When markets are in turmoil, you can’t rely on business as usual, but that doesn’t mean you should panic. As the housing climate has turned volatile, rest estate marketplace Zillow has been forced to rethink some priorities, while doubling down on others. Zillow president Susan Daimler talks about the importance of a strategy focused on the future, despite layoffs and pullbacks, and how maintaining a clear shared mindset has enabled forward progress in a challenging climate.
Can a small entrepreneur make an impact within a massive, complex system, like healthcare or education? What’s the best framework to amplify the positive side of having co-founders and avoid the negatives? Reid Hoffman and Bob Safian answer these and more questions from small business owners in the Masters of Scale community. Plus: in our Need to Know segment, Reid & Bob take on a burning question: How can Black founders beat the odds and find funding?
Partnerships can be the secret weapon to rocketing your company to the next level. That’s what Cathy Zoi discovered when she became the CEO of charging station network, EVgo. Whether it be partnering with grocery and department stores, or aligning with the Tesla customer-base, targeting allies and collaborators are a crucial catalyst for how EVgo has grown to become the nation’s largest public EV charging network.
Too many businesses and organizations spend time planning and not enough in action, especially in times of emergency. José Andrés, world-famous chef and founder of the nonprofit World Central Kitchen, proves the value of fast action through his work, including his recent time in Ukraine serving over 150 million meals. José thinks businesses should flatten their power structure and treat food as a national security issue, even in places like the U.S.
When it comes to racial justice, many companies and organizations haven’t matched their reality to their words. Rashad Robinson, the president of Color of Change, the largest online racial justice organization in the U.S., is holding major corporations accountable. Hear Rashad talk through the difficulties of changing systems from Hollywood, Silicon Valley, to Washington DC, getting help from President Barack Obama, and what business leaders can do to actively change racial injustice.
Amazon wants to get bigger, but with that scale comes great responsibility. So says Adam Selipsky, CEO of Amazon Web Services, the most profitable and fastest growing part of the tech giant. Selipsky, who also oversees Amazon’s climate change efforts, points to two additions to the company’s vaunted “Leadership Principles” as evidence of Amazon’s commitment. Arguing that AWS is still in early days, he shares what he’s hearing from other CEOs about their biggest concerns, why “carbon intensity” is the best measure of climate progress for businesses, and what Amazon’s aspiration to be “Earth’s best employer” really means.
How can small businesses survive in times of volatility? How should an entrepreneur balance limited resources with big ambitions? Reid Hoffman and Bob Safian answer questions from small business owners in the Masters of Scale community. Plus: another round of Pivot Point, and a Need to Know segment.
The fallout from the pandemic is proving to be as challenging for business leaders to navigate as the pandemic’s onset. Target’s CEO Brian Cornell had to make difficult decisions in the second quarter of this year to manage an unexpected surplus of goods and home technology. He shares his most recent learnings, as well as lessons for handling skepticism, the need for agility, and why mental wellness is key to a successful team.
Crypto winter isn’t a disaster, it’s an opportunity. That’s how Michael Gronager, CEO of $8 billion crypto data company Chainalysis, describes the crashing prices and bankruptcies that have roiled the cryptocurrency sector. Gronager offers an insider’s perspective on operating in a volatile marketplace, providing lessons on dreaming too big in boom times and on leaning into building and creating when lulls emerge. Chainalysis helps track financial flows on blockchains, including crypto criminals from North Korea and Russia. Despite current risks, Gronager argues, the still-emerging crypto sector is maturing, and he’s as confident as ever about its future.
Reid Hoffman and Bob Safian sit down to discuss how today’s hot-button stories are impacting business. The co-hosts address the key trends that all entrepreneurs should be up to speed on, from the looming recession and cryptocurrency’s possible demise to the hybrid workplace and moral leadership. Featuring Mercy Corps’ Tjada McKenna, PwC’s Tim Ryan, and Girls Who Code’s Reshma Saujani.
What’s the difference between an activist brand and an active brand? Impossible Foods CEO Peter McGuinness says that acting on your values defines a business — from climate change to Roe v. Wade. To unleash the next wave of growth for plant-based meat purveyor Impossible, McGuiness is rethinking how the whole category presents itself, taking aim at what he calls “safe and lame” approaches, partnering with the likes of Billie Eilish, and targeting the $1.4 trillion global meat industry.
Volunteering and service are muscles that can close America’s divides and push social change. Speaking live at the 2022 Social Innovation Summit in Washington, D.C., AmeriCorps’ new CEO, Michael Smith, shares a vision for healing sociopolitical divides through partnerships and on-the-ground experiences. When it comes to tackling natural and social crises, he’s prioritizing impact over volume.
When a tech nonprofit competes against a $2 billion incumbent dominating the market, its odds are slim. But Zo Orchingwa took that bet, founding Ameelio, believing that access to communication and education for the incarcerated is needed for their future success. Ameelio is on a quest to partner with every prison district in the country until one day, it scales enough to be redundant.
While gasoline prices soar, solar company Sunrun is poised to usher in a customer-led revolution of distributed energy technologies. Sunrun’s CEO Mary Powell combats a “no and slow” culture to transform more homes into virtual energy plants by preaching optimism and scorning bureaucracy. She’s moving with urgency to create a cleaner and more cost-effective future as fast as possible.
Most future of work conversations revolve around the “where,” but Upwork CEO Hayden Brown says it’s more important to focus on the “who.” 10% of the workforce at Upwork, the global tech platform for millions of freelance workers, was directly impacted by the war in Ukraine. Hayden’s people-focused approach to the difficult decision of how to manage remote employees there and in Russia is the same mindset she applies to meet the needs of all workers, from people feeling conflict to working mothers.
How can a small business survive a David vs. Goliath competition? If two sets of stakeholders have opposing needs, how can a start-up pivot to keep them both happy? Reid Hoffman and Bob Safian answer these questions and more from small business owners in the Masters of Scale community. Plus: another round of Pivot Point!
Entrepreneurship is an essential tool for building a more equitable society — which is why Kathryn Finney is laser-focused on encouraging people who don’t fit the mold of the stereotypical founder to jump in. Her new book, “Build the Damn Thing,” taps into wisdom from her years at the venture studio Genius Guild and beyond. She brings a message to founders: The universe is conspiring for your greatness.
It’s easy to have a grand idea; putting that plan into action is not. Victoria Yampolsky conceived of a global concert in support of Ukraine. Without any experience in entertainment or international aid, she shares how she didn’t accept “no” for an answer in her quest to book big-name guests like Pink Floyd and negotiate a streaming deal — to pursue a fundraising goal of $10 million.
With the workplace in historic flux, consulting firm PwC is committing a whopping $2.4 billion to create an employee engagement platform offering a radically new level of choice. PwC’s U.S. chair, Tim Ryan, shares why the bold initiative is necessary in the face of the Great Resignation. It’s just one of several evolving crises, Ryan says, that has made leading a business more complex and demanding than ever.
Has Gopuff cracked the code of instant delivery — a field where even Amazon has struggled? Co-founder Yakir Gola talks about the challenge of owning the customer journey from app to warehouse to doorstep, and the reasons why being outside Silicon Valley is giving Gopuff a big advantage as it expands across the United States and around the world. Yakir talks with host Bob Safian about why moving fast is only one piece of the growth puzzle.
Charity Dean was one of the first public health officials to set the alarm on COVID. When she searched for a tool to forecast future bio threats, she realized that it didn’t exist yet. So she co-founded the Public Health Company, where she uses lessons from her government experiences, but without the same rules or limits. She speaks with Bob Safian about why all companies must be public health companies.
Gayle Smith is the CEO of the ONE Campaign, the advocacy group founded by U2’s Bono — and last year, she was tapped by the U.S. State Department to coordinate America’s COVID response and vaccine distribution globally. Her experience both inside and outside government gives her a distinctive outlook on how business can and should help on humanitarian issues, from Ukraine dislocation to climate change. She also shares lessons about effective advocacy: tactics pioneered by ONE that can be useful to any organization trying to generate impact.
Amid pandemic disruption, Chief turned a small, NYC-based club for women executives into a national phenomenon with more than 12,000 members. Co-founder and CEO Carolyn Childers shares how she and co-founder Lindsay Kaplan managed the transformation, which recently yielded a $100 million Series B funding round for a whole new set of tools to support business leaders.
Alyona Mysko, the CEO of a B2B startup in Ukraine called Fuelfinance, walks us through the lessons she’s learned while leading her company in wartime — sometimes working with her team from bomb shelters during the day. All of Ukraine is running like a startup now, she says: Each citizen takes the initiative to pick up what needs to be done.
Learn the 5 mindsets that will reshape the way you hire, train, and retain — to build the team of superheroes that will power your business to scale. Hear real-world advice and great stories from Reid, Bob, and legendary leaders like PepsiCo’s Indra Nooyi, GoFundMe’s Tim Cadogan, Burberry and Apple’s Angela Ahrendts, and Vanderbilt basketball coach Jerry Stackhouse.
Eric Friedrichsen, the CEO of Emburse, a B2B software provider, has navigated risks and costs to meet the needs of their tech contractors based in Ukraine — like offering to relocate families, and funding housing costs for colleagues taking refuge in Poland. These choices haven’t come without obstacles. But the benefits are moral, communal, and quantifiable.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the sanctions that followed, radically impacted supply chains around the world. Jennifer Bisceglie, CEO of Interos, a risk-management firm focused on supply chains, has seen her company’s risk dashboards light up in new and far-reaching ways. Meanwhile, a more sophisticated supply chain is coming together in real-time.
As refugees flee Ukraine, Airbnb.org is offering free, temporary housing for up to 100,000. Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia shares how the company is using business tools for humanitarian benefit — and how Airbnb became a tool to transfer money directly to individual Ukrainians. In crisis, he says, leaders should ask: What would make us proud?
“It’s not about fixing women. It’s about fixing the system,” says Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code and Marshall Plan for Moms. As the author of Pay Up: The Future of Women and Work, Reshma pushes the discourse around the “future of work” to include flexibility, childcare, and an end to the hustle culture — for all of us.
Watching the news out of Ukraine, Tokunbo Koiki saw reports of Black students struggling to flee the country. Tokunbo, an entrepreneur and social worker, linked up with two strangers, Patricia Daley and Korrine Sky, to build an aid organization for Black refugees — in a single weekend. Black Women for Black Lives helped some 1,200 Black students with direct assistance, a perfect illustration of how entrepreneurial thinking can mobilize action faster than you think it can.
“My big call to action would be to support existing organizations,” says Susy Schöneberg, the founder and head of Flexport.org, the nonprofit arm of the logistics firm Flexport. Schöneberg and her team are organizing complex shipments of relief goods to Ukrainian refugee sites across Eastern Europe; she breaks down how her organization has been safely managing the flow of goods toward displaced refugees and the best way you can get involved — as a citizen or company. She leaves us with a lesson that applies to any crisis: joining together can produce far better results than trying to do it alone.
“We have to assume that cyberattacks will happen,” says Bipul Sinha, CEO of the cybersecurity firm Rubrik. State-sponsored actors and cybercriminals are both heightened threats now, and cybersecurity tactics must learn to counter them. Bipul shares what we can do to protect ourselves — starting with basic cyber hygiene.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine presents a new level of disruption to an already fragile global trade system. Sara Menker, the CEO of Gro Intelligence, offers a window into the shifts across all parts of the economy. She shares what we need to understand about Russia’s trade with China and largely overlooked impacts in the Middle East.
Tjada D’Oyen McKenna is the CEO of Mercy Corps, an NGO on the front lines of the Ukrainian crisis. They began scenario-planning well in advance of Russia’s aggression, and they’re now deploying food, cash, and social services to refugees in need. She shares their strategy — and how they’re also keeping focus on other struggles around the world.
GM is working on two daunting goals: an all-electric vehicle future, and building its rep as the world’s most inclusive company. Gerald Johnson, EVP of manufacturing and sustainability at General Motors, helped lead GM’s COVID-19 response; he’s now tackling these next, twin challenges.
“We should expect more volatility,” Reid Hoffman tells Rapid Response host Bob Safian in the first Need to Know session of the year, covering news and business topics impacting entrepreneurs right now. Reid and Bob discuss the implications of the Ukraine invasion, then dive into the pandemic-fueled troubles at Peloton, PayPal, and Meta, new climate-change urgencies — including Reid’s recent trip to Antarctica, and how Activision will be different after merging with Microsoft. Plus: pay transparency; the lessons of Theranos; and the business case for democracy.
It may appear off-brand for Betterment, a digital investment adviser, to acquire a cryptocurrency investing platform. But as CEO Sarah Levy says, Betterment approached this volatile space with long-term thinking. Levy, who became CEO in the midst of the pandemic, offers perspective on how new digital finance platforms are shifting the norms of the industry.
Ken Frazier, the longtime CEO of Merck, was one of the few Black CEOs at the top of corporate America. Now as an adviser at General Catalyst and co-founder of the social impact organization OneTen, he’s re-shaping how business addresses racial and health equity. There’s an important role business can play, he says, by stressing our commonality.
How do you best prepare for entrepreneurship? Reid Hoffman answers five burning questions from our Masters of Scale Members about tough pivots, growth targets, name changes and more. With Members Antoni Gruca (HEC-42 Launchpad), Krystal Lucado, Tudor Mihailescu (SpeechifAI, Inc.), Hoda Mehr (Stock Card), and Shamini Dhana (D/Sphere).
As the global chip shortage unfolded in 2021, Qualcomm’s engineers quickly redesigned their products – an effort that tapped into “every possible capacity we could find,” says CEO Cristiano Amon. Their story is a great lesson in how an established company can and must move with the speed of a startup.
The Drone Racing League has built a fanbase previously untapped by pro sports. President Rachel Jacobson, formerly an NBA executive, calls their fans “techsetters” – young, enthusiastic, techy fans who are “invested in what the future looks like.” It’s a demographic that loves the league’s positioning that intersects sports, entertainment, and technology. As Rachel says, companies that aren’t planning for future demographics of consumers will “age out really quickly.”
Faced with long odds, how do you keep your team motivated and moving forward? Alexis McGill Johnson is focused on building hope. As president of Planned Parenthood, Johnson is preparing for the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade — and modeling a sense of relentlessness for her team, so they too can be fearless.
Sir Jeremy Farrar is UK’s pre-eminent scientific authority on Covid-19 and the chief executive at the research foundation Wellcome Trust. He shares the latest learnings of the Omicron variant – and offers a framework for handling the uncertainty. He shares two leadership lessons he’s learned during the pandemic: find time for yourself, and take warnings seriously.
“Go for the megatons.” That’s John Doerr’s recommendation for how we need to combat the existential threat of climate change. Doerr, a venture capitalist and author of the new book Speed & Scale, discusses decarbonization, what he calls “the greatest economic opportunity of the next century.” Business plays a critical role in advancing that movement.
Crate & Barrel CEO Janet Hayes started her role in August 2020, when stores were closed and the future of retail was uncertain. Her move? Lean into digital and sustainability for her brands, and flexibility and trust for her employees.
How can you entice funders to invest in a niche business? Business from our signature three-act ads ask host Reid Hoffman critical questions for challenges they’re facing now. With John and Kendall Antonelli (Antonelli’s Cheese Shop), Brit Rettig Wold (GRIT Fitness), Matthew Goins (Puzzle Huddle), Monisha Edwards (Scent & Fire Candle Company), and Ricardo Regalado (Rozalado Services & Route). Plus: the Pivot Point game show, w/Tara Wilson (Fierce Lab), Tudor Mihailescu (SpeechifAI), Greg Gallimore (Gensler Group & WUBI), Becky Pallack (Arizona Luminaria),
Since GoFundMe’s inception, the for-profit crowdsourcing platform has facilitated $15 billion in giving, through more than 200 million donations. The key to the company’s success? According to CEO Tim Cadogan: Asking for help unlocks more possibilities than people realize – a lesson for GoFundMe users, and for businesses overall.
In the summer of 2021, Fidji Simo became CEO of Instacart, replacing founder Apoorva Mehta. Stepping into the role, Fidji is emphasizing an evolved company mission, diversifying the company’s leadership and focusing on the technology that helps retailers best serve their customers.
Reid Hoffman and Rapid Response host Bob Safian break down what you need to know right now about the most important issues and opportunities impacting entrepreneurs. The co-hosts dive into inflation reactions, Facebook quandaries, metaverse mania, AI & crypto trends, and lessons from the Great Resignation. Plus: why LinkedIn pulled back in China, and what pundits are missing in the big tech backlash.
In May 2020, as companies began making promises about how they’d help Black-owned businesses, Aurora James launched the 15 Percent Pledge with an Instagram post. Tagging major retailers, she declared that 15% of retail shelf space should belong to Black-owned businesses. Learn the tactics and strategies that allowed one small, dedicated effort to unlock $10 billion in revenue.
Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, breaks down his insights on artificial intelligence. The co-author of “The Age of AI: And Our Human Future,” alongside Dr. Henry Kissinger and MIT’s Daniel Huttenlocher, says we’re entering an unknown era – one that requires vigilance. His advice to business: You need to be running as fast as you can toward AI applications. If your competitor gets there first, you’ll be in trouble. AI, he says, will change business, society, humanity itself.
Skepticism and doubt are no strangers to John Foley, the founder and former CEO of Peloton. In 2020, the company was supercharged by pandemic demand. However, in 2021, the company faced a slew of new headwinds, from product-safety issues to investor skepticism. But he doesn’t see skepticism as a sign of weakness. He expects it, and learns from it.
How do you respond when your own users resist your data? That question is top-of-mind for Nielsen CEO David Kenny. For decades, Nielsen has measured ratings and demographics across TV and media. But as industry norms shift to streaming, Kenny has had to revamp expectations, taking heat from traditional customers. As he notes, nostalgia is the opposite of optimism – it assumes a known past is better than an unknown future. Kenny is choosing optimism.
Since stepping down as Walmart’s president of e-commerce at the start of 2021, billionaire entrepreneur Marc Lore has had a busy year of big ideas. Chief among them: a new American city called Telosa, centered around sustainability and inclusion. Lore approaches moonshot ideas by reverting to the fundamentals: “VCP: vision, capital, people.”
In 2021, Sarah Hirshland faced one daunting issue after another as the CEO of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee: pandemic disruptions, social action protests, sexual misconduct scandals, mental health stress and more. Through it, Sarah has motivated her team around a mission to reflect not just where America is now but where it’s going.
Last year, SolarWinds became the subject of a massive and sophisticated cyberattack, potentially affecting thousands of organizations. CEO Sudhakar Ramakrishna, who joined the company soon after the breach was discovered, speaks with host Bob Safian about how he and the company responded, and how other companies should approach the ever-looming threat of cyber-risk. “There is no such thing as ‘I won’t be breached because I’m too secure or too smart,’ says Ramakrishna. “You could be breached. And when it happens, be humble. Learn from it, adapt, and act with a sense of urgency.”
To compete against bigger players, you need an edge. Sridhar Ramaswamy, who led Google’s huge ad business, is now going head-to head against his former employer with an ad-free subscription-based search engine called Neeva. Ramaswamy offers lessons on growth, monopolistic threats, and why challenging even great companies is necessary right now.
Your ability to make quick decisions in the face of a crisis can define your career. That’s been the case for Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell, the now-retired president of Spelman College, the all-women’s HBCU in Atlanta. To solve complex conflicts, she stresses one point above all: listen. Dr. Campbell demonstrates how consistent leadership builds confidence and resilience.
When hard times hit, the show must still go on. But as Drama League board president and Broadway HD CEO Bonnie Comley explains, even when the lights are dark, progress can be made. Broadway’s 41 theaters were dark for 18 months, but the 18-month pandemic closure created an opportunity for the $16 billion industry to expand the customer base and embrace digital engagement.
Creating a truly self-driving car is a complex and interlocking problem. As the founder of the autonomous driving company Aurora, Chris Urmson, says: “Given the scale of the problem, the complexity and breadth of it, we had to build the company almost ahead of the product.” He is determined to transform transportation – a goal that requires a great amount of energy and investment upfront.
How do you expand to a country where you’re not located? What was the insight that led Reid from entrepreneur to investor? Host Reid Hoffman answers seven burning questions; and gives advice to a recent grad who wants to change the world.
“You have to preserve your energy; this year has been about pace,” says restaurateur Danny Meyer, as he catches us up on the past seven-plus months of operating in the midst of pandemic. In the beginning of summer 2021, when Covid rates were plummeting in New York City, he was full of optimism: His restaurants were back to indoor dining, and despite a limited workforce, “progress is progress.” Then came the Delta variant.
Andrew Wilson, the CEO of Electronic Arts, explains how he’s playing in the metaverse – and how an industry-wide cultural referendum on harassment keeps him up at night.
The CEO of Illumina, Francis DeSouza, has been locked in a multi-year battle with the FTC over the re-acquisition of a company it previously spun out, called GRAIL, that has a breakthrough cancer screening test. He reflects on the lessons of grappling with regulators, highlighting levers that can help to accelerate scale.
Reid’s personal advice on the most important success factor for any scale leader: your mindset. Talking with editor-at-large Bob Safian, Reid shares how he approaches every challenge with a learning mindset: ask the right questions, leverage networks, and build curiosity and resilience. To cement the idea, he shares Lesson One from the new Masters of Scale Courses app, starring Sir Richard Branson! You’ll learn an exercise from Reid that you can practice daily.
As a longtime motorcycle rider and a longtime champion of sustainability, Jochen Zeitz of Harley-Davidson is setting out to square those two passions.
CEO Libby Wadle looks back at J Crew’s heyday, to make the case that the best is yet to come. The key to refreshing the brand: circularity, making purposeful choices about sustainability in fashion.
What are the best fundraising options if you can’t access a major VC firm? When should you hire your replacement as CEO? Is blitzscaling still the best strategy in a context of uncertainty? Reid Hoffman answers critical questions from six entrepreneurs across many industries and stages of scale. Co-hosted by Anne Kave, Capital One Business.
“Hate is not a one-community issue,” says Sonal Shah, president of The Asian American Foundation. Launched in May 2021 to address discrimination against Asian Americans, TAAF raised $1 billion in its first few weeks – and is now grappling with what all startups face: how to iterate fast, pivot, lose what’s not working, and scale what is working, fast.
When the pandemic clipped tens of millions from BuzzFeed’s revenue, co-founder and CEO Jonah Peretti cut back on costs – but kept the growth flywheel spinning. By the end of 2020 his team had engineered a rebound, finishing the year with record profitability. With the acquisitions of HuffPost and Complex Networks, Peretti’s ambitions are just beginning.
Scott Harrison’s success at Charity: Water flows from an unwavering belief that there’s no better investment in people and communities than clean water.
Deep into the pandemic, Marriott’s CEO Arne Sorenson, unexpectedly passed away. His successor, Stephanie Linnartz, draws on an unrelenting entrepreneurial spirit to help bring Marriott back from pandemic lows — and honor Sorenson’s legacy.
“Will some people lose their shirts with crypto? Absolutely. Will new great industries be built upon this? Absolutely,” Reid Hoffman tells Rapid Response host Bob Safian in this unfiltered conversation. The co-hosts dive into cryptocurrency strategy, why cybersecurity “is an emperor-has-no-clothes situation,” what’s driving new climate-change habits, and more. Plus: What Reid missed most in the pandemic. Cameos: Compass CEO Robert Reffkin, Guild Education CEO Rachel Carlson.
“Corporations can be a force for good,” says Ken Chenault, chair of investment firm General Catalyst and the longtime CEO of American Express. Ken has been an outspoken advocate for business leaders to engage in social issues. After George Floyd’s death, he and Merck CEO Ken Frazier launched OneTen, a coalition to create 1 million jobs for Black Americans with major brands like IBM, Nike, and Walmart. His Responsible Innovation platform builds “social due diligence.”
Amid 2020’s Covid lockdowns (and sweatpants-only life), Rent the Runway ran into layoffs and furloughs. But as co-founder and CEO Jenn Hyman explains, the business saw a surprising rebound early in 2021, fueled by a consumer focus on sustainability. Jenn’s experience shows how accelerated change is remaking the marketplace.
Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine would not have scaled without Ginkgo Bioworks. Reshma Shetty, co-founder and COO of Ginkgo – slated to go public via SPAC acquisition at a reported $15 billion valuation – explains how biotech innovation can build a better future now. The key, Shetty says, is propelling progress but not at the expense of principles. Engineering genes is a high-stakes pursuit, so Ginkgo is trying to pair the ambition of Silicon Valley with a “higher level of care.”
Shift your mindset. Tighten your focus. Map your future. In this special episode, Reid Hoffman presents a five-step playbook for post-crisis success. Moving from chaos to calm requires a revised agenda, whether the pandemic crushed your business or boosted it. Peace-time strategies need to be just as sharp as wartime strategies.
How do you win the war for talent? Send your frontline workers to online school. That’s the pitch Rachel Carlson has made to businesses from Chipotle to Disney, Walmart to Waste Management. As co-founder and CEO of Guild Education, Carlson helps workers get online degrees and certifications as a free employee benefit. To meet the ongoing need for upskilling, Carlson says, company-sponsored classes should be as ubiquitous as company-sponsored health plans — because the ROI is astonishingly high.
“We may not be able to survive this,” thought Robert Reffkin, founder and CEO of real estate platform Compass, in early 2020 when pandemic lockdown rules essentially outlawed U.S. home selling. Yet now, the housing market is booming, and Compass has successfully IPO’ed. Reffkin shares how he kept his team together, why he stayed optimistic, and what businesses lucky enough to have benefited from Covid times owe their communities.
Google search may be the world’s most powerful public health platform. Dr. Karen DeSalvo, Google’s chief health officer, has built a team of doctors, scientists, and clinicians who — alongside engineers and designers – together determine what information and advice shows up when we search for answers about Covid-19. Learn how Google approaches personal risk assessment.
Harry’s took a one-two punch in 2020 – right on the chin. First, the federal government blocked a $1.37 billion acquisition of the shaving products company; then Covid-19 lockdowns hit. Rather than reeling from the abrupt change, Harry’s kept its balance. Co-founder and co-CEO Andy Katz-Mayfield explains how the team launched new brands amid the pandemic, tapped into unexpected demand, and even raised fresh capital. It’s a classic entrepreneurial feat: finding new opportunity amid disruption.
Five years of growth in five weeks. That’s how Covid-19 lockdowns in 2020 accelerated Instacart’s business. A year later, the company faces another “crucible moment,” says Instacart CEO Apoorva Mehta – to amplify the appeal of tech-enabled shopping, even as in-store buying revives.
As the pandemic set in, cooking at home got a renewed boost, and meal kit outfits saw a rise in demand. But a year in, the trend toward at-home dining faces a new inflection point. Linda Findley Kozlowski, CEO of meal-kit pioneer Blue Apron, is on the frontlines of understanding which pandemic-fueled behaviors will persist.
Shelli Taylor explains why the movie chain Alamo Drafthouse filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the spring of 2021, as movie-goers slowly began to return to theaters.
“The future is sooner and stranger than you think,” Reid Hoffman tells Rapid Response host Bob Safian, in this unfiltered conversation. “The rulebook will be changing month by month.” The co-hosts dive into US government stimulus efforts; Gamestop, SPACs and potential froth in the investment markets; rising pressure on business leaders to engage on social and policy issues; and how vaccinations are impacting all of us. Plus: the 10-year anniversary of Reid’s book “The Startup of You.”
Ed Bastian bet at the start of the pandemic that focusing on consumer confidence and reinforcing Delta’s brand would pay big rewards.
Ad revenue for Morning Brew’s newsletter dried up when the pandemic hit, but its audience remained devoted. Morning Brew CEO Alex Lieberman, who started the business with co-founder Austin Rief as undergraduates at the University of Michigan, leaned into the brand’s distinctive personality, fueling a sharp rebound. Next step? Selling a majority interest to Business Insider for a reported $75 million. An authentic voice, he says, is a shortcut to business success.
Daniella Ballou-Aares of the Leadership Now Project argues that corporate activism is about embracing both responsibility and opportunity.
As Airbnb’s business cratered in the spring of 2020, CEO Brian Chesky realized: It was a moment to step back, rethink, and do more than anyone expected.
How does a startup geared to healthcare workers give back during Covid? FIGS, which makes premium scrubs for medical professionals, offered free PPE, isolation gowns and more. Co-founder and co-CEO Heather Hasson shares how these moves helped drive brand allegiance among a workforce that, until Covid hit, was often overlooked.
When he became CEO of Nike in January 2020, John Donahoe had a game plan. But then lockdowns began and he had to adjust, assuming what he calls a “wartime” approach to leadership. Donahoe’s view is that, in crisis, top-down stewardship matters more than ever. To not only survive but come out in a stronger position, he is leaning into the brand’s legacy, his team’s strengths, and booming direct-to-consumer digital engagement.
Maintaining high performance in business has become harder than ever, between health challenges, economic obstacles, and political uncertainty. But we all still work to win. Jerry Stackhouse, coach of the Vanderbilt University men’s basketball team and former NBA all-star, is focused on winning–in the near-term, and the long term. His experience offers a compelling parable for every business leader these days. With Covid 19, his team has faced cancellations, testing protocols, and a pandemic reality of isolation and empty arenas. Coach Stackhouse is balancing the high stakes of health, racial equity and media scrutiny with the quest for performance. Leading a team has never been more difficult, or more important.
It’s vital for governments to stay on the leading edge of tech. In the US, that’s Mike Brown’s job, as the director of the Defense Innovation Unit within the U.S. Department of Defense. During the Covid-19 crisis, he’s used that position to introduce cutting-edge projects to advance the health safety of military personnel.
As Chief Executive Officer of Feeding America, Claire Babineaux-Fontenot oversees the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization and second-largest U.S. charity. She details the immense challenge of responding to food insecurity during the pandemic.
We’re taking questions from our listeners, on the topics that are top of mind right now for every founder: emerging tech, company culture, the investment climate. Plus the big question: Would Reid ever go on Shark Tank? Host Reid Hoffman and editor Bob Safian dig into questions from entrepreneurs right now.
As we grapple with change in business and as a society, we’ve become more fractured, more divisive, more vulnerable. Adam Grant, best-selling author and professor at Wharton, says that recognizing what we don’t know is the key step on the road to insight, competitive advantage, and community peace. In his book “Think Again,” Grant shares why taking a fresh look at our assumptions, about others and about ourselves, is such a powerful tool.
Going head-to-head against Tesla is daunting enough. But for solar power company Sunrun’s CEO Lynn Jurich, that’s just the beginning. Expectations for solar are high under a Biden administration, and Sunrun’s stock price has quadrupled in the past year — in the most partisan environment in generations. Her touchstone, in a key lesson for entrepreneurs, is to focus on long-term trends.
Danny Meyer knows the restaurant industry overall is teetering on the edge, desperate for federal help and active intervention to be able to return to the communities they once served.
Sallie Krawcheck knows firsthand the obstacles women face as well as the struggles big institutions can have in reconfiguring their practices to help.
This special episode of Masters of Scale is full of lessons learned from the often devastating, sometimes inspiring year of 2020. Some of our guests share stories about doing everything right – and still ending up in crisis. Others are about overcoming the odds with grit, heart, and compassion.
Host Reid Hoffman and editor Bob Safian talk about the pandemic-disrupted year of 2020, filled with unexpected twists and lessons. From the rise (and risks) of remote work to accelerations in tech; from supply-chain disruption to opportunities in manufacturing; from stock-market fluctuations to social justice demonstrations, 2020 was a turning point. As Reid says, we have reached a moment for entrepreneurs to rise, to create, and to blaze the path forward.
Salesforce’s president Bret Taylor talks about how the pandemic helped Salesforce and Slack bring their businesses together.
Peggy Johnson explains why she left a safe perch at Microsoft to take the helm of one-time startup darling Magic Leap, which had just barely avoided bankruptcy.
Even before the pandemic forced us to stay home, loneliness was snaking its way through our lives, says economist Noreena Hertz, affecting everything from how we vote to how we work. The author of The Lonely Century, Noreena has advice for businesses about how loneliness impacts productivity, the bottom-line advantages of in-person connection — and why kindness is key to retaining talent.
After record-shattering drops in revenue from Covid-19, JetBlue had to rethink every plan and every assumption. Joanna Geraghty, JetBlue’s president and COO, shares how they built a new system for flexing the business, to ramp up when demand rises, finding cost cuts but no furloughs. Decisions rely on brand-new types of data — as well as gut feeling.
Colleen DeCourcy knows that meshing an economic goal with an emotional message has never demanded more creativity.
Drew Houston knows if Dropbox is going to design for the future of work, then its own workforce needs to live in that future, right now. He discusses Dropbox’s move toward the virtual-first workplace — and how its benefits extend far beyond pandemic times.
Toward the end of 2020, some saw signs that the Covid pandemic was soon to be over. But as Dr. Bon Ku says in this prescient conversation, without significant change, we will just sleepwalk into another cycle of pandemic.
Small business is being taxed emotionally as well as financially, and that tax is rising, says H&R Block CEO Jeff Jones. As the pandemic hit, entrepreneurs did what entrepreneurs do: solved problems, protected teams, served customers. But their anxiety keeps riseing, according to an H&R Block study from which Jones shares important takeaways.
Arne Sorenson admits the hotel industry will take years to recover. That hasn’t dimmed his personal belief that travel matters more than ever.
As big movie chains shut down in response to the pandemic, Alamo Drafthouse CEO Shelli Taylor is determined to keep her theaters open — and ride out the drama.
Rajiv Shah walks us through the choices, costs, and protocols to keep an entrepreneurial team, and all of us, safe.
We’re talking with Baratunde Thurston on how companies can show up as citizens — citizens with the potential for outsize impact.
A study in the fall of 2020 — deep into the work-at-home movement — makes a persuasive case that shared offices are productive places to work and, especially, to co-create. Gensler Group co-CEO Diane Hoskins shares fresh insights on the future of our workplaces.
Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google and current lead at Schmidt Futures, shares a clear-eyed, and priorizied, roadmap for moving toward a healthy, just, and economically vibrant post-pandemic world.
School founder Eva Moskowitz shares how to make decisions in an uncertain environment, how to communicate with constituents – and who we should all prioritize.
How to keep a university’s doors open? This is the question for Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell, president of Spelman College. In summer 2020, Dr. Campbell announced Spelman’s plan for the new academic year – with many fewer students on campus. Meanwhile, as the head of a historically Black college, she’s grappling with social unrest and calls for change.
The pandemic has hurt many businesses but PayPal isn’t one of them. CEO Dan Schulman takes us inside PayPal’s unique opportunity to spur emerging economic recovery – and to make a longterm impact in the fight for racial justice.
There’s no quick fix to 400 years of oppression, says Color Of Change’s Rashad Robinson. But by working together, says Rashad, we can make a lasting difference.
“This was like 1918, 1929 and 1968 in one week,” says Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, with pandemic, economic crisis, and civil unrest all coming together after George Floyd’s death. Walker’s advice to CEOs mixes clear-eyed messages with optimism about the opportunities ahead.
A candid interview from the industry hardest hit by the pandemic: travel. Delta saw seat bookings fall to less than 5% of normal, had 40,000 employees go on unpaid leave, and raised $14 billion in funding, to withstand a cash burn that still stands at $30 million a day. To rebuild traveler trust, Delta CEO Ed Bastian has enacted a slew of new safety standards.
What can your business do right now in the struggle against racism? More than you think, says Shellye Archambeau, former CEO of MetricStream, now a board member at Verizon, Nordstrom and Okta. The struggle is a marathon, but businesses are uniquely poised to demand accountability and transparency from their communities.
GM shut down its auto plants in March 2020, temporarily reducing pay for 69,000 employees, and making a fast pivot to produce ventilators. As the plants began to make vehicles again, GM’s chair and CEO Mary Barra speaks to what they learned in this fast pivot — and her optimism that the country and her company will bounce back.
Startups never stop – not even during a global pandemic. But how do you stay agile and find your markets in times of crisis? And do constraints always lead to creativity, really? Entrepreneurs from Village Global ask Reid Hoffman their top-of-mind questions.
During Covid, BuzzFeed saw audience at record highs — but it crushed the bottom line. Founder and CEO Jonah Peretti shares how they’re enduring near-term pain with an eye toward long-term opportunity, and leaning into BuzzFeed News. There’s a clarity of purpose, he says, in bearing witness to things that are happening in the world.
After shutting his iconic New York City restaurants, laying off 2,000 staffers (with hopes to re-hire) and returning a $10m PPP loan in the early days of the pandemic, Danny Meyer finds himself reconsidering nearly everything about his business model.
Since One Medical’s IPO in January 2020, CEO Amir Rubin has been constantly adapting to the coronavirus pandemic, as healthcare needs, expectations, and behaviors shift. But if you have a consistent platform and mission, he believes, your operating system can be applied to even fast-changing environments.
At Warby Parker, planning for the future has meant leaning into the present — from physical changes in their factory and stores that ensure social distancing to optimizing online vision tests. In May 2020, co-founder Neil Blumenthal shares their process for decision-making.
Tapping into both organization wisdom and her intuition, Lifeway CEO Julie Smolyansky embraced action amid uncertainty as she worked to keep her manufacturing open and kefir beverages on supermarket shelves during the pandemic-driven food crises of 2020.
Boom times don’t necessarily mean easy times. Early in the pandemic, the world relied on telecommunications services like Verizon more than ever before. CEO Hans Vestberg takes stock, and looks at what the future might be like for Verizon.
In sports, everyone has an opinion on your every move. That’s the reality – and the privilege, says Scott O’Neil, CEO of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils. When the NBA shut down its season in March 2020, O’Neil faced leadership challenges that include both missteps and discoveries about the future of sports.
Dr. Bon Ku, an ER physician and director of the Health Design Lab at Jefferson University in Philadelphia, takes us inside the practice and mindset that medical professionals — and all of us — require to perform under extraordinary pressure.
Will the U.S. run out of food? Can the world’s food supply chains survive coronavirus? Sara Menker, founder and CEO of Gro Intelligence, shares eye-opening insights based on real-time facts.
Dr. David Skorton, head of the Association of American Medical Colleges, shares what health institutions are grappling with as pandemic sets in —how they need to rethink how they operate, and what all of us can learn from this moment.
What do you do when you can’t serve your customers in cafes? You come to them, says Panera CEO Niren Chaudhary. The company’s bold pandemic pivot built on a years-long digital loyalty strategy that paid off in deeply unexpected ways.
The onset of pandemic in 2020 forced many businesses to make decisions in crisis mode. Are crisis-driven decisions better, or easier, than deliberate ones? Retired General Stanley McChrystal shares some hard truths about decisions in crisis.
For Chewy, the pet-supply company, the pandemic is driving unprecedented demand. Ultra-rapid growth has its own set of challenges that CEO Sumit Singh is responding to by: hiring, setting up a task team, rolling out customer-facing innovations in a weekend, and more.
In crisis, having a strong neighborhood makes you more resilient. Nextdoor CEO Sarah Friar shares new features, like Help Maps and Groups, that rolled out during the pandemic to help residents connect and coordinate. Some are new products, some in development pre-Covid — but all can help neighbors act as the frontline of support for one another.
The onset of pandemic exposed deep flaws in many national governments’ plans for crisis response. Jen Pahlka of U.S. Digital Response, a nonpartisan group offering tech help to local governments, shares what she’s seeing now – and what a modern government could do in the future.
Can you turn the remote-work scramble into a long-term benefit? Wences Casares runs a fully distributed company at his unicorn bitcoin startup, Xapo. For Wences, remote work is an intentional choice, one that celebrates the creativity and freedom of being released from geographical boundaries – and turns remote work into a striking advantage.
Every day in a pandemic is different, and that’s true for people and for corporations. CEO Brian Cornell has promised Target will keep its doors open. To do that, Target is becoming “a good student,” he says.
TaskRabbit was founded during the 2008 financial crisis — and then and now, says Stacy Brown-Philpot, the business remains a necessity, for the community, and for the gig economy.
While ride-sharing fell sharply down at the start of the pandemic, transportation remains key – for essential workers and for our supply chain. So Lyft is flexing some new muscles, says John Zimmer.
As the pandemic hit, Airbnb was preparing for an IPO. Within a matter of days, everything changed dramatically. Chesky shares what gives him hope and explains why he’s bringing Airbnb back to its roots as a scrappy, resilient startup that can adapt and evolve.
Ellen Kullman knows how to survive a crisis. While leading DuPont through the 2008 financial crisis she developed four crisis principles, forged through the fire of experience. She’s putting those to the test now, at the helm of 3D printing unicorn startup Carbon.
Charles Best shares how Donors Choose pivoted from supporting classrooms to supporting teachers and virtual learning during the pandemic. It’s a lesson in how to listen to your community’s changing needs – and pivot fast.
Early in the pandemic, Karen Cahn of IFundWomen shared a quick tutorial on how to access the US’s then-nascent emergency relief funds for businesses. While some specific advice in this episode is past its sell-by, her mindset of using crisis to clarify your purpose is evergreen.
Crisis Text Line provides free, confidential crisis counseling via text, 24/7. To help counselors meet the moment, they anonymize and analyze real-time data on how their users are feeling – and that data is telling them the story of the onset of pandemic.
At Boston’s Cue Ball Group, Tony’s portfolio includes companies that employ hundreds of nail care workers, cooks and servers. So he’s asking: How can we protect hourly workers and help them prepare for an uncertain future?
What will the entrepreneurial world look like on the other side of the pandemic? Early in the lockdowns of spring 2020, Reid Hoffman shares his thoughts on first-principle thinking in crisis.
Danny Meyer shares how and why he acted so quickly to initiate layoffs.
At Automattic, the company that makes WordPress, founder Matt Mullenweg runs an almost entirely remote team. As more of us shift to remote work, we asked him: How does he do it?
Growth vs innovation, scale vs stability, founders vs CEOs? High-performing scale-ups from around the world ask Reid their urgent strategic questions. This episode features Endeavor’s Outliers – the fastest-growing, highest-performing entrepreneurs from this global incubator.