Today’s Superpower: Building Networks

Mikel Mangold is a French-German, Germany-based corporate innovator, building ventures and forming partnerships for the Venture Lab at NGK SPARK PLUG CO., LTD. He previously worked for Bayer G4A (Digital Health Start-Up Accelerator) andToday's Superpower: Building Networks the Bayer CoLaborator (Biotech Start-Up Incubator) in San Francisco. He is the co-author of the academic paper: What Corporates Can Do to Help an Innovation Ecosystem Thrive — and Why They Should Do It, co-host of The Ecosystem Show, advisor, and mentor. Mikel creates positive change through networks. A chemist by training, a traveler (>30 countries) / global citizen, and an exponential thinker.

Mikel studied chemistry for six and a half years. During this time, he realized that, while science makes almost anything possible on its own, science isn’t enough. Some factors limit what science can accomplish, such as money, politics, mindset, and lack of collaboration.
Technological and other advances are inhibited by the conservative mindset still held by many. This results in the inability to deal effectively with the uncertainty and ambiguity of the modern era.

Mikel’s mission is to change this mindset by championing collaboration and networking—to own today’s superpower.

Today’s Superpower: Building Networks is a book that will highlight a set of mindset principles that will enable you to create, join, and leverage the power of networks to innovate and change society.

My name is Mikel Mangold, and I am the author of Today’s Superpower: Building Networks. I wrote this book because of several things our society is currently facing: speed of change, the decline of corporate innovation, the decline in employees engagement & motivation, and the rise of agile, dynamic, innovative startups, which are challenging the way we do things.

Data shows:

  • According to a 2016 report by Innosight, corporations in the S&P 500 Index in 1965 stayed in the index for an average was of 33 years. By 1990, the average was about 20 years and is forecast to shrink to 14 years by 2026. (1)
  • According to a Deloitte US study made in 2017, only 13% are passionate and engaged at work. (2)
  • A monumental 1998 study, named Global Theory of Intellectual Change, analyzed the network of philosophers and mathematicians for over two thousand years in both Asian and Western societies. The study showed the innovator’s or philosopher’s network (their connection with others) was the secret behind the individual’s exceptional creativity. The ability to tap into social capital to gather ideas is crucial to innovation, but most organizations work in isolation. (3)
  • 79% of employees are leaving their jobs because their performance has not been recognized. 74% don’t feel that they’re allowed to challenge something in the meeting. (
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, a study in the UK surveyed 2,000 16 to 25-year-olds and showed that more than half (57%) of young people are ‘scared’ about being unemployed and that 43% are worried that they will never be able to get a job. (4-5)

Companies continue to work in hierarchies and avoid moving outside their own silos when this is exactly what’s needed to adapt to the speed of transformation. We need to be connected to others (teams or other companies). This is more important today than it has ever been.

In reading this book, I hope you will discover that today’s world offers us an incredible opportunity: with available online platforms and today’s political and corporate landscape, everyone can create networks, including you. In this book, I hope to instill in you the same sort of passion and excitement that I have for entrepreneurship and waking up with meaning to make this world a better place. Ultimately, I want you to see this book as a tool to help you focus on collaborating instead of trying to do it alone. Solving big problems can be hard, and I don’t want you to give up.

In this book, you’ll learn about the mindset and principles to adopt to form networks. You’ll hear stories such as…

  • How Naveen Jain, a billionaire I met in the Silicon Valley, created his own network and success by being bold, challenging the status quo, and adopting a moonshot mindset
  • How Gregg Stuart, a UK-based corporate innovator, failed at first and how he pivoted to succeed at launching a new business for his company using the power of networks (bringing a lot of people in to shape the idea).
  • My own stories and the experiences I had in Silicon Valley. There I discovered what they are doing that the rest of the world is not doing. They succeed as a network; they work “for Silicon Valley” and not for their own company.
  • How a Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist (VC), who mentored me in 2020, build relationships. In the book, I’ll share the core principle she uses every day to create business outcomes.

Today’s Superpower: Building Networks is a nonfiction book that speaks to wantrepreneurs (those who want to become entrepreneurs or adopt an entrepreneurial mindset) and mid-career professionals – looking for a career change – who want to look at innovation and change management in a new way.

You will love this book if you are a dreamer, want to impact the world, and want to learn how to build networks around you, so people join your mission (inside or outside an organization).


  3. Collins, R. (1998). A global theory of intellectual change. Harvard University.

(Edited for publication)

Good afternoon; we are here with Mikel Mangold. He is going to chat about his upcoming book – Superpower: Building Networks.

Mikel, how are you?

I’m doing super well. Thank you for organizing this. I’m excited about the conversation.

Before we get into the book, tell us a little bit about your background. I know you’ve been to Silicon Valley. I know that you’re currently in Germany. You claim to be french and german, so you have a lot going on, and I think you said or I read somewhere that you have visited 23 countries or 32 or something like that.

I think it’s 35 or more at this point.

Give us a little bit of your background to understand who you are, and then we’ll talk about the book.

As you just mentioned, I am French-German. I grew up in France in an environment where I was focusing on adventures and being in environments. Riding my bikes rather than being very disciplined at school, I was terrible at it, and then I grew up, and I decided actually to work at school. So I finally studied chemistry between France and Germany. I was in research, and I was in Switzerland than in Mexico for chemistry.

I took a few breaks to travel the world. I met a ton of people, and that pushed me actually to improve my communication skills. So I traveled for five months in Africa. I was in Asia. I was in Mexico, in South America, and then it came to a turning point in my life where I wanted to focus on science.

I wanted to improve current technologies and develop products into better and safer products that really increase the quality of our life. I quickly realized that something was missing in science and the pace at which we developed solutions. We had to go faster. Development was slow, and the mindset of people trying to do it independently and the necessity to publish and get recognized.

Generally, scientists were not getting recognized for their work. I was missing that energy, and then I decided to try entrepreneurship. I had grown up in an academic environment, university settings, and there was no tech transfer where I studied in Germany.

Then I found my way to Silicon Valley, and there I went to a digital health accelerator. I also worked for a biotech incubator. I went to over 100 events in just one year; it was just before COVID; I met a ton of entrepreneurs, a ton of VCs, a ton of you know people that are really changing the world.

Anyone who has worked in the Bay Area would understand the density you find in the Bay Area; it is just crazy. It’s not just a few entrepreneurs. Every week you have thousands working and trying to raise funds. Across the Bay Area, there are easily 10 meetups a day where you can join and learn and connect. I really loved that energy.

I came back to Europe because it was difficult for me to get a visa. I quickly

realized there was a huge difference from the startup environment of Silicon Valley. I recently started a job at NGK Spark Plug, and I’m working with startups to accelerate our innovation initiative. NGK Spark Plug is a Japanese company trying to reinvent itself, and it just opened an innovation division. I work for the venture lab where we build ventures and establish a partnership with startups.

With all my experiences in different environments – Africa, Asia, Mexico – I realized there is something special about Silicon Valley – it was all about working in networks. That is how we connected, through our networks, which I’m focusing on in the book.

What’s interesting is our paths have crossed in a few different ways, not directly where we’ve met, but I’ve actually done a fair amount of work for G4A.So  I’m familiar with them. We do work in the digital health space. As far as ecosystem building, I’ve done a fair amount of work with enpact, which is berlin based and they are building ecosystems in Africa – because again, they too lack these networks and ecosystems.

What’s interesting is to look at the fact that if you don’t have all the pieces of the ecosystem such as Silicon Valley does, that your innovation and entrepreneurship don’t work. That’s sort of what makes Silicon Valley so magical. You have the universities that are churning out talent, and there’s a money base that supports the innovations. So again, this is about having that ecosystem in place.

When did you decide to write the book?

That’s an interesting question. I wanted to write a book for four years because it brings your personality and leadership to another level. I wanted to be interested in a topic and sharing what I think about the topic. With the experience in Silicon Valley and everything, I realized I was passionate about open innovation the changes happening in our society.

I initially wanted to write a book about the difference between innovating today and bringing product services to the market. Looking back over the last 100 years, there has been this massive from industrialization to digitalization.

I found a program that supported first-time authors – Creator Institute. The program’s director is a professor from Georgetown University. Eric Koester is a serial entrepreneur, investor, and author. His award-winning Book Creators community program has helped more than 1,000 first-time authors create and publish their first books and has produced nine national book award winners or finalists in 2020-2021. In addition, he has partnered with New Degree Press – New Degree Press is an independent publisher and distributor dedicated to empowering authors. We believe at the core of any good book is a community — a community of fellow writers and authors, a community of readers; and a team who can partner with you on every aspect of developing and promoting your big idea and story, from idea to writing to branding to book creation, promotion, and distribution.

I met with Professor Koester and discussed all the topics that I was passionate about and wanted to talk about, and then he shaped a little bit of the message of my book and just by listening to me. During 25 minutes, he said. “Mikel, you want to talk about a ton of things that could easily be 10 books, but what you really want to say right now and what you want to work on right now, you want to talk about change and networks.”

Then we worked together and built a table of contents. Part of the process is to identify your target audience – you cannot just talk to everybody at first; you have to find your niche. For example, I realized that my target audience for the message I wanted to share would be all the people that want to create change. People that want to change things- develop a new product, improve society or create their own organization. Individuals that want to do something now.

The beauty of our world is that we can affect change. That is a superpower today. We’ve never been able to do what we can do today with the power of networks. So today, more than any time before, there is a real chance for everybody to create change. I want to give the tools to everybody to do this, so that’s the book and the topic. I want to help people that want to create change overcome are the barriers that they’re facing.

For more information, you can connect with Mikel Mangold at [email protected] and on social media (see below)

Today’s Superpower: Building Networks

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