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Volume 21 No. 6
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Going viral: Nardini’s response on responsiveness

Barstool Sports CEO Erika Nardini caused a mini-firestorm in July when she told The New York Times that she occasionally sends off-hour texts to job interview candidates to see how fast they respond. If she texts a candidate at, say, 11 a.m. on a Sunday, she expects a response within three hours.

Nardini’s published response was vilified on social media for days afterward, with posts calling her a “horrible boss” who promotes a “Troglodyte world view.”

I caught up with Nardini late last month to see how she weathered being the villain of a story that went viral.
“It was staggering; it was overwhelming,” she said. “I became a tyrant and poster child for a lack of work-life balance, which may be true or may not be true. It was interesting to see it take hold and become something in and of itself entirely.”

Barstool Sports CEO Erika Nardini.
I asked Nardini, who will be honored next month as part of SportsBusiness Journal/Daily’s Game Changers program, if she would give a different answer today knowing how her original response touched such a nerve.

“No. It was the truth,” she said. “What I had said about texting candidates was that this wasn’t something I’ve always done and wasn’t something I’ve always needed. But it’s what I need now — responsiveness and people who understand that we are an internet company and that’s all about responsiveness and timeliness. Like a lot of sports companies, nights and weekends are our prime time.”

Nardini made a point to highlight the response from Barstool’s current employees, which she said was uniformly supportive.

“I was really touched by the way the Barstool guys handled it,” she said. “We were able to laugh at the line that Barstool and Barstool’s CEO was getting criticized for working too hard.”