting new habits that build trust and collaboratively solve problems. He facilitates a variety of programs including influence, presentation, negotiation, sales, and anything else that requires individuals to understand their colleagues and counterparts. Joshua is the author of Radically Remote (a guide to engaging virtual facilitating) and a member of the Forbes Coaches Council. In 2019, Joshua facilitated events and workshops in 24 countries. In 2020, he hopes to beat that number virtually. In his spare time, he enjoys running (slowly) on Hong Kong’s trails, photography (less slowly), and reading more books than all the time left in the universe will allow.
Where did the idea for Knowmium come from?
Knowmium means the element of knowledge. I’ve always loved how people mix and interact together. Interactions are similar to how elements on the periodic table mix and interact, so I created a new element.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My day starts early, usually at 7am with some trail running up Victoria Peak or cardio on my rooftop. I have a full inbox most days, which is a blessing and curse because I love in-person communication. Written text? Not so much.
How do you bring ideas to life?
This is a great question for 2020. Knowmium has taken physical programs, like presentation and negotiation, and converted them into digital spaces. We loathe audio-only webinars. As a participant, I drift off daydreaming or just start working other projects. Most people can relate to that. As a facilitator, I make things interactive: questions, discussions, small group activities, and hands-on projects using a variety of virtual tools and platforms. If people aren’t contributing, they probably aren’t learning. Plus I don’t like to talk for 1 hour non-stop (unless I’m at dinner with friends).
What’s one trend that excites you?
Again, relevant question for 2020. My answer: remote working trends. This excites me for a few reasons. First, I’ve been remote working for years as I have clients around the globe. My colleague Robert and I physically worked in 24 countries last year. Robert even went to Antartica and did some business coaching and a presentation. I was in Dubai this year right before Hong Kong went on lock down. Given our normal schedules, we’ve synced our calendars and communication so we can travel for weeks without meeting face-to-face if needed. Second, I love to help others make the transition to working from anywhere. I really love helping our clients and professional network adapt to the work-at-home culture because it benefits so many people, from the company to the employees to the environment. It’s not for everyone, but when it fits, it’s awesome and more productive.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I cut myself off from work around 8pm at night. Of course there are times I need to be online with North America or stay up tweaking slides, but as a general rule, I need to end my day at some point since I’m not leaving a physical office.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Start Knowmium sooner. I love my career path and all my past experiences. Given what I’ve done since 2015 with Knowmium, I wonder what it would look like if I had started it in 2010. Also, if I speak to my much younger self, there are a few stocks I’d go back in time to purchase.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Drunken eggs are truly one of the best small dishes.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Test, play, and experiment. As a communication facilitator, there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. There are activities and program methodologies that work well and have been tested and revised many times. Find them, play with them, use them, and adapt them to fit your participants. Going back to virtual learning and remote work: The number of apps and websites we can use to be more productive is astounding. It may be daunting at first to start researching and playing with them all, but once you find the right ones, everything you can do with them afterwards is just much easier and more enjoyable.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Our philosophy is “Helping people who do good, do better.” We believe in generosity. 10% of the work we do is pro bono and we donate our training workshops to non-profits around Asia and virtually around the globe. We’ve hosted dozens of free online workshops where people can play and experiment with new tools. We’ve created a free book, articles, online activities, and video tutorials at www.knowmium.com/radical-toolkit. We just love to share, and along the way, new clients like what we offer for free and want to explore what we can do specifically for their teams.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Tried to launch an earlier version of our influence program that did not work so well. Listened deeply to feedback and reengineered heavily. It is now our best program.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Live animals in your home for virtual meetings or in your office for live events. I recently saw a service where you can “rent” a live llama as a virtual participant for online meetings. Let’s take that to the next level and deliver live llamas to people’s homes and offices. Clean up would not be included.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
A classy dinner with my friends. This question made me think of the virtual equipment I’m using and upgrading to better webcams, but honestly, getting out of the home and into a nice restaurant was the best $100 I spent recently. After social distancing, we have to reconnect some of the connections that have been distanced.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Miro. We absolutely love Miro. If you haven’t tried it, go create a free account. Miro is an online whiteboard that goes well beyond normal whiteboard functions. The top features: embedding files like pdfs you can flip through and videos, polling, commenting for collaborating, built-in templates to use or modify, short term planning and long term project designs, and hosting hundreds of people all at once.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism. If any book can get us to stop and reflect, this one will.
What is your favorite quote?
Otilia de Koster said, “I fear being in the presence of evil and doing nothing. I fear that more than death.”
- Remote work and virtual learning will continue to be big well after 2020. Start experimenting with online tools and apps now to keep up with the curve.
- Remote work can be more productive for the companies and individuals who make it happen. It can also save money and make people happier and healthier. Encourage it when it’s possible.
- Learn from the disruption of 2020. What worked for you? What didn’t? We can expect similar disruptions in the future and this year can be a blueprint for success.