A leadership podcast for a changing world. Host Gautam Mukunda explores what it takes to lead through times of change and crisis — featuring unexpected conversations with global leaders across different fields and industries.
Rules of Innovation: Where Big Ideas Come From
How do you find the next big idea — one that will change business or the world? As the main forces of R&D have moved out of government offices and into private businesses, many organizations lack the structure to properly engage them. How can companies encourage innovation and growth in our fast-moving world? What organizational changes can be implemented to create a structure that nurtures sky-high, implausible ideas that challenge conventional wisdom and lead us to our next innovation revolution?
In this episode, Gautam Mukunda speaks with two best-selling authors and entrepreneurs. The physicist founder of a biotech company, Safi Bahcall, and author, investor, and startup CEO, David Kidder describe how to organize your teams and methods for a breakthrough.
“I'm a huge believer in structure. Regardless of whether a company desires growth or not, most efficiency-driven, short-termism-driven cultures — I like to refer to them as the big to bigger — really are at war with growth in their incentive. The talent, the structure, and the models are not designed in any way to create growth as a natural order of their management. Trying to do innovation or disruption anywhere inside or near it is literally a fool’s errand.”
— David S. Kidder
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Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries, by Safi Bahcall
New to Big: How Companies Can Create Like Entrepreneurs, Invest Like VCs, and Install a Permanent Operating System for Growth, by David Kidder and Christina Wallace
Producing Prosperity: Why America Needs a Manufacturing Renaissance, by Gary P. Pisano and Willy Shih
Leading Without Authority: How the New Power of Co-Elevation Can Break Down Silos, Transform Teams, and Reinvent Collaboration, by Keith Ferrazzi
Perfectly Reasonable Deviations from the Beaten Track: The Letters of Richard P. Feynman, by Richard P. Feynman, Michelle Feynman
Darwin's Origin of Species: A Biography, by Janet Browne
Safi Bahcall is a physicist, a former public-company CEO, the founder of a biotechnology company specializing in cancer drugs, and the author of Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas that Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries. An instant WSJ bestseller, Loonshots has been translated into 18 languages; selected as a best business book of the year by Bloomberg, Financial Times, Forbes, Inc., the Washington Post, and others; and recommended by Bill Gates, Daniel Kahneman, Ed Catmull, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, and Malcolm Gladwell. Loonshots was the #1 most recommended book of the year in Bloomberg’s annual survey of CEOs and entrepreneurs.
Safi received his BA summa cum laude from Harvard, completed his Ph.D. in physics at Stanford, and served for three years as a consultant at McKinsey and Company. In 2001, he co-founded Synta Pharmaceuticals. He led the company's IPO and served as its CEO for 13 years. In 2008, he was named E&Y New England Biotechnology Entrepreneur of the Year. In 2011, he worked with President Obama’s council of science advisors (PCAST) on the future of national research. Safi currently advises CEOs and leadership teams on strategy and innovation and is working on his next book. He lives with his wife and two children in Cambridge, MA.
David S. Kidder is an entrepreneur and an angel investor in over 40 companies. He is currently the co-founder and CEO of Bionic, a company that unlocks new growth for the world's most competitive enterprises by leveraging the mindsets and methodologies of venture capital and entrepreneurship. Previously, he served as the co-founder and CEO of venture-backed startups Clickable and co-founded SmartRay Network. A graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology, he received Ernst and Young's Entrepreneur of the Yea
Leading with Character: A Conversation with Indra Nooyi and Col. Everett Spain
Leaders model behavior and inspire others to emulate them in their personal lives and on a bigger scale. Just as we have a choice to do the right thing in our personal lives, business leaders have that choice at work. Many strive to be people of good character in all aspects of their lives. But, what does it really mean to be a person of good character? Or, from a business perspective, a company of character? If character is the critical component of ethical leadership, how do we cultivate it in ourselves and in our organizations?
In this episode, Gautam Mukunda speaks with the Head of the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership at West Point and Soldier’s Medal recipient, Col. Everett Spain and the legendary former CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi about how today’s leaders can model courage to do the right thing.
“The character of a corporation is not the personality. The character of a corporation is the integrity and morality of the company. How much does the company believe in the betterment of society? How much does the company believe it cannot succeed at the expense of society? That is the true character of a corporation. I don't want us to lose sight of that.”
— Indra Nooyi
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The Arc of Ambition, by James A. Champy and Nitin Nohria
2030: How Today's Biggest Trends Will Collide and Reshape the Future of Everything, by Mauro F. Guillén
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, by Matthew Desmond
How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi
The Captain Class: The Hidden Force that Creates the World's Greatest Teams, by Sam Walker
Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, by Marshall Rosenberg
The Colored Cadet At West Point: Autobiography of Lieut. Henry Ossian Flipper, U. S. A., first graduate of color from the U. S. Military Academy, by Henry Ossian Flipper
Colonel Everett Spain is a Professor, USMA, and the 7th Head of the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership at West Point. Everett has served with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, 1st Cavalry Division in Iraq, V Corps in Europe, 1st Infantry Division in Kosovo, Multi-National Force-Iraq, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, and as a White House Fellow under the Bush and Obama Administrations. A native of Pensacola, Florida, Everett received a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering from West Point, a Master of Business Administration from Duke’s Fuqua School, and a Doctor of Business Administration from Harvard Business School. He actively researches and writes about talent management. Additionally, he serves as a senior advisor to the Army Talent Management Task Force, is the president of the Harvard Veterans Alumni Organization 501(c)(3), and volunteers as a Holocaust Legacy Partner. Everett and his spouse Julia live at West Point and enjoy raising their four children, including a West Point cadet, a college freshman enrolled in Army ROTC, and two high school sophomores.
Indra Nooyi is the former Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo (2006-2019); a Fortune 50 company with operations in over 180 countries.
In this role, Mrs. Nooyi was the chief architect of Performance with Purpose, PepsiCo’s pledge to do what’s right for the business by being responsive to the needs of the world around us. As part of Performance with Purpose, PepsiCo was focused on delivering sustained growth by making more nutritious products, limiting its environmental footprint and protecting the planet, and empowering its associates and people in the communities it serves. During her tenure, PepsiCo grew net revenue by more than 80%, and PepsiCo’s total shareholder return was 162%.
Before joining PepsiCo in 1994 Mrs. Nooyi held senior positions at The Boston Consulting Group, Motorola, and Asea Brown Boveri.
Currently, Mrs. Nooyi is a member of the board
Leadership by Design: Creating a Point of View
In a way, the space where we live is an exhibition, a curation of an exact moment in time. As humans, we are constantly assessing the world around us and arranging it to fit our values. But, what factors influence our sense of taste and point of view? What makes something desirable? What methods do designers and leaders apply to contextualize products, information, and experiences people love?
In this episode, Gautam Mukunda speaks with the Head of the Design Lab at Harvard, Dr. Beth Altringer, and the Chair, Art for Europe at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, Dr. Frederick Ilchman about the relationship between design and technology, and how shaping taste is a powerful way to lead.
“Curating properly means to care for something, to preserve it. It's a rather beautiful calling. You are trying to save the best of the past for the present so we can understand what our future is going to be.”
— Dr. Frederick Ilchman
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Arnhem: The Battle for the Bridges, 1944, by Antony Beevor
Stalingrad, by Antony Beevor
Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry, by Leanne Shapton
Salt Fat Acid Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking, by Samin Nosrat
The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America’s Most Imaginative Chefs, by Karen Page, Andrew Dornenburg
The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, by Jesse Schell
Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men, by Caroline Criado-Perez
Dr. Frederick Ilchman is an art historian and museum curator. He specializes in Italian Renaissance painting, particularly that of Venice. He’s chair of Art of Europe for the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. His acclaimed exhibition, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice (2009), organized with the Musée du Louvre, won several awards. Eager to enlist supporters for his favorite city, he is also the Chairman of Save Venice, the largest non-profit organization specifically devoted to preserving the art and architecture of Venice.
Dr. Beth Ames Altringer is an award-winning designer and runs the Design Lab at Harvard University's John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. In 2016, The Harvard Crimson recognized her as one of the university’s top 15 professors. Altringer founded the Desirability Lab, which has helped teams at companies like IDEO, Gucci, Puma, IKEA, Disney, Piaggio, Swarovski, and Uber to create more desirable products and services based on behavioral research. When she's not teaching, Altringer is usually in her studio working with flavor data or making art. She built the iOS app, Chef League, an interactive game that lets you learn flavor intuition from chefs, created flavor research software called the Flavor Genome Project, paints for fun, and is a former champion blind taster.
The Power of Connection with Dr. Vivek Murthy and Dr. Tsedal Neeley
New digital tools can allow us to combat loneliness as the world transitions to a predominately remote workplace. But can technology create an experience where people feel a deeper source of connection with one another? Can it mimic the face-to-face environments of the past? One thing we do know: The only way we will be able to overcome this pandemic is if we do it together. But in a time of such intense isolation, how do we reclaim togetherness to solve the problems that plague us?
In this episode, host Gautam Mukunda is joined by President Biden's nominee for Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, and Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School and award-winning author, Dr. Tsedal Neeley to discuss how humans will thrive in the post-pandemic, new world of work.
“Deep human connection is built not through grand gestures, but through those small moments when we stop by and look into someone's lives, allow them to glimpse into what is happening in our lives, and through those moments of authenticity, of transparency, we forge a deep connection.”
— Dr. Vivek Murthy
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Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World, by Vivek Murthy
Remote Work Revolution: Succeeding From Anywhere, by Tsedal Neeley
The Language of Global Success: How a Common Tongue Transforms Multinational Organizations, by Tsedal Neeley
Competing in the Age of AI: Strategy and Leadership When Algorithms and Networks Run the World, by Karim R. Lakhani and Marco Iansiti
Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, by Sebastian Junger
Braving the Wilderness, by Brené Brown
Trust: America’s Best Chance, by Pete Buttigieg
Dr. Vivek Murthy was confirmed by the Senate in 2014 to serve as the 19th Surgeon General of the United States and currently serves as co-chair of the President-elect's COVID-19 Advisory Board. A renowned physician, research scientist, entrepreneur, and author of the bestselling book Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World, Dr. Murthy is among the most trusted voices in America on matters of public health.
As “America's Doctor,” Dr. Murthy helped lead the national response to a range of health challenges, including the Ebola and Zika viruses, the opioid crisis, and the growing threat of stress and loneliness to Americans' physical and mental wellbeing. Prior to his tenure as Surgeon General, Dr. Murthy co-founded VISIONS, a global HIV/AIDS education organization; the Swasthya Project, a rural health partnership that trained women in South India to become community health workers and educators; TrialNetworks, a technology company dedicated to improving collaboration and efficiency in clinical trials; and Doctors for America, a nonprofit mobilizing physicians and medical students to improve access to affordable care. His scientific research has focused on vaccine development and the participation of women and minorities in clinical trials. And as an internal medicine doctor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Dr. Murthy cared for thousands of patients over the years and trained undergraduates, medical students, and medical residents.
Raised in Miami, Dr. Murthy received his bachelor of arts degree from Harvard, his Master’s in business administration from the Yale School of Management, and his MD from the Yale School of Medicine. He lives in Washington, DC with his wife, Dr. Alice Chen, and their two children.
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Dr. Tsedal Neeley is the Naylor Fitzhugh Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. Her work focuses on how leaders can scale their organizations by developing and implementing global and digital strategies. She regularly advises top leaders who are embarking on virtual work and
The Art of Innovation with Franklin Leonard
Risk: the tug-of-war between innovation and the looming prospect of failure that is behind the scenes of every business and industry. And few industries see greater tension between innovation and failure than that of motion pictures. So, how do we innovate and transform a risk-averse industry, especially one that shapes our culture and how we see ourselves? In this episode, Gautam Mukunda is joined by the Founder and CEO of the Black List, Franklin Leonard, to discover what can be learned from his experience taking big risks in the film industry, which can lead to losses but also to monumental pay-offs.
“You are always performing your way to freedom when the resources necessary to do what you do are so considerable.”
— Franklin Leonard
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The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin
Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, by David W. Blight
Franklin Leonard is a film and television producer, cultural commentator, and entrepreneur. He is the founder and CEO of the Black List, the company that celebrates and supports great screenwriting and the writers who do it via film production, its annual survey of best unproduced screenplays, online marketplace, and screenwriter labs. More than 400 scripts from the annual Black List survey have been produced as feature films earning 250 Academy Award nominations and 50 wins including four of the last thirteen Best Pictures and eleven of the last twenty-four screenwriting Oscars. Franklin has worked in feature film development at Universal Pictures and the production companies of Will Smith, Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella, and Leonardo DiCaprio. He has been a juror at the Sundance, Toronto, Guanajuato, and Mumbai Film Festivals and one of Hollywood Reporter’s 35 Under 35, Black Enterprise magazine’s “40 Emerging Leaders for Our Future,” and Fast Company’s “100 Most Creative People in Business.” He was the recipient of the 2019 Writers Guild of America, East's Evelyn Burkey award for elevating the honor and dignity of screenwriters. He is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, a Board member of American Cinematheque, and a member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). His TED talk has been viewed more than 1.6 million times.
The Black List
@FranklinLeonard on Twitter & @theblcklst on Twitter
@FranklinJLeonard on Instagram & @theblcklst on Instagram
The Stories We Tell Ourselves
In the face of our ever-changing working environments, the stories we tell ourselves will change the way we see the world. Focusing on our strengths and finding meaning in what we do will unlock our best selves and allow us to lead and succeed even when the going gets rough, even when it seems like success and integrity are at odds. In this episode, Gautam Mukunda is joined by serial entrepreneur, author, and co-founder of the Happiness Studies Academy, Tal Ben-Shahar, and blog writer and author Eric Barker to discuss how creating a meaningful narrative can change our experience.
“One of the biggest insights of all of social psychology is that the situation is often more predictive of behavior than individual personality traits. So, leaders need to frame the new experience of work from home.”
— Eric Barker
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Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment, by Tal Ben-Shahar
The Joy of Leadership: How Positive Psychology Can Maximize Your Impact (and make you happier) in a Challenging world, by Tal Ben-Shahar
Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong, by Eric Barker
Man's Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl
The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem: The Definitive Work on Self-Esteem by the Leading Pioneer in the Field, by Nathaniel Branden
Daniel Deronda, by Mary Ann Evans aka George Elliot
On Becoming a Leader, by Warren G. Bennis
The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done, by Peter F. Drucker
Mother Night, by Kurt Vonnegut
Tal Ben-Shahar is an author and lecturer. He taught two of the largest classes in Harvard University’s history, Positive Psychology and The Psychology of Leadership. Today, Tal consults and lectures around the world to executives in multinational corporations, the general public, and at-risk populations. The topics he lectures on include leadership, happiness, education, innovation, ethics, self-esteem, resilience, goal setting, and mindfulness. His books have been translated into more than twenty-five languages, and have appeared on best-seller lists around the world. Tal is a serial entrepreneur and is the co-founder and chief learning officer of Happiness Studies Academy, Potentialife, and Happier TV.
@TalBenShahar on Twitter
Eric Barker’s humorous, practical blog, Barking Up the Wrong Tree, presents science-based answers and expert insight on how to be awesome at life. Over 345,000 people subscribe to his weekly newsletter and he has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, and the Financial Times. Eric has given talks at MIT, Yale, Google, United States Military Central Command (CENTCOM), and the Olympic Training Center. His first book, Barking Up The Wrong Tree, is a Wall Street Journal bestseller.
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Customer ReviewsSee All
Big fan, Huge Appreciation
Insightful, meaningful, and motivating. This podcast is highly accessible, lots of great learning nuggets with real examples, and can’t recommend it enough.
Utterly intriguing and impressive
Incredibly happy that this show was suggested to me. I enjoy the topics as well as the brilliant insights from Gautam and his well chosen guest. This show encompasses great value on the subject of leadership as well as so much more. I’m definitely looking forward to future content.
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I can’t say how much I’ve learned from this show. It’s a heady and inspiring forty minutes and I’m super appreciative to this team for pulling this show together. It’s become a regular part of my week.