Cindy Eckert is an entrepreneur who built and sold two pharmaceutical companies, notably Sprout Pharmaceuticals, creator of “female Viagra,” for more than $1B. She subsequently founded The Pink Ceiling which invests in companies founded by, or delivering products for, women.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Moving every year during her childhood taught her how to be comfortable being uncomfortable. This experience of constant change would lay the foundation for the rest of her life.
  • While she had been surrounded by incredibly smart and hard working people in prior companies, she knew in her heart they weren’t any smarter or harder working than she was, so why not take a chance on herself.
  • She initially got turned down by the FDA for her drug for female low libido but rather that accept the verdict, she had the guts to challenge the FDA which eventually led to a reversal of their decision and approval for the drug.
  • After just four short years from the time she first purchased the drug, following the FDA approval, she sold the company for a billion dollars.
  • Culture is very important. Her company is the land of the misfit toys and they actually hire for quirkiness.  There is permission to bring your entire self to work and to be respectfully irreverent.
  • She tries not to get too obsessed with where things will lead. She’s just focused every day on getting up and doing a great job and creating value.
  • “I fail every day. Failure is just part of the test of how committed you are to the venture.”
  • “Empathy is the female DNA of a rule breaker.”
  • “Success isn’t about having all the answers. It’s about having the courage. If you feel you need to have all the answers, you’ll never succeed at entrepreneurship.”
  • “Why do we treat our career like a ladder? Why can’t it be a jungle gym?”

Rich Karlgaard is a bestselling author, award-winning entrepreneur, and speaker.  He is the publisher of Forbes magazine and is based in Silicon Valley.  He is a renowned lecturer on technology, innovation, corporate culture, and a number of other important business issues and the author of three books, his latest one titled: Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed with Early Achievement.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

 

  • His time at Stanford poring over Sports Illustrated in the library would later become the genesis for starting up what would become a highly popular technology business magazine.
  • Starting up Upside Magazine which had a unique style and voice ultimately led to a coveted role with Forbes despite the magazine not being a financial success.
  • Our cultural obsession with early achievement is detrimental to society.
  • Some people are successful because they’re competitive and set goals for themselves. Others achieve success because they are explorers chasing their curiosity without an end in mind.
  • Between the ages of 18 and 25, our prefrontal cortex is still growing and our executive function skills are still developing. Yet, this is the exact time when we’re supposed to be laser focused on launching our future careers.
  • One of the most important traits CEOs of high performance companies look for in new recruits is curiosity because without curiosity there’s no growth.
  • Notable strengths of late bloomers include curiosity, compassion, resilience, insight, and calmness.
  • “Resilience isn’t just the ability to be tough but the ability to have enough built in flexibility so an unexpected failure doesn’t shatter you.”
  • At any given time, there’s an optimal use of your time, your talent, and your effort.
  • “Excellence is the intersection between your perfect native gifts and your sense of purpose that is so deep you’re willing to sacrifice for it.”

 

Links:

Find Rich Karlgaard’s book Late Bloomers here.

Find Rich Karlgaard’s personal website here.

At the age of 17, Chris Wilson was sentenced to life for murder.  He turned his life around while in prison and was released after 16 years.  Today he is the owner of Barclay Investment Corporation, a social enterprise specializing in residential and commercial contracting work and employing out of work Baltimore residents.  His other business ventures include the House of DaVinci, a high-end furniture restoration and design company, and Master Plan Productions, a social impact content development company. His book is called: The Master Plan: My Journey from Life in Prison to a Life of Purpose.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

 

  • At the age of 17, Chris Wilson was sentenced to life in prison for murder.
  • Despite being sentenced to life, Chris believed that if he focused on turning his life around, he would get his sentence reduced and be set free after 7 years. He called this kind of thinking a “positive delusion”.
  • While in prison, he created a “Master Plan” which was a list of goals he wanted to accomplish in his life. He shared the list with his grandmother and the judge because he felt it was important to have others hold him accountable.
  • It was also important to include a number of shorter term goals on the Master Plan which were easier and quicker to accomplish to boost his confidence and create momentum.
  • He went to therapy to learn how to stop making excuses and take full responsibility for his past actions in order to move forward.
  • Instead of chasing money and living an easy life, he chose to give back to the community by starting a company which employed out of work residents including recently released prisoners.
  • It’s important to surround yourself with a support system of people you can turn to in order to stay on track and not revert back to bad habits.
  • “Excellence is pushing yourself to achieve high standards and doing so in a way that’s humble and considerate.”

Eduardo Strauch is an architect and painter living in Montevideo, Uruguay.  He is also one of 16 survivors from a 1972 plane crash in the Andes mountains which was charted by an amateur Uruguayan rugby team.  He survived 72 treacherous days trapped high up in the mountains.  He wrote a book about his experience called Out of the Silence: After the Crash.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Learn how he and 15 others managed to survive for over two months with minimal provisions, subzero temperatures, and thin air which was very difficult to breathe.
  • Learn how spontaneous meditation helped free his mind and save his life.
  • Mental strength was as important as physical strength for survival. You had to maintain hope and continue to have positive thoughts and believe that things would eventually work out.
  • You had to learn how to control your mind in order to do what was needed to survive. “It was essential to strip away the deep associations of the past from our actions and maintain that strict separation to be able to act.”
  • Once they ran out of food, they had to get past age-old societal norms and resort to cannibalism to survive.
  • “We all occasionally fell into bouts of deep depression, but then the group would notice it and act in support of that person, like a living organism trying to rebuild its own weak cells.”
  • From the very moments following the crash to this day, Eduardo has learned to appreciate the value of life.
  • “Excellence is to be in peace with oneself and ensure that you are living the life you must live.”

Jerry Colonna is the founder and CEO of Reboot.IO, an executive coaching and leadership development firm whose coaches are committed to the notion that better humans make better leaders. Previously he was a successful venture capitalist with JPMorgan Partners and Flatiron Partners focused on technology startups. His new book is titled Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up.  He lives in Boulder, Colorado.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Growing up in a chaotic environment with an alcoholic father and mentally ill mother drove his associating money with safety.
  • There was a dissonance between the way he felt internally and the way he was perceived in the world which led to a deep depression.
  • You can’t be a better leader without being a better human and you can’t be a better human without going through radical self-inquiry.
  • Radical self-inquiry is the process by which self-deception becomes so skillfully and compassionately exposed that no mask can hide us anymore.
  • We all have psychological baggage – our inner demons – which hold us back as leaders and we must confront those demons in order to grow.
  • It is a fallacy to think that leadership is all about having all the answers and not having any fear or any doubt. Authentic leadership is about accepting your imperfections.
  • Learn about the important difference between grit and stubbornness.
  • “We have to be willing to accept life as it is, not as we wish it might become. To live in the reality of what is today, not what might be in the future.”

 

Links:

Book: Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up

Reboot Website: www.reboot.io

Jerry Colonna Bio: www.reboot.io/team/jerry-colonna

Roger McNamee has been a successful Silicon Valley investor for thirty five years.  He co-founded Silver Lake and Elevation Partners, two very successful private equity funds.  He also plays bass and guitar in the bands Moonalice and Doobie Decibel System.  He holds a BA from Yale and an MBA from Dartmouth’s Tuck School. He has written 4 books, the latest one titled Zucked: Waking up to the Facebook Catastrophe.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Roger had a very unusual approach to tech investing which allowed him to be highly successful.
  • Learn why he started Elevation Partners with U2’s Bono.
  • Hear how one pivotal meeting with Mark Zuckerberg would forever alter the course of Facebook.
  • It was Facebook’s lack of anonymity that Roger felt was key to bridging the gap to a much larger mainstream audience that prior social media companies had failed to reach.
  • While they are technically a platform, Facebook acts more like a media company by using sophisticated algorithms to control the content that users see on the site.
  • Social media manipulates us by exploiting the weakness in human psychology.
  • Learn what filter bubbles are and why they’ve contributed to our accepting and spreading false information.
  • “Technology has changed the way we engage with society, substituting passive consumption of content and ideas for civic engagement, digital communications for conversation.”
  • “Excellence is an outcome that reflects mastery of an activity in a time and in a place.”

Joe is the founder and CEO of Spartan, the largest obstacle racing series in the world. He is also a New York Times bestselling author of multiple books including Spartan Up, Spartan Fit, and most recently The Spartan Way.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • The most grueling endurance event he’s ever done is running a business.
  • “Death is the price we pay for life so make it worth it.”
  • Learn how he built the largest participatory endurance sport in the world with over a million annual participants and 275 events spread across 42 countries.
  • It took over a decade of losing money and tweaking the product until he finally figured out a formula that worked. He stuck with it for so long because he knew it was his true north.
  • Branding matters. They’re probably 10x more successful because of the name Spartan.
  • Intermittent fasting can make you feel better and it increases performance.
  • The best way to physically train is to focus on flexibility and mobility.
  • The ambitious mission of Spartan is to change 100 million lives.
  • “Excellence is giving it everything you’ve got. When you’re up against a wall and you refuse to give up, that’s excellence.”

Albert-László Barabási is the Robert Gray Dodge Professor of Network Science at Northeastern University, where he directs the Center for Complex Network Research, and holds appointments in the Department of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Central European University in Budapest.  He is the author of four books with his latest one entitled: The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success. 

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • The definition of success is the rewards we earn from the communities we belong to. While your performance is about you, your success is about us.  It’s what we as a community acknowledge and value.
  • The first law of success is that performance often drives success but when performance can’t be measured, networks drive success.
  • The second law of success is that performance is bounded but success is unbounded. Marginal differences in performance may lead to order of magnitude differences in success (fame, fortune, recognition, etc.).
  • The third law of success if that prior success will increase the odds of future success. It is the law behind why the rich get richer and the powerful stay that way.
  • The fourth law of success is that while team success requires diversity and balance, a single individual will inevitably receive credit for the group’s achievements.
  • For performance oriented teams, diversity and empathy are the most critical success factors while for innovation oriented teams, leadership is most important.
  • The fifth law of success is that with persistence, success can come at any time. Your ability to succeed neither declines nor improves with age.