Thinkers50 in partnership with Deloitte presents:
ABOUT THIS EPISODE
Dambisa Moyo is a true pioneer
Dambisa Moyo is a true pioneer. Zambian-born, she serves on the global corporate boards of the 3M Corporation, Chevron, and Condé Nast. Her compelling combination of contrarian thinking with measured judgment, plus a uniquely wide ranging curiosity, can be seen in her succession of bestselling books: Edge of Chaos: Why Democracy is Failing to Deliver Economic Growth and How to Fix It, Winner Take All: China’s Race for Resources and What it Means for the World, How the West Was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly and the Stark Choices Ahead and Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There is a Better Way for Africa.
Most recently Dambisa is the author of How Boards Work And How They Can Work Better in a Chaotic World. In this inspiring conversation with Stuart Crainer of Thinkers50 and Deloitte’s CSO Steven Goldbach, Dambisa maps out her world view, the rise and recognition of global talent, the realities of life in the boardroom, and the importance of seeking out wisdom from the older generation; truly thought-provoking.
Bestselling author and global economist
About Dambisa Moyo
Dambisa Moyo is a co-principal of Versaca Investments, a family office, focused on growth investing globally. She serves on a number of global corporate boards including 3M Corporation, Chevron, and Condé Nast, as well as the Oxford University Endowment investment committee. Her areas of interest are in capital allocation, risk, and ESG matters. She is the author of four books: Dead Aid (2009), How the West was Lost (2011), Winner Take All (2012), Edge of Chaos (2018) and, most recently How Boards Work: And How They Can Work Better in a Chaotic World (Bridge Street Press, 2021). The book identifies the three key responsibilities of a corporate board; the levers and limitations boards have to create change across the business landscape; and asks whether corporate boards remain the ideal governance structure in the 21st century.
Inspired by the book Provoke: How Leaders Shape the Future by Overcoming Fatal Human Flaws; Wiley, 2021.
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Hello, I’m Stuart Crainer, I’m the Co-Founder of Thinkers50, and I would like to welcome you to the monthly podcast series Provocateurs, in which we explore the experiences, insights, and perspectives of inspiring leaders. Our aim is to provoke you to think and act differently through conversations with some fantastic people. This is a collaboration between Thinkers50 and Deloitte, so my co-host today is Steve Goldbach. Steve is the Chief Strategy Officer of Deloitte, and with Geoff Tuff is the author of two best selling books Detonate, which came out in 2018 and Provoke, which is subtitled, How Leaders Shaped the Future by Overcoming Fatal Human Flaws, and which came out in 2021. Provoke is the book which inspired this series. Steve, welcome.
Thanks so much Stuart. Great to be here. And I’m so excited to talk with our guest today. Our first episode with Valerie Rainford really made me think about thought provoking insights as it related to her background and her efforts at JP Morgan Chase. And I am so excited to be here with our very special guest Dambisa Moyo. Dambisa is respected for her unique perspectives, her balance of contrarian thinking with measured judgement, her ability to turn economic insight into investable ideas. She is a co-principal of Versaca Investments, a family office, focused on growth investing globally. And serves on a number of global corporate boards, including 3M, Chevron, and Conde Nast, as well as the Oxford University Endowment Investment Committee.
What brought Dambisa to the attention of Thinkers50 was her succession of best selling, but also challenging books. That’s a rare combination. That breadth gets a taste of how wide ranging conversation is likely to be. Dambisa’s latest book is How Boards Work: And How They Can Work Better in a Chaotic World. Her previous bests sellers were Edge of Chaos: Why Democracy Is Failing to Deliver Economic Growth-and How to Fix It, Winner Take All: China’s Race for Resources and What It Means for the World, How The West Was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly – And the Stark Choices that Lie Ahead, and Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa.
Thank you very much.
That’s an incredible range from the boardroom to the future of Africa by way of the failures of democracy and the growth of China, which I will say was prescient, in terms of the way you were talking about that well before the last several years, where it’s become more front and center. Maybe we can start by asking in that broad range, is there some kind of a golden thread, a consistent theme or a link through your works and thinking?
First of all, thank you so much for hosting me. I’m delighted to be here today, and really thrilled to participate. I’m so glad you asked me that question. Very often, people just make assumptions about what they might think is a rag tag of books that I’ve written, but actually there is an overarching idea that drives me, which is ultimately human progress. So whether it’s about the private sector role of human progress, which I talk a lot about through How Boards Work or thinking about human progress and economic success and growth in the concepts that I discussed in Dead Aid or Winner Take All, around China, and they all of this broad idea, concept running through them. That it’s really important for us to keep thinking about how to better improve and to continue to adjust on the path towards prosperity and continued human progress.
Dambisa, you must look back, Dead Aid was in 2009, which of these books do you think has stood the test of time best? Steve mentioned that a Winner Take All, which came out in 2012, which is 10 years ago, you were talking about China then, before it became a really big issue for a lot of corporations. So which ones have stood the test of time, do you think?
It’s a great question. I suppose it depends on what your perspective of the test of time is. I think the good news is I called up a bookstore in London, a few weeks ago, and I said, I’d really like to buy a bunch of copies of each of my books, just so I could have a good stock and all of them are available for purchase through a bookstore, but obviously, of course, also through Amazon. So in terms of just not having fizzled out into the ether, they’re still available. I think conceptually, in the here and now, obviously there are questions about the rise of China. I can see how it can be quite topical, but I don’t see a China emergence as being separate from the ideas that I covered in earlier books, such as How The West Was Lost, for example, my second book, which really was looking more at developed nations and thinking about their own economic choices and some of the mistakes that have been made there.
So, I don’t really view these books as perhaps as distinct as others may. I know some people are more drawn to the issues around boards and governance, and perhaps are not going to be interested in something pertaining to Africa’s economic development or China versus Edge of Chaos, which is more about economic headwinds. But really if you take a step back and you think about the body of work and its entirety, I think you can start to see commonality about decision making, about risk taking, about investing in the future, which is ultimately all key aspects of human progress, as I mentioned.
Well, before we dive into a number of the topics that you’ve written about. I think one of the things we saw with our first guest, Valerie Rainford, was the extent to which her background and upbringing shaped her worldview. We don’t see a lot of Zambian economists in boardrooms today. You might indeed be a market of an N of one in that particular case, but we’d love to hear how your background and your African roots shaped the way you think about the world and the challenges the world plays and how you bring that perspective into the boardroom for the benefits of the boards you serve on.
Well, thank you. I think it’s in some sense, an easy question to answer, and in other respects, a little bit more complicated. I think from this broad perspective, I have benefited from the opportunity of being born and raised in Africa. In fact, in one of the smallest and poorest countries in the world. And yet having had the opportunity to travel to about 80 countries around the world, studied, worked, and engaged in all those different environments, developed, developing, rich, poor, ideologically different as well, so democratic versus non-democratic. I think having come from a country like Zambia, which when I was growing up was actually part of what were called the non-aligned states. So these are states that just said, Hey, we’re not going to pick the U.S. versus at that time, the USSR, I think it really did help shape a curiosity that has served me well over a long period of time of just being open minded to see what actually works.
But perhaps in a more specific way, if I think about the boardrooms in which I serve, and I’ve written about this in How Boards Work, there are many large companies, not just in the U.S., but for the purposes of the point, many in the United States that now generate over 60% of their revenues from outside the United States. But you look at their boards and their boards are really populated by people who are American and that’s great, but I do think that as the world is shifting, perhaps there’s a perspective that is being lost. And in that respect I think having that more diverse international perspective is going to be increasingly important. I do think that my way of thinking by that, I mean not steeped from childbirth in the value of democracy, value of market capitalism, liberté, fraternité, égalité, those types of Western values has been incredibly helpful in perhaps imbuing in myself, some aspect or some level of skepticism that I hope my board colleagues and other people I work with on a day to day basis think is actually valuable.
Yeah. Because you’re really employed for your skepticism in many ways, Dambisa. When you meet somebody at a party and they say, “What do you do, Dambisa?” How do you explain it? Because you’re an investor, a thought leader, an economist, an independent director. Is there a way in your mind, you explain your career and what you do?
Well, it sounds like my parents might have sent you to ask me that question, because they are deeply frustrated in some respect that I can’t say, “Hey, I’m a butcher, a baker or a candlestick maker.” That’s true in some respects. My PhD from Oxford is in economics, and so in that respect, I’m an economist, but I think that too many economists, perhaps for a whole host of reasons, are not really plugged into what their predictions, what their models actually mean as a practical matter. So I can say lots of different things about where the world economy is going, but am I willing to take that next step and put a bet on the future? It could be shorting, but it could also be going long.
And as I think about how lucky I’ve been to not only have been steeped in academia as an economist, but also then being able to spend nearly 10 years at Goldman Sachs, I feel I’m able to bring those two things to bear. So hopefully people think I’m, this sounds very arrogant, some sort of a polymath. That’s what I aspire to be. I think I’m very much a debutant in very early days, and so lots more work to achieve that, maybe it’ll be on my tombstone.
Well, certainly we can add now after this podcast, a provocateur in addition to all the wonderful ways you could describe yourself. Having had that same experience growing up, trying to explain to my mom who is a wonderful school teacher in Toronto’s inner city schools for a long time, I share that. I want to switch up to some content from How Boards Work. So in your book, and I’m going to pull out my phone to read from my electronic copy here, you talk about boards that need to be focused on five potential future risk factors. The risk of a more siloed and protectionist world, massive changes in the investment landscape, new technological developments, the global war for talent, and by the way, this was written before the current state of affairs that we are seeing with the Great Resignation.
So another incredible way that Dambisa has foresaw the future. And then the last one, ultimately short-termism itself. Dambisa, can you talk about those generally? And it would be interesting to hear your perspective of those risk factors, do you think that there are more cases of, if they might come to fruition or when they might come to fruition? Are they guaranteed to happen in a consistent manner, or are they spotty and we could see things rise in pockets or not?
A few months ago I had dinner with a board colleague, actually a former board colleague who is about 84 years old, but a source of immense wisdom. And I was talking about the pandemic and the financial crisis and all these things that have happened. In fact, I probably need to check in with him. I’ve given today’s announcement, but he said something to me, which I think is pretty profound. He’s 84, and he, he said, listen, I’m just going to tell you in looking back at the sweep of his life, he says, the one thing you need to know, and I should have said this gentleman also was the chairman and CEO of a very large global conglomerate that we all know. But he said, “I just want you to know that at 84, looking back, the one thing you should be aware of is you’re always going to be surprised.”
Always. You’re going to be surprised by human nature, human behavior, you’re going to be surprised by politics, by economics, things that happen that you just couldn’t possibly foretell, foresee. And I think it’s a great place to start, because I think that in some respects, I believe that all these things have emerged or are emerging, and I think will emerge with greater cadence. I think as a practical matter, if you are a board member or you are a decision maker in government, and you have to make a decision about that marginal dollar, how do I spend this extra pound? Should I put it in healthcare? Should I put it in infrastructure? Should I put it in defense? You start to think about probabilities, I think a lot more. And one thing I can say about all these things, a siloed world, investment landscape changing, technology, talent and short-termism, is that if you believe in a normal distribution, the fatness of the tales, and as well as the length of the tales, I would say has increased.
So for those geeks watching, the kurtosis and skew have both increased. And so in that respect, I think we ought to be focused on this, and we should believe that there’s going to be more incidences of technological changes and issues. Clearly the war for talent will continue, siloed world, et cetera, we’re seeing those fissures just today. Look, I will just caveat everything I’ve just said with one big point, which is, we always all think that we’re living in the most interesting generation or the most interesting time ever in the history of the world. I usually say to board colleague, we don’t really know when a shift is going to occur. Sometimes it can happen very dramatically as we saw with the pandemic or the financial crisis, but at the same time, are we in a more challenged environment than I don’t know, 1939, at the beginning of World War II? It’s hard for me to say that board members at that time didn’t have difficulties and challenges, or even indeed 1900.
I happen to serve on the board of Barclays bank it’s over 300 years. So think about that sweep of history and the challenges they would’ve dealt with, industrialization, and then good and bad World Wars, et cetera. So look, I’m sure, hopefully in there, there are some kernels of wisdom, but the bottom line is I do think because of technological advancements, we know more about what’s going around in the world and there’s a lot more data perhaps not information. And our job is to signal to noise ratios and think a lot more about how to make a story out of everything that’s coming at us.
Surprise and uncertainty have certainly been on the agenda. We are talking on the day that Russia has invaded Ukraine. I was thinking about the effects of the pandemic over the last two years, how have boards fared during the pandemic, do you think? Has your opinion of how boards work been altered over that period? Because they’ve had to work in different ways, in many industries they faced dramatic falls in demand, production problems, et cetera. Has that led you to question the role of boards?
No, not at all. If you look around the broad scope of the business landscape, think about it, we haven’t really heard a calamity of bankruptcies and company failures. Think about what’s happened, we were all at home, as you say, no demand for goods and services. I think if anything, it creates a rejuvenation of the importance of government. They certainly stepped in, but at the same time, I think having been fortunate enough to serve on boards where they’ve been very disciplined, focused on the balance sheet, thinking about operations, just as business as usual, they’ve shown by being tested in the manner that they were, that actually having the right processes, doing the right things when times are good, will serve you well when things are bad.
There are about 15% of American companies that are considered zombies, by that they don’t generate enough cashflow to even cover the interest rate payment on their debt. And yet even those companies, we saw the Federal Reserve start to buy junk bonds, just to keep the market afloat. Now, this is all not costless, right? We know we’ve got a lot of debt, we’ve got to figure out how we’re going to get people back to work, as labor participation rates have collapsed since 2008, ’09. But I think fundamentally we’ve got out of it, I would say on a relative basis unscathed. Yes, it’s traumatic to hear a million people have died in the United States and there are clearly lots of questions around freedoms and rights and how should the government respond? And shouldn’t we have known better given 1918 to 1920, we’d had a Spanish flu and now we’ve got more information, more technology?
But I think on the whole, certainly from the business perspective, so putting aside lives and livelihoods, just business, I think there’s a lot to be proud of. Companies stood up, hotels provided space and rooms for ailing patients, those types of stories and many of them. So I’m on the whole pretty proud of the role companies have shown and have reasserted their importance in society.
Yeah. Indeed, we’ve seen lots of companies step up I think in certainly the case of the pandemic. We’re getting out of it faster than we ever would, thanks to some of the innovation of many companies in the corporate space. The question I wanted to ask you next, Dambisa, is in How Boards Work, you talk both about the ever growing number of issues that boards need to tackle, right? Whether it’s from the various different stakeholders, the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion, the imperative to innovate, the challenges, all the five risks we just talked about. And you also talk about how it’s really hard to have too big of a board, right? The optimal size is I think you say somewhere between 12 and 14.
I think that there is a natural tension between having a cohesive, well-functioning group, who as you say, can have a good fight from time to time, which I think is a terrific way to frame it. We all should be able to fight well and then smile with each other afterwards. But how do you think about that tension between board size and just the sheer complexity that the world is under and the number of topics that a board has to be facile with in order to be effective?
Yeah. I think it’s an evolving question. I have been on extremely large boards where there were closer to 19 people. I found them somewhat unworkable and I think the risk of free riding, et cetera, is not something that is unfounded for very large boards. On the other hand, it’s not just about being on the board, these boards have committees under them. Where a lot of the work gets done, whether it’s on the compensation committee, the governance committee, the audit committee, and you need to populate those boards with people who understand that it’s not just about showing up every quarter, it’s also about essentially taking on a lot of risk. I tend to serve on audit committees every quarter, I have to sign my name on a 10K or 10Q to basically say, yes, I have read and understood every line item on the financials here and I agree that these are correct.
And that’s a huge personal risks. Now, you’re absolutely right that there are lots of quite disparate issues that are coming at us from all manner of places. You’ve gone through a good list. But I think that just means we’ve got to do much better at hiring on those board seats rather than necessarily rushing to expand the number of board seats. So that’s an important piece, thinking about the people who are in the boardroom, who can actually help. And in that book, How Boards Work, I talk about does every company need a board member? It may not necessarily be necessary to fill a board seat with the tech board member, and they’re arguments on both sides, which I outlined in the book. But the more salient point is that, I think what is happening in the world with all the challenges really just underscores the need for us to be much more judicious about who we put in these board seats.
And perhaps one other thing I’ll just say, which I think is a broader point about what the role of the board is, is to remember that we’re really not there to firefight on a day to day basis. And so the tactics matter, of course, we all see the oil price go over a $100 and we see it when rates go down to 0.7 on the treasury or take the pick of whatever it is that’s going on. But that is not the role of the board to figure out on a day to day basis, how to incorporate those changes into the choices that are made every single day. That’s the management’s job, they’re there at the corpus every day. From the board, we’re there to provide strategic oversight as one of the key three areas.
The other two is being selecting the CEO and thinking about cultural issues and ESG. But on that strategic thing, it means looking through some of these tactical changes and difficulties and making sure that we’re constantly saying, “What’s coming next? After the pandemic, what happens? What are the risks? What are the different decision trees or roots that might occur?” I think that’s very important again, as we populate the boardroom to not get sucked down a particular path, because people think we should be addressing everything. I don’t think that’s a prudent or useful role for the board.
Can you go back, Dambisa? So you worked at Goldman Sachs and then you started taking on board roles, SABMiller, and Barclays. Can you remember your early meetings, your first board meeting? Is all right talking about it and theorizing, but what surprised you about the experience?
The first piece of a couple of pieces of advice that I got, that I think were actually really helpful. One was when someone said to me, “Don’t say anything in the first board meeting.” Because you don’t know, you’re coming into a movie, in the middle of the movie, where there’s a protagonist, there’s some stuff going on and it doesn’t matter how much pre-reading you’ve done. Your job, probably the first board meeting, I would argue maybe even the first couple of meetings is really just to understand the board dynamics, understand the nuanced aspects, the DNA of the organization, but the nuanced aspects of how these boards operate and what the issues of the company are. And I think too often you read an annual report or you read an analyst report and you go into a boardroom, you think you’re coming guns blazing, I just don’t think that works.
The other piece of advice I got, which I thought at the time, I thought, this is crazy. It was actually from someone at Barclays said to me, “Well, the truth is you need a good two to three years before you really understand what’s going on.” And I was like, “What? That’s mad.” Because you only have a nine year term, and so you’re telling me I’m going to be here a third of my tenure without really understanding what’s going on. And actually I think that wasn’t the point, the point was more to say, you’ve got to show up, you need to understand the nuances. These are organizations… They’ve been around, as I said, over 300 years, there’s stuff going on that you need to understand the cadence of when certain reports come out, when are the meetings? How are those meetings, why are the meetings taking place? What is the broader role of a company like Barclays in the geopolitical discussions?
It’s not just a bank, it has such a history. It’s older than the Bank of England. What does that mean for the role of the board, but also for the organization itself? So I think these are nuanced things I wouldn’t have appreciated, but I certainly appreciate much more having now spent time on these boards for over 10 years.
Dambisa, one of the topics that you cover in How Boards Work, and we also talked about in Provoke, and I know we talked about with Valerie in our last episode is the notion of diversity, equity and inclusion on boards. And when we talked about it with Valerie, she was trying to drive diversity, equity, inclusion at JP Morgan Chase, and that was her role, specifically advancing black talent. One of the things that I think we both share in our stories is why diversity is so critical because it allows us to bring those different perspectives and see problems from all angles. And it’s been mathematically proven that cognitive diversity, which stems from real world diversity leads to better board outcomes and better management outcomes. How would you grade the corporate world on the progress they’ve made, particularly in the boardroom on diversity, equity, inclusion, and getting that different perspective that you talked about earlier and then in your book?
Well, again, it depends on when you’re asking me to grade. Since George Floyd I’d give them A minus, B plus, there’s clearly been a lot of responsiveness. If you ask me before George Floyd, it probably would’ve been a C plus, I think there’s a lot of talk, good effort. Again, if you picked the race point, some would argue if you broaden it out and you think about women, then maybe they would’ve also been around a B, B plus. Because there clearly are many women who’ve been on boards over several decades, but it was nowhere near the onslaught that we’re seeing, certainly I think as catalyzed by the murder of George Floyd and a lot of the issues there. But look, I think you make a more interesting point, which is that these boards need cognitive diversity.
These companies need cognitive diversity. This is not doing anything for posterity or for Goodwill, this is about survivability and thriving of these organizations. We will not be able to compete, we won’t be able to sell our goods to our consumers, it’s just a pragmatic thing, and some people might take that as a bit too crude, but I do think it’s an imperative that to my mind is quite obvious in that respect. And so what that means is that, and I intimated this earlier, from a boardroom, of course, we’re going to look for more diverse candidates, but I do not ascribe or support the notion that we should somehow put black candidates or women candidates or Latinos or Asians on boards, just because they happen to be black, women and Latinos or whatever.
I think that really doesn’t fully appreciate that the talent exists, real talent out there that will do a brilliant job in these diverse and minority groups, and that’s what we should always prioritize. The very fact that these boards have work to do, I have to sign off on risk metrics, I’ve got to sign off on compensation, I have to make a decision about succession of the CEO, et cetera, means that we will always be looking for talent. And the good news is that we’re in the 21st century and the talent is bursting at the seams. And I think it’s a great tragedy that that had to be catalyzed by George Floyd’s death in terms of the race part. And as I said earlier, I think for several decades, there’s been much more movement regarding women, but net, I’m very optimistic, I’m pretty sanguine.
I worry sometimes that events could overrun us, but I think that it’s very hard for any organization worth any respect in this era, to ignore the importance of these inputs, of the diverse labor force, but also boards, in order for them to be the most competitive that they need to be domestically as well as globally.
Every board should have a Zambian economist on it. Definitely. You talked about your nine years tenure, a period of tenure on each board, Dambisa. And you also talked about being largely employed to be skeptical and to challenge and ask questions. How do you keep that going over a period? How can you still be skeptical and independent and offer that voice on a board without being sucked into the way things are done there?
Look, I think this is ultimately about risk mitigation. I’m not there to pitch in the boardroom an alternative theory of the universe. It’s just to make sure that actually management is aware of some of these competing ideologies, competing ideas, and they think about how or should we be risk mitigating or thinking about mandate and scale. For me, I just naturally, and perhaps going back to the question of what do I say when people ask me, what do I do? I spend a lot of time with people from very different backgrounds, I spend a lot of time with a lot of people from very different business lines, so technology and finance and in politics and in art and in a whole array, industrials, energy, et cetera, consumer goods.
And it’s been that plus the fact that I tried to spend a lot of time, and this is probably my secret sauce with people who are much older than me, who’ve been through it, I think that totally overlooked. In Africa, we revere our elderly people, we view them as being connected to the ancestors, and so they’re demigods. But I know in Western society at a certain level, you chuck out the old and the new generation is invoked. But the pearls of wisdom that emanate from the comments I mentioned earlier that, Hey, prepare yourself. You’re always going to be surprised. What does that mean for my portfolio? What does that mean for investing? I think that thinking really does help and has helped me tremendously in my own career and thinking.
Dambisa, you had the benefit of growing up and spending time in multiple countries. For those of us who are raising children today, how can we make them global citizens and have an appreciation of the world in a world where we may not travel as much as we used to for work or for pleasure? Just it seems to be something that may not be as robust as it was when we were growing up. So how would you think about creating a global citizen like yourself?
Well, I don’t have children, so anything I say you can discount immediately, but I do have nieces and nephews and they happen to live in the West. And I always say, look, there are a multitude of “international experiences” that you can have just sitting in New York City as an example, or London or any of the big cities around the world. It’s funny, whenever I’m in New York, I’m often astonished at how many, this is Greek Day. This is St. Patrick’s Day. This is Puerto Rican Celebration Day. And I’m like, “Gosh, do they ever end?” And I think those are teachable moments for children.
I have been a student of France and lived in France and a student of the French culture for decades now, and that was imminently doable, as you say in my time. But now you can go to Alliance Francaise in New York or in London, you can pick up other languages. I think we just have a little bit of a lazy muscle, our neighbors are diverse. I think they’re just a lot of opportunities through the internet to tap into different cultures and we just choose not to, I think, and that’s a great loss.
Yeah. One thing you seem to have done in virtually every country in the world, Dambisa, is to run a marathon.
That’s definitely not true. I wish I had.
You’ve done an awful lot of marathons. So what do you think about when you’re running? What’s the purpose of running for you?
It depends on what parts of the marathon it is. I’m usually at the back end. I’m just one praying to God, and I don’t have to get in an ambulance over the line. But I think at the beginning, there’s just a lot of euphoria at the beginning, high energy, everybody’s excited. There’s so much about, and I’ve been fortunate, I’ve run New York Marathon, a number of times, London Marathon, these are great global marathons, because there are people from all over the world, there’s almost a commonality. I’m getting goosebumps from the humanity and for those whatever number of hours, it doesn’t matter what race, gender, origin, religion you are, everybody is pulling together. In my mind, I think it’s about the human progress element of it and the commonality of the human condition and the wish for success for everyone. So I think I always certainly start the marathons with a lot of enthusiasm and energy about this whole human concept, and maybe towards the end, my mind is blurred by the pain and agony, but it’s all worth it. I’ll tell you that much.
It’s especially worth it for the big meals that you can eat afterwards or the massages the next day. Lots of respect as someone who’s tried and never been able to make it work for my body to run a marathon, that is an amazing thing to do, not only all of them. But that is a great way to perhaps start to bring this podcast to a close, Dambisa. You’ve embodied so many different things that we think make for a great provocateur who can shape the future. You are focused on the human experience because every change we make has to start with some change in a human behavior.
You’re curious about the world, you’re running marathons and you’re watching how others are experiencing the same thing you’re doing, yet you bring that skeptical perspective wanting to make it pragmatic, wanting to do it. One of the things we’re trying to do with this podcast is create a bit of a pay it forward. So as you think about who else embodies some of the characteristics that have made you a provocateur, who else should Stuart and I, and our colleagues, talk to share their story with the world?
I’m going to give you a very cheeky answer, but really if you use it effectively, it should help you more than me just giving you three names. And so the cheeky answer is: find older people, the retired CEO, the retired investor, I think those are people untapped. Honestly, I could spend hours talking to you about the brilliant pearls of wisdom I got, for example, from Lord Puttnam, who was a producer, he’s in the House of Lords, but he was the producer of Chariots of Fire, just by having the good sense to turn around to him at a luncheon to say, “What do you think about life?” And he was, I think he was in his 70’s at the time. I think we are all running for the new and sexy young entrepreneur.
I think my advice to you is, go tap into the people who are older and perhaps forgotten. The other thing I would say is go beyond region, rather fortuitously through Stuart, and Des and past interactions, you happen to have a Zambian economist on your show today. But the truth is there are lots of other people “like me”, 90% of the world’s population lives in the emerging markets. I think if you just tweak your perspective a little bit and start thinking about entrepreneurs and business people, just as a specific example, I don’t know this person, but there’s an amazing woman. Her name is Demet, and her last name is Mutlu. I think she was at Harvard, Turkish woman, she started a business in Turkey, which is rivaling Amazon. Very successful. She’s worth multiple billions now, and just really an amazing person, just from one interaction I’ve had with her.
I think those are the people that are unsung because we’re always looking for somebody who’s in our backyard. And then the last thing, apart from geography and apart from age, I think it’s just looking for people who aren’t like us. I mean, and that might sound like, yeah, yeah, yeah, we know about diversity. I’m not talking about it like that, I’m just saying there are a lot of people outside of business who still have very important lessons for business. I’m thinking of Andrew Lloyd Webber, that kind of a mind. Maybe to sum it up is I would go and troll the House of Lords, because I think there are some people in there that fit this bill, legal minds, business people, somewhat forgotten, but I think are absolutely best in class in terms of thinking about provocateurs.
We’ll seek her out, Dambisa. Demet Mutlu, and we’ll seek out wisdom in our older colleagues and friends as well. And we encourage everyone listening to seek out wisdom in Dambisa’s work and check out information on her work at dambisamoyo.com. And her last book was How Boards Work, but we recommend the three other books as well. Dambisa, thank you very much for joining us today. A real pleasure as always talking to you. Thank you for your insights and thanking you for helping boards work.
Thank you. Thank you for the opportunity and for inviting me. All the best.
All right. Thank you.
Thank you, Dambisa.