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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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.

Jun 16, 2017

If you don’t embrace it, you’re going to get left behind.

— Garreth Fitzsimons

Garreth Fitzsimons manages American operations for e-learning company Olive Learning. In this interview Garreth discusses how e-learning, gamification, as well as augmented and virtual reality technologies are changing the ways we acquire new skills and knowledge.

Jun 8, 2017

Cryptocurrency is for people who don’t trust their governments . . . with good reason.

— Geoffrey Mason

Geoffrey Mason is an intellectual property lawyer who is a senior partner for the Cogent Law Group. In this interview Geoffrey discusses ways in which cryptocurrencies differ from each other and explores its role vis-à-vis the nation state.

Learn how cryptocurrency is transforming our economy and what you can do to keep up with its evolution.

May 31, 2017

You cannot find safety in a degree. You cannot find safety in a particular job anymore. It just doesn't exist.

— Adam Solomon

Adam Solomon runs the IT talent acquisition firm DC Tech Search. In this interview Adam talks about current trends into tech hiring. As artificial intelligence ushers in a wave of automation that is making even the most skilled professionals redundant, is it time to rethink society's relationship to work?

Glean ideas in this episode for what you'll need to navigate the upheaval of a rapidly transforming 21st-century labor market.

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May 25, 2017

The History of Japanese-American incarceration in the United States is, I think, one of the clearest examples of what happens when we ignore the United States Constitution.

— Rose Masters

Rose Masters is a Park Ranger specializing in oral history at Manzanar National Historic Site. In this interview Rose talks about the conditions that led to the signing of Executive Order 9066, which resulted in the eviction of ethnically Japanese Americans from the Western United States and the incarceration of nearly 70,000 American citizens.

Learn how this episode destroyed a pioneering American agricultural community and what we can do to avoid repeating in the future what President Gerald Ford called a "setback to fundamental American principles."

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May 1, 2017

We brought a leadership group together that wants to get things done. We quickly decided to be very pragmatic. And people from other countries don’t get this. I promise you, they don’t get this — I don’t care whether they’re from the Middle East or from Europe: They think that we have to discuss, as a first matter, and solve the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, otherwise these two communities can’t get together. And that turns out to be false.

— Bob Silverman

Bob Silverman is the American Jewish Committee's U.S. Director of Muslim-Jewish Relations. In this interview Bob discusses the doctrinal similarities between Judaism and Islam, his work forming the national Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council, and concrete actions you can take to build and maintain strong and useful interfaith bridges in your own community.

Throughout our conversation Bob underscores the power of pragmatism that allows people who may hold strong differences of opinion on one set of issues to nevertheless cooperate on separate issues of shared concern.

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Mar 13, 2017

During his 12th year in the House of Representatives, Jim Kolbe became the first Republican congressman to come out as gay. In this interview, Jim describes how it happened: first leveling with himself about his own identity and then going public after receiving notice that a magazine would out him.

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Feb 28, 2017

Anything and everything you say, whether it was a gaffe or something on point, can be cut, misconstrued, or marketed in a way that can go and hurt the candidate's position in the race. — Ben Sparks

What are politicians telling us? Why do campaigns go negative? * 

Political operative Ben Sparks discusses the art and craft of campaign communication. Ben has directed campaign communications and managed campaigns for a variety of household names, including several sitting governors and senators. * 

In this interview, we face uncomfortable truths about how campaign messages we despise are simply hideous reflections of ourselves. * 

Further readings Ben recommends include: * 
"The Iliad" by Homer -
"All the King's Men" by Robert Penn Warren - * 
"Face the Nation" by Bob Schieffer - * 

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Feb 23, 2017

Online harassment degrades and can violently suppress our freedom of expression. When we equate online abuse with bullying, we miss its complex and dynamic underpinnings.

Soraya Chemaly (@schemaly), director of the Women's Media Center Speech Project, illustrates how online abuse, particularly of girls and women, mirrors age-old antisocial behavior that occurs offline. She presents this as a social problem that we can't expect victims to solve individually.

Learn in this episode what role you can play to influence your own online communities to promote equality and democracy, addressing challenges to these values in real-time. 

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Feb 14, 2017

Immigration affects every aspect of American life. How and where does impact you? What are the implications of US immigration policy on your life?

Varsha Kayi and Lindsey Wilkes, managing partners of immigration law firm Kayi & Wilkes, discuss two sets of executive orders: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States and Border Security and Immigration Improvements, both issued January 25th, 2017, as well as the Executive Order: Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, issued January 27th, 2017.

Find out what you need to know and what actions you can take to lend material support to immigrants in your life — people that you may not know need your help; people that it may be remarkably easy to help in ways that — no exaggeration — will change their life.

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Jan 9, 2017

"Oh, no! I'm shooting a fish in a barrel, but also I'm in the barrel, and the barrel's going over a cliff!"Alexandra Petri *

What does a satirist do? What is the satirist's role in society? What, in turn, is our responsibility to the satirist? And what makes for genius satire? *

Alexandra Petri (@petridishes) is a Washington Post humor columnist. In this interview she addresses the terrifying convergence of her desire to write dystopian futures with her job of covering the actual news. What's a political satirist to do when it's impossible to come up with anything more bizarre or ridiculous than a verbatim transcription of our elected leaders' words? *

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Jan 5, 2017

Never miss another episode of Where Genius Grows. Get each new one delivered straight to your inbox by signing up here: *

At the beginning of 2017 there are over 500,000 unfilled tech jobs in the United States. How will applicants learn the required skills to succeed in these jobs? How will employers avoid overlooking qualified candidates? How will applicants from underserved communities gain access to the training they need to compete for these jobs? *

Tess Posner (@tessposner) is the managing director of TechHire, an initiative by Opportunity@Work to connect 100,000 people to tech jobs by 2020. In this interview she describes the steps TechHire is taking to accomplish this feat and how you can participate. Tess also offers her vision of a well-rounded 21st-century education, balancing ever-evolving technical expertise against an understanding of what it means to be human. *

Further readings Tess recommends include: *
- "The World is Open" by Curtis Bonk: *
- "The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies" by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee: *
- "Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future" by Martin Ford: *
- "Savage Inequalities" by Jonathan Kozol: *
- "The Brothers Karamazov" by Fyodor Dostoevsky: *
- "The Apology" by Plato: *
- "The Republic" by Plato: *
- "The Wealth of Nations" by Adam Smith: *
- "The Federalist Papers" by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay:

Dec 15, 2016

What role does Social Security Insurance play in holding together the fabric of society? How does it benefit children and the disabled? Why is it constantly under attack on Capitol Hill? *

Discussing these questions for this episode is Alex Lawson (@alaw202). Alex is the director of Social Security Works, an organization dedicated to protecting and improving the economic status of disadvantaged and at-risk populations. Alex details concrete action steps that you can take to defend Social Security Insurance against existential threats. *

In this interview, Alex recommends reading the book Social Security Works! Why Social Security Isn’t Going Broke and How Expanding It Will Help Us All: *

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Dec 13, 2016

By now we've all heard of Bitcoin, but what is it and how does it work? How is cyber currency changing the way we conduct financial transactions?

Jesse Posner (@JessePosner) is a securities lawyer turned programmer. In this interview Jesse provides a primer on cyber currency, covering both its great promise and tremendous pitfalls.

For further reading, Jesse recommends: 
Satoshi Nakamoto's white paper
- The forum Bitcoin Talk:

Dec 8, 2016

When you're dining out with your friends, it's fun to get lost in the conversation. Nothing brings you back to reality as reliably or as fast as the drawn out hassle of negotiating the check.

Software developer Serge Amouzou (@SergeAmouzou) doesn't believe that paying at a restaurant should dampen our mood. Serge is the founder of Delect (@GetDelect), an app designed to simplify and improve your restaurant experience. You will enjoy Serge's predictions about how dining technology will very soon cut wait times, improve service, and allow restaurants to tailor your night out explicitly to your preferences.

Download the Delect app:
- for iPhone
- for Android 

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