Before Super Bowl LI kicks off in Houston, analysis of the game’s economic impact on the city is already underway. Olin’s director of the Business of Sports program, Patrick Rishe, weighs in on the financial forecasts and concludes it’s best to wait until the game is over to measure revenue reaped by the local community. Here’s an excerpt from report in the Houston Chronicle:

Last year, right before Super Bowl L (that’s 50 for non-Latin speakers) in the San Francisco Bay area, Rockport guesstimated — without doing a full analysis — that the event would bring in $350 million for local communities. The official post-game analysis, done by a firm called Sportsimpacts, found the actual amount was closer to $240 million.

That study also incorporated both indirect and induced spending, and accounted for out-of-town spending and displaced tourism. But author Patrick Rishe — the director of the sports business program at Washington University in St. Louis — cautions against trying to draw parallels between different reports, since every firm has its own assumptions and methodologies and set of expectations from the host committee.

“Comparing economic impact studies across Super Bowls is risky business,” Rishe says, “and ultimately, a futile one.”




If you’re one of the more than four thousand political appointees taking office in the new Trump administration, this book is a must-read. Leading in Government is based on management questions from career civil servants across the federal bureaucracy. The author, a professor of organization and strategy at Washington University in St. Louis, provides advice that reveals helpful leadership insights on the inner workings of government agencies and departments.



“Leadership in the federal government is more challenging than in any other sector,” says Nickerson who is Director of Brookings Executive Education (BEE)*, a partnership of the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C. and Olin Business School at Washington University. “It’s challenging because public leaders have at least 535 bosses (elected members of Congress), political appointees turnover frequently, and the budgeting and authorities processes that make coordination and collaboration across government difficult.”

During a presidential transition, the thousands of political appointees who are put in charge of the legions of career civil servants are often at a great disadvantage when they assume their new posts according to Nickerson. “Challenges arise with transitions because of new priorities and directions and the sudden flood of new political appointees, many of whom have little direct leadership experience in government.”

“Leading in Government is a must read and important for anyone, civilian or military, tasked with the onerous responsibility to help mitigate the security and stability issues facing our nation and the world.”Martin R. Steele, Lieutenant General, US Marine Corps (Retired)

Leading in Government provides new thinking about how public leaders on the front lines can respond to a wide variety of real leadership challenges, dilemmas, and problems found in government. The book covers leadership issues confronted by civil servants at different career stages in a problem-solution format based on questions submitted to Nickerson’s column published on Government Executive’s website.

In Leading in Government, readers will learn about:

  • how managers can promote innovation
  • how managers can build trust
  • maintaining a motivated workforce when faced with budget cuts
  • navigating conflicts in a politically polarized environment
  • the 28 leadership competencies or Executive Core Qualifications, known as “ECQs,” created by the Office of Personnel Management as a model for executive leadership development

nickerson-book-coverLeading Thinking®, a leadership philosophy developed at Brookings Executive Education, provides the foundation for the approach to problem-solving guidance throughout Leading in Government. Nickerson suggests that the three central ideas of the philosophy are helpful to experienced as well as newly appointed political leaders:

  • Leaders should stop, think, act, and reflect.
  • Leaders must engage in thinking by comprehensively formulating their challenge before trying to resolve it through a process of inquiry. Doing so helps to overcome individual and group biases that all too often lead to solving the wrong problem and stimulating internal politics and battles that destroy worker engagement.
  • Leaders must reflect. The most useful reflection approaches lead to changes in thinking patterns and the constant striving to be better thinkers and leaders.

Linda M. Springer, former Director, US Office of Personnel Management, and a member of President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team, recommends Nickerson’s book to leaders at all levels of government:

“At a time when the responsibilities facing public servants are so consequential, this volume is a welcome addition,” she said. “It is to be hoped that current and future government leaders will take hold of these insights and put them into practice.”

Leading in Government is available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.

*Brookings Executive Education (BEE), is a partnership of the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C. and Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis. BEE offers leadership courses and degree programs for middle and upper level government managers. To learn more, visit:

Image: Gage Skidmore Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C.

JD Ross of Opendoor

JD Ross, BSBA’12, Cofounder of Opendoor is featured in the Consumer Technology category of Forbes 30 Under 30 list published this week. This is the sixth straight year, FORBES has sifted through hundreds of nominees to create the 2017 30 Under 30 consumer tech list. Click here to read more about the judges and others on the list.

“Ross is a cofounder of Opendoor, an online service trying to streamline the process of selling a home. The company offers a quick payday to homeowners and then tries to flip those assets using technology to assess value and risk. The company, which is operating in Las Vegas and Phoenix, closed a $210 million funding round in December.”  -Forbes


Here’s a profile of JD from the 2015 issue of Olin Business Magazine:

Don’t try to give JD Ross, BSBA ’12, a job to do. He only wants your problems. “I’m a terrible employee,” Ross said. “I’ve always been bad at being told specific things to do. If you tell me there’s a problem to solve, I love that.”

Today, he’s loving this problem: helping homeowners sell their houses instantly, without the heartache of weeks or months on the real estate market. Ross and three colleagues tackled the problem with Opendoor, founded in 2014 and boasting $30 million in venture capital support.

Only three years out of Washington University, Ross already has a string of startups on his resume, including Fresh Prints, a student–run custom apparel company he founded on campus, where he developed the staff and built the logistics to manage every aspect of the million-dollar business.

He was the fifth employee at Addepar (now more than 10 times that size), hired to create the product team for the Mountain View, California-based startup that builds financial portfolio analysissoftware for investors. He left to create Opendoor with former Square COO Keith Rabois and two others.

But even earlier—as a 13-year-old—Ross founded his first company: GenY Computer Consultants. Ross charged $60 an hour to clean viruses and malware from customers’ machines. “I could do the same thing as the adults, faster, and I could guarantee it. It was a great learning opportunity,” said Ross, who was installing computer systems for the local school district by the time he was 17.

His business school education was instrumental, as well. Every professor encouraged exploration, but he particularly recalled Lamar Pierce, his introductory management professor, and Michael Gordinier, his statistics teacher. “They probably pushed me the most,” Ross said. “When you’re a freshman, you look for some authority to tell you you’re going in the right direction.” They werekey, he said, but “there isn’t a single person at Olin who didn’t encourage you to stray from the normal path if you wanted to.

“The future, Ross said, belongs to the multiple disciplinarians: Be among either the top 0.1 percent of people with one skill, or the top 5 percent of those with two or more. “Everyone should find things they’re interested in and build skills around being able to do that,”  he said.

With his computer skills and business training from Olin, it’s no wonder that Ross became the guy who could build Opendoor’s first prototype from scratch, then overcome skeptics who doubted anyone would pay a premium over typical real estate commissions to sell a house instantly. Now, Opendoor buys four homes a day in Phoenix and will soon be expanding into Dallas and Portland. And Ross, who runs product development, spends 40 percent of his time hiring new people for the growing company.

“Your job at any given moment is to replace yourself,” says Ross. “Everyone’s job in a startup is to grow the pie. To succeed, you need to hire people who can take over slices.” He continues, “The only way to develop leadership is to drown someone in responsibility.”

CATEGORY: Career, News

Did you pay a premium for Uber on New Year’s Eve? Customers often suffer sticker shock when the ride-sharing company puts surge pricing in effect at peak-demand times, such as the holidays.

New research from Washington University in St. Louis’s Olin Business School shows despite those price hikes (and the grumbling that often accompanies them), all stakeholders — workers and consumers — can benefit from surge pricing in such ride-share services as Uber and Lyft.



“We wanted to understand how Uber uses prices that vary with demand. Since drivers decide for themselves when they drive, price in this setting influences not only the firm’s margin but also the number of drivers out on the road serving customers,” said Kaitlin Daniels, assistant professor of operations and manufacturing management at Olin.

In the research, recently published in Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, Daniels and her co-authors — Gérard Cachon, professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and Ruben Lobel, former assistant professor at Wharton now in the private sector — used analytical modeling to study surge pricing and its effects.

Their results demonstrate that consumers can benefit from surge pricing. They find this is the case when a market isn’t fully served by traditional taxis when demand is high. In short, if you can’t find a cab on New Year’s Eve, Daniels’ research says you’re better off with surge pricing.

This result might seem counter-intuitive for the consumer shelling out infrequent but frustrating fee increases. Daniels says it’s important to keep the big picture in mind.

“Because taxis charge fares that are independent of demand for rides, they experience one of two possible inefficiencies. Either taxis fail to satisfy peak demand, or many taxis idle during times of normal demand. Drivers can only tolerate so much idleness because they are paid per ride, so in many cases taxis opt for the former inefficiency over the latter.

“In this case, surge pricing allows service to expand during peak demand without creating idleness for drivers during normal demand. This means that more peak demand customers get rides, albeit at a higher price. This also means that the price during normal demand settings drops, allowing more customers service at these normal demand times.  The net effect of the expansion of service — the increase of the peak price, and the decrease of the regular price for consumers — is positive.

“The bottom line is, if on New Year’s you can’t find a cab and get stuck with a huge surge, don’t resolve to boycott services including Uber.  Instead, take advantage of their low base price for everyday use, and in the end you should come out ahead.”

Guest Blogger: Erika Ebsworth-Goold, WashU Public Affairs


Before it was a hipster destination and rents started rise faster than those in Manhattan, Brian Leventhal (BSBA’05) had a brilliant idea: to open a winery in Brooklyn. Urbanites could actually participate in the wine making experience from crushing grapes to making wine labels. Brooklyn Winery opened in the Williamsburg neighborhood in 2010 with a wine bar, private event spaces, and a DIY experience under the guidance of a master vintner. This fall, Leventhal and his partners expanded their operation with the opening of BKW restaurant in Crown Heights (see press release below). Plans for a second winery in 2017 in Washington D.C. are also in the works.

grouping_winter2016Brooklyn Winery does not grow grapes, but imports them from the wine regions of California, Long Islad and the Finger Lakes in upstate New York.  Their Winter Wine Pack  is currently discounted at 15% off. It includes: a 2013 Reserve Merlot; 2012 Cabernet Franc; and 2014 Unoaked Chardonnay.

When he was a WashU undergrad, Brian Levethal founded Wydown Water – a water cooler bottle delivery service on campus. He did a stint at McKinsey & Co. after graduation and then worked for a tech start-up. On the verge of going to Haas School of Business for his MBA, Leventhal and a friend decided to risk everything and start Brooklyn Winery.

New Restaurant Press Release:
BKW introduces a reimagined take on the Brooklyn Winery experience to Crown Heights, offering Brooklyn-made premium wines as well as a full menu of elegant New American dishes. Whether you’re sipping wine at the bar or enjoying dinner under the skylights in our Crown Heights restaurant, BKW provides a welcoming environment for guests to savor elevated cuisine alongside artisanal wine.

Rootbeer-glazed pork ribs

Rootbeer-glazed pork ribs

The menu, crafted by Executive Chef Michael Gordon, features a variety of approachable yet refined dishes designed to complement Brooklyn Winery’s portfolio of wines, which are available by the glass and via wine flights. A bottle list features vintages of Brooklyn Winery wines from the vault that date back to the winery’s first harvest and are available exclusively at BKW.

Brooklyn Winery continues its tradition of making wine in the borough by operating a micro-winery on-site at BKW, which will allow the winemaking team to trial experimental lots and techniques that will ultimately be served exclusively at this location.

We invite you to join us for dinner, weekend brunch, happy hour, and late night drinks. Visitors can also pick up a few bottles of our locally crafted wine to go and enjoy Brooklyn Winery wine at home.

CATEGORY: Career, News