Martin Gonzalez

People development expert.


Thinkers50 Radar Class of 2024.


A First Mover Fellow at The Aspen Institute, 2023.


Lived and worked in New York, Jakarta, Singapore, Taipei, and Manila.


Martin contends that most startups fail not because of bad product, poor timing, or mismanaged cash, but because of people problems. Startup failures, he argues, are usually down conflicts over strategy, decision-making, and team culture. In his 2024 book with co-author Joshua Yellin, The Bonfire Moment, Martin outlines the common traps teams fall into and dives deep into the people problems that derail even the most promising new businesses. Martin and Joshua’s one-day workshop of the same name helps teams escape those traps and has proven effective with teams of all sizes around the world. The book teaches leaders the principles behind the Bonfire Moment and how to run the workshop on their own.


Principal of AI Talent Development at Google, Martin was previously a management consultant with the Boston Consulting Group. He is also a lecturer at Stanford on scaling organisational culture in startups and is guest editor at the Journal of Organization Design, published by Springer. Martin holds two master’s degrees in leadership studies and behavioural science from Columbia University and the London School of Economics. He is a member of the faculty of the Google School for Leaders and has been a frequent guest lecturer on MBA programs at INSEAD, Stanford, Wharton, and London Business School. Martin is also the creator of Google for Startup’s PeopleLab.


The Bonfire Moment: Bring Your Team Together to Solve the Hardest Problems Startups Face (with Joshua Yellin, Harper Collins, 2024); ‘What we Learned in studying the most effective founders’ (with Joshua Yellin,, June 2022); ‘Becoming an Effective Founder’ (with Josh Yellin, Three Points podcast, February 2023).

Media picks


Martin knows that a startup’s success springs from team culture – and provides practical tools for leaders to create that winning culture.”

Stuart Crainer & Des Dearlove, Thinkers50

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