If by 2050, 70% of the world’s population will be living in cities - how do we reimagine our infrastructure, resources and services to cope? Bala Mahavaden is one of the thought leaders involved in planning the next generation of super cities in India, the Middle East and Europe. We spoke about the role of data in tomorrow’s cities, digital identity and citizen information, and how predictive analytics might help civic leaders mitigate day-to-day problems and response to crisis.
between two worlds
It would be easy to imagine in this age of Teslas, Powerwalls, and Nest thermostats, that we are somehow on the brink of escaping traditional energy sources forever. Yet, oil, gas and coal persist - and continues to shape economies, nations and industrial policy. Dr. Kent Moors, a global expert on energy and a professor in the Graduate Center for Social and Public Policy at Duquesne University, where he directs the Energy Policy Research Group, has some ideas on why that may be. He has also had a fascinating life. You will hear how I try, unsuccessfully on a number of occasions, to get him to talk about his former life as a covert operative working for the State Department.
In an age of multiplying devices, platforms and social media channels - it can be tempting to forget the classic lessons of marketing and branding. On a recent trip to Miami, I caught up with Bruce Turkel, an author and marketing guru who has helped some of the world’s leading brands including Hasbro, Nike, American Express and Citicorp. We chatted about the challenges of marketing in this new fluid digital environment, and why some things - like discovering the authentic truth of your brand - will never change.
I was in LA over Halloween, and so took the opportunity to look up one of my favorite genre-bending, sci-fi authors - Peter Clines. Peter has a number of brilliant books including ’14’, ‘The Fold’, and his latest, ‘Paradox Bound’, which he originally pitched to his agent as a cross between Neil Gaiman’s ‘Neverwhere’ and ‘Cannonball Run’. Growing up in Stephen King's hometown of Maine, his first epic novel at the age of eight was ‘Lizard Men From The Center of The Earth’. In the bright glare of the LA sun, we spoke at length about a wide range of geeky topics from time-travel to the occult, evil stars to parallel universes.
Whether it be Brexit, terrorism or a tumultous general election - the UK seems to be a crucible for many of the global forces that threaten to overturn the status quo. To get a better sense of what all that might mean for 21st century companies - I caught up with David Mattin in London. David is the Head of Trends & Insights at TrendWatching. Previously a writer at The Times, David’s work has appeared everywhere from Fast Company to the Guardian to Google Think Quarterly. We spoke about his latest research on ‘truthful consumerism’ and how leaders can try and navigate a time of such rapid, and unpredictable change.
Ted Persson is one of the most interesting and creative thinkers in the Nordic tech scene. Currently a Design Partner with Swedish private equity group, EQT, he previously founded digital agency Great Works, as well as Our/Vodka, a global vodka made by local people in cities around the world run by Pernod Ricard. We met a few years back while I was working on the board of his agency’s parent company, the North Alliance. Reconnecting in Stockholm, we talked about the secrets of Swedish startup success, how brands are changing the way they think about data, and the broader impact of AI on the creative professional.
Juan Senor is somewhat of an international man of mystery. We met in Guayaquil in Ecuador, but it was in the more salubrious settings of the Oxford and Cambridge Club in London that we re-connected most recently. A former foreign affairs reporter and business program host, conversant in six languages, and a partner in a consulting firm that helps newspapers reinvent themselves, Juan had just returned from an expedition in Antartica to study climate change. An appropriate context, perhaps, for our discussion about what the ailing print media industry might do to also save itself.
I met David, many years ago, at a cafe on Bondi Beach. Originally from California, he had moved to Australia for work, and for the last 20 or so years, had made a name for himself as a fashion photographer, whose work had been featured in international editions of Vogue, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Style and Shape among others. Then, about eight years ago, everything changed when a friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. Soon after, David began The SCAR Project which documented survivors of breast cancer. Following this series, David continued to dedicate his work to capturing often unseen aspects of humanity, including The Unknown Soldier, The Alabama Project, Grief Camp, and Naked Ladies. Jay’s photography has been published in the New York Times, BBC, LIFE, Forbes, USA Today, and countless other publications throughout the world.
Bradly Trevor Greive is an extraordinary person. He has written 25 books, which have sold over 30 million copies in 115 different countries, several of which have appeared in the New York Times bestseller list, including his classic title, ‘The Blue Day Book’. But that is only a small part of a resume that reads more like the bio of the world’s most interesting man. A certified Cosmonaut, a former Paratrooper Platoon Commander in the Australian Army, a Polynesian Rock-Lifting Champion, and a survivor of 17 surgeries to date - comedian John Cleese once described his life as ‘one long suicide attempt’. Meeting up in LA, we spoke on the importance of conservation in his work, why Bertrand Russell’s essay in praise of idleness is so important in the 21st century, and the challenges of surviving Hollywood.wild
For as long as I’ve known him, Brady Forrest has been at the very epicenter of whatever the West Coast alpha geeks think is going to be the next big thing. I met him around 2008 when he was running the brilliant ETech conference for O’Reilly Media - which incidentally, was one of the first public tech talks that I ever gave. Since then he cofounded Ignite, a talk series which has been held thousands of times around the world - as well as Highway1, a hardware accelerator which has helped launch over 58 hardware startups.