Clara Shih On Starting A Company, Embracing Change & Building A Relationship With Your Board

Monday, September 24, 2018

By Kendall Fisher, executive producer at Grow Wire

In short:

  • Clara Shih is the founder and CEO of Hearsay Systems, a two-time author and a current board member of Starbucks. 

  • In this episode of “The Grow Wire Podcast,” Shih provides advice from her own experience on starting and running a company, especially when it comes to managing a successful relationship with your board.

  • Shih also discusses the importance of focusing your efforts on one goal and understanding what your company is doing and not doing—even if it means pivoting.


As a founder or CEO of a company, it’s not always easy to see eye-to-eye with your board. However, there are some steps you can take to ensure you’re building a successful relationship from the start.

Cue Clara Shih: The founder and CEO of Hearsay Systems—a leading enterprise financial services cloud company, delivering personalized relationships at scale—who’s published two books on the impact of social media, currently sits on the board of Starbucks and is therefore a seasoned vet on both sides of the table.

Shih joined our host Jason Maynard on this episode of “The Grow Wire Podcast” to provide advice for entrepreneurs based upon her own experience starting and running a company. Shih also explains what it means to have a successful relationship with your board and notes three steps that will help get you there. (You’ll have tune in to find out what they are!)

Furthermore, Shih explains why it’s important to focus your company’s efforts on one goal and, as a leader, be explicit about what you’re doing and not doing—even if it means having to pivot.  

Shih exemplifies this through the pivot she had to make with Hearsay Systems after three years, upon realizing you “can’t be everything to everyone because then [you’ll] be nothing to anyone.” She goes on to reveal how she went about justifying that point to her investors and her board while simultaneously gaining her employees’ support.

Throughout the discussion, Shih touches on a few other major topics, including: Using AI to make human life easier, aligning your various teams and understanding the two indicators that signify when it’s time to let someone go. 

Listen to the full podcast episode on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud and YouTube, and as always, don’t forget to rate, review and subscribe. 

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