Bo Shao is a co-founder and the chairman of Evolve, a philanthropic investment firm composed of a foundation, Evolve Foundation, and an impact investment firm, Evolve Ventures. With an initial capital of $100 million from the Shao family, Evolve aims to support organizations that relieve inner suffering and facilitate inner transformation. He is also the co-founder of Parent Lab, an app that helps parents meet common parenting challenges (a new version launches on April 10th).
Prior to Evolve, Bo was a founding partner of Matrix China, a leading technology venture capital firm in China, which manages more than $7 billion and has funded more than 500 companies, 50+ of which have become unicorns. He is also a serial entrepreneur who has co-founded five companies that have either gone public or become leaders in their respective industries.
Bo was born in China and was a winner of more than a dozen national mathematics competitions during high school. When he was 17, he left China for Harvard College on a full scholarship — one of the first such scholarships Harvard granted to a person from mainland China. After receiving his A.B. summa cum laude in physics and electrical engineering, he worked for Boston Consulting Group and Goldman Sachs and received his MBA from Harvard Business School.
Brought to you by Athletic Greens all-in-one nutritional supplement, Four Sigmatic mushroom coffee, and Eight Sleep’s Pod Pro Cover sleeping solution for dynamic cooling and heating. More on all three below.
#584: Bo Shao — His Path from Food Rations to Managing Billions, the Blessings and Burdens of Chasing Perfection, Building the eBay of China in 1999, Pillars of Parenting, and Pursuing the Unpopular
This episode is brought to you by Four Sigmatic and their delicious mushroom coffee, featuring lion’s mane and chaga. It tastes like coffee, but it has less than half the caffeine of what you would find in a regular cup of coffee. I do not get any jitters, acid reflux, or any type of stomach burn. It’s organic and keto friendly, plus every single batch is third-party lab tested.
You can try it right now by going to FourSigmatic.com/Tim and using the code TIM. You will receive up to 39% off on the lion’s mane coffee bundle. Simply visit FourSigmatic.com/Tim. If you are in the experimental mindset, I do not think you’ll be disappointed.
This episode is brought to you by Athletic Greens. I get asked all the time, “If you could use only one supplement, what would it be?” My answer is usually AG1 by Athletic Greens, my all-in-one nutritional insurance. I recommended it in The 4-Hour Body in 2010 and did not get paid to do so. I do my best with nutrient-dense meals, of course, but AG further covers my bases with vitamins, minerals, and whole-food-sourced micronutrients that support gut health and the immune system.
Right now, Athletic Greens is offering you their Vitamin D Liquid Formula free with your first subscription purchase—a vital nutrient for a strong immune system and strong bones. Visit AthleticGreens.com/Tim to claim this special offer today and receive the free Vitamin D Liquid Formula (and five free travel packs) with your first subscription purchase! That’s up to a one-year supply of Vitamin D as added value when you try their delicious and comprehensive all-in-one daily greens product.
This episode is brought to you by Eight Sleep! Eight Sleep’s Pod Pro Cover is the easiest and fastest way to sleep at the perfect temperature. It pairs dynamic cooling and heating with biometric tracking to offer the most advanced (and user-friendly) solution on the market. Simply add the Pod Pro Cover to your current mattress and start sleeping as cool as 55°F or as hot as 110°F. It also splits your bed in half, so your partner can choose a totally different temperature.
What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.
SCROLL BELOW FOR LINKS AND SHOW NOTES…
SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE
- Ventures & Foundation | Evolve
- The Leading Source for Evidence-Based Parenting Education | Parent Lab
- Shanghai, China | Britannica
- Bicycle Standard Face Playing Cards | Amazon
- Tesla Map vs. Waze/Google Maps | r/teslamotors
- Harvard University
- All or Nothing: Inside China’s “Cram Schools” | Reader’s Digest
- New Concept English 1 | Amazon
- Vulcan | Memory Alpha
- What Killed Pay Phones and Phone Booths? | The Atlantic
- Exposé Magazine | Harvard Writing Project
- Rick Doblin: ‘People Should Have the Fundamental Right to Change Their Consciousness’ | Reason
- What Was China’s Cultural Revolution? | ThoughtCo.
- Newly Released Documents Detail Traumas of China’s Cultural Revolution | Fresh Air
- Who Were China’s Red Guards? | ThoughtCo.
- Chinese Red Guards Apologize, Reopening a Dark Chapter | All Things Considered
- Can Trauma Be Inherited Between Generations? | The Atlantic
- To Live | Prime Video
- Global Management Consulting | BCG
- EachNet.com | Stanford Graduate School of Business
- What Was That Dial-Up Internet Sound? | Popular Mechanics
- Harvard President: Zuckerberg Dropped Out, but His Staff Didn’t | CNBC
- Studying Chinese? Read This before You Choose Your Name | The Guardian
- Capital University of Economics and Business
- 1996 in China | Wikipedia
- Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) | Wikipedia
- Meditation, Mindset, and Mastery | The Tim Ferriss Show #201
- Why Being First Often Doesn’t Work Out: Friendster, Mt. Gox, EachNet | Tech In Asia
- A Case Study on International Expansion: How eBay Failed in China by Alex Lee | Medium
- The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson | Amazon
- Matrix Partners China
- Sina Weibo | Wikipedia
- The Neuroscience of 20-Somethings | Scientific American Blog Network
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley | Amazon
- The Work of Byron Katie
- Hand in Hand Parenting
- The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership: A New Paradigm for Sustainable Success by Jim Dethmer, Diana Chapman, and Kaley Klemp | Amazon
- Jim Dethmer — How to Shift from Victim Consciousness, Reduce Drama, Practice Candor, Be Fully Alive, and More | The Tim Ferriss Show #434
- Diana Chapman — How to Get Unstuck, Do “The Work,” Take Radical Responsibility, and Reduce Drama in Your Life | The Tim Ferriss Show #536
- Who First Said ‘Long Time, No See’ and in Which Language? | Code Switch
Note from the editor: Timestamps will be added shortly.
- Bo shares what it was like to grow up poor in Shanghai, how his uncanny math acumen was sharpened with poker cards and rewarded with ketchup and hugs, and the lifelong lessons he absorbed from his parents.
- How did Bo wind up getting a full scholarship to Harvard?
- What did Bo do to learn and refine his English language skills, and why does he consider the pattern of behavior that compels him to excel a “burden?”
- How much of a culture shock did Bo experience when he moved to the United States in 1991? What were the most noticeable differences?
- Why is Bo committed to bringing MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to China? What unique traumas have recent generations of Chinese experienced en masse that might be greatly alleviated by such treatments?
- Bo walks us through what it took to build his first startup during the age of dial-up modems after returning to China from a lucrative job in the US, and how his parents reacted.
- As someone so hardwired toward rationality, how did Bo weigh the pros and cons of beginning his own entrepreneurial venture in China instead of pursuing stable, high-paying employment for someone else in the US? Did he have a contingency plan in case things didn’t work out?
- Western names don’t always translate easily into Chinese. Take mine, for example.
- The ups and downs of startup life and the finite resources that even a math wizard can easily lose track of.
- How did Bo roll with cash flow problems and a major source of funding potentially drying up during a time of dire market fluctuations?
- It turns out Harvard is a great place to increase one’s vocabulary.
- What does Bo’s superpower-charging study regimen look like?
- Whatever happened to Bo’s first startup?
- How did meeting the woman who would become Bo’s wife enhance his emotional development?
- How old was Bo when he “retired” after selling EachNet, what motivated him to rejoin the entrepreneurial world, and what have been some of his most noteworthy accomplishments since?
- How did personal introspection become a priority for Bo after years of resistance to the idea, and how has his life improved — as a friend, husband, and father — as a result?
- What tools, perspectives, realizations, and resources have helped Bo make progress on his journey of self-discovery?
- What does Bo believe is missing right now from the discussion around psychedelics and related therapies?
- Projects with which Evolve is involved, Bo’s thoughts on the importance of inner work (particularly for people who are, as he was, overly focused on the rational), and other parting thoughts.
Related and Recommended
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 700 million downloads. It has been selected for “Best of Apple Podcasts” three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it’s been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.