The podcast of Working Capital Review
The podcast of Working Capital Review
George Nguyen: What Does Gen Z Want from Brands?
It’s the age old question nearly every business brand would like to know: What do young people care about?
Do they apply their beliefs and goals to their commercial choices? Do brands matter to them? Put differently, from a brand’s perspective, do youth care about who you are — or what you do and how you do it? What are the forces influencing their brand choices?
And when leading global and domestic brands want to know the answer to these questions, George Nguyen is one person they frequently call.
Nguyen is Managing Director of Untapped, a youth trends and insights agency that is changing the way brands approach market research. Untapped is borne of the simple belief that the only subject matter experts are the subjects themselves – and they tap into their network of more than 5,000 young urban influencers and what they call “gatekeepers” to learn.
They do this by partnering with STOKED, a non-profit youth development program in NY, CHI, and LA. Untapped gets the insights; the youth gatekeepers gain opportunities to learn: presentation skills, professional communications, office skills, statistics and analytics, and design and development, including photoshop, coding, and more.
Among their clients have been McDonalds, Nike, Jordan Brands, Gatorade, HBO and others.
Vindi Banga: Business Outlook in a Changing World
Once again this year, thousands of the world’s leading economic and business players met in the little Swiss ski town of Davos. And once again, the key topics and discussions had little to do with winter sports.
The reasons are obvious. There’s a lot going on in the world today and plenty of questions:
As global political economies continue to evolve at an increased pace, how much will leaders factor geopolitics into evaluating potential transactions?
How do global population and health trends affect the ways companies and investors think about investing in and managing businesses?
Can innovation, entrepreneurialism and investment meet the challenges of climate change?
And what about technology? As jobs increasingly get disintermediated by Artificial Intelligence, how should businesses, governments and individuals balance the opportunities that tech brings with its equally challenging implications?
To find out, we spoke with Clayton, Dubilier & Rice London-based Operating Partner Vindi Banga. Some background on Vindi’s global business and policy efforts: Banga spent 33 years at Unilever, where he served as executive board member and president of Global Foods, Home & Personal Care. He led the creation of a 'One Unilever' agenda for the Foods, Home & Personal Care organization, responsible for innovation and marketing mix development across 170 countries for all 270 Unilever brands. Vindi also was responsible for Unilever's sustainability agenda, an issue – as you’ll hear – he has learned and thought about since his childhood in India. Vindi served on the Prime Minister of India's Council of Trade & Industry from 2004 to 2014, and in 2010 the India’s President awarded him the Padma Bhushan, one of the country’s highest civilian awards.
Anindya Ghose: China, US, & Future of AI
As the world becomes a messier place, and as the U.S. Great Power Competition with China continues to ramp up, this battle will be fought on many fronts – few if any on an actual battlefield.Instead, these superpowers’ fight for supremacy focuses on different dimensions of power and influence – in particular, areas like business and technology, including the next generation of Artificial Intelligence applications.So who’s winning? Where does China stand – and what should other countries and companies understand to compete and win?To find out, I welcomed back a previous and incredibly interesting guest: Anindya Ghose, the Heinz Riehl Chair Professor of Business at New York University's Leonard N. Stern School of Business. Anindya is also the author of the important and engaging book, Tap: Unlocking the Mobile Economy, which has now been translated into five languages and was recently named one of the top 100 marketing books of all time. Ghose also was named to the prestigious 2019 Highly Cited Researchers list from the Web of Science Group, which recognizes the world's most influential researchers of the past decade, demonstrated by the production of multiple highly-cited papers that rank in the top 1% by citations for field and year in Web of Science.Anindya’s bottom line: While the U.S. may lead in AI research, China leads in AI implementation – they simply are doing more on commercialization and making AI an actionable part of everyday life.What’s driving this advantage? I wondered, of course, if the difference comes down to the government thumb on the scale – that China’s support for targeted industries simply gives their companies an unfair advantage. But the response I got, as you’ll hear, was: Not so fast. From Ghose’s research, the difference is more cultural in terms of consumer uptake.As he told me: “Their tech sector is clearly innovating faster, working harder, and is about 2-3 years ahead of their counterparts in the U.S. and about 5-8 years ahead from the ones in Western Europe and Southeast Asia. There is much to learn from them.”One additional note: We also explored new research Ghose has just published on The Effect of Voice AI on Consumer Purchase and Search Behavior. Given the growth of voice in tech, I promise you’ll want to hear what Anindya and his colleagues found.
Alexandre Mars, How Epic Foundation Innovates Philanthropy
As with any startup opportunity, when the serial and successful tech entrepreneur Alexander Mars decided in 2013 to tackle philanthropy, he had to identify the market gap. Turns out, he already knew it: The disconnect, as he describes, between how much we want to give and how much we actually give.The challenge, of course: How to bridge the gap. Mars’ answer: Just like a business.He gathered specialists in international development, social impact, open innovation, design thinking and technology to develop an industry-leading due diligence process to build and manage a portfolio of high impact social organizations.Beyond the intense due diligence, Epic also leverages startup and business thinking into its fundraising and donor relations, from integrating into corporations’ payroll systems to enable voluntary and automated employee giving to using virtual reality technology to bring the on-site philanthropy experiences to life.The result is Epic, a global non-profit investing in nearly 30 organizations in more than 10 countries, including groups that provide free legal and social support advocacy to abused and neglected children in New York, intervene in Mumbai’s red light areas to end intergenerational trafficking, run children’s hospice in the UK, and others.More about Epic’s CEO and Founder Alexandre Mars, who over the past 20 years has launched and sold multiple companies in the internet, mobile marketing and social media industries, as well as founding blisce/, a venture firm focused on helping entrepreneurs build mission-driven global consumer brands and technology companies.In what appears to be his spare time, the French native was named among Town & Country’s Top 50 philanthropists, and among “the 50 most influential French people” by Vanity Fair. In 2019, he was named a knight of the Legion of Honor, France’s highest civilian award order.
Diane Flynn: How Companies Should Respond to Changing Workplace Demographics
From gender-based pay gaps to leadership roles, advancement opportunity to corporate culture, the treatment of women in the workplace – and how to enhance growth opportunities for women executives – is and has been under continual focus.But now this focus is frequently combined with a new, and growing trend: The aging and multigenerational workforce. The numbers may surprise you: The number one growing demographic in today’s workplace is women over 55. In fact, the number of people over 55 is going to be 25% of our workforce in five years.The statistics come from Diane Flynn, Co-Founder and CEO of ReBoot Accel, accelerating the careers of women in the workplace and consulting with high-growth and Fortune 500 companies, as she puts it, “interested in creating workplaces where women thrive.”It’s also why – with companies like Airbnb, Udemy, Visa and Gap, Flynn has launched The Silicon Valley Longevity Project, which seeks to bring together companies recognizing that “How companies prepare for and respond to changing workplace demographics will have a profound influence on their ability to compete in the global marketplace and will affect the communities in which they operate.”More background: Flynn previously served as Chief Marketing Officer of GSVlabs, a marketing executive at Electronic Arts, and an associate consultant at The Boston Consulting Group. Like many professional women, she also left the workforce for a period to raise her family.So what can and should companies do? And what lessons can be learned from executives and firms who have succeeded – and from those who have failed?
Andrew McAfee: Why Capitalism & Technology Will Save the Planet
If one question has driven mankind’s quest for innovation, it very well might be this: How can we get more from less?For most of our time on this planet, the answer was simple: We couldn’t. As my guest Andrew McAfee points out, for just about all of human history – particularly the Industrial Era – our prosperity has been tightly coupled to our ability to take resources from the earth. We got more from more.That tradeoff yielded incredible positive contributions in nearly every field: Technology, industry, medicine. But there’s one glaring area – one of those “aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play” areas – where the trade wasn’t so incredibly positive. Of course, that’s the environment.As global industry rode the combination of human’s infinite ingenuity and Mother Nature’s finite resources – we all reaped the benefits. But we also saw the costs: Exponential global warming. Perhaps it’s not an exact straight line, but the connection is clear to all but a few climate deniers.Luckily, we know the solutions: Consume less; Recycle; Impose limits; Live more closely to the land.Or do we? What if, instead, these central truths of environmentalism haven’t been the force behind whatever improvements we’ve made and, more importantly, aren’t the drivers that will solve the existential task at hand: Saving the planet?Instead, as McAfee argues in his new book, the answer is dematerialization – we’re getting more output while using fewer resources. We’re getting, as his title suggests: “More from Less: The Surprising Story of How We Learned to Prosper Using Fewer Resources – and What Happens Next.”McAfee argues that the two most important forces responsible for the change are capitalism and technological progress, the exact two forces “that came together to cause the massive increases in resource use of the Industrial Era.” Combined with two other key attributes – public awareness and responsive government – we can and do “tread ever more lightly on our planet.”Some background: Put simply, Andrew McAfee studies how digital technologies are changing the world. He is Co-Founder and Co-Director of “The MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy” and a Principal Research Scientist at the MIT Sloan School of Management. One of his previous books, with MIT colleague and sometime co-author Erik Brynjolfsson was a New York Times and Wall Street Journal top ten bestseller; his books in total have been translated into more than 15 languages; and he and Brynjolfsson are the only people named to both the Thinkers50 list of the world’s top management thinkers and the Politico 50 group of people transforming American politics.McAfee knows his prescription to save the planet is controversial. He knows it will frustrate – if not outrage – most of his friends… assuming they’re still willing to call him friend. But as us non-academics say about people like McAfee: He’s done the math. He’s researched the data. And like it or not, he’s ready for the conversation.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Chris Riback is a very good interviewer and has attracted a stable of interesting guests.