Daniel Lurie, founder of Tipping Point, upends the traditional model with investments in R&D, new management approaches
Daniel Lurie was the chairman of the Bay area’s host committee for Superbowl 50, so he knows how to get things done in complicated, messy, and political environments. His day job requires that skill in spades: He’s literally reinventing how philanthropy is done. Watch or read below — and get to know Daniel and Tipping Point. It’s well worth the time invested.
Daniel Lurie: I love the Bay Area. I grew up about a mile from here. I went to really good schools, I had loving parents, great siblings, I had it really good. I do remember when I was 12 or 13 years old and I was lying in bed and I was upset, I was upset that I wasn’t doing more with my life.
Whole Foods current “fix” is a massive strategic misstep. But the company’s impact on business has been a huge win for society.
Last week I came across an interesting article by The Guardian suggesting that Whole Foods’ crisis represents the failure of the larger movement the company represents: Conscious Capitalism. Yes, Whole Foods is not doing well, by Wall St. standards, and is taking measures to curry the Street’s favor. In case you don’t have the details, here’s a quick summary The Guardian’s article put together:
Same-store sales have declined for six straight quarters. Apparently some 14 million customers have walked away during the same period.
A hedge fund just bought 8.3% of the company, demanding a major revamp in its business operation.
The revamp includes, among other measures, hiring big-shot executives from the traditional grocery retail world, and promoting Gabrielle Sulzberger (whose background is in private equity) as Whole Foods’ new chairwoman.
Additionally, the company initiated a $1.25 billion share buyback program and has promised to cut costs by $300m, both measures Wall St. loves (because it drives shareholder gains).
Next, the article tries to make an argument for why Whole Food’s downfall should be seen as the failure of the whole Conscious Capitalism (CC) movement. Before we dive into this argument, let’s take a quick look at the four tenets that make up CC:
Higher Purpose: Businesses should aim at creating larger impact in their communities and the world, and not solely pursue profit and shareholder returns. A key way to assess this is to ask “What is the impact your business wants to make in the world?” or “If your business didn’t exist, would it be missed — and why?”
Stakeholder Integration: No business survives on its own, they depend on stakeholders to exist. That means besides shareholders, businesses should consider customers, employees, suppliers, vendors, and the government as part of their value chain. And that includes, of course, society and the planet, which are also stakeholders.
Conscious Leadership: This is about leadership which prioritizes people over of profit. How? By focusing on building a culture of fairness and egalitarianism, trust and transparency, integrity and loyalty, love, care and personal growth.
Conscious Management: Conscious leaders focus on decentralization, empowering others below them to take on higher accountability, and work collaboratively and with more autonomy.
How I went from a capricious boss to a powerful partner.
Early in my tenure at Puppet, I had one of my employees, José, make laptop stickers. He said we already had some, and I said, yeah, but they suck. So he designed something different. I said nope, still not right. Finally, in frustration, he said, “You clearly know what you want, can you just tell me what it is?”
I expect many of you will recognize this problem. It is sometimes called “Bring Me a Rock”, which pretty well captures its absurdity. Becoming a better leader required I find a way past it.
A couple of weeks ago we announced the start of the ironWeekend Initiative. Starting in June, ironSource employees will get a few, fully-paid, long weekends where we’ll shut the Tel Aviv offices entirely, so that they have extra time to go to the bank or the beach, spend time with their families, or just relax.
We’ve implemented this change because employee welfare for us goes beyond offering the perks that every tech company today offers. It’s about having a philosophy of work, and sticking to it.
Below is an excerpt of a letter I sent to our employees about this initiative, explaining my reasoning behind the new change and what I hope to see it accomplish. (A note for global readers — we’re closing the office on Sundays because in Israel we work Sunday-Thursday instead of Monday-Friday)
“I was only following corporate algorithms” < Testimony given at a future war crimes trial (riff on the Nuremberg defense)
United Airlines forcibly removed a man from an “overbooked” flight. The incident was captured on video by other passengers and the story went viral on the social networks. United flubbed its response to incident, adding fuel to the anger. The story went global overnight, sparking massive outrage (hundreds of millions of views in China, an important market for United). The next day, United stock gets hammered, losing ~$1.4 billion off its stock price by midday. What happened? This incident is a pretty good example of how rigid algorithmic and authoritarian decision making can create corporate disasters in an age dominated by social networking.
You may have experienced it. You’re sitting in an all-hands meeting or corporate town hall, and one of the speakers from the executive team has trouble connecting with the room. They falter, aren’t sharing compelling stories, or seem disconnected from the rest of the room. They don’t present themselves as a leader, and their message fails to resonate.
The audience leaves thinking, “I don’t trust that this person can get the things done that our organization needs. I’m not confident in their ability to lead.”