Dec. 27, 2021

Presenting: The Best BC Convos of 2021

Highlights from Stacey Vanek Smith, Marc Lore & Ndamukong Suh

We’re celebrating the end of 2021 with a very special Business Casual clip show, featuring highlights from Nora and Scott’s conversations with author Stacey Vanek Smith about her new book Machiavelli for Women, entrepreneur Marc Lore and NFL champion and investor Ndamukong Suh.

Click here for the full conversation with Stacey Vanek Smith

Or click here for the entire chat with Marc Lore

Or click here to listen to the complete Ndaumkong Suh episode.


Scott Rogowsky: You like these clip shows, Nora? I love these shows.

Nora Ali: I love clip shows. Because we record a lot of episodes. You kind of forget the highlights. It's good to reflect back and feel accomplished what a year we've had, huh? I'm proud of what our team has done. So, we are going to highlight some of our favorite conversations on Business Casual. I'll give you some of the highlights. I loved that you helped Marc Lore plan Halloween in Telosa.

Scott Rogowsky: That was big. That was a big moment.

Nora Ali: That was huge. That was a really big moment. You convinced him that Halloween has to be extra, extra in Telosa.

Scott Rogowsky: Yeah. You got to have the full size candy bars in Telosa.

Nora Ali: You have to. I also really enjoyed Shein. Remember how long ago that was when you learned about Shein?

Scott Rogowsky: Right. You know, Nora?

Nora Ali: Yes?

Scott Rogowsky: It is remarkable how many brilliant people we've spoken to on this podcast. We're young. The podcast has been around, I guess, for a couple years, but you and I, in this new iteration, we are young.

Nora Ali: Yes. We're babies. Yes.

Scott Rogowsky: We're little babies. Only a few months in. Look, my nephew's four months old now. He's just getting tummy time figured out. So, we're still on our tummies, Nora. We're still trying to figure how to stand up and waddle around. But despite the fact that we haven't been alive too long, here on this podcast, look who we've talked to.

Nora Ali: It's incredible. And you've got to crawl before you can walk before you can run. And we're going to be sprinting in 2022. I can feel it in my bones.

Scott Rogowsky: You better believe it, baby. No shin splints this year.

Nora Ali: Let's intro the episode, shall we? So we are going to highlight some of our favorite conversations on Business Casual. There were so many to choose from, but we'll hear from journalist and author Stacey Vanek Smith, entrepreneur Marc Lore, and NFL star and investor Ndamukong Suh.

Nora Ali: For Morning Brew, this is Business Casual, the podcast that gives you a front row seat to candid conversations with some of the biggest names in business, asking them the questions you wish you could ask. I'm your host, Nora Ali.

Scott Rogowsky: And I'm your other host, Scott Rogowsky. Nora and I are here for your ears, bringing you stories of how business shapes our lives today and into the future, like 2022. Now, let's get down to business.

Nora Ali: We're going to kick off the show with journalist and author, Stacey Vanek Smith, who stopped by to talk about her new book, Machiavelli for Women: Defend Your Worth, Grow Your Ambition and Win the Workplace.

Scott Rogowsky: Who knew that 16th century hot takes from an Italian political philosopher could apply to women navigating the workplace in the 2020s?

Nora Ali: Who knew indeed, but now we know, Scott. And Stacey also offers a lot of practical, real-life advice on how women can shatter the proverbial glass ceiling, which we'll hear in this clip.

[start clip]

Nora Ali: This phrase you just said, Stacey, the prince that looks right wearing the crown, one analogy that you have in the book you call the Cinderella Syndrome, which is one way the glass ceiling manifests itself in that men stereotypically, their style of just existing and operating in life is aligned with what people perceive to be leaders and women have to rely more on historic successes and empirical evidence and their track record more than men do. So as far as real-life advice for some of our listeners, how do we try to combat these preconceived notions of who a leader is, who a leader is not, especially because the notion of a leader is in some ways aligned with what it means to be a quote unquote good man? 

Stacey Vanek Smith: Yeah, that is, I think the central issue that women struggle with, especially, and it's often called the double bind by researchers. And it just has to do with the unconscious expectations that we have of people, unconscious biases. And that's why they're so difficult to address because people don't mean to do them. Don't mean to have them. I mean, I've caught a million of them in myself. Harvard University has a site where you can take a quiz about your unconscious biases. And like, they're definitely there. I was shocked after all these millions of gender books I've read, my answers were like Stone Age answers. But basically we expect women to be sympathetic, compassionate, self-deprecating, modest, kind, nurturing. And those are all great qualities, but they're not qualities we associate with leaders. With leaders, like you said, we want to see independence. People who don't care that much, what people think, outspoken, decisive. And so women are in the situation where if they display a lot of quote unquote feminine qualities, they are well-liked, but they are not considered serious contenders for leadership positions. And if they display a lot of leadership qualities, people might think they're okay for leadership positions, but they will not like them and in fact often have great feelings of animosity towards them. You see this a lot of times in like female politicians, there'll be an incredible amount of hatred towards them. So it's this tricky, tricky, double bind that women find themselves in.

Nora Ali: What do we do with this information though, Stacey? Because I want to be well-liked and I want to be a leader. So how do I operate, aside from reading your book? How do I operate then?

Stacey Vanek Smith: Then you have to order the book. No, the approach that I took, and I think what the research shows works quite well for women is two-fold, in negotiation and in the workplace. So in a negotiation, the thing that you've got to watch for is any situation that becomes kind of a face-off, like High Noon, which happens a lot in negotiations. I think we tend to think of negotiations in that way and that can often work for men okay. It's like, oh yeah, he's standing up for himself. He's asking for something. So even if the negotiation doesn’t go well, or isn't successful for the man, people will think he's like a good guy. If a woman asks for more, you run into the, wow, she's pretty greedy. Like she really thinks a lot of herself. So in a negotiation setting, what I recommend is, instead of having like a face-off situation, you try to create a kind of a future together situation. So you say like, you know, I'm so excited to be at this company. I see myself moving here with you guys. I love the work that you're doing. Here's what I want to grow into. I’m really excited to see you guys doing X, Y, and Z. My own work I feel like I've really been growing. I've produced X percent more this year than I did last year. And the reviews I've gotten from clients have been great. I think a salary of X, you know, it was appropriate when I started out. But now considering the work that I'm doing and where I want to go, I feel a salary of Y is more appropriate and it is important to me to feel valued the way that I really value working here. And I want us to work toward a future together. What do you think about that? So it's not like, listen, I need $75,000 or I'm walking, which I think is actually quite a productive approach for anyone in negotiation, but I think is especially useful for women just because of the backlash you can get if you end up in a face-off situation, which often happens around money. As far as like a female in management, one of the things that you can do because as a female manager, you often have to give people orders. You know, you have to tell them to do things and demote them and promote them and tell them they have to work a weekend or things they don't want to hear. And so one kind of interesting work around for women in that case is people don't mind if women are feisty or ask for a lot, if it's on behalf of someone else, if it's on behalf of themselves there is a lot of backlash. But if you're asking on behalf of someone else, people admire it. It's very much in line with what people like to see in women. So basically you say that you're doing everything for the team. The team becomes a proxy for another person, and then people don't mind as much. Management consultant types call this transformational leadership, and it's been shown actually to be a more effective form of leadership for all genders. So those are the two main ways that I lay out for women to deal with the Cinderella Syndrome. 

Scott Rogowsky: We're all in this together, right? That's the, the we. 

Stacey Vanek Smith: Better together. 

Scott Rogowsky: Better together. You addressed the five ways that power manifests itself in today's workplace. There's money, confidence, respect, support, and title. I think money and title are probably a little easier to negotiate. They're more tangible. Competence, respect, support, these might be more difficult to change. And I think it comes down to the stories that exists and how the male dominated society has always imagined men being in power and to look at women being in positions of power seems ridiculous to them. How can we move that story even further along from where we were even 50 years ago to get to a more equitable place?

Stacey Vanek Smith: Well, I think that's exactly right. In certain ways, it seems like we should be past where we are. And a lot of people have said that to me like, well, do we still need a book like this? Aren't we past this? But if you look at the data, the wage gap has been stuck almost for 20 years, but very stuck for 10. And that is women earning 80 cents on the dollar compared to men, for Black women at 63 cents. And for Latina and Indigenous women, it's 55 cents on the dollar. And those numbers haven't moved in 10 years. And the same with CEOs, CEOs are 80%, male, 90% white. I mean, they're just stuck, but it does seem like we should be past that. So many things have changed. We've seen so much change, so much transformation in our economy, but I think you're right. People still have so many conflicted feelings about women in leadership. I mean, just look at the whole girl boss implosion, we still can't quite gin up an idea of, a feminine leader that's not kind of ridiculous or ends up collapsing in on itself a year later. It's still hard for us for whatever reason. I think you make a good point that change is slow and it happens over time. And that sometimes it takes us a while to catch up with ourselves, our better selves. I think ultimately the way to change is policy, like government policy, company, policy, companies pushing for more diversity, companies making a point of making change and government policy potentially doing the same thing. But until then, we can't always affect what the companies we work for do or the government, so I wanted to have advice for people who are coming up against this weird contradiction in who we want to be and who we actually are and just how to deal with it, different options for moving forward. But you know, some of the options are hard. Like some of the answers, I really liked. Some of the answers I didn't like. Some of them felt very cringey, but Machiavelli was very, very big on looking at the reality of the situation. These are biases that are there and you can be angry that they're there and should be. You can think that they shouldn't be there, but I think there are ways to do it. And I wanted to offer some ways to do it, but yeah, the answers were often uncomfortable for me, honestly. 

Scott Rogowsky: Stacey, I think it's fair to say women are objectively better than men, smarter than men on the whole. The stats bear it out. 

Stacey Vanek Smith: You think so? 

Scott Rogowsky: Well, there's evidence here. I mean, women are scoring better in school, better on tests, getting better grades. And this is according to your own writing. Women attend college and higher numbers. I assume these have been fact-checked. 

Stacey Vanek Smith: I mean, you're right. Women are going to college in greater numbers, graduating. More women than men go to law school, going to medical school, business school in greater numbers. Yes, absolutely.

Scott Rogowsky: And when I think about society today in 2021, there seems to be a lot of backlash and desperation coming from those traditional holders of power because they're seeing it slip away. To what extent do you think fear is the issue at the heart of all of this?

Stacey Vanek Smith: You're so right. Fear is the issue. And it's people who are afraid of losing their own position and losing the power and influence they have. I mean, who among us is not worried about that, right? Like we want to keep the things we have. We feel like we've earned them. I feel like one of the narratives that often comes up and I hear this, particularly from men, is they're like, well, I worked really hard for what I have. Like this wasn't easy. I'm not good at negotiating. I feel like the workplace is hard for everyone. And that can kind of complicate things too, because people are like, well, wait a minute, nothing was handed to me, but there are huge advantages that people have had as you know, white men, white people have enormous advantages and it is, has become hard and almost impossible to succeed outside of those parameters. I mean, if you look at the numbers of CEOs and things like that, I would say the answer is from my backgrounds in economics and business journalism, which is that the fear response comes from looking at things as finite, right? Like there's just so much wealth that is around. And I have to hoard my part of it. Or there are just so many leadership positions at this company, but that's not true. The economy is not a zero-sum game. It grows, the pie gets bigger. Our economy is way bigger. The stock market has tripled. This isn't about a little pie that we have to divide up and you have to guard your section of it. When we succeed, when we, like you were saying, Nora, get venture money to women, to women of color. They create businesses that hire more people that generate more money that grow the whole economy. And I think that's the answer. There's actually nothing to be afraid of in other people succeeding. And there are such enormous changes happening right now in such enormous awareness that I think it does frighten people, but there really isn't anything to be frightened of because the more people can succeed, the more success there is, the more money there is in the economy, the bigger our economy is. 


Nora Ali: That was an excerpt from our conversation with Stacey Vanek Smith, who joined us to talk about her new book, Machiavelli for Women.

Scott Rogowsky: We're going to take a quick break. And when we come back, we'll hear from serial entrepreneur investor and NBA owner, Marc Lore. WNBA owner, too.

Scott Rogowsky: We are staying on the theme of big ideas and pivoting to our conversation with serial entrepreneur, Marc Lore, who has some very bigly plans that involve building a sustainable utopian city in the desert.

Nora Ali: The biggest ideas I've ever heard. Yes. He joined us to talk about his great moonshot idea, the city of Telosa. Now, the plan is that the city will be home to 50,000 residents by the year 2030, and environmental sustainability is an essential part of it. There will also be no fossil fuel-powered vehicles and residents will be guaranteed 15-minute commutes to offices, schools, and amenities. And at its core, Telosa is really a new model for society called equitism, which Marc says will create the most open, fair, and inclusive city in the world. And Marc gets into the details in this next clip. Let's take a listen.


Nora Ali: So, Marc, you and I have known each other for six years now, which is incredible to think about, work together in many capacities. The last time I interviewed you was in 2018. I was at Cheddar. You are still the CEO of Walmart e-commerce and now you're building a city, how they grow up so fast. Marc. So I do want to start by dispelling, maybe a little bit of a misconception around Telosa, around the city you're building. I think a lot of people might look at the city of the future as just a place to implement new tech, new types of housing, buildings, mobility, recreation.But you have said before that the city itself is just a method or a tactic to test out your hypothesis for a new model for society. So let's start at day zero. Bring us to the beginning of when you had that idea to test this new model.

Marc Lore: Yeah, sure. I think it was just over the last probably five years was when the seed got into my head. And I think, you know, like so many Americans over the last five years have just been frustrated by why, despite all the material progress we've had as a country, there's still so many people just barely getting by and how that's created greater gaps in wealth and income in this country. And you know, the country has just become so polarized around this topic. And it just got me thinking, did we get capitalism right? Like so many great things about capitalism, but do we get it right? Is it like, is it a hundred percent? Is it an A plus or is there more room to grow and imagine possibilities that would make it even stronger as an economic model. And I started doing research and I came across this book. This is the aha moment. Henry George wrote a book called Progress and Poverty back in the late 19th century. I didn't realize it at the time, but apparently it was the second-most read book next to the Bible during its time. And he made a very compelling case as an economist that the real problem with capitalism is land ownership. And I started thinking about it and thinking, you know, capitalism doesn't work when there's monopolies. Like we had monopolies earlier in American history and it was just absolutely dismal for workers. And so we do a good job I think of preventing monopolies from happening and creating a competitive environment. But when it comes to land ownership, that's the silent monopoly. You're a land owner. You essentially have a monopoly on that land. There's no, antitrust breaking that up. And furthermore, if you think about how land was divvied up in the country many years ago, it was sort of like right place, right time, hey, I'm claiming these hundred and 60 acres as my own, but put that aside, it was just plain unfair that you could own a piece of land and then communities and people would come there and give the land value by living there and creating homes there, having families there and tax dollars that were spent on building infrastructure to make the city, town better. But also who's benefiting? The land owner because the land's appreciating in value. And so I thought, well, what if the land, you know, when it was worthless was actually owned by the community to start. Okay, well, if in the desert, there's lots of places in the U.S. but in the desert in Nevada, for example, the land is very cheap, a couple of thousand dollars an acre. And I thought, what if you bought enough acreage to create a city of 5 million people, call it 200,000 acres. And so maybe it's four or $500 million. And when we did the math, we said, if we can get 5 million people to move to the desert and create the city that the land would be worth roughly a trillion dollars, and then the foundation could sell the land, create a trillion dollars worth of value, create an endowment diversified into lots of asset classes and earn $50 billion a year, like similar to like a university endowment or a hospital endowment or something like that. And that $50 billion a year would be a substantial sum of money giving back to the citizens of the community in the form of advanced social services, health care, education, jobs, training, affordable housing. And if people trusted the community foundation to do good, maybe people would donate to the community foundation. You would never donate to a city now because that's taxes, nobody trusts it. And it would be a virtuous cycle where eventually the community foundation we'd be so wealthy that it would be able to do an incredible amount of good and increase the collective happiness and wellbeing of the citizens. Way beyond what we could even imagine today. And then potentially wouldn't even need as high taxes. So we're not talking about some sort of weird socialist communist model of any sort. It’s capitalism, but it's just returning that value creation back to the citizens. And had we done that in the beginning, I  think we'd be in a completely different place now. And so anyway, this is the theory. And in order to test it, I mean, I'd love to be able to test it without building a city of 5 million people with $500 billion or whatever. But unfortunately the only way to really test it is with a clean slate and to do it. But then as we started thinking about, well we're building this city from scratch, there are incredible innovation that's happened around technology that enables us to do things that we can't currently do in existing cities, around sustainability, preparing for climate change and autonomous vehicles, these, all these different things that we can do. So why not do them all at the same time? And so our mission now is to create a more equitable and sustainable future, because we do believe there's going to be so much to learn from doing this project that we're basically innovating and pushing the envelope on all areas that pertain to building the city at the same time that we're testing this model. So it's sort of the combination of both. That's got me really fired up.

Scott Rogowksy: I wanted to jump in because you've priced basically mentioned 45 things that I wanted to follow up about. I guess my first question is, you know, there had been attempts to build cities of the future, or I know you don't like calling it Utopia, but, as you look to Dubai, for example, what they're doing over there in the Palm islands. I assume you've looked at these other examples and studied the history of these things. Have you been to Dubai? You see what they're doing over there?

Marc Lore: Yeah.

Scott Rogowksy: What's your take on that, first of all?

Marc Lore: I don't think any of these projects that I've seen have really started with the people at the center. Like we're starting with a mission and a set of values in the same way you would with any startup, just sort of build that culture from the foundation out. And, you know, the three values are open, fair, and inclusive, and there's some demonstrable steps that we're going to take to live each. What that does is it fills a solid foundation for building a very diverse city. I think that's really important. And a city where people want to live and work. It's not going to be a destination city. Most cities that have been built more recently have been more destination cities. You know, whether it be Las Vegas or Dubai, or like it has to be a city where, you know, people want to live because they want to raise a family. They want to enjoy nature. They want to be in a place that thinks about the environment and lives by a set of values, that's very transparent. The government will be very open and transparent with the citizens there, extremely fair, and also very inclusive. Even the way we're building in the master plan is much more inclusive than, than any city that you'll, you'll come across.

Nora Ali: And on that idea, Marc, sorry to interrupt, on inclusivity, it's hard to do that even for a singular company. And it's a whole other magnitude of work to do that for an entire city. And I know Telosa is going to be open to anyone. It's not just for the people who are tapped into the world of VC, tapped into the world of frontier tech. It truly is intended to be open to anyone who wants to live there. And for the first 50,000 residents, which I believe you guys are aiming for by the year 2030, you've said in the past that this will sort of be like building in incoming university class where you want to be super intentional about who's there instead of this risk of it ending up being homogenous by nature of who might know about this project or who might be at the frontier of this kind of story. So what will be your approach and how are you going to incorporate your approach to hiring at startups, to making sure that truly the first 50,000 residents especially are super representative and it is inclusive to start? 

Marc Lore: Yeah, I don't, I definitely don't have the answer to that. Now. I think the way I approach these problems is to find the very best people in America, in the world, that could help solve this problem. People that have studied diversity and inclusion and are experts in their field, we know that we can't just let it be, that we need to seed it to ensure diversity and then have that person build a team to figure it out.

Nora Ali: What is your approach to building that team? Because you are the one who has the big vision. There's a lot of recruitment, a lot of selling of this world-changing vision, as you are building the teams. And I am certain, you have to match that or marry that with the people who can execute, who can kind of root this still in reality. So what is your process in finding those best people and finding the best teams, whether it's for Telosa or in the company’s that you’ve built? 

Marc Lore: We're just starting to get to a place where we can go and really talk to those people because we needed to paint a picture for the vision and lock down the values and the mission. But I think the current thinking is we'd find maybe 30 or 40 board of governors, people that are experts in their respective fields that have a passion for wanting to see this happen. So somebody in education, somebody in D&I, somebody in criminal justice, somebody in health care, somebody in mobility, and have them shape and create the vision for their respective knowledge areas. But I know just from experience and doing startups, that it can't be a single person's vision. It just can't. It needs to be shared and needs to be co-owned. And my job and the team's job now will be to try and find those people. And, and we, we got a long way to go before we have a vision for what does education look like? What, how do we get 50,000 people diverse to start? So we're, we're sort of still in the very early stages, I would say.


Nora Ali: That was an excerpt from our conversation with entrepreneur investor and NBA owner, Marc Lore.

Scott Rogowsky: We're going to take another quick break. And when we come back this time, we'll hear from NFL champion and investor Ndamukong Suh. From Telosa to the NFL? We had such a great conversation with Ndamukong Suh about his football career and his many other passions, including investing, real estate, financial literacy and cinnamon rolls.

Nora Ali: Yeah, we did talk about that. At the end of our convo, Ndamukong did give us a hint that he has big ideas for a cinnamon roll related business venture.

Scott Rogowsky: We covered a lot, in cream cheese frosting, as usual.

Nora Ali: My favorite. So, let's get to this clip from our conversation with Ndamukong Suh.


Nora Ali: Ndamukong, you wrote a fire Twitter thread recently about rent burden, which schooled me. I didn't know a lot of these figures that you referenced. So to be rent burdened, you have to spend over 30% of your income on rent. And according to your thread, millennials spend 46% of their income on rent, which is mind-boggling. Gen Z's rent burden is expected to reach over 50%. And it's only getting worse because rent is increasing at multiples higher than inflation. And you're focusing your work in that realm on young professionals to try to alleviate this problem, which I think is a large portion of our listener base. So how can you help young professionals when it comes to rent and housing? And why is that particularly your focus?

Ndamukong Suh: Yeah, I think it's something that's very, very important, and especially understanding that income is not ascending, as you mentioned, the cost of rent and the cost of purchasing a home. And I think it's important as a country that we find ways to close that gap and create different opportunities. And so myself and a couple partners have been looking at some different opportunities to create attainable housing and really have a big initiative of wanting to create a different form of affordable housing. And we're talking about getting into real estate deals. We created a little concept called altcap, which is altruism and capitalism coming together at a river. And I think the exciting piece about that concept is you not only get to rent at an affordable pricing, but you also get an opportunity to look at investing in these same properties. And then the ultimate goal is to have the ability to say, "Hey, I've rented. I've gotten my leg up. I'm now being able to move out. And I also owned a part of this asset. And as I move on, I can either sell that and take what I've made or I can keep it in and create that generational wealth, be able to pass that down to my family." So as we continue to expand and grow this concept and really work as an overall team, I feel like it's something that's going to be very, very game-changing. And I think we can have an opportunity to put a dent into the housing crisis that we have.

Nora Ali: That's so interesting. Is this rent and invest model new? Is this something that you and your teams came up with?

Ndamukong Suh: Yeah, something we just came up with during the pandemic, actually. My partner, Joel Anderson, we were sitting in his office quarantining away from everybody and really just spitballing on the whiteboard. And it was an exciting opportunity, and I'm glad it came together. And we're still in the early phases, but I think it's looking quite nice.

Nora Ali: Who do you reach out to first to make that happen? You have this idea. It's this new model that doesn't exist. Who are the first people that you email to figure this out?

Ndamukong Suh: So actually, I've been working on a deck over the last couple months, and one of my close mentors, a guy named Gary Shiffman of Sun Communities, he's one of the first guys I actually sent it to because I respect him wholeheartedly. He is a straight shooter. And at the same time, he'll give me the good and bad and different pieces of how he views the projects and working through the different numbers. As I mentioned, I'm a very number-oriented person and don't always believe everything that I put out is 100% right. So I'd like to get it fact-checked. So just my mentors in the real estate space, like to touch base with them and understand what their opinion of the overall concept is.

Nora Ali: And as you're making housing more accessible, obviously, financial literacy becomes that much more important for people who are accessing these forms, these relatively forms of housing. So I want to go back to the financial literacy aspect of this. You started the Suh Family Foundation 10 years ago, and you guys have teamed up with the personal finance app Stash. You're working on something called Stash101, which teaches students about personal finance with banking and investing simulation. Can you talk to us a little bit more about what you're trying to achieve with Stash101, and maybe what that is teaching students that you didn't have access to growing up?

Ndamukong Suh: Yeah. Being able to learn about financial literacy at a young age was very, very important to me and my wife, who's the main leader of the Suh Family Foundation. And then we obviously were fortunate enough to have a great partner in Big Yard Foundation with Brennan Scarlett, who's a close friend and training partner, a linebacker for the Miami Dolphins. So first and foremost, we wanted to start in our back home of Portland, Oregon. And so we worked with the Portland Public Schools District to work with their youth and their middle school this summer to create a program that was really Stash101 times a summer school organization that they were doing. And so putting this information to these kids' ears and eyes and letting them work at hand in hand at this early age was something that we felt was very, very important and be accountable for all the different pieces of how you want to set up your 50 30 20 from a budgeting perspective. I think it's important to be able to say, "Work through these exercises," and then really have these conversations with your parents and see what they know and see what you may teach them, vice versa. And so at the end of the day, our big focus was to continue to expose our youth to these different tools so that they become second nature to them as they become young adults, because it's going to be something that they deal with in real life very, very soon as they get off to college, and really even before they go to college in high school.

Scott Rogowsky: It's something that even I feel like I need some more help with, financial literacy. I'm just starting to understand where to put money. I mean, you mentioned Joe Moglia and Warren Buffett, another early mentor of yours. Do you think if you had not played at Nebraska, your life would've played a whole different track here?

Ndamukong Suh: No question. I could only imagine where my life would be if I hadn't gone to Nebraska. I think it was one of the greatest decisions I ever made, especially as a young kid coming out of high school. Had no clue at 18 that I was going to be able to have the opportunity to build these real relationships and meet Warren Buffett and Joe Moglia. So I think it's from a standpoint of everything happens for a reason. And I was very, very fortunate in that aspect, but also took the time to learn from these great minds as I want to become one of them and be able to grow and learn just like they do each and every single day.

Nora Ali: What do you think is the most memorable or important thing you learned from Warren Buffett as one of your mentors?

Ndamukong Suh: I think probably one of the most important things I've learned from Mr. Buffett was just people. If you look at all the different things that he does in talking about all the different companies that he owns, it's all about the people that he's working with he has overseeing those different particular aspects of Berkshire. And so I think as I've learned and grown, you can have the smartest people in the world, but if they're not good people and hardworking folks that really have the excitement to do their job and really be a part of what they're working on without enormous amounts of pay, then they're probably in the wrong business.

Scott Rogowsky: Ndamukong, in the past decade, we've seen an influx in professional athletes who are dedicated to planning for financial stability after their sports careers rather than relying on the sponsorship deals after retirement. What do you think is sparking this change in how athletes think about their post-playing careers?

Ndamukong Suh: I think the excitement is really centered around the ability to be more than an athlete. I think that's something that's exciting to be able to say, "I can have a great NFL, NBA, MLB career, but at the end of the day, I still am a human being. I'm a young man or woman that wants to aspire to be something else and be able to be multidimensional." And I think that's something that I pride myself on very much so, from being able to say, "Hey, having a great career playing in the NFL, I want to continue to play at a high and elite level, but I am more than an athlete. And I'm also an engineer, an entrepreneur, and I can run a company and start my own company and help other folks continue to grow and build other things." So something that I've always said I want to be known more off the field than I was on the field, which I know is I put up a big task because I've done some good things on the football field.

Scott Rogowsky: You sure have. I think your Twitter bio says it all, the way you identify first, investor, engineer, developer, entrepreneur, and then at the bottom, NFL player.

Nora Ali: By the way…

Scott Rogowsky: Yeah. Hall of fame, all 2010s, all decade team. Yeah, sure. Put that at the bottom.

Ndamukong Suh: Yeah, for sure.

Nora Ali: Well, I think my favorite part about this is that you're showing younger athletes, younger players that there are other options out there to continue having a lucrative career beyond things like endorsement deals or marketing deals, which I think up until this point has been the traditional business side for athletes. But how does that fit into your portfolio, these traditional endorsement deals, and has the sentiment around that changed among players generally?

Ndamukong Suh: No, I think the sentiment around endorsement deals and things of that nature have really become, "Do I want to be paid cash or do I want to be paid equity or do I want to get a combination of those with different pieces?" And I think that's where people are saying, "All right, I can also use my name and likeness, but also I can help you on some other aspects." And that's where I've viewed myself. I've got a good name and likeness. I'm very fortunate to be able to be on commercials and different things where I can be recognizable. But at the same time, I can also use the tools that I've learned in sports to be able to help me in the investment world and find different ways to connect dots and create different relationships that'll help companies grow. I think that's a way of being able to not only just be, say, "Hey, I've got a pretty face, but I can also help you do some other things on the other side of a business."                                                                                                                                          [/endclip]

Nora Ali: And that was an excerpt from our conversation with NFL champion and investor Ndamukong Suh. And that'll do it, Scott.

Scott Rogowsky: That's going to wrap up this wrap up clip show, Nora, and we hope you enjoyed listening back to some of our favorite interviews from this year. What about you, listener? What were your favorite episodes from the past year? Send us an email at, or DM us on Twitter @bizcasualpod. That's B-I-Zcasualpod, with your thoughts about the end of the year, the start of the new year, and all your yearly concerns.

Nora Ali: You could also leave a voice memo on our website,, or give us a ring and leave us an old fashion voicemail. Our number is (862) 295-1135. That is (862) 295-1135. As Business Casual grows, we are excited to get to know our listeners, old and new. Drop us a line, and don't forget to leave your name and where you're calling or writing from, so we can hear from you in a future episode.

Scott Rogowsky: Business Casual is produced by Katherine Milsop and Bella Hutchins. Additional production sound design, and mixing by Daniel Markus. Alan Haburchak is the director of audio at Morning Brew. Sarah Singer's our VP of multimedia, and Jessica Coen is our chief content officer. The music in this episode is from Daniel Markus and the Mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder. If you like what you heard, please follow Business Casual on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you go for ear candy. And we love it if you'd give us a great rating and a review.

Nora Ali: Thanks for listening to Business Casual. I'm Nora Ali.

Scott Rogowsky: And I'm Scott Rogowsky.

Nora Ali: Keep it business.

Scott Rogowsky: And keep it casual.