Masters of Scale has always embraced the whole truth in entrepreneurship: the thrilling moments of success and the challenging moments of exhaustion and adversity. None of us has faced a situation like the Covid pandemic, and we launched this spinoff series to help navigate unprecedented times.

These fast, focused interviews are an in-the-moment counterpoint to the timeless episodes in our classic Masters of Scale podcast. Real-time wisdom from business leaders in fast-changing situations that demand lightning-speed decisions. Hosted by Bob Safian, former editor-in-chief of Fast Company.

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SPECIAL COVERAGE

“Imagine if this country were to make investments equitably, how much more we could do.”

How to keep a university’s doors open and make safe choices? We talk to Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell, president of Spelman College.

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“The most important constituent that a CEO has is their employees. It all starts there.”

The pandemic has hurt many businesses but PayPal isn’t one of them. Inside PayPal’s unique opportunity to spur emerging economic recovery – and to make a longterm impact in the fight for racial justice.

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“You have to figure out: How do I do enough?”

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.

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“Opportunity is not spread as evenly with talent in this country.”

Ford Foundation president Darren Walker on what’s happening now: “This was like 1918, 1929 and 1968 in one week.”

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“We all got to decide what parts of our businesses survive.”

A surprisingly candid and upbeat interview on the industry hardest hit by the pandemic.

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“Silence is a problem.”

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 more.

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“Our industry is transforming quickly – and no one’s going to wait for us.”

GM is now reopening auto plants, after shutting them in March, temporarily reducing pay for 69,000 employees, and making a fast pivot to produce masks and ventilators. But with the killing of George Floyd, things are hardly back to normal. 

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“On the other side of this in an economic recovery. But the transition is painful.”

Generation Covid has swarmed BuzzFeed, with audience numbers at record highs. Yet the pandemic’s economic effects have crushed the bottom line. Jonah Peretti talks about short term pain and longterm opportunity.

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“Being the first to close is one thing – but I don’t want to be the last to open.”

After shutting his iconic New York City restaurants, laying off 2,000 staffers (with hopes to re-hire) and returning a $10m PPP, Danny Meyer finds himself reconsidering nearly everything about his business model.

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“One Medical has an operating system that positions us to work at scale.”

Since One Medical’s IPO in January, CEO Amir Rubin has been forced to constantly adapt to the coronavirus pandemic, as healthcare needs, expectations, and behaviors shifted. If you have a consistent platform and mission, explains Amir, that operating system can be applied to even fast-changing environments.

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“Crisis brings out clarity.”

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.

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“It fills me with purpose to lead at a time when it’s hard.”

Tapping both personal experience and intuition, Lifeway CEO Julie Smolyansky has embraced action amid uncertainty.

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“A large corporation has a large responsibility in a crisis.”

Boom times don’t necessarily mean easy times. CEO Hans Vestberg on what the future looks like for Verizon.

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“Sports are the new town square.”

In sports, everyone has an opinion. We’re talking with Scott O’Neil about leadership challenges and what the new era of sports and entertainment can look like. 

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“Healthcare is fundamentally going to change.”

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 required to perform under extraordinary pressure.

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“Answers lie in the data.”

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. 

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“If the data and the hypothesis don’t match up, you don’t throw away the data.”

What health institutions are grappling with, how they need to rethink how they operate, and what all of us can learn from this moment.

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“When things are tough, organizations forget about creating opportunities.”

What do you do when you can’t serve customers in cafes and carry on business as usual? You try unusual things, says CEO Niren Chaudhary. 

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“You don’t make better decisions in a crisis because it’s a crisis. They may just be faster.”

Everyone’s looking for a box of crisis tricks. But the hard truth is that it simply doesn’t exist, says retired General Stanley McChrystal. 

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“In crisis, first communicate. Then innovate.”

For Chewy, the pet-supply company, that’s 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. 

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“People get it: the power of proximity.”

A neighborhood is more than just the people who share a common address, says Nextdoor CEO Sarah Friar. It’s every space that makes up your daily life. So Nextdoor is jumping in, rolling out new features like Help Maps and Groups so residents can connect and coordinate. 

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“Government matters – and we’ve neglected that machinery.”

Jen Pahlka co-founded U.S. Digital Response, a nonpartisan group working to help local governments leading crisis response. She shares what she’s seeing now – and what a modern government could do in the future.

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“The book on remote work isn’t written. We’re just learning as we go.”

Your team is likely working remote. Now what? Can you turn a temporary scramble into a long term benefit? We’re asking bitcoin pioneer Wences Casares, who runs a fully distributed company at his unicorn bitcoin startup, Xapo. 

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“In times of crisis and anxiety, people can actually be more altruistic.”

Charles Best on how to listen to what your community really needs – and pivot to address changing needs.

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“We can’t take care of guests if we don’t take care of our team first.”

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,” says Brian. 

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“Pause and say, ‘Let me be a human first.'”

What will the entrepreneurial world look like on the other side of this? Reid Hoffman sits on the other side of the mic, sharing his thoughts.

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“We need to make the gig economy work for everyone.”

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. 

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“Crisis counselors are heroes in jammies, not capes.”

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 right now.

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Transportation is the root of economic activity and mobility.”

Even though ride sharing is sharply down, transportation remains key – for essential workers and for our supply chain. So Lyft is flexing some new muscles and hoping that by Lyft staying true to its mission, they’ll come out successful on the other side.

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“Hourly workers represent a hero class.”

At Boston’s Cue Ball Group, Tony’s portfolio includes companies that employ hundreds of nail care workers, cooks and servers, and he’s asking: How can we protect hourly workers and help them prepare for an uncertain future?

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“Create your own trajectory. Write your own story.”

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.

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“A new, better Airbnb will emerge.”

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.

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“How do you put people first without putting them out of business?”

Danny Meyer shares how and why he acted so quickly to initiate layoffs.

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“This is the largest stimulus bill for Main Street in the history of the United States.”

How can you get emergency assistance? Should you consider crowd-funding? Karen Cahn tells you what you need to know.

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“Different working styles will make us more resilient.”

At Automattic, Matt Mullenweg runs an almost entirely remote team. As more of us shift to remote work, we’re asking: how does Matt do it?

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EPISODE 2

The Money Episode

With Mariam Naficy
Founder and CEO of Minted

Cameo appearances by Selina Tobaccowala (Evite, Gixo), Daniel Kahneman (Nobel Prize-winning psychologist) and more.

Photography By Jacqui Ipp

COMING MAY 10

IMPERFECT IS PERFECT

With Mark Zuckerberg
Founder & CEO of Facebook

Cameo appearances: Kara Goldin (Hint Water), Susan Danzinger (Ziggeo), Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook) and Dick Stockton (Hall of Fame sportscaster)

Photography By Jacqui Ipp

COMING SOON

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