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Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders on Smash Notes

Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders podcast.

April 04, 2020

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.



Episodes with Smash Notes

Amy Chang is an executive vice president at Cisco. Following the acquisition of her startup Accompany by Cisco in 2018, she led Cisco's multi-billion dollar Collaboration business and its Webex portfolio. In this talk, she describes an approach to networking that’s built on affinity and even friendship rather than short-term, transactional goals. She shares how her relationships and network shaped her career as she navigated a path from electrical engineering at Stanford to her current roles at Cisco and on the Proctor & Gamble board, with formative stops at McKinsey, Google, and elsewhere.


Debbie Sterling is the founder and CEO of GoldieBlox, an award-winning children’s multimedia company known for disrupting the “pink aisle” in toy stores around the world, and challenging gender stereotypes with a girl engineer character. In 2015, Sterling was inducted as a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship under the Obama administration and honored by the National Women’s History Museum with a “Living Legacy” Award for her work to empower girls around the world. Here, she explores the strategies, pivots, and mission-driven commitments that have helped GoldieBlox thrive.


Jeff Seibert is a serial entrepreneur and active angel investor. His current focus is Digits, which he co-founded in 2018 to build modern, intelligent, real-time finance tools for business owners. Seibert previously served as Twitter’s Head of Consumer Product and led the company’s product efforts for iOS, Android and the Web, as well as its Developer and Data platforms. He was also the co-founder and CEO of Crashlytics and the co-founder and COO of Increo. In this talk, he describes the origin of Digits, and particularly focuses on one aspect of the company: its full-throttled embrace of remote work long before COVID-19 made remote work the global default.


Olympian in luge, television reporter, airline pilot, and venture capitalist… Bonny Simi’s career path has been anything but linear. Simi is now the president of JetBlue Technology Ventures, the venture capital arm of JetBlue Airways that invests in and partners with early-stage startups that are improving the future of travel and hospitality. In this talk, she shares how she leaned into her creativity and curiosity, and found the courage to blaze her own path.


Beverly Parenti and Chris Redlitz are the co-founders of The Last Mile, an organization that aims to break the cycle of incarceration by providing education and career training opportunities in prisons. Founded in 2010 at San Quentin State Prison, The Last Mile has become one of the most requested prison education programs in the United States. In this talk, joined by former TLM student and Healthy Hearts Institute founder Ray Harts, they discuss how to build and grow social ventures that make a difference.


Joe DeSimone is the founder and executive chairman of Carbon, a global company that is driving the evolution of 3D printing from a prototyping tool into a scalable manufacturing technology. As a professor at the University of North Carolina, DeSimone made scientific breakthroughs in areas including green chemistry, medical devices, and nanotechnology, also co-founding several companies based on his research. In 2016 President Obama awarded him the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the highest honor in the U.S. for achievement and leadership in advancing technological progress. In this talk, he explores how diverse teams, perspectives and specialties can drive innovations in both technologies and business models.


Julie Zhuo is the co-founder of Inspirit, an advisory firm that partners with fast-scaling tech companies to build and scale products that people love. Prior to founding Inspirit, she was the VP of design and research for the Facebook app, and helped scale the service from 8 million users to over 2 billion. She is also the author of The Making of a Manager, a field guide for new managers that was named one of Amazon's Best Business and Leadership Books of 2019. In this talk, she focuses on how to channel user feedback into impactful product decisions, and also shares some powerful lessons about how to become a successful manager.


For the first time ever, we're extending our ETL series into the summer! We’ll be inviting some of our most impactful past ETL speakers to reflect on clips from their previous ETL talks, explore how they’re responding to the current moment, and point out strategies that remain as powerful as ever. Our summer season kicks off on Wednesday, June 24 with Inspirit founder Julie Zhuo. Later on we’ll hear from innovators like Stockton mayor Michael Tubbs, Beverly Parenti and Chris Redlitz (co-founders of the prison reform nonprofit The Last Mile) and Ann Miura-Ko (founding partner at the VC firm Floodgate). Be sure to subscribe to the podcast to get new episodes delivered straight to you every Wednesday!


Kevin Systrom, co-founder of Instagram, first spoke at ETL in 2011, just seven months after Instagram launched. Here, he returns to ETL nine years later to draw some new insights about the the startup's rocket-like growth. In an interview with Stanford professor of the practice and STVP faculty director Tina Seelig, Systrom reflects on the lessons he’s learned during the course of that journey, and also talks about his work on Rt.live, a new platform that aims to model the COVID-19 pandemic.


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.


Ethan Brown is the founder, president and CEO of Beyond Meat. In this talk, Stanford lecturer Toby Corey interviews Brown about how his company has redefined “meat.” Brown shares some of the key lessons learned from Beyond Meat’s startup story and explores some of the pivotal moments of his journey from idea to IPO.


Andy Karsner is a senior strategist and “Space Cowboy” at X, the “moonshot factory” at Alphabet (Google’s parent company). He has spent two decades driving renewable energy innovation and other climate solutions, including serving as the Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy from 2005 to 2008. In this talk, Emily Ma, Food Systems Lead at X, interviews Karsner about the nation’s preeminent natural security challenges and explores where he finds the greatest hope for designing solutions.