Reed Hastings, Co-Founder of Netflix — How to Cultivate High Performance, The Art of Farming for Dissent, Favorite Failures, and More (#730)

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“Hope is everything.”

— Reed Hastings

Reed Hastings (@reedhastings) became executive chairman of Netflix in 2023, after 25 years as CEO. He co-founded Netflix in 1997. In 1991, Reed founded Pure Software, which made tools for software developers. After a 1995 IPO and several acquisitions, Pure was acquired by Rational Software in 1997. Reed is an active educational philanthropist and served on the California State Board of Education from 2000 to 2004. He is currently on the board of several educational organizations including KIPP and Pahara. Reed is also a board member of City Fund and Bloomberg.

He received a BA from Bowdoin College in 1983, and an MS CS in artificial intelligence from Stanford University in 1988. Between Bowdoin and Stanford, Reed served in the Peace Corps as a high school math teacher.

You can learn more about Powder Mountain at PowderMountain.com.

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#730: Reed Hastings, Co-Founder of Netflix — How to Cultivate High Performance, The Art of Farming for Dissent, Favorite Failures, and More


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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Want to hear an episode with another Netflix founder? Listen to my conversation with Marc Randolph in which we discussed changing communication style as a leader, split testing superpowers, what sets good entrepreneurs apart from mediocre ones, best and worst ideas, pushing back when countless people proclaimed Netflix’s business model would never work, and much more.

#496: Marc Randolph on Building Netflix, Battling Blockbuster, Negotiating with Amazon/Bezos, and Scraping the Barnacles Off the Hull

SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

  • Connect with Reed Hastings:

Powder Mountain | Twitter | LinkedIn

SHOW NOTES

  • [06:34] Alfred Lee Loomis and Tuxedo Park.
  • [07:53] Risk tolerance: nature or nurture?
  • [10:56] Cultivating culture that “eats strategy for lunch.”
  • [15:41] The logic behind generous severance.
  • [17:02] Adapting to Pure chaos.
  • [18:44] Reference checking potential hires.
  • [20:29] Context vs. control.
  • [22:35] Radical candor.
  • [24:15] Guardrails for maintaining work/life balance.
  • [27:04] Farming for dissent.
  • [28:39] Believing in the green crystals.
  • [30:54] High-performance team, not family.
  • [31:59] The keeper test.
  • [32:49] Fire and replace, or replace and fire?
  • [33:59] Beyond Entrepreneurship and other recommended reading/viewing.
  • [37:46] A favorite failure.
  • [40:32] Outstanding leaders.
  • [41:10] Reed’s two “religions.”
  • [42:19] Powder Mountain.
  • [44:44] How Powder Mountain differs from Reed’s other projects.
  • [46:24] Powder Mountain’s biggest challenges ahead.
  • [47:02] Could Reed ever really retire?
  • [47:19] Best investments of time, energy, or money.
  • [48:49] How can we improve education in the US?
  • [52:48] What class would Reed teach?
  • [53:59] Juggling projects without losing focus.
  • [55:04] Philanthropy: Why Africa?
  • [55:32] Being “big-hearted champions who pick up the trash.”
  • [56:28] Reed’s billboard.
  • [58:01] Parting thoughts.

MORE REED HASTINGS QUOTES FROM THE INTERVIEW

“I’m in the camp that culture eats strategy for lunch. … How do you get human beings to work well together and accomplish amazing things? One of the aspects of that is being around other incredible performers.”
— Reed Hastings

“Customers would love to have everything for free — the challenge is to have great customer satisfaction and to charge them enough to have growing operating income. And that constraint is what makes business challenging, fun, and exciting.”
— Reed Hastings

“The few times I’ve done investing, I’ve lost my shirt and I realize I’m just so optimistic. Anybody who seems to have a good idea, I’m like, ‘Sure!’”
— Reed Hastings

“Hope is everything.”
— Reed Hastings

PEOPLE MENTIONED

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for “Best of Apple Podcasts” three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it’s been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.



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