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32 Leadership Lessons From Peloton, Beautycounter, Omnicom, And More

Founders, business leaders, and artists who participated in the 2017 Fast Company Innovation Festival share the advice that’s guided their careers.

32 Leadership Lessons From Peloton, Beautycounter, Omnicom, And More
[Photos: Herring & Herring, Jessie English]

The theme of this year’s Fast Company Innovation Festival was “leading with optimism,” so we asked a variety of the business luminaries who participated: How do you lead during this time of rapid—and sometimes confounding—change?

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Attach Meaning

“It’s much easier to work hard and put in the time when there is a constant reminder that our efforts are helping people succeed.” —Ryan Williams, cofounder and president, Jopwell

[Photo: Jessie English; Set designer: Wunderkind; Grooming: Kay Louro]

Be Personal

“People are craving human interaction. That’s going to move the needle more than any technology you could ever dream up.” —Tina Sharkey, cofounder and CEO, Brandless

[Photo: Jessie English; Set designer: Wunderkind; Grooming: Kay Louro]

Get A Groove On

“We have an open office culture that’s really fun. It bothers me when it’s too quiet. We play cool music. The team gets very stressed out when I play ’70s country.” —John Foley, cofounder and CEO, Peloton

[Photo: Jessie English; Set designer: Wunderkind; Grooming: Kay Louro]

Let Down Your Guard

“When people feel like they can talk freely and really be themselves, it makes it easier to collaborate.” —Maëlle Gavet, COO, Compass

[Photo: Jessie English; Set designer: Wunderkind; Grooming: Kay Louro]

Don’t Overthink

“I lead from the heart. If something touches my heart, then I speak on it. There is great power in being direct.” —Andy Cohen, host, Watch What Happens Live

[Photo: Herring & Herring; Set designer: Wunderkind; Grooming: Kim White, Zuleika Viera]

Leap With Confidence

“My mentees know that I will push them off the ledge with wet wings and let them dry on the way down. Train yourself to go toward fear, not run away from it.” —Tiffany R. Warren, chief diversity officer, Omnicom

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[Photo: Jessie English; Set designer: Wunderkind; Grooming: Kay Louro]

Develop Allies

“Our model is [to cooperate] with government. The ingredient that can overcome anything is government wanting to tackle a problem.” —Dan Katz, director of public policy and U.S. projects, Virgin Hyperloop One

[Photo: Jessie English; Set designer: Wunderkind; Grooming: Kay Louro]

Wow Your Customers

“Be something people will be so thrilled about that they’ll advocate for you, evangelize for you. Religion is a highly motivating thing, and that’s what a good brand is too.” —Scott Norton, cofounder, Sir Kensington’s

[Photo: Jessie English; Set designer: Wunderkind; Grooming: Kay Louro]

Turn Success Into More Success

“The easiest way to keep a culture positive is to keep winning. If you’re a football team and not winning, it’s going to be tough on morale.” —Tamara Ingram, CEO, J. Walter Thompson

[Photo: Jessie English; Set designer: Wunderkind; Grooming: Kay Louro]

Keep The Faith

“Whatever is going on, your number-one responsibility is to have a mind-set at work that says, ‘We can solve this.’ ” —David Miliband, president and CEO, International Rescue Committee

[Photo: Jessie English; Set designer: Wunderkind; Grooming: Kay Louro]

Unleash Talent

“When people don’t have to compromise who they are in order to survive, then all energies are focused on the possibilities.” —Lisa Skeete Tatum, founder and CEO, Landit

[Photo: Jessie English; Set designer: Wunderkind; Grooming: Kay Louro]

Give Credit

“Compensation is important to keep people engaged, but so is a willingness to allow teams to own their wins.” —Clint Kisker, cofounder and president, MWM

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[Photo: Jessie English; Set designer: Wunderkind; Grooming: Kay Louro]

Be An Instigator

“Before you take a stand on political issues, actually have policies that are inclusive.” —Aria Finger, CEO, Do Something

[Photo: Jessie English; Set designer: Wunderkind; Grooming: Kay Louro]

Choose Your Style

“You can make waves or [be a] wave rider. You can never do both at the same time.” —Mark Motonaga, partner, Rios Clementi Hale Studios

[Photo: Jessie English; Set designer: Wunderkind; Grooming: Kay Louro]

Know Your Worth

“Ultimately, a brand has to think about how it is going to add value to someone’s life.” —Vivian Rosenthal, CEO, Snaps

[Photo: Jessie English; Set designer: Wunderkind; Grooming: Kay Louro]

Answer To Your Heart

“You never know how an audience will respond to your art, but I don’t think that’s the artist’s concern.” —Lena Waithe, writer and actor, Master of None

[Photo: Herring & Herring; Set designer: Wunderkind; Grooming: Kim White, Zuleika Viera]

Read The Cues

“Effective communication means taking in not just what’s said but what’s unsaid, which is often more important.” —Kai Falkenberg, first deputy commissioner, NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment

[Photo: Jessie English; Set designer: Wunderkind; Grooming: Kay Louro]

Respect Renegades

“We forget that it was universities who were the first adopters of internet technology. They created the platform on which the internet was built. That’s not disruption; that’s enabling.” —Ryan Zagone, director of regulatory relations, Ripple

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[Photo: Jessie English; Set designer: Wunderkind; Grooming: Kay Louro]

Embrace Crazy

“A lot of times things that are quite serious come about from what at first looked a little ridiculous.” —Amy Whitaker, author and assistant professor, New York University

[Photo: Jessie English; Set designer: Wunderkind; Grooming: Kay Louro]

Encourage Balance

“People have lives outside of the workplace. Acknowledging that lifts the entire organization.” —Jeff Levick, CEO, The Players’ Tribune

[Photo: Herring & Herring; Set designer: Wunderkind; Grooming: Kim White, Zuleika Viera]

Set The Tone

“There will always be challenges, and sometimes it takes a lot of effort to find the silver lining. But what’s the alternative? And [who] wants to work in that environment?” —Debra Anderson, cofounder and chief strategy officer, Datavized Technologies

[Photo: Jessie English; Set designer: Wunderkind; Grooming: Kay Louro]

Obey The Golden Rule

“Don’t try to sell down the pipeline nonsense you wouldn’t buy yourself.” —Michael Lastoria, cofounder and CEO, &pizza

[Photo: Laurel Golio]

Be Passionate

“We have huge arguments about how to move forward. We had a blowout fight the other day. Someone has to fall on their sword.” —Gregg Renfrew, founder and CEO, Beautycounter

[Photo: Jessie English; Set designer: Wunderkind; Grooming: Kay Louro]

Play Nice

“I can’t do it without a team. My head would be spinning—you would think I was in The Exorcist.” —Michael Strahan, cofounder, SMAC Entertainment

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[Photo: Arturo Olmos]

Make ‘Em Laugh

“Good leaders know that humor and tenacity will get them further than anger and chaos.” —Caryl Stern, president and CEO, UNICEF USA

[Photo: Jessie English; Set designer: Wunderkind; Grooming: Kay Louro]

Explore The Unknown

“The best ideas come from the strangest places.” —Baiju Bhatt, cofounder, Robinhood

[Photo: Jessie English; Set designer: Wunderkind; Grooming: Kay Louro]

Work Every Room

“Leadership is a choice. It’s not just on high, being in a glass tower. It’s all about connection, which builds trust, which builds empathy.” —Claude Silver, chief heart officer, VaynerMedia

[Photo: Jessie English; Set designer: Wunderkind; Grooming: Kay Louro]

Nurture The Embers

“Good ideas do not spread on their own. And that’s especially true in the public sector. Bike share was started 35 years ago.” —Jim Anderson, head of government innovation programs, Bloomberg Philanthropies

[Photo: Jessie English; Set designer: Wunderkind; Grooming: Kay Louro]

Smash Barriers

“As an artist, you create the work you want to create, regardless of the medium and the industry. We need to knock down the facade between the art and commercial worlds.” —Shantell Martin, visual artist

[Photo: Jessie English; Set designer: Wunderkind; Grooming: Kay Louro]

Empower People

“Giving work is so much more powerful than giving other types of aid. Work is at the core of human dignity. When we deny refugees the right to work, we are denying them a fundamental human right.” —Leila Janah, founder and CEO, Samasource

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[Photo: Jessie English; Set designer: Wunderkind; Grooming: Kay Louro]

Enjoy The Upgrade

“Right now, the world is filled with opportunities to replace ordinary with something that is extraordinary or experiential.” —Chris Kelly, cofounder and president, Convene

[Photo: Jessie English; Set designer: Wunderkind; Grooming: Kay Louro]

Polish That Crystal Ball

“If you want to know how the future will be, study how a billionaire lives today. It will be a world where things you don’t want to do will be done for you, [so you can engage in] what is fun and immersive.” —Dan Clay, senior associate, Lippincott

[Photo: Jessie English; Set designer: Wunderkind; Grooming: Kay Louro]
This story was adapted from the Fast Company Innovation Festival.