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

India is a beautifully diverse place. It is a place where 1.4 billion inhabitants share thousands of years of history, speak over 19,000 mother tongues, and express life and culture through a stunning array of food, dance, ceremony, faith, music and literature. It is perhaps no surprise that a country so steeped in mythology and religion holds storytelling close to its soul, and nowhere is this better expressed than through Bollywood. In these exclusive interviews, I speak to Ritesh Sidhwani (Co-Founder of Excel Entertainment), Vidya Balan (Multi award-winning actress), Sunny Leone (Actress & Entrepreneur) and Siddharth Roy Kapur (MD of Roy Kapur Films and President of the Producers Guild of India).

Thought Economics

In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Mike Massimino, a former NASA astronaut and the first person to tweet from space. Mike is one of the most accomplished astronauts of the US space program, a best selling author, Professor of Engineering at Columbia University and Senior Adviser for Space Programs at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

Thought Economics

To understand more about the exponential changes affecting our culture, economy and society; I spoke to entrepreneur, author and thought leader, Peter H. Diamandis – Founder & Executive Chairman of the XPRIZE Foundation, Executive Founder of Singularity University  and Co-Founder of BOLD Capital Partners.  Peter was recently named by Fortune as one of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders,” and is one of the world’s foremost experts on technology and change – a topic he covers in his recent book, The Future is Faster Than You Think.

Thought Economics

Siddharth Roy Kapur is an eminent film producer, founder and MD of Roy Kapur Films and the President of the Producers Guild of India. He has been the former Managing Director of the Walt Disney Company India and UTV – Studios. Siddharth’s filmography includes some of the highest grossing Indian films of all time like Dangal, PK, Chennai Express, Kick and Rowdy Rathore as well as genre-defining films like Rang De Basanti, Barfi, Dev D, A Wednesday, Kai Po Che and ABCD. I caught up with Siddharth to learn more about Bollywood and how he’s made some of the most iconic films of Indian cinema.

Thought Economics

Steven Kotler is one of the world’s foremost experts on high performance. He is a New York Times bestselling author, a multi award-winning journalist and Executive Director of the Flow Research Collective. He is also at the bleeding-edge of research around how technology and innovation will be impacting the future of human performance, a topic he covers in his forthcoming book The Future is Faster Than you Think (Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler, 2020).
In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Steven to learn more about elite performance, his learnings from working with the world’s most elite performers, and how we can apply those learnings to our own lives.

Thought Economics

For a few days, a ‘city’ of more than 250,000 people emerges onto 900 acres of countryside, joined by viewers from 40 countries around the world; together they form the largest outdoor green fields event in the world, the Glastonbury Festival. 2020 marks 50 years since the start of the festival, and Emily and her Dad Michael chronicle their journey in their new book Glastonbury 50. I had the pleasure of catching up with Emily Eavis (Co-Organiser of the Glastonbury Festival) to learn more about the Glastonbury Festival, and being a part of a unique, global, family business.

Thought Economics

To learn about the role of food in our lives, I spoke to six of the world’s most successful Chefs and culinary minds; Vikas Khanna, Alain Ducasse, Heston Blumenthal, Dominique Crenn, Michel Roux Jr. and Ruth Reichl. We discuss everything from the social and cultural nature of food, the role of the chef, the science of gastronomy and the culinary arts.

Thought Economics

An exclusive guest post from Manny Pacquiao – his story begins as a stow-away on a boat bound for Manila, determined to pursue his dream of becoming a boxer and fighting to free his family from abject poverty. To millions of people around the world, Manny’s story validates their own determination to work hard and overcome the obstacles in front of them. Manny has always done everything he can to give back and fight for the less fortunate. He has devoted himself to public service and donated more than one-third of his career earnings to charity. It is his goal to be an instrument of hope and change around the world. Even those who do not follow boxing cannot help but be inspired by an icon whose humility and heart for people transcend the world of sport.

Thought Economics

The Most Important Tool We Have. In these exclusive interviews we speak to Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn (scientist, writer and meditation teacher), Matthieu Ricard (Buddhist monk, photographer and author), Andy Puddicombe (Founder of Headspace), Dr. Danny Penman (award winning writer, journalist and meditation teacher) and Mallika Chopra (media entrepreneur, public speaker and published author). We explore the concepts of mindfulness and meditation, learning about how they impact every aspect of our lives, and discuss how mindful approaches can help us reach our full potential as human beings.

Thought Economics

Leadership sits at the very heart of everything we do as a civilisation, and to understand more we spoke to a group of the world’s foremost experts on leadership across the military, business, government education and research: General Stan McChyrstal (Founder, McChrystal Group & former commander of US and International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) Afghanistan), Tony Hsieh (Founder & CEO, Zappos.com), General Richard Myers (President of Kansas State University, Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), John Kotter (Chairman, Kotter International & Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership – Harvard), General Sir Peter Wall (Chief of the General Staff, the Professional Head of the British Army), General Sir Richard Shirreff (Deputy Supreme Allied Commander for Europe, NATO), Professor Stewart Friedman (Founding Director, Wharton Leadership Programme & Wharton Work/Life Integration Project), Drew Povey (Headmaster & Leadership Expert)and Trevor Moawad (Mental Conditioning expert and strategic advisor to some of the world’s most elite performers).

Thought Economics

For centuries, great artists, scientists, writers, entrepreneurs and thinkers have seemingly tapped into somewhere else, beyond the realities faced by ‘the rest of us,’ to do the seemingly unimaginable – from creating great works of art, to solving complex problems or even building multi-billion-dollar businesses.  To understand more about this mindset and approach I spoke to Dr. Deepak Chopra, a world-renowned pioneer in the fields of integrative medicine and personal transformation, who is called upon by many of the world’s most influential leaders to guide them on their journeys.  Alongside being a world-renowned medical doctor, he’s co-founder of The Chopra Foundation co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing, and has authored more than 85 books, translated into over 43 languages, which have sold millions of copies worldwide. 

Thought Economics

My interview with Stephen A. Schwarzman – He’s the man who took $400,000 and co-founded Blackstone, the investment firm that manages over $545 billion. He’s the CEO whose views are sought by heads of state. He’s the billionaire philanthropist who founded Schwarzman Scholars, this century’s version of the Rhodes Scholarship, in China. But behind these achievements is a man who has spent his life learning and reflecting on what it takes to achieve excellence, make an impact, and live a life of consequence.

Thought Economics

If you lose your ego, you lose the thread of that narrative you call your Self,” wrote Haruki Murakami in his book Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche “…humans, however, can’t live very long without some sense of a continuing story. Such stories go beyond the limited rational system (or the systematic rationality) with which you surround yourself; they are crucial keys to sharing time-experience with others…” In a hyperconnected world, our identities matter more than ever – they become empowering, weaponised, sanctuary and danger simultaneously and it’s perhaps because of this, that we must now understand identity more than ever before. In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Professor Kwame Anthony Appiah, author of The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity and Professor of Philosophy and Law at New York University. We discuss the nature of identity, the labels we place on each other, and how best to  understand their significance and role in society.

Thought Economics

I want you to make a fist and hold it just to the left of the centre of your chest.  Just under your ribs, is an organ, around that size, which will beat around 3 billion times in your lifetime pumping blood around the 100,000 miles of vessels that supply every part of your body. The heart is a miraculous product of evolution, and one which plays a role more critical in the fact that we are alive, and the fact that we could die – than any other organ in our body.   Perhaps unsurprising therefore that even with our advances in medical science, cardiovascular disease remains the largest single health burden to humanity, contributing to over 30% of all deaths worldwide and costing the global economy over $1 trillion each year. To understand more about the reality of cardiovascular disease, I spoke to two of the world’s most preeminent cardiovascular physicians, Dr. Haider Warraich (Author of: State of the Heart, Exploring the History, Science and Future of Cardiac Disease) and Dr. Sandeep Jauhar (Author of: Heart: A History)

Thought Economics

I am one of the early birds…Ece Temelkuran told me, “I saw democracy collapse in Turkey and tried to warn the United States, European Countries and Britain about this.  I’ve been telling people that what you think is normal, or a passing phase, is part of a bigger phenomenon that affects us all.  Somehow though, European democracies feel they’re exceptional – and too mature to be affected by neofascist currents.Ece Temelkuran is an award-winning Turkish novelist and political commentator, whose journalism has appeared in the Guardian, New York Times, New Statesman, Frankfurter Allgemeine and Der Spiegel. In this exclusive interview, we discuss the dangers of populism, authoritarianism and fascism, and why we need to act now.

Thought Economics

In one of the darkest moments of modern civilisation, over six million Jews were killed by Nazi Germany in a state-sponsored genocide.  This event (The Holocaust) killed over two-thirds of Europe’s entire Jewish population. It took decades for the Jewish people and the rest of the world to make-sense of what happened during World War II, and for most of us- it is impossible to imagine how the very few survivors of such atrocities could rebuild their lives, but some did; and those individuals have gone-on to become ambassadors of hope, of peace, and of reconciliation at a time where it would appear our world has not just forgotten the past, but is doomed to repeat it.  I had the privilege of speaking to three Holocaust survivors who have gone-on to become humanitarians, peace-activists and educators. Walter Ziffer (author of ‘Confronting the Silence, A Holocaust Survivor’s Search for God’), Iby Knill (author of ‘Woman Without a Number’) and Eva Schloss MBE (author of ‘Eva’s Story: A Survivor’s Tale by the Stepsister of Anne Frank’).

Thought Economics

What My Life In Sports Has Taught Me: An exclusive guest-post for Thought Economics by: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – The NBA’s All-Time Leading Scorer, 3x Award Winning Columnist of the Year, NY Times Best-Selling Author & Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient.

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In these exclusive interviews, I speak to the leaders of five of the world’s most influential civil sector organisations. Brian Gallagher (CEO of United Way Worldwide, the world’s largest privately-funded non-profit), William “Bill” Drayton (Founder & CEO, ASHOKA), Gilles Carbonnier (Vice President of the ICRC, International Committee of the Red Cross), Linda Fuller (Co-Founder of Habitat for Humanity & the Fuller Center for Housing) and Nancy Lublin (Founder & CEO, Crisis Text Line). We discuss how the charities, social enterprises, foundations, organisations and individuals in the civil sector are changing our world.

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To learn more about how satire and comedy can influence politics, I spoke to Dr. Bassem Youssef (whose story is told in the film ‘Tickling Giants,’ by Sara Taksler), Hasan Minhaj (host and creator of the weekly comedy show Patriot Act on Netflix) and Prof. Amber Day (author of Satire and Dissent: Interventions in Contemporary Political Debate).

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In 2014, Whitney Wolfe Herd launched Bumble as, “the only dating platform where women make the first move…” Today, Bumble has over 55 million users in 150 countries.  As Whitney notes herself, “Bumble has now grown far beyond a dating app into a networking platform, allowing people of all genders to make empowered connections in all areas of their lives, whether that means you’re seeking a romantic relationship, making new friendships or growing your professional network.” Like many of the world’s fastest growing entrepreneurial companies, Bumble is rooted around real pain points, faced by millions of people, which are solved elegantly, intuitively and engagingly.  I caught up with Whitney to learn more about her entrepreneurship journey, and what it takes to build a successful scale-up business.

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