Hsu Untied is a podcast series of interviews I do with lawyers who have interesting side hobbies, or other special guests.
I would like to acknowledge the following individuals for their help with the production of this series: David Hornik of August Capital and host of VentureCast, who inspired me with the original idea; Adrian Lurrsen, Co-Founder of JDSupra, who believed in this idea even before I did; Steve Cecil, a brilliant Forbes-recognized professional brand namer, who generously gave his time to come up with the name Hsu (“shoe”) Untied; Harry Marks, my terrific audio and technical editor; and finally, my talented daughter Maya Hsu, who made this wonderful drawing.
Ep. 27: Tae Hea Nahm, former partner at Wilson Sonsini and Venture Law Group, is one of the founding Managing Directors at Storm Ventures. Going from a law firm partner to a venture capitalist is not an easy transition and Tae Hea’s success is largely attributable to his deep understanding of technology and careful decision-making. He recently started a blog to share his wisdom with entrepreneurs called Working with Tae Hea Nahm.
Ep. 26: Mitch Zuklie (from Venture Law Group) and Stephen Kong (from Townsend) are 2 former colleagues who both box as a hobby. Stephen is more of a boxing aficionado and historian while Mitch takes a more meditative and therapeutic attitude towards the sport. Both have totally different approaches to boxing, which is reflective of the very different styles of the sport itself.
Ep.25: Helen Wan is former Associate General Counsel at Time Inc, now speaker, writer and author of “The Partner Track.” Helen worked on the manuscript for her novel for over 12 years and when it was finally published, she — along with her publisher — were amazed at the overwhelming response from the legal and business community to her message about diversity and inclusion. So despite having a successful career as a lawyer, she couldn’t resist the opportunity to fulfill her childhood dream of becoming a full-time author. She is currently working on her second novel.
Ep. 24: Michelle Dennedy is Chief Privacy Officer at McAfee (division of Intel Security) who was invited to represent McAfee Online Safety for Kids and The Identity Project as a runway fashion model for The Moms Struts for a Cause at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion week in New York City. Michelle shares a surreal experience of being a fashion model for a day with hair extensions, 5 inch heels and the NY Knicks but at the end of it all, it was to support a good cause and she had a great time doing it — and I had a great time interviewing her!
Ep.23: Mike Dillon is General Counsel of Adobe Systems and bicycled across the country from Florida to California. When he started the trip, he was nothing more than a weekend cyclist and honestly didn’t even know if he would even complete the ride. He eventually not only finished it, but he blogged about it every day and was inspired to write a book about it called Changing Cadence, the proceeds of which go to support the Aldar Academy. As Mike described the end of his 2-month solo trek across the country, he became emotional just thinking about what an exhilarating and life-changing journey it had been.
Ep.22: Geoff Brigham is General Counsel of the Wikimedia Foundation and is also a trained classical musician. Geoff started playing the flute in high school and after getting into the prestigious Peabody Institute of Music at John Hopkins, quickly realized he was not going to have a career in music. So he moved to Paris and made a living performing in the underground subways of Paris. Eventually, he gave up being a classical musician and became a successful lawyer, but even today, he practices virtually every day, has owned 4 different flutes and still performs once a year at a music festival in France.
Ep.21: Darron Flagg is Senior Corporate Counsel at Intel Corp. and also a semi-professional opera singer. His interest in opera was originally noticed by his grade school teacher on a field trip and has since become an accomplished opera singer while pursuing a very successful legal career. Known as a bel canto tenor, the highest of tenors, Darron has performed with numerous opera companies, including the Oakland Opera Theatre and the San Francisco Opera.
Ep.20: Iain Cunningham is Senior Litigation Counsel at Apple Computer, who talks about his interest in astronomy. Iain discusses both the theoretical and observational aspects of astronomy, which are actually 2 very different aspects of astronomy. What struck me most about this hobby is that it is one that forces you to SLOW DOWN to the pace of nature and Iain was similarly patient in explaining this celestial hobby to a novice like myself.
Ep.19: Dr. Richard Susskind is an author, speaker and thought leader in the legal profession. He has written 4 books about the practice of law, including The Future of Law, Transforming the Law, The End of Lawyers? and most recently Tomorrow’s Lawyers. He is as good a speaker as he is a profound thinker and it was a privilege to have him join me for this interview from his home in Radlett, England.
Ep. 18: Yul Kwon is Head of Privacy Program at Facebook and is most well known for being the winner of the CBS TV show Survivor but he has a number of incredible achievements: degrees from Stanford, Yale Law School, legislative assistant to Senator Lieberman, Second Circuit Law Clerk, McKinsey, Google, FCC, FBI, CNN – and all before the age of 40. What’s even more incredible is that Yul self-classifies himself as an introvert — perhaps even a bit of a geek — and yet he was able to exploit that trait to help him win a competitive TV reality game show!
Ep.17: Frank Wu is Chancellor and Dean of UC Hastings Law School, and has a passion for “Honda Hawks,” a very specific type of motorcycle that was only made by Honda from 1988-1992. Although he recognizes the danger of motorcycle riding, he does not actually consider himself a risk taker by nature, but he does admit that riding a motorcycle is no more of a risk-taking venture than trying to be a dean of a national law school. You can spot him in the streets of San Francisco in a full body yellow ninja suit with a British racing green colored bike!
Ep.16: Chris Yeh is Co-Author (along with Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha) of The Alliance, a New York Times best selling book on managing talent in the networked age from the employer’s perspective. Chris is an entrepreneur, investor, advisor, mentor and one of the most prolific writers I know — he once wrote a white paper in 17 minutes! During my candid discussion with him, he talked about the creative, the collaborative — and occasionally arduous — process of writing the first of what he hopes to be many books.
Ep.15: Richard Russeth, Vice President of Corporate Affairs and General Counsel at Leprino Foods, discusses his passion for photography. Born deaf, Richard credits his disability for giving him the “eye” to appreciate the silence in photography. He is a big believer that having a second dimension or “side hobby” helps to make one a better lawyer — something which I happen to wholeheartedly agree. His first public exhibit is on September 19 at the Emerge Gallery in Denver, Colorado and more of his work can be found on his website RichardQRusseth.com.
Ep.14: Rich Mgrdechian, Founder and CEO of Madison Rising, talks about one of our country’s most famous lawyers, Francis Scott Key, who wrote the lyrics to our National Anthem, The Star Spangled Banner. In celebration of the National Anthem’s upcoming bicentennial on September 14, 2014, Madison Rising composed a modern-day “rock version” of the Star Spangled Banner, whose video has received over 5 million hits!
Ep.13: Liz Stone, a legal recruiter with the Dubin Group, is also a standup comedienne. Liz actually started doing “stand-up” after a couple of friends noticed her performing a wedding speech and after doing many “open mics,” she now performs at clubs like the San Francisco Punchline and Cobbs Comedy Club. Although she enjoys what she currently does, she admits there is nothing more exhilarating – or terrifying — than trying to make an audience laugh. You can see her list of upcoming shows [here].
Ep.12: Greg “Fossilman” Raymer is a professional poker player and former patent attorney. Nicknamed “Fossilman” for his unusual glasses, Greg was originally a scientist who played blackjack in graduate school as a way to make some extra income. That soon turned into poker and he went on to win the World Series of Poker Main Event in 2004. Now he splits his time with his 2 great loves: teaching poker and playing poker from his home base in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Ep.11: Eric Goldman is a Santa Clara Law School Professor and Co-Director of its High Tech Law Institute, who has a most unusual hobby: Slinkies. After having collected over 400 slinkies, he may very well have the largest collection in the world. I was fortunate to get a couple of extra samples after he shared his passion for this simple child’s toy invented in the 1940′s by a naval engineer.
Ep.10: David Hornik is a general partner at August Capital and author of VentureBlog, who describes his career path from lawyer to venture capitalist, a profession he was born to do. David inspired me to start this interview series with his own VentureCast podcast and if you have ever heard him speak or present, then you would certainly agree that if he ever decided to leave venture capital, he would make a great late night talk show host!
Ep.9: Ro Khanna is Congressional Candidate for the US House of Representatives in Silicon Valley. With a law degree from Yale, Ro began his career as a successful Silicon Valley technology attorney but has found his passion in politics and policy, having written Entrepreneurial Nation and served in the Obama Administration. Ro took time from his very busy campaign schedule to talk candidly about his career and his current run for Congress.
Ep.8: Riley Russell is Chief Legal Officer, General Counsel and Sr. Vice President of Corporate Development at Sony Playstation, and does magic as a hobby. Riley has performed as a street magician on Pier 39 and is a member of The Magic Castle. ”Listen” to the twinkle in his eye as he talks about how the real magic in magic is in the performance.
Ep.7: Will Shortz (aka the “Puzzle Master“) is Editor of the New York Times Crossword Puzzles and star of WordPlay, one of my favorite movies. Some may know that he graduated from the University of Virginia Law School but probably not many know that he almost dropped out after his first semester and that his favorite class was intellectual property! Listed as one of the 30 most famous people with law degrees, Will was gracious enough to join me for this conversation about his law school days from his home in Pleasantville, New York.
Ep.6: Matt Goldberg is the Vice President and General Counsel of Service Source. Although he discovered his talent for art relatively late in life, he found he had a real gift and passion for painting. Starting originally with oils, he has expanded to acrylics and now paints commissioned works for clients. You see more of his work on Facebook or his website MLG Paintings.
Ep.5: William Burke is a retired partner from Shearman & Sterling. After retiring at the age of 60, Bill climbed the tallest mountains on all 7 continents, including Mt. Everest twice and is the oldest American to reach the summit (both times)! I was lucky enough to interview him while he was in Katmandu, Nepal just as he was completing his second climb of Everest from the North Face. You can read much more of his accomplishments at his website Eight Summits.
Ep.4: Josh Green is a former lawyer and now venture capitalist at Mohr Davidow Ventures. He coached high school basketball for 8 years and has a love for the game — and his students — I seldom come across. Hear his moving and inspiring story which will leave you feeling somewhere between Hoosiers and Hoop Dreams.
Ep.3: Mark Meltzer is Sr. Vice President and General Counsel of Intuitive Surgical. An electrical engineer by training, Mark describes the science of skydiving and how the thrill of skydiving never wears off, even after nearly 50 years and hundreds of jumps. He does about 30 jumps a year and hopes to keep skydiving well into his 80′s!
Ep.2: Daniel Pink: most people know Daniel Pink as a speaker and New York Times best selling author of A Whole New Mind, Drive and To Sell is Human. But what is less known is that Dan actually went to law school (attended Columbia and graduated from Yale) and he discusses how law school shaped his career, but not in the way you would think!
Ep.1 (Pilot): Robert Lattuga is Sr. Vice President and General Counsel of LeapFrog Enterprises. A former Harvard physics Ph.D. student, Robert shares his passion in woodworking, a hobby which requires the skills to operate large power tools as well as the dexterity of hand craftsmanship.