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

My interview with Richard Curtis Writer, Director and Co-Founder of Comic Relief – an organisation which brought together “a bunch of comedians with the goal of raising a couple of million for charity” and which – in 30 years – has raised well-over £1 billion, directly helped to change the lives of over 50 million people in the UK and overseas and has spearheaded global initiatives including Make Poverty History, impacting billions of people across our globe.

Thought Economics

The San Francisco Bay Area (more commonly known as Silicon Valley) has a GDP of $840 billion, to put it another way – if this region was a country, it would be the 18th largest global economy, larger than the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia and Switzerland, and only a little smaller than Turkey and Indonesia.  It is perhaps with eyes on this prize that so many leaders therefore divert civic investment and incentivisation into the growth of technology companies. To learn more about the reality of Silicon Valley, I spoke to three world experts. Kara Swisher (Co-Founder of Recode & NYT columnist), Nicholas Thompson (Editor in Chief of WIRED), John Carreyrou (Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist & Author of Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup) and Cary Mcclelland (award-winning writer, filmmaker and human rights lawyer who is the author of Silicon City: San Francisco in the Long Shadow of the Valley).

Thought Economics

Perez Hilton is one of our world’s foremost commentators on celebrity culture.  Since launching PerezHilton.com in 2004, his site has grown to receive over 300 million hits per month – making him a celebrity in the process!  The LA Times calls Perez, “like US Weekly, the Star, the Enquirer and Life & Style all rolled into one sweet yet snarky, sagacious yet salacious gay man.”  Perez was named the #1 Web Celeb for 2007, 2008, and 2009 by Forbes Magazine and has recently been tapped as one of the 15 most influential Hispanics in the US by People in Espanol and named 2009 Hispanic of the Year by Hispanic Magazine. I caught up with Perez to learn about the realities of celebrity culture in the digital age.

Thought Economics

José Neves started his first business aged just 19, creating software for business in the North of Portugal.  His family had a history in shoemaking, and it was perhaps inevitable that fashion would play a role in his career – but few could have predicted the decade long-journey, beginning in the depths of the global financial recession, that would see José take the idea for a luxury fashion eCommerce marketplace and build it into Farfetch; a business with close to 3,000 employees, 3m customers, almost U$1bn in listed merchandise, and a market capitalisation approaching U$6bn – making José a billionaire in well-under 10 years from a standing start. I caught up with José to learn more about his entrepreneurship journey, and building a global luxury brands business.

Thought Economics

It took the unconscionable horrors of two World Wars to bring the international communities together to meaningfully define the rights of all individuals that existed from birth, irrespective of any factor such as race, sex, language, religion or nationality. We may feel intuitively that these are rights that should be shared and upheld by all nations, but the reality is rather different; and everywhere in the world, we find governments, corporations, and many others who subvert these basic rights of individuals and groups with devastating consequences.  To learn more about why our rights are being subverted around the world, and how Amnesty are working to fight these abuses, I spoke to Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

Thought Economics

In this exclusive series of interviews from 2015-today, I spoke with the world’s foremost experts on inequality: Kate Gilmore (United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights), The Rt. Hon. The Lord Bird MBE (Founder & Editor in Chief, The Big Issue), Harry Leslie Smith (1923-2018 Activist, Survivor of the Great Depression and WWII RAF Veteran), Professor Sir Anthony Atkinson (1944-2017, Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics and Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford), Professor David Hulme (Executive Director of the University of Manchester Global Development Institute) , Professor Sir Michael Marmot  (Director of the Institute of Health Equity, University College London),  Baroness Onora O’Neill (Former Chair of the Equality and Human rights Commission) and Prof. Richard Wilkinson (Co-Founder of the Equality Trust).  We discuss the fundamental question of why inequality exists in our society, the impact it has on our world, and what we can do to fight it

Thought Economics

Referred to as “the most famous astronaut since Neil Armstrong,” Colonel Hadfield was selected as a NASA Mission Specialist, and three years later he was aboard the Shuttle Atlantis, where he helped build the Mir space station. In 2001, on Shuttle Endeavour, Colonel Hadfield performed two spacewalks and in 2013, he became Commander of the International Space Station for six months off the planet. I caught up with Commander Hadfield to discuss his leadership learnings from an incredible career in space.

Thought Economics

In this exclusive interview series, we speak to Nobel Prize Winning Economist, Edmund Phelps (Director of the Columbia University Center on Capitalism & Society and the McVickar Professor of Political Economy at Columbia University), Professor Lawrence ‘Larry’ H. Summers (Charles W. Eliot University Professor and President Emeritus at Harvard University. He served as the 71st Secretary of the Treasury for President Clinton and the Director of the National Economic Council for President Obama) and Professor Sir Paul Collier (Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School, Oxford  & director of the International Growth Centre). We look at the story of modern capitalism, the benefits it has brought, and the challenges it has created. We explore the ‘post crisis’ economy, the role of government in society, the relationship between capitalism and conflict, inequality and look at what needs to be done to ‘fix’ our global economy, and the science of economics itself.

Thought Economics

David Goggins is a retired Navy SEAL and the only member of the U.S. Armed Forces ever to complete SEAL training, U.S. Army Ranger School, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller training. Goggins has competed in more than sixty ultra-marathons, triathlons, and ultra-triathlons, setting new course records and regularly placing in the top five. He is a former Guinness World Record holder for completing 4,030 pull-ups in seventeen hours, and inspires tens of thousands each year through his speaking engagements and training. I caught up with David to learn more about his journey, and howe we can build the resilience and endurance he has.

Thought Economics

Wim Hof got his nickname “The Iceman” after he broke a number of records with regards to resisting cold. Some of his feats include climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in shorts, running a half marathon above the Arctic Circle on his bare feet, and standing in a container while covered with ice cubes for more than 112 minutes. Wim is convinced that our bodies are capable of doing the same exceptionally things his body allows him to do. I caught up with Wim to learn more about how we can all learn to embrace the cold.

Thought Economics

In these exclusive interviews we speak to Jüri Ratas (Prime Minister of Estonia), Guy Verhofstadt (Former Prime Minister, Belgium & EU Chief Brexit Negotiator), Vicente Fox Quesada (Former President of Mexico), Noam Chomsky (Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), who – with over 150 books published – is regarded as ‘one of the most critically engaged public intellectuals alive today’), Alastair Campbell (Communicator, Writer and Strategist), Glenn Greenwald (Multi Award Winning Journalist, Constitutional Lawyer and Author), Lawrence “Larry” Lessig (Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School), Professor Yanis Varoufakis (Economist and Former Minister of Finance of Greece), Professor A. C. Grayling (philosopher, thinker, author and educator; Master of the New College of the Humanities, Matthew d’Ancona (Journalist & Broadcaster), Dr. Brian Klaas (Author & Expert on Democracy, Authoritarianism and Foreign Policy), Congressman Ted Lieu (Representing California’s 33rd District),Robert Peston (Journalist, Broadcaster & Author), Michael Lewis (Author & Journalist) and General Michael Hayden (Former Director of the CIA & NSA).  We discuss the state and future of democracy around the world, together with the role that government, corporations and the media play in shaping our lives.  We also look at the global war on terror, globalisation, populism, and the forces changing our world.

Thought Economics

My interview with Jameela Jamil, actress, writer, host and activist, about the immense damage done by media and brand portrayals of women- and how she’s fighting back through the launch of @i_weigh which encourages women to feel valuable and look beyond the flesh on their bones.

Thought Economics

To learn more about how technology has stolen our attention; and what we can do to get it back, I spoke to James Williams (Writer & researcher on the philosophy and ethics of technology, author of ‘Stand out of Our Light’),  Jamie Bartlett (Author and Director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media) and Professor Adam Alter (Author & Associate Professor of Marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business)

Thought Economics

By any measure, the United Kingdom is a rich country.  We are a nation with over £10 trillion in assets (£6 trillion of which is privately held), and depending on your measure – we are the 5th or 9th largest economy in the world.  From the outside, we are a success story; with booming sectors ranging from technology to finance, a seat at the table of global diplomacy, and cultural power internationally. It is perhaps because of this success that we should be surprised, ashamed and appalled by the fact that 21% of our population, some 14.2 million people, are living in poverty.  I caught up with the author, artist & social commentator, Darren McGarvey aka LOKI to learn more about the realities of poverty in the UK.

Thought Economics

My Interview with Frank Abagnale, Renowned Cybersecurity and Fraud Prevention Expert, Bestselling Author & Subject of Catch Me If You Can.

Thought Economics

The Royal Society is a Fellowship of many of the world’s most eminent scientists and is the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence. Sitting at the helm of the Royal Society is Dr. Venki Ramakrishnan, a Nobel Prize-winning biologist who is responsible for giving us some of the most fundamental insights into the biology of life itself. I caught up with Dr. Ramakrishnan to learn more about the role of science in society.

Thought Economics

We are in a complex world- made difficult to model because of the nonlinear, emergent, spontaneous and adaptive interactions of trillions of elements.  Whilst our biological and environmental complexity has had millions of years to evolve into a form of stable-chaos, our cultural, economic and political complexities are growing in scale and momentum meaning that for many of us- this world feels riskier than ever before. To learn more about the risks facing our world, I spoke to Ian Bremmer, President and Co-Founder of Eurasia Group (one of the world’s leading political risk research and consulting firms), Global Research Professor at NYU, and Co-Founder of GZero Media.

Thought Economics

If you are lucky enough to live to 79 (the global average lifespan) you will have spent around 25 of those years (roughly one third of your entire life) asleep. Scientific advances over the past quarter of a century have created a renaissance in sleep research, giving us greater insights into the role and importance of sleep in our lives. To learn more, I spoke to Dr. Matthew Walker, Professor of Neuroscience and Founder & Director of The Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, Berkeley.

Thought Economics

Our inability to disconnect extreme events from the norm also affects our perceptions of business. The picture we see of the business environment shows us the tails not the curve, we here about the super exciting startups, and the gigantic behemoths but we don’t see much about the middle; the small and medium sized businesses who account for the majority. We don’t see that of the 6 million companies in the US, 90% have less than 20 employees. I caught up with Rand Fishkin, Founder of SparkToro and Co-Founder of MOZ & Inbound.com to understand more about the realities of starting-up, and what we can learn from the businesses in the middle.

Thought Economics

Dr. Rowan Hooper is Managing Editor of New Scientist, and in his recent book Superhuman, he scoured the world, aiming to answer a few key questions: Why can some people achieve greatness when others can’t, no matter how hard they try? What are the secrets of long life and happiness? Just how much potential does our species have? Rowan met ultrarunners, those who have rebounded from near-death, those who have exhibited exceptional bravery, found incredible happiness, and who have minds, voices and abilities that seemingly the rest of us could never match.  I caught up with Rowan to understand what he learned from meeting our world’s superhumans.

Thought Economics

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