Straight Talk with Hank Paulson
Conversations with today's thinkers and doers
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.
Subscribe to Straight Talk and Don't Miss an EpisodeStraight Talk with Hank Paulson: Conversations with today's thinkers and doers
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Honorable 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 here.
Dr. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To listen to Ray Dalio’s first appearance on Straight Talk, click here.
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.
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.
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.
Lawrence H. Summers
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.
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.
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, and her new book.
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.
Deborah Lehr, Paulson Institute Vice Chairman and Executive Director, joins Straight Talk with Hank Paulson to discuss her experience studying in China in the 80s, working on economic relations with China and the country’s accession to the WTO, combatting global looting via the Antiquities Coalition, and her advocacy for a career of service. She shares insights on US-China competition, China’s expanding role in the Middle East, and how green finance is key to fighting climate change.
Hank welcomes Ernest Moniz (13th US Secretary of Energy and President and CEO of Energy Futures Initiative) to Straight Talk to discuss the intersection of energy, climate, science, and policy. Moniz shares insights on mentorship and STEM education, what it takes to succeed in Washington, how carbon capture can help the world reach net zero emissions, nuclear energy’s potential, serving as a key architect of the Paris Agreement, the upcoming Glasgow climate summit, and his case for climate optimism.
Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak
Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, Managing Director and Group CEO of Mubadala, joins Hank on Straight Talk to discuss how UAE has developed over its first 50 years and where the country is headed in the next 50, investing in the future of the UAE through Mubadala, how UAE is working to meet the climate change threat, the strength of the US-UAE relationship and how UAE is approaching its relationship with China, and what he’s learned while leading Manchester City Football Club.
Kate Gordon (Senior Advisor to Gov. Gavin Newsom & Director, Governor’s Office of Planning & Research) joins Hank on the podcast to discuss her dedication to furthering climate policy, defining climate change as a science problem with a policy solution, the latest developments in California’s climate planning efforts, and her case for climate optimism.
David Wallace-Wells (Author, The Uninhabitable Earth and Deputy Editor, New York Magazine) joins Hank on the latest episode of Straight Talk to discuss the role of journalism in the climate crisis, the implications of the rise in global temperatures, the threat of increased zoonotic pandemics, how global stimulus spending provides an opportunity for a green recovery, and the hope he sees for the future.
Hank welcomes David Keith (Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School) to Straight Talk to discuss his physics background, how he would define the climate challenge, climate diplomacy and addressing the global governance problem, what is needed to truly achieve carbon neutrality, solar geoengineering, and the next technologies in the energy industry.
Melissa Kearney (Director of The Aspen Economic Strategy Group and Economics Professor at University of Maryland) joins Hank Paulson to discuss how she got involved in economics, the economic impact of the pandemic on women, the importance of policy that recognizes children as the future of our country, the mission of the Aspen Institute Economic Strategy Group, and how the US can ensure better economic literacy.
Hank Paulson welcomes Grammy award winner Maria Schneider (composer, jazz musician, and orchestra leader) to the podcast. She shares insights on writing music and the creative process, building a business in a tough industry. They discuss intellectual property and the free market, their shared passion for birding, and Schneider talks about collaborating with David Bowie.
Robert Zimmer (President, The University of Chicago) joins Hank to discuss leadership that improves an already great institution, creating a healthy environment for free speech, the importance of international talent to higher education and innovation in America, and managing the University through the current pandemic.
Jennifer Hillman (Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations & Professor, Georgetown Law) & Daniel Price (Managing Director, Rock Creek Global Advisors)
Hank is joined by Jennifer Hillman (Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations and Professor, Georgetown Law) and Daniel Price (Managing Director, Rock Creek Global Advisors). They discuss how they started their careers in trade policy, the importance of trade to America’s well-being and standing in the world, how the US can balance China in the international economic system, and how the global trading system could help in the fight against climate change.
Hank welcomes Jeanne Gang (Founding Principal and Partner, Studio Gang) to Straight Talk. She shares insights on her approach to design and architecture, envisioning the creative process, integrating sustainable/nature-friendly design into the built environment, and discusses growing the global architecture firm Studio Gang and inspiring the next generation of architects.
Honorable Kevin Rudd
Hank welcomes Kevin Rudd (26th Prime Minister of Australia and President of the Asia Society Policy Institute) to the podcast to discuss how he went from a small town farm in Queensland to a career in foreign service and politics, his perspective on the social and political divisions in the US, advocating for climate action, preventing US-China conflict, and his expert prognosis for the future of China’s ambitions.
Paula Johnson, President of Wellesley College, joins Hank Paulson to discuss her mother’s influence on her career, women in STEM and obstacles she’s faced in medicine and academia, the benefits of women’s colleges, her management style, what has driven her throughout her career, and leading Wellesley College amidst the pandemic.
Michael Nutter (former Mayor of Philadelphia and David N. Dinkins Professor at Columbia University) speaks with Hank about his improbable path to becoming mayor of Philadelphia, how mayors are uniquely qualified to lead on sustainability issues, working with mayors across the US and in China, the national conversation around racial equity and social justice, and the future of cities in a post-COVID society.
Episode 31 was recorded on Friday, November 20, 2020.
Condoleezza Rice (Director of the Hoover Institution and 66th Secretary of State) joins Hank Paulson to talk about growing up in Alabama, her love of piano, what’s missing from the national conversation on race, charting a better course toward less divisive politics, and the country’s most pressing foreign policy priorities.
Sherrie Rollins Westin
Sherrie Rollins Westin (President, Sesame Workshop) joins Hank on the podcast to discuss the mission and ambition that drives her, the global reach and universal appeal of Sesame Street, creating the largest early-childhood intervention in the history of humanitarian response, and her quarantine hobbies.
Ben Bernanke (Economist and 14th Chair of the Federal Reserve) joins Hank Paulson to discuss his experience leading the Federal Reserve through the Great Recession, what’s needed to overcome the COVID economic crisis, how economic principles apply to baseball, and his advice for aspiring economists.
Joshua Bolten (President & CEO of Business Roundtable and former White House Chief of Staff) joins Hank Paulson to discuss advice for succeeding as White House Chief of Staff, organizing President Bush’s efforts to improve public health in Africa, what made Bono the most effective lobbyist he’s ever seen, and the new corporate leadership paradigm.
Tim Geithner (President, Warburg Pincus and 75th United States Secretary of the Treasury) joins Hank to discuss his experience as US Treasury Secretary, lessons learned from prior financial crises, his efforts to combat the global refugee crisis, and his advice for the incoming Biden Administration.
Mitch Daniels, President of Purdue University and former Governor of Indiana, speaks with Hank about leading an effective state government, how Purdue has kept tuition flat, the importance of free speech in higher education, managing a university during the pandemic, and how to best protect American intellectual property and innovation.
Robert Zoellick (11th President of the World Bank and Senior Counselor, Brunswick Group) shares insights on how the United States can lead on international trade, the importance of the World Bank in addressing pressing global issues such as climate change, what is needed for an effective US policy toward a rising China, and his recommendations for the incoming Treasury Secretary.
Jen Zhu Scott (Executive Chairman of The Commons Project) & Paul Triolo (Geotechnology Head, Eurasia Group)
Jen Zhu Scott (Executive Chairman of The Commons Project and Founding Principal of Radian Partners) and Paul Triolo (Geotechnology Head, Eurasia Group and Senior Advisor, MacroPolo) join Hank Paulson to discuss the state of the US-China tech competition, what it means for the future of national security, and what to expect from a Biden administration on technology policy.
Hank speaks with Erskine Bowles, Co-Chair of the Aspen Economic Strategy Group and President Emeritus of the University of North Carolina. Bowles details how he built a successful boutique investment bank, ended up as White House Chief of Staff, and worked across the aisle to balance the budget. He also shares insights on how we can move the US economy forward and delves into what he learned about higher education, drawing from his six years leading the University of North Carolina system.
Bob Rubin (Chairman Emeritus, Council on Foreign Relations; Former Secretary of the US Treasury) joins Hank Paulson on Straight Talk and shares insights on questioning the seemingly obvious, addressing difficult challenges as Treasury Secretary, developing a generation of economic policymakers, and his advice for those beginning their careers during the pandemic.
Mario Draghi, Economist and former President of the European Central Bank, joins Hank to discuss how his upbringing shaped his future in economics, his experience managing the ECB through the financial crisis, and how central banks should approach pandemic recovery.
Hank speaks with John Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Fitzpatrick details the importance of bird conservation worldwide, what it’s like to discover a new species, how technology is improving our ability to study nature, and what makes him hopeful for the future of biodiversity.
Ken Caldeira, Senior Scientist (Emeritus) at Carnegie Institution for Science and Senior Advisor (Climate Science) at Gates Ventures, joins Hank Paulson to discuss the latest climate science, how to get policymakers to act on climate change, and how geoengineering may be vital to ensuring a livable planet.
Henry M. Paulson, Jr. Keynote at Bloomberg New Economy Forum 2020
On Monday, November 16, Hank Paulson, Chairman of the Paulson Institute and 74 U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, addressed the 2020 Bloomberg New Economy Forum. In the speech, Paulson lays out his recommendations for President-elect Biden’s China policy, arguing that competition without unnecessary confrontation should be our goal—because confrontation without effective competition has produced some poor results for the American people. He further recommends that the US pursue a self-interested policy that he terms “targeted reciprocity.”
Luis Alberto Moreno
Hank speaks with journalist and producer Josh Tyrangiel about the evolving media landscape, coverage of the pandemic and the 2020 election, and his new HBO film on cyber warfare and misinformation – “The Perfect Weapon.”
Ruth Porat (Chief Financial Officer, Alphabet and Google) joins Hank Paulson to discuss tech’s role in sustainability, how Google has responded to COVID and the challenges facing minority-owned businesses, the power of AI to democratize health care, and lessons learned during the 2008 financial crisis.
Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky, Senior International Partner at WilmerHale and former Chief Trade Negotiator and Principal Trade Policymaker for the United States, joins Hank to discuss the importance of trade in boosting the American economy, what has changed since China was welcomed into the WTO in 2001, and how the US can chart a path forward.
Hank speaks with business executive and longtime friend Ginni Rometty about what she learned while leading IBM, the role of corporations in addressing the challenges of 2020, and her advice for young women in business.
Elizabeth Economy, Senior Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, and Michael Pillsbury, Director for Chinese Strategy at Hudson Institute
Hank welcomes Elizabeth Economy, Senior Fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution & Senior Fellow for China Studies at CFR, and Michael Pillsbury, Director for Chinese Strategy at Hudson Institute, to Straight Talk. They discuss how US-China ties have evolved in recent years, Xi Jinping’s ambitions, and where the Sino-American relationship is headed.
Jennifer Morris, CEO of The Nature Conservancy, and Tom Lovejoy, United Nations Foundation Senior Fellow
Hank is joined by Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, on the seventh episode of Straight Talk. They discuss Haass’ latest book—The World: A Brief Introduction—intellectual curiosity, the role of think tanks, America’s global standing in a post-COVID world, and confronting the China challenge.
Cui Tiankai, China's Ambassador to the US
In this episode, Hank is joined by Cui Tiankai, China’s Ambassador to the US, to discuss what he has learned during his seven years as ambassador, his hopes for the future of US-China relations, and the need for better global governance and cooperation to address the pressing issues of our time.
Episode 4 was recorded on Friday, July 10.
Hank is joined by his friend & former colleague Lloyd Blankfein (Senior Chairman, Goldman Sachs) to discuss impostor syndrome, the past, present, and future of markets, as well as economic changes due to the COVID pandemic.
Hank speaks with former US Secretary of State and longtime friend Madeleine Albright. The two former Cabinet members discuss how Sec. Albright became the first woman to serve as US Secretary of State, her new autobiography, how the pandemic has changed America’s role in the world, how to develop a US-China relationship that benefits American interests, and her brief but memorable acting cameos.
Ely Ratner and Evan Feigenbaum
In the second episode, Hank speaks with two leading experts on US-China relations, Ely Ratner and Evan Feigenbaum. They discuss a current framework for the US-China relationship, how the US can properly balance national security with economic progress, and where the US can achieve positive results while navigating a number of important conflicts with China.
Larry Bacow, President of Harvard, and Rafael Reif, President of MIT
The status of many foreign students remains fragile, despite recent lawsuits led by Harvard and MIT challenging a homeland security visa rule that would have forced foreign students to leave or face deportation if they did not attend in-person classes. It was followed quickly by a barrage of lawsuits and an avalanche of public support, leading the government to rescind the rule and refueling a conversation about US competitiveness and treatment of foreign students. In this episode, Hank speaks with the presidents of Harvard and MIT, Larry Bacow and Rafael Reif, on this important issue.