Steve Cakebread, Author Of "The IPO Playbook," On Taking Your Subscription Business Public

Episode 17 February 10, 2021 00:35:25
Steve Cakebread, Author Of "The IPO Playbook," On Taking Your Subscription Business Public
Subscription Stories: True Tales from the Trenches
Steve Cakebread, Author Of "The IPO Playbook," On Taking Your Subscription Business Public

Show Notes

Today’s guest, Steve Cakebread, knows a great deal about subscription pricing models and IPOs. Steve has brought three notable subscription-based companies—Salesforce, Pandora, and Yext—to successful initial public offerings, or IPOs, and served on the board of three other subscription-based companies - eHealth, SolarWinds, and - as those companies went public. Steve is frequently sought-out for his advice on IPOs, often fielding three or more requests in a single week. He decided to put his advice on the subject into a new book, The IPO Playbook: An Insider’s Perspective on Taking Your Company Public and How to Do It Right. On today’s show, Steve sits down with Robbie Kellman Baxter for a discussion on why investors love subscriptions, how to take your subscription business public, what it takes to build a solid foundation, and how to tell your subscription story in a way that investors will understand.


Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!
Join the Subscription Stories Community today:
View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:04 We all want a business like Netflix or Amazon prime businesses, where once a customer engages with them, it becomes automatic and a part of their lifestyle from then on. But how do you build that forever transaction? I'm Robbie Kellman Baxter, and I have been studying subscription and membership models for nearly 20 years in this podcast, my guests and I share the secrets and strategies of the membership economy. Join us for subscription stories, true tales from the trenches today's guest. Scott Mardel has been the CEO of the young president's organization or YPO from 2011 through 2020. Prior to that, he was a YPO member as the result of leadership roles at Chamberlain group, Heath co LLC, Duchess, SWAT industries, and Arlington international race course, the global white PO community includes more than 29,000 members in more than 140 countries. Membership is limited to executives and entrepreneurs who have achieved significant leadership success at a young age combined. Speaker 0 00:01:16 They lead businesses and organizations contributing 9 trillion us dollars in annual revenue. What I find fascinating about YPO is how intense and powerful the community is. People I know who are members will move mountains to make sure they can attend their regular meetings. Despite the fact that they're among the busiest people I know, and many of them fit the bill of super-users my word to describe members who go beyond just being good members who pay their dues and get value from the offerings, but actually contribute significant time and money of their own to benefit the organization. Scott and I are going to talk about what YPO has done structurally to attract, engage, and retain CEOs around the world, how they've managed to recreate the magic globally and how they transform happy members into super-users welcome to the show, Scott, Speaker 1 00:02:26 Thank you, Robbie. It's great to be with you today. Speaker 0 00:02:28 So tell me about the forever promise that you make to your members. What is it that you're going to do for them forever in exchange for their engagement and loyalty? Speaker 1 00:02:38 Well, first of all, it's the welcome. We welcome extraordinary leaders to come together and grow together to improve their lives, their businesses, and ultimately the world. It can be lonely to be a leader of an organization. And our promise, our forever promise is that you'll never walk alone in your journey as you go forward. Speaker 0 00:02:56 You'll never walk alone. We all that, especially during Speaker 2 00:03:00 Times of, uh, of COVID when, uh, when we can feel especially lonely. Absolutely. So walk me through that experience of a new member, maybe even from the time. And this is just a typical scenario from the time that they first hear about or become interested in YPO through the time when they feel like they're fully part of their forum. Speaker 1 00:03:20 Thank you for about 70 years now, we've been doing this and we've been really a quiet organization. We've not really been trying to put ourselves out there as anything other than helping our individual leaders grow and become better people with that. Some folks will more often than not hear about YPO through other leaders. Somebody who's been in contact with the organization or as a member of the organization in some way, shape or form nowadays, of course, with social media and everything else happening. Um, many prospective members and people aspiring to be members find out about us through social media and the rest. Once somebody becomes aware, there's really two paths. One is if I come in contact with you Robbie, and I say, boy, you know, I think you'd be a fantastic member of YPO, the courtship and the conversation begins to happen. Um, you're wondering what YPO is. Speaker 1 00:04:07 What does, what do they initial stand for? Why would I even want to be a member? These days, people are joining fewer and fewer organizations as time goes, and there'd be much more discriminating about how they participate in organizations. And so there's a diligence process that happens. And for us, it happens very much person to person. It's me explaining to you how YPO has changed my life. I'm a better leader, a better husband, better person than I would have been without YPO. And, um, to talk that all the way through and in that way, we can connect you to people in your industries and all the rest. So there's a getting to know you kind of space, uh, that, that happens with that. And once the aspiring person says, yeah, you know, I really would like to join YPO. Then there's a pre-qualification process at which somebody fills out a rudimentary application basically to says, you know, my businesses have sufficient size and I really am the leader of my organization that matters to us. Speaker 1 00:05:00 It's critical for our peer to peer relationships that people can have that peer empathy, that we really are running our organizations. So once that process goes forth, uh, I'm going to be recruited into a chapter more likely than not. And so I will typically attend a chapter event and get to meet a number of the different members as time would go and really become, give us a flavor of what, what this YPO journey is going to be. And from there that leads into the formal application process and the formal review process is one would do that. Other folks will reach out to us through our website. Somebody will say, I've heard about YPO. I'd love to be a member of learn more. And they can talk to our, our members right through our website and a live chat right then and there because CEOs expect person to person contact and really that personal attention. Speaker 1 00:05:48 And so we spent quite a bit of time toward that. And then with that, we'll either recommend you to a chapter to participate in, or actually have virtual chapters. And in some of our, some of our incoming members will join virtual chapters because of where they live. Maybe there's not a local chapter or whichever we've got about 475 chapters located around the world. So we're in many of the major business centers, but as we know some great leaders, aren't in the major business centers. And so, um, we want to make opportunities for them there as well. Speaker 2 00:06:18 Yeah, really interesting. There's a few things I wanted to follow up on. Um, I'll try to do them one at a time, although I'm very excited on the different topics. Yeah, of course. Yeah. So, so one thing I really like is that you're very clear on who your ideal member is and it's the person who's responsible for leading the organization. And so I believe that one of the most important things about building a successful membership organization and justifying recurring revenue is that the organization is very clear about who's an ideal member and also who's not an ideal member. So being willing to, to say to some prospective members, this is probably not the right place for you. But the other thing that I find really interesting is this is a pretty friction Laden process. It's not like I just give you some money and you give me, you tell me which chapter to join. It seems like you've deliberately put quite a bit of friction into the process of becoming a member. Speaker 1 00:07:15 Yes, we do. So first of all, the clarity of who should be a member and who should not be a member in a peer to peer organization, ultimately the members really are the, the product or the experience for the other members when it's all said and done. So if we're going to create this safe space for people to truly be with peers, it's important that they be peers and, and, um, we don't apologize for that. And in fact, um, we create a safer place for people to share ideas because they know they're speaking with peers. And so it's that that clarity is, has always been part of YPO. And we debate what a peer is every single year, of course. And, and we, we go through all of those parts, but, but in the same, same vein, that's very important to us in terms of the clarity relative to the process ahead, of course, as we evolve, in some cases, we're, we're creating a little less friction relative to what it looks like, but this isn't just a, my revenues, a certain amount. Speaker 1 00:08:06 And therefore I should be in there's personality attributes that actually would suggest whether or not you're a peer in terms of joining an organization like this. And in contributing to an organization like this peer to peer is just that I've got something to contribute and I've got something to learn. So within that sense, we're seeking a sense of curiosity. We're seeking a sense of, I will commit to the experience we're seeking a sense of, I know what I'm getting into. So I don't say after I go through the process, I say, it's not what I thought it was going to be. We try to minimize that. And as a result, that back and forth relationship that builds up between the prospect and the organization and between the prospect and the other members that that prospect meets in the process is particularly important to help validate everybody that this is going to be a great experience. And we're going to have a experience together. Speaker 2 00:08:56 What I love about this and what I hope our listeners take away from this is that sometimes having that upfront discipline and not rushing to acquire just anyone who wants to be part of your organization can actually lead to a more powerful value proposition for the members. And as a result of that, a longer duration of membership, I have something else that you said that really stuck out for me. You talked about the forever promise being you'll, you'll never walk alone, which is, which is beautifully simple, but also very ambitious. And then when you were describing some of the conversations that your members have, you mentioned being a good husband, being a good spouse. People don't usually think of that. When you say this is an organization to help me be a better leader, and maybe I leave my personal life at home, but I don't think that's the case at YPO. Can you talk about the decision to take that? You'll never walk alone to me, not just, you'll never walk alone on your professional journey, but also you can bring the rest of yourself to the group. Speaker 1 00:10:04 Thank you, Robbie. I'm thrilled that you noticed that leadership is a whole person experience when I'm making business decisions. I'm bringing to bear my entire life, my personal life, my, the way that I feel today, all of my experiences who I trust and who I don't trust what's worked and what hasn't worked and YPO embraces the entire member's experience. And so that means that we, we embrace family inclusion. We embrace our spouse and partner inclusion. We provide programming, uh, for, for, for that whole experience. And when we meet in our groups, we recognize that sometimes what's on my mind today is really all my personal topics. We feel that if we just did professional topics and just limited within a range, that's not really who we are about this lifelong journey about how a member's going to improve their leadership and their lives and really the world. It requires a holistic attitude. And so we embrace that 100%. And in that sense, it's a, um, it's a big part of the distinction between YPO and maybe some universities, maybe some other different membership organizations that we recognize that the member joins the organization, not the CEO box of an organization and not the organization, but it's the member, it's a leader herself or himself that actually joins the organization. And we're very committed to that leaders develop. Speaker 2 00:11:18 So I'm going to ask you a question that I, that I didn't tell you about an advance because of where this conversation is going. And I hope it's okay. And you're, you're up for answering it, but you, you were a member of YPO before you became YPs leader. And I'm curious if you could share maybe a little story from your time as a member and perhaps a time when you brought your whole self to the meeting. I think it would be helpful for people to kind of understand what that might look like, bringing your whole self to the group. Speaker 1 00:11:50 I'll say that when I left, uh, Arlington race course, which was my first CEO role, when I became a YPO member, I was at a career juncture and it was not entirely about my career. I had real involved discussions with my forum about who I was going to be as Scott Martel, like who is Scott Martel and not to a Scott model as a CEO, what's the next place you're going to go, but who is Scott Martel? What matters to you and what excites you and what doesn't excite you and why that ended up being a really drawn out in a good way, personal experience for me to really understand how that would play out. And one other example, which really just touches me, it makes me want to cry just as I think about it. But, um, I was a baseball coach for my kids. Speaker 1 00:12:33 And, uh, one of the kids that played with our kids ended up going to Italy and did the college, uh, exchange students shouldn't do, but you got a little, uh, intoxicated and went home alone. Okay. And they found him in a, in a ditch, basically Deaton beyond recognition. And he was in the hospital and I didn't know what to do. I mean, our friends are just, just appalled and in terms of how to help. And I called a YPO member in Milan and who I knew, and it is, it turns out that he happens to be a doctor and he, um, he took it upon himself to fly to Rome and put himself into this situation and take care of, of this young man and to help the family connect with the hospital there. But it was just extraordinary to see YPO is in Italy, who I barely knew. Speaker 1 00:13:18 We're helping, helping extradition. We're helping, um, all kinds of just support for the family. And this is wasn't even a YPO family. It was just people doing the right thing. And when I think about that, that had nothing to do with business, had nothing to do with networking, had nothing to do with, Oh my gosh, you know, Scott's going to do a favor for me in the future. Those people just acting with an extraordinary amount of grace and Goodwill. That's this whole person as it gets. And there's so many stories like that around YPO, and I'll never be alone. And when I'm in crisis, I'm coming to YPO. And when I'm not in crisis, I'm going to help people who are, and it's, it's really the spirit of togetherness that creates a sense of community, Speaker 2 00:13:55 What a tragic, but also really beautiful story. So how do you, how do you keep this magic as the organization has grown this kind of intimacy and trust when you go across across borders and adding new people all the time, how do you keep this kind of level of, of, of community and culture, even as you grow and expand and evolve? Speaker 1 00:14:23 Well, thank you. Part of it is that friction filled process, you talked about earlier, it's really helping people understand with some degree of clarity as to what the experience is going to be. And as a result, we're, we're going into it all. Wide-eyed if you will, uh, having, having big expectations as to what we can do and participate in beyond that, looking at that peerdom relative to people are curious, people are givers more than they're takers, okay. And people are in the process. And so we have some personality, um, which are very important. And then we also are very clear as an organization, that one we're not allowed being an advocacy organization. We're not here to tell you exactly what to do, Scott or Robbie. We're actually here to tell you what we're doing, what somebody else is doing, share through their experiences, and you draw your own conclusions. Speaker 1 00:15:08 Okay. And, and as a result, uh, we're not for, or against any kind of economy for, or against any kind of politician for, against any kind of philanthropy or charity work for or against any kind of industry. And as a result, we do engage in invite, open sharing. We welcome that. And we welcome disagreement in a, this is what I'm doing. This is what you're doing, but I'm not here to convince you and that welcoming spirit and that, and that curiosity that's inherent in all of the members translates incredibly well chapter to chapter, no matter what country we're talking about, whether it's in malicious or Canada or Singapore or China, it just transmit translates very well. And it's implemented by the local cultures. And so what feels confidential for somebody who's grown up in China might be quite a bit different than what feels confidential for somebody who's grown up in England, for example. But at the same time, it can be implemented based on their local mores and the local ways that people engage. And when we cross pollinate across our borders, whether it be through virtual events or in person events, we come together with that same spirit of curiosity and acceptance that just helps it all to work. So it's a lot of the similar protocols and attitudes, but they're implemented with cultural and geographical diversity. Speaker 2 00:16:20 So if I went to a forum meeting in San Paulo, would it feel like Auckland or Dusseldorf? To what extent are you like McDonalds, where the experience is consistent globally, but with little bits of local flavor. And to what extent would I maybe not even recognize that I was at a YPO event, if I were in a different market, Speaker 1 00:16:42 The only way that we're similar to McDonald's is we both have menus. Okay. Speaker 2 00:16:47 Yeah. You have a menu. What can we have a menu of opportunities? Speaker 1 00:16:51 So what we do is if there's a forum, a meeting in Oakland versus one, that's meeting San Paulo, they're going to go through basically a similar process of a meeting. There's an opening, there's a reminder of confidentiality and norms of how people are coming together. There's a conversation starter, there's updates. Then there's a talk around what we'll call presentation, certain deep dive topics and issues. And then there's a, an exercise that everybody participates in. And then there's a check-out and that process will be the same, pretty much wherever you go into a forum meeting around the world. Now how that gets executed. What's a good conversation starter in Sao Paulo with a particular group. And what's a good conversation starter in Oakland, um, could be quite a bit different depending on what the current issues and tone and attitude of those members who are joining at the time. And that's where we, I say, we've got the menu, we've got resources available, which can help the moderator, the person leading that particular group. Cause it's all member led. And, and in terms of how we go about doing it, we try to resource them with the materials so that they can build their own meeting, that that's effective for what they're trying to achieve at a point in time. Speaker 2 00:17:54 So I talk about this concept of super users and a super user is somebody who goes beyond just being a good dues paying member. Who's using your services regularly and well getting good value and happy to pay a fair price for that value. A super user goes one step beyond that and actually contributes their own time. And in some cases, money toward the good of the organization, helping that organization's brand and product be more successful. YPO has a lot of those. One of them is a client of mine, McKeel Haggerty. He's the CEO of Haggerty insurance, very well known as perhaps the world's leading brand for classic car enthusiasts, but he's also the past global chair of YPO. And it's interesting to me, I mean, he is phenomenally busy, running a pretty good sized organization with lots of challenges. And yet he, during the time that we were working together, he was actually the global chair of YPO traveling all around the world, coming to meetings, speaking, talking about the future of the organization, dealing with challenges as they arose. And I'm really curious. I mean, how, how do you get people like McKeel to donate, you know, hundreds of hours for the good of the YPO organization? Well, beyond what it would take for him to just be a good and active member in his forum or chapter. Speaker 1 00:19:26 Thank you. It's complicated. And it's simple at the exact same time. First of all, we're a peer-to-peer organization. Everything that we do, every single event is led by a member. Our overall governance of the organization is led by a member boards and committees and volunteerism as part of the spirit of the organization. More than two thirds of our members have volunteered in some way, shape or form for the organization. So we're, we're blessed with super users like McKeel, and he was phenomenal, uh, you know, chairman of YPO and just an example of what we consider the model YPO hours, but we've got two thirds of our members have two thirds of 30,000 people have, have participated in as leading events or are participating in other ways in terms of leading their forums. And why would you donate time back to something it's because you get something back, really some sort of validation, some relationships that build because, um, because I'm volunteering, I may meet people from different countries outside of my industries that I may not have met. Speaker 1 00:20:21 Otherwise I may just develop bonds and delight as I go around and have different experiences outside of my work kind of flow. And I become accountable as I build relationships, uh, by working alongside people, I become accountable to them and that's, nothing's going to make me do something more than me deciding to do it. And that sense that I want to do it because I want to support you and help you becomes a cycle, a cycle of participation. And it does evolve to the point to, we have some super users and people who donate incredible amounts of time, who are incredibly busy, but they find the time. And it's because the relationships, the contribution that they can make to others, the validation and value that they're coming back, the learning, the new ways that they're thinking, it just becomes a self re fulfilling kind of experience. Speaker 1 00:21:07 And in that sense, once you begin to get that, you want more of it. And so I've been CEO now for, uh, almost 10 years, I've been a member for 25 and I'm stepping out of this CEO role and I'm going to go back and take a breath. And I'm sure I'm going to find other ways to volunteer back into YPO because I want, I want to keep very connected with my community. And then finally, going back to the earlier point, you had raised relative to the it's more than business. It's the whole family. Once my kids, once in my case, my wife, once we're getting value out of YPO and become like, we feel we're part of that community. Now I'm wanting to make the community great for them too. And so therefore it's not just a business pursuit, it's a personal pursuit. And when it's personal, it becomes very sticky. Our renewal rates are over 95%. And, um, it's really unheard of for membership organizations in, in this way. And it's because people are getting this kind of value and that's with two thirds of our members of volunteering, um, over the course of their journey. So I'm just proud to be part of it. And it's been a model that's been followed and sometimes the model is better than the management. And, uh, sometimes it just works because it's a pure organization. Speaker 2 00:22:14 So a couple of quick clarification, if you join YPO because you're leading an organization and then you move to a point where you're not leading an organization, either because you're looking for the next thing or you're taking a break or you tire, do you keep your membership in the organization or do you need to be an active leader of an organization of a certain size, Speaker 1 00:22:35 Great question earlier on in your, in your tenure journey, you know, your first six years when you join and say, there's a transition, which is perfectly natural, right? People are moving around to organizations and changes. We implement what we call grace, that you get a certain amount of grace time while you're putting yourself back into a leadership role. Okay. And so, so members will typically find those roles after one's been a member for over, uh, over six years and the whole rest they become while you've your YPO. You've been doing this now for long enough. And if you've changed companies or changed the way that you lead organizations, whatever their scale is, um, you continue on as a member. Speaker 2 00:23:10 Okay. So you're a member for the rest of your life if you choose to. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:23:13 Yes, yes. And the spread of our membership, I think our youngest member is 22 and our oldest is 99. Okay. And so that range of experiences of our members and when offered in the net safe kind of communication space that I've been through this, and this is what I have to share. There's a generational value and a business value and a life-stage value that our members get to share that as much more than just business challenge value. And, um, it's, it's wonderful to see, Speaker 2 00:23:38 Oh, talk about a forever transaction join when you're 22 and stay till you're 99 is pretty close to us as forever as it gets for people as a membership person. I love that because I think a lot of organizations focus on a particular moment in time solving that pain point that might bring someone to you might call it a headline benefit. So for example, people might be joining YPO because it's their first time leading an organization, or because they've run into a thorny problem and realize that they have no trusted peers and a friend, or they have only one. And they're there one trusted peer friend says this might be a good time for you to think about joining YPO. But beyond that headline benefit are all of the, what I call engagement and retention benefits. All the reasons that somebody would choose to make it a habit after they've gotten through that sticky, difficult point that brought them in the first place. And also that commitment to say, we're following you on the entire journey. You will never walk alone. It doesn't say you will not walk alone for as long as you're a CEO or as long as you're a leader of an organization, but never. And I think metaphorically, that's probably a very useful concept. I had one question, I don't know that I heard you talk about acquisition metrics, awareness, metrics, reasons for loss, sort of the things outside of the current membership base. What are the metrics that you use for people who are not members? Speaker 1 00:25:08 Right. Well, first of all, of course we track our exit surveys and all of those reasons as to what people are leaving YPO forth for, for the outside, uh, metrics, we track our pipeline in terms of, we know who's, who's in the pipeline and we can keep track of where that's going. We have some target markets as every organization does. And how that pipeline looks in that target market area is, is quite important as we would see Speaker 2 00:25:29 Target market, like we're growing in China or we're growing in New Zealand or like a certain industry we're, we're trying to grow in biotech. Speaker 1 00:25:38 Yeah. It's, we're much more geographic oriented. We're seeing that the industries end up reflecting the geographies and a lot of times, so we, we, we do run our geographic spread. I mean our industry spread, but we don't say, Oh boy, you know, we're, we're running law and financial services. Let's go get some, I mean, we, we, we don't do that because we haven't had to because we we've been pretty representative. So what we do is we look at the markets, where do we think are likely, um, CEO prospects. So one has been a growth area where we've grown from in the last 10 years, I think from about 118 countries to over 140. So some of that's a wider footprint, but in many cases, it's really following the economy and finding out where the depth and the growth of the economy is making sure we're, we're, we're being meaningful there. So the social media, the followers, and all of the rest of we're not chasing just numbers. We want the right followers. We want people aspiring, who are close to where we are close to becoming members and also people who are opinion leaders and, and relevant in that way. So we'll break down our followers and kind of track that as best we can, but we can always get better at it. And that's a, it's a constant journey as everything just gets more and more connected. Yeah, Speaker 2 00:26:41 Of course. So we're during the, uh, COVID 19 pandemic and I have to ask what has been the impact of COVID on YPO, what has happened and how have you responded? Speaker 1 00:26:55 Thank you. Uh, well, like everybody it's been, it's been quite dramatic. We've had a number of members who have been in just great pain and distress, uh, because of the economic impacts and also the societal impacts. And then we've got members who are doing very well and, and actually contributing and helping in different ways. So we we've seen the whole range of different approaches and also across all of the different markets we've seen, you know, we've got members in the markets that have handled it well and members and markets who haven't handled it well. So we're seeing all that. It's disrupted everything. You know, we've gone from 8,000 in-person events to let me see zero. Um, and, and, uh, we we've canceled some big events and, um, we we've had to make the pivot to much more digital and on demand activity. Um, this, everybody is doing the same. Speaker 1 00:27:39 Our members are getting zoom, fatigue, just like so many other folks as well. So we're evolving, even those engagements to be more person to person rather than one to many as that would go. And we're being very aggressive about how we do that. The technological change is in need to technologically change as is quite dramatic. So like so many organizations were just doubling down, if you will, on some of the, some of the platforms that we're going to need to have in the engagements that, that we need to have, and we've upped our personal attention, we're getting very one-to-one. We do a process we call needs and leads and member to member exchange, where somebody is in crisis, or somebody needs PPE, or somebody needs some kind of support or somebody, some, I need some financial guidance or whichever, and we're matching them with the members that we have, who can actually offer and help that. So we have a lot of givers and a lot of people in need and, and we're, we're, we're personally matching them. Speaker 2 00:28:28 Is that a service that you pay? So for example, if I'm a member in Singapore and I need PPE, I, I would go directly to kind of YPO headquarters and say, this is what I need. And you and your team would act almost as a matchmaker or concierge to try to figure out who might be able to help them in a digital way. Speaker 1 00:28:49 Yes. And we created a mini marketplace group site where people could say, Hey, I've got a whole bunch of PPE. I've got disinfectants. And, and we've published every single week, you know, w where people could make, uh, make that available to people. So some of that was done, um, personally and facilitated as you just described. And some of it was I'll just go to the Corona virus micro-site and there's a PPE list, and I'll look at the current one and I'll see, see what I can do. And so inventorying all that and moving that along, there's quite a bit different than the programming we were doing before. COVID, and it's really highlighting for us that beyond the pandemic, the needs that people have are very varied all over the place. And so how do we create a real marketplace of needs and support for those needs? That's more than just our structured programming, but really is much more individualized. And we're doing that through personal support as we evolve. And so, um, it's a, it's a process underway, but it's really taken shape here under COVID. So some those I'll Speaker 2 00:29:42 Call them features or benefits that you've created in response to member needs during COVID are things that you plan to continue after things go back to where it's possible to go back to being in person. Absolutely. Speaker 1 00:29:56 I mean, you just think about what's happened for all of us. It's like our urgencies and a lot of cases have become immediate. Okay. And it's not just personal growth, but now we have urgent and immediate needs and, and crises and how responsive and agile can we be as an organization to help members with what they need, not what would be static learning programming. And we've totally made a shift for that. And that's really helped, helped us create greater clarity about what it is that that member wants and needs. And we need to be there for them because that's part of the lifetime journey. So it's changing our outlook. Speaker 2 00:30:27 Got it. I want to wrap up with two last things. The first one is I would love to get your advice for people who are listening, who tell me all the time, my membership, they're just, they're very important. People. They're very busy. They don't have time for community. They don't have time to respond to my questions or requests. What's your advice for leaders of global networks and communities who are trying to keep busy and powerful people engaged. And even to tap into this power of super users, Speaker 1 00:30:56 Just always reminded that as human beings, we will do what we want to do, and we will passively resist or aggressively resist what we don't want to do. And just gotta be very mindful about why would somebody want to volunteer time for the organization and what are they getting out of it for themselves in terms of their growth in terms of their relationships, in terms of their whole being in terms of whatever they're seeking. And if we're not providing that in our communications or in our engagement opportunities, they tell us that based on the lack of response, based on the lack of participation and based on how hard we're trying to push something on them, we think it's a good idea, but maybe they don't. Do you listen humbly to that? And do you know that that's okay, that's not working on how do I get the voice of, of who's there. Speaker 1 00:31:39 So I believe it's a membership organization of any kind is an ongoing dialogue between whatever you consider the organization and the community that the organization represents and the individual members. And if you can't keep some kind of meaningful feedback loop or relationship that's as personal as it can be, you're just starting to work for large numbers. And it's easy to rationalize large numbers, but losing one is it can be devastating if it's for the wrong reason. So, so in that sense, having that current dialogue is important. And when people feel that they're being heard and their contributions and voices meaningful, and they're getting something out of those conversations, they're going to keep coming back for more. So it's really just that. Speaker 2 00:32:18 Great. I want to jump into a speed round, some quick questions, best piece of advice you recently received Speaker 1 00:32:25 My role. I get a lot of advice. Okay. So, um, CEOs to CEOs continue to be more conversant in a person to person voice don't speak on behalf of the organization. Every communication should come from a person from the organization. Nobody has an Alliance to the organization. They have an Alliance to other people. So the advice I got was just, um, we need every communication really owned by a person behind it. And let's, let's stand up for that. Whether no matter who it is, but somebody who's gonna own that communication and be the person speaking to the other person. So we're going very vigorously to person, to person voice. And, uh, I'll say <inaudible>, or our new CEO's replaced me at YPO is just all over that. And, and really, really pressing that. And it's really exciting to see. So, so the advice is there heard and, uh, being acted upon Speaker 0 00:33:13 Great. What is the first subscription you ever remember getting Speaker 1 00:33:16 The first subscription time magazine? So, um, I was, uh, 13, 14 years old. I remember my father telling me, Scott, you have to be a generalist. You need to understand how the world works. You should subscribe to this. So he made me pay for my own subscription out of my, uh, my newspaper, route monies. You know, I've always been a generalist, uh, reading and trying to see the world since then. Speaker 0 00:33:37 And your favorite subscription. Now Speaker 1 00:33:39 I'd have to say YPO. I'm a lifetime member of YPO and, uh, um, I'm not going anywhere. And it's, uh, just provides value for me in so many different ways and it's going to help me as I renew myself for my next chapter. And so I'm, I'm fully committed to it, Speaker 0 00:33:53 Such a pleasure to have you Scott, thank you so much. Just fascinating, fascinating conversation. And I know it's going to be helpful for our listeners. Well, thank you for Speaker 1 00:34:02 Having me. I've enjoyed this very much, and I love the whole thinking that you're bringing relative to all of these topics and what it takes to, to bond and piece together. And Speaker 0 00:34:11 Thank you. That was Scott Moore, Dell CEO of the young president's organization for more about YPO, go to and for more about subscription stories, as well as a transcript of my conversation with Scott, go to Robbie Kellman, Also, if you like what you heard, please take a moment to write a review and give us a star rating reviews matters so much in helping others find us. Thanks for your support. And thanks for listening to subscription stories.

Other Episodes

Episode 39

January 26, 2022 00:34:30
Episode Cover

Beyond Subscriptions, Pricing for Impact with HBS/ESADE Professor Marco Bertini

Even though people think of me as a subscription person, I always say that for me, subscriptions are simply a tactic. Subscriptions force companies to better align their pricing with performance. If the subscriber doesn’t perceive ongoing value, they cancel the subscription…so it becomes the organization’s responsibility to ensure that the customer is achieving the desired outcome. That’s the real goal of subscriptions—to better align payment with outcome.   Professor Marco Bertini is a professor at both Esade in Spain and the Harvard Business School here in the US. He is an expert on performance-based pricing—not just subscriptions, but pay-for-consumption models and even outcome-based pricing.   Marco’s new book, The Ends Game: How Smart Companies Stop Selling Products and Start Delivering Value, which he cowrote with Oded Koenigsberg of the London Business School is one of the best pricing books I’ve read in a long time. In today’s conversation,  we talk about how to optimize your pricing model to ensure that your customers can access the value you provide, use your offering well, and most importantly get the performance outcomes they need. Welcome to the show marco.   ...


Episode 36

October 20, 2021 00:35:14
Episode Cover

How the "Daily Homepage for the World's Largest Industry" is Rethinking the Future of Travel with Skift's Rafat Ali

In March of 2020, travel as we knew it abruptly ground to a near standstill. First cruise ships were docked, and then air travel quickly became limited to very special cases. Hotels stood empty except for those that held people in quarantine and the health care workers who cared for them. I think it’s fair to say that no industry has changed more as a result of COVID than travel. Today’s guest, Rafat Ali, has been at the forefront of understanding these changes, and the massive impact they are having on the entire industry. He is the founder and CEO of Skift, “the daily homepage for the world’s largest industry”, and perhaps the leading news source for travel executives. In today’s conversation, we’ll talk about the key changes happening in the world of travel that affect us all; why he believes in a reader-centric model optimized for travel professionals, rather than advertisers, and Skift’s recent decision to “debrand” their site. ...


Episode 2

July 27, 2020 00:44:40
Episode Cover

Inspirato’s Brad Handler on Revamping a Thousand-Year-Old Industry

“Life is too short to play vacation roulette”. Brad Handler and his brother Brent are vacation entrepreneurs who incorporate membership and subscription into their luxury travel service, Inspirato. Brad joins Robbie to discuss the importance of “celebrating failure” when innovating, how a strategic approach to real estate and data give Inspirato a unique advantage, and the power of a “people-as-a-service” structure to create strong member relationships. Highlights from this episode: 2:08 – Brad introduces Inspirato’s affordable business model 5: 49 – Brad explains the two travel products and services offered: Inspirato Membership, and Inspirato Pass 10:04 – Hospitality vs. real estate in the vacation business, why Brad chose to focus on hospitality, and the importance of specialization in a company 11:03 – Brad and Robbie discuss subscription vs membership business models 12:25 – Inspirato’s forever promise, and why a membership mindset is so important 14:03 – Brad highlights the importance of planning for success in the entrepreneurial world 16:07 – How Inspirato uses technology to pull ahead of its competitors 16:65 – Brad and Robbie get into the “nitty-gritty” of Inspirato’s business model, and talk about Robbie’s 7 steps for optimizing subscription business models 18:45 – Brad introduces his philosophy of “celebrating failure” to promote innovation 21:03 – Inspirato’s most important metrics, and how data collection can transform and improve customer experience 26:30 – Brad and Robbie discuss Inspirato’s key to lasting members: a personalized onboarding process 31:08 – Why Inspirato has decided not to make any services “free” 32:31 – How Inspirato is structured for profitability 34:12 – Brad and Robbie talk about the importance of customer satisfaction and success 37:01 – Brad and Robbie discuss how human relationships are a part of Inspirato’s success 37:55 – Brad offers advice to aspiring entrepreneurs and ...