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Masters of Scale with Reid Hoffman

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The best startup advice from Silicon Valley & beyond. Iconic CEOs — from Nike to Netflix, Starbucks to Slack — share the stories & strategies that helped them grow from startups into global brands.

On each episode, host Reid Hoffman — LinkedIn cofounder, Greylock partner and legendary Silicon Valley investor — proves an unconventional theory about how businesses scale, while his guests share the story of how I built this company. Reid and guests talk entrepreneurship, leadership, strategy, management, fundraising. But they also talk about the human journey — with all its failures and setbacks. 

With original, cinematic music and hilariously honest stories, Masters of Scale is a business podcast that doesn’t sound like a business podcast.

Guests on Masters of Scale have included the founders and CEOs of Netflix, Google, Facebook, Starbucks, Nike, Fiat, Spotify, Instagram, Airbnb, Uber, Paypal, Huffington Post, Twitter, Medium, Bumble, Yahoo, Slack, Spanx, Shake Shack, Dropbox, TaskRabbit, 23&Me, Mailchimp, Evite, Flickr, CharityWater, Endeavor, IAC and many more.

139 Episodes
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After suffering record shattering drops in revenue from Covid-19, JetBlue has had to rethink every plan and every assumption. Joanna Geraghty, JetBlue's president and chief operating officer, explains how the airline built a new system for flexing the business, to ramp up only when demand arises, deploying cost cuts but no furloughs, and looking for opportunity amid the downdraft. With JetBlue and airlines across the board now grappling with a renewed global infection surge, Geraghty says her decisions rely on new types of data as well as gut feeling – from re-opening middle seats starting in January to expanding flights to London. The volume of choices Geraghty has to make and the uncertainty around the risks are dizzying. But despite the challenges, she says, JetBlue is rising up.
The best business ideas often seem laughable at first glance. So if you’re hearing a chorus of “no’s” – it may actually be a good sign. Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Airbnb – they all sounded crazy before they scaled spectacularly. So don’t be discouraged by rejection. Instead, learn to hear the nuance in the different kinds of “no.” That’s what Tristan Walker did. After stints at two successful startups, he launched out on his own with Walker & Company, makers of the Bevel razor – and learned to navigate the world of investors who may or may not share your vision.Read a transcript of this interview at: https://mastersofscale.com/tristan-walker-beauty-of-a-bad-idea/Subscribe to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter at http://eepurl.com/dlirtX
Legendary ad agency Wieden+Kennedy pioneered some of the most successful campaigns in history. But 2020 has raised the stakes for companies—and fundamentally changed how advertising works, W+K president Colleen DeCourcy tells us. Even as her own business adapts to financial and cultural strains, DeCourcy and her team have been guiding brands from Nike to Coca-Cola to Uber in selecting the right messages in a turbulent world. Meshing an economic goal with an emotional message has never demanded more creativity. Brands should take a stand, she argues, but not on everything.Want to learn more about Wieden+Kennedy's work with Nike? Check out our episode with Nike founder Phil Knight: http://listen.mastersofscale.com/PhilKnight_WKRead the full transcript at mastersofscale.comSubscribe to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter: http://eepurl.com/dlirtX
Forget looking for a needle in a haystack – instead, build a new type of metal detector, to find undervalued assets that others don’t see. That’s exactly what Franklin Leonard did when he started The Black List, an annual survey of screenplays everyone loved (but no one was making). Devise ways to find things no one else has found – or didn’t think to look for – and it could be the difference that drives you to scale. Cameo: Software engineer Tatiana Mac.Learn more about The Black List: https://blcklst.com/Learn more about Tatiana Mac: https://tatianamac.com/
In-office engagement or remote flexibility? We don't need to choose, says Dropbox co-founder and CEO Drew Houston. Facing the biggest shift in work habits in half a century, Houston has embarked on a radical experiment to reimagine how work gets done. The company's recently announced Virtual First plan dedicates all in-office activity to creative, team-based efforts, rebranding its offices as Dropbox Studios. Individual work will happen offsite, either at home or a self-chosen co-working space. Project teams set their own schedules. The unique opportunity of this moment, Houston says: How do we make work better? Yes, he admits, remote work feeds Dropbox's business, which now includes a collaboration with Zoom as part of a re-thought product roadmap. If Dropbox is going to design for the future of work, says Houston, then its own workforce needs to live in that future, right now.
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).
With Covid-19 cases surging, businesses may be forced into a new wave of adjustments. Will the crisis-management tactics of spring and summer be successful as winter unfolds? Dr. Bon Ku, an ER physician at Jefferson University Hospital and director of the Health Design Lab, returns to the podcast to share what he’s seeing as we enter a new season and how we might respond. His proposals for health care delivery – about both heightened vigilance and creative shifts to financing, supply chains, digital tools, etc. – provide a bracing wake-up call. While doctors and hospitals have gotten much better at information sharing, testing, and treatment, Dr. Ku warns that without significant change we might be looking at a devastating period ahead.
Small business is being taxed emotionally as well as financially, and that tax is rising, says H&R Block CEO Jeff Jones. As the pandemic hit, entrepreneurs did what entrepreneurs do: solved problems, protected teams, served customers. But as uncertainty has persisted, anxiety among business owners has risen, even since the summer, according to a major new H&R Block study. With small enterprises the backbone of his customers, Jones has a unique vantage to offer advice and lessons: about asking for help, prioritizing needs, and finding calm. Jones sees small businesses as key to thriving economies, convinced that entrepreneurial resilience can eventually overcome all hurdles.Read the transcript at mastersofscale.com/rapidresponseSubscribe to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter at http://eepurl.com/dlirtX
Internet pioneer Caterina Fake knows: Online communities are built one human connection at a time. As the founder, you need to establish guidelines and norms from Day One – because the tone you set is the tone you’re going to keep, even as you go viral.Read the transcript at mastersofscale.com/communitySubscribe to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter at http://eepurl.com/dlirtX
95% of your business disappears. What do you do? Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson recounts how the travel industry drastically changed last spring, with hotel bookings all but disappearing overnight. In the midst of his own battle with cancer, Arne has spent the year balancing the needs of his workforce against those of his partners; having blunt but critical conversations; and empowering his team to make tough decisions. He has wise words about the role of business leaders in times of social unrest, including how to think about who you speak for – and when to speak up. Arne admits the hotel industry will take years to recover. That hasn't dimmed his personal belief that travel matters more than ever.Read the transcript at mastersofscale.com/rapidresponseSubscribe to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter at http://eepurl.com/dlirtX
A social network that limits your network? Yes. Meet Nextdoor, a hyperlocal social network that’s all about who you really are and where you really live. Although it goes against everything that we've come to expect from social networks, Nextdoor’s secret to scale lies in real personal connections based on empathy and kindness. And this is what Nextdoor CEO Sarah Friar knows: No, these connections don’t scale as fast – but they tend to be stronger. And they can be the flywheel that drives you to scale. Read the transcript at mastersofscale.comSubscribe to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter at http://eepurl.com/dlirtX
As big movie chains shut down, Shelli Taylor's determined to keep her theaters open. With revenue at a trickle, the CEO of Alamo Drafthouse is negotiating daily with landlords and banks, and even tried her own video-on-demand service. Her balancing act – a conviction that long-term demand will be strong, while near-term economics are dismal – is familiar among entrepreneurial leaders. By defiantly keeping the movie magic alive, she's leaning into hope, the human need for community, and a creative new model. Yet there's no guarantee how this story will end.Read the transcript at mastersofscale.com/rapidresponseSubscribe to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter at http://eepurl.com/dlirtX
What's more important than product-market fit? Product-VALUE fit. If you choose the right values to drive product development, you'll draw the people, resources, and speed you need. It’s true for for-profits and for nonprofits. And Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales knows this well. Since its launch in 2001, Wikipedia has famously stuck to its values of openness, neutrality, and remaining not-for-profit. But he arrived at those precise values through trial and error – on an earlier free encyclopedia project that stalled. Once he found the right product-value fit, Wikipedia rapidly scaled from a niche side project to one of the most valued treasures on the internet.Read the transcript at mastersofscale.com/Subscribe to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter at http://eepurl.com/dlirtX
To safely re-open a business, you need more than masks. Covid testing is key – and the options are changing quickly. We found the most in-the-know person in public health to walk us through the choices, costs, and protocols to keep an entrepreneurial team, and all of us, safe. Rajiv Shah is president of the Rockefeller Foundation, which has led response to health crises in the United States and around the world for 100 years (including the 1918 flu pandemic). Applying what he learned fighting the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Shah has brought together business, government, and health officials to turbo-charge Covid testing development. Next-gen test kits are coming soon: cheaper, easier, more abundant. If deployed correctly, says Shah, they can make us all safer and healthier in 2021.Read the transcript at mastersofscale.com/rapidresponseSubscribe to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter at http://eepurl.com/dlirtX
When you scale at warp speed, it’s easy to lose your bearings. You have to establish your company’s true north, or the dizzying pace of growth will push you off course. No one knows this better than Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube. Under her leadership, YouTube has grown to be the world’s largest video platform. And in her previous role at Google, she was a chief architect of its advertising and analytics model. In both roles, she achieved massive scale – and grappled with massive challenges. Susan shares the guiding principles that help them stay the course – as well as stories from Google’s early years that you’ll hear first here. Cameo appearances: Dr. Becky Smethurst (astrophysicist, Oxford), Shishir Mehrotra (Coda, Google, YouTube).Read the transcript at mastersofscale.com/Subscribe to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter at http://eepurl.com/dlirtX
The pandemic, social unrest, the U.S. election – everything affects your team and your business. And the stakes are only getting higher. How do you address race and diversity? Should your business take a stand in the upcoming election? What role should your company play? If you're debating how political to get right now, this is your must-listen. We're talking with writer / thinker Baratunde Thurston on how companies can show up as citizens – citizens with the potential for outsize impact. Baratunde Thurston is host of the podcast "How to Citizen with Baratunde" and an advisor to business leaders.Read the transcript at mastersofscale.com/rapidresponseSubscribe to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter at http://eepurl.com/dlirtX
You might not know Trevor McFedries yet, but if you're on Instagram, you've probably met Miquela. She has millions of followers, hit singles and lucrative contracts with brands. But she’s not actually real. Miquela’s the creation of Trevor’s stealthy creative media studio Brud, and the delicate balance they strike between artificial and authentic is a master class for any scaling company. In this first-ever in-depth interview with Trevor, he shares his bold plan to create celebrity at massive, multilingual scale; his advice for entrepreneurs of color as they fundraise; and his guidance for anyone connecting at scale: That once you build that connection with your audience, they don't care HOW you made it. All they care about is how it makes them feel. Cameo: Alison Darcy (Woebot).Get the transcript: https://mastersofscale.com/trevor-mcfedries/Subscribe to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter at http://eepurl.com/dlirtX
Is your office safe to re-open? How much space do you need? Is remote-work really more productive? Diane Hoskins is co-CEO of architecture firm Gensler, which advises businesses from Google to Bank of America. With the pandemic, Hoskins explains, now is a critical moment to ask important questions about what your team needs to work smarter and successfully, and to build a physical space that is not just healthy but enables both collaboration and individual work. From new technology tools to insightful data, Hoskins shares insights that help us move toward the answers we need.Read the full survey from Gensler: https://www.gensler.com/research-insight/blog/insights-from-genslers-u-s-work-from-home-survey-2020Read the transcript at mastersofscale.com/rapidresponseSubscribe to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter at http://eepurl.com/dlirtX
"Until this problem gets fixed, all the other things that I care about, that you care about, are on hold.” In this must-hear interview, Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO (and now co-founder of Schmidt Futures) shares why he's 100% focused on addressing the challenges of Covid-19. From vaccines and testing protocols to best practices for businesses, Schmidt shares a clear-eyed roadmap for moving toward a healthy, just, and economically vibrant post-pandemic world.Listen to the "Reimagine" podcast: https://www.reimaginepod.orgDownload the transcript for this episode: http://mastersofscale.com/rapidresponse
The first day of school doesn't look the way it used to – in some cases, it might not be happening at all. As schools across the country start a new year, we're kicking off a new season with Eva Moskowitz, founder and CEO of Success Academy, a charter school network that serves 20,000 kids across New York City. In the spring, Success Academy pivoted to remote learning days before the City shut down schools and as they start a new semester, Success Academy is pivoting to "Remote Learning 2.0." Though Eva runs charter schools, any leader or entrepreneur can learn from her experience: how and when to make decisions in an uncertain environment, how and why to communicate with constituents, why to celebrate remote work – and who we should all prioritize.
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Comments (109)

Javier Rodriguez

31

Nov 23rd
Reply

Mack Bawden

Reid when are you coming to Utah!?

Oct 1st
Reply

Robert CN

the guest is great but the interviewer's frequent cutting into the conversation to narrate it in his own words, with his frequent pauses, is annoying.

Sep 21st
Reply

Mack Bawden

Love this episode. I'm a huge peloton digital fan, my dream in life is to buy the tread! Love this show thanks so much Reid

Aug 26th
Reply

DMIT MASTERMINDS

Insightful https://www.dmits.in/

Aug 1st
Reply

kagimub

this is very insightful. thank you

Jul 19th
Reply

jordan thielman

The commercials of this episode were better than the content.

Jun 30th
Reply

Jordyn K

w3 w 2

Jun 16th
Reply

Mack Bawden

Reid! You said my name wrong but I still very much appreciate the shout-out! Let me know next time you're in Salt Lake or at Sundance and want to come push a wheelchair with my nonprofit. Thanks for being such a great mentor!

Jun 14th
Reply

Mack Bawden

Reid you said my name wrong! it's Mack! But I so appreciate the shout-out. Come push a wheelchair with my nonprofit the next time you are in Salt Lake, or at Sundance for that retreat you do!

Jun 14th
Reply

F

Pretty disingenuous to report this as if Buzzfeed is dying from anything other than crap partisan journalism written by 19 year olds and marketed to 25 year olds for a decade. This site was cancer and so was everyone else attached to it, including this podcast for even considering that there might be another reason for its failure.

Jun 10th
Reply

seyed hesameddin beheshti shirazi

pod

Jun 6th
Reply

Regina Burkhart Graham

Love love love Verizon! Amazing job, always, and especially during this pandemic!

May 21st
Reply

Martin Shaw

Where is part 2?

May 17th
Reply

Celia Fauth

kz j no w not uu manipulation

May 15th
Reply

Celia Fauth

again

May 15th
Reply

Abeye Duguma

Brilliant! Very informative... wish it were longer... deserves another invite Bob. Thank you Sara.

May 9th
Reply

JJ Burnam

Nancy ... you're not in the catastrophe business, you're in the healing business, a worthy growth industry.

May 1st
Reply

Calvin Kim

what a loveably cringy and hilarious intro 😂

Apr 28th
Reply

Sachin Garg

one of great interview. thanks for this

Apr 21st
Reply
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