Welcome to the Telling of Story Podcast. I’m your host, Storyteller Jewels, and along with my guests, it’s my endeavor to explore the art and science of storytelling to attract, engage, and retain a business audience, and to unpack why it works for some, and not for the many that try. Listen in as Daniel reflects on storytelling in music.

Daniel: I think what’s important when you reflect about music, and there are some fantastic musicologists who have gone a lot further down that path, is that it’s really raw, it’s unfiltered, often it’s illiterate people who have an incredible innate talent to reflect the society and the environment they live in.

So, it’s very much a working class or marginalized population that invents or reinvents these kind of forms of storytelling.[00:01:00]

Jewels: In this episode, I have the pleasure of talking with Daniel Brown. Daniel has been a journalist for English and French media for over 30 years. Since 1987, Daniel has been based in Paris from where he reports on international current affairs, global economics, French politics, African society. Sports and world music.

Between 1991 and 2013, Daniel produced and reported for Radio France Internationale’s weekly programs covering the above topics. This meant traveling the world with a particular focus on the African continent, reporting assignments in a total of 38 countries there. In 2013, Daniel decided to move on, and Worked as a freelance for media outlets ranging from the BBC World Service to NBC’s The History Channel via Songlines Magazine and Questions Internationales.

In 2016, Daniel accepted an offer [00:02:00] as the Senior Editorial Reporter for HSC Paris, one of Europe’s most prestigious business schools. Daniel’s reports range from HEC collaboration with Muhammad Yunus Christine Lagarde and Rob Hopkins to projects promoting young women entrepreneurs from Paris’s impoverished neighborhoods and research on contested markets.

In 2020, Daniel began Breakthroughs, a monthly podcast on the impact and diversity of HEC research. These are soon to be filmed. Daniel, welcome to the show. 

Daniel: Thank you very much, Jewels. Great to talk to you. 

Jewels: Daniel, I understand that early in your career, you were responsible for the creation of the Music Desk at the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool.

Can you just explain to me what a Music Desk at a museum is? 

Daniel: Well, first of all, it wasn’t so early in my career. I think I began when I was around 46, and [00:03:00] I’d already about 20 years of experience as a reporter, journalist. The Music Desk is this concept that the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool created to reflect the legacy of this transatlantic slave trade, which lasted four centuries, four centuries of revolts and of attempts to, to free themselves.

Uh, enslaved Africans that had nothing but their bodies and their voice as they were brutally taken across the Atlantic and they, and their memories. And so when these diverse African communities. were dismembered and sent across, they actually decided spontaneously to try and maintain their heritage, their language, their rhythms.

Um, once they arrived, uh, in the Americas, as the colonizers called, you know, called, and still call, [00:04:00] Uh, those two continents, and they reproduced it, and in the early 2000s, Liverpool decided to create this International Slavery Museum as a former port, major port, in Europe. That was involved in this trade and the music desk tries to come through songs through voyages.

I, I created these 12 trips travels interactive to, to reflect the diversity of the music heritage that’s come right down to us and also returned to the African continent, that kind of dialogue. The resistance which, uh, music represented and enhanced in many ways, for example, the slaves that managed to escape, minstrels would, before they escaped, sing the roots that, uh, would guide them up to [00:05:00] the north of, uh, the U.

S. at the time where slaves were able to. A recoverer, a semblance of freedom, going from church to church in the south of the U. S. and singing the time that they should go across, how they could walk across the Ohio River on foot when it was frozen in the winter, and take trains and so on. Disguised guides to escape.

And this was brought forward by Harry Belafonte, who resuscitated in the early 60s some of this music and heritage. In an incredible anthology, which I encourage, uh, your viewers and listeners to try and get hold of, it won a Grammy, in fact, but it took him 40 years to, to get out. I could talk on and on about, uh, this International Slavery Museum and the music desk.

And there are about 300 songs divided into different both genres and geographic spaces. But I think you have a few more questions for me.

Jewels: It’s [00:06:00] actually quite fascinating. I’m glad you went down that particular path because music. Is a form of storytelling, right? And it has been for centuries and probably thousands of years as one format of telling stories and being able to convey a conversation or pass on knowledge and directions, as you were saying to, to other places and the history and culture.

What, and clearly you’re quite passionate about the music industry, cause you’re still working as a journalist as part of that as well. So what. Fascinates you about the storytelling and what’s drawn you towards the storytelling. And if anything, have you learned something about storytelling through music?

Daniel: I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned a lot. I think what’s important when you reflect about music, and there are some fantastic musicologists who have gone a lot further down that path. Is that it’s really raw, it’s unfiltered, often it’s illiterate people who have [00:07:00] an incredible innate talent to reflect the society and the environment they live in.

So it’s very much a working class or marginalized population that invent or reinvent these kind of forms of storytelling. And recent example is a Senegalese singer called Youssou N’Dour. When I say recent, he’s been around for about 50 years, but he stopped his schooling at 13, was more or less illiterate, and created this genre called the Mbalax in Senegal, which has gone on to conquer the world.

He’s now a minister, advising a minister for the Senegalese government. There’s Susana Baca in Peru, who also has had a tremendous political impact. So music, I think, is a great vehicle to reflect realities, to also be allowed a loudspeaker for demands, for identity, for [00:08:00] reclaiming heritage. And, uh, contrary to writing, which is more elite in inverted commas practice, the music is, as I said, a lot more for the disenfranchised, the voiceless.

And it evokes a lot of very original stories. And for 15 years at Radio France International, I created this weekly magazine called World Tracks. And I tried to go to the source, I went to the ghettos of Luanda in Angola to, for example, find where this genre called the Kuduro was born in the middle of the civil war there in the 70s.

I went there 40 years, 30 years later, and I found the founders, or one of the founders, which for a genre that was trying to reflect the anger and the loss of the youth. Who were faced with terrible, terrible realities of a civil war that killed almost a million people. I [00:09:00] found him, Tony could, Tony Amado, who nicknamed himself after the Scarface.

And these are the kind of stories which interest me because they’re sociological, historical, and so they, they reflect a very strong reality. And so, so I’ve been lucky enough to be able to, to go to places as far as the countries along the Silk Road in, in Central Asia, Cuba, North America, um, the Zydeco really interested me for a while in Louisiana.

And, um, try and, uh, reflect that richness. I’m no ethnomusicologist. I’m a really bad musician or a singer. And, um, really bad is not an understatement. But what I’m good at is sort of knowing the politics. and the sociology of communities and societies. So that’s what I try to reflect through my, uh, through following [00:10:00] my, this music I mentioned and sphere and the politics also of musicians that are often targeted, censored, imprisoned, killed.

And I helped to co found a, an association which still exists. I was the vice chair for about 20 years called Green Muse. Freedom of Musical Expression, which is based in Denmark, and which tries to highlight the realities for musicians that are often forgotten by the likes of Amnesty International and, and other human rights organizations.

And or marginalized. And so we’ve been trying for decades to bring their stories to the fore. And freemuse. org, you can see a lot of the stories that have been brought out in those decades. 

Jewels: Daniel, you mentioned that the raw music sort of idea of it’s somewhat uneducated, if you like, or for the. For the masses, it’s [00:11:00] possibly a lot more authentic or from the heart, I guess, as opposed or juxtaposed against journalism, which is what your day job is, which is quite a structured environment, quite a educated environment.

Is there a difference between the two in the way a story flows or actually irrelevant of how educated you are or how structured you think you are? The basis of a good story is the same. I’m curious. 

Daniel: I think the basis is the same. The structure is different. And so also there’s journalism and journalism, hard news.

You really want to get that, the bare facts up at the top, the inverted pyramid of the who, what, when, why, where, and how, and they filter down to in a kind of hierarchy. And so, if you want the softer journalism, you can actually mix the genres a bit, and I [00:12:00] think it’s Tom Wolfe who invented this concept in the 80s or 90s of new journalism, where he mixed literate tools from literature with the journal, classic journalism, and sometimes excluding imagining what was going on in the head of the personalities he was talking about when he went to cover the Vietnam War.

So very evocative kinds of journalism, which very openly tends to half fictionalized, but often get much more to the core of the story and doesn’t hide that it’s using these fictional tools. So there are. No hard lines between the genres. Storytelling, I think, also we have to demystify what hard news and what journalism is by taking a step back, so called, and saying that journalists are all neutral.

I think more and more that’s being contested, and it should be. Journalists come from a certain background. They are [00:13:00] definitely impacted and influenced and more and more. You see a major media outlets, the Guardian and BBC using the first person eye and the fear and the uncertainty and so on. But what’s important for, and distinguishes journalists is this checks and balances and constantly putting even your own position in question without saying, I hold the truth with a capital T.

And I think that’s very healthy. I think that for example, one thing we’ve lost in journalism is the fact that in over a century, journalism schools have been created, which have become. I think a bit elitist. They become part of the Ivy League or the grandes écoles, as they say in French, because they’re very selective.

And so naturally, the people who are best candidates to enter these schools, Tend to be from a certain class and background. Whereas [00:14:00] before journalists came from all kinds of backgrounds. You got children from the agricultural or the down and out and so on. And so they became, they were a bit of a counter voice, a counterculture, which is what the fourth estate is supposed to be.

And there was that real rich diversity. Unfortunately, there’s been a bit of formatting, which I’m very critical of. Even though I did sort of spend a year in a journalism school just to pick up some of the tools of the trade. I always try to remember the diversity of my background and upbringing. 

Jewels: You mentioned that it’s gone kind of elitist.

Is that shifting now with the advent of things like social media where There is so much news out there and to some degree, everybody with a smartphone is a reporter to some degree, or at least a purveyor of information. Is it shifting now that the, I guess, the power influence is shifting a little bit [00:15:00]more back, I guess, to the people rather than just the elite few that had the rights to write into the newspapers, for example?

Daniel: Absolutely. I think that, uh, this pressure from the outside has really made the newspapers and other media rethink their position and try to catch up, if you want, with social media. It presents a really positive force and also a real danger, as we know, in terms of fake news and all the risks that that entails.

I feel that the, the fact that journalists put themselves a bit on a pedestal and said we’re beholders of the truth was very dangerous. And the consequences is that there was a lot of people out there who no longer believe them, which is very unfortunate. And you really have to eat some humble pie when you’re a journalist and constantly remember the realities for 80, 90 percent of the people in the world who are grafting very hard and don’t have privileged [00:16:00] positions in the middle class and, and above.

And so I think the podcast. Is a healthy results of this pressure where you have all the major media. So adopting this format, more informal, making sure there’s a real story to tell, trying to put some of your own personality and realities into the exchanges you have. Which are supposed to be informal, engaging, and directly trying to address the issues of the people from the outside.

In other words, sometimes inviting listeners or doing small reports which make that interaction all the richer. The vocabulary is changing, and all this is from social media pressure and the realities of the smartphone reporter that people more and more feel that they are. With the risks, I mean, the checks and balances takes time, takes a certain amount of being humble [00:17:00] and not having strong opinions or having strong opinions that can be shaken and revised as a result of the exchanges that these cub reporters are having.

And that’s where journalists should continue to have a strong impact, and that is they’re trained to have both the right sources or better sources, right, in inverted commas, and secondly, have that instinct of, okay, so, so many people are injured and others died. Am I sure about that figure? Is it ongoing?

Can we always put in conditionals? And trying to resist the huge amount of pressures that the politicians and the major businesses put. So, all of this is where I still feel journalists have a major role to play in disseminating news. 

Jewels: Where do you think, I mean, it’s changed quite a lot, right? In the last, even just three or four years, let alone five to 10 in the regards where that balance of power, I guess, is shifting from a [00:18:00] reporting perspective.

And even as you say, the styles are changing and the formats are changing. What’s your prediction? Where do you think it’s going? What are some of the dangers we haven’t perhaps thought about or some of the exciting things that might be coming that, that we haven’t even experienced? Where do you think it might go from here for you as a journalist and in your craft, but also in, in the world space as a listener and, uh, somebody with a desire to hear news and hear different aspects from all around the world.

What can we expect do you think from the industry? 

Daniel: That’s a really stimulating question and it really needs deep reflections. I don’t have a crystal ball and yeah, I’m, I’m really not sure, uh, Jewels. I think one thing that has been constantly repeated over time is the death of radio as a result of all the, uh, other media that’s been created and progressing.

And yeah, maybe more and more of this 3d virtual. [00:19:00] Technology might come in. So I think radio is shown it’s resilient and why is it mainly resilient? It’s the only media where you can actually be doing something else with your hands or your feet or your body while listening. So while you’re gardening, that’s my case, or cleaning up, I love to be transported elsewhere through the sound.

It’s also really rich because it leaves a certain amount of space for your imagination. Reading leaves a huge amount of space. Television leaves very little space, hence very short scripts so that the visuals also are absorbed. So, I think that radio still has a promising future and I constantly remind people of that.

Uh, because we are all, uh, almost all, uh, subject to doing manual labor where radio is a relief, driving your car and so on. Uh, you can’t be reading or watching something without putting other people’s lives in danger. I [00:20:00] suppose technology, especially visual technology, might be taking, unfortunately, more and more space compared to the quality of sound.

People are less demanding, which is why mediocre sound, MP4s. Tend to continue to take more and more space at the, and the visuals, the quality of the visuals, and as if you’re absorbed, as if you’re there, that will be more and more, I think, dominant. So the all inclusive experiences that technology will provide.

So soon we’ll have the feeling maybe through. Even other senses, like, like smell and whatever, can be developed. So, journalists who are reporting on an earthquake in Ecuador, thanks to technology, people will feel the tremors and smell the fear and all that through that kind of media. So, it’s kind of a cinema style development.

The dangers of journalism [00:21:00] is a target. Journalists are targets. More and more journalists are dying, are being exposed to threats. And I’m not just talking about in places like Haiti and Syria, no, but also here. I mean, I’ve been threatened. I recently did a story which has links with the extreme rights in France, and which also seems to have links with the cover up around a bombing that occurred 47 years.

1980. Yeah, 43 years ago. But the trial just took place this year. And these kind of threats, I think, will develop. And so there’s a need maybe of civil society protecting journalists who are putting their lives on the line. I think that journalists in the environmental field will be the more, even more exposed than in the war fields, as that kind of war of exposing the dangers of climate and sustainability are exposed, and unscrupulous companies or politicians.

[00:22:00] We’ll put that kind of pressure to cover up their nefarious activities and journalists need to be protected. And again, which is another reason for this, this profession to continue and not just have cub journalists who are in social media, but there you are. They’re vital as well as providing information for us journalists.

Jewels: I think it’s a fascinating look into the future and I kind of opened it personally, I opened it with a welcome arms because I think there’s some exciting things in it, particularly in the technological space, as you say, the ability to sort of feel and taste and smell and all those kinds of things I think will be fascinating.

Just as I was reflecting on my own question there, I was thinking, where would I sort of pitch and what would I see in the future? And I think what I’m seeing is I think a reversal of what has occurred in media probably in the past. So many, many years ago, I guess when newspapers started, they were [00:23:00]all local newspapers.

So the news. Was really about your town or your district and not a lot of world news and eventually it all started to consolidate, right? So the big players became one massive players and news was consolidated and you, you got one source of news. So there might be, uh, that became a time or in recent times, it was only a few news sources, few major news sources where the majority of the news came from.

I think that’s now reversing where the news is coming from multiple places. Good, bad or indifferent, as you say. Some of it researched, some of it not so researched, some of it more biased than it possibly should be. But it’s disseminating. But I also see at the same time the growth of the mega players as well.

So I think almost both things are happening. I think we’ll see these massive players. That will be able to take on the big stuff, but in a much more diverse way. So not just through television and radio [00:24:00]and perhaps newspapers and magazines, but in like a 3d environment, for example, and more podcasting, as you say.

So they’re disseminating the information through. various means, but there’s still those big players, but then there will be the rise of the small player who will create these small tribes. So me as a podcaster, for example, I’m never going to be world news, but there’ll be a certain collective of people that will follow my stories and my ramblings.

And so I think there’ll be lots and lots of little players in the market, as well as some major players too. 

Daniel: Yeah, no, that’s provoking a lot of reflections. Uh, first of all, I have to put a proviso on all our discussion and all the things we just said in the last five minutes, and that is the bull in the China shop.

And that is the fact that all of this technology. Depends on rare metals depends on the this dwindling resource and so smartphones that we have and [00:25:00] we’ve seen how abrupt and incredibly fast the situation can switch in the past couple of years. What, what economists are calling black swans, these unexpected phenomena, like the health crisis pandemic of the COVID 19, like the war in Ukraine, which all of a sudden puts into question our entire existence, our entire way of functioning in the past 20 years.

And all of a sudden the local and the fragility of this whole business model and this whole model that, uh, our globalization is lying on. Is disappears, and we’re all questioning. Can we continue to provide the lithium and the copper and all these vital metals that for the technology that both of us brought up now?

Will science finds alternatives to those metals which will continue to drive it? Is the cost towards the [00:26:00] environment worth it for all this technology? And I just interviewed a guy called Guillaume Pitron who brought out this book called The Dark Cloud. And it’s his second book, which his first was about rare metals.

His second, The Dark Cloud, is about the cost of sending a like. In Facebook or whatever. And it’s enormous. It’s meta Facebook set up this structure, which was like eight times the size of a football pitch in the North of Sweden to continue its operations as very near the Arctic circle, which he describes how the digital world is coast costing.

The earth is the subtitle of his book. When it was turned on, the consumption of electricity in Sweden doubled. And we are so unaware, including me, of the cost of all the, so I’m kind of moving away from the topic you were bringing up, but I did want to bring up that ball in the air, [00:27:00] huge ball in the China shop, which might mean that we go back to local, that all this sort of incredible activity that we’ve seen and that we’re part of.

For the past decade or more around the social media really be reduced and the major player or local become local and the major players that you were talking about, and you’re right to bring them up will be the only ones that can afford to disseminate the information, and that’s very dangerous. Also, and we’re finding, like you say, this kind of mixture of very independent, small media that has have a global Audience and these Amazons and the meta and Google taking more and more space dominating the outlets and therefore with all the risks that that means.

And the independence of traditional media is really a topic that, that I [00:28:00] think needs to be addressed because in France anyway, we’ve gone down by about 15 places in what the reporters without borders table classification have to around 45 or so, because we have these companies, these private companies like Bouygues and Bolloré, taking over newspapers and media and TV stations like Canal Plus, And putting in their puppets and censoring and getting rid of independent voices within these structures.

And, um, and even in the government you have, there was this very funny and satirical and hard hitting daily show on a national radio called by Jupiter, I’ll translate it. It changed its name to It’s Us Again, and they decided, despite the petition of a couple of million people, to get rid of it, and to narrow it down to once a week on Sunday, where it’s become a really mediocre program, which, you know, where [00:29:00] entertainment or infotainment Has taken over and that’s a symbolic of, I think, uh, a worrying trends, uh, both in public and private sectors.

Jewels: think it’s a subject we could possibly talk about forever, but I do want to change tact just a little bit. You’ve gone on to become a Sorry, the Senior Editorial Reporter for HSE Paris, one of Europe’s most prestigious business schools. How much involvement with the students and the cohort there do you have?

Like, are you part of the business community there? 

Daniel: Oh yeah, intimately. And that’s my main It’s interesting that HEC decided to hire me. I’m no economist. I’m no financial experts. My studies were really political science and culture. And at RFI, I was for 22 years, really focusing on that with a lot of on the ground reporting and the grassroots Africa was my big sort of [00:30:00] beats, as well as providing insight into communities, mainly in Sub Saharan Africa, through the vehicle of music and.

I think they wanted somehow, by hiring me seven years ago, to give that vocabulary language approach, naivety, in my reports, in my interviews. I come from a background where my father is an academic, so a retired social anthropologist, so the university feel, it’s a sort of wonderful bubble, which can also be dangerous.

It was part of my upbringing as a child and adolescent. And so it’s quite ironic that almost accidentally I fell into the HEC world, which is a campus university just outside of Paris, despite its name HEC Paris, and where over 100 representatives through students and academics come from over 130 different countries around the world.

Uh, I’ve really slowed down in my [00:31:00] travels, unfortunately, it’s the biggest thing I miss, but the world’s coming to me, and we’re, yeah, I’m constantly looking for angles and stories which show the unusual side of HEC, it’s not just The future leaders in the Fortune 500 and in as consultants in EY or Deutsche Bank or other companies, private companies or advisors to the government.

There are a lot of remarkable stories that go well out of the beat where they’re fundamentally questioning the tenets of the capitalistic model that has dominated the Western industry and world for the past 50, 60 years. And they’re also talking, you know, there’s a lot of human stories. Social sciences have been coming in to the, the curriculum and students have been also chosen from different fields than just the straight economics, mathematics, engineering backgrounds that dominated the intakes every year [00:32:00] of 400 people.

So this diversity, trying to reflect through my podcasts and, and my articles. I used to talk about success stories among student populations of kids who’ve managed to gravitate into this elite world. I mean, HEC is part of the Ivy League in Europe. And, but more and more I’m going into this idea of showing the impact of research.

It’s in, it’s growing. Context it’s environments and I don’t know I can give you a couple of examples if you want of that. 

Jewels: I would love that because I’m fascinated with the shift in thinking when it comes to the pure capitalist model of we must do this and we must be seen in a certain way and we must act in a certain way versus what I see what I personally see and what the premise of this podcast is.

Is the injection of humans into the process. A business environment is nothing but a collective of humans. And yet we shy, we have in the past shied [00:33:00] away from. Sharing those stories. So sharing that empathy, bringing in some of that vulnerability into the process as well. Tell me a little bit about what you’ve seen where those two worlds are sort of starting to meld together.

And is it being taught per se, or is it something that’s being, I guess, absorbed through the likes of having people like you in, in and amongst the academics? 

Daniel: Oh, more than ever. I’m just a sounding board for something that has. started basically in 2008 with the Lehman Brothers crash, and someone called Rudolf Duran decided, okay, we’ve seen the limits of this Friedman dominated model that was Promoted and pushed by the likes of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.

And it’s, it’s clearly not working and there’s a huge amount of corruption. So he created this little department, which has become an Institute within HEC. In 2008, 2009 [00:34:00] called Society and Organizations, and that is mushroomed and it’s, it’s motto is think, teach, act, and that’s become the school motto. And so there’s over 100 researcher professors, 50 of which at HEC, 50 of which work for this, this institute, Society, SNO.

And they, yeah, they are questioning the ideas that, uh, the bottom line and financial profits are the most important or the only thing. So they’ve introduced other concepts, sustainability, of course, but also well being in the work. Um, the glass ceilings, gender, uh, the human rights, in other words. Um, and these researchers have a huge diversity of fields where they’re approaching it.

And then even filtering into the other institutes within HEC or departments, the last episode of the podcast was Don Pfluger talking about the blockchain accounting, so [00:35:00] he’s a research accountant and a lot of accountants are professors at HEC. Have a very bold and unusual path. So Dane is showing that the off chain realities have infiltrated cryptocurrencies and brought the FTX scandal to the fore.

I mean, shown that those, the idea of Uberization of blockchains and that this technology can remove. All the traditional banks and traditional accounting practices and, and make it automatic and therefore make it always irreproachable and yeah, you can’t corrupt it well, that’s a fallacy. And in fact, a lot of off chain realities.

Have come in and are really a threat to the whole cryptocurrency concept and the current trial of the FTX founders Sam bankman freed is an illustration of that. There’s another accountant professor daniel ramirez Uh, who I, I interview and who I talk about, who [00:36:00] really looks at, at contested markets and some of the lessons they can teach the non contested markets worldwide.

And his, his main focus is the cannabis trade and, you know, industry as it’s been developing in places like Arizona and Colorado, especially since 2002. And how they cohabitate and how the accounting practices have to adopt and in a state in the United States where it’s legal within a federal context where it’s totally illegal.

So they can’t use federal banks, the industries, the business people in that community. And so he looks at these kind of contradictions and the agility of the accounting departments to circumvent and make these trades in Canada and elsewhere survive or not, and how the two can cohabitate. There’s another interesting, on the other side of the [00:37:00] spectrum, interesting subject that I’ve been following for a couple of years, is the CDL, Creative Destruction Lab.

And this is quite Darwinian, but openly so. It’s the fruit of an economist in Rotman School of Management, Jay Drowell, which tackles the ethics and the geopolitics of the business world. But there Main aim is to bring together managers, people from business schools with engineers who have brilliant ideas, but have no idea how to make it fructify.

And they start at the beginning of the year and they have mentors from the business world of challenging them every eight weeks with targets and whittling them down from 40 to six or seven by the end of the year. Investing in the ones that they feel are most promising and guiding them. But some of them are weaned away.

They still support, or they go on to do [00:38:00] great things. So it’s not eliminating in a totally brutal way. But I went to, uh, the super session in Toronto in June, and, uh, there was a really challenging questions where we’re being discussed around these, these questions of AI and ethics and how they fit into the startup world.

I talked to Guillaume Ville May, who brought out a book, he’s a professor of finance at HEC, brought out a book about the global shipping industry and its responsibilities, and this is in the shipping industry is responsible for transporting 90 percent of the goods that we are buying in this sort of globalization.

And there is, Only antiquated laws from the 19th century that govern the industry’s behavior beyond the borders, the maritime borders that all the countries like France and the United States have. And so this is a kind of gray area [00:39:00] where the abuses of human rights, of taxation, flags of convenience, and so on, are flouted constantly.

The damage to the environments, the brutality in which the workers in this industries are treated. All these are addressed by Guillaume, who’s actually got also a foot in the political world, in the inverted commas, because he’s been consulted and invited to give his expertise by the French parliament.

And, but he’s very hard hitting and he’s very, his book is really rooted. It’s unfortunately only in France. But he has some papers, academic papers, that are out there in English, and so the exchange that we had at the beginning of this year is in English, so if you’re interested in having a look at, a listen to his vision.

And finally, if I can, Jewels, another very unusual example, which I jumped on, is the work of a law [00:40:00] professor called Matteo Winkler on the athlete, the South African middle distance runner, Kester Semenya. Double world, triple world champion, double Olympic champion in the 800 meters. And born a woman. Why do I say that?

Because at the age of 28 or 27, the IOC decided she wasn’t a woman enough because she had too much testosterone and she had a deep voice and they decided to fix limits, which banned her from running between 400 meters and a mile. God knows why she becomes a woman if it’s less than 400 meters or more than a mile.

And unless she took drugs, which artificially diminished her testosterone, and Matteo, who’s very involved in LGBT legislation and law and studies all of this as an academic and teaches [00:41:00] at HCC. He’s currently at Bukoni, but he’s a full time professor. He started asking, but why, who are these people who judge what a woman is and what a woman isn’t, and are basing themselves on scientific evidence, in inverted commas, and laws, and And he dismantled in a 40 page analysis and research every argument that was put forward by the IOC, led by Sebastian Coe.

And he made parallels, including, well, Michael Phelps was born abnormally large feet. and giving him a natural advantage over his competitors. I think there even was a rumor that he had wet feet, but I think that was just an urban myth. I extrapolated. I mean, what about the center of gravity of Diego Maradona and Pele, which they were born with, which gives a natural asset just like Castor Semenya.

over their respective [00:42:00] competitors. And so should they have their feet cut off a bit or their center of gravity lengthens artificially to make it an equal playing field? It really opens a Pandora’s box. And Matteo Winkler gives this parallel with the Venus Hottentot. It’s a 19th century scandal where he says, yeah, Semenya is a 21st century hot and taut where white male men in Geneva consider what these African, Indian, Portuguese women who have, who are born with too much testosterone are not allowed to compete unless they take drastic remedies, which are debilitating.

So these all are the babies of HCC research. Far too little is known about it. And I was drafted in to try, you know, and bring it out, uh, give them more limelight, more attention and show that impact. 

Jewels: [00:43:00] It’s definitely a diverse set of research that is coming out of the Institute, which is fabulous. I just want to go back to the comment you made earlier, where you introduced the idea that the pure economics of a business or an enterprise these days is not just about the bottom line.

You talked about sustainability, ethics, human rights. There’s a whole bunch of other things that are now forming part of what brings value in an organization. How important is it now in today’s world for leadership to get up and tell those stories? How important is it for the sharing of that information and the transparency, I guess, to some degree?

Of what is going on in an organization that doesn’t just say we made 10 billion profit last year, but actually says encompasses so many other aspects. How important and what role does storytelling play when it comes to the [00:44:00] valuation of a company and how it’s seen in the public eye? 

Daniel: I’m glad you reminded me of a very important point I’d like to circle back to.

And that, that is, I have a personal opinion, but I prefer to, again, come back to HEC’s drive, and it is a major drive, to bringing those other factors in, and, and that is, it is vital, this transparency and these other values beyond bottom line. And to illustrate that, about four years ago, the, a former student of HEC called Hubert Joly, Joly, you know, Hubert Joly, who graduated in 89 and became Mr.

Emergency in Trade, first in France and then in the United States, when in 2013, he went and took over as a CEO, Best Buy, with about 150, 000 employees. And everyone was saying it’s the end of this company, Amazon’s going to eat them up, just like they [00:45:00] ate up Radio Shack and other major companies, and Best Buy is going to disappear.

And he turned it around, but he turned it around, he says, almost intuitively. He didn’t really understand what he did is he, he went and he got the result. He got some advice from the workers at the bottom of the pyramid. He listened and he started engaging other values of wellbeing. And he started integrating and choosing that saying that Amazon isn’t going to be our rival.

They’re going to be our partners. And so in these huge structures, Best Buy is these major kind of warehouses where all kinds of machines, computers are being sold. He’s always reserved a space, always, any, often for Amazon to be inside that structure. And he turned it around. Best Buy, in the space of five years, not only survived, but they actually are thriving or were thriving until he retired.

And then he said, Hmm, I’ve done this. [00:46:00] I’m ready to take a step back. I’m going to become just an honorary president with Best Buy and basically retire, but I want to know how I did it. So he went back to HEC and he said, here, look, here is 4 million euros, a bit more, the equivalent, 4 million, 5 million dollars to create a purposeful leadership chair.

And this purpose, a little chip is going to explore basically what I don’t understand the intuitive way that it worked, and this chair, one of its vital roles is to sensitize the students from the beginning, but right through to their 5th year. That’s HEC. Towards those other values. So what do they do at the beginning?

The first, the freshmen that arrive, or that have just been accepted at HEC, the first contact with, um, the environment of HEC is in a ski resort in the Alps called Chamonix, where [00:47:00] they spend a week. Looking at the impact of industry on nature and the challenges of sustainability and they invite business leaders to say, this is an emergency.

You’ve got to get your act together. Climate change is there. Look at the horror of climate warming, global warming, what it’s doing to our glaciers and to our environment. And they start debating that and then they come to the HEC campus and for a week, they have all kinds of models. So leaders that have said that not only is the bottom line, not right, but actually, it can benefit from a certain amount of the practices where we slow down where there’s maybe a bit of growth in the long term, you have to have a medium and long term, Vision to to actually see how these are.

These are beneficial for our companies. And there are major companies, Veolia and Maif insurance [00:48:00] company, Veolia is a water company, multinationals who have integrated a lot of these practices. And are evolving towards that and in our financing. And there’s also a basic challenge that, uh, so, so purposeful leadership chair is inside of SNO.

And SNO is also trying to fight greenwashing and lip service. And the students are also challenging them. So there are partners in, uh, in HEC, the like total, and the students are actually doing imaginative non-violence demonstrations. When total representatives come to talk about their company to say, look, you’ve got to hurry up.

There’s no longer time in my generation, say the students are going to suffer the results of being too slow and healthy debates is well, what’s too slow. How can we make it evolve from the inside from the outside? There are no. dividing lines. So I think that [00:49:00] illustrates the question, the points you were making.

And I’d finally like to say that one really important thing that needs to be addressed by the world community and the politicians to begin with is transparency about tax evasion. And I was really jolted by a McKinsey report in 2012. Which said that in a conservatively there are $32 billion worth of money of assets in these tax havens.

32 billion in 2012 was the equivalent of the uh, GDP of United States and Japan put together. And this white collar crime that’s disguised, I mean, it’s not because they’re very clever, then it’s not illegal, but morally criminal, if this was addressed in a mixture of stick and carrot, carrot and stick way, I think that can really help [00:50:00] develop a form of transparency, bring much needed goods to the table.

Not goods, money to the world economy for the benefit of all, and the idea of slowing down, showing that exponential growth is not going to save the planet, quite the opposite, that you can have steady growth. Some people are even talking about de growth, and they’ve been invited, academics have been invited to talk to the HEC students.

All of these factors, I think, illustrate the need to move away from the bottom line theory and philosophy, And our sort of addiction towards buying, buying new, buying fast, constantly buying the new cars, questioning basic ideas about green energy, which actually is not so green. All these things, I think, are really important debates to have worldwide under a global leadership.

Where we put aside differences between China, [00:51:00] Russia, the United States, France, and so on, because this is one environment. And the air we breathe doesn’t have a border. 

Jewels: Daniel, there is so much gold in that and so many different avenues of questions that I know you and I could talk for quite a while on this and perhaps we should continue with a glass of wine in our hand.

I have a much simpler, much more jovial question to finish up on if I may. You’ve been a reporter for a number of years. You’ve worked in music, you’ve worked for television, I believe, and radio and also magazine. You are now a podcaster, which are also about to be filmed. What’s your favorite storytelling medium and why?

Daniel: It has to be radio. It has to be on the field, on the ground radio. And so I, from the height of my 63 years, I have to admit that I have a mix of missing it and reality. I think that I could go out [00:52:00]onto the field and with my old fashioned Nagra recorder weighing eight kilos. And I used to have a suitcase that I’d go and I’d have this much space for my vital goods and this much space for the real to real tapes that I used to use.

But the sound was unbelievable. And. There was a certain kind of joy of stopping a conversation every 15 minutes to change and chit chatting with the president opposite me or the down and out bluesniffer in the streets of Johannesburg while I was changing the reels. So the radio, I had a wonderful situation at RFI, which was kind of in the ghetto where we would produce these weekly features magazines from based on our on the ground reports that we bring back for partner radios around the world.

And there was this real dialogue. And I just had this [00:53:00] magical feeling of being in a space which where I was. Pretty much totally free. I was only a prisoner of the realities of the technology, my fellow workers. It was a service at RFI that was kind of ghettoized, where it was a very rich exchange between us.

And with all the privileges of being a ghetto, a lot of solidarity between us, exchanges, I would bring back sound that I could hardly understand because the Portuguese service or the Chinese service were really interested in, so I would just ask the question in English and they’d answer in Chinese and I’d hope that the answer was coherent or faithful to the translation they gave me.

Anyway, it wasn’t live. So I would bring that back. So there was a great solidarity there. And so I’ve really enjoyed it. And podcast is the return of, of sounds and a return to the poor person’s media, because anyone can do. That’s the great thing about the technology we have at hand. Anyone can [00:54:00] do a podcast almost and, and put it online or YouTube.

And, and so I think that’s a. That’s nice to still have a little finger in there. In terms of the music world, I still have a little finger in it. Thanks to song lines, this magazine, I still. Occasionally writes, I write for, but yeah, the magic of radio, it’s language, it’s sound, the ability to make us dream and travel and, uh, NPR and France culture are at the forefront of, of this kind of, I think, exploitation of, of the media and really honoring the language of sound and RT, RT radio also.

I don’t know if these are familiar for your listeners, but I incur or read or viewers. I encourage them to have a look at RT Radio, France Culture, and NPR and all its features. And so yeah, uh, sound, radio. 

Jewels: I can see you tearing up as you say that, so very emotional response. Thank you so much, Daniel. I do appreciate your time.

You’ve been a wonderful [00:55:00] guest. Where can the listener find out a little bit more about you? 

Daniel: Well, I have a link, a LinkedIn profile, which I think if you put HEC Daniel Brown, you find it right away or RFI. so much for having me. I think I’m the only one. And otherwise the podcasts are on, uh, it’s called breakthroughs, but you find it more easily through knowledge, HEC podcasts, if you put those three keywords in Google.

And we’re on Spotify and Apple and all these other platforms and YouTube soon. We’ve got a couple of films, shorter versions of breakthroughs, um, that are ready or almost ready. So we’re about to launch them. And so we’ll have the short version, 20 minutes audio visual exchanges. So you see the faces behind the sound and the voices and the 40 minutes, 30 to 40 minutes podcasts in the same usual.

Jewels: You’ve been fantastic. I’ll put all those links in the show notes. Uh, thank you [00:56:00] very much. I appreciate your time. 

Daniel: Well, it was a pleasure Jewels. You’ve been a great host. Thank you mate. Cheers. 

Jewels: So much to unpack from that stimulating conversation with Daniel. From the future of journalism to music. To the fragility of globalism.

To research. To education, including blockchain and shipping laws. But one that I’m reflecting on is music is a raw form of storytelling accessible to all, no matter their class, background, or education level. Much love, chat soon.

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