Leadership Lessons from Spotify, Peloton and Beyond with Karen Lawson | #386

Play episode

Karen on cultivating curiosity and leading teams


Karen Lawson is an award winning growth & transformation leader in the technology industry. Driving reinvention and transformation to help the world’s biggest brands to stay ahead of disruption. Karen most recently launched and led Peloton Australia (in the middle of the pandemic!). Prior to Peloton, Karen was the MD for Spotify launching podcasting in the AU & NZ markets.

In this episode of Add To Cart, we are joined by Karen Lawson, CEO at Nontre

Karen Lawson is an award winning business executive and leader in the digital, technology and startup industry and currently the CEO of earth-wise home care brand Nontre.  Previously, Karen launched and led Peloton Australia (in the middle of the pandemic!) and prior to that was the MD of Spotify ANZ. Today, we tap into all of the incredible experiences Karen has amassed over the years.  She shares how to turn product like into product joy, she gives us her take on how to successfully move into various different international markets and we get some tales from her time leading two of the most impactful companies in the world. 

“It was the only Australian at that point in time to go globally number one on Spotify which is a remarkable achievement”

Karen Lawson

Discovering a global superstar

“The team actually discovered Tones and I. We were kind of looking at the numbers and we popped in a couple of playlists because we saw that it was getting some traction.  But real shout out to our head of music at the time, who used her global influence and relationships and was really pushing the US to say there’s something about this song, we really should get this on some global playlists and the rest is history. 

And so incredibly proud of that team. Yes, there was an algorithm there, but there was somebody human that was advocating for this woman, her story, her music and completely different sound. And then, as we know, the rest is history. It was the only Australian at that point in time to go globally number one on Spotify, which is just a remarkable achievement. But that was also because there was a team here that really believed in her and enabled her music to get out to so many millions around the world.”

Making change

“Find your champions.  Inside every organization, whether it’s VC funds, whether it’s corporates, whether it’s customers, there will be people who want change. There will be people that are those early adopters that see your vision, that are inspired by it, that want to help their organization move on. 

And so trying to change a mass of people is often difficult. But if you can find those few, you’ve got the ability to do something and then to create these wonderful stories and be a great storyteller that will inspire others to want to be part of that change because often they don’t want to be first. 

To find some of those small sections of society that want to be with you on that roller coaster, that enjoy that fear, enjoy embracing that change and you know, take them on that journey and they’ll be able to storytell for you and then everyone will have FOMO and away you go.”

The qualities that leaders need

The people, the boards that hire you or the founders that hire you to do a role, most people look for evidence of deep industry understanding. The reality I would say is the other way around is you’ve probably got a company where 96% of people who have already been in e-commerce have been operating in China or have already got that deep knowledge maybe of Amazon or supply chain. 

So the skillsets you should be looking for in a CEO or leader should be different. It’s about, do they have vision? Do they have curiosity? Are they able to align a team that may be unaligned? Are they able to, you know, forge new territories? Are they able to listen? Are they able to operate in quite complicated stakeholder environments? 

I think there are lots of other questions and qualities you should be asking of a leader other than simply have they been in that industry? Because it’s likely that you’ve got lots of knowledge there and you talk about diversity all the time, but surely you really want diversity in that leader to get the best out of that team.”

Links from the episode:

This episode was brought to you by…

Subscribe to Add To Cart

We’ll let you know about new episodes PLUS exclusive
competitions and discounts from our guests!


More from this show

Weekly Ecommerce Newsletter


Let’s get social

We are a team of dedicated professionals delivering high quality WordPress themes and plugins.