Masters of Scale with Reid Hoffman
How do companies grow from zero to a gazillion? Legendary Silicon Valley investor / entrepreneur Reid Hoffman tests his theories with famous founders. Guests include Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg & Sheryl Sandberg, Netflix’s Reed Hastings, Google’s Eric Schmidt, Spanx's Sara Blakely. With original music and hilariously honest stories, the show sounds like nothing you’ve ever heard. Masters of Scale is a WaitWhat original series in association with Stitcher.
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Google has succeeded by innovating again and again. Not just search, but Gmail and Google Docs and even self-driving cars. Their secret? They don’t tell their employees how to innovate; they manage the chaos. Eric Schmidt—CEO of Google since 2001 and now Chairman of parent company Alphabet—shares the controversial management techniques he created to cultivate an environment of free-flowing ideas plus disciplined decision making that lead to breakthrough ideas. He reveals the hidden secret in Google’s famous “20% time” policy, their approach to hiring smart creatives, and the parallels between leading Google and piloting small airplanes. Plus, his “roommate” at Google, and the decision he made to support a crazy idea that he was certain would bankrupt the company.
If you’re Steve Jobs, you can wait for your product to be perfect. But there are almost no Steve Jobs’ in the world. For the rest of us, If you’re not embarrassed by your first product release, you’ve released it too late. Imperfect is perfect. Why? Because your assumptions about what people want are never exactly right. Most entrepreneurs create great products through a tight feedback loop with real customers using a real product. So don’t fear imperfections; they won’t make or break your company. What will make or break you is speed. And no one knows this better than Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. He shares the origin story of his famous mantra, “move fast and break things” and how this ethos applied as Facebook evolved from student project to tech giant.
[A favorite episode returns!] To succeed as an entrepreneur, you need grit. But grit is more than persistence. You’re not just charging up the same hill over and over. You're generating an endless supply of Plans B. And Nancy Lublin always has a Plan B, and C, and D. It’s this kind of grit that fueled her success scaling three not-for-profits: Dress for Success, DoSomething.org and Crisis Text Line. With practical wisdom and wicked humor, she shares the innovative approach to technology, financing, volunteers and staff development that helped her organizations scale.
You can marshal the power of millennials to grow your company, but you have to redefine your concept of loyalty. To keep millennials as users (and employees), you’ll need to keep evolving — and help them evolve. No one understands this better than Brit + Co Founder Brit Morin. As a maker and media creator, Brit is constantly co-evolving with her (mostly millennial) audience—and team. It’s a secret to scale with the generation adapted to a world of constant change. | With a cameo appearance by relationship therapist Esther Perel (Bestselling author and Host of the podcast “Where Should We Begin”). Esther has lately turned her eye toward work relationships; her perspective on the millennial generation — and the broad social trends that have shaped their collective character — may give you an “Aha!” moment.
Your first hires = cultural cofounders. And it’s worth your time to get every one right. Workday CEO Aneel Bhusri personally interviewed his first FIVE HUNDRED employees at Workday. He knows how to map back from the culture he wants, to employee attributes to interview questions. Today, with 8000+ employees and $2b in annual revenue, Workday is consistently rated one of the best places to work. With cameo appearances by Danny Meyer (Founder, Shake Shack), Arianna Huffington (founder, Thrive Global), Michael Bush (CEO, Great Place to Work) and Joyce Nethry (founder of Jeptha Creed Distillery).
To revolutionize an industry, you have to cast off received wisdom. Shake Shack’s Danny Meyer knows this well. When he opened his first high-end restaurant, New York’s Union Square Cafe, received wisdom told him food was the star attraction. But Danny knew to focus on how customers FEEL. And it’s this feeling – Danny calls it “enlightened hospitality” — that he’s scaled. From his first innovative restaurants, Union Square Café and Gramercy Tavern, to the dramatic scale story of Shake Shack, Danny cast off received wisdom and wrote his own rules: The staff comes first; investors comes last; the customer isn’t always right; and “service” is not the same as “hospitality.” His simple ideas have radical implications for any industry. With a cameo appearance from Rick Barry (Former NBA player.)
To survive your entrepreneurial journey, you have to learn to recharge. In fact, knowing when to turn the lights OUT may be the only way to keep the lights on. You need a sustainable strategy that maximizes your team's efficiency, while avoiding burnout. And for that — you have to know when and HOW to refuel. Few know this better than Arianna Huffington, who dramatically scaled the Huffington Post — and then experienced profound physical burnout. Her new venture,Thrive Global, scales the idea of balance across an organization. With cameo appearances from Chris Yeh (co-author, Blitzscaling) and Dr. Matt Walker (Author, Why We Sleep).
Normally, trust = consistency + time. But when you're scaling fast — you have to find shortcuts, with your partners and your users. Spotify CEO Daniel Ek knows a thing or two about this. When he founded Spotify, he did what no disruptor had ever done before: He worked WITH the industry he was trying to reinvent. How did Ek build a relationship with a music industry wary of piracy? He found shortcuts to trust. And not just with the music industry, but users too: 140M of them. With cameo appearances from Gustav Söderström (Spotify's Chief Research & Development Officer) and Miles Daisher (Red Bull Air Force),
You can scale big with a simple idea (and a tiny team!) — but only if you catch the prevailing winds. That's what Kevin Systrom did when he co-founded Instagram: The simple photo app tapped the right trends, built on larger social networks, and dodged the complexities that would have slowed them down. The result? 30M users in 18 months. And a $1B sale of a 13-person company. With a cameo by Rohan Gunatillake (Buddhify).
Can't find the star employees you need? Then make them. That's what Marissa Mayer did when she founded the Associate Product Manager program at Google — one of the company's crown jewels. She mentored a team of young, hungry, talented employees in the ways of Google, and they helped drive its success. She followed that same mindset when she became Yahoo CEO, a role she reflects on in the show. With a cameo by Karen Kirkland (Nickelodeon).
To succeed, you have to be relentless about pursuing a big opportunity — and ruthless about killing your own bad ideas along the way. Zynga founder Mark Pincus up-ended the gaming industry with social games like Farmville and Words with Friends. And he did it by gathering data; killing ideas that didn't move the needle, and going all-in on the ones that did. With cameos by Andrea Jones-Rooy, analyst at FiveThirtyEight, and comedian Matt Ruby, founder of Vooza.
You may think that to scale you need to cut humans out of the equation. The opposite is true. You can harness the power of the "human cloud" to solve almost any problem — as long as you keep the word “human” in the equation. That's what TaskRabbit CEO Stacy Brown-Philpot champions for this community of people who work with each other, teach each other, and continually learn from each other. With cameos by DeLashea Strawder (Mosaic Youth Theater in Detroit) and Whitney Johnson (Author, "Build An A Team").