The Secret Life of CEOs: A series from Freakonomics Radio

Mar 6, 2018

Tune in over the next four weeks as "Freakonomics Radio" takes listeners behind the scenes of some of the most powerful companies in the world, interviewing these current and former CEOs:

Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Richard Branson (Virgin), Satya Nadella (Microsoft), Indra Nooyi (PepsiCo), Jack Welch (General Electric), Ellen Pao (Reddit), Carol Bartz (Yahoo!), Ray Dalio (Bridgewater Associates), and David Rubenstein (The Carlyle Group).

Host Stephen J. Dubner, his guests and academic experts explore the empirical evidence behind what makes an effective leader. They look at how a CEO's background figures into the likelihood of success, and what the data shows about how a leader can best manage crises. They explore the "glass cliff" notion of women being appointed CEO when a company is in trouble, and how executives have transitioned to life after the corner office. They even drill down into a very basic question: What does a CEO actually do all day?

"Most of us hear about CEOs only when something very bad or very good happens," Dubner says about the series. "We wanted to know what's going on the other 99.9 percent of the time."

The series starts March 11 as the Freakonomics team examines what a CEO does and how you become one. Listen each Sunday at noon on WRVO.

More about the series:

Sunday, March 11 at noon | What Does a C.E.O. Actually Do? And How Do You Become One?

They’re paid a fortune -- but for what, exactly? What makes a good C.E.O. -- and how can you even tell? Is “leadership science” a real thing -- or just airport-bookstore mumbo jumbo? And how the leaders of Facebook, G.E., Yahoo!, PepsiCo, Microsoft, Virgin, the Carlyle Group, Reddit, and Bridgewater Associates made it to the top.

Sunday, March 18 at noon | C.E.O. interview: Indra Nooyi 

Indra Nooyi became C.E.O. of PepsiCo just in time for a global financial meltdown. She also had a portfolio full of junk food just as the world decided that junk food is borderline toxic. Here’s the story of how she overhauled that portfolio, stared down activist investors, and learned to “leave the crown in the garage.”

Sunday, March 25 at noon | After the Glass Ceiling, a Glass Cliff

Women are much more likely to be appointed C.E.O. to companies that are faltering. This is also true for women in leadership positions in politics and education.

Sunday, April 8 at noon | Crisis Mode

If you’re a C.E.O. your problems aren’t small: the market crashes, consumer preferences change, new technology disrupts your whole business model. So what are you going to do about it? First-hand stories of disaster (and triumph) from Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Ballmer, Satya Nadella, Jack Welch, Ellen Pao, Richard Branson, and more.