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Netflix Co-Founder Marc Randolph’s Unconventional Idea of Success (ep. 338)

On the Live Inspired Podcast, John O’Leary welcomes Netflix co-founder Marc Randolph to share stories about starting the iconic brand and how he defines success.

As co-founder and founding CEO of Netflix, Marc Randolph laid much of the groundwork for the streaming service that’s grown to 150 million subscribers, and fundamentally altered how the world experiences media.

With over 40 years of entrepreneurial experience, Marc has built six other successful companies, mentored hundreds of early stage entrepreneurs, and invested in dozens of successful tech ventures.

Today, Marc reveals seldom-shared anecdotes about Netflix including how the iconic brand got its name and their David versus Goliath story with Blockbuster. Yet it’s Marc’s unconventional definition of success (hint: it’s not money or fame!) and how creating positive workplace culture starts with the leaders that’s most intriguing.

This episode will inspire you to take action in making your next big idea or lofty dream a reality and remind you that while it may not be easy, it’s always possible.

Subscribe & listen on Apple Podcasts, SpotifyStitcher, Google Play, iHeartRadio or listen here:


  • “It’s what I did, not who I am.” – on not wanting to be typecast as “the Netflix guy”
  • The defining characteristic of Marc’s youth was his parent’s encouragement to experiment.
  • NOLS: At 14, Marc spent a month in the Wyoming wilderness with National Outdoor Leadership School which taught him how to lead and communicate with confidence + clarity.
  • Immersing himself in nature allows Marc to live in the moment unlike anything else.
  • Randolph’s Rules for Success: Before starting his first job, Marc’s father outline rules on how to be a good person like: be open-minded but skeptical, quantify when possible, and be considerate always.
  • Early in his career, Marc learned that success is not economic or commercial-based. Instead it’s fulfilling your passions and strengths while being able to enjoy a family + hobbies.
  • In his late-20s, Marc + his now-wife prioritized planning date nights, found planning imperative, something he avoids as an entrepreneur.
  • Demonstrate the culture you want. Through intentional planning and discipline, Marc prioritizes and demonstrates a work-life balance which allows others in organizations to model as well.
  • Before landing on what would become Netflix, Marc + Reed Hastings brainstormed numerous direct-to-consumer, 1:1 subscription-based concepts including custom shampoo, custom dog food and personalized baseball bats.
  • April 1998: Netflix is born. The inciting event that led to the development of Netflix was mailing a CD and it arriving the following day, intact, for the price of a stamp.
  • “The idea counts for nothing. The idea that you start with almost never the product you end up with. It’s starting somewhere + the journey that follows that leads to something that does work.”
  • Only way out is through: Desperate for a collaboration with then-giant Blockbuster, Netflix’s pitch was rejected. Knowing their model was more sustainable, they strategically identified opportunities during a volatile economy in order to survive while taking Blockbuster head-on.
  • Little Engine That Could: Two years after the Blockbuster rejection, Netflix’s innovative business model allowed them to go public providing them ample resources to adequately compete with Blockbuster.
  • On his new podcast That Will Never Work, Marc coaches early-stage entrepreneurs frequently on the personal issues involved with starting a business like maintaining confidence and relationships versus tactics and strategy.
  • “I am most proud of my optimism.”
  • Listen to Marc Randolph’s podcast That Will Never Work here.
  • Get Marc Randolph’s book That Will Never Work here.


About our sponsor: Keeley Companies wholeheartedly believes that if you get the people right -the results will follow. They set themselves apart with a forward-thinking culture that empowers their people and fosters loyal partnerships. Keeley Companies are a proud sponsor, partner, and super fan of the Live Inspired Podcast. Learn more about Keeley Companies.


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  1. Q. What is the best book you’ve ever read?
    A. Endurance by Alfred Lansing.
  2. Q. What is a characteristic or trait that you possessed as a child that you wish you still exhibited today?
    A. Lack of embarrassment and willingness to be ridiculous.
  3. Q. Your house is on fire, all living things and people are out. You have the opportunity to run in and grab one item. What would it be?
    A. Nothing.
  4. Q. You are sitting on a bench overlooking a gorgeous beach. You have the opportunity to have a long conversation with anyone living or dead. Who would it be?
    A. I'm a history buff so maybe Sigmund Freud, Ernest Shackleton or Julius Caesar.
  5. Q. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
    A. Freud told me how big the Internet and Bitcoin would be. No, nothing specific leaps out.
  6. Q. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
    A. Trust your intuition of others.
  7. Q. It’s been said that all great people can have their lives summed up in one sentence. How do you want yours to read?
    A. He got people off their ass.