Mission Critical is a podcast hosted by Bay Street Bull Editor-in-Chief Lance Chung about the purpose and values that drive today's most inspiring leaders. From innovative entrepreneurs to cultural game-changers, each episode will introduce you to someone new who is defining their community and redefining the status quo.
Ryan Serhant (Founder, SERHANT.): What Will the Real Estate Brokerage of the Future Look Like?
Like any other industry that has remained largely unchanged in the way it operates and functions, it’s an exciting time to talk about real estate right now. Not just because of how hot this or that market is or rising interest rates, but because of the increasing impact that technology and innovation are having on the sector. Real estate agents are, by any measure, entrepreneurs. And entrepreneurs love to solve problems. Just ask Ryan Serhant.Ryan made a mainstream name for himself thanks to his starring role in the Bravo series Million Dollar Listing New York and its spin-off Sell It Like Serhant. Yet as one of the world’s most successful real estate brokers, his credentials surpass the bright lights of the Bravo production. He’s also the founder of SERHANT., a vertically-integrated mega brokerage comprising an in-house film studio, technology platform, education arm, and marketing division. In his view, the future of real estate goes far beyond just selling a property. It’s about utilizing technology, creating media, and forging real human connections. On this episode, Ryan and Lance discuss his approach to real estate, how technology is impacting the sector, and what the brokerages of the future will look like. Also, what’s a low-rent habit?
Jonathan Van Ness (Founder, JVN Hair): How Can We Be Better Allies for the Queer Community?
There are few people in media who radiate the kind of glowing, positive, and unabashedly joyful energy quite like Jonathan Van Ness.Known primarily for their co-hosting duties as the resident beauty guru on Netflix’s Queer Eye reboot, it is the magnetic charm and personality of Jonathan (who is non-binary and uses “they,” “he,” and “she” pronouns) that has helped them build the foundation of a media empire that spans everything from New York Times bestselling books, soldout standup comedy tours, and, most recently, a second Netflix series based on their wildly successful podcast, Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness. Whether they intended it or not, Jonathan is an entrepreneur by every definition and their latest endeavour is just another addition to their impressive CV.Launched in 2021, JVN Hair is the result of over two years of development that shifts the focus to hair concern over hair type via its hero ingredient, hemisqualane (a derivative of bio-fermented sugarcane.) Naturally, the vegan haircare brand is an extension of Jonathan. Yes, it’s a product that performs, but it’s also a platform where Jonathan can parlay their values, mission, and body of work through the lens of beauty. It’s one that espouses inclusivity, sustainability, and a larger dialogue around what it truly means to have freedom of self-expression—or, as they put it, to “come as you are.”On this episode, Lance sits down with Jonathan to talk about self-expression, what Pride means to them, and how to engage our communities into protecting trans rights.
Marcus Samuelsson (Marcus Samuelsson Group): A Chef's Recipe for Success
There are many parallels that can be drawn between running a kitchen and leading a business. Both require leadership, focus, tenacity, and, above all, passion to get you through the inevitable hills and valleys that come along the way—something that internationally-renowned chef and restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson knows a thing or two about. With restaurants around the world from Miami to Sweden to Montreal, a James Beard award, and celebrity appearances on Food Network shows (just to name a few accomplishments), success is something that Marcus has achieved throughout his illustrious career. But the journey has not been without its own hurdles along the way. While he first made a name for himself as the executive chef of Aquavit in New York in the 1990s, his story began 7,000 miles away in Ethiopia. Marcus and his sister were adopted as young children by a white family in Gothenburg, Sweden, after their biological mother passed away from tuberculosis. This fusion of cultures would later inform much of Marcus’ culinary vision and barrier-breaking career. On today’s episode, Lance is joined by Marcus to talk about the kitchen of his childhood, how being an immigrant has helped inform his perspective on food and culture, and how he built a global restaurant empire. Plus, what's it like to curate the menu for the Met Gala?
Bruce Mau (Founder, Bruce Mau Design): How to Design Your Best Life
“If you want specific outcomes in your life, then you are a designer.”These are the immortal words of Canadian multi-hyphenate visionary, Bruce Mau. From architecture to advertising to product design, Bruce has worked across a broad spectrum of disciplines that have changed the way we approach problems and see the world. His name is exalted by many and yet unfamiliar to others. What is certain, however, is that the impact of his work has been felt around the world. He is the one who Coca-Cola asked to restructure their entire organization and identity towards sustainability. He was the one who city planners from Mecca (yes, the Mecca—Islam’s holiest city) approached him to redesign the Hajj, and after 36 years of civil war, he was the guy that Guatemala commissioned to literally rebrand the country and its ability to hope for the future. These are but a few projects that illustrate the scale and influence of Bruce’s work. And yet for someone whose accomplishments have had such an impact, it is perhaps his approach to his work that Bruce is most admired for. A radical optimist, his belief is that designers do not have the luxury of cynicism if we want to change the world. It’s a tough pill to swallow when you consider the times that we live in today, but Bruce charges forward.On today’s episode, Lance is joined by the legendary designer to discuss his illustrious career, the power of optimism, and the making of the first feature-length documentary on him, MAU.
Jeanne Beker (Journalist): How to Fight For Your Own Opportunities
For 27 years, Jeanne Beker was the voice in fashion media—a trailblazer that earned her stripes by reporting on the industry’s most spectacular events and personalities. The host of Fashion Television, her show was syndicated around the globe to 130 countries, offering a glimpse into a pre-social media world that was often guarded and gated. It was her tenacity, warmth, and unapologetic pursuit of a story that led her to interview the likes of Karl Lagerfeld, Kate Moss, Jean Paul Gaultier, Naomi Campbell and so many of the industry’s icons and juggernauts.But looking past the sequins and the tulle and jewels, Jeanne’s reporting on fashion offered a perspective that translated the language of style into a larger dialogue around culture. Through her electric and supercharged interviews, she was also having a conversation about sustainability, commerce, politics, culture, and values. Fashion has always been a barometer of the times, and Jeanne always understood the assignment well. On today’s podcast, Lance is joined by the legendary journalist to talk about her foray into the business, the most entrepreneurial designers, and her best advice on fighting for your own opportunities.
David Gilboa (Co-founder, Warby Parker): How to Visualize Industry Transformation
If the eyes are the windows to your soul, then what does a pair of eyeglasses say about you? For many, eyewear is an extension of one’s self. Quite literally, when you consider the fact that approximately 68 percent of Canadians wear corrective lenses, and figuratively as a reflection of personal style and expression. For years, however, the $160 billion global eyewear industry was controlled by a handful of companies that kept prices high and quality low. That is, until Warby Parker stepped onto the scene in 2010, shaking an entire industry up by offering high-quality eyewear at an accessible price directly to the consumer. Founded in Philadelphia by Neil Blumenthal, Andrew Hunt, David Gilboa, and Jeffrey Raider out of a Venture Initiation Program of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, the company soon learned that there was a community clamouring for elevated design in prescription glasses that wouldn’t cost hundreds of dollars. Within a year of launching, Warby Parker had earned the interest of Vogue with a feature that caught the attention of both customers and investors alike. As of 2021, Warby Parker is valued at USD $6.8 billion and has distributed over 10 million pairs of glasses around the globe. But despite their commercial success, Warby Parker’s founders have set their sights on far more ambitious pursuits. In this episode, co-founder David Gilboa joins Lance to talk about how Warby Parker grew into a multi-billion-dollar company, his biggest lessons learned along the way, and their mission to revolutionize access to vision care around the world.