Straight Talk with Hank Paulson

40 Episodes

By: Paulson Institute

From growing up in the Midwest to leading Goldman Sachs and then serving his country as Treasury Secretary, Hank Paulson offers a unique point of view and a life experience unlike many Americans. With Straight Talk, Hank brings this experience to his conversations with the world’s prominent leaders and thinkers, exchanging a lifetime of stories and lessons from both the private and public sectors. Each episode reveals compelling viewpoints, topical discussion, and behind-the-scenes stories. A podcast by the Paulson Institute

Episode 84: Jim Steinberg
Last Wednesday at 2:01 PM

Jim Steinberg (Dean, Johns Hopkins SAIS and Former US Deputy Secretary of State) joins Hank on the podcast to discuss growing up in Massachusetts and being inspired to pursue public service by the Kennedys, his pivotal shift to foreign policy, and his philosophy of education. They delve into US-China relations, the meeting between Biden and Xi, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Episode 83: Nicholas Stern

Hank Paulson welcomes Nicholas Stern (Chair of the Grantham Research Institute, Chair of the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, and IG Patel Professor of Economics and Government at the LSE) to the podcast. They discuss takeaways from COP 27, carbon markets, and the opportunity for the US and China to work together to address climate change. Stern shares insights into the intersection of economics and climate change, his transition from economics and academia to public service and climate policy, resolving tensions over who sets global climate standards, and implications for Europe-China relations after the 20th Party Congress. Nicholas Stern...

Episode 82: Paul Ryan

Hank welcomes Paul Ryan (54th Speaker of the US House of Representatives) to the podcast to discuss how his upbringing in Wisconsin shaped his values and beliefs, his approach to policymaking, fixing political polarization in the US, and the role and challenges of being Speaker. He shares his advice for the new GOP Speaker, insights into his principles of leadership and his new book: American Renewal. Paul Ryan: American Renewal:

Episode 81: Minouche Shafik

Minouche Shafik (Director, London School of Economics) joins Hank on Straight Talk to discuss her philosophy of education and her vision for the London School of Economics, the role the IMF and Central Banks should play in the transition to a green economy, and her acclaimed book. She shares insights into growing up in the American South, economics and public policy, and how governments can navigate economic growth, national security, and climate change. Minouche Shafik: What We Owe Each Other:

Episode 80: Cristián Samper

Cristián Samper (Managing Director, Bezos Earth Fund and tropical biologist) joins Hank on Straight Talk to discuss his upbringing in Colombia and the importance of the country in preserving biodiversity, how he developed his connection with nature, COP 15 and important agenda items and challenges. He also shares insights into the approach and priorities of the Bezos Earth Fund, tipping points in vital ecosystems, biodiversity financing gap, and creating the next generation of conservationists. Cristián Samper:

Episode 79: Admiral Mike Mullen

Admiral Mike Mullen (17th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and retired US Navy Admiral) joins Hank on Straight Talk to discuss how his distinguished career in the Navy unfolded, the role of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and advising both presidents Bush and Obama. He assesses the status of the war in Ukraine and shares insights into nuclear risks and the threat of nuclear proliferation, US-China relations, and executing the plans that led to the death of Osama Bin Laden, and current terrorist threats to the US.

Episode 78: David Sibley

David Sibley (Author, Illustrator, and Ornithologist) joins Hank on Straight Talk to discuss birding, bird collisions and the impact of cats on bird populations, and the biodiversity crisis. He shares insights into his love of drawing, the Sibley Guide to Birds and how the guide works, and his advice for young birders. Sibley Guides to Birds:

Episode 77: Hal Harvey

Hank welcomes Hal Harvey (Chief Executive Officer of Energy Innovation) to the podcast to discuss the influence of his mother’s environmentalism on his career, his knack for innovation in the energy space, and his new book—The Big Fix. He shares insights into what he’s working on and his goals for Energy Innovation, how we can keep from losing ground in the fight against climate change as we navigate the current energy crisis, and a path forward for US-China cooperation on tackling climate change. Hal Harvey: The Big Fix:

Episode 76: David Axelrod

Hank welcomes David Axelrod (Director, University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN Senior Political Commentator) to Straight Talk to discuss his experience in journalism, how he met Barack Obama and was inspired to work on his campaigns, and the shift from advising in politics to governing. He shared insights into Obama’s historic presidential run, navigating the financial crisis, polarity and the state of US democracy, and the impact of social media on politics and division in our country. David Axelrod:

Episode 75: Darius Adamczyk

Darius Adamczyk (Chief Executive Officer of Honeywell) joins Hank on the podcast to discuss Honeywell and its role in the planet’s energy future, data architecture, and the economic, business, and policy aspects of US-China relations. He shares insights on operating a multinational business in an increasingly unpredictable political landscape, creating an environment for innovation, and his management principles. Darius Adamczyk:

Episode 74: Austan Goolsbee

Hank welcomes Austan Goolsbee (Professor and Economist, University of Chicago and former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, Obama Administration) to Straight Talk to discuss his talent for and enthusiasm while public speaking, the economy today, and demand and supply shocks. He shares insights into how he ended up in the field of economics, advising Barack Obama, and interest rates and the chance of recession. Austan Goolsbee:

Episode 73: Walter Isaacson

Hank welcomes Walter Isaacson (Former Chair and CEO, CNN and Editor, Time Magazine) to Straight Talk to discuss lessons from his books, innovation and climate change, and bipartisanship and increased ideological polarization. He shares insights into creativity, his writing process, and the gift of storytelling. Walter Isaacson:

Episode 72: Samm Sacks

Samm Sacks (Cyber Policy Fellow, New America and Senior Fellow, Yale Law School Paul Tsai China Center) joins Hank Paulson on Straight Talk to discuss the core issues and key technologies of US-China tech competition, data flows, and governing the digital economy. She shares insights into the need for the US to invest in itself and not inhibit advancement by avoiding competition, data security and privacy, and global tech value chains. Samm Sacks:

Episode 71: Evan Medeiros

Evan Medeiros (Professor and Penner Chair in Asian Studies (China), Georgetown University) joins Hank on Straight Talk to discuss US-China relations and balancing the world powers’ intensifying competition with economic interdependence. He shares insights on the rapid decoupling between the West and Russia and potential impacts on the US-China relationship, expectations for China’s 20th Party Congress, and America’s economic and diplomatic engagement in the Indo-Pacific. Evan Medeiros:

Episode 70: Henry Kissinger

Henry Kissinger (Chairman of Kissinger Associates, Inc. and 56th Secretary of State) joins Hank on Straight Talk to discuss how coming to America after fleeing Nazi Germany shaped his worldview, getting his start in politics, and working with the world’s most consequential leaders—something he delves into in his latest book. He shares insights into US-China relations, US diplomacy today, and technology and the challenges and opportunities emerging from AI. Episode transcript: Henry Kissinger: Leadership:

Episode 69: Neel Kashkari

Neel Kashkari joins Hank on Straight Talk to discuss how studying engineering was fundamental to his career trajectory, public service and working at the Treasury, education, and crisis management. He shares insights into current economic concerns, including inflation and secular stagflation, and how lessons learned from managing other crises can be applied to addressing climate change. Neel Kashkari:

Episode 68: Jim Coulter

Hank welcomes Jim Coulter (Executive Chairman and Director, TPG) to Straight Talk to discuss private equity performance, the evolution of the finance industry and his career, leading on climate and social impact investing, and lessons from the global financial crisis. He shares his principles for successful business leadership and how his early job running his family’s farm shaped him. Jim Coulter: TPG:

Episode 67: Sara Menker

Sara Menker (Founder and CEO, Gro Intelligence) joins Hank on Straight Talk to discuss the impact growing up in Africa had on her, global food security and climate change, and founding Gro Intelligence to address the fundamental flaws in our food system. She shares insights into how data and information become infrastructure to drive systematic change in the agriculture industry, measuring climate risks in agricultural supply chains, and her advice for governments dealing with climate change and food security. Gro Intelligence:

Episode 66: Jason Furman

Hank welcomes Jason Furman (Professor of Practice at Harvard University and former Chairman, Council of Economic Advisors) to discuss today’s economy, inflation, and how we got here. Furman shares his insights into the leadership styles of presidents Clinton and Obama, America’s role as a global leader, and trade policy. Jason Furman:

Episode 65: Jeremy Grantham

Jeremy Grantham, CBE (Co-Founder and Long-Term Investment Strategist of Grantham, Mayo, & van Otterloo) joins Hank Paulson on Straight Talk to discuss growing up in the UK in the backdrop of World War II, starting his own investment firm, and making sense of today’s market. He shares insights into combining philanthropy with his investment principles to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy, greening the energy system, and the need for capitalism reform to increase equity, growth, and advancement. Jeremy Grantham: GMO:

Episode 64: Penny Pritzker

Hank welcomes Penny Pritzker (Founder and chairman of PSP Partners and 38th US Secretary of Commerce) to Straight Talk. They discuss driving change in business and government, learning entrepreneurship and philanthropy, and her family’s roots in Ukraine. She shares insights into how Chicago shaped her, succeeding in business and serving in government, and her principles of leadership. Penny Pritzker:

Episode 63: Patricia Zurita

Patricia Zurita (CEO of Birdlife International) joins Hank to discuss efforts to help China protect and preserve coastal wetlands, migratory birds, the importance of women leaders in the conservation movement, and needing more champions of nature. She shares insights on nature’s solutions to humanity’s problems, BirdLife International and global cooperation, and the need to tackle the biodiversity and climate crises in tandem. Patricia Zurita: BirdLife International:

Episode 62: Adena Friedman

Adena Friedman (President and Chief Executive Officer of Nasdaq) joins Hank on Straight Talk to discuss financial changes shaping global markets, how Nasdaq has evolved, anti-financial crime technology, and the cloud as the next generation of markets. She shares insights into what led her to Nasdaq and her principles for leadership in the fast-moving world of finance. Adena Friedman:

Episode 61: Sally Jewell

Hank welcomes Sally Jewell (Global Board Member, The Nature Conservancy and 51st US Secretary of the Interior) to discuss building work culture with a focus on volunteerism and community outreach, the importance of public lands and habitats, and the differences between the public and private sectors. She shares insights on serving in the Obama administration and the impact of public service, the climate crisis and what policy changes are needed to address it, and the need for business to step up for the planet. Sally Jewell:

Episode 60: Carter Roberts

Carter Roberts (President and CEO of World Wildlife Fund, United States) joins Hank Paulson on Straight Talk to discuss the connection between birding and conservation, the mission and work of WWF, the importance of creating protected areas, and what it will take to secure the health of the Amazon. Roberts also shares insights on the impact of food production on land and water, the intertwining climate and biodiversity crises, and the importance of building partnerships. Carter Roberts:

Episode 59: Kevin Rudd

Hank welcomes Kevin Rudd (26th Prime Minister of Australia and President of the Asia Society Policy Institute) to Straight Talk to discuss what motivated him to write his newest book, The Avoidable War, managed strategic competition and building strategic trust, China-Russia relations and the impact of the latter’s invasion of Ukraine, and US-China and the potential for decoupling or establishing a stable relationship. Listen to Kevin Rudd's first appearance on Straight Talk: Kevin Rudd: The Avoidable War:

Episode 58: Ruth Simmons

Dr. Ruth Simmons (President, Prairie View A&M University) joins Hank Paulson on Straight Talk to share the obstacles she encountered early in life, her parents’ life as sharecroppers, and how they empowered her to get an education. Simmons discusses higher ed and the important work of HBCUs, her views on leadership, and the need to keep learning and be open to what people have to teach. Ruth Simmons:

Episode 57: Maryanne Hancock

Maryanne Hancock (CEO, Y Analytics) joins Hank on Straight Talk to discuss social impact investing, the trajectory of ESG investing, breaking new ground in impact analytics and how Y Analytics creates decision tools, and carbon markets. She shares insights into the formative example of her parents’ social justice work, learning from Justice Kagan, and how her work at McKinsey shaped her view of the good the private sector can do in the world.

Episode 56: Tom Pritzker

Hank welcomes Tom Pritzker (Executive Chairman of Hyatt Hotels) to Straight Talk. They discuss Pritzker’s wide-ranging interests from business to 11th-century Himalayan history, his role transforming Hyatt Hotels, and doing business in China. Pritzker shares his insights on the importance of philanthropy to his family, practicing empathy, and finding a "North Star" to lead through challenging situations.

Episode 55: Sam Nunn

Hank welcomes Sam Nunn (Co-founder of NTI and former US Senator, Georgia) to Straight Talk. Nunn talks about his upbringing in Georgia and what inspired him to get into politics. He shares insights on the important role of the Senate’s Armed Services Committee, the China challenge and potential areas of cooperation for the US and China, and the work of Nuclear Threat Initiative. They also discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing humanitarian crisis and geopolitical implications. Sam Nunn: NTI:

Episode 54: Patricia E. Harris

Patricia Harris (CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropies) joins Hank on Straight Talk to discuss what inspired her interest in public service, the importance of having a good team, and scuba diving and how it strengthened her passion for protecting ocean ecosystems. She shares what she’s most proud of from her years in New York City government, how she views the climate challenge, and what Bloomberg Philanthropies is doing to tackle it. Patricia Harris: Bloomberg Philanthropies:

Episode 53: Ray Dalio

Ray Dalio, Founder of Bridgewater Associates, joins Hank to discuss what motivated him to write his latest book where he looks at history to help predict the future and the three modern phenomena to watch: social dysfunction, polarization, and the rise of China. He also shares his insights on the current economic situation, US-China relations, and the most important principles for our world leaders. Ray Dalio: Principles: Straight Talk with Hank Paulson Episode 15 with Ray Dalio:

Episode 52: Larry Fink

Hank welcomes Larry Fink (Co-Founder, Chairman, and CEO of BlackRock) to Straight Talk to discuss carbon, private sector action on climate change and the need for governments to step up. He also talks about his interest in capital markets, the genesis of BlackRock, and how they are addressing greenwashing. Larry Fink: BlackRock:

Episode 51: Evan Osnos

Evan Osnos (Staff Writer, The New Yorker and author) joins Hank Paulson on Straight Talk to share what inspired him to be a journalist, how he views the China challenge moving forward, as well as social media and the need for tech leaders to ensure their platforms are tools for good. They also discuss US-China relations, the power of tech and how it functions in politics, and Osnos’ new book Wildland. Evan Osnos: Wildland: The Making of America’s Fury:

Episode 50: John Podesta

Hank welcomes John Podesta (Former White House Chief of Staff and Founder, Center for American Progress and the Washington Center for Equitable Growth) to Straight Talk. They discuss division in politics, the role of think tanks in the policy world, the risks and challenges of climate change, and the biodiversity crisis. Podesta shares insights into how politics has changed since he first headed to Capitol Hill in the 80s, his theory of change, and strategic competition between the US and China. John Podesta: Center for American Progress: Washington Center for Equitable Growth...

Episode 49: Lawrence H. Summers

Hank welcomes Lawrence H. Summers (71st US Treasury Secretary, 8th Director of the Economic Council, and Charles W. Eliot University Professor and President Emeritus at Harvard University) to Straight Talk. They discuss the role of government in the lived economy, the legacy of our pandemic response, and taking a radically pragmatic approach to China. Summers shares insights on the importance of America’s higher education system, his shift from academia to Washington, and secular stagnation. Lawrence H. Summers:

Episode 48: Anja Manuel

Anja Manuel (Cofounder of Rice, Hadley, Gates & Manuel LLC and Director of Aspen Strategy Group) joins Hank on Straight Talk to discuss US-China and frictions in tech, actions the US should take to lead in STEM, the importance of welcoming scholars and researchers from around the world, and public service. Manuel shares lessons she learned from living abroad and what inspired her to go to law school and then transition to Wall Street. Anja Manuel: Aspen Strategy Group:

Episode 47: Sir Partha Dasgupta

Sir Partha Dasgupta (Economist and Frank Ramsey Professor Emeritus of Economics, University of Cambridge) joins Hank on Straight Talk to discuss economics, the biodiversity crisis and valuing nature. He shares insights on embedding the human economy in the biosphere, the usefulness of GDP, the concept and practice of inclusive wealth, and generational equity. Dasgupta:

Episode 46: Gillian Tett

Hank Paulson welcomes Gillian Tett (Moral Money Co-Founder and Chair of the Editorial Board and Editor-at-Large, US of the Financial Times) to the podcast to talk about what drew her to anthropology, her transition to journalism and economics, covering climate change and green finance, pandemic beards, and her new book. Gillian Tett: Anthro-Vision Financial Times: Moral Money:

Episode 45: Jerry Yang

Jerry Yang (Founder of AME Cloud Ventures and Co-Founder of Yahoo) joins Hank on Straight Talk to discuss regulating big tech, the trajectory of US-China relations, and climate change and sustainability. He also talks about the founding of Yahoo, as well as anti-Asian violence and hate speech and the mission and work of the newly founded Asian American Foundation. AME Cloud Ventures: The Asian American Foundation: