Timing is Everything! A conversation with Daniel Pink

January 19th, 2018

Daniel-Pink-When-Crop-632x362.jpgPlaying Clue, writing, quizzing our kids or friends, or analyzing data to make decisions, we are all familiar with those key question of who, what and why. And yet the question that goes to the heart of what we actually do and how it will turn out, is often WHEN.

We make dozens of when decisions everyday. Sometimes we jump into something to quickly, sometimes we procrastinate. We schedule the hard stuff in the morning when we are fresh, or some schedule the easy stuff in the morning, to get it out of the way.

We think that most of these decisions derive from habit or intuition. But in fact, modern science and research in psychology, biology, economics and even anthropology, all provide road maps for making our when decisions.

Now bestselling and influential author Daniel Pink takes us into the essence of those when decision in When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing.

My conversation with Daniel Pink:

 

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Does Political Organizing Still Matter? A talk with Gordon Whitman

January 18th, 2018

banner_mobile.pngFor those that are politically engaged, and are horrified by the current policy decisions being made and enacted by the current administration, it sometimes seems as if the challenge is overwhelming. Can any amount of the traditional forms of protest, and organizing make a dent. Or has technology, the speed of communications and our ever shortening attention spans put us in a post organizing environment?

In a world in which facts are suspect, life is lived online, only with people that we agree with, and the no ones mind ever seems to change, does protest even matter? Longtime activist and organizer Gordon Whitman  thinks it does.  His new book is Stand Up!: How to Get Involved, Speak Out, and Win in a World on Fire.

My conversation with Gordon Whitman:

 

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Not Your Father’s Non-Profit: A conversation with Kathleen Kelly Janus

January 16th, 2018

51z5rnPt6wL._SX331_BO1%252C204%252C203%2Poll after poll tell us that people have lost faith in government and in big institutions to solve the nation’s or even the world's problems. As that disconnect grows, and it will likely continue to, we are looking more and more to local centric, often non-profit institutions to do the heavy lifting.

But what will those non profits look like? As donors today want rapid and measurable results, metrics, and an entrepreneurial spirit and business approach, that will certainly not resemble your father's non-profit.

To help us understand this transition and what may very well be the future of non-profits, as a growing instrument of public policy, I’m joined by Kathleen Kelly Janus, the author of Social Startup Success: How the Best Nonprofits Launch, Scale Up, and Make a Difference.

My conversation with Kathleen Kelly Janus:

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“Things Won’t Work Out By Themselves” A Conversation with Richard Haass

January 16th, 2018

web1_WDC-100-images-aWorldDisarray-680x4In today’s world it’s not just technology that changes quickly. Just twenty-five years ago, some thought we had reached the end of history. That the end of the Cold War would bring about protracted peace, that the ending of the great power struggle between the US and the Soviet Union would mark a new era. In many ways it did, but not necessarily the one that was anticipated.

Just as we’ve seen deconstruction in almost every area of society, so too in foreign policy. The gravitational pull of great powers that held the world together, just as that same force held major industries together, fragmented. Independence, democratization, real time instant communications and commerce, let loose global and destabilizing forces that we are trying hard to sort through. While in business it might mean the end of a company or an industry, in foreign affairs this disarray just might mean the end of the world.

Dr. Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations has served in several administrations and is also the author or editor of twelve books on foreign policy and international relations. His latest is A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order.

My conversation with Richard Haass:

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The Daniel Ellsberg Story You Won’t See In THE POST

January 15th, 2018

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Somebody asked me recently if I thought that this time that we are living through will be as significant and as profoundly influential as the ‘60’s. I don't’ know the answer to that. What I do know is that there are recurring themes from that period that we seem to be relitigating and reliving.

Race is certainly one. Renewed discussion about Vietnam, press freedom and the threat of nuclear war, are some of the others.

Daniel Ellsberg, was once at the center of these issues and he is still here to provide his wisdom and insights into the way that history maybe repeating itself.

The Ken Burns documentary about Vietnam, which conspicuously did not include a conversation with Ellsberg, and the Steven Spielberg film, The Post, have once again catapulted Ellsberg to the front of our national dialogue.

Most of us know Daniel Ellsberg for the Pentagon Paper which he copied and leaked in 1971. What we don’t know is that Ellsberg was a war planner and nuclear strategist at RAND, and one of the leading thinkers about the role and actual use of nuclear weapons.

Now, after all of these years, he’s written about it in The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner.


My WhoWhatWhy.org conversation with Daniel Ellsberg: 

 

 

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Trump/Russia from 30,000 Feet

January 9th, 2018

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There is an old expression that’s long been part of the training of medical students. It says that if you hear hooves, look for horses, not zebras. The idea is simple. Look first in the most obvious places. Often times the solution is in pain sight and doesn't require some deep, expensive digging.

The same might very well be said of Donald Trump and Russia. Sure we all hear about the complex web, but really there is a kind of elemental simplicity to the story.

Trump came to the attention of Russians as far back as 1987. The Russians, seeking contacts or assets in the US, dangled in front of Trump the prospect of doing business in Russia. They paraded before him oligarchs who he admired, and who he was jealous of.

They keep their eyes on on him for years. He even married two wives from the former soviet bloc. Two wives who grew up behind the Iron Curtain.

He went back to Russia in 2013, by which time planet Trump was surrounded by people like Michael Cohen, Felix Sater, the Agalaroffs, Paul Manafort and dozens and duzens of Russians that had bought property in Trump Tower, or one of his other real estate interests.

When he fell on financial hard times, Russians and particularly Deutsche Bank in Moscow, were there to help with laundered money

In 2016, when he finally ran for president, something he’d been talking about for decades, we know the Russians intervened to help. Paul Manafort, with deep Russian and Ukrainian ties, would, for a time, manage the campaign.

When he won, so many that were circling the mothership Trump would lie about their contacts with Russia. His cabinet would be filled with people like Wilbur Russ, Rex Tillerson and the sister of Eric Prince, all with deep ties to Russia.

All the while he would continue to praise Vladimir Putin.  This is the story that Luke Harding brings forth in Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win

My WhoWhatWhy.org conversation with Luke Harding:

 

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This Man Could Have Prevented 9/11

January 8th, 2018

image1-12-700x470.jpgBill Binney was an NSA analyst whose work was so effective it was shut down. It threatened to derail the gravy train fueled by the kinds of problems he might have solved — including preventing potential terrorist attacks. The contractors and executives riding that train had a motto: “keep the problem going, so the money keep flowing.”

My WhoWhatWhy.org conversation with Bill Binney:

 

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Espionage 101: How the CIA, FBI, and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America’s Universities

January 8th, 2018

DLx92ALWkAIqtJo.pngOnce upon a time, at the apogee of the cold war, the CIA recruited the best and the brightest from our most elite universities. The likes of George HW Bush, James Jesus Angleton, William Bundy, Porter Goss, and Cord Meyer, all owed their allegiance to God Country and Yale. And Harvard also had its share. These universities were, as someone once referred them, “a nursery of spooks.”

Today, like everything else, espionage has gone through its own creative destruction. Colleges and universities are still at the epicenter of espionage, but it’s all been impacted by globalization, technology, the free flow of international students and professors and information, and yes, 9/11. It’s as if the military industrial-complex that Eisenhower warned us about, is now the military, industrial, intelligence and university complex.

Bringing this all into bold relief is Pulitzer Prize winning author Daniel Golden, in his book Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI, and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America's Universities.

My conversation with Dan Golden:

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Where Is Your Money Sleeping?

January 8th, 2018

sleeping-on-bags-of-money.jpgAs the new year begins, we often think about what to do with our money. In a world in which we are more socially and politically divided than ever, in which change is happening at an exponential pace, in which technology may lead us to a worse or a better place, how we invest, how we spend money, and where that money goes, takes on more urgency than ever.

Both spending and investing is now more than just part of our economic dialogue. It is a part of our social fabric. How it comes together, and what it accomplishes has profound consequences.

Morgan Simon is a leader in impact investment who builds bridges between finance and social justice. Over the past seventeen years, she has influenced over $150 billion in capital and she recently authored Real Impact: The New Economics of Social Change.


My conversation with Morgan Simon:

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A Look At What A Real President Was Like

January 8th, 2018

Dallek_FDR.jpgI’m not sure when politics became a dirty word. But there was a time when it was a noble profession. When the best the the brightest sought to serve, and when differences of opinion were about how to better the lives of all people, not just those at the top, or those at the margins, or those in power.

To successfully engage in politics tooks a very special skill set, that was about understanding people and what they wanted, and forming coalitions to compromise and get things done. How far we have fallen from that ideal.

It was Bismarck who said that “politics was the art of the possible.” Few understood this better than the 32nd President of the United States, Franklin Roosevelt. Presidential historian Robert Dallek takes a deep dive into the political Roosevelt, in  Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Political Life

My conversation with Robert Dallek:

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Our Collective Search for Meaning And What Happens If We Can’t Find It

December 26th, 2017

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From the time we first enter the world, to the moment we read or listen to the morning news, we are trying to make sense of the world. We are trying to discern patterns, to create a narrative, to fit the puzzle pieces together in ways that make sense. All the while creating the minimum amount of cognitive dissonance, so that we can move forward each day without having a complete nervous breakdown.

And so it is that societies and cultures do exactly the same things as part of a kind of collective effort to finding meaning. Be it in art, as we try to find metaphorical meaning in the equivalent of a grain of sand, or in the worship of religion, money, success or hierarchical achievement. The problem often comes when these patterns we internalize, run headlong into reality.

That’s a part of what I explore with Jeremy Lent as we look at The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity's Search for Meaning.

My conversation with Jeremy Lent:

 

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Lawyers, Guns and Money: Understanding the Panama Papers

December 26th, 2017

 

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In the current debate over taxes we here a lot about offshore funds, the repatriation of corporate dollars, and how lowering marginal tax rates will stimulate the economy and bring all this money pouring back into America. Unlikely!  Particularly because what we don’t hear about is the almost hundred trillion dollars that is hidden from view, in a complex web of offshore accounts, tax havens, laundered money, corrupt banks and nations that have created a kind of alternative world financial system.

Back in April of 2016 the leaked documents from a Panamanian law firm, that became known as the Panama Papers, began to shed light on this universal flow of this tainted money. More recently the

Paradise Papers, brought this corruption to the doorstep of the White House.

Covering every step of this, has been distinguished journalist and two time Pulitzer winner Jake Bernstein. He details it all, and a lot more in Secrecy World: Inside the Panama Papers Investigation of Illicit Money Networks and the Global Elite

 

My conversation with Jake Bernstein:

 

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Is the Keyboard The New F15?

December 26th, 2017

875291168.0.jpgYou may remember that during the cold war, particularly during the Vietnam conflict, we were told that the battle was for the “hearts and minds” of the enemy. We understood that in conflict, propaganda, particularly as told through narrative, was an important tool of warfare.

Narrative, if successful, was there to reinforce the battle. The ultimate expression of this was the phrase, sometimes attributed to both John Wayne and Chuck Colson, that “if you have them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.”

Today, in our 24/7 always on, social media saturated world, the objective has changed. Now, the battle through social media and television, for the proverbial hearts and minds, is sometime the goal, in and of itself.

As we’ve seen with Russia in both the Ukraine, and in it’s new cold war with the US, sometimes control of the Twitter and Facebook narrative is enough to create disruption, to change the terms of the conflict itself and ultimately to win. Suddenly, in cold war 2.0, a keyboard has as much power as an F15. That's the reality that David Patrikarakos lays bear in War in 140 Characters: How Social Media Is Reshaping Conflict in the Twenty-First Century.

My WhoWhatWhy.org conversation with David Patrikarakos:

 

 

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Sleep…It’s Not Just For Wimps Anymore

December 19th, 2017

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Tune in to the news any day, and there is lots to lose sleep over. Not the least of which is the worry that if we are not sleeping correctly, we will age faster, increase our risk of Alzheimer's and be susceptible to a host of other illnesses.

It’s hard to imagine, that with all of the other crisis going on, how much time and conversation gets devoted to the subject of sleep. It must mean that it’s pretty important. At least Matthew Walker thinks so. He is a professor of neuroscience and psychology at UC Berkeley, the Director of its Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab, and a former professor of psychiatry at Harvard University, and the author of Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams.

My conversation with Matthew Walker:

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The World Will Never Be The Same After AI

December 15th, 2017

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 One of the criticisms of Silicon Valley is often that so much talent and engineering is going toward the creation of minor advancements. A new dating app, new forms of banking, or even games.

But all of this belies what’s really going on beneath the surface, in the world of Artificial Intelligence. A world that conjures up a whole host of fears and confusion. Perhaps it comes from too many science fiction movies, or maybe it’s just the fear of the ultimate change and loss of control. Either way, it is coming in every aspect of our lives. We can choose to have the conversation now, or complain, protest and get angry later.

One of the people leading the way in this arena is Amir Husain. He is a serial entrepreneur and inventor, and the author of The Sentient Machine: The Coming Age of Artificial Intelligence.

My WhoWhatWhy conversation with Amir Husain:

 

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The Joys of Refugees

December 12th, 2017

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In our hyper partisan and over politicized culture, we’re always quick and anxious to talk about DACA, Dreamers, immigration, deportation, etc. Too often even the most well meaning stories are often lost in the weeds of policy and politics.

What we often forget, or can’t personally understand, is that all of this is about real people. About kids who are caught up in events they can’t control while getting impressions of how they are accepted or not as refugees. The result will shape how they grow up, what they will always believe about this country.

Even in the best of environment refugee resettlement is hard work. Although as my guest Helen Thorpe show us, in her book The Newcomers: Finding Refuge, Friendship, and Hope in an American Classroom, it should be filled with joy. 

My conversation with Helen Thorpe:

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Joan Didion: The Center Cannot Hold

November 27th, 2017

holding-joan-didion-griffin-dunne-documeThere are many writers that reflect a particular time, place and style. Tom Wolfe, Faulkner, Norman Mailer, to name a few. Each conjures up a specific time and place.

It’s very rare that a great writer spans both places and decades. Joan Didion is that rare exception. Be it New York or California; the upheaval of the 60’s, or the aging baby boomers of the present, who must deal with death and grief. Joan Didion has captured it all with precision, insight and the poet's gift for defining the world in a grain of sand.

Never before has there been a documentary about Joan...until now. Until Griffin and Annabelle Dunne have given us The Center Cannot Hold.  It comes to Netflix on October 27th.

My conversation with Griffin Dunne:

 

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Chris Matthews on Bobby Kennedy

November 13th, 2017

maxresdefault.jpgBobby_Kennedy_Chris_Matthews.pngForty nine years ago, on June 5th 1968, the world shifted on its axis. The assassination of Bobby Kennedy, after his victory in the California primary, changed politics forever. It’s might not be too far fetched to say that had Bobby survived, our politics and our country might look very different today.

Sydney Schanberg, the great reporter, once told me in an interview that he thought Vietnam and the 60’s represented the end of consensus politics in America.

Since that time we have been searching for the politician or the leader that could bridge that divide. The irony has been that in a time of polarity, it’s been impossible for that leader to emerge. So we look back to what might have been. And when we do, the image, the mythology and the reality of Bobby Kennedy rises as an apparition from the body politic.

Why? What was it about Bobby that made us think he was different?

This is where Chris Matthews takes us in Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit.

My conversation with Chris Matthews:

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The Refugee Crisis and the Failure of Humanity

February 19th, 2017

syrian-refugees-opener-615.jpgWhen we talk about the refugee crises in Syria, we are really only talking about a small fraction of the world's refugee crisis. Hundreds of millions of people throughout the world are affected by armed conflict and genocide. Refugee populations come from Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, Guatemala, Sri Lanka and more.

It’s hard for most of us to even imagine the what these people are willing to endure and the grief and trauma they face. In a time of asymmetrical warfare, they are the new face of war.

Kenneth Miller is an international expert on the impact of armed conflict on civilians. He's a psychologist who been working with war affected communities as a researcher, clinician, and filmmaker. He’s a professor of clinical and community psychology and the author of War Torn: Stories of Courage, Love, and Resilience.

My conversation with Kenneth Miller:

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Is Music Just an Escape or an Inescapable Part of Life?

February 15th, 2017

51Pmq0maaRL._SY346_.jpgThe only thing that may be more pervasive than talk of Russia today is music. Music is everywhere. It seems no space, public or private, is not in some way filled with music. Even sporting events are now enveloped in music.  

In spite of music having been at the cutting edge of technological creative destruction and in spite of the fact that its business models no longer works, it is still omnipresent. One of the few things that has been with us through the ages and is as strong if not stronger today.

So why is music so much a part our lives and what is the seemingly magical power it has for so many people. John Powell explains in Why You Love Music: From Mozart to Metallica--The Emotional Power of Beautiful Sounds.

My conversation with John Powell:

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