Peter Sims

Best-Selling Business Author and Entrepreneur
Peter Sims
  • Best-selling author of Little Bets, named one of the best business books of the year by The Washington Post and Inc. Magazine
  • Successful entrepreneur and member of G.E.’s Innovation Advisory Panel
  • Motivational speaker who engages the audience by discussing topics such as leadership, entrepreneurship, and the road to success

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Peter Sims is an award-winning entrepreneur and author. He is founder & a sir of the BLK SHP, and his latest book is Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries, selected as a one of the six best advice books for entrepreneurs by the Wall Street Journal and as one of the best business books of the year by The Washington Post, Inc. Magazine, and AmEx OPEN and he was the coauthor with Bill George of True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership, which was a Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek best-seller.

Sims has had a long collaboration with faculty at Stanford’s Institute of Design (the d.school), and received an M.B.A. from Stanford Business School where he established a popular class. Previously, he worked in venture capital with Summit Partners, including as part of the team that established Summit’s European Office in London. He is a cofounder of Little Bets Labs, a member of G.E.’s Innovation Advisory Panel, and a cofounder and Director of Fuse Corps, a social venture that places entrepreneurial leaders on year-long grassroots projects with mayors and governors to tackle some of America’s most pressing problems.

His articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Financial Times, Harvard Business Review, Mashable, strategy+business, Tech Crunch, and as an Expert blogger for Fast Company. He frequently speaks or advises at corporations, associations, and universities, including Google, Eli Lilly, Pixar, ConAgra, Gap Inc., Cisco Systems, Clorox, Amazon, and Stanford University.

A graduate of Bowdoin College, he lives in San Francisco, and his great-great-great grandfather, Jacob Gundlach, founded Gundlach Bundschu (GunBun) in Sonoma, California’s oldest family-owned winery, which is run today by his cousins who, unlike Peter, actually know a lot about wine.

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Speaker Video

How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries

Little Bets (innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity, and design). What do Thomas Edison, Chris Rock, and Jeff Bezos all have in common?

Answer: An understanding that the biggest ideas spring forth from a series of small discoveries, reworked to achieve a great result.

Based on extensive research, including over 200 interviews with successful creators and innovators, Sims demonstrates that the kind of linear problem-solving and fear of failure we were conditioned to embrace actively thwarts creativity. Whether it’s Steve Jobs or architect Frank Gehry or the ‘braintrust’ at Pixar, there is no complete plan or vision at the outset. Rather, through a process of trying and failing in incremental ways, they gain critical information as they go from one small, experimental step to the next — which eventually lead to extraordinary breakthroughs. These so-called “little bets” helped spark the ideas that led to companies like Twitter and blockbuster movies like the Toy Story franchise. We can learn to think and work like those we think of as geniuses — failing fast to learn quickly, trying imperfect ideas, focusing on finding problems rather than solving them, and practicing highly immersed observation—to turn our own little bets into big successes.

Authentic leadership (leadership and entrepreneurship). Based on the lessons learned from 125 of the world’s most-respected entrepreneurs and leaders profiled for TRUE NORTH: Discover Your Authentic Leadership, including Charles Schwab, Starbuck’s founder Howard Schultz, CEO of Palm Inc. Donna Dubinsky, Jeffrey Immelt of General Electric, Xerox CEO Anne Mulcahy, Andrea Jung CEO of Avon Products, and Narayana Murthy of Infosys.  Themes include: overcoming life crucibles and setbacks, clarifying personal values and motivations, developing effective support structures, using your life story to motivate and inspire others, approaches for staying grounded, and personal leadership development plans. 

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