Ben: I have a kind of a pretty eclectic background. I was born in L.A. but my parents were both British and my dad was a chemical engineer and so grew up all over the place like a new American school although I am American as well. Call an army brat that kind of upbringing Yeah. So living in the US and the UK and spent quite a bit of my time and my childhood in the Middle East in Tehran pretty revolutionary Tehran and then Oman which is on the Arabian Peninsula east of the cat east of the United Arab Emirates.
My career is being pretty eclectic as well as can be just being a kind of series a series of different things really very different. I spent 14 years as a journalist and foreign correspondent and I was in London and Tokyo and New York and then I got fed up with journalism.
BnP: Bored with it? What was it that got you out of it.
Ben: There was that was a story that I was researching on on Enron and my stories was with Jeff Skilling, the CEO of Enron was innocent of all charges. My story was that he was innocent of the charges brought against him.
BnP: So did the government get to do economists have enough of this a story. Did that dishearten you to have any passion about something or what was it that got you out of it.
Ben: The Economist in general would publish what you might call controversial or non mainstream or contrarian, I think it’s a good way of putting it. They would be willing to publish pretty much all that stuff. I was always interested in those stories, the ones that make people think.
Ben: And you know so there’s a kind of a public consensus on something and I would often take the other side and write that and say well what about if we thought about this we looked at it this way. What evidence do we have for this. And so in general that was why I spent 10 years this and they were wonderful employer and they published almost everything I wrote a lot of it was like that. And this one they wouldn’t publish this kind of story, then I’m done. And I was kind of bored with it as well and writing for 14, 15 years and I wanted to do something different.
Ben: Well since then I did a whole number of things I was a speech writer, I went into marketing, I ran corporate marketing for IBM or additional marketing programs. I was IBM chief communications officer for a while, which is a very interesting and extremely challenging job. I did product management I ran a digital media business (met you at PayPal) – that was kind of a product management – engineering gig and now run my own company and have clients and consult all over the country with my clients. So it’s another another new chapter in this ever evolving saga.
BnP: When you’re in these different roles that you’ve been have there been anything that you’ve taken with you in terms of I’ll call it like your philosophy or belief system. Do you think it’s really has solidified in some ways that you feel like it’s evolving.
Ben: Well I guess there’s a kind of a: “What makes me, what motivates me and what brings out the best in me”. So there’s that question. I don’t think that changes much. When I was doing journalism, it’s always been about people. What really motivates me is understanding people.
I feel like people are like puzzles and you know multilayered, super interesting, have different experiences and radically different perspectives which always interests me how different people can look at the same thing and have a completely different view or even sense of reality right from the thing. And so that’s what’s always interested me
And then the latter part of my career in corporate career and consulting, it’s been focused on, I guess you could call it human potential. So how do we how do we harness better human potential. And I feel like that is we haven’t even begun to understand how to do that as a as a society.