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The First Step: How Affirm CEO Max Levchin handles risk taking in launching a new business

In this episode, our host Chris Denson talks to Max Levchin, co-founder and CEO at Affirm and co-founder of PayPal, about how to overcome a fear of failure and embrace risk in bringing forward new ideas. Then Chris dives into how established organizations need to be constantly iterating and incorporating their learnings with Dilip Mistry, Partner at McKinsey and Company.

The First Step: How Affirm CEO Max Levchin handles risk taking in launching a new business

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE PODCAST: (portions of this have been edited for clarity)

Chris Denson:

What are some risk taking assessments any organization might have to do if they’re starting a digital business. What are some of those things where you go, all right, this is going to be risky but let’s do it anyway?

Dilip Mistry:

So, there are a couple of risks that organizations need to look at when building your digital business. One is the fundamental product or strategy in itself, it’s a risk for many organizations because they’re in a realm they’ve never been before. Imagine an incumbent [telecommunications company] looking to build a brand new streaming business. This is something that I’ve been involved with a client in Southeast Asia and it’s a big risk because they know how to serve telco customers, make calls and run data networks, but it’s very different (from) running a video streaming business. So, there’s a big risk around, do we even have the right product and the right strategy to be successful in a very competitive market?

And then the area which is also a risk (that) I think is absolutely critical to digital business building is, what’s the culture you want to build? And how far are you willing to go in terms of taking a risk in terms of building that culture? Because frankly it’s the culture that’s going to determine success or failure in the end.

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