Math & Magic

Bob Pittman goes back behind the mic – he started as a DJ at age 15 – for the first two episodes of his freshly minted podcast, Math & Magic: Stories from the Frontiers of Marketing. In episode one, he sits down with Scooter Braun, exploring the personal side of the renowned entrepreneur, investor and entertainment exec, such as how he got the name Scooter, and what he learned from his parents and from playing basketball. “Basketball taught me that you can’t win without a team, and to play your role and play it well because you’re part of a larger thing,” Braun says. “My name is on the door of my company but I stand on the shoulders of everyone else.”

Braun walks the podcast listener through his unusual career path, starting as a club promoter while attending Emory University in Atlanta and how that connected him with recording artists. He then entered the record biz, dropped out of college, started his own business and discovered a young Justin Bieber on YouTube. “People thought I was crazy. I went to every label and every label was saying no,” he tells Pittman of his efforts to strike a record deal for Bieber. “I had one of the most impressive executives in music history tell me, ‘Where’s the sex appeal? He’s a kid. I don’t get it, there’s no sex appeal.’” The young manager suggested the seasoned label head need only look at YouTube to gauge Bieb’s growing popularity. But the label head didn’t “use” the internet and instead requested a DVD. “I realized there’s a big opportunity here and I was able to team up with Usher,” Scooter says. The platinum act helped him secure a recording contract for Bieber.

Braun also explains the importance of leaders setting an example for their teams – “You have to show people the passion and drive and work ethic” – and why a “burn the ships” mentality is key to spotting the greatest talent.

In episode two, Pittman speaks with Maurice Lévy, whose three decades at the helm as CEO of the Publicis Group transformed advertising on a global scale. Lévy, recently inducted into the Advertising Hall Of Fame, was one of the first execs to advocate for breaking down silos in advertising. For many years, silos worked to the benefit of the client, Lévy explains, but that changed. “Everyone was trying to sell his own turf without thinking about how the heck I coordinate with this in order to make sure that every single touchpoint is helping the client,” he recounts. “The only way to do that – because of people that were sitting in their fiefdoms – was to eliminate the walls. And that created an internal slogan, which is ‘No, silos, no solos, no bozos.’ And bozos are, very often, the ones getting in the way and defending the siloed approach and this conservatism is working against the interests of the client. So we have to fight against that.”

Lévy also hands a compliment to Pittman: “You have transformed iHeartMedia in an incredible way and you have foreseen and enabled the future of radio because you have seen what digital could be for radio.” And Lévy says he loves France’s 35-hour work week so much “that I do it twice a week… I live everything with intensity,” the Publicis Group chief offers. “And that is the secret. Intensity is probably the right word if you want to live free.”