#108 Big Data & STEM, Overrated? Scott Hartley

In our age of big data Liberal Arts smarts are undervalued. Our guest, Scott Hartley, argues that the most valuable jobs skills in the future will belong to people who can think creatively, using emotional intelligence and adaptability.

Scott is a venture capitalist and author of "The Fuzzy and the Techie: Why the Liberal Arts Will Rule the Digital World." At Stanford University, where he studied political science, fuzzies majored in the humanities or social sciences. Techies took computer science or STEM courses. Many in the business world still believe that it's the techies who drive innovation.

In his contrarian book (we love contrarians!) Scott reveals the counterintuitive reality today: it's actually the fuzzies - not the techies - who are playing key roles developing the most successful new business ideas. Corporate leaders, educators and thinkers are starting to realize that to tackle some of the world's biggest technological challenges, we need people who understand human emotions and behavior.
 
We unpack Scott’s argument, looking at examples of innovative fuzzy thinking, from Steve Jobs to Mark Zuckerberg and beyond. Our solutions look at new ideas for business, universities, government and parents.

#105 Road To Disaster: VW Emissions Scandal Jack Ewing

It isn't just the crime. It's also the cover-up. Volkswagen's multi-year conspiracy to evade pollution rules may be the biggest scandal in auto industry history.

The world's second largest car manufacturer misled regulators, consumers, and motorists.

Our guest is New York Times Germany correspondent, Jack Ewing, author of "Faster, Higher, Farther: The Volkswagen Scandal." The book tells the remarkable story of a very dysfunctional company and how the scandal unfolded.  

In 2008, Volkswagen started telling the world about its energy-efficient diesel cars that were fun to drive and got fantastic mileage. They were advertised as a great alternative to the Toyota Prius and other hybrid cars.

But the cars' green credentials were based on a lie. VW had installed software in the engines—"defeat devices"—designed to trick regulators and perform much better in emissions tests than on the road. Starting in 2014, thanks to research by university students in West Virginia, the ugly truth started coming out.

As always, we look at solutions. The likelihood of future scandals could be reduced with:

  • More corporate transparency and oversight from an independent board of directors and shareholders.
  • Greater emphasis on corporate ethics from top executives.
  • More emphasis on emissions tests in real life conditions—not just in the lab
  • Keep government regulators as insulated as possible from industry, interest group and political pressure.