As dangerous as obstacles and setbacks may appear, they can also present opportunities. Robert Reffkin, founder and CEO of the real estate platform, Compass, knows this well. The trick, he says, isn’t to avoid obstacles at all cost, but rather, to identify them quickly as resources you can harness. “You can’t do great things in the world if you don’t have that entrepreneurial, ‘I can do it’ energy,” Reffkin says. “And how do you get that energy? You dream a big dream.”
The ability to ask the right questions at the right times of the right people is an essential skill for every entrepreneur. For Michael Seibel, managing director at Y Combinator, action sometimes needs to take a back seat to asking: “Is this working?” Michael learned early on that by stopping to ask the counterintuitive question, he gained the wisdom – and avoided time lost to big mistakes – that ultimately propelled him forward.
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.
Frustration is an important signal: it indicates an opportunity, a problem to be solved, a path to scale. Adi Tatarko founded the online home-design site Houzz with her husband after their own home reno turned into a nightmare. By building a tool that flipped their frustration on its head, they’ve grown Houzz into a bustling platform and marketplace for homeowners, designers, architects, craftspeople. Learn how to identify frustration – and flip it.
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.
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.
Great branding is about identity – and it’s about matchmaking too. No one knows this better than the legendary co-founder of Nike, Phil Knight. When he and his partner, Hall of Fame track coach Bill Bowerman, started the sneaker company, they never tried to force-feed customers a product just to drive up the bottom line. They focused on one thing: making an excellent product for people who believed in the edgy Nike ethos. Because they knew, when there’s a mismatch between product and market, the bottom usually drops out. Instead, they told the world who the are, and then did everything they could to find their ideal customers. And made history. Cameo appearance: Eddy Lu (GOAT).
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.
“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.
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.
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.