Episodes
As an inquisitive reader, books were a cherished commodity for Leopoldo López when he was a political prisoner in his home country of Venezuela. His prison guards eventually observed the strength and focus López gained from reading. In an attempt to stifle his spirit, the guards confiscated his books and locked them in a neighboring cell where he could see but not access them. But López didn’t let this stop him from writing or discourage his resolve to fight for freedom. A Venezuelan...
Published 07/27/22
Fighting fires meant a lot of downtime for Matthew Ball. Stationed at a forward operating base in the woods for two weeks at a time, he spent long hours amongst fellow firefighters with whom he shared little in common except for their love of the outdoors. The skills he gained working towards mutual goals with those he had little else in common with has translated well to his career as a strategist and venture capitalist in the digital media and gaming industries. Ball is a managing partner...
Published 07/13/22
Published 07/13/22
Growing up, Barkha Dutt was totally rootless. She spoke English, not her parent’s Punjabi. She devoured Enid Blyton and studied English literature during college, but read few Indian novelists. She didn’t even know her caste. This has opened her up to criticism as being a progressive elite who is out of touch with her heritage, and challenged her to be especially thoughtful in the way she examines the many overlapping values in Indian society. A successful broadcast journalist and columnist,...
Published 06/29/22
Like the frontier characters from Deadwood, his favorite TV show, Marc Andreessen has discovered that the real challenge to building in new territory is not in the practicalities of learning a trade, but in developing a savviness for what makes people tick. Without understanding the deep patterns of human behavior, how can you know what to build, or who should build it, or how? For Marc, that means reading deeply in the humanities: “I spent the first 25 years of my life trying to understand...
Published 06/15/22
What does it mean to uphold disability rights, or the right to economic liberty? What framework should be used when rights appear to conflict? Constitutional law expert Jamal Greene contends that the way Americans view rights—as fundamental, inflexible, and universal—is at odds with how the rest of the world conceives of them, and even with how our own founders envisaged them. In his new book, How Rights Went Wrong, he lays out his vision for reimagining rights as the products of political...
Published 06/01/22
If Tyler and Daniel's latest book can be boiled down into a single message, it would be that the world is currently failing at identifying talent, and that getting better at it would have enormous benefits for organizations, individuals, and the world at large. In this special episode of Conversations with Tyler, Daniel joined Tyler to discuss the ideas in their book on how to spot talent better, including the best questions to ask in interviews, predicting creativity and ambition, and the...
Published 05/18/22
What causes war? Many scholars have spent their careers attempting to study the psychology of leaders to understand what incentivizes them to undertake the human and financial costs of conflict, but economist and political scientist Chris Blattman takes a different approach to understanding interstate violence. He returns for his second appearance on Conversations with Tyler to discuss his research into the political and institutional causes of conflict, the topic of his new book ​​Why We...
Published 05/04/22
When it comes to the enormous reduction of income inequality during the 20th century, Thomas Piketty sees politics everywhere. In his new book, A Brief History of Equality, he argues the rising equality during the 19th and 20th centuries has its roots not in deterministic economic forces but in the movements to end aristocratic and colonial societies starting at the end of the 18th century. Drawing this line forward, Piketty also contends we must rectify past injustices before attempting to...
Published 04/20/22
“The best history,” says Roy Foster, “is written when we realize that people acted in expectation of a future that was never going to happen.” While this is the case for many countries, it’s especially true of Ireland—the land of The Troubles, of colonization, of revolution and reforms. This sympathy within his scholarship sets Foster’s work apart. Not content to simply document the facts of what did happen, he’s undertaken the role of reconstructing the motivations that animated the Irish...
Published 04/06/22
A prolific translator, author, and former professor of creative writing, Lydia Davis’s motivation for her life’s work is jarringly simple: she just loves language. She loves short, sparkling sentences. She loves that in English we have Anglo-Saxon words like “underground” or Latinate alternatives like “subterranean.” She loves reading books in foreign languages, discovering not only their content but a different culture and a different history at the same time. Despite describing her creative...
Published 03/23/22
Whether it’s scaling an arbitrage opportunity or launching an ambitious philanthropic project, Sam Bankman-Fried has set himself apart. In just a few years, he’s not only made billions trading crypto, but also become a leading practitioner of effective altruism, with the specific aim of making lots of money in order to donate most of it to high-impact causes. He joined Tyler to discuss the Sam Bankman-Fried production function, the secret to his trading success, how games like Magic: The...
Published 03/09/22
How do you go about writing a book on an era that is, for many, recent history? When Chuck Klosterman set out to write his new book, The Nineties, he wasn’t interested in representing it as a misremembered era or forcing a retrospective view into modern ideology. Rather than finding overlooked signposts that signaled events to come, he says, he wanted to capture what it actually felt like to experience that time – the anxiety and excitement around scientific and technological progress, what...
Published 02/23/22
Venture capital powered the tech revolution, but what powers venture capital? With his in-depth knowledge and coverage of the sector you’d be forgiven for thinking Sebastian Mallaby is a veteran of the Silicon Valley scene. The author of several books on finance and economics, Sebastian takes pride in understanding his subjects intimately (perhaps too intimately, if you ask his critics). His latest book, Power Law: Venture Capital and the Making of the New Future, sheds light on the small...
Published 02/09/22
From psychedelics to cyberculture, hippie communes to commercial startups, and the Whole Earth Catalog to the Long Now Foundation, Stewart Brand has not only been a part of many movements—he was there at the start. Now 83, he says he doesn’t understand why older people let their curiosity fade, when in many ways it’s the best time to set off on new intellectual pursuits. Tyler and Stewart discuss what drives his curiosity, including the ways in which he’s a product of the Cold War, how he...
Published 01/26/22
In this special crossover special with EconTalk, Tyler interviews Russ Roberts about his new life in Israel as president of Shalem College. They discuss why there are so few new universities, managing teams in the face of linguistic and cultural barriers, how Israeli society could adapt to the loss of universal military service, why Israeli TV is so good, what American Jews don’t understand about life in Israel, what his next leadership challenge will be, and much more. Check out Macro...
Published 01/19/22
Is genius born or made? For Croatian-born classical guitarist Ana Vidović the answer is both. Born into a musical family, she began playing guitar at five and was quickly considered a prodigy. But she’s seen first-hand how that label can trap young talents into complacency, stifling their full development. She’s also had to navigate changing business models and new technologies, learning for instance how to balance an online presence with her love of performing for live audiences. She joined...
Published 01/12/22
Want to support the show? Visit donate.mercatus.org/podcasts On this special year-in-review episode, Tyler and producer Jeff Holmes talk about the past year on the show, including one episode’s appearance on Ancient Aliens, Tyler’s picks for most underrated guests, how his 2021 predictions fared from last year’s retrospective, further reflections on the most downloaded—and most polarizing—episode of the year, how David Deutsch influenced Tyler’s opinions of Karl Popper, why he thinks his...
Published 12/29/21
Want to support the show? Visit donate.mercatus.org/podcasts When Ray Dalio was 23, President Nixon announced that the United States would no longer be adhering to the gold standard for American currency. Clerking on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Dalio expected to see chaos—but instead stocks soared. Curious to understand this phenomenon, he began to read about similar events in 1933, and it opened his eyes to the lessons that could be drawn from history. His latest book draws...
Published 12/15/21
The most challenging part of being a biographer for Ruth Scurr is finding the best form to tell a life. “You can't go in there with a workmanlike attitude saying, ‘I'm going to do cradle to grave.’ You’ve got to somehow connect and resonate with the life, and then things will develop from that.” Known for her innovative literary portraits of Robespierre and John Aubrey, Scurr’s latest book follows Napoleon’s life through his engagement with the natural world. This approach broadens the usual...
Published 12/01/21
Baltimore native David Rubenstein is a founding figure in private equity, a prolific philanthropist, and author. From leveraged buyouts to his patriotic philanthropy to his leadership roles within institutions like the Smithsonian, Kennedy Center, and the National Gallery of Art, David has spent much of his life evaluating what makes institutions—and people—succeed. He joined Tyler to discuss what makes someone good at private equity, why 20 percent performance fees have withstood the test...
Published 11/17/21
When the audience for visual art expanded from small circles of artists and collectors into broader culture, the way art was experienced shifted from aesthetics to explanation. Art, it became thought, should be about something. But David Salle rebukes this literal-mindedness: according to him, what we think and feel when reacting to a piece of art is more authoritative than what’s written on the label next to it. A painter, sculptor, and filmmaker, David is also the author of How to See:...
Published 11/03/21
Stan McChrystal has spent a long career considering questions of risk, leadership, and the role of America’s military, having risen through the Army’s ranks ultimately to take command of all US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, a force representing 150,000 troops from 45 countries. Retiring as a four-star general in 2010, he has gone on to lecture at Yale and launched the McChrystal Group, where he taps that experience to help organizations build stronger teams and devise winning strategies....
Published 10/20/21
Harvard professor Claudia Goldin has made a name for herself tackling difficult questions. What was the full economic cost of the American Civil War? Does education increase or lessen income inequality? What causes the gender pay gap—and how do you even measure it? Her approach, which often involves the unearthing of new historical data, has yielded lasting insights in several distinct areas of economics. Claudia joined Tyler to discuss the rise of female billionaires in China, why the US...
Published 10/06/21
What is our right to be desired? How are our sexual desires shaped by the society around us? Is consent sufficient for a sexual relationship? In the wake of the #MeToo movement, public debates about sex work, and the rise in popularity of “incel culture”, philosopher Amia Srinivasan explores these questions and more in her new book of essays, The Right to Sex: Feminism in the Twenty-First Century. Amia’s interests lay in how our internal perspectives and desires are shaped by external forces,...
Published 09/22/21