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John Danner - Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley. Berkeley, CA, US

John Danner John Danner

Lecturer (Continuing) | Senior Fellow | Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley


Advisor and speaker on entrepreneurship, innovation, leadership and strategy; Wall Street Journal bestselling author


Areas of Expertise (6)

Growth and Employee Engagement


Innovation and Organizational Change

Leadership Styles

Failure as a Resource

Team Performance


John Danner is a bestselling author, faculty member at two of the world’s finest universities, popular public speaker, experienced executive, and advisor to global enterprises, government agencies and emerging ventures. His work as a management consultant, entrepreneur, lawyer and public official has centered on helping organizations deal with the leadership, strategy and innovation challenges and opportunities of unprecedented change.

He is the co-author of the Wall Street Journal bestseller, Built for Growth: How Builder Personality Shapes Your Business, Your Team, and Your Ability to Win (Harvard Business Review Press, 2017), about the personality characteristics of highly successful entrepreneurs; as well as the Amazon bestseller, The Other ‘F’ Word: How Smart Leaders, Teams, and Entrepreneurs Put Failure to Work (John Wiley & Sons, 2015), about strategies to leverage failure as a strategic resource. His articles and interviews have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Financial Times, Entrepreneur, Inc., Forbes, The Economist, Chief Executive and many other US and global media channels.

As a member of the professional faculties at the University of California Berkeley and Princeton University, he teaches executives, graduate and undergraduate students from around the world; and has launched popular campus-wide courses on both campuses. He also anchors and contributes to a number of executive education programs on leadership, strategy, innovation and entrepreneurship for several other prominent organizations in various locations globally – at UC Berkeley, Yale, the Aspen Institute and other US and international organizations.



John Danner Publication John Danner Publication




Build or Bide? Decoding Your Entrepreneurial Personality  | John Danner | TEDxPrincetonU The Other Greece in 2030: On top of innovation | John Danner | TEDxAcademy 4 Models for Corporate Entrepreneurs | UC Berkeley Executive Education Leadership, Culture & Leveraging Failure for Success | UC Berkeley Executive Education


Education (3)

UC Berkeley: JD

UC Berkeley: MPH and MAEd

Harvard University: BA

Selected External Service & Affiliations (1)

  • Visiting Faculty Member, Princeton

Positions Held (1)

At Haas since 1999

1995 - present, Consultant, Berkeley Hills Associates, LLC 1999 - present, Lecturer (Continuing), The Lester Center for Entrepreneurship, and Senior Fellow, Haas School of Business 2000 - present, Keynote Speaker, 21C3, Inc.

Media Appearances (10)

The Market Minute: How Long Do Startup Founders Lead Their Companies?

Crunchbase  online


Speaking on Jack Dorsey’s departure from Twitter, Continuing Lecturer John Danner said it’s pretty uncommon for a founder to stay at a company through an IPO. He pointed to a 2018 study from the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance that found among companies that go public, 60% are no longer led by their founders.

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Meet 12 power players on new IBM CEO Arvind Krishna's team as he navigates the toughest leadership transition in the tech giant's history

Business Insider  online


IBM's top two executives Arvind Krishna and Jim Whitehurst are expected to play a critical role in the company's success. "My presumption is that the chemistry between those two guys that has been forged through the acquisition is one of the few successful large-scale acquisitions in tech," said Senior Fellow John Danner.

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The new CEO of IBM just sent a welcome letter to employees, calling for a 'maniacal focus' on AI and hybrid cloud and a pragmatic approach: 'This is about aiming for speed over elegance

Business Insider  online


People have been skeptical about whether IBM can get its groove back. But Senior Fellow John Danner won't write the company off yet. "There are not that many companies that have been able to survive and redefine themselves as fundamentally and as often as IBM has been able to do, through the last hundred plus years."

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Activist hedge fund Elliott Management's attack on Jack Dorsey is the first shot in brutal new reality for tech founder CEOs who have lost their protective halo

Business Insider  online


An activist shareholder's attempt to force out Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey shows that the luster that surrounds trailblazing CEOs may be fading. "Many is the founder who has suddenly found himself or herself suddenly on the sidelines of the very organization they built," said Berkeley Haas Senior Fellow John Danner.

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Papa John’s founder will not ‘go quietly’ as company tries to push him away

The New York Times  online


Papa John’s faces the tricky task of disentangling itself from its scandal-prone founder — a process that is “not fast and not cheap,” said John Danner, Senior Fellow at the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship. “In the short term, it is all about survival and damage control," he said.

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Full transcript: ‘Built for Growth’ authors John Danner and Chris Kuenne on Recode Decode

Recode  online


On this episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, Chris Kuenne and John Danner talk about their new book, “Built for Growth: How Builder Personality Shapes Your Business, Your Team, and Your Ability to Win.” Kuenne and Danner argue that entrepreneurs can come in many different personality types, and that those personalities shape the sort of companies they build.

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Princeton to teach students about the upside of failure

The College Fix  online


Princeton’s seminar will be taught by John Danner, co-author of a 2015 book by the same name: “The Other ‘F’ Word: How Smart Leaders, Teams, and Entrepreneurs Put Failure to Work.” The idea is to learn from one’s mistakes and put them to work, argued Danner in a 2015 op-ed in The Wall Street Journal focused on the business world.

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How Leaders' Personalities Determine The Sorts Of Businesses They Build

Forbes  online


Just how important personality is to the success of a growing business is explored in a new book. In Built For Growth (Harvard Business Review Press), Chris Kuenne and John Danner introduce the concept of "builder personality" and how it shapes businesses and teams, and their ability to win. Interestingly in view of much of the discussion of the troubles at Uber, they state that there is no single type of highly successful business builder. Instead, there are four distinct "builder personalities", each capable of building significant businesses but in different ways.

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Which Type of Entrepreneur Are You?

Harvard Business Review  online


Chris Kuenne, entrepreneurship lecturer at Princeton, and John Danner, senior fellow at the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, talk about one of the least understood factors that leads to success at scale: the personality of the company founder. Their research describes four distinct types of highly successful entrepreneurial personalities: the Driver, the Explorer, the Crusader, and the Captain. While popular culture currently celebrates big-ego personalities in the mold of Steve Jobs, the interview guests show how different kinds of people succeed at that level. Kuenne and Danner are co-authors of the new book, Built for Growth: How Builder Personality Shapes Your Business, Your Team, and Your Ability to Win.

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What kind of personalities start entrepreneurial empires?

University of California  online


In their new book, "Built for Growth," John Danner and Chris Kuenne, (Harvard Business Review Press, June 6) explore the personalities of successful entrepreneurs, or business builders. Danner and Kuenne identify four builder personalities — the Driver, the Explorer, the Crusader, and the Captain — to help readers better understand their own personality type and become better builders as startup founders, or as executives within their organizations.

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Selected Papers & Publications (1)

Built for Growth: How Builder Personality Shapes Your Business, Your Team, and Your Ability to Win

Harvard Business Review Press

John Danner and Chris Kuenne


A Wall Street Journal Bestseller Are You a Driver, an Explorer, a Crusader, or a Captain? Many factors shape the success or failure of a new business, whether it’s a stand-alone startup or a venture inside a larger corporation. But the most important and least understood of these factors is the personality of the entrepreneur, the particular combination of beliefs and preferences that drives his or her motivation, decision making, and leadership style. And your builder personality is the one resource you can directly control in growing a business that wins. Simply put, who you are shapes how you build for growth. Built for Growth decodes the interplay between builder personality and new business success. Using a patented analytic methodology, authors Chris Kuenne and John Danner discovered four distinct types of highly successful entrepreneurial personalities the Driver, the Explorer, the Crusader, and the Captain.

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Teaching (4)

Business Model Innovation

MBA 295I

Entrepreneurship Workshop for Start-ups


Business Model Innovation

MBA 295A

Entrepreneurship To Address Global Poverty

UGBA 196-1