Alex Tsado wants to enable people of color to bring more to the global economic table. And he has made major strides in achieving this goal through his work with artificial intelligence technologies both at large scale and grassroot levels.
Alex shares how he manages to stay productive while working from home during the coronavirus pandemic.
Current roles: Product Marketing Manager, AI and HPC cloud computing at NVIDIA; Founder at Alliance4ai.
Location: Oakland, California, USA.
Current computer: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme.
Current mobile device: Samsung Galaxy S10e.
Describe how you work in one word: Flash.
Tell us briefly how you started out and how you got where you are today.
I would summarise in three words: tenacity, mentors, and vision. I started out from humble backgrounds in the ancient city of Benin, fought my way to a full scholarship from Columbia University after being told it wasn’t my place, and eventually found my way to nurturing teams of people across the world, contributing their best to help bring the African innovative voice back to the geopolitical table.
Is this your first time fully working from home?
I’ve got two jobs; one used to be from the office, and the other was completely WFH and remote, with co-workers spread across ten countries and three continents. We enjoy it.
It’s the same really, except no more two hours total on the train.
All seven days of the week for me are the same, work-life harmony I call it. I wake up with the sun and immediately break the rules by looking at my phone and the computer. I consume as many WhatsApp messages and news links as I can for an hour, jump on one or two early calls with people on the other side of the world, and then take a shower. Then I start working, ensuring my products are heading towards hitting the key targets we’ve set for them, meeting with folks who need to do the work or I do it myself. I am mostly quadruple tasking, which works well for me. I take up to two 15-minutes walk breaks through the day, and by 6 p.m. I start to loosen up.
Before COVID-19 I’d mostly end the day with some fun activity, from karaoke to salsa, soccer or a movie. Now I find an indoor alternative.
What apps, gadgets, or tools have you been relying on to work from home, and how do you use them?
I still use my top applications: Notepad, Otter (AI note-taking app), eTrade, YouTube, a portable speaker, and Alexa. Then Zoom or Google Hangouts for the video calls.
How do you keep track of what you have to do?
Basic notepad. My mind is a constant stream of to-dos so I immediately write items down and cross them off once done. I think one day I’ll create an app that captures ideas while I’m in the shower.
Do you live alone? If not, what’s your living condition like and how do you avoid or cope with distractions?
I live with a housemate in California but we have our separate rooms for working, so I don’t get distracted much.
What is your favourite shortcut or hack?
I haven’t learnt how to meditate yet, or haven’t gotten it to work for me, so my hack is to take a shower —there I can either clear my mind of any anxiety or come up with my most useful ideas.
Thankfully, the lockdown in California allows you to step out to exercise. So I take a walk, take a fast drive, and listen to great music especially Latin or Afrobeats that can get me dancing.
What are you currently reading, watching, or listening to? What do you recommend?
I’ve just watched The Banker by George Nolfi. I recommend The Accidental Superpower by Peter Zeihan, Rwanda, Inc., by Patricia Crisafulli, Tested by Alpesh Patel, and The Men Who Built America series on the History channel.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“You alone choose what is god over your life” – the sellsword riddle by Varys in Game of Thrones where he speaks about God, the throne, and wealth.
What’s a problem you’re still trying to solve?
Empowering Africa’s people to solve important problems themselves.
Who would you like to see answer these questions?
Data scientist, Nicholas Litombe; Aina Fadina of Ready Responders; Stephen Ozoigbo of Lions@frica; South African businessman, Andile Ngcaba; and Elikem Kuenyehia of ENSafrica.
I write about media, technology and internet culture. Reach me on Twitter @okikesam