SiriusXM channel 111, Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School, reached a milestone in July. It now plays 40 hours of original, live content every week. SiriusXM celebrated with the “Success in Business Town Hall” event on June 25. One of the special aspects of the event was that it involved an alumni panel interviewed by business journalist and Fox Business Network anchor Maria Bartiromo.

Live in the SiriusXM “Success in Business Town Hall”

Live in the SiriusXM “Success in Business Town Hall”

SiriusXM headquarters in New York City was an exciting place to be for the town hall, held in the “fish bowl” studio surrounded by the satellite radio provider’s neon-lit two-story lobby. SiriusXM celebrity hosts were wandering the halls. (There was at least one reported Howard Stern sighting.) Wharton community members in attendance absorbed the entertainment-industry atmosphere while devouring the hors d’oeuvres. Wharton’s own celebrities were there—the likes of professors Michael Useem, Stew Friedman and Kartik Hosanagarand they, too, were honored as hosts on Business Radio (they are hosts of “Leadership in Action,” “Work and Life,” and “The Digital Show,” respectively).

As happens with live events like a radio show, you never know what guests might say. In this case, the four guests—William P. Lauder, W’83; Pauline Brown, WG’95; Neil Blumenthal, WG’10; and Wharton’s Vice Dean of Innovation Karl Ulrich—electrified the airwaves with business wisdom and tales from School, but they also provided some impromptu gems of information.



Connect with us: Watch highlights of the SiriusXM town hall above, and listen to the full panel discussion at the “Best of Business Radio” website:


Among the juicier sound bites from each of the participants, in no particular order:

Brown, chairman of the North American arm of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, went into consulting after her Wharton graduation, but soon realized it wasn’t for her.

“I deep down love product, lots of different products. But I am not agnostic about what I am working on behalf of,” she told the SiriusXM audience.

Her breakthrough came at a subsequent position at Estée Lauder, a “very defining time” that taught her about brand building and entrepreneurial management.

(left to right) Karl Ulrich; William P. Lauder, W’83; Pauline Brown, WG'95; and Neil Blumenthal, with Maria Bartiromo

(left to right) Karl Ulrich; William P. Lauder, W’83; Pauline Brown, WG’95; and Neil Blumenthal, WG’10, with Maria Bartiromo

When Bartiromo asked him where he sees opportunity, Ulrich, Wharton’s CIBC Professor of Entrepreneurship and e-Commerce, said:

“I am really excited to see hardware become sexy again.”

Ulrich, who hosts the Business Radio show “Launch Pad” with venture capitalist Rob Coneybeer, WG’96, cited the amount of venture capital and the level of entrepreneurial interest in making devices (versus developing the software to run them). Take Nest Labs or a company looking to make a mobile robot out of your iPhone.

Warby Parker co-CEO and co-founder Blumenthal said that mobile is becoming a force of change for the direct-to-consumer eyeglass brand. The company has seen a “pretty remarkable” shift just in the past 12 months—from about 25 percent of traffic coming from mobile devices to 40 percent now.

Lauder, executive chairman of the Estée Lauder Companies, revealed that only 6 percent to 7 percent of the beauty business’ sales come online. The online store locator see more visitor click-throughs than the shopping cart, he said. His point—that “there is actually real business to be had in [traditional] retail” and that technology allows firms to interact with omnichannel consumers, not just transact with them.

“In the vast majority of the world, shopping is not an act of consumption. Shopping is a form of entertainment,” he said. “Why we shop is not just because we got to have it.”

Editor’s note: Wharton community members have access to recent shows from SiriusXM channel 111. Sign in to listen to “Best of Business Radio” if you haven’t done so already.