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

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

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

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 this interview, I speak to Daniel Goleman, Ph.D., author of the New York Times bestseller Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships. Dr. Goleman is an internationally known psychologist who lectures frequently to professional groups, business audiences, and on college campuses. Working as a science journalist, Goleman reported on the brain and behavioral sciences for The New York Times for many years. His 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence (Bantam Books) was on The New York Times bestseller list for a year-and-a-half; it is available around the world in 40 languages, and has been a best seller in many countries. I speak to Daniel Goleman about the purpose of emotions, the importance of emotional intelligence and why leaders need to understand emotions & emotional intelligence.

Thought Economics

It is in Bertrand Piccard’s DNA to go beyond the obvious and achieve the impossible. From a legendary lineage of explorers who conquered the stratosphere and the abysses, he made history by accomplishing two aeronautical firsts, around the world non-stop in a balloon, and more recently in a solar plane without fuel. Pioneer in his way to consider ecology through the lens of profitability, he began working in the early 2000s to promote renewable energies and clean technologies. Solar Impulse was born to carry this message around the world. His dual identity as a psychiatrist and explorer makes him an influential voice heard by the largest institutions which today consider him as a forward-thinking leader on the themes of innovation and sustainability. Founder and Chairman of the Solar Impulse Foundation, he has succeeded with his team to identify 1000 efficient solutions to protect the environment in a profitable way. In a third round-the-world tour, he will bring them to decision-makers in order to help them meet their environmental targets while ensuring clean economic growth. In this exclusive interview I spoke to Bertrand Piccard about his journey as an explorer, and how he’s bringing together the worlds of ecology, technology and the economy to solve the most pressing challenge of our time – climate change – and to ensure the quality of life on Earth.

Thought Economics

Colonel Terry Virts (ret) served in the United States Air Force as a fighter pilot, test pilot, and NASA astronaut. He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and Harvard Business School. On Feb. 8, 2010, he made his first spaceflight as the pilot of the Space Shuttle Endeavor during mission STS-130. His next launch was onboard the Russian Soyuz TMA-15M on Nov. 23, 2014, from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. In March of the following year, Terry assumed command of the International Space Station (ISS) as Commander of Expedition 43. Virts has spent more than seven months in space. In this exclusive interview, I speak to Colonel Terry Virts about what it’s really like to be an astronaut, his experience of spaceflight, faith, aliens, and whether we will ever become a multiplanetary species.

Thought Economics

Justin Sun is the founder of TRON, one of the world’s largest decentralized blockchain ecosystems and CEO of BitTorrent, the leader in peer-to-peer software and services. A protege of Alibaba’s Jack Ma, Sun in 2017 was named to Forbes’ 30 under 30 list for China and 30 under 30 Asia in the Consumer Technology category. Sun is an avid gamer, investor, and philanthropist. In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Justin Sun about why we need a decentralised web, how blockchain and crypto currencies will transform our world and the future of digital identity.

Thought Economics

More than one hundred years ago, the American philosopher William James dubbed the knowledge that we must die “the worm at the core” of the human condition. In 1974, cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker won the Pulitzer Prize for his book The Denial of Death, arguing that the terror of death has a pervasive effect on human affairs. In The Worm at the Core, Sheldon Solomon shows that this knowledge of our own death guides our thoughts and actions from the creation of our greatest works of art, to the devastating wars we wage. He hows conclusively that the fear of death and the desire to transcend it inspire us to buy expensive cars, crave fame, put our health at risk, and disguise our animal nature. Through his research, he and his colleagues also developed terror management theory- which proposes that human culture infuses our lives with order, stability, significance, and purpose, and these anchors enable us to function moment to moment without becoming overwhelmed by the knowledge of our ultimate fate. In this exclusive interview, I speak to Professor Sheldon Solomon about the role of death in life and how we must reconsider and rethink our lives in the face of the inevitable.

Thought Economics

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