Jon McNeill

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Visionary Leader and Entrepreneur; Expert on Scaling Organizations and Driving Innovation; Former COO, Lyft; Former President, Tesla Motors; Six-time Founder/CEO

Biography

Success in business is 90% who you’re working with and 10% what you’re working on. The mantra holds true not only for driving innovation, but also for scaling companies – two high priorities that challenge (and threaten the success of) many of today’s leaders. Corporate leader and serial entrepreneur Jon McNeill has mastered both, and he’s on a personal quest to teach management teams and boards how to do the same.

McNeill believes everything starts with assembling, motivating and leading a world class team. That’s the 90%. Then comes the 10% (which can be as hard as the 90%) – what to work on. Identifying unique opportunity is a challenge for most teams. Innovation, he says, is often rooted in an unsolved problem. McNeill found his first opportunity as a young kid whose dad told him to “figure it out” when he asked for a pair of Nike shoes. Two paper routes paid for the sneakers and then a landscaping business in high school covered his first car and college. But the seminal life lesson continues to pay dividends in his business ventures. McNeill has since honed his methodology: Find your white space, act with speed, then land and expand. To date, he’s founded, scaled and sold six companies, primarily in software, retail and manufacturing.

No matter the company or the problem it is solving, McNeill creates people-first cultures that encourage and value experimentation – ultimately generating tens of thousands of jobs and multi-billion dollar returns for investors. More recently, McNeill has translated his expertise to scaled companies he didn’t create, but as a senior leader at two Silicon Valley disruptors that are shaping the future of transportation to achieve hypergrowth in revenue and operations.

In 2015, he accepted a personal invitation from Tesla’s Elon Musk to join the cutting-edge electric vehicle and clean energy innovator. During his two-plus years as president, the company’s revenue grew from a $2 billion run-rate to a $20 billion run-rate. In 2018, he joined Lyft as chief operating officer to help prepare the ride-sharing pioneer for its initial public offering. When Lyft went public the next year, its revenue had grown from $800 million to $2 billion, partly because McNeill helped to build both the senior team and the operating muscle that allows the company to execute a winning strategy, namely maintaining revenue growth while pulling in the path to profitability by over a year.

Today, McNeill splits his time – and expertise – between early- and late-stage hyper-scaling endeavors, including working as an advisory partner with Advent TECH. His late-stage endeavors include lululemon athletica, where during his tenure on the board, the stock has more than quintupled. He also serves on the boards of Boston’s Brigham & Women’s Hospital and TrueMotion, a family-oriented safe driving technology startup he co-founded. TrueMotion is a venture of Harvard Innovation Labs (i-Lab), of which McNeill was an early proponent.

McNeill began his career at Bain & Company, where he was mentored by several partners who instilled in him a love for teaching. To be a good leader, you must be an excellent teacher, he says. McNeill has taught at Northwestern University, his alma mater, and has been an entrepreneur in residence for the last seven years.

Jon McNeill is available for paid speaking engagements, including keynote addresses, speeches, panels, conference talks and advisory/consulting services through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

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Books & Research

Intro Video

Video ThumbnailSimplify to Scale | Jon McNeill | TEDxBeaconStreet - youtube Video

A-Z Name

McNeill, Jon

Biography

Success in business is 90% who you’re working with and 10% what you’re working on. The mantra holds true not only for driving innovation, but also for scaling companies – two high priorities that challenge (and threaten the success of) many of today’s leaders. Corporate leader and serial entrepreneur Jon McNeill has mastered both, and he’s on a personal quest to teach management teams and boards how to do the same.

McNeill believes everything starts with assembling, motivating and leading a world class team. That’s the 90%. Then comes the 10% (which can be as hard as the 90%) – what to work on. Identifying unique opportunity is a challenge for most teams. Innovation, he says, is often rooted in an unsolved problem. McNeill found his first opportunity as a young kid whose dad told him to “figure it out” when he asked for a pair of Nike shoes. Two paper routes paid for the sneakers and then a landscaping business in high school covered his first car and college. But the seminal life lesson continues to pay dividends in his business ventures. McNeill has since honed his methodology: Find your white space, act with speed, then land and expand. To date, he’s founded, scaled and sold six companies, primarily in software, retail and manufacturing.

No matter the company or the problem it is solving, McNeill creates people-first cultures that encourage and value experimentation – ultimately generating tens of thousands of jobs and multi-billion dollar returns for investors. More recently, McNeill has translated his expertise to scaled companies he didn’t create, but as a senior leader at two Silicon Valley disruptors that are shaping the future of transportation to achieve hypergrowth in revenue and operations.

In 2015, he accepted a personal invitation from Tesla’s Elon Musk to join the cutting-edge electric vehicle and clean energy innovator. During his two-plus years as president, the company’s revenue grew from a $2 billion run-rate to a $20 billion run-rate. In 2018, he joined Lyft as chief operating officer to help prepare the ride-sharing pioneer for its initial public offering. When Lyft went public the next year, its revenue had grown from $800 million to $2 billion, partly because McNeill helped to build both the senior team and the operating muscle that allows the company to execute a winning strategy, namely maintaining revenue growth while pulling in the path to profitability by over a year.

Today, McNeill splits his time – and expertise – between early- and late-stage hyper-scaling endeavors, including working as an advisory partner with Advent TECH. His late-stage endeavors include lululemon athletica, where during his tenure on the board, the stock has more than quintupled. He also serves on the boards of Boston’s Brigham & Women’s Hospital and TrueMotion, a family-oriented safe driving technology startup he co-founded. TrueMotion is a venture of Harvard Innovation Labs (i-Lab), of which McNeill was an early proponent.

McNeill began his career at Bain & Company, where he was mentored by several partners who instilled in him a love for teaching. To be a good leader, you must be an excellent teacher, he says. McNeill has taught at Northwestern University, his alma mater, and has been an entrepreneur in residence for the last seven years.

Jon McNeill is available for paid speaking engagements, including keynote addresses, speeches, panels, conference talks and advisory/consulting services through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Speech Topics

Ready for Growth: The Secrets to Scaling Your Company

When you’re working to grow your business, you wake up every morning to your company being bigger than it was the day before. And, in many cases, it’s the biggest company you’ve ever worked for. But there’s an important difference between growing your business and scaling it. Jon McNeill founded, scaled and sold six companies; he also played a key leadership role in three already-scaled, well-known corporations to achieve hypergrowth in short periods of time (Tesla, Lyft and lululemon ). McNeill has developed a methodology to scaling and, in this inspiring and motivating presentation, shares his secrets to scaling with you. From tools to simplifying your view of the business and identifying where the most leverage really is, to galvanizing teams around the art of the possible, McNeill will prove that you’re capable of making big change, and big growth, happen quickly. Drawing from numerous real-world examples, he’ll teach you how to harness the potential and scale success – yours and the business.

Frontline Leadership: Change Your Perspective—and Competitive Advantage

The fastest way to fix or grow your business is to tap into the power of your front-line employees, says Jon McNeill. Headquarters isn’t where the action is – it’s on the front lines. McNeill calls this his leadership hack, and he credits numerous innovations and strategy shifts, most recently during his tenures at Tesla and Lyft, to its ability to help him see and hear what’s happening in the field first-hand. In this presentation, he uses his personal experiences to explain why your greatest impact can’t happen behind your computer or inside your office. He urges his audiences to get out and listen to and engage with customers and your employees, where they work. When you do, it’s motivating for them and eye-opening for you – and profitable for the business.

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