The Big Stage: A Spotlight on 2021

Audio Description

As 2021 comes to a close, let's absorb gems dropped from our episodes this year! From Olympian Ginny Gilder to musician Mike Posner to comedian Kenan Thompson, get to know what makes our guests tick when it comes to their philanthropy, and be privy to critical pieces of financial advice they've received over time. 


00:11 - 00:23

Hi, everyone, and welcome to The Big Stage where we talk to athletes, artists and entertainers about their legacy and impact. I'm your host, Adam Sansiveri, Managing Director and Co-lead of Sports and Entertainment at Bernstein.

00:32 - 01:01

It's hard to believe that 2021 is coming to a close, but indeed, here we are. Today, I am thrilled to share some quick highlights from the conversations we've had over the past 12 months with so many amazing guests. From Olympian Ginny Gilder, who tackles gender inequality as the co-owner of the WNBA Seattle Storm, to leading antitrust and trial lawyer Jeffrey Kessler, who was kind enough to debrief us after arguing the landmark NCAA case before the Supreme Court.

01:02 - 01:22

We spoke with musician Mike Posner, who is not only a Grammy nominee but has walked clear across America and summited Mount Everest. The legendary Kenan Thompson hardly needs my introduction, nor does CMA new artist of the year, Jimmie Allen. There are too many to mention here, but what an enlightening year of conversation it has been.

01:23 - 02:02

Some of my guests shared what makes them tick when it comes to their philanthropy and investments. Others offered key pieces of financial advice that they have taken to heart. Some gave us their best financial advice. I hope you'll enjoy getting to know these remarkable individuals from a unique vantage point. And if you missed any of our episodes this year, here's some incentive to go back and catch up. It is my pleasure to welcome Olympian professional sports entrepreneur, activist, author, investor, and philanthropist Ginny Gilder. Ginny, thanks so much for being here.

02:03 - 02:05

Thanks for inviting me. That's quite a list.

02:05 - 02:16

I'm impressed. We've mentioned you're a professional investor and you run the Gilder Office for Growth. What is your philosophy and values as an investor? Just tell our listeners a little bit about that side of you.

02:17 - 02:53

So my father was in the investment business and he was the one who came to me to say, you know, no one in your generation is really with it on the investment side. What happens when I'm gone? Will you help me build the bridge to the future for the family? I had zero-zero work experience in the investment business, so I built a little family office from the ground up, first working with my dad and then eventually taking on my siblings. The philosophy is really, how do we invest in growth in a way that accommodates what our clients need in terms of their own lives?

02:53 - 03:02

Love it. The social side of philanthropy, community is very important to you. Tell our listeners what causes you're most focused on.

03:02 - 03:27

You know, my two things are access to opportunity. And when I say two, I think of it, one is in sports. And obviously, you know, my first love in sports was rowing. And then the other one is education. How do you generate access to opportunity for people, young people so that they get what they need and can really compete in terms of academically? So those are kind of the two areas where I really focus.

03:27 - 03:35

I want to ask you one final question that I've been asking some of our other guests. What lesson did you take away from 2020?

03:35 - 04:00

Frankly, it's slow down. You know, you don't have to go flying all across the country every other week to get the stuff done that you really care about and make sure that you're focusing on the things you love and and the humans you love. Well said, well said.

04:00 - 04:33

Our guest today is certainly a change maker and leaving a lasting impact on many athletes' lives. She is the lead team physician for the Washington Nationals, director of sports medicine and head team physician for the NFL's Washington football team, and the first woman to hold these positions in the NFL and MLB. She is an orthopedic surgeon and chairman of Inova Sports Medicine in Fairfax, Virginia. It's my pleasure to welcome Dr. Robin West to The Big Stage. Robin, I'm curious to know what set you down this amazing path. What inspired you to become a doctor and why sports medicine?

04:33 - 05:11

You know, I've always liked math and science, but when I was five years old, I remember my pediatrician, and I really I really loved them, and I love the wayhe interacted with me. And so that was my initial introduction to medicine. My parents are engineers, so I really have no medical expertise in my family. But my uncle is an anesthesiologist and I went to visit him in the summer, and I remember I found his Grey's Anatomy book on his desk, so I looked at that book and I started looking through it. This is really neat, actually. And so I asked my mom for Christmas, for that Grey's Anatomy book when I was five years old. I still have the book. And so anyway, that was, that's what intrigued me at that age.

05:11 - 05:24

Oh, that's amazing. I can't think of many other five-year-olds that were asking for that for Christmas. That's wonderful. I'm curious outside of your work, if there is any causes, nonprofits, things that you're passionate about that you get involved in.

05:25 - 05:50

Yeah, I have a lot of different opportunities, obviously. They always seem to come around sports. Again, being in my role is as a woman, I get asked a lot to speak to youth, you know, to junior high school kids and giving them an opportunity and going to...going into DC and working with underprivileged kids. And so that's where I'm passionate about. And again, as we talk about that opportunity, trying to get them an opportunity to get out of where they are and to pursue their dreams.

05:57 - 06:25

Rolling Stone magazine named our next guest one of the top up-and-coming country music artists when he made history as the first African American artist to launch a career with two consecutive number one hits on country radio and the Billboard charts for his first single Best Shot, which held the number one spot for three weeks, and then followed by his second number one hit Make Me Want To. It is my pleasure to welcome platinum-selling recording artist Jimmie Allen. Jimmie, thanks so much for joining us on The Big Stage.

06:25 - 06:35

Hey man, thanks for having me, such an introduction. I felt like I am a thrones, you know, Jimmie Allen, first of his name. That's right. The Seven Kingdoms.

06:35 - 06:37

Well, we're really excited to have you here.

06:37 - 06:42

How do you give back today and what charities foundations are important to you now that you've really manifested the success for yourself?

06:43 - 07:06

Well, one thing I do is I always keep cash on me, at least five dollars. By the end of the week, I try to give it away. Because, you know, I know how much a dollar can change somebody's life. And I challenge people at every show, I say on stage, you know, give someone that needs money, give them a dollar, because something that might be so minute to us is so powerful to someone else. And I say, when you give it to them, don't just throw it at them and keep it moving, you know, ask them their name, you know, they are humans just like we are.

07:06 - 07:45

I'm involved with a charity from Delaware called Def is Hope. Man, they give so much to inner-city kids, and [...] like right out of Philly. Yeah, they give back computers. They give scholarships away, they buy books and stuff like that. I do a thing in Delaware every Christmas. I go home and I play a free show and then we do it at the same venue every year and we pick a school in lower Delaware first and we raise $20,000 for each school. But the money is used to help kids that can't afford lunch. If you see kids that need new shoes, buy them. You see kids who need a new bookbag, buy them. You know, you see kids that need clothes, you buy them, and that's what that money is for. So that's what we're doing. That's great.

07:46 - 08:19

I started a festival in my home state of Delaware called Betty James and named it after my dad and my grandma. I wanted their legacy to keep living, even though they're gone and we're doing a festival, so it creates a lot of income for Lower Delaware. Next year, we're gonna try to make it bigger, have different charities come out and try to raise money. We're doing this talent show and it's a way... people pay like thirty dollar admission to do the talent show. We're gonna take up to 100 people and all that money's going to Delfie's Hope. So just trying to find ways to, you know, use the gift I've been given and the opportunities to help other people.

08:19 - 09:04

Really awesome to hear all that. And Jimmie, let me know I want to come into myself in that talent show. Come on! Jane Startz is the president of Jane Startz Productions. Her credits include Ella Enchanted, Tuck Everlasting, The Indian In the Cupboard, The Mighty and the Babysitter's Club. Jane has produced over 50 award-winning television productions adapted from children's and young adult novels for HBO, CBS, ABC, Fox, NBC, PBS, and Nickelodeon. Whoo! That's a lot. Jane, thank you so much for carving out some time to speak with us today. It's an honor to have you on The Big Stage.

09:04 - 09:08

Thank you so much, Adam, for having me. It's a real pleasure to be here.

09:08 - 09:27

I'm joined today by Lisa Stone, principal and veteran wealth advisor at Bernstein, and I'll start by embarrassing Lisa for a second because I know you've built a valued relationship with her. Can you speak to your experience having switched financial firms and advisors later in your professional career as someone who has had so much success?

09:28 - 10:06

I'm embarrassed to say because I'm a very bold person. I was intimidated out of making the switch with sort of, Oh, you're going to have to pay all these taxes and, you know, it just won't be a smart move for you. And finally, I decided to get over my own ridiculous insecurity and moving my money into Bernstein and working with Lisa, and I found her so smart and appealing and such an impressive woman, and it's been a joy and productive in every way. You know, I was always, like, dreading having financial discussions in my former situation because it just wasn't a good match. You know, I'll leave it at that.

10:07 - 10:13

But this one is. Thank you so much for sharing all that. It's wonderful to hear, and I think Lisa's blushing right now.

10:13 - 10:26

Well, thank you, Jane, for those very kind words. I am blushing. So I'm hoping you can just share with us some of the charitable organizations or foundations that are closest to your heart. I know how generous you are.

10:26 - 11:18

My husband has a foundation called Groundswell that I've given money too. And the mission of that is to, you know, it's sort of the same as my work, but it's through documentaries. It's to give voices to underrepresented people. I was very involved in an organization for a while. I had a nephew who died of leukemia. That was Leukemia Foundation. I give money to Durot, which is a Jewish charity for elderly Jewish people and Smile Train. You know, there's several other ones. Graham Windham, which is a foster care charity. I've given money to Stacey Abrams to get out the vote. No political contributions, but you know, it's mostly like any profit trying to help somebody.

11:19 - 11:27

Well, it's very inspiring the way that you've not only given back, but the work that you're doing and the impact that it's made and and it's continued to making.

11:39 - 12:06

Rob Dyrdek is a passionate entrepreneur, actor, producer and former professional skateboarder. You may know him from his MTV hit shows Rob & Big; and Big Rob Dyrdek's Fantasy Factory, and as the host of Ridiculousness. Today, Rob is the CEO and founder of Dyrdek Machine, a one-of-a-kind venture creation studio. All right, Rob, given your success and the platform that you've built, how are you using it for impact?

12:06 - 12:29

Yeah, I mean, look, in my early days, I I was really about how do I build skate parks all over the world? And through my initial foundation, I built a ton of skate parks, right? And so as I've evolved, like really, my mission now is is how do I build a foundation that can support entrepreneurs and underestimated and underserved communities, right?

12:29 - 12:42

You talked a little bit about how you view money, how you view, you know, financial investments, the way you do it. But if you were to give our listeners one piece of financial advice, what would that be?

12:42 - 13:29

To me, I'm big on understanding. Understand it. Spend the time. If you're going to go out and invest in something, learn about what you're investing, feel comfortable, believe in what you're investing, then understand the risks yourself and then, then take that leap. It's so much more comfortable when you understand the purpose of the money you've invested and what the risk and rewards are, so that you're not taken back by this out of balance portfolio. And the equities when the market turns, right, or you know, that you were overleveraged in a real estate deal when the market turns and now it's in bankruptcy, right? So I think it's that sort of you want to master money throughout your life. Well said, Rob.

13:29 - 14:05

And I like that phrase, master money. I think that's great. And if you're working with the right folks, hopefully they're helping people master their money. If the goal is to be the author of your own life stories, my guest today can share insight into successfully taking the road less traveled. He is a singer, songwriter, and record producer who, as an artist, has released seven studio albums, including Magic, which debuted at number one on the Billboard Americana Folk Albums chart. Please welcome Ben Rector to The Big Stage.

14:05 - 14:22

Well, something we ask all of our guests, but I'm especially curious to know for someone who has spent so much of their career behind the steering wheel of their own business, what is the best financial advice that you've received and continue to implement in your life today? Oh wow.

14:22 - 14:44

That's a big question. I'll answer this super, honestly, because the truth is, I only know how to do it the way that I did it, and there's upside to that, but there is also a downside. Because of the way that I've structured it, I have more control of it, and it's a leaner business. I don't have as high overhead as like maybe some people.

14:44 - 15:35

But there's also limitations. It's like the difference in making like a leverage bet and not. Where like, with the way I structured it, I probably so far I'm not going to be like, Oh, I made a billion dollars this year and I'm everywhere. I'm just not set up to do that. So I would give that as like a precursor to any advice I would give anybody, is just like, I didn't make McDonald's. I made something with less locations than McDonald's, and that suits me OK, because I kind of get stressed out by having to manage like a zillion people and, you know, razor-thin margins. That feels uncomfortable to me. I just feel like I've always tried to like do things a little bit leaner than other people because I think a lot of people get into the music industry. It's like a poker tournament where they're like, I only really get to cash out if I win the whole thing. Those odds don't feel great to me, so I just set it up a little leaner to where it's like, I don't have to win the whole tournament. I want to leave the table, I can.

15:35 - 16:03

So, yeah, I think like everybody would probably be well served to really pay attention to if you're doing things as efficiently as possible. Because generally, I don't know very much about other sides of the entertainment industry, but the music industry is not set up to be super efficient. There can be a lot of people on your team who may or may not be adding as much value as you are compensating them, or you can spend way too much money on recording or touring. I think that's sound advice would be just like, Hey, look, make sure you're doing this as efficiently as you want to.

16:10 - 16:44

To quote from his Twitter bio, my guest today is a creative thinker, problem solver, team builder, attorney, entrepreneur and sports and live events executive. Now he's making history as the first Black track president of NASCAR, responsible for revitalizing the formerly dormant Nashville Superspeedway. Thanks for joining, Eric. I have to ask you the question that I like to ask most of our guests. What is the best financial advice that you've ever received, or is there any also, any other type of advice that you've received that have made a lasting mark on your career?

16:44 - 17:23

Well, I wish I had gotten more [....], but. Not that I've gotten bad financial advice I need somebody to give me some cheat codes. I think the best advice, in all seriousness, was to pay yourself first. And by that, you know, say first, I like clothes, you know, so I could spend all my money, all the time buying clothes. But you know, and I can't even remember who told me, but someone said, Pay yourself first, you know, put the money away for savings first and then do what you have to do with what's left over. It's simple advice, but I think that philosophy is one that has served me well.

17:24 - 17:27

That's good. Yeah, sometimes the most simple advice is the best advice.

17:34 - 18:14

The sports world is still abuzz over the Supreme Court's unanimous ruling against the NCAA's restriction on education-related perks to college athletes and the long-awaited implementation of name, image and likeness legislation across the country. The outcome of this ruling will hugely affect wealth for student athletes and undoubtedly change the landscape of college sports. Jeffrey Kessler is here with us today and is the man behind this big win. Jeffrey is a partner and co-executive chairman of Winston & Strawn. Thank you so much for joining us today. My pleasure. Well, so first, congratulations on this landmark ruling that we're all hearing and reading about. What an achievement.

18:14 - 19:09

So it was, you know, a great career milestone for me, I've always wanted to have the opportunity to argue in the Supreme Court. Unless you're one of the very few lawyers whose practice is specializing in Supreme Court arguments, it's chance. Right. Your Supreme Court, I think, took 65 cases this year, something like that. You don't know if it's going to be one of your cases. And a lot of the cases they take are cases and issues that most lawyers are not involved in, challenges about, you know, religious discrimination, you know, or First Amendment rights. You know, things that, again, you know, the cases there are usually the government versus our public service organizations, not lawyers who do commercial practice like I do. But there are some cases each year, so this is one of them. So I was very excited to do this.

19:10 - 19:14

What is the best piece of financial advice that you've ever received?

19:14 - 19:44

Don't make your own financial decisions. Get experts who actually could make those decisions for you, just like I would tell a financial advisor. Don't make your own legal decisions. Get a lawyer to advise you about that. So essentially, I listen to people who actually know what they're doing in the financial advisory world. And that way, I think I keep myself out of trouble and actually get positive results.

19:51 - 20:35

I'm really excited about our final guest in 2021. He is a singer, songwriter, producer, poet, mountaineer and much more. As an artist, he is known for his own hits, Cooler than me. Please don't go. And of course, the famed I took a pill in Ibiza, which reached number four on the Billboard Hot 100, earning a 2017 Song of the year Grammy nomination, has over one billion streams and is still seven years later, one of the most streamed songs in the world. As a writer-producer, he is known for crafting Sugar for Maroon 5 and Boyfriend for Justin Bieber, just to name a few. I'm excited to welcome Mike Posner to The Big Stage. Thanks for being here, Mike. Thank you so much for having me, Adam.

20:35 - 20:59

Unbelievably, on June 1st of this year, you summited Mount Everest. You did it to honor your late father and your hometown by supporting the Detroit Justice Center. This followed in 2019, your six month solo journey across America on foot when you walked 2851 miles from Asbury Park, New Jersey, to Venice Beach, California, surviving a rattlesnake bite along the way.

20:59 - 21:10

I have one question that I ask all my guests, and I think it's rather pertinent to you since you were a multimillionaire before you were 30. What's the best piece of financial advice you've ever received?

21:10 - 21:59

On a more macro level, I don't have a direct quote that anyone's given me. Just really figuring out my real situation. You know, let's say something happens, I never make another dollar. How long can I last with, on what budget? Once I figured that out and there is a number, you know, I say, Hey, Mike, if you never made another dollar, you'd have to survive on this budget. And that changed me as an artist because I thought, Wow, well, you know, Heaven forbid I never did make another dollar, I could survive, you know, and I could be on no private planes or nothing like that. You know, but I don't really need more. I don't need more. If we make more, great, man, great. But if not, I'm okay, so I need to chase. That made me such a deeper, more authentic artist.

22:05 - 22:39

I have to admit that I'm the most excited I've been for our guest today. Why, you might ask? Well, probably because I can't think of anyone who has brought as much joy and humor to our society as he has. He is known as a sketch comedy savant, has been making people laugh since he was a little kid, is an Emmy Award winner, and has spent the past 17 years making our Saturday nights the best night of the week. It's my real pleasure to say this. Live from New York, it's The Big Stage with Kenan Thompson. Kenan, thank you so much for joining us.

22:39 - 22:49

my pleasure. What an intro. Thank you. That was. pretty severe I thought I was up when you were saying the Grammy nominated. More than that, I was like, Wait, did I get a Grammy?

22:52 - 23:04

Am I on the right show right now? We're so excited to have you here. Looking at the financial perspective, Kenan, what's the biggest financial lesson you've learned over a very successful 30 plus year career?

23:04 - 23:44

Like I said, just like watch the numbers, you know and watch the people that are dealing with your numbers, you know, like a lot of people want to make it easy on you and handle a lot of different things for you or set you up without copays and blah blah blah. Those are nice conveniences to have, but it's easy to treat the numbers like they don't exist, and that's one... a real problem. You know what I mean? Like, I know it's just digits on a screen or whatever, but they mean things, you know, and your credit score means things, and your relationships with financial people mean means things as well, you know, so it's all about networking, and it's all about paying attention to what you have, what you're getting and what's going out.

23:44 - 23:52

Great advice. And at what point in your life did your philanthropic vision start to crystallize as you became as successful as you are?

23:53 - 24:52

I mean, once you get burned, you want to like, make sure others don't get burned, either. You know, I had a bad accountant growing up. You know, someone who kind of like sweet-talked my mother into a situation of controlling my shit and ended up burning me severely. So I kind of like restarted from scratch in my adult years when I was also supposedly famous. You know what I mean? So. I always, never really minded having a humble hat on, but that kind of forced the issue. And so I will never probably regardless of what I have pertaining to this point or beyond, will start to like lose myself in the fact that, oh, I have these things now. You know what I'm saying? I've just...once you've been to the bottom floor, it's like, All right, I know where that is, and a lot of people will probably spend like crazy in fear of ever going backwards. I don't have that kind of fear basically. I'll be fine no matter what happens from this point on, you know what I mean? And that's just knowing what it's like.

24:52 - 25:19

But that philanthropy, you know, kind of started with like, I don't want anybody to ever experience that. It's foul, you know what I mean? And it's sad because it happens all too often, even as much as I've been preaching. You know what I mean is still going on with different people or whatever. So, you know, I say it even louder, you know, I mean, like, pay attention to your things like, your things are your things, your parents' things are things their, your siblings' things are their things, pay attention to your things.

25:25 - 25:26

Thank you all for listening.

25:26 - 26:02

This has been The Big Stage's 2021 year-end recap Our guests offered inspiration, insights and fresh financial perspectives to carry you into the New Year. If you enjoyed this episode and you'd like to subscribe for more discussions with athletes, artists, and entertainers about their legacy and impact in 2022, please go to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Email us with your thoughts, questions, and feedback to and be sure to find us on Twitter and Instagram at BernsteinPWM. Wishing you all happy holidays and a Happy New Year.

Adam Sansiveri
Senior Managing Director

The information presented and opinions expressed are solely the views of the podcast host commentator and their guest speaker(s). AllianceBernstein L.P. or its affiliates makes no representations or warranties concerning the accuracy of any data. There is no guarantee that any projection, forecast or opinion in this material will be realized. Past performance does not guarantee future results. The views expressed here may change at any time after the date of this podcast. This podcast is for informational purposes only and does not constitute investment advice. AllianceBernstein L.P. does not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. It does not take an investor’s personal investment objectives or financial situation into account; investors should discuss their individual circumstances with appropriate professionals before making any decisions. This information should not be construed as sales or marketing material or an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any financial instrument, product or service sponsored by AllianceBernstein or its affiliates.

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