MIT Sloan’s ‘Antifragile’ Entrepreneurship Series Now Available Online

Entrepreneurs / 18th May 2020

How best can you make critical decisions in the moment when level-headedness is at a premium? When the world turns upside down, what steps can we take to generate new ideas? And what areas of opportunity will emerge in a post-pandemic world?

These topics are among those discussed in eight episodes of the Antifragile Entrepreneurship Series now available online at no cost. Produced by the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurshipthe series features diverse speakers—a former Navy Seal, entrepreneurs, academics, investors, and a former governor, among others—who are leaders in their fields.

‘Antifragile’ is defined as a person or group that is not only unbroken by adversity but grows stronger because of it. While antifragile people do not want crises, they do not fear them and see them instead as opportunities. The term was coined by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder.

“It’s what we teach our students at MIT,” says Bill Aulet, professor of the practice and the managing director of the Martin Trust Center. “While one can build resilience in the face of adversity, those who are antifragile not only survive in such a world, they thrive in it. This speaker series is a great introduction into this world, one in which our guests have succeeded in the face of crises, incomplete information, time urgency, and dramatic outcomes. As we face down COVID-19, our goal is to bring hope, strength, guidance, and community to people so anxiety can turn into positive action.”

An overview of the series is available at entrepreneurship.mit.edu/speakers. Episodes include:

Decision Making in a Crisis: Two American heroes discuss how best to make critical decisions in the moment when level-headedness is at a premium. Featuring:

  • Jacob Willink, retired US Navy Seal and #1 NYT bestselling author
  • Bill Campbell, last passenger off Flight 1549, dubbed the ‘Miracle on the Hudson,’ which was dramatized in the motion picture, Sully

Staying Mentally Strong: How do you stay mentally healthy in times of crisis? Featuring:

  • Arlan Hamilton, who went from homeless to running Backstage Capital, a multimillion-dollar venture fund
  • Brad Feld, co-founder of Techstars and the Foundry Group
  • Kathleen Stetson, CEO of Rational Confidence

Making the Ethical Decision: In uncertain times, how should entrepreneurs practice ‘principled entrepreneurship,’ that of using their businesses and skills for good and not for profiteering? Featuring:

  • Tom Byers, faculty director, Stanford Technology Ventures Program
  • Laura Dunham, associate dean and chair of U St. Thomas’ Schulze School of Entrepreneurship
  • Jon Fjeld, Director, Duke University Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative, entrepreneur and professor of Philosophy at Duke University 

Creativity in a Crisis: When the world has been turned upside down, what steps can we take to generate new ideas? Featuring:

  • Tina Seelig, best-selling author and professor of the practice at Stanford University
  • Dave Morris, TEDx speaker

What are the Opportunities on the Other Side? What areas of opportunity will emerge in a post-COVID-19 world? Featuring:

  • James McQuivey, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, consumer behaviorist and author of Digital Disruption
  • Jean Hammond, founder of the LearnLaucnh Accelerator

Marketing Position In and After a Crisis: Never ignore the opportunities that arise from a crisis. This session focuses on how to demonstrate brand leadership and gain market advantage in these times. Featuring: 

  • Chris Reitermann, Chief Executive of Oglivy, Asia and Greater China
  • Allen Wang, CEO of Babytree, China’s largest parenting website

Where are the Opportunities on the Other Side Part 2: Beyond the traditional spots, where will the new, desirable regions be located in a post-pandemic world? Featuring:

  • Scott Stern, MIT Sloan Prof. of Management and co-creator of the Startup Cartography
  • Emily Canal, Inc. Magazine staff writer who leads the publication’s annual Surge Cities Index

Anti-Fragile Teams, Organizations & Society: A How To: Entrepreneurship is a “team” sport. So how do you create a culture of antifragility across your entire organization? And how can we adopt and enact these principles broadly across society? Featuring:

  • John Calipari, head coach, University of Kentucky men’s basketball, NCAA champion & Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer
  • Deval Patrick, former governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and Bain Capital alum

“With the pace of change continuing to increase, an antifragile entrepreneurial mindset, skillset and way of operating has never been more important, and it will be increasingly important going forward,” says Aulet. “The skills of optimizing existing systems and making them more predictable will need to be balanced with antifragile leadership capabilities at the individual, team, organization and societal level if we are to thrive now, and into the future.”

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