Simon Anholt: How we can repair the world in one generation

Keen to know how we can defeat global challenges such as climate change, pandemics, war, poverty, migration, and extremism?

Today I speak with Simon Anholt, an independent Policy advisor who has worked with Presidents, Prime Ministers, and Monarchs in 56 nations, helping them improve their economic, political, and cultural engagements with the international community.

He’s a best-selling author, TED speaker – who has clocked over 10 million views, and a long-time TIE mentor and friend.

In this episode, we talk about his recently launched book The Good Country Equation. You’ll hear him explain the challenges facing humanity and the planet with unique clarity, and he provides new, informative, practical, and innovative solutions on how to build a better world.

We hear about cooperation and collaboration being a true beacon of hope. And we talk about what Globalization 2.0 looks like.

You will see the world through different eyes after listening to this podcast. And I have no doubt it will hook you to get a copy of his book.

Which genuinely is a must-read for anyone who cares about our shared future.

Have a listen and enjoy!

Then, grab a copy of The Good Country Equation here on Kindle, paperback, or Audible.

00:00:07:22 – 00:00:29:16
Philippa White
So the questions are these. How can we really activate the best of the private sector to meet the challenges of the real world? Is there a way to accelerate my career that doesn’t involve boring online or classroom courses? And can I really impact people in the developing world with the skills that I have? Can I finally feel proud of what I know?

00:00:30:08 – 00:01:01:06
Philippa White
Those are the questions and this podcast will give you the answers. My name is Philippa Light and this is TIE Unearthed. Keep listening and you can follow us on our journey as we show you how we’re connecting the private sector with the social sector to make change. Hello everyone. Philippa White here and welcome to Episode 14 of Ties Podcast.

00:01:01:06 – 00:01:19:04
Philippa White
I am so excited to be speaking with Simon Anholt today, independent policy advisor, bestselling author, TEDx Speaker who has clocked over 10 million views and long time time, mentor and friend. Simon, I’m really honored to have you with us today.

00:01:19:14 – 00:01:21:03
Simon Anholt
It’s a great pleasure, Philippa. Thank you.

00:01:21:15 – 00:01:52:00
Philippa White
Thank you. Now, I’d love to bring you to life for our listeners. So for the past 20 years, Simon has worked with presidents, prime ministers and monarchs. In 56 nations to help them to improve their economic, political and cultural engagements with the international community. In 2012, Simon created the good Country Index, a study measuring the impact of 163 countries on the rest of humanity and the planet.

00:01:52:17 – 00:02:18:18
Philippa White
Now, Simon is the author of six books, the best selling author, the bestselling book, Another One Bites the Grass and has just released his latest book, The Good Country Equation. Now, today, I’m going to be talking to Simon about his thoughts on how we can defeat global challenges such as climate change, pandemics, war, poverty, migration and extremism, and how we can repair the world in one generation.

00:02:19:14 – 00:02:41:18
Philippa White
So that brings me Simon, to my first question for you for a book about the state of the world. Talking about heavy subjects such as the future of humanity, extremism, climate change and pandemics. I found myself laughing out loud at times like you really did manage to make a very serious book about very serious subject matters, extremely accessible and easy to read.

00:02:41:18 – 00:02:43:14
Philippa White
And I just wondered, can you talk to us about that?

00:02:44:10 – 00:03:03:24
Simon Anholt
Of course. Well, it’s just necessary for so many reasons. I suppose the first reason is that you have to be quite responsible when you unleash a book on the public these days, because there are so many of them, far too many to read. I mean, the pile of nonfiction books moaning about the state of the world reaches to Mars and back three times.

00:03:04:09 – 00:03:27:08
Simon Anholt
And before you can grant yourself the luxury of being able to add yet another one, I think you have to feel reasonably sure that people will actually read it and enjoy it. And if you’re lucky enough to be a celebrity author, then then that’s that’s an asset. It’s not in my case. So I thought, I just want to make this something that people will enjoy reading, not nonfiction, is very, very hard work most of the time.

00:03:27:08 – 00:03:45:08
Simon Anholt
And a lot of these wonderful books about the state of the world, they’re written by experts and they’re full of knowledge and learning, but they’re just not really very readable. And this seems to me to be wrong because, you know, the problems of the world can only be solved by the people who cause them, which is all of us.

00:03:45:18 – 00:04:06:19
Simon Anholt
And if the book can’t be enjoyably read and understood unless you’ve got a degree in geo politics or macroeconomics, then it’s pointless because you’re just talking to more academics. And I and I and I didn’t want to do that. So I thought, I’ll make it fun to read. My motto is, Just because these things are serious doesn’t mean they have to be boring.

00:04:07:19 – 00:04:28:17
Philippa White
Well, it’s definitely not boring. I found myself laughing out loud as I said, it was really, really great to read. Now, in the book, I get the sense that you’re positive about the future and throughout you provide so many ideas of how we can behave and think differently to make change on a micro and then on a much more macro scale.

00:04:29:07 – 00:04:46:08
Philippa White
At the beginning you talk about your work of country branding and how, when doing it, you learned in ways you never really had before and the importance of that. This wasn’t conventional learning. Can you just talk a bit about this and why, in your view, that’s important?

00:04:46:11 – 00:05:09:23
Simon Anholt
Well, I think you just learn so much better when you’re a practicing adult than when you’re a board student. And I think the amount I’ve learned is sort of in inverse inverse proportion to my age when when I was at school and when I was at university, the stuff I was learning didn’t really penetrate very deeply. And I don’t think it does for many of us, because you don’t even know that at that point yet.

00:05:09:23 – 00:05:37:10
Simon Anholt
Why you need to learn and it doesn’t chime with an awful lot of your experience because you haven’t had any experience apart from trying to learn things. So I found that after leaving university and starting to work in a really very sadly unprepared way, I kind of made up for that by learning at an incredible rate. I became a kind of sponge and as I learned things, it was in context and it was deeply, deeply relevant to what I was actually doing.

00:05:37:21 – 00:06:00:10
Simon Anholt
And so my, my dark secret for the first, oh, ten years of my career was that I was actually learning more than I was teaching. And since my job was allegedly to teach policymakers how to do policy better, it was frankly a bit of a contract. But then I suppose on the good side, I wasn’t charging nearly enough at the time, so maybe, maybe it balanced out in the end.

00:06:01:17 – 00:06:17:07
Philippa White
Can you just talk a bit about what that sort of looked like? I mean, as a as a policy adviser and how you sort of learned more than you taught, for example? I mean, what what did that look like? You talk a lot about it in the book. I mean, what was it that you what do you refer to as learning?

00:06:17:07 – 00:06:18:05
Philippa White
What were you learning?

00:06:18:18 – 00:06:53:13
Simon Anholt
Well, as you said, you use this this this awful phrase country branding. And I’m sometimes accused of being the person who invented this term. In my case, I think it was probably it was probably nation branding. Actually, it’s not really true. That phrase I accidentally coined was nation brand, not nation branding. And there is a big difference. I mean, it’s only three letters, but but it’s important because Nation Brand was just an observation I made way back in an academic paper in the 1990s about the importance of country image.

00:06:53:22 – 00:07:18:13
Simon Anholt
I mean, broadly speaking, countries with powerful and positive images find that everything is easy and everything is cheap. If they want to attract more tourists, more investors, more talent, sell more products at a higher price, their population finds it easier to get jobs and get university places around the world. If you’re a country that’s admired, everything’s easy. If, on the other hand, you’re a country with a weak or negative reputation, everything is difficult, everything is expensive.

00:07:18:16 – 00:07:46:01
Simon Anholt
And you’re constantly having to, to, to to try and fight against the headwind of these negative perceptions or absent perceptions of your country. And so the work that I was doing in the early years was basically advise in countries on how to understand how they were perceived by ordinary publics, but also by elites, diplomats and investors and so forth around the world, and how this should affect the way that they run their own countries.

00:07:46:01 – 00:08:09:12
Simon Anholt
Because, you know, by that stage it had become a globalization necessity. The countries have got images, and those images are among their most valuable assets and governments. This is another awful phrase. I said something like Governments need to be brand managers as much as they are policymakers. And I didn’t mean that in the literal sense that they have to learn how to do communications.

00:08:09:19 – 00:08:28:13
Simon Anholt
All I meant was that they had to be profoundly aware of the value of their country’s good name, and to understand that as elected or even unelected leaders, it was their sacred responsibility to look after that asset and to hand it down to their successors in at least as good condition as they received it.

00:08:29:12 – 00:08:41:08
Philippa White
Yeah, fascinating. And so this meant you had to obviously go to these countries and talk to people on the ground and really understand just what did that look like?

00:08:41:15 – 00:09:16:20
Simon Anholt
Well, because, of course, I can’t possibly be and couldn’t even really become an expert on the country. The only expertize I could offer was the subject matter, which I suppose you’d broadly call public diplomacy and a little bit of understanding about the rest of the world. But in an effort to try to redress that balance, what I would have to do is go to the country in question as often as possible, spend as much time there as possible, and most importantly, meet as many people as possible because one of the problems about being a policy advisor is that everybody assumes that the only people that it’s worth your while meeting of the people who make

00:09:16:20 – 00:09:39:09
Simon Anholt
policy. Whilst it is important to meet them, you’re also a very distorted view of the country if you’re only meeting the very, very top level of the of the decision making elite. So what I would have to do is to spend a lot of time going and deliberately seeking out the people with different views from the government, but also the people at the other end of the socio economic spectrum.

00:09:39:09 – 00:10:02:07
Simon Anholt
And so these turned into voyages of discovery, which I repeat, were never designed to, nor did I ever expect them to turn me into an expert on that country. I mean, you know, you could live in a country for 40 years and still not really understand how it ticks, but at least have some notion of what they were talking about when they describe their own country.

00:10:02:08 – 00:10:14:02
Simon Anholt
But I always rely on the people I’m working with in country to be the experts on their country. As I say, I, I try and fit into the impossibly large shoes of being an expert on the rest of the world.

00:10:14:19 – 00:10:42:04
Philippa White
Yeah, right. Amazing. Just to talk about cultural immersion and properly understanding different places and yeah, I couldn’t agree more. That’s obviously very much things that we find important for people to be able to do. So, yeah. Now, listen, another question that I had for you, because similar to in the US at the moment, almost any decision in Brazil, which is where I live, has now become political.

00:10:42:20 – 00:11:08:12
Philippa White
And if you share views that are not typical views of the far left, for example, you can be seen as supporting Bolsonaro, who’s the far right president is upset, you know, in our listeners, you know, who shares very similar views to Trump and vice versa. So if you are, you know, hang out with people who are big Bolsonaro supporters, but you share some views of the left, suddenly you’re a little less supporter, support them.

00:11:09:06 – 00:11:35:19
Philippa White
And it’s just incredibly dividing. Few people listen to the other side. They’re married to a political you know, to a particular political party. Few people ask questions to truly understand what is happening outside of their bubble. And I find it scary. Now, in the book, you talk about populism. You talk about nationalism. What’s happening? I agree with your thinking and you go on to talk about the problem and then the solution.

00:11:35:19 – 00:11:38:23
Philippa White
I just wonder, can you talk around this? Can you talk about this? Yeah.

00:11:39:12 – 00:12:06:22
Simon Anholt
Oh, it’s such a huge topic. And in a way, it’s the most important one. I mean, that let me share some thoughts in a kind of random direction and we’ll see if we can if we can make sense of them afterwards. One of the things I say in the book is that I’m possibly the most dangerous story in the world right now is the story that you are necessarily a member of one of two warring tribes.

00:12:07:10 – 00:12:37:24
Simon Anholt
You’re either a localist or you’re a globalist. And along with those those tribal affiliations, there are a bunch of other ideas that come prepackaged with them. They tend to align themselves against the the the distant echoes of the traditional left and right. Capital and labor, as Marx put it. And a bunch of other stuff. And what with one thing and another, we seem to have gone backwards in the sense that, well, there’s a parallel here with the way that we buy music.

00:12:38:04 – 00:13:03:16
Simon Anholt
Forgive me for trivializing, but we used to buy albums and that was pretty much the only way that you could buy music apart from the occasional single. And then it got to the stage where suddenly the whole music industry was upended and people discovered that actually they could buy tracks and that they much preferred that because quite legitimately they had preferred tracks from certain artists and they didn’t want to have to spend a lot of money buying the whole bunch, even if they never listened to three or four of them.

00:13:03:19 – 00:13:29:16
Simon Anholt
And the music industry now is all about buying tracks rather than buying albums. And the same thing has happened in reverse with politics. Yeah, I’m we are expected to buy albums. We are expected to buy into and to say to subscribe to all of the policies past, present and future that a given random group of people might come up with just because they are that given grand random group of people.

00:13:30:00 – 00:13:55:14
Simon Anholt
And we’ve branded ourselves as being part of that tribe. And this is thoroughly unsatisfactory because the old ideologies are, in any case, no longer a sure guide of what kind of policy reactions policymakers will have to a given situation, because the given situations are now so unpredictable and unfamiliar when the classic examples are all around us, like Brexit, for example, you had no way of knowing in advance what was the left wing approach to Brexit or the right wing approach.

00:13:56:04 – 00:14:25:01
Simon Anholt
And so we’re in a situation where where we should be buying more and more tracks and becoming deeply involved as citizens in policymaking and deciding, is this the right policy for this set of circumstances or is that the wrong one? We find ourselves more and more and more pressured into not just buying albums, but buying one star who we worship and basically identifying ourselves with that star fuzing our identities with his or her identity and saying, That’s it.

00:14:25:01 – 00:14:47:09
Simon Anholt
I bought everything in advance. This is not prejudice, this is not stupidity, this is not ignorance, this is lazy. This and I basically make the same calculation when it comes to when it comes to racism and intolerance. People often say that the racism comes from ignorance. And of course, there’s some truth in that. But I see it as becoming much more directly from laziness.

00:14:47:15 – 00:15:06:24
Simon Anholt
It’s so simple. It’s so much easier to prejudge people according to what groups you think they belong to than it is to try to figure them out as individuals. Because individual individuals are so complex and so imponderable and you can spend your life trying to get to know the one person who you share your life with and still not really know them by the end of it.

00:15:07:03 – 00:15:21:12
Simon Anholt
And that’s what’s wonderful about the species that we are. But if you are, if you can’t be bothered to do that and most of us can’t, most of the time, then you can just say, you know what, Phillippa? The reason you are like that is because you’re a woman or the reason that you’re like that is because of the color of your skin.

00:15:21:12 – 00:15:40:01
Simon Anholt
I mean, it’s absurd and it’s random, but it just makes everything so much simpler. And we are all falling into this trap and we’re falling into the trap. Maybe not even because we’re lazy, but because we think we’re busy, because we’ve got so much on our minds. And at the same time, we’re also losing touch with what is reality and what is fiction.

00:15:40:10 – 00:16:12:20
Simon Anholt
And for that, I mean, because you could blame any part of the media, you can certainly blame social media. This morning, I decided I was going to blame the Discovery Channel because I suddenly noticed I suddenly noticed that they they broadcast here in the UK about ten discovery channels or seven or eight. I don’t know what it is and it suddenly occurred to me that actually two or three of them were full of fantasy masquerading as documentary, and the other ones were documentaries and that the tonality, the style in which the programs are made are identical.

00:16:13:01 – 00:16:33:21
Simon Anholt
So on the one hand here you’ve got a factual program about sharks, which looks for all the world like a documentary and is and then here you flip one channel, you’ve got a program about ancient aliens, which is masquerading as a factual documentary, and it’s got the same voiceover delivered, delivering the same sentences script in the same measured, authoritative tones.

00:16:34:02 – 00:16:51:14
Simon Anholt
And there is no health warning. I mean, are we stupid? Yeah, we are a bit. And unless somebody says to us, by the way, this one is fantasy, pretending to be a documentary, and this one isn’t. We end up in a world where we actually don’t know what to believe anymore because it comes through those big screens, all those little screens, and we lose touch with reality.

00:16:51:14 – 00:16:55:04
Simon Anholt
And that seems to be what’s happening at the moment. We need to find our way back from that.

00:16:56:13 – 00:17:20:07
Philippa White
Yeah. And just I mean, it’s been going off a little bit, but you still on this this thinking just about having to be able to want to understand about other people and be able to put our selves in other people’s shoes and seeing things as the innocent in quote, you know, we see things as we are not as they are.

00:17:20:20 – 00:17:46:10
Philippa White
And, you know, I just wonder just the importance of you talk a lot about this in the book. You know, the importance of diversity, the importance of mixing with people that are different to ourselves. That actually brings us back to sort of the beginning of what we were talking about, about your when you started out doing what you do and how you learned so much being based in different countries and really probably having to get under the skin of different worlds and actually how important that is.

00:17:46:10 – 00:18:03:12
Philippa White
If we look at sort of what we’re facing now, this is in my view and what you talk about and I couldn’t agree with it more, it is so important for people to be able to work with people different to themselves, be interested in stepping out of their bubble, because actually the future of our planet depends on yes.

00:18:03:23 – 00:18:30:03
Simon Anholt
And the whole thing is is often framed in such an unfortunate way. It’s so often framed as a kind of charitable obligation. You know, the implication being you’ve got to include. But that’s the word people who have been excluded. Why? The implication is because the disadvantaged, because you feel sorry for them and they should be part of this wonderful party that the advantaged people are part of.

00:18:30:14 – 00:18:54:24
Simon Anholt
And I just think that’s such a bullshit explanation. The reality is because you can’t think as well without them. The reason your culture, your cultural background, and that has something to do with race, something to do with nationality, something to do with language and something to do with upbringing. It defines to a terrifying degree what you’re what you’re, what you’re capable of inventing your imagination, your powers of creativity.

00:18:55:13 – 00:19:18:16
Simon Anholt
Creativity is a a dodgy and a dangerous word. I for simplicity, I say in the book, as far as I’m concerned, creative is just the opposite of boring. It’s really quite simple. Okay. And and so it stands to reason that if you get a bunch of people all wearing identical clothes or similar clothes from a similar background, I’m all trying to solve one little domestic problem.

00:19:18:24 – 00:19:42:02
Simon Anholt
It’s very unlikely they’re ever going to come up with anything new because they’re just recycling the same ideas in a room in which the doors and windows are sealed. And it’s pure self-interest. If you get other people in that room who come from a different cultural background and just naturally think differently, then you will get more creativity, more imagination, more variety in that discussion than you ever dreamed possible.

00:19:43:23 – 00:20:07:09
Simon Anholt
You know what I’m talking about? Because you and I back in the mid-18th century, used to work in the advertising industry, and I. Right, right. And and and you remember how hard it was to come up with creative ideas. It was such a struggle. And these creatives were people, you know, we’d lock them away in a room with with a with a case of beer and hope that they’d come up with something and they’d come up with something.

00:20:07:09 – 00:20:28:02
Simon Anholt
It would be kind of okay, but it wasn’t really very productive. And basically what we failed to notice was that they all came from virtually identical background most of the time, and so they were just recycling that same stuffy air in that same stuffy room for hours and hours and hours. And they defend the pathetic ideas they came up with for their last dying breath because they knew they were incapable of coming up with another one.

00:20:29:07 – 00:20:50:00
Simon Anholt
And the first time I started working with an international team of people who perhaps individually weren’t even all that brilliant but just came from different backgrounds, we suddenly discovered that it multiplied by an enormous factor by orders of magnitude, the number of original ideas that came out of it. And most of them were rubbish and you couldn’t use them.

00:20:50:05 – 00:21:15:12
Simon Anholt
But there were elements in those ideas that could then be painstakingly separated, out and reconfigured and turned into genuinely new stuff. And I just think that this is one of the benefits of globalization. Globalization by the by the constant mixing and and mixing of different cultures and racism, creeds and languages has brought the most powerful creative force to our fingertips than we’ve ever had before.

00:21:15:21 – 00:21:35:18
Simon Anholt
The power of inventing new ideas. And we need that right now, and we’re going to need it in the future. So that’s one of the good things about globalization. And one of the things I try to do in the book is to acknowledge that globalization has been allowed to go horribly wrong and to create enormous inequity and enormous injustice and even poverty in some areas.

00:21:35:24 – 00:21:54:23
Simon Anholt
But we shouldn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. Globalization is an instinct of humanity. We couldn’t stop it if we wanted to. The story of humanity since we walked out of the Great Rift Valley all those thousands of years ago, has been the story of us trying to get back together again. And we’ve done that. Now we are almost one tribe again, at least in theory, and we can’t go back.

00:21:55:13 – 00:22:03:18
Simon Anholt
We just have to make sure that globalization 2.0 is a little bit more considered, a little bit more cautious, a little better thought through, a little more responsible.

00:22:05:01 – 00:22:32:16
Philippa White
Yeah. And that brings me beautifully to what I wanted to talk to you about as well, because in the book you talk about how the pandemic has separated us physically, but it’s also brought us closer together through this shared experience. And I feel as though people now more than ever, are keen to find ways that they can be the change that they want to see in the world, how they can make things better moving forward in humanity 2.0 or whatever.

00:22:32:16 – 00:22:33:03
Philippa White
You just.

00:22:33:07 – 00:22:34:02
Simon Anholt
Globalization.

00:22:34:02 – 00:22:54:24
Philippa White
Not globalization, yeah. Globalization 2.0. And and yeah, I just feel like people are wanting to sort of know how they can be a part of that. And, you know, reading the news and digesting everything, it just feels really overwhelming. But in the book, you talk about tangible ways that people can be a part of the solution and you provide hope.

00:22:55:11 – 00:23:16:13
Philippa White
And through our work as well at Tie, we also believe it’s important to find tangible solutions to what’s going on in the world and to make that possible. And what we’ve been talking about now about the importance of globalization, the importance of diversity, you talk about everything on a on a corp, on a story, on a country, a nation level.

00:23:16:23 – 00:23:41:05
Philippa White
And Ty talks about this on a corporate private sector level. And when you’re talking about globalization, 2.0, I couldn’t agree more because when I look at the way that the corporate world is working and needs to work moving forward, it needs to change. It needs to be more human. And I just love to hear your thoughts on what Ty’s doing and why you believe it’s important in relation to what you’re also working towards.

00:23:41:06 – 00:23:42:17
Philippa White
If you have a few thoughts on that.

00:23:43:02 – 00:24:05:09
Simon Anholt
Of course. Well, first of all, one of the reasons why I’ve always been so interested in what Ty does and the reason that I’ve tried to support you since the very beginning is because I see an obvious parallel here. What you’re working on very effectively in the private sector is actually very similar to what I’ve been working on with considerably less success in the public sector.

00:24:06:09 – 00:24:13:17
Simon Anholt
I put that down to the fact that your average country is bigger than your average company, and there are exceptions to that.

00:24:13:17 – 00:24:15:11
Philippa White
I would compare. But anyway. Yes.

00:24:15:19 – 00:24:35:04
Simon Anholt
But also because you’re very sensibly working directly on the remedy, you’re actually producing remedies every day. And I think that’s what’s so exciting about it. You can see the stuff working, you can see people changing and you can see them becoming more understanding of different places and their needs. And you know, you it’s building a better world brick by brick.

00:24:35:05 – 00:24:59:20
Simon Anholt
And this is this is what we need. We need so much more of it. In terms of the domain, it’s quite interesting because I’d started to see this book, The Good Country Equation, as being the first book of the trilogy. And the reason the way that that works is pretty simple, actually. The underlying statement, if you like, or mission, whatever you want to call it, behind the good country equation.

00:24:59:20 – 00:25:29:13
Simon Anholt
In fact, behind everything I’ve done so far is that what humanity needs is not 753 solutions to 753 grand challenges, although we could use those too. It’s primarily a change in the culture of governance worldwide, from fundamentally competitive to fundamentally collaborative. So very briefly, what I mean by that is that I see humankind as having three ages. The first age was the age of conflict from the signing of the Treaty of Westphalia.

00:25:29:13 – 00:25:57:03
Simon Anholt
And in fact, long before right up until, oh, I don’t know, pretty much the end of the Second World War, when when the purpose of nations was to to fight each other for territory, for ascendancy of wealth. And it was very bloody and very wasteful and very, very, very stupid. And thank God in the 20th century we’ve managed to haul ourselves into what you might call the age of competition, which is a sort of I don’t know what you’d call it.

00:25:57:03 – 00:26:26:00
Simon Anholt
It’s almost like a sort of virtual echo of conflict. It’s still about trying to achieve ascendancy over others, but it’s less bloody most of the time. We we kill each other slightly less than we used to, and that’s great. But it’s still fundamentally printed. It’s got the same imprint behind it, which is that we are a collection that the International community is a collection of warring, competing tribes, and the job is to try to get past each other.

00:26:26:00 – 00:26:44:06
Simon Anholt
It’s a race. America first, Hungary first, Great Britain first. You know, leaders have been saying this since the beginning of time. Where we need to get to is the third age, which is the age of collaboration, which is where we understand that we cannot progress beyond this point unless there’s that fundamental change when we collaborate. First, I don’t have a problem with competition.

00:26:44:06 – 00:27:02:22
Simon Anholt
Competition is an intrinsic part of human nature. It becomes a problem only when it’s the only altar at which we worship. And that’s been the problem for the last 18 years. You can, as industry taught us back in the seventies, you can do a thing called competition where you merge cooperation and competition and collaboration and the benefits are striking.

00:27:03:03 – 00:27:23:11
Simon Anholt
And that’s an experiment which is 30, 40, 50 years overdue among nations. So that’s what I’m trying to do. But then again, countries and governments, that’s my area, that’s where I’ve been working for the last 20 years. So that’s what the first book in the trilogy was about. But who else controls or influence is the lives of many, many, many people, of many of all societies.

00:27:23:17 – 00:27:36:17
Simon Anholt
Well, number two has got to be companies and corporations. So you’re, in a sense, a book ahead of me that you’re already working in that area. I’m going to be I’m going to be stealing ideas from you for the next one, assuming, of course.

00:27:36:17 – 00:27:38:17
Philippa White
That I contribute whatever I can.

00:27:38:24 – 00:27:49:22
Simon Anholt
Thank you. Well, I’m going to I’m going to definitely take you up on that. And then the third one is about religions, but I’m not letting myself write that one until I’m 70, because I don’t think anybody should be allowed to write about religion until this century.

00:27:50:04 – 00:28:15:03
Philippa White
Well, I look forward to reading all of these, but well, obviously read the first one, but I look forward to yes. Reading the next two and contributing how I can. So so that actually brings me to the next thing I wanted to just ask you about. We don’t have tons more time, but this is also a really important question as you’ve come up with a framework that can help countries move forward and be more collaborative called The Good Country Equation, which is obviously the name of the book.

00:28:15:03 – 00:28:29:22
Philippa White
Now, can you talk about this, how it came about, and also your thoughts about what we need to change and do so that we can embark on real progress in the world, considering climate change and responding to the pandemics, etc..

00:28:30:15 – 00:28:58:11
Simon Anholt
Okay, so the first thing to say is the good country equation is deliberately very simple. It is a massively simplified account of what’s wrong with the world and how we can fix it. That’s deliberate. I’m, I’m. I’m in love with simplicity. The older I get, the more I worship and not. I hope the simplicity that comes from only seeing the surface of things, but the simplicity that comes from seeing through the surface of things and understanding the simple lines of what’s actually going on underneath.

00:28:59:02 – 00:29:18:00
Simon Anholt
And so if you spend a lifetime contemplating the grand challenges from climate change and pandemics through to conflict inequality, human rights abuses, human trafficking, modern day slavery, narco trafficking, small arms proliferation, you know, on and on and on and on. And then you take a step back and you squint at them. You see a few things beginning to emerge.

00:29:18:18 – 00:29:38:15
Simon Anholt
First of all, they’re all caused by human beings, all of them. So as a in a very, very fundamental sense, this is about us. This is about all of us. And where humanity is the problem, humanity is the solution. I’ll come back to that in a second. The other thing you notice is that none of these problems are very few of them have happened recently.

00:29:38:16 – 00:30:01:11
Simon Anholt
They’ve all been brewing for decades and generations. And so the idea that, you know, a couple of NGOs could grab on to a couple of these huge challenges and fix them before they check out is pure hubris. And it cannot be fixed in less than a generation. And that’s because of the first reason we really do need to change humanity in order to change the world.

00:30:01:20 – 00:30:22:03
Simon Anholt
And if you want to change humanity, you have to take a generational view. We made just about have a generation if we’re really, really serious about this. So that brings me to solution one. Solution one is how do you change humanity? Every single one of the grand challenges, as I say, is caused by the behavior of people. The behavior of people is caused by the way that they’re brought up or failed to be brought up.

00:30:22:13 – 00:30:39:24
Simon Anholt
And therefore, whatever the question is, the answer is education. And what I call for in the book is the project that I’m now working on pretty much full time, which is called The Good Generation. And basically what this says is we we know that the right sort of education produces the right sort of people who have the right sort of attitude towards living in the world.

00:30:40:19 – 00:31:00:06
Simon Anholt
I’m Greta Thunberg, the Swedish climate climate activist is the perfect example. They teach climate change in Swedish schools. As a result, greta, before she’s even left, school is more effective as a climate change advocate than most of us have been in the whole of our lives. And that’s because of education. What I know about climate change I’ve picked up as an adult.

00:31:00:06 – 00:31:27:15
Simon Anholt
And so it doesn’t run as deep in me as it does in Greta. So we know that works and there are many, many other examples. Malala, you know, all over the world you can find individual examples. So this is tested. Education is the solution to the behaviors that cause the challenges. But things are sufficiently urgent now for me to be able to claim that we need to stop working in this piecemeal approach where it’s one school or one school district or one country or one topic, because that’s just driving us further and further apart.

00:31:28:01 – 00:31:52:16
Simon Anholt
We now need to do everything everywhere right now. And what the good generation is trying to do is to launch a great big online conversation moderated by the latest technology that enables millions and millions of people from 195 countries to have a big discussion about what are the fundamental values, virtues, stories, skill sets and principles that we all agree.

00:31:52:16 – 00:32:20:04
Simon Anholt
All of the children in the next generation need to have acquired. If we want to create a generation of people that run towards the global challenges instead of running away from them, it’s not rocket science, but it does just need a huge effort of coordination. So that’s what I’m trying to trying to do at the moment in partnership, I hope with you NASCO and other organizations so that we’ll just have a human treaty on educational values and we’ll sign it within a year or two and countries will sign up to it.

00:32:20:10 – 00:32:40:18
Simon Anholt
And if anybody doubts that that’s possible, they should go take another look at the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, one of the finest achievements of humanity. I would argue that human rights are even more sensitive than the education of our precious children, and when things are sufficiently bad, we can do it. We can get everybody in the world to agree on these principles and we can abide by them.

00:32:41:01 – 00:32:54:01
Simon Anholt
And, you know, pretty much that’s what we’ve done. So this would be in the order of a Declaration of Human Rights or an end or a UN charter or something of that sort. So I only told you half the answer. How I got 40 seconds to do the other half.

00:32:55:09 – 00:32:56:13
Philippa White
Yes, please. Please.

00:32:56:16 – 00:33:15:20
Simon Anholt
Okay. Well said the other half. I kind of hinted as already and it was much of what we were talking about before. The other thing that’s wrong with the world, apart from the way that people behave, is the way the countries behave because they don’t have this culture of cooperation and collaboration first. We never bring enough resources to bear against the grand challenges to fix them in the time frame that we’ve got.

00:33:16:08 – 00:33:47:03
Simon Anholt
So much of what’s in the book is about trying to find hard self-interest, reasons why countries would want to start doing the right thing instead of just sort of endlessly saying to them, Please be kind, please be altruistic, please sacrifice yourself for the benefit of other nations, which goes nowhere, which doesn’t even produce necessarily the right benefits and anyway is never listened to because nations are not moral entities, they’re not designed to be and just going to them and saying, you know, please do more about climate change because it’s your duty.

00:33:47:10 – 00:34:06:00
Simon Anholt
As we’ve seen with governments like the Brazilian government at the moment, it doesn’t get you very far because you’re talking the wrong kind of language. I’m not, I hope a cynic, but you have to be a bit cynical when you’re talking about the nation state, as indeed you do when you’re talking about the corporation. Never make the mistake of thinking that these organizations are moral because they’re not.

00:34:06:15 – 00:34:27:19
Simon Anholt
They’re driven by interests. And so you have to align your interests with them. And the alignment of the interest with the company, just as with the corporation, is that it all comes down to image. If you are well-regarded, then you will do well. And that’s as true for countries as it is for companies. If you’ve got a good, powerful brand people with my you and they’ll buy your products.

00:34:28:01 – 00:34:52:02
Simon Anholt
If you have a bad brand, you will fail and the same is true for countries and I prove this with the research. And so the argument to countries today is, please, you know, you don’t have to go to governments and say, please do the right thing because you will go to heaven. You can say if you do the right thing, you will immediately be rewarded economically because your image will improve and the research shows it and you will therefore get more foreign investment, more tourists.

00:34:52:02 – 00:35:10:01
Simon Anholt
You will sell more products at a higher price, your population will get better jobs if they choose to live and work abroad. But they probably won’t even want to. If the if you do this and therefore it’s in your direct, immediate economic and political interest to do the right thing. So just get on and do it. And this, I think, is possibly an inflection point.

00:35:10:09 – 00:35:18:04
Simon Anholt
We’re no longer having to beg countries to do the right thing. We’re explaining to them why it’s in their direct interest to do so.

00:35:18:04 – 00:35:35:20
Philippa White
So I’m so fascinating. Everybody needs to read this book. You talk about all of this and it really is so inspiring. Now, we have come to the end of this book. I do want to just ask you before we sign off, is there anything I haven’t asked you that you’d like to tell our listeners?

00:35:35:20 – 00:36:06:09
Simon Anholt
Oh, boy. I think it’s I think it’s just first of all, not to give up hope. I, I meet an awful lot of people these days who are beginning to feel, as they describe it. I’m a little bit despondent about the future of humanity because we’ve certainly seen quite a lot of evidence that we are incapable of fighting our way out of a brown paper bag as a species.

00:36:08:01 – 00:36:27:07
Simon Anholt
And what I would like to do, if I possibly can, is to infect everybody with a bit of my very unfashionable optimism. I can’t help it. It’s just a disease that can’t be cured. I’m optimistic. I’m optimistic, A, because when I look at the kids that I’m working with a lot, with the good generation project to them, you can’t help but feel optimistic.

00:36:27:14 – 00:36:55:21
Simon Anholt
Generation Z. Generation Z are the best generation we’ve ever had. Even though they have the attention span of a gnat and they drive me crazy because they don’t read anything, nonetheless, that their attitudes are spectacular. And one of the things I always say about Greta Thunberg is that she’s discovering that her generation have got all the right attitudes, but they don’t have yet the experience or the knowledge or the mechanisms or the power to bring change.

00:36:56:06 – 00:37:14:13
Simon Anholt
We, my generation, we have the knowledge, we have the mechanisms, we have the experience, but we sure as hell don’t have the right attitude. So somehow or other, it’s got to be a combination of those two. But if we can bring together and work together not only the nations of the world, but also the generations, and regard each other with respect and attention and patience.

00:37:14:13 – 00:37:20:13
Simon Anholt
And if we can learn to listen as well as speak to each other, then I think we can crack everything and more that’s currently facing us.

00:37:21:10 – 00:37:40:04
Philippa White
Fantastic. I couldn’t agree more. What a great what a great message to leave this podcast on. Simon, thank you so much for your time and for your words and your wisdom. I urge everybody to get this book. There’s obviously going to be a link on the podcast where you can click on it, get it as a present for Christmas.

00:37:40:04 – 00:37:51:00
Philippa White
If you can’t get it where you can get it on audible, if you can’t get it sent to you, I think everyone needs to read it. So thank you. Thanks for your time and thank you for helping TIE for all these years and just.

00:37:51:03 – 00:37:53:16
Simon Anholt
And thank you what you’re doing as well. It’s it’s really.

00:37:53:22 – 00:38:31:08
Philippa White
It so great take care of a lovely day.

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