Top Eight Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Talks

Photo by Aatik Tasneem on Unsplash
Photo by Aatik Tasneem on Unsplash

When my (then) girlfriend (now wife) bought me my first iPod in 2006 I fell in love with podcasts and business podcasts in particular. Many have come and gone over the years but two have remained must listens. EconTalk and Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders.

I’ve now listed to nine years of the Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders series. Many of the talks I’ve listened to multiple times including all of the ones on this list (the Joel Peterson one and the Stan Christensen one probably a half-dozen times each). These are my favorite of the more than two hundred talks they have available. I’ve found them all to be educational and, maybe more importantly, inspiring.

Joe Liemandt (Trilogy) – 2005-10-19

Great speaker with hilarious stories about dropping out, funding the company with credit cards, doing product demonstrations, and product pricing. If you’re selling a product or service to the enterprise market then this would be a great listen. He details the reasoning and process behind the transition of their company from providing (and charging for) a product to providing (and charging for) a service.

Tina Seelig (Stanford) – 2006-04-12

This lecture by the woman who runs the entrepreneurship program at Stanford stemmed from a list of things she wanted her teenage son to know and includes a great story about how her students implement her teachings on entrepreneurship. This lecture has as many actionable items as any.

Joel Peterson (Peterson Partners) – 2006-05-02

One of the best lectures, if not the best lecture, I’ve ever heard. It makes me regret not applying to Stanford (where my 14 year-old self wanted to go) and wishing that my university had offered something similar to Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders. Luckily for those of us that didn’t attend Stanford makes these available for free on the Internet.

My biggest takeaway from the lecture is that you’re constantly negotiating whether you recognize it or not. Also that is is very important to stop and try to see things from the other person’s point of view. His story about negotiating with his daughter over a pet is pure comedy.

Jackie Speier & Deborah Stephens 2007-05-09

Deborah Stephens presented the idea that there is one person that believes in you no matter what. May that be your grandmother or a mentor that knowledge can keep you moving forward in troubled times.

Jackie Speier talks about getting shot five times on an airstrip in Guyana by followers of Jim Jones and other challenges in her life such as losing her husband and running for political office. She chooses to be a survivor rather than a victim and is now a congresswoman.

While I found it to be very inspirational this talk would probably be even more so for women.

Stan Christensen (Arbor Advisors) – 2007-10-31

Stan Christensen is an investment banker and professional negotiator. Some of his memorable stories are about negotiating with taxi drivers in Medellín, Columbia and New York City, mediating border disputes between Peru and Ecuador, and trying to get out of traffic tickets in Los Angeles.

Tom Kelley (IDEO) – 2008-11-12

Based on this talk it would seem that Tom Kelley lives and breathes innovation. He gave many examples of how thinking like a traveler allows you to notice opportunities. The most memorable example for me involved luggage at the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.

One way to achieve the higher awareness he was talking about is to, “Be childlike as often as possible. Be childish as little as you can.”

Jessica Mah (inDinero) – 2011-11-30

This was a very frank discussion by an entrepreneur with one of her angel investors (Steve Blank) which is something outsiders are seldom privy to. She was right out of college and talks about how much more difficult starting a company was than she had thought. She had gone to Y Combinator, got lots of press, got funding, and had burned through a lot of it (half of it due to her mistakes). They discuss her first time hiring and firing.

Justin Rosenstein (Asana) – 2013-05-08

Something that stood out to me from this talk was that project management software by itself isn’t changing the world. But it helps enable people to change the world. The example he gave was a biotech company that is developing medicine.

So often in these talks the speaker says if you’re going to do something make it big. But Justin makes me it is perfectly fine to do something small that makes somebody else’s life easier, saves them time, and helps them achieve their goals.

I also have adapted this quote from the talk as my personal mantra, “Make the world a happier and more interesting place.” I keep it on my personal dashboard so that I’m constantly reminded of it. Some days I’m more successful at it than others.