5 things I learned from Andy Dunn, CEO of Bonobos


At our Wharton Retail Conference in February, we heard from several impressive speakers. The one talk that I’m still thinking about came from Andy Dunn, CEO of Bonobos (the men’s company that’s trying to make ‘better-fitting pants’). He spoke at the end of the day, an ideal time to drift off before the networking session, but he made me want to pay attention…

Here are my favorite tidbits from his talk…

1. Don’t start something unless you authentically understand the problem you’re solving – Andy went to business school at Stanford. He wanted to create a personalized magazine company, but one of his professors told him it was a terrible idea. He found a friend who was just trying to make pants, and that’s something he naturally related to.

2. We overestimate the risk of doing something and underestimate the risk of not doing something. Andy turned down an offer to work at a well-known venture capital firm (despite having $150K in debt and ~$2K to his name when graduating!). Hindsight is definitely 20/20, but I’m going to go ahead and assume Andy is pretty happy he took his chance on pants.

3. Great leaders do these things well:
make great analogies
are self-aware
show empathy
have intellectual honesty (can believe one thing and later think the opposite)
carry a positive energy

4. Right after school, don’t worry about your role or your title or how much money you’re going to make. Pick your job for 2 reasons – 1. your passion & 2. who will mentor you

5. You can learn a lot from wait but why. I checked out this procrastination blog after the talk. The 2 envelopes problem made my head spin. There’s an equal number of people in the blue and read areas was a great visual display of how dense population the population is in Southeast Asia to follow up my recent trip to China!

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