Masters of Scale is a new podcast in which LinkedIn Co-Founder and Greylock Partner Reid Hoffman shows how famous founders take companies from zero to a gazillion. With original music and hilariously honest stories, the show sounds like nothing you’ve ever heard. It's also the first American media program to commit to a 50-50 gender balance for guests. Masters of Scale is a WaitWhat original series in association with Stitcher.
That constant roar of customer feedback? Be thankful for it. It holds all the secrets to your success, if you learn how to read the signs. Listen to what users say, sure. But also watch what they do and interpret what they need. Eventbrite's Julia Hartz embodies this principle. She believes passionately in learning from her customers, and has made rapid response to user feedback the driving force behind Eventbrite’s strategy — as it grew from a simple ticketing app to a full-service platform for event creators, offering everything from ticket sales to custom-made RFID readers.
You need a great story to build a great company. And great stories are unwaveringly TRUE. No one embodies this principle more fully than Scott Harrison, founder of Charity: Water. A master storyteller, Scott built his nonprofit on 3 radical principles: (1) 100% of donations would go to water projects (not overhead) (2) Progress reports would be utterly transparent, sharing victories, defeats and even GPS coordinates of water wells (3) The brand’s storytelling would lead with hope instead of guilt, inspiring joyful participation without sacrificing honesty.
[A favorite episode returns!] To succeed as an entrepreneur, you need grit. But grit is more than persistence. You’re not just charging up the same hill over and over. You're generating an endless supply of Plans B. And Nancy Lublin always has a Plan B, and C, and D. It’s this kind of grit that fueled her success scaling three not-for-profits: Dress for Success, DoSomething.org and Crisis Text Line. With practical wisdom and wicked humor, she shares the innovative approach to technology, financing, volunteers and staff development that helped her organizations scale.
You can marshal the power of millennials to grow your company, but you have to redefine your concept of loyalty. To keep millennials as users (and employees), you’ll need to keep evolving — and help them evolve. No one understands this better than Brit + Co Founder Brit Morin. As a maker and media creator, Brit is constantly co-evolving with her (mostly millennial) audience—and team. It’s a secret to scale with the generation adapted to a world of constant change. | With a cameo appearance by relationship therapist Esther Perel (Bestselling author and Host of the podcast “Where Should We Begin”). Esther has lately turned her eye toward work relationships; her perspective on the millennial generation — and the broad social trends that have shaped their collective character — may give you an “Aha!” moment.
Your first hires = cultural cofounders. And it’s worth your time to get every one right. Workday CEO Aneel Bhusri personally interviewed his first FIVE HUNDRED employees at Workday. He knows how to map back from the culture he wants, to employee attributes to interview questions. Today, with 8000+ employees and $2b in annual revenue, Workday is consistently rated one of the best places to work. With cameo appearances by Danny Meyer (Founder, Shake Shack), Arianna Huffington (founder, Thrive Global), Michael Bush (CEO, Great Place to Work) and Joyce Nethry (founder of Jeptha Creed Distillery).
To succeed, you have to be relentless about pursuing a big opportunity — and ruthless about killing your own bad ideas along the way. Zynga founder Mark Pincus up-ended the gaming industry with social games like Farmville and Words with Friends. And he did it by gathering data; killing ideas that didn't move the needle, and going all-in on the ones that did. With cameos by Andrea Jones-Rooy, analyst at FiveThirtyEight, and comedian Matt Ruby, founder of Vooza.
You may think that to scale you need to cut humans out of the equation. The opposite is true. You can harness the power of the "human cloud" to solve almost any problem — as long as you keep the word “human” in the equation. That's what TaskRabbit CEO Stacy Brown-Philpot champions for this community of people who work with each other, teach each other, and continually learn from each other. With cameos by DeLashea Strawder (Mosaic Youth Theater in Detroit) and Whitney Johnson (Author, "Build An A Team").
Masters of Scale returns on Wed July 11th with Season 3, featuring the entrepreneurs who wrote the rule book of Silicon Valley - as well as the ones who challenge those rules. We'll hear hard-won insights from the founders of Spotify, Instagram, TaskRabbit, Shake Shack, Glossier and Zynga. Plus Tory Burch, Gwyneth Paltrow, Arianna Huffington, Marissa Mayer, and Dara Khosrowshahi, the new CEO of Uber. You can learn more at MastersofScale.com.
To find your big idea? Look for it. And look for it. And be ready to act. Spanx founder Sara Blakely was actively seeking a business idea when she thought of Spanx. Then she moved fast, found help in the right places, and went all-in. The result: A billion-dollar company & women's wardrobes transformed.. With cameos by National Geographic explorer Andrés Ruzo, former Director of the US Patent & Trademark Office Michelle Lee, and Endeavor CEO Linda Rottenberg.
You can make your social impact and your bottom line work hand-in-hand. But you'll have to be as creative and innovative about your company's values as you are about the business itself. Howard Schultz, chairman and former CEO of Starbucks, not only changed how America wakes up, but set new standards for employee benefits. From offering free college tuition to American employees, to providing health care for employees' parents in China, Howard has always been one step ahead of the social impact curve.
Guest host Tim Ferriss shares advice you'll want to etch into stone: The 10 Commandments of Startup Success. We teamed up with Tim's eponymous podcast, the Tim Ferriss Show, to bring you this special remix. You'll hear actionable lessons from every episode of Masters of Scale Season One, including previously unaired insights from Airbnb's Brian Chesky, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Endeavor's Linda Rottenberg, and more.
Never put a limit on your first idea. It could span your entire career. Ev Williams, co-founder of Twitter and Medium (and Blogger, before that), shares what he learned in every iteration of his grand vision to connect the world’s brains. A reminder that passion and perseverance can be paths to scale. Cameos: "grit" expert Angela Duckworth, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg
The price that bleeds your business could also save it. When you invent something innovative, you can’t know how to price it on day one. First, get people in the door — get a LOT of people in the door — even if you have to price your product fatally low at first. In this episode, ClassPass Founder and Chair Payal Kadakia shares their winding path to pricing and how it revealed what was invaluable about their service.
Forget being a unicorn. Learn to be a “Phoenix.” Your company can last 100+ years — but you'll need the resilience to rise and fall, and rise again. Fiat’s Chairman John Elkann shares the principles that allow the "horseless carriage" company founded by his great-grandfather survive the ups and downs of a century of business (including competitor attacks, leader shakeups, financial crises and more). One key: Resilience. Another: Deciding which company traditions to keep, and which to leave in the past. Featuring cameos from Radio Flyer's Robert Pasin, Cue Ball Ventures' Tony Tjan and ABC Home & Kitchen's Paulette Cole.
Better to have 100 users love you than 1 million that kinda like you. The true seed of scale is love, and you can't buy it, hack it, or game it. Ask Sam Altman, the president of Y Combinator, Silicon Valley's legendary startup accelerator. He knows that a product that's deeply loved — even by a tiny base of users — is one that can scale. We also hear an epic story of customer love from Chef Dominique Ansel, famed inventor of the Cronut. Plus cameos from Sara Blakely of Spanx and Aubrie Pagano of fashion line Bow & Drape.
Whatever you are when you're small gets amplified when you grow. So if you're staring any kind of online community (social media, e-commerce, crowd-funding ) be careful what you cultivate. Caterina Fake has founded or invested in companies with the most interesting and influential communities - Flickr, Etsy, Kickstarter, Stack Overflow, even Blue Bottle Coffee. Her wise words for every founder: You have has a responsibility to shape the community from day one -- because the tone you set is the tone you’re going to keep, even as you go viral.
To move from one success to another, you have to learn to unlearn. Take everything that helped you win the first time, then discard it and learn a new way. That's how Barry Diller, titan of "old" media (ABC, Paramount, Fox), mastered the new dot-com world—with everything from Expedia to Match.com. Part 2 of "Be an Infinite Learner." With Uber's Dara Khosrowshahi and serial entrepreneur Margaret Heffernan.
How did Barry Diller revive an ailing movie studio, create a television network from scratch, reinvent home shopping and then become the world's first online dating mogul? By acknowledging—and embracing—that he was, in fact, a master of nothing. Barry Diller shares insights from a lifelong career of infinite learning.
“If you’re laughed out of the room, it might actually be a good sign.” Entrepreneurs inevitably face a lot of rejection — as does anyone championing a big new idea. But the different ways that investors say “no” could reveal valuable clues about your idea’s potential. Sometimes, it's proof you’re in a space that’s ripe for the taking. Featuring Bevel Razor/walker & Co's Tristan Walker, The Muse's Kathryn Minshew & Hint Water's Kara Goldin.
In your company’s darkest moment, remember: You CAN pivot from failure to success. But only if you slash and burn everything that isn’t working. Slack’s Co-Founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield has twice navigated this kind of Big Pivot. He launched two different game companies, which turned into game-changing communications platforms (Flickr and Slack).
Business plan not entirely clear? Not sure how you’ll make enough money or find your users? That's OK. Really. The most scalable ideas often come at you sideways. You'll find yourself crabwalking from a small market to a bigger to one of unimaginable scale. We talk to the master of the entrepreneurial crabwalk, Diane Greene, who brought us into the age of cloud computing. As the founding CEO of VMWare and now the head of Google’s cloud division, she shares how she scampered sideways into a market of boundless potential.
If you want to grow your business, your goal isn’t to beat the competition — it’s to escape the competition altogether. No one knows this better than Paypal founder Peter Thiel. “Competition is for losers,” he’s been known to say. Thiel is a former colleague, frequent co-investor and long-time intellectual sparring partner with Host Reid Hoffman. Their combined thinking on the competitive landscape is unmissable.
Host Reid Hoffman visits Netflix's headquarters for an extended interview with the company's founding CEO, Reed Hastings. They discuss the distinctive culture that enabled Netflix to leap from DVD's to online streaming to becoming a content-production studio that blends the wisdom of Hollywood and Silicon Valley.
In this extended interview, Nancy Lublin, founding CEO of Crisis Text Line, shares insights from her restless career as a serial entrepreneur, recruiting armies of volunteers to the causes she’s passionate about.
Host Reid Hoffman interviews Brian Chesky, the co-founder and CEO of Airbnb. In this extended interview, Chesky explains how a willingness to work with his hands laid the foundation for Airbnb’s growth. He also shares previously unaired stories about pitches that went terribly awry and a guest appearance on a reality television series.
Host Reid Hoffman met Sheryl in a conference room at One Facebook Way to discuss a vexing subject: How does she lead an organization that doubles or triples in size each year? She also reveals previously unaired insights from her new book, Option B, and how her first book, Lean In, morphed into a grassroots movement.
The Masters of Scale team brings you a special blend of leadership tips from season one guests — including clips we haven’t aired yet. In this bonus episode, we’ll share our favorite insights from Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Y Combinator’s Sam Altman, Zynga’s Mark Pincus and more.
This is the extended, uncut version of Reid Hoffman's rare, hour-long interview with Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg from Ep. 4 “Imperfect is Perfect". Our recommendation: Listen to the episode first. Then enjoy the full interview, with its previously unheard material — including our Masters of Scale “Lightning Round.”
If you try to put out every fire, you’ll only burn yourself out. The best entrepreneurs? They let fires burn. Knowing which problems not to solve is just as critical as knowing which problems must be solved. You won’t have time to sit down and assess every blaze burning around you. And good luck ranking your startup’s problems from most to least severe. The reality is problems flare up unexpectedly and on a daily basis — yesterday’s whisp of smoke might be today’s five-alarm fire. So you have to conserve energy for the biggest blazes, and learn how to sleep easy while other fires smolder around you. That means you can ignore emails, tolerate buggy code, risk server outages and even ignore customers until their complaints hit fever pitch.
What’s the secret to Silicon Valley? And can any other region nurture such a thriving startup scene? Linda Rottenberg, CEO of Endeavor, makes the case that a startup culture can be nurtured almost anywhere, so long as you have the raw ingredients — namely, a few initial entrepreneurs with access to capital and a willingness to pay it forward. Bear in mind that Silicon Valley is so much more than an archipelago of thriving tech companies. It’s actually an ecosystem — one that’s deeply interconnected and self-reinforcing. Silicon Valley companies constantly swap talent — investors, entrepreneurs, hackers and managers — as they grow from seedlings to huge proportions. And any up-and-comer would have to do the same. Today, no region can match Silicon Valley’s collective wisdom for scaling a business. But — from Buenos Aires to Boston, Tel Aviv to Shenzen — there are fledgling startup scenes that could ultimately give Silicon Valley a run for its money.
Guest host Tim Ferriss shares advice you’ll will want to etch into stone: the Ten Commandments of Startup Success. We teamed up with Tim’s eponymous podcast, the Tim Ferriss Show, to bring you this special remix of actionable lessons from every episode of Masters of Scale, Season One, including previously unaired insights from Airbnb’s Brian Chesky, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Endeavor’s Linda Rottenberg. Tim is an accomplished speaker who’s given multiple TED Talks and author of The 4 Hour Work Week. He’s masterful at extracting tips, tricks and lifehacks for busy entrepreneurs.
I believe strong company cultures only emerge when every employee feels they own the culture — and this begins even before the first job interview. CEO Reed Hastings has built an adaptive, high-performing culture at NetFlix by being unabashedly upfront about who they are and who they aren’t. The company’s famous “culture deck” offers a 100-slide description of how NetFlix sees itself — not a “family” but a high performing sports team. It won’t appeal to everyone — and that’s the point. If you can define your culture tightly, while also resonating deeply with a diverse group of employees, you have a winning formula.
To succeed, entrepreneurs need a good idea, timing, money, luck. But more than anything, they need grit. Don’t confuse grit with sheer persistence; it’s not about charging up the same hill, again and again. The sort of grit you need to scale a business is less reliant on brute force. It’s actually one part determination and one part ingenuity — the ability to generate an endless supply of Plans B. And Nancy Lublin has a boundless supply of grit, which fueled her success scaling three successful not-for-profits: Dress for Success, DoSomething.org and Crisis Text Line. With practical wisdom and wicked humor, she shares the innovative approach to technology, financing, volunteers and staff development that have given her organizations such scale. If you think the for-profit world has a monopoly on scale thinking, think again.
Google has succeeded by innovating again and again. Not just search, but Gmail and Google Docs and even self-driving cars. Their secret? They don’t tell their employees how to innovate; they manage the chaos. Eric Schmidt—CEO of Google since 2001 and now Chairman of parent company Alphabet—shares the controversial management techniques he created to cultivate an environment of free-flowing ideas plus disciplined decision making that lead to breakthrough ideas. He reveals the hidden secret in Google’s famous “20% time” policy, their approach to hiring smart creatives, and the parallels between leading Google and piloting small airplanes. Plus, his “roommate” at Google, and the decision he made to support a crazy idea that he was certain would bankrupt the company.
In just 6 years, Facebook grew to 2 billion users and 14,000 employees. How? Well first, they hired COO Sheryl Sandberg. And she knew that to lead a fast-changing organization, you have to be as skilled at breaking plans as you are at making them. Great scale leaders know how to pivot. Every day, there are new competitors, new threats, new opportunities. There’s no simple, straightforward set of marching orders. It’s more like a dogfight. You and your team will be flying upside down and at an angle sometimes. Sandberg shares her practical, tactical on-the-ground lessons she learned at both Google and Facebook — everything from hiring people for roles that never existed before, celebrating birthdays for an enormous team, and navigating make-or-break crises as a management team. She also reveals the slow, professional courtship of Mark Zuckerberg.
If you’re Steve Jobs, you can wait for your product to be perfect. But there are almost no Steve Jobs’ in the world. For the rest of us, If you’re not embarrassed by your first product release, you’ve released it too late. Imperfect is perfect. Why? Because your assumptions about what people want are never exactly right. Most entrepreneurs create great products through a tight feedback loop with real customers using a real product. So don’t fear imperfections; they won’t make or break your company. What will make or break you is speed. And no one knows this better than Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. He shares the origin story of his famous mantra, “move fast and break things” and how this ethos applied as Facebook evolved from student project to tech giant.
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 between 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 entrepreneurial minefield of investors who may or may not share your vision.
Think you've raised enough money for your startup? Think again. You have to run through a minefield of unexpected expenses as an entrepreneur. And you never know where the big opportunity will come from. So always, always raise more money than you think you need. Mariam Naficy shares her white-knuckle experiences founding startups that survived two financial crashes — online cosmetic company Eve.com in the 90s, and founder and designer boutique Minted.com today.
If you want your company to truly scale, you first have to do things that don't scale. Handcraft the core experience. Get your hands dirty. Serve your customers one-by-one. And don't stop until you know exactly what they want. That's what Brian Chesky did. As CEO of Airbnb, Brian’s early work was more akin to a traveling salesman. He takes us back to his lean years – when he went door-to-door, meeting Airbnb hosts in person – and shares the imaginative route to crafting what he calls an "11-star experience.”
Coming May 3rd, Reid Hoffman, legendary Silicon Valley entrepreneur and investor, explains how famous founders take their companies from zero to a gazillion. In this trailer for Season One, a taste of this straight-from-Silicon Valley podcast.