Guest: Rawi Abdelal is a Herbert F. Johnson Professor of International Management at the Harvard School of Business. He’s also the director of HBS’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, faculty co-chair of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, and the faculty chair of the HBS/YPO President’s program, which is where I met him. During his 20 years on the HBS faculty, Professor Abdelal has served in many leadership roles and has twice earned the Greenhill award for service to the Harvard Business School. Professor Abdelal is an expert on globalization, geopolitics, and political economy. Widely published, he has written about the global financial system, international politics, the influence of multinational firms on world politics, and the transformation of energy markets. He is currently at work on two projects. One project, The Fragile State of the World, explores the interrelated challenges that undermined the first era of globalization and that threaten to destroy the current age of global capitalism. The second project, The Profits of Power, explores the geopolitics of energy in Europe and Eurasia. He has valuable insight into how business leaders can help fix the world’s biggest problems.
Episode in a Tweet: As global political and economic systems break down, business leaders can step up and help fix the problems that plague us by focusing on income inequality, creating dignity at work, and looking at education differently.
Quick Background: I met Rawi when I attended the HBS/YPO president’s program a few years ago, and I was struck by his speaking style, intellect, and knowledge of geopolitical systems. I love politics, some might say I am a bit of a politics junkie, so his lectures resonated with me. In December 2020, I invited Rawi to join me for a YPO fireside chat to talk about the outcome and ramifications of the Joe Biden presidency. It was a fascinating conversation, and afterward, I asked him if he would come on Reflect Forward and he agreed. In this episode, Rawi and I talk about the state of global politics, why we have seen populist movements, and why politicians are unable to stimulate change. We also talk about how business leaders can make an impact by doing something about income equality, creating inclusive workplaces where people keep their dignity, and revamping our views on education by promoting trade school and alternatives to college degrees. Rawi also gives us insight into himself, sharing stories of deep shyness and how he has overcome his fear of public speaking. This is an in-depth and insightful interview and I feel fortunate to have spent this hour picking Rawi’s brain and getting to know him better.
Question of the Episode: Are you on Clubhouse yet?
My Answer: I am signed up, but I haven’t used it much; I plan to put on a Clubhouse event sometime this summer. Curious about Clubhouse? It is a social networking app that allows people to gather in chat rooms to discuss various topics. You can’t see each other; it’s just an audio platform where a moderator oversees the discussions and interviews.
Like this episode? Check out my blog on why you shouldn’t believe everything you think.