Will Ahmed is the Founder and CEO of WHOOP, which has developed next generation wearable technology for optimizing human performance and health. WHOOP members include professional athletes, Fortune 500 CEOs, fitness enthusiasts, military personnel, frontline workers, and a broad range of people looking to improve their performance. WHOOP has raised more than $400 million from top investors and is valued at $3.6 billion, making it the most valuable standalone wearables company in the world. In this interview, I speak to Will Ahmed about his mission to transform human-health, and what he’s learned from building one of the world’s most valuable startups.

Thought Economics

DoorDash is a remarkable business. Founded in 2013, the business now has millions of monthly active users, across 27 countries, who utilise the services of millions of Dashers on the platform to get, ‘restaurants and more, delivered to their door.’ DoorDash is empowering a whole new economic model – In the period from Q1 2020 through today, the platform has generated over $70 billion in sales for merchants, and over $25 billion in earnings for Dashers. It took 7 years for DoorDash to complete their first billion orders (from founding through October 2020), it took 10 months to complete their next billion – the scaling continues – in Q3 2022 alone, DoorDash delivered over 430 million orders. DoorDash IPO’d in 2020, and is regarded as one of the most valuable consumer businesses on the planet. In this interview, I speak to Christopher Payne, President of DoorDash. He served as COO from 2016-2021, and prior to joining DoorDash, he led the North American business at eBay, ran development of MSN Search (now Bing) and mapping (Virtual Earth) for Microsoft. He also led Amazon’s expansion beyond books into video, electronics, wireless, PCs and software. He is one of the world’s most accomplished technology leaders.

Thought Economics

Mike Evans is the founder of GrubHub. Hungry and tired one night, Mike wanted a pizza, but getting a pizza was a pain in the neck. He didn’t want to call a million restaurants to see what was open. So, as an avid coder, he created GrubHub in his spare bedroom to figure out who delivered to his apartment. Then, armed with a $140 check from his first customer and ignoring his crushing college debt, he quit his job. Over the next decade, Mike grew his little delivery guide into the world’s premier online ordering website. In doing so, he entered the company of an elite few entrepreneurs to take a start-up from an idea all the way to an IPO. In 2021, JustEat acquired GrubHub for over $7billion. In this interview, I speak to Mike Evans, Founder of GrubHub. We talk about the brutal realities start-up life, what it takes to lead an innovative, scaling, consumer focussed business and how he took a $140 cheque and turned it into a $7bn+ business.

Thought Economics

The single best way to have a great idea is to produce lots of ideas. The number of new ideas your organization can produce is a metric for its ability to generate novel solutions to any given problem. Your ideaflow is the most crucial business metric that you’ve never considered. Every business problem is, finally, an idea problem. How well you can solve those problems is how well you and your business can perform, navigate uncertainty, and develop innovations. Jeremy Utley is the Director of Executive Education at Stanford d.school and an Adjunct Professor at Stanford’s School of Engineering. He is the co-host of the d.school’s widely popular program “Stanford’s Masters of Creativity.” Perry Kelbahn is a co-founding member of Stanford’s d.school faculty. He is an Adjunct Professor and Director of Executive Education at Stanford d.school. He has served as COO of Patagonia and as CEO of Timbuk2. In this interview, I speak to Jeremy Utley & Perry Klebahn of Stanford’s renowned Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (aka the “d.school”) on ideaflow, their proven strategy for routinely generating and commercializing breakthrough ideas.
 

Thought Economics

Dandapani is a Hindu priest, entrepreneur and a former monk of 10 years. After graduating university with a degree in Electrical Engineering he left it all behind to become a Hindu monk under the guidance of one of Hinduism’s foremost spiritual leaders of our time, Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. For 10 years he lived a life of serious personal discipline and training at his guru’s cloistered monastery in Hawaii and on that journey he came to many discoveries around the most common mental maladies that literally plague us, anxiety, stress, worry and fear. Through his lectures and courses, Dandapani’s work has allowed millions to overcome distraction and find peace in their lives. In his new book The Power of Unwavering Focus, Dandapani distils decades of wisdom into insights to help us move through our lives with willpower, awareness, and focus. In this interview, I speak to Dandapaniabout what it means to have a life well-lived, what it means to best understand our minds, and how we can overcome anxiety, fear, stress and worry.

Thought Economics

Work relationships can be hard. The stress of dealing with difficult people dampens our creativity and productivity, degrades our ability to think clearly and make sound decisions, and causes us to disengage. We might lie awake at night worrying, withdraw from work, or react in ways we later regret—rolling our eyes in a meeting, snapping at colleagues, or staying silent when we should speak up. Too often we grin and bear it as if we have no choice. Or throw up our hands because one-size-fits-all solutions haven’t worked. But you can only endure so much thoughtless, irrational, or malicious behaviour—there’s your sanity to consider, and your career. Amy Gallo is an expert in conflict, communication, and workplace dynamics. She combines the latest management research with practical advice to deliver evidence-based ideas on how to improve relationships and excel at work.  She is the author of the HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict, a how-to guidebook about handling conflict professionally and productively, and the forthcoming Getting Along: How to Work with Anyone (Even Difficult People). In this interview, I speak to Amy Gallo about the archetypes of people we encounter in the workplace and how we can understand and deal with challenging workplace relationships more effectively. We discuss the principles that will help us build stronger, more resilient relationships, and look at the tools we can use to rebuild fractured ones.

Thought Economics

Dame Stephanie Shirley CH, also known as Steve, is a workplace revolutionary and successful IT entrepreneur turned ardent venture philanthropist. At 88 years old, her story has many strands which, woven together, have produced a lifetime of exceptional achievements. Dame Stephanie’s story begins with her 1939 arrival in Britain as an unaccompanied five-year-old Kindertransport refugee. This defining experience equipped her with fortitude at a very young age and made her determined to live a life worth saving. In 1962, she started a software house, Freelance Programmers, and pioneered radical new flexible work practices that changed the landscape for women working in technology. She went on to create a global business and a personal fortune which she shared with her colleagues, making millionaires of 70 of her staff at no cost to anyone but herself. Since retiring in 1993, Dame Stephanie’s life has been dedicated to venture philanthropy in the fields of IT and autism. She initially founded Autism at Kingwood in 1994 to support her late son Giles, then there was the ground breaking Prior’s Court School for pupils with autism and her charitable Shirley Foundation went on to make grants of £70 million. It spent out in 2018 in favour of Autistica, the UK’s national autism research charity founded by Dame Stephanie. In 2009/10 she served as the UK’s first ever national Ambassador for Philanthropy. In 2017, Dame Stephanie received a Companion of Honour (CH), a membership limited to only 65 individuals globally, for her services to entrepreneurship and philanthropy. In this interview, I speak to Dame Stephanie Shirley CH. We discuss her remarkable life story from arriving in Britain as five-year-old war refugee, to building one of the UK’s most successful information technology companies, changing the landscape completely for women in technology, and her work as one of the UK’s most prominent, and impactful philanthropists.

Thought Economics

In ReCulturing: Design Your Company Culture to Connect with Strategy and Purpose for Lasting Success, Melissa Daimler, Chief Learning Officer of Udemy, argues that it’s crucial to take a systems approach to culture – one focused on behaviours, processes and practices – and integrate it with the company’s purpose and strategy. With over two decades of experience leading learning and organizational development at companies like Adobe, Twitter, WeWork, and now Udemy, Daimler shows leaders how to remake their cultures as both work and the world evolve. In this interview, I speak to Melissa Daimler about the power and importance of company culture. We talk about how the most successful businesses in the world approach culture, and what it takes to build high performance companies that are values aligned, full of purpose, and which generate success.

Thought Economics

In The Upside of Uncertainty, INSEAD professor Nathan Furr and entrepreneur Susannah Harmon Furr provide a sweeping guide to embracing uncertainty and transforming it into a force for good. Drawing from hundreds of interviews, along with pioneering research in psychology, innovation, and behavioural economics, Nathan and Susannah provide dozens of tools—including mental models, techniques, and reflections—for seeing the upside of uncertainty, developing a vision for what to do next, and opening ourselves up to new possibilities. In our fast-paced, ever-changing world, uncertainty is on the rise. We face it every day. But few of us have been taught the techniques to navigate it well. In this interview, I speak to Nathan & Susannah Furr about the importance of uncertainty, why we must embrace it, and how understanding uncertainty can dramatically improve our lives.

Thought Economics

Jenn Lim is the founder and bestselling author of Beyond Happiness: How Authentic Leaders Prioritize Purpose and People for Growth and Impact, and the CEO of Delivering Happiness (DH), a company built to create happier company cultures for a more profitable and sustainable approach to business–a company she and Tony Hsieh [the late CEO of Zappos.com] cofounded. Delivering Happiness started as a book (NYT and WSJ Bestseller, which sold one million copies worldwide) and evolved into a business consultancy and global movement that has impacted and inspired hundreds of companies and organizations worldwide. 

Thought Economics

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