Joe Lonsdale: American Optimist

By Joe Lonsdale

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Welcome to American Optimist hosted by Joe Lonsdale, entrepreneur, investor, and founder of four multi-billion dollar companies and other mission-driven organizations. American Optimist is an alternative to the fear, cynicism, and zero-sum thinking in mainstream media. Learn from the innovators and leaders who are solving our nation’s most pressing challenges -- and doing it in a way that will lift everyone up. Hope should dominate our discourse, and American Optimist will show you why.

Episode Date
Psychedelic Medicine, Value-Based Care & Why Medical School Is Broken with Sebastian Caliri

Sebastian Caliri is Partner at 8VC with a focus on healthcare investing. Previously, Sebastian spent four years at Palantir where he was responsible for growing its commercial healthcare business. In this episode, Sebastian diagnoses the core problems in U.S. healthcare and explains why traditional fee-for-service care misaligns incentives, resulting in rising costs and inferior health outcomes. He makes the case for new models like value-based care and also highlights the potential of psychedelic medicine and other exciting innovation. Sebastian holds a BS and MS in Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry from Yale University and spent a year in Stanford's MD program before pursuing a career in tech and investing. He argues that the conventional path in medicine is broken and often produces a risk-averse, complacent culture; he challenges the next generation of doctors and health care professionals to think boldly and take on the status quo.

Aug 09, 2022
The Secrets to Building Great Products with Tony Fadell, Creator of the iPod, iPhone, & Nest Thermostat

Tony Fadell is one of the great engineers, designers, and business leaders of our time, responsible for creating the iPod, iPhone, and Nest Thermostat. He runs the investment firm Future Shape and recently released his memoir titled “Build: An Unorthodox Guide to Making Things Worth Making." In this episode, he discusses the lessons he learned at General Magic (which was building the iPhone 15 years too early) and Philips Electronics that paved the way for building some of the world's most popular devices at Apple. He explains why self-imposed constraints are essential to creating exceptional products and reveals where engineers and designers often go wrong. His passion for building is inspiring and informative for both business and everyday life.

May 20, 2022
Zach Latta: Building Hack Club & Inspiring the Next Generation of Coders

Joe Lonsdale sits down with Zach Latta, Founder of Hack Club, a non-profit network of high school coding clubs with over 15,000 members worldwide. At age 15, Zach helped design one of the most popular apps in the world. At 16, he dropped out of high school to become a programmer before founding Hack Club. He then received a Thiel Fellowship and decided to forgo college to build Hack Club full-time. In this episode, he talks about rethinking education and challenges teenagers to look beyond conventional, safe paths and take full advantage of the Internet Age. He paints an inspiring picture of what our world would look like with more coders and builders -- and explains how Hack Club provides teens with the skills to improve society and realize their full potential. [Joe is a proud early supporter of Hack Club.]

Apr 27, 2022
Gene Berdichevsky and Sila’s Game-Changing Battery Technology

Gene Berdichevsky is the co-founder and CEO of Sila, a next-gen battery technology company. Previously, he was the seventh employee at Tesla, where he served as Principal Engineer on the Roadster battery and led the development of the world’s first mass-produced lithium-ion car battery. In this episode, he explains how Sila's new battery chemistry innovations can improve efficiency, reduce costs, and help electrify the future. He discusses the challenges in mining rare metals, battery recycling, and what's needed to sustainably build batteries at scale. By mid-century, Berdichevsky is optimistic that EVs will become ubiquitous, and we'll be able to fully integrate renewables into the electric grid. [Joe's venture capital firm 8VC is an investor in Sila.]

Apr 21, 2022
Reprogramming Cells, Decentralizing Pharma, and Understanding the Biotech Revolution.

Francisco Gimenez is Partner at 8VC and focuses on Bio-IT investments. He received his Ph.D. from Stanford in Biomedical Informatics and B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences from UC Berkeley. In this episode, Francisco explains how breakthroughs in AI, gene editing, and cell therapies converged to jumpstart a new age in biology. He predicts that biomanufacturing platforms, armed with mountains of data and new tools, will bring down the costs of creating and commercializing drugs so smaller companies can treat rarer diseases and deliver more personalized cures. By decentralizing the pharma industry, Francisco is optimistic that the future of medicine will evolve from reactive care to preventative medicine that will help people fully self-actualize and lead their best, healthiest lives. [Joe is a founding partner of 8VC, his venture capital firm.]

Apr 18, 2022
The New Age of Nuclear: Oklo’s Amazing Small Reactor That Reuses Nuclear Waste

Jacob DeWitte is the Co-Founder and CEO of Oklo, a nuclear energy startup building small advanced reactors that can reuse spent fuel from conventional reactors. In this episode, DeWitte explains how the regulatory state has stymied new reactor designs for decades, and how he's working to break through and bring game-changing nuclear power technology to market. Shortly after the initial conversation was filmed, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) denied Oklo's application for its new small reactor design -- evidence of the persistent regulatory challenges. Stay tuned to the end of the episode where Jake rejoins the show to explain how Oklo plans to address the NRC's findings and continue the process toward final approval. [Joe's venture capital firm 8VC is an investor in Oklo.]

Apr 06, 2022
Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper: Why Russia’s Invasion Is Failing & How to Bring More Innovation to the Pentagon

Dr. Mark Esper served as the U.S. Secretary of Defense from 2019 to 2020 and Secretary of the Army from 2017 to 2019. He's currently the Distinguished Chair of the Modern War Institute at West Point and sits on the Board of Directors of Epirus [a defense startup co-founded by Joe]. His forthcoming memoir is titled "A Sacred Oath: Memoirs of a Secretary of Defense During Extraordinary Times.” In this episode, he dissects Russia's military weaknesses and explains how its invasion of Ukraine may ultimately strengthen NATO and change China's calculations with regard to Taiwan. He and Joe also discuss the risk-averse, top-down management culture at the Pentagon and what needs to change to bring new, better technologies to the Department of Defense.

Mar 31, 2022
Free Housing Won’t Solve Homelessness. Judge Glock Explains What Will.

Judge Glock is the Director of Research and Policy at the Cicero Institute and an expert on housing and homelessness in the U.S. In this episode, Glock dissects the root causes of America's affordable housing shortage and explains how the right incentives can jumpstart development and bring down home costs for working-class families. He also exposes how policies like “Housing First” encourage the homeless to live and die on the streets while waiting for free and permanent housing, which won’t solve the root of their problems: addiction and mental illness. Instead, Glock explains how cities like San Diego combine bridge shelters with treatment and accountability to reduce homelessness -- a recipe that other state leaders can use to save lives and bring healing to hundreds of thousands of people. [Joe is the founder and Chairman of Cicero's 501c3 and 501c4 organizations.]

Mar 23, 2022
How the Renaissance Sparked an Entrepreneurial Explosion with Jeannette zu Fürstenberg

Dr. Jeannette zu Fürstenberg is Co-Founder and General Partner of “La Famiglia”, a Berlin-based Venture Capital fund, and holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy and Entrepreneurship from the Free University of Berlin. She’s also a princess of one of Europe’s oldest royal families by marriage, as well as a thoughtful leader in the innovation and business world. In this episode, she traces the birth of entrepreneurship from the Renaissance and explains how breaking down the silos of guilds led to a creative explosion -- and how we can apply those lessons today. Dr. Fürstenberg specializes in connecting old and new world industries and discusses how to transform the 21st century by moving from incremental to disruptive innovation.

Mar 16, 2022
How to Take on Big Healthcare & Other Entrenched Interests and Win with Jared Meyer

Jared Meyer is the Executive Director of Cicero Action. In this episode, Jared discusses how special interests stifle competition and why Cicero Action is using the special interests' playbook against them to promote innovative, bottom-up reforms.  He explains the government affairs strategy that creates real policy changes in states across the country, from expanding telehealth and improving parole and probation reforms, to realigning higher education incentives and fixing homelessness.  This conversation shows how transparency, accountability, and competition are possible when political leaders have the tools—and the courage—to stand up to cronyism and entrenched interests. [Joe is the founder and Chairman of Cicero's 501c3 and 501c4 organizations.]

Mar 09, 2022
Unlearning Race and Restoring Liberalism with Thomas Chatterton Williams

Thomas Chatterton Williams is a writer, cultural critic, fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and author of two critically-acclaimed books on race in America, most recently "Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race."  In this episode, he discusses the dangers of Critical Race Theory and how to move beyond race-first, collectivist mindsets.  He also discusses his forthcoming book, "Nothing Was the Same," which traces the recent rise of illiberalism and polarization in the U.S.  Even though we may find certain ideas or theories (like CRT) noxious, Williams argues for more engagement and debate, not banning or censoring materials, as the best path toward progress. He also offers positive solutions, such as expanding access to high-quality early education, as a means to reduce inequality. [NOTE: This episode was recorded before Russia's invasion of Ukraine.]

Mar 02, 2022
Hayes Barnard Is Revolutionizing Solar Tech & Green Housing

Hayes Barnard is the Founder and CEO of GoodLeap, one of the fastest-growing and largest financial technology companies in the renewable energy sector.  In 2008, Barnard founded Paramount Solar, which was later acquired by SolarCity and then Tesla.  Barnard discusses his role on the leading edge of America's solar energy expansion and what he learned working alongside Elon Musk.  He also highlights his non-profit GivePower and its innovative work to bring clean water and electricity to Africa via solar water farms. 

Feb 23, 2022
Fast Grants, Faster Science, and Reviving a Culture of Innovation with Tyler Cowen

Tyler Cowen is a professor, best-selling author, blogger, podcaster, and one of the most influential economists of this generation. In the early days of the pandemic, Cowen launched the Fast Grants program, which funded COVID-related science in less than 48 hours -- a remarkable feat in the medical sector. He discusses his efforts to accelerate innovation, including his work to transform how investors identify and back the next generation of brilliant entrepreneurs. An all-around polymath, Cowen also reveals the technologies and breakthroughs that excite him most for the decades ahead.

Feb 16, 2022
Building a New World-Class University with University of Austin President Pano Kanelos

Pano Kanelos is the President of the University of Austin (UATX), the most ambitious new university venture in America in decades. Recognizing the plight of America's higher education system, Pano stepped down as the President of St. John's College to build a new institution rooted in the pursuit of truth, open inquiry, and educating the next generation of American leaders. In this episode, Joe and Pano discuss the failures of modern academia and why it's time to take on the bold task of building a new world-class university. [Joe is a co-founder of UATX and Chairman of the Board of Trustees.]

Feb 10, 2022
Former UN Ambassador Kelly Craft: How to Deter Russian Threats to Ukraine & Hold China Accountable

Ambassador Kelly Craft is a businesswoman, philanthropist, and former diplomat who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from 2019 to 2021 and U.S. ambassador to Canada from 2017 to 2019. She played an integral role in shaping major foreign policy decisions and achievements, such as the landmark Abraham Accords and the USMCA trade agreement. In this episode, she discusses some of the most pressing U.S. challenges abroad, including speaking up for human rights during the Beijing Olympics, developing a comprehensive strategy for China, responding to Russian military threats against Ukraine, and galvanizing U.S. allies to defend our shared values.

Feb 02, 2022
Charles Koch Explains How His Love of Philosophy Built One of America’s Most Successful Companies

Charles Koch, Chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, is one of the great business minds of our time. He grew a small engineering firm from $21 million in revenue to over 10,000 times the revenue. Yet in both his business and philanthropic work, he is first and foremost a philosopher. Koch explains how thinkers such as Abraham Maslow and Joseph Schumpeter shaped his outlook on the conditions for human flourishing, and why it's important to enable every employee to self-actualize. Rejecting centralized top-down systems, Koch developed Market-Based Management -- a philosophy that enables his companies to constantly reinvent themselves through virtuous cycles of mutual benefit that provide value to both employees and customers.

Jan 26, 2022
How to Defeat Special Interests & Cronyism with Florida’s Speaker of the House Chris Sprowls

Chris Sprowls is the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.  Under his leadership, Florida has set itself apart as one of the most innovative state legislatures in the country, slashing regulations that prop up entrenched interests and injecting true competition into the marketplace.  We discuss his strategy for successfully combatting cronyism in healthcare, pioneering the biggest school choice expansion in the country, and other courageous reforms  -- many of which passed on a bipartisan basis.  Speaker Sprowls's success should embolden other like-minded reformers and leaders across our country.

Jan 20, 2022
Are Billionaires Bad? A Friendly Debate Over Income Inequality and Big Tech with Rep. Ro Khanna

Congressman Ro Khanna is the Democratic Congressman from California’s 17th District, which covers large swaths of Silicon Valley. A self-described "progressive capitalist," Khanna bucks the current political norms and works to advance meaningful bipartisan legislation. In this episode, we debate income inequality, wealth taxes, and other hot-button issues, but also find common ground on reasonable regulations for Big Tech, introducing more innovation into healthcare, and promoting nuclear energy. His forthcoming book is titled “Dignity in a Digital Age” and focuses on closing the digital divide in rural America.

Jan 14, 2022
The Power of Suffering & Adversity with ”Adventure Capitalist” Dhani Jones

Dhani Jones spent 11 seasons in the NFL as a middle linebacker, the linchpin of the defensive unit. Since then, he has become a leader in other arenas: hosting TV shows, launching charities, and investing in startups.  His passion is bringing out the best in others.  In this episode, he pushes back against the notion of lowering standards to minimize disparities.  He explains why adversity, competition, and the pursuit of excellence are some of the best ways to lift up others and improve their lives.

Jan 05, 2022
Forget Free College —This Texas College Is the Future of Higher Ed

Mike Reeser and Michael Bettersworth are the Chancellor and Chief Innovation Officer, respectively, at Texas State Technical College (TSTC). In 2014, TSTC became the FIRST college in the country to fully align its public funding with its students' future earnings. Since then, graduates have seen their earnings increase over 100 percent! Their success is an antidote to the crisis of bad incentives in education today and should inspire other states to pursue similar reforms.

Dec 29, 2021
How to Fix Dysfunctional Government with Esper CEO Maleka Momand | Season 2 | Episode 19

Maleka Momand is the co-founder and CEO of Esper, a technology platform that transforms how governments oversee the regulatory process. In recent decades, the size of the administrative state has exploded. Yet, many regulators still operate via Word, Excel, and, in some cases, pen and paper! This has led to a lack of transparency and accountability, not to mention a morass of outdated, disjointed regulations. By applying data analytics and artificial intelligence to augment regulators and regulatory processes, Esper is improving how governments function and interact with the business community. [Joe and his wife Tayler are proud co-founders of Esper.]

NOTE: Esper currently has clients in 8 U.S state governments, not 11 as mentioned in the episode.

Dec 22, 2021
Directed Energy, Force Fields, and the Future of Defense Tech with Epirus Co-Founder Bo Marr | Season 2 | Ep 18

Over the past few decades, the U.S. military’s long-held advantages have waned.  Today, we are reliant on outdated technologies and in jeopardy of falling behind China. Bo Marr, the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Epirus, is bucking the trend.  Marr and his team invented the world’s most powerful phased array, Leonidas, that can disable drones and other electronic systems from great distances.  This modern force field fills a vital technological gap for the U.S. military as it prepares for 21st-century warfare and a new era of asymmetric threats. [Joe co-founded Epirus in 2018 with the Build Program of 8VC, the venture capital firm he founded and manages.]

Dec 16, 2021
How to Fix America’s Division with KIND Bar Founder Daniel Lubetzky

Daniel Lubetzky is the founder of Peaceworks, the OneVoice Movement, and the multi-billion dollar snack company KIND.  The son of a Holocaust survivor, Lubetzky’s upbringing inspired him to use business to bridge cultural and economic divides.  In this episode, he explains America’s unique role in the world and why we must work together to repair our social fabric and break out of our tribal instincts.  His newest venture, Starts With Us, does just that by instilling greater courage, curiosity, and empathy in our daily lives.

Dec 15, 2021
Maureen Hillenmeyer: Discovering New Life-Saving Drugs from the Natural World | Season 1| Ep 16

Maureen Hillenmeyer is the Founder and CEO of Hexagon Bio, a cutting-edge biotech company whose mission is to harvest new drugs and cures from the natural world, beginning with fungi. In 1928, Sir Alexander Fleming’s accidental discovery of penicillin launched a new age of antibiotics derived from fungi. However, the process of discovery was slow and laborious. In this episode, Hillenmeyer explains how Hexagon is using genomic sequencing and artificial intelligence to analyze the millions of types of fungi on earth and uncover new drugs and cures for a host of diseases. She also issues an important warning about the looming crisis of antibiotic resistance and how Hexagon's work could avert a medical disaster. [Joe's venture capital firm is an investor in Hexagon Bio.]

Sep 24, 2021
Whole Foods Founder & CEO John Mackey: Conscious Capitalism and Repairing America‘s Division | Season 1 | Ep 15

   In 1978, John Mackey co-founded his first natural foods store in Austin, Texas with only $45,000. Two years later, he and his business partners launched the first Whole Foods Market, which quickly became the nation's fastest-growing organic grocery store. In 2017, Amazon acquired the company for over $13 billion.

   In this episode, the Whole Foods Founder and CEO discusses his journey from democratic socialism to "Conscious Capitalism" -- the title of his book in defense of free markets and how business, conducted properly, can elevate humanity. He also explains the cultural divide in America today as a clash of three worldviews - traditional, modern, and progressive - and describes how we can pull the best wisdom from each to bridge division and continue to move our society forward.

Sep 15, 2021
Jake Kloberdanz: Cause-Centric Commerce and the Art of Award-Winning Winemaking | Season 1 | Ep 14

Jake Kloberdanz is the CEO and Founder of ONEHOPE Wine, an award-winning vineyard located in the heart of Napa Valley. What sets ONEHOPE apart is its unique business model: every bottle of wine sold helps fund a charitable organization. Kloberdanz is a champion of cause-centric commerce, and to date, ONEHOPE has donated over seven million dollars to organizations that help disadvantaged communities break the cycle of poverty. In this episode, he describes his journey from selling wine out of the back of his car to building a world-class winery that also uplifts its community and advances the role of business in society. [Joe is the Chairman of the Board of ONEHOPE.]

Sep 09, 2021
Sal Churi, Keri Findley, and Wesley Chan: Innovators Changing Our World Right Now | Season 1 | Ep 13

    This week's episode features three talented and successful innovators behind many game-changing technologies and companies. First is Sal Churi, a former law professor who is now general partner at Trust Ventures -- an Austin-based venture capital firm. Churi helps founders overcome the collision points of innovation and regulation, and explains how 3D printed houses, small modular nuclear reactors, and other breakthroughs can transform our country if we fix the outdated laws holding them back.

    Next is Keri Findley, a top innovator in the finance industry who was the first female partner at Third Point, a prominent New York-based hedge fund. She discusses how technology is changing the finance sector in ways that will help working-class Americans better manage and grow their money. Finally, Wesley Chan is an engineer turned venture capitalist who was an early employee at Google. He shares some fascinating insights on the early days at Google, including how Gmail became the world’s number one email service and why it pays to think big.

Sep 03, 2021
Former D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty: Courage, Accountability, Better Schools, and Safer Cities | Season 1 | Ep 12

   Adrian Fenty is currently a founding managing partner at MaC Venture Capital, a former advisor at Andreessen Horowitz, and served as the Mayor of Washington, D.C. from 2007-2011. During his tenure as Mayor, he took on special interests and the teachers' unions, fought for accountability in government and greater opportunities for children while also overseeing a dramatic reduction in violent crime. His courage reshaped the direction of the city and is much needed in our nation today.

   In this episode, he discusses his bold, CEO-like approach as Mayor, why he fought to bring performance metrics into government, and how education reform can break the cycle of poverty in the United States. He also shares the companies and innovation that excite him the most as an investor and why he's focused on bringing greater diversity to private equity.

Aug 25, 2021
Niall Ferguson: Why Civilizations Rise & Fall | Season 1 | Ep 11

   Niall Ferguson is a renowned historian, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, and prolific author of more than a dozen best-selling works on economics, culture, and politics. His newest book, "Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe,” examines how our leaders and societies have dealt with disasters, including pandemics, and how we must learn from the past to better manage future crises.

   In this episode, Ferguson explains why the rise and fall of civilizations do not fit into predictable patterns and cycles. He does not see American decline as inevitable and holds out that America’s best days may yet be ahead -- if it can stay on the right path. Ferguson also pulls back the curtain on the Chinese Communist Party, revealing the ways in which the CCP's strengths are exaggerated and why the United States’ support for smart policy and innovation will bolster its dominance in the years ahead.

Aug 18, 2021
Balaji Srinivasan: Bitcoin, China, the "Woke" Mob, and the Future of the Internet | Season 1 | Episode 10

   Balaji Srinivasan is a bold and forward-thinking writer, investor, and entrepreneur, who was formerly the Chief Technology Officer of Coinbase and general partner at Andreessen Horowitz. Currently, he's launching innovative ventures, such as his 1729 Project, while also advocating for cryptocurrency and the larger decentralized finance movement.

   In this episode, Srinivasan explains how to understand the world by looking through the lenses of three competing factions: the Chinese Communist Party, the "woke" mob, and cryptocurrency maximalists. He also discusses topics ranging from decentralized social media and startup cities to network states and what makes him optimistic on aspects of American innovation.

Aug 11, 2021
NFL Legend Ronnie Lott: Grit, Leadership, and What America Means to Him | Season 1 | Episode 9

Ronnie Lott is an NFL Hall of Famer, four-time Super Bowl champion, and one of the greatest defensive players of all time. But his impact and legacy off the field are equally impressive: He's a successful businessman, philanthropist, and community leader who has mentored and shaped the lives of underserved youth across three decades.


In this episode, Lott explains the importance of grit, generosity, leadership, and the other virtues instilled in him by his father, a former U.S. military service member. These values led him to found his charitable organization, All Stars Helping Kids, and start the Lott Impact Trophy, which honors college football's best defensive player for character and performance.


Many young people have soured on the American Dream and believe our best days are behind us—or that the U.S. was never great to begin with. But Lott hasn't lost his faith in America. He grew up watching Martin Luther King, Jr. speak in Washington, D.C. and reminds us of the power of his words and sacrifice. He also recounts a visit to Berlin when the wall still divided the city between the free and unfree—a poignant reminder of how fortunate we are as Americans for the freedoms we possess, and why we must be willing to defend them.

Aug 03, 2021
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper: Rejecting Wokeness, Addressing China, and Defending Western Values | Season 1 | Ep 8

From 2006 to 2015, the Right Honorable Stephen Harper served as the 22nd Prime Minister of Canada. His premiership confronted challenges ranging from a global recession to the war against ISIS, but his smart and courageous leadership increased Canadian prosperity and bolstered security. Small businesses surged, while tech hubs from Waterloo to Toronto to Ottawa cemented their place as global centers of talent and investment.

In this episode, Harper offers lessons from his tenure as Prime Minister, from how global leaders should address the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic to the challenges of a new multipolar world. Looking ahead, Harper leaves us with clear warnings about the threats posed by China— including a potential invasion of Taiwan. But he notes there are also bright spots in the international landscape, such as the historic Abraham Accords, bringing with them the potential to transform the Middle East for the better. Harper established his legacy by championing the principles that have made the West exceptional. Together, we discuss the importance of defending Western principles and the responsibility of great leaders to fight for our shared values. [PM Harper has been a Senior Advisor to Joe's venture capital firm 8VC for several years.]


Note: this episode was recorded before the recent rise in coronavirus cases due to the Delta variant.

Jul 27, 2021
Sujay Jaswa: Billion Dollar Wins -- and Losses -- and Solving Silicon Valley's #1 Problem | Season 1 | Ep 7

How do you transform a startup into a household name? Ask Sujay Jaswa. When he joined Dropbox in 2010, the company had 16 million users. By the time he left in 2015, hundreds of millions of people relied on Dropbox for their daily web storage needs. As head of the business side of Dropbox and later CFO, Jaswa had a leading role in this transformation, building the business team from scratch and raising over a billion dollars.


Today, Jaswa serves as Founder and Managing Partner at the investment firm WndrCo and lectures on entrepreneurship at Stanford's Graduate School of Business (GSB). In this conversation, he discusses the keys to his success with Dropbox, Aura, and other winning ventures, while also reflecting on lessons learned from WndrCo's role with Quibi, a media venture led by his partner Jeffrey Katzenberg that raised over $1.75 billion but sold its assets after struggling to gain traction.


Jaswa also describes how the COVID vaccines are proof of American greatness, how he prefers to work with those with the courage to take intellectual risks, and why he believes affordable housing remains the biggest impediment to keeping Silicon Valley as the global tech hub. He speaks out against the top-down regulations that create artificial scarcity and calls for allowing denser housing to be built wherever possible, including in his own neighborhood. 

Jul 22, 2021
Arthur Brooks on Finding Authentic Happiness and Making Poverty Escapable | Season 1 | Ep 6

The United States is the most prosperous and advanced nation in the history of humanity—but it's currently facing a crisis of happiness. What went wrong?


Arthur Brooks, Harvard professor, best-selling author, and renowned social scientist, has dedicated himself to tackling America's satisfaction deficit, and in this episode, he reveals his four keys to authentic happiness. (Not on the list: riches, power, or fame). Tempted to make a bucket list to get as much as possible out of life? Brooks shows how this, along with other popular ideas about how to feel more satisfied, can actually produce the opposite effect.


One of the biggest drags on happiness in society is poverty. Having spent years seeking the best way to combat this curse as former president of the American Enterprise Institute, Brooks shares insight on why America's War on Poverty has failed. Could the key to transforming lives lie in shifting our approach from making poverty bearable, to making it truly escapable?

Jul 13, 2021
Palmer Luckey on Creating Oculus Rift, Anduril, and Game-Changing Defense Tech | Season 1 Ep 5

Palmer Luckey is as close as it gets to a real-life Iron Man. As a teenager, he worked on virtual reality headsets until he eventually created the Oculus Rift, the most groundbreaking VR headset ever assembled. After single-handedly shaping the field of virtual reality, and selling Oculus to Facebook, he founded Anduril, one of the fastest-growing defense companies in America today.

While some American tech companies refuse to work with the U.S. military, Anduril is unabashed in its efforts to develop and deploy artificial intelligence, drone technology, and other advanced systems to defend America and its allies. In this conversation, Palmer discusses Anduril’s latest game-changing technologies, innovative ideas that can change the world, his favorite sci-fi novel — and the Fermi paradox! [Joe's venture capital firm is an investor in Anduril.]

Jul 06, 2021
Bari Weiss on Defending Western Civ and the New School Movement | Season 1 Ep 4

This moment in our culture was made for a writer and thinker like Bari Weiss. What can Americans do to beat back the wave of illiberalism currently sweeping through our institutions? Bari Weiss took her stand last summer, resigning from the New York Times to launch her own Substack newsletter. Her courage has since inspired others to defend free speech, diversity of thought, and other core American values.

In this episode, she explains what's at stake today. Left unchecked, "woke" intolerance and groupthink result in real harm to individuals and society—as indicated by many factors, including a recent, worrying rise in anti-Semitic violence. Weiss lays out the case for building new schools, media outlets, and institutions that protect the values that make our republic exceptional.

Jun 29, 2021
Kimbal Musk on Building Great Companies and Community | Season 1 Ep 3

When Kimbal and Elon Musk immigrated to the U.S. from South Africa to start their first company, they couldn't afford both an apartment and an office—so, unbeknownst to their employees, they slept in the office.

The brothers have come a long way from their humble origins. Today, Kimbal is a highly successful entrepreneur and investor who serves on the boards of Tesla and SpaceX — and in this episode he provides exciting updates for each company. But along the way, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 changed his life forever. Kimbal explains how cooking for firefighters at Ground Zero awakened a passion for creating community through food. He now owns and operates restaurants around the country, while his Million Gardens Movement brings home-grown food to inner-city areas. Joe supports Kimbal's nonprofit and encourages others to do the same (link below).

Million Gardens Movement: 

NOTE: This episode was recorded before many restaurants had fully reopened.

Jun 29, 2021
Ashton Kutcher: China, TikTok, and Influencing American Minds | Season 1 Ep 2

More than 70 percent of child sex trafficking happens online. When Hollywood superstar Ashton Kutcher first heard this statistic, he knew he had to do something to stop it. His efforts took him to Silicon Valley—where, hoping to enlist leading tech entrepreneurs in the fight against online trafficking, he first met Joe. Through their work together, Kutcher's organization, Thorn, has built software and processes that have enabled governments to rescue thousands of children from sexual abuse. [Joe partnered with Ashton in Thorn’s early days to enlist talent, refine strategy, and reach scale, as well as serving on its board.]

Ashton is an innovative technology investor, an extraordinary family man, and a philanthropist. In this episode, he discusses the dangers that face children online, and makes the case for why tech companies should do more to help law enforcement protect the vulnerable. He also weighs in on the future of social media and explains how China could use TikTok to influence the minds of Americans in an anti-U.S. propaganda effort. Finally, he details how his upbringing, with its focus on hard work and perseverance, propelled him from modest origins to his career as a world-famous actor and model. 

Jun 29, 2021
Dr. Rick Klausner on the Biotech Revolution | Season 1 Ep 1

Curing cancer, eliminating diseases, reprogramming cells to help 80-year-olds feel like they're 30 -- could it all be possible in our generation?

America is in the midst of a biotech revolution that is transforming modern medicine and will save countless lives. At the forefront is Dr. Rick Klausner, former director of the U.S. National Cancer Institute, co-founder of Juno Therapeutics, GRAIL, and MindStrong Health, renowned scientist, and billionaire innovator.

Dr. Klausner has played a pivotal role in this movement on a number of fronts, not least by discovering how to treat previously incurable end-stage cancers -- and then founding companies that do just that, already saving tens of thousands of lives. And he is just getting started.

In this wide-ranging conversation, Dr. Klausner explains how these remarkable breakthroughs occurred, giving a rundown on the science of cell therapies and their remarkable potential, alongside other new possibilities. As he charts the future of medicine, he also draws upon his wealth of historical knowledge and hints at how modern science could harness recent Nobel-Prize winning breakthroughs to discover the source of youth that eluded sixteenth-century explorer Juan Ponce de León. [Joe briefly confuses Ponce de León with Vasco de Gama.]

NOTE: Joe has invested with Dr. Klausner in multiple companies, most recently in Dr. Klausner's latest venture, Altos Labs.

Jun 29, 2021