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- It can feel like the startup and business world is full of half-hearted get-rich-quick schemes.
- but Reid Hoffman's new book based on his podcast "Masters of Scale" combats that feeling.
- The interviews with successful founders and executives makes you realize how entrepreneurs can be a positive force in the world.
- Jonathan A. Knee is Professor of Professional Practice at Columbia Business School and a Senior Advisor at Evercore.
- This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
- See more stories on Insider's business page.
Anyone who has watched the movie version of a play or vice versa intuitively grasps the challenges in translating content created for one medium to another. It can be done, but more often than not the attempt falls flat. Successful efforts inevitably require a fundamental reconception of the original work to align its themes and objectives with whatever characteristics make the alternative distribution channel most effective. Simply grafting the old onto the new makes for a distinctly unsatisfying user experience.
Iconic tech entrepreneur Reid Hoffman has taken on these challenges by attempting to transform his highly successful podcast, Masters of Scale, into a coherent book.
And the challenges here are immense. The very diversity of the over 100 podcast interviews that the book attempts to synthesize - with leaders at companies of radically different size, stage, structure and, frankly, quality - does not easily lend itself to establishing a clear set of common business precepts. Hoffman tries to overcome this problem by continuously referencing (and plugging) his earlier books, which outline his management theories.
What's more, the book never actually defines what precisely constitutes "scale" or even for that matter, success. At one point Hoffman says that the phrase "Masters of Scale" denotes "leaders who have taken a company or idea from zero to a gazillion." Various other metrics are mentioned - 100 million users, $100 million in value, closing a modest funding round, or just finding a buyer - although these rarely pertain to company financial performance.
And since this is all based on friendly interviews rather than investigative journalism, the lessons sometimes not surprisingly have an air-brushed quality to them. In her telling, if those impatient investors had given former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer another year, she could have turned the deeply troubled company around despite all evidence to the contrary.
Despite all the reasons that "Masters of Scale: Surprising Truths from the World's Most Successful Entrepreneurs" should be an unsatisfying book, it somehow manages to work.
This is not due to Hoffman's chapter-ending lists of his hokey business theories: "pay attention to the flashing neon sign," "you can never raise enough money," "experiment to learn, and learn to experiment." The success of the book is due to the combined impact of the stories Hoffman elicits from the entrepreneurs that provide a hopeful reminder of the positive force business leaders can still play in the economy and society.
At a time when the start-up culture has come to be viewed as little more than a get-rich-quick scheme - a junior varsity version of the attitudes and values increasingly associated with the largest tech companies - it is useful to remember that many entrepreneurs really are driven by a desire to change the world for the better.
The best stories in Masters of Scale come from the less boldface names who sound a little less practiced and are willing to open up about their journeys. Some of the women entrepreneurs are particularly inspiring.
Whitney Wolfe Herd, for instance, was a co-founder of the infamous dating app Tinder, that ultimately became rife with misogyny and harassment. She left but felt responsible and started Bumble to create "a dating app that could offer a safer, more respectful experience for women."
Similarly, the founders of Spanx and Rent the Runway each willed their businesses into existence by addressing unmet needs of women, holding on to the epiphany that "this should exist." One of them had written in her journal, "I want to invent a product I can sell to millions of people that will make them feel good."
Over 20 years ago, John Doerr, the legendary Chairman of venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins argued that truly great ventures are led by missionaries, not mercenaries. The explosion of interest in entrepreneurship in recent years among freshly minted graduates unfortunately does not feel driven by missionary zeal. But this does not mean that such inspiration does not continue to drive a significant subset of the early-stage impresarios. Hoffman himself represents the best of this tradition. And the fact that many of the businesses he helped build - as a cofounder of Linkedin, a founding board member of Paypal and legendary angel investor - have proven so resilient makes him a particularly credible and effective interlocutor for these entrepreneurs.
Masters of Scale the podcast works primarily as a business and finance show. "Masters of Scale" the book succeeds instead as something closer to the self-help category. For aspiring entrepreneurs, yes it provides some tips, but mostly it conveys a message of resilience and the importance of establishing and defending core cultural values. For the rest of us, who fear the worst about not just the intentions of big tech but the true aspirations of the next generation of tech entrepreneurs, it provides a glimmer of hope that it doesn't have to be that way.
COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi told the Times radio that British teenagers would still be allowed to get a COVID-19 vaccination, even if their parents objected, as long as they consented to the jab.
Zahawi explained that thanks to its long history of carrying out school-related vaccinations, that the NHS is well-equipped to make these types of decisions. So long as the clinicians on hand determine that the teen is mentally competent to make a decision related to vaccination, then they would be free to move ahead and administer one, Zahawi explained.
He told Newton Dunn during the Sunday interview that “what you essentially do is make sure that the clinicians discuss this with the parents, with the teenager, and if they are then deemed to be able to make a decision that is competent, then that decision will go in the favor of what the teenager decides to do."
12-15 year olds could overrule their parents if covid jabs are brought in for that age group.— Times Radio (@TimesRadio) September 5, 2021
If they are deemed able to make a competent decision, "then that decision will go in the favour of what the teenager decides to do," says @nadhimzahawi.@tnewtondunn | @paulwaugh pic.twitter.com/xfwmJsoS3i
To try and draw Zahawi out, Dunn pushed for more clarification: "So to be clear, the teenager can override the lack of parental consent? If a teenager really wants a jab and is only 15, the parents say no, the teenager can have it?" to which Zahawi responded, "they would need to be competent to make that decision, with all of the information available."
Bizarrely, Zahawi appeared to contradict himself when he spoke to Sky News on Sunday and told them that children would require parental consent to get vaccinated no matter what.
Asked by Sky's Trevor Phillips whether he could "assure parents that if there is a decision to vaccinate 12 to 15-year-olds, it will require parental consent," Zahawi replied: "I can give that assurance, absolutely."
For context, On Friday (just two days before Zahawi's spate of interviews) the UK's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization refused to recommend on Friday that healthy children between the ages of 12 and 15 be vaccinated against COVID-19, given they are considered extremely low risk, the government is still pushing for vaccination.
JCVI’s deputy chairman, Professor Anthony Harnden, noted on Saturday that "the health benefits from vaccinating well 12- to 15-year-olds" are only "marginally greater than the risks," and said that any decision should ultimately require "parents’ consent."
"Both the teenagers and the parents need to be involved in that choice," he argued.
On Friday, protesters stormed the London headquarters of the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency in protest of the government’s likely intention to vaccinate children under the age of 16.
Für die umstrittene Ostseepipeline Nord Stream 2 ist das letzte Rohr verschweißt worden. Es werde anschließend auf den Meeresboden abgesenkt und schließlich mit dem anderen Ende verbunden, teilte die Nord Stream 2 AG am Montag mit. Erwartet wird, dass der russische Gasmonopolist Gazprom im Oktober mit den Gaslieferungen nach Deutschland beginnt.
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