Noam Wasserman is founding director of the Founder Central initiative at the University of Southern California and the Lemann Chair in Entrepreneurship within the Marshall School of Business there. He focuses on founders’ early decisions that can make or break the startup and its team.
Before returning home to L.A., he was a professor at Harvard Business School for 13 years. His first book, The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup, was an Amazon #1 bestseller in Management, has spent more than half a decade on Amazon’s Strategy bestseller list, and won the Academy of Management’s annual Impact on Practice award.
Noam created HBS’s most popular entrepreneurship elective, “Founder’s Dilemmas,” for which he won HBS’s Faculty Teaching award, USC’s Golden Apple teaching award, and the Academy of Management’s Innovation in Entrepreneurship Pedagogy award. In 2018, he was named to Poets&Quants;’ “Favorite Professors of Business Majors” list.
He also taught Founder’s Dilemmas at Stanford Engineering and Columbia Business School, receiving perfect teaching ratings at both schools.
Noam’s second book is Life Is a Startup: What Founders Can Teach Us about Making Choices and Managing Change (Stanford University Press, October 2018). In it, he translates to our daily lives the best practices he has unearthed in two decades of studying founders, showing how those practices can help us make much better decisions and manage change much more effectively – especially at key inflection points in our lives and careers. The lessons apply to our personal lives and relationships, and to our professional lives in any type of role or organization.
Noam’s research has been published in top academic journals (e.g., Management Science, Strategic Management Journal, Academy of Management Journal, Organization Science) and national periodicals (Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Forbes, Inc. magazine, etc.). He is a founding board member of USC’s Institute for Outlier Research in Business (iORB), chairs the committee that judges the annual Innovation in Entrepreneurship Pedagogy Award for the Academy of Management, and serves on the advisory boards of Inc. magazine and the Kauffman Foundation. He was founding chairman of the board of a boys high school in Boston and currently serves as chairman of the board of a 270-student elementary school there.
Despite being voted “Most Likely to Become a CEO” by his MBA section, Noam decided to pursue academia as a career and to enter the PhD program (thereby giving up on ever becoming a CEO!). Before coming to Harvard, he was a Principal and Practice Manager at a management-consulting firm near Washington, D.C., where he founded and led the Groupware Practice. He also worked as a venture capitalist at a firm in Boston. Noam received a PhD from Harvard University, an MBA from Harvard Business School (graduating with high distinction as a Baker Scholar), a BSE in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, and a BS from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He has eight children and two grandchildren.