Even if you don’t know her name, Nilofer Merchant’s ideas have already shaped your world.
Her TED Talk, “Sitting is the Smoking of Our Generation”, has been referenced 400 million times, and is the reason the Apple watch has a “stand” feature. She shipped the first internet server (Apple) and the first WYSIWIG web-authoring software (GoLive), and coded the first media website (Time). During her 25 years in technology, she personally launched more than 100 products and services—many of which you use daily—netting $18 billion in revenues.
These results reflect the way Merchant thinks: always ahead, always building the shifts that lead to greater value, individually and at scale. She is ranked one of the most influential management thinkers in the world by Thinkers50 and a top 10 HR thinker by HR magazine. Fast Company named her one of the “25 Smartest,” and CNBC called her “visionary.”
As co-founder of The Intangible Labs (TIL), she’s defining new metrics for modern work. Today, just 20% of market value is measurable; everything else is “intangible”. TIL is developing the missing metrics—leading indicators so we can know (and thus, manage) just how well we’re working together to do what needs to get done: create more and better value.
Merchant’s three books establish her as a leading thinker on value creation. In New How (Oreilly, 2010), she showed how to close the false gap between strategy and execution, so the collective focus is on how to turn nascent ideas into new realities. In Social Era Rules (Harvard Business Review, 2012), she defined the critical shift from “competitive advantage” to co-creating value. And in The Power of Onlyness (Viking, 2017), she didn’t just argue that each of us matter but decoded exactly how to enable each of us to add the value that only one can. Because now, connected people can do what once only large organizations could.
Merchant developed and proved her insights as a leader at major tech companies. She grew division performance at Autodesk by 50 percent, and created product and pricing strategies for Adobe that grew the company from $2 billion to $5 billion. She waged and won a competitive battle with Microsoft, saving Symantec’s Anti-Virus $2.1 billion annual business.
Many seek Merchant’s advice to construct their futures, including the CEOs of IBM, Nokia, and Walmart, as well as mid-line managers at Indeed, L’Oréal, and Société Générale. She’s been invited to hundreds of prestigious leadership events including Google, Gartner, and GE, and headlined alongside Bono, Gladwell, Simon Sinek, Amy Edmondson, and Brené Brown.
An MBA graduate of Santa Clara University and Bachelors of Science in Applied Economics at the University of San Francisco, Merchant has taught strategy, management, and leadership at Stanford University and guest-lectured at Yale. She has also served on corporate boards for Nasdaq-traded and private companies, as well as on public governance boards. She was a twice-invited Fellow for the Prosperity Institute out of Rotman in Canada.