Between Two COO's with Michael Koenig

Michael Koenig

Between Two COO's brings incredible Chief Operating Officers together to share their insights, advice, and crazy stories. Learn from current and former COO's from companies like Tucows, Automattic, Shippo, Chopra Global, & VC firms. read less
BusinessBusiness

Episodes

Fellow CEO Aydin Mirzaee on Mastering Productivity and Efficiency with AI
Apr 9 2024
Fellow CEO Aydin Mirzaee on Mastering Productivity and Efficiency with AI
Maximizing Meeting Efficiency and Navigating Management Challenges: Insights from Aidan Mizrahi of FellowThis episode delves into the complexities and potential inefficiencies of meetings in the professional world, emphasizing the staggering number of unproductive meetings held daily. Highlighting the innovative approach of Shopify in canceling recurring meetings to save significant time, the conversation introduces Fellow, a SaaS product aimed at optimizing meeting structures, agendas, and action items to enhance management processes. Aidan Mizrahi, the CEO of Fellow, shares his journey from being unaware of structured management processes to creating a platform that serves as a manager's co-pilot, focusing on the intricacies of managing differently for every team member and adapting over time. Furthermore, Mizrahi discusses the pivotal role of asynchronous meetings in remote work, the significance of setting meeting norms, and leveraging AI to improve efficiency and decision-making in organizations. The episode also explores the balance between security and innovation when integrating AI into business processes and concludes with Mizrahi sharing a personal anecdote on how AI has become a part of his daily routine for brainstorming and learning. 00:00 The Meeting Epidemic: Unveiling the Problem00:58 Introducing Fellow: The SaaS Revolutionizing Meetings01:42 A Deep Dive into Fellow's Origin and Mission01:50 From Startup to Acquisition: A Journey of Learning and Growth05:14 The Power of Structured Management Processes09:43 Implementing Effective Meetings at Scale with Fellow15:51 Optimizing Meetings for Action and Accountability20:00 Redefining Meeting Culture: Strategies for Efficiency29:06 Embracing Remote Work: The Future of Meetings32:37 Unlocking the Power of Asynchronous Meetings33:43 The Value of Time and Asynchronous Work35:18 Inside the Operations of Fellow: Mastering Efficiency35:44 The Art of Meeting Types and Decision Making40:21 Leveraging AI for Business Efficiency and Innovation45:58 Navigating AI Ethics and Security in Business48:34 AI Presentations: Sharing Knowledge and Inspiring Innovation56:03 The Impact of Super Managers Podcast on Leadership01:02:07 Exploring New Frontiers with AI: A Personal Experiment01:04:41 Connecting with the Community and Wrapping Up
Cameron Herold of COO Alliance and 1-800-got-junk on How to delegate, lead, fix problems, hire and promote, and be the second in command
Feb 13 2024
Cameron Herold of COO Alliance and 1-800-got-junk on How to delegate, lead, fix problems, hire and promote, and be the second in command
Presented by Fellow.app. Streamline your meetings and make them more efficient and meaningful. Get Fellow for you and your team today. Head to https://fellow.app/coo/ to get started and start having better meetings. (00:12) Advice for CEOs and COOs This chapter welcomes Cameron Harold, the founder of COO Alliance and author of "The Second In Command," as we celebrate the release of his new book and examine its content, which serves as a guide for both CEOs and COOs. We explore Cameron's transition from COO to CEO, the mindset shifts that accompanied this change, and his insights into the balance between work and life. Cameron shares his experiences and lessons learned from running a business at a young age, including the importance of delegating, saying no, and focusing on the most critical tasks. The discussion also touches on how the book has already impacted the COO Alliance and the value it provides in understanding the CEO-COO dynamic. (12:37) Promoting From Within vs. Hiring Externally This chapter we explore the importance of creating a culture of continuous improvement within companies, akin to the mindset of elite athletes or performers. I share an anecdote about Patrick Roy to illustrate the resilience and determination that we aim to instill in our teams. We discuss strategies for fostering a safe environment where feedback is welcomed and viewed as a tool for growth, emphasizing that it's the systems, not individuals, that often need adjustment. We also touch on the sentimental value of sports heroes, as I recount a personal encounter with my childhood idol, Ken Dryden. Finally, I address the considerations involved in deciding whether to promote from within or hire externally for leadership roles, factoring in the individual's ability to complement the CEO's skills, their leadership qualities, and the strategic implications of such decisions, especially in companies with specialized knowledge or intellectual property. (17:24) Flexibility in Organizational Structure With AI This chapter examines the importance of flexibility in business operations and leadership. We explore the concept of a "bobbin' weave culture" where being too rigid can be detrimental, and the benefits of flowing like water, taking the path of least resistance towards the company's vivid vision. I discuss the necessity for leaders to align with core values and purposes, akin to a bobsled track, to guide the organization's journey. Additionally, we look at the challenges of introducing flexibility into rigid structures, using the example of Gerber Auto Collision's approach to acquisitions and the philosophy of "selling, not telling" to integrate new teams. The chapter also highlights the power of positive reinforcement and personal praise in leadership, drawing lessons from Howard Behar's practice of handwritten thank you notes at Starbucks, emphasizing the value of gratitude and recognition in driving employee success and satisfaction. (24:55) Exploring AI Tools and Admired COOs This chapter, we explore the significance of AI in the modern workplace, highlighting how our employees and CO Alliance members are encouraged to experiment with AI tools for one to two hours each week. We discuss the vast array of available AI applications, far beyond the widely mentioned ChatGPT, and the benefits of sharing experiences with these tools among teams to build momentum and enhance productivity. Examples include the transformative effects of AI on podcast production, such as using Descript to edit speech or Podium Stage for content creation. Additionally, we touch upon the importance of adaptability, illustrated by historical shifts in technology within NASA, and wrap up with admiration for influential COOs like Cheryl Sandberg and Matt Rawlings, noting how they exemplify effective leadership and innovation. (30:39) Leadership Lessons and Insights This chapter explores the contrasting leadership styles and trajectories of two COOs of 1-800-Got-Junk, with a focus on the impact of Eric Church's internal-facing, process- and people-centered approach as he grew the company from $70 million to $450 million, in stark contrast to my own media-facing, brand-building style during a different company growth phase. We also discuss the critical lesson of listening to team members, exemplified by a near-bankruptcy experience, and share a personal strategy for becoming a better listener by physically sitting on one's hands to encourage attentiveness. Finally, we examine the importance of asking systemic rather than symptomatic questions within leadership, illustrated by an anecdote involving Starbucks and the significance of maintaining operational systems for company-wide consistency. (37:02) Catch Up and Discuss Book Promotion This chapter celebrates the successful collaboration between CEOs and COOs as we unpack the critical dynamics of their partnership. I extend my gratitude to Cameron for sharing his insights and congratulate him on his new book, "Second in Command," a must-read for current and aspiring COOs, as well as CEOs seeking to hire their right-hand executive. We reflect on the nuances of the CEO-COO relationship and the importance of understanding each other's roles to foster a productive working environment. The discussion emphasizes the book's relevance for those looking to enhance their leadership teams and the overall health of their organizations. Thank you, Cameron, for joining me and enriching our listeners with your expertise. Links:Second In Command book - https://www.amazon.com/Second-Command-Unleash-Power-Your/dp/1544537603COO Alliance - https://cooalliance.com/Cameron Herold on LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/cameronherold/Unique Ability by Dan Sullivan - https://uniqueability.com/Situational Leadership - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Situational_leadership_theoryFellow.app - https://fellow.app/coo/Episode on Between Two COO's - https://betweentwocoos.com/41Michael Koenig on LinkedIn - https://linkedin.com/in/michael-koenig514/
EU vs AI: What You Need to Know About the EU's AI Act - The Legal Opinion with Flick Fisher, Partner at Fieldfisher
Jan 30 2024
EU vs AI: What You Need to Know About the EU's AI Act - The Legal Opinion with Flick Fisher, Partner at Fieldfisher
Could the EU's new AI Act be the cornerstone of global AI regulation? That's what we're here to unpack with the expert insight of Flick Fisher, a leading privacy specialist and partner at Fieldfisher. As the digital age accelerates, the European Union is setting a precedent with the AI Act, a groundbreaking legislation designed to navigate the complex terrain of artificial intelligence. Flick and I dissect the Act's risk-based approach, dissecting the prohibited and high-risk AI systems categories, while giving a nod to the lighter touch on low-risk innovations. Our conversation delves into how this monumental regulation could shape data privacy and ethical AI practices on the world stage. Join us as we explore not only the definitions and distinctions within the AI Act but also its everyday implications for business operations, from HR decisions to the product safety landscape. With generative AI technologies like ChatGPT on the rise, understanding the nuances of this legislative framework has never been more crucial. We'll navigate the potential new compliance roles the Act may create and predict whether this regulatory move could become the global gold standard. Tune in for a comprehensive analysis that will equip COOs and business leaders with the foresight needed to thrive in an AI-governed future.(00:06) EU AI Act and Its Impact(11:50) Regulations and Definitions of AI(27:38) The Implications of the AI ActLinksEpisode link: https://www.betweentwocoos.com/the-eu-vs-ai-the-legal-opinion-with-flick-fisher-partner-at-fieldfisher/Flick's previous episode on GDPR: https://www.betweentwocoos.com/data-privacy-gdpr-flick-fisher/Flick on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/felicityfisher/Fieldfisher: https://www.fieldfisher.com/Between Two COO's: https://www.betweentwocoos.com/Michael Koenig on LinkedIn: https://linkedin.com/in/michael-koenig514/
Productboard COO Greg Strickland on how to balance growth and innovation, collecting mentors and personal development, managing through change, SMB to enterprise shift, and the competitive advantage of startups
Jan 24 2024
Productboard COO Greg Strickland on how to balance growth and innovation, collecting mentors and personal development, managing through change, SMB to enterprise shift, and the competitive advantage of startups
Join us as Greg Strickland, COO of Productboard, and I explore the power of embracing new opportunities and the crucial balance between business outcomes and personal advancement. Greg shares his journey of growth through accepting challenges that push boundaries, and we reflect on the times when a strategic 'no' can pave the way for others' development and align with company goals. Listen in for an insightful discussion on the mentorship gap in early-stage companies and the trial-and-error learning that COOs like Greg navigate in the startup landscape. As the startup ecosystem continues to evolve, we dissect the influence of continuous learning on company culture, inspired by industry pioneers. I open up about the enriching experience of partnering with product and engineering-driven founders and how passion plays a decisive role in a startup's trajectory. We consider how startups like Productboard are innovating in operations and product management with the use of AI, highlighting the agility required to manage rapid change and the ethical considerations of handling customer data. In our conversation, we delve into the challenges of scaling up to the enterprise market and the importance of building a culture that can gracefully manage internal friction points. I share my approach to fostering empathy and collaboration across departments, revealing personal anecdotes and strategies for aligning diverse perspectives within a company. Tune in for a rich discussion full of practical insights, memorable moments, and tips for nurturing a successful startup environment. Follow Productboard on LinkedIn and check out their blog for more engaging content that can help steer your company towards growth and innovation. (00:06) Saying Yes to New Opportunities(08:14) Startups' Impact on Learning Culture(17:25) AI for Operations and Product Management(31:34) Navigating Enterprise Market Challenges and Feedback(37:07) Friction and Empathy in Customer Relations(45:25) Developing Empathy and Cross-Departmental Collaboration LinksGreg Strickland on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gregstrickland/Episode Link: https://www.betweentwocoos.com/productboard-coo-greg-stricklandMatt Blumberg: https://startupceo.com/The Hard Things About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz: https://www.amazon.com/Hard-Thing-About-Things-Building/dp/0062273205Amp It Up by Frank Slootman: https://www.amazon.com/Amp-Unlocking-Hypergrowth-Expectations-Intensity/dp/1119836115/Radical Candor by Kim Scott: https://www.amazon.com/Radical-Candor-Revised-Kick-Ass-Humanity/dp/1250235375Michael Koenig on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-koenig514/
Get Your Guide COO Tao on Building a $2 Billion Dollar Travel Experience Giant
Jan 9 2024
Get Your Guide COO Tao on Building a $2 Billion Dollar Travel Experience Giant
(01:20 - 02:44) The Travel Experience Market's Growth(04:36 - 06:03) Peer to Peer Tour Guide Platform(07:27 - 09:26) Learning and Customer Obsession Importance(12:35 - 13:56) Creativity and Execution in Strategy(16:11 - 17:06) Identifying Core Values for Company Culture(21:48 - 23:03) Accelerating Digitization and the QR Code(36:32 - 37:43) Investment Strategy and Flywheel Approach(39:48 - 40:47) International Tensions and Investment Impacts(43:17 - 44:43) Applying AGI and AI to Operations  (00:11) The Travel Experience Industry Journey This chapter welcomes Tao, COO of GetYourGuide, to share insights into the burgeoning travel experience industry. I explore how GetYourGuide, a company that started in a dorm room, grew into a $2 billion enterprise, selling over 80 million tickets to travelers seeking unique experiences, such as private tours of the Vatican Museum. We look at the travel experience market as an untapped online frontier, previously dominated by offline transactions and now worth $300 billion. Tao recounts the founding story of GetYourGuide, from its original concept as a peer-to-peer platform for tour guides to pivoting towards professional activity operators, marking the beginning of its success. We also touch upon the company's recent $194 million funding round and discuss the increasing trend of travelers preferring experiences over material possessions. (13:56) Adapting Culture and Surviving Crisis This chapter begins by exploring the integration of culture with changing strategies, emphasizing the importance of a consistent culture that supports shifts without causing disruption. I discuss the development of authentic core values by sharing a story of initial failure and eventual success through a reflective process with the leadership team, highlighting the key role of core values in determining who fits within a company. The conversation then pivots to the impact of COVID-19, recounting the immediate challenges and strategic decisions made in response to the pandemic, including the choice not to lay off staff and to continue investing in the future. The chapter concludes with an optimistic outlook, noting a strong recovery and promising prospects for the years following the initial crisis. (21:10) Travel Industry This chapter focuses on how businesses adapted during the pandemic, particularly addressing the balance between long-term planning and immediate operational needs. We touch on innovative measures like salary sacrifices for stock options and government-subsidized work hour reductions. We highlight the insights gained from having co-founders with molecular biology backgrounds, which helped us stay ahead in understanding the virus's impact on the travel industry. Additionally, we discuss the acceleration of digitization due to the pandemic, using the QR code's newfound ubiquity as a prime example. This digital shift significantly impacted operations, especially for our partnerships with historical attractions and museums, which had to quickly adapt to digital ticketing and queue management. Lastly, we examine the surge in travel as restrictions lifted, debunking the idea that the spike was merely 'revenge tourism' and noting the persistent trend towards domestic tourism. (31:53) Board Members, Funding, Global Network Effects This chapter focuses on the strategy behind assembling a board of directors for a private company, highlighting the importance of selecting members who bring expertise and accountability. We explore the company's recent Series F funding round, which includes a mix of cash and a revolving credit facility, designed to provide financial flexibility. The significance of raising funds during a period when many tech companies struggle is discussed, emphasizing the company's steady growth and prudent financial practices that have led to a successful up-round without resorting to complex financial instruments. I share insights into the deployment of the raised capital, underlining the company's investment into a technology-driven flywheel model, which encompasses building customer audience, enhancing the product, and acquiring a diverse inventory to support their mission of expansion, particularly in the U.S. market. (40:48) Travel and AGI Building Connections This chapter begins with reflections on the value of a connected world and the peace dividend concept, emphasizing how less military spending can boost investment in other sectors like technology and education. I examine the impact of decoupling on trade efficiency and express hope for the role of travel in fostering empathy and cultural understanding. I share insights on the potential of AGI and chat GPT to transform operations in various fields, including machine learning, translation, customer service, and personalized recommendations. I highlight the impressive capabilities of AI in instant translation, which can facilitate global communication and commerce. Lastly, I recount the startling experience of near-zero revenue during COVID-19 and discuss how resilience led to recovery. To keep up with these themes, I encourage listeners to use GetYourGuide for their travels and connect with me, Tao Tao, on LinkedIn. Links: Playing to Win: How Strategy Really WorksThe Mind of the StrategistAmazon's Leadership PrinciplesNetflix's Core ValuesDelivering Happiness Turning on the Lights at the VaticanGetYourGuideEpisode URLMichael Koenig on LinkedIn
Rewind.ai & Optimizely CEO & Founder, Dan Siroker, on augmenting human memory with AI, building Optimizely, AI in operations, privacy and security, hiring and building extraordinary teams, and AI's impact on STEM education
Dec 5 2023
Rewind.ai & Optimizely CEO & Founder, Dan Siroker, on augmenting human memory with AI, building Optimizely, AI in operations, privacy and security, hiring and building extraordinary teams, and AI's impact on STEM education
(05:11 - 05:38) Memory and the Evolving Digital Age(06:56 - 08:05) Tech and Memory Retrieval(11:40 - 12:51) Chat GPT and Data Privacy Integration(17:34 - 18:44) Leveraging AI for Company Augmentation(22:34 - 23:47) AI for Efficiency and Exceptional Hiring(30:31 - 31:01) Pivoting to Capture Meeting Data(38:38 - 39:00) COO and Chief of Staff Collaboration(43:27 - 44:27) Using Cultural Values as a Guide(47:10 - 48:20) Accountability and Candor in Successful Teams(55:58 - 57:01) Impressions of AI Summarization---(00:11) Augmenting Human Memory With AI This chapter of Between Two COOs features a conversation with Dan Sroker, co-founder and CEO of Rewind, a personalized AI tool that augments human memory. Host Michael Kanag explores the inspiration behind Rewind and how it can give users a "superpower" by making all their digital interactions searchable and AI-able. They also discuss the importance of memory and how technology can enhance our natural capabilities. The conversation touches on the potential impact of relying on AI for memory recall and draws parallels to the evolution of phone numbers. Overall, this chapter explores the fascinating intersection of technology and human memory. (12:51) The Future of AI in Operations This chapter explores the potential impact of AI on future operations. Our guest, who has experience in scaling a company using AI, discusses how AI can be a powerful tool for leveraging human capabilities and increasing productivity. We also touch on the importance of privacy and security in AI, highlighting how companies that do not embrace it may struggle to compete in the future. The conversation concludes with a discussion on the role of AI in remote work and the potential for smaller teams to achieve more with the help of technology. (18:44) Enhancing Productivity With Artificial Intelligence This chapter explores the impact of AI on workplace productivity and efficiency. We discuss the release of GPT-4 and its potential to speed up tasks and increase productivity. Privacy challenges and the importance of employee awareness are also addressed. We examine how AI can bridge the gap between ambiguity and tasks, using Rewind's email summarization feature as an example. The significance of hiring exceptional senior staff and maintaining focus to achieve more with less is emphasized. Lastly, we touch on the potential impact of AI on the job market for recent graduates. (27:19) The Impact of STEM on Technology This chapter emphasizes the significance of STEM education in fostering creativity and problem-solving skills through technology. Our guest shares their personal journey with robotics, which led to the creation of innovative products like Optimize-A and Mac. The discussion also highlights the role of M1 and M2 chips in their company's pivot and how it enables local data privacy. Ultimately, we are reminded of the transformative potential of technology and the importance of adapting and maximizing its benefits. (38:29) COOs and Chiefs of Staff This chapter explores the dynamics of having a COO and chief of staff simultaneously, and how this partnership can benefit a company. We discuss the importance of screening for a good COO and chief of staff, as well as their role in creating a positive work environment. The former CEO shares his experience of achieving the number one spot for best place to work and the role of psychological safety in creating a fantastic workplace. Overall, this chapter provides valuable insights into the importance of a strong partnership between a CEO and their COO and chief of staff, and how it can contribute to the success of a company. (42:23) Cultural Values in a Company This chapter emphasizes the importance of defining and living up to company values. The host, who has experience at Google and now runs his own company, shares insights on creating a strong company culture by clearly defining values and behaviors that align with them. He highlights the need for these values to be a living document, constantly evolving and being used as a basis for performance management. The conversation also touches on the potential pitfalls of using values as a marketing tactic rather than a genuine reflection of the company's beliefs. Overall, this chapter highlights the role of company values in creating a positive and successful work environment. (45:58) Psychological Safety in Leadership Importance This chapter explores the importance of psychological safety in creating a successful and cohesive team. We discuss the guest's experience with psychological safety in their previous company and how they are implementing it in their current venture. We emphasize the need for a shared language and vernacular around psychological safety to create a sense of safety within a team. The guest also shares their regrets about not maintaining a balance of comfort and accountability in their previous company as they grew. We highlight the importance of a long-term orientation and hiring slowly to maintain a strong culture. The chapter concludes with the guest discussing their vision for their current venture and their determination to make it their life's work. (52:03) Ask the Right Question and Succeed This chapter explores the importance of conducting effective reference checks during the hiring process. We discuss the significance of asking the right questions and building rapport with references to obtain honest and valuable feedback on potential candidates. Additionally, we touch on the game-changing role of AI in the hiring process. The chapter concludes with a discussion on how to handle unexpected moments that may arise in the workplace.
Arcadia COO, Kate Hennigsen, on Clean Tech and Disrupting the Energy Market, Non-Traditional Backgrounds for Working in Tech (and Ops!), Energy Regulation, M&A, Board, Risk, and Cash Management, & the Power of a Well Written Cold Email
Nov 21 2023
Arcadia COO, Kate Hennigsen, on Clean Tech and Disrupting the Energy Market, Non-Traditional Backgrounds for Working in Tech (and Ops!), Energy Regulation, M&A, Board, Risk, and Cash Management, & the Power of a Well Written Cold Email
(00:12) Clean Tech and Disrupting Energy Market(06:15) Community Solar and Renewable Energy Innovation(15:37) Data Platform and Energy Transformation(24:21) Acquisitions, Integration, and Board Composition(29:05) Startup Board Management and Risk Balancing(35:51) Leadership, Growth Mindset, and Overcoming Challenges(42:18) Connecting Through Cold Emails(00:12) Clean Tech and Disrupting Energy Market We discuss Energy 101 today with Kate Hemington, co-founder and COO of Arcadia Power. Kate has a degree from the University of Oxford and a background in corporate litigation, making her well-equipped to tackle the energy industry. We talk about energy being a regulated monopoly, the trillions of dollars in the market, and how Arcadia is bringing digitization opportunities. We also discuss the unique perspective of having a legal and policy background and how it allowed them to get into the market and innovate. Kieran and Kate bring their own experience with energy policy and law, respectively, to the conversation. (06:15) Community Solar and Renewable Energy Innovation We enter the complex world of community solar. She explains how the state incentivizes third party developers to build renewable power sources and how Arcadia simplifies the process by giving customers a guaranteed savings rate. We understand how electricity works and why community solar is a guaranteed win for the customer, as well as how it’s helping to displace dirty electrons with clean ones. (15:37) Data Platform and Energy Transformation We chat about the potential of retrofitting four billion machines to achieve maximum decarbonization. We explore how the market has shifted in the last 15 years, with over 90% of new electrons produced in the US being renewable. We also discuss how Arcadia's data platform, Arc, is providing other companies with data, such as EV manufacturers and solar developers, to help their customers with micro decisions. Finally, we consider how Arcadia is managing its mission and culture with its switch to serving enterprises. (24:21) Acquisitions, Integration, and Board Composition We discuss acquisitions and product integration. We explore the importance of growth and expansion, and how to know when an acquisition is right. We examine the challenges of integrating products, the risks of taking on too much too soon, and the importance of understanding a company and its culture before making an acquisition. We also look at the value of an independent board member, and the importance of having a plan when it comes to acquisitions. (29:05) Startup Board Management and Risk Balancing We explore risk management and cash management. Kate shares how they've become better at board management, and how to let board members know what you need from them. We discuss how macroeconomic events have led to a guard your flank mentality, but how regulated line of revenue has given them a floor. We also talk about how the energy transition is a larger market than the macroeconomic events and how it has helped them to be aggressive in a down environment. Finally, Kate shares her thoughts on tight times and how it has created a renewed focus. (35:51) Leadership, Growth Mindset, and Overcoming Challenges We explore the importance of understanding growth mindset and being comfortable with discomfort. We also look at the importance of communication in building a successful team and how to effectively manage people. Kate shares her experience of bringing a global operations team together and the challenges of leading a co-founder. Finally, we look at the moment of surprise when the team received five cease and desist letters from utilities and how they overcame the challenge. (42:18) Connecting Through Cold Emails The power of cold emails. We emphasize the importance of making connections, and provide advice on how to maximize reaching out to potential contacts. Tap into the power of cold emails and take the opportunity to make meaningful connections. Don't forget to subscribe to Between Two COOs and leave us a review on Apple Podcasts to share your thoughts and help spread the word. Kate on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kate-henningsen/Episode: https://betweentwocoos.com/arcadia-power-coo-kate-hennigsenArcadia Power: https://www.arcadia.com/Michael Koenig on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-koenig514
Prisma COO, Nitin Gupta, explains tech to my mom, operationalizing hackathons, the balance of commercializing open-source, planning, and a team psychologist
Sep 26 2023
Prisma COO, Nitin Gupta, explains tech to my mom, operationalizing hackathons, the balance of commercializing open-source, planning, and a team psychologist
Unlock the secrets of remote team management and product explanation in our stimulating conversation with Nitin Gupta, the COO of Prisma. Nitin unveils how explaining technical products to non-technical people can be a challenge, but he makes it understandable, going as far as breaking down Prisma into simple terms for our mothers. Also, learn about Prisma University, a unique internal initiative to educate non-tech team members about their product's nuances. Beyond product explanation, we venture into the world of remote hackathons and the operational challenges within. Nitin highlights anticipating potential issues within a remote team and the significance of aligning all-hands meetings with the organization's structure. More so, we explore Prisma's unique take on transparency and collaboration as they open-source their processes. Finally, we delve into the less conventional aspects of managing a remote company. Nitin shares insights on why they hired a trained psychologist for HR and how it helps prevent employee burnout. He also unveils an interesting balance between commercializing open-source projects and maintaining a vibrant community through the 123 framework. Additionally, we discuss operational execution, aligning teams to KPIs, and Nitin’s unique approach to quarterly planning. This episode is a must-listen for tech enthusiasts and remote team managers looking for practical tips and fascinating insights. (0:00:13) - Explaining Prisma and Building Knowledge SharingNitin Gupta explains Prisma to his mother, Prisma University educates internally, and technical team members share knowledge. (0:11:13) - Remote Hackathon and Organizational Structure ManagementNitin Gupta discusses hackathon operationalization, remote team issues, all hands meetings, organization structure, and open sourcing processes. (0:18:40) - Psychologists and Open Source in Remote CompaniesNitin Gupta emphasizes HR with psychologist hire, uses 123 framework to balance open source project and community vibrancy. (0:35:30) - Operational Execution and Alignment of KPIsNitin Gupta discusses aligning teams to KPIs, concentrating on company-wide objectives, quarterly planning, and negotiating with a mobile handset manufacturer. Episode link: https://betweentwocoos.com/prisma-coo-nitin-guptaNitin Gupta: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gnitingMichael Koenig: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-koenig514/
ZenBusiness COO, Shanaz Hemmati, on building a $1.7B  company that thrives in both up and down times, being a technical COO, growing HomeAway through M&A to IPO to more M&A with Expedia, and automating G&A with AI,
Sep 11 2023
ZenBusiness COO, Shanaz Hemmati, on building a $1.7B company that thrives in both up and down times, being a technical COO, growing HomeAway through M&A to IPO to more M&A with Expedia, and automating G&A with AI,
Join us as we chat with Shanaz Hemmati, the COO of ZenBusiness, who gives us a fascinating insight into the workings of a public benefit corporation that generates more than $100M in ARR. Listen to her as she speaks about the various initiatives and programs that ZenBusiness undertakes to give back to the community and society. From a grant program to support their customers to her role evolution from CIO to COO, Shanaz’s experiences shed light on the strategies they use to navigate their responsibilities within a small team. In this chat, we also explore the potential of generative AI to increase speed, accuracy, scalability, complexity, and accessibility of structured language, and how ZenBusiness leverages this to expand capacity. From discussing the importance of data protection to understanding the potential threats to businesses, Shanaz provides a comprehensive overview of the operations side of the company, including their customer support in the contact center. Shanaz also talks about the company’s organizational structure, with CTO, HR, customer success, legal, program management, procurement, and corporate citizenship all reporting to her. Learn about the process of hiring great people, and how her passion and love for what she does is the key to success. She also shares her experiences with M&A, and how she and her team at HomeAway used the strategy of acquiring existing vacation rental services to make the company global. From tracking the macroeconomic environment to discussing the advantages of remote working, Shanaz provides a wealth of information for anyone interested in understanding the workings of a successful business.
Productiv COO, Munish Gandhi on Harnessing AI for Streamlining Contract Renewals and Procurement, Optimizing SaaS Costs, Governance and Risk Management, SVB's Collapse, and more
Aug 1 2023
Productiv COO, Munish Gandhi on Harnessing AI for Streamlining Contract Renewals and Procurement, Optimizing SaaS Costs, Governance and Risk Management, SVB's Collapse, and more
Join me and our guest, Munish Gandhi, co-founder and COO of Productiv, as we unravel the intricacies of SaaS governance and optimization. We talk about how the rapid growth of SaaS applications, fueled by a wealth of funding, has led to a lax approach to purchasing and implementing applications. Munish expertly guides us through the function of Productiv, explaining how it provides valuable insights and recommendations for SaaS portfolio governance, rationalizing SaaS spending, and refining SaaS procurement. We also delve into the issue of SaaS underutilization, considering how incentives from SaaS companies, the excitement of software purchases, and the mismatch between what people need and what is purchased can lead to high costs and underutilization. Listen in as we explore the application of generative AI in streamlining contract renewals and procurement with Munish. Our conversation uncovers how AI can automate the procurement process and enhance workflow, shedding light on how Productiv's product can help educate everyone involved in the software buying process. We then discuss Munish's journey to his COO role and how his previous experience at LinkedIn influenced his approach to building a software company. We also consider the challenges of selling a product that doesn't contribute to top-line revenue and discuss the objective of creating a platform that helps people be more Productiv in their roles. Munish also shares his experience with crisis management and decision-making, emphasizing the importance of communication and risk management during turbulent times. He offers a glimpse into his method of gathering data from other founders and investors to make informed decisions. This conversation provides valuable insights into how to approach decision-making when faced with an imperfect amount of information. This episode is packed with wisdom and strategies for managing SaaS applications, making it a must-listen for anyone navigating the modern software landscape. --------- EPISODE CHAPTERS WITH SHORT KEY POINTS ---------(0:00:13) - SaaS Governance and Optimization ImportanceMunish Gandhi discusses SaaS portfolio governance, rationalizing SaaS spend, streamlining SaaS procurement, and SaaS underutilization. (0:14:57) - Streamlining Contract Renewals and ProcurementMunish Gandhi and I discussed how AI can streamline contract renewal, automate procurement, and improve workflow with Productiv's Apricot Meta. (0:22:28) - Path to COO Role and Corporate LessonsMunish Gandhi shares his journey to COO, his experience at LinkedIn, and tactics to make LinkedIn for Sales. (0:33:02) - Crisis Management and Decision MakingMunish Gandhi emphasizes communication, risk management, data gathering, and informed decision-making in times of crisis. LinksMunish Gandhi on LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/munishgandhi/Productiv - https://productiv.comEpisode URL - https://betweentwocoos.com/productiv-coo-munish-gandhiBetween Two COO's - https://betweentwocoos.com Michael Koenig - https://linkedin.com/in/michael-koenig514
Former Workrise COO and current CEO of Gigs, Allen Narcisse on transforming the labor market, building Uber Eats, Lyft, and Gigs, and the impact of AI and automation on jobs
Jul 18 2023
Former Workrise COO and current CEO of Gigs, Allen Narcisse on transforming the labor market, building Uber Eats, Lyft, and Gigs, and the impact of AI and automation on jobs
Join us as we sit down with Allen Narcisse, former COO at Workrise and co-founder and CEO of Gigs, for an enlightening conversation about his journey in the gig economy. Allen takes us through his career trajectory, starting from his initial venture, eBuyLine, to his stints building Uber and Lyft, and finally, to his current venture, Gigs. Listen in as Allen shares valuable insights on building marketplaces, the importance of a great first impression, and the inspiration behind Gigs. In the second part of our discussion, we explore the intricacies of operating a gig economy platform. Allen shares the three-step process Gigs uses to source jobs and engage job seekers and the crucial role of having a team with previous founders, Lyft, and Uber DNA. He also shares his perspective on prioritization and ensuring the team has the resources and talent to accomplish winning moves. In the final part of our conversation, we discuss the future of the labor market in the face of automation and AI. Allen shares his thoughts on the need for job seekers to be equipped with the right information and tools to navigate the changing job market. Tune in to hear more about Gigs’ business model, the cost per application model, and how it ensures employers only pay for qualified applicants. Finally, we touch on the implications of automation on the labor force and the need for better communication between employers and workers.Links:Gigs - https://getgigs.co/Allen Narcisse - https://www.linkedin.com/in/allen-narcisse/Michael Koenig -https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-koenig514/Episode URL - https://betweentwocoos.com/gigs-ceo-allen-narcisseBetween Two COO's - https://betweentwocoos.com --------- EPISODE CHAPTERS WITH SHORT KEY POINTS --------- (0:00:12) - Building the Gig EconomyAlan discussed founding eBuyLine, Uber/Lyft, Workrise, and Gigs, and the importance of making a great first impression in the job placement sector. (0:08:48) - Gigs CEO Discusses Approach and OperationsAlan discussed Gigs' three-step process, the importance of team DNA, prioritizing and providing resources and talent. (0:16:01) - Forming the DNA of a CompanyAllen Narcisse and I discussed customer focus, courageous conversations, scaling information, psychological safety, and everyone's opportunity to weigh in. (0:25:11) - Ownership and Coaching for Great CompanyHiring ambitious people, setting mutual expectations, weaving values into decisions, allowing mistakes, and coaching rather than filling gaps are discussed. (0:33:21) - Empowering Job Seekers, Addressing AutomationAllen Narcisse and I discussed Gigs' business model, job seekers' empowerment, cost per application, automation's implications, and employer-worker communication.
Embracing the Future of Food: The Rise of Sustainable Indoor Urban Farming with Square Roots CEO Tobias Peggs
Jun 27 2023
Embracing the Future of Food: The Rise of Sustainable Indoor Urban Farming with Square Roots CEO Tobias Peggs
Can we really grow sustainable, delicious, and healthy food right in the heart of a bustling city? In this eye-opening episode, I had the pleasure of chatting with Tobias Peggs, co-founder and CEO of Square Roots, an innovative indoor urban farm tech company that's revolutionizing how we grow and distribute food in urban areas.Together, we explored the intricate operations of creating a successful indoor urban farm, from engineering and construction to farming and distribution processes. Tobias shared fascinating insights on how Square Roots uses cutting-edge technology to minimize its environmental impact, reduce its carbon footprint, and produce food sustainably despite the challenges posed by climate change.We also touched upon the importance of staying true to a company's mission and values, as well as how Square Roots navigated the COVID-19 pandemic and adapted their business to continue providing fresh, nutritious, and mouth-watering produce to their community. Don't miss this thought-provoking conversation on the future of urban agriculture and how it can help us tackle some of the most pressing global issues of our time.In This Episode(0:00:16) - Indoor Urban Farming for Sustainable FoodTobias  and I discuss engineering, construction, farming, tech operations, packing, and distribution of urban food production.(0:10:55) - Revolutionizing Urban Farming With Square RootsTobias discusses Square Roots' sustainable farming process, commercialization, and chefs' satisfaction.(0:25:29) - Reducing Carbon Footprint for Local FarmingTobias and his team use technology to produce food sustainably, reducing their environmental impact through design, energy, and distribution.(0:31:02) - Mission, Values, and Adapting to ChangeTobias and I discuss mission and values, adapting to unexpected circumstances, and physical operations to stay focused.LinksSquare Roots - https://www.squarerootsgrow.comTobias Peggs - https://www.linkedin.com/in/tobiaspeggsMichael Koenig - https://linkedin.com/in/michael-koenig514Episode - https://betweentwocoos.com/square-roots-ceo-tobias-peggs
Cotopaxi COO & cofounder, Stephan Jacob on getting to $100M in revenue, brand building, supply chain, B Corps and ESG, and taking llamas on college campuses
May 2 2023
Cotopaxi COO & cofounder, Stephan Jacob on getting to $100M in revenue, brand building, supply chain, B Corps and ESG, and taking llamas on college campuses
Stephan Jacob, Co-founder and COO of Cotopaxi, joins Michael to talk about building an impact-driven business, how sustainability drives Cotopaxi’s product development, managing a CEO transition, the proliferation of certified B Corps, donating revenue to fight poverty in developing countries, brand building and taking on North Face and Patagonia, and taking llamas on college campuses. With a humanitarian-drive and strong business acumen, Stephan’s career in the COO seat began at Cotopaxi, following the sale of his company, Kembrel in 2013. During this time, Stephan reconnected with an old University of Pennsylvania Wharton and Lauder Institute classmate, Davis Smith, with the commitment to build a brand for those who shared their values: a deep-rooted interest in giving back and a passion for the outdoors. From there, came Cotopaxi, an outdoors brand, which has never wavered from its ESG principles and humanitarian focus. Under Stephan’s stewardship, Cotopaxi has become a role model for how businesses can achieve the seemingly at-odds goals of making the world a better place while achieving growth. As a B-Corp using environmentally friendly sourced materials and ethically-sourced labor, Cotopaxi’s values and colorful apparel have struck a chord with its customers, generating $100m in revenue, aiding 1.5 million people in poverty, and assisting 90k refugees throughout South America in 2021 alone.Where to find Stephan: LinkedinMentioned on the episode:Davis Smith, Cotopaxi’s Co-founder & CEOBrad Hiranaga, Cotopaxi’s Chief Brand Officer, General Mills’ former Chief Marketing OfficerDamien Huang, Cotopaxi’s President and incoming CEO,  Eddie Bauer’s former CEOGrace Zuncic, Cotopaxi’s Chief Impact Officer, Chobani’s former Chief People OfficerB LabEgo is the Enemy
Lime COO, Woody Hartman, on micromobility, helping Lyft grow from $100K to $3B in revenue, launching 24 markets in 24 hours, creating joy, how to coach, and summiting Everest
Apr 10 2023
Lime COO, Woody Hartman, on micromobility, helping Lyft grow from $100K to $3B in revenue, launching 24 markets in 24 hours, creating joy, how to coach, and summiting Everest
Woody Hartman, COO of Lime and former VP of Global Operations at Lyft, sits down with Michael to talk about the challenges in scaling a micro-mobility company, how Lime’s gained a competitive advantage over other players in the market, and why he chose to climb Mount Everest following his time at Lyft!A biz ops wizard, Woody’s career started as a Business Analyst at McKinsey in 2006, focused on M&A and private equity due diligence. With a passion for creating joyful customer experiences, Woody jumped to the gaming and entertainment website IGN, leading corporate strategy before attending Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, where he was amongst the top students, earning him distinction as a Siebel Scholar. Following a short stint at Disney as a Global Development Associate for Imagineering, Woody joined Lyft in February 2013 as employee 34. Initially tasked with leading Lyft’s launch in Los Angeles, just the company’s second market, Woody mastered these rollouts, becoming the company’s VP of Global Operations in September 2017. Before departing in September 2019, he helped grow the company from $100k to $3 billion in annual revenue. He led hallmark company growth events such as 24 launches in 24 hours and launching in New York with only two weeks’ notice. After six years with the company, Woody embarked on a new challenge: summitting Mount Everest! Returning to the business world as the President & Head of Product at TeamSnap in March 2020, Woody led the sports app company to double its revenue and its first profitable quarter. Approached with the opportunity to lead a micro-mobility company through its next phase, Woody recently joined Lime in January 2022. With rumors of a Lime IPO following its first profitable year, Woody’s vast expertise and experience have him well-prepared for the work the company has cut out for him. Where to find Woody: Linkedin
Blinkist Co-Founder & CEO Holger Seim on growing to 21M users, optimizing your information intake, geographic expansion, and experimenting with a 4-day workweek
Jan 16 2023
Blinkist Co-Founder & CEO Holger Seim on growing to 21M users, optimizing your information intake, geographic expansion, and experimenting with a 4-day workweek
Holger Seim, co-founder, and CEO of Blinkist, speaks with Michael about how Blinkist emerged out of shifting consumption patterns, where the company may be headed in the future, and how to stay true to your long-term strategic vision while also incorporating the thoughts and ideas of other stakeholders. With an entrepreneurial spirit that emerged during his childhood in Germany, Holger’s journey has been guided by his unsatiated love of building things from the ground up. Leaning further into this spirit in college, Holger founded a successful student consultancy with several friends. Upon graduating in 2010, Holger joined T-Mobile, working in the Division of the CEO. While he valued his experience and time working close to leadership, the hunger to build his own company drew him to join his college friends in Berlin. Recognizing that they lacked the time they once had as college students to quickly read books in full, Holger and his team founded Blinkist in 2012. Founded to make knowledge quick and accessible through short summaries of books, Blinkist was quickly able to capitalize on emerging consumer preference for shorter and mobile-accessible content to become the preeminent company in the space. Taking full advantage of being the first mover, Blinkist has expanded beyond written book summaries to audio and podcast summaries and has grown its user base to over 21 million across the globe while securing $40 million in venture funding. Where to find Holger: LinkedinTwitterMentioned on the episode:Paul Graham, venture capitalistMarkus Witte, Founder & CEO of BabbelElliot Darvick, Head of Regional Marketplace at WorkriseNathaniel Manning, Co-founder & COO of KettlePatrick Lencioni, business authorThe Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in BusinessThe Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership FableThe Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues
Vodafone Qatar COO, Diego Camberos on prepping for 1.4M World Cup visitors, rolling out 5G across Qatar, life as a serial expat, being c-suite at a global juggernaut, and the benefits of radical simplification
Nov 7 2022
Vodafone Qatar COO, Diego Camberos on prepping for 1.4M World Cup visitors, rolling out 5G across Qatar, life as a serial expat, being c-suite at a global juggernaut, and the benefits of radical simplification
Diego Camberos, COO of Vodafone Qatar and former CEO of Tigo Millicom Senegal and Rwanda, joins Michael to share insight into navigating cultural differences in different markets, how “radical simplification” has served as the bedrock of Vodafone’s success, and how to build a corporate culture that acknowledges and respects different cultures.  A citizen of the globe, having spent time living in several countries outside his home country of Bolivia, Diego has expertise across various departments, ranging from operations to marketing to commercial strategy. Starting his career in the quick service restaurant (QSR) industry upon returning to South America after college in the US, Diego served as the Operations Manager for McDonald’s Columbia. He led day-to-day operations for the company’s McOpCo chain from 2003 to 2005. After a brief stint as Burger King’s Director of Operations for the Dominican Republic, Diego shifted his attention to the telecommunications industry, starting his journey in the space as the Vice President of Sales for Trilogy/Viva Dominicana in 2007. In 2009, Diego joined Swedish telco giant Millicom as the Head of Sales & Marketing for its Tigo brand, rising to the role of CEO of its Rwanda market in 2011. Following a successful tenure as the CEO of Tigo/Millicom’s Senegal business, Diego headed further east in March 2017, signing on as Vodafone Qatar’s Consumer Business Unit Director before taking the reins as its COO in March 2018. Where to find Diego: LinkedInTwitter