In 2009, a St. Louis glassblowing artist and recovering computer scientist named Jim McKelvey lost a sale because he couldn’t accept American Express cards. Frustrated by the high costs and difficulty of accepting credit card payments, McKelvey joined his friend Jack Dorsey (the cofounder of Twitter) to launch Square, a start-up that would enable small merchants to accept credit card payments on their mobile phones. With no expertise or experience in the world of payments, they approached the problem of credit cards with a new perspective, questioning the industry’s assumptions, experimenting and innovating their way through early challenges, and achieving widespread adoption from merchants small and large. But just as Square was taking off, Amazon launched a similar product, marketed it aggressively, and undercut Square on price. For most ordinary start-ups, this would have spelled the end. Instead, less than a year later, Amazon was in retreat and soon discontinued its service. How did Square beat the most dangerous company on the planet? Was it just luck? These questions motivated McKelvey to study what Square had done differently from all the other companies Amazon had killed. He eventually found the key: a strategy he calls the Innovation Stack. In this interview I speak to Jim McKelvey, Co-Founder of Square and author of The Innovation Stack: Building an Unbeatable Business One Crazy Idea at a Time. We talk about how to build a pattern of ground-breaking, competition-proof entrepreneurship that is rare but repeatable. And how we can find the entrepreneur within ourselves and identify and fix unsolved problems–one crazy idea at a time.

Thought Economics

It’s a seemingly undeniable truth that ageing is inevitable. But what if everything we’ve been taught to believe about ageing is wrong? What if we could choose our lifespan? David Sinclair, PhD, AO, is a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School. One of the leading innovators of his generation, he has been named by Time as “one of the 100 most influential people in the world” and top fifty most influential people in healthcare. David’s eye-opening and provocative work takes us to the frontlines of research that is pushing the boundaries on our perceived scientific limitations, revealing incredible breakthroughs—many from Sinclair’s own lab at Harvard—that demonstrate how we can slow down, or even reverse, ageing. The key is activating newly discovered vitality genes, the descendants of an ancient genetic survival circuit that is both the cause of ageing and the key to reversing it. Recent experiments in genetic reprogramming suggest that soon we may not just be able to feel younger but become younger. In this interview, I speak to Dr. David Sinclair, professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, and author of Lifespan about why we age, why we don’t have to. We explore the technologies and simple lifestyle changes that can help us live younger and healthier for longer, and discuss David’s bold new vision for the future of humankind where we could live healthy lives over many centuries.

Thought Economics

For over a century, anthropologists have immersed themselves in unfamiliar cultures, uncovering the hidden rituals that govern how people act. Now, a new generation of anthropologists are using these methods in a new context – to illuminate the behaviour of businesses and consumers around the globe. In Anthro-Vision, Gillian Tett – bestselling author, Financial Times journalist, and anthropology PhD – reveals how anthropology can help make sense of the corporate world. She explains how to identify the ‘webs of meaning’ that underpin consumers’ behaviour on the other side of the planet. She reveals why ‘sense-making’ can explain the most erratic behaviour of Wall Street bankers, and why concealed systems of barter shape our relationship with Silicon Valley. She delves into the cultural shifts driving investment in new markets and green issues. And she reveals what anthropology can tell us about our own workplaces, too: by identifying the hidden tribes within the office, or pinpointing which rituals are binding together a team. In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Gillian Tett about how anthropology can help us better understand the world, and why business leaders need to understand and apply anthropology to build successful organisations.

Thought Economics

Abigail E. Disney advocates for real changes to the way capitalism operates in today’s world. She has worked for thirty years with programs for low-income families, women’s rights, and global poverty. She is an Emmy- Winning Documentary Filmmaker and co-founder of Fork Films, a nonfiction media production company, which produces the weekly podcast “All Ears,” where host Abigail Disney interviews bold, solutions-oriented thinkers from the front lines of America’s urgent inequality and race crises. She is also the Chair and Co-Founder of Level Forward, a new breed storytelling company focused on systemic change through creative excellence, balancing financial and social returns. She also created the non-profit Peace is Loud, which uses storytelling to advance social movements and the Daphne Foundation, which supports organizations working for a more equitable, fair and peaceful New York City. I this exclusive interview I speak to Abigail E. Disney on her incredible career in the arts alongside her relationship with wealth, philanthropy, legacy, and success.

Thought Economics

Marianne Williamson is a bestselling author, non-profit and political activist, and spiritual thought leader. For over three decades Marianne has been a leader in spiritual and religiously progressive circles. She is the author of 14 books, four of which have been #1 New York Times best sellers. A quote from the mega best seller A Return to Love, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure…” is considered an anthem for a contemporary generation of seekers. Williamson founded Project Angel Food, a non-profit that has delivered more than 13 million meals to ill and dying homebound patients since 1989. The group was created to help people suffering from the ravages of HIV/AIDS. She has also worked throughout her career on poverty, anti-hunger, and racial reconciliation issues. She has advocated for reparations for slavery since the 1990’s and was the first candidate in the 2020 presidential primary season to make it a pillar of her campaign. In 2004, she co-founded The Peace Alliance and supports the creation of a U.S. Department of Peace. In addition, she advocates for a cabinet level Department of Children and Youth to adequately address the chronic trauma of millions of American children. In this exclusive interview, I speak with Marianne Williamson about spirituality, love, finding purpose and fixing our broken society.

Thought Economics

Federico Marchetti is a remarkable entrepreneur defined by the New York Times as “the man who put fashion on the net”, has revolutionised the fashion industry. Marchetti founded YOOX, the world’s first lifestyle e-commerce destination, in 2000, way before the launch of Facebook and the iPhone. YOOX was listed on the Milan Stock Exchange in 2009; today, it remains Italy’s sole “unicorn”. In 2015, Marchetti drove the game-changing merger of YOOX and NET-A-PORTER to create the world leader in online luxury and fashion. Today, the Group is a unique eco-system connecting more than 1 billion people every year with the joy of luxury and fashion that lasts a lifetime and beyond. Back in 2009 he launched YOOXYGEN, the sustainability platform with collaborations including Katherine Hamnett, Amber Valletta, Vivienne Westwood, Edun and Stella Jean. Around that time, Marchetti’s team developed YOOX’s “ECOBOX”, which is fully recyclable and plastic-free, and is now the standard across NET- A-PORTER, MR PORTER and THE OUTNET. In 2021 His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales invited Marchetti to take on the role of Champion of HRH’s Sustainable Markets Initiative Task Force on Fashion. This follows the success of The Modern Artisan project between The Prince’s Foundation and YOOX NET-A-PORTER, a first of its kind training programme invented by Marchetti, promoting sustainable luxury design and craftsmanship through the use of data and technology. Alongside sustainability, inclusion and diversity have been central to the ethical approach that Marchetti has adopted over the last twenty years. He runs a mentorship programme for aspiring entrepreneurs from backgrounds that are typically underrepresented in the industry and is a founding member of the Champions of Change Coalition Global Technology Group, which works to advance gender equality in the tech sector. In 2020 Marchetti became the first non-family member to join the Giorgio Armani S.p.A Board of Directors as Independent Non-Executive Director. In 2017 Marchetti has been recognized by the President of the Italian Republic who knighted him as a Cavaliere. In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Federico Marchetti remarkable entrepreneur defined by the New York Times as “the man who put fashion on the net,” on entrepreneurship, fashion, sustainability and luxury.

Thought Economics

In Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgement, Nobel Prize Winner, Daniel Kahneman together with co-authors Olivier Sibony, and Cass R. Sunstein show how noise helps produce errors in many fields, including medicine, law, public health, economic forecasting, food safety, forensic science, bail verdicts, child protection, strategy, performance reviews and personnel selection. And although noise can be found wherever people make judgments and decisions, individuals and organizations alike commonly ignore to its role in their judgments and in their actions. They show “noise neglect.” With a few simple remedies, people can reduce both noise and bias, and so make far better decisions. In these interviews, I speak to Daniel Kahneman (winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences and the National Medal of Freedom in 2013) and Cass R. Sunstein (Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard, where he is founder and director of the Program on Behavioural Economics and Public Policy). We talk about how noise impacts our decision making, how judgements are made, and why we need think about making decisions, much like washing our hands.

Thought Economics

Angela Duckworth is the founder and CEO of Character Lab, a non-profit whose mission is to advance scientific insights that help children thrive. She is also the Rosa Lee and Egbert Chang Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, faculty co-director of the Penn-Wharton Behavior Change for Good Initiative, and faculty co-director of Wharton People Analytics. Angela’s TED talk is among the most viewed of all time. Her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance is a #1 New York Times best seller. Angela is also co-host, with Stephen Dubner, of the podcast No Stupid Questions. In this interview, I talk to Angela Duckworth about the true nature of grit, passion and perseverance. We talk about what it takes to succeed in life, to achieve great things, and the importance of goals in reaching the pinnacle of accomplishment.

Thought Economics

Disasters are inherently hard to predict. But when catastrophe strikes, we ought to be better prepared than the Romans were when Vesuvius erupted or medieval Italians when the Black Death struck. We have science on our side, after all. Yet the responses of many developed countries to a new pathogen from China were badly bungled. Why? While populist rulers certainly performed poorly in the face of the pandemic, Niall Ferguson argues that more profound pathologies were at work – pathologies already visible in our responses to earlier disasters. Drawing from multiple disciplines, including economics and network science, Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe offers not just a history but a general theory of disaster. As Ferguson shows, governments must learn to become less bureaucratic if we are to avoid the impending doom of irreversible decline. In this interview, I speak to Niall Ferguson about how we should think about disasters & catastrophe and how society can (and should) be better prepared.

Thought Economics

In his book Shoemaker, Joe Foster tells the powerful tale of triumph against all the odds, revealing the challenges and sacrifices that go into creating a world-beating brand; it is also the story of how a small local business can transform itself, with the right products and the right vision, into something much, much bigger. In this interview, I spoke to Joe Foster about the remarkable story of how he turned a small factory in Bolton into one of the world’s most famous sports brands, Reebok.

Thought Economics

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