Frits van Paasschen

Frits van Paasschen

Top Business Speaker, Change Management Expert, Bestselling Author, Board Member of J. Crew, and Former CEO of Coors Brewing Company and Starwood Hotels and Resorts

Jan 1, 2018

Frits Van Paasschen

In this episode, we speak with Frits van Paasschen, former CEO of Coors Brewing Company and Starwood Hotels and Resorts, about his experience as a business tycoon throughout various industries. His book, Disruptors’ Feast, gives insight into the knowledge he gained from over a decade of being a CEO and global executive for companies like Nike and Disney. Navigating the uncertain waters from industry to industry showed him that change is inevitable, and oftentimes it can be abrupt and unsettling. However, he believes that true progress is made when we use the accelerated pace of change and work to understand the patterns of disruption.

“For some people, it’s ambition or status or money. In all candor, I think in my case, more than anything else, it was curiosity and this element of adrenaline about, can I do this?”


Frits Van Paasschen

Episode Highlights


What is the call to action you drop into your talks? 

What I’m trying to have people appreciate is that thanks to cognitive bias, thanks to entrenched habits, vested interests, all these barriers to change that are inherently human, that if we believe that somehow doing the same thing in the future is going to yield the same result, we’re going to be misguided.

It’s almost like the new definition of insanity. This used be doing the same thing, expecting a different result. I think having people step back and go, “Wait a minute, we’ve been successful up until now because we’ve been doing A, B, and C. Unless we completely change that, we’re sealing our own fate, and we’re going to have our own Kodak moment.”


What did you learn from your diversity of experience working in such wildly different disciplines? 

I think people are motivated in their careers by different things. For some people, it’s ambition or status or money. In all candor, I think in my case, more than anything else, it was curiosity and this element of adrenaline about, can I do this? Go to Europe and run Nike’s business there, having only ever run a P&L for a year-and-a-half before that, and suddenly you’ve got $2.5 billion worth of revenue you’re trying to grow; or coming to Coors, where the company had lost market share and volume for seven quarters in a row; or coming into Starwood, where the corporate culture was fragmented by a series of leadership changes.


TED is about “Ideas Worth Spreading.” What’s the core idea for you Frits?

The core idea from my perspective is this: We’re living in a world of accelerating change, and that change is both in terms of steady timelines, but also these abrupt, disruptive changes. We as human beings in the organizations we’ve created are not well suited to an accelerating pace of change. That creates both dangers as well as opportunities, and it’s really exploring how we can get better at coping with change and understand the patterns of disruption and the kinds of things that prevent us from adapting that, I think, become an interesting topic to talk about.

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