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The Disruptors
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The Disruptors

Author: Sean Johnson

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Ideas, tools, techniques and advice from the people and organizations who are transforming our world.
20 Episodes
Many of the students in my class at Kellogg come from the world of big consulting, but have been bitten by the startup bug. But how do you successfully leave the relatively stable, comfortable, prestigious walls of corporate America and successfully launch your new venture?My guest is Jennifer Fitzgerald, and after helping financial services organizations as a consultant at McKinsey, she are her colleague took the plunge to start Policygenius, an online managed marketplace for insurance.In this episode we discuss the genesis of Policygenius, how she systematically de-risked the idea early on, how she managed to build both sides of her marketplace business without heavy reliance on paid acquisition, and much more. We also get into her advice for folks lookin to take the plunge themselves, strategies for executing at a high level, for recruiting early team members, and for leveling up yourself as your organization starts to scale.For more ideas on how to disrupt your own industry, visit us at And if you enjoyed this episode, please leave a review!
Nearly everyone is in agreement that healthcare is an industry that desperately needs transformative change. But the legacy technologies, interrelationships between providers and mayors, and other systemic issues typically keep such transformation from happening. One exception is Jefferson Health, which has transformed itself dramatically in dozens of ways in an extremely brief period of time, embracing various emerging technologies and reinventing the way they approach training clinicians and delivering care. My guest today is Dr. Stephen Klasko, CEO of Jefferson Health and one of Fast Company's most creative people. In this discussion we dig into how he went about transforming Jefferson into a nimble, tech enabled organization, how he managed to drive culture change so quickly to make these initiatives stick, and get into a number of fascinating, counter-intuitive initiatives he’s spearheaded to facilitate that change.For more ideas on how to transform your own organization visit us at And if you enjoyed this episode, please leave a review!
For most organizations working on innovation, their emphasis is on incremental, horizon one types of initiatives. Far less common are truly disruptive, moonshot initiatives that can transform industries if successful.My guest today is Kathy Hannun, and for 7 years she was a product manager for the rapid evaluation team at Google[X], tasked with product development and diligence for their biggest moonshot initiatives. One of those initiatives she eventually spun out into Dandelion Energy, a home geothermal company where she now serves as CEO. Kathy was recently named one of Fast Company's most creative people.In this conversation we discuss what Kathy learned during her time at X,  and how organizations can be more successful with disruptive technology. We also get into detail on Dandelion and the massive opportunity geothermal presents in changing the way we heat our homes. ----For more ideas on how to transform your own organization visit us at And if you enjoy the episode please leave a review!
Privacy is a hot topic these days, as people for the first time are starting to realize the extent and magnitude of the data companies are gathering on them. And not everyone is okay with it.My guest today is Richard Stokes, founder of Winston Privacy. And in this discussion we talk about the genesis of Winston and how he’s trying to help consumers address their privacy concerns in the simplest way possible. We also get into a super interesting discussion around how he built a hardware business and the landmines you can run into and how he de-risked the business early on. And coming on the heels of one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns of all time, he dives into a bunch of tactics and strategies for how to make the most of crowdfunding. For more ideas how to disrupt your own industry, visit us at If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a review!
How do you innovate inside a company with decades of rich history, with business models that are firmly entrenched, delivering on a product people have consumed effectively the same way for centuries?My guest today is Maja Thomas, Chief Innovation Officer for Hachette Livre, one of the largest book publishers in the world, and the Director of the Hachette Innovation program, focusing on the intersection of publishing and digital innovation.In this conversation we discuss some of the challenges to innovation in the publishing industry, the rise of voice interfaces, the future of augmented reality, how publishers leverage big data to improve the publishing process, and much more. For more ideas on how to innovate with technology in your own business, visit us at And if you enjoy the episode, we'd love a review on whichever platform you use. Thanks for listening!
One of the most consistent issues with organizations looking to innovate is the idea of change management. How do I get an organization that’s used to doing things a certain way to embrace change and bake innovation into its DNA?My guest today is Jillian Chown. Jillian teaches at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in the Management and Organizations department, and her research focuses on change management, most recently focusing on healthcare organizations and the use of incentives to drive change. In this discussion we dig into the various challenges preventing companies from changing, the role of leadership at different levels of the organization in driving change, how incentives can play a role, and the different strategies and techniques necessary to drive incremental vs. disruptive change. For more ideas on how to transform your organization using technology visit us at And if you enjoyed this episode, please leave a review on iTunes, Spotify, or the platform of your choice. Thanks as always for listening!
One of the largest trends in enterprise innovation has been the adoption of large platforms like SAP and Salesforce. But many organizations don’t realize the full potential of what these platforms are capable of, and don’t know how to extract that value.Salesforce has tried to help their top-tier customers innovate more effectively with Salesforce Ignite, which is effectively an innovation consultancy within the company. Brian Vellmure was previously one of the partners of Ignite, and is now the Global Lead of Execute Thought Leadership for Industries and Senior Director in the office of innovation. In this episode we discuss the origins of Ignite, how it differs from typical design thinking processes, as well as some of the more common mistakes Brian has seen innovation groups when embarking upon innovation initiatives, and some of the technology trends he’s most excited about.To learn more about how to disrupt your own organization, visit us at If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a review!
Many organizations talk about improving customer experience as one of their primary innovation initiatives. But what does it look like to create a truly transformative experience that is orders of magnitude better than anything else out there, and to do so at scale?My guest today is John Padgett. John is the Chief Experience and Innovation Officer at the Carnival Corporation, and his team has created arguably the most complex and successful implementation of an IoT driven guest experience platform in the world with the Ocean Medallion. Carnival was named one of the most innovative companies in the world by Fast Company due to the work John and his team have done.He was also one of the masterminds behind the Disney MagicBand and FastPass Plus experiences, which completely transformed the way guests experience The Walt Disney World resort.In this episode we dig into how John thinks about creating the vision for such massive undertakings and the tools he’s used to successfully drive disruptive innovation. The vision he’s created to provide a truly personalized, adaptive one to one experience at scale is pretty incredible, and I think you’ll find the conversation fascinating.For more information about how your organization can transform itself with technology, visit If you enjoyed the episode, please leave a review!
The Design Sprint methodology has spread like wildfire, both in the startup community and the world of enterprise innovation. My guest today is John Zeratsky, one of the creators of the Design Sprint methodology and coauthor of The Sprint Book and Make Time.In this episode we dig into how the Design Sprint methodology came about and how it’s evolved over the years. John shares dozens of practical suggestions for how to structure sprints and get the most out of them, as well as some lessons he’s taken from the Sprint process and applied to his own life.For more information on how you can help your company bring disruptive new products to the world, visit And if you enjoyed this episode we’d love a review on iTunes or whatever platform you use. Thanks for listening!
The common wisdom around creating a marketplace business is to start with supply. The logic is that without the supply side you can't capture the demand side, which is typically how a marketplace business monetizes. Jessica Messinger is the head of growth at Cameo, and previously grew the supply side of both Uber and Twitch. And in this episode we go into a ton of detail around how to grow the supply side of a marketplace. Jessica has a ton of insight and some fantastic stories, and I think you'll find this one super interesting.To learn more about how you can disrupt your own organization with technology, visit us at And if you enjoyed this episode, we'd love a review on iTunes, Spotify or whichever podcast platform you prefer.
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