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

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

Technology push also brings with it a range of unintended or unexpected consequences, particularly at a time (as we are now) where technology can grow from the germination of an idea to sweeping ubiquity at a frightening pace.  As a society, we seemingly cannot adapt ourselves, our culture, economy and political landscape fast enough to cope with the momentum of technological advance, but things needn’t be this way. Mitchell Baker co-founded the Mozilla Project to support the open, innovative web and ensure it continues offering opportunities for everyone. As Chairwoman of Mozilla, Mitchell   is responsible for organizing and motivating a massive, worldwide, collective of employees and volunteers around the world who are building the internet as a global public resource, open and accessible to all.   I caught up with Mitchell to ask whether we need a more human internet.

Thought Economics

The greatest humanitarian crisis in history, is also the greatest crisis of our humanity.  To learn more about our global refugee and migration crisis, we speak to Gulwali Passarlay (Afghan refugee, author & Co-Founder of My Bright Kite), Professor François Crépeau (Former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants), Pierre Krähenbühl (Commissioner General, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine – UNRWA), Alexander Betts (Professor of Forced Migration and International Affairs, University of Oxford), Catherine Woollard (Secretary General, European Council on Refugees and Exiles, ECRE), Professor Michael Lynk (United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967), Dr. Hanan Ashrawi (PLO Executive Committee Member, Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council & Founder of MIFTAH), Professor Noura Erakat (Human Rights Attorney & Activist) and Professor George Rupp (Former President of the International Rescue Committee, IRC).

Thought Economics

From humble beginnings in 1984, TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) has grown to become the centre of gravity for the intellectual curious of our digital era. Their flagship TED conference, and global network of TEDx events have created hundreds of thousands of unique pieces of video content, watched billions of times, covering topics as diverse as humanity itself. This remarkable organisation is bound together with the single mission, that being to promote ideas worth spreading. TED has showcased many of the world’s greatest speakers and storytellers, and I caught up with the organisation’s owner & curator, Chris Anderson to learn more about storytelling and what makes a great talk.

Thought Economics

Scott Farquhar is the archetypal entrepreneur.  He and his Co-Founder Mike Cannon-Brookes started Atlassian in 2002 (after meeting whilst studying at the University of South Wales, Sydney).  Deciding neither of them wanted a corporate job, they took out $10,000 on on credit cards and bootstrapped Atlassian; a company which has now grown to over $13 billion in market capitalisation, with 2,500 staff in 6 countries (2 planets) and over 100,000 customers.  Scott and his Co-Founder are now both billionaires in their own right, and two of the world’s most progressive philanthropists. I caught up with Scott to learn more about purposeful entrepreneurship.

Thought Economics

AJ Mendez, the youngest of three children, grew-up in a family fighting poverty, mental illness and addiction, an environment without stability which would cause many to write her off.  In the ultimate act of rebellion against expectation, AJ went on to build a career as one of the world’s best professional wrestlers (under the ring name AJ Lee) before becoming a New York Times Bestselling author with her book Crazy Is My Superpower: How I Triumphed by Breaking Bones, Breaking Hearts, and Breaking the Rules.  She is an advocate an ambassador for causes ranging from animal rights to mental health, and has built a hugely successful life, arguably against the odds. I spoke to AJ to learn how she’s turned ‘Crazy’ into her superpower.

Thought Economics

As Captain of Manchester City and of the Belgium National Team, Vincent Kompany has achieved huge success on the pitch.   Like many of his peers Vincent has immersed himself in playing football and being the best on the pitch- but perhaps most interestingly, he has also taken a deep interest in the business of football itself. I caught up with Vincent to learn more about the business of football, and what he learned doing an MBA.

Thought Economics

In these exclusive interviews, we talk to five of the world’s most successful international footballers: Giorgio Chiellini, Louis Saha, Philip Neville, Leighton Baines and Hope Solo along with Jürgen Griesbeck (Founder, Street Football World). We discuss life as a footballer, how the game has grown to become the world’s most prominent sport, and the role it plays in society and culture. We also investigate the impact of wealth in the game and how football is changing the world through philanthropy and outreach.

Thought Economics

Slack launched in 2014 and has become the fastest growing business application in history- allowing millions of people in tens of thousands of organisations around the world to get work done. I caught up with Slack Co-Founder, Stewart Butterfield to learn more about his entrepreneurship journey, and the changing global workplace.

Thought Economics

My conversation with Alfred Lin, Partner at Sequoia Capital- who have partnered early and at every stage of growth with the founders of companies that now have an aggregate, public market value of over $3.3 trillion.  Some of the firm’s most successful investments have been Apple, Google, Oracle, PayPal, Stripe, YouTube, Instagram, Yahoo! and WhatsApp.

Thought Economics

Sheryl Sandberg is a remarkable person.  Alongside leading a $500 billion business, with 24,000 employees and 2 billion monthly active users, she has mobilised millions of women around the world to achieve their ambitions and fight for a more gender equal society.  Sheryl’s own story of resilience came to light following the sudden death of her husband in 2015, and her subsequent journey to recover, rebound and flourish again. Sheryl is Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, Founder of LeanIn.Org and OptionB.Org and I caught up with her to learn about resilience.

Thought Economics

In this exclusive interview series, we speak to some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs: Sir Richard Branson (Founder of Virgin Group), Robin Li (Founder of Baidu), Sir James Dyson (Founder of Dyson), Professor Muhammad Yunus (Nobel Peace Prize Winner and Founder of Grameen Bank), Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw (Founder of Biocon), N. R. Narayana Murthy (Founder of Infosys) Tim Draper (Founding Partner, Draper Associates and DFJ), Jamal Edwards MBE (Founder, SBTV), Nathan Myhrvold (Founder & CEO, Intellectual Ventures), Wendy Kopp (CEO & Co-Founder, Teach For All), Tory Burch (Chairman & CEO, Tory Burch), Steve Case (Co-Founder,  America Online – AOL &  Revolution), Jerry Yang (Co-Founder, Yahoo!), Tony O. Elumelu (Chairman of Heirs Holdings, the United Bank for Africa, Transcorp and founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation), Dave McClure (Founder, 500 Startups), David Cohen (Co-Founder, Techstars), Ricardo Salinas (Founder & Chairman, Grupo Salinas),Vladimir Potanin (Founder & President, Interros), Gary Vaynerchuk (Founder, VaynerMedia), Troy Carter (Founder & CEO, Atom Factory), Dr. Michael Otto (Chairman, Otto Group), Jack Welch (Former CEO of GE and Executive Chairman of the Jack Welch Management Institute), Naveen Jain (Founder of InfoSpace, Intelius, Moon Express and Blue dot), Weili Dai (Co-Founder, Marvell Technology Group), Steve Ballmer (Co-Chair of Ballmer Group & Owner of the Los Angeles Clippers NBA Basketball Team), will.i.am  (Entrepreneur, Entertainer and Innovator), Donna Karan (Founder of DKNY and Urban Zen)Laurence Graff OBE (Founder & Chairman, Graff Diamonds), John Caudwell (Entrepreneur & Philanthropist), Dr. Frederik Paulsen, JR (Chairman, Ferring Pharmaceuticals), Thor Björgólfsson (Founding Chairman, Novator), Kanya King MBE (Founder, MOBO Organisation), Dennis Crowley (Co-Founder, Foursquare), Kevin O’Leary (Shark Tank), John Sculley (CEO of Apple from 1983-1993), Alfred Lin (Partner, Sequoia Capital & Former Chairman, Zappos) and Stewart Butterfield (Co-Founder, SLACK). We look at the characteristics of great entrepreneurs, how some of the world’s most successful companies have succeeded, and discuss wealth, philanthropy and the realities of business in a global economy.

Thought Economics

Since 2009, entrepreneurs have raised investment capital of over $70 million after entering the shark tank. Kevin O’Leary is a Canadian-Irish serial-entrepreneur and investor who has been a shark since series 1 first aired.  I caught up with him to learn about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.

Thought Economics

Nicole Stott is an artist, and an astronaut.  She is a veteran of 2 spaceflights and 104 days living and working in space on both the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station (ISS).  Nicole is also the first astronaut to paint in space, and I spoke with her to learn more about the art she found from 400km in the sky. 

Thought Economics

The United States of America, home to 323 million people, and 300 million guns.  To put that another way, with less than 5% of the world’s population, the United States is home to roughly 50% of the entire world’s civilian-owned guns. Nicholas Kristof is a Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times journalist who has covered US gun violence extensively; and I caught up with him to learn more about the relationship between the United States, and its guns.

Thought Economics

San Francisco stands out, not just for its economic and cultural success story; but for the way it is approaching resilience, sustainability and dealing with the challenges every modern, globalised region is feeling.  To learn more about the past, present and future of San Francisco I spoke to Edwin Lee, the 43rd Mayor of the City and County of San Francisco.

Thought Economics

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