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Videos

  • How to create compelling innovations: a lesson taken from EVs | Jon McNeill | TEDxBoston
    How to create compelling innovations: a lesson taken from EVs | Jon McNeill | TEDxBoston
  • Jon McNeill | Ready for Growth: The Secrets to Scaling Your Company
    Jon McNeill | Ready for Growth: The Secrets to Scaling Your Company
  • There's an overall buoyancy to EV stocks: Fmr. Tesla president McNeill
    There's an overall buoyancy to EV stocks: Fmr. Tesla president McNeill
  • Simplify to Scale | Jon McNeill | TEDxBeaconStreet
    Simplify to Scale | Jon McNeill | TEDxBeaconStreet
  • TESLA: The Future of Electric Cars
    TESLA: The Future of Electric Cars
  • [International Fleet Meeting 2016] Jon McNeill from Tesla Motors
    [International Fleet Meeting 2016] Jon McNeill from Tesla Motors

Learn More About Jon McNeill

When it comes to scaling businesses, few leaders have been more impactful than Jon McNeill, CEO and co-founder of DVx Ventures, General Motors Board of Directors member, past President of Tesla, and former COO of Lyft. A leadership trifecta – entrepreneur, investor and executive overseeing some of the biggest business success stories of the new millennium – his effectiveness is illustrated through a track record of multi-billion-dollar successes in the fraught and uncertain world of emerging technologies. His strategy for scaling startups serves as a valuable framework for leading and growing 21st century organizations.

McNeill’s principles for what leaders should be doing to grow their businesses are best viewed through his achievements: At Tesla, he oversaw a 10-fold increase in sales, from $2 billion to $20 billion in only three years. In 2018, he went on to serve as chief operating officer at Lyft where he helped the ride-sharing pioneer prepare for its initial public offering. When Lyft went public the next year, its revenue had grown from $800 million to $2 billion. In his career, McNeill has founded, scaled and a sold half-a-dozen startups, all before co-founding DVx Ventures, a disruptive startup incubator where he currently serves as CEO. With DVx Ventures, McNeill has launched seven more companies, two of which have already been funded. An advocate for a people-first business culture, he credits these successes to a three-part framework.

“You have to start by hiring world-class people,” reveals McNeill, who sits on multiple corporate boards, including lululemon, CrossFit and Stash Financial. “Once those people are hired, leadership must focus. There’s an art in simplicity, and if you choose a handful of the right things to focus on, you’ll up your chances enormously. And then there has to be real accountability for leaders to aim very high and not settle for a 25% growth rate when they can achieve 100% growth rate with some additional effort and resources.”

The Path to Disruptive Innovation Starts with Sleeping on the Manufacturing Floor

A former Bain Capital advisor, McNeill is a popular guest lecturer at Harvard Business School and the MIT Sloan School of Management and is a highly sought-after speaker. His engaging leadership stories and relatable style illuminate how vital it is for leaders to remain engaged with all levels of the organization. By having close proximity to employees and customers, executives are in a better position to build a culture of trust and innovation, as well as have a better understanding of what customers really need. McNeill tested this boots-on-the-ground leadership philosophy during his time at Tesla.

“When we were trying to solve a problem with the Model X falcon wing doors, Elon and I would leave our offices and sleep on the manufacturing floor,” he explains. “We were there to understand how the entire manufacturing process worked and because the people on the line could tell us exactly what was going on. We weren’t going through five layers of management and a bunch of data and reports – the employees could say in the moment, ‘here’s what’s going wrong,’ and we could describe to the engineers what we needed to fix. Being physically present allowed for immediate attention to challenges which helped build a team-oriented atmosphere and greatly accelerated our innovation speed.”

As startups and established brands alike embark on scaling initiatives that are rife with uncertainties, it’s crucial to engage expert help. McNeill’s vast experience leading the exponential growth of disruptive startups that became iconic successes helps founders, executives, boards and workers at all levels of an organization remain engaged in growing and contributing to the forward – and upward – momentum of a business.

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Jon McNeill is CEO of DVx Ventures, an early and growth-stage venture platform with offices in Silicon Valley, New York and Boston, and a guest lecturer at Harvard Business School and MIT Sloan School of Management. Before serving as president of Tesla from 2015-2018 and COO of Lyft from 2018-2019, he founded, scaled and sold six companies which he led through hypergrowth in revenues and operations, created tens of thousands of jobs, and delivered multi-billion-dollar returns for investors.

A graduate of Northwestern University, McNeill began his career at Bain & Company. He was the 2012 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and was named the most admired CEO in Boston in 2013. He currently serves on the boards of lululemon, Asurion, Crossfit, Stash, Cambridge Mobile Telematics, Tekion and Tier.

Jon McNeill is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group.

Jon McNeill was last modified: November 18th, 2022 by Justin Louis

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A Human-Centered Framework for Growing and Scaling Your Business

When organizations set growth initiatives, the path to prosperity isn’t always clear or easy, and success isn’t guaranteed. Few are as well-qualified to speak about successful scaling strategies as Jon McNeill, CEO of startup incubator DVx Ventures. As a key player in two of the most iconic disruptive startup success stories of the 21st century – first as president of Tesla, then as COO of Lyft – his framework for scaling innovation has been proven right time and again. “You have to start by hiring world-class people,” explains McNeill. An engaging storyteller, he shares lessons learned from his time at Lyft and Tesla, as well as from his current role as a CEO, to teach his practical method for scaling businesses. Following this enlightening and informative presentation, attendees will walk away with powerful new tools and insights for forging a path that will set a new bar for success within organizations.

How to Win: Why Sleeping on the Manufacturing Floor Leads to Success

As leaders continually strive to build efficient and successful organizations, sometimes one of the simplest success strategies is forgotten: being engaged with the team. In many instances, the leadership of big organizations tends to be far away from their own employees. Former Tesla President Jon McNeill advocates for the opposite approach, one where leadership actively engages with all levels of an organization. Of his early days at Tesla, McNeill gives an example of just how visible he was, “Elon and I would sleep on the manufacturing floor to trouble shoot and problem solve with the frontline workers and engineers.” A gifted storyteller, McNeill uses relatable anecdotes to illustrate how building a team-oriented atmosphere through boots-on-the-ground, people-first leadership builds a culture of trust and innovation, and a deeper understanding of the competitive market. Leaders will gain insight into the importance of having close proximity to people on the frontline. With McNeill’s tactics, managers can ultimately foster more engagement throughout an organization, leading to a collective ambition to reach new levels of success.

Create an Idea Factory Within Your Team

Where do unique and disruptive innovations come from? Past president of Tesla and former Lyft COO Jon McNeill says leaders should take a cue from the music industry’s “songwriting factories” and create “idea factories” within organizations. In this enlightening session, McNeill – who has successfully founded, scaled and sold six businesses – explains how having a group of ambitious executives and creatives assigned to a team-within-the-team helps organizations better identify holes in the market and hyperfocus on creating new strategic initiatives and innovations. As CEO of startup incubator DVx Ventures, McNeill works with founders and creatives every day who are deploying this strategy and achieving measurable results. Following this interactive session, leaders from any industry will be equipped to create organizational “idea factories” to identify and seize innovation opportunities they might have otherwise missed.

Address Risk Head-on: Mastering the Talk/Do Ratio

Strategies must be formulated with care, but at what point does talking about an initiative become “paralysis by analysis”? According to former Tesla Motors president Jon McNeill, the biggest difference between the now-iconic disruptive electric vehicle startup and many legacy corporations is execution. “There’s a lot of talk but not a lot of do, which leads to organizational speed being hampered,” says McNeill, who led Tesla to a 10-fold increase in sales in three years. “Organizations are afraid to take risks and consider if any decisions that are going to be made are irreversible. But I’ve never seen a decision that’s irreversible.” While organizations need to be held tightly accountable, they also need to be realistic in strategy and unafraid to take risks. In this interactive session, McNeill uses real-world examples to show how an effective talk/do ratio leads to actual progress and innovation. Leaders will leave this session with frameworks for creating more direct paths to opportunities that can achieve true marketplace impact.

“Hi Jon, Wanted to send a quick note to thank you for your Amplify talk. We’ve honestly had so much positive feedback and I really think your talk resonated with our internal audience at a time when our company is constantly changing. Thank you again for your candid answers and honesty in delivery.”

AMP Executive, Sydney, Australia