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Guy Raz on Resiliency, Transformation and Why Failure Is Your Friend

In a recent Paycom webinar, we sat down with Guy Raz, host of the award-winning podcast How I Built This. Throughout his career as a journalist and author, Raz has been able to pick the brains of elite professionals, and it made for an exciting conversation on this episode.

Some of the most entrepreneurial minds on the planet have been guests on Raz’s podcast, so as our guest, it seemed natural to ask what stood out to him as the most memorable lessons he took away from these conversations.

“One which I think is a really important for this moment is knowing when to pivot,” Raz said.

He pointed out that several organizations currently enjoying significant name recognition once found themselves at crisis points, which catalyzed the next stage of their development. Raz used companies like Slack and Airbnb as examples of how dire times can trigger organizational transformation.

“It was a crucial pivot that enabled them to sharpen their business model and become what they became. Ultimately, that pivot can come from failure,” Raz said.

Resilience is a recurring theme on Raz’s program, and when asked for examples of organizations demonstrating radical resiliency in 2020, Zumba and Cliff Bar were first on his list. Raz cited Cliff Bar’s focus on fitness and lifestyle products and Zumba’s move to a digital platform as ways resiliency kept organizations thriving and relevant when circumstances beyond their control drastically reshaped the business landscape.

But resiliency is only part of the equation.

“You have to constantly interrogate how you operate, how you’re meeting your customers and how you’re serving their needs. That self-interrogation inevitably creates self-improvement and refinement,” Raz notes.

He described a radical move by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz after a precipitous decline in stock price and customer loyalty.

“In 2009, [Schultz] shuts down every Starbucks in the U.S. for three hours, at a cost of 30 million dollars. They retrained every single employee in that three-hour period on the original idea of what Starbucks was supposed to be.”

The role of technology in resiliency and change was also an important topic.

Raz stressed that digital transformation was at the heart of our current experience. More than just a business tool, the public is realizing a new way to interact with technology.

“The time we have been given back (due to the pandemic) with our family and our loved ones is important. We’re realizing that [technology] is really enabling if used in the right way,” Raz explained.

In the closing Q&A, Raz was asked about entrepreneurship, which he said he believes is a mindset.

“It’s about collaborating and figuring out how to collaborate better. It’s about being vulnerable, about sharing ideas, about being really radical in the way you think about ideas. It’s about building teams and coming up with solutions and working to put ideas out to the world.”