Renowned historian (and my former Harvard Business School professor) Richard Tedlow returns for the latest installment in our series of conversations exploring the lives and lessons of charismatic business leaders. This time, we consider the story of Henry Ford, the legendary entrepreneur who put American on wheels, but whose later years were marked by a declining business and virulent anti-Semitism. We explore the question of how such successful entrepreneur, who appeared invincible, can fall from grace.
Teju Ravilochan, co-founder of the Unreasonable Institute / Uncharted social enterprise accelerator, and founder of of GatherFor.org joins me to talk about his journey in the world of social impact and dive deep into the unanswerable questions of social impact. Teju takes a deep and unflinching look at the shortcomings of the social impact space, where he was such a star, and tries to find a better way forward.
I recently held a live Q&A session via Zoom. While I can't share the Q&A session for privacy reasons, I am sharing the fireside chat portion of the proceedings. If you want to attend a future live session, follow me on LinkedIn:
Lindsey Mead joins me to interview our classmate Anthony Marino. We discuss how Lindsey and Anthony knew each other at Princeton, what it was like growing up in a big, traditional Italian family in New Jersey (hint: a Cadillac full of cantaloupes was involved), and recall some memorable moments from Anthony's time at HBS. We also convince Lindsey to stop donating her old clothes to Goodwill, and start selling them through ThredUp!
I will be collaborating with my old friend and former professor, historian Richard Tedlow, on a series of episodes where we discuss some of the most charismatic business leaders in history. We kick off the series with a conversation about Steve Jobs, how his status as an out-of-wedlock adopted child may have affected his path, and how his guiding principles made both using his products and working at Apple an emotionally compelling experience.
Note that at one point in time Richard mentions meeting with Phil Schiller; he misspoke. He actually met with Ron Johnson.
With all of us settling in to remote work, who better to learn from than Ultranauts, an innovative remote-first company. Ultranauts provides onshore quality engineering using a neurodiverse team (75% of its employees are on the autism spectrum), which enables the company to outperform both IBM and CapGemini.
I speak with the company's co-founder and CEO, Rajesh Anandan (an old friend via Unreasonable) and SVP Quality & Strategy Nicole Radziwill. We discuss the company's origins from Rajesh's time at UNICEF, how Nicole first received her autism spectrum diagnosis in college, and Ultranaut's innovative "biodex" Slackbot for creating "user manuals" for every employee.
The very awesome Trevor Loy returns with an update on the government stimulus programs that entrepreneurs should apply for. A lot has changed since our last podcast a few weeks ago, so tune in for the most up-to-the-minute advice!
It's one of the most-requested and most-anticipated interviews in the history of the podcast. Finally, I sit down with Mental Samurai Grand Champion Heather Hurley to talk about life under quarantine, her childhood, her history with game shows ("my weird side hustle"), and the fact that she really does wear pink and dress like a librarian in real life.
During the podcast, we talk extensively about her appearance on "The Chase," which she first encountered on vacation in the UK, and on which her team won a then-record $180,000. You can find the complete episode on YouTube.
We end with some words of inspiration for all you aspiring game show contestants out there!
Scott Johnson of Blitzscaling Ventures returns to talk about three interesting VC deals from April. We discuss mega-success Square, loyalty currency Props, and the brilliantly-named Trash Warrior. We also discuss the continuing impact of Covid-19 on the venture business.
My guest in this episode is my classmate Kurt Daniel, who talks about his long career in high tech, what it's like to be an entrepreneur for the first time, and some of his interactions with Bill Gates during their time at Microsoft. A fun bit of behind-the-scenes trivia: our recording was interrupted by a major Comcast internet outage which took down my home internet connection for two whole days, forcing us to split our recording into two sessions. Can you guess where the audio switches from session 1 to session 2?
We're back with another Class of 2000 Reunion episode. This time, Lindsey and I chat with Arcadia Kim, dialing in from Hong Kong. We discuss Arcadia's meteoric rise in the videogame industry, why she chose to retire to raise a family, and her new initiative, the Infinite Screentime movement, which encourages parents to stop feeling guilty about screentime (especially during this pandemic) and instead focus on how to make screentime a positive for their children's development.
One of my professors from my time at HBS, the acclaimed business historian Richard Tedlow, joins me to talk about his long career and his upcoming book on the power and peril of charismatic leaders. We discuss the positives and negatives of charismatic leaders with a focus on Steve Jobs and President Donald Trump, including an analysis of how Richard believes Donald Trump's opponents should puncture his chaotic charisma.
Scott Johnson of Blitzscaling Ventures drops by for another round of blitzscaling investment analysis. In this episode, we discuss two venture deals from November 2019, Guild Education and ACV Auctions. As with our October deals episode, we cover the analysis we produced last year, then discuss how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected their businesses.
My old friend Patty McCord returns, this time to discuss the future of work and corporate culture post-Covid-19. We discuss how the pandemic will not only affect how people think about work, but offers a once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunity. Now is the time to ask yourself, "What are we doing better because of the pandemic (so that we don't go back to the old ways)? What have we learned doesn't really matter (so we can never do it again)?"
Join Lindsey Mead and I for a very special podcast episode. We catch up with Sejal Shah Gulati, who discusses her life growing up on Long Island and how her life turned out so different than she expected while she was at HBS. Sej also tells the story of how her beloved, completely healthy father contracted Covid-19, and went from minor symptoms to organ failure in just a few days, how a caring doctor allowed Sej's mother to hold her father's hand as he passed away, and how she, her sister, and her mother have mourned his death. None of us is safe from this terrible disease; the best we can do is to try to draw what lessons we can from its seemingly senseless impact. We also ask our usual lightning round questions, and find out the very specific reason Sej would want the power of invisibility. Tune in, and bring your tissues.
Wondering how to lead your team during the Covid-19 crisis? I persuaded my old friend Patty McCord to come on the podcast and share her wisdom. Patty is the world's leading practitioner of building high-performance cultures, and is also a lot of fun to talk with. Patty and I discuss her book, her career, and her advice for CEOs navigating the crisis. Patty also comes up with a brilliant podcast/book idea during the interview...if we end up pursuing it, this episode will mark where it all began!
Frantz Alphonse, fresh off the birth of his second child this week, stops by to chat with Lindsey Mead and I about his post-HBS life, how he changed his diet and lifestyle for the better, and how a single chance remark changed the trajectory of his career.
I'm joined by my friend Eli Schwartz, one of the world's leading SEO experts, to discuss how Covid-19 has impacted marketing, why companies should keep investing in marketing during the pandemic, and how they can best "play the rebound" when the Covid-19 pandemic recedes. You can find Eli at https://www.elischwartz.co/.
Lindsey Mead and I are joined by our classmate and my old friend, Kwame Jackson. We discuss Kwame's unique career path (from Goldman Sachs to The Apprentice to entrepreneur and TV news stalwart) as well as how he and the rest of us deal with shocks like the Dot Com bust, 9/11, and the current Covid-19 pandemic. We also reminisce about our HBS days, and the time that Kwame was the headliner for a political fundraiser for an obscure Illinois State Senator named Barack Obama.
In this episode, I'm joined by classmate Greg Pal. We discuss his many years in Boston, how he used an RFP process to choose a religion to join, and how his very first comment in Aldrich Hall was the highlight of his HBS career!
Scott Johnson of Blitzscaling Ventures returns for another round of blitzscalability analysis. We look at deals done in October of 2019, sharing the assessment we produced then, as well as an update on how those companies are doing during the Covid-19 pandemic. This months companies are e-commerce enabled Faire, oil and gas services marketplace RigUp, and lending platform PeerStreet.
Scott Johnson of Blitzscaling Ventures joins me to review three March venture deals: AllSet, Proxy, and Lyra Health. We also discuss how Covid-19 has negatively impacted many startups, even "bits-based" businesses like software and marketplaces.
In this episode, Lindsey Mead and I interview our classmate John F. Carrier, who now teaches at MIT's Sloan School of Management. As befitting a business school instructor, John shares his knowledge and erudition (including some very interesting book and article picks). Fun fact: He actually remembers 26 of the cases we learned in TOM (Technology Operations Management) our first year. Honestly, I couldn't even remember one! It's a good thing he's the one fixing factory floors and not me.
You can find John's blog here: https://jfcarrie.mit.edu/blog
In particular, he will be leading a webinar on Using Digital Technology to Rapidly Recover from Operational Interruptions on April 30, so register now!
Trevor Loy is a venture capitalist and all-around good person who has been doing great work on Twitter demystifying the alphabet soup of coronavirus relief programs. I invited Trevor on the podcast to talk about his journey (he is the only prominent VC I know who works in New Mexico) and explain what he has learned about the various coronavirus relief programs that Congress has passed in the past month. Trevor also explains how you can help your favorite local businesses obtain tens of thousands of dollars, rather than simply ordering a takeout meal or buying a gift card.
Trevor's Twitter account: https://twitter.com/trevorloy
Programs mentioned during the podcast:
Lindsey Mead and I interview our classmate Gadi Slade (whom I also knew when he was an undergraduate at Stanford) about his experiences at HBS and how his life has gone over the past 20 years. You'll learn the key roles that Frank Sinatra, Simon and Garfunkel, and Mt. Everest played in his life, and get his advice about how to manage the coronavirus crisis.
I'm joined by special guest Scott Johnson of Blitzscaling Ventures to review three hot ventures from February 2020. Scott and I walk through three different deals: Roblox, Maven Clinic, and Iora Health.
My friend and HBS classmate Lindsey Mead and I preview our upcoming series of interviews with our business school classmates. Since our in-person reunion has been cancelled (current plans are to replace it with a "blackjack" reunion in 2021), we're filling the gap with a series of interviews to allow our classmates to catch up on what their old friends have been up to.
In this introductory double episode, Lindsey and I interview each other, previewing the set of questions we'll be asking our classmates.
I'm joined by Scott Johnson of Blitzscaling Ventures to discuss OfferUp, the local marketplace company that recently bought its rival LetGo and raised $120 million. We discuss the history of OfferUp, my own usage of the service as a substitute for hauling goods to the garbage dump, and run through a blitzscalability analysis of the company before congratulating my friend Josh Breinlinger of Jackson Square Ventures, who led the company's Series A round in 2013.
I'm joined by special guest Scott Johnson of Blitzscaling Ventures to review three hot ventures from January 2020. Scott and I explain our blitzscaling analysis and walk through three different deals: Security.ai, Launch Darkly, and Roof Stock.
Dr. Jackie took time out of her incredibly busy schedule (she just had time to squeeze me in between 28-hour shifts) to record this interview. Think of it as an appetizer, allowing you to learn about her incredible family, how trying beauty pageants in college helped turn her from a shy nerd into the amazing, born-to-the-stage nerd we know and love, and her other television in a famous singing competition. Start thinking of follow-up questions you'd like me to ask when Jackie returns!
I hope you enjoy this super-sized interview with Ryan "Mr. Fabulous" Jones. We discuss Ryan's life, including the impact of Hurricane Katrina on his family. Ryan then reveals that he is actually a second-generation game show contestant, following in the footsteps of his mom and dad, who both won big on Wheel of Fortune. He was literally raised to be on TV, which he proved on Wheel of Fortune, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, and Mental Samurai. We also talk about his passion, Soulcycle, and how his first session literally changed his life. Finally, we do a deep dive into the behind-the-scenes machinations of Mental Samurai, which explained a number of things that I had been wondering about, and conclude with some suggestions for how we might return to your living rooms in the future. Enjoy!
In this special episode, Season 1 competitor, seasoned game show guy, and litigator extraordinaire Joey Gutmann interviews me about the Mental Samurai finale, my April 30 run, and my future in the game show world. We do discuss the results of the finale, so if you haven't watched it yet, this is your spoiler alert. Stick around for the end, where Joey makes a surprise announcement to share some incredible news.
In this episode, I interview fellow Mental Samurai Ben Bergstrom, whose run appeared in Episode 9 of Season 1. In this extended interview, Ben and I discuss his amazing life story (he is the biological son of a famous actress, his adopted parents are actors, and he thought he might want to become a lawyer before ultimately moving to Hollywood to become an actor), the dramatic events of his run, and why his birth mom was so animated during the show. This is the longest interview yet, so enjoy!
My recap of the final regular season episode of Mental Samurai, Season 1. I discuss the runs of Boris Chernin (the emergency consultant), Marlie Clarke (the flight attendant), Courtney Courter (the model), Miles Nye (the game maker), Eric Schroeder (the tennis pro), Josh Kronz (the math teacher) and Ben Bergstrom (the bartender). In particular, I discuss how Ben's approach helped him become a Mental Samurai (don't rush!) and fill people in on the story behind his surprisingly young and attractive mom, Amy!
I sit down with Unreasonable FUTURE fellow Mary Hayes, the founder and CEO of WorkBay, and talk about the remarkable work she does in communities around the country. To learn more about Mary and WorkBay, visit: http://www.workbay.net
I'm joined by my old friend Pascal Finette as we discuss his career, what brought him to Silicon Valley, and how important it is to encourage entrepreneurs to be thoughtful about how they are changing the world.
Chris Yeh is back with another Mental Samurai episode recap! This week's competitors were Alex Goines (the adventure racer), Marissa Willman (the woman gamer), Arius George (the trick shot cop), Zach Engel (Tom Selleck meets Billy Ray Cyrus), Kristy Agamegwa (the late-in-life graduate), and Dylan Gentile (the classical pianist). This week's episode features two winners who are going on to the May 21 season finale!
It's a banner day--two episodes in a single afternoon. Can we go for three?
In this episode, I interview my fellow Tuesday competitor Stella Zawistowski. We get to learn all about her eclectic life, including how she got into crosswords, and how "revenge dating" after breaking off an engagement allowed her to find true love with her husband. Tune in and hear about her upcoming performance at Carnegie Hall!
In this episode, I interview former Marine Corps intelligence officer and current stay-at-home dad Adam Thomas about his life journey, and his run on Mental Samurai. I think you'll enjoy hearing the details on how he and his wife met in Iraq without ever seeing each other face-to-face, how he ended up on the show (hint: Once again, it was MENSA), and why the circumstances of his run may have contributed to his going too quickly.
In this extra-special recap, I discuss the action of Episode 7 of Mental Samurai, including my own run which led to my being crowned the third Mental Samurai (after Nathan Gonzalez and Dr. Jackie). I also talk a little bit about the experience of hosting my own Mental Samurai watch party. Competitors covered include Nick Bremner (the Accountant), Matthew Schultz (the Handsome Pastor), La Tawnya Robinson (the 3rd-Grade Teacher), Kenyatta Smith (the Firefighter), Roz Paul (the 74-year-young Retiree), and Adam Thomas (the Marine turned Stay-at-Home Dad). This episode features some extensive discussion of the pros and cons of taking your time.
In today's episode, I recap the action from Episode 6 of this season of Mental Samurai. The theme of today's show was the Memory tower, as contestant after contestant--including two memory champions, Ron White and Luis Angel--lost on Memory questions. Today's competitors were Hannah Cussen (Stanford freshman and tae kwon do black belt), Steve Kaye (Las Vegas entertainment executive), Chad Poist (farmboy, dad, and supply chain manager), Stella Zawistowski (crossword champion), and the night's big winner, Ryan "Mr. Fun" Jones (soulcycle instructor, fabulous).
I hope you enjoy this extended interview with America's first Mental Samurai, Nathan Gonzalez! We dig deep into his life, including how he ended up carrying on the family tradition in the hospital, his days as a football star, before a devastating injury ended his dreams of a Division 1 scholarship, and what he has planned for the future. We also discuss some of the crazy things he encountered backstage, which make his amazing run even more impressive.
In this episode, I interview Mental Samurai competitor Matt Potts, a Marine and Mensa member who came up just one question short of perfection. Matt and I discuss his life and journey, and his very cool plans for after he retires from the Marine Corps.
In this episode, I recap the action that took place in Episode 5 of Mental Samurai (Tuesday, April 16). I discuss the runs of Glenn Hetrick (the black-belt pilot), Ed Moses (the Olympic Gold medalist), Jack Vomacka (the USC freshman and aspiring fantasy novelist), Nancy Jo Perdue (the retired journalist), and Dr. Jackie Boheme (the anesthesiologist). I also spend some extra time discussing Dr. Jackie's amazing story, which I think the show edited down simply because it is so unbelievable that a single person could be so accomplished. I hope you enjoy the episode!
In this episode, I interview the first pair of spouses to tackle Mental Samurai, Stephanie and Jameson Thornton. We talk about how they met (Mensa), what they do for fun (Mensa), and re-live their thrilling pair of runs, which ended up giving Jameson the family bragging rights.
I recap the action in Episode 4. Stephanie and Jameson Thornton became the first husband and wife couple to compete on Mental Samurai, and while Stephanie might win most of their matchups, Jameson came out on top, though neither finished the course. Matt Potts, the Marine intelligence officer completed the course and nearly became a Mental Samurai, missing only the final question, but still won $75,000, and will be back for the season finale on May 21. Leah Khoury and Marlena Gasper both had good runs, but may have been tripped up by time pressure. And finally, Andrew Ames set a new record by taking all five minutes and failing to answer Question 1. Hey, he still got on TV!
In this episode, I interview Episode 3 competitor Marie Criddle. We discuss her upbringing and family, how she ended up going on Mental Samurai, and what it felt like to sit across from Rob Lowe. I think you'll enjoy Marie's story, and I hope we see her on television again soon.
Join me for an interview with Episode 3's "Queen" Jaimi Alexander. We discuss her eventful life, how she got into show business, and of course, whether or not she listens to Neil Young or has been to Albany. Enjoy!
Greetings from Unreasonable FUTURE, the first social impact accelerator focused on the future of work. I sit down with Unreasonable Group Founder and CEO Daniel Epstein for a conversation about the past and present of the Unreasonable Group. We even swear at one point!
Hey Mental Samurai fans! I hope you enjoy these interviews with two more competitors from the season premiere, Jorden Halvorsen, one of America's only female bull riders, and writer and performer Becky Eldridge, who came oh so close to completing the course. Thanks to both of these wonderful ladies for making time to record these interviews!
I provide a recap with color commentary on Mental Samurai Episode 2 (airdate March 26, 2019). One of the in-depth topics I discuss is the dichotomy between the "all business" and "dramatic" approaches to running the course, illustrated by Heather and Mitch's respective runs.
Want the inside scoop on Fox's Mental Samurai? Season 1 competitor Chris Yeh (that's me!) talks about the show and interviews his fellow competitors. In this episode, hear from Clay Anderson (the astronaut), Joey Guttman (the lawyer), and Episode 1's big winner, Sam Durbin (the drag queen).