Freakonomics Radio presents a special series: “The Secret Life of a C.E.O.” Over six episodes, you’ll hear from the leaders of some of the biggest companies in the world: Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Richard Branson (Virgin), Indra Nooyi (PepsiCo), Satya Nadella (Microsoft), Jack Welch (G.E.), Ray Dalio (Bridgewater), Carol Bartz (Yahoo!), David Rubenstein (Carlyle), and Ellen Pao (Reddit).

What Does a C.E.O. Actually Do? (Ep. 314)

They’re paid a fortune — but for what, exactly? What makes a good C.E.O. — and how can you even tell? Is “leadership science” a real thing — or just airport-bookstore mumbo jumbo? We put these questions to Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, Indra Nooyi, Satya Nadella, Jack Welch, Ray Dalio, Carol Bartz, David Rubenstein, and Ellen Pao. (Part 1 of a special series, “The Secret Life of C.E.O.’s.”)

How to Become a C.E.O. (Ep. 315)

Mark Zuckerberg’s dentist dad was an early adopter of digital x-rays. Jack Welch blew the roof off a factory. Carol Bartz was a Wisconsin farm girl who got into computers. No two C.E.O.’s have the same origin story — so we tell them all! How the leaders of Facebook, G.E., Yahoo!, PepsiCo, Microsoft, Virgin, the Carlyle Group, Reddit, and Bridgewater Associates made it to the top. (Part 2 of a special series, “The Secret Life of C.E.O.’s.”)

“I Wasn’t Stupid Enough to Say This Could Be Done Overnight” (Ep. 316)

Indra Nooyi became C.E.O. of PepsiCo just in time for a global financial meltdown. She also had a portfolio full of junk food just as the world decided that junk food is borderline toxic. Here’s the story of how she overhauled that portfolio, stared down activist investors, and learned to “leave the crown in the garage.” (Part 3 of a special series, “The Secret Life of C.E.O.’s.”)

It’s Your Problem Now (Ep. 318)

No, it’s not your fault the economy crashed. Or that consumer preferences changed. Or that new technologies have blown apart your business model. But if you’re the C.E.O., it is your problem. So what are you going to do about it? First-hand stories of disaster (and triumph) from Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Ballmer, Satya Nadella, Jack Welch, Ellen Pao, Richard Branson, and more. (Part 4 of a special series, “The Secret Life of C.E.O.’s.”)

After the Glass Ceiling, a Glass Cliff (Ep. 319)

Only 5 percent of Fortune 500 companies are run by women. Why? Research shows that female executives are more likely to be put in charge of firms that are already in crisis. Are they being set up to fail? (Part 5 of a special series, “The Secret Life of C.E.O.’s.”)

Letting Go (Ep. 320)

​If you’re a C.E.O., there are a lot of ways to leave your job, from abrupt firing to carefully planned succession (which may still go spectacularly wrong). In this final episode of our “Secret Life of a C.E.O.” series, we hear those stories and many more. Also: what happens when you no longer have a corner office to go to — and how will you spend all that money?

A Conversation With PepsiCo C.E.O. Indra Nooyi (Ep. 316 Update)

One of the world’s biggest and best-known companies just announced that its C.E.O. would be stepping down in the fall. We interviewed her as part of our series “The Secret Life of a C.E.O.," and we thought you might like to hear that episode again, or for the first time if you missed it back then.

Can an Industrial Giant Become a Tech Darling? (Ep. 357)

The Ford Motor Company is ditching its legacy sedans, doubling down on trucks, and trying to steer its stock price out of a long skid. But C.E.O. Jim Hackett has even bigger plans: to turn a century-old automaker into the nucleus of a “transportation operating system.” Is Hackett just whistling past the graveyard, or does he see what others can’t?

How Spotify Saved the Music Industry (But Not Necessarily Musicians) (Ep. 374)

Daniel Ek, a 23-year-old Swede who grew up on pirated music, made the record labels an offer they couldn’t refuse: a legal platform to stream all the world’s music. Spotify reversed the labels’ fortunes, made Ek rich, and thrilled millions of music fans. But what has it done for all those musicians stuck in the long tail?

23andMe (and You, and Everyone Else) (Ep. 378)

The revolution in home DNA testing is giving consumers important, possibly life-changing information. It’s also building a gigantic database that could lead to medical breakthroughs. But how will you deal with upsetting news? What if your privacy is compromised? And are you prepared to have your DNA monetized? We speak with Anne Wojcicki, founder and C.E.O. of 23andMe.

What Do Nancy Pelosi, Taylor Swift, and Serena Williams Have in Common? (Ep. 385)

They — along with a great many other high-achieving women — were all once Girl Scouts. So was Sylvia Acevedo. Raised in a poor, immigrant family, she was told that “girls like her” didn’t go to college. But she did, and then became a rocket scientist and tech executive. Now she’s C.E.O. of the very organization she credits with shaping her life. Acevedo tells us how the Girl Scouts are trying to stay relevant, why they’re suing the Boy Scouts, and how they sell so many cookies.

Extras

Extra: Richard Branson Full Interview (Ep. 321)

Stephen Dubner's conversation with the Virgin Group founder, recorded for the Freakonomics Radio series “The Secret Life of a C.E.O.”

Extra: David Rubenstein Full Interview (Ep. 322)

Stephen Dubner's conversation with the co-founder and longtime co-C.E.O. of the Carlyle Group, recorded for the Freakonomics Radio series “The Secret Life of a C.E.O.”

Extra: Satya Nadella Full Interview (Ep. 324)

Stephen Dubner's conversation with the C.E.O. of Microsoft, recorded for the Freakonomics Radio series “The Secret Life of a C.E.O.”

Extra: Jack Welch Full Interview (Ep. 326)

Stephen Dubner's conversation with the former longtime C.E.O. of General Electric, recorded for the Freakonomics Radio series “The Secret Life of a C.E.O.”

Extra: Carol Bartz Full Interview (Ep. 327)

Stephen Dubner's conversation with the former C.E.O. of Yahoo, recorded for the Freakonomics Radio series “The Secret Life of a C.E.O.”

Extra: Mark Zuckerberg Full Interview (Ep. 328)

Stephen Dubner's conversation with the Facebook founder and C.E.O., recorded for the Freakonomics Radio series “The Secret Life of a C.E.O.”

Extra: Ray Dalio Full Interview (Ep. 330)

Stephen Dubner's conversation with the founder and longtime C.E.O. of Bridgewater Associates, recorded for the Freakonomics Radio series “The Secret Life of a C.E.O.”