Understanding the pendulum swing of global power with Ian Bremmer (Transcript)

Listen along

ReThinking with Adam Grant
Understanding the pendulum swing of global power with Ian Bremmer
March 19, 2024

[00:00:00] Adam Grant:
Hey everyone, it's Adam Grant. Welcome back to ReThinking, my podcast on the science of what makes us tick with the TED Audio Collective. I'm an organizational psychologist and I'm taking you inside the minds of fascinating people to explore new thoughts and new ways of thinking. 

My guest today is Ian Bremmer. He's a political scientist and my favorite thinker on geopolitics, and I have a lot of questions for him about the state of the world. 

[00:02:06] Ian Bremmer:
I expect that we're not just like straight on talking about geopolitics, right? You are interested in methodology. You're interested in strategy. 
You're interested in how people think the way they do. So, my assumption is that you have a hook that is adjacent to my day-to-day expertise, and not directly auto.

[00:02:30] Adam Grant:
You know, me too well, Ian.

[00:02:31] Ian Bremmer:
Am I right?

[00:02:31] Adam Grant:
Too well.

[00:02:32] Ian Bremmer:
Am I right?

[00:02:32] Adam Grant:
Yeah. We're gonna be 30, 30 degrees off anything you're fully qualified to speak on. 
That's my goal.

[00:02:38] Ian Bremmer:
That's, that's awesome.

[00:02:39] Adam Grant:
As the founder and president of Eurasia Group, Ian runs research and consulting projects to help leaders understand and manage geopolitical risk. He also hosts GZERO World, a show on PBS, and he gave the most popular TED Talk of all of 2023. So, I thought it was time to get his help making sense of the mess the world is in. 

You have single handedly changed my interest in geopolitics. You've increased it. 

[00:03:07] Ian Bremmer:
I was gonna say, if it had been high before and now it's…

[00:03:11] Adam Grant:
No, No!

[00:03:11] Ian Bremmer:
…non-existent, I was gonna be, damn! 

[00:03:13] Adam Grant:
The floor was low. Let's be clear. It has climbed and I have to tell you, I find this annoying.

[00:03:20] Ian Bremmer:
Which part?

[00:03:21] Adam Grant:
The, the fact that I'm now more interested in geopolitics than I used to be because I feel like for most of my adult life, I've made it a principle to avoid things that are low control and high stakes. 

[00:03:33] Ian Bremmer:

[00:03:35] Adam Grant:
So, like, I, I love watching sports even though I, I can't influence the outcome because at the end of the day, it doesn't matter. 

[00:03:41] Ian Bremmer:
It's low stakes. It's great. I know.

[00:03:42] Adam Grant:
Yeah, but.

[00:03:42] Ian Bremmer:
Like, five minutes after the game is over, I don't care. And, I love that about sports.
[00:03:47] Adam Grant:
But, your world, I hate because when I start to wonder about what's going on in Russia and Ukraine, or what President Xi is gonna do in China, I mean, they, they matter the world. 

I care about the world and so I don't want to pay attention to things that matter that I can't influence. And, so I feel like you've made my life a little bit worse, even though you've made me a lot more informed. 

[00:04:09] Ian Bremmer:
A lot of things about the way the world works are actually up for grabs and, and they will be determined not just by a small group of government actors who have their finger on the button because governments are increasingly incapable by themselves of driving a lot of that change. And, that's a, a time that is sort of rife, not just with danger, but also with the ability to have individual impa-impact.

So, yeah, I would say that someone like you who would've been nearly irrelevant to geopolitical outcomes influencing them in the mid 20th, late 20th century, we're in the Cold War, has much more ability to engage with what the next 10, 20 years of geopolitics will bring because it's going to be a diffusion of actors, some of whom you are much more connected with, some of whom you have a lot more influence over. And, also because social movements are gonna matter more. We-We don't yet know what the new ideologies are that will drive how power is distributed around the world.

Right now, there's almost an absence of it. I think someone like you having a little bit more at stake in the future of geopolitics of our little planet, this is the right time for you to be more engaged. And, part of my role is to make that happen. I'm one of these people that tends to think that you appreciate the good things in your life by not insulating yourself from, from real things in the world that are challenges. 

I think that those good things you appreciate more. So, in that regard, I suspect this is also good for Adam, but you might not feel that way.

[00:05:59] Adam Grant:
I always think of the astronaut who came back. I think it was in the, the seventies, and said, “Looking out from space, like there are no borders, like countries are a human fiction and you just want to grab politicians and shake them and say, look at that, you bastard.” 

And, I think I've always felt that way about geopolitics. You love thinking about how the world could work better and there's a part of me that thinks, like, but do you really want to, to get into the weeds of these people who are causing the world to work worse, how do you deal with that? 

[00:06:28] Ian Bremmer:
Well, first of all, I, I find people endlessly fascinating. I don't actually love thinking about classical international politics with like, you know, sort of very, very traditionally run small groups of diplomats and small groups of generals who, you know, sort of essentially are moving pieces on the table. The dynamics in the world today are so much more complex, fast moving fluid than that. 

[00:06:57] Adam Grant:
You've said that 2024 is the Voldemort of years.

[00:07:01] Ian Bremmer:
It’s horrible. Er, yeah.

[00:07:02] Adam Grant:
Uh, where are you on this? Are you at all optimistic?

[00:07:05] Ian Bremmer:
The reason why this is the Voldemort of years is because the most powerful country in the world is experiencing a crisis of democracy. So, there's one election that's really important and deeply problematic. 

And, then beyond that, we also have these two major wars that are going on that are not heading in a direction that most certainly most democratic actors are happy with at all. And, any one of those things in the last 25 years would've made you stand up and take notice. All three at the same time, really bad. 

So, geopolitically, yeah, 2024 is pretty god awful. 

[00:07:43] Adam Grant:
I feel like one of the things I've really had a hard time processing, both as a psychologist and a human being is this pendulum swing between Chicken Little, the sky is falling, the sky is falling, there's a constitutional crisis, land wars for the first time in generations, like the, the world is falling apart and on the other hand, being in the movie Don’t Look Up and just being completely ignorant of the reality in front of us. 

How do you think about finding the accurate balancing point between those two extremes? 

[00:08:14] Ian Bremmer:
I see geopolitics as something that's quite cyclical. It's just that the cycles are long. There are, you know, all sorts of counteracting and balancing forces that exist. You get out of equilibrium and you get pushed back to equilibrium. 

You experience a power vacuum and actors wanna come into that vacuum. You have institutions that start to break down and there are new reasons to have new institutions or to reform them. Things start breaking. You have a big crisis, then suddenly everyone pays attention and you work to resolve the crisis. 

Now, in the global economy, we have those things happen all the time. They're called recessions, right? You've got bust cycles. Things blow up, and they happen so often that we have a whole industries of economists and people that serve them and align with them that have definitions of what a technical recession is at the country level and at the global level. 

And, we have fiscal and monetary tools and how to respond to a recession and, and those tools exist whether you are a Chinese economist or a European economist or an American economist, right? Now in, in geopolitics, there are also cycles. But, because those cycles are long and slow-moving cycles, we don't recognize them as cycles. 

And, in particular, the bust cycle of geopolitics, which we are in right now, is one where the balance of power no longer relates to the institutional framework that you have. And, so when you think about a lot of the institutions that we have today, which were set up in the aftermath of World War II, today's European Union, which is the aftermath of the European, uh, economic community that was originally set up or the WTO, which is kind of what the logical outcome of the GAT process was set up with the United Nations and the security council, like the, those institutions no longer reflect the global balance of power at all. And, and that is bringing us into what I would call a geopolitical recession, a bust cycle. Uh, and that's why, um, we are seeing a lot more things break.

The United States is still the most powerful country, but for many reasons doesn't want to be the global policeman, or the architect of global free trade, doesn't wanna drive globalization, and certainly doesn't wanna promote and expand democracy all over the world. 
Um, and, yet, no other country or group of countries is prepared to step into America's shoes. And, that is this cyclical downturn that we're presently experiencing, that will create snapback functions to bring us to a new equilibrium. But, it is going to take time. And, so if you needed to be between Chicken Little and Don't Look Up, for the next few years are gonna need to be a little more chicken and a little less head in the sand.

[00:11:32] Adam Grant:
It is totally fascinating to think about a geopolitical recession. Uh, and I think that that language actually helps me understand, hey, wait a minute, if you look over the course of history, this is something we've seen before. It has patterns and the causes look different today on the surface, and they're different technologically and socially, but they probably have some underlying similarities, uh, to the causes of the past. 

I guess where your optimism is striking to me is you're saying this is a cycle. And, it will snap back, but we're gonna have to take action to cause it. And, you're saying that that action requires actually not, not a level of doom and gloom, um, but sounding the alarm. 

[00:12:09] Ian Bremmer:
Yeah, and, of course, we've already seen that in one area of geopolitics. It's manifest in climate where we didn't have any institutions that existed to manage climate, and we had a whole bunch of very powerful individuals and organizations that knew that if they sounded the alarm, they would lose power. So, they obscured it. In some cases, actively lied about it and made the world a lot worse. 

But, nonetheless, here in 2024, we have new global institutions that we have built from the ground up. We have a world that agrees that not only is climate change real, but that we have 442 parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere. And, we can measure the methane too, and we know how much the atmosphere has warmed and we know the implications of deforestation and of more plastic in the oceans, all of those things. 

And, that is no longer something that you can really actively promote and effectively promote fake news around. That's a really big deal and we've done it in just a matter of a few decades. So, it's a little late and it's gonna cost a lot of lives, especially non-human lives. But, nonetheless, we're doing it.

Now, there are other areas that we need to do that. We need to do that in the international security space. We need to do that in the broad international trade space. We most urgently need to do that in the digital space, in the AI space, but there's no reason we can't. And, the only question is how much of a crisis do we have to experience before there is enough consolidated effort to start building those things? 

[00:13:56] Adam Grant:
When you think about democracy in crisis, though, what you're articulating is what Karl Wike once called a deviation counteracting loop, where eventually you can't just keep going from order to chaos. The chaos will then turn back into order, but, it, one of, I guess one of the things that concerns me is this could be a deviation amplifying loop where if you break some of the institutions of democracy, you no longer have the mechanisms in place that allow you to repair it and strengthen it. 

So, why, why are you confident that this is gonna be a cycle as opposed to, uh, a phase change? 

[00:14:34] Ian Bremmer:
I'm much more confident that at the global level you are going to see response to create institutions that will counter effect a geopolitical recession. But, the question you just asked me wasn't about the global order, it was about the United States. 

[00:14:49] Adam Grant:
That's right.

[00:14:50] Ian Bremmer:
And, I am not at all confident that the United States is yet close to where we're going to see that snapback function. Not at all. In part, because the United States is so powerful, is so wealthy, we have so much oil and gas and food, and we live in a part of the world that is so free of geopolitical conflict and rivalry and defense buildup. 

The reality of all of that is that we can allow for very significant institutional erosion and damage and destruction before we feel like it's a crisis. Most Americans don't feel like this is a crisis. I mean, we're normalizing a lot of stuff. In any well-functioning democracy if you had a person running for president that had done everything in his power to subvert the free and fair election of the predecessor, which is the foundational element of a well-functioning democracy, and then was running again and was gonna be the nominee and could easily win, it's at least a coin flip, that would be the most important issue in the election, like nothing else would be close, and yet here we are in 2024, Trump's about to get the nomination, and it's not the most important issue in the election. 

We're instead talking about immigration. We're talking about the economy. We're talking about abortion. We're talking about, like, a whole bunch of things that are all perfectly reasonable topics to discuss in any normal election, in any well-functioning democracy, but the US is not having a normal election and it is not a well-functioning democracy, and that is a very serious problem. This is being normalized.

The average person right now is facing 2024 and saying, well, maybe this is just the way it works now. That is because there's a lot of damage. The legitimacy of American institutions in many cases at record lows and we're the only major democracy in the world today that is incapable of having a free and fair election that is seen as legitimate by all of its population. We're the only one, the only big democracy where that's true. That's a very serious problem.

[00:17:05] Adam Grant:
It's a huge problem and I mean part, part of my confusion when we talk about America is why was no one working on this over the last four years? Like why? Why, for example, were there not, why did no one explore term limits for jobs in Congress? Why did nobody set an age limit on the presidency like we have for flying a plane? Like where, where were some of the reforms that could have at least given us some stability?
[00:17:32] Ian Bremmer:
Well, one reason is because the tribalism in Congress is only growing. That's true under Obama. It's true under Trump. 
It's true under Biden. Now, I mean, Trump is certainly a beneficiary, a greater beneficiary of the tribalism than Obama or Biden. He's done more to drive it, but it's not like having a normal centrist like Joe Biden in office has prevented it from getting worse. We have done some things that matter. I mean, for example, a lot of money is being invested in red state and blue state job that will make a difference for the working and middle class over the medium term. A lot of money is being invested in infrastructure, like the building of roads and bridges, and if you travel around this country, you'll see those things being built that is now happening, but, but almost no money is going into investments of civic infrastructure, of soft infrastructure, of, of the institutions that make people into good citizens. I mean, you're, you're not spending money on things that would make families stronger. You're not spending money on things that would make public schools stronger. You're not making money on things that would make churches function more effectively, or community groups, all the things that have been falling apart over decades in the United States. And, I, I think that those soft things are not as valued. They are also harder to measure, but that is, actually, where the depth of the challenges in the US exist. 

[00:19:07] Adam Grant:
Alright. That makes sense. Makes me feel slightly better 'cause you know, you're just my, uh, democracy therapist, apparently. 

[00:19:14] Ian Bremmer:
I'm kind of like your political psychologist. It's kind of a role that I play with heads of state. It's kind of weird, right? Like, so I guess I'm not all that shocked that, that it's something that you just expressed. 

[00:19:27] Adam Grant:
Yeah, no, I was gonna say I've, I've seen you do it and I think it's, it's funny because normally people go to therapists for personal problems, and here the, the geopolitical instability has become a personal problem. 

[00:19:45] Ian Bremmer:
It has because especially for people that have responsibility for it, like most of those leaders are not villains, right? Most of those leaders are trying to do the best for their population in the context of massive, massive constraints and they want to like unload, uh, on someone that is not going to blow smoke up their ass. 

Someone's not gonna bullshit them. Of course, their day to day is spent mostly with people that want something from them or someone that's too scared and never gonna give them really good feedback. If you're trying to give them help from their perspective, from their context, you're not giving them help from the context of just the geopolitical map and Lord knows you're not doing it from the perspective of I'm an American, from New York, you, you have to get, like, what their constraints are, their geopolitical constraints, their national constraints, their security, their economic constraints, all of those things.

[00:20:41] Adam Grant:
To go back to your recession analogy, we, we've spent our whole careers figuring out how to insulate ourselves from an economic recession. People are taught how to save. They're taught how to manage their financial risk. But when it comes to shielding yourself from a geopolitical recession, there are no tools available.

It speaks to something that, that I wanted to ask you about. I knew your TED Talk was gonna be a big hit. But, I, I didn't know that it would dominate every other talk of 2023. 

I get why talks about psychology go viral 'cause I, I know what to do with those. But, to talk about geopolitics, I, I don't have any personal use for that. And, yet what you're doing is you're giving people a framework that makes sense of the world.

[00:21:25] Ian Bremmer:
I think people are freaked out in this environment. I think they're also getting angry. 

They're getting spun up. This is something they do care about. They feel a little helpless and I think helping them understand what's going on, even if you can't do anything about it, is a comforting thing. I really do. People are so much more scared of things they don't understand.

[00:21:48] Adam Grant:
I think even if you believe ignorance is bliss, 
ignorance is almost impossible today. You try really hard to turn off the TV and not read the newspaper and not check in on social media, and you're still gonna find out about a lot of the headlines that are driving moral outrage. And, so given the choice between being aware and, and frightened and frustrated, and wanting to bang your head against the wall, this reminds me of some work by neuroscientists showing that particularly if you tend to be a highly anxious, emotionally reactive person that having negative information actually feels better than just having uncertainty. 

[00:22:29] Ian Bremmer:
A little negative information is something you can do something with. You can arm yourself with that in defense of future misinformation and in defense of people that are angry because you don't wanna be angry. 
None of these people really want to be angry, but it is better than floating around in uncertainty all the time. 

[00:22:55] Adam Grant:
There's a classic Murray Davis article, uh, probably my all time favorite work of sociology called “That's interesting,” where he analyzes why ideas take off. And, he, he starts with the argument that ideas live and die, not because they're true or false, but because they're interesting or boring. 

And, then he says, well, what makes an idea interesting? And an interesting idea is one that challenges conventional wisdom. But, you have to be careful. You can't challenge strongly held beliefs because then people just get mad or they get defensive.

[00:23:21] Ian Bremmer:

[00:23:23] Adam Grant:
You have to challenge weakly held assumptions, and that's where people have the appetite to be curious and say, huh, I never would've thought that. You could be interesting by telling people that something they thought was bad was actually good. 

You could be interesting by telling people that something they thought was simple is actually complicated or vice versa. You could be interesting by telling people that something they thought was a unitary phenomenon is actually a multiplex phenomenon, and I think that's exactly what you did. Actually, we'll play a little clip here. 

[00:23:56] Ian Bremmer:
What kind of a world order might we expect over the next 10 years? We're not going to have a bipolar or a unipolar or even a multipolar world if we…

[00:24:10] Adam Grant:
You said you think there's one global order? In fact, there's several different ones.

[00:24:15] Ian Bremmer:
If you wanna understand how to get out of the geopolitical recession, you fundamentally need to understand that. Right? You can't act as if this is the old world of superpowers and then you're just waiting for the next one to come along. And, that's why I brought up climate before, because it turns out that one of these sort of global orders, if you wanted to break it down further, is one that we're already well on the way of creating 21st century architecture that is completely new. 

And, it's very funny, that book Ministry of the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson. It talks about what a medium term, let's say 2040, 2050 future looks like when you create a super ministry that deals with climate because the crisis becomes a lot larger and it gets well beyond what governments are capable of doing, and that is precisely the kind of thing that is underlying and going on geopolitically in all sorts of different avenues and aspects right now. It's just not happening in one place, in a unitary way. 

[00:26:27] Adam Grant:
Let's go to a lightning round here. 

Alright, what's the worst advice you've ever gotten?

[00:26:30] Ian Bremmer:
Become a chemical engineer.

[00:26:32] Adam Grant:
I'm really glad you didn't. What's the worst advice you see heads of state get?

[00:26:38] Ian Bremmer:
To respond frequently and too much to near term political, domestic, political incentives that don't matter to be too risk averse because of the domestic politics. 

I see it happen constantly. I see massive opportunities that are missed because you have domestic political advisors that don't see the big picture and what got them elected is not what makes them a great President, Prime Minister. That's a hard transition to make, especially when you have a lot of the same trusted people around you. 

[00:27:08] Adam Grant:
Is there a country on the rise that interests you right now? 

[00:27:11] Ian Bremmer:
I'd say Kenya. Uh, I think that they are increasingly, uh, the leader of Africa in transition energy and new technology, comparatively, small economy. Their president is actively reaching out, uh, and that is a big deal for a whole bunch of countries that are, in many cases, democratically imploding or having military coups, and they desperately need someone to take leadership on these issues. 

[00:27:44] Adam Grant:
Is there a country in trouble that we may not realize? 

[00:27:48] Ian Bremmer:
Yeah, our own. I think people underappreciate how much, um, democracy is truly in crisis in the United States. They think it can't happen here and it's not about America becoming a dictatorship, but it is about a new McCarthyism. It is about politicizing institutions that are fundamental to rule of law, like the Department of Justice, like the FBI, like the IRS. 

I think that we are in danger of that happening after this election.

[00:28:17] Adam Grant:
Do you have a remedy for any of that?

[00:28:19] Ian Bremmer:
Not a near term remedy. That's why it's such a problem. There are fewer guardrails this time around than we've had in the past. The fact large numbers of people no longer believe in core political institutions is a real challenge. 

The biggest guardrail in the United States is the decentralization of the system and in Europe it's the centralization of the system. In Europe, it's like no matter how much you screw up in Hungary or in Poland, the EU has supernational authority and can force you into compliance, or else, real economic damage. Right? And, that, and we've seen this play out over and over again.

In the United States, it's that no matter how bad Washington is dysfunctional, you have a lot of experiments that are happening some from the left, some from the right, in very vibrant and dynamic economies at the city level and the state level, and they have a lot of autonomy. 
And, that ultimately helps to maintain a level of stability in the US but still you kind of want the ultimate federal democracy to work and that that is increasingly not true.
[00:29:27] Adam Grant:
What's the most interesting experiment that a country is running right now with democracy?

[00:29:32] Ian Bremmer:
It's not one experiment. It's dozens of experiments and some of them are nanny state-ish, and top down, and some of them are really explosively entrepreneurial and very light touch regulation and bottom up. 

It's very interesting. I mean, Texas today is the highest producer of post carbon energy in the United States. We're watching in real term, time, two completely different types of governance. Not at war with each other, but competing with each other in a universe of ideas, and they're attracting very different types of investment. 

[00:30:07] Adam Grant:
What is something you've rethought lately? 

[00:30:10] Ian Bremmer:
Whether or not democracies are ultimately more stable than authoritarian regimes because of the role that technology is playing. Uh, I think the shift from communications technology that was decentralizing to data and surveillance technology, which is centralizing and top down in the hands of governments and tech companies, is proving a significant competitive advantage for technologically enabled authoritarian regimes and is proving a significant weakness for advanced democracies where the tech is in the hands of the private sector.
[00:30:42] Adam Grant:
So, you said in your TED Talk that when you were a student, the US was the principal exporter of democracy in the world. And, today we're the principal exporter of tools that destroy democracy. 
You're in charge of those tools all of a sudden. What are the first changes you're gonna make? 

[00:30:59] Ian Bremmer:
I debated a lot whether I was gonna give that line in the speech because it feels really dramatic and I was worried it was gonna upset people. But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized I really believe it. 

So, what do you do? Well, one is you assign accountability. Um, for the people that are producing and exporting those tools that destroy democracy, they have to have more accountability for what's on their platforms. And, that's not saying it's illegal. That's saying that if you do something that damages people, you can be sued for it.

I worry, Adam, that we are great capitalists when it comes to profitability, but we're great socialists when it comes to losses. You take these incredible self-made or supposedly self-made billionaires, and suddenly they face losses that they are accountable for and they're like, “Hey, that's not me. That's not me. 
That's somebody else gotta pay for that. That's the government. That's a bailout,” right?

There are no atheists and foxholes? Yeah. There are no libertarians in a financial crisis either. Right. It's like all gimme, gimme, gimme. And, that's particularly true when you talk about people that are putting carbon in the atmosphere or people that are shoving algorithms down our children's throats. 

And, the reality is that there are knock on negative externalities that need to be paid for. And, if these companies that are making the profits don't pay for them, then you and I are gonna pay for them and our kids are gonna pay for them. So, that's what I do if you give me power, is I don't destroy these companies at all. 

We need them. They're powerful, they're technologically empowering, but I need them to be responsible and accountable for the negative externalities .

[00:32:52] Adam Grant:
It makes me think, 'cause as I've talked with leaders of, of many of these social media companies, I don't understand why they've been so slow to act. In the absence of, of that kind of government accountability to say, we know it's a problem that our algorithms amplify outrage and misinformation. 

Why don't we have a threshold where if information starts to go viral, it, it gets flagged for fact checking. That doesn't seem that hard. Why don't we have bridging algorithms that help people identify the common ground in their values instead of just the reasons to hate each other, like not that hard to code and experiment with? 
Why do you think more action isn't being taken here?
[00:33:31] Ian Bremmer:
Because they don't wanna pay for it. Okay. You're talking about direct costs that they don't have to pay, that are contrary to their business model. And I mean, ultimately, these organizations are not the ones responsible for the wellbeing of society. Governments are. Corporations are responsible for turning a profit and they need to be in a well-regulated system. Look, you and I constantly find examples in our environment of things that are not great for us that we don't like, that are results of us being lied to or misrepresented by excesses of under-regulated stuff. 

We do everything we can to allow the individual to succeed, but we don't take care of the community. I think it is not surprising that this is also the system that has attracted and has allowed for the emergence of the Elon Musks and the Jeff Bezoses, who are the most successful entrepreneurial minds in the world today.
And, yet at the same time, they are two of the least civic-minded people, two of the least community minded people in the world today, and they're the same people. And, why is that? Because there are some things that are fundamentally broken with the US system. There's a reason why our economy is doing so incredibly well, and yet our political system is such hot garbage in both cases compared to every other advanced industrial democracy. 

[00:34:52] Adam Grant:
Uh, you and I are both fans of following people we disagree with. I think you're a little bit more, well, how do I say this? I think you're more tolerant of following people you disagree with, even when you think their thinking is flawed.

[00:35:10] Ian Bremmer:
Yeah, that's true.

[00:35:10] Adam Grant:
Whereas I, I, I only want to follow them if I really believe I can learn something from them. 
Uh. Talk to me about why you're doing it right and I'm doing it wrong.
[00:35:19] Ian Bremmer:
If you wanna understand where geopolitics is going, you need to be engaged with people that are early stages in the wave with where power is going. It doesn't mean you like them, but you have to engage 
with them.

[00:35:33] Adam Grant:
So, it sounds to me like you're, you're looking less to learn directly from those people and using them in some cases as a prism for what their audience responds to and values. 

[00:35:44] Ian Bremmer:
I think you also do learn from them because you wanna understand what they're trying to do. You, you do wanna understand what motivates different kinds of powerful people. Underlying motivation's really important and if you don't spend time figuring out who those people are, you are missing a large piece of the political spectrum, a large piece of the geopolitical environment. 

[00:36:10] Adam Grant:
Finally, what's the question you have for me?

[00:36:12] Ian Bremmer:
Well, I guess I'd be interested in knowing if geopolitics is a part of the landscape you weren't paying attention to before and now you are, what are the couple of areas out there that intellectually you feel would help fill out your understanding of humanity that you aren't on top of yet? 
And, who are the people that could help you get there? 

[00:36:36] Adam Grant:
I've been thinking about this question the other way, which is where do I have, I have something to contribute? And you know, when I, when I see the kinds of geopolitical busts that we're watching, I think, okay, we have huge problems with how we select leaders. 
We have massive problems when it comes to group think and the way that, uh, you know, that a cabinet or a team is managed.

And, I have a lot to say about that. And, so I guess I've been grappling with the question of how much more do I need to know? That's in part because I want most of my learning to come from evidence as opposed to opinion. 
And, you live in a world where the information you need doesn't have data yet.
[00:37:13] Ian Bremmer:
Well, and that's also why I have a much higher tolerance of following people that you, who you say have ideas that are flawed. 

[00:37:22] Adam Grant:
I think that's a good place to wrap.

[00:37:24] Ian Bremmer:
Okay. Fair enough. I don't know, I thought we were just getting interesting, frankly, so, you know.

[00:37:28] Adam Grant:
Uh, yeah, you, you have the wrong definition of interesting. 
But, this was fun. I learned a lot about myself that I didn't expect to. 

[00:37:35] Ian Bremmer:
Oh, that's cool. That's good. It's always good to talk to you, Adam. 

[00:37:38] Adam Grant:
Same. Thanks for doing this.

[00:37:39] Ian Bremmer:
My pleasure. 

[00:37:43] Adam Grant:
I think it's really helpful to look at what's happening as a global geopolitical recession. It opens the door to understanding what causes geopolitical busts and how we can escape them faster when they happen and prevent some of them from occurring in the first place. 

ReThinking is hosted by me, Adam Grant. This show is part of the TED Audio Collective, and this episode was produced and mixed by Cosmic Standard. Our producers are Hannah Kingsley-Ma and Aja Simpson. Our editor is Alejandra Salazar. Our fact checker is Paul Durbin. Original music by Handale Hsu and Allison Leyton-Brown. 

Our team includes Eliza Smith, Jacob Winik, Samiah Adams, Michelle Quint, Banban Cheng, Julia Dickerson, and Whitney Pennington Rodgers. 

[00:38:27] Ian Bremmer:
I love a two-by-two grid. I'm a political scientist, right?

[00:38:30] Adam Grant:
I mean, it's the fastest way to any social scientist's heart.

[00:38:33] Ian Bremmer:
It really is.

[00:38:33] Adam Grant:
Is to draw a two by two.

[00:38:33] Ian Bremmer: