Everyone seems to have a podcast. But not many CEOs do.
Nicolai Tangen is an exception.
Tangen, the head of the $1 trillion Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund, started a podcast, In Good Company, last year.
Tangen is agile as an interviewer. He questions are high and tight. He keeps the conversation moving as he covers guests’ background, career highlights and management insights.
He’s quick on his feet and inserts staccato questions. “Tell me about the hunger to succeed” or “Should people spend their whole life in one company?” or “When did you first think you could be the big cheese?”
Tangen launched the podcast as part of charm offensive to educate fund employees and Norwegians in general. It came after a rocky start in which Tangen faced criticism for operating his previous business in tax havens.
Tangen’s style owes some to his training in interrogation at Norway’s intelligence service before studying economics and at the University of Pennsylvania. He also has Master’s degrees in art history and social psychology.
According to a Bloomberg article, Tangen says interviewing guests is similar to the training he provides analysts. “It’s basically interrogation,” he told Bloomberg. “There is a methodology here.”
What really stands out is the guest list. Even Joe Rogan would be jealous. It includes:
–Nandan Nilekani, Co-founder and Chairman of Infosys
–Henry Fernandez, CEO of MSCI
–Larry Fink, CEO and Chairman of BlackRock
–Carolina Dybeck Happe, CFO of General Electric
–Albert Baehny, Chairman of Lonza and Geberit
–Michael O’Leary, CEO of Ryanair
–Helena Helmersson, CEO of H&M Group
–Bob Shapek, CEO of Disney
–Mark Schneider, CEO of Nestlé
–Lisa Su, CEO of AMD
–Reed Hasting, Founder and co-CEO of Netflix
–Benedetto Vigna, CEO of Ferrari
–Ilham Kadri, CEO of Solvay
–Jochen Zeitz, CEO of Harley Davidson
–Jean Jacques Guiony, CFO of LVMH
–Stephane Bancel, CEO of Moderna
–Nicolas Hieronimus, CEO of L’Oréal
–Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors
–David Solomon, CEO of Goldman Sachs
–Bernard Looney, CEO of BP
Of course, Tangen has an advantage booking guests. The fund is among the biggest institutional investors in the world and has major stakes in the companies run by his guests. If he asks you to be on the show, it’s hard to turn it down.
Many of the guests, including Bill Gates and BP’s Bernard Looney, make the effort of traveling to Oslo for the show.
Tangen said the podcast helped boost applications for the fund’s graduate and internship programs by 65% in 2022. He also said the audience was disproportionately young, from 24 to 36.
A less obvious benefit: it provides Tangen the opportunity to connect to the CEOs in a unique and deep way.
Bill Gates has met lots of big institutional investors. But Tangen is probably the only one with a podcast.
It’s the difference between meeting at a fancy restaurant versus dining at home.
At the restaurant, you remember the food. At home, you remember the person.