Vikas Shah MBE DL Interviews the world's leading thinkers, and the people shaping the century.

Dr. Nina Ansary is an award-winning Iranian American author, historian, and UN Women Global Champion for Innovation. She is one of the world’s foremost experts on gender equality through history and in contemporary society. Nina is a prominent human rights advocate and has been ranked by many as one of the world’s foremost visionaries around inclusivity, equality and diversity. In this interview, I speak to Dr. Nina Ansary about the origins of gender inequality in our society, how it traces back to primitive society, and how deeply embedded gender and cultural biases are. We talk about the reality of global gender inequity in today’s world, and look at what we need to do to move to a more equitable society.

Thought Economics

In May 2019, Hakan Bulgurlu – CEO of Arçelik, one of the largest white goods manufacturers in the world – became one of a few thousand individuals to have reached the summit of Mount Everest. His expedition came with a purpose – to raise awareness of the catastrophic effect the climate crisis is having on our planet, to lead by example and to seek out practical solutions. Deciding to commit to the climb just 8 months before, A Mountain to Climb is Hakan Bulgurlu’s gripping account of this gruelling expedition, accompanied by factual realities of the climate crisis.  In this interview, I speak to Hakan Bulgurlu – CEO of Arçelik about the leadership we need to make a difference in climate and sustainability. We talk about his astonishing expedition to Everest and what that taught him about life, leadership, and what it takes to really make the impossible, possible.

Thought Economics

Arthur C. Brooks is the William Henry Bloomberg Professor of the Practice of Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School, and Professor of Management Practice at the Harvard Business School. Prior, he was the president of the American Enterprise Institute for ten years, where he held the Beth and Ravenel Curry Chair in Free Enterprise. He has authored eleven books, including the bestsellers Love Your Enemies and The Conservative Heart, and writes the popular How to Build a Life column at The Atlantic. He is also the host of the podcasts How to Build a Happy Life and The Art of Happiness with Arthur Brooks. He is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on happiness. His new book, from Strength to Strength, was described by The Dalai Lama as a book that ‘…helps people find greater happiness as they age and change.’ In this interview, I speak to Professor Arthur C. Brooks on how we can find purpose, meaning and success as we age. We talk about how to understand and fight our demons, and how to overcome the sense of professional and social irrelevance that often accompanies ageing. In our conversation, he helps unlock happiness in a meaningful, and beautiful way.

Thought Economics

Charlotte Mullins is one of the UK’s most respected art critics, writers and broadcasters. She was formerly the arts editor of the Independent on Sunday, the editor of Art Review, the V&A Magazine, Art Quarterly and is the newly appointed art critic for Country Life. In her new book, A Little History of Art, Charlotte takes us on a thrilling journey through 100,000 years of art, from the origins of mark-making to art’s central role in culture today on subjects such as climate change and human rights. She was keen to make sure that her research included both renowned and overlooked artists from around the world, and she expands the story of art to present a more inclusive timeline. In this interview, I speak to Charlotte Mullins about how art shaped our society, how it shapes our lives, and how the history of art teaches us how to see the world, and who we are today.

Thought Economics

Ousman Umar is a shaman’s son, born in a small village in Ghana, and his mother died giving birth to him. The traditions of the Wala tribe dictate that this means the baby is cursed and must be abandoned and left to die. Fortunately, Ousman’s father was able to use his position as a shaman to save his son’s life. Ousman grew up working the fields, setting traps in the jungle, and living off the land. But he dreamed of a different life. So, when he was only twelve years old, he left his village and began what would become a five-year journey to Europe. On a path rife with violence, exploitation, and racism, Ousman also encountered friendship, generosity, and hope. In his memoir, North to Paradise, Ousman tells his visceral true story about the stark realities of life along the most dangerous route traversed across Africa; it is also a portrait of extraordinary resilience in the face of unimaginable challenges, the beauty of kindness in strangers, and the power of giving back. In this interview, I speak to Ousman Umar about this treacherous boyhood journey from a rural village in Ghana, to the streets of Barcelona, and the path that led him home. We discuss why he, and so many, decide to migrate. We talk about the perils and realities of migration, and how we, as a society can deliver better aid, and stop the needless deaths caused by migration.

Thought Economics

In late 2017, scientists at a Hawaiian observatory glimpsed a strange object soaring through our inner solar system. Astrophysicist Avi Loeb conclusively showed it was not an asteroid; it was moving too fast along a strange orbit and leaving no trail of gas or debris in its wake. There was only one conceivable explanation: the object was a piece of advanced technology created by a distant alien civilization. Professor Avi Loeb wrote about his encounter with this object, ‘Oumuamua, in his 2021 book Extraterrestrial. In this interview, I speak to Avi Loeb about how we would detect the existence of intelligent civilisations beyond Earth, the implications of such discoveries for science, culture, and our planet and why space archaeology could be our species’ most important project.

Thought Economics

Bethenny Frankel is a self-made businesswoman, TV producer, podcaster, multiple New York Times bestselling author, and mother. She is the Founder & CEO of Skinnygirl, a global lifestyle empire, featuring products for women that offer practical and stylish solutions to everyday problems.  Bethenny was an instant fan favourite as a guest shark on ABC’s critically acclaimed series Shark Tank, showcasing her entrepreneurial prowess and gut instincts alongside the panel of investors. In this interview, I speak to Bethenny Frankel about her book, Business is Personal. I ask Bethenny about the most important tips and tricks she used to build a business, become a media personality, and maintain balance as a mogul, and a mother. We talk about success, failure, entrepreneurship culture, when to quit, and what legacy really means.

Thought Economics

Dan Murray-Serter is the Co-Founder of Heights, the braincare company that emerged from his own journey with insomnia, chronic anxiety, and mental illness. The positive impact dietary supplements had on his well-being. Dan and his team raised £2m in a seed round from some of Europe’s top investors, including the founders of Shazam, Planet Organic, WeTransfer, Mumsnet, New Look, Photobox and Moonpig. In this interview, I speak to Dan Murray-Serter about the role of mental health in the entrepreneurship journey, his own experience launching Heights, and the practical learnings he has for entrepreneurs following in his footsteps.

Thought Economics

Fearne Cotton is one of the best known and most popular broadcasters in the UK and is most recently known as the Founder of the wellbeing brand, Happy Place. Fearne’s podcast, Happy Place, has featured guests including Ellie Goulding, Hilary Rodman Clinton, Java Pickett Smith, Russell Brand, Gary Barlow, Alicia Keys and Elizabeth Gilbert and has over 53 million downloads, continuing to top the charts. Fearne has spent much of the last decade seeking the insight and advice of wise minds to explore what they can teach us about achieving happiness, connection, and hope. She talks about this journey in her book Bigger Than Us where she explores everything from intuition and energy to manifesting, ritual, prayer and signs. Fearne’s hope is that by following her journey of peeling back layers of her own anxiety and self-limiting beliefs, that we can all find contentment and deeper meaning. In this interview, I speak to Fearne Cotton about why our world feels so messy, the power of love, compassion and acceptance, the importance of ritual, why we need to confront the darker aspects of ourselves and what it truly takes to be happy.

Thought Economics

“No regrets.” You’ve heard people proclaim it as a philosophy of life. That’s nonsense, even dangerous, says New York Times Best Selling Author, Daniel H. Pink, in his latest bold and inspiring work, The Power of Regret. Everybody has regrets. They’re a fundamental part of our lives. And if we reckon with them in fresh and imaginative ways, we can enlist our regrets to make smarter decisions, perform better at work and school, and deepen our sense of meaning and purpose. Pink argues, operate as a “photographic negative” of the good life. By understanding what people regret the most, we can understand what they value the most. And by following the simple, science-based, three-step process that he sets out, we can transform our regrets in a positive force for working smarter and living better. In this interview, I speak to Daniel H. Pink on The Power of Regret and why regret, our most misunderstood emotion, can be the pathway to our best life. We talk about the types of regrets we have as individuals and societies, how we can best use regret to our advantage, and the extreme danger of no regrets culture.

Thought Economics

Our attention is collapsing. In the US, college students are only able to focus on a task for 65 seconds…. And office workers can manage just 3 minutes. Our inability to focus isn’t a personal failing… nor is it a flaw… our focus has been stolen by powerful, external forces. Johann Hari is the author of three New York Times best-selling books, and the Executive Producer of an Oscar-nominated movie and an eight-part TV series starring Samuel L. Jackson. His books have been translated into 38 languages, and been praised by a broad range of people, from Oprah to Noam Chomsky, from Elton John to Naomi Klein. Johann’s TED talks have been viewed more than 80 million times. In His latest book, ‘Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention’, Johann Hari talks about his three-year journey, interviewing more than 200 of the world’s foremost experts on why our attention spans have shortened, and who stole our focus. Hillary Clinton (former US Secretary of State) says, “In his unique voice, Johann Hari tackles the profound dangers facing humanity from information technology and rings the alarm bell for what all of us must do to protect ourselves, our children, and our democracies…” In this interview, I speak to Johann Hari about how our focus has been stolen, the devastating consequences to each of us, our society, and what we can do to reclaim our attention.

Thought Economics

Katie Melua is one of Britain’s most successful musical artists, having sold more than 11 million albums and received over 56 platinum awards. She is originally from Tbilisi, Georgia and moved to the UK at a young age where she studied at the acclaimed Brit School of Performing Arts. It is her extraordinary voice, and the ability to truly inhabit a song, that has been her trademark since the young 19-year-old school graduate first appeared in 2003 performing The Closest Thing To Crazy. One of the UK’s highest-selling female recording artists of all time, Katie has released 8 top 10 studio albums – ‘Call Off The Search’, ‘Piece By Piece’, ‘Pictures’, ‘The House’, ‘Secret Symphony’, ‘Ketevan’, 2016’s self-produced, critically acclaimed ‘In Winter’ and most recently ‘Album No. 8’ in 2020, which debuted at #7 in the UK’s Official Album Charts. In this interview I speak to Katie Melua about the fundamental roles of music and songs in society. We talk about the beauty and tradition of music, what it does for us, our society, and her creative process. We also talk about the importance of expression, and the beauty of art.

Thought Economics

Judge Judith Sheindlin (Judge Judy) is a trailblazing pioneer in the justice system and in the history of television. Judge Judy, which premiered in 1996. For over 25 years, Judge Judy has been watched by more than 1 in 3 Americans every year, and licensed in over 100 international territories. Beyond her own show, Judge Sheindlin, and her Queen Bee Productions company have created new television franchises including Hot Bench (one of the highest rated programs in daytime television). For her TV career she has won several Daytime Emmy® Awards, been Honoured with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and been inducted into the prestigious Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame. She has also been feted with an Emmy® Award for Lifetime Achievement. Judge Sheindlin is a prominent philanthropist, having given significant gifts to the University of Southern California, and most recently, to her alma mater, New York Law School. Currently, she is the presiding judge on Judy Justice, on IMDb TV, Amazon’s free streaming service, available both in the United States and the UK. New episodes are seen weekdays. In this interview, I speak to Judge Sheindlin on the concept of justice, on humanity, conflict, success and legacy.

Thought Economics

Roger L. MartinRoger L. Martin about why we need to rethink management completely. We discuss competition, data, culture, knowledge work, talent, M&A and the fundamentals of how strategy is originated and executed

Thought Economics

OpenSea is the largest marketplace for NFTs and user-owned digital items. The platform’s more than 600,000 users collectively have 2 million collections containing over 80 million NFTs. The platform is now valued at over $13.3billion and has attracted many of the world’s most prominent investors including: Mark Cuban, Tim Ferris, Ben Silberman, Alexis Ohanian, Balaji Srinivasan, Naval Ravikant, Justin Kan and Ashton Kutcher alongside funds including Andreesen Horowitz, Y Combinator and Founders Fund. In this interview, I speak to Devin Finzer, Co-Founder & CEO of OpenSea. We talk about the potential of blockchain, crypto technologies and NFTs. We discuss the NFT revolution, the potential use cases of NFTs, how they’re transforming the creator economy and creating opportunities for collectors and makers. We also talk about the technology behind NFTs, and Devin’s life as one of the most successful technology entrepreneurs in the world.

Thought Economics

In country after country, conspiracy theories and religious dogmas that once seemed to have been overtaken by enlightened thought are helping to loft authoritarian leaders into power. The effects are being felt by women, ethnic minorities, teachers, scientists, and students – and by the environment, the ultimate victim of climate change denial. We need clear thinking now more than ever. Christer Sturmark is a crusading secular humanist as well as a Swedish publisher and entrepreneur, and The Flame of Reason is his manifesto for a better world. It provides a set of simple tools for clear thinking in the face of populist dogmas, anti-science attitudes and pseudo-philosophy, and suggestions for how we can move towards a new enlightenment. In this interview, I speak to Christer Sturmark about the characteristics of knowledge and truth, why we are facing a crisis of reason, and the mental tools we all need to navigate our world.

Thought Economics

What trapped humanity in poverty for most of our existence? What sparked the massive metamorphosis in living standards over the past two centuries? And what led to the emergence of vast inequality across the globe? The answers to these questions have the power to transform how we view our past and how we shape our futures. Professor Oded Galor (Herbert Goldberger Professor of Economics, Brown University) is an intellectual detective who has spent his entire career investigating the deep determinants of humanity’s development process. He is the founder of “unified growth theory,” which revolutionized our understanding of the forces that have governed the journey of humanity, and the impact that adaptation, diversity, and inequality have had on human development throughout the entire course of human existence. In this interview I speak to Professor Oded Galor about his book The Journey of Humanity; The Origins of Wealth and Inequality. We discuss why humans are the only species to have escaped the subsistence trap. We discuss the reasons for the astonishing progress of human civilisation, why wealth and inequality came to be, and how understanding our past could give us a better future.

Thought Economics

In late 2022 or 2023, the 8th billionth person will be born on Earth. Yet as history has shown, the thinning of valuable resources necessary for sustaining not only life, but a good life, continues to drive wars, disease, and poverty. How can we use the 8 billion people we have on the planet today to shape the world we want tomorrow? In her provocative and penetrating new book 8 BILLION AND COUNTING, political demographer Dr. Jennifer Sciubba mines a long academic career, including a stint as a Department of Defense demographer, to show how a deeper understanding of fertility, mortality, and migration trends point us toward the investments we need to make today to shape the future we want tomorrow. The challenges that besiege our interdependent, interconnected world easily touch us all: disease, climate change, economic crisis—but so do the good fortunes for all 8 billion of us. In this interview, I speak to Dr. Jennifer Sciubba about how demographic trends (age, structure and ethnic composition) can signal crucial signposts for future violence and peace, repression and democracy, poverty and prosperity.

Thought Economics

Ever wonder how the biggest brands in the world make it to the top? Here’s a hint: it’s more than just a well-placed billboard or a TV ad. According to Erik Huberman, the Founder and CEO of Hawke Media, there’s a common framework behind every successful marketing strategy. After helping over 3,000 brands find success through his holistic approach, Erik has distilled the art of marketing into three core elements: awareness, nurturing, and trust. Without all three, the system fails. Erik details this method in his new book, The Hawke Method. Erik Huberman launched Hawke Media in 2014. Now valued at over $100 million, Hawke Media is the fastest growing marketing consultancy agency in the United States. Prior to its launch, Erik successfully founded, grew, and sold two eCommerce companies by the age of 26.   In this interview, I speak to Erik Huberman about The Hawke Method, and how awareness, nurturing and trust come together to become the most powerful marketing tools you will ever use.

Thought Economics

Have you ever dreamt you could fly? Or imagined what it would be like to glide and swoop through the sky like a bird? Do you let your mind soar to unknown, magical spaces? Richard Dawkins is one of the world’s most eminent writers and thinkers. He has made a major contribution to public understanding of the science of evolution. He is the award-winning author of the Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker, The God Delusion and a string of other bestselling science books, he is a Fellow of the Royal Society and of the Royal Society of Literature. In his latest book Flights of Fancy, Richard Dawkins explains how nature and humans have learned to overcome the pull of gravity and take to the skies. From the mythical Icarus, to the sadly extinct but spectacular bird Argentavis magnificens, from the Wright flyer and the 747, to the Tinkerbella fairyfly and the Peregrine falcon. But it is also about flights of the mind, about escaping the everyday – through science, ideas, and imagination. In this interview, I speak to Richard Dawkins about beauty, mythology, science, and culture of flight. We discuss the fundamentals of how nature took to the skies, and the extraordinary abilities (and mysteries) of flying species who navigate the world. We talk about human fascination with flight, and why the understanding of flight can help us open our own imaginations.

Thought Economics

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