A banker-turned-CEO explains how a 'one and done' rule keeps his business moving fast

  • Nasdaq   MarketSnacks Show Photo 2   Friday 2.3.2017.JPG

    Courtesy of MarketSnacks

    Nicolas Martell and Jack Kramer, cofounders and co-CEOS of MarketSnacks, appear on Nasdaq.

    Nicolas Martell and Jack Kramer are the cofounders and co-CEOs of daily finance newsletter MarketSnacks.
  • They've been running it as a two-person team since November 2011 and have never missed a day.
  • To keep it moving fast, they implemented a "one and done" rule that avoids time-wasting arguments.

Nicolas Martell and Jack Kramer have been friends since 2007, when they were freshmen roommates in college.

Today, they're cofounders and co-CEOs of MarketSnacks, the daily finance newsletter for millennials they created as a side job while working in banking in their early 20s - Martell at UBS, Kramer at CommerzBank AG.

In the nearly six years since they started MarketSnacks, Martell told Business Insider, they've never missed a single day of market news, even though he - who traveled internationally for his job for four years and now spends most of the week pursuing an MBA at Wharton in Philadelphia - and Kramer -who had been working in Berlin and is now pursuing an MBA at the University of Michigan - are rarely in the same time zone.

How does their team of two spend up to three hours writing and editing 750 words every night, and never miss a business day?

Martell calls it the "one and done" rule.


"From a management perspective, what we really found interesting is that, teams crumble and stop functioning when they question each other and slow each other down," he said. Not every question, he explained, serves to better the product or company - some waste time arguing about bias, or doubting the person with more expertise.

He continued: "What Jack and I do is we have a policy of 'one and done.' If one of us disagrees, we don't have an argument about it. We go with whatever the disagreer says. If Jack thinks a joke I put in isn't funny, I'm not going to argue. We're just going to take it out. If I say Jack should add a number here, he's not going to argue that. We'll put it in. And we found that lets us move really quickly on projects. Because stopping to argue about that just isn't worth the time wasted."

As an example of their policy saving valuable time, he points to breaking news around Chipotle last year:

"In my old job I'd be on a plane on the way down to Brazil. I would have to write MarketSnacks before the plane took off for Rio. And Jack, who worked for a German bank, he was in Berlin. And there would be a time-change issue - we had to get this done.

"So we couldn't argue whether we were doing too many references to an avocado in a single paragraph, and we couldn't argue if it was important to include the revenue numbers and the profit numbers, because if we did, we wouldn't be able to actually finish the paragraph on Chipotle. One made the executive decision, and the other one just went with it."


Cheddar   MarketSnacks Interview Photo 2   Friday 2.3.2017.JPG

Courtesy of MarketSnacks

Martell and Kramer appear on Cheddar at the NYSE.

This approach stretches beyond producing their newsletter. When an opportunity arises - for instance, their first appearance on streaming financial news network Cheddar that helped them launch into regular TV spots with brands like Nasdaq and CBS - they don't stop to argue.

"I'm a little more risk-oriented than Jack is," Martell said. "He's a little more conservative in his approach, and that's great because there's times when I'll, for example, want to jump into something and Jack will want to take a more traditional route, and whichever one feels more strongly about it, we tend to back and go behind."

In order for "one and done" to work, the cofounders have to keep their egos in check. Martell says that although people tend to expect serving as co-CEOs of MarketSnacks would lead to tension, it hasn't so far. He credits their ability to work together seamlessly to their friendship, and to their both having played college sports (Kramer played football, Martell played lacrosse). "I think we're both very comfortable with knowing how teams have to work when they're in either times of crisis or tensions - how you have to be accountable together," he said.

He continued: "You need to let go of your ego. Because if you don't, your ego's going to get in the way and then you can't make the decisions and then you can't write the paragraph on Chipotle, and then MarketSnacks doesn't go out that day."