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Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders

Each week, experienced entrepreneurs and innovators come to Stanford University to candidly share lessons they’ve learned while developing, launching and scaling disruptive ideas. The Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Series is produced by Stanford eCorner during fall, winter and spring quarters.

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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The best episodes ranked using user listens.

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Alexi Robichaux (BetterUp) - Uncompromising Values

Alexi Robichaux is the co-founder and CEO of BetterUp, a mobile-based platform that brings personalized professional coaching to employees at all levels. In this talk, Robichaux speaks with Stanford lecturer Toby Corey about the motivations that drove him to found BetterUp, and reflects on key values, strategies and pivots that have helped sustain the venture’s mission-driven growth.

51mins

27 May 2020

Rank #1

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Nancy Koehn (Harvard Business School), Bob Sutton (Stanford University) - Tenacious Compassion: Leading Through the Storm

Get a taste of season 2 of the FRICTION podcast. The best leaders cultivate empathy, patience and an awareness of their own vulnerabilities, says Nancy F. Koehn, a historian at the Harvard Business School. She’s the author of Forged in Crisis: The Power of Courageous Leadership in Turbulent Times, about the zigzagging paths of five historical figures, from Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass to environmentalist Rachel Carson. In this episode, Koehn speaks with Stanford Professor Bob Sutton about how transformational leaders slow down and harness their humanity to overcome significant challenges.

23mins

13 Jun 2018

Rank #2

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Bob Sutton (Stanford University) - What Great Leaders Do

In this lecture that parallels his book Good Boss, Bad Boss, Stanford professor Bob Sutton unpacks the best habits of beloved and effective managers, and details the worst habits of those who fail to lead. The best leaders develop and nurture those who work for them. However, when bosses gain more power, they can easily grow oblivious to the needs of those they lead.

59mins

10 Nov 2010

Rank #3

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Nassim Taleb (Author) - How Things Gain from Disorder

Based on his continuing exploration of the decision making process under opaque circumstances, Nassim Taleb, author of The Black Swan and Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder, shares how the benefits of random conditions can be successfully harvested to help navigate a world we do not fully understand.

55mins

10 Apr 2013

Rank #4

Most Popular Podcasts

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Daniel Ek (Spotify) - A Playlist for Entrepreneurs

Daniel Ek, founder of digital music service, Spotify, is driven by a desire to solve interesting problems. In this fascinating lecture, moderated by KPCB's Chi-Hua Chien, Ek shares his thoughts on leadership, collaboration, and a laser-focus on building truly great products.

1hr

16 May 2012

Rank #5

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Richard Miller (Olin College) - More Innovation Through Education

Richard Miller, president of Olin College, describes disruptive ideas about education and learning that universities should adopt to graduate more creative, entrepreneurial and impactful engineers. He explains how a focus on math and science alone won't result in more innovation, and that higher education must instill traits like grit and independent thinking.

53mins

25 May 2016

Rank #6

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Ben Horowitz (Andreessen Horowitz) - Nailing the Hard Things

Entrepreneur and venture capitalist Ben Horowitz shares which entrepreneurial skills truly matter, and why learning to manage well may be the most critical skill of all. Horowitz, a founding partner of Andreessen Horowitz, discusses the value of learning inside a large company, some of the exciting technology frontiers ahead, and the purpose and philosophy of his firm, in conversation with Stanford Engineering Professor Tom Byers.

54mins

19 Nov 2014

Rank #7

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Dave Evans (Stanford Life Design Lab) - Designing the Life You Really Want

Dave Evans, co-founder of the popular Life Design Lab at Stanford University, discusses the key concepts and exercises that guide students in their quest to figure out what they want to do in life. He underscores the importance of accepting who you are and connecting that to what you believe and do, while attacking dysfunctional notions like the one that dares you to be the “best version of yourself.” Can’t we have more than one?

1hr

1 Mar 2017

Rank #8

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Barbara Liskov (MIT) - Finding the Great Problems

Barbara Liskov was already breaking new ground in 1968, when she became one of the first American women to earn a doctorate in the emerging discipline of computer science. After receiving that PhD at Stanford, she went on to design several influential programming languages, including CLU, an important precursor to Java. More recently, as an Institute Professor at MIT and head of the institute’s Programming Methodology Group, she has undertaken crucial research on distributed systems, information security and complex system failure issues. She is one of fewer than 100 individuals to receive an A.M. Turing Award from the Association of Computing Machinery. In a conversation with host Ann Miura-Ko, a lecturer in Stanford’s Department of Management Science and Engineering and founding partner of the venture capital firm Floodgate, Liskov explores how she discovered the nascent field of computer science, how she recognized and surmounted a number of fundamental computing challenges, and shares her concerns and hopes about how computing will continue to transform our lives.

44mins

23 Oct 2019

Rank #9

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Stan Christensen (Stanford Technology Ventures Program; Arbor Advisors) - The Art of Negotiation

Stan Christensen is a partner at Arbor Advisors, an investment banking firm where he negotiates on behalf of mid-market technology companies. In this lecture, Christensen builds a framework and illuminates a few of the classical mistakes in negotiation. He defines negotiation as an attempt to persuade or influence a situation. He emphasizes relationship management and problem solving as being fundamental to negotiation. He also alludes to the conceptual framework by illustrating examples from his vast global experience.

59mins

31 Oct 2007

Rank #10

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Marissa Mayer (Google) - Nine Lessons Learned about Creativity at Google

Marissa Mayer, Vice President of Search Products and User Experience at Google, shares nine lessons learned about fostering creative ideas and innovation based on her experience developing highly successful Web applications at Google.

47mins

17 May 2006

Rank #11

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Mitch Kapor (Foxmarks) - How to Build a Successful Company

Serial entrepreneur Mitch Kapor speaks about the fundamental principles of building successful companies by drawing on his experience as creator of Lotus 1-2-3, Chairman of Second Life, Founder of Foxmarks and a wealth of technical and social entrepreneurship knowledge. Kapor emphasizes the elements of company building that technology has changed, such as faster feedback cycles and lower barriers to entry, as well as the elements that remain the same, such as how to establish culture and trust. Kapor illuminates his observations with contemporary and historical examples that create a context-rich primer on building vibrant companies.

55mins

16 Jan 2008

Rank #12

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Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook) - Spotlight on Scalability

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg shares her trilogy of ideas for a successful start-up and a fulfilling career. Her thoughts include building an enterprise with scalable vision, building personalized, scalable products, and the ability to scale your own connections and capabilities.

57mins

22 Apr 2009

Rank #13

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Scott Kriens (Juniper Networks) - Words of Wisdom from an Experienced CEO

In a humble and anecdotal talk, Scott Kriens, CEO of Juniper Networks, walks through the founding and growth of the company. He provides insight on a variety of issues ranging from the power of strong markets, to personal growth, to globalization and net neutrality.

56mins

29 Nov 2006

Rank #14

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Hugh Martin (Pacific Biosciences) - 13 Mistakes and 13 Brilliant Strokes

Hugh Martin, Chairman and CEO of Pacific Biosciences, looks back on the evolution of his career - from building computers to creating the future of medicine. Martin charts the lessons he learned working for large technology firms, as a leader in several successful start-ups, and while being courted by the VC community to launch a new wave in bioscience.

54mins

14 Jan 2009

Rank #15

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Olivia Fox Cabane (Author and Speaker) - Build Your Personal Charisma

Debunking charisma as being purely innate or magical, Olivia Fox Cabane reveals how specific behaviors of presence, power and warmth can help individuals to develop their personal charisma. The author of The Charisma Myth also shares anecdotes and research that illustrate how elements of charisma are learned, interpreted and impact relationships.

45mins

10 Oct 2012

Rank #16

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Ori Brafman (Author) - How to Build Instant Connections

In this illuminating lecture, bestselling author Ori Brafman explores subtle drivers that can help you spark immediate work, life, and romantic connections. Based on insights from his latest book, Click: The Magic of Instant Connections, Brafman teaches leaders and aspiring entrepreneurs how to make every chance meeting count, using examples from the workplace, collegiate life, and the battlefield.

55mins

20 Apr 2011

Rank #17

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Ravi Belani (Stanford University) - Building Billion Dollar Businesses

As a lecturer in Stanford’s Department of Management Science and Engineering, Ravi Belani regularly teaches MS&E 472, the Stanford course associated with the Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders series. He is also the managing director of Alchemist Accelerator, an accelerator program that focuses on enterprise businesses and has funded startups like LaunchDarkly, Rigetti Computing and Zipongo. Before Alchemist, he spent four years as an associate at the VC firm DFJ. There, he was instrumental in backing the company that later became Twitch, which was acquired by Amazon for $970 million in 2014. In this talk, he draws on his keen observations of the Silicon Valley ecosystem to identify the factors that align to create the most transformational venture-scale businesses.

43mins

11 Mar 2020

Rank #18

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Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn) - Choosing the Entrepreneurial Path

In this candid entrepreneurial narrative, Reid Hoffman describes his journey from academia to PayPal, to finally founding the professional networking site LinkedIn. Hoffman suggests that to be a successful entrepreneur you have to take risks where others wouldn't and be willing to deviate from the beaten path.

1hr 3mins

7 Feb 2007

Rank #19

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Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn) - Live Life in Permanent Beta

Serial entrepreneur and investor Reid Hoffman encourages individuals to become the entrepreneurs of their own lives. Hoffman shares the importance of taking intelligent risks, building thoughtful networks and continually adapting your skills to navigate a fulfilling career path.

1hr 1min

22 Feb 2012

Rank #20