In 2009, a St. Louis glassblowing artist and recovering computer scientist named Jim McKelvey lost a sale because he couldn’t accept American Express cards. Frustrated by the high costs and difficulty of accepting credit card payments, McKelvey joined his friend Jack Dorsey (the cofounder of Twitter) to launch Square, a start-up that would enable small merchants to accept credit card payments on their mobile phones. With no expertise or experience in the world of payments, they approached the problem of credit cards with a new perspective, questioning the industry’s assumptions, experimenting and innovating their way through early challenges, and achieving widespread adoption from merchants small and large. But just as Square was taking off, Amazon launched a similar product, marketed it aggressively, and undercut Square on price. For most ordinary start-ups, this would have spelled the end. Instead, less than a year later, Amazon was in retreat and soon discontinued its service. How did Square beat the most dangerous company on the planet? Was it just luck? These questions motivated McKelvey to study what Square had done differently from all the other companies Amazon had killed. He eventually found the key: a strategy he calls the Innovation Stack. In this interview I speak to Jim McKelvey, Co-Founder of Square and author of The Innovation Stack: Building an Unbeatable Business One Crazy Idea at a Time. We talk about how to build a pattern of ground-breaking, competition-proof entrepreneurship that is rare but repeatable. And how we can find the entrepreneur within ourselves and identify and fix unsolved problems–one crazy idea at a time.

Thought Economics

In his book Shoemaker, Joe Foster tells the powerful tale of triumph against all the odds, revealing the challenges and sacrifices that go into creating a world-beating brand; it is also the story of how a small local business can transform itself, with the right products and the right vision, into something much, much bigger. In this interview, I spoke to Joe Foster about the remarkable story of how he turned a small factory in Bolton into one of the world’s most famous sports brands, Reebok.

Thought Economics

Philippe Starck, world famous creator with multifaceted inventiveness, is always focused on the essential, his vision: that creation, whatever form it takes, must improve the lives of as many people as possible. This philosophy has made him one of the pioneers and central figures of the concept of “democratic design”. By employing his prolific work across all domains, from everyday products (furniture, a citrus squeezer, electric bikes, an individual wind turbine), to architecture (hotels, restaurants that aspire to be stimulating places) and naval and spatial engineering (mega yachts, habitation module for private space tourism), he continually pushes the boundaries and requirements of design, becoming one of the most visionary and renowned creators of the international contemporary scene. In this interview, I speak to Philippe Starck about art, design, the human body, technology, beauty, legacy and the very essence of human civilisation.

Thought Economics

Steve Jurvetson is the Co-Founder of Future Ventures. He is an early-stage venture capitalist with a focus on founder-led, mission-driven companies at the cutting edge of disruptive technology and new industry formation. Steve was the early VC investor in SpaceX, Tesla, Planet, Memphis Meats, Hotmail, D-Wave, The Boring Company, Zoox and the deep learning companies Mythic and Nervana. He also led founding investments in five companies that went public in successful IPOs and several others that became billion-dollar acquisitions. In this exclusive interview, I speak to Steve Jurvetson– one of the world’s most successful venture capitalists – about disruptive entrepreneurship, the technologies and concepts changing our world, and how to invest in the most innovative entrepreneurs in the world.

Thought Economics

Shaquille O’Neal (Shaq) is considered to be one of the most dominant basketball players in NBA history. At 7 ft 1 in tall and weighing 325 pounds, Shaq’s larger-than-life personality and powerful athleticism have resulted in worldwide adulation and one of the most passionate fan bases in sports and entertainment. Shaquille O’Neal’s off-court accolades rival his athletic accomplishments, having found success in entrepreneurship, acting, music, television and gaming. Currently, Shaq is an analyst on Inside The NBA. Philanthropically, Shaquille has raised millions of dollars for charity. He is a national spokesperson for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, of which his relationship dates back to his youth in New Jersey. He is also a member of the national Board of Directors for Communities in Schools. In 2019, Shaquille established The Shaquille O’Neal Foundation. In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Shaquille O’Neal (Shaq)

Thought Economics

Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill is one of the greatest British track and field athletes of all time. A specialist Heptathlete, the pinnacle of her athletic career came in 2012, when she claimed Olympic gold in London and captured the hearts of a nation in the process. Jessica won three world titles (2009, 2011, 2015) and was European champion in 2010. Displaying extraordinary resilience, Jessica won the heptathlon world title in Beijing, just fifteen months after giving birth to her son Reggie. Jessica was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to sport. In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill about what it takes to become an elite athlete, how to build your physical and mental resilience, and why she’s now on a mission to transform women’s health & fitness with her new business, Jennis.

Thought Economics

A real life ‘Samantha’ from Sex and the City, Melanie Blake’s own incredible life story reads like the plot of an outrageous novel itself. From a working-class background, Blake pulled herself out of a life of poverty and homelessness as a teen by working as an extra on various film and TV sets. After declaring bankruptcy in her 20s, now 44, Blake has re-invented herself to become one of the UK’s most successful businesswomen. She is a self-made multimillionaire, property entrepreneur, and bestselling author. She went from being a TV extra to becoming one of the most powerful celebrity agents in the UK and an award-winning businesswoman. Alongside Jaqueline Gold CBE, the CEO of Ann Summers, Melanie Blake is also one of the UK’s most vocal champions of women in business. In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Melanie Blake about her life as a media entrepreneur, the challenges faced by women in the media & entertainment industry and why she’s chronicled her experiences in her bestselling novel, Ruthless Women.

Thought Economics

Seth Godin is the author of 20 books that have been bestsellers around the world and have been translated into more than 35 languages. He’s also the founder of the altMBA and The Akimbo Workshops, online seminars that have transformed the work of thousands of people. He writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership and most of all, changing everything. You might be familiar with his books Linchpin, Tribes, The Dip and Purple Cow. His book, This Is Marketing, was an instant bestseller around the world. His latest book, The Practice, is already a bestseller. In addition to his writing and speaking, Seth has founded several companies, including Yoyodyne and Squidoo. His blog (which you can find by typing “seth” into Google) is one of the most popular in the world. His podcast is in the top 1% of all podcasts worldwide. In 2018, he was inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame. More than 20,000 people have taken the powerful Akimbo workshops he founded, including thealtMBA and The Marketing Seminar. In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Seth Godin about what it means to be creative, and how we can use the skills of creativity.

Thought Economics

Jacqueline Gold CBE is Chief Executive of Ann Summers and Knickerbox and is renowned for managing a business run by women, for women. Jacqueline is an activist for women in business, championing female entrepreneurs and, through sharing her own experiences, aims to better the working environment for women. Her attitude towards female empowerment and gender equality inspires countless generations of women to pursue their dreams and celebrate their successes, not least her 11-year-old daughter Scarlett. In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Jacqueline Gold CBE about her incredible entrepreneurship journey with Ann Summers and her work empowering women in the workplace.

Thought Economics

In 2009, Kickstarter was born from a singular mission to help bring creative projects to life.  Since then, 18.4 million people have collectively pledged over $5.23 billion into more than 186,000 projects. The Kickstarter mission extends to the very fabric of how the business is structured. In 2015, they became a Public Benefit Corporation (a for-profit company that prioritizes positive outcomes for society as much as their shareholders). Perry Chen is the creator and principal founder of Kickstarter. In this exclusive interview, we talk about the connection between arts & entrepreneurship, and the story of Kickstarter.

Thought Economics

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