Hi everyone! Super excited to share my conversation with Nick Bayer, the CEO and Founder of Saxbys, which is a hospitality and coffee company headquartered right in Philadelphia.

Nick is 40 years old and lives in Philadelphia with his wife Haley and son Luke. He was born and raised in Chicago alongside his little brother and then made his way to Cornell University where he was the captain of the baseball team. After Cornell, he moved to Atlanta and worked in the corporate world doing consulting for a couple of years. When he was 25, he created Saxbys. Nick tells us that what sets Saxbys apart from other coffee companies is their extreme hospitality—they treat every single employee and customer with the utmost respect. They build cafes that have an uplifting environment with friendly faces, delicious drinks, and exceptional food.

Despite the chain’s popularity today, it wasn’t an overnight success. Just a few years into the business, he found himself $150,000 in credit card debt and then had to file for bankruptcy in 2009. Although there were some dark times, Nick never gave up and persevered through adversity.  In 2009, he moved Saxbys to Philadelphia (go Philly!!) and rebuilt the company. Fast forward 10 years, they are now very profitable and have 27 locations across 9 states.

In 2015, Nick also introduced Saxbys groundbreaking Experiential Learning Program in partnership with Drexel University: the nation’s first entirely student-run café where students can earn full academic credit and wages to manage all aspects of a Saxbys café. Yes, these college students are actually in charge of the 30+ member team, the financials, and community partnerships. It had so much proven success at Drexel that they now have student-run cafes at eight other universities and are quickly growing. I hope you enjoy Nick’s story as much as I did!

 

Books:

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

So excited to share my conversation with my friend Billy Cunningham, an incredibly humble Philadelphia legend! Billy was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY alongside his three siblings.

Early in life, Billy realized he had a love and passion for the game of basketball. He was fortunate enough to go to the University of North Carolina and to this day, he is recognized as one of the best players in the school’s history. After graduating from college in 1965, he played professionally for nine years, playing for both the Philadelphia 76ers and the Carolina Cougars. He was on the team that won the 76ers NBA Championship in 1967 with the famous Wilt Chamberlin, who is considered one of the greatest players of all time.

His career came to an end in 1976 and after a short stint in broadcasting for CBS, he was hired as the head coach of the 76ers from 1977 to 1985. In 1983, he led the team to win the NBA Championship, which was the last team ever in Philadelphia history to win an NBA title.  Billy talks a lot about this team and the humble and incredible team members such as Bobby Jones, Maurice Cheeks, Andrew Toney, Moses Malone, and Julius Erving—all considered some of the best players in NBA history.

In 1986, Billy was inducted into NBA Hall of Fame and in 1996 he was named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history.  His jersey number 32 is retired, however, he allowed it to be worn by the legendary Charles Barkley, who he also coached.

After retiring from coaching in 1985, he went on to be one of the co-founders of the Miami Heat NBA team, which was a remarkable entrepreneurial journey. After building that team into a true success, he sold his share in 1994 for a very profitable number. Over the past 20+ years, Billy has continued on with tremendous success in business, becoming a very keen investor in different businesses.

I personally think that one of his greatest successes has been his 53 yearlong marriage to his awesome wife and my good friend Sondra Cunningham. Together they have two beautiful daughters Stephanie and Heather and four grandchildren!

Hope you enjoy the interview!