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Build Better Tech: How the nation’s leading companies use tech as business strategy to win.
48 minutes | Aug 18, 2021
Dr. Luc Julia: Creator of Siri, CSO of Renault, Former CTO of Samsung, Inventor
Dr. Julia is one of the most accomplished technologists I'll ever be lucky enough to meet. He is well known as the creator of Siri, but he has driven innovation in some of the biggest companies on the planet, making contributions so significant that he was awarded the Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur (the highest French order of merit) by his country of origin. We cover tech culture in France vs. Silicon Valley, the necessity of listening to the weird guys, using discomfort to spark innovation, and the fatal flaws of "big data". Plus: what does Siri have to teach you about flirting in nightclubs? For more Dr. Julia, check out his book, There is No Such Thing as Artificial Intelligence, and follow him on LinkedIn. 1:45 - Luc is an inventor. Picture little Luc building his first robot in France at the age of nine, and dreaming of being a researcher when he grew up. 3:05 - Tech culture and education in France vs. tech culture in the United States. What's the difference in how these two cultures view failure? Silicon Valley as a Gold Rush. 7:10 - What are some of the ways good leaders foster innovation in large companies? Dr. Julia tells stories from Samsung, Apple, and other industry leaders, and explains the primary mechanism for innovation in those types of environments.11:45 - Dr. Julia tells a story of failure and success: Live TV on smart phones (shoutout to Nokia) goes nowhere in 2002. 2007 brings the iPhone and user numbers go from a few thousand "weird guys" to 15 million in a couple of months. 14:30 - What advice would you give a CEO who wants to embrace innovation and fight the impulse to be conservative? Find the guys who seem weird, build multicultural, cross-functional teams, and push them out of their comfort zone.17:20 - Life at SRI International (Stanford Research Institute), and why those teams were so special. Also, Siri's origin story! Dr. Julia takes Colleen back in time to meet a cricket... A CHIC one. 26:20 - Siri gets a personality! How did she become the "person" she is, and how does she use "artificial stupidity" to charm her users out of caring that she doesn't know the answer? Turns out she's got the same moves as you and me in a nightclub. 31:45 - There is no such thing as artificial intelligence. AI is just a tool in the hands of humans, and it's only as accurate as the data that fuels it. AI is neither going to take over the world or save the world on its own: we as people have to be the ones to build and apply it effectively. 39:20 - What are some of the things that keep Dr. Julia up at night? And why does he turn down selfies? 43:17 - Three domains Dr. Julia is most excited about for near-term technology gains.
49 minutes | Feb 1, 2020
Imperfect Foods CEO Philip Behn
Imperfect Foods delivers fresh, delicious produce and other groceries to your door for up to 30% less than what those same groceries would cost you at a traditional store. They do it by recovering apples that are too giant, carrots that are too twisty, lentils from a surplus harvest, or olive oil with out-of-style packaging — in other words, food that would otherwise to go waste. Philip Behn joined Imperfect Foods as CEO last year, and is carrying forward their mission to reduce food waste and deliver great value to each customer they serve. He brings a long career in food retail, along with a personal passion for serving customers. Press play on this episode, and then go find and follow them on social media immediately — you’ll be glad you did. In addition to their excellent mission and product, their brand is exceedingly charming. Topics by time stamp: 0:40 — Philip’s background, and what he brings to his role at Imperfect Foods. What are some practices he uses to keep his teams focused on the customer? (Including examples!) 6:30 — An agile, experimental approach within large companies: Some examples from Philip’s Walmart and consulting experience. 10:48 — What’s a digital factory? Philip and his team do what had possibly never been done before in any major retailer, and it changes culture. 16:07 — Philip previews a potential TED talk on the future of food retail, and why now is the perfect time for Imperfect Foods. 21:47 — How does a mission-driven company like Imperfect Foods keep an eye on the risk of doing more harm than good? 24:56 — Imperfect does supply chain differently: ugly foods literally don’t fit in at supermarkets. 28:30 — Traditional grocery stores: who designed the self-service grocery experience and why? Plus, the ways in which big retailers have mastered tech, and the ways in which they can’t compete. 34:00 — How Imperfect Foods customizes your shopping cart for you, and balances staples with new foods. 38:15 — Imperfect Foods as a Silicon Valley startup: What’s typical and what’s unique41:20 — Once just produce, now many other groceries: What was 2019 about, and where is Imperfect Foods headed next?
49 minutes | Feb 1, 2020
Vitamin Shoppe CTO/COO Andrew Laudato
Andy Laudato has an incomparable level of experience in retail tech. In addition to developing groundbreaking customer-facing tech, he has the superpower of being able to understand the overall business and design solutions to optimize for it. He’s a business leader first, and a technologist second. Accordingly, he has recently stepped from the role of Chief Technology Officer into Chief Operating Officer at Vitamin Shoppe. Topics by time stamp: 0:45 — Andy and technology at Pier One: Where they started, and how did he lead the tech team to have a greater impact (apparently winning Halloween is a good start!) 8:04 — Leadership as a CIO: What’s at the heart of it, and what’s unique about leading in tech as opposed to other areas? 10:25 — For developers: how do I know if I should stay a developer and pursue growth as an expert, or pursue growth as a manager and move up that way? 14:40 — Advice for non-technical people working with development teams 17:32 — What makes the best teams? 21:15 — 4000 years of retail, in 2 minutes or less. As a tech leader, who is Andy’s customer and what makes them brag about his team? Plus, Andy ribs Colleen about still writing checks. 28:35 — Andy’s prediction of what retail tech will be in 2050 (think Minority Report, but in a good way?) 38:35 — What’s 2020 about for the Vitamin Shoppe? Plus, Andy talks about reducing online order time to reach the store from 45 minutes to a matter of seconds. 43:39 — Great advice for both tech and business-oriented people early in their career 46:10 — What does the Vitamin Shoppe do better than anyone else in the world, and what does that mean for its tech?
48 minutes | Feb 1, 2020
Former Dave Ramsey Head of Digital Products Jon Shearer
Jon Shearer served as head of digital products at Dave Ramsey, creator of Financial Peace University and numerous other products designed to teach healthy personal financial practices and get out of debt. This was during Ramsey’s migration as a company from a content producer and radio show, to a digital-first brand that can meet people where they are and support them practically. Jon talks about the highs and lows of leading a digital transformation, and how great technology had immediate impact on the company’s reach and revenue. He also gives great advice for navigating the recurring struggle between tech and business.Topics by time stamp:1:06 — What is digital transformation? How to ensure that you don’t get in your own way, and kill the very idea that could be the new life of your business. 6:25 — Jon’s journey at Ramsey: where they started and how they evolved. 12:19 — Leadership, aka, how to scale your team under you, why leadership in tech is different from other areas, and how to help other leaders understand tech within the organization. 22:48 — How to create a culture where technology and commercial sides of the company understand each other, and work really well together. 40:09 — What Jon is focused on right now: Advising and mentoring in leadership “wherever people are present”.
40 minutes | Jan 31, 2020
Jammber CEO Marcus Cobb
With the advent of streaming services, the rise of creative and gig economies, and a lower barrier to entry to release content, tracking credit and getting paid fairly for creative work is really difficult. Jammber is a fast-growing financial tech company in the music space, on a mission to become the way that creatives around the world get paid, faster and more simply. Marcus Cobb is Jammber’s founder and CEO, and brings his formative experience as a developer to create products that are industry leaders in excellent design.Topics by time stamp1:00 — Jammber 101 and Marcus’s story: how does a developer turned CEO think differently than other CEOs? Marcus also talks about the best teams he’s ever been a part of, and good advice from questionable sources. 12:15 — Jammber’s origin story: Where passion met market demand, and how to make zeros and ones into something beautiful that serves people. Also, how much complexity goes into creating a simple, clean user experience?19:25 — What to do when it’s hard to know what to do with your product. Or your whole company. Or life, for that matter. 28:24 — Why Marcus is on his path to becoming tech billionaire… And wants it more than the average person. 35:06 — Jammber’s moonshot vision, and what happens next.
46 minutes | Jan 31, 2020
Lonely Planet CEO Luis Cabrera
Lonely Planet is an iconic brand within the travel industry, with their blue travel guidebooks serving as a staple in adventurers' backpacks for decades. So how does a company with that history to connect with a digital-first generation? CEO Luis Cabrera discusses leading the company in building awesome products that travelers love, and that provide the same level of local expertise on any travel destination you care to visit, with a more diversified editorial perspective. Follow Lonely Planet on Instagram, and learn more about the Pathfinders program at pathfinders.lonelyplanet.com/ 0:00 — Intro and Luis' professional story (including what working in Web 1.0 was like and how he got big corporations to start to think digitally)4:45 — Technology-first vs. user-first mindsets: How to flip the process from, how can I implement a cool feature, to how can I solve a problem for my user and give them an experience that they love? Including real-life example in flashmob ecommerce UX research. 14:10 — User-first, innovative processes in large corps, aka, how to get your boss or client to take a risk… and when maybe you shouldn’t?18:45 — Luis joining Lonely Planet: What he fell in love with (spoiler alert: it’s the power of the brand), and how he’s tackling transformation. 29:28 — Pathfinders program: Lonely Planet taps into social media and influencers to modernize and broaden content available to users. Here’s some of the story behind it. 38:40 — What’s the moonshot: What can Lonely Planet be in Luis’ wildest imagination?
2 minutes | Nov 5, 2019
Build Better Tech Trailer - Season 1 Coming January 2020
Launching January 2020, Build Better Tech brings you into the room with technology leaders at influential companies, talking about how to do hard work really well. We'll have upbeat conversations about how they've leveraged excellent tech as business strategy to craft their companies' futures, and we'll share both war stories and proudest moments, all with an eye towards doing great work and building great teams.This show is for everyone seeking to build better in their own work world, regardless of technological expertise, interested in hearing from the top leaders at companies they love.
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