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

Work relationships can be hard. The stress of dealing with difficult people dampens our creativity and productivity, degrades our ability to think clearly and make sound decisions, and causes us to disengage. We might lie awake at night worrying, withdraw from work, or react in ways we later regret—rolling our eyes in a meeting, snapping at colleagues, or staying silent when we should speak up. Too often we grin and bear it as if we have no choice. Or throw up our hands because one-size-fits-all solutions haven’t worked. But you can only endure so much thoughtless, irrational, or malicious behaviour—there’s your sanity to consider, and your career. Amy Gallo is an expert in conflict, communication, and workplace dynamics. She combines the latest management research with practical advice to deliver evidence-based ideas on how to improve relationships and excel at work.  She is the author of the HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict, a how-to guidebook about handling conflict professionally and productively, and the forthcoming Getting Along: How to Work with Anyone (Even Difficult People). In this interview, I speak to Amy Gallo about the archetypes of people we encounter in the workplace and how we can understand and deal with challenging workplace relationships more effectively. We discuss the principles that will help us build stronger, more resilient relationships, and look at the tools we can use to rebuild fractured ones.

Thought Economics

Dame Stephanie Shirley CH, also known as Steve, is a workplace revolutionary and successful IT entrepreneur turned ardent venture philanthropist. At 88 years old, her story has many strands which, woven together, have produced a lifetime of exceptional achievements. Dame Stephanie’s story begins with her 1939 arrival in Britain as an unaccompanied five-year-old Kindertransport refugee. This defining experience equipped her with fortitude at a very young age and made her determined to live a life worth saving. In 1962, she started a software house, Freelance Programmers, and pioneered radical new flexible work practices that changed the landscape for women working in technology. She went on to create a global business and a personal fortune which she shared with her colleagues, making millionaires of 70 of her staff at no cost to anyone but herself. Since retiring in 1993, Dame Stephanie’s life has been dedicated to venture philanthropy in the fields of IT and autism. She initially founded Autism at Kingwood in 1994 to support her late son Giles, then there was the ground breaking Prior’s Court School for pupils with autism and her charitable Shirley Foundation went on to make grants of £70 million. It spent out in 2018 in favour of Autistica, the UK’s national autism research charity founded by Dame Stephanie. In 2009/10 she served as the UK’s first ever national Ambassador for Philanthropy. In 2017, Dame Stephanie received a Companion of Honour (CH), a membership limited to only 65 individuals globally, for her services to entrepreneurship and philanthropy. In this interview, I speak to Dame Stephanie Shirley CH. We discuss her remarkable life story from arriving in Britain as five-year-old war refugee, to building one of the UK’s most successful information technology companies, changing the landscape completely for women in technology, and her work as one of the UK’s most prominent, and impactful philanthropists.

Thought Economics

Human rights activist and recipient of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, Nadia Murad is a leading advocate for survivors of genocide and sexual violence. Her New York Times bestselling memoir, The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State, is a harrowing account of the genocide against the Yazidi ethno-religious minority in Iraq and Nadia’s imprisonment by the so-called Islamic State (ISIS). Nadia’s peaceful life was brutally disrupted in 2014 when ISIS attacked her homeland in Sinjar with the goal of ethnically cleansing all Yazidis from Iraq. Like many minority groups, the Yazidis have carried the weight of historical persecution. Women, in particular, have suffered greatly as victims of sexual violence. After escaping captivity, Nadia began speaking out on behalf of her community and survivors of sexual violence worldwide. In 2016, Nadia became the first United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking. That year, she was also awarded the Council of Europe Václav Havel Award for Human Rights and Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. In 2018, she won the Nobel Peace Prize with Dr. Denis Mukwege. Together, they founded the Global Survivors Fund. In 2019, Nadia was appointed as a UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Advocate. In this interview, I speak to human rights activist and recipient of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, Nadia Murad, about how communities are destroyed in conflict, how sexual violence becomes a weapon of war, and importantly – how we can build peace, rebuild communities, and give hope for a better future.

Thought Economics

Reggie Fils-Aimé is a gaming legend. He was President & COO of Nintendo of America Inc, and from his humble childhood as the son of Haitian immigrants fleeing a dictatorship, he rose to become one of the most powerful names in the history of the gaming industry. In this capacity, he helped bring the Nintendo DS, the Wii, the Nintendo 3DS, the Wii U and the Nintendo Switch to the global marketplace. He retired in April 2019 and in October 2019 was inducted into the International Video Game Hall of Fame. In his new book Disrupting the Game: From the Bronx to the Top of Nintendo, Reggie tells the incredible story of his unlikely rise to the top, and shares his gameplan and leadership lessons for anyone looking to beat the odds and achieve success. In this interview, I speak to Reggie Fils-Aimé about leading successful innovation and culture. We talk about what it takes to succeed, grit, perseverance, and why relentless curiosity, taking risks, and the ability to challenge the status quo really matter.

Thought Economics

In ReCulturing: Design Your Company Culture to Connect with Strategy and Purpose for Lasting Success, Melissa Daimler, Chief Learning Officer of Udemy, argues that it’s crucial to take a systems approach to culture – one focused on behaviours, processes and practices – and integrate it with the company’s purpose and strategy. With over two decades of experience leading learning and organizational development at companies like Adobe, Twitter, WeWork, and now Udemy, Daimler shows leaders how to remake their cultures as both work and the world evolve. In this interview, I speak to Melissa Daimler about the power and importance of company culture. We talk about how the most successful businesses in the world approach culture, and what it takes to build high performance companies that are values aligned, full of purpose, and which generate success.

Thought Economics

How different are the sexes? Is gender uniquely human? Where does gender identity originate?
Frans de Waal is a distinguished primatologist. He has spent nearly half a century working with and studying primates. He is widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost experts on primate behaviour, and the links between human and primate society. In this interview, I speak to Frans de Waal about what his near half a century of studying primate species can teach us about gender, identity, power, and ourselves. We discuss the astonishing closeness between us and our primate ancestors, and what observing primates can teach us about humanity.

Thought Economics

In The Upside of Uncertainty, INSEAD professor Nathan Furr and entrepreneur Susannah Harmon Furr provide a sweeping guide to embracing uncertainty and transforming it into a force for good. Drawing from hundreds of interviews, along with pioneering research in psychology, innovation, and behavioural economics, Nathan and Susannah provide dozens of tools—including mental models, techniques, and reflections—for seeing the upside of uncertainty, developing a vision for what to do next, and opening ourselves up to new possibilities. In our fast-paced, ever-changing world, uncertainty is on the rise. We face it every day. But few of us have been taught the techniques to navigate it well. In this interview, I speak to Nathan & Susannah Furr about the importance of uncertainty, why we must embrace it, and how understanding uncertainty can dramatically improve our lives.

Thought Economics

Jenn Lim is the founder and bestselling author of Beyond Happiness: How Authentic Leaders Prioritize Purpose and People for Growth and Impact, and the CEO of Delivering Happiness (DH), a company built to create happier company cultures for a more profitable and sustainable approach to business–a company she and Tony Hsieh [the late CEO of Zappos.com] cofounded. Delivering Happiness started as a book (NYT and WSJ Bestseller, which sold one million copies worldwide) and evolved into a business consultancy and global movement that has impacted and inspired hundreds of companies and organizations worldwide. 

Thought Economics

In a society that pushes conformity, how can you courageously choose to be who you really are—with yourself, in your relationships, and at work—despite the fear of judgment? In The Authenticity Principle, award-winning leadership and diversity expert Ritu Bhasin gives you the tools to make this happen. Combining the latest neuroscience, leadership, diversity, and mindfulness research with a wealth of practical exercises, Bhasin unveils a cutting-edge framework for living and leading more authentically. She also reveals inspiring insights from a range of leaders who have overcome barriers to being authentic – including her own personal journey from lawyer to entrepreneur. In this interview, I speak to Ritu Bhasin about how her years of work has led to her developing a model for authenticity that helps to empower people, fearlessly, to choose how and when to show-up as their authentic selves, adapted selves and performing selves. We discuss how choosing to live life authentically is the most important step we can take to thrive in life, relationships, and our careers.

Thought Economics

Gary Rosen is one of the world’s foremost celebrity and corporate publicists. Over the last 20 years, Gary has fostered excellent relationships with major Fortune 500 companies, studios, celebrities, authors, and musicians. GRC’s clients include Judge Judy Sheindlin, Presiding Judge on Judy Justice, on Amazon freevee. The company also handles CBS Media Ventures’ Hot Bench, the syndicated courtroom hit. GRC repped CBS’s Judge Judy, which wrapped a historic 25 year-run as one of the most successful programs in the history of television. The company also served as the spokesperson and oversaw publicity for NBC Universal’s Maury, hosted by Maury Povich; The Jerry Springer Show; The Steve Wilkos Show, and The John Walsh Show. Additionally, Gary Rosen has generated publicity for more than 25 national television shows including Extra, The People’s Court, The Montel Williams Show, Hard Copy, Geraldo, Leeza, A Current Affair, Real TV, and The Joan Rivers Show. Rosen lectures about public relations and the entertainment industry at UCLA, NYU, and Fordham University. In this interview, I speak to Gary Rosen, Founder & CEO of Gary Rosen Communications (GRC). We talk about the power of good communication, how to handle a crisis, and what he has learned from representing some of the world’s most recognised celebrities and brands.

Thought Economics

Many of us believe that the great turning points and opportunities in our lives happen by chance, that they’re out of our control. Often, we think that successful people—and successful companies and organizations—are simply luckier than the rest of us. Good fortune—serendipity—just seems to happen to them. Is that true? Or are some people better at creating the conditions for coincidences to arise and taking advantage of them when they do? How can we connect the dots of seemingly random events to improve our lives? In The Serendipity Mindset, Dr. Christian Busch explains that serendipity isn’t about luck in the sense of simple randomness. It’s about seeing links that others don’t, combining these observations in unexpected and strategic ways, and learning how to detect the moments when apparently random or unconnected ideas merge to form new opportunities. Busch explores serendipity from a rational and scientific perspective and argues that there are identifiable approaches we can use to foster the conditions to let serendipity grow. In this interview, I speak to Dr. Christian Busch about serendipity, how it works, and how we can all train our own serendipity ‘muscle’ to turn the unexpected into opportunity. Once we understand serendipity, Busch says, we become curators of it, and luck becomes something that no longer just happens to us—it becomes a force that we can grasp, shape, and hone. Busch’s serendipity mindset offers a clear blueprint for how we can cultivate serendipity to increase innovation, influence, and opportunity in every aspect of our lives.

Thought Economics

Alan Murray is CEO of Fortune Media. Fortune Media Group are a multinational company that publishes Fortune magazine, Fortune.com and other business media including the Global Forum, Most Powerful Women and Brainstorm conference. Alan has spent four decades at the forefront of business journalism, getting to know the most influential businesses and business leaders on the planet. In this interview, I speak to Alan Murray about the origins and meaning of stakeholder capitalism. We look at how businesses are activating and helping to solve, some of the greatest challenges our world faces from climate to inequality.  We look at why businesses need to engage with broader stakeholder groups, the business case for it, and how tomorrow’s corporate leaders will need fundamentally different skills than today.

Thought Economics

Inauthenticity is a uniquely 21st century issue, which has become an increasing part of society on every level – from governments and big tech, down to our everyday purchases. It seems like there’s never a week without a media storm about some aspect of authenticity, and we are fascinated by it – from NFTs to Barnard Castle and ‘Partygate’ lies, to Inventing Anna and The Tinder Swindler, and of course most recently the propaganda used to justify Russia’s war in Ukraine. The lines between reality and illusion are increasingly blurred; the need to distinguish between the two is an urgent daily challenge. Alice Sherwood is a Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the Policy Institute at King’s College London and a director of an open-source intelligence company, Alice spent 5 years extensively researching the subject, culminating in the witty, timely, and insightful new book, Authenticity: Reclaiming Reality in a Counterfeit Culture. In this interview, I speak to Alice Sherwood about what authenticity means, why our culture has become so obsessed with authenticity, impostor syndrome, the dangers of authentic leadership, and how we truly can be more authentic in our lives.

Thought Economics

Benjamin Sledge is a wounded combat veteran with tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, serving most of his time under Special Operations (Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command). He is the recipient of the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and two Army Commendation Medals for his actions overseas. He was at the front line of some of the deadliest battles in Iraq and Afghanistan, served in Special Operations Command, on the Pakistan border after September 11, and eventually in the deadliest city battle of the Iraq War, Ramadi. In this interview, I speak to Benjamin Sledge about the realities of war, how soldiers prepare for combat, and what war reveals about the best, and worst, of humanity. In this conversation, Sledge reveals an unflinchingly honest portrait of war that few dare to tell.

Thought Economics

Frédéric Gassita is a Gabonese pianist, composer, and record producer best known for his musical work combining jazz, classical music, and African music. He was the third African student admitted to Berklee College of Music and the first Gabonese. Gassita is a founding member and president of the African Music Institute in Libreville. Gassita has recorded six orchestral music albums. The double album “Frédéric Gassita With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra” includes pieces from his opuses released between 2004 and 2008, which were rearranged for the new release. “Symphonic Visions From Gabon”, featuring the London Symphony Orchestra, also a double album, incorporates African music influences. In this interview, I speak to Frédéric Gassita about the deep connection we have with music, the power of African rhythms, the beauty of connecting genres, and what music does for us.

Thought Economics

It’s easy to overlook the underlying strategic forces of war, to see it solely as a series of errors, accidents, and emotions gone awry. It’s also easy to forget that war shouldn’t happen—and most of the time it doesn’t. Around the world, there are millions of hostile rivalries, yet only a fraction erupt into violence, a fact too many accounts overlook. Christopher Blattman is the Ramalee E. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies at the University of Chicago. He is co-lead the university’s Development Economics Center and the Obama Foundation Scholars Program. In his new book, Why We Fight, Christopher Blattman reminds us that most rivals loathe one another in peace. War is too costly to fight, so enemies almost always find it better to split the pie than spoil it for everyone or struggle over thin slices. In those rare instances when fighting ensues, we should ask: What kept rivals from compromise? He combines decades of economics, political science, psychology, and real-world interventions to lay out the root causes and remedies for war, showing that violence is not the norm; that there are only five reasons why conflict wins over compromise; and how peacemakers turn the tides through tinkering, not transformation. In this interview, I speak to Professor Christopher Blattman about why we fight, the root causes of war, and how we can effectively move to peace. We talk about how to build resilient societies, how best to detect fragility, and the remedies that shift incentives away from violence and get parties back to dealmaking.

Thought Economics

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

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