Your world is evolving—find out how with Carter Phipps, co-author of the Wall St. Journal bestseller Conscious Leadership. He’s an optimist, a generalist, and an integrative thinker. Now he has an excuse for his insatiable book-buying habit—a show that explores the movements, trends, people, and ideas that are shaping the future. Phipps is also author of Evolutionaries, and cofounder of the Institute for Cultural Evolution. Through in-depth interviews and occasional rants and reflections, the show explores the many subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways that the world is changing and developing across a vast array of domains—from business and politics to science and technology to consciousness and spirituality.
Amiel Handelsman: Race and Maturity in the American Experience
The topic of race is never far from our lips when we are talking about the American experience. And yet, the complexities, confusions, minefields, and missteps that often confront those who work to overcome America’s racial legacy can make this a subject that people shy away from. That’s why my guest today is such a breath of fresh air. He’s taken the opposite approach, exploring issues of race and diversity head on, and deeply incorporating them into his own work in the consulting world. As an executive coach and integral leadership expert, Amiel Handelsman has rarely been shy about diving into these difficult issues. It has been part of his DNA since he first started doing volunteer social work all the way back in his collegiate days. Now, with several decades of practice and experience under his belt, not to mention a deep background in integral philosophy, Amiel is working on the ground every day, pragmatically helping his clients negotiate these issues at organizations around the country.
Race and diversity in America has changed and evolved a tremendous amount, even in my lifetime, but there is still a long evolutionary path ahead of us to get to where we want to be as a country. I’m grateful to be able to explore this path forward by tapping into Amiel’s expertise on a subject that continues to be critical to the future success of the American political and cultural experiment.
Brad DeLong: Are We Slouching Toward Utopia?
Too often, the questions that we ask about our own time-period reflect a limited understanding of history. For example, consider the question: why is there still poverty and inequality? It’s a worthy question, but an even better one might be: How did so many societies, against all odds and without historical precedent, escape poverty and become wealthy? How have we come so far in our attempt to escape the "nasty, short and brutish" existence of our ancestors? Instead of just focusing on what we are still doing wrong, maybe we should also put some attention on how we managed to do so much right, for so long. How did we succeed beyond all hope and expectations? How did we raise our economic expectations so high that people think material abundance for everyone is even a possible goal, let alone a universal right?
In his new book Slouching Towards Utopia: An Economic History of the 20th Century, UC Berkeley professor Brad DeLong digs into the policies of the last century, exploring the hows and whys of the recent explosion in material and economic development. No one living in the 16th or 17th century would have imagined a future of such abundance. To them, it might seem close to a utopia, at least in some parts of the world. To us, there is still so much work to do, particularly to make that wealth global and more universal. Given that historical context, should we be optimistic about the next century, or have we reached the limits of this type of economic explosion? Is abundance in our future? Or stagnation? And what might we do to tip the scales?
Steve McIntosh: Does Human Nature Evolve?
Steve McIntosh is already a regular guest on this podcast, and that’s no accident. Steve and I have been collaborating for many years, and we even cofounded the Institute for Cultural Evolution almost a decade ago. Steve is the President of the think tank and continues to build it, even as he releases important intellectual content, including his writings, books, talks, various podcast appearances. The subject of this dialogue is a significant one—it’s on human nature. Does it evolve? Or is it fixed? And how do we think about the evolution of self and culture, given our biological constraints? Since this conversation was recorded, Steve has also posted an article on the same subject, with the same title Does Human Nature Evolve? which can be found in here. I’m thrilled to have Steve back on the podcast to explore one of the most foundational questions in philosophy, psychology, and even spirituality.
Integral Conversations: Culture Wars and Human Progress with Jeff Salzman
As my regular listeners will know, I’m deeply influenced by the perspective known as Integral philosophy, and in particular, the insights it affords us into how human culture has evolved—and is still evolving today. This perspective informs the conversations I have on this podcast, to one degree or another. But every now and again, I get the opportunity to welcome a guest who is deeply versed in this philosophy, and we get to have a conversation that more explicitly and directly explores the nuances of this unique way of looking at the world. Since this is a somewhat regular occurrence, I’ve dubbed these Integral Conversations, and I’m thrilled to share this one, with my friend and colleague Jeff Salzman, creator of the Daily Evolver podcast and fellow board member at the Institute for Cultural Evolution.
For well over a decade now, Jeff has been bringing the insights of integral theory and philosophy right down to the ground level, applying them to the social and political issues of the moment. Integral thinkers are often focused on big-picture insights about history and worldviews and consciousness, so Jeff’s commitment to making these ideas accessible and relevant to current events is refreshing—as is his unwavering confidence that culture is indeed evolving, despite what the headlines might suggest. In this wide-ranging conversation, Jeff and I tackle the culture wars, social media, Elon Musk, the war in Ukraine, identity politics, and more.
Edward Chancellor: Money, Financial Bubbles, and the Price of Time
Inflation. Recession. Bubbles. Interest rates. Sovereign debt crisis. Today, everyone’s financial portfolio is falling and that makes people upset about markets and economics. But being angry or frustrated about the market is easy, understanding how and why we arrived at this point is much more challenging.
I was recently helped along in my journey of understanding by a fascinating new book, The Price of Time: The Real Story of Interest , by financial journalist and historian Edward Chancellor. The book examines the history of interest rates, going all the way back to the beginnings of civilization, and takes a particularly close look at periods in history where unusually low interest rates encouraged excesses of financial speculation, like the Japan in the 1980s or the Mississippi Bubble in the 18th century. Are we in one of those periods now, or have we been? And what might we do about it, if so? Some of this inquiry involves going back to the basics. What is money? What are interest rates? Why do we have them?Why did ancients feel so strongly about them, and attach so much moral weight to their use? Indeed, what purpose have they served historically? And most important, what impact are they having today, as central banks are raising them, after a long a period of historically low rates.
Interest rates are critical to financial markets. And financial markets are a key hinge that economically connects the present day with the future. Markets allocate money, investment, and capital, not just across existing businesses and ventures, but across time - they connect the realities of today with the possibilities of tomorrow. And the price of that investment, or the price of that risk over time, or the "price of time", is what we measure and call "interest rates". They may seem obscure, but given their outsized influence over the future, they are rather important in the evolution of our economic lives.
So what will be the outcome of this inflationary period, where the Federal Reserve is raising rates after dropping them so very low for so many years? Chancellor and I explore that question and others in this deep dive into interest, finance, speculation, risk, and their profound impact on the future of America and the world.
Tom Mustill: How to Speak Whale
What would you do if a whale landed on top of you—and you lived to tell the tale? That’s exactly what happened to wildlife biologist and filmmaker Tom Mustill in 2015, when a breaching humpback whale came crashing down on his kayak in California’s Monterey Bay—an event that was caught on video and quickly went viral. And what Tom did was to embark on a multi-year journey to better understand the inner life of the majestic sea mammal that had come so close to ending his own life. Why do whales breach? Do whales communicate? What is the meaning of their songs? These questions and more led him into the fascinating world of animal communication, enabled by the latest breakthroughs in technology that are enabling us to gather and analyze unprecedented volumes of data. The resulting book, How to Speak Whale: A Voyage Into the Future of Animal Communication, is an extraordinary and engaging read, filled with groundbreaking new research and insights.
As a lifelong lover of animals, I count this book among a handful of seminal works that have, over the past decades, powerfully changed my own understanding and reshaped our collective perception of a particular animal species and also of animal life in general. We still have so much to learn about inner lives, the cultures, and the intelligence of the other sentient beings with whom we share our planet. And as we learn, we must grapple with profound, even existential questions about our own place in the web of life, our impact, and the ways we relate to our fellow creatures. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to explore some of these big questions with Tom Mustill on this episode of Thinking Ahead.
Thinking Ahead is my favorite podcast.
I absolutely love Carter Phipps’ Thinking Ahead podcast. The range of guests and topics are delightfully diverse and reflect Carter’s deep curiosity about the world and his interesting personal history. He is a great interviewer who deftly weaves his own experience and insights into the conversation in a way that makes you feel less like you are listening to an interview and more like you are a fly on the wall for a great conversation between smart and interesting people. I simply cannot recommend this podcast more highly.
Always something new
I’ve listened to a few of Carter’s podcasts… recently the interview with Gary Lachman on the Ukraine war which I really appreciated. It elucidated a historic and deep philosophical context that I haven’t read about anywhere else. Every podcast I’ve listened to pushes the boundaries of the topic in ways that make me question and think more. Looking forward to the next one.
Profound conversations at the edge
I listen to every episode of this podcast and am always enriched and edified by the content. Carter Phipps is a deep and broad thinker who illuminates the nuances of every topic he explores. These are not just interviews but profound conversations at the edge that invite us to question our assumptions and to see the world in new, more enlightened ways.