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

Will Ahmed is the Founder and CEO of WHOOP, which has developed next generation wearable technology for optimizing human performance and health. WHOOP members include professional athletes, Fortune 500 CEOs, fitness enthusiasts, military personnel, frontline workers, and a broad range of people looking to improve their performance. WHOOP has raised more than $400 million from top investors and is valued at $3.6 billion, making it the most valuable standalone wearables company in the world. In this interview, I speak to Will Ahmed about his mission to transform human-health, and what he’s learned from building one of the world’s most valuable startups.

Thought Economics

Richard E. Grant emigrated from Swaziland to London in 1982, with dreams of making it as an actor, when he unexpectedly met and fell in love with renowned dialect coach Joan Washington. Their relationship and marriage, navigating the highs and lows of Hollywood, parenthood and loss, lasted almost forty years. When Joan died in 2021, her final challenge to him was to find ‘a pocketful of happiness in every day’. His honest (and frequently hilarious) memoir is written in honour of that challenge –  Richard has faithfully kept a diary since childhood, and in these entries he shares in raw detail everything he has experienced : both the pain of losing his beloved wife, and the excitement of their life together, from the role that transformed his life overnight in Withnail & I to his thrilling Oscar nomination thirty years later for Can You Ever Forgive Me? In this interview, I speak to Richard E. Grant on finding happiness, companionship, joy, and how we can all find that Pocketful of Happiness.

Thought Economics

Lord Simon McDonald spent over four decades in HM Diplomatic Service. Sir Simon joined the British Diplomatic Service in 1982 and served in Berlin, Jeddah, Riyadh, Bonn, Washington, and Tel Aviv, and in a wide range of jobs in London. He served as the British Ambassador to Berlin from 2010 to 2015. He was the Prime Minister’s Foreign Policy Adviser and Head of Foreign and Defence Policy in the Cabinet Office from 2007 to 2010. From 2003 to 2006 he was British Ambassador to Israel. His government career culminated with him being Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office, and Head of the UK’s Diplomatic Service. He is Master of Christ’s College, Cambridge. In his first book, Leadership: Lessons from a Life in Diplomacy, Lord Simon McDonald shares his observations from working in close quarters with ministers, diplomats and leaders – on some of the most complex issues faced by our world. In this interview, I speak to Lord Simon McDonald, Former Ambassador & Head of HM Diplomatic Service. We discuss the nature of leadership, how diplomats work to resolve challenging and complex situations, and what his life in diplomacy can teach us all about leading.

Thought Economics

DoorDash is a remarkable business. Founded in 2013, the business now has millions of monthly active users, across 27 countries, who utilise the services of millions of Dashers on the platform to get, ‘restaurants and more, delivered to their door.’ DoorDash is empowering a whole new economic model – In the period from Q1 2020 through today, the platform has generated over $70 billion in sales for merchants, and over $25 billion in earnings for Dashers. It took 7 years for DoorDash to complete their first billion orders (from founding through October 2020), it took 10 months to complete their next billion – the scaling continues – in Q3 2022 alone, DoorDash delivered over 430 million orders. DoorDash IPO’d in 2020, and is regarded as one of the most valuable consumer businesses on the planet. In this interview, I speak to Christopher Payne, President of DoorDash. He served as COO from 2016-2021, and prior to joining DoorDash, he led the North American business at eBay, ran development of MSN Search (now Bing) and mapping (Virtual Earth) for Microsoft. He also led Amazon’s expansion beyond books into video, electronics, wireless, PCs and software. He is one of the world’s most accomplished technology leaders.

Thought Economics

In this interview, I speak to Kieran Setiya, Professor of Philosophy at MIT on how philosophy can help us cope with the challenges life will throw at us, and how we can find hope, even when life is hard.

Thought Economics

Dr. Michael Shermer is the Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine, the host of the podcast The Michael Shermer Show, and a Presidential Fellow at Chapman University where he teaches Skepticism 101. In this interview, I speak to him about conspiracy theories, conspiratorial thinking and why the rational believe the irrational.

Thought Economics

Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, a New York Times #1 bestselling author, has written or edited 51 books which have sold over 3 million copies, been translated into 32 languages, and become bestsellers in 12 countries. Amazon recently recognized the ‘100 Best Leadership & Success Books Ever Written’ – and included Marshall’s Triggers and What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. He is the only living author with two books on the list. His other bestsellers include: MOJO, Succession: Are You Ready?, The Leader of the Future and How Women Rise (with lead author, Sally Helgesen). His new NYT bestseller, The Earned Life, is an Amazon Editor’s Choice for Book of the Year So Far in 2022. Marshall’s acknowledgements include: Global Gurus – Corps D ’Elite Award for Lifetime Contribution in both Leadership and Coaching, Harvard Business Review – World’s #1 Leadership Thinker, Institute for Management Studies – Lifetime Achievement Award for Teaching, American Management Association – 50 great thinkers who have influenced the field of management and BusinessWeek – 50 great leaders in America. His life is featured in the documentary movie, “The Earned Life” and the New Yorker profile, “The Better Boss”. He is one of a select few executive coaches who has worked with over 200 major CEOs and their management teams. He served on the Advisory Board of the Peter Drucker Foundation for ten years. In this interview, I speak to Dr. Marshall Goldsmith about finding our path in life, the pursuit of happiness, the scorecards for success, the power of mentorship, discipline and what it takes to live the life you deserve.

Thought Economics

On 24th February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine in a major escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War (which began in 2014). Whilst exact figures are difficult to establish, by May 2022, some 8 million Ukrainians had been internally displaced and some 7.7million had left the country. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nations has estimated over 16,150, and expectations are that military losses are several times more. Commentators have said this is one of the greatest threats to the international peace since the outbreak of World War 2. Simon Smith is chair of the steering committee of the Ukraine Forum at Chatham House. He was previously the British ambassador to Ukraine, and Russia, South Caucasus, and Central Asia director at the Foreign Office. He has also served as British Ambassador to South Korea and to Austria- where he was also the UK’s Permanent Representative to the UN and the UK Governor on the Board of the International Atomic Energy Agency. In this interview I speak to Simon Smith CMG about the history of the Russia-Ukraine War, Russia’s role in the world, how this war could play out, and what it means for international peace and order.

Thought Economics

Renowned economist Nouriel Roubini was nicknamed “Dr. Doom,” until his prediction of the 2008 housing crisis and Great Recession came true – when it was too late. Now he is back with a much scarier prediction, one that we ignore at our peril. There are no fewer than ten overlapping, interconnected threats that are so serious, he calls them Megathreats. From the worst debt crisis the world has ever seen, to governments pumping out too much money, to borders that are blocked to workers and to many shipments of goods, to the rise of a new superpower competition between China and the U.S., to climate change that strikes directly at our most populated cities, we are facing not one, not two, but ten causes of disaster. There is a slight chance we can avoid them if we come to our senses – but we must act now. In this interview, I speak to Professor Nouriel Roubini, who speaks on how We are heading towards the worst economic catastrophe of our lifetimes – unless we can defend against ten terrifying threats.

Thought Economics

Francis Ngannou is a remarkable individual. He is currently the heavyweight champion of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), and is ranked as having the hardest punch in the world. Francis Ngannou was born in the village of Batié (Cameroon), and grew up with very little: no home, no formal education, and no support. What he lacked in support, he made up for with his enormous dreams. He eluded the demands of local gangs, began working in salt mines as a child, and set his sights on a life outside of the town that was determined to retain him. Francis began boxing training at 22, and at the age of 26 took an arduous journey to France to pursue his professional career. Upon reaching Europe, he was jailed for two months in Spain for illegally crossing the border. When he reached Paris, with no money, friends, or home, he became homeless. Francis met fighter Francis Carmot who introduced him to trainer Fernand Lopez and MMA Factory. Lopez gave Ngannou some MMA gear, allowed him to train and sleep at the gym, and with that his career began. Today, alongside his fighting success, Francis operates a foundation in his name which extends his providence to his hometown. In this interview, I speak to Francis Ngannou, heavyweight champion of the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). We discuss the power of combat sports, the reality of pain, of resilience, of failure and success.

Thought Economics

Mike Evans is the founder of GrubHub. Hungry and tired one night, Mike wanted a pizza, but getting a pizza was a pain in the neck. He didn’t want to call a million restaurants to see what was open. So, as an avid coder, he created GrubHub in his spare bedroom to figure out who delivered to his apartment. Then, armed with a $140 check from his first customer and ignoring his crushing college debt, he quit his job. Over the next decade, Mike grew his little delivery guide into the world’s premier online ordering website. In doing so, he entered the company of an elite few entrepreneurs to take a start-up from an idea all the way to an IPO. In 2021, JustEat acquired GrubHub for over $7billion. In this interview, I speak to Mike Evans, Founder of GrubHub. We talk about the brutal realities start-up life, what it takes to lead an innovative, scaling, consumer focussed business and how he took a $140 cheque and turned it into a $7bn+ business.

Thought Economics

Albert Wenger is a managing partner at Union Square Ventures (USV), a New York-based thesis-driven venture capital firm, where his investments have included Etsy, Twilio and MongoDB. Before joining USV, Albert was the President of del.icio.us from founding through the company’s sale to Yahoo. Albert graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College in economics and computer science and holds a Ph.D. in Information Technology from MIT. In his new book The World After Capital, Albert discusses how, “Technological progress has shifted scarcity for humanity. When we were foragers, food was scarce. During the agrarian age, it was land. Following the industrial revolution, capital became scarce. With digital technologies scarcity is shifting once more. We need to figure out how to live in The World After Capital in which the only scarcity is our attention.” In this interview, I speak to Albert Wenger, Managing Partner of Union Square Ventures, about our shift from the industrial to the knowledge economy, and what that means for all of us.

Thought Economics

Alibaba combines the economic might of Amazon, the penetration of Facebook, the ubiquity of Google and the cultural significance of YouTube. In China alone, Alibaba has over close to 1billion active customers and over 250,000 employees. At peak, the platform processed over 583,000 orders per second. Each year, Alibaba receives over 12.7billion orders, and over half of China’s domestic parcels relate to Alibaba. Brian A. Wong is a Chinese American entrepreneur and investor. He was the first American, and only the 52nd employee to join Alibaba Group, where he contributed to the company’s early globalization efforts and served as Jack Ma’s special assistant for international affairs. During his sixteen-year tenure, Wong established the Alibaba Global Initiatives (AGI) division and was the founder and executive director of the Alibaba Global Leadership Academy. In his new book the Tao of Alibaba, Brian A. Wong reveals the secret sauce of this remarkable global business, a consciously cultivated ethos and spirit that has enabled Alibaba to weather tough times and setbacks, and to persist towards a common mission. In this interview, I speak to Brian A. Wong about the management philosophy of Alibaba and how purpose-led entrepreneurship played a key role in creating one of the world’s fastest growing, and most successful businesses.

Thought Economics

In this interview, I speak to Jud Brewer MD PhD (“Dr. Jud”), one of the world’s foremost experts in habit change, addiction, self-mastery and mindfulness. Dr. Jud has more than 20 years of experience in research and clinic, and we discuss the very fundamentals of building and breaking habits, the importance of mindfulness, paying attention, and how curiosity can change our lives.

Thought Economics

Ant Middleton is a remarkable individual. As a soldier, he had a formidable career in the UK’s most elite fighting forces, including the Marines, 9 Parachute Squadron and Special Boat Service (SBS). This career led him to his synonymous role as the Chief Instructor on SAS: Who Dares Wins and on SAS Australia. If this wasn’t enough, 2019 saw him conquer one of the biggest feats known to man, Mount Everest, in the show Extreme Everest, whilst getting trapped in an unexpected, life-threatening storm, he sought to understand the attraction of such a popular, but dangerous challenge. As a bestselling author, Middleton has published his autobiography, First Man In (2018), followed by The Fear Bubble (2019) and Zero Negativity (2020) which together form The Mindset Trilogy. In 2021, Middleton published Mental Fitness and his first work of fiction, Cold Justice – a thriller that follows an ex-elite soldier facing new, chilling challenges in his life outside the military. 2022 sees the release of his latest book, The Wall, covering his strategies on demolishing fear, seizing control, and reaching our full potential. In this interview, I speak to Ant Middleton, Elite Forces Soldier, Adventurer & Leader. We explore how each and every one of us is capable of greatness, how we can conquer our fears and find the courage to move beyond the parts of ourselves that hold us back.

Thought Economics

Jody Michael is one of the world’s top leadership coaches. She’s an internationally credentialed Master Certified Coach, Board Certified Coach, University of Chicago trained psychotherapist, and Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She has delivered over 40,000 hours of coaching over the last 25 years, including 15 years working in corporate leadership with firms including: Goldman Sachs, Chicago Research and Trading (CRT)/Nations Bank, and Kidder-Peabody. Jody has coached some of the nation’s top performing leaders and teams across diverse industries and organizations, from hypergrowth tech companies to global Fortune 100 organizations. Among her clients are more than 120 senior executives across 18 Fortune 100 companies. In her new book Leading Lightly, Jody shares her radical model for leadership, a powerful way to transform performance, make better decisions, gain greater self-awareness, and develop the capacity to manage work and life with enduring ease and clarity. Jody argues in her book that stress and difficulty don’t need to be a given, and that learning to lead lightly and mindfully can profoundly change the trajectory of our lives. In this remarkable interview, I speak to Jody Michael on the concept of mental fitness, and how we can lead differently feel lighter, and achieve more in our professional and personal wellbeing.

Thought Economics

The single best way to have a great idea is to produce lots of ideas. The number of new ideas your organization can produce is a metric for its ability to generate novel solutions to any given problem. Your ideaflow is the most crucial business metric that you’ve never considered. Every business problem is, finally, an idea problem. How well you can solve those problems is how well you and your business can perform, navigate uncertainty, and develop innovations. Jeremy Utley is the Director of Executive Education at Stanford d.school and an Adjunct Professor at Stanford’s School of Engineering. He is the co-host of the d.school’s widely popular program “Stanford’s Masters of Creativity.” Perry Kelbahn is a co-founding member of Stanford’s d.school faculty. He is an Adjunct Professor and Director of Executive Education at Stanford d.school. He has served as COO of Patagonia and as CEO of Timbuk2. In this interview, I speak to Jeremy Utley & Perry Klebahn of Stanford’s renowned Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (aka the “d.school”) on ideaflow, their proven strategy for routinely generating and commercializing breakthrough ideas.
 

Thought Economics

Dandapani is a Hindu priest, entrepreneur and a former monk of 10 years. After graduating university with a degree in Electrical Engineering he left it all behind to become a Hindu monk under the guidance of one of Hinduism’s foremost spiritual leaders of our time, Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. For 10 years he lived a life of serious personal discipline and training at his guru’s cloistered monastery in Hawaii and on that journey he came to many discoveries around the most common mental maladies that literally plague us, anxiety, stress, worry and fear. Through his lectures and courses, Dandapani’s work has allowed millions to overcome distraction and find peace in their lives. In his new book The Power of Unwavering Focus, Dandapani distils decades of wisdom into insights to help us move through our lives with willpower, awareness, and focus. In this interview, I speak to Dandapaniabout what it means to have a life well-lived, what it means to best understand our minds, and how we can overcome anxiety, fear, stress and worry.

Thought Economics

Mary Bekhait is one of the most powerful figureheads in the global entertainment industry. As Chief Executive of YMU Group, she leads an international business representing household name clients across music, sport, entertainment, literary, social, art and business management. In this interview, I speak to Mary Bekhait about the secrets of the talent management industry, what it takes to lead a global talent and creative business, and the need for curiosity in leadership.

Thought Economics

Mitch Lowe has been a leader in some of the most influential and disruptive companies in the entertainment business. Mitch never graduated from high school. After a youth spent smuggling goods and money in Europe, he invested in and eventually ran video stores in the 1980s and 1990s. He was a cofounding executive of Netflix. After leaving Netflix, he became an executive at McDonald’s, eventually creating the DVD kiosk business that would become Redbox. Under his leadership as president and COO, Redbox became the third largest video rental company in America, growing to 35,000 locations and $1.5 billion in revenues. Mitch invested in and became CEO of MoviePass, a movie theatre subscription service that acquired three million subscribers in eight months. While MoviePass never succeeded, it significantly influenced the trajectory of the business of movie theatrical exhibition. In his new book Watch and Learn, Mitch gives an inside perspective on the dramatic evolution of the entertainment business, from the days of early cable television, Beta, and VHS to a world where consumers have infinite choice and control of the movies they see. In this interview, I speak to Mitch Lowe, Co-Founding Executive of Netflix, Former CEO of MoviePass and Former President of Redbox. We look at the lessons he learned from one of the fastest growing, competitive, and creative industries on the planet, and how those insights extend far beyond entertainment into all industries. We talk about disruption, success, innovation, and the importance of listening to your gut.  

Thought Economics

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