On the last episode of Business Casual, media exec and general baller-at-large Joanna Coles explained the implications of ad dollars moving from local newsrooms to social media and Big Tech platforms. The general consensus? We’ve got a serious scale problem. And an even bigger misinformation problem.
So what does all of that mean for the future of media? In this episode, we’re figuring it out with Delia Cai, growth and trends editor at Buzzfeed and author of the Deez Links newsletter (which is described as “a dailyish link to cool shit happening in & around the media industry”).
As someone who both 1) grew up extremely online and 2) has a front row seat to the constant evolution of media, Delia offers honest insight about…What we lose when we lose local newsroomsHow much money it would take for smaller media outlets to compete with Big TechWhy social media has tangled our collective psychologies beyond recognition
Listen to the episode now.
This summer, a group of nearly 100 brands from Patagonia to Coca-Cola are boycotting highly targeted ad machines on social media platforms like Facebook.
It’s an effort to put their money where their PR statements are—by withholding ad spend on Facebook, these brands are attempting to force Mark Zuckerberg’s hand to do something about his platform’s highly contentious fact-checking and hate speech standards.The question remains...will it work? If you ask CNN, “It would likely take tens of thousands of them, acting over a significant period of time, to put a big dent in Facebook's bottom line.”
But what if, instead of focusing on dollar value efficacy, we consider that the medium might be the message here? Sure, those 100+ brands might not dent Zuck’s retirement account. But they’ve brought important attention to the fact that we’re slaves to the big tech ad targeting machine.
That’s why this week on Business Casual, we’re navigating the intricate movement of ad dollars from local news outlets to social media and big tech platforms...plus taking stock of how, exactly, the everyday media consumer is suffering.
And we’re doing it with someone who’s seen it all in the media world—Joanna Coles. She’s been an executive, a producer, an editor...basically everything from heading up Cosmo to sitting on Snap’s board.
In this episode, Joanna explains the importance of local journalism, why it evaporates when big tech wins ad dollars, and how conglomerization widens the access gap to good, fact-checked journalism.And arguably most importantly? Joanna helps us understand what there is to be done to fix today’s misinformation problem—a problem of incredible scale.
Anything is possible if you just believe...and create multi-channel diversified revenue streams while avoiding the many trappings of venture capital. Right? Right. Just ask Alex Lieberman and Austin Rief, Morning Brew’s cofounders.
That’s what we’re doing on this episode of Business Casual—taking an introspective look at the last quarter in business through the eyes of a small but growing startup.
In the episode, Alex and Austin walk us through the ins and outs of surviving (maybe even thriving…?) as a bootstrapped company in the midst of a recession. You’ll get the inside scoop on how Morning Brew’s strategizes on the daily, plus…You’ll hear Alex and Austin’s biggest predictions for the startup community next quarter and beyond. Take a sip every time you hear the words “subscription” or “community.”You’ll understand the pillars of innovation that a recession like this one builds.And you’ll get two founders’ perspectives on whether we’re closer to the end or the beginning of this recession.And since no conversation about Morning Brew is complete without a mug... we're giving away five of them. Follow @bizcasualpod on Twitter, email a screenshot with proof you follow to email@example.com and you'll be entered in the giveaway. Ends 7/1.
Listen now if you’re curious about what comes next.
Have you also aged three decades since April 1, 2020?
The last three months have brought us some of the craziest business news imaginable. The second quarter was a cornucopia of unpredictability—from COVID-19 doing its worst to the economy to widespread protests serving a reckoning for America’s conversations about race.
So how do you make it all make sense? You make a podcast about it. Today on Business Casual, we’re taking a look back at the biggest themes of the second quarter, from innovation and accountability and leadership to...failure.And we’re doing it by bringing some of the best guests this show has ever seen back up to bat, from Arianna Huffington and Mark Cuban to Ian Bremmer and Ray Dalio.
Because as we head into the third quarter of this year, you have to ask yourself: Would you ever, ever have seen these headlines coming just six months ago? I sure wouldn’t have.
Let us help make sense of today’s headlines. Listen now.
On the last episode of Business Casual, I spoke with HR legend and former head of Goldman Sachs human capital management, Edith Cooper.
Edith explained in no uncertain terms just how important diversity and inclusion are in corporate America—from both moral and financial perspectives. But to my team and me, that’s just scratching the surface of the conversation about equity of opportunity, racial gaps, and workplace culture.
So today, we’re digging even deeper. Edith gave you the 10,000-foot view. How about experiencing first-hand how policies that make the workplace work for all are actually created?
On this episode of Business Casual, say hello to Morning Brew’s own head of people operations, Kate Noel.Kate’s giving us an honest account of what it’s like to build a culture at a startup—and it’s about way, way more than serving snacks and offering unlimited PTO.
In the episode, Kate explains the urgency of fostering diverse and inclusive workplaces, plus gives a master class on things like tokenism and code switching. If you don’t know what those are, you need to listen to this episode.
At the end of the day, people are more motivated to do good work for a company that allows them to be their full selves. And we all know that hasn’t always been the case. From hiring to promoting to continuing education, Kate walks us through exactly what makes work work for all.
Don’t miss this episode—you’re going to love Kate as much as we at Morning Brew do within the first minute.
If you’re a business decision maker...diversity matters.
If you’re an entry level employee...diversity matters.
If you haven’t even entered the workforce yet...diversity matters.
Because companies that prioritize diversity do better. According to McKinsey, in 2019, companies in the top quartile for ethnic diversity financially outperformed those in the bottom quartile for diversity by 36%.
But how do we put that 36% in context? And how do we, as individuals, make sure we’re holding corporations accountable for diversity and inclusion efforts?
This week on Business Casual, I speak with Edith Cooper to figure it out. Edith, who our producer Marilyn aptly called a “corporate badass,” is the former head of Human Capital Management at Goldman Sachs, a board director at both Etsy and Slack, and cofounder of personal and professional development startup Medley.Also? Edith was named to Black Enterprise’s 2017 “300 Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America” list, among many other awards and honors.
Edith’s candor and insight will push you to think differently and ask more questions about diversity in the workplace, like...If you want to stay relevant as a corporation today, you need to open doors for everyone—not just for prospective employees who look like you. Young consumers notice when businesses aren’t woke, and they’re voting in a new guard with their ballooning purchasing power.If you had the opportunity to become excellent right now, immediately—why would you turn it down? When corporations don’t hire from diverse backgrounds and promote Black workers, they’re doing just that...leaving excellence on the table, as Edith puts it.What other aspect of a business’s success would be okay to sidestep for this long? Not even the most promising of startups could put off something like a path to profitability forever. So how come we’ve allowed corporate leaders to put off diversity—something we know contributes to long-term financial success—for centuries?
Edith begins to offer answers, but the truth of the matter is that this has to be an ongoing conversation. How are you going to make sure that this time, it’s different?
Listen now to get started.
They might not fall for anything, but they definitely won’t win over consumers who are presently armed with more information than ever before.
The big picture: Today, it’s not enough for brands—from fledgling startups to multinational corporations—to just sell goods and services for a profit. They have to take a stand, from supporting Black Lives Matter to championing frontline health workers to saving the world from climate change.
You know exactly what I’m talking about. How many times have you heard a brand tell you it’s “there for you” in the last three months? For me, it’s 7 billion, give or take.While we might perceive an overload of marketing emails touting donations made and support lent, it makes sense from the brands’ perspectives to speak out (sometimes).Because today more than ever, we’re being faced with a serious proposition: voting with our dollars, even before we can vote with our ballots. And no one should vote uninformed.
So today on Business Casual, I’m speaking with the undisputed branding wizards of the startup scene, Red Antler co-founders Emily Heyward and JB Osborne. Their firm is behind the design and go-to-market strategies for the kinds of companies synonymous with “strong brand,” from Allbirds to Casper.
Emily and JB bring a unique perspective to the branding conversation, one typically dominated by pie-in-the-sky musings on consumer psychology and nonsensical acronyms. Their POV? It’s not about playing by rules—it’s about playing by values.
And when a brand takes on values and purpose beyond being in the black next quarter, the dollars we feed it take on far more meaning than just lining the pockets of startup founders.
So...if you’ve ever thought picking a font and a color scheme was the extent of building a brand, you need to listen to this episode. Check it out now.
Imagine it: Your doctor tells you, “Take a magic mushroom and call me in the morning.”
It’s...probably not all that realistic. But the promise of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy? Definitely realistic. And definitely an intriguing business prospect.
That’s why this week on Business Casual, we’re talking to the preeminent expert in the controlled use of psychedelic drugs: Dr. Rick Doblin, founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (aka MAPS).
Rick has spent nearly four decades at MAPS championing the uses of psychedelics and marijuana in clinical settings. The treatment possibilities, as he sees them, range from post-traumatic stress disorder to depression to addiction.
Sounds promising—but there’s always a but. The larger pharmaceuticals, biotech, and insurance industries aren’t quite ready to wholly buy into psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. Or psychotherapy of any kind, for that matter.
Along with earning a spot in the regulatory good graces of U.S. officials, educating business decision makers presents a challenge for Rick and his peers in the psychedelics space. But if the trend of microdosing (ahem, Silicon Valley) is any indication, interest is growing from both venture capital and consumer POVs.Money, though, is harder to come by—in the episode, Rick shares the experience of fundraising as a nonprofit.The tl;dr? It’s really, really hard.
Listen now to expand your mind.
Rick generously offered to answer other business-related questions. Get in touch with him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every first Friday morning of every month at 8:30am ET, we partake in a long honored tradition—poring over one very specific set of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That data is the monthly jobs report, and it’s become an essential part of our assessment of the U.S. economy.
Because having a job means supporting yourself and your family, a basic human need just like clothing and shelter and food. But right now, millions of Americans are without that basic human need.
40 million to be exact. That’s how many people have filed for unemployment since the pandemic began. But how are we to put a number that enormous in context? And how are we to understand who bears its impacts the most? And how are we to determine when 40 million shrinks to zero?
This week on Business Casual, we’re doing our best to answer those questions with Karin Kimbrough, chief economist at LinkedIn and labor market expert. Hearing her masterfully simple explanation of the U.S. labor market is like seeing Bigfoot...you’ve always wanted to experience it, but you weren’t sure it ever existed.
Karin also illustrates the stark disparity at play in the labor market at any given moment...and why this particular moment is exacerbating those disparities.One race issue: Unemployment has been widespread during the pandemic and economic crisis, but minorities including black and Latino Americans have carried the burden of the downturn more than any other group...and that’s not helping today’s unrest. Per Karin, “I think here you're seeing people feel like they went overnight from feeling like they had a lot of promise and opportunity to having nothing.”One gender issue: With most schools and summer programs closed, unemployment is affecting women at a considerably higher rate than men.
The big picture: As Karin sees it, unemployment and hiring rates are the best metrics for understanding when the economy can get back on its feet. And that’s a question we’d all like an answer to.
Listen to our episode with Karin now and let us know what you think.
+ The Bureau of Labor Statistics’s May jobs report comes out the day after this episode hits the wires. We’re pregaming already. Start your own pregame with these stats:April jobs report—unemployment rate surged to a record 14.7% and payrolls dropped by a historic 20.5 million workersMay jobs report expectations, per Refinitiv—unemployment rate of 19.8% with about 8.5 million jobs lost
Place your bets now.
Today, instead of listening to our usual 45-minute episode, we’re asking you to take that time to listen, read, or watch content that elevates black voices, black stories, and black-owned businesses.
Podcasts:The 1619 Project from the New York Times Magazine is a multimedia initiative that began last August to mark the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It reframes American history by exploring the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans. Check out the entire project on the Times’s site, and listen to the podcast portion, simply called 1619.We’re also huge fans of NPR’s Code Switch. The podcast covers what they call “overlapping themes of race, ethnicity and culture, how they play out in our lives and communities, and how all of this is shifting.”The Ringer’s show Higher Learning has an episode titled “The Importance of the Nationwide Protests Over George Floyd’s Death.” If you want insight on where we go from here, this has it.
Books:White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo has been recommended online endlessly over the last several days, and there’s a reason for that. The book explores why white people feel so uncomfortable talking about race.For a better understanding of the historical challenges of being black and doing business, read Hannibal Johnson’s Black Wall Street: From Riot to Renaissance in Tulsa's Historic Greenwood District.Read some of the classics by black authors including Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, and Maya Angelou.
Videos:Rachel Cargle’s YouTube video titled “Public Address On Revolution: Revolution Now” is a moving assessment of today’s reality. On Netflix, check out 13th from Ava Duvernay to understand the U.S. prison system’s history of racial inequality.
Finally, if you’re in the position to give, consider donating to one of the many reputable organizations helping further anti-racism causes.
We get it. Custom made meals served in biodegradable bowls and ordered through an app or over a sneeze guard are really good and really convenient.
And plenty sell each year—the fast casual sector posted an 8% sales gain in 2018, and traffic jumped 3% in the space despite the fact that total U.S. foodservice traffic was flat as a board. You can thank a confluence of factors from the ’08 financial crisis to rising rents for the industry’s recent ascent.
But not even the fast casual space, home to relatively fast, relatively cheap, and relatively healthy food we’ve seamlessly integrated into our lives and diets, is safe from COVID-19. The sector, much like fine dining and the rest of the hospitality space, has been brought to its knees by shutdowns designed to keep us all safe...and at home.
So today on Business Casual, we’re exploring what makes fast casual tick, what’s changed since the coronavirus set in, and what comes next for the Chipotles of the world. Most importantly? We’re pinpointing exactly what it is that helped fast casual thrive through the last recession—and determining which of those lessons can help us get through today.
This episode features two entrepreneurs in different stages of building their businesses: Nicolas Jammet of famed salad company Sweetgreen and Chef JJ Johnson of Harlem’s new(ish) rice bowl shop Fieldtrip.
We decided to bring in not one, but two experts to show differing perspectives on building moats around a business.For Nicolas and Sweetgreen, the biggest competitive advantage is white label tech that’s made the chain the envy of both fast casual restaurants and Silicon Valley alike.For JJ and Filedtrip, the biggest competitive advantage is a tight-knit community that’s served as the best marketing tool imaginable.
The insight the two bring...to the table...is unbeatable. They’re operating and more importantly adapting during an unimaginably difficult time for business and in a sector notorious for razor-thin margins.
Listen now to get their perspectives.
+ FYI, this is Part II of our two-part exploration of the restaurant industry in a post-COVID world. If you want to hear Part I, go check it out. It features fine dining czar Chef Marcus Samuelsson and tackles issues like government funding, small business, furloughs, and so much more.
COVID-19 makes it easy to do just that. Sure, we’d be a lot more capable with a paring knife or a turkey baster. But at what cost?
Restaurants are the backbone of small business in communities across the country. Without decent spots to grab a bite or celebrate an accomplishment, what good are barber shops or clothing retailers? If restaurants flounder, so too do the small businesses they help bolster.
That’s the world according to Marcus Samuelsson, famed restaurateur, Iron Chef competitor, Chopped judge, and owner of more than a handful of restaurants around the world.
This week on Business Casual, we spoke with Chef Marcus about his experience operating restaurants and strategizing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The long story short? It’s been really, really hard.
Restaurants have been suckerpunched by the coronavirus and the requisite shutdowns robbing them of business. And that means big changes for a lot of people:According to the National Restaurant Association, the restaurant industry employs 15.6 million people in the U.S. and was on track to do $899 billion in sales for 2020.The sad reality is that an enormous chunk of those 15.6 million people are now being furloughed or laid off. In NYC, restaurant spending dipped 90% in late March compared to a year earlier.
But businesspeople like Chef Marcus don’t just stop when things get tough. They pivot—to delivery, to making meals for frontline workers, to lobbying on behalf of the industry at large. Because as far as Chef Marcus sees it, the government is going to step in and give his business the help it needs.
In this episode, we explore exactly how COVID has expedited those strategic shifts, plus what they mean for the broader hospitality industry. Listen now.
And tune in to Business Casual’s next episode to hear Part II of our exploration of the restaurant space in the COVID-19 world. We’re tackling fast casuals with two of the brightest minds in the industry. Subscribe so you don’t miss out.
“I don’t think we’ll ever go back to what we had before.”
That’s what Barbara Corcoran thinks of commercial real estate’s future. In Part II of Business Casual’s interview with the star of ABC’s Shark Tank and real estate mogul, she makes several bold predictions about the ways commercial real estate come out of today’s pandemic and recession.
Chief among them? Compromise is the new open floor plan. Barabara says that today’s widespread WFH will illustrate the futility of giant office spaces, while also highlighting some of the difficulties of remote employment. That puts a few lucky commercial real estate players in pole position.
What else does Barbarba see in her crystal ball? Fewer bank foreclosures than you might think. A renewed appreciation for the layers upon layers of leverage in the commercial real estate market. Some unpleasant ripple effects of rent forgiveness. Retail’s death knell.
If you want to understand all of that, plus the important role the commercial real estate market plays in the broader economy...
Listen now. And FYI: This is the second part of a two-part interview. Go check out Part I, which centered on the residential real estate market, if you haven’t already.
So much of business is clinical, scientific even—balance sheets either add up or they don’t. But in the housing market, emotions are as important as 1s and 0s.
And today, many of us are walking an emotional tightrope made all the tighter by the fact that we’re staring down the barrel of a recession. So how do we understand what comes next for the residential real estate industry—a space characterized by physical, in-person dealings—when we’re mostly homebound and mostly short on disposable income?
This week on Business Casual, we get the answer from Barbara Corcoran—star of ABC’s Shark Tank, real estate icon, and (apparently) budding philosopher.
In Part I of our interview with Barbara, she walks us through the intricacies of the housing market today, from buyer to seller to broker. Curious about prices? Wondering what virtual home tours are like? Barbara’s got you.
And she’s serving up the insight in several flavors:The optimist’s case: The spring buying spree residential real estate typically enjoys isn’t canceled, but rather postponed. Once we get better COVID-19 testing mechanisms in place, we’ll come out of hibernation to what Barbara expects to be a “vibrant” midsummer market.And the pessimist’s case: For the housing market, it doesn’t matter how many trillions of dollars the U.S. government passes in stimulus and relief bills. Can you think of anyone who would spend their unemployment benefits, no matter how expanded, on a new home?
Listen now. We’ll cover the commercial market in depth (yes, we’ll talk about WeWork) with Barbara in Part II of the interview, out next from Business Casual. Subscribe to make sure you don’t miss it.
Not too long ago, Complex CEO Rich Antoniello tweeted this—what he considers the formula for success in publishing. Seems pretty straightforward, but...
It got the Business Casual team thinking: Does such a formula really exist? And if Rich is right in saying that it does, how can lessons he espouses from the publishing world apply to every other sector?
This week on Business Casual, we get an answer straight from the media CEO’s mouth. Rich answers every burning question about his formula for success, from what matters most to how differently things would’ve gone if he’d just invented YouTube.
There’s a reason we’re talking about this right now. It’s because now more than ever, success in publishing is hard to come by. In an industry known for its thin margins and stubborn resistance to change, a pandemic and recession have accelerated hardships already being played out.
We recorded this episode on March 31 as the COVID-19 pandemic began to take a stranglehold on the economy. The lessons have aged better than we could’ve ever expected: One look at this list of newsroom layoffs paints the picture better than any episode description could—layoffs have come for everyone, from old media to new.Understanding how to insulate your business (whether it’s in publishing or not) from having to make those hard decisions to let your people go? That’s important today and will be important tomorrow.
And FWIW, Rich’s wisdom spans far more than just the youth culture his Complex team is so devoutly dedicated to. Here’s a small sample of his pep-talk-but-realistic vibe:“There is no excuse not to evaluate yourself, every word, every story, every video, every social post, every campaign that you’ve created. There's always ways to get better. And you have to be pushing yourself and you have to go not to do more of it. Like this is not a more thing. It's a how do we do it better?”
For those of us lucky enough to have jobs that allow it, working from home has laid bare many uncomfortable truths—like the fact that productivity and the presence of pajamas are inversely correlated...or that fact that cybersecurity is a pillow fort when it should be Fort Knox.
After all, we’re in the midst of a global health crisis that’s forced us to adopt a new normal. And that crisis has sent us barreling toward dependence on digital tools to both keep us informed and help us do our jobs. But with that, how should our approaches to cybersecurity change?
This week on Business Casual, we’re getting the answers from Nicole Eagan, CEO of cybersecurity company Darktrace, the first to develop an AI system to thwart cyber threats. Nicole explains why we need to shift our mindsets surrounding cybersecurity from 1s and 0s to a more holistic view.Because as far as she’s concerned, hacks happen. No system is impenetrable. But what we need to think about now is how wide open our home setups are leaving corporations across the board. Face it, we don’t always use the VPN we’re told to.
Plus, Nicole adeptly illustrates how this pandemic, unpredictable and painful as it might be, is preparing us to adopt useful tech at a faster (read: better) pace than ever before. Just don’t expect AI to write these descriptions anytime soon.
We’ve read enough about Elon Musk to know that CEOs are as much a liability as they are an advantage. Just this month, Musk tweeted that Tesla’s stock price was “too high.” Tesla’s stock price responded in kind by tanking some 10%. I’m sure investors loved that.
And Musk is just one example of many. So why aren’t investors and reporters thinking more about leadership and its tangible effects on a company’s bottom line? If change starts at the top, why aren’t we talking about effective leadership in SEC documents instead of woo-woo weekend retreats?
To find out, I spoke with Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post, CEO of Thrive Global, author of 15 books, and general expert in what it means to lead effectively.
Arianna delved into the “obvious consequences” of widespread burnout within top corporate brass—the kind of burnout she’s repeatedly claimed drives someone like Elon Musk to tweet something like “funding secured.”
And there’s a reason we’re talking about it right now. As far as Arianna is concerned, being a leader throughout a crisis like today’s is like stepping into the eye of a hurricane. It’s never been 1) harder and 2) more important to prioritize strong leadership, from both a human and a business perspective.
But that’s easier said than done. Listen now to find out why.
Part I of our interview with outspoken venture capitalist and entrepreneur Chamath Palihapitiya ruffled some feathers...consider that the pregame to today’s Part II.
In this episode, Chamath argues his thesis that “zombie companies” need to go six feet under for the rest of the economy to stay alive and well—especially in the middle of today’s pandemic and recession. He explains...Why stock buybacks and monetary mismanagement deserve more than a slap on the wristHow the government needs to reconsider the incentives it offers companies to create a more sustainable version of capitalism
And while he’s at it, Chamath draws apt connections between luck and hard work.
Come for the deep analysis of government intervention in companies deemed too big to fail, stay for Chamath’s assertion that the U.S. economy needs billionaires like the NBA needs LeBron James.
Listen now and let us know what you think. And if you missed Part I, go check that out, too.
American capitalism is kind of like apple pie. We know it’s supposed to be a quintessential component of our culture, but we’re not really sure how to make it from scratch without leaving a bad taste in someone’s mouth.
This week on Morning Brew’s Business Casual podcast, the provocative and recently very viral venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya argues that today’s recipe for capitalism isn’t working.
Palihapitiya’s case against this “perversion” of capitalism looks a little like this:We’ve strayed tremendously from the free market system that allowed all entities, wealthy or poor, to move together in unison.To Palihapitiya, that’s resulted in a massive zero sum game between resilience and efficiency. If we want to have both, we need to make some changes.
You might not agree with Palihapitiya. But this episode is full of thought starters guaranteed to provoke even the least civically inclined of your group chat. And just wait for Part II coming out next…
Go listen to Part I now.
+ And if you want to check out the viral interview we reference in the episode, find that here.
He’s not running. But if he were? The hedge fund billionaire and philanthropist says he would put bipartisanship above all else. Sounds great, Ray, but is it realistic?
On this episode of Morning Brew’s Business Casual podcast and part two of our interview with Ray Dalio, we try our best to figure it out.
Dalio expertly describes the intersection of markets and politics in today’s crisis, making the intricacies of Fed policy, Wall Street psychology, debt cycles, and more make perfect sense. Plus, Dalio gives a master class in...What’s wrong with capitalism (there are some strong contenders for best pie metaphor of the year in that part)How we should interpret the markets which constitute our broader economy as machines that sometimes need tune-ups
If you missed part one of our conversation with Dalio, go check it out. In this second part, he expands on his thesis that students of history could’ve seen this pandemic coming. Are you sold?
Listen now and let us know.