Summary of How to Build Your Company to Last

How to Build Your Company to Last summary
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Silicon Valley’s culture harbors a fascination with unicorns – start-ups valued at $1 billion or more. But longevity is another measure of greatness, and it is even more rare. In this episode of the Masters of Scale podcast, Reid Hoffman looks at companies that have managed to stick around for more than a century. Italy’s car manufacturer Fiat exemplifies the companies Hoffman regards as “phoenixes.” His conversation with Fiat chairman John Elkann reveals the ingredients that help companies thrive long-term.

About the Podcast

Masters of Scale is an original podcast hosted by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman. John Elkann is the chair and CEO of Exor, the investment company managed by the Agnelli family. He chairs the automaker and its brands, including Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Maserati and, of course, Fiat.



John Elkann became a board member of Fiat at age 21.

Statistics suggest that of a million companies, only 45 will last for more than 100 years. Fiat is one that has endured.

John Elkann’s family managed the car manufacturer for four generations. Elkann trained to become an engineer because, as he puts it, he had a love of problem-solving. When he was 21, his grandfather, Fiat chairman Gianni Agnelli, invited him to join the company’s board of directors. He shared one important piece of advice: Listen and ask questions.

Elkann went on to learn the basics of the business. When studying Fiat’s manufacturing process, he stumbled upon its Achilles’ heel: poor information flow between the manufacturing plants and headquarters. Elkann’s work on improving internal communication proved crucially important when he had...

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