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Join CEO.com for an exclusive live virtual event to hear from Scott Cutler, CEO StockX.

Join us for an engaging episode with Scott Cutler, CEO of StockX, as he shares insights from his incredible journey through the corporate world, from the helm of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to his transformational role at StockX. As an executive who helped turn the NYSE into the number one global exchange, Cutler has a wealth of experience and unique perspectives to share.

Besides his professional achievements, Cutler is a sports enthusiast, having completed numerous marathons and ridden several stages of the Tour de France.

Don't miss out on the exciting opportunity to hear from Cutler himself about his strategies for global expansion, brand transformation, and integrating technology with sneaker culture at StockX.


Clint Betts

What have you learned about leadership and how to lead such a consumer facing brand, something like SubHub? I mean, even the New York Stock Exchange, maybe one of the most well-known brands in the world, the New York Stock Exchange, and now with StockX. I mean, there's something different about a consumer facing, very public brand that interacts with the world every day versus a software as a service product or a B2B play, something like that. What have you found that has been the difference there?

Scott Cutler

Well, as a leader, as a CEO I guess, it's no different, it's just in a different place. Because most platforms, most businesses, and whether or not you're a SaaS business, an enterprise business or a marketplace business, you actually have customers. In a marketplace you have sellers and buyers. Maybe on the enterprise you're actually dealing with customers, but I think being a CEO and being a leader, I think about it in three ways. One, the requirement that you have to be committed to personal development, it's just who you are as a person to be eager to listen, to learn, to develop, to change, to evolve.

Number two, you really have to be committed to striving to become and be a great leader, and that's about followership, how to drive and influence a team, how to build a team, and then how do you get the best performance out of your organization. And then third, it's really how as a leader do you drive consistent business performance, which is always the expectation of a leader, particularly as a CEO. But those elements, I think you've got to be committed to all three of those to be successful no matter what business, what industry, what type of constituent customer that you're serving. To me, those have been themes or threads that have played out in all of the different places where I've had a chance to serve.

Clint Betts:

What do you do, let's go through those real quick, what do you do around personal development?

Scott Cutler

Well, for me, on personal development, I've had a coach that I've worked with over several years across multiple different positions to check in on the things that I'm working on. What are the things that I need to be self-aware of around how I'm leading, and what do I need to change? I'll give you a perfect example of this just in my time at StockX, obviously we've been working through as everybody has. How do you interact in a time when the pandemic is happening, the remote work is happening, we're expanding globally as a company.

There was something new that was required of me as a leader during this time and as a person that I actually had to develop, lean into, be super intentional around, and it was empathy and it was really having a better, deeper understanding of what it was like to work within StockX, whether you were on the front lines in one of our verification centers coming into work during the pandemic, was that a safe environment?

What was happening around us socially? And it was impacting our teams in totally different ways around the world. And so being empathetic as a leader was not my natural state, and through coaching and developing a lot of just intention, leaning into that, not only with my leadership team, but with the company and showing up as a leader in a very different way than just being somebody that was performance driven, results driven, achievement driven, which was what I was and I am by my nature.

But having to do that in a more empathetic way was an example of something that from a personal development perspective, I needed, but it was also required of me as a leader. Had I not done that, I would've lost followership in my leadership team and probably in the company as well had I not done that.

Clint Betts

I like that a lot. I like this idea of empathy and trying to have empathy for every individual who's in the company, that's really interesting. And then once you understand where they're coming from, it probably makes it a little bit easier to lead, or at least better for sure.

Scott Cutler

Well, I mean, think of the world that we live in right now, and depending on who you are as a leader, but for example, StockX, we have operations around the world. The experience of working in different places around the world is very different, and it can also be very different based on the things that are coming at you based on who you are. And so the way that you're experiencing the world and even the way that you want to be seen and understood as an individual, if you don't work for leaders that can actually appreciate that what I'm experiencing as a team member, as an employee could be very different than somebody in the same organization because of who I am, where I come from, what I believe in, but we're all working along the same cause. That's the point that I'm trying to make is that it is very different for all of us, quite frankly.

And understanding the individual and understanding who we are is a really key part of actually bringing the best out of your team and actually getting the best performance out of all of us when we work for a place where we can be seen, we can be heard, but we can also bring our best selves to that, we perform better as individuals. And so as a leader, I think that's what 's required to bring this success out in people.

Clint Betts

And empathy is so missing in today's world, whether it's business or just life. It seems like we've missed that somehow, how important empathy is.

Scott Cutler

Yeah. I mean, when you think about all the things that are hitting us individually, whether or not it's our phone, devices, email schedules, the demands of time, it's easy how we miss out, by stopping, observing, listening, seeing maybe the person that you're interacting with on this call right now. I don't know, Clint, what you're going through right now. Should I spend time understanding that to know you as a person before we try and dive into important work that we have to do together? I think this is the great challenge for all of us to actually be more connected and understand each other better so that we can move faster so that we can perform better.

Clint Betts

And the second one where you say, striving to be great and pushing the team and the company to continue to be great, what are some of the things you do in that area?

Scott Cutler

Well, being a great leader, again, beyond just being committed to personal development is how you build a great team and connect some of these pieces together. Hiring a great team is probably one of the most important things you do as a CEO. And managing that team, like we've talked about, is just critically important, and having great leaders that also have great followership is really important. But how you do that to bring a leadership team together also has to be done with great intention.

And again, tying this to empathy, and particularly working as a global company where I have leaders around the world, but also in a hybrid world where we're not always together in person, sometimes we are. One of the things that we do, and now for me, I think it's a best practice, but we start out a lot of our leadership team meetings, particularly my leadership team meetings with what's called a check-in. It's like, what's true for me right now personally and professionally? It allows us this opportunity to connect on these very things that are actually impacting us as individuals.

And sometimes it goes really deep and sometimes it's just, "Hey, this is what's happening in my life right now," but it gives people context for where you are. And when there's that shared understanding of where we both are, then we can actually appreciate the nuances of maybe a difficult conversation or a difficult situation a little bit better because we're more understanding and appreciative of who we are. And so to me, that check-in as a leadership team is a great way, I think for me, to connect with that leadership team, for us to move together as a squad and to be able to connect and to operate with great efficiency and speed that we need to. But we've got to slow down actually for a second to be able to do that.

Clint Betts

And how do you think about recruiting both the leadership team and then as a company in order to maintain that same cultural fit and everybody driving towards the same mission? What do you do around recruiting?

Scott Cutler

Well, I think actually recruiting maybe starts first and foremost as an organization as to what are your cultural values, what are the things that set your organization apart? What is the expectation of the team? I'll give you just a super simple, and it may sound like a simple example at StockX, obviously we're in this business, it's right behind me. One of the very first things that anybody walking into any meeting is going to do at StockX is going to be just a little glance down, "What are you wearing? What sneakers are you wearing?" And it sounds silly, but a lot of times in the interview process, and this is for C-level positions, can you get passionate about what we do? And I've had leaders that actually don't show up with any heat, with any passion, without any passion for what we're doing, and they lose credibility instantaneously.

So for us, the cultural side of that is actually living a bit of our brand and flexing that in a certain way, but it actually establishes immediately your credibility in a room. And again, seemingly in most organizations, maybe that wouldn't be a requirement. For us it's like, "Hey, you actually need to do this," and it's really easy to do, but some people actually just don't want to do it and they're just not successful in our organization. And so that would never have been part of some of my other jobs that I've had before. But for us, again, recruiting is what are those cultural tenets that are unique to the organization that we have, being really clear about what they are, and then making sure that you're recruiting leaders and individuals that actually fit those cultural values.

And it's as important a set of decisions to make as someone's background or expertise or leadership. They could check all those boxes but not be a cultural fit and won't succeed as a leader within the organization. And so to me, recruiting is as much about what are the cultural values to the fit for that person that you're trying to attract to come into your organization and do meld together.

Clint Betts

Speaking of cultural values, how have you handled the work from home versus remote, versus hybrid versus in the office and that whole debate that's playing out now post COVID?

Scott Cutler

I don't think anybody's figured it out perfectly. I think there's just new realities that are just true. And in some respects, some of these realities have always been the case, but I think we've got an added dimension to it now. For CEOs that are running global businesses, it's always been the case that you've had distribution of workforce. And that's been true for me in my last four leadership positions, having organizations that are in all different corners of the world and figuring out how you bring those teams together to be able to operate.

So distributing globally has always been a part of my leadership journey. I think the thing that's new now is this aspect which is, I can actually have a lot more interactions via this screen and we're enabled by technology. And a lot of people are choosing to say, "This is more efficient and I can work this way."

And the question is, can I work this way and does this allow me to perform better? But can I also be connected to my fellow team members in the organization, and how do you do that really well? And so I think everybody is learning what this is going to look like because it's totally new. I mean, I think we're still working through it, and I think there's a fair amount of social force that a lot of leaders that are trying to say, "Hey, we're just back in person and we're going to force you to be back in person," and you have a lot of workforces that are just in revolt to just that very idea. Again, I think where a lot of organizations are going to end up is still this hybrid distributed global way of working is here to stay, so how do we optimize in this environment?

Clint Betts

And that leads to your third principle, which is consistent performance, and that probably plays a role in this, this work from home versus hybrid versus in office. As you think about consistent performance, what do you mean by that at StockX?

Scott Cutler

Well, the environment that we're in as leaders today is as volatile, as uncertain as it's ever been, certainly in almost 30 years of my career, than at any other time. And so that's the petri dish, that's what we're dealing with as individuals. And so how do you deliver consistent performance in a world or in a situation that's delivering so much uncertainty, so much volatility?

And that is actually just understanding where you're at, dealing with that wind as it's coming at you and setting a sail to sail against it in a way that you can, recognizing that the wind is always going to be there, the waves are always going to be there, but if you've got a rudder and a sail, which is typically rudder being the decisions that you're going to make, sail being your strategy through any of that.

Those things have to be true to actually deliver a consistent speed or a consistent performance when that environment around us is just so uncertain today. And when I think of one or two of the main things that a CEO is responsible for, you touched on one, which is recruiting, having great people on your team. And then two is probably setting that strategic direction, and that can be both mission, vision, purpose, as well as the strategic objectives that you are going to go after to be able to sail that course. Those are the things that a CEO has to own.

Clint Betts

For a marketplace like yours, I wonder how AI is going to affect everything or how it already is affecting everything, both actually in the marketplace itself and then the technology behind it.

Scott Cutler

It is impacting every aspect of our business in totally different ways, which is if I'm coding, there's tremendous efficiencies that can be gained, if there's just an anticipation or an appreciation given with AI about how I could code faster, better, taking advantage of everything that's to be learned. If you're coming up with creative, I've seen actually creative brand campaigns right now in our own team that are AI generated, that are actually fed with a theme, a strategy, an objective, even visual, creative, graphically that now can be powered by AI.

There's still people behind that in terms of what the input is going to be, but there's some really interesting things that are coming out of that. We're exploring AI applications in our own customer service, so how can we enable a faster resolution of maybe a customer experience issue or challenge with the dataset that we have and the information that we have? And so it's impacting all aspects of the business. And I think it's just one of those things that's going to be an enabler for an acceleration of technological advancement and the speed of technological change that we've ever seen.

Clint Betts

How did StockX and you in particular take advantage of influencer marketing? I know you guys work with athletes, you work with celebrities, you work with all these types of folks to really capture this market. How did you approach them and get your name and word out there before you were StockX? Now everybody knows who StockX was, but I wonder how you built that.

Scott Cutler

Well, I was an early investor and not founder of StockX. And you look at the very early days of StockX, it was obviously a new commerce experience that we were starting with a real time marketplace product-based experience, this idea of verifying the products that trade on the platform. But if you looked at the early investors in the company, a lot of them were actually celebrities that also happened to be enthusiasts of the space that could have been Eminem or Mark Wahlberg.

Those types of individuals that were super passionate about what StockX was doing, but also had the foresight to be, quite frankly, earlier investors than many of the venture capitalists that are actually now in StockX as well. So the early part of StockX was also about just getting a flywheel of adoption and excitement around what StockX was doing. Now, as we look at how influencers play a role in StockX in many respects, influencers, that could be the celebrity, the athlete, the artist, the musician, are very much guiding and influencing taste, product, brand, trend.

And some of that are trends that we draft off of, which is being set by brands and collaborations. And some are very specific to StockX where we might be working with an influencer to say, "Hey, here's the collection or the personalized interest that's available on StockX," and it's more of a StockX sponsored thing.

But the whole idea of influencer marketing is obviously taken off so tremendously over the last couple of years, but for StockX it's so in the wheelhouse because we cater to a next generation audience, which is typically under the age of 35, but we're also trying to reflect and look at the world through the lens of what our customers think are the most sought after items and products that we should have in our catalog. And so we have to stay in front of those trends and be really connected to those that are influencing those trends every day.

Clint Betts

I would think that given your market is 35 and under, that might be one of the only ways to get in front of them, right?

Scott Cutler

Yeah. I mean, it's a big way. We have a lot of customers now. I mean, 30 million people come to the site every month. They come to our site via various different channels. I mean, it can come directly because we're a recognized brand and name. It could come through search or query or performance marketing channels. But they're also influenced by what they see in the media and enthusiast groups, in forums as well as what we just talked about, those that are influencing tastes and trends. So there's a lot of different things that are going on that drive interest in the platform, and our marketing team particularly is looking at all of those channels and figuring out, "Where do we partner, where do we need to spend, where do we draft?" And it's super dynamic.

Clint Betts

What do you think about StockX's future?

Scott Cutler

I think we're just at the very beginning of the journey at StockX. We had an idea of just a different type of marketplace experience where if you go back the seven years, what we observed among marketplaces, and these were even some of the marketplaces that I ran, was that marketplaces have existed going back hundreds of years, centuries, as ways to bring together buyers and sellers. What StockX really innovated around was the consistency of a product experience where the buyer and the seller didn't have to see each other and didn't have to see the very particular product itself, but they wanted to know that it was a really consistent experience of the product that they wanted. And so StockX performs this service of being in the middle of that transaction to ensure that the product the buyer and the seller, either buying or selling, is actually verified for what they think they're doing, and so that was what I would call the first phase.

As we look at the future, we're really trying to unlock an opportunity where we can now provide a service to our sellers and to be able to platform to eliminate a lot of the hassles associated with selling on a marketplace, which is managing inventory, managing transactions one by one, where do you store all of your product? We want them to be really focused on acquiring great products and then selling on a platform, so we're doing a lot around fulfillment and logistics around our global network. And then on the buyer side, we just see tremendous opportunity to reflect current culture in multiple different categories.

And that for us started with sneakers, but has expanded into accessories and collectibles, apparel, electronics, and other things that meet this idea of what is current among this type of customer. And I'd say that the last piece is just the global nature of our business, and that's been the most exciting part of our growth and our trajectory is just trying to create a seamless experience and the same experience for a buyer no matter where you are — anywhere in the world. And that's actually been incredibly challenging both technologically as well as logistically, and that's going to be a big part of our growth into the future.

Clint Betts

Scott, I can't thank you enough for coming on, sharing your wisdom, all your experience and everything you're doing here. We end every interview at CEO the same way. At CEO.com, we believe that the chances one gives are just as important as the chances one takes. When you hear that, who comes to mind for you that gave you a chance?

Scott Cutler

I think people always think of the CEOs always being on the top of the ladder. I actually think, not the bottom, but I'd say every position that I've had, I've just described it as six acts, but every opportunity I've been given to lead was given by somebody who made a bet on me or took a chance on me. And I'm incredibly grateful for all of the people who have made a bet or have made a decision that I'm the right person for that role. And so for me, I've really strived throughout my career to actually deliver on being the person that I was hired to be and exceeding that expectation. But it also means that everywhere that I've been, I've really tried to be the best and succeed at where I'm planted at that moment.

And I think the challenge right now is that often people are looking at that next opportunity without actually giving the grace and giving the appreciation for what you have right now and the gratitude for that person that put you in that position. So for me, that's been the theme throughout my entire career of individuals that have made a decision to put me in a place where I can perform my best, every single one. So there's a long, long list of people who have a major, major factor in terms of what I've been able to achieve in my career. I wouldn't be here without so many different people that believed in what I could do.

Clint Betts

Scott, thank you so much. Appreciate you coming on again, and we'll see you down the line, my friend.

Scott Cutler:

All right, thanks so much.

Clint Betts

Thanks, man.