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For some brands, embracing "the new normal" of 2020/2021 led to exponential consumer interest and growth. Last week at MC's "Power Trip: Off the Grid" conference, we spoke to major players at three companies that are killing it right now about "Building on Success." The panel—which took place at the Miraval Berkshires Resort & Spa with moderator Elizabeth Holmes, bestselling author of HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style (opens in new tab)—addressed a period that has been incredibly challenging and seen tremendous change in how we work and live. MC asked these leaders where they're going to take their brands next.
Panelists included Caryn Seidman-Becker, the CEO of CLEAR, which started as an airport security company and has since evolved to be a health pass and a ticketing app; Bailey Richardson, Head of Community at Substack, the email newsletter platform; and Maya Watson, Head of Global Marketing at Clubhouse, the audio-only chat app.
“We’re Trying to Make It a Great Culture Our Way.”
Caryn Seidman-Becker's vision to build a safer, frictionless world came to life in 2010 when she and Ken Cornick launched CLEAR—a secure identity platform that uses biometrics. CLEAR has 7+ million members—powering journeys at more than 60 U.S. airports, stadiums, and beyond.
For Seidman-Becker, looking ahead means "continuing to build out the organization and structuring it correctly with amazing people and the right structure. Number two is scaling both into new verticals and scaling around the world outside the U.S. Three is to perpetuate our culture in a hybrid world. We are back [in the office] two to three days a week. That is how we're going to stay. We initiated Work-From-Anywhere-August. We're trying to make it a great culture in our way. Not how other people are doing it, but to perpetuate our passion, our hunger, our obsessive curiosity, our collaboration in this new and global world."
“We Don’t Even Think in 12-Month Terms.”
Maya Watson leads the creator, partnerships, community, editorial and communication teams for all marketing initiatives at Clubhouse. Before that, she was an executive at Netflix leading Editorial & Publishing, and a longtime executive at OWN Networks and Harpo Productions.
She has focused on "really continuing to show people and tell people who we are; great things take time. And so for us, we're very much in the long game of building sustainable growth and a platform that is going to serve the world globally," for example, introducing language localization around the world. Reflecting on the last year, she says, "We don't even think in 12-month terms. We're thinking like three, six, nine, 12. The last six months have been about hiring a team and making the product the best product that we can. Today we just launched Replays, which is our recordings feature, which I think is going to completely transform what's possible on Clubhouse. I really feel like we're on the path to become the YouTube of audio. Everybody's phone will become their radio station, their channel to say whatever it is they want to say to give everybody a platform and a voice. [We're also] making sure that we're putting tools in place for our creators and the leading voices on the platform to build a sustainable business model."
“The Word Community Means a Million Things to a Million People.”
Bailey Richardson is the co-founder of People & Company, which was acquired by Substack earlier this year, and is co-author of Get Together (opens in new tab). Bailey was one of the first employees at Instagram, where she helped build the early community.
Going forward from 2021, Richardson's focus is on diving deeper into creating " the brand new world" that is Substack. "The word community, first off, means a million things to a million people," she says. "The definition that I use is it's a group of people who keep coming together over something that they care about and can show up in our personal lives." Substack slices and dices its many communities in varied ways. "The phase that we're focused on is cultivating community amongst our writers. Subscription publications aren't a new idea, she says, but running one by yourself is. And writers are learning so much so fast. We know that we need them to be in contact with each other to be able to share those insights about how to build a business." Richardson's plans include everything from providing legal defense funding to helping raise subscriber numbers.
"The experience of Substack right now for many people is, 'I might read one person. I might read Heather Fox Richardson,'" she says. "We've built this amazing graph of what people are reading and what writers are reading. And we're going to do more to help our writers find readers who are really interested in what they're writing. And that for me is really exciting."
Maria Ricapito is a writer who lives in the Hudson Valley.
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