Is it better to choose a company with a great idea but with a team of B-level players, or one stacked with A-level talent but an average idea?
It’s a question that early-stage investors have debated for decades, but for this week’s guest there's no question about it - a great team executing a mediocre idea beats a great idea with mediocre execution, every time.
That’s according to Ronen Olshansky, the visionary CEO behind Cross Campus, a Los Angeles based on-demand workspace and business event venue that provides peak office experiences to a community of creative professionals.
When you hear the word “company culture,” what comes to mind?
If you picture a whimsical work environment filled with highly social Millennial co-workers, cruising around on hoverboards and gathering around the company’s kegerator on Friday (or Tuesday) afternoons, you’re not alone.
According to this week’s Awesome Office guest, you’re also completely wrong.
In this episode, co-host Sean Spear talks to longtime friend and mentor Tony Knopp, the CEO and co-founder of InviteManager. Together with his co-founders, Tony has built the leading entertainment enterprise SaaS company, so he knows a thing or two about building high-performing teams.
Tero Isokauppila radiates an undeniable energy. As soon as you meet him, you can tell he’s got an insatiable curiosity about the world around him.
This 13th generation family farmer has lived in eight different countries, served in the Finnish military, and is currently making plans to fly to the edge of space in a Russian fighter jet.
But his true passion is dealing ‘shrooms.
Tero is the founder of Four Sigmatic, a company whose mission is to make medicinal mushrooms - some of the world’s most researched superfoods - more accessible to everyone. They do this through their best selling mushroom coffee, mushroom elixirs, mushroom cocoas, and other fungi-based products.
Simon Cohen’s doctors thought it was a heart attack.
Back in 2006, the self-professed workaholic was on a business trip in China on behalf of Henco, the global logistics company he founded in Mexico at the age of 24.
But not everything was going well. Simon could barely eat, and only slept a few hours at a time. He spent his days meeting with his partners in Hong Kong, and stayed up all night working with the team back in Mexico.
On the last day of the trip, he felt a jolt of pain in his chest - so powerful that it knocked him off his chair at dinner. The next thing he knew, the 32 year old former Olympic-level swimmer found himself in the back of an ambulance racing to the hospital.
In this interview, Simon tells us about his remarkable turnaround, and how this experience inspired him to make happiness the centerpiece of his life and business.
In the CPG space, most entrepreneurs, start with a product. They might stumble upon some product innovation, and see their job as merely to figure out how to sell it. Things like brand and story are usually afterthoughts.
Livio Bisterzo tried something different.
What if, he wondered, instead of starting with a product, you started with a brand proposition? What if you first built a story that your audience believed in? A big, powerful story, one that resonated with consumers, retailers - anyone who came across it? Something more akin to a tribe or a movement? What would happen?
Big things, it turns out.
Seeing as February is the time of year most closely associated with love, we're shifting gears this month to focus on love, compassion, and empathy in the workplace.
For many, love in the workplace is still a bit of a taboo subject. It wasn't long ago that the office was a strictly unemotional place. Heavy emotions just weren't discussed, let alone celebrated or rewarded.
But times have changed. More and leaders have realized that a loving and giving culture doesn't just make for an enjoyable work life, but for a more profitable business as well.
Each year, 190 CEOs from 40 different countries gather at Harvard Business School for an intense week of learning, teaching, and sharing. It's a truly special program organized by the Young President's Organization that brings together some of the best and brightest leaders around the globe.
Among them, AO's own Sean Kelly.
Sean's back this episode to give us his top learnings from another immersive week at HBS. And like year's past, the week was full of breakthroughs and surprises.
One of those surprises - the telltale signs when it's time for an employee to move on.
This week we explore a phenomenon that few leaders understand, and even fewer take full advantage of, despite the powerful effects in can have on your company. We're talking about the office subculture.
Sure, a lot of leaders are starting to come around on the idea of company culture. But what about subcultures? How do they work, and how might they have a place in your business?
What do we mean by subculture? We mean a distinct team or department culture within an already well-defined company culture.
We wanted to know how these smaller cultures develop, why they might be necessary in your organization, and how to go about shaping and defining them. To help us find out, I spoke to Chelsie Lee, the VP of Customer Success and Experience at SnackNation.
For a lot us, the beginning of a New Year is all about change.
Our sights are set on changing our diet, changing our habits, changing our careers - changing our lives.
But as we explore in this week’s episode none of this change is possible unless we first change our beliefs.
Hold your beliefs constant and your life is guaranteed to stay the same.
Change your beliefs and… real magic can start to happen.
The New Year isn’t just a chance to hit the reset button on our individual goals, it’s also a great opportunity to start a new path for your company and its culture.
At SnackNation and Awesome Office Inc., we’ve started 2017 in a brand new 21,000 square foot space, and it’s reenergized the entire company after a fast-paced year that saw growth in every aspect of the business.
But you don’t have to switch offices to give your culture - and your business - a transformative boost. There are things that you can do right now that won’t cost you a dime.
Most leaders shy away from it. It makes people uncomfortable, and the mere mention of it can inspire off color jokes, or send grown men and women into fits of nervous laughter.
We’re talking about sex, of course. In the workplace.
Well, not sex exactly, but sexual energy. As author, coach, and expert Diana Chapman discusses in part two of this illuminating interview, to deny the existence of sexual energy in the workplace is to deprive your business of one of its most creative forces.
To be clear, we’re not talking about sex itself. In this context, sexual energy has more to do with creativity and an affinity for or attraction to ideas.
It's no secret that we’re huge fans of the book The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership. Not only have we have offered a cursory breakdown of this awesome book in earlier episodes, but the entire leadership team at SnackNation HQ is currently going through it to become better in 2017.
So you’ll understand our excitement when we found out that we landed one of the book’s co-authors, Diana Chapman.
Diana has been a trusted advisor to over 700 organizational leaders and many of their teams. Clients from Genentech to Yahoo! value her clarity, compassion, ferocity and playfulness, and she’s a well-respected facilitator for the Young Presidents Organization.
In this episode, Diana revisits some of the topics from our initial exploration of conscious leadership, but gives a much deeper understanding of both how to do it, and why it’s so important, both to our businesses and our lives.
Diana also sheds new light on the subject of stress, and explains how many of us are actually addicted to the adrenaline that comes along with it. It's why so many of us consider ourselves "always on," and wear the term "workaholic" like a badge of honor. Ultimately, Diana teaches us that all this stress is damaging our health and limiting our teams' ability to succeed.
If you’ve ever listened to the show, you probably know that we get FIRED UP around this time of year. And not just for things like holiday parties and time spent with loved ones.
We get amped by the fact that the holidays are the perfect time to reflect, reset, and look ahead to the coming year. It’s a chance to think about who we want to be and how we’re going to get there.
Yep, it’s the time for ANNUAL GOAL SETTING.
(Fired up yet??)
There’s a bit of an art and science to setting proper goals. In fact, the vast majority of people who set goals - as in 92% - never achieve them. And only 45% of people even set them to begin with.
In other words, if you can set and achieve your goals, you’re truly in rarified air.
In this episode, we present a peak inside the culture at SnackNation and Awesome Office Inc. HQ with Sean’s annual goal setting presentation to his team.
If you’re a regular AO listener, you know that we’ve interviewed people from across the business spectrum - from first time entrepreneurs to CEOs of hugely successful multinational brands to scientists taking their cutting edge research to the market themselves. But there’s one business we just haven’t yet tackled.
The family business.
Thankfully Ginny Simon was kind enough to spend some time with us this week. Ginny is the founder and CEO of GinnyBakes, a Miami-based company that makes gluten-free cookie and bake mixes, and that sees itself as a “gateway” to healthier eating. GinnyBakes is also a true family business, with Ginny’s son Michael and husband Steve playing integral roles in the brand’s daily operations and growth.
Feedback seems like an uncontroversial topic. Most of us probably agree that accurate, timely feedback is critical to our jobs, no matter if we’re a junior team member or at the top of the organization. But in reality, our understanding of feedback is mostly one-sided - especially when it comes to leadership.
While most leaders focus on techniques and strategies for providing feedback for others, only the top leaders focus on the right way to receive it.
Why? Because even for the most accomplished among us, feedback is scary.
When we receive feedback, often our first instinct is to put up our defenses. We are naturally averse to it. We bristle at the idea that we aren’t perfect, and believe that recognizing feedback will reveal our flaws and shatter our perception of ourselves.
But as this episode reveals, to deny feedback is deprive ourselves of one of the greatest gifts in life.
When you get to know Dr. Joseph Antoun, you quickly realize that he’s deeply curious about the world in which we live.
In fact, he’s a renaissance man of sorts. Dr. Antoun Holds a Master’s in Health Care Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, a Master’s in Public Health from Johns Hopkins, and an MD and MS from St. Joseph University. On top of that, he holds four separate executive positions at places like the Health Systems Reform, the University of Chicago, the Journal of Health Systems Reform at the academic side, and the Global Healthspan Policy Institute. (I’m exhausted just typing that.)
But we were most interested in L-Nutra, the company for which he serves as CEO, and that’s poised to be the single most disruptive nutrition company in the 21st century.
Andrew Blackmon knows that pain can be the genesis for amazing things in business.
That’s because The Black Tux - the high end suit and tux service he co-founded with longtime friend Patrick Coyne - was borne out of Andrew’s own frustrating experience renting his wedding tux back in 2011.
While stressful at the time, this pain point helped highlight a market rife for disruption, and the pair haven’t looked back since. Together they launched The Black Tux in 2013, a company that designs and manufactures high end suits that grooms can rent on their big day. And not just any suits - we’re talking suits and tuxes that would retail for $1200, but that you can rent for just $95. Today the company has about 100 employees and rents more than 15k suits per month.
Ronen Olshansky knows a thing or two about awe-inspiring offices.
That’s because Ronen is the co-founder and CEO of Cross Campus, a Los Angeles based on-demand workspace and business event venue that provides peak office experiences to a community of creative professionals. Each of the four Cross Campus locations is a highly designed, highly social experience where inspiration, productivity, and creativity thrive.
Cross Campus is one of those places you have to see to believe, and if you live in Southern California, we highly recommend visiting one of their locations in Santa Monica, Downtown LA, Pasadena, or the South Bay. Featuring flex work spaces, a bar, and even meditations rooms, they often feel more like a high-end luxury hotel than a co-working space.
We’re not the only ones who think CC is great - President Barack Obama chose the flagship Cross Campus Santa Monica location for his summit on LA’s Silicon Beach tech scene.
We’re back this week with another #SPKup episode, in which Sean answers the questions and breaks down the topics that you’re dying to know more about.
This time Sean focuses on a topic that he gets asked about all the time –
For a lot of us, negotiation can be a bit mystifying, and as a result artful negotiation remains a drastically under utilized tactic. But the truth is, negotiation is a skill like any other, and anyone can master it.