Diana Wu : The Future of Work

March 14, 2019

My guest this week had an euphonious moment when a close friend and work colleague unexpectedly took her own life. That set in motion a series of questions about life and the world of work that resulted in a book, called Futureproof: Reinventing Work in an Age of Acceleration.

Diana Wu's book is a tour de force in understanding and addressing the changing world of work facing white-collar workers and professionals. Diana addresses some of the many ways people tackle workplace demands and how others opt out for more dynamic less myopic professional paths. She also notes how the gig economy is throwing up new possibilities allowing smart, risk-ready individuals to create livelihoods with a new twist.

The workplace is a central part of living. More than income, corporate professions have the power and potential to add meaning and purpose. Looking back over the long-arc of your professional career, where do you stand? Has it delivered all that it promised? Could it be time for that hard conversation, that existentialist debate with yourself that starts with…What does it all mean?

Find out more by listening to this week's episode.

Stanley Samuel : Solving Asia’s Water Crisis

March 7, 2019

Water permeates all things. It’s the backbone ingredient to the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and the sanitation we’ve come to rely on. According to Stanley Samuel, it’s high time to re-evaluate the importance and the value we place on this prized commodity.

Through his company ECOSOFTT, Samuel has set out to address both the over-consumption and under-consumption problems associated with water.Depending on the location and the circumstances, he and his colleagues use a combination of for-profit and not-for-profit approaches to drive water conscious behavior.

Will this hybrid model a la ECOSOFTT prevail? Learn more by listening to our conversation.

Raja Samu Samu VI : The King of Kings

February 28, 2019

This week’s guest is Raja Samu Samu VI of Maluku, the current Secretary General of the Association of Indonesian Rajas and Sultans - along with his public relations and project advisor, Rex Sumner.

While the Raja’s role in Indonesia is largely – if not entirely- ceremonial - he has designs on brokering a new set of local-foreign partnerships to improve and showcase all that Indonesia has to offer. Agribusiness, sustainable farming, urban renewal and cottage industries are all initiatives receiving his time and attention.

My encounter with the Raja made for a different kind of Inside Asia episode - a diversion from our normal fare, but still fabric to the story we call Asia.

Stephen Langton: Remaking Boards

February 21, 2019

Whatever your impression about the conventional "Board of Directors", its make-up, breadth and accountability are all about to change. That’s the view of this week's guest, Stephen Langton - head of the Board & CEO Advisory Group for the Asia Pacific region at Russel Reynolds Associates.

Langton says – perhaps surprisingly – that Asia is making a play to lead reforms in Board effectiveness. He says that in many countries in the region, governments, customers, shareholders, and citizens are demanding more from corporations and calling out Boards to do more and drive results.

Boards are increasingly being called to task on the so-called “social license to operate” or SLO. But are companies ready to deliver something more than customer value and think in broad terms about environment, community and the greater social well-being? Find out by listening to our full conversation.

Parag Khanna : The Future is Asian

February 14, 2019

There are periods of time when the stars align for every part of the world, and Asia has those stars aligning today, says Dr. Parag Khanna, founder and managing partner of FutureMap, a data- and scenario-based strategic advisory firm.

Khanna is a recognized commentator on Asian geopolitics. He appears regularly at global forums, government gatherings, and closed-door briefings. He’s also the author of a new book, The Future Is Asian: Commerce, Conflict, and Culture in the 21st Century, in which he tries to correct what he sees as an excessive focus on the rise of China in world affairs.

The countries of Southeast Asia, he argues, are left in China’s shadow, and that he says, is a failed assessment of the region’s potential.

Ravi Agrawal: India’s Smartphone Revolution

February 10, 2019

Just as the automobile transformed the lives of Americans 100 years ago, so the smartphone is having the same effect on the country of India. That’s the view of Ravi Agrawal, Managing Editor of Foreign Policy and author of India Connected: How the Smartphone is Transforming the World's Largest Democracy.

Smartphone sales may be slowing globally, but not in India. It’s the second largest phone market in the world after China with over 430 million users. And still, that only accounts for 45% of the addressable market. In other words, while demand for smartphones in most parts of the world is slowing, the appetite in India is accelerating.

To grasp the significance of the meteoric growth of smartphones in India, I asked Ravi to put things in context. What does it mean now and what could it mean in a few years’ time when smartphones become ubiquitous?

Bob Manning: US-China Relations

January 21, 2019

If you’re wondering why we spend so much time on the program addressing US-China relations, it’s because we believe it serves as a bellwether for a shifting world order. While China flexes its newfound geopolitical muscle with sights fixed fast on global markets, the moon, and more, the US appears mired in a crisis of national confidence. US headlines these days speak less of global outlook and more of walls and protectionism. Indeed, the American pioneering spirit appears to be beating a retreat. And at the risk of oversimplifying things, it is the juxtaposition of China vs. the U.S. that symbolizes to the world an inevitable shift in power.

To discuss this – and more – I’m joined by Bob Manning, Senior Fellow at that Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C. Bob has made a name for himself reflecting on some of the big geopolitical shifts in our time and its impact on the U.S. Getting his perspective on the changing temperament in Washington vis-à-vis China is the subject of our discussion

These days it’s downright fashionable to criticize China. In the US capital’s corridors of power, there’s no love lost for the People’s Republic. “Arrogant,” “over-reaching,” “hegemonic,” are all words to describe China and its preeminent leader Xi Jinping. It’s not so much what China does, but how it does it that gets other world leaders up in arms. With respect to the U.S., it’s a matter of national ego – if there even is such a thing. What the US really appears to want is a handshake and a thank you from the Chinese leadership.

My guest this episode is more conciliatory. While he too sees legitimate reason to criticize China for gaming the system to get what it wants commercially and politically, he feels that the U.S. would do well to first get its own house in order. “Instead of whining about China,” he says, the U.S. should be figuring out how to compete with them.”

Elizabeth Economy: US China Tensions, Huawei, and Xi Jinping’s Coming Challenge

January 10, 2019

Tensions between the United States and China continue to simmer amid trade negotiations, global influence, and the recent arrest of Huawei's CFO in Vancouver.

For context on where things are and where things might go from here, I spoke with Elizabeth Economy, the C.V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, a visiting fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, and, of course, an acclaimed author—her most recent book is The Third Revolution: Xi Jinping and the New Chinese State.

We discuss the escalating tensions surrounding the US/China trade agreement and the HuaWei situation and its potential ramifications. 

I ask Elizabeth if the the Trump Administration is executing a coherent foreign policy aimed at containing Chinese incursions, or something more reactive—simply a way for the Americans poke Huawei until it gives in to its demands.


Sam Tsui: China’s Overseas Investments

December 22, 2018

This episode I’m speaking with Sam Tsui, Managing Director of Evolution Advisors, a boutique advisory and investment firm specializing in helping corporates and investors find and and execute on deals in Asia. Before that—for about a decade—Sam worked for Microsoft, identifying acquisitions and partnerships across Asia Pacific.

Our topic this episode: China’s global expansion. Trump’s attempts to curtail it in recent weeks has riled the Chinese in recent weeks, but can anything stave off the Mainland’s appetite to grow their presence?

For some, the thought of a walled-in China as an imperial power may seem like a novelty, but to the people and nations of Asia Pacific it’s a matter of historical record. For thousands of years, the Chinese were on the move, welcoming tribute from its smaller neighbors. Are we seeing the aspirational engines of Chinese ambition beginning to turn again? Where landgrab and patronage served the interests of Imperial China in centuries past, it’s now data that seems the target.

We’ve talked about the power and delicacy of data on previous programs. In my discussion with Ogilvy’s Chris Graves we looked at how – with enough data – behaviors can be shaped and manipulated. In our episode with Anurag Banerjee, it became terrifying apparent how data can be leveraged for good and evil. We’ve also spoken widely with the likes of Fortune’s Clay Chandler, The Conference Board’s David Hoffman, and many others about the rise of China Inc.

But how real is this? And where does xenophobia enter in? The way the world portrays a country in the eyes of the consumer means something. So it is that as the US and other nations stoke fears on China, reservations naturally rise.

How does the growing anti-Chinese rhetoric impact China’s overseas investment strategy? This is the shape of the cultural clash that Chinese capital runs into when it moves overseas. How China reshapes its image abroad may tell us more about its potential for future success than any amount of money it could throw at overseas buying opportunities.

As always, thanks for listening.