Season 1 / Episode 1

Mina Seetharaman – The Economist Group

EVP, Chief Strategy and Creative Officer at The Economist Group

In the first episode of the SAMSARA podcast, we speak with the witty, smart and inspirational Mina Seetharaman of The Economist Group.

Mina talks about how the leading publications of the world use data and considers the use of algorithms in publishing to shape a balanced opinion free from bias.

Mina and Joyeeta also discuss the importance of being human, why it’s okay to cry at work and how to overcome imposter syndrome.

 

Transcript:

Intro:  You are listening to Samsara, be inspired by NO-CODE superheroes.

Moderator:  Hello everyone, we are here with the incredible Mina, and her profile is truly something that’s inspiration to a lot of women, including myself. We do stalk her online from time-to-time and look at her incredible tweets and stuff that she puts out there. She’s one of those people that I admire for being able to say things as they are, and still manage to keep such a great sense of humour. I love her balanced opinion on things. It’s not a surprise that she is so successful at what she does. Mina is talking to us all the way from New York, where she works at the Economist Group. I won’t steal her thunder, so I will hand it over to Mina, and she’s going to tell all of us at Samsara what she actually does. Mina, welcome to Samsara, please tell us a little bit about yourself.

Mina:  Thank you so much. That was a really lovely introduction, because I have to say, when you and I met all these years ago at Founders Factory, I walked out of that room and went back to my office and said, ‘I just met the most amazing woman, she’s incredibly inspiring,’ so it’s very sweet you would say those things.

Moderator:  That is very kind, coming from you, Mina.

Mina:  As you mentioned, I work at the Economist Group, although right now I work at my house because we are all under quarantine, like pretty much the rest of the world. I am the Chief Strategy and Creative Officer on the publishing team. It means I wear a bunch of different hats, like most people at the Economist Group do. I run our client marketing operation, meaning that I run a team of discipline experts from researchers to brand journalists to thought leadership editors to creative strategists and graphic designers who receive briefs from clients and come up with content marketing and experiential marketing, and other types of marketing ideas that help clients to move the needle on those types of business goals. That’s one area of my responsibility. I also currently run a project called the US 2020, which is very much focused on our coverage of the US election, and brining that to more readers and engaging people around those topics. You talk about a balanced view, but I think that I’m very much shaped by the way our journalists do that kind of work. It isn’t (mw 02.29) the coverage, it really is very much-, right now what we focus on is ‘let’s go deep on an issue to really understand all the facts’. That’s a multi-disciplinary team where we all come together and try and figure out how to make all the pieces work so that we get as many eye balls on it as possible, and get as much information out there for people so that when November comes and we have our presidential election, people feel equipped to go and make those decisions.

The strategy part of my role bridges across not just client work, but also internal business and marketing work where needed.

Moderator:  Wow. It seems like you’re in a position where you get to see a lot of sides of every story, and you get to assess for yourself, and sometimes on behalf of other people, what does that really mean? What is the 360 degree picture of a topic or a thing? It’s obviously a very exciting place to be in, but it also much be a bit stressful, or not? How do you handle it all? Do you just take it in your stride? Are there days when you find it tough?

Mina:  I don’t work on the editorial team, so I don’t work-, we call it the newspaper, we don’t refer to it as a magazine, so I don’t work with them. I have watched them actually in the weekly editorial meetings go through and decide which stories they are going to put on the cover, which stories they will elevate to leader status. Part of the front of our book, there are a series of leaders which are the top stories of the week that we want to share with everybody. I think that whether you are one of those people, one of the editors at the newspaper who has to decide what is the most important thing to put on our cover, what are the things that people really need to know about, or whether you work in one of the more business oriented roles, like I do, where we have to think about what is it that our readers will really engage with on behalf of our clients? How do we create the smartest idea? Either way, we are trying to look at things in the most holistic way possible.

If a client comes to me and says, ‘I’m really interested in talking to people who are looking to think about how they want to invest their money for the long term,’ I might work with a team to figure out what that might mean, like what are the opportunities there? Is the investment landscape changing? Do we really want to lean into people who are generating new wealth? Do we want to lean into how people who have old legacy wealth, what they’re doing with that money? You try and look at it from many different facets. I do think that whatever your role at the Economist, you tend to try and think about things in that more holistic way, because there is always an angle that perhaps you haven’t thought of. I think that’s pretty critical for us overall, not just if you’re an editor.

Moderator:  Wow, that brings me to the very obvious question, how do you do this? Is this the result of a lot of data? Is it a combination of data plus intuition? Do you reach out and double check some of the lateral thinking thoughts that come out? How do you solve for something like this, which there’s really no right or wrong answer, but just different perspectives on how you could optimise for the best result? How do you do this?

Mina:  Sure. Across all areas of the organisation I think people are very much focused on data. I think I’ve been at the Economist now just-, I think I just hit the six year mark. When I first arrived people were interested in data, and certainly data journalism was very much coming to the fore, but even our editors now, I think, just pay so much more attention to just all of the analytics what our readers are looking at, what’s interesting to them, what are they clicking on, how much time are they spending with our content, how are they consuming that content. We look at similar data points when we’re coming up with client programmes, so we go deep on that stuff as well. What is it that our readership is interested in? How do they want to consume it? I think that one of the fundamental differences for us, as I look at for example how our editorial team makes a lot of decisions, I can’t begin to assume that I know how they decide on everything, but I have spoken to editors and publishers at other companies, and there are many high quality publishers for whom the homepage is generated by an algorithm. Everybody sees a certain homepage, it is designed by what they think people are most likely to click on, and that isn’t really, I think, the route that the Economist takes.

The Economist feels that we have a responsibility to our readership to not just know what would be popular with you, but to help you understand what is important in the world. I think that even where we work with clients, so in marketing for example, one of the things that we look for is not just what your audience, your client audience will find interesting, but where there are anomalies in that where your audience intersects with our readership, and what might be something unique or interesting about that, where they might perform a little differently for ourselves. So that if you did some work with us and chose to do a content marketing programme that addressed our readership for example, what do we know about the intersection of your audience and our readership in a special way that might actually drive better engagement? We are always trying to understand not just what the data says on the face of it, but are there other data points that we can look at, whether it’s an intersection of two sets of data or something that we-, not just looking at analytics data straight out of Google Analytics, but then also looking at performance data over time for different programmes that we’ve run to see how those things have performed.

Moderator:  Then an interesting follow up question to this is, we keep hearing so much about-, apparently people are changing the type of things they want to see and the amount of time, and apparently attention span is changing. We keep hearing all of that. How much of that is really happening? Are there any interesting trends that you see as a common denominator across the data for readers? Do you see them, in some way, behaving fundamentally differently? What might that be?

Mina:  Yes, in that across the board I think we see a lot of data in the media industry that tells us that people have shorter attention spans, that they don’t spend as much time with content, that they’re-, I think you and I have spoken previously about the case of the promiscuous clicker and the promiscuous sharer. People tend to read just headlines and then just share those on, or click on something to like it or dislike it, whatever the case may be. Certainly those things are true, it’s not, I think, because people are lazy, but I think the general-, the overarching trend is that people are time poor, right? There are many, many demands on our time, and we are inundated with many, many messages, and so if I think about-, there was a time I remember when I was a lot younger, when I first moved to New York, and then I eventually worked at the New York Times, I used to relish getting the New York Times Sunday paper at my home because that was a newspaper that took you the whole weekend to get through, and I loved it. I would read the New York Times weekend magazine cover to cover. I would take one section in the morning and read through that, and then go run an errand, come back and read another section. I just don’t have the luxury of that kind of time, not just because I have two kids now and I had no kids then, but in general the pace of life is so full right now I think, and I think that’s the biggest challenge. What we notice is that people still spend time with content they think provides them with value and that they think is of quality. On average our readers spend between one and two hours with our content every week, I think is the number.

Clearly there’s a value in that, but there’s just so much more competition for that attention, you’re competing with Netflix, you’re competing with Google. If I’m an advertiser-, you’re probably going to pick up sirens now, sorry, I do live in New York. If you’re an advertiser you’re competing with just thousands and thousands of brand messages every single day, and even though we-, maybe I’m inundated with fewer of them because I’m not allowed to leave my house at the moment, but we are seeing trend-lines change. TV consumption is going up. Megaphone announced I think two weeks ago that podcast consumption was increasing across their network by about 20%. The flip side of that is many people are saying they consume fewer podcasts because they’re not commuting. I think user behaviours are changing all the time. It’s important to pay attention to them, but I think that it’s also important to realise that there is a point of diminishing returns if you change on the fly all the time. What are blips in the data and what are trend-lines in the data that you should be paying attention to? I think yes, attention spans are getting shorter, but there are still anomalies in that. I don’t even know that I would call them anomalies, there are still occurrences in the data where people are willing to spend time binge watching something because that content is of value to them, or spend an hour with a news magazine because they think it provides them the analysis that they want.

It’s understanding what drives those differences and those trend-lines, and how you can capitalise on them. I think that’s important.

Moderator:  That’s fabulous. You made a really great point, and I think I’m going to join that and bring it back to a little bit about what we were discussing before. It’s a bit about data being overrated sometimes, and a part of it is us jumping at every piece of data and clicking on it and just, you know, ‘Oh my God, this is (inaudible 12.26) truth because somebody randomly wrote it on the Internet.’ The other piece of it is also, I don’t know, there is an imbalance. There is either an over reliance on data or under reliance. Either there are entire sectors and organisations that are completely underestimating the value of data and going down and down every single day, and we don’t know why. Then there are those who are relying too much. I think you’re probably somewhere sitting in between, where you’re able to leverage it correctly, you know when you’re pulling into it and you know when you’re pulling out of it, but are there any famous stories, even without going into details if you can’t, where data famously under delivered for you? You might have in inkling why that happened.

Mina:  Oh gosh. I don’t have one off the top of my head. I’m sure there are many. I think there is an over reliance on data, or more that the over reliance on data breeds a lack of uniqueness, I think. One example I think of is that wind tunnel engineering, right? Everybody had-, all the car manufacturers had this data around through wind tunnel testing they knew what made cars more aerodynamic, and then as a result reduced things like cabin noise and made acceleration a smoother experience, but then what you ended up with was a period of time where every single car looked exactly the same because of it. They all were using that same set of data and construct to drive whatever their new product set was. Then you start to get into a lack of differentiation, and what you’re competing on is price. You’re not really competing on an emotional benefit in any way, but you’re competing on things like ‘how many features am I giving you for the money that you will have to pay?’ Value concept becomes a much more commoditised element than if you were able to say, ‘I see all these data points, but I also know this other quantitative thing that I’ve seen a lot of people do.’ I think if you can marry those two things, you know, it’s not that data’s not valuable but big data’s not a big idea. I think you need to figure out how to take the big data to give you some insight, and then come up with a big idea because it’s the big idea that resonates, right?

Moderator:  Yes, that makes so much sense. There’s this famous saying that knowledge is knowing tomato or tomato, depending on which part of the ocean you’re on, is a fruit, but wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad. The data’s not going to tell you that. Which makes me always feel that maybe the whole power of data is not necessarily just in the hands of the so called data expert only, but also in the hands of people who actually do understand how the thing works. Then you empower them with data, they probably marry their sense and business intuition and acumen of the industry with data, and that’s probably a far better, balanced, informed decision, where sometimes you might even go against the data because you know better. As opposed to someone parachuting in with a pure data science report, and has far less view of what you actually do on a day-to-day basis.

Mina:  I think you’re totally right about that. I think there is this element of, like, data is empirical and has no bias in it, and therefore if I listen to the data it will just tell me empirically the right thing to do. The reality is that data is filled with bias, right? If you really think about it, people have written about it from a point of view, for example, like, gender bias. I think there’s a book called Invisible Women that talks about this, and that in some instances it can actually be dangerous, they can be perilous in terms of how the data is interpreted, mostly for men. There are a lot of complications, for example, around testing instatistically valid samples for women because when it comes to women and drug consumption or drug interactions, are you pre or post-pregnancy? Are you pre or post-menopausal? Where are you in your cycle? There are all these things that could be affecting where your body ingests and deals with a med. Mostly historically, pharmaceutical companies haven’t really had that level of detail and rigour in clinical trials because it’s really hard to do, and very expensive to do, right? How do you control for all of those variables? We tend to treat women, I think, a little bit like, ‘Oh well, they’re just smaller men,’ and so you end up in these situations where it took until, what, 2019 to come out with the first postpartum drug for women, like postpartum depression drug for women.

Moderator:  Imagine that, how sad is it?

Mina:  I know, it blew my mind too. I thought, ‘Oh, this is great,’ and I thought also it’s really sad. I think in Invisible Women they talk about there can be, I mean, things that have much lower stakes around them, but they talked about whether or not, I think, the clearing of snow in city side walks and streets could be gender biased. You read the headline and you think, ‘That’s ridiculous,’ but actually what they found is that women start their day by dropping the kids off at school, and then there’s a whole chaining of events, right? This was in Sweden, and they tend to take the kids to school, so they’ll walk to take the kids to school, then they’ll get on public transport and they’ll go and do some volunteer work, and then they’ll get on public transport again, and then they’ll go and do some grocery shop, and then they’ll drop that back at the house and they walk to pick up their kids. There are all these things that they do, and I think it’s something like 70% of the women are primary care givers for kids, or 70% of primary care givers are women, something like that. The way that the cities had actually prioritised snow clearing was to start with the main street and arteries, right?

Well, usually it was the men driving cars to get to work and the women using public transport to get the kids to school and such, so they did an experiment where they changed that up and where they started the snow clearing was with the sidewalks and public transport routes, because it’s a lot easier to drive through a few inches of snow in a car than it is to have to walk through that with a kid hanging on one hand and a baby buggy in front of you, and a bag of groceries in your other arm, and all of that stuff. Not only did it make a difference for these people, just in terms of their daily flow because of the way they chain the events, but it actually had an impact on hospital usage. There were fewer injuries to women slipping on the snow and that sort of thing, so there actually was a weird gender bias in the snow clearing, that once they experimented with doing it a little bit differently there was actually an improved outcome in a way they hadn’t expected. It is a really interesting thing, data is just inherently bias. You and I have previously talked about the state of the world today and how everybody’s trying to come up with these-, I call (TC 00.20.00) them armchair quarterback predictions about what’s going to happen with COVID. The reality is, we’re working with a very incomplete (toeo 20.10).

Moderator:  Yes, we can’t really know to be honest. We just can’t know. Whatever you’re working with, you just have so much incomplete data, the trends could really be off, and they are. Every time we’re trying to make a prediction about a country or an area, we’re constantly going wrong, it’s over or above that and it’s behaving so differently.

Mina:  Yes, exactly. The only thing that we know, and the data is starting to show this, is that very aggressively socially distancing is helping to flatten the curve, or at least make the rise less steep. Everybody should stay home and stay safe, that’s my (toeo 20.45) thing for today.

Moderator:  Absolutely. Whatever we know, let’s start there, right? Then we figure out (inaudible 20.52), this we know, so let’s do this. Yes, perfect.

Mina:  Exactly.

Moderator:  Mina, switching gears a little bit, but also staying a bit on the topic, I know there are lots of people like me out there in the audience who are wondering, how did you manage to have such a terrific career and be able to hold your own all this while? I know that right now we’re talking of so many changes, and the last five to ten years have been particularly amazing, and we’ve started talking about women taking their place a bit more aggressively, things have gotten a bit better. I guess you’ve started your career way before all of that, and you’ve somehow managed to make it all work out, so what advice would you have for somebody who’s looking at you and thinking, ‘Wow, she managed to do some amazing stuff, how do I do this?’ What tips, ideas, advice or anything at all would you like to say those women? Let’s say if you were just virtually mentoring somebody right now with the podcast, what would you tell them?

Mina:  Gosh, I do mentor a lot of women and I mentor some men as well actually. I think the biggest thing that I see in so many people-, the first thing that I would say is I didn’t have a planned career trajectory. I know that people look at a lot of successful women and think, ‘Oh, they must be an A type, they must have planned this out, they’ve always wanted to do what they’re doing.’

Moderator:  No, not at all.

Mina:  Ten years ago my job didn’t exist. I have no-,

Moderator:  I absolutely believe you. If you told me I’m going to be an entrepreneur some day when I was sitting in a lab doing my experiments, I’d be, like-, I’d just be looking at you and thinking you are mad, because there’s nothing I wanted more than to be an academic, and afterwards an astronaut. Look at me now, totally commercial.

Mina:  That’s exactly it. The things I wanted to be when I was a kid, I was, ‘I want to be the first female prime minister of Canada, I want to be a nun, I want to be a firefighter,’ the random things. I think that, and this is advice I still give myself, is confidence and courage, those are two really important things for anybody. I suffer and have suffered from imposter syndrome at different times in my life, frequently, and I think that especially if-, we all go through that period where we’re stuck in a job we don’t love, and we start to believe that maybe we don’t have the skill set we thought we did and, ‘Oh, is it me? Am I really just not that good?’ You start to develop this imposter syndrome, and this happens in all kinds of cycles during a person’s career. The reality is that chances are you are where you are because you have a skill set, and someone hired you at some point believing in you, so have a little bit of confidence in that. Then the second piece of it is this courage piece, which I’m constantly trying-, I still try and push myself to do. Not to stereotype and not to say that this life is for everybody, but I grew up, I was born in 1970, I don’t really care who knows how old I am, and I-,

Moderator:  You’re fabulous. There’s a reason I’m a big fan. You’re incredible.

Mina:  I just think ‘defy ageing’. We all are who we are and that’s it. I’m not special because I’m old, but part of why people value my perspective is because it’s a perfective along with you, there’s a value in people who have experience, just like there’s a value in people who have really fresh ideas. Those two things are not necessarily mutually exclusive. I grew up in a household where-, I have Asian parents, you were always told to be incredibly studious. I was told I couldn’t-, I’m smart for a girl, like at math for example, ‘You’re really good at math for a girl.’

Moderator:  Yes, I hear you.

Mina:  ‘You’re too loud, you laugh too loud,’ all of those things.

Moderator:  Yes, laugh too loud, try to ask too many questions. Yes.

Mina:  ‘Why are you precocious?’ was a word that was used a lot. Now my family-,

Moderator:  Basically ‘why are you so visible? Could you not merge into the background?’

Mina:  I think a little bit of this. Now my family call me ‘team leader alpha’, and they don’t necessarily mean it in a positive way, until they need help with something then they love team leader alpha. I grew up really thinking that I had a fixed place in the world, or a smaller place to occupy than maybe I would have liked. I conformed to that for a very long time for a whole host of reasons, and so when I meet women who, like yourself, who have just had the courage to break out of that mould, that you are an entrepreneur. There was a woman who used to work at the Economist, she now works at Facebook, and she was our Head of Product. Just her confidence, and some people might call it brazenness, I just felt like she was incredly bold and confident and courageous in ideas that she would put forward. I had so much respect for that, and still do. I think that those two things, if you can find the ability to believe and have confidence and skills that you know you have, just empirically you know you have them even if you’re going through a down time, and then if you can have the courage to constantly be pushing yourself and try something that maybe makes you a little bit afraid, that takes you far.

I never planned a specific trajectory, but one of the things I learned pretty early on in my career is I liked the intersection of being excited and terrified. That meant that I was doing something I thought could be great, but I was also doing something that was going to push my limits and help me to learn a little bit more. If I felt that way, those two feelings, then it meant that I was finding the right next decision. It didn’t mean I never cried at work, it didn’t mean that I didn’t question decisions, but it helped me to know I was going to help me come out the other side more than I went into it with, and that was really important.

Moderator:  That’s amazing. I love what you said, I love that you’re so open to being vulnerable, and also speaking about it. I think one of the great stresses I felt, and I don’t know if it’s a little bit of the fact that when I joined the tech world it was a little bit more male dominated than it is today, I’m talking of 2006, 2008. I think a lot of the values were about not showing emotions, and so even if I was stressed or if I was upset, or if it’s the first time I fired someone or I’m breaking inside because of what happened, there’s just no way I was appreciated for showing emotions, it’s like a sign of weakness. Then in the last few years, once I became an entrepreneur, I started discovering that if I don’t have feelings I’m probably not human, so I’m just going to feel them. Why should I hold them back? It has actually made me far stronger that, just like you said, I’m not so terribly afraid of actually feeling what I’m feeling without feeling so guilt, that, ‘Oh my God, it shows on my face I’m probably not a great leader because I feel that.’

Mina:  No, it’s really funny because not that long ago there was a woman in my office-, I wrote this LinkedIn post a while ago about what I call the trough of disillusionment. It basically adapts the Gartner Hype Cycle, just stating a new job. She was having a very rough time, and justifiable so. She was going through a difficult time at work and she started to cry, and she was mortified and she was, like, ‘Oh my God, you’ve probably never cried at work.’ I looked at her and I thought, ‘Okay,’ and I said, ‘So here’s what we’re going to do,’ and I sat her so that her back-, I sit in front of a glass door, so I sat her so that her back was to the door so nobody could see her crying and I said, ‘I’m just going to sit here and nod while you get this-, while you go through this, and just go through it. As you move around people will just think you’re talking to me, and I’ll just occasionally smile and nod to make it look like you’re talking to me, and while you do that I’m going to tell you a story of when I used to cry at the office.’ I told her a story of when I was working at my last job, when I’d first started. My office was in front of this mechanical room, so it was always 85 degrees or hotter in that office, and I was really having a rough go in my onboarding.

There were people who were truly resentful that I was there, they would miss their deadlines specifically so that I would have to explain to a client why we’d missed a deadline. They were just purposely making it hard for me. I would walk into my office, lock the door and take my shirt off that I wouldn’t be sweating in my office because it was always so hot (TC 00.30.00) And I didn’t want to sweat through my shirt. I would hang it on the back of my door and I would sit there and I would weep. One day my boss called and she said, ‘How are you doing?’ I said, ‘Maybe I don’t belong here.’ She said, ‘I’d like you to come down to my office please,’ and the first thing I thought was, ‘Oh, now I have to put my shirt back on.’ I put my shirt on and went downstairs and she said to me, ‘You have to give yourself a break, because everyday you’re walking in and you’re going to do the best that you can, and the next day will be another day.’ I said, ‘This is the stage you’re in now,’ and I said, ‘So don’t think that I’ve never cried at the office, of course I have. It doesn’t make you weak, you’re just working through the complications of a new situation and you will be fine.’ I felt like she was (a) surprised I would share that story, but (b) it made her feel a lot better. I said, ‘I’m not judging you because of this moment, there’s no judgement here. If I can’t help you to work through this then I’m not a very good manager.’ Right?

Moderator:  Yes, I hear you totally. All of you our there, if you have ever cried at work, not just women, I’m talking to men as well, honestly it’s just perfectly fine. Work is not outside of your life, it’s not a bubble outside of planet earth, it’s very much part of who we are, and that means you would be the same person you are anywhere else. You cry, you also laugh and you also get upset, so it’s perfectly fine. Obviously if you’re crying at the drop of a hat everyday-, in any case, wherever you are, work or home, you probably need to (toeo 31.39).

Mina:  That probably isn’t the right job for you.

Moderator:  Yes, but by and large I’d say it’s perfectly okay if you’ve cried at work. Almost everybody has who has gotten anywhere, and there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. That’s a fantastic note. On that note I want to ask you the last question today, which I’m personally very keen to know, who is Mina as a person? If you had to describe yourself in a word cloud and the words would naturally point to you. Like, jumbling those words together a lot of your friends would be, like, ‘That’s probably a Mina word cloud,’ would would be the words you’d put in that cloud? Who are you?

Mina:  I’m not going to choose my own words necessarily, but I’m part of a womens’ leadership group and we did an exercise last week where-, it comes from the book The Art of Possibility, I believe, and it is-, the prompt you’re given is ‘I give myself an A for-,’ so ‘I give myself an A for getting through this leadership crisis because-,’ and then you list a bunch of things about yourself, and then they choose the words that describe you. The words that came up, that I was very grateful and I thought it was kind of them to share were things like generous, open, thoughtful, selfless. I think that those are great words for me, because as a leader-,

Moderator:  I’m going to add a couple to that. I’d say inspiring, mind-blowing and extremely witty. There you go.

Mina:  Thanks.

Moderator:  Those are my three cents.

Mina:  Somebody said ‘witty’, so I appreciate that. That’s great. I’m going to put that on a t-shirt.

Moderator:  Definitely.

Mina:  I believe in servant leadership, and I believe in being human, and for me humanity manifests in taking my work seriously but not myself seriously. Those are all very lovely words and I appreciate that. Yes, I guess those would be the word cloud, but I’d also say I’m a mum, I’m a wife, I’m a friend, I’m a whole human, and so those words also matter to me because I feel-,

Moderator:  Yes, you have two lovely boys who are very clever. I’ve heard some great stories about them from you doing amazing, creative, lateral things every day and making the best of this isolation. You’re raising two wonderful humans, and that’s also a massive contribution to the world.

Mina:  They’re a lot of fun, and I have to say that I feel pretty lucky because they are witty, they are incredibly funny, they’re really bright, they’re adaptable and they really are just a joy. They help me look at the world from a different perspective, and I really-, to watch a democratic debate with them is really fun, and I’m a little worried for the rest of the debates, but I do just enjoy their perspective and they help me to just look at things in fresh ways, which I love.

Moderator:  That’s amazing. Before we go, we’re going to end on this amazing note, and it’s going to be this question that, Mina, if the whole world was in a state of, what they say, easy suggesting, low suggestion, hypnotic state, whatever, you had this 30 seconds and you knew that you’d get away with it and everyone’s going to listen, or 80% of the world’s population would, what’s the one thing you’d want to say to humanity right now? As a person who’s at the Economist and knows that the world view is shaping up and changing every day, and has seen a lot in her career, as a person but also as a person who uses data for her work, and you know that there’s one message you would really like to get to people but they don’t always take it 100%. If you had your chance and you could do it, what’s that one thing you’d like to say to them?

Mina:  It’s not going to be very data driven, but I would say that it would probably be to try and be kinder to each other and find more of our similarities rather than focusing on our differences. At the end of the day we are all human beings and the wider we can make our aperture to see other people in the world in a position of parity and value, the better off I think we would all be.

Moderator:  That’s incredible. I think it was one of the most enjoyable podcast interviews/talks that I did so far, I really enjoyed speaking to you, Mina, and I think all our audience really values your time. In this time of crisis when all of us are quarantined and sitting at home, I think it’s pretty obvious to us that the playing field is level, and that was your message as well to all of us. We’re all on the same planet and we’re in the same boat together, and so if you’re not going to remember that, that’s just stupid. On that absolute fabulous note, I’m going to let you go. Thanks a lot for your time, and we shall speak soon.

Mina:  Thank you very much. Be safe and well.

Moderator:  We heard from the incredible Mina, who’s at the Economist group in New York. She’s the Global Director of Content Strategy, and has also founded their creative strategy team. Now, this team is very interesting because it’s a group of strategists, researchers, editors and designers. They all create programmes together to help drive their client’s marketing and business outcomes. Mina also supports some broader strategic initiatives, such as being a representative to the UN Women GICC, she’s also a member of the Digital Marketing Institute of Global Industry Advisory Council. I’m personally a big fan of Mina for being able to speak the truth in a very empathic yet witty manner. I thoroughly enjoyed being in this episode today, and I hope you tune in next time to hear from another fabulous personality. He has some great stories to share. Until then, thank you for tuning in.