Want to go on an exuberant, incisive ride through why so many initiatives flounder and how, conversely, you can increase the odds of success? Then listening to John List will be for you. List takes us through his favorite, highly relevant behavior economic principles: loss aversion, confirmation bias and framing among them. Then this episode digs into why 50 to 90% of initiatives fail to scale. List emphasizes the role that false positives and unscalable ingredients play. As to the secrets of building out an idea, knowing when to quit stands out for reasons worth listening in for. Finally, the importance of scaling a company’s corporate culture explains why the gladiatorial culture at Uber wasn’t sustainable at scale.
John List is a professor of economics at both the University of Chicago and the Australian National University. After being the chief economist at Uber and Lfyt, he now holds that role at Walmart. He’s also previously been on the Council of Economic Advisers for The White House.
Want to know the challenges bedeviling NATO as it seeks to arm Ukraine? This week’s guest is as good a source as any, given how much the combination of Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine have put the focus on procurement. An area normally the “corporate equivalent of being sent to Siberia” (to quote this book) has now moved front-and-center. Triplat and the other three colleagues at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) who collaborated on Profit from the Source emphasize the need not just to save costs, but for companies and their suppliers to join forces to optimize the innovation process together. Right now the average CEO spends no more than about 5% of his or her time on the procurement process. Since over 50% of a company’s expenditures involve suppliers, clearly a realignment of priorities is overdue.
For this week’s guest Greg Hoffman, the characteristics of empathy and curiosity are central to everything from finding your place in the world, to connecting with others, to building a brand that exhibits a true sense of purpose by empowering people to realize their potential. Along the way, this episode also explores both the value and limits of data-driven marketing takes on the central role of smartphones today, and goes back into Hoffman’s own backstory as a mixed-race child growing up in a nearly all-white suburb of Minneapolis. In art and sports, Hoffman found a path forward.
Greg Hoffman is a global brand leader, advisor, speaker, and former Nike Chief Marketing Office. He’s now the founder and principal of the brand advisory group Modern Arena as well as a branding instructor at the University of Oregon’s Lundquist School of Business and a member of the Board of Trustees at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD).
Have you ever seen the TED talk video on YouTube where Capuchin monkeys get enraged when some receive cucumbers and other monkeys more delicious grapes for completing the same task? Welcome to the inequality basis, whereby a lack of fairness drives all of us crazy. Whether it’s a matter of employees getting different pay for the same job, or consumers feeling like some people get better deals than others, feelings of injustice may not be clearly articulated but can—and will–most definitely drive our behavior. How similar is what people say and how they feel? Not much, says my guest this week. Richard Chataway estimates that, in fact, verbal input may at best get you 50% of the way to understanding how somebody might actually behave. Other topics covered in this episode include why inspiring disgust helped an anti-smoking campaign Chataway worked on do so well, and how Hilton Hotels leveraged the use of the Big Five personality model to increase clicks and shares online.
Richard Chataway is the CEO of BVA Nudge Consulting UK and the founder of the Communication Science Group. Clients have included: Lloyds Banking Group, Google, and IKEA. He’s also a former board member of the Association of Business Psychology in the UK.
Brain teasers invite you; in contrast, brain embarrassers are songs listeners can’t get a handle on readily enough, causing them to give up and move on to another song. That contrast is but one of the many fine distinctions Mike Errico makes in this engaging, whimsical-and-yet-serious book about the art of crafting music. This episode spans a range from what constitutes a mission song (which lay out the story of the artist, e.g. Bruce Springsteen’s wanderlust), to what kind of flavor gets created depending on whether the melody starts on, before, or after the downbeat. Let’s take as Mike does some famous Beatles songs as a point of reference. Melodies that start on the downbeat feel authoritative (“Yesterday”). Melodies that start before the downbeat feel urgent, with the singer taking control (“She Loves You”). And those that follow the downbeat feel conversational (“All You Need Is Love”). Want to know about the Four Quadrants of Trust? That’s another reason to give this episode a listen.
Mike Errico is a New York-based record artist, writer, and lecturing professor at universities including Yale, Wesleyan, and NYU. Besides international touring, Mike has had his opinions and insights appear in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, and elsewhere.
What sometimes gets overlooked is that Adam Smith not only became the “father of capitalism” by writing The Wealth of Nations; he also wrote The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Empathy matters, and this week’s guest Morris Altman argues that sustainable capitalism practices fairness. Too often the basic economic needs of rank-and-file workers are overlooked in a global economic where the wealthy call the shots. From anti-immigrant rhetoric to events in Ukraine, this is a timely episode that subjects the purported move from shareholder capitalism to stakeholder capitalism to skeptical examination. Want more engaged workers? To achieve that goal, make them more truly empowered, with their input acted on and rewarded alike.
Morris Altman is the Dean of the University of Dundee’s School of Business. He’s published over 130 referred papers and 17 books. He’s also held academic posts at the University of Saskatchewan, Victoria University, Newcastle University, and at Hebrew University, Stanford, Cornell and Duke.
Rarely will executives leave themselves vulnerable by sharing what they have done wrong in managing people. Mohammad Anwar is that rare exception, even going so far as to share on the air his “infamous refrigerator email” where he tore into employees for leaves a “disgusting” mess in the company’s breakroom refrigerator. How to create a psychologically safe place to work is the underlying theme of this episode. The topics range from answering why new hires at Anwar’s company, Softway, always start on a Friday to explaining how giving “spot raises” works better than the previous “fish market” system of dickering for pay increases as part of annual performance reviews. Whatever the topic, the emphasis is always on how to take new and corrective actions to create a more inspiring, inclusive corporate culture.
In essence, the distrust that must be overcome in business partnerships involving large companies and startups consists of Will they screw up? versus Will they screw us over? In other words, large companies inevitably harbor concerns about the competency and reliability of their startup partners. In turn, entrepreneurs rightly worry that they will be taken advantage of, with their I.P. being co-opted or outright stolen. To establish trust rather than fear isn’t easy, as Dr. Prashantham acknowledges in this episode. Distrust can only be resolved by establishing how the partnership is a true win-win. At the same time, the person at the “bridge” on the corporation’s side must be at once an advocate, a diplomat, and mentor, spanning boundaries within the corporation to bring multiple business units on-board to ensure the collaboration can succeed. All this and more gets covered in this episode, which concludes by exploring how the answer to the question, “What’s the next China?” may actually be China outside of its largest, showcase cities.
Dr. Shameen Prasantham is Professor of International Business & Strategy and Associate Dean (MBA) at China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) in Shanghai, China. His academic specialty is business partnerships that contribute to sustainable development goals.
This episode could have just as easily been called “The Democratization of innovation.” After all, the fundamental thrust of this book and our conversation was about moving innovation beyond the “usual suspects,” i.e., the R & D Department, and spreading innovation opportunities across the ranks. Most promising of all for soliciting input might be front-line employees, who know best the frustrations and disappointments of customers. Others to include range from current and potential customers to distributors and other business allies. Where might resistance emerge to such an expansive view of the innovation process? The answer could be middle managers, focused on executing the current business model. To win them over, it may be necessary to combine coaching about the importance and means of innovating with monetary incentives or placing limits on their career growth if they don’t “play ball.” If there’s a regrettable need to play the heavy, at times, it’s because as the saying goes, “It’s not that people see the light so much as they feel the heat.”
Ben Bensaou is a professor and former Dean of Executive Education at INSEA. He’s also been a visiting professor at the Harvard Business School, a research fellow at the Wharton School of Management, and a visiting scholar at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley.
Almost all of the new jobs created in America come from small businesses. As Pamela Slim reports, the precise number may be as high as 99%. And those same small businesses also provide over 50% of the nation’s GDP. So why not focus more on these often-unheralded engines of growth? Slim honors small businesses with an expansive focus that includes Native American, Black, Latinx, Asian, disabled, and LGBTQ entrepreneurs. How can these businesses best find their respective niches, then expand them? Who’s their ideal customer? What kind of community partners can best further their mission and goals? Those and other vital topics are raised in this practical-minded episode.
Pamela Slim is an author, community builder, business coach, and former director of Training and Development at Barclays Global Investors. Among her accomplishments is partnering with author Susan Cain to build and launch The Quiet Revolution. Among her books is Escape from Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur.