Real-time wisdom from business leaders in fast-changing situations — covering the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. These fast, focused interviews with CEOs are the in-the-moment counterpoint to the timeless episodes in the classic Masters of Scale podcast. Hosted by Bob Safian, former editor in chief of Fast Company.
Can bankruptcy save movie theaters? with Alamo Drafthouse CEO Shelli Taylor
"It's 12 months of no meaningful revenue," says Alamo Drafthouse CEO Shelli Taylor. "And then last weekend was phenomenal." Taylor returns to the podcast to explain why the hip, culture-forward movie theater chain recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, even as movie-goers began to return back to theaters, plus the unexpected lessons she learned about the process – and why she still sees great hope and opportunity ahead for the business. Read the transcript at mastersofscale.com.
Delta CEO Ed Bastian: Turbulence, recovery, and risk
With 75% of U.S. customers saying they'll soon be vaccinated, Delta is embracing a new phase, opening up middle seats as of May 1. CEO Ed Bastian bet at the start of the pandemic that focusing on consumer confidence and reinforcing Delta’s brand would ultimately pay big rewards. Now that strategy will be put to the test -- even as Bastian clashes with Georgia officials over the state's new voting law. How quickly will domestic demand rebound? When will business and international travel return? And what blowback may Delta face for its political stance? For Bastian, being on the hot seat is just another day on the job.
Leveraging the trampoline effect, w/ Morning Brew CEO Alex Lieberman
Revenue for Morning Brew's booming e-mail newsletter operation dried up when the pandemic hit, but its next-generation audience remained devoted. Morning Brew CEO Alex Lieberman, who started the business with co-founder Austin Rief as undergraduates at the University of Michigan, leaned into the brand's distinctive personality, fueling a sharp rebound. By last fall, they sold a majority interest to Business Insider for a reported $75 million. Lieberman explains the roots of this "trampoline effect," the potential of the creator economy for entrepreneurs, and why an authentic voice is a shortcut to business success.
The business of democracy, w/Leadership Now's Daniella Ballou-Aares
In recent months, business leaders have been pressed to take public positions on politics in ways they never have before. That's good for business and good for democracy, says Daniella Ballou-Aares, co-founder and CEO of the Leadership Now Project. She argues that even businesses that don’t lobby are key players in building our communities of the future – and that business-style innovation offers the best chance of improving democratic processes. With trust in entrepreneurs outpacing that of other civic leaders, Ballou-Aares notes, corporate activism isn’t stepping out of your place; it's embracing both responsibility and opportunity.
Airbnb's Brian Chesky: "We died and were reborn."
Headlines last April predicted death for Airbnb. How could it survive a pandemic that stopped their core business cold? As the business cratered (in 8 weeks, they lost 80% of revenue), CEO Brian Chesky realized: It was a moment to step back, rethink and do more than anyone expected. So after putting a planned IPO on hold, he and his team started planning Airbnb's "illogical rebound." In this special Rapid Response interview with Bob Safian, Brian shares candid, never-before-heard stories about the advice he got from Barack Obama, and about the eye-popping December 2020 IPO at a valuation that left even him speechless. He speaks truthfully about the uncertainty, the anxiety, and the loneliness entrepreneurs are feeling as they fight for the future of their teams, their companies, and their vision.
A prescription for healthy growth, with FIGS Co-CEO Heather Hasson
How does a start-up geared to healthcare workers balance giving back during Covid with the desire for growth? FIGS, an emerging lifestyle brand for medical professionals that built its name around premium scrubs, faced key choices amid the pandemic. Co-founder and co-CEO Heather Hasson explains why a commitment to offering free PPE, isolation gowns, and more supported both FIGS's mission and its community. Shifting supply lines, leaning into a robust e-commerce system, and expanding internationally in response to demand, the FIGS team used the moment to reinforce their relationship with their customers – and saw annual revenue climb past $250 million. Hasson likens medical professionals to star athletes, under high pressure for hours on end, with huge stakes in the balance. By treating them with special care, and championing their contributions, FIGS has built enviable brand allegiance among a community that, until Covid hit, was often overlooked.
I really love this whole series. We’re living through such a distinctive and dark period in our history. It’s fascinating to hear these leaders/CEOs talk about what this all means for their business and our society. Bob is obviously super prepared and tees everyone up w good and well considered questions. In the early episodes I thought Bob was a little easy on his guests, but I understand. That was early in the pandemic and some of these guys were obviously pretty shaken. But I like how his interviews now have more bite. He’s asking the hard questions. Which are actually the more interesting questions! Keep it comin!!
Wow - relevant and reassuring in these unnerving times
This is like a condensed, focused shot of Masters of Scale wisdom directed at the current crisis. So timely, interesting and reassuring to know there are so many people stepping up to help in so many ways.
Been listening to Masters of Scale for some time. Impressed with this super relevant & timely series. Plenty of food for thought.