Cover illustration of a figure walking through nature and reaching to the sky from the Spring 2020 issue of Stanford Business magazine.

Stanford Business Magazine


Illustration of gamers throwing balls. Credit: Rune Fisker
August 19, 2019

How to Stay Ahead When the Rules Change

A Stanford business professor infiltrates the ever-shifting world of eSports to unearth new lessons in corporate adaptability.

Maker: Rickshaw Bagworks

A quick look inside a business that we cover in this issue.

Featured Story

Illustration of woman pushing a shopping cart and looking peaceful. Credit: Kim Salt
January 10, 2020

Doreen Oliver, MBA ’02: What Matters to Me Now and Why

A Stanford GSB alumna revisits her original admissions essay and reflects on how her worldview has changed in the years since.


A woman presenting to colleagues. Credit: iStock/Portra
May 3, 2019

Five Common Communication Mistakes (And How to Fix Them)

Learn how to be more effective at your next meeting or presentation.


Chip Conley, relaxed and laughing at his home.
January 10, 2020

Hard Lesson: When Co-Investors Disagree

A legendary hotelier looks back at one of his biggest failures — and what he learned from it.


Illustration of four kittens playing on their backs with computer cursors about to click their bellies. Credit: Alvaro Dominguez
April 26, 2019

On Social Media, Sell Your Brand, Not Your Stuff

A new marketing study of Facebook users shows that hard-sell tactics stifle engagement, and engagement is gold.

Featured Story

Professor Robert E. Siegel teaches a class. Credit: Toni Bird
January 13, 2020

Back to Class: The Industrialist’s Dilemma

This Stanford GSB course attracts CEOs from some of the world’s biggest corporations, who share how they’re navigating — or creating — digital disruption.



Pregnant woman working from home office stock photo. Credit:iStock/damircudic
August 28, 2019

Explain Career Gaps and Transitions on Your Resume

Relaunch expert Carol Fishman Cohen shares scripts that work when you’re getting back into the workforce or moving into a new field.


Illustration of a close up of a man’s shoes, which have been tied together. Credit: Alvaro Dominguez
May 15, 2019

The Cersei Effect: How Businesses Turn Colleagues into Backstabbers

New research shows that people with shared goals can get lured into “pseudo competitions” that hurt all involved.


 Illustration of a tiny pink piggy bank being dwarfed by a very large pink piggy bank. Credit: Alvaro Dominguez
June 27, 2019

Rising U.S. Inequality: How We Got Here, Where We’re Going

An economist and a business advisor discuss what might happen if the gap between rich and poor continues to grow.

Featured Story

Charles M. C. Lee holds the shadow box of fly-fishing flies given to him by students in one of his investment classes. | Toni Bird
January 13, 2020

Office Artifact: What Fly-Fishing Taught Me About Investing

Stanford GSB accounting professor Charles M. C. Lee shares the story behind his favorite teaching keepsake.


Illustration of George Washington on the Dollar bill peeking through some bushes. Credit: Alvaro Dominguez
July 22, 2019

Good News and Bad News on Tax Evasion

A tough new law made it much harder for American tax cheats to hide their money offshore. But a new study shows they haven’t given up.

Panelists: The Challenge of China

Quotes from the Stanford China Economic Forum, held at Stanford GSB on September 16, 2019.

Featured Story

Illustration of people holding up a school. Credit: Linn Fritz
August 15, 2019

Dream Team: How Stanford GSB Alumni Helped Refocus a Struggling Nonprofit

Stanford GSB’s ACT program sends alumni into social impact organizations to strategically solve problems and plan for growth.



Illustration of three women on a beer label. Credit: Amrita Marino
March 29, 2019

Better If It’s Man-Made?

Gender bias can negatively affect what we think about products made by women, especially in male-oriented markets.



Editor’s Note

That’s what Stanford GSB is about: change. Triply embedded in our motto (Change Lives, Change Organizations, Change the World), the promise of positive transformation permeates the institution — from its curriculum to its research to the physical space itself.

You are holding in your hands yet another product of that promise.

We have spent much of the past two years rethinking and recrafting Stanford Business magazine’s editorial and digital strategies, based on interviews and conversations with you. The most obvious alterations are physical: We revamped the nameplate, increased the trim size (the new magazine is taller and wider), replaced the typefaces, and adopted a design philosophy that encourages more visual storytelling.

But the most significant shift goes deeper than aesthetics. In our research, we learned that most of you remain lifelong students and continue to crave management insights from Stanford GSB’s faculty and community of experts. At the same time, you also want to stay connected to the campus and each other.

To that end, we are seeking out more stories designed to transport you back to the Farm. Our hope is that thumbing through this magazine will feel like a stroll through campus, where you get to eavesdrop freely on — and occasionally join — the fascinating conversations that abound.

Also sprinkled throughout these pages are new opportunities for you to interact with us and with each other, and we hunger for your engagement. We want to hear your comments, answer your questions, read your essays, help you connect. Because in the end, as always, this magazine is yours.

Letter from the Dean

Last fall, I sat in on Keith Hennessey’s Practical Policy and Politics class. The topic that day was the purpose of corporations.

Hennessey, who ran the National Economic Council under President George W. Bush, had assigned two opposing texts: Milton Friedman’s 1970 essay “The Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits” and Elizabeth Warren’s 2018 Accountable Capitalism Act.

The discussion was a model of what one hopes for in higher education.

There were articulate arguments that the U.S. economic system is in need of fundamental reform. There were incisive defenses of shareholder value optimization. After two hours of spirited and respectful debate, there were no easy or simplistic answers.

This debate is, of course, playing out in the world more broadly.

Last August, the Business Roundtable revised its corporate principles, placing all stakeholders — customers, employees, suppliers, communities, and shareholders — on equal footing. For the first time in decades, the organization was moving away from the principle of shareholder primacy.

Certainly, it will be interesting to see how the Business Roundtable companies deliver on these principles. Under one interpretation, many are already on course; doing well by employees or customers is often in the best interest of shareholders, especially from a long-term perspective. On the other hand, serving all stakeholders requires making tradeoffs. If decisions are not made in the interest of owners, whose interest will they serve — and who will decide? These questions, raised by Friedman, still await compelling answers.

In a larger sense, the Business Roundtable announcement reflects an urgent conversation about the growing societal unease with capitalism and institutions. In stump speeches, op-eds, and investor letters, politicians, journalists, and business leaders are lamenting the failure of both the private and public sectors to effectively address the most challenging issues of our time — including climate change, inequality, migration, and rapid technological change.

This conversation has deep implications for our work at Stanford GSB.

Our mission is to educate the next generation of leaders, and that means preparing students for an increasingly global, complex, and politicized world. Our students need to think broadly and critically about the rules and structures that define business and society. We don’t just want them to succeed under the current rules, but to understand how the rules are shaped — and become the leaders who help to shape them.

In this effort, we are building on a great tradition at Stanford GSB. We have a special strength in innovative approaches to societal problem solving, with students involved in creating social ventures and mission-oriented startups, running the Stanford GSB Impact Fund, and taking on global development challenges in courses like Design for Extreme Affordability.

We are also bolstering the curriculum to challenge students to think about the relationship between business, leadership, and society. In addition to Keith Hennessey’s classes, we are offering such courses as Anat Admati’s Power in Finance, Amit Seru’s Corporations, Finance, and Governance in the Global Economy, a class on political risk with former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Amy Zegart, and the political economy class Strategy Beyond Markets.

And we are partnering across Stanford to address societal issues. As part of the university’s long-range planning process, Stanford GSB faculty members recently led a working group to identify research and teaching opportunities focused on responsible investing. We also believe that Stanford can do more to prepare students for careers in civic and public leadership, and that the business school has an important role to play in this effort.

Stanford GSB is sharpening its focus on the intersection of business and society. Our students are arriving at the school at a time of great change — an era where long-settled questions are on the table again and the rules are being questioned. It’s an era our students will be ready for.