Where Genius Grows

Navigating a rapidly evolving world: - What does it mean to find your voice? - How is our world changing? - What keeps society together?
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Feb 19, 2018

A democracy cannot function if you basically have a political civil war: The sense that politics is a zero-sum game, where one side loses everything and the other wins everything, and it's all about winning against the other side. That can bring you political wins for a certain amount of time, but it doesn't stabilize democracy itself and it doesn't lead to more what in Germany we call sozialer Friede — 'social peace,' a sense of togetherness.

— Bastian Hermisson

Bastian Hermisson is the executive director of Heinrich Böll Foundation North America, a political foundation affiliated with the German Green Party. In this conversation, we discuss the origins of German political foundations and the work they do to foster an engaged citizenry.

Feb 7, 2018

Do we want to build a secure and resilient system for powering . . . our country? And do we want to attack the biggest challenge of collective action in the course of human civilization? And those are the two questions that we have to answer.

— Michael Wu

Michael Wu is the founder and CEO of Converge Strategies. In this interview we discuss how thoroughly the power grid permeates every aspect of contemporary life. Michael describes the array of threats facing the power grid today — both familiar one and those that we can only imagine. He explains the difficulty of allocating resources to counter high-risk, low-frequency threats, and what we must do to build a more resilient, clean-energy power grid.

Feb 1, 2018

"Take a look at the mirror. Reflect on the values and the traditions that have brought what I would call the Transatlantic Civilization into existence as a civilization that has ensured individual rights and liberties and economic success to billions of people around the world."

— Dr. Aykan Erdemir

Dr. Aykan Erdemir is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. In this episode we discuss the intersection of religion and politics, focusing on what happens when political elites use religion as a pretext for personal enrichment. This phenomenon has recently been named kleptotheocracy. Find out how to spot nascent kleptotheocracy in your midst and what you can do to prevent its spread.

Jan 22, 2018

My experience growing up taught me, 'Just 'cause they said 'No' doesn't mean I'm not qualified. They think I'm not qualified, but I'm qualified. They're idiots.' My view was that I was going to come to Washington, I was going to get them to offer me the job, and then I was going to turn them down. Just so they could see what it feels like.

— Lydia Borland

Ever wonder what a lobbyist actually does? In this episode, lobbyist Lydia Borland provides insight into the role lobbyists play in the legislative process. The key takeaway from this conversation is that, while lobbyists provide legislators with a wealth of information on the issues they vote on, the most important person a legislator can ever hear from is you.

Jan 19, 2018

There ought to be room for joy in the workplace. There ought to be room for experiencing the joy that comes from working collaboratively with others: feeling that joy, celebrating that joy, acknowledging that joy. It turns the daily slog into . . . joy. That doesn't exist without collaboration. So maybe getting started down this path is asking oneself, "Do I have enough joy in the work that I do in the place where I work?"

— Robert Tobias

Robert Tobias is the founder of the Key Executive Leadership Programs at American University. In this episode you'll learn what makes collaboration and authenticity so critical to successful leadership — not buzzwords, but rather tangible qualities. Allow this conversation to help you get curious about how you might develop your own leadership.

If you liked this interview with Robert Tobias, you'll love episode 65 with Jennifer Garvey Berger.

Jan 17, 2018

“We need to look beyond institutions to stand up for our rights, for our lifestyle, our quality of life. Time to broaden that to the organizations, to the businesses we interact with each and every day and realize there is power there.”

— DeVere Kutscher

DeVere Kutscher is a principal at Public Private Strategies. In this episode he discusses the role business plays in filling the void when there's a vacuum of political leadership. You will learn why business leaders can't afford to neglect broad swaths of population even when political leaders do. You will also find out why business, and even democracy itself, depends on the 2020 Census being carried out properly and in good faith.

Jan 11, 2018

It's a really interesting moment in the world where there's large emerging markets that will transform the way the rest of the world looks. And so staying engaged and aware and open to change and to  new technology and innovation, while also remaining focused on the human aspect of it — of how is it actually improving your and other people's lives? — will become increasingly critical.

— Melissa Frakman

Melissa Frakman is an emerging markets fintech advisor. Melissa discusses why India holds such promise for technology companies, what the Indian government is doing to make this wave of innovation possible, and how this happens in India will set the stage for how we do business around the world in the 21st century.

Jan 11, 2018

One of the things that will be incredibly important this year, in 2018, is everyone's action to vote. And to vote out the people who don't support our issues and vote in the people who do. Because this year has really shown people that politics touches your life, whether or not you like it. It is so important to use your vote and civic responsibility to have it touch you in a positive way.

— Bettina Hager

Bettina Hager is the COO and DC Director of the ERA Coalition. A near-total majority of Americans believes men and women should enjoy equal protection under the constitution. Paradoxically, the greatest obstacle to the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment that would enshrine this equality in the U.S. constitution is the mistaken belief, by over 80% of Americans, that this protection is already guaranteed. Learn about the history of the Equal Rights Amendment and find out what you can do to ensure its passage in our time.

Dec 11, 2017

As state after state passes laws regulating the use of cannabis, a booming industry has sprung up. Many people believe that this momentum — which they see as analogous to sweeping tides of civil rights legislation — will ultimately result in the passage of federal laws. Cannabis lobbyist and attorney Joshua Sanderlin believes that this optimism is misplaced and fails to account for the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution. However, Joshua also offers clear pointers on how to mobilize the groundswell of support required to make changes to federal law.

Oct 28, 2017

Emerging technology is disrupting social norms. On October 24th, 2017 fintech investor Melissa Frakman, DC Tech Search president Adam Solomon, and RIAA head of research Josh Friedlander joined host Gideon Culman to discuss current disruptions, future threats and opportunities, and actions we can take ride the increasingly rapid waves of innovation.

Oct 12, 2017

We couldn't have a clearer case for action to address the plight of the Rohingya, because of the level of persecution, because of the concerns of genocide. There is so much moral and legal clarity to do something. But what we can actually do, and the scope of it, seems nebulous and complicated in this particular context. But, that being said, it shouldn't paralyze us into doing nothing.

— Katherine Southwick

Katherine Southwick is a Visiting Scholar at George Mason University's School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution. She focuses on rule of law, ethnic conflict, and statelessness. In this interview we discuss the political conflict in Myanmar with a spotlight on the Rohingya minority.

Sep 30, 2017

"It's not like there's a Latino voice, or Latino voices and Jewish voices. You have in front of you people who are the combination of the Jewish with the Latino and the Latin American. So it's not like we put on a hat, 'and now we're speaking Latino,' and then we put on another hat, 'and now we're speaking Jewish.' . . . That orchestration is done by bridges: By being bridges and by building bridges."

— Stephanie Guiloff

Dina Siegel Vann and Stephanie Guiloff lead the American Jewish Committee's Belfer Institute for Latino and Latin American Affairs. We discuss the fluidity of American identity, the richness that this fluidity engenders, and the power we wield when we unite the many facets of our American identity in the political arena.

Sep 18, 2017

Ajla Delkic is the executive director for the Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina. In this conversation we discuss the Council's work advocating on behalf of Bosnia's inclusion in NATO as well as countering genocide denial and the revision of history.

Sep 11, 2017

Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman is the Kurdistan Regional Government Representative to the United States of the America. In this interview we talk about, how throughout living memory, the Kurdish story has been told by people other than the Kurds. We discuss the many ways this has been changing since 2003.

Sep 2, 2017

"We're now in a situation where we need diversity and we need people who like to break things on the good guys' side . . . to understand the mindset of the people who are doing these things to us."

— Michael Echols

Michael Echols is the CEO of the International Association of Certified ISAOs and the CEO of Max Cybersecurity, LLC. In this interview Michael paints  a picture of how technological innovation is transforming the landscape of our lives as safety concerns, policy, and leadership lag behind. What new threats are we unable to imagine and how are these threats and our responses to them disrupting our society's norms?

Aug 14, 2017

Mohamed Abubakr is the president of the African Middle Eastern Leadership Project. As modern life chips away at the distances between countries, Mohamed sees grassroots activists from Africa and the Middle East as the people best equipped to inform U.S. engagement within their countries. His work with the African Middle Eastern Leadership Project is to connect these grassroots activists directly to U.S. policymakers.

Aug 7, 2017

Peter Weltman is an activist sommelier with a vision for borderless wine. In pursuit of this vision, Peter challenges us to venture outside of traditional wine regions, discover less known viticultural gems, and spend our money on wines whose production makes the world a better place.

Jul 31, 2017

John K. Glenn is the director of policy at the US Global Leadership Coalition. In this interview we discuss how the aims of US foreign policy have evolved from the Marshall Plan in the late 1940s, through the end of communism in the 1990s and the response to 9/11 throughout the 2000s, and the advent of polarization that makes it so hard for people to talk to each other today.

Jul 29, 2017

Allison Shapira is the president and founder of Global Public Speaking. Most people are deathly afraid of speaking in public. In this episode, we discuss what gets in our way of public speaking and how we can remove these obstacles. The result is a clarity about who we are and a confidence in what we have to say.

Jul 17, 2017

Christopher McAuliffe is the founder of Accomplishment Coaching. In this interview we discuss Christopher’s journey into coaching, his vision to train over a thousand coaches, and his quest to design a coach training program of unparalleled quality. As the world around us transforms and the only reliable constant is a breath-taking pace of change, what role do coaches like play in society?

Jul 12, 2017

As we become increasingly enmeshed in the technology all around us — our phones, our tablets, human contact, dating, our hours of leisure — how do we break free? And while we drop the ball on facing this question, what kind of behavior are we modeling for our kids? Tech<br>eak founder Ali Maresh discusses what we can do to loosen the stranglehold that our devices have on our everyday lives.

Further reading Ali recommends:
"The Shallows" by Nick Carr -

Jul 10, 2017

There's nothing more important than being true to your community, knowing how you fit in to your community, and what your responsibilities are to your community.

— Anka Lee

Anka Lee is a senior director at the Albright Stonebridge Group. In this interview we discuss how pivotal events like the Great Depression, the Vietnam War and the September 11th attacks have the power to shape the mindset of an entire generation. Questions we cover: What are the long-term policy implications of these formative events? How do different generations who see the world through very different eyes engage each other on the political stage? What does it mean to be an American?


Jul 3, 2017

Josh Friedlander is the head of research at the Recording Industry Association of America. In this interview we discuss shifts that the music industry has undergone in recent decades, including how new talent is identified, how sales have evolved from a strict ownership model to a more flexible model with an emphasis on access, and what jobs exist in music today

This conversation about music serves as a useful starting point to think about the accelerating rate of change in any industry that touches our lives daily in both obvious and imperceptible ways.

Jun 28, 2017

Today survival — peace, nonviolence — really depends not just on the internal communities you belong to but the communities we can form that are global communities.

— Justin Hefter

Ammoun Dissi and Justin Hefter discovered that people on opposite sides of the same conflict, in regional conflicts around the world, are more likely to be playing the same computer games than gamers in other parts of the world. Recognizing an opportunity to exploit this common ground their company Bandura Games develops cooperative gaming platforms that enable gamers who might otherwise view each other as enemies to come together as friends.

Jun 21, 2017

I have come to think that the word "Blockchain technology" is just a really great way to part an investor from his money.

— Adella Toulon-Foerster

There’s a lot of buzz these days about virtual currencies and Blockchain technology. How are we to approach this tide of monetary innovation? As the range of options we have to transmit monetary value continues to expand, legal professional Adella Toulon-Foerster urges us to be curious, to stay informed, and to become familiar with the everything that is out there.

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