The Business Trendsetter Podcast

40 Episodes

By: Adam Hartung, Manny Teran, Spark Partners

Ready to create lasting and sustainable business growth? Join our weekly show with hosts Adam Hartung & Manny Teran of Spark Partners. Combined they have created over $3 Billion in customer value and leverage Adam’s deep domain expertise on Disruptive Innovation to teach business leaders how to transform their businesses. Do you want your business to be a market leader or a market laggard? Discover business trends and learn how to leverage them to create lasting business success and become a market disruptor. Join us today to evolve your thinking, create and execute better business growth strategies, and grow!

4-7-2021 Focus Your Resources on Growth Opportunities

We put resources onto our business, and it becomes an ongoing “constant.” We insufficiently evaluate if we are over-investing people, money and our management resources in protecting historical businesses. Thus, we don’t sufficiently invest in growth opportunities. Too often we think that we have no resources to pursue growth, when in fact we have ample resources if we redeploy.

3-31-2021- Finding the Right Advisors and Coach for Your Business

Obtaining the right advice is really important to helping you succeed. We all need external input to get over and around our biases, while providing external eyes, ears and mental energy to our business. But most of us have no idea how to identify the right advisor or coach, nor how to structure the relationship to get the best advice. This podcast identifies the most common mistakes, and how to avoid them. Plus how to find the right kind of person to help you, and structuring the relationship correctly. The pitfalls of creating a Board of Directors, Advisory Board, project...

3-24-2021: Focus on Growth and Build on Trends to Create Value – Learn from the Success and Failure of General Electric

You can never assume your business is sustainable. In reality, market shifts can happen remarkably fast. Your business can become obsolete faster than you ever imagined. Just as technology and disruptive change creates opportunity, it also creates “creative destruction.” Great leaders build on trends to grow value. Poor leaders get stuck trying to “sustain” and inevitably destroy value.

3-18-2021 Overcome Perceptual BIAS and Fear of Risk to Be More Successful

There is real, measurable risk. But we make most decision on our perception of risk – rather than real risk. What’s new, or you don’t understand, you think of as risky. But many new opportunities are NOT risky. In fact, often doing nothing (maintaining the status quo) is the riskiest strategy.

SparkCom Podcast 9-3-2021 Tie Current Events to Long-Term Trends So You Make Decisions to Grow

You can create “Opportunity Value” in your business – making it possible for your value to increase by creating more opportunities for success. It’s easy to keep busy and not get around to innovating. But if we use current events to help us address trends leading to permanent changes we won’t be whipsawed by headlines and instead invest in opportunities to create higher long-term value. Examples - Work from home will lead to changes in demand for real estate and transportation (cars and planes) that should be part of our growth plans. Technology is allowing many more, shorter meetings – which can he...

3-3-2021 Pandemic Success Story – Pivoting to the Future at Crooked Tooth Brewery

The pandemic hit a lot of small businesses hard. None worse than food & beverage, which shut down totally with no idea what the future would bring. Facing potential failure Crooked Tooth Brewery in Tucson, AZ had to figure out next steps. But rather than waiting for the pandemic to end, or doubling down on its existing business, Crooked Tooth looked at market trends and invested in new products and new distribution methods. These investments have quadrupled revenue/customer at the brewery and dramatically extended distribution during the pandemic. Even in a no growth beer market Crooked Tooth built on trends...

2-24-2021 Cryptocurrency – Trend or Fad? Knowing Which is Critical for Success

Cryptocurrencies recently drew a lot of attention due to Elon Musk personally investing heavily, while having Tesla also invest. Subsequently some CEOs (mostly of tech companies) began saying companies should hold cryptocurrencies instead of dollars, euros or other government backed currencies. Thus, the price of the major ones, like Bitcoin, skyrocketed. However, there is good reason for wild volatility in cryptocurrency values. This podcast describes the breadth of cryptocurrencies, the foundation upon which they claim to have value, as well as how they are stored, traded and spent, explaining how weak the infrastructure really is. It also explains the difference...

2-17-2021 Innovation Success – Chase the Money Not the Technology

Successful innovation requires tracking big trends, and thinking about how these will change customer behaviors and markets. Innovators have to develop for the long-term, yet far too many are so focused on short-term results they don’t see long-term implications – and opportunities!! Success doesn’t come from hard work. It comes from working smart. Put your energy/resources into innovations, and projects, that are on trends in order to get the most out for the work you put in. Takeaways: Don’t let your “passion” drive innovation. Let market needs drive innovation. Don’t get so focused on short-term results that you don’t...

2-9-2021: 4 Big Trends – Lessons from Super Bowl LV That Can Grow Your Business

Over Time the Super Bowl has become the premier location for launching advertising related to emerging products. Super Bowl LV was no different. There were of course traditional ads for mass market products from companies with ad budgets over $100million. But between those were advertisers using the event for first time ads, and other advertisers promoting new features or applications. These ads were wholly aligned with the 4 Big Trends Spark Partners has outlined for revenue growth in the 2020 decade. Our eBook “Thrive to the Future” outlined 4 Big Trends that emerged BEFORE the pandemic, and which have grown much stronger DURING the...

2-1-2021: GAMESTOP – Manage for the Long-Term, Follow Trends Rather Than Fads

GameStop stock was recently manipulated by stock traders into wild price volatility. But this was a fad – with many losers and some winners. This was not based on long-term trends for the retailer’s business, nor was this buying and selling of stock based on long-term valuation. Although news making, the story was due to a short-term squeeze, not business fundamentals driven by trends. However, the financial services market is undergoing dramatic change, reacting to long-term trends for mobility, applied AI and support for the Gig Economy. This is making business easier for entrepreneurs and small businesses, while simultaneously creating new...

1-27-2021: The Death of IBM - How To Avoid Your Demise

IBM is well on its way to becoming the next Sun Microsystems, Wang or Digital Equipment Corp (DEC.) Despite an incredible legacy, today IBM is irrelevant in the marketplace, and its sales have been declining for nearly a decade. Since 2000 the value of Apple has risen 14,900%, while IBM’s value has risen 5.7%.

1-19-2021: From Research Invention to Commercialization – Friction and Obstacles

This week’s podcast is an interview with Doug Hockstad, Assistant VP at the University of Arizona’s Tech Launch Arizona. Doug discusses how the university undertakes initial efforts to commercialize inventions for its labs and how he focuses resources on moving inventions from paper to license. Universities and research organizations typically focus on inventing new things, without much concern for commercialization. Thus university commercialization is more concentrated on invention protection and preparing for licensing, than figuring out how to turn the invention into high value commercial products.

Research organizations operate quite separately from commercial thinking. Reaching lice...

1-12-2021: Planning and Executing for a Future of Growth

From storming the Capitol to running a business, failing to plan is a common reason for failure. During the pandemic, individuals and business failed to plan well. Restaurants made the temporary changes of enforcing healthy guidelines in line with COVID-19, but what more are they doing? Without investing time in organizing your business goals and understanding market trends, your business will fall victim to competitors and disruption. Even Manny admits that lack of planning played a role in past business errors. Take it from Spark Partners to know how to plan SMART for the future. Planning is not just goal-setting...

1-5-2021: Don’t Plan for What You Know, Plan for What You DON’T Know

It’s 2021 and Spark Partners continue to discuss how business leaders can strategically prepare for the future ahead. This episode Adam and Manny focus on planning for disruption, rather than business as usual. We’re almost a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, but not everyone seems to have fully grasped the extent of its effects. Of course, individuals and businesses are following mandatory health guidelines and have undoubtedly felt the economic impacts. Yet many business leaders continue to make the same three mistakes that keep them from growing beyond COVID: (1) thinking they’re not affected, (2) thinking the pandemic will end soon...

12-29-2020: Your New Year’s Guide to THRIVING to the FUTURE

The new year is right around the corner, and Spark Partners are wrapping it up with a conversation to prepare you for 2021. What tools do you need to have handy to make the upcoming year a success? We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: you must follow TRENDS! Trends are the signs no business leader can ignore if they want to take their work further and make it profitable well into the future. This episode, Manny and Adam go over the four trends that helped top companies thrive through 2020, and remain relevant tools to help your busi...

12-22-20: Deserted Shopping Mall Turned Flourishing Farm - Turning Setbacks into Opportunity

In a continued exploration of important innovators, Adam and Manny launch a conversation from a troubling phenomenon -- unused real estate in the US. What’s left of once bustling shopping malls, busy workplaces, and thriving communities are now empty and run-down buildings. The pandemic accelerated so many trends, from demographic to technological, that point to changing American landscapes and business expectations. When things go south it’s hard to see how things can get better. But it’s crucial to remember that when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. Many successful innovators today created opportunities out of events that happen...

12-15-2020: Take a New Route and Drive Towards Your Customer

Spark Partners continues December’s highlight of admirable and not-so-admirable innovators by looking at the mistakes companies have made by investing in the wrong innovations. Companies like Uber, Segway, and others with unique creations have gone wrong when they confused their value delivery system with their value proposition. Uber just gave up on their billion dollar investment on autonomous vehicles, an effort that never aided their value proposition. As cool as Segway was, no one had any use for it. Even the great winners in innovation, like Microsoft and Google, have lost by creating products that customers did not need (re...

12-8-2020: Want to Succeed? Put yourself in Hsieh’s Shoes

In celebration of notable innovators this December, Spark Partners highlight winning and losing innovators the late Tony Hseih and the late Frank Carney in week’s episode. Hseih, the ex-CEO of the online shoe company Zappos, pioneered the concept of easy product returns that led the entire ecommerce industry to follow suit. Pizza Hut co-founder Frank Carney created the pizza that defines America by its low cost and unique flavor, and spread it nationwide through the nation’s first pizza franchise. But what made one successful and the other less so was their ability to innovate past one great idea. Hsei...

12-1-2020: Innovate to Save Lives - With Insulin Now CEO Mica Kinder

This week on The SparkCom Podcast, Manny and Adam are joined by Mica Kinder, founder and CEO of Insulin Now. The online pharmacy provides low-cost insulin for uninsured and underinsured diabetes patients, and is the only commercial group in the United States doing so. Business leaders often think narrowly about innovation, as though it only implies changes to products. But in a business where the product can’t change, Mica demonstrates how necessary and possible it is to find alternative services that fulfill consumer needs. With numerous supply chain players involved in insulin’s production and distribution, and no generic subs...

11-24-2020: Pivot Your Business Toward 2021

As we fast approaching the end of 2020, we can see how much the business landscape has changed through the COVID-19 pandemic. In a time of need and economic fallouts, several companies have stayed on top after bringing considerable value to consumers. How have they done that? Through change and sales. Looking at the most valuable companies in 2020 versus those fifteen years ago, it’s clear how much the world and consumer needs have shifted. How did tech giants like Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft gain such incredible value to now own some of the largest market caps? How did Disney survive th...

11-17-2020: The Essential Qualities of a Successful Entrepreneur

What makes a successful entrepreneur? What makes a successful innovator? Hint: It’s not DNA.

In this week’s episode of the SparkCom Podcast, Manny guides a conversation on the traits, experiences, and mentality of successful startup entrepreneurs. There’s a level of spirit and drive that not every entrepreneur possesses, but can possess to succeed. Understandably, many are held back by the fear of failure and of losing the security that comes with a day job. So here’s one question to ask yourself before becoming a full-fledged entrepreneur: Can you live without a paycheck to do somet...

11-11-2020: It’s in Your Control - Prepare for Failure or Prepare to Survive

If you could predict the future accurately, would you do anything different? So many business leaders from prominent companies and small businesses choose to not take action to prevent their business from failing, even when they know all odds are stacked against them. This week, the Spark Partners discuss this all-too-common mistake businesses make, and the steps any leader can take to push their business towards growth. We all deny the reality of what we might be doing wrong, and what we should be doing better. Just look at what happened to major retailers like Sears and ToysRUs, and how...

11-3-2020: Trends are the Entrepreneur's Compass to Innovation

Adam and Manny take this week’s episode to cover trends and why they are so paramount to the field of innovation. From a changing energy industry and the rise of vegetarian diets, to the rising costs of homes and shifts to working from home, trends completely dominate the world, not just business! No innovator can afford to ignore trends or make excuses to not adopt them. Even fifteen years ago, many business leaders were slow to incorporate mobile technology into their business. Now, no business can survive without a Facebook page or website. Today we see Exxon Mobil’s stoc...

10-23-2020: Trends Will Always Outweigh the Government

This week the Partners spark a conversation on the effects of third party involvement on business growth and innovation. With the recently filed Department of Justice antitrust lawsuit against Google, and 2001 lawsuit against Microsoft, Adam and Manny discuss the role of government in regulating competition in the marketplace. There’s no denying that e-commerce, social media, and big tech platforms have dominated the 21st century’s economy. Small businesses might feel at an unfair disadvantage against big businesses when advertising through major tech sites. Adam says, if business is truly being limited in this way, it is necessary to demand chan...

10-16-2020: The Future of Film - Beyond Overpriced Popcorn

Following up on a previous discussion on Disney, Spark Partners turn their attention to the struggling film industry and movie theaters. Hollywood’s heavy reliance on the traditional value delivery system of theater-viewing has left the industry to fall behind competing platforms utilizing trends in streaming and technology. According to Adam, that mutual relationship between film producers and theaters is long gone. Large box office productions have less use now that movies can be made on smartphones and exceptionally low budgets, and at-home streaming is now the most popular and preferred method for viewing. The COVID-19 pandemic is not to bl...

10-2-2020: Plan and Prepare Wisely for High Stakes Business

In this episode of the SparkCom Podcast, Adam and Manny discuss the contrast of growing opportunity and high risk in the cannabis industry. Entrepreneurship is about discovering solutions to address consumer problems. And, at its foundation, the cannabis industry at its foundation identifies unmet customer needs, making it outwardly appealing for modern business leaders. But it’s the value delivery system where complications arise. Despite growing demand for cannabis products, a whirlwind of legal, political, and financial barriers make entering and succeeding in the industry highly challenging. Regulation costs, tax costs, and distribution costs make participating expensive, and state and fe...

9-25-2020: Don’t Bank on Your Bias - Acknowledge It and GROW PAST It

“That’s not the way things are done here” is one of the most common and destructive mentalities any business leader can have, especially if they want their business to grow. Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Sharf perfectly demonstrated how maintaining age-old and faulty biases is an undeniable reason for business limitation, when he recently commented that the bank’s lack of Black employees is due to there being “a very limited pool of Black talent to recruit from.” From racial to operational, all business leaders must be able to get rid of the biases they and their organizations hold that curb creativ...

9-18-20: Know Your Destination and Direction, or Go Nowhere Like Kraft-Heinz

In Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Caroll said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” Maybe you’ve applied his words to life in general or literal geographical advice. As an innovator, you’ve got to apply it to your business. This week Adam and Manny discuss the history and current state of Kraft-Heinz, one of America’s biggest food processing companies. Despite decades of providing the country with some of the most recognizable foods, the company has been directionless and in the process of decline. In an attempt to keep business alive the company re...

9-4-2020: Look to Tesla for Creating High Value Innovations

Adam and Manny take a look at how one of the world’s most innovative companies, Tesla, arose and achieved such high valuation when others in the automotive industry have considered it too unconventional and no match for other auto companies. Despite Tesla’s different operative practices and primary emphasis on producing electric cars, Adam points out that Tesla found success by finding the unmet need of consumers for stylish, high performance, and ecologically secure cars and, now, other clean energy technology. Meanwhile, the rest of the auto industry have become unmatched and uninnovative competitors with resistance to moving beyond the...

8-28-2020: The Time is NOW to Embrace the Gig Economy

The Spark Partners dive deep into one of the biggest marketplace trends, the Gig Economy, with their discussion brought on by California’s Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) that’s impacted tons of businesses like Uber and Lyft. The law passed in 2019 attempts to redefine independent contract workers as employees, going against the growing trend of gig work and the age of information that we live in today. We no longer need the established employer-employee model needed to run the obsolete industrial economy. It’s time for business leaders, government heads, and even unions to embrace the gig economy and gig worker...

8-21-2020: Make Your Innovations Out of this World! With Space Perspective Co-Founder Taber MacCallum

On this week’s episode, the Spark Partners are joined by special guest Taber MacCallum to discuss how he has established a successfully innovative near-space tourism business, and important points from his experience of developing it. For Taber, incorporating research, working through obstacles, and simultaneously holding a critical perspective of your business and perseverance are keys to creating a valuable business that signifies human achievement. About Taber MacCallum: Taber MacCallum is the Co-CEO, a founder and CTO of Space Perspective, a human spaceflight company taking people and payloads to the edge of space by balloon. He is also Chairman of th...

8-14-2020: LEAD Your Business To Growth or Get Lost in the Mail

Don’t shoot the messenger! With the future of the US Postal Service in question, the Spark partners examine the harmful role leadership can play in suppressing innovation. Business leaders risk failing their organization when they ignore growing trends, deny the impact of market changes, and choose to defend and extend their classic business model. Without top level and governmental support to adapt to a mobile world, USPS hasn’t been able to incorporate the digital efficiency that would guarantee timely service for escalating delivery demands. Even leaders running automobile giants like Ford and GM have ignored Tesla’s rising influe...

8-7-2020: Disney’s Growth Stall Proves Why You Should Drop Outdated Traditions

Businesses everywhere too often fail because they’ve been stuck trying to carry on tradition or old values that have less and less impact in today’s world. Classic businesses from sports to family-owned operations are plummeting, and the Walt Disney Company is the perfect example. With its continued investment in theme parks and aged fantasies, the franchise is on the verge of bankruptcy and has yet to fully embrace the modern tech and trends that younger audiences are into. Every business must be willing to let go of outdated traditions to thrive NOW and in the FUTURE.

7-31-2020: Real Pivots Extend VALUE Not Capabilities

The Spark Partners continue their conversation on pivots, looking at real world examples of both successful and unsuccessful pivots. Netflix sets the gold standard, having pivoted from DVD movie distribution towards worldwide media streaming, while Kodak is bound to flop as a pharmaceutical producer after consistently failing to make any truly strategic pivots in recent decades. Successful pivots are about problem solving and might mean totally transforming your business to produce a true innovation. Is your business changing direction to meet unmet needs, or are you just looking for new ways to continue business as usual? ‍ Thinking Points: What is yo...

7-24-2020: Failing Traditional Retailers MUST Innovate to Survive

With the forced closures of thousands of businesses across the country, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the inevitable fate of the retail industry: traditional retailers are failing amidst the rise of e-commerce. In this episode of The SparkCom Podcast, the Partners go in depth on how retailers should rethink their business considering the major trends dominating the marketplace. Entrepreneurs in retail have no choice but to set their sites on where their market is gong, and create a business that's fit to compete with any retailer, including Amazon.

7-17-2020: Strategically Pivot to Offer What Your Customer REALLY Wants

The term "pivot" is commonly thrown around among businesses of all scales to define changes in business strategy. Many entrepreneurs attempt to make big changes to improve business, but don't actually create a change in its value. Watch this week's episode to understand how to make the pivotal changes in your business tactics to steer it towards success.

7-10-2020: How Innovative is Your Business? With Stackhouse Founder Ryan Egan

What do the Spark Partners' think about the so-called innovative ideas of today's startups? Adam and Manny discuss innovation in the housing market this week with guest Ryan Egan, founder of Stackhouse, a Tucson-based business that provides affordable shipping container homes to meet national housing codes. The Partners provide their perspective on his business and reveal how he can dive deeper into understanding his value proposition to be truly innovative. For more information on Stackhouse visit

7-3-2020: Your Business Should Go Where the Global Economy is Going

Adam and Manny cover the importance of understanding globalization for business at all scales. Business leaders must learn to think outside of the perspective of the US, understand globalization as a trend, and know where the global economy is going, including demographically and technologically, to make their enterprise competitive and durable.

6-30-2020: The Facebook Ad Boycott Proves Why You Should Follow Trends

Adam and Manny release a short mid-week podcast to highlight the current Facebook Ad Boycott by hundreds of companies for the platform’s inaction to remove hate speech and false information. According to Adam, the boycott is a result of Facebook’s failure to follow a trend of growing calls for meeting the needs of underserved communities. In this case scenario, both small and big businesses can learn what not to do from Facebook, and instead aim to follow trends to meet the needs of their target audiences.

6-26-2020: Understand the TRUE Value to Innovate Your Business

What's the true value of your business? This concept is the center of discussion in this week's episode, where the Spark Partners discuss how important identifying the true value is essential to innovating for success. Hear how companies like Ford, Harley Davidson, and Motorola missed key opportunities to grow, and what suggestions Adam has for small businesses like a local brewery and photography business to innovate.