Flight Templates are templated flights, or sets of questions, written by some of the world’s preeminent business leaders. With Flight Templates, Balloon users get unparalleled access to seasoned perspectives and proven business strategies across all areas of business, including leadership, product, marketing & sales, innovation, employee experience, culture, and more. This feature is part of a series on The Insight that profiles Balloon’s Flight Template authors.
At only 27 years old, Alex Lieberman already has quite a unique story to tell.
After graduating from the University of Michigan with a business degree, Lieberman worked as a financial analyst until 2015, when he and fellow UMich alum Austin Rief turned their college hobby into a formal business and co-founded the business-focused newsletter Morning Brew. Since then, the Brew has accrued over two million subscribers as well as critical acclaim for its engaging digest—and its success is no accident. Besides being an entrepreneur, a Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree and the former CEO of a multi-million dollar company (in April 2021, he transferred his CEO title over to Rief and moved into a new role as Executive Chairman), Lieberman considers himself, first and foremost, a storyteller.
“I believe we all have a superpower, that one thing that we are uniquely qualified to do. Mine is storytelling,” the New Jersey native said. “I can take disparate information and weave it into a kind of dance. It has this rhythm to it. It keeps people engaged, and it’s really helped the Brew become what it is now.”
In just five years, Lieberman’s ability to craft compelling narratives, combined with Rief’s complementary knack for what Lieberman called “unbelievable focus” and strategic thinking, has pushed Morning Brew from a business news round-up to a go-to platform for information, analysis, and advice for those in the business industry.
“To me, the story of Morning Brew has a clear narrative arc,” Lieberman said. “Chapter one was newsletter-as-a-hobby, chapter two was newsletter-as-a-business, chapter three was portfolio-of-newsletters-as-a-business, and chapter four, which we're in right now, is the transition to a true media company.”
As Morning Brew’s story unfolds, Lieberman’s story as a leader does so as well, and he has collected lessons with each turn of the page. Now, Lieberman is sharing what he has learned in his two new flight template series, Company Values: Working and Living by Your Principles and Expanding Your Brand: Strategizing and Operationalizing Growth. Company Values: Working and Living by Your Principles focuses on how to identify, operationalize, and truly live and work by your company values, and it includes the following flight templates:
- Identify Company Values
- Values-Based Hiring
- Values-Based Hiring Retrospective
- Build Culture with Values
The second series, Expanding Your Brand: Strategizing and Operationalizing Growth, pulls from Morning Brew’s current chapter, as Lieberman put it, guiding users through the delicate process of turning your core product into a fully-developed brand with a loyal (and ideally expansive) customer base. This series also includes four flight templates:
- Identify Adjacencies
- Identify Blindspots During Scaling
- Capture and Institutionalize Best Practices
- Scenario Planning
While all eight flight templates offer users actionable next steps to grow or refine their businesses, the implicit result across both series is more introspective, but just as vital: Helping everyone who engages with the flights—flight creators as well as participants—find their superpower.
“I’ve learned that as you scale a business, every time you hire someone, you’re essentially firing yourself from something that is not your superpower,” Lieberman said. “As we’ve gone from two people to 60 people, Austin and I have brought people on who are exceptional at what we were only good at.”
His ability to check his ego and learn from people who are “significantly smarter than [him and Austin]” for the sake of Morning Brew’s growth is perhaps Lieberman’s second-strongest superpower. Lieberman stressed that the varied professional backgrounds among his staff has allowed the Brew to become as successful as it is—and it will push the company beyond what Lieberman and Rief ever thought possible when they were writing an after-school newsletter back in their college dorms.
“You simply can't survive as a business without cognitive diversity, especially at a media company,” Lieberman said. “At the end of the day, media is content, content is information, and information shapes people's views on the world.”
Crafting thoughtful content at scale is a tall order for someone with only five years of professional experience. Time and time again, however, Lieberman is propelled by one perpetual truth: Morning Brew tells complex, ever-changing stories, and they are stories worth telling. Luckily for us and the millions of Morning Brew readers, that is indeed his greatest strength.