On Air: October 7, 2014

Ryan Carson, CEO and Co-Founder of Treehouse

Ryan Carson is the CEO & Co – Founder of Treehouse Island Inc.

Ryan is an entrepreneur and father. He moved to the UK in 2000, after graduating from Colorado State University with a Computer Science degree. He has now moved to Portland Oregon with his family in 2012.

He has successfully built and sold two businesses and is now working on his third, Treehouse (

On Air: September 30, 2014

Barry Libert, Board Member, Angel Investor

Barry Libert is a digital board member, technology (angel) investor, and strategic advisor to boards and their leaders seeking to benefit from the digital revolution. He is based in Boston, Massachusetts. Mr. Libert specializes in social, mobile and big data company investing and advising larger organizations on the impact of these technologies on their business. Libert is the chairman and founder of OpenMatters, a technology (growth) investor and strategic advisory firm. He has spent the last ten years investing in and founding social, mobile, and big data technology companies. In 2001, he founded Mzinga, a social software and e-learning company. His boards include (present and past): Innocentive, a crowd sourcing software company; Activate Networks (ANI), a big data analytics and services company; Zyncd a crowdsharing company, The Pulse Network, an social video company, Sonicbids, a social music marketing company, Parametric Dining, a mobile payment company, The SEI Center for Advanced Studies in Management and Networked Organizations at the Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania and the Us Against Alzheimer’s Network, an advocacy network seeking to end Alzheimer’s by 2020 using today’s technologies. He is also a strategic advisor to a number of large enterprises seeking to leverage social, mobile and cloud technologies to drive revenues and reduce costs. Libert has co-authored five books on the value of social networks, crowdsourcing and big data in business, healthcare and government. His fifth book, Social Nation, was published in the fall of 2010 by John Wiley & Sons. Barry Libert has authored 1,100 articles on the importance of digital technologies in organizations. His articles have appeared in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Baron’s, Institutional Investor, CIO Magazine and Mckinsey Quarterly.

On the show, Libert discussed the oft-forgotten role of the board of directors in cultivating and sustaining innovation in a firm. At its core, the board of directors is responsible for capital allocation and planning, and that is vitally important to innovation. Libert believes that there’s a lot of capital tied up in assets today – as many firms as essentially asset builders. But this is low value in his mind, as they may innovate in being more efficient, but their innovations are ultimately not scalable. Service providers also aren’t all that scalable, since they are ultimately limited by the number of hours a person can work in a year. Technology firms are a great, in Libert’s thinking, because their innovation is so scalable, and thus growth potential is large, raising value. A responsible board of directors, then, ought to allocating capital to where the value lies, while promoting concepts like open-source and open-innovation to allow the development of high-value innovations.

On Air: September 30, 2014

Marc Levinson, Economist, Historian, and Journalist

Marc Levinson’s professional life has centered on making complex economic issues understandable to the general public. Much of his work has been international in focus, dealing with international trade and globalization, international finance and financial regulation, and energy and environmental issues that cross international borders.

He has written five books that merge economics and business strategy with historical research. He has also written many articles for leading publications, such as Harvard Business Review and Foreign Affairs, and contributed historical pieces to Echoes, the former economic history blog at He frequently reviews books for The Wall Street Journal and other publications.

Marc Levinson’s career began as a journalist, reporting on business for Time magazine and the Bureau of National Affairs (BNA) and serving as editorial director of the daily Journal of Commerce in New York. After several years writing about business and economics for Newsweek, he became finance and economics editor of The Economist in London. In 1999, Levinson joined the predecessor to JP Morgan Chase, where he created a unique industry economics function that married economic research with stock and bond analysis and developed a line of environmental research products for institutional investor clients. He has advised Congress on transportation and industry issues and serving as senior fellow for international business at the Council on Foreign Relations, and has consulted for a number of businesses and public agencies.

Levinson received his bachelor’s degree from Antioch College, master’s degrees from Georgia State University and the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, and a doctorate from the City University of New York.

On Innovation Navigation, Marc Levinson discussed his recent book, detailing the history of A&P, a former paragon of American retail. From humble origins, A&P redefined the very concept of the grocer – being the first to utilize tin cans, cardboard boxes, and product branding to radically change the shopping experience. The store introduced the chain grocery store model, providing standardized experiences that customers could trust, including clear brand-name products that they could handle before purchasing. A&P was innovative in ways that would make a modern manager or consultant proud – it improved its core product, the retail experience, while broadening innovation in categories like more business, as it added butchers, bakers, and more, supply chain management, and more to out-innovate and out-compete the marketplace. Ultimately, A&P is instructive not just for its success, but for its failure. After the founders passed away, company insiders tried to run the company by their model, but the lack of innovation took a toll on A&P’s competitiveness in an increasingly crowded market, and this coupled to the pressures of being a public company ultimately resulted in the company’s bankruptcy.

On Air: September 30, 2014

Nathan Furr, Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship, BYU Marriott School

Nathan Furr is an assistant professor of entrepreneurship at BYU’s Marriott School, in the Department of Organizational Leadership and Strategy. He received his Ph.D from Stanford University in Strategy, Entrepreneurship, and Organizations, and has written numerous articles and is co-author of Nail It Then Scale It. He is also the author of The New Entrepreneur, a blog on At BYU’s Marriott School, he teaches as part of the Crocker Innovation Fellowship, an interdisciplinary course on entrepreneurship, as well as award-winning new ventures and entrepreneurship courses.

On the show, Professor Furr began by discussing the dichotomy between design thinking and the lean start-up movement – or lack thereof – as he explained that the two only refer to different starting points in solving customer problems effectively and efficiently. Dr. Furr also spoke about the example of Inuit as a firm that recognized stagnant growth and rebounded by finding a way to integrate design thinking and a lean start-up process to gain the nimbleness of start-up in a large and successful company. Finally, he introduced his concept of “painstorming,” which refers to a method of plotting and visualizing the problems and/or pains that a (potential) customer is actually facing. This provides a much better visualization of the problem.

On Air: September 30, 2014

Doug Sundheim, President, Clarity Consulting

Doug Sundheim is a leadership and organizational consultant with over 20 years of experience in growing businesses and helping others do the same. He works with leaders and teams of Fortune 500 companies and entrepreneurial firms to help them maximize their effectiveness. His clients include Morgan Stanley, Harvard Management Company, The Chubb Corporation, Citigroup, University of Chicago, and Procter & Gamble among others. Prior to his work in leadership and organizational consulting, Doug spent several years in the Internet strategy field and started a 100-person catering company. Doug holds a BS from Cornell University and an MA in Adult Learning & Leadership from Columbia University. He lives in Westchester, NY with his wife and three sons. Doug’s second book Taking Smart Risks: How Sharp Leaders Win When Stakes Are High was published in January 2013 by McGraw-Hill.

On the show, Sundheim discussed how companies and managers can do a better job of taking smart risks in order to promote innovation. One group of people that tend to do an excellent job of taking smart risks are those with something worth fighting for. For Sundheim, these people are distinct from those with mere passions, and they will do just about anything to accomplish their career and life goals. Interestingly, he also introduced the idea that when a firm has a process in place for innovation, but innovation still isn’t happening quite right – the problem may be in the quality of the dialogue. CEOs and other managers must lead the way during check-in meetings with project teams to ask a lot of questions and not worry about sounding dumb. It’s important that the manager is asking when the leap from data analysis to conclusion or product idea isn’t entirely clear, or any reasoning isn’t so clear. This focus can help make any innovation management process significantly more effective.

On Air: September 23, 2014

Salim Ismail, Speaker, Strategist, and Entrepreneur

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Salim Ismail is a sought-after speaker, strategist and entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley. He travels extensively addressing topics including breakthrough technologies and their impact on a variety of industries. Salim has spent the last four years building Singularity University based at NASA Ames and before that built and ran Brickhouse, Yahoo’s internal incubator. His last company, Angstro, was sold to Google in August 2010. He has a unique perspective and track record on how to innovate, how to turn cutting edge ideas into thriving startups and how to apply leading edge thinking to invigorate entire industries.

On the show, Salim talked about his new book, Exponential Organizations: Why new organizations are ten times better, faster, cheaper than yours (and what to do about it). His thinking is about how nimble companies essentially outsource parts of their operations in order to scale so much and so quickly as to quickly dominate marketplaces. These companies may “outsource” traditionally, by having a partner manufacture goods for them, or they may do so by having people not in the organization help the effort in other ways, such as TED showing talks online for free and starting TEDx and having people run shows on their own, thereby increasing their brand massively. A company decides what to keep locked down inside its organization by bearing in mind what it’s “massive transformative process,” or MTP, really is.

On Air: September 23, 2014

Ben Waber, President and CEO, Sociometric Solutions

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Ben Waber is President and CEO of Sociometric Solutions, a management services firm. His new book People Analytics, from the Financial Times Press, will be released in May. He is also a visiting scientist at the MIT Media Lab, where he received his PhD in the Human Dynamics Group working with Prof. Alex (Sandy) Pentland. He was previously a Senior Researcher at Harvard Business School in the Organizational Behavior group. His work centers around using real time data flows to rethink management of people, physical architecture, corporate planning, and training, among other things. Previously, he received his BA and MA in Computer Science in four years from Boston University in 2006. During this time, he was a member of the Image and Video Computation Group. Waber has also worked at various research labs in Japan, including Hitachi’s Central Research Laboratory and Ricoh’s Central Research Laboratory. Waber has also consulted for industry leaders such as LG, McKinsey & Company, and Gartner on technology trends, social networks, and organizational design. His current research interests include dynamic organizational design, organizational behavior, social networks, sensor networks, prediction mechanisms, and information flow.

On the show, Waber discussed how the physical layout of an office can play a role in how innovative the firm’s employees are. Specifically, he cites research showing that despite the best intentions, people actually do talk far more frequently with those they sit near in the office, and far less with those they sit far from. In addition, he discussed what an office designed to stifle innovation would look like, as a counter example. It would include the closing off of functions from one another, different teams in different floors or even buildings, lots of small coffee and snack places so that no one has to meet in the middle and bump into one another, no central cafe so that employees eat their lunch at their large, isolated desks, and plenty of corners and turns in the corridors, such that individuals don’t see people coming and interact with them. Essentially, Waber advocated the planning of new office space to cause more interaction between people who have no need to, in order to spur serendipitous conversations that will lead to ideation and innovation.

On Air: September 23, 2014

Michael Karnjanaprakorn, CEO and Co-Founder, Skillshare

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On the show, Michael discussed how Skillshare began by trying to create the “perfect pedagogy online,” including very strict formatting and so on, but ultimately changed from that view. They realized that what they needed to do was trust teachers and students as co-innovators, allow flexibility and for people to vote with their feet on what actually worked. For the company, this meant supporting and communicating successes across course designers, while trying to bring more great teachers to the platform, and that has been tremendously successful for them. Building a community of experts is, for Karnjanaprakorn, all about building trust; the outside experts need to trust that the company has their best interests at heart.

On Air: September 23, 2014

Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg, Co-Author - Innovation as Usual: How to Help Your People Bring Great Ideas to Life

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Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg is the co-author of Innovation as Usual: How to Help Your People Bring Great Ideas to Life, a Harvard Business Review Press book on the art of driving innovation in regular organizations. As Partner at the advisory firm The Innovation Architects, he has worked with managers in nearly all parts of the globe, including China, India, Russia, Singapore, Britain, France, the United States and his native country, Denmark. He is a frequent corporate speaker and has delivered keynotes at events such as Time Warner’s Senior Leadership Series, HP’s European Executive Partner Summit, Johnson & Johnson’s HCS Fall Leadership Meeting, and The Economist’s Talent Management Conference. Mr. Wedell-Wedellsborg holds an MA in Media Science from the University of Copenhagen and an MBA from IESE Business School. His research has been featured in Harvard Business Review, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, BBC Radio, Bloomberg Businessweek and the Financial Times. He has founded two startups: the Danish non-profit knowledge sharing platform Akademisk Opgavebank and 13 MBAs, a private professional network for Harvard, Stanford, Columbia and ten other top-ranked business schools. He currently serves as an advisor to two startup incubators, namely the BBC WorldWide Labs in London and the venture development firm Prehype. Prior to his business career, Mr. Wedell-Wedellsborg served for four years as an officer and infantry platoon commander with the Danish Royal Guards.

Wedell-Wedellsborg discussed the process of coming up with and moving new ideas up in the corporate ladder. He advocated “stealth storming,” am alternative to flamboyant brainstorming sessions that result in lots of ideas that go nowhere, which ought to be done by professionals at navigating corporate politics to bring a few great ideas to life. Also, he talked about how many ideas will come up in a firm, and the reality is that many will be bad ideas, so there is vital importance to having a systematic process that can handle these ideas and not only kill the bad ones, but select and encourage the good ideas that are generated alongside.

On Air: September 16, 2014

Joshua Wolf Shenk, Author, Essayist, and Curator

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Joshua Wold Shenk a writer of numerous successful piece and books, a curator who has worked with multiple fine institutions, and has taught at The New School, New York University, Washington College, and elsewhere. He is the author of The Power of Two: Seeking the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs and numerous articles, including cover stories for Harper’s, Time, and The Atlantic. He has also written for Slate, The New Yorker, The New York Times, and others. His book Lincoln’s Melancholy was named one of the best books of 2005 by The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlanta-Journal Constitution. He has been awarded residencies at Yaddo, MacDowell, the Blue Mountain Center, and the Norman Mailer Center; a Rosalynn Carter fellowship in mental health journalism at the Carter Center; a Japan Society Media Fellowship; and the Frank Whiting scholarship at the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference. Josh was a 2005-06 fellow in non-fiction literature at the New York Foundation for the Arts. He is the father of one son.

On the show, Shenk discussed his idea of the power of creative pairs and how they’ve been incredibly influential in the history of successful innovators and firms. Specific examples discussed include Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger, Vincent van Gogh and his brother Theo, and Steve Jobs and his series of partners including Steve Wozniak, Tim Cook, and Sir Jonathan Ive. Interestingly, Shenk spoke on how a manager, who is often going to be “arranging marriages,” so to speak, ought to seek to bring together partnerships of people that will challenge one another and probably even come from different backgrounds. Successful partnerships often have an element of tension between them. However, it’s important to make sure that there is time and space for solitude for both sides, because “cooling off” is just as important for long-term success.