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

James Thornton is a remarkable individual who has dedicated his life to fighting for climate and environmental justice. As a Wall Street lawyer, he won over 80 cases to force the Reagan Administration to clean up polluted water. It was in 2007, when he moved to Europe that ClientEarth was formed with a mission to change the way environmental protections are made and enforced. Now operating globally, ClientEarth uses advocacy, litigation and research to address the greatest challenges of our time – including nature loss, public health and climate change. In the last decade alone, ClientEarth has led an EU-wide law banning illegally harvested rainforest timber, setup the Sustainable Seafood Coalition, won numerous cases against governments for failing to tackle air pollution, and forced many nations and corporations to create sustainable change in their policy and strategy for the benefit of the climate and environment. James and his team use the most effective tool in the arsenal for change, the law. In this exclusive interview, I spoke to James Thornton about how we can tackle one of the greatest challenges our species has ever faced, climate change.

Thought Economics

Kalki Koechlin is an extraordinary talent. She is an actress, writer, producer and activist who has received numerous accolades including a National Film Award, a Filmfare Award, MetroPlus Playwright Award and two Screen Awards. Born in Pondicherry, India, to French parents, Kalki studied her craft at Goldsmiths, University of London before returning to India, making her screen debut as Chanda in the drama Dev.D (winning her the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress). Her diverse career has led her to star in two of the highest grossing films in Bollywood history Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani and iconic movies such as Margarita with a Straw, Shanghai and Gully Boy (with Ranveer Singh & Alia Bhatt). Kalki has also been a pioneer in web and streaming formats. She drew critical acclaim for her characters in Made in Heaven and Sacred Games and Zee 5’s original titled, Bhram. She is also an engaged and respected activist, promoting causes ranging from health & education, to the empowerment of women and gender equity. In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Kalki Koechlin about her life, her art and her advocacy. 

Thought Economics

Robert O’Neill is one of the most highly-decorated combat veterans of our time and the author of The New York Times best-selling memoir, The Operator: Firing the Shots That Killed Osama bin Laden and My Years as a SEAL Team Warrior. A former SEAL Team Six leader with the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, he deployed more than a dozen times and held combat leadership roles in more than 400 combat missions in four different theatres of war. A highly trained Navy SEAL, he led the military’s most elite and was involved in our nation’s most important campaigns. In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Robert O’Neill about the mission to kill Osama bin Laden, what it takes to be a Navy SEAL and what we can all learn from the SEAL mindset.

Thought Economics

Christiana Figueres is a Costa Rican citizen and an internationally recognized leader on climate change. She was Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from 2010 to 2016. During her tenure at the UNFCCC, Ms. Figueres brought together national and sub-national governments, corporations and activists, financial institutions and NGOs to jointly deliver the historic Paris Agreement on climate change, in which 195 sovereign nations agreed on a collaborative path forward to limit future global warming to well below 2°C, and strive for 1.5°C, in order to protect the most vulnerable. In this exclusive interview, I spoke with Christiana Figueres about her lifelong commitment to building a sustainable future for our planet.

Thought Economics

Jacqueline Gold CBE is Chief Executive of Ann Summers and Knickerbox and is renowned for managing a business run by women, for women. Jacqueline is an activist for women in business, championing female entrepreneurs and, through sharing her own experiences, aims to better the working environment for women. Her attitude towards female empowerment and gender equality inspires countless generations of women to pursue their dreams and celebrate their successes, not least her 11-year-old daughter Scarlett. In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Jacqueline Gold CBE about her incredible entrepreneurship journey with Ann Summers and her work empowering women in the workplace.

Thought Economics

In this exclusive interview, I speak to Professor Sir David Omand, one of Britain’s most senior ex-intelligence officers. He was the first UK Security and Intelligence Coordinator, responsible to the Prime Minister for the professional health of the intelligence community, national counter-terrorism strategy and “homeland security”. He served for seven years on the Joint Intelligence Committee. He was Permanent Secretary of the Home Office from 1997 to 2000, and before that Director of GCHQ.  We talk through the incredible tools In his new book How Spies Think: 10 Lessons in Intelligence and how the big decisions in our lives can be easier when using the frameworks used by British intelligence.

Thought Economics

Called the “closest thing Silicon Valley has to a conscience,” by The Atlantic magazine, Tristan Harris spent three years as a Google Design Ethicist developing a framework for how technology should “ethically” steer the thoughts and actions of billions of people from screens. He is now co-founder & president of the Center for Humane Technology, whose mission is to reverse ‘human downgrading’ and re-align technology with humanity. Additionally, he is co-host of the Center for Humane Technology’s Your Undivided Attention podcast with co-founder Aza Raskin. Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce notes that, “Tristan Harris is probably the strongest voice in technology pointing where the industry needs to go. This is a call to arms and everyone needs to hear him now.” In this exclusive interview I spoke to Tristan Harris about how the technologies of social media and the smartphone are destroying our society, and what we can do to pull it back from the brink.

Thought Economics

Jaron Lanier is a renaissance man, and one of the most profoundly important thinkers of our age on the relationship of technology to humanity. He is a computer scientist, composer, artist, and author who writes on numerous topics, including high-technology business, the social impact of technology, the philosophy of consciousness and information, Internet politics, and the future of humanism. He has been on the cusp of technological innovation from its infancy to the present. A pioneer in virtual reality (a term he coined), Lanier founded VPL Research, the first company to sell VR products, and led teams originating VR applications for medicine, design, and numerous other fields. Officially, Jaron is Microsoft’s “Octopus”, which stands for Office of the Chief Technology Officer Prime Unifying Scientist.. He was a founder or principal of startups that were acquired by Google, Adobe, Oracle, and Pfizer. In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Jaron Lanier about the very essence of the relationship between technology and humanity, and why we need to evaluate the ethics of our platforms and our relationship to social media.

Thought Economics

Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt is one of the world’s foremost computer scientists. He is chairman of the Open Data Institute which he co-founded with Sir Tim Berners-Lee. He is a leading researcher in artificial intelligence and was one of the originators of the interdisciplinary field of web science. He is Principal of Jesus College Oxford, a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Oxford and a visiting Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Southampton. In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Sir Nigel about open data and artificial intelligence are transforming humanity.

Thought Economics

Ally Brooke is an astonishing talent. Following her time in Fifth Harmony (described by Billboard as the biggest girl group of the 2010s’), the multiplatinum singer-songwriter kicked off her solo career with back-to-back Top 40 charting singles and an impressive resume of collaborations including “All Night” with Afrojack which marked her first #1 as a solo artist on US Dance Radio. A life-long entertainer, Ally competed on ABC’s Dancing With The Stars before embarking on her debut headline Time To Shine Tour in early 2020 with scheduled stops including a sold out show at New York’s Gramercy Theatre. She also appears in numerous Nickelodeon shows including Blue’s Clues & You and The Casagrandes, for which she won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Main Title for an Animated Program and plays the role of “Alissa.” With total career streams already in the billions, Ally is only just getting started. In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Ally Brooke about her incredible career in music, following her dreams, what we can all learn from her journey, and why she decided to chronicle her life in her fantastic new book Finding Your Harmony: Dream Big, Have Faith, & Achieve More than You Can Imagine.

Thought Economics

Jade Jagger is a visionary artist, creative director and jeweller. Her childhood coincided with the halcyon days of the New York pop art scene and Andy Warhol once famously said, “I love Mick and Bianca, but Jade’s more my speed. I taught her how to colour and she showed me how to play Monopoly. She was four and I was forty-four.” In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Jade Jagger about her passion for jewellery, her creative process and what it takes to create some of the world’s finest jewels.

Thought Economics

Dr. Gad Saad is a remarkable public intellectual. Alongside hosting the Saad Truth (his hugely popular YouTube show) he is Professor of Marketing at Concordia University (Montreal, Canada), and former holder of the Concordia University Research Chair in Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences and Darwinian Consumption. In addition to his scientific work, Dr. Saad often writes and speaks about idea pathogens that are destroying logic, science, reason, and common sense.  His fourth book The Parasitic Mind: How Infectious Ideas Are Killing Common Sense exposes the bad ideas—what he calls “idea pathogens”—that are killing common sense and rational debate. Incubated in our universities and spread through the tyranny of political correctness, these ideas are endangering our most basic freedoms—including freedom of thought and speech. In this exclusive interview, I speak to Gad Saad about idea pathogens, how they are infecting society, the consequences, and what we can do to immunise ourselves and fight for truth and the freedom of thought and speech.

Thought Economics

Over 3,500 businesses around the world, including household names such as Danone, Innocent and Patagonia, have taken the journey to become Certified B Corporations- committing to the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy. Andrew Kassoy is the cofounder and CEO of B Lab Global, the not-for-profit behind the B Corp movement. In this exclusive I spoke to Andrew about the role of business in society, the story of the B Corp movement and how businesses can balance profit with purpose.

Thought Economics

David Miliband is President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), where he oversees the agency’s humanitarian relief operations in more than 40 war-affected countries and its refugee resettlement and assistance programs in over 20 United States cities. In 2019 alone, the IRC provided 1,474,900 children with schooling and education opportunities, provided 1,756,000 people with clean water infrastructure, admitted 122,100 children for urgent nutrition treatment, provided vocational and livelihood support to over 226,100 people, helped 151,700 mothers deliver new-borns and offered safe space to over 165,000 women and children. In this exclusive interview, I spoke with David Miliband about the work of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and how we can create a better world for individuals fleeing conflict and disaster. In this exclusive interview, I spoke with David Miliband about the work of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and how we can create a better world for individuals fleeing conflict and disaster.

Thought Economics

Professor Ngaire Woods is one of the world’s preeminent experts in global government, and governance. She is the founding Dean of the Blavatnik School of Government and Professor of Global Economic Governance at Oxford University. Her research focuses on how to enhance the governance of organizations, the challenges of globalization, global development, and the role of international institutions and global economic governance. In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Ngaire Woods about the impact of globalization on global governance, the realities of international trust and cooperation, and how we can build better governments, and governance for the future.

Thought Economics

The moving image has been with us as long as we have made art. From prehistoric shadowgraphy, through to shadow puppetry and camera obscura- we have been fascinated by creating and observing moving depictions of culturally and socially significant aspects of life. It was not until the mid 1800s as technology became sufficiently advanced that we started to see film as we would recognise it being produced as inventors and artists started to not just document life but create narratives to tell stories. There is something primal and comforting about how we connect to moving images; perhaps as we are hard-wired to detect and respond to motion in our environment. That direct connection from moving image to emotional response perhaps explains why film and cinema dominate culture. In these exclusive interviews, I speak with two of the world’s most remarkable and accomplished film makers. Paul Greengrass (Noted For: Bloody Sunday, The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum, Jason Bourne, United 93, Green Zone and Captain Philips), Ken Loach (Noted For: Cathy Come Home, Kes, Land and Freedom, Sweet Sixteen, The Wind That Shakes The Barley, Looking for Eric, The Angels’ Share and I, Daniel Blake) and Tosca Musk (Director, Producer & Founder of Passionflix).

Thought Economics

Critical theories have a distinctive aim amongst the methods by which we evaluate our society. They ostensibly wish to unmask the justifications for some form(s) of social or economic oppressions as being ideology and thus contribute to the ending of that oppression. The noble aim of critical theory therefore is to provide enlightenment about social and economic life that leads to emancipation – firstly by giving oppressed people the tools to understand that oppression, and secondly by giving a mechanism for activism to free those people. Dr. James Lindsay is an American-born author, mathematician, and political commentator. He has written six books spanning a range of subjects including religion, the philosophy of science and postmodern theory. He is the co-founder of New Discourses and has published essays in The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times and Time. His recent books Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender and Identity – and Why This Harms Everybody and How to have Impossible Conversations: A Very Practical Guide have provided essential guidance to millions on how to navigate this new world of activism and in this exclusive interview, I spoke to James about how critical theories are shaping our world, the consequences, and how we can build a more resilient society.

Thought Economics

In 2009, Kickstarter was born from a singular mission to help bring creative projects to life.  Since then, 18.4 million people have collectively pledged over $5.23 billion into more than 186,000 projects. The Kickstarter mission extends to the very fabric of how the business is structured. In 2015, they became a Public Benefit Corporation (a for-profit company that prioritizes positive outcomes for society as much as their shareholders). Perry Chen is the creator and principal founder of Kickstarter. In this exclusive interview, we talk about the connection between arts & entrepreneurship, and the story of Kickstarter.

Thought Economics

Professor Joseph S. Nye, Jr. is former Dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He has served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Chair of the National Intelligence Council, and a Deputy Under Secretary of State. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the British Academy, and the American Academy of Diplomacy. In a recent survey of international relations scholars, he was ranked as the most influential scholar on American foreign policy, and in 2011, Foreign Policy named him one of the top 100 Global Thinkers. In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Prof. Nye on the changing dynamics of power in our world.

Thought Economics

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has led an incredible career in diplomacy, peacebuilding and human rights. He was the UN human rights chief from 2014-2018, was awarded the Stockholm prize for human rights in 2015 and the Tulip prize in 2018.  In January 2014, he served as president of the UN Security Council. In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein about human rights, the role of diplomacy in our world, and why we so urgently need the tools of diplomacy and peacebuilding in our world right now.

Thought Economics

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