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Conversations with Mike Milken

Multimedia - Podcast Series
Conversations with Mike Milken

About the Series

Milken Institute Chairman Mike Milken has conducted more than 100 podcasts since March 2020 with global leaders in public health and medical research, government, industry, and academia to increase understanding of how we will work, socialize, fight disease and generate prosperity for years to come.

Deb Liu

Deb Liu

President and CEO, Ancestry

“How do we think about building an inclusive product that represents what families look like today, which might be very different than what families looked like 200 years ago. We want voices from all over to help us shape that product.”

With 20 years of experience in the technology sector—including stints at eBay, PayPal, and an executive position at Facebook—Deb Liu now leads the high-tech portal where access to 30 billion genealogical records can provide a deeper understanding of one’s unique heritage. With 20 million users worldwide, Ancestry is the largest for-profit company of its kind. As the daughter of Chinese immigrants, Liu knows how her company’s services can transcend matching names to data.

“What we build at Ancestry is not just a tool to share information,” she tells Mike, “but it's really about storytelling and actually building something that hopefully you'll give to your children and your grandchildren someday…it's really the story of all the people who made decisions, just like my parents leaving their home to go to another country. It's those stories that actually make us who we are today.”

 

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André Esteves

André Esteves

Senior Partner, BTG Pactual

“We need to attack extreme poverty. Of course, the pandemic brought additional challenges to that. But, we provided emergency aid for an extensive part of our population, around 60 million people. Of course it's a fiscal challenge, but we did more on a relative basis than all the other countries.”

As one of Brazil’s wealthiest men, André Esteves could easily keep his head down and just take care of business. But the senior partner of BTG Pactual—the largest investment bank in Latin America, with more than $70 billion of assets under management—is determined to give back. As a board member of Conservation International, he champions protecting the Amazon and its extraordinary biodiversity. As a philanthropist, he and his partners are empowering the next generation of Brazilians by building a new university, the Institute of Technology and Leadership.

“Our corporate sector needs coders, programmers, data scientists, and we need to help provide this kind of qualified labor force,” he tells Mike. “But, beyond teaching technology, the intention here—and that's why it has ‘leadership in the name—is also teaching that you only create wealth if you work very hard, wake up very early in the morning. And you don't need government for that.”

 

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Elaine Chao

Elaine Chao

Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation; former U.S. Secretary of Labor

“Asian Americans are now beginning to find our voice. We’re learning that we need to be fully participatory in this democracy and in this country. And the rise in violence against Asian Americans and the terrible rhetoric that surrounds the Asian American community as inflicted by others during the COVID 19 crisis, I think has brought this community to a greater realization of the need to participate more in our democracy, in our country, and to be more vocal and to be more visible.”

As the excited 8-year-old girl watched her native Taiwan recede from view aboard a cargo ship, Elaine Chao could only dream of the opportunities awaiting her in the US. After learning English and earning excellent grades, she would receive an MBA from Harvard Business School and eventually rise to become the first woman of Asian heritage to serve in a President’s cabinet, first as President George Bush’s Secretary of Labor, and most recently as President Trump’s Secretary of Transportation. Along the way, she served as Chair of the Federal Maritime Commission, President and CEO of the United Way of America, and Director of the Peace Corps.

“Now, as I have gone through my wonderful career,” she tells Mike, “I don't look back upon the accomplishments so much as the richness with which I hold the gifts that I do now, which is love of family and friends, the respect of my peers and colleagues, the ability to have had an impactful life, and, hopefully, the continued ability to make a difference in the world.”
 

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Michel Doukeris

Michel Doukeris

CEO, Anheuser-Busch

“In protecting our business, we are not talking about protecting Anheuser-Busch’s business, but everybody in the chain that was relying on AB to maintain their business continuity. And that came from the farmers to the people in our breweries, to the wholesalers that we service to the retailers that they service and for the consumers, that they would need to have some sense of normalcy.”

An event like a pandemic can make one reexamine personal and professional priorities. For Brazilian-born Michel Doukeris, it was a chance to bolster his 165-year-old company’s commitment to its customers. When hand sanitizer was in short supply, the CEO of Anheuser-Busch quickly shifted brewery production to fill that need. When the American Red Cross saw blood donations decline, the venerable company used its partnerships with major sports franchises to allow their arenas to be used for that vital purpose. That kind of altruism also extends to the company’s supply chain—and to its competitors.

“We want to be the company that contributes the most for our retailers and wholesalers for their business growth,” he tells Mike. “It’s about working with our employees and our communities to be strong....And it's about having a leadership position in the overall industry, making the industry better, making the industry healthier and making sure that we are contributing through innovation to make this industry a vibrant one for the next 100 years.”


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Enrique Lores

Enrique Lores

President & CEO, HP Inc.

“We all have learned the things that a few months ago we thought were not possible were really possible....As I think about manufacturing, I think about two big changes. First is the creation of more decentralized manufacturing networks, where companies will be able to produce closer...to where their customers will be. The second big change will be driven by personalization.”

After launching his 30-year career at HP with an internship, Enrique Lores was named CEO in November 2019. In between, he learned virtually every facet of the iconic company, helping it achieve its current status as a leader in the technology sector. For HP’s future, the Madrid-born Lores sees increasing market share in the biomedical sector, as personalized medicine drives demand for 3D printing.

“We are building microprocessors for fluids,” he tells Mike, “and with them we will be able to do diagnostics and measure and identify potential diseases. We will also be able to create personalized medicine. So if you are going through a difficult treatment, we will be able to create a specific medicine designed only for you, and that medicine will be built in your home, at your home. That ability and option to drive the democratization of the healthcare space is one of the most inspiring efforts that we have in the company. Not only because of the business it will create, but also because of the impact it will have in the world.”


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John Grisham

John Grisham

Author
Neal Kassell

Neal Kassell

Founder and Chairman, Focused Ultrasound Foundation

“Once I realized the potential of this non-invasive surgical procedure to save countless lives and improve the healthcare of millions of people, I realized how important this work can be and is.” — John Grisham

Friends and neighbors for 25 years, author John Grisham and neurologist Neal Kassell are on a mission. Together, they are raising awareness—and funds—for a promising, non-invasive procedure known as focused ultrasound. While the FDA has approved the therapy for seven specific treatments, Kassell (who successfully treated both of President-elect Biden’s aneurysms) believes that millions could benefit from broader applications of the technology:

“Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, OCD, depression, a lot of work now on epilepsy, stroke,” he tells Mike on the podcast. “The other major area that has us really excited is cancer and cancer immunotherapy, particularly glioblastoma and pancreatic cancer, as well as metastatic melanoma. [What] we need in addition to financial capital is human or intellectual capital....The ultimate force multiplier for human capital is collaboration. So, we spend a lot of time fostering collaboration.”


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Julie Sweet

Julie Sweet

CEO, Accenture

“The crisis happened at a time of exponential change in technology that was already transforming the way we work, how we engage with clients, how we make decisions….And then you instantly had behavioral change at a scale that we've never seen in the past.”

Julie Sweet believes large companies should be flexible and light on their feet. Case in point: Accenture. When she became CEO of the multinational professional services company in 2019, she instituted sweeping changes to its operating model and invested billions in a new cloud system that left their half million employees, across 120 countries, in a much better position to withstand the pandemic. It is this kind of foresight that led The New York Times to call her “one of the most powerful women in corporate America” and Fortune to rank her number one on its Most Powerful Women in Business list.

“I am talking to many companies now who say we want to move as fast as we did,” she tells Mike on the podcast. “And my simple question is: ‘What have you changed?’ Because large organizations in particular can’t operate in crisis mode forever. What do they need to change to compete and to be successful in what I call the new reality?”


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Jennifer Doudna

Jennifer Doudna

Biochemist, University of California, Berkeley; Founder, Innovative Genomics Institute (IGI); Co-inventor of CRISPR technology; Nobel Laureate (2020)

“Diagnosis goes hand in hand with vaccination, and of course with therapies as well. What CRISPR is doing is providing for rapid turnaround testing at a lower cost and higher throughput than we've had with other technologies. We'll see that happening in various testing labs, certainly around the U.S. And the nice thing about that is it really does go hand in hand with these vaccines that are coming forward.”

When Jennifer Doudna first spoke with Mike on the podcast four months ago, she was looking forward to her revolutionary CRISPR technology being applied to COVID diagnosis. Today, the Innovative Genomics Institute, which she founded, has tested more than 100,000 virus samples, including many in the underserved communities around UC Berkeley, her academic home. Another development since August: Dr. Doudna received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her game-changing co-discovery of CRISPR, which may one day help facilitate the elimination of genetic diseases.

“We have the sequence of the entire human genome now,” she reminds Mike. “That's been available for the last two decades. And what hasn't been possible up until now is an easy way to manipulate the code. Allow scientists to make a change to an individual gene or to a set of genes to understand first of all, how they work, but also, really importantly, make changes that correct disease-causing mutations. And that's what CRISPR now enables.”


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Thomas Kurian

Thomas Kurian

CEO, Google Cloud

“The process of digitization – whether that was e-commerce in retail, or online gaming for media, online streaming in the media business, digital platforms for the public sector – was already underway. But it enormously accelerated with the pandemic.”

In his two years as CEO of Google Cloud, Thomas Kurian has seen revenues for his company’s services soar more than 40 percent. The India-born former president of Oracle believes that the “new normal” of telecommuting will continue to help drive future growth – as long as Google Cloud remembers its core values and who it serves.

“Leadership during this time of transition,” he tells Mike, “a time of difficulty in many cases, has been not just about the tactics and the strategy, but also the purpose and the mission. And that has helped us unify our entire organization around this notion of supporting customers during this period of change for them. And we call that the notion of customer empathy.”


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Sherry Lansing

Sherry Lansing

Founder and CEO, The Sherry Lansing Foundation; Former Chairwoman, Paramount Pictures

“When we get out of this pandemic, I suspect people are going to want to flock to the movie theaters. But they're also going to say, I still want my content delivered. So, the movie industry is going to face a decision. Do they offer it both ways – on your iPad the same day as the release in the theater? What's the model? They're determining that as we speak. And I think COVID has upended the movie business even more than usual.”

Most actresses who come to Hollywood don’t end up running a major motion picture studio. But in 1980, Sherry Lansing became the first woman to do so, first leading 20th Century Fox, then Paramount Pictures for more than 12 years. She had a hand in over 200 films including “Forrest Gump,” “Braveheart,” and “Titanic.” Since her retirement, she has embarked on what she calls an “encore” career of philanthropy. The Sherry Lansing Foundation is dedicated to cancer research, health, public education, and encouraging seniors to pursue their own encore careers.

“Every project I've ever worked on was hard and took a long time,” she tells Mike on the podcast. “And one of the traits you have to have in any job is resiliency. And you also have to believe in something outside of yourself, that what you're fighting for is worth fighting for. It's worth the time, it's worth the effort. If you don't have that belief, you will give up.”


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Francis Collins

Francis Collins

Director, National Institutes of Health

“It has been a year of terrible tragedy. … And yet, it's also been a year of heroism: the first responders, the healthcare providers, putting themselves at risk to try to help those who are suffering. But I also think there are heroes that have risen to this challenge in the research community, in the business community.”

When NIH Director Francis Collins first spoke with Mike in April of 2020, he was marshalling an army of researchers among his 6,000 research scientists to tackle the coronavirus. He had already successfully directed the Human Genome Project from 1993 to 2008, during which much of the genetic groundwork was laid that would later contribute to the development of Pfizer and Moderna’s mRNA-based vaccines. With light now appearing at the end of the tunnel, Mike checked back in with Dr. Collins for further insight and perspective.

“We are going to get past this,” Collins affirms. “And then I pray, let us not forget the lessons we've learned. Let us not slip back into complacency. Let's keep in mind that we are a vulnerable blue planet and that it's up to all of us to anticipate the things that we might need that science could bring to bear on the next problem, and not wait until it's a crisis.”


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Sir Andrew Witty, George Yancopoulos, Esther Krofah

Sir Andrew Witty, George Yancopoulos, Esther Krofah

 

“Are we willing to do for life sciences and global defense what we were willing to do for the financial environment in the 2008 financial crisis? Because if you compare the trillions of dollars committed to stabilize the financial systems to the billions of dollars which are being committed to stabilize the health system, they don't compare. They really don't.” –Sir Andrew Witty.

In a special episode, three of biotech’s most valuable players convene for a wide-ranging conversation about the pandemic. The consensus among Sir Andrew Witty (UnitedHealth, Optum and WHO), Esther Krofah (FasterCures) George Yancopoulos (Regeneron) is that getting future pandemics under control will require cross-sector collaboration and investment to build on current successful strategies.

“It's not what we did in the last six months, or the last nine months that will have led to saving us from the pandemic,” George Yancopoulos tells Mike on the podcast. “If we can successfully complete these efforts that we've undertaken, it will have been the decades of investments in science, technology and platforms that put us in a position to respond, and we can certainly do better as a society being better prepared.”

This Podcast Features

Sir Andrew Witty
President, UnitedHealth Group; CEO, Optum; Co-Leader, COVID-19 Vaccine Development, World Health Organization

George Yancopoulos
President and Chief Scientific Officer, Regeneron

Esther Krofah
Executive Director, FasterCures

 


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Moncef Slaoui

Moncef Slaoui

Chief Science Advisor, Operation Warp Speed

“The efficacy of these vaccines is spectacular. It's 95%, the same whether you are an African-American or Hispanic or over 65 years old. … Remarkably, these two vaccines developed in different companies, two different continents, give incredibly similar results, totally independent, which is also enhancing the likelihood that these data absolutely are real.”

In a triumph of modern science and leadership, millions of highly effective doses of COVID-19 vaccines are currently being manufactured, distributed, and administered around the world. For this, much credit goes to Moncef Slaoui, the Chief Science Officer for Operation Warp Speed, a U.S. public–private partnership that has fostered development of these breakthrough drugs.

The Moroccan-born Slaoui – who previously worked on vaccines for the H1N1, Ebola, and Zika viruses in a 30-year career at GlaxoSmithKline – tells Mike that the lessons learned in 2020 should inspire investments to prevent future pandemics. “I think that would be my way forward. We are bleeding $20 billion a day; let's spend $300 million a year when we don't have a pandemic. Let's be preventative.”


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Albert Bourla

Albert Bourla

Chairman and CEO, Pfizer
Alex Gorsky

Alex Gorsky

Chairman and CEO, Johnson & Johnson

“I think history has shown us to have major leaps forward almost after every crisis. Whether it's a war, a natural disaster, or frankly a big challenge such as going to the moon, these kinds of inflection points force us to go in new directions to collaborate and to accelerate technological breakthroughs.” - Alex Gorsky

Two of the most important CEOs in the world today—Pfizer’s Albert Bourla and Johnson & Johnson’s Alex Gorsky—spoke recently with Mike at the Milken Institute’s Future of Health Summit. While Pfizer is already scaling up production and distribution of their mRNA-based vaccine, Gorsky’s company is looking forward to the third-stage clinical trial results for their single dose, vector-based therapy. The unprecedented collaboration fostered at all levels of the biomedical sector has paid dividends, with many more potential treatments to come.

“I'm very proud of what we have been able to achieve,” Albert Bourla tells Mike on the podcast. “We will see many more companies in the next few weeks and months demonstrating similar successes in their projects against COVID because one vaccine or two vaccines will not be enough for the entire world. The world needs options.”


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Sarah Murdoch

Sarah Murdoch

Co-Chair, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI)
Kathryn North

Kathryn North

Director, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
Hamish Graham

Hamish Graham

Pediatrician and Senior Research Fellow, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI); University of Melbourne; Royal Children’s Hospital

“With COVID, there's been this renewed focus on the importance of medical research...With more funding and with philanthropic partners, I'm really optimistic about the further impact that we can make on that global scale.” - Sarah Murdoch, of the Murdoch Children's Research Institute

When Dame Elizabeth Murdoch founded the Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI) in 1986, she wanted to create an organization dedicated to making discoveries to prevent and treat childhood conditions. Today, MCRI is Australia’s top pediatric health research institute and among the top three worldwide for research quality and impact, with more than 1,200 investigators in 35 countries.

“We've got our eye on the long-term impacts of COVID,” MCRI Director Kathryn North tells Mike on the podcast. “We have quite a lot of previous data on the well-being, the health, and the mental health of children and families in our community. But we've now been able to continue to liaise with those families, to look at the direct effects of COVID and then look out into the future.”

This Podcast Features

Sarah Murdoch
Co-Chair, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI)

Kathryn North
Director, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI); David Danks Professor of Child Health Research, University of Melbourne

Hamish Graham
Pediatrician and Senior Research Fellow, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI); University of Melbourne; Royal Children’s Hospital


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H.E. Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak

H.E. Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak

Group CEO and Managing Director, Mubadala Investment Company

“The UAE was among the first countries in the world to make sure it implemented and successfully executed a testing policy. We ramped up on capacity, on ICU space, on respirator supplies. And that resulted in one of the lowest mortality rates in the world.”

As the Group CEO and Managing Director of Mubadala Investment Company, H.E. Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak is responsible for creating sustainable financial returns for Abu Dhabi, overseeing more than $230 billion in assets across 50+ businesses and investments in more than 50 countries. Considered one of the royal family’s most trusted advisors, he is especially proud of what the Emirati response to the pandemic tells the world.

“In the easy times you know your people for sure,” he tells Mike on the podcast, “But the tough times—that's when you know the mettle of your people, be it at a company, be it in the country. And 2020 showed the mettle, I think, of the UAE and the Emiratis.”


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Deborah Lafer Scher

Deborah Lafer Scher

Executive Advisor to the Secretary, U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs
Himisha Beltran

Himisha Beltran

Medical Oncologist, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Felix Feng

Felix Feng

Radiation Oncologist and Vice Chair for Translational Research, UCSF Department of Radiation Oncology
Christopher Haiman

Christopher Haiman

Genetic Epidemiologist and Professor of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine of USC

“The road to curing COVID runs right through lots and lots of cancer research.” - Jonathan Simons, President and CEO, Prostate Cancer Foundation

Three top cancer researchers, the head of PCF, and a VA leader join Mike Milken to discuss how genomics, immunotherapies, and precision medicine are informing the quest for effective COVID vaccines and treatments.

The best practices developed by oncologists in the past two decades are now the standard of care at VA facilities across the country. In discussing the 2016 PCF/VA partnership that established Centers of Excellence, Deborah Scher notes the role oncology continues to play in the pandemic. “We have really built a community of researchers who are bringing best-in-class precision oncology to veterans across the country and are using that platform not just for prostate cancer innovation, but today for COVID innovation as well.”

This Podcast Features

Himisha Beltran 
Medical Oncologist, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute 

Felix Feng 
Radiation Oncologist and Vice Chair for Translational Research, UCSF Department of Radiation Oncology 

Christopher Haiman 
Genetic Epidemiologist and Professor of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine of USC 

Deborah Scher 
Executive Advisor to the Secretary, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Jonathan Simons 
President and CEO, Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF)


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Esther Krofah

Esther Krofah

Executive Vice President, Health
David Feinberg

David Feinberg

Chairman, Oracle Health

“What we've really tried to do is get information out there to the public, to researchers, to public health folks, so they can make better decisions about what's happening so that we can all get through this.” - David Feinberg of Google Health

When the history of COVID is written, David Feinberg and Esther Krofah will be among those rightfully celebrated for their work in furthering public understanding and private collaboration throughout the pandemic. As head of Google Health, Dr. Feinberg oversees the tech giant’s efforts, including contact tracing and mental health support. As Executive Director of FasterCures, Krofah forges cross-sector partnerships and oversees the organization’s COVID-19 Treatment and Vaccine Tracker, a publicly accessible, real-time tool to understand the latest research and developments.

“We've seen a tremendous amount of collaboration with regard to COVID,” she tells Mike on the podcast. “As we think about other disease conditions, we realized that we don't have to work in silos. We can come together to share data, make libraries available, and collaborate on medical research that can accelerate these efforts going forward.”


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Orlando Bravo

Orlando Bravo

Co-founder and Managing Partner, Thoma Bravo

“There were a lot of hedge fund blogs out there saying software is going to get destroyed...And guess what happened? Our recurring revenue stream was really nearly untouched in a pandemic. Corporate customers paid their subscription software revenue, but they didn't pay rent. It was more stable than real estate.”

To this day, Orlando Bravo would rather have played Wimbledon than become the first Puerto Rican-born billionaire. As a teen, he was a top-40 junior player; as an adult, Bravo eventually co-founded Thoma Bravo, a private equity firm specializing exclusively on software deals. Forbes recently called him “Wall Street’s best dealmaker.” He may also be one of its most generous: In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Bravo chartered planes to Puerto Rico carrying $10,000,000 in essential goods and committed an additional $100,000,000 to foster entrepreneurship and economic development on the island.

As he tells Mike, “After the hurricane in Puerto Rico...that was my personal moment in philanthropy where I understood for the first time that if I didn't do anything about it, nobody else was going to.”


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“We're going to need vaccines to create as widespread herd immunity as we can, but we're also going to need drugs that are targeted against the virus that can provide immediate protection and also treat those who are already sick," says Regeneron Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer, George Yancopoulos. "So we have multiple clinical trials ongoing with our antibody cocktail, both for prophylaxis or prevention and also for treatment.”

Three world-renowned bioscience leaders join Mike Milken and Prostate CancerFoundation (PCF) chief science officer Howard Soule for a conversation on the state of the COVID-19 challenge, herd immunity, and unique approaches to developing safe and effective vaccines, antibodies, and other treatments. Recorded on August 29 as part of a PCF event, this conversation is especially notable as it describes the antibody cocktail that would later be administered to President Donald Trump after he contracted the virus.

Moderna’s Tal Zaks is optimistic that scientists are on the verge of a breakthrough we’ll learn more about very soon. “In the coming months,” he tells Howard on the podcast, “expect data from us and potentially some of the other vaccine companies that also have started phase 3 trials that will conclusively demonstrate that these vaccines can work. I hope all of them succeed because I don't think a single company can carry the weight of what's needed to protect all of us and all those who need it.”


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Maria Bartiromo

Maria Bartiromo

Anchor and Global Markets Editor, FOX Business Network and FOX News Channel

“It goes back to opportunity and jobs....Government can only do so much. The private sector needs to step up and ensure that they are creating opportunities for a broad swath of the population who don't have those opportunities.”

When Maria Bartiromo became the first journalist to report live from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in 1995, she was well on her way to another honor: the first female journalist to be inducted into the Cable Hall of Fame. Throughout her career, the two-time Emmy Award winner has interviewed presidents, policymakers, and CEOs, but always with an ear for what her audience needs to know.

“I want to make sure to get from that person, the one thing that will resonate for broad, big groups of people,” she tells Mike. “Their words will impact people and they will perhaps move the needle on something like income inequality, or...giving that person the courage to stick their neck out and try something new.”


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Mary T. Barra

Mary T. Barra

Chairman and CEO, General Motors Company

“There was this ventilator company that needed help. We realized there was one part on the ventilator that was very similar to the way a transmission is designed and they were having quality issues with it. We brought in transmission engineers and they figured out a way to improve the part and the ability to produce it.”

Just before this interview was recorded, General Motors announced it had completed a contract with the federal government to supply 30,000 ventilators for COVID patients. It’s just one example of how Chairman and CEO Mary Barra sees her mission as more than just leading a car company. A proud GM employee for nearly 40 years, Barra is grateful for the opportunities and mentorship that helped prepare her to be the first female CEO of a major auto manufacturer—and she’s determined to pay it forward.

“We talked about wanting to be the most inclusive company in the world,” she tells Mike on the podcast. “But I'm quick to say I want every company to be there because if we all provide inclusive work environments, we will change the environment in the country and beyond....We're looking very comprehensively at General Motors and how we drive change [and] create an environment where everybody can bring their true self to work.”


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Emanuel Friedman

Emanuel Friedman

Co-CEO and Co-Chief Investment Officer, EJF Capital LLC
Neal Wilson

Neal Wilson

Co-CEO and Co-Chief Investment Officer, EJF Capital LLC

“You've got to think big to solve problems….Some of the present bills [have] the potential to solve the major inequality problem in the United States.” (Friedman) “Given the historically low rates, what we're saying is the government can be the catalyst for effecting long-term change.” (Wilson)

As co-CEOs of EJF Capital, Manny Friedman and Neal Wilson oversee more than $6 billion in assets, with clients in 22 countries and offices on three continents. Their innovative strategies focus on trends driven by regulatory change, which could soon deliver an infusion of capital to banks in underserved communities—if current legislation passes.

“Often in a democracy you need a crisis to get a focus, but we have the focus right now,” Friedman tells Mike. “We also have a lucky break of zero interest rates. We must enact this legislation, which will allow these institutions long‐term capital that can't go away so that they can affect these communities.”


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Peter Laugharn

Peter Laugharn

President and CEO, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

“Every society is more fragile than we realize, and every society can be taken advantage of. So I think it's incumbent on everyone to fight for community, to recognize the humanity of everybody....It’s what keeps us safe, and it's what gives the future to our kids.”

Just out of college in 1982, Peter Laugharn joined the Peace Corps, setting him on a lifelong journey of service. Today, with more than 25 years of leadership—including seven years at the Firelight Foundation and six years at the Bernard van Leer Foundation—Laugharn is President and CEO of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. Established in 1944, the foundation administers the largest annual humanitarian award in the world and focuses on vulnerable populations, including the homeless in Los Angeles and children in Africa. 

“Both Africa and the States have challenges in front of them in terms of rethinking their futures,” he tells Mike. “And I think they have to be done both at a systems and policy level, but also at a level that allows individuals to fully invest and build with one another.”


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Todd Boehly

Todd Boehly

Co-Founder, Chairman, and CEO, Eldridge Industries

“Throughout our organization, we're continuously pushing on how do we continue to add diversity, and I think we're a young enough group where that has always been the way we've approached the world....Our culture has been that diverse groups make better decisions.”

Todd Boehly strives for an organization as diverse as the holdings of Eldridge Industries itself. As co-founder, chairman, and CEO, he manages and builds companies in wide-ranging sectors including technology, credit, insurance, real estate, sports, and entertainment. His foray into film financing and distribution yielded a Best Picture Oscar for 2017’s Moonlight. His purchase of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012 has resulted in seven consecutive division championships and two National League pennants.

“One of the greatest joys for me was being able to teach my young three boys about Jackie Robinson through the Dodgers,” he tells Mike. “And I think that that's given them more of a sense of responsibility, a sense of equity, a sense of making sure that they think about the future of the country....I think that the Dodgers ownership gave us a great opportunity and a great responsibility to make sure that we continue to think about funding businesses and ideas and themes that come from all diverse places.”


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Brian Cornell

Brian Cornell

Board Chairman and CEO, Target Corporation

"We need to have an organization that reflects the millions and millions of guests we serve each and every day. From the bottom up, we've made a commitment to diversity and inclusion. Of the 1,900 stores we run in the United States, over half are led by female store directors, over a third are diverse, and we build that pipeline in the organization."

For more than three decades, Brian Cornell held executive roles in the consumer goods sector. But when he became chairman and CEO of Target in 2014, he says his business career really began. Because of the broad array of goods that Target sells, Cornell knows that his stores are vital to communities across America—especially during difficult times. He feels a special obligation to treat his 350,000 plus team members as extended family.

“How do we make sure we're taking care of them? We're investing in them, we're mentoring and developing great talent in the organization, and that hasn't stopped during the pandemic," he tells Mike on the podcast. "We haven't lost focus for even a moment on the purpose of our company during the challenging times that we've faced in the last six months."


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Maria Contreras-Sweet

Maria Contreras-Sweet

Former Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

“Venture capital is concentrated in...three states: California, Massachusetts, and New York. We know that not all the good ideas come from those three places. And so it's really important that we think hard about how we make sure that all small businesses can access capital.”

With a career that effortlessly spans public and private sectors, including successful forays into entrepreneurism and philanthropy, Maria Contreras-Sweet is lauded for her ability to bring efficiencies and modernization to large scale organizations. Her tenure as the 24th Administrator of the Small Business Administration was noted for record-breaking results in lending, investments, and contracting. A proud immigrant, Contreras-Sweet has never forgotten her family’s journey nor the lessons it taught her.

“I still remember being the 4th grade milk monitor and writing to my grandmother to say, ‘I'm now in charge of something,’” she tells Mike. “And she said, ‘It's not about the titles that you have. It's about what you do with the titles that you have.’ And so, I found ways to make sure that all the kids—even though they didn't have the nickel for milk—that I was the right kind of gatekeeper and offered them free milk. That's how it all started.”


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Roger Ferguson

Roger Ferguson

President and CEO, TIAA

“We have to rebuild with a more inclusive capitalism, and I emphasize both of those words...so that as we go forward with crises—and there will be crises—the impact of those crises will not be so heavily defined by the color of one's skin.”

As President and CEO of TIAA, Roger Ferguson manages 1.1 trillion dollars in retirement funds and services spanning the academic, research, medical, and cultural fields. As one of only four Black CEOs currently leading a Fortune 500 company, he knows the importance of making capitalism work for everyone. And, as the former vice-chairman of the Federal Reserve who helped stabilize markets during 9/11, he has seen how resilient the system can be—even in the midst of a pandemic.

“The speed with which markets moved, I think, has been quite breathtaking,” he tells Mike on the podcast. “This may have been the shortest bear market in history, and one of the most rapid trough to peak [recoveries] we've seen in the history of markets. That is a lesson for all of us, how quickly with the action of central banks and others that the markets can turn themselves around.”


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Bob Pittman

Bob Pittman

Chairman and CEO, iHeartMedia

“What we've done during COVID in many ways, we've taken 10 years of technology adoption and crammed it into three months. I'm certain we're getting ready to have a slew of new ideas that you and I haven't thought of, but that we're going to be delighted to support.”

Bob Pittman was 15 when he started in radio – and he never looked back. The Mississippi native and current Chairman and CEO of iHeartMedia has been hailed as a visionary and belongs to multiple broadcasting and advertising halls of fame. He pioneered and led MTV, and served as CEO for AOL Networks, Six Flags Theme Parks, Quantum Media, Century 21 Real Estate, and Time Warner Enterprises. More recently, he led a group of founding partners in launching the Black Information Network (BIN) in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing.

“When you hire for a job, you tend to look for experience,” Bob Pittman tells Mike on the podcast. “If you look for experience, you're basically going to get what was, not what could be. So with BIN, we hired everybody for potential.... We need to unlock the career for everybody who doesn't look like the past, but we know looks like the present and the future. And how do we get there? BIN for us was just a great opportunity to unleash some of that.”


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Michael Hofman

Michael Hofman

Professor, Director, Prostate Cancer Theranostics and Imaging Centre of Excellence (ProsTIC),Peter MacCallum Centre Centre; University of Melbourne

“Once you have a whole body PET scan, there's not a lot of value often in doing a physical examination or taking out your stethoscope because the information on that scan tells you everything you need to know. The classic medicine history examination is giving way to a whole new form of medicine where we are using a variety of different technologies.”

As a noted physician-scientist and nuclear medicine physician at the University of Melbourne in Australia, Michael Hofman has built a career on using the latest technology in the pursuit of better cancer treatments, especially those using positron emission tomography (PET) scans and precision medicine. COVID-19 is accelerating adoption of these approaches, and he sees other treatment trends on the horizon.

“I think it's going to become more mainstream—where the doctor acts as an advisor as part of the patient team," Michael Hofman tells Mike on the podcast. “And we share all the data that we're accumulating with the patient, we advise of the pros and cons, and then the patients go off and do their own research and come back with ideas as well. And we become part of a team working on the shared goal of achieving the best outcome.”


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Jennifer Doudna

Jennifer Doudna

Biochemist, University of California, Berkeley; Founder, Innovative Genomics Institute (IGI); Co-inventor of CRISPR technology

“I really want to be building on this technology here at Berkeley and making sure that we are creating a community of scientists that are doing two things: not only extending this extraordinary science and thinking about how to apply genome editing in ways that will have real impact on humanity; but also doing it with an eye towards social responsibility.”

It used to be the stuff of science fiction: A scientist discovers a way to edit genetic sequences in humans and plant life, creating new opportunities to eliminate diseases and famine. Except in Jennifer Doudna’s case, the CRISPR-Cas9 technology she co-invented in 2012 has already produced real-life benefits—along with a scramble to translate the game-changing process into more treatments and cures. In the meantime, it has shown promise in the fight against COVID.

“CRISPR proteins are quite useful for detection of viruses,” the Berkeley biochemistry professor tells Mike on the podcast of CRISPR-Cas9. “In fact, that's what they naturally do in bacteria. And not only that, they operate by a molecular mechanism that allows them to release a signal when they find their targets. So they can report on the presence of a virus in real time and with a visual signal in a way that I think could be a very powerful diagnostic tool in the near future.”


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Anastasia Soare

Anastasia Soare

Founder and CEO, Anastasia Beverly Hills

“I think my immigrant spirit of adapting kicked in and I said, look guys, we need to do something. We cannot sit here and do nothing because the stores are closed. Let's start a plan of attack, let's start going online....This is what we did within 10 days...and we grew 154 percent online.”

Anastasia Soare is living proof that one can achieve the American Dream by building a better eyebrow. After emigrating from Romania in 1989 with limited cash and English skills—but with a solid education in art—she applied da Vinci’s golden ratio to the sculpting of women’s brows. With clients such as the Kardashians and Oprah Winfrey, the plucky founder and CEO of Anastasia Beverly Hills was able to build a beauty empire that today sells more than 480 products in 3,000 stores and has more than 20 million followers on social media.

“I love my clients. I love to teach women. I love to show them how they could enhance their beauty,” Anastasia Soare tells Mike on the podcast. “We are home, and this is what we have to do. I think this is the new norm, and it's not going to go away very soon. We have to go out and wear a mask. Our eyebrows need to be perfect! So the next year, this is what is going to be.”


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Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

Executive Chairperson, Biocon

“I'm very committed to compassionate capitalism, which is what I like to call my business....My products are there to help patients who need it anywhere in the world. And therefore, I believe that if I can actually produce these products in a way that provides affordable access...I will be very driven by that sense of purpose.”

As one of India’s most celebrated biopharmaceutical entrepreneurs, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw has been committed to healing the sick since she was 25. In 2010, Time magazine named her one the 100 most influential people in the world. Today, the executive chairperson of Biocon is determined to make a difference through both her philanthropy and her company’s promising COVID-19 treatment. Sadly, she may become a test patient herself: shortly after this interview was recorded, she tested positive for the virus.

“We did a proof of concept study in India with our drug and we actually got some very compelling results,” the Biocon executive chairperson tells Mike on the podcast. “All the patients who took our drug recovered very well and in the small control arm, which did not take our drug, we had quite a few deaths. We got an emergency use approval from the regulator in India. We just received it a couple of weeks ago, and in these two weeks we've actually treated over a thousand patients in India, and most of them have recovered.”


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Nicola Mendelsohn CBE

Nicola Mendelsohn CBE

Vice President, Facebook EMEA

“There’s so much more that unites us than separates us. And at the same time, also from a business perspective, the small businesses around the world, well, they’re looking for the same thing too. … I’ve been on the streets of the Soweto with some amazing female entrepreneurs. And they’re telling me about how their biggest businesses is happening in New York today. And that wouldn’t have been possible that a decade ago.”

Lady Nicola Mendelsohn is doing her part to make the world smaller and more accessible. As Vice President of Facebook for Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, her mission is to help bring connectivity – and prosperity – to the developing world. So far, she is succeeding: The Daily Telegraph has called her "the most powerful woman in the British tech industry,” and Queen Elizabeth awarded her the honorific of Commander of the British Empire in 2015.

“I sit on the government's Industrial Strategy Council, and that is supposed to do impartial evaluation of the UK government's progress on its own industrial strategy and its impact on its economy,” the Facebook VP of EMEA tells Mike on the podcast. “I worked on the skills report that we published earlier this year. Digital skills are the most underskilled of all the skills. And at the same time, it's the biggest opportunity for any market as well. There needs to be so much work and focus put into this because businesses are going to be crying out for it.”


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Sean Cairncross

Sean Cairncross

CEO, Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC)

“Government funds alone simply aren't going to get the job done. What's needed is the engagement of the private sector and the private capital flows that come into these markets to make lasting change sustainable.”

Created in 2004 with broad bipartisan support, the Millennium Challenge Corporation is a US Government aid agency that seeks to reduce poverty in the developing world through economic growth. CEO Sean Cairncross is committed to working with governments that have a proven record of stability, good governance, and existing investments in their own people. He proudly points to the fact that MCC was recently ranked first among US aid agencies for transparency.

“Each project has to have a certain economic rate of return before MCC will invest in it,” he tells Mike on the podcast. “We look at that over the course of time for 20 years after that project is completed in order to report essentially to our stakeholders, the US taxpayer, that this is money well spent and that we've achieved a result.”


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Precious Moloi-Motsepe

Precious Moloi-Motsepe

Co-Founder and CEO, Motsepe Foundation

“Your well-being, your wealth, is very intertwined and dependent on other people's well-being....That is the philosophy that also drives us because we know that our children's well-being cannot be isolated from the well-being of the other children in South Africa, or other kids on the continent, for that matter.”

When Precious Moloi began her career as a doctor in South Africa, she would eventually open the first women’s clinic in Johannesburg. After marrying Patrice Motsepe, they would become the wealthiest Black couple in South Africa, and the first on the continent to join the Giving Pledge. As a fashion entrepreneur, Dr Moloi-Motsepe has lifted young South African designers to international renown. And through the Motsepe Foundation, this Renaissance woman from Soweto has pledged millions to alleviate the continent’s COVID crisis.

“It's been quite challenging,” she tells Mike on the podcast. “And it's really called for solidarity from all sectors of society—from business, from ordinary people, from government—we’ve just been working together. I guess this is one positive thing that we've never seen—collaborations at such high levels, and with so much compassion and determination.”


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Hiro Mizuno

Hiro Mizuno

Former Executive Managing Director and CIO, Government Pension Investment Fund of Japan (GPIF)

“For us to have a sustainable portfolio, we have to have a sustainable capital market. And for us to have a sustainable capital market, we need to have a sustainable society. And for us to have a sustainable society, we need to have a sustainable environment, right? It's all connected.”

When he was managing Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF), Hiro Mizuno recognized that his role went beyond fiduciary. After all, with $1.6 trillion in assets, the fund wasn’t merely a traditional asset manager—it was a major owner in the global capital markets, and its investment decisions had significant impact. The fund would need to play a greater stewardship role, he believed, and so GPIF increasingly considered environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors in its investment decisions. And while he met resistance along the way, today his bold idea has gone more mainstream.

“Now people believe that ESG needs to be a professional practice to grow into their daily portfolio management operation,” he tells Mike on the podcast. “So, I'm really glad to see the progress.”


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Greg Maffei

Greg Maffei

President and CEO, Liberty Media

“We developed a green team and a red team. The red team's job was to play defense, and first think mostly about liquidity and our downside. And the green team was supposed to think about where could we take advantage of this?”

With COVID striking at the heart of Liberty Media’s sports portfolio (Formula 1 and the Atlanta Braves), it’s understandable that President and CEO Greg Maffei injected competitive stakes into how his managers look at their respective businesses. Some of Liberty’s other holdings, such as Sirius XM, are more pandemic proof, while their digital commerce subsidiaries QVC, HSN, and Zulily have adapted more readily to the times.

“We moved much of the inventory and on-air time that was spent on things like apparel and beauty over to gardening, home supply,” he tells Mike on the podcast. “In the case of Zulily we sold something like one million face masks. So, we were really able to shift what our focus was to take advantage of the trends, and business has been very strong.”


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Larry Gagosian

Larry Gagosian

Founder, Gagosian

Photo © Roe Ethridge, 2016. Courtesy Gagosian.

“Many great artists have dealt with the tragedies and the turmoil of the time they lived in. I think the artist needs some time to reflect; you take it in, you process it, and maybe not consciously even, try to depict some horrible event that is filtered through your other experiences and your craft as an artist.”

As a champion of modern and contemporary artists, Larry Gagosian has literally created the space in which their art can thrive as never before. Starting with one gallery in Los Angeles four decades ago, his eighteen exhibition spaces are now found throughout the US, Europe, and Asia. In the process, he has launched dozens of artist’s careers. Recently, Forbes magazine named him one of the '100 Greatest Living Business Minds'.

“Things may have shut down,” he tells Mike on the podcast, “But my job as a dealer representing these incredible artists—they need income. They have expenses, they have kids in school. I take it as a very serious responsibility to keep the ball rolling, not just for the benefit of my business, but also for the artists that depend on me for their livelihood.”

 


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Cesar Purisima

Cesar Purisima

Founding Partner, IKHLAS Capital; Former Secretary of Finance, Republic of the Philippines

“More people will move to poverty as a result of the pandemic. And the estimate is at least half a billion to a billion people....I think that might push back a little bit the shift to a greener economy. And this is where I hope that the private sector can step up because this is not just a government responsibility. It is the biggest public private partnership there is, that we need to get together.”

As the former Secretary of Finance for the Republic of the Philippines under two Presidents, Cesar Purisima is widely credited with turning the Philippine economy around and restoring investor confidence. His stewardship vastly increased government revenues, and set new records for investments in education, healthcare, and infrastructure. As a Founding Partner of IKHLAS Capital, he now extends his compassion to the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“A lot of people are really suffering,” he tells Mike on the podcast. “Unlike the global financial crisis that hit the financial markets first, this really hit the countries from the ground up. And therefore, the ones who really suffered are those in the bottom of the pyramid. And the challenge for finance ministers, central banks is to come up with interventions that will not only hit the top, but really hit the bottom to find a more compassionate way to able to deal with this crisis.”


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Alan Jope

Alan Jope

CEO, Unilever

“The biggest tailwind is going to be the voice of young people demanding that the grownups do not ignore warnings about pandemics, about climate change, about gross inequality. One of the headwinds I'm very concerned about is a retreat to nationalism. We know that trade—global trade—has been tremendously helpful, lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.”

When William Lever packaged Sunshine—his first bar of soap—in the 19th Century, he couldn’t dream that his company would someday grow to include more than 400 brands, including Dove, Lipton, and Ben & Jerry’s. Today, Unilever CEO Alan Jope dreams of continuing that growth, as long as it is both responsible and sustainable.

“The business case for sustainability is, in our view, completely proven,” he tells Mike on the podcast. “Our brands that score higher on social and environmental responsibility are growing much faster, almost twice as fast as the rest of the portfolio.…It has been an absolute spur for innovation.”


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Ajay Banga

Ajay Banga

Vice Chairman, General Atlantic

“Culture doesn’t just come because you wave a magic wand. It comes through hard work; it comes through sharing; it comes through cross‐fertilization of people and ideas....The culture we built, we don't want to lose that during this process. Coming out of it, there will be an even bigger opportunity for our company.”

Since becoming CEO of Mastercard in 2010, Ajay Banga has seen his company’s annual revenues more than triple, from $5 billion to $17 billion. The company is also doing well by doing good: their Mastercard Foundation has provided scholarships, entrepreneurial grants, and a commitment to create 30 million jobs in Africa in the coming decade. It’s all part of what the Indian-born Banga calls a “decency quotient.”

"If you bring a human decency to work, which means you basically make people feel that your hand is on their back and not in their face, you will be fair and transparent and you will provide guidance," he tells Mike on the podcast. "You will lead with that thinking; you'll bring your heart and your mind to work. Then you are a winning company. You will win, but you will win with decency."


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Ursula M. Burns

Ursula M. Burns

Former Chairman and CEO, VEON; Former Chairman and CEO, Xerox

“Let's start talking about this. How are we going to diversify our boards? How are we going to diversify our management teams? How are we going to diversify our entry-level pipeline? How are we going to work in a community to make it better?...In the last three weeks, four weeks, it's been amazing. And I am really working to make it not stop, because there's a chance that we can be better.”

When Ursula Burns became CEO of Xerox in 2009, she was the first African American woman to reach that position at a Fortune 500 company. The daughter of a single mother growing up in New York City public housing, she rose through the ranks to also become that company’s chairman, and then held the same positions at VEON. In this wide-ranging conversation, she discusses a different way of thinking about equity.

“If you really want to do this, you're going to have to give up something. The world is not zero-sum....So even though we act like ‘Oh my God, if we give that person a little bit too much food, we will have less.’ Never happened," Ursula Burns tells Mike on the podcast. "We found that if you give people opportunity, the world gets bigger, not smaller; it gets him better, not worse.”


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Carol T. Christ

Carol T. Christ

Chancellor, University of California, Berkeley

“Though the pandemic is taking so much of our energy right now in addressing it, there will be a day after. And institutions, organizations of any sort, have to have a very clear sense of what their mission and goals are in that day after.”

As the 11th Chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley — and the first woman to hold that position — Carol Christ helms what U.S. News and World Report considers the world’s best public university. She sees her role as requiring both the flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances as well as the steadiness to adhere to the university’s core values.

“There's a very moving moment in The Lord of the Rings,” she tells Mike on the podcast, “where Frodo says to Gandalf, ‘I wish I had not lived in these times.’ And Gandalf says back to Frodo, ‘So do we all, but what we need to do, how we'll be judged, is what we do with the moment that's given us.’ And that's what I feel.”


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Scott Minerd

Scott Minerd

Chairman of Investments and Global Chief Investment Officer, Guggenheim Partners

“We can use this low interest rate period as an opportunity to finance for the future. Will we invest in things which will enhance the quality of life and enhance economic growth and output?...Because we can't go back to the old world. And I think the new world can be a much better place if we can continue being a community.”

As Chairman of Investments and Global Chief Investment Officer for Guggenheim Partners, Scott Minerd oversees more than $270 billion in assets. In this brief but wide-ranging conversation, he discusses what he inherited from three generations of entrepreneurs in the Minerd family, environmental stewardship, and the meaning of leadership.

“We share a core value here,” he reminds Mike on the podcast, “which is that the vast majority of people in the world are looking for a positive and constructive outcome. My view is that true leadership is that profile in courage that steps forward and says, ‘I'm not going to participate in the noise. I'm not going to look for recrimination. I want to talk to you about tomorrow.’”


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Deepak Chopra

Deepak Chopra

Founder, The Chopra Foundation and Chopra Global

“COVID has actually given us a time to rethink and reimagine the world. How do we repair the ecosystem? How do we repair the microbiome, which is reversible? How do we create a more socially just, and economically just world and society?”

For Deepak Chopra, healing the world begins with healing individuals—and that can begin by integrating Eastern spiritual traditions and Western medicine. As the founder of the Chopra Foundation and Chopra Global—as well as the best-selling author of 90 books—Dr Chopra believes that breakthroughs in technology and medicine will help lead to harnessing the collective intelligence of humanity, resulting in positive changes on micro and macro levels.

“What was science fiction is becoming science today,” he tells Mike on the podcast. “This is an opportune time for all of us to reinvent our bodies, resurrect our souls, and also see how we can engage with each other to create more joy, happiness, and health. That's the only thing that ultimately will heal this planet.”


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Kelly Craft

Kelly Craft

US Ambassador to the United Nations

“Obviously, we wish it was earlier if China had been more forthcoming and transparent. But I think the important part is that we cannot allow any pandemic or any economic situation currently to cloud our moral responsibility for issues that are already on the ground.”

Whether she’s voting in the Security Council or leading the personnel at the U.S. Mission to the U.N. (USUN), Ambassador Kelly Craft is keenly aware of the national values she represents. For her, it’s a matter of humility—as when she played an integral role in renegotiating the NAFTA framework with our neighbors to the north and south.

“It was a matter of respect for each person's economy,” she tells Mike on the podcast. “And when you respect each person's economy, Mexico and Canada, and the US, you know that everybody can work together because it is about a supply chain, and you're only as strong as your weakest link. So, it was really important that this trilateral deal was very strong unilaterally for each country.”


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Kenneth T. Lombard

Kenneth T. Lombard

Executive Vice President and COO, Seritage Growth Properties

“It's really the first time that you've had challenges and down cycles in the financial side, on the racial side, and health-wise with COVID....We're at an absolute tipping point from what we are going to do and how the consumer experience is going to be on the retail side.”

When Kenneth Lombard looks at our current confluence of crises, the Executive Vice President and COO of Seritage Growth Properties sees opportunities—especially in the hard-hit brick and mortar retail space. After all, as a past recipient of the National Inner City Economic Leadership Award, he has a proven record of revitalizing business opportunities in urban neighborhoods. He traces his optimism to a strong upbringing.

“Fortunately for me, I had a family that instilled a sense of fearlessness in me and that there are going to be obstacles,” he tells Mike on the podcast. “You have to keep working hard....Integrity has got to be a big part of how you look at how you develop yourself, that sense of honesty, the hard work. We'll all get through this.”


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Laura Arnold

Laura Arnold

Co-Founder and Co-Chair, Arnold Ventures

“A sociologist...said that pandemics fracture society along known fault lines. And that is so true. Every single one of the issues that we have historically worked on that are at the core of what we do has been touched and exacerbated by COVID....It’s energized us.”

For ten years, husband and wife Laura and John Arnold have grappled with some of society’s most intractable problems. Their Houston-based philanthropy, Arnold Ventures, addresses disparities in public finance, health, education, and especially criminal justice, where they hope their evidence-based approach will help drive needed reform.

“In jails and prisons, we are doing a lot of thinking to try to help prisons understand how to keep prisoners safe, in addition to having the tough conversation about why are there so many people in prison in the first place,” Laura Arnold tells Mike on the podcast. “Are there people who do not need to be here either because they're at risk [or] because they’re awaiting trial and they're only here because they can't make a relatively small bail amount payment? So, there's lots of work that can be done in reducing prison populations that needs to be done right now.”


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Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban

Owner, Dallas Mavericks

“If you have a vision for what America 2.0 post-reset should look like, there will never be a better time to create a business that goes into an entirely new direction....If you have a vision for something dramatically different, now's the time to do it.”

For Mark Cuban, fortune favors the bold—and there’s no time like the present. As a serial entrepreneur, investor on TV’s Shark Tank, and current owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, Cuban has always been a keen surveyor of the business landscape. He believes current technology such as robotics and artificial intelligence have enormous potential domestically, as long as we can ramp up our efforts.

“Whoever controls AI controls the world,” he tells Mike on the podcast. “We have to recognize that we're not doing this in a vacuum. That other nations are investing to compete, but we're not. So we're falling further behind. We can't build a wall around ourselves for global commerce.”


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Mobilizing in the Time of COVID-19

The Milken Institute engaged in efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, expedite research into effective treatment, and help companies and their employees weather the current conditions.

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