Vivek Ramaswamy, Entrepreneur & Author | Wokeness & Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam

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About The Guest

Vivek Ramaswamy is a successful entrepreneur who has founded multiple successful enterprises. A first-generation American, he is the founder and Executive Chairman of Roivant Sciences, a new type of biopharmaceutical company focused on the application of technology to drug development.

He founded Roivant in 2014 and led the largest biotech IPOs of 2015 and 2016, eventually culminating in successful clinical trials in multiple disease areas that led to FDA-approved products. Vivek was featured on the cover of Forbes magazine in 2015 for his work in drug development. In 2020 he emerged as a prominent national commentator on stakeholder capitalism, free speech, and woke culture. He has authored numerous articles and op-eds, which have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, National Review, Newsweek, and Harvard Business Review.

Talking Points

  • 00:00 – Vivek’s Story.
  • 09:08 – Shareholder vs. stakeholder capitalism.
  • 13:18 – How did wokeness start?
  • 22:03 – Goldman Sachs & diversity.
  • 29:06 – The separation of church and state.
  • 36:29 – What’s the fix for corporate greed?
  • 41:27 – Critical Race Theory & wokeness.
  • 46:53 – Entrepreneurial lessons from one of the largest biotech IPO’s.

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On this podcast, you’ll find interviews, Q&A, keynote presentations & conversations on sales, marketing, business, startups and entrepreneurship.

The podcast is hosted by entrepreneur, business executive, author, educator & speaker, Scott D. Clary.

Scott will discuss some of the lessons he’s learned over his own career, as well as have candid interviews with execs, celebrities, notable figures and politicians. All who have achieved success through both wins and losses, to learn more about their life, their ideas and insights.

He sits down with leaders and mentors and unpacks their story to help pass those lessons onto others through both experiences and tactical strategy for business professionals, entrepreneurs and everyone in between.

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Machine Generated Transcript

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

people, woke, companies, America, capitalism, left, true, spoke, critical race theory, hair, HubSpot, thought, Vivek, book, cancel, goldman sachs, country, business, world, success story

SPEAKERS

Vivek Ramaswamy, Scott D Clary

 

Scott D Clary  00:00

Welcome to success story, the most useful podcast in the world. I’m your host, Scott D. Clary. The success story podcast is part of the HubSpot Podcast Network. The HubSpot Podcast Network has other great podcasts you should go check out like being boss, hosted by Emily Thompson. Now with the holidays just around the corner, you’re probably thinking, what’s next for you in the new year? What other shows are you going to listen to to level yourself up? Well, on the success story podcast, I interview a lot of entrepreneurs and I usually dive deep into the creative aspects of building a business. So if you are a creative, a creative business owner, or you’re thinking about eventually becoming one, which at some point everybody kind of has to be because you have to be a little bit creative in how you build a business, how you market a business. Now you sell your product. All of that does require some creativity, but also for people that are hyper focused on the creative niche you may be interested in being boss hosted by Emily Thompson. Being boss is an exploration of not only what it means, but what it takes to be a boss. As a creative business owner. If you are into some of the following topics. You’re gonna love this show, project management and building systems for creatives, freelancers or side hustlers, opening a retail store rituals that inspire and evoke creativity and taking time off as a business owner to focus on yourself, your creativity and upskilling you need to listen to being boss. They cover all these topics and more, you can listen to being boss on any of your favorite podcasting platforms or at hubspot.com/podcast Network. Today, my guest is Vivek Ramaswamy. Vivek is a successful entrepreneur who’s founded multiple successful enterprises and companies. He’s a first generation American. He’s the founder and Executive Chairman of raw events sciences, a new type of biopharmaceutical company that’s focused on the application of technology to drug development. He founded event in 2014, and led the largest biotech IPOs of 2015 and 2016, eventually culminating in a successful clinical clinical trials in multiple disease areas that led to FDA approved products. He was featured on the cover of Forbes in 2015. For his work in drug development, in 2020. He emerged as a prominent national commentator on stakeholder capitalism, free speech and woke culture. He has authored numerous articles and op eds, which have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, National Review, Newsweek, and Harvard Business Review. Today, we’re going to speak to him about wokeness, because he is so outspoken on it after a successful career, he has found that wokeness is truly hurting America. So we speak about wokeness in America today, how do we get here? We spoke about woke corporations, whether or not they’re a threat to this company, and are they actually doing any good, and perhaps how companies can actually do good and how we can actually hold companies accountable. We spoke about canceled culture, we spoke about essentialism, we spoke about stakeholder versus shareholder capitalism, we spoke about the dangers of woke ism, and idea fixing. We spoke about ways to truly address inequality. And then we also spoke about the troubling truth surrounding critical race theory. So a lot of hot topics, a lot of controversial topics, but Vivek is a very, first of all, a very successful individual, a very intelligent individual, and really brings a great perspective on some of these items. So I really hope you enjoy. This is Vivek Ramaswamy, serial entrepreneur and national commentator on stakeholder capitalism, free speech and woke culture.

 

Vivek Ramaswamy  03:48

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I, I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, and I don’t live too far from there today. And in Columbus, where I’m talking to you from today. My parents are both immigrants. They came to the country in the late 70s, in the case of my dad and early 80s, in the case of my mom who joined him, and they didn’t come here with much financially, they came here with an education though. And I think that that really helped them live the first arc of the American Dream that allowed me to grow up in a stable family household get a good education. And they taught us one thing when we were growing up, it was that education was the top priority, and no one can take something away from you. Once you’ve learned it, they can take something away that you have, physically but they can’t take away something that you know. And I think that really created a good foundation for me to go to public schools through eighth grade went to Jesuit private high school. I can tell you a small story later if you want about the reason why we made that switch, but but in any case, I went to Harvard for college studying molecular biology thought I was going to be a scientist ended up getting into the world of biotech investing instead. I did that for seven years. I spent three of those years at the same time. While keeping my job at Yale Law School. I had this itch at law and political philosophy that I’ve never really fully scratched being a scientifically trained person the whole way through. So that was a few productive years I spent from 2010 to 2013. In law school while keeping my job as a portfolio manager at the hedge fund where I was working, met my wife, she was my next door neighbor, she was med school at the time. So that was probably the most productive thing that came out of it. But, but after I came back to my job full time as an investor, I realized that my learning curve had flattened a little bit. And perhaps more importantly, there were some issues that I wanted to address in the inefficiencies of developing medicines in pharma that I couldn’t do as a passive investor from the sidelines. And so I left my job as an investor, it was a comfortable position to be in, but I decided to leave it anyway, in 2014, to start a new kind of company, you referenced it Reuven, that was focused on shortening the time of developing medicines by cutting through a lot of the bureaucracy that big pharma had historically, relied upon to develop medicines. Companies become, you know, if I may say, still in our early days, but something of a success, I led the company as CEO for seven years, it’s a multi billion dollar enterprise today that’s gotten drugs through development, a couple of which have made it through FDA approval. And you know, I’m proud of those accomplishments. But earlier this year, I turned my attention from working on biological cancer, shall we say, two working on what I view as a major cultural cancer that actually threatens the future of the United States, in my opinion, and really threatens to kill that dream, that American dream that I’ve had the privilege of living. And so I care about that dream, I care about preserving it. I think it means a lot to my kid and his generation. And that’s part of why I wrote woking, the book that I’m writing and part of why I’m focusing on the issues that I’m focusing on, with respect to reviving shared American identity over the group practice group identity that I think has become quite popular for corporations to be able to push on on the rest of America. I think it helps corporations make an extra buck, but I think it leaves Americans worse off as citizens in the end. So probably more than you bargained for there in my introduction, but that’s a bit of my you

 

Scott D Clary  07:00

know, a tease it up, it tees it up perfectly. I was reading, I was reading the first chapter of your book and some of the things that you’re working on now and that you’re passionate about. Now, these are things that you discovered way back when you were at, you know, working in a hedge fund. Walk me through walk me through one of the stories you told us that was interesting about initiatives that you were sort of expected to take on as part of this fund. And and they didn’t really pan out the way that you thought they would. And then why that sort of opened your eyes to what what is woke activism versus potentially just virtue signaling for for an organization because that, to me, it sounded like that was the first eye opening experience that you had.

 

Vivek Ramaswamy  07:51

Yeah. Well, look, there’s there’s a few. There’s a few experiences I described early on in the book, I think, you know, some of them come from my experience as an investor that I started my job on the eve of the 2008 financial crisis. So I joined the hedge fund where I worked back in 2007. The Oh, eight financial crisis really shook the financial universe, and I was at the epicenter of it. And I think a lot of the birth of woke capitalism can trace its roots. The birth of certainly the modern, aggressive form of world capitalism can trace its roots to the post 2008 era. I did an internship at Goldman Sachs, I talked a little bit about that in the first chapter of the book, which I think was my first exposure to the hypocritical, lack of self reflection and the inauthenticity of this new brand of so called stakeholder capitalism. That was an introduction I had dating back to 2006. And, you know, at the end of the day, I’ve been educated at places like Harvard and Yale along the way, I graduated from Harvard and oh seven, where I I feel like I witnessed the birth of woke culture in the universities, when Larry Summers, who was President of University had to step down for certain comments that he made that were controversial. Yes, but I thought were acceptable within the bounds of acceptable debate, whether or not you agree with what he had to say, and watching the president of Harvard, taken down from his position and personally serving in the committee actually was the student representative of the committee that selected his successor. And having seen that firsthand, I think just created a lot of experiences early in my adult life from the later years in my time at Harvard, to joining a hedge fund and elite hedge fund at the thick of the 2008 financial crisis, to the internships identify places like Goldman Sachs along the way to more recently starting a venture backed company that, you know, I had to understand a little bit about a world that had expectations for what a young entrepreneur was supposed to do in the contemporary, postmodern era as it pertains to social issues that I eventually grew fed up with a game that I thought centered on pursuing profit and power by pretending like you care about something other than the pursuit of profit and power and it’s a pretty good gig. If you’re somebody who’s Been in the shoes that I’ve been in, you get to abuse about the racial impact, racial, racially disparate impact of climate change and ski towns, maybe flying in a private jet. And it’s not a bad life. But I eventually just grew fed up with the inauthenticity of that game, not because it was hypocritical or not just because it was hypocritical, but because I actually thought it was beginning to pose a threat to the integrity of American democracy itself, because what it did with this new model of stakeholder capitalism, what we call woke capitalism. Now, what it really does is it concentrates power in the hands of a small group of capitalist elites, to determine what’s good for the rest of society on issues ranging from environmentalism, to climate change, to racial justice, to diversity, it says this small group of people who control power in the marketplace ought to also wield power in American democracy. And to me that was, that was a rejection of what America is supposed to be all about. Because if America to me is one thing, it is a place where every citizens voice is weighted equally, in the marketplace of ideas. In our democracy, even if in the marketplace of products, more dollars can ultimately vote up the best product to the top, that’s okay. That shouldn’t be the way that the marketplace of ideas works in a democracy. And to me that felt like a betrayal of what this country was supposed to be all about. Looks a lot more like old world Europe, where a small group of elites would get in a room, maybe labor elites, business leaders and church elites would get in a room and decide what’s good for the rest of society, maybe that works for old world of Europe. But that’s not the essence of what America is supposed to be. And as a first generation American who, who was born in this country, to parents who came here and voted with their feet to be here, because of the ideals that this country represents. To me, I felt a real sense of responsibility to just speak up on behalf of those ideals, rather than watch ourselves devolve into this corporatocracy that ultimately resembles an old world European model, rather than the American model.

 

Scott D Clary  12:02

How did wokeness get to this point? Where it started in? It started it started with in theory, good, you know, there was there was good thought behind why we should be woke why we should be more accepting why we should do all of these things to perhaps get rid of some latent ideologies that are not so great that we see in society, how has it gotten to the point where it’s almost gone to the other end of the spectrum? And now, what you’re stating is that it’s actually a negatively impacting society to a point?

 

Vivek Ramaswamy  12:36

Yeah, look, I think that when wokeness was born, it was about challenging the system about standing up to the system and agree or not, there’s something about that, that I respect for somebody who has the courage to stand up to what the prevailing system is, okay. But today, I think, a couple decades later, woke ism is no longer about challenging the system. vocalism has become the system. And I think that the untold story of how that took place, actually traces back to the 2008 financial crisis. When corporations are the bad guys, the old left wanted to take money from the wealthy corporations and redistributed to poor people agree or not. That’s what the old left had to say. But there was the beginning of this new woke movement that began to say, actually, the real injustice in society wasn’t impove was it poverty, per se? It wasn’t economic injustice, per se. No, it was racial injustice, and misogyny, and bigotry. And after oh eight that actually presented the opportunity of a generation for big business and for Wall Street, because they could go in one fell swoop from being by definition, the bad guys in the eyes of the old left, to bring the good guys if they wielded their corporate power in the right way. And so they started adopting these woke values, applauding diversity and inclusion, putting token minorities and women on boards, and, as I said earlier, musing about the racially disparate impact of climate change and fancy ski towns. And that actually worked out pretty well, because corporations were happy to lend not just their money, but their legitimacy to this new woke movement, they were happy to use their market power to effectively propagate these woke values. But they didn’t want to do it for free, they had a new expectation that this new left would look the other way, when it came to leaving corporate power intact. They recognize that maybe they don’t love corporate power, but at least they would leave them alone if they were using corporate power to advance the goals of the new progressive woke left. And that’s how this arranged marriage came to be. And so to answer your question about how wokeness went from being about a fringe theory that challenged the system to becoming the dominant system, in my telling of it certainly in the book, and I believe it to be true, it is when wokeness met capitalism, that it truly became unstoppable. Then it went from being about challenging the system to becoming the system. And if you trace back to the 2008 version of it, or the post 2008 version of it, what I like to say is a bunch of big banks met a bunch of woke millennials. Together, they birthed woke capitalism, and they put Occupy Wall Street up for adoption a better bet many people.

 

Scott D Clary  15:18

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Vivek Ramaswamy  18:47

Remember what that was. That was what the old left represented. wokeness represented a new vision that proved convenient for big business. And the funny thing about it is that, you know, the woke left and big business. I don’t think this is really an arranged marriage of love. It isn’t arranged marriage, but I don’t think it’s in a marriage of love. I think it’s more like mutual prostitution, where each side has secret scorn for the other in any marriage in which each side has a scorn for the other is not going to end well. But it’s a marriage that’s working right now. As long as each side gets something out of the trade and Silicon Valley has now copied the same thing saying they’re going to censor content that the far woke left doesn’t want to see online. But in return, they expect the New Democratic Party will look the other way when it when it comes to leaving their monopoly power intact. That’s how this arranged marriage is working out right now really well for both sides. But the net child, the bastard child of that arranged marriage has been the rise of this new woke industrial complex that I think is far more powerful than either big business or big government alone. It’s a hybrid a combination of the two, because each is able to do what the other cannot and I personally think that actually the biggest threat to Liberty today, not just big government per se But the new birth of this new woke industrial Leviathan.

 

Scott D Clary  20:05

I want to I want to highlight specific examples because people are listening to this. Oh, yeah. Well, you know, it makes sense. And but where can you point to? Where companies sort of virtue signaled, just to placate, you know, the, the masses. And one one example you brought out was with with Solomon, David Solomon taking companies public that have a woman on their board of directors or whatnot. And that’s a great, that’s a great thing. It sounds like, you know, in theory that that’s a great initiative. But you brought out a data point that was something along the lines of the fact that most of these organizations already had a woman on the board of directors, and it actually didn’t really impact any organizations that were already IPO. So I haven’t

 

Vivek Ramaswamy  20:46

Goldman Sachs made a declaration. Yeah, in 2020, that it would not from the mountaintops of Davos, by the way, that’s Davos tends to be a place where people go to make these proclamations I’ve learned. So from Davos, he says that Goldman will not take a company public in the United States by they they don’t apply the standards in Asia, they just kind of look the other way over there. But in the United States won’t take a company public, unless it has at least one diverse board member where they didn’t really say what Canada’s diverse, but they kind of said, our focus is on women. Okay. Well, it turns out that in 2019, by the end of 2019, certainly there wasn’t a single one of the 500 companies in the s&p 500, that did not have a woman on their board, let alone one diverse board member. And so they, they ultimately managed to exhibit courage precisely when the thing they were doing lacked any modicum of courage at all, they were just conforming, what I like to say is that’s just Goldman Sachs doing what Goldman Sachs does, earning another great risk adjusted return taking no downside risk. But getting all the PR benefit, taking an already popular social value, and prominently emblazoning, the Goldman Sachs logo on the very front of the, of the social cause. But the list of examples just goes on and on. I mean, it’s it’s, in some sense, unfair to pick on Goldman Sachs because basically, every major company in corporate America is doing the same thing. If you’re Coca Cola, it’s a lot easier to complain about voting laws in Georgia that make you sound more like a super PAC than a software manufacturer, or have employee trainings on how to be less white. By the way, that’s an actual LinkedIn learning module that they sent out to their employees until they were called out on it. A lot easier to do those things than to reckon with the impact of your own products on the nationwide epidemic of diabetes and obesity. By the way, in the very black community that they profess to care so much about, or if you’re Nike is great to criticize slavery 250 years ago, it’s a lot harder to give up your reliance on slavery in the present day through your supply chains. Reaching out in Asia, it’s a lot easier to criticize the United States and take take down the Betsy Ross flag sneaker that they wanted to release in 2019 Because Colin Kaepernick thought it was a indicia of racism without saying a peep in China, where we see true human rights atrocities today, over a million weekers in concentration camps. Nike doesn’t say a word. And in fact, John Donahoe, just in the last month, CEO of Nike goes to China and says that we are a company of China and for China, that’s his quote, not mine. This is this is actually how this game is played is this to face behavior in the United States and abroad supplicating to the CCP lying prostrate, like a lap dog, but that same lap dog bites the United States at every possible turn. And I think that hypocrisy reveals the essence of what’s going on. They’re doing whatever allows them to make the most money or aggregate the greatest power. In China, it’s behaving one way by not criticizing injustice. And nowadays in the moment in the United States, it’s doing the exact opposite, finding injustice is to criticize as a way of exhibiting moral superiority.

 

Scott D Clary  23:48

Now, you make another statement that this is not just not just placating masses, but also detrimental to traditional American ideology. Potentially, you said like, you know, pursuing the American dream, and having opportunities and and all these things that are, you know, they are so congruent with what Americans hold so true and dear to them. Now, how is this going to potentially negatively impact these traditional American ideologies? What’s the what’s the bridge between

 

Vivek Ramaswamy  24:21

give you I’ll give you a simple low hanging fruit, right? Because some people may disagree on the importance of certain American ideals over others didn’t get into that. But I actually think that this new trend undermines American solidarity, as we know it, because in a divided, politic, body politic, like ours, okay in America in a healthy democracy, where people disagree and debate one another and have fears disagreements in the sphere of politics. The thing that we need in order to bind ourselves together as one people is other spheres of our lives, a political spaces where we can all come together irrespective of whether we’re black or white. irrespective of whether we’re Democrat or Republican, to me, the baseball stadiums of America are a perfect example of where people come together for their love of sport for their love of watching sport. And you don’t have to know whether the fan next to you supports your politics or not, you probably don’t. And that’s a beautiful thing about it. The private sector, you’re running a biotech company, one of the beautiful things about it is that you come together, because you care about developing medicines for patients who need them, not because you have one view or another on a particular political hot button issue of the day. And now with the spread of this world capitalist brand, we lose those a political spaces, no one can go to a major league baseball game anymore, without also implicitly endorsing the Major League Baseball stand on moving its all star game from Atlanta, to Colorado this year in a flagrant display of virtue signaling, without actually probably even having read the voting statute that they were protesting in Georgia, go into a state that actually doesn’t have dramatically different voting laws in the first place. But did it just because it was an opportunity to signal virtue, maybe that benefits the MLB. In the short run, maybe it doesn’t, we can debate that. But it hangs America out to dry because it again, Visser rates, one more space that could have brought us together in a divided moment that we have now lost to, as biotech companies go, the same thing happens where people if you’re on the left or the right, black or white, you could come together say I want to pursue the development of medicines for patients who need them. But now the biotech industry association bio, the lobby group that represents the biotech companies, says that it encourages companies to consider disinvestment in states that pass laws like the ones in Georgia, and that effectively have forces people to signal what political tribe they’re in, where I personally think that the thing we need to do isn’t to force capitalism and democracy to share the same bed, what we actually need is to keep them apart from one another in order to preserve the integrity of each and I think that if we continue to force capitalism to mix with democracy, we will be left with neither. And in my mind, those are the two parents of America, capitalism and democracy, both in 1776, the year of the Declaration of Independence, and the year of the Wealth of Nations, individualism, unity, all in one, that is what America is at its best. And we need both of those parents of America, sometimes, those parents may run roughshod over the other end, sometimes in order to save the baby, you actually need to keep the parents apart, this may be one of those cases where America needs to do the same thing.

 

Scott D Clary  27:31

You know, when you when you break it down like that it actually and you made a reference to, you know, Europe hundreds of years ago, when there was issues separating church and state. And now this is seems to be, you know, history repeats. History repeats itself. Now, we’re seeing the issue of separating capitalism and state.

 

Vivek Ramaswamy  27:50

Yes, and I talked about this a lot in my book, America is all about inactive traces back to the church and state separation, and I’m glad you brought it up. It’s all about keeping the different institutions that undergird America intact. And sometimes in order to keep them intact, you have to keep them apart from one another. And to me, that is what true American pluralism is actually about the plurality of institutions that undergird America without saying that all of them have to be doing the same thing, which is what stakeholder capitalism or capitalism demand, you don’t want the church in the state doing the same thing, because you’ll have neither church nor state left. Similarly, you don’t want capitalism doing the same thing as our political democracy, or either one will actually fail in what it is its essential purpose is supposed to deliver. Same thing with respect to universities, or museums, or schools or sports. Let each one stand for its own unique purpose. But by mixing their purposes with one another, we’re left with one, amalgamated commish, that is an unrecognizable and flawed form of each leaving us with the benefits of none of those things. To me, American pluralism includes the integrity of our museums, our sports, our educational institutions, our politics, our private sector, our economy, let each of those things flourish in their own right. I say this thing about American identity and what American pluralism means at the level of these institutions. I also said the same thing within two is part of the agenda is to say that you are reduced to a white male, and I don’t know much about your sexual orientation, but whatever it is that those are the those are the factors that undergird your identity. And for me, I am a brown man who is sis straight male. And I think that reducing somebody to those narrow characteristics, also defies pluralism, because part of American pluralism is about the plurality of identities within each of us. I’m not just a man, I’m a father, I’m a son. I’m a brother. I’m not just a scientist. I’m an entrepreneur. I’m a been trained as a lawyer, I started a company I’ve been an investor. I’m not any one of those things. I am all of those things at once. And so are you and hopefully a good deal more. And I think that part of This new woke movement is rejecting that vision of the pluralism within to to say that we have to reduce ourselves to be one thing, just as each of our institutions in America have.

 

Scott D Clary  30:09

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Vivek Ramaswamy  33:18

produced themselves to the same narrow social agenda driven purpose, when in fact that belies the essence of to me of what pluralism is actually about this country.

 

Scott D Clary  33:27

And all those all those other things that encompass a person is what allows you to make those connections to to remove and that’s and when you when you when you know, you break somebody down to whatever, white sis, male whatnot that and that’s all they are, well, then that’s that’s that tribe that’s over there. That’s something that I’m not or that’s something that, you know, I don’t really feel aligned with. And that’s something that I think is is is is definitely hurting when you when you sort of dive into it. But these conversations, these conversations, the one that that we’re having the reason why you wrote the book, these conversations don’t happen. Because when they do happen, a red flag goes up, right stuff gets shut down. It’s you know, and even I was I was listening to the CEO of snowflake and he was speaking about, he actually went on some news channel about how, you know, he hires for he doesn’t hire folks on diversity hires based on merit, and that obviously, pissed off a lot of people. And but he was trying to be honest, he said, he said, This is what a lot of CEOs in Silicon Valley and startup land do, regardless of what you’d like them to do. And I feel like when people say that, or when they try and speak about the reality, they shouldn’t be victimized. This should start a conversation about what’s actually happening. So there’s a long winded way of saying, how do we actually how do we actually hold companies accountable to be better, when all they’re doing is just virtual signaling. They have millions of dollars and billions of dollars pounds or calm behind their comms department behind their marketing department. And they know what to say. And they know exactly how to say it. What’s the fix for this?

 

Vivek Ramaswamy  35:13

Yeah, so I think the fix is is twofold, right? I think one is, well, I think it’s three fold. I think a lot of companies aren’t inherently political into at the top, but their CEOs just do whatever makes life easiest for them. Okay. So if there’s going to be one vocal stakeholder group that they need to appease, and there’s no cost to appeasing them, they do the cost benefit analysis and say, Okay, we’ll go. Well, I think that I think that we, as citizens, as consumers shouldn’t make it so easy for a CEO to make that decision. I think that they haven’t been a CEO myself, I could tell you, that’s the way somebody thinks about a decision. What’s the cost and benefit for the business? Okay, well, if the cost of compliance with the woke demand of the day isn’t costless anymore, I think that that’s one method of getting back on track. Another method of getting back on track involves actually recognizing some of the legal benefits that corporations enjoy for the pursuit of profit, because we say that that’s what we need to do in order to incentivize great people to build great things, things like limited liability for shareholders, things like the business judgment rule, which prevents an executive or a director from being sued for a business decision, which goes badly in retrospect, that’s the rules of the game, when you expect that companies are making products and providing services for the pursuit of profit. But when we use those corporate benefits, to not just make products for profit, but to pursue a social agenda, much in the way a political campaign would, well, political campaigns don’t have those benefits. Neither should a company when it’s effectively waging the equivalent of a political campaign, but hiding behind the veneer of limited shareholder liability, or the business judgment rule, which are favorable treatment corporations that get in court that ordinary people, ordinary activists, or ordinary political figures don’t. So I think that we need to roll backs the scope of some of those legal protections to make sure that they’re only covering the scope of activities they were initially intended to cover. That’s something I talk a lot more about. My former may be relatively technical, but but the effects could be far reaching. But I think the third answer, Scott is, is there is no denying that the fact that some of the demand for what companies are doing comes from newly woke consumers, consumers who say that, I want to find meaning in the products that I buy, and to buy them from companies that share my values, and there’s no legal fix for that, either. That’s, that’s in part the way a free economy works. I think the deeper problem there, though, is a generational cultural problem, where you have an entire generation people my age and your age, maybe maybe younger than each of us, that are so hungry for a purpose hungry for a cause, hungry for identity, really, that they are going to latch on to the first thing that someone sells them rather than doing the hard work of finding that purpose, that sense of that sense of a cause that sense of identity from within. And as we have seen patriotism decline over the last decade is religion, if I’m going to say it has nearly disappeared in our country, we’ve relocated those religious impulses to the sphere of commercialism to the sphere of woke ism, to the combination of woke ism and commercialism to say that, I’m going to find the meaning in the product that I buy, beat a cup of coffee or be a brand of shoes, rather than recognizing that actually the thing that may fill my void moral void isn’t going to be the thing that I buy at the store, it might actually have to be something far deeper, that teaches me actually to believe in something that’s far deeper and possibly far more unifying across Americans and across human beings than the divisive tribal identity politics that might divide us into better consumers, you know, good for market research and for targeting, but might leave us worse off as citizens in the end. And I think that’s the hardest work we’re going to have to do as an American people is reviving the shared sense of identities and causes that bind us as Americans and as human beings and its people rather than the skin deep social causes in the skin deep identities, that many corporations are willing to sell us to meet that superficial demand to make an extra buck, much like a Virginia Slims manufacturer might have targeted insecure teenage girls in the 1990s. Now, companies are targeting a morally insecure generation as a way of preying on those insecurities to make a buck. And I think that there’s nothing illegal about that. But I think that what we need to do in our culture is revive a shared sense of finding causes and meaning and purpose and identity in things that go beyond the things that we take out our pocketbook to buy at the store. One

 

Scott D Clary  39:49

one, we’re going all in on all these topics now and I just wanted to bring one more up that I that you spoken on before. Where does Where does critical race theory intersect with this? concept, how does it? How does it How does it have any sort of correlation with woke ism, and some what companies are doing? Yeah, so

 

Vivek Ramaswamy  40:10

So I think it plays a big role. I mean, critical race theory is sort of the intellectual progenitor of the woke movement, which effectively says that you’re a prisoner of the color of your skin, that if you’re black, you’re inherently disadvantaged and oppressed. If you’re white, you’re inherently privileged and an oppressor, irrespective of your economic upbringing, irrespective of the other factors and features of your life. And that defies what the American Dream stands for the American Dream says that, irrespective of the color of your skin, no matter who your parents were, where they came from, what language they spoke, you can achieve anything you ever want in this country with hard work, determination, and your own dedication. And to me, that defies what America stands for. But it does so in a dangerous way. Because America, unlike most countries in human history, isn’t just a place. It’s a vision of what a place could be. It’s an idea. And, and the fragility of that idea depends on the way that we describe that idea. And so here’s what the even the well intended progressive left misses is that the way we describe America affects the way America actually works. It affects what America actually becomes, it actually affects the way the next generation thinks about our country. And if we describe America as a racist country, we might actually make America a more racist country. And I think that that’s what we’re beginning to see right now is that the, the pursuit of anti racism is actually breeding more racism in all directions, anti white racism, anti black racism in response, and I think that that facturation that, that, you know, I think division of America to a breaking point the fractionation of America to a breaking point by the anti racist theorists that may have some of them, at least may have begun with with pure intentions have inadvertently done damage that if we don’t turn that tide, threatens to become irreversible, especially when then outside powerful forces, like companies, like even the Communist Party of China, who’s actually using this, I think, to be able to divide America from within and exhibit China’s moral superiority on the global stage, when it becomes mixed with powerful self interested forces, that then becomes unstoppable. And that’s we’re in the middle of that transformation right now, which is part of why I really feel compelled to step out and call this outside shine sunlight on this issue. So I’m writing a book about it, but even more importantly, deliver some solutions.

 

Scott D Clary  42:33

And and what’s what’s your solution for? You know, it seems like everybody in America is now in their own little echo chamber of their own thoughts. And that, I think, is the biggest issue for both sides. So how do you how do you bridge that gap? How do you this flywheel echo chamber that’s been propagated by COVID. And by isolation, and people not being able to really, I feel like, communicate properly with each other for the past year and a half? How do you get these conversations? reengaged?

 

Vivek Ramaswamy  43:03

Yeah, I mean, look, I think that I’m hopeful that the return to normalcy now will provide a tailwind for people to break down all kinds of barriers, physical barriers, emotional barriers, computer screen barriers, like the one that we that we’re putting on display right now, to be able to, to build on a last solidarity that I think COVID made worse, but it wasn’t the origin and the root cause of it, we were already heading in that direction. And and I’m hopeful that people use this occasion to have conversations in person, you know, to be able to get together in person with one another to also break down the other silos between us that originate in a culture of fear that I think we’ve all suffered from for the last five years fear of expressing yourself for fear of losing your job, or your kid getting a bad grade at school, or becoming a pariah in your community, to instead be able to express what we actually believe to one another agree or disagree, because I think that democracy depends on the free exchange of ideas. And I think this new culture of fear in this country where you know, I think according to a recent survey, 60% of Americans in a widespread survey said they were afraid of expressing their true beliefs in public that included Democrats and Republicans both by the way, that’s not America is not the country that my parents came halfway across the world to join. It is not the country that I learned to pledge allegiance to as a kid. And I think reviving that isn’t going to come from some politician or in some electoral process. It’s going to come from our culture and so I’m hopeful that the return to normalcy the eagerness that I see even is that I have by the way myself but I see and others to to begin to see people who we haven’t seen in a long time and meet new ones in the flesh in person. Hopefully it can be one of those things that provides a tailwind in a direction that I think we’ve actually experienced as a headwind for the last year and keeping people apart from one another.

 

Scott D Clary  44:48

Very good. So closing thoughts on anything we didn’t touch on in the book that you wanted to bring out cuz I wanted to do I always do this a couple rapid fire career questions just for people that want to learn from your knowledge.

 

Vivek Ramaswamy  45:00

Yeah, let’s wrap with those.

 

Scott D Clary  45:01

Let’s wrap those. Okay, cool. And then we’ll, we’ll get some, we’ll get some links, we’ll get all that in the show notes. People go check, what’s the date when the book actually drops.

 

Vivek Ramaswamy  45:08

So the book officially hits stores on August 17. It’s available for pre order now. And so you get the first full early chapter of the book, I think, if you preorder it now, so

 

Scott D Clary  45:18

alright. Alright, let’s get into this. You. You know, people want to learn from you largest but largest biotech IPO of 2015 2016. Obviously, you’ve done a lot of impressive stuff over your career. So career career life lessons, largest challenge over your entire career. What was it? How did you overcome it?

 

Vivek Ramaswamy  45:37

Yeah, so hardest challenge in my career, by in a way was the first major drug that we developed was a drug for Alzheimer’s disease, been a graveyard for drug development in pharma. But that’s actually part of what made it all the more important to pursue as a new area for drug development, develop the drug all the way through phase three, and turn over the cards. And it was a failure. It was probably the first major failure I’d encountered in my life. And it was a big one, it wasn’t a small one. And for me, that was that was devastating. For a period of time, for sure. It was something that I had, I didn’t, I knew for sure that there was risk a lot every step of the way. Of course, there was a drug for Alzheimer’s disease, but it felt like I was within striking distance of changing a really changing medical history for the better, doing something for my company that would have permanently created a behemoth that eventually we did get drugs to patients. But it was years later, before we did. It was it was pretty devastating for me. And, you know, I think I learned I relied on, I think lessons that I had learned a long time ago from my parents from the conditions in which I had grown up that at the end of the day, hardship really isn’t the same thing as victimhood, and you know, hardships, something you encounter, victimhood is a choice. And the question for you is, whether hardship is the kind of thing that you’re strengthened by, or whether it’s the kind of thing that breaks you. And, you know, for me, that was probably the closest I got to breaking me, but, but at the end of the day, I was able to harness strength from it both personally and as an organization and the people I worked with, and I think today, it’s been a long time after. And it took a while for me to be able to say this, but I think today, I can say that it was something that strengthened me, and gave me fortitude that I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t been through that experience. But that’s the lesson of, of how I overcame it. I’d be remiss if I didn’t also say something that I wish I had done a better job of along the way. And that’s this, I think that, you know, when you encounter hardship, I think you don’t have to deal with it on your own. And as the founder and CEO of the company, I felt like it rested on my shoulders to to not only strengthen and fortify myself, but to fortify the company, too. And I think that one of the things that I might have done better is, is actually rely on the people around me, I think they were they were ready to be there for me. And and we were ready to be there for one another. And I think I think we might have, we might have bounced back even faster if I was willing to if I was willing to rely on the people around me more than I did. And I was operating under the illusion that I had to lead them and didn’t really, you know, couldn’t show my own weakness in terms of how vulnerable I felt on the back of that failure. And if I were to do it again, I think I think I might lean on the people more around me. And that’d be the advice I’d be given to someone else when they encounter hardship too is Don’t make yourself a victim victim has a choice, learn from hardship, and be hardened by it, and be strengthened by it. But you don’t that doesn’t mean you have to do it on your own. You can rely on the people around you too. And those two things can go together.

 

Scott D Clary  48:38

Good advice. One person that had a major impact on your life. Who was it? And what did they teach you? Hmm.

 

Vivek Ramaswamy  48:47

So many people have impacted my life in a lot of ways. But one who I’m gonna have to hold maybe I’ll call out right now is my dad who reflected the his ability to succeed in his own right, in a way that in a way that he didn’t have to have anyone else recognize in order to achieve his own definition of success. And so, you know, he worked over career at GE, he worked under Jack Welch, his tenure, which was difficult for him to work in the end Ohio plant of GE where there was tenure of ruthless layoffs that, you know, threatened, you know, threaten his job security, he chose to go to night classes, went to law school, there’s something that I did as well at law school at the same time as having a day job, but it was under very different and much more challenging circumstances with two kids job security on the line. You know, I would often have to go with him to his night classes because my mom had to take care of my brother. And that was actually my first introduction to law and when I got interested in politics, I would say is tracing those car rides that I would have for my dad on the way back from night class to home and talking about some opinion that Anthony’s Antonin Scalia had written or whatnot, that was probably maybe the only sixth grader had heard of Antonin Scalia, but But it was my introduction to into the world of legal politics. But putting that to one side, you know, my dad, he didn’t succeed in a way that would make the cover of a magazine or, or be highlighted on television as an American success story. He retired after a perfectly proud career at GE. But for him, the full complement of his life was raising a family and bringing up two kids, for able to get an education and build a life for themselves, to be able to do it on his own terms in ways that weren’t designed to impress anyone else along the way. He had a humility about it. But it wasn’t a false humility. It was a humility that originated in the fact that he thought there were certain things that were important that he wanted to do. And it wasn’t to impress anybody else, or to show up on a magazine cover in his case that I take a lot of inspiration from because there’s a lot of freedom that comes from being liberated from someone else’s expectations for you. And my dad definitely doesn’t live by anyone else’s expectations. And I think that’s something that gives me inspiration to this day.

 

Scott D Clary  51:11

What would be a book or podcasts that you’d recommend people go check out a

 

Vivek Ramaswamy  51:16

good podcast called presidential put out by the Washington Post that goes through every one of the presidents in US history. I’m in the I’m in the middle of it right now. It’s probably why it came to mind. But it was my way of actually, we’re debating what history we should be teaching our kids critical race theory or not, but not talking enough about actually what our actual history was. And so, you know, I’ve studied US history in high school and in college, but made me want to go back and learn some of the untold lessons of American history. And I’ve definitely learned a few that caused me to view our own history of how we got to where we are a little differently. So check it out.

 

Scott D Clary  51:51

Good. And you, you did touch on this, but if you want to add anything, I always ask us some lessons you tell your 20 year old self, your younger self?

 

Vivek Ramaswamy  51:59

Oh, okay. Yeah, it’s kind of what I said earlier, you don’t have to do it alone. And I think that, that’s different than saying that you need to, you know, that you need to view yourself as disadvantaged or weak or whatever. And I think that’s something that pervades the next generation right now as we teach people that victimhood is the currency to get ahead, and I’m a big advocate of, of people being able to achieve what they want to on the basis of their own merit, their own dedication and their own hard work. But that, that doesn’t mean that you have to do it alone to and I think those two things go together. That’d be my best advice for somebody who’s 20 years old today. What does success mean to you having fun and being happy doing something that matters, that success.

 

Scott D Clary  52:51

I love it. Okay, most importantly, where do people can actually social website all that?

 

Vivek Ramaswamy  52:56

Yeah, there’s, you know, I recently put up a website ahead of launching the book Vivek ramaswamy.com. Find me there. I recently engaged on social media to Twitter, Facebook, I’m on all the places as well, so find me on Twitter Vivek G. Ramaswamy. Find me on Facebook. You can find my website Vivek Ramaswamy calm and stay in touch.

 

Scott D Clary  53:16

Alright, awesome. That was That was perfect. That’s all I got. All I got. Thanks for having me. That was awesome. Thanks for Thanks for being on all

 

Vivek Ramaswamy  53:23

I really appreciate all  the clips. That’s fine. Let me know when it goes up. Shoot me an email and we’ll go from there.

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