Catch Don Chin on the #PirateBroadcast - russjohns

Catch Don Chin on the #PirateBroadcast

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Introduction 0:00
Welcome to the #PirateBroadcast, where we interview #interestingpeople doing #interestingthings. Where you can expand your connections, your community, #kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree. Let’s get this party started.

Russ Johns 0:18
And it's the pirate broadcast today. As always, we have #interestingpeople doing #interestingthings. If you're not connected on LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter, it's time to get connected. Start the conversation. The pirate community is wide open, available and supportive. I love the connections here. I love the introductions and the communication that takes place in the back end and also off the show. Sometimes, the most interesting conversations are not on camera. So get involved and engage,. Comment, share all those social things that you do. Today, I have somebody that I have grown to enjoy being around, hanging out with, having great conversation with. Don Chin is one of those innovators, agile developer He's been in corporate America. He's been in and out of startups. He's also done a little bit of film, a little bit of documentaries that we'll be talking about, a little bit of fun and games behind the camera. And he's also been on the set of, I think Star Trek Voyager, if I don't recall it correctly. Don, welcome. Good morning. How are you doing today?

Don Chin 1:35
Good. Good morning. Glad to be here.

Russ Johns 1:39
It's interesting because I love the idea of having conversations like this and you're one of these individuals that I've worked with in and out of the Gigamon organization. A lot of people don't know everything that I do, but I do a few different things. The #PirateBroadcast is only one of those things. We have a mutual connection with film and video and some of the creative side of the equation. S talk a little bit about some of the creative side and what was it that actually got you on the set of Star Trek Voyager?

Don Chin 2:21
Well, it's a funny story. In growing up, coming from an Asian-American background, right? Your parents are pretty typical in saying you can do whatever you want to do as long as it's a lawyer, doctor or an engineer. That's all you have to go and choose from, so I wanted to go do something different. In my day, Bruce Lee was really big and I just thought, hey, I'll go to Hollywood and be an actor and then they give you that lecture saying, you want to have a plan B if this this thing doesn't work. So off I went into high tech, but I always remembered what I enjoyed it the most, which is, I think part of it is just being able to tell stories. Well, things that can last a long time. So that's kind of why I did what I did and then full circle comes around. Some time in my mid career, you have a little midlife crisis and you find out Paramount's coming out with this new tv show called Star Trek Voyager. I made a beeline to go and try to audition for the show, called my friends in LA and said yeah, it's gonna happen. They're laughing on the phone for about five minutes before I can get a break in there. But I think that the point of it is the journey on that one is just something drives you for adventure. Something drives you. Maybe it's just being an adrenaline junkie. I share the same thing that you do, as well, which is, I love music, I love to sing, I love to play and there's something about that performance in a live crowd of a couple hundred people, maybe a couple thousand people, and you're on a rush. It's just a wonderful, wonderful feeling. And I think when you're amongst friends, it makes it that much more special. We've talked about before , my life's always been about...I want to eat dinner as fast as I can in order to go out and play street ball with my friends because that's what brings me the most amount of happiness. But that's led me through my whole career and doing startup organizations or entrepreneurial groups that have the initiatives. It's just the journey's not written yet. So you just have to kind of...bootstrap yourself and then kind of hit the finish line, sometimes it's great, sometimes it's not pretty, and a lot of it is, once you've tasted failure a couple times, you really don't want to go there anymore. You have to be smarter. Maybe it might not take this direction, or maybe last time, it didn't work, but maybe it might work here. So there's just this natural curiosity in order to kind of have fun and learn and in having a voracious appetite in order to kind of discover more things. But it's the storytelling, right? I think I'm in my window where I love being around people that we can tell those kind of kind of things.

Russ Johns 5:31
It's interesting because I see the parallel, looking back from the kid that loves to get outside and finish the meal quickly and go back out. It's almost this thread of efficiency. Being efficient with your time and effort and I think that's probably what has served you well in corporate environment, large organizations. You worked for Ericsson and you worked for Motorola, you're working for Gigamon now as a resource manager, somebody that actually has to get things done and help people get them done quicker. I think that thread in the efficiency is also in the creative space. When you're creative, and you're looking for ways to make things look a certain way or be a certain way, it's always about how efficient can I be with this time and effort and energy. I think that's what I really am drawn to you. It's the fact that hey, if I could do it in half the amount of time that it takes most people to do it, then I get to go out and play. I get an extra half hour of happy hour, right? So what can we do and what have you learned along the way that people can learn in the pirate community about using time wisely or blocking time or using creative space or some of the habits that you've learned over the years that have served you well. What are some things you can share with us, Don?

Don Chin 7:09
think in order for us to have and be in the fun place, we have what I call administrative stuff that are obstacles to get there. Just stuff that I was called, it sucks the lifeblood out of you just thinking about, hey, Russ needs you to go and work on this worksheet here. And if you can kind of give me the forecasted budget of what we need and you're thinking how many tabs are in this worksheet. We realize, oh my gosh, somebody built like some 15 tab model. There's got to be a better way to go and do this and what you realize is, and maybe this is multiple years under my belt, keep it simple, because the more sophisticated it is, the more effort is to go on to manage it. I love having this epiphany and we were going through this book called This is Lean, but they have what they call value flow mapping. So if you can take a task and figure out how long it takes in order to get the completion with the flow diagram and what I do is focus on the hardest things. First, you do those first. You look at long pole items and you go solve that because there's not enough time or effort that you can go and solve these small little components. So we've taken anything from 45 to 75 day processes and got it down to 24 hours. We had to go bootstrap a whole bunch of stuff and we would take $2 million worth of escalations and get them down to $55 per transaction. Some wonderful transformational things. So it's not just like a minor increase in the efficiencies of 10 or 20%. We're talking like Amazon scale, I got to do l10 million of these in a day. So figure this out. That changes your perspective because I think I draw from Hollywood when I say there's a lot of effort, a lot of time that you've got to go put in for that 15 seconds of entertainment that's on film. People might think that it's okay and I think I had an epiphany one time. I I love telling stories so I did my first Adobe After Effects. A little mini commercial and did all this and it was all 60 seconds played on the camera, go tell stories and somebody came up to you, oh, that was great, man. How much time did it take you to do that. Well, what do you think it took? This is, oh, at least an hour. That first project I think cost me 60 hours worth a time and I just thought, hmmm.

Russ Johns 9:49
A lot of people you having seen behind the camera and understood, have a complete understanding of what it takes to create film and the creative process. When you see what it takes to create a movie or any kind of film, start to finish, with the audio editing, the video editing, the shooting the different tags, everything else, it changes the way you see film. You can't go to a movie and see certain things without saying, I wonder how they did that? It kind of ruins the effect of having...you have secret knowledge that a lot of people don't see. Understanding that, it really changes your perspective on the creative process as well, I believe. It's no different in any anything. It seems like when we're most efficient, most effective, it looks seamless, it looks easy. It may take 10 years to get to that point where it makes it look easy. It's just smooth as glass and the creative process is much like that. And it's interesting because as a musician on stage, you're live. I mean, there's no editing, there's no, nothing like that. That's what I enjoy about live streaming like this and the #PirateBroadcast is we're just having a conversation here. It's live, there's no stops, there's no edits, there's nothing that's going to take place other than our conversation. It goes back to the live session.

Don Chin 11:27
Welcome to live theater. Somebody flubs the line, you roll with it, never let them flinch. I think much like in life, there really aren't any do overs. It's interesting, and not to makes a major plug for Marvel, but I just watched Dr. Strange last night and they had...how do you be that? Benedict Cumberbatch responds back, years of study and practice and the reason why it seems so seamless even for you and doing these broadcasts are, it's a lot of time and it's a lot of effort. It's no different from being a musician. You've just got to love and have a passion for this thing. So, for me, I love that storytelling. I was driven. It's kind of this dominating thing. But I did that because I learned from an article that was published a couple years ago, I saw on LinkedIn, but he was talking about the state of the American workplace. And in the study, where they surveyed a whole bunch of people. four out of five people found job dissatisfaction because they didn't know what they did, applied into the goals of the organization or the company. So what do they do? They just quit and go somewhere else. I learned during that journey, if you can encapsulate and tell that story well, over and over again, more than just a simple announcement or one email goes out where they can kind of see that over and over. You're reinforcing that value. Rewatching a movie over and over again, some people watch once and they're done. Others like me, I'm just digging in deeper because you're killing and unraveling this storyboard and you realize, oh my gosh, I didn't really pick up that part because things are going by so fast. So that's why I love the media of film and video because I can retell that story in a tasteful way because it's okay to go and do that. I'm going to get a snippet on that it's no different from you watching highlights of the Super Bowl. Well, it went already, why do you want to watch it again and you're like, you don't understand. That was just a gorgeous catch, or that was just a great drive. And you understand, people are really reinspired by this kind of stuff because we all long to do some of those things. We all long to watersk, do film, run a red camera, things like that.

Russ Johns 14:06
Yeah, exactly. It's interesting that you should say that because a lot of people...I mean, storytelling is in our DNA. We have so many stories that we've heard over the years. We thrive in these stories. I love documentaries for that reason. It's a story of an event that took place. How things developed and why they became who they are today. It's a journey that we all can understand and appreciate. I think that the movie industry and the creative process, and music, all have stories related to them and we all can understand or relate a little bit to each one of those stories. That's what brings us together as a community and I love the idea that we can actually find a thread that connects it all. If we pull the thread long enough, we can we can all understand what it is that that we're connected and i think that with the Pirate community especially, there's so many amazing peopl. I just want to give some shout outs to a couple of people in the room. Hello, guys, Gabriel. Now Gabriel is another live streamer that does a show in the evenings. We're book ends. I do the mornings, Gabriel does the evenings. Then Sheri Lally, she's there. She does slaptagz. She helps construction and healthcare facilities take care of some of their effects and efficiencies in their business. Elizabeth Westbrook, good morning from Texas. Thank you so much for being here. Keep it simple, stupid. Yes, absolutely.

Don Chin 15:52
You gotta love that it really is if you can go and do that, then you and I get to go to happy hour sooner. I get to go see my family sooner.

Russ Johns 16:03
Yeah. I don't know where I heard this first or I just adopted it over time. Look at this problem from the most...a person that's lazy and then try to figure out the easiest way to get it done. James Eric Lane, thank you so much for being here, James. Elizabeth, hey James. Eric Lane, working on the bigger impact. Hey Elizabeth, this is the conversation that we get to have in the #PirateBroadcast, Don. All of these people are connected. Good morning, Angie, how are you doing? Scales of Injustice, good morning, Angie. Angie says, tried to login on Facebook. Still disabled. She lost her Facebook.

Don Chin 17:05
Oh, wow.

Russ Johns 17:07
Yeah. Howard Kaufman was here yesterday. He actually has a startup called ORL for those people that want to use non-chemical mouth products, mouthwash, toothpaste and things like that. It's an awesome product. I have been using it and it's gluten free. So I want to extend the invitation to connect with Don. You never know who the connections are. You're just one conversation away from meeting somebody that you need to know. So connect with Don, tell him a pirate sent you and he'll know what that's all about.

Don Chin 17:54
I look forward to it. We are more than the jobs that we do. I think it's trying to ignite those things that we inspire and I love your coinish phrase, #smilesarefree and...

Russ Johns 18:11
#kindnessiscool.

#kindnessiscool, right? It goes a long way that the world has so many things that are going against it.. Yet, you've got to go and surround yourself with wise counsel and people that can bring a spark or hope. You want to be around those that can reinvigorate you because you need to overcome those things. Life is always going to be a challenge. For those, they just think it's an obstacle we just go through. Others might take it a little differently, and you just have to be that ray of hope. It takes practice. You've got to keep on doing that. Life happens, things are unpredictable, but...

What's the same? Life happens on our way to make plans.

Don Chin 18:56
I forget which movie it was, something like, you make plans, and then you do it and then all falls apart. Besides that, you just have to retool and kind of do that. That's what life is. You go to a startup company and have the best intentions, you get the money, this is the plan. Then you start rolling. Then you discover all the things that you don't have...what doesn't matter if you just kind of keep on moving as quickly as you can. If it's one thing I learned in that agile mentality is fail quickly. Fail quickly so you can learn a better way to go and do that, or a fast way to go and do that. Then you just got to go. I remember teaching my son, this is kind of fun, you like these kind of stories. I had a dad teaching moment with my son because I wanted to be able to go to help him on his journey. He wanted to build a Transformer costume, so I wish I was thinking on my feet, which I thought, I'll just use this as an example of being a startup company. How much money do you think you need for this thing? IHe goes, well, maybe 100 bucks. That's great. You find 100 bucks and I'll help you go and build it. Just like a venture company. You have to go raise the funds. So he goes out there and he starts selling those entertainment books and he was dialing for dollars, just like a bandit. It was the number one sales guy, so happy, he comes back, dad. I've got $100 gift card to Lowe's! We can start building the costume,but what are you gonna go build? The costume. Did you design it? What are we building? Oh, and then all of a sudden, he just got really quiet. The one thing you had to learn on this one, there's only 100 bucks. Once you spend it, it's gone. So you have to kind of sit there and design it. There's that old coinage phrase when you do construction, measure twice, cut once. But there's these small little disciplines that you need to have and it's in the same in the workplace, right? What is the ask from the company or what is it they ask from the venture fund and what is the most expedient way in order to get some predictability on delivery of those particular items. Needless to say, it's just like any other company. You love watching the joys of a young boy. We're down to the finish line. It's the week before Halloween and he comes home so excited, just like the real world, he says, dad, we should make smoke come out of the thing over here. One week away? Hey, buddy, we haven't even painted the thing here. Why don't we do that first and then we'll consider the smoke and he's like, okay. Then he says, dad, I've got this cool outro effect we can kind of do on this thing! Oh, hey, why don't we just get rid of the broadcast and then maybe the next one, we can kind of go do this But there's this plan stage. You can do a lot of stuff but, there's only a limited amount of time or little resources that you can get to go and execute. You have to carefully craft that. If it goes well, then, just do another reiteration, it's no different from software release. Hey, checking it, we'll do maintenance release and then we'll kind of go from here or I get this new upgrade for new technologies. Great, but you've got to hit that finish line for the delivery date for consumer electronics because that window does not change. You missed that and then we cannot sell anything for Christmas, so there's what we call in this agile world, there's some lane discipline. If you're driving a car, stay in the lane. No wandering, this is not off roading at this particular time.

Russ Johns 22:36
No squirrels.

Don Chin 22:38
No squirrels. Right, yeah, I love that movie. Those were the wonderful things and then we take thm to a fishing district, we take them to the event, and nothing is more joyful than seeing that come to life. Then the joy that it brings is that, all of a sudden, you take this individual and then you put them at the top of Mount Everest and he'll never want to go back. He knows what the feeling of success is. I think that's what we do here. I was recently on a group of people that did an event over at Gigamon and we won a team award. I was really shocked. We got nominated for this, but it was so special to be in this group of people in order to see that excellence. For part of me, it's kind of like going to the red carpet at the Academy Award and you think, this is great. This is the ensemble that's going up there to go and do that. I think, I bet I find it more joyful to do those type of things in my career. Today, more than just being the individual for getting the best actor, this is just something else, like getting the Best Picture, Best Ensemble Cast. That has a little bit more meaning for me at this point in time. That's why I've been doing as much as I can with you and for Gigamon. It's fun stuff.

Russ Johns 24:00
Yeah, it's really interesting because as we gain more experience and understanding, we can look back and mentor others, like your son, going through this process. A lot of a lot of business owners, they may not be as familiar with the Agile method, thesoftware development process or lean startup mentality. They're going out there, they're solving a problem. They're doing what they know how to do or know what they're passionate about. So it's really, the world is changing around us and software is improving. The business processes are improving, things are happening, and that lends itself to having that experience in order to teach and share that. Then there's also this availability of what it is that we can do and in businessin all of these experiences, enhance the outcomes. In the teamwork and getting that recognition in the teamwork, we're pulling from different resources and it seems like now, especially in business, there's a lot more specialists that have to be in place because of the complexity of technology. You have people in the network's side, you have people in the software development place, you have people in human resources and you have all of these individuals working together for a mutual goal. That's why storytelling is so important. Going back to your original point, we all have to have a cause that we can grab on to and make sure that we're aligned with the mission of what the organization is doing. That's one of the things that I enjoyed, appreciate about you is coming back to that. It's like, yeah, we could do A, does it make sense? What's the opportunity cost? What is it that we need to be thinking about really, So that's experienced speaking. That's taken a lot of time and effort from your life and all of these different components that you've been involved in. So it's really interesting to see and watch and I love that you share that. For those that may not be fully aware of the Agile process or some of the ways that you think about this, a small business owner, how does that translate to a small business owner from the enterprise process?

Don Chin 26:40
Yes, from smaller businesses, I think, as a business owner, you're going to have to have a little bit of curiosity. You always want to have a way to go and improve the business. Some of that is increasing your portfolio for more options and other ones are to be able to put in systems to lower your operational cost. So, how do you do that? You have to invest in yourself. I'd say the the simplest solution is you've got to plan for that, you've got to manage your time, you've got to manage your calendar. So as a business owner, at least once a year, go out and learn something, or if you're fortunate, every four months, So you go out there to go get a little bit of wisdom and order. Hey, you know, I've got this business I read in software and I'm trying to learn how to go do transactional processes. What's the hot item that does the fastest and the most expedient amount of transactions today and then you figure out whether or not that would apply to you or you manage people where it's one of their responsibilities to go and do that. But I think if there's any claim to success, and what I've done even at Gigamon today, is managing time. I'm very careful about blocking time and making sure we reserve this window to go do these particular things. Especially here in COVID, right? There's this uncanny expectation where the meetings should be as short as possible so that you do the individual work in your own area. It doesn't work that way. In real life. I've been in startup companies where you're sitting right next to somebody.and you've got an issue, so you lean over, you ask questions, and then you roll. Now, for us to go do this in a remote site, I've got to go use Slack or email and then this continuity just makes you feel terrible. But if you have a live stream, or you get Zoom or WebEx or go to a meeting and you and I are dedicating this 60 minutes to work on this particular part of the project together. Then if I have any questions, I'll just poke it up, hey, Russ, what do you think about this? I've got an option. Should we make it blue? Red? Yellow? Then youcome up with. hey, Purple's cool nowadays. I'm borrowing a thread from Samuel Jackson, as you know, Attack of the Clones, but you understand there's some clarity on that one, and then we kind of move. But my whole thing is, what we've talked about, I want us to go to happy hour sooner, I want us to celebrate sooner. I want us to bring excellence sooner. But I'll be very careful on sacrificing quality because if we show up to the party, and our tie has a crease in it, it just doesn't work for the event. But that's the kind of general mentality on that one. I think once people understand what your intent is, they'll give you more permission and more authority, more things, and it's this old adage, less is more. I love going into these executive briefings and then you get a 10 minute disposition of why we need to go do stuff and you realize, wait, did he ask something in that 10 minutes? I wasn't quite sure. So you might as well just put it at the top of the queue. Hey, I'm going here. I'm looking for a million dollars, I need to do these particular things. These are the proposed resources that I need to go and do this and you're in three minutes. Just make it nice and simple. It's an art form. It's kind of like an app, follow the the models that I just love. It's kind of like one of the George Lucas film or Steven Spielberg film, that first three minutes, sets it up for the rest of the film. It's just this epic...something happens, and you've got everybody's attention. I think the recent one that I was watching was Jack Ryan on Amazon. You have to have enough in order to get people to give you another three more minutes to get on and pay attention in our jobs here. If I can tell you what the finish line needs to look like in enough clarity where you can help participate in the journey, then you and I are partners into that delivery. But if I am ambiguous and I can't describe that well enough, you can't solve my problem, you can't be part of that solution or we will build something that doesn'tmeet the requirement. I think I learned this from one of the VP's over at IBM. I used to work there a while back in my career. Nothing's more upsetting than to tell the engineer to build something that has no value. Nothing's worse than having to do a production for an event, the video or film production, only to get it shelved because they just don't have time to go and distribute it. You've got to figure it out all the way to the finish line.

Russ Johns 31:36
Yeah. Well, it limits ownership. If everybody can own what they have and invest in their efforts, what is my time contributing to? What is it? What is the final outcome? That's a great story to tell. When you can tell that story and everybody is involved and engaged and excited about the ending, it says, hey, we're all marching down the same path. Don, this has been fantastic. I really appreciate you joining the pirate broadcast. I know that we could go on for hours and talk about different strategies and different tactics and everything that goes along with that. Is there any life lessons or thoughts that you want to leave with the community here today?

Don Chin 32:29
Yeah, I think right now, as I mentioned earlier, is to remind myself and those that are on this broadcast, that you are more than the jobs that you do. It's trying to ignite that passion that comes out in whatever shape or form that you can because I think right now, it's just what can you do in order to move the dial and make an impact in either your immediate community or within the world. I remember some great mentoring from one of my previous executives and they asked me, hey, Don, when you're all done and you've been successful, you're making a startup company, then what are you gonna do with your life? I said, oh, I'd immediately go and start volunteering for nonprofits or do some other things. Then he asked me, well, why aren't you doing that now? And he had a point. It's like, why am I gonna wait 30, 40, 50 years or whatever it's going to be before I start doing something differently. Then you realize, oh, I want to go do that now. One of my best stories is we were invited to do a special event for Stanford Children's Hospital and Star Wars: The Force Awakens is coming out and...the family that does this every year. It's an endearing story. They go back every year because their son was diagnosed with leukemia. So he goes back to entertain them, but Star Wars is coming out and the kids couldn't go see the movies, so they thought, hey, let's bring a little bit of Star Wars to them. A friend asked me, what can we go do? And I said, I'll bring everything you need. What do you mean everything? We'll suit up a whole bunch of people, so we were suiting up with 11 or 13 people or something like that. We show up to Stanford and the ABC CHANNEL SEVEN news shows up to go do the story on this event while we're there. Then they play it all day. It's a great story for the community. So somebody from Lucasfilm sees it and finds us and says, hey, thank you so much for making an impact here. We'd love to give you a private tour of Lucasfilm and we were somewhat taken aback, but that was the gift that kept on giving. You have to go make some of these things work in order to kind of compel it, but the stories that we heard from the hospital...kids are jumping out of their beds and trying to rip out their things They're already seeing us in the hallways and this is how to go and slow them down. It's really endearing. But for some, we showed up in costumes. For others and the parents, to have them see their kids transform from going from a dark place to such a happy place to take photos, or just be around and see all these things. It's a really endearing thing and I think one of the beneficiaries were the people that participated because...say you go to the top of Everest and you put yourself in the environment, to know what that feels like, to make it so special for somebody for that particular day. If you could do it for one individual, start with one and grow with that. You asked before, what does it do? We're more than the jobs that we do. Just discover those things to go make an impact and move the piece across the board and make a difference for somebody's day. Say hello, give a smile. Right now during COVID, I'm doing a simple thing like, doing your meeting, whatever, and then just take an extra five minutes and then, hey, hi, how are you doing? And being sincere enough to say, how was your day? Are you doing okay? If things are alright, great. If things are not going so well and they feel appropriate about that. Let them share a little bit, but we need to connect as people and in being in isolation in your room or your home or wherever that's going to be with not a lot of interaction. I am reinvigorated with being around other people, some may not, but, at the end of the day, we are one large tribe.

Russ Johns 36:46
Yeah, absolutely.

Don Chin 36:47
And that's how we roll. I'm here to make it a better day for anybody that I get to encounter for that day. Some days are great. Some days are not so good. I have my bad days, too. Where you have moments of weakness, and you had to go outside and take a 10 minute walk.

Russ Johns 37:07
Take a break. Change your state.

Don Chin 37:09
Well, It's one of these things where, aside from that, you just have to take a moment and say, what could I have done differently in order to have a better outcome? You might not be able to change the situation, but you can certainly change your attitude and retool, put your pants back on, you go back into the trenches, and you start making magic happen and then take it from there.

Russ Johns 37:33
Well, that's the thing. Part of what invigorates me is the #PirateBroadcast. It's something that I can do to highlight other people doing some amazing things in the community, just like you've done. I think the theme of what you're really stating is thatmwe all can make a difference, we all make it matter. So I just want to wrap up today's episode and invite people to connect with Don. Follow his his work and his efforts and be supportive to each other in the community. Make sure that you're doing what you can. And like you said, Don, reach out, check in on your friends, your family, people that you're connected with because you don't know what people are going through, you don't know what people are going to expect in the future and later today. To wrap it up, I just want to make sure that everybody knows that #kindnessis cool, #smilesarefree, and you #enjoyyourday. Thank you, Don, so much for being here. Appreciate your time, effort and energy. I look forward to the next conversation.

Don Chin 38:53
Thanks for having me.

Russ Johns 38:55
Take care everyone. Appreciate you. Thank you for joining the #PirateBroadcast.

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