Episode 11: Loonshots with Safi Bahcall

I had the privilege of running into the same social and intellectual circles as Safi Bahcall for the past 20 years. When I heard he wrote a book on how large organizations could continue innovating despite their scale, I was intrigued and decided to check it out.

In general, I do not read “business books” as I find them simplistic. Loonshots is the exception to that rule. It blew me away. It mixes compelling personal narratives of entrepreneurs like Edwin Land (Polaroid) and Juan Trippe (Pan Am) with observations from physics and history to weave a very compelling narrative.

To date Playing With Unicorns taught something specific every week. However, I thought a conversation with Safi would be fun and wide ranging, so I invited him to be my first ever “traditional” live stream / podcast guest. It was great and through many non-sequiturs discussed:

  • His transition from academia to running a private biotech company
  • The transition from being a private company to a public company CEO
  • Thinking through what you really want to do in life versus what society expects of you and how pursuing his curiosity led him to Loonshots
  • What the core learnings from Loonshots are
  • Why he is currently fascinated by “Why Markets Crash” and “How organizations can pick the right strategy” (e.g., why, and how did Amazon beat Google in the Cloud market so far)
  • Much more!

If you prefer, you can listen to the episode in the embedded podcast player.

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