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The Bob Johnston Podcast
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The Bob Johnston Podcast

Author: Bob Johnston

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Insights and intelligence from business, sports, entertainment, and cultural leaders.
31 Episodes
Creating something out of nothing is a mystery for many of us, particularly if you’ve worked in the corporate world for many years. In today’s podcast. I sit down with Zach Garippa, Co-founder and CEO of Negotiatius, to look under the hood and discuss life inside a startup.We dig into the business and personal sides of launching a startup and de-bunk myths about the entrepreneurial mindset. Counter-intuitively, risk mitigation – i.e. “calculated risk tolerance” – is one of the overall thematics of successful founders. Zach left a good job at Morgan Stanley and his co-founder, Tom Jaklitsch, dropped out of college to launch the business. Clearly, they both had high conviction and courage. And, would it surprise you to learn that they spent nearly 24 months researching the industry before deciding to quit job and school? That’s a lot of smart leg work around calculated risk tolerance.We also discuss (the necessity of!) Flinstone-ing things in the early days of a startup...pressure as a constant...the hunt for traction and learnings...and how to get through problems quickly (i.e. "indecision is the killer").And, finally, Zach gives us a primer on raising money as well as finding and keeping talent and customers – note that there are parallels across all three areas. Zach is also a big fan of picking up the phone and talking with industry folks to help problem-solve and solicit views that are contrary to his own. He also is a fan of short-form material when it comes to reading for business but prefers long-form reading for personal pursuits (hint: baby #2 on the way in March).Zach Garippa is the CEO and Co-Founder of Negotiatus, a category-creating B2B software at the intersection of finance, operations, and procurement that radically simplifies spend decisions.Founded in 2016 with a mission to empower businesses to make better spending decisions faster, Negotiatus serves hundreds of customers across the small and medium sized enterprise space. Negotiatus establishes itself as core spend management infrastructure by working within their client’s existing purchasing and payment process - from spreadsheets to ERPs and everything in between - and adding simplicity, automation, and insights to deliver value every step of the way. Negotiatus has been recognized as a pioneer by industry publications including Spend Matters and Inc, and is backed by leading investors such as Rally Ventures, 645 Ventures, Green Visor Capital, and Stage 2 Capital. Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Overcast, Castbox, or your preferred podcast platform.This episode is brought to you by With my promo code "JOHNSTON" you get a 4-week trial plus free postage and a digital scale. No long-term commitments or contracts. Just go to, click on the Microphone at the TOP of the homepage and type in JOHNSTON.
Each of us has an ‘origin story’ about our childhood, family and their effect on our adult lives and career. In the case of today’s guest, who is considered to be the “father of impact investing,” I walked away from our conversation with tremendous admiration and respect for how his early years have influenced his life’s work.At age 11, Sir Ronald Cohen’s family fled Egypt during the Suez crisis of 1956. His father lost a thriving business and they were forced to start over in the UK, as refugees. Flash forward just six years later and Sir Ronald earned acceptance to Oxford University – where he was President of the Oxford Union no less, followed by a full scholarship to Harvard Business School. Flash forward another handful of years and Sir Ronald joined Alan Patricof, who now runs Greycroft (listen to my podcast with Alan here) at Apax Partners to form one of the world’s first venture capital firms.Sir Ronald got into venture capital to back tenacious individuals who came from nothing – just like he did – with a goal of using venture as a tool for good to create jobs in the UK, at a time when three million people there were unemployed. It made an enormous impact and he was knighted for his efforts.Fun fact: the first fund at Apax was just $15m (sizable for the time)…and Apax’s latest fund raised a whopping $11Bn!In the podcast, we discuss Sir Ronald’s latest book, Impact: Reshaping Capital to Drive Real Change, the program he chairs at Harvard which measures the environmental impact of over 1,800 companies, how impact is directly correlated to a company’s stock price, how a cost can be ascribed to a corporation’s pay gaps and a corporation’s lack of diversity…his thoughts for the new Biden administration as it relates to impact…and much more!My favorite quotes:“Do you really want your headstone to read: ‘He delivered 30% IRR (Internal Rate of Return)?’” – On why venture capital should be more than just making money“We bring in the ‘Invisible heart’ of markets to lead.” – On how to tame the wild beast and ‘invisible hand’ of the markets
One of the  big issues that’s top of mind right now for all businesses is the ability to innovate around meaningful customer experiences. Not just because they lead to customers who are ‘delighted' (bow to Tony Hsieh at Zappos) – but also because they  drive massive loyalty and lifelong engagement.My guest today is Stephen Revetria who, as President of San Francisco Giants Enterprises, is on the cutting edge of curating and developing new fan experiences. Stephen was the first to experiment with blending entertainment experiences alongside the typical sporting event way back in 1999, when the team ownership tasked him with solving the conundrum of what is now known as ‘fan engagement.’ 20 years on, his approach is now the gold standard for sports teams worldwide.Stephen is also board chairman of Meeting Professionals Intetnational, sits on the U.S. Dept. of Commerce Travel & Tourism Advisory Board. and is on the Executive Committee of the U.S. Travel Association.We dig into how he got started in the business – chartering luxury yachts. We also discuss the key tenets of fan experiences and the importance of leveraging real estate to drive these goals. Finally, we talk about the invitation that Stephen received, among other global sports leaders, to sit with Pope Francis to discuss principals that people globally feel about sports, ranging from compassion and respect to empowerment, balance and joy.Enjoy!
There’s a lot of scuttlebutt about Bitcoin these days. Perhaps its most prominent proponent is former Goldman Sachs executive and RealVision founder, Raoul Pal.I’ve been eager to have Raoul on the podcast to discuss his vision for Bitcoin because he’s not a tech or diehard Bitcoin person – instead, he comes from the world of finance and has a more objective and surgical thesis on Bitcoin, which he believes is the best asset to come along in generations.We also discuss RealVision’s macro lens on the world and markets and how it’s democratizing the very best financial information. We dissect the show Billions, assess a contrarian view he holds (spoiler alert: inflation is never coming back), why he left London and got out of the rat race (a.k.a. “lifestyle arbitrage")...and a whole lot more.As a fun fact: Raoul now lives directly on the beach in Little Cayman and runs his businesses from there.You can learn more about RealVision at this link. They have a 30-day trial of RealVision Essential for just one buck. I'm a RealVision Pro member and love it.
Q: Why do we love brands like Apple, Yeti (love a cooler – yes!) and Vespa? A: Because we feel them. The leaders at these companies have figured out how to decipher what feel and look good to them and mobilize teams to embed it in the products. This is pure magic.My guest today is Pauline Brown, former chairman of LVMH and author of the book, Aesthetic Intelligence. She also worked at Bain, Estee Lauder and The Carlyle Group and served as a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute.Pauline and I discuss and decipher what, exactly, it means for a brand – whether B2C or B2B – to infuse aesthetic intelligence into their strategy, thinking and products to delight the senses of customers. Little did I know that Vespa products have a far greater re-sale value than competitors – they’ve figured out how to tap into A.I. and Pauline shows us how you can do the same.We also cover ground on the state of Retail, what’s in store for Black Friday / Cyber Monday, the 4 steps to adding A.I. into your personal life, plus leading a life of not just success…but significance and meaning.
It’s probably safe to say that we’ve all had firsthand experience with telehealth over the past seven months. Even my ol’ Mom is an expert at Zooming with her doctor. Where are we as a society with telehealth? Which ailments are best suited for telehealth?My guest today is Yulun Wang, Ph.D., who is a Teladoc Fellow and sold his company, InTouch Health, to Teladoc in January, 2020 (yes, good timing given the massive sum; in Teladoc’s stock).Yulun has spent his entire career in healthcare technology and the past 20 years focused on telehealth. He’s also considered the father of surgical robots, having founded his first company in the mid-90’s and merged it with Intuitive Surgical.We cover a lot of ground…ranging from Teladoc being at the center of massive transformation in healthcare…where they’re headed next, the 3 hurdles that telehealth is overcoming from the public view, his early days raising VC money and taking his company public…and of course surfing near his home in Santa Barbara!
With the exception of cybersecurity (i.e. protecting remote employees), the topic on the minds of nearly every enterprise CEO and board these days is…wait for it…Workplace Management. Today’s guest is Dan Teran, founder of Managed by Q – a leading workplace management technology platform, which was sold to WeWork last year.We are all social animals – sitting in front of a computer at home isn’t the same as engaging and creating together in a physical environment.Having said that, the old way of “doing office” is probably dead.The WeWorks and Reguses of the world used to be the exclusive domain of small and medium businesses. Now, there is a generational opportunity for large enterprises to be relieved of their big leases and explore the flexibility and scale enjoyed by the SMBs – imagine a large enterprise having a single dashboard view into all of the goings-on across multiple locations…and having all vendors and contractors handled through a single source.You can see why this is on the mind of every large enterprise.Dan and I cover this in more detail and also discuss his raising $100m for Managed by Q – and why this isn’t always necessary for young companies. We also discuss the ability to be anti-fragile in this environment, Dan's view on the Gig Economy vs. the Passion Economy…and his year-round surfing habits on Rockaway Beach just outside of NYC.
My guest today is Dr. Joey Mattina who, at the age of 33, is the head chiropractor for the LA Clippers. He also works with legendary chiropractor, Dr. Dennis Colonello, at Peak Wellness in Los Angeles, whose patients include athletes from the NBA to the NFL. Joey has a sixth sense for how to heal the body, whether you're a pro athlete or just been sitting too much like most of us nowadays.
Boxed has established itself as a major force in the world of online commerce with a brand that has a highly curated and artful shopping experience, yet thankfully no signs of hubris. After talking with CEO Chieh Huang, I can see why they are crushing it but remain humble. He embodies the brand and, frankly, no easy feat to pull off this balance in such a highly competitive industry.
It’s safe to say that you’ve probably been living under a rock if you’ve never heard the Andretti name, which has  been synonymous with auto racing for decades. What you may not know is the personal story behind racing legend, family scion, and  current Andretti Autosport CEO, Michael Andretti.First, Michael may be one of the winningest athletes in all of sports – he turned pro at 17 and has 42 wins under his belt, behind only his father, Mario, and A.J. Foyt (Tom Brady eat your heart out). And, he's the last American to podium in Formula 1.Michael is also a savvy entrepreneur – overseeing properties across Indy, Formula E and “Extreme E” (which brings attention to the environment with races that take place at glaciers and deserts with all-electric vehicles). And, the Andretti Autosport factory (if you can call it that) that he built in Indianapolis, is more like a state-of-the-art "operating room for cars” combined with a vibe that feels like Apple’s Cupertino headquarters – I toured the ‘factory' back in 2018 and was blown away.As a notable fact (and a note to all of you corporate sponsors), racing is one of the most sponsor-able sports platforms in the world. The loyalty metrics and dollars spent per fan is multiples higher than any other sport.
Today’s podcast dissects the inspiring story of Saeju Jeong, co-founder and CEO of Noom, arguably the most important weight loss app on the market. Saeju is a witty, soulful, exceptional leader. It was such a pleasure talking with him and hearing about his humble beginnings, from coming to NYC from South Korea and selling 99¢ trinkets on the streets, to meeting his co-founder and building Noom.
Today we’re sitting down with Jim Van Stone, who is President and Chief Commercial Officer at Monument Sports – Jim oversees the Washington Wizards, Capitals, WNBA Majestic, several venues and e-sports properties.There's a lot of lessons on leadership and tenacity from sports, which is why I love talking with and interviewing sports execs. Out of all of them, Jim Van Stone might have the most diverse experience – he’s worked at five teams in four leagues over his 30-year career.You’ll hear Jim’s thoughts about why connecting with such a wide range of people across his career has informed his own management style, how he enters new markets / businesses, negotiates large deals and makes him a better leader. His boss is Monumental Sports founder Ted Leonsis (co-founder of AOL) and we hit on some of the great things he’s learned from Ted and his son, Zach, too.We also cover Esports – Monumental is placing some strategic bets on Esports and it has me super excited to dive deeper into the space. Keep an eye out for a future podcast on the topic.
We’re covering a topic today that has been getting a lot of press attention – online voting. The media often presents either the left or right view, but as it turns out the majority of citizens don’t fall squarely into one camp or another. As with a lot of things in life, most people just want to collect as many data points as they can to make an informed decision. That’s what we hope to accomplish with our guests today, Larry Moore and Kahlil Byrd. Larry is Co-Chair of Civic Engagement and Voting Rights at the National Council for Independent Living and Kahlil (KB) is the founder and CEO of Invest America.
Peter J. Solomon is a prominent banker and founder of PJ Solomon, one of the country’s first independent investment banks. But, I bet very few of you know him as a keeper of bees, an avid birder, or as a collector of children’s books. At risk of being called an “underachiever”, Peter recently authored the book, “Wasting Time Constructively: A Guide to a Balanced Life”, in which Peter documents his journey to success, the obstacles and failures encountered along the way, and his never-ending quest for a balanced life. Peter shares his insights around a variety of topics ranging from daily personal fulfillment to idiosyncrasies and how developing them is a sign of an evolved mind. We discuss the importance of sharing honest opinions with customers and (gasp!) developing friendships them. Plus, we cover Peter’s risky departure from his Vice Chairman role at Lehman Brothers to work for NYC Mayor Ed Koch and subsequently, President Carter. 
If you've ever tried to secure a student loan, you know all too well how frustrating it can be. After experiencing the trying process firsthand, David Klein, CEO of CommonBond, set out to change things. His goal was simple - - launch a digital startup to automate the archaic student loan industry. Fast forward eight years, and CommonBond has facilitated more than $6 billion in student loans via their platform. David spent his first semester of grad school writing a business plan, ultimately dropping out to make his dream a reality (he was able to convince his co-founders to drop out, too!). 
St. Louis Blues CEO, Chris Zimmerman, discusses what lessons in storytelling, trust and how you behave can be gleaned from running a sports team (Tim cut his teeth in advertising and c-level roles at Nike and Saatchi & Saatchi). We also cover the amazing ‘story’ of how the Blues came all the way from last place and won the Stanley Cup, his time as a player and coach at the collegiate level, the importance of being coachable regardless of your stage of career, why today's pro athlete is a "specialist," how Chris re-engaged Tiger Woods while at Nike...and much more.
The head of the first venture fund dedicated to investing in the Space industry discusses getting the typical citizen-tourist to space in just a few years from now, the partnership between SpaceX and NASA (and NASA's suddenly-sexy brand), why the early days of human space flight resembles the early days of humans in airplanes...the roughly $400 billion being invested in Space-related startups, and more.
I was lucky enough to riff with Zeel CEO, Samer Hamadeh, and tennis great, Venus Williams. Zeel provides health and wellness services (both in person and virtually), to consumers and businesses. Venus, in addition to being one of the world’s all-time greatest athletes, is a Zeel board member. We covered a lot of topics ranging from what they each do to keep a calm head during times of crisis, to keeping employees fit using virtual environments. How can you combat “tech neck” (if you’re spending too much time hunching over your device like the rest of us!)? And, how can you keep yourself fit using virtual environments? Plus, you’ll hear a whole lot more around the entrepreneurial mindset. 
Atlanta Falcons CEO, Steve Cannon, discusses his leadership style and approach, serving as CEO the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United soccer, plus his days at West Point (and why it breeds leaders). We also discuss his living and working in Germany, military lessons in leadership, working for the Arthur M. Blank Group (owner of Falcons) and, last but very much not least...having 9 kids!
Seattle Storm's CEO Alisha Valavanis talks leadership, reimagining the team the past several years which led to a WNBA championship in 2018, the force of Force 10 (her sports management firm), coming fro ma family with two identical sets of twins (of which she is one)...and lots more!
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