Claim Ownership


Subscribed: 0Played: 0


Tyler Cowen on Talent

Tyler Cowen on Talent


Tyler Cowen is an economist, author, podcaster, venture and philanthropic sponsor. Tyler is one of my intellectual heroes, this is his third appearance on this program and we'll be anchoring this discussion around his new book *Talent: How to Identify Energizers, Creatives, and Winners Around the World* co-authored with Daniel Gross. Tyler blogs at (I've been reading it every day for about 15 years) and hosts the only must-listen podcast in my player: Conversations with Tyler. Tyler is an inspiration!In the show we talk about:* Why the book deserves to succeed in a moral sense* Is Tyler moving away from academia? * What do I think the main connection is between Tyler and Daniel and how it informs this book?* What is the goal of writing this book?* What is the most important academic result... (ironic, I say!)* Why should Tyler's podcast guests be scared? * Is bias good or bad?* The list of tools available to those in power law businesses has grown!Book link: notes: link:
Howard Kunreuther is the foremost authority on applying behavioral economics to unlikely, high consequence events. I remain astounded that Howard's teachings are not part of the educational canon for all insurance professionals. This is important stuff!In this episode we discuss:* Cognitive bias and how it impacts society generally and insurance in particular* How we might overcome cognitive bias in our decision making* Prioritization of risk* How politics really is the mediating force for discussing risk* Does voter irrationality give us cause for hope? show notes at: link:
Social science is brutally hard to do well. I once got a guest to admit there has been no progress on it ever and another one to say that moral progress is literally impossible. I think there's a deeper link to morality and social science than most so this is depressing stuff for me. This episode was part of an effort of mine to get back to first principles. But, uh.. what ARE the first principles of social science? Enter Robin!Robin Hanson is Associate professor of Economics at George Mason University and is back for his second appearance to talk about social science of very distant (in every possible sense of the term) societies. We have aliens, we have future humans, we have simulations. Robin speculates about things he can see today, things he thinks might happen in a century or two and even what might be going on in 1 million CE and perhaps beyond. As a frame for the show I think of it as trying to reason about what is permanent about social life by thinking of things that are weird and distant. Robin immediately disagrees with my premise and we go from there. We always learn from Robin Hanson, people!Show notes: link:
Stan McChrystal retired as a 4 Star General in the US Army and has since founded the McChrystal Group, written four books and launched a podcast. Stan is one of the world's foremost scholars and practitioners of leadership and in this conversation we focus on his latest book, Risk: A User's Guide. As I say in the interview, I think this is Stan's most straightforward how-to guide on leadership and we dig very deeply into the nuanced and fascinating connection between leadership and uncertainty, including:* What the history of military tactics can teach us about social progress* How hard is it to manage Special Forces? Why might it be different than other branches of the military?* When and why is Stan skeptical of using data to make decisions?* How does uncertainty reduction help you judge a leader? * How do we use morality to help guide us through uncertainty? Who are the best at this in the military?* What kind of information is toxic to decision making?And more! Show notes at:
Ga Bartick on How To Sell

Ga Bartick on How To Sell


GA Bartick teaches people how to sell an underappreciated skill with very general applications. GA wrote a book called Silver Bullet Selling and in this conversation we talk about- how small organizations should scale their founders- Has sales changed over time- What is different about your industry?- How to make an emotional connection- How insurance is different!- Big ticket vs small ticket sales- Sales books are exemplary training manuals. How to teach, how to train?- Is sales training generating results? How do we know?- Do we hate practicing sales more than anything else?- Does sales training change your life?Show notes at:
Scott Sumner is the Ralph G. Hawtrey Chair of Monetary Policy at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and blogger at and econlog and author of two books: The Midas Paradox and more recently, The Money Illusion. Scott came to prominence because his work on the Great Depression (published in Midas Paradox) gave him analytical superpowers for understanding the Great Recession in real time in 2008 and 2009 and beyond and in retrospect. We've seen the monetary policy establishment move closer and closer to the views Scott has been trying to talk them into for over ten years. Scott is one of those people who understands some very deep things about a very challenging subject. We can all learn from Scott!In the conversation we cover:- How might he design crypto monetary policy?- What matters more, revenue or wages?- Where does monetary policy end and fiscal policy begin?- Why isn't the fed more politicized?- How does Monetary Policy really work? How are inflation expectations set and how do they really matter?- NGDP targeting and how Scott's view has changed on it Show notes:
David Zuby is executive vice president and chief research officer for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and also a worldwide expert on crash test dummies! I found myself in an amazingly interesting conversation with David out in the field and pulled out my smartphone to capture it!In this quick chat we discuss:* the production economy of crash test dummies* what the challenges are in designing them* what are the limitations?* how long do they last?* Do you remember Vince and Larry!?Show Notes:
Craig Hupper on ESG

Craig Hupper on ESG


Craig is Head of ESG for Trans Re, a global reinsurance company and in this episode we dig into what ESG is about generally and what role reinsurers and the insurance industry plays today. In the episode we cover:* Is Trans doing this for the good of society or just to raise rates?* Is it just about catastrophe business?* Does it just mean you'll make more money on non-ESG-consistent risks?* What does a company that embodies the antithesis of ESG values look like?* Is this just a marketing strategy?* Is a marketing strategy actually a really good reason to do this, even in principle?* Does it make sense to have a separate ESG committee?* What on earth is the G about?And much more!
Joe Henrich is Professor and Chair of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University. He has written two books that have been incredibly eye-opening for me: The Secret of Our Success and the WEIRDest People in the World. Joe has put cultural evolution on the map as the best way for understanding why the world looks the way it does today. In the interview we cover:-How cultures are a statistical concept and what philosophers get wrong when analyzing culture-What culture 'wants' -What is the speed minimum of innovation?-Are there things we can do to accelerate cultural evolution further? -How should we analyze subcultures?-Is Insurance really the fundamental application for culture?Show Notes: link:
Mahbod Moghadam is the co-founder of Genius (formerly Rap Genius), co-founder of, and co-founder of My words but Mahbod helped build Genius by being a controversial guy online. Controversy does not make you universally loved and Mahbod has "had beef" with a whole slew of who's who in the tech business. Some of it was real, some of it was show, all of it was catnip for the press at the time!Two brain surgeries and many years later and Mahbod strikes a very different tone about his life and approach to entrepreneurship. I wanted to talk to him because he's unique. I tried to steer the conversation towards Rene Girard's ideas which I thought might apply well to Mahbod's story. I still feel that way but it's hard to stay meta for long with Mahbod and we bounce in and out of his life narrative while covering the role of media in the construction of controversy, whether being controversial is a good idea even in retrospect, what it means to be an Iranian Jew in the tech startup world and don't worry, Mahbod hasn't jettisoned contrarian and original ideas entirely. Enjoy my ride with Mahbod!Show notes:
Uwe Dulleck is a leading theorist on Credence Goods, a class of economic good defined by the fact that consumers can't verify the quality of what they've bought. Think car mechanics or medical procedures. Or insurance!Uwe's expertise doesn't end there of course and we talk about why people pay taxes, cybersecurity and some interesting ways Uwe has innovated on connecting academic work to real hard tech innovation. I had never heard to credence goods until a few months ago and it astonished me that there was a whole corner of economic thought devoted to consumers figuring out who to trust to get the right deal for themselves. It's an incredible and, in a world of ever-increasing specialization, increasingly important concept!Show Notes:
Bryan Caplan is Professor of Economics at George Mason University and for Bryan's second appearance we're talking about how voters aren't all they're cracked up to be in terms of their ability to generate good electoral outcomes. I have two interests in this work for Bryan. First, it's pretty helpful to have a sober literature-backed investigation into voter behavior in an era when politics feels like it's getting ever less functional. Second, I think there some deep ideas behind this book that inform how we make decisions in daily life. Politics isn't only confined to the ream of government, after all!Show notes:
Jessica Leong is the President of the Casualty Actuarial Society and the Lead Data Scientist at Zurich North America.Jessica used her conversational Jiu Jitsu powers to make me talk a fair bit more than usual in this episode and it turns out I had some things to get off my chest about being an actuary!We discuss:-How do we define what an actuary is. There are different ways to approach this question!-How might we have thought about the defunct CAS SOA merger?-Are the exams getting harder? Why?-The culture of being an actuary-How does Jessica introduce herself at dinner parties?Thanks for listening!Show notes:
Steve Mildenhall returns to talk insurance history! Int his follow up to our earlier episode we dig even deeper into data by different line of business and observe all kinds of interesting things:- which classes have more premium than claims volatility- statistical vs narrative analysis- how well can claims be forecast with prices?- how did the industry do?- which lines are more volatile and why?Check out the youtube video for the slides:
Doug Hubbard is the author of several books and I've read two: *How to Measure Anything* and *The Failure of Risk Management*. I can honestly say that one of my career goals is to implement his methodology into my job today and everything I do in the future. Here's an incomplete list of wow realizations that I had reading Doug:That you can overcome cognitive bias in estimating variationThat we don't measure what's most importantThat we can quantify the value of informationThat we can quantify uncertainty and use it to make decisionsThat expert opinion can be calibrated and aggregated and use in a quantifiable mannerThat Bayesian statistics explain the reduction in uncertainty that accompanies additional information. That last one is an *empirical* observation. I remain floored by that. Floored. I didn't even cover half of what I wanted to cover with Doug. Read Doug Hubbard. Learn from Doug Hubbard. I will continue to!Show notes:
Since joining the technology business I've had a whole variety of mental upgrades but Robert Hoekman has given me the chance to dig into what may be the most profound of them all: design. In the world of software we are confronted all the time with how feeble our minds are when tangling with reality. I think that the core mistake at the heart of bad software is that we humans are pre-programmed to believe our own BS. User Experience research lives and breathes human cognitive frailty and Robert Hoekman is an absolute master. He has written many books, in this episode we talk about The Tao of User Experience. A small, tidy phenomenal work that sits on my desk and from which I read nearly ever day. show notes:
David Soloff on O.T.T Risk

David Soloff on O.T.T Risk


David is the founder of Ottrisk, a startup building technology to support the underwriting of business interruption Insurance. Previous to Ott-risk, David was a founder of Premise, a collector of ground truth data, where he remains Chairman, and co-founder of Metamarkets, acquired by Snapchat. David serves on the advisory board of Columbia University’s Institute for Data Sciences, was a punk rock musician in the 80s and almost got his PdD in Mediterranean archeology. notes:
This is a clip from my upcoming interview with David Soloff on the opportunity in business interruption insurance. David is the founder of Ottrisk, a startup building technology to support the underwriting of business interruption Insurance. Previous to Ott-risk, David was a founder of Premise, a collector of ground truth data, where he remains Chairman, and co-founder of Metamarkets, acquired by Snapchat. David serves on the advisory board of Columbia University’s Institute for Data Sciences, was a punk rock musician in the 80s and almost got his PdD in Mediterranean archeology.
Samir Shah is Co-Founder and CEO of Ledger Investing, former Chief Reinsurance Office and Head of Capital markets at AIG. Samir started his career as a pension actuary and management consultant. I came across Samir at the tail end of my reinsurance broking career and his business fascinated me.If you were wondering why I've never gotten into a knock-em-down drag-em-out deepest dive imaginable into insurance capital and the constraints on innovating at the very tippy top of the chain, you are in for a treat. If you listen closely to this you'll see that we actually slide into some serious heterodox territory on several occasions: are capital markets actually more efficient for taking risk? Are insurance results uncorrelated to other asset markets? Is insurance capital not a commodity? If these are suspect what is the key to unlocking a lower cost of capital for insurance? Listen to see what Samir has to say!Show notes:
This episode marks the return of Steve Mildenhall, principal at Convex Risk, former Assistant Professor of Actuarial Science at St John’s University and former CEO of Analytics at Aon. This time, Steve is bringing an amazing dataset that he has developed showing the longest sweep of history in insurance I have ever seen. You can see the deck we go through here. This show is probably best consumed as a video, which you can see here. You can see show notes at 
Download from Google Play
Download from App Store