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

To learn more about the phenomenon of cyberhate and the reality of trolling I spoke to David Baddiel (comedian, author, screenwriter & presenter), Ginger Gorman (journalist and author of Troll Hunting: Inside the world of online hate and its human fallout) and Hussein Kesvani (journalist and author of Follow Me, Akhi: The Online World of British Muslims)

Thought Economics

In this exclusive series of interviews, we speak to seven experts on conflict and peace building.  Four Nobel Peace Prize Winners; Prof. Jody Williams (Chair, Nobel Women’s Initiative), Dr. Shirin Ebadi (Human Rights Lawyer and Educator), President Maarti Ahtisaari (Former President, Finland and Founder of CMI – The Crisis Management Initiative), Lech Wałęsa (Former President, Poland) alongside Marina Cantacuzino (Founder, The Forgiveness Project), Ben Ferencz (Former Prosecutor, Nuremberg War Crimes Trial) and Bertie Ahern (Former Taoiseach – Irish Prime Minister).  We discuss the causes of war and conflict, the impact of these phenomena on society, and look at what it will take to achieve a world at peace.

Thought Economics

Chetan Bhagat is the author of nine blockbuster books, widely regarded as ‘the biggest selling English language novelist in India’s history’.  his unique writing style has allowed him to tackle, head-on, some of India’s biggest cultural and social questions. I caught up with Chetan to learn more about his view of today’s India, and how writing has been a keystone of social change in a country that houses one-sixth of the world’s population.

Thought Economics

Hussain Sajwani has an extraordinary story.  From modest beginnings, he has become a self-made billionaire, recognised as one of the most powerful Arabs in the world.  Sajwani is Founder & Chairman of the DAMAC Properties, a global business with revenues of over $1.6bn and 2000+ employees which has delivered over 25,000 homes and has a development portfolio of over 40,000 units.DAMAC is now one of the largest businesses in the United Arab Emirates, a region which has taken its wealth of oil & gas reserves, to create a dynamic, diverse and fast-growing economy. I had the pleasure of catching-up with Hussain Sajwani to learn more about the DAMAC story, and his views on entrepreneurship and investment in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Thought Economics

By deploying capital and talent, guided by the vision that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has achieved some incredible successes.  Over 500 million children have been vaccinated, with over 7 million lives saved… 3 million households have received access to drought-tolerant crops…. 99% fewer Polio cases are now reported worldwide… 8 million people have received access to anti-retroviral drugs, guinea worm disease is close to being eradicated, and almost 500 million mosquito nets have been distributed.   Melinda French Gates is a philanthropist, businesswoman, and global advocate for women and girls. As the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Melinda sets the direction and priorities of the world’s largest philanthropy. She is also the founder of Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company working to drive social progress for women and families in the United States. I had the pleasure of catching-up with Melinda Gates to speak to her about her learnings in philanthropy, and creating lasting global change.

Thought Economics

Elif Shafak is an award-winning British-Turkish novelist, and the most widely read female author in Turkey. She has published seventeen books, eleven of which are novels, and has had her work translated into fifty languages. She is a storyteller, and social commentator – holding a PhD in political science, and frequently being called-upon to give her views on the world’s most pressing issues. I caught up with Elif to learn more about her art, her writing, and how literature can change the world

Thought Economics

In 1981 a group of 7 engineers in Pune (India) came together with US$250 of capital and a passion for computing.  They created Infosys, which has grown to become a business with almost 230,000 employees, revenues of US$11.8 billion and a market capitalisation of almost US$50 billion.Infosys catalysed many of the changes that turned India into an IT and software powerhouse, and to this day is one of the world’s greatest examples of scaling a business. Senapathy “Kris” Gopalkrishnan was one of 7 engineers who co-founded Infosys, and I caught up with him to learn more about his entrepreneurship journey and building scaling businesses in India.

Thought Economics

As society has moved through the renaissance into modernity, the questions of why (typically the domain of theology) moved from the arts to science, the preciseness of the latter arguably unsuited to such philosophical questions.  The primacy of overtly scientific approaches to understanding life has come at a tremendous cost; in some ways we see the world in shades of grey rather than in full colour. For many thinkers therefore, the pull of the questions of meaning are too strong to ignore.  In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Dr. Jordan B. Peterson – professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, a clinical psychologist and the author of the multi-million copy bestseller 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.  We discuss the question of how we can find meaning in a complex world.

Thought Economics

Research has shown that evolution has created the psychological mechanisms which have enabled, and emboldened the spread of faux-intellectual movements (anti-vaccination, climate-deniers) and which can explain most of our deep rooted preferences, beliefs, and consumption instincts. To learn more, I spoke to Dr. Gad Saad a professor, evolutionary behavioural scientist, author, and public intellectual.  Gad has become one of the world’s most sought after commentators in this field, his YouTube channel, ‘The Saad Truth’ has close to 145,000 subscribers and has been viewed over 14 million times.

Thought Economics

In this exclusive interview, I speak to Rose McGowan. A writer, director, music artist, icon, entrepreneur, and feminist whistle-blower, she focused a spotlight on injustice and inequality in the entertainment industry and beyond. As an activist, she led a movement to break the silence and became a leading voice in the fight to disrupt the status quo. We discuss why our world still hasn’t moved-past sexism, and how we can fight the power imbalance with bravery, intelligence, creativity and individualism.

Thought Economics

Among music legends, Nile Rodgers is truly exceptional.  His work in the CHIC Organization and his productions for artists like David Bowie, Diana Ross, and Madonna have sold over 500 million albums and 75 million singles worldwide.  Merck Mercuriadis is one of the most successful music managers and entrepreneurs of all time; former manager of globally successful recording artists, such as Elton John, Guns N’ Roses, Morrissey, Iron Maiden and Beyoncé, and hit songwriters such as Diane Warren, Justin Tranter and The-Dream, and former CEO of The Sanctuary Group plc.  Their latest venture, Hipgnosis Songs Fund (LON:SONG) turns the most successful songs in history into a new investment asset-class and already owns copyrights including Beyonce’s ‘Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)’, Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella’ Kanye West’s ‘All Of The Lights’, Justin Beiber’s ‘Baby’, and Jay-z’s ‘Holy Grail’ featuring Justin Timberlake.  Estimates suggest the fund could rapidly grow to well over £1 billion in market capitalisation. In these exclusive interviews I spoke to Nile Rodgers and Merck Mercuriadis to learn more about the business of music, their creative process, the secrets of great management, production and what they’ve learned from a lifetime at the pinnacle of the music world.

Thought Economics

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

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