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Superimposed text - An Atlantic Exchange interview with Melanie Whelan, Soul Cycle CEO Underwritten by U.S. Trust

Derek Thompson voiceover - What exactly did you feel was special about SoulCycle?

Melanie Whelan voiceover -We hire for attitude and aptitude, we hire for energy, we don't hire for experience.  It's all about in my mind spotting potential. And that is much more of an art than it is a science.

 Superimposed text - We hire for attitude and aptitude

Melanie Whelan voiceover - We don't hire for experience.

Superimposed text - Not experience.

Melanie Whelan voiceover - It's all about in my mind spotting potential.

Superimposed text - It's about spotting potential.

Melanie Whelan voiceover - And that is much more of an art than it is a science. I think companies often times when they get really big they forget to celebrate the wins and they're so focused on the opportunities.

Superimposed text - Companies don’t celebrate the wins

Melanie Whelan voiceover - And We try as a company, culturally it's one of our values, to acknowledge, to sow it forward, we say to pay gratitude to our operators and our instructors because it's ultimately they are the ones on the frontlines every day delivering the  experience.

Superimposed text - Look to pay gratitude

Superimposed text - They are delivering the experience

End card - Watch more of the interview at www.ustrust.com/business

Content contained herein has been produced by The Atlantic, independent of and not affiliated with U.S. Trust or Bank of America. Opinions or ideas expressed are not necessarily those of Bank of America or U.S. Trust nor do they reflect their views or endorsement. This video is for informational purposes only. Neither Bank of America nor U.S. Trust assume liability for any loss or damage resulting from anyone’s reliance on the information provided.

Chapter 1

Title card - Soul Cycle’s Uniqueness

Title card - An Atlantic Exchange interview with Melanie Whelan, Soul Cycle CEO Underwritten by U.S. Trust

Part 1 in a series

Derek Thompson - I'd love you to go back to that moment where you know you're doing business development for Equinox and you are looking at I'm thinking dozens of different investment opportunities for the company, what exactly did you feel was special about SoulCycle? Was it, was it looking at their financials? Was it meeting with the founders? Was it the experience that you had on the bike that one morning or afternoon when you were there? Can you remember what that thing was that was sort of the tipping factor?

Melanie Whelan - Yes, I'm laughing only because there were no financials. I don't think when we did the deal there were financials, that was the most fun part like, how do you count the money? There's no budget and there's no P&Ls. You know, I think what I fell in love with and I think what our CEO of Equinox fell in love with and what is still the same about SoulCycle today is what happens in that room is really three dimensional. It's physical first but it's a musical and spiritual journey that our instructors take our riders on.

And when you come into something that's social and joyful and gives riders a way to connect with each other in the lobby or the studios, it was something that just hadn't been seen before. And a lot of brands talk about creating connection and fostering that third space outside of your home, but SoulCycle had really done it in a way that was relevant. You know, in 2008 the world was coming to an end, and in New York, you know, people ... All sorts of terrible things were happening, right? And our riders were coming to SoulCycle because they needed a place to disconnect.

And they needed a place to escape and they wanted to come to a lobby where they knew there would be other people who were like-minded, where they could have this shared experience. And I'd just never seen, you know, anything like it before. The founders at the time were looking for partners as I said to help them scale and we knew that Equinox had experience in doing that but they really had the brand, the experience and the whole community element.

We have a studio on the upper west side where our instructor played Hallelujah, the Leonard Cohen song, and one of the riders was so moved in the candlelight, he got off of his bike and clipped out and walked bike to bike, hugging each one of our riders. And just said, "It was a place where I could heal after a very difficult month." And it’s really humbling to think that SoulCycle has become a place where the communities can come together, but also exciting at the same time that the mission I think really is being fulfilled, that it isn't just fitness, it is about community.

Disclosure - Content contained herein has been produced by The Atlantic, independent of and not affiliated with U.S. Trust or Bank of America. Opinions or ideas expressed are not necessarily those of Bank of America or U.S. Trust nor do they reflect their views or endorsement. This video is for informational purposes only. Neither Bank of America nor U.S. Trust assume liability for any loss or damage resulting from anyone’s reliance on the information provided.

Chapter 2     

Title card - The SoulCycle Experience

Title card - An Atlantic Exchange interview with Melanie Whelan, Soul Cycle CEO Underwritten by U.S. Trust

Part 2 in a series

Derek Thompson - You're using language that's really similar to, you know, my friends who are the biggest SoulCycle devotees, that there's something incredibly special and three dimensional, fifth dimensional that happens inside of that room that's ineffable. But when you start, When one starts using these terms I think  people who don't understand the experience often say, "This is a cult. You know, this is I don't understand it. This is weird, no one talks about working out like this. I just go to the gym you know for 40 minutes a day maybe twice a week and that's just my experience. I don't, I don't fall in love with it."

So I do wonder on the issue of SoulCycle being a cult whether this is A, the sort of thing that you sort of shun because the concept of a cult means that your customers are somewhat crazy, or whether you embrace it and essentially say, "Well There are lots of other companies that have bikes and there are lots of other companies that have weights. And we’re competing with not just other riding companies but also with P90X and really everything else in the exercise ecosystem." So Cults, embrace the word or do you shun it?

Melanie Whelan - So I would say neither in that we internally refer to it as a tribe and our view is that you know from the beginning the mission was to make exercise fun.

Exercise especially in this market has always been treated as something to check off of a to-do list. And we wanted to make it something that was fun and social and joyful and musical and all of the things that it is. And so, I think the only place in which we don't take it as an incredible compliment to be called a cult is where it's intimidating to other, to riders. You know I hear a lot, "I'm going to get in shape and then I'll come to SoulCycle," or, "I can never do that, look at the women in their tights, I can never do that." And I always say the same thing, which is, "We ride in the dark to candlelight and we actually line all the bikes up in a row so you can't see the people behind me if I'm in the front row." And we do that purposefully so that it's a safe place for riders to come, especially for new riders to come. But ultimately I think you know the idea of being a tribe, of being a healthy tribe and making something that's fun, you're going to come back and if you're going to come back that's going to create change and that's going to create staying power, so ultimately we celebrate it.

Disclosure - Content contained herein has been produced by The Atlantic, independent of and not affiliated with U.S. Trust or Bank of America. Opinions or ideas expressed are not necessarily those of Bank of America or U.S. Trust nor do they reflect their views or endorsement. This video is for informational purposes only. Neither Bank of America nor U.S. Trust assume liability for any loss or damage resulting from anyone’s reliance on the information provided.

Chapter 3

Title card - Empowering the team

Title card - An Atlantic Exchange interview with Melanie Whelan, Soul Cycle CEO Underwritten by U.S. Trust

Part 3 in a series

Melanie Whelan - From the, from the beginning of when we started really scaling we decided to take a very hands off approach to our training. We talk about it a lot as freedom within a framework. So we’ll teach you the fundamentals of how to operate a studio or how to lead a SoulCycle class but ultimately we put the creativity of the delivery into the individual's hand. We wanted to make sure that as we grew we stayed focused on the local communities and we made each SoulCycle special.

And so we empower and we challenge the people that work in our studios to find the yes. A yes may be something different today than it was yesterday and something different next week. So For example I was in our studio on Saturday morning and we were turning tens and tens of people away from each class because the wait lists were so long. And we had to find a yes for each one of those riders.

And the yeses are going to be different for every one of them. Some I'm going to get you a piece of retail, some I'm going to get you into the next class, some I'm going to pre-book you next week, but our team's whole job is to work that hustle at that desk and make sure that our riders are felt, heard, acknowledged, appreciated and those connections are made because ultimately again that I think is what makes us different than anyone else in the space, is its hospitality and its connection but by empowering the local instructors, empowering the local operators to find those yeses, and to make those connections, it starts to feel like it's the SoulCycle, not a one of 70 SoulCycles.

Disclosure - Content contained herein has been produced by The Atlantic, independent of and not affiliated with U.S. Trust or Bank of America. Opinions or ideas expressed are not necessarily those of Bank of America or U.S. Trust nor do they reflect their views or endorsement. This video is for informational purposes only. Neither Bank of America nor U.S. Trust assume liability for any loss or damage resulting from anyone’s reliance on the information provided.

Chapter 4

Title card - Finding and developing the team

Title card - An Atlantic Exchange interview with Melanie Whelan, Soul Cycle CEO Underwritten by U.S. Trust

Part 4 in a series

Derek Thompson - So how do you hire people? How do you find people that are going to be not just a motivating core of people's life but something even beyond that, something, you know, more emotional? How do you find them? And then once you found them how do you train them so that they're studio ready?

Melanie Whelan - Yeah, it's probably the hardest that we do, is scouting talent, across all levels of the organization. I think it's no different than a lot of bigger businesses, right? Everyone says people is their biggest problem, but for us people is our product and so getting that right and making sure that we not only behaviorally hire but then also invest a lot in training and development, and not just out of the gate but ongoing development so that our instructors and our operators in the studios as well as our HQ staff have career trajectory with us.

You know, A lot of our workforce is millennials and we want to make sure that they feel like they're having an impact, that they are driving their business, that they have a path with the company, and because we are in such high growth mode we're very fortunate in that we're able to offer whether operators or instructors new opportunities. I always say one of the best parts about my job is shoving people into roles too quickly because we have no choice we're scaling so fast.

One of our most wonderful studio managers in Westport, Connecticut, had just been promoted to studio manager and I said to our regional director, "We're opening Texas, we've got to send him." She said, "You're crazy, he's been doing this job for two months. He doesn't even know how to shut the cash register drawer at night." I said, "That's exactly where he's going, because he's got the right attitude and he's got the aptitude and we'll get him the experience or the training that he needs."

I think companies often times when they get really big they forget to celebrate the wins and they're so focused on the opportunities. And we try as a company, culturally it's one of our values, to acknowledge, to sow it forward, we say to pay gratitude to our operators and our instructors because it's ultimately they are the ones on the frontlines every day delivering the experience.

Derek Thompson - but this is such an undefined and empathetic role that is a combination of performance and ability to connect with people and a bit of fearlessness to like put yourself in people's lives who are, you don’t know or who are strangers over and over. Can you give us an example of how you begin to look for these qualities in an interview setting?

Melanie Whelan - That's like asking Simon Cowell how he picks them out on the talent shows. We have an incredible team of people that can really ... It's all about in my mind spotting potential. And that is much more of an art than it is a science. And You know, we're going to get it wrong sometimes, you just hope that eight or nine times out of 10 you're going to get it right and that you hold yourself accountable when you do get it wrong to making the quick decision that's going to ... Not just the company but also the individual is not going to be successful. But I cannot say enough what a great team we have and how they really have great eyes for people's potential.

Disclosure

Content contained herein has been produced by The Atlantic, independent of and not affiliated with U.S. Trust or Bank of America. Opinions or ideas expressed are not necessarily those of Bank of America or U.S. Trust nor do they reflect their views or endorsement. This video is for informational purposes only. Neither Bank of America nor U.S. Trust assume liability for any loss or damage resulting from anyone’s reliance on the information provided.

Chapter 5

Title card - Supporting Work/Life Balance

Title card - An Atlantic Exchange interview with Melanie Whelan, Soul Cycle CEO Underwritten by U.S. Trust

Part 5 in a series

Melanie Whelan - It is one of the, probably the most rewarding things about SoulCycle, is watching these young women leaders rise in the organization. 86% of our studio managers are female and that statistic has been constant for the last two years, which is really cool. I keep saying like, "Run it, I'm going to go speak, make sure it's still the truth and valid," and it is. I think it's because a couple of things. One, first we always promote, and hire and promote, for achievement and sort of aptitude and potential.

And so it's never that we're positive really selecting people because they're female or not, however the lifestyle that we create at SoulCycle, it is flexible in terms of schedule, it is flexible in terms of hours. We invest a lot in each one of our, we call them entrepreneurs or studio managers, not just around how to run a business but how to be a better person, a better leader, how to give feedback, how to receive feedback gracefully, how to write a development plan for a team around you.

And I think that's really uniquely suited for female entrepreneurs that they want to learn these skills and they want to continue to commit to their own development within the organization while seeing that. We have some powerful females on our leadership team who are somehow figuring it all out within our own lives. I've got two little kids and a husband who's around a lot, or not around a lot I should probably say. And I'm really active on social with my kids in the studios and showing them like, "You can do this." I can be a drop off and then be in an executive meeting, or I can swing a field trip and then go to a board meeting after that.

And I say to these guys all the time, this whole idea of work/life balance I think is a complete farce because you don't go to work and then go to life, you have life and work is one part of that, and your marriage or partnership and your kids and your friends and your own personal development and whatever hobbies you have, that's all part of the pie. And we just talk a lot about it, so if it's not feeling good for you we'll figure it out for you in a way that you can have your kids or go on that trip or take your time off. And we just really try to make an accommodating work space and work style for the young women.

Disclosure - Content contained herein has been produced by The Atlantic, independent of and not affiliated with U.S. Trust or Bank of America. Opinions or ideas expressed are not necessarily those of Bank of America or U.S. Trust nor do they reflect their views or endorsement. This video is for informational purposes only. Neither Bank of America nor U.S. Trust assume liability for any loss or damage resulting from anyone’s reliance on the information provided.

Chapter 6

Title card - Shifting paradigms to retain employees

Title card - An Atlantic Exchange interview with Melanie Whelan, Soul Cycle CEO Underwritten by U.S. Trust

Part 6 in a series

Melanie Whelan - So one of the things I think that from the beginning the founders did really well, and one of the things that I fell in love with, was this idea of creating homes for fitness instructors. Years ago, and even to a certain extent now, the industry was very fragmented and you'd teach two spin classes here and then be running to teach two boot camp classes there and then yoga classes here.

And what they found was that these instructors weren't making homes and building community in any one place, they were more worried about their next paycheck than they were about creating community, and so they offered them basically full time jobs to come and be SoulCycle instructors. And ultimately it translated so well in that they became brand ambassadors because they not only had a salary but paid vacation, retail allowances, 401k, career trajectory and other benefits that were typically reserved for more corporate employees. Again the product is the people and so making sure that our instructors really feel like this was their home has been critical to our success.

Our retention rate is in the north 90s instructors over the last six years or so. And a lot of that has to do with you know the youth of the company, we're hiring a lot of people every year. And we’re relocating instructors into new markets, which is really rewarding. But ultimately to your point about scouting, Brent's a great scout for us in Chicago. If he sees someone or if he's taking another class somewhere, he's going to let us know. They really become part of the DNA and the fabric of the communities and also our culture. And That I think ultimately is why they love to be a part of it.

Disclosure - Content contained herein has been produced by The Atlantic, independent of and not affiliated with U.S. Trust or Bank of America. Opinions or ideas expressed are not necessarily those of Bank of America or U.S. Trust nor do they reflect their views or endorsement. This video is for informational purposes only. Neither Bank of America nor U.S. Trust assume liability for any loss or damage resulting from anyone’s reliance on the information provided.

Music throughout

Katherine Lockhart – Simply Southern started selling t-shirts and have expanded into an array of products.  The colors are just vibrant.  

On screen copy: 
U.S. Trust logo
James T. Walsh 
Private Client Advisor

James T. Walsh – Simply Southern is the pride of our local community here.  To have the opportunity to serve Simply Southern is really a privilege of ours.

On screen copy: 
Bank of America Merrill Lynch logo
Katherine Lockhart
Business Banking
Charlotte Triad Market Executive

Katherine Lockhart – There is so much inspiration that comes from hearing Ginger’s story, and I could hear it 100 times and be energized every time.

Ginger Aydogdu: When we first started, we basically were only making t-shirts.   

On screen copy:
Ginger Aydogdu
President, Simply Southern

Ginger Aydogdu: And the first day, we actually only made $30, and I thought, oh my gosh, we’re never going to be able to survive on $30.  And then the next day we did $40.  And then by the weekend, on Friday night, we actually did $300, and I thought, oh my gosh, we actually might make it and actually make rent.

Ginger Aydogdu: My first production facility, it was very, very small.  We had one manual machine, I didn’t have enough employees, it was very scary.  And wondering, you know, are we going to be able to survive?

Ginger Aydogdu: It was a lot of hard work and determination, and it just all of a sudden finally paid off.  And retailers started to see that, oh yeah, this is a product that we can sell, and we can sell a lot of.

Katherine Lockhart – Bank of America Merrill Lynch came into Ginger’s life at a time when her company was experiencing tremendous growth.  We discussed how we can help her with her payables and receivables, with financing buildings, with expanding.  The company was doing very well and needed additional capabilities, not just for her business needs, but also on the personal side.

Ginger Aydogdu - U.S. Trust came in and laid it out there for me and said, you need to start thinking about yourself a little bit, and the future of you, and your family.  My goal and my family’s goal is to always give back.

On screen copy:
Simply Southern banner
Pursuit of Happiness
Group of kids: Simply Southern! (Laughter)

James T. Walsh – Ginger, by nature, is a very philanthropic person.  With business owners, so much of their concentration is in one area: their business.  And we come in and share with them a strategy around being able to diversify and to be able to use that strategy, to help not only this generation, but the following generations to come as well.  

We’ve just started in this aspiration of working with children, but we want to do more.  We want the company to grow, we want to grow in the things that we’re doing with all the children.  The next generation is our legacy.

On screen copy: (animation slide)
Bank of America
Merrill Lynch
U.S. Trust
Bank of America Merrill Lynch

On screen copy: (end slide)
Bank of America and logo

On screen copy:

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Opinions expressed herein are those of the featured participants, U.S. Trust and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and may differ from those of Bank of America Corporation and its affiliates.  The information presented in this video is for discussion purposes only and is not intended to serve as a recommendation or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any type of security.  This video does not constitute investment advice and is issued without regard to specific investment objectives or the financial situation of any particular recipient.

This video is designed to provide general information about ideas and strategies.  Always consult with your independent attorney, tax advisor, investment manager, and insurance agent for final recommendations and before changing or implementing any financial, tax, or estate planning strategy.

Case studies are for illustrative purposes only and intended to demonstrate the capabilities of U.S. Trust and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.  You should not consider these case studies as an endorsement of U.S. Trust nor Bank of America Merrill Lynch.  Case studies do not necessarily represent the experiences of other clients, nor do they indicate future performance.  Results may vary.

 * Bank of America Merrill Lynch ™ is the marketing name for the global banking and global markets businesses of Bank of America Corporation.  Lending, derivitives, and other commercial banking activities are performed globally by banking affiliates of Bank of America Corporation, including Bank of America, N.A., Member FDIC.  Securities, strategic advisory, and other investment banking activities are performed globally by investment banking affiliates of Bank of America Corporation (“Investment Banking Affiliates”), including, in the United States, Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated and Merrill Lynch Professional Clearing Corp., both of which are registered broker-dealers and Members of SIPC, and, in other jurisdictions, by locally registered entities.  Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated and Merrill Lynch Professional Clearing Corp. are registered as futures commission merchants with the CFTC and are members of the NFA.  Investment products offered by Investment Banking Affiliates: 

Are Not FDIC Insured
May Lose Value
Are Not Bank Guaranteed

U.S. Trust operates through Bank of America, N.A. and other subsidiaries of Bank of America Corporation.  Bank of America, N.A. and U.S. Trust Company of Delaware (collectively “the bank”) do not serve in a fiduciary capacity with respect to all products or services.  Fiduciary standards or fiduciary duties do not apply, for example, when the Bank is offering or providing credit solutions, banking, custody or brokerage products/services or referrals to other affiliates of the Bank.

Bank of America, N.A., Member FDIC.  

 © 2017 Bank of America Corporation. All rights reserved.

Transcript for The Owner's Journey

Carl - My family business was one of the largest manufacturers of plastic bags, trash bags, food bags. I started working there when I was 16 and sold it 31 years later.

(on screen: Carl Allen, Entrepreneur)

Richard - We’ve been banking with Carl Allen and his company for three decades now. And over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time getting to know his business. 

(on screen: Richard Holt, Dallas Market President, Global Commercial Banking, Bank of America Merrill Lynch)

Janet – I’ve been able to provide services for Carl and his family over the last 15 years.  It’s important when you work with your clients that are entrepreneurs to know that they will either sell their company or pass it to their children. So you always plan for day one in the event that they’re willing and ready to sell their business.  And so that’s exactly what we did with Carl.

(on screen: Janet Ryan, Private Client Advisor, U.S. Trust)

Carl - Around 2012, we started to have some really good years, and I went to Richard and Janet and I said, “I’m really not thinking about this but I have had a few people talk to me about selling,” and they immediately recommended that I talk to Rich up in New York. He heads the Global Corporate Investment Bank’s North American plastics division, and he took the time to really get to know my business.  

Rich - When you have a successful entrepreneur like Carl whose invested the entirety of his heart and soul into growing that business, it’s almost like a member of the family, and so Carl was concerned with not only getting a great price for his business, but really making sure the business was transitioned into the right hands.

(on screen: Rich Gentile, Senior Investment Banker, Global Investment Banking, Bank of America Merrill Lynch)

 Carl - It was a long process, it took almost a year from the time I decided, and I had you know, almost 1,000 employees and so that part of the decision was very difficult. Richard and Rich and Janet, they understood that, had great bedside manner, they stood by me every step of the way. When I sold the company, all the funds went directly to U.S. Trust.

 Janet – When Carl sold his company, the funds had to be wired into one or multiple institutions.  Since Carl had been working with Bank of America for decades, he relied on our institution to be the fiduciary of the funds.  That showed his level of trust that he had built with the institution.  So it was really exciting to watch him see he achieved his goals over the last 30 years.

Richard - The power of our enterprise is that we can make the connections, that’s one of the things Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and U.S. Trust do extremely well. 

Carl - As for what’s next, we’ll see. Ya know I really want to spend time with my wife, my children, and now my grandchildren, and we have a lot to do, and my wife and I are really looking forward to this next step of our lives.

(on screen: Life’s better when we’re connected)

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Opinions expressed herein are those of the featured participants, U.S. Trust, and may differ from those of Bank of America Corporation and its affiliates. The information presented in this video is for discussion purposes only and is not intended to serve as a recommendation or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any type of security. This video does not constitute investment advice and is issued without regard to specific investment objectives or the financial situation of any particular recipient. 

This video is designed to provide general information about ideas and strategies. Always consult with your independent attorney, tax advisor, investment manager, and insurance agent for final recommendations and before changing or implementing any financial, tax, or estate planning strategy. 

Case studies are for illustrative purposes only and intended to demonstrate the capabilities of Bank of America Merrill Lynch. You should not consider these case studies as an endorsement of Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Case studies do not necessarily represent the experiences of other clients, nor do they indicate future performance. Results may vary.

* Bank of America Merrill Lynch (™) is the marketing name for the global banking and global markets businesses of Bank of America Corporation. Lending, derivatives, and other commercial banking activities are performed globally by banking affiliates of Bank of America Corporation, including Bank of America, N.A., Member FDIC. Securities, strategic advisory, and other investment banking activities are performed globally by investment banking affiliates of Bank of America Corporation (”Investment Banking Affiliates”), including, in the United States, Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated and Merrill Lynch Professional Clearing Corp., both of which are registered broker-dealers and Members of SIPC, and, in other jurisdictions, by locally registered entities. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated and Merrill Lynch Professional Clearing Corp. are registered as futures commission merchants with the CFTC and are members of the NFA. Investment products offered by Investment Banking Affiliates:

Are Not FDIC Insured
May Lose Value
Are Not Bank Guaranteed

U.S. Trust operates through Bank of America, N.A., and other subsidiaries of Bank of America Corporation. Bank of America, N.A. and U.S. Trust Company of Delaware (collectively the “Bank”) do not serve in a fiduciary capacity with respect to all products or services. Fiduciary standards or fiduciary duties do not apply, for example, when the Bank is offering or providing credit solutions, banking, custody or brokerage products/services or referrals to other affiliates of the Bank.

Bank of America, N.A., Member FDIC.

© 2017 Bank of America Corporation. All rights reserved.

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