Category Archives: podcast

We Are Fairy Godmothers of the Modern World

Deepa Prahalad is an author and an innovation consultant. She has worked with startups. She’s worked with large multinationals and co-authored the book, Predictable Magic: Unleash The Power of Design Strategy To Transform Your Business, which was selected by Fast Company as one of the best design books of the year. She’s written for the Harvard Business Review, strategy and business; Business Week and was elected member of the International Academy of Management and is ranked number 34 on the inaugural Thinkers50 India list. I love Thinkers50, it’s an amazing resource. Google it and you’ll see what I mean. Just some of the best thinkers in the world are associated with that organization and she was recently selected by leadership guru, Marshall Goldsmith, into his 100 Coaches Program from over 16,000 global applicants.

Rarefied air for sure. Deepa speaks on innovation and design strategy and mentors social entrepreneurs, and I might add social for-profit entrepreneurs and one of the organizations we talk about is ModRoof, an innovative sustainable roofing company in India. She has a BA in Economics and Political Science from the University of Michigan and an MBA from The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

Here are the learning points you’re going to get from listening to this conversation. Design is more than aesthetics. Most people think of design – as around the physical aspects of a product, but it’s more than that, it’s emotion. Then we talked about a story of how logistics can be impacted by looking at multiple disciplines. For example, we talk about a worldwide charity that delivers mosquito nets. They have a complete supply chain to delivers mosquito nets to populations that need to protect against malaria. Well, how is that similar to the US supply chain from a wood manufacturer, for example.

Asking those type of questions to develop similarities between problem solving. It’s no longer enough to own your own corporate story. Customers have to help you tell the story. They have to tell the about your wins. The power of open-ended questions to build momentum around ideas and how it’s not necessarily the idea, but the questions around the idea, where you build the momentum. I love this part that Deepa talks about. Information is no longer privileged, which is obvious, but next you are at the 10-yard line the imperative is to execute. If you’ve got access to the information and it’s not privileged, now it’s about execution.

Deepa talks about this other really great concept called the ‘needs versus aspirations’. If we’re taking care of the needs, we’ve lifted a lot of folks out of poverty, billion out of poverty, but what are their aspirations? What are their aspirations moving forward as they climb the economic ladder? Asking that question and creating something takes optimism, versus when you need something. Deepa breaks that distinction down during the interview.

We talked about the hero’s journey and the importance of emotion and the story that you’re telling and that hero’s journey. I also ask questions about nostalgia. How important is nostalgia? We talk about the sweet spot’ between the past, the important past and the future. We look at how we develop that sweet spot that people love.

Finally, social entrepreneurship, with so many people coming online, the needs for large segments of the population to be served by entrepreneurs who want to bring products and services to those billions. How does that happen? How much does social entrepreneur think? It’s a wide and varied conversation that you’re going to love and I want introduce you now to my conversation with Deepa Prahalad.
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Seeing Around Corners: How to Spot Inflection Points in Business Before They Happen

Today my guest is Rita McGrath. She is a best-selling author, sought-after speaker, and a longtime professor at Columbia Business School. She is widely recognized as a premier expert on strategy, innovation, entrepreneurship and growth during times of uncertainty.

Rita has received the #1 achievement award for strategy from the prestigious Thinkers50 and has been consistently named one of the world’s Top 10 management thinkers in its bi-annual ranking. As a consultant to CEOs, her work has had a lasting impact on the strategy and growth programs of Fortune 500 companies worldwide.

Rita is a highly sought-after speaker at exclusive corporate events around the globe, such as the Global Peter Drucker Forum. She is also the author of several books, including the best-selling, The End of Competitive Advantage (Harvard Business Review Press, 2013). Her new book is, Seeing Around Corners: How to Spot Inflection Points in Business Before They Happen (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019). She has written three other books including, Discovery-Driven Growth: A Breakthrough Process to Reduce Risk and Seize Opportunity, cited by Clayton Christensen as creating one of the most important management ideas ever developed.

She received her PhD from the Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania) and has degrees with honors from Barnard College and the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs.

Here are some key items that you will learn about in this podcast episode:

  • How did Walmart innovate in response to a resistant culture?
  • How retail will rebound, i.e. the story of Showfields.
  • Some practical ideas about How to See Around Corners.
  • Learn about Adobe’s innovative strategy using the Red Kickbox Program.
  • What Rita means by ‘Snow melts from the edge’ and the imperative for leaders.
  • Learn what Rita considers to be her Superpower, and why.
  • How innovation proficiency defangs an organization’s anti-bodies.
  • Personal inflection points and how to personally manage being an Innovation Leader.

Now, I want to introduce you to this amazing conversation with Rita McGrath.

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CIOs Must Be Able To Foresee Potential Trends To Guide and Assist Decision Making and Strategy

Today, I have a very special guest. It’s Jason Kasch, CIO at Structural Group. Structural Group is a big business 3,000 employees. One of their big, big moonshots their big growth patterns, is they want to be a multi-billion dollar company.

I’ve known Jason from my very first RedZone Podcast episode. He was on the first episode many moons ago. Here, we get into some really powerful topics like – self-driving cars and business disruption, what does that mean to a company like Jason’s; we talk about invention convention and problem solving for a 3,000 person company; the modern IT leader skills are not what you think, and we talk about the role of the CIO moving forward and which skills he believes are necessary for you to cultivate… and they’re not what you think!

We also look at what is the mindset to the multi-generational workforce. I haven’t covered this topic with anyone recently. This is the first time in history CIOs must support multiple generations from people super young to people super old. Sometimes the young people are leading the older people. So, how do you do that as a CIO? How does that impact you and your teams?

CIO Superpowers! One of the things I always like to ask is, ‘What is your CIO Superpower?’, ‘What are you great at?’ If you’ve ever thought about what makes you great. We’re always focused on what makes you weak and what we want to make strong. Well, what if we double- or triple-down on our strengths? Jason and I discuss that.

Jason firmly believes that he’s a technical guy. He started out technical and he’s got amazing business skills now, but he believes you shouldn’t lose those technical skills if you come from that world.

We talk about SD-WAN. For those of you who want to understand SD-WAN and how you can use that at scale and some of the benefits Jason has gotten from that, then listen into this episode a little further.

So now we have a conversation about Structural’s small, vision, mission cards. It was really interesting as I was sitting down with Jason. We talked about these little tiny vision cards that the founder and majority owner of Structural distributes among the teams, and how it really guides how they make decisions how they run meetings, and how you scale culture. You know, that’s always a challenge. How you scale culture this is a great learning point.

Finally, what is your 3-year ambition? Jason and I talked about the ambition of his organization for growth and the role and the mindset that’s needed as a CIO to support his business as it scales into a billion dollar organization. I often say, and Jason supports that who do you need to become as the business grows bigger and as you take on more challenges?

When you think of the construction industry, you probably don’t think of innovation. Well, sit back and listen to my conversation with Jason Kasch, CIO of Structural Group. Continue reading

Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication

Today I have an amazing guest. His name is Dr. Jeff Karp and he is a Professor of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He is also a Principal Faculty member at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, and an affiliate faculty member at the Broad Institute and at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology.

I’m just getting warmed up, wait until you hear the rest of his background. This is a real special guy.

He works in the fields of drug delivery, medical devices, stem cell therapeutics, and tissue adhesives. He has published over 125 peer-reviewed papers, with more than 18,500 citations, and has given over 300 invited lectures. He has over 100 issued or pending national and international patents.

Several technologies developed in his lab have led to multiple products currently being funded, and he’s launched seven companies that have raised over $300 million in funding. These technologies include high-tech skincare, tissue adhesives and 3D-printed biomedical devices, immunomodulation with biologically responsive materials. We talked about small molecule regenerative therapeutics with an initial target of hearing loss and other aging therapies; as well as stem cells, cannabinoid therapeutics, biomedical devices to improve child safety, needles that automatically stop when they reach their target, and a bio-engineered luminal coating for controlled GI targeting.

Dr. Karp has received over 50 awards and honors. He has been recognized by Boston Magazine as One of 11 Boston Doctors Making Medical Breakthroughs’; The Boston Business Journal as a Champion in Healthcare Innovation’ and by MIT’s Technology Review Magazine (TR35) as being one of the Top Innovators In The World with three members from his laboratory also receiving this award.

I spent a lot of time talking to Jeff about how he builds his teams and how he empowers them to take on these projects. What he’s done is – he’s bridged academia and entrepreneurship and, that’s no small feat! I was interested to know – with the co-founding of six companies, how does he get research out into the world to really impact lives?

We also talked about mentor development. One of the biggest things that he targets is finding – and building mentors. He is always actively meeting people and he talks about this and why the power of meeting new people every two weeks. Another thing we talk about is reducing problems to their essence’. What I love is when I hear scientists talk about how they really place a lot of focus on this radical simplicity’ and the art and discipline of reducing problems to their essence so they can solve problems in the useful, practical solutions to real-world problems.

This is a really, really fun interview with a world-impact leader in medicine. And bringing cutting edge therapies to market with a team. A team of people really dedicated to changing the world.

So, with this, I want to welcome you to my great conversation with Dr. Jeff Karp.

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Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High-Performance Companies

Redzone Podcast Episode 112: Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High-Performance Companies with Paul Zak


Today my guest is Paul Zak, scientist, prolific author and public speaker. Paul is – what I just love, he wrote the book, The Moral Molecule: The Source of Love and Prosperity in 2012, and literally, he discovered oxytocin. Now what is oxytocin? This was a landmark neurochemical that he discovered was the driver of trust, love and morality. That was a key differentiation for our humanity, and so this made him very popular and he’s gotten the nickname Dr. Love. Now, what does this mean for his latest book called, Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High-Performance Companies?

As a scientist, his decades of research have taken him from the Pentagon, to research with the three-letter agencies, to the rain forests of Papua New Guinea – all in the quest to understand the neuroscience of human connection, human happiness and effective teamwork. It’s through his lab and testing that he’s developed and deployed neuroscience technologies to solve real world problems experienced by people, especially in this today’s times of exponential technologies. What I love is that those things that we had a hunch about now, he’s validating through technologies.

Now, what’s this about trust? Because there’s a big thing going on now that this is the most disengaged workforce in a long time. Much of it is because of the lack of trust.

So, what is oxytocin? Experiments have shown that when you have a higher sense of purpose stimulates oxytocin production, as does trust. Trust and purpose, then mutually reinforce each other, providing a mechanism for extended oxytocin release, which produces happiness. So joy on the job comes from doing purpose-driven work with a trusted team.

I could go on and on, but I want to let Dr. Paul Zak do most of the talking related to this. Because I think that for leaders, that this is super important. Leadership now, especially for many of the CIOs and technology and digital transformation leaders, the imperative for leaders today is to create this engagement within their teams and within their people. I’ve had a pattern now with a couple of different podcast interviews talking with people that are top in their field. Here is one of the top scientists in the this field that is talking about how to do this.

One of it is creating this peak immersion. Creating an immersion can be contagious and leaders; of course can’t just bestow immersion on people. Leaders must embody it, they must be plugged into it themselves. This creates this factor, which allows an organization to take on this resonance, which differentiates you and your organization and your teams within the business and within the marketplace.

One of it is creating this peak immersion. Creating an immersion can be contagious and leaders; of course can’t just bestow immersion on people. Leaders must embody it, they must be plugged into it themselves. This creates this factor, which allows an organization to take on this resonance, which differentiates you and your organization and your teams within the business and within the marketplace.

Well, I want to bring you Paul today because Paul is going to give you practical examples, practical tools and really get you thinking about this topic deeply. So with that, I want to introduce you to my conversation with Dr. Paul Zak.

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