How societies have functioned without leaders, including leaderless megacities that survived over 800 years.
Topics covered include:
- Is geopolitics more like chess or poker
- Why analysts think Putin will soon agree to a settlement with Ukraine
- Do most development occur from the top-down or bottom-up
- What are some examples of leaderless societies and organizations
- How social capital and enforcement mechanisms allow the world to function without leaders telling everyone what to do
- How companies are struggling with the workplace of the future and the role of leadership
- Why do we need more leadership and fewer bosses
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Welcome to Money For the Rest of Us. This is the personal finance show on money, how it works, how to invest it, and how to live without worrying about it. I’m your host, David Stein. Today is episode 379. It’s titled “Do We Even Need Leaders?”
Last week, LaPriel and I were driving from Phoenix to Tucson. We wanted to listen to a podcast, so I checked out my friend Joshua Sheats’ podcast to see if there was an episode I found interesting. We decided to listen to a bonus episode. It’s the “Strategic background on the conflict with Russia, Ukraine, and the West.”
Geopolitics as Chess
In the episode, Joshua quotes extensively from the book, The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century by George Friedman.
As soon as I heard the title of the book, I wanted to turn the episode off. I haven’t read the book, I’m unfamiliar with the author, but I’m extremely skeptical of long-term forecasts.
But then Joshua mentioned that Friedman predicted that there would be a Russian-initiated war in 2020. Well, it’s 2022. That’s pretty good. Maybe we should listen.
Friedman is a geopolitical forecaster and strategist in international affairs. He was born in Hungary, and he is the founder and chairman of Geopolitical Futures, an online publication that analyzes and forecasts the course of global events.
In the book, Friedman writes, “Conventional analysis suffers from a profound failure of imagination. It imagines passing clouds to be permanent and is blind to powerful long-term shifts taking place in the full view of the world.”
Friedman’s view is that politicians and leaders are rational actors and that the world is like a game of chess, where on the surface there are many potential moves in this grand chess game. But most of them are dumb moves. Grandmasters can see a chessboard, recognize the patterns immediately, and identify their one or two best logical moves.
Friedman believes that’s how geopolitics work, that given these long-term forces of countries and strategic alliances, that there’s only certain moves, and that what happens is somewhat inevitable.
Listening to that reminded me of Annie Duke’s book, Thinking in Bets. We discussed that book back in episode 203 when we compared poker to chess. Duke is an author, speaker, and consultant in the decision-making space. She is a former professional poker player.
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