13 leadership lessons from Hernán López, founder and CEO of Wondery

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This article has been translated from our English edition.

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13 leadership lessons from Hernán López, founder and CEO of Wondery
13 leadership lessons from Hernán López, founder and CEO of Wondery

My ongoing series in partnership with , If I Knew Then: Leadership Lessons, gives me the unique opportunity to have virtual fireside chats with high-profile CEOs from top brands, from Indeed and Blue Apron to Nextdoor and Warby Parker. During these informative sessions, I ask the wonderful leaders to share practical and relatable advice. These insights from the top drivers and shakers of the corporate world are available as a resource for current and future entrepreneurs and should not be lost.

In the last episode, I was privileged to sit down with Wondery’s founder and CEO, Hernán López, who has grown his company into the largest and most far-reaching independent podcast publisher in its network. Started in 2016, Wonderful became the fastest network to join Podtrac’s top 10. Its secret sauce is the ability to produce shows that mesmerize audiences with emotional and haunting Hollywood-style storytelling, including shows like Dr. Death, Business Wars, American History Storytellers and the hit Dirty John. Since its launch in 2017, the six-part series about a scammer named John Meehan has been downloaded more than 26 million times.

All 30 Wondery shows have hit # 1 on Apple Podcasts, and many of them are currently becoming must-see TV shows. With $ 15 million in venture capital funding from high-profile financiers, the company is expected to have revenue of over $ 40 million by the end of 2020, up 75 percent from 2019.

Some might say that it was written in the stars that the preeminent leader behind all this success began his professional career on radio and television at the age of 19. At the age of 26, López was working for Fox in Latin America and eventually took the chance by moving to the United States with very little English and big dreams. In my conversation with Lopez, he kindly shares the key management lessons he has learned in his 20+ year career since serving as President and CEO of Fox International Channels, a $ 3 billion division of Fox . (now Disney) for the Wondery Foundation. Here are 13 key lessons from this incredible entrepreneur:

1. Your idea should be something that you are so passionate about that you can get the job done for free

According to López, you have to be a fanatical consumer as an entrepreneur when you bring a new product or service to market. He was very intrigued by the potential of the podcast format and found that they were rarely included in audio listening statistics. He asked himself: is this a supply problem or a demand problem? He soon realized that cable television had gone through the same “new medium” process when it broke away from network television and that it had a real opportunity to make a huge impact in this niche industry.

2. Mentoring can help you navigate sensitive areas

As a 27-year-old Argentinian, López had a heavy accent. Her boss’s boss suggested taking an accent reduction class. López points out that such a proposal is now perceived as insensitive to race and may not occur at all. “But this boss was right,” admits López. Six sessions later, her accent dropped significantly and her career began. Consider this advice received as a gift and one of the best investments you have ever made.

3. Test times can often be the catalyst for positive change.

López believes that his early struggles were academic and social – growing up gay and being excluded from high school fueled his independence and success in business and life.


4th. How you accept “no” is one of the biggest tests as a business owner

The frequency with which Lopez had to hear someone say “no” to him in his first year as an entrepreneur was staggering. But you need to be familiar with rejection and learn to accept and separate constructive criticism from criticism that is of no use to you.

5. Fundraising is part of the journey every business owner must begin

Lopez suggests a book to anyone starting a business: Get Backed by Evan Baehr and Evan Loomis. Here’s how to prepare for the fundraiser.

6. Find another successful company in which to model yourself

You need to find your reason and how your product or service stands out from others. Wondery wanted to produce emotionally impressive shows that were uniquely representative of their brand, from script to musical selection. Using the example of Pixar Animation: the popular full-length studio’s animation work is almost always identified as Pixar thanks to special components that the company incorporates into each film.

7. Get out there when you have a poison manager

Unfortunately, bad bosses cannot be changed. Find another job while you are busy and be careful not to badmouth your current boss. López recommends viewing these three traits as red flags for a poisonous boss:

8. At 20, you realize that getting your job done is not enough

Many talented and hardworking people believe that if they just do their job, everything will take care of itself. You need to have goals and actively communicate them to your boss. People won’t automatically notice your hard work or encourage you. So it is up to you to prove in every possible way that you have the skills to be a manager or an executive.

“It’s important to promote and defend yourself,” says López. “But always be humble, never overdo it, and never take credit for someone else’s work.”

Image: Gilaxie | Getty Images

9. The thought that the grass is always greener can lead to misfortune

When López thinks about his 30s, he says it was a happy time for him. But despite his success, he always compared himself to others and it stole his joy. Realize that the grass in life always looks greener. Accept that the grass you are standing on is actually more important for this moment in your life.

10. Having a consistent routine that keeps you mentally and physically on the ground improves your productivity

Lopez touts reading (some of her favorites: An Intelligent Life by Australian psychologist Dr. Julian Short or Good to Great by Jim Collins), therapy and meditation stories in the Wondery app as important elements to keep you emotionally and mentally on the ground to keep. He also credits his productivity and success with sleeping plenty of time and following a consistent exercise routine. “Sleep is important and underestimated. That’s why I always go to bed at 9:30 p.m. and I wake up at 5:30 a.m. m. Says López. “I also train in the mornings five times a week. I think things that don’t require thinking are best done early in the day. “

11. Put one foot on the creative side and the other on the business side

In the media, anyone who can navigate both worlds is likely to be more successful. On the commercial side, López points out that it is important that the meetings start on time as it shows respect for everyone’s time. He adds, “Have an agenda. It shows what you want to get out of the meeting and can be used to redirect the conversation when you leave the topic. “

12. Interviews are the most important thing a leader can do

Think of it as an investment every time you’re interviewed and reviewed. “The time it takes for a company to get rid of bad attitudes is staggering,” says Lopez. “Netflix came up with the Gatekeeper Test: If someone who works for you told you that they were being recruited by a competitor, would you fight to keep them? If the answer is no, you should probably get out of there. “

13. When you have a specific role, do something else to reach your potential

For example, in the world of sales, it’s difficult for your supervisors to perceive you as anything other than a great salesperson with the potential to one day be the sales manager. When you have bigger ambitions, do something that will put you in a different box. López shares that he did just that: he attended business school at night while working and received his MBA. This change made it clear to his superiors that he had ambition and was ready to go for his own time. It wasn’t long before he had a bigger role to play that kickstarted his career and got him to where he is today.

We could all use more authentic and transparent leaders like Hernán López in the world. Watch the full webinar to hear more wisdom from this incredible CEO.

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