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My ongoing series in partnership with Entrepreneur, If I Knew Then: Leadership Lessons, gives me the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have virtual fireside chats with high-profile CEOs from major brands, from Indeed and Blue Apron to Nextdoor and Warby Parker. During these informative sessions, I ask amazing leaders to share reliable and practical advice. These insights from great makers and shakers in the business world are available as a resource for current and future entrepreneurs and should not be missed.
On the final episode, I was privileged to sit down with Wondery's founder and CEO, Hernan Lopez, who made his company the largest, most far-reaching independent podcast publisher in the game. Launched in 2016, Wondery was the fastest network Podtrac put in the top 10. Its secret sauce is its ability to produce shows that mesmerize audiences with emotional, haunting Hollywood-style storytelling, including shows like Dr. Death, Business Wars, American History Storytellers and the hugely successful Dirty John. Since its release in 2017, the six-part series about a scammer named John Meehan has been downloaded more than 26 million times. All of Wondery's 30 shows have hit # 1 on Apple Podcasts, and many are now becoming must-see TV shows. With $ 15 million in VC funding from high profile financiers, the company is expected to generate over $ 40 million in revenue by the end of 2020, up 75 percent from 2019.
Related Topics: Free On Demand Webinar: Learn How One Entrepreneur Made Their Business the Largest Independent Podcast Publisher
Some might say it was written in the stars that the preeminent leader behind all this success began his career in radio and broadcasting at the age of 19. At the age of 26, Lopez was working at Fox in Latin America and eventually took the chance by moving to the United States with very little English and big dreams. In my conversation with Lopez, he kindly shares the most important management lessons he has learned in his 20+ year career from serving as President and CEO of Fox International Channels – a $ 3 billion division of Fox (now Disney) – right up to the founding of Wondery. These are 13 essential lessons from this incredible entrepreneur:
1. Your idea needs to be something that you are so passionate about that you would get the job done for free
Lopez says that if you are a business owner bringing a new product or service to market, you should be a fanatical consumer yourself. He was very intrigued by the potential of the podcast format and noticed that they were rarely included in the audio listening statistics. He asked himself: is this a supply problem or a demand problem? He soon realized that cable television had gone through the same "new medium" process when it separated from network television, and that he had a real chance of making a huge impact in this niche industry.
2. Mentoring can help you navigate sensitive areas as you progress
As a 27 year old transplant from Argentina, Lopez had a heavy accent. His boss's boss suggested taking an accent reduction class. Lopez points out that such a proposal is now felt to be race insensitive and may not be given at all. "But that boss was right," admits Lopez. Six sessions later, his accent was significantly reduced and his career began. He considers this advice given as a gift and considers it one of the best investments he has ever made.
3. Trial times can often be the catalyst for positive change
Lopez believes that his early academic and social struggles while growing up gay and being kicked out of high school drove his independence and success in business and life.
4. How you accept your no is one of the greatest tests of being a business owner
It was amazing how many times in his first year as an entrepreneur Lopez had to hear someone say "No" to him. But you need to be familiar with rejection and learn to accept criticism and divide it into stacks for "constructive" and "different".
See also: 12 Executive Lessons from Dan Springer, DocuSign CEO
5. Fundraising is part of the journey every business owner must take
Lopez suggests a beloved book to anyone starting a business, Evan Baehr and Evan Loomis' Get Backed. Here's how to prepare for fundraising.
6. Find another successful company to orientate yourself on
You need to find your reason for this and how your product or service stands out from others. Wondery wanted to produce emotionally impressive shows that are uniquely representative of its brand, from the script to the music selection. The example of Pixar Animation was used: the animation work of the popular studio is almost always identifiable as Pixar thanks to special components that the company ensures that it is branded into every film.
7. Get out there when you have a poison manager
Unfortunately, bad bosses cannot be changed. Find another job while you are busy and be careful not to badmouth your current boss. Lopez recommends looking at these three traits as red flags for a poisonous boss:
They deflect the blame and never take responsibility.
They show no personal interest in you.
They don't respect borders.
8. In your 20s, realize that just doing your job is not enough
Many talented and hardworking people believe that if they just do their job, everything will take care of itself. You need to have goals and actively communicate them to your boss. People won't automatically notice your hard work and encourage you. So it is up to you to show in every possible way why you have the skills necessary to be a manager or a leader. "It's important to promote yourself and stand up for yourself," says Lopez. "But always be humble, never overdo it, and never take credit for someone else's work."
See also: 12 Leadership Lessons from Sarah Friar, Nextdoor CEO
9. The thought that the grass is always greener can lead to bad luck
When Lopez thinks about his 30s, they have been a happy time for him. But despite his success, he always compared himself to others, and that stole his joy. Realize that the grass in life will always look greener. Accept that the grass you are standing on is actually more important for this moment in your life.
10. Having a consistent routine that keeps you mentally and physically on the ground improves your productivity
Lopez promotes reading (some of his business favorites: An Intelligent Life by Australian Psychologist Dr. Julian Short or Jim Collins' Good to Great), therapy and meditation stories in the Wondery app as important elements to keep him emotional and keep mentally on the ground. He also owes his productivity and success to a healthy amount of sleep and a consistent exercise routine. “Sleep is important and is underestimated. That's why I always go to bed at 9:30 p.m. and wake up at 5:30, "says Lopez. “I also train in the morning five times a week. I believe that things that don't require thinking are best done early in the day. "
11. Have one foot on the creative side and the other foot on the business side
In the media, any person who can navigate both worlds will most likely have more success. On the business side, Lopez notes that it is important that meetings start on time as it shows respect for everyone's time. He adds, “Have an agenda. It shows what you're trying to get out of the meeting and can be used to steer the conversation back when it's off topic. "
12. Interviews are the most important thing a leader can do
When you do an interview and do a review, think of this as an investment. "The time it takes for a company to get rid of bad attitudes is staggering," says Lopez. “Netflix passed the & # 39; Keeper Test & # 39; Made up: If someone who works for you tells you that they are being recruited by a competitor, would you fight to keep them? If the answer is no, you should probably break up. "
13. When you play a certain role, you are doing something outside of the scope to reach your potential
For example, in the sales world, it's difficult to be perceived by your supervisors as anything other than a great salesperson with the potential to one day be the sales manager. When you have bigger ambitions, do something that will put you in a different box. Lopez shares that he did just that: he attended business school at night while working and received his MBA. This change made it clear to his superiors that he had ambition and was ready to make the effort in his spare time. It wasn't long before he had a bigger role to fill that sparked his career and brought him to where he is today.
We could all use more authentic and transparent leaders like Hernan Lopez in the world. Watch the full webinar to learn more about the wisdom of this incredible CEO.
See Also: 10 Leadership Lessons with Cynt Marshall, Dallas Mavericks CEO