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by Patrick O’Shaughnessy

My guest today is Vaughn Tan, who studies quality, innovation, and organizational behavior. His resume is bonkers. He’s a PhD from Harvard, Was an infantry signals logistician in the Republic of Singapore Army, then worked at Google on advertising, Earth, Maps, spaceflight, and Fusion Tables. He’s also been a wood sculptor. 
But the topic of our conversation is how to foster quality and innovation in ourselves and inside of companies—lessons he learned in part by studying inside some of the world’s best restaurants. 
If you enjoy this conversation, I recommend you also check out his new book, The Uncertainty Mindset Innovation Insights from the Frontiers of Food. Please enjoy my conversation with Vaughn Tan. 

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Show Notes 

1:33 – (First Question) – Interesting ways to identify high quality 

5:06 – The current problem with the way we think about the world 

8:56 – How people think about their careers and college 

11:21 – Uncertainty vs risk, and productive discomfort 

19:08 – Cultivation of discomfort for an individual 

24:05 – Successful innovation cultures 

32:25 – Analyzing quality and restaurant bread 

37:43 – The Slug idea 

40:43 – His research project where he observed restaurants 

45:44 – How do people mandate their own structure in the face of uncertainty 

53:46 – How employees should approach this rent-to-buy hiring structure 

57:17 – Example of someone who took advantage of uncertainty time 

1:00:05 – Playful adults 

1:00:07 – Jerry Neumann Podcast Episode 

1:03:10 – Other changes companies can make to their culture to be more innovative 

1:08:19 – The difference between simplicity and complexity  

1:11:12 – How he applies his thinking into several different ideas, like Cannabis 

1:16:17 – Asking the right question 

1:19:05 – Andy Rachleff Podcast Episode 

1:20:19 – Kindest thing anyone has done for Vaughn 

Learn More 

For more episodes go to   

Sign up for the book club, where you’ll get a full investor curriculum and then 3-4 suggestions every month at 

Follow Patrick on twitter at @patrick_oshag  

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