Conversation with Former White House Economic Adviser Austan Goolsbee

Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 5.25.55 PMWorking Capital Conversations: Leading thinkers, practitioners and experts discuss the ideas that drive global business.

We face no shortage of extraordinary headlines and timely issues that will affect not just our domestic economy but the economy globally. The question, of course, is how?

The Greek bailout package. An historic nuclear deal with Iran. A collapsing Chinese stock market.

Domestically, other questions: Rising inequality. Job growth without wage growth. The minimum wage battle inside city limits. The pending first Fed rate increase in years.

Any one of these alone would have a significant effect on the global economy – and the businesses that compete every day. All of them at the same time, well, we need some help to make sense of that.

To provide that help, Austan Goolsbee, former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and current Gwinn Professor of Economics at The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. Goolsbee is well-known not only for his insights and intelligence, but also his humor and wit. He’s been called one of the 100 Global Leaders for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum, one of the six “Gurus of the Future” by the Financial Times, as well as D.C’s Funniest Economist. He released several must-see White House YouTube videos on the economy and made six appearances on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show. We’ll get to the funny, but let’s start with the substance…

Conversation on Innovation: Turning the Lights Back On in Detroit

We all know the headlines that Detroit, its leaders, and citizens lived through: In 2013, the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in U.S. history by debt. The largest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy. The debt numbers, staggering: $18-20 billion.

We also know what the decades leading up to bankruptcy were like in Detroit: Businesses closed; infrastructure crumbled; crime rose – homicides at their highest rate in 40 years; about half the population left the city limits.

But perhaps no image stood more starkly as a symbol of Detroit’s decline more than the city’s lights. Some 40% of them didn’t work. Literally as well as figuratively, Detroit was going dark.

So how do you flip that switch back on? How do you let there be light in a place where it seemed no one wanted to invest? And why would one of the world’s largest banks find value in helping a bankrupt Midwestern city turn the lights back on?

Our two guests today can explain. Odis Jones is CEO of the Public Lighting Authority of Detroit. Tom Green heads the U.S. Public Finance Infrastructure Group at Citi and led the deal that brought light back to the Motor City.

Conversation with Dean Sippel: CEO, Jack Welch Management Institute

imageWorking Capital Conversation: Leading thinkers, practitioners and experts discuss the ideas that drive global business.

The road to business success is obviously a challenging one — indeed, there’s no proven straight path. Or if you have one, please let us know.

But one path many try to take is to learn from the masters — the successful leaders, entrepreneurs or managers that came before us. If we’re lucky, we find such a mentor in our own company. But what if you can’t? Or, better, what if you could learn from one of the true masters of the craft — former GE Chairman and CEO Jack Welch?

Odds are, you don’t have his number. But one place that does is the Jack Welch Management Institute. Instead of a traditional MBA, this successful organization delivers qualified participants an online MBA. And while Welch serves as Executive Chairman, they deliver access to other CEOs and instructors and successful business leaders as well. How does it work? Why is this different than a traditional MBA? And does getting admitted also provide you with Welch’s phone number?

Dean Sippel is Chief Executive Officer of the Jack Welch Management Institute.

Conversation on Innovation: How Private Markets Can Bring Clean Energy Solutions to Your Home

Americans’ interest in energy efficiency can be seen in the numbers: The vast majority of us believe in it. In one recent national poll: 87 percent said renewable energy is important to the country’s future. In another, 57 percent said the best way to solve our nation’s energy issues was conservation.

However, one of the hardest places to implement a clean energy lifestyle just may be the place where most of us spend most of our time: Our homes. And one of the biggest reasons may also be among the hardest to solve: Cost.

While we know that clean energy solutions will save us money in utility bills over the long run, the initial short-term investments stop many from making the necessary infrastructure changes.

But a new partnership is actively attacking this public policy problem, and the place they’re doing it just may surprise you: The private markets.

The partnership is called WHEEL: Warehouse for Energy Efficiency Loans. It’s a combination of non-profits, state leaders and agencies, national associations, a specialist in innovative renewable energy financing and even one of the world’s largest banks.

The group started by leveraging public funds with private capital to provide loans that help home owners invest in energy efficiency changes. And now, new headlines that should allow the program to truly scale and help a wider number of home owners reach their energy efficiency dreams: The recent announcement of the creation of the first-ever secondary market for these loans.

How does it work? Colin Bishopp, Vice President at Renew Financial and Bruce Schlein, Director of Alternative Energy Finance at Citi, explain.

Conversation with Nobel Laureate Alvin Roth: Who Gets What — And Why

Working Capital Conversation: Leading thinkers, practitioners and experts discuss the ideas that drive global business.

Wouldn’t life be easier if only getting into college were determined solely by price – who could pay most? Or marriage – love to the highest bidder? Or a new kidney – How much you got to survive?

9780544291133_hresThe ideas seem laughable. Yet we live in an era that celebrates free markets and seems to celebrate the role of pricing in markets. But thanks to a range of factors – some old, like tradition; some new, like smart phones – new markets are popping up everywhere. And they’re not always developed by the traditional free market rules or price dynamics.

So how do and should these new markets work?

That’s what the Nobel Laureate of Economic Sciences Alvin Roth set out to define. He explored the dynamics – rules, processes, expectations and more – of matching markets. Roth is Professor of Economics at Stanford, and one of the world’s leading experts in market design and game theory. His newest book describes that market design. It’s called “Who Gets What – and Why.”

Conversation with Susie Orman Schnall on Work/Life Balance: The Balance Project

ZP0PO6mz-2Working Capital Conversation: Leading thinkers, practitioners and experts discuss the ideas that drive global business.

The challenge of work/life balance continues confound. Employees insist they want it. Many companies – through flex schedules, job shares, training and more – try to offer it. And yet, so many of us – men and women – feel like we’re just not doing it right.

To make it worse, we then combine that frustration with the ideal that we can – or at least should – have it all. We think we see the alleged examples parading in front of us every day – the so-called superstars who hold down high-powered jobs, work out constantly, volunteer incessantly, love their spouses and kids, and surely in their free time, compose music like Mozart, paint like Monet and cook like Julia Child. You know who they are. We come to believe that to reach that next level – perhaps even to have it all – we only need to lean in a bit harder.

516F5+G14JL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_So why doesn’t it happen? Why aren’t we all walking around feeling like we have it all?

Award-winning writer Susie Orman Schnall wanted to find out. So she did the obvious thing: She asked. In a series of interviews with powerful, accomplished, seemingly have-it-all women, she asked their secrets to having it all. And the answers – what these women acknowledged – just might surprise you.

The interview series is called, quite appropriately, The Balance Project, which you can find at And now it’s transformed as well into Schnall’s second novel, an engaging, funny and often uncomfortably accurate read called “The Balance Project: A Novel.”

Conversation with Wharton’s Howard Kunreuther: The Business of Insurance

Working Capital Conversation: Leading thinkers, practitioners and experts discuss the ideas that drive global business.

Many of us spent our recent Memorial Day weekend not only welcoming summer and paying respects to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, but also we kept an eye on Texas and Oklahoma.

You surely know: Devastating tornadoes and storms caused widespread damage and terrible flooding: At least 14 people died, and more are missing; Houston officials declared an emergency at the highest level of its four-tiered emergency management system; schools and businesses were closed or delayed.

The human toll is terrible and occupies our thoughts and prayers. For survivors – residents and businesses – their next set of prayers just may be to answer the question: Will my insurance cover this? And how will my rates skyrocket now?

51UXuJQ91DL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Insurance and risk management are central to business and personal well-being – They’re also a very hard to understand. How should risk be measured and analyzed? Given that natural disasters – from Florida to New York to Texas and beyond – regularly and unexpectedly create massive business and personal loss, how can individuals and organizations, private and governmental, make better decisions regarding risk? Indeed, what should the public-private relationship in insurance look like?

Few think about the mechanics, consequences and business of insurance more than Howard Kunreuther. He is Professor of Decision Sciences and Business and Public Policy at the Wharton School, as well as co-director of the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center. He has served as a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council and written numerous papers and books – including the landmark “Insurance and Behavioral Economics: Improving Decisions in the Most Misunderstood Industry” – on his long-standing interest in ways that society can better manage low-probability, high-consequence events related to technological and natural hazards.

Conversation with MIT’s Donald Sull: ‘Simple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex World’

Working Capital Conversation: Leading thinkers, practitioners and experts discuss the ideas that drive global business.

It’s one of the oldest rules in business, if not life: Keep It Simple, Stupid. So why is it so hard to do?

We are, it seems, overwhelmed by complexity – especially in business. Contracts. Fine Print. Procedures. It’s no surprise that nearly every company seems to have it’s own BPU – Business Prevention Unit.

41LKmOCdmgL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_So what if you actually want to get something done. Not just in business, but in your life? What if you want to cut through the morass and red tape… and simplify. How does that get done?

Donald Sull believes he has an answer. Sull is a Senior Lecturer in the Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management group at the MIT Sloan School of Management. With his co-author, Sull has studied companies and people who make simplicity work.

Turns out, these people don’t live in some magical world, where everything is easy. They create frameworks that simplify the things that are meant to be hard.

And now those frameworks themselves have been simplified for the rest of us in Sull’s book “Simple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex World.”

Conversation with Harvard’s David Yoffie, MIT’s Michael Cusumano: ‘Strategy Rules’ from Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve Jobs

y450-293Working Capital Conversations: Leading thinkers, practitioners and experts discuss the ideas that drive global business.

You know the old game: If you could have dinner with three people from history, whom would you choose?

We won’t cover all the options, but you’ll agree, you could do a lot worse than Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Andy Grove. These technology CEO icons just may have more influence on how we live our lives – how we work, communicate, think, exercise, shop, read, listen to music and even put our kids to bed – than any group you could name (ok, let’s hold the Beatles aside).

Of course, getting these three together was nearly impossible even when they were all alive. But don’t worry, because two leading business school professors, researchers and thinkers have done the next best thing.

It’s hardly an exaggeration that Harvard Business School Professor David Yoffie and MIT Sloan School of Management Professor Michael Cusumano collectively may know more about Gates, Jobs and Grove than anyone else on the planet. They have written books and cases studies, sat on boards, interviewed hundreds of employees, consultants and colleagues. They know or knew all three. And they now have taken that collective knowledge and deep insight and answered the question many of us would ask if we could eat just one meal with Grove, Gates and Jobs: “What should I do to be successful in business?”

Their new book is Strategy Rules: Five Timeless Lessons from Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve Jobs.”

Conversation with Andrew Palmer: How High-Stakes Financial Innovation is Reshaping Our World

PalmerWorking Capital Conversations: Leading thinkers, practitioners and experts discuss the ideas that drive global business.

We face no shortage of negative news around the financial industry. And within this zone, one the most damning phrases is “financial engineering.” Following the economic crisis – and even before – financial engineering came to symbolize the worst of what a free and active system of capitalism can provide.

But what if financial innovation could help find a cure for cancer? Or help address homelessness? Or send lower-class youth to college?

51STtdAcW9L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_These efforts represent the other side of financial engineering. And while the negative – the real pain that real people felt and continue to feel – must be addressed and should never be ignored, the incredible innovation that has driven global and local economies for centuries is also fascinating and important.

Andrew Palmer thinks and writes about both sides of this financial innovation coin. He is Business Affairs Editor at the Economist. He is also author of the new book: “Smart Money: How High-Stakes Financial Innovation is Reshaping Our World for the Better.”

Working Capital Conversations: Global Corporate Divestment Study with Paul Hammes, Ernst & Young

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 1.10.08 PMWorking Capital Conversations: Leading thinkers, practitioners and experts discuss the ideas that drive global business.

At a time when many of the large or publicly-held companies globally are focused relentlessly on how to grow, today we talk about one growth strategy that, at first glance, might not seem closely related: How to sell.

More specifically, Divestments.

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 1.06.22 PMIt’s no secret that many companies see divestments as a fundamental part of their capital strategy, especially to fund growth. What you may not know is:  We now should expect that trend to grow.

How do we know? Ernst & Young recently released a new and important review: It’s 2015 EY Global Corporate Divestment Study. They spoke with more than 800 corporate executives across sectors and around the world. And the headline is clear: More than half of the companies surveyed expect the number of strategic sellers to increase in the next 12 months.

Why is divestment such an important strategy? Which sectors will use it most and why? Most importantly, what defines success?

Paul Hammes is the Ernst and Young Global Divestiture Advisory Services Leader and co-author of the study. He works on carve-outs, tax-free spinoffs, roll-ups, IPOs and more across a range of industries.

Working Capital Conversations: The CEO Reputation Premium with Leslie Gaines-Ross, Weber Shandwick

88d64c4d-6a1d-4da9-932e-ef5d6ee81926Working Capital Conversations: Leading thinkers, practitioners and experts discuss the ideas that drive global business.

How should a CEO behave? Bold? Maybe. Decisive? Probably. But how about humble? Attentive? Accessible?

CEO behavior – or, more accurately, reputation – arguably has never been more important than it is today. With growing social networks and changing social expectations, a CEO’s reputation is trickier to maintain and more central to a company’s bottom line than ever. And we’re only just at the beginning of this trend.

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 4.31.38 PMThese are just some of the findings of a new and insightful report titled: “The CEO Reputation Premium: Gaining Advantage in the Engagement Era.” But if the reality that CEO reputation matters is clear, the question remains: How do you do it? At a time when every word, every misstep, every wrong tweet becomes front page news, how does a leader walk the balance of being out there – but not too much and only in the right ways?

To find out, we asked the author.

Leslie Gaines-Ross is Chief Reputation Strategist at Weber Shandwick, the leading global public relations agency, and co-author of the CEO Reputation Premium report. Gaines-Ross is one of the world’s most widely recognized experts on reputation—how they’re built, enhanced and protected. She is the author of a couple of books on CEO reputation, she speaks frequently and globally on the topic; and she finds herself on several Most Influential People and Top Thought leaders lists.

Working Capital Conversations: ‘Collaboration and Leadership for Sustainability’ with Martin Reeves, Boston Consulting Group

resource_preview_1131Working Capital Conversations looks at sustainability.

We all know that with the global economy, cross-border transactions have all but erased traditional boundaries. We know what these changes have meant for finance, technology, trade, operations and more.

But what about sustainability? As sustainability has evolved from a nice to have – from a cute addition to the annual report or an easy way to appease angry shareholders – and into a core business strategy central to profitability, how have global realities affected the way businesses consider exactly what sustainability means? In an interconnected world, how do successful businesses address sustainability today?

These are among the questions addressed in a recent MIT Sloan Management Review report. And the answers may surprise you.

“Joining Forces: Collaboration and Leadership for Sustainability” was prepared through a partnership of the MIT Sloan Management Review, the Boston Consulting Group and the United Nations Global Compact.

One of the named authors is Martin Reeves, senior partner and managing director at the Boston Consulting Group. He also leads the BCG Strategy Institute globally.

Working Capital Conversations: The Sharing Economy with Joel Stein, Time Magazine

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 4.11.07 PMWorking Capital Conversations looks at The Sharing Economy – businesses like Uber or Lyft or AirBNB rewriting traditional business models so that people like you and me can compete with major corporations.

Thinking to stay at the Hilton on your next Paris vacation? Why not rent a room – or a condo – from a local Parisien, getting more space at a lower cost. Tired of waiting for a taxi during New York rush hour? Hire a private car, and get alerts telling you once it’s arrived.

But just as the Sharing Economy is changing personal economics, it also impacts big business, with tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars in investments and transactions. The newcomers gain billions in valuation and revenue. Major brands create sub-brands to compete.

So what’s it really like inside the Sharing Economy? What does it mean to be a buyer or a seller? Is this a passing fad – the selfie of global business?

Joel Stein wanted to find out. Stein, of course, is a writer, reporter and humorist at Time Magazine. His cover story – “Baby, You Can Drive My Car, and Do My Errands, and Rent My Stuff…” – explores the Sharing Economy and provides answers with the mix of insight and absurdity that Stein has delivered for years.

Gary Katz PT, CEO of Pivot Physical Therapy

Gary Katz PT is a trained physical therapist and CEO of Pivot Physical Therapy. He has experience growing a business from scratch, as well as implementing the new trends in personal well-being.

With youth concussions filling headlines (see recent Pediatrics questioning the conventional wisdom of implementing rest following a possible concussion) and business tips always being sought, Katz offered a range of insights on:

Youth Sports – “Parents need to understand a child’s limitations and allow them to have fun while playing sports and not always focus on making their child the next Michael Phelps… or Dan Marino.”

Sports and Diabetes – “As technology improves, it is going to give athlete with diabetes better ways and practices to assist in managing their condition while performing at high level of competition.”

Staying Healthy – “Lots of people have issues with balance between work, family, and whatever life brings to the table. A regimen of exercise three to five times a week will help maintain a high level of health.”

Physical Therapy – “A lot of time people think physical therapy causes more pain but quite the contrary. It is used to reduce pain in order to restore someone’s ability to get back to their daily activities.”

Growing a Business – “Businesses are supported by local community. Evert business should have some sort of community involvement at the grassroots level… It’s always important to have the foresight and the constant ear to the ground so know what is going on in your community.”

Technology – “Physical therapists are truly experts in wellness and movement and these wearables could eventually assist the physical therapist in designing exercise programs for the patient. And with the use of these wearables, patients will possibly be more compliant with their exercise plan or easier to monitor their wellness or fitness.”

Culture and Brand – “Brand is important in that there is value in a highly sought out product and if you can build your brand through your culture and through the care and service or the product you are providing, it strengthens your whole business model.”

Charlie Cook: Editor & Publisher of The Cook Political Report

CharlieCookFew follow the ins and outs of political campaigns more closely than Charlie Cook and his team of reporters and editors. And with less than three weeks to go before the new most important election of our lifetimes, they’re tracking all the key races and trends – in particular, who will take control of the U.S. Senate.

Listen here at Political Wire.

Sam Wang: Founder, Princeton Election Consortium

LIVE.RR_WangIt remains impossible to talk about the 2014 Midterms without turning immediately to the big question – the only question –which party will take Senate Control? And who are we to fight that power?

So while we wait 6 weeks for actual results, we turn instead to predictive analysis –deep dives into dozens of race-by-race polls that seem to be released hourly. What do they show? How many seats are truly still in play? Where should we focus attention, and within that focus, what should we be looking for. And most simply, can’t anyone just tell us who’s going to win?

Sam Wang is an Associate professor of neuroscience and molecular biology at Princeton University. He is also founder of the Princeton Election Consortium, where he publishes one of the most-watched polling models around. Sam’s model has come under some scrutiny this election season, as it’s been one of the few models consistently predicting that the Democrats will retain the Senate. What does Wang know that the rest of us don’t?

Listen here at Political Wire.

Nate Silver: Founder and Editor-in-Chief,

NateSilverAs we make our way towards the first Tuesday in November, a highly-watched, always-debated component of American politics is ready to take it’s place center stage: Statistical models.

These models, which connect and weight a range of ever-changing data, have replaced the simple “who will win by how many points” projections. And with Senate control both still undetermined and central to our political future, understanding these models is key.

And, of course, none of these models is better known or more anticipated than Nate Silver’s.

Nate Silver almost single-handedly brought the art and science of political statistical modeling in our cultural mainstream. He is founder and editor-in-chief of FiveThirtyEight.

Listen here at Political Wire.

John Dean: Author, “The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It”

john_dean_head_picIn little more than a week, we’ll mark 40 years since one of the darkest days in American politics, government and culture – 40 years since President Richard Nixon resigned our nation’s highest office.

Much has been written and reviewed about Watergate. So much that there would seem little room for anything new.

But there is.

John Dean played a key role in the Watergate tale.  He served as counsel to the President during that time, and while he did not know of the break-in when it occurred nor of White House involvement for many months later, he found himself – perhaps unwittingly – becoming a central player in what he calls The Nixon Defense.

In the last years, Dean listened to and transcribed the primary Watergate source material: Nixon’s own White House recordings. Incredibly, many of these conversations have never been transcribed, cataloged and examined. That’s what Dean has done, and in the process – he says – connected the dots between what we believe about Watergate and what actually occurred. He has documented it all in a new book: “The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It.”

Listen here at Political Wire.

Doug Schoen: Political Strategist, Pollster

douglas.schoen-pollster1Today’s issue, who’s running harder against President Obama – Republicans or Democrats? The question is only partly exaggerated.

From criticism on “who lost Iraq” to the handling of the Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl prisoner exchange to even the environment. And, of course, there’s always Obamacare.

So how legitimate is this criticism? Is President Obama – and his low approval ratings in various key states – weighing down the team? Should Democrats be more constructive and supportive of their chief?

Doug Schoen is one of the most influential Democratic campaign consultants for over thirty years. He served as a political adviser and pollster for President Bill Clinton from 1994-2000, and has worked with mayors, governors and heads of state in more than 15 countries. He is a founding partner and principle strategist for Penn, Schoen & Berland and widely recognized as one of the co-inventors of overnight polling.

Listen here at Political Wire.


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