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Samir Shah on Innovating Capital

episode link: https://www.buzzsprout.com/126848/8171216-samir-shah-on-innovating-capital

youtube link: https://youtu.be/diERmzI7YSc

Why did I do this show? Inside the reinsurance world the idea of finding more ‘efficient’ capital carries an almost religious fervor. In my opinion there is a lot of silly thinking on the topic and Samir struck me as someone who combines idealism with a pragmatic and experienced flair. That is rare! I got the chance to take the gloves off and talk about all the things that really bother me on the topic!

What did I learn? learned about the underlying principle of Samir’s strategy, which I have to admit is one I agree with. It’s smaller and much more powerful than I had appreciated going into the conversation.

What was my favorite part? Oh, take on all manner of sloppy ideas about how capital really works in insurance and Samir and I were much more aligned than I had appreciated before. It was a fantastic conversation!

David Soloff on OTT Risk

Episode page: https://www.buzzsprout.com/126848/8216830-david-soloff-on-o-t-t-risk

youtube link: https://youtu.be/QwBFpkxTDs4

Why did I do this show? I love talking to startups run by smart people who think deeply about their new businesses. David was an easy one to talk to!

What was my favorite part? Listening to David deliver a pretty thorough analysis for why triggers for some complex insurance products are incredibly complicated. He gets it!

What did I learn? It’s passion that carries you through difficult times. I mean, this is hardly novel insight, but it’s one of those things that you always need to relearn. David is a passionate as well as very smart, that’s what it takes!

Jessica Leong on Who Actuaries Are

Episode Link: https://www.buzzsprout.com/126848/8725339

Youtube Link: https://youtu.be/9uI7NVo2t0Y

Why did I do this show: I think the actuarial profession is at a very interesting transition point and also caught between new and old school data science. Tradition is their source of institutional strength but they are at a branding deficit compared to mainstream “AI”. Jessica embodies a way forward and she’s the president of the CAS!

What did I learn: I learned that there is a plan at the CAS! Jessica is launching a deliberate effort to move the profession forward

What was my favorite part: I got the chance to touch on the debate that I never got to have about the potential merging of actuarial professions. Someday to revisit I am sure!

GA Bartick on How to Sell

Episode link: https://www.buzzsprout.com/126848/9658359

youtube link: https://youtu.be/TK0ZNnK-od0

Why did I do this show? Sales is underrated! I love thinking deeply about sales and I have learned quite a lot studying GA’s work.

What did I learn? My favorite lesson was in thinking about how sales has changed over time (or not!).

What was my favorite part? I loved GA’s story about how he named his book. What is the silver bullet for sales?

Doug Hubbard on How To Measure Anything

Episode Link: https://www.buzzsprout.com/episodes/8425601

Youtube Link: https://youtu.be/3S2KtvqyBKU

Why did I do this show: Doug’s work is an astounding depth of highly practicable advice on how to make decisions. Quantifying the value of information (you can do that!), overcoming cognitive bias (you can do that!), using actuarial techniques to apply to any decision making process (you can do that!), and on and on. Read Doug Hubbard!

What did I learn: Ok, here’s the real thing about Doug’s work: nobody has heard of Doug Hubbard. The implications of that are mind boggling to me. We have in our hands the way to really improve the world if we all respected and admired Doug the way I do. Yet we don’t! Figuring out why is becoming an obsession of mine.

What was my favorite part: Doug dropped a great phrase on me, analysis placebos. Love it

Bryan Caplan on the Myth of the Rational Voter

Episode Link: https://www.buzzsprout.com/126848/8862288

Youtube Link: https://youtu.be/x6hT6d2qP30

Why did I do this show: I have been studying politics of all things to better understand how we make decisions under uncertainty. Anthropologists that study risk make the link between decision making under uncertainty and the political decision making process. Bryan is such a fantastic person to study because he is an incredibly thorough researcher. You get an integration of almost all thinking in a field with you read one of his books and I wanted to understand politics.

What did I learn: I learned about Bryan’s concept of irrationality and how that captures the real political decision making process that underpins all decisions about uncertainty. There is much to continue learning here!

What was my favorite part: I think my favorite part was linking the organizational political process to Bryan’s work which isn’t something he’d thought about.

Mahbod Moghadam on Controversy

Episode link: https://www.buzzsprout.com/126848/9145379

youtube link: https://youtu.be/t8xca4MTnfo

Why did I do this show? I first came across Mahbod on Erik Torenberg’s podcast several years ago. I was fascinated by the guy’s willingness to be a complete contrarian but also pretty open and self-aware. Very unusual person and one that I think is very easy to underrate. This was a bit of an experiment for me and I wasn’t sure I was going to publish it. It was on the shelf for a long time. But I dusted it off and gave a listen and found I enjoyed it so here it is!

What did I learn? I learned that Mahbod doesn’t like capitalism! Ha, what an interesting dude.

What was my favorite part? I can say my LEAST favorite part was accusations of racism and the like against all sorts of people. Ad hominem is definitely not my style, ha!

Joe Henrich on Cultural Evolution

Episode link: https://www.buzzsprout.com/126848/9310030

Youtube link: https://youtu.be/ud-1rhQHnKE

Why did I do this show? Joe is an absolute intellectual heavyweight in Sociology. This is a dream interview for me!

What did I learn? This is a bit meta but I was fascinated by Joe’s intellectual discipline. He never really strays from the research much as I tried to lure him to speculate about all kinds of ideas adjacent to his research but mostly undiscovered territory. How infrequently cultural evolution has been applied to business. More to come on this I promise you!

What was my favorite part? Easy, I got Joe to not disagree with my view that insurance is the most fundamental use of culture.

David Zuby On Crash Test Dummies

Episode link: https://www.buzzsprout.com/126848/9470428

Youtube link: https://youtu.be/G03jRCHJOw4

Why did I do this show?

I was touring HDLI’s offices (I will publish this content some day!) and found myself talking to a worldwide expert in crash test dummies. I interrupted his stream of thought and asked if I could record!

What did I learn?

That cars once used cadavers instead of crash test dummies!

What was my favorite part?

How they design the biomechanics? How they transfer the data? How their research has directly led to improvements in airbag explosives! Much to like!

Scott Sumner On Monetary Policy

Episode link: https://www.buzzsprout.com/126848/9462422

Youtube link: https://youtu.be/DzTCRHtO77o

Why did I do this show? I’m been a fan of Scott’s work for a very long time and when I found out he was putting out a book I asked him to come onto the show. Two massive lessons from Scott are: never reason from a price change and, more generally, the power of markets as forecasting tools.

What did I learn? I finally got my head around the basics of what monetary policy is! Here’s a clip!

What was my favorite part? Researching this show got me to thinking about how monetary policy experts really don’t participate much in the debates on cryptocurrency. I found one paper that touched on the topic and some random forum posts, and I asked Scott about how he might design a cryptocurrency right out of the gate. I was excited to use that as a device for exploring some of how monetary policy works and I think this was extremely useful for me to learn.

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