Safi Bahcall

Award-Winning Physicist, Biotech Entrepreneur, and Author of Loonshots

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  • Uses science and historic examples to offer audiences the tools to become liberate innovative ideas - or loonshots - trapped inside companies everywhere
  • Best-selling book dubbed a must-read “for people and organizations who are trying to increase their ability to catalyze more innovation” by Forbes
  • A master storyteller, Safi highlights real world examples of how groups do not need to abandon their core business to create disruption and game-changing ideas

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Why do good teams kill great ideas? Safi Bahcall, a physicist and entrepreneur, reveals a surprising new way of thinking about group behavior that challenges everything we thought we knew about nurturing radical breakthroughs. Drawing on the science of phase transitions, and using stories that range from the hunt for U-boats in WWII to the search for new cancer drugs, Bahcall shows why teams, companies, or any group with a mission will suddenly change from embracing wild new ideas to rejecting them.

An entertaining and compelling presenter, Bahcall describes this new kind of science and shares three techniques that creatives, leaders, and visionaries can use to liberate the innovative ideas – or loonshots – trapped inside small and large companies everywhere.

Bahcall’s first book Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas that Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries, was an instant Wall Street Journal bestseller and has been translated into 18 languages, recommended by Bill Gates and Daniel Kahneman, and selected as a best business book of the year by Amazon, Bloomberg, Financial Times, Forbes, Inc., Medium, Tech Crunch, Strategy + Business, and Washington Post. Loonshots was also the most recommended book of the year in Bloomberg’s annual survey of CEOs and entrepreneurs.

Senator Bob Kerrey wrote: “If The Da Vinci Code and Freakonomics had a child together, it would be called Loonshots.”

Bahcall received his BA from Harvard summa cum laude and completed his PhD in physics at Stanford. He spent nearly two decades of his life bringing innovative ideas to fruition as a consultant at McKinsey & Company and co-founder and CEO of Synta Pharmaceuticals – a biotechnology company developing new drugs for cancer. He led the company’s IPO and served as its CEO for 13 years, during which he was named the Ernst & Young New England Biotechnology Entrepreneur of the Year. Bahcall also worked with President Obama’s council of science advisors (PCAST) on the future of national research.

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Why do good teams kill great ideas?

Loonshots: Brink of World War

Safi Bahcall: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas that Transform Industries | SXSW 2019

Safi Bahcall on How to Reframe Anger as a Gift

Safi Bahcall, Author of "Loonshots"

Three Rules for Strategy in Times of Crisis. How did the music industry escape death? How did one mall succeed while all others failed? Why did Amazon beat Google in the race for cloud services—what did Amazon do right and Google get wrong? Learn three strategic principles you can use to turn crisis into opportunity. Hear about the science of spotting, the need to balance the two types of loonshots, and the hidden gaps that must be closed in launching new ventures during uncertain times. Learn how the best innovators have applied these principles to emerge leaner and stronger on the other side of a crisis.

Loonshots How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas that Win Wars and Transform Industries. Why do good teams kill great ideas? Safi Bahcall reveals a surprising new way of thinking about group behavior that challenges everything we thought we knew about nurturing radical breakthroughs. Drawing on the science of phase transitions, and using stories that range from the hunt for U-boats in WWII to the search for new cancer drugs, Safi shows why teams, companies, or any group with a mission will suddenly change from embracing wild new ideas to rigidly rejecting them. Hear fresh insights from this new kind of science and learn three techniques that creatives, leaders, and visionaries can use to liberate the ideas trapped inside small and large companies everywhere.

The Four Rules of Reinvention. How did the music industry escape death? How did one mall succeed while all others failed? Why did Amazon beat Google in the race for cloud services—the most rapidly growing business of the 21st century? Learn the four principles that connect these examples: the rules of reinvention. Hear about the need to balance the two types of loonshots, the hidden gaps that must be closed, the common traps that needlessly sink new ventures, and how the best innovators overcome these challenges and balance the core and the new. Learn how Microsoft has been applying these same principles to rapidly catch up in the trillion-dollar race to dominate the cloud—transforming itself, along the way, from an also-ran into the most valuable company in the world.

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