SmallBizPod #38 – Mavericks at Work podcast

Bill Taylor and Polly LaBarre authors of Mavericks at Work and founders of Fast Company magazine, talk about innovation and open source.

By Alex Bellinger
25th January 2007 at 5:28 pm

This week SmallBizPod #38, the small business podcast, explores business innovation and the mavericks who are delivering extraordinary business success. In a lively conversation with Polly LaBarre and Bill Taylor, founders of Fast Company magazine and authors of Mavericks at Work, the show explores how out-thinking the opposition, not simply strength and size, is the key to entrepreneurial success.

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Show Notes



• 00:00 Alex on what’s coming up in the show.


• 01.24 An update from the Frappr map with thanks to new listeners: Mark Keenan in Swindon, Marcel Zapata in Chile, Taylor Marek in Milwaukee, Alicia Forest from Walden NY, Melanie Langenhan from Germany, George Reavis from Tulsa, David Terrar from St Alban’s and Gary from South Shields.
• 02.41 Email comment from Daley Ervin at Arizona State University who has learned lots from SmallBizPod and contributes to the debate on US vs UK entrepreneurial culture.


• 02:55 Interview with Bill Taylor and Polly LaBarre, authors of Mavericks at Work. Alex, Polly and Bill discuss how innovation not strength, and freedom not power, are the new touchstones for entrepreneurial success as demonstrated by the maverick leaders outlined in the book. There’s also discussion about how an open source approach to innovation has brought success to traditional businesses like gold mining group, Goldcorp. The wide ranging conversation also touches upon strategy as advocacy, disrupting the market you’re in to your advantage, seeing what other people don’t or ‘vujade’ and how transparency is vital for modern business leaders. Bill and Polly also offer an insight into how they started Fast Company magazine and the difficult, but vital issue of recruiting and attracting talented people.


• 30.08 Music Never by Seathasky with thanks to Monotonik.

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  1. Rob Smorfitt says:

    I am a firm believer in innovation driving successful companies. I as recently embroiled in a debate while writing a book on entrepreneurship, as to whether the innovative idea arises on it’s own or in response to a specific need. The team was split between those who believed innovation was driven by “ideas” people, and myself and some who felt that the need generated the innovation thought process, which actively sought to solve the problem.


  2. alex says:

    Hi Rob, good to hear from you. I guess you’re saying necessity is the mother of invention or should that be innovation. I think there’s definitely something in that.

    How do you earn a living when everyone’s doing the same old same old and customers have more than enough of everything? Sounds like time for a bit of innovation.

    There are, of course, some innovative geniuses with business vision, but they are fewer. And how many purple cows can they come up with anyway?

  3. […] We’re going to do a series of posts over the next week about what we saw, what we did, and what we learned during our visit to the UK. One quick impression–the “innovation economy” in England is alive and well. Germany may be sclerotic, France may be hopelessly bureaucratic, but the UK is bustling—and it is definitely “with the program” in terms of entrepreneurial energy and new ways of competing. Our old friend Charles Leadbeater, an influential management theorist for both business and government, is putting the finishing touches on an important new book called We-Think, which promises to be the best work yet on the open-source model of innovation. During a lovely visit to his flat on the east side of London, Charlie gave us an overview of new-generation British companies, from Innocent Drinks, which reminds us a lot of Jones Soda, one of our mavericks, to, a peer-to-peer lending operation. We came away optimistic about where young British innovators want to take their companies and their country. Tuesday was Media Day, and we got to sample British public opinion. Here too the experience was reassuring. We spent the better part of a day doing 18 back-to-back interviews and programs on radio stations in London, Birmingham, Wales, Northern Ireland, and just about city and hamlet in-between. Folks in Britain, as in North America, seem to have come to the conclusion that big companies don’t offer the security or the sense of possibility that they used to, and our various interviewers seemed eager to encourage their listeners to think bigger and aim higher for their companies and careers. This podcast aimed at small business was typical of the conversations we had, as was this interview with WorldBusiness, a monthly magazine published in conjunction with Insead, the European business school. Which leads us to the most hilarious part of our visit. Our publicist at HarperCollins, in order to drum up interest in a business book by two know-it-all Americans, dropped a throw-away line into the press release to the effect that Mavericks would help readers “live the Del Boy dream.” It didn’t mean much to us—until every single interviewer asked us about Del Boy, what our favorite Del Boy story was, and just how, exactly, could their listeners live the Del Boy dream? […]

  4. […] it as the war for talent.  When I interviewed Polly LaBarre and Bill Taylor, formerly of Fast Company, they considered winning talent the mark of a successful company, but also the most difficult issue […]

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