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Rapid Response

Stay versatile

January 26, 2023

While many retail businesses have struggled to cope with a wave of disruptions — from pandemic to supply chains to inflation — Lululemon has continued to scale, even when retail sales elsewhere dipped. CEO Calvin McDonald shares how mid-term strategic planning, control over inventory, and a culture that climbs mountains together has fueled agility and versatility. When it comes to brand-building and community building, Calvin says, it’s critical to lean into listening, so you can amplify what makes your business truly distinctive.

Finding untapped value in multicultural consumers

January 19, 2023

While media companies from CNN to Buzzfeed have faced layoffs, one digital network focused on Black millennials has continued to forge ahead. Morgan DeBaun, CEO of Blavity, which reaches some 100 million users through brands like Travel Noire and Afrotech, has defied the odds — repeatedly. Morgan’s experience offers lessons about financial discipline and focused patience, as well as the untapped value in multicultural consumers. An adviser to big companies like American Airlines and an advocate for the Black tech community, Morgan illuminates how openness and opportunity reinforce each other, for enterprises at all scales.

How to cultivate a new industry

January 12, 2023

When the FDA blessed Upside Foods’ grown-from-cells chicken as safe to eat, it was a coming-of-age moment for cultivated meat. Upside founder and CEO Dr. Uma Valeti shares his journey of convincing skeptics, landing investors from Bill Gates to food giants Tyson and Cargill, and building a collaborative partnership with the FDA and USDA. Plus, his lessons on leadership from a career in cardiology and what it will take to convert consumers to a never-before-seen product.

The rise of the wisdom worker

December 15, 2022

As we live and work longer, leaders need to redefine how they think about attracting and developing intergenerational talent. Modern Elder Academy’s Chip Conley is at the forefront of this mindset shift, explaining why “wisdom workers” will take the place of “knowledge workers.” A close mentor to Airbnb founder Brian Chesky, Chip stresses that those in mid-career face both more angst and more opportunity than ever. He provides a roadmap for reframing midlife from crisis to calling, and argues that five generations in the workplace requires a new generational compact.

How Main Street retailers are out-pivoting big-box giants

December 8, 2022

Small, independent store owners have been perpetually hit by waves of disruption: from malls to big box stores to e-commerce giants. But Max Rhodes, co-founder and CEO of the $12 billion online wholesale marketplace Faire, argues that Main Street retailers are actually better positioned right now to navigate today’s stormy shopping landscape than the competition. Max digs into how Faire is using technology and data to help stores maximize their advantages — nimbleness, adaptability, and smaller inventories — and combine them with the scale benefits enjoyed by the likes of Amazon and Target.

Risking an iconic brand — and $40b — in a race to go all-electric

December 2, 2022

How do you reinvent a world-renowned automaker for an all-electric future? At Mercedes-Benz, CEO Ola Källenius has set the jaw-dropping goal to put fossil-fuels in the rear-view mirror by 2030 — ahead of other competitors and well ahead of Paris Climate Accords recommendations. Pushing the company’s tech, customers, and workforce to operate in a new gear, Källenius says, is repositioning Mercedes for whatever challenges and opportunities are ahead. From strategizing for the luxury market — balancing volume with desirability — to grappling with the complications of economic disruption, Källenius takes us inside the epic transformation of an iconic brand.

Don’t be a unicorn, be a dragon

November 17, 2022

The tech industry and its investors have been captivated by the spell of the Unicorn for too long — and the ambitious goal of a billion-dollar valuation has done more harm than good. Instead, founders should aim to be resilient Dragons. That’s the view of Maëlle Gavet, who as CEO of early-stage investment business Techstars has unmatched insight into the hopes, dreams, and challenges of thousands of founders. Maëlle also shares her experience as a “Fixer and Scaler” and offers important lessons for all entrepreneurs, from pre-seed start-ups to corporate change agents.

Expand your definition of leadership

November 10, 2022

Despite only 8% of Fortune 500 companies with women CEOs, women leaders more often utilize leadership skills that are perfectly suited for the current business climate. Julia Boorstin, who created CNBC’s Disruptor 50 platform, argues in her new book When Women Lead that counterintuitive approaches used by women leaders can have a great impact on business, and can be learned by anyone. Julia, as a senior tech and media reporter, also offers her in-depth knowledge on big tech from Twitter, Meta, and TikTok.

Why design matters more than ever

November 3, 2022

Design is more than aesthetics. It is an essential competitive tool for an age of perpetual disruption. PepsiCo Chief Design Officer Mauro Porcini shares his 5-point system for sparking creativity at scale. Author of the new book The Human Side of Innovation, Porcini explains how anyone can deploy a designer’s mindset to improve their business and organization. Sharing stories from 3M to Mountain Dew, Porcini emphasizes the imperative of excellence and why innovation is “an act of love.”

Rally a team in turmoil

October 13, 2022

As a new leader, how do you honor an established brand while trying to shepherd it into the next era? Las Vegas Raiders’ president Sandra Douglass Morgan took the helm amid a front office scandal and a team new to the desert. Morgan talks about prioritizing customers over all else, taking risks at the beginning of a new venture, and why to bet on yourself from the moment you apply for a job.