Magatte Wade: Africa, Capitalism, Communism, and the Future of Humanity | Lex Fridman Podcast #311 | Transcription

Transcription for the video titled "Magatte Wade: Africa, Capitalism, Communism, and the Future of Humanity | Lex Fridman Podcast #311".

1970-01-05T13:53:18.000Z

Note: This transcription is split and grouped by topics and subtopics. You can navigate through the Table of Contents on the left. It's interactive. All paragraphs are timed to the original video. Click on the time (e.g., 01:53) to jump to the specific portion of the video.


Introduction

Intro (00:00)

you have to have free markets in order to build prosperity. And prosperity means economic power. If you have economic power, no one messes with you. Or if they're going to do it, they're going to have to think twice. And when they do, they're going to have to pay consequences. The following is a conversation with McGout Wade, an entrepreneur who's passionate about creating positive change in Africa through economic empowerment. This is the Lex Friedman podcast. To support it, please check out our sponsors in the description. And now, dear friends, here's McGout Wade.


Diverse Topics Discussion

The soul of Senegal (00:40)

You were born in Senegal. You have lived and traveled across the world. So let me ask you, what is the soul of Senegal? Like its people, its culture, its history. Can you try to sneak up on telling us what is the spirit of its people? Taranga. Taranga. Taranga, it's a Walla Ford. Walla is a main indigenous language of Senegal. And it means hospitality. That is what us, the people of Senegal are known for. And it transpires in everything that we do, everything that we say. It's a place where, I guess with hospitality, it goes this concept of warmth. So we are a very warm people. It's only not shell, but that's us, the place where you come. And everybody will just embrace you, make you feel very comfortable, make you feel like you're the only person in the world. And that we've been waiting for you a whole life. So that's my country. So that's for people in Senegal, people in Africa, or also people across the world. Weird strangers from all walks of life. So hospitality to everyone. Yes, for everyone. For everyone. Especially towards the foreigner. Because it's very ingrained in us, this understanding that especially the foreigner. The foreigner is called foreigner because the foreigner is coming from somewhere else. So if someone has taken the time and the energy, whether in a forced manner or because it's a choice to travel so far, to come, to a place that's not theirs, to start with, that's why the foreigners again, then it is your duty to welcome them, to be uber welcoming to them. So there's not a fear of the foreigner, there's not a suspicion of the foreigner. No, no, no. And I think these girls with the other way around, maybe it has to do with just, you know, when you feel good about yourself, when you're very grounded yourself, it's very easy to open yourself to others. And I'm wondering if that's not, you know, the other side of the equation in a way. So no, we don't have a fear towards a foreigner. That's just not. So when you have a pride of your culture, a pride of your own people, it's easier to sort of embrace. I mean, it's interesting how these kind of cultures emerge because, you know, the Slavic countries, they're sometimes colder. They're slower to trust others. We're now here in Austin, Texas. One of the reasons I fell in love with this place when I showed up is there's that same hospitality as compared to other cities I've lived in, sort of Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco.


Selfies (03:13)

There's a hesitation to open up, to be fragile, to be caring, before understanding what the sort of, what I can gain from you kind of calculation. It's really interesting. And I wonder what, how those kinds of dynamics emerge, because there's certainly parts of the world, like Austin is one of them, where you just feel the kindness, just radiate without knowing kindness from strangers. You know, if I were to advance one thing, and I had the same experience after having lived in San Francisco first, then we went to New York, then we came to Austin. When we came to Austin, I felt it took me a while to put my finger on it. But what I found in Austin, people just hang. People, right? They're real. They're real. Unlike what you were saying, I feel like in these other places, people are, it's a destination for people who want to come and perform. I think maybe the early San Francisco people, it was different for them. But later, as prosperity starts to come in and success comes in, then you attract a different breed. At first, where are the people who made it, who made this place, be what it is?


Austin politics (04:38)

And then it attracts all the bling followers, and the bling attracted people. And when those people show up, it's time for all of us to get out. And that's one of my worries about Austin, too. And I guess I'm one of, I count myself in it, but because we also knew our IVs, always been furious now. But how are we going to protect this place? Yeah. Yeah, these are the best possible version of the Austin history. This is the early days of Silicon Valley in Austin. And so you get a chance to build on top of this culture that's already been here, of the weirdos, the artists, the characters, but also the general kindness and love that just permeates the whole place. Build on top of that entrepreneurial spirit. So like tech companies, new startups, all that kind of stuff. And then you get a chance to build totally new ideas, totally revolutionary ideas, and make them a reality, and dream big and build it here. I think Elon represents that with all the people that kind of tried to do the cutting edge stuff they're doing at Tesla and SpaceX. But there's a bunch of other companies.


The French accent (05:52)

They're just like coming up, I get to talk to a bunch of tech people. And they're just incredible versus San Francisco. There's a cynicism a bit. And also some of the interaction with strangers, there's always a bit of a calculation. Like how good is this going to be for my career? How can hanging out with this person can advance me? You go to a party, you're seizing up. It's like, I'm not going to talk to someone so because that's not going to advance me. Who's going to advance me next? So this is what I would not want to see here in Austin. And I think maybe there is one way to try to, I really would like to see Austin not go the way San Francisco did and other towns before. I like how you pronounce San Francisco the French accent. San Francisco. That's great. That's the one word.


Outside Tech (06:41)

You go with the French accent. You do. That's amazing. San Francisco. But you know, so now that you find that cute, you're going to have to forgive me when I mess up my English because English is not my first language. So I always try to make sure people know that. But you know, Lex, this is why I am very interested in what some folks here are working on and I'm just going to be very selfish here because I want to help her with what she's doing.


Nicole) (07:02)

It's someone like, you know, Nicole Nodesk and her project, you know, with the housing projects that they have right now, making sure that Austin remains a town that's affordable for people of all walks of lives. If we can accomplish making sure that all walks of lives, doesn't matter how little or big you're making money wise, that you can stay in this town so the diversity at that level can remain. And I think Austin stands a chance to really show the world how to do things differently. And what I love about her initiative is just how they're really trying to again work on keeping affordability down for most people. I think it's important to, because it seems like it matters to you, I know that it matters to me. I absolutely would not want to see Austin go away. San Francisco did. And I think the key to that is making sure that true diversity, not like the fluff, fluff crap diversity we're hearing over there. And that's another thing, by the way, because San Francisco likes to pride itself in, oh, you know, we are so into diversity. But I'm like, if diversity for you means gender, difference of gender, skin color, you know, maybe the different accents we have, and you think, check, check, check, check, check, I'm like, it's not enough. Can we also add diversity of thoughts? And that's the other problem I have with that place, you know. And I know some folks who are scared of saying much around people. That's also another thing. So not only they're sizing you up, but everybody's also very invisible. This invisible, how should I say this? There's this invisible agreement that they all seem to have to stay on script.


Justice and housing (08:47)

There's a feeling like you're following a certain kind of script that's very kind of shallow. And there is a bit of a categorization going on, which category do you belong to? And let's put this into a simple math equation, how to what comes out as opposed to just the free, open embrace of people, the weirdos, the characters, the interesting, the full, deep sense of diversity. Exactly. Not just ideas, but backgrounds and rich and poor, like artists, engineers, high school dropouts, PhDs, all of this. Yes, yes. Yeah. That's what makes for a rich society. If I was going to get ahead. I'm glad you mentioned Nicole's efforts. I know she really is passionate about. I don't know how complicated that work is because there's probably a big force trying to increase how much it costs to live in Austin. I don't know how you resist that. Whenever I go to New York City, just the fact that there's a giant park in the middle of it, I wonder like, how did they pull this off? This is amazing. It's like to resist the force of the increasing price of the land and still to protect this idea of having a park. And then in the same way, protecting the ability for people from all walks of life to live in the center of the city, to live around the city, to chase a dream when they don't get any money in their pocket. Absolutely.


Comments on the supply/demand relationship (10:18)

I don't know how you do that. It's really political, probably regulation, all that kind of stuff. A lot of it has to do with regulations. And this is where her and I also very much see eye to eye in terms of the free markets and also prosperity building because it's always the same problems most of the time, most places. Here what you have is some people in the name of, we've got to stand for, and I don't like to use this word, but maybe you helped me find a better one, but at least that's a word that people can understand. We've got to stand for the lesser-fortunate mongas. Some people would call them, maybe oftentimes use the word, maybe the underdog. Whatever it is, I would also say maybe the lesser-fortunate mongas, right? In the name of standing up for them, you're promoting policies that are actually going to backfire and where they end up being the first ones to suffer from it. So let's take this whole housing issue that Nicole and her team are working on. We find that oftentimes the cost, at the end of the day, it's the good old supply and demand equation. If you're going to make it so hard that the supply level of housing remains below a certain threshold, remains lower than the demand of people who need, especially affordable housing, all together, what's going to happen is scarcity, prices go up, and who gets kicked out first, the lesser-fortunate mongas. But I find that oftentimes people in the name of we care don't engage their mind. And a friend of mine said this, and he said it so well, he said, "Having a heart for the poor, that's easy. Having a mind for poor, that's the challenge." And oftentimes, we all have a heart for the poor. But when it comes then to then what do we do to have a real impact on making sure that people get a chance at going up, then that's where everything starts falling apart. And then you have people who, then they start pushing for policies, housing policies, making it super hard for you to even renovate or add one more story to your home or anything like that.


Solving the poorest regions in the world (12:23)

By doing that, you're messing up with the supply of housing. And therefore, the people who can't afford, people get priced out of the market. And so what people like Nicole are doing are going back to where all of this is taking place and they're going back to the regulation side. And just like I'm sure we'll talk about it here, but people want to today, why is Africa the poorest region in the world, we go back to the same culprit? Bad laws and tons of senseless regulations. If you make it so hard that in Berkeley, for someone to build one more story to their home, which means maybe one more unit that could be rented out to someone. And if many more people do that, then you have a much bigger supply, which means the prices will go down, which means more people have access and among them, especially the lesser fortunate among us, then we're starting to see a winning proposal, aren't we? But instead, if you go the other way around, then all of a sudden you're pricing them out of the market. Same thing was done with us. So oftentimes, when I see problems of this nature, you can betcha that regulations and senseless laws are the heart of it, and that's what they're tackling. It's not popular, it's not fun, and people tend to not even understand where you're coming from. But this is a problem we have with people not understanding economic econ 101. Well, so it's the regulation of the laws and the system that props them up and increases the span of those laws.


How one part of Africa can be united (13:52)

And we'll talk about that. The fascinating way those kinds of things develop when it works, when it doesn't. Let me sort of step back and ask you a question about Africa. In the West, in many places in the world, Africa is almost talked about like it's one country, like it's one place. So in what ways is Africa one community? And in what ways is it many, many, many communities, just from your perspective, from in Senegal and beyond? Right. So at the most basic of what makes us one goes back to even what makes you African. You are African. I'm African. We're one big family. It's Africa is very much at the end of the day, the foundation and the birth of the human race. So from that standpoint, at the most basic level, we're all Africans. Where this whole thing started. Exactly. Exactly. And how at some point humanity was hanging by fingernails. Only 2000 of us were left on this earth. And eventually we went for survival. And that's how we started to spread around. And some going up north, some going this way that way. And as you're traveling to different places, then features start to change to adapt to where you are. So here gets lighter for some people. Eyes get different shape for others to adjust to a new natural habitat. You know, the genomics program, I think at the, via a national geographic did that so well for people who are interested in going back to that work with Spencer Wells and such. But yeah, so at the very basic, most basic level, that's what unites us all first of all. And then I would say that the continent, especially here, I will group it into black Africa, you know, black Africa. Unfortunately, our common stories, you know, of having gone through this terrible, horrible period of around the same time, the whole continent being enslaved and colonized. So that in a way forms not that we were ever the first people or only people ever, you know, enslaved in this world. As a matter of fact, I mean, the world slaves comes from a schlav, you know, a schlav slave slavs, la slav, right from the Eastern block. So the first slaves were actually people looking more like you than looking like me, right?


Descent into the sciences (16:15)

So, but we don't necessarily remember all of that because in our human psyche, the closest to us in history of a big mass of people being enslaved is African people. We were the last, the last, you know, group like that. You know, the pain of World War I and World War II permeates Europe, but it certainly does for the Soviet, the former Soviet Union, the countries that made up the former Soviet Union does in the same way the pain of slavery and empires using Africa. Does that permeate the culture?


Alien logic (16:59)

Is there still echoes of that? In a way, yes, especially the fact that, you know, in many different places, whether it's Ghana or my country or Benin, where you have these places that we call the Dwarf No Return or the Places of No Return, which this was the last place where the slaves were standing or, you know, this is the, in Senegal, we call it the Dwarf No Return. There is this one door you're there in the slave house and once they go, they go. It's a, that's it. It's going to be the last time they see back home. So, you know, those, of course, of course, it creates for a common lived experience, which becomes a common lived history and of course, it's going to tie us up. Is there a resentment because you mentioned hospitality? Yeah. Is there a kind of resentment of the foreigner that they, there's a rich, vibrant land? Yeah. What are the resources, those powerful cultures? Are they just going to show up and use us? Yeah. That's a way to see geopolitics in the modern world. Yeah. Yeah. This is, okay. So where it plays very differently is, so if you came to Senegal today, there is not really a problem at that level where people's resentment start to come from is, of course, when bad behavior shows up, meaning like you have so many white people who can show up and just in the attitude, they have an entitlement attitude, right? And they think that in a way, we're all still servants. Some people in your face, some people more, but that can cause some little resentment. But where really the resentment is. And that can, the entitlement can take different forms, like even pity. Yes. It's, it's, it's, don't even get me going on that one. I was trying to be polite today. So just, just don't, Lex, do not. Yeah. I'm going to tell myself, my God, today you're going to be all composed.


African Politics And Economy

Respect norms and boundaries (tourist edition) (19:04)

You're going to be, you know, Lex, you're composed. So don't go there and make a fool of yourself. Just, just behave. Yeah. Hold it together. You get me on some, some grounds. That's when it's all going to go out. So yeah, let's, let's, let's move beyond that too. So resentment, there's a, there's a dance between hospitality and resentment. And resentment. So when you come in, you, you live your life, you're just a normal human being. And you treat me decently like you would treat a friend, normal people. I have no problem with you. I'm not going to come back and be like, well, you and your ancestors haven't slave me. You, you're not going to see that stuff. Sometimes I'm in this country where I feel like it's, you know, like that. But we, we in Africa don't do that. Now if you come, you have its next attitude, you think you're still serving servants around. Well, you can have a problem with someone like me. I might even grab you by the back of your neck and, you know, take you back to the airport. That's when you're lucky. Yeah. How do you very quickly?


Pan-Africanism (20:00)

Exactly. But where things come up is, especially nowadays with the African youth, when we have to be reminded of a World Bank, when we have to be reminded of even the world, places like the World Economic Forum, you know, like all of these places that seem to constitute, they would, they, the way they describe them. And I say they, it's primarily my pan African friends. So here may be terms are worth describing. So the pan African movement goes way back when we're talking about, you know, way back when started in, in the firties going on all the way from there. So what you have there is people who have started coming together and dreaming up an emancipated Africa away from the colonies because at that point there were still colonies and dreaming up all of that. So we're talking about people like Kwame Kuma of Ghana. We're talking about Jewish territory of Tanzania, talking about Blisjian of Senegal and other people like that, Bandia of Malawi. So anyway, so, and the African youth of today, we're still hanging on onto those, onto some of these ideas of, and on some of these dreams of a reunited Africa. So when you were talking about what seems to unite you, there is that, you know, also, meaning like we all feel like we're part of the same family. Is it only in our heads? It's in reality, many, for many different reasons, there is definitely what we call a pan African movement. And I very much myself, consider myself one of them, I don't agree all the time with our where we want to go and how we want to go there. But not where we want to go. Where we want to go is we would love to see a united Africa, for sure. But how to get that accomplished? That's where oftentimes we have issues. So on something like that, so this pan African, especially the pan African youth, but it's beyond a pan African youth, it's the youth in general in Africa, World Bank, UN, all of these organizations that they tend to qualify as imperialist organizations. And it's not always a correct way to describe them, but I'm sure you get the sentiment. And from that place, there is tons of resentment, because for the longest time, these groups, organizations, and some that preceded them, have proceeded to actually decide what even our new frontiers would be. You see, when you go to a place like Senegal, Mali, all of that, different countries, but we were one people. And then at some point, they decided just when you look at Africa, have you looked at how straight some of these borders are, you're like, did a robot just draw these?


Why African Governments Are Ultimately Controlling the African People (22:40)

Really? No offense to robots. No offense to robots, especially this one, it looks so cute. But you know what I mean? So they have continued deciding what it would be to be us, to live on our land, and how do we even progress? And it just keeps on going. They get to decide how are we going to, which type of even economic development path are we going to choose or not? So it's very, so from that standpoint, yes, there's a lot of resentment, including even from people like me. Yeah. And it's interesting that the invader and the oppressor and the empires have actually created a force for unity. I've seen that in Ukraine and the invasion in Ukraine, where it was a pretty divided, not a pretty, a very divided country with many factions. But the invasion really forced everyone to think about the identity of this nation together. Yes. Beyond factions, beyond all of that, it allowed it to look at its history and its future. They all say that all great nations have had to have a war of independence. And this is our war to find our own identity. And so in that sense, Africa as one place, as one continent, had to find multiple times its identity through the resistance of the oppressor. Especially Sub-Saharan Africa. Especially Sub-Saharan Africa. Yes. And there's an interesting aspect to this because the president of Senegal is also the head of the African Union. So we'll talk about the fascinating geopolitics of that whole situation. But let me ask in general, you talk about this question, this fascinating question. What does it take for a country to prosper? What does it take for a country to prosper? You see many countries in the world that really struggle and many that flourish. And it's not always obvious why. Because some have natural resources, some don't. Some have wars, some don't. Some have authoritarian regimes, some don't. And some have democracies and all that kind of stuff. So the dynamics aren't exactly obvious. Is there commonalities? Is there fundamental ideas that result in a prosperity of a nation? Today, I can confidently say yes, despite all the differences that you talked about. And I think then this is where it becomes very important that we are very clear about the question you asked me. You said, what does it take to make a country prosperous? So I'm just going to stick to prosperity. Because prosperity doesn't necessarily mean sometimes has nothing to do with maybe how you conduct yourself, otherwise socially speaking. So you can be prosperous and still when it comes to your family laws all the way, you approach the other aspects of your life, maybe you're running a very communist lifestyle.


Prosperity (25:56)

Or you're in a very liberal society. So for me, when we talk about prosperity, I just want to make sure that we are clear on that. Because some people might be somewhere and be like, well, because I know what I'm going to talk to you about next. And some people are going to sit there and be like, well, China is not like that. Or you know, even Dubai is not like that. No. So what I'm talking about is this thing. And that's what I love about this. If we just stick to the word prosperity. To me, I see prosperity as this. It's like economically speaking, what are we going to be to be a prosperous nation? Meaning we are a middle to high income nation. I'm not talking about what are the rights of your women to vote? Or can people live like this? Or I'm not talking about any of that. Economic, fundamentally economic prosperity. Yes. Because I think it's that distinction is very important because over the years I've seen people push back on all types of things and it occurred to me that that's what the misunderstanding was there. So if we're going to talk about prosperity, making sure that a country can make money so that it can take care of its needs and in need of its citizens. Then what I have come to find is that at the root of that is going to be what we call economic freedom and what I call the toolkit of the entrepreneur. In that you can put the rule of law. You can put the concept of clear and transferable property rights. Economic freedom is at all the levels that which will allow entrepreneurs and business people to create value and create value entrepreneurially. We're not talking about rent seeking anything like that. It's like you found a pie to be this big and you make it this big. So that's what we're talking about. Create value. Create value. Yes. So when it comes to that we have found that whether you're looking at two countries that start at the same, we're talking the same people, East Germany, West Germany, South Korea, North Korea.


Operating System (28:07)

Very similar people to start with, right? But yet radical outcomes. I know that today Germany is united but we're talking about back in the days when you had East and Western bloc. Same people, very different outcomes. Like I said, South Korea, North Korea and so on and so forth. And at the same time, very different nations. Dubai compared to Singapore or to England, very different yet. The same outcome. So it seems to me like whenever we're looking at prosperity, if a nation is prosperous, regardless of whatever other shenanigans they might be running, whatever other operating software they might be running for anything that's not related to business, if on the business side they are proponents of a free market or at least base level of free markets. We know that such countries will create prosperity. So what are the aspects of the operating systems that lead to Singapore and to South Korea and all that kind of stuff? So can you speak to different elements that enable the two kid for entrepreneurs? Sure, sure. And maybe here, let me just maybe illustrate it with my own story and then I can take you back to... Look at that, that's your story. No, who are you? It's just because it started with me coming here. You shouldn't be from a robot or anything and now it looks like we're only sorry for talking and then you're like, "Daw people!" No, no, no, but so this is where this question, even when you ask me, how do some countries become prosperous? That question, I had it when I was seven or so. That's when my family moved me from Senegal for the first time of my life. I left my country, I left my continent and I was headed to Europe to go join my people, my family, my parents, who were there as economic migrants, my parents had migrated for a better life as so many people have to. So many people have to, coming from poorer places, coming for low-income countries. Do you saw the difference? Yes! Between the two places. How else would you call it? Here you are in Senegal, minding you on business, causing tons of trouble everywhere, you know, just being a happy, free-range kid that I was. So you were always a troublemaker and I just know. Okay, great. Life wouldn't be fun without you. And of course, I agree. So because even you, you know, like, you're all put together, like, front, I know there's a lot of trouble making behind you. Just really trying to keep it together. I know you are, but with me, I'm going to totally bring it out. So you saw the difference?


Varied nation success (31:05)

Right, I saw the difference. I'm walking in here, back home, and I tell people this story because to me, it's a defining story, back home, to take a shower. It takes time. Grandma has to, you know, make the short cold catch on a little stove like you use at, you know, when you go camping. And then she puts a pot of water on it. It boils. She takes it, puts it in a bigger bucket, mixes it with some colder water. Then we put a little pot in it and a stronger member of the family has to drag it to the shower. And then there finally, I can proceed to take my shower. Here I'm in Germany in the middle of the winter and my mom's like, my god, time for your shower. I'm like, I'm, I'm not getting naked. Where's the bottle? I mean, just hold wherever. Where's the bucket of hot water? And she's like, oh, you silly. Come on, just jump in. And I jump in the shower, turn the buttons, the water is coming down temperature. I want to play. I'm like, are you kidding me? It's so amazing.


Entrepreneurship And Resilience

Before twists (32:00)

I've been cheated out of life. My whole life. So that's what happened. And then I, then, and then I'm like, oh, and all of these roads, paved roads, unlike back home, everything is like sandy. And you know, my feet are always ash. I always have to wash off when I back home and go back home and your shoes get ruined most of the time. And they started and they had this question and they was just like, wow, how come they have this and we don't? So I was not being like, oh, you know, how come they have all of this money? Oh, I was not that it was just like, how come? And I think what I was alluding to was how come life is so easy here and back. It's not an easy, not a negative sense in a beautiful sense. Sometimes I get, you know, just having traveled through the war zone just to come back traveling through Europe back to America. It just, I'll just get emotional just looking at the efficiency of things like how easy it is how we can, first of all, in Ukraine, you currently can't fly, right? It's a war zone. Just even the transportation, you said roads. Yeah, the quality of roads in the United States is amazing. Just not, you know, many of the places that drive in Ukraine, you're talking about, I mean, really bad conditions of roads. And I'm sure in many parts of Africa and many parts of the world is the roads are even worse. Right, right. And outdoor, you know, having a toy indoor toilet is a fascinatingly awesome luxury to have. It is, it is. And don't take me wrong, Lex. Do we have some great roads now in many parts of Africa? Yes. Yes. Main arteries, great roads. You're like, whoa, this is moving. Yes we do. But definitely more today than in my time growing up. Do we have, you know, a country like Nigeria that just birthed six unicorns last year alone? Yes. Do we have the African youth out there being so amazing and, you know, living their lives? Yes. We have all of that, but it is still, unfortunately, just like we're scratching the surface. Yeah. And those people still are getting all of that accomplished literally swimming through molasses. This is some of the most, most gross, immoral, unfair waste of human capital. And so that is the, started with you as a seven year old asking, wait a minute, how do amazing people in Europe do this and the amazing people in Africa don't? Yeah. And that's a key word. Because that's what I realized later because, and I was not always like that for me. Amazing and amazing, right? I knew instinctively that of course we are amazing too. But so this, and then, so eventually the question became how, so I went from, how can they have this and we don't to the country as I'm growing up and researching because it stayed with me when I tell you I'm obsessed. I'm haunted. I am haunted. So you can laugh all you want, but it's, so the question became the question. The question became how come some countries like the United States, Singapore or rich and some others like mine and many others in Africa or poor. That became the question. And along the line, like along the road, I continued on living my life, wondering about this question. And I've heard all types of reasons as to supposedly why that might be the case. Some people with a very straight face are still peddling the IQ fury according to which, come on darling, it's not your fault. You know, your skin color goes with a gene sequence that just doesn't allow you to be as smart as white people are. And it's not your fault, but just accept it. That stuff is still out there. It's very real. I have to hear it. And others would say to me, oh, it's just because you know, you guys don't have adequate level of education. And I say, you know, maybe you got to go save that to most of the street sellers you go see in Senegal. You go up to any of these to many of these street sellers in Senegal. They are waiting through cars and moving cars under the hot sun. The fumes thrown at their face trying to sell you anything that you think you might be able to use. Whether we're talking about an ironing board to an umbrella, to Q-tips, to, you know, to fix selling you whatever you need from your car. These are street sellers. And you ask from deer. Do you have any degree? Yeah. I have a squated degree in math or in literature or whatever. Some very, very educated people. Yet they're right there. This is what they're doing. So that's just that scale wasted human potential. Thank you.


Resilience in the face of failure (37:28)

So that has to do the wasted human potential has to do now with the system with something about the laws, something about sort of the things that limit or enable the entrepreneur. Yes. Because at that point I've heard this. You know, I heard people say, "Yeah, your IQ is no good. Yeah, you're not, you don't have enough degrees or you're not educated." No, some people would even say, "It's because you guys are malnourished. You're malnourished. You need to be fed." Others. Well, maybe I give you some shoes and maybe something is going to change, whatever. And then, so I heard all of this nonsense, Lex. But guess what? I guess what? None of them made sense. Do you know why it didn't make sense? Because if any of that crap was true, why or why is it that my parents are any other people from these places? And oh, and by the way, some people call those places God forsaken land. That's also the type of criteria I always have to hear. And it's not just flat out, SHIT whole countries from, you know, one person a few years ago, president of this country. That sentiment is sometimes there. It is. It is. As I go on with my life, trying to find the answer to why are some countries like mine poor while others are rich, I'm hearing all of these reasons thrown at me. And then they make no sense. Because then how come then if my parents move as it is usually anyone else who moves from a poor nation to a nation that's supposed to be rich, all of a sudden they get to manifest the greatest potential. So I'm starting to think this has nothing to do with a person per se because we're talking about the same person, same backgrounds or maybe things, same name, features, everything. Now I'm starting to think maybe it doesn't have to do with a person. Maybe we're talking about something that has to do with a place that they came from or the place that they're going to. So this little thing is starting to be in my mind. Again, remember this is not something that I woke up to overnight. I'm like, well, ha, I got my quiet. It took me for a long time and I had to, I had to, to face off to have many different ideologies face each other. I had to really have a reckoning literally in my heart and in my mind. And so, so then that's what I'm thinking. It cannot be. It cannot. No, no, no. It's the same people. It has to be about the place. But then what about this place? But then even about the place you're thinking, again, two countries, different backgrounds, same outcome, same background, different outcome. What is this? And then I go on. I start, I am in Silicon Valley in the late 90s, early 2000s, that come boom, all of that. And I'm starting to discover this concept of this thing called entrepreneurship. You know, I'm in Silicon Valley and just getting to experience what seems so cliche by now, but you know, people on the getting together in the back of a napkin, talking about an idea, you know, bring it out and then they go out and they talk to some of these investors who's going to invest in it, then they have the lawyers who get to, you know, put all of this stuff together and then they have the big four CPA firms, this whole ecosystem of what they call entrepreneurship. And then eventually this concept of entrepreneurship being this idea of, you know, creating something out of nothing. So there I am. And at some point I become an entrepreneur myself. And the way I became an entrepreneur was not like, I woke up and I'm like, I want to make money. So I'm going to become an entrepreneur, you know, like, no. And this is also another problem I have with people who have a problem with entrepreneurs or business people. Most entrepreneurs do not start a business to become rich. Most entrepreneurs start a business because they have found identified a problem that bothered them enough that they said, enough is enough. I'm going to do something about it. What entrepreneurs are are people who criticize by creating. Do they always get it right? No. Another fact, the failure in entrepreneurship is humongous.


Embracing entrepreneurship (41:40)

It's it's it's coming hazy path to take the entrepreneurship path. We lose our spouses. My first husband passed away as soon as I was about to sign my first term sheet. And yet I had to keep going. What force can keep you going after you just loved, lost the love of your life? What force keeps you going? The force of, oh, I just want to be rich. Really? When your whole, your whole world is upside down, your whole world is upside down and you just want to quit. You just want to go meet him and join him in death. I stayed. Why? Because of the same reason why I started my company. I stayed because of the women whom I had put back to work by then. We're talking about some of the most vulnerable women in my country. These are women who grow the hibiscus, which we need to make the besap, which is the juice of Taranga. Remember, this is our national identity drink. And for the longest time, women grow the hibiscus that we use for the national drink, for the, the drink. And now that Coca-Cola, Pepsi or all that had made it through the marketing that it is more cool to drink those beverages, now there is no more market for the hibiscus. And with that goes the livelihoods of these women. And for me, that bothered me enough because in that force, I saw two things. One was a part of my culture. We're talking about, I mean, part of my cultural identity for Christ's sake, the juice of Taranga, you asked me what defines you. I said, Taranga, there's a juice for it. So my culture is disappearing. And at the same time, these women are sliding into abject poverty because what they used to make no one needs anymore. So that is what got me to start a company. And the company was created just because of that. I wanted to build a company that would allow me to not only preserve this very important aspect of my cultural identity and at the same time put these women back to work. And maybe it's more difficult to put into words, but there's a kind of, it's a basic human spirit where you see the place where you came from breaking apart in some kind of way and you have the entrepreneurial fire that dreams of helping. Yes. And that sometimes it's hard to convert that into words.


Slowest entrepreneurship thriving except you woke up and dreamt it (44:13)

You have to tell nice stories and so on, but it's the basic human desire to help. Yes. And especially when you've been creating. Especially when you've been, especially when, and let's face it, do we all, are we all a bundle of circumstances, some happy, some worse? Yes, we are. And oftentimes I ask myself, my God, why you? Why did you, why did you get to have the opportunities that you have? What makes you different from, let's say, even your cousin that couldn't, that is still home? Trapped. Because we call ourselves trapped citizens. When you're trapped in these countries that go nowhere, you're, you're, we're like a bunch of trapped citizens. So, so you see, Lex, when my husband passed away and I wanted nothing more to do than to quit and to send investors, I'd already said, we understand if you want to stop, whatever you decide to do, we'll do that. And I wanted to quit and I was actually on my way. I was in Senegal for a month, trying to really get a bearing over myself. And by the end of the month, I had decided I'm letting go. There is no way, the pain was too great. Nothing made sense anymore. It was too much. So I went to see these women and I talked to the one who, you know, we're talking back then. They were 400 of them, later on we grew to 9000. And I told the representative of all of them and I told her this is very, this very old lady. And just looking at her, I knew I was going through some pain, but this woman has probably gone through 10 times. Not that pain is, you know, like measurable, but you could tell this woman probably lost a child as oftentimes happened in places, you know, that are lower income countries. We lost a husband or so probably who knows. So many people lost this part of our lives. You can see the pain. You can see the pain. Yet she's so, so dignified. She's so dignified. And that already kind of made me like my God, stop crying. But and I told, and I told her that I was quitting. I could not look her in your eyes. And, and she said, look at me. I could not look her in your eyes. I said, look at me, child. And I looked at her and she said, you know, I know you're in pain, but where your husband is, where your beloved is, there's absolutely nothing that you can do for him. But for us, you can change everything. And I went back. So that's what entrepreneurs are at their best.


She helped you find your strength. Yes. And I was, I was weak still, but I said, you put that aside. There's a job to do here. And I went back and like I fought with everything that I had. And this company that I started in my kitchen became this company that had the who's who of the beverage world with at some point Roger and Riekel, the chairman of PepsiCo sitting on my, on my board. Yeah. I went back because of that. So the reason why I tell this story for me is important because I've, the world needs to understand that there are so, that there is a much more, there's a viable way of caring and of being part of a solution for the lesser fortunate in terms of not keeping them where they are and we're like the savior is coming and, you know, giving them food and all that. No, no, no, no. But it's like, just like the leg up I got in my life, give somebody else a leg up. What are the things you're fighting against in Africa when you try to build a business like that? So then we're building this company. And back then, this was in 2004, but it wasn't, I've built my first company. We had to have two sister companies, one there, one here. So the one in Africa was about the whole supply chain. And the one in America was, you know, research and development, sales and marketing, all of that good stuff. And then at some point I look around, I'm like, wait a second. Here back in the days before we had, you know, like they would talk, they would say, oh, we have this one stop shop for business registration. But the truth is very quickly you can set up an LLC in the US. We're talking about less than even then, less than, you know, today, it's super fast, 20 minutes online done. Back then it was, you know, less than a few hours to get it done. It costs you almost nothing. We're talking about a few hundred dollars, you know, three, two to three hundred fifty, depending which state you are. So LLC starting a basic company takes almost no time. No time, no time, no money, almost. You don't have to know a guy that knows a guy that slips some money to the politician and so on. No, none of that stuff, none of that stuff. And so at the same time, also things like, and this I can take you into today's day. Okay, Alex, I don't know if you have employees on payroll or anything like that. But do you have to go every month or anybody listening to us right now? Do they have to go every single month to three different type of agencies, you know, like governmental agencies to do one step? This one is basically you're going to go and give them your retirement money, like, you know, like the pension part of the salary that you took out from the employee. You have to go to this agency and put that application through. So you leave that money behind, then you go to another agency. This one is for the health, you know, care, whatever. You have three of those places where you have to literally go to in person, three times, three places every single month to drop off these, you know, these paperwork. Do you have to do that anywhere in the US? I mean, do you, do we have that situation anywhere that you know of right now? No. And do you think that's business friendly or do you think it's cumbersome and business? And that's not just cumbersome sort of physically, it's cumbersome psychologically, but there's a feeling like the system around you. Yeah, there's a feeling like you're trapped. It's a feeling like the system doesn't want you to succeed versus a system that doesn't want you to succeed. Exactly. You're in a country like we're in Texas. If you make less than a million bucks in revenues a year, you know, all you do, five minutes because it takes you, you're filing, you know, your, your franchise tax. That's it. It's below that number. Tell them what it is. Then you have nothing to give them or anything like that. You move on us. Even if I make this much, there is a minimum tax that you have to pay, which is a thousand dollars in Senegal right now. For the listener, McGowan was holding up a zero. You make no money. You stop to pay. You stop to pay. So, so. And then, oh, let me walk you through what happened to me when we had to try to get the electricity hooked up on our first office. So we go, they say, oh, first you have to apply, you know, like you normally, you have to apply. Then we apply, we pay the money.


Ability to Push Through Bureaucratic Barriers (52:08)

Remember again, here you have to also go. This was like, you know, you go to the office and you pay. And then we wait and we wait and we wait. And when I say we wait, I'm not talking about, we wait 24 hours, we wait 48 hours a month, two months, three months, four months, five months, you go, you send your assistant, she goes, she comes back. Well, they say we send it to wait. At some point, I'm like, I got to go there. So I go there. And I asked to speak to the head of the district for, you know, and I'm just like going on and on and on and on about how we've been delayed. This is going to be a problem. We have to produce everything is delayed and I'm, I'm, I'm just losing my business. We already presold some of these products to our customers. I got a something is to happen. So at some point, the gentleman looks at me, he's like, lady, look over there. I look over there. I see a pile of paper this high. We're talking about maybe hundreds of applications. Each one of them is a single single sheet. Each single sheet is an application for getting the electricity. And it says, do you see that? I said, yeah. And it's a look over there. I look over there to the other side. I see two meters. He's like, each of his applications needs one of those. How many do you see? I said two, then I knew I was in trouble. And then I said, what do I do? And he said, lady, it's not at all level. And I, I agreed with him. It was not on his level. But eventually, you know, by now you can tell that I pretty much get what I need because and at that point, what I did was not threaten him or anything like that. I didn't even pay a bribe or anything, but you could see why people pay bribes. Because when you have a pile like that, then the only way to advance your file and that by the way happens even at the passport office. You come, you apply for your passport, which is your right. They forced us to have passports. It's your right as a citizen. So have a passport. And even there, if you want yours to keep going through the process, you have to bribe somebody so he can go even the face it's supposed to go, let alone faster. So here, I'm thinking I have a problem. And at that point, I did what I do. I talk to him about all the things I was trying to do. I explained to him why I'm here, why I'm trying to do this. And even him said, lady, someone like you, you have no, you have no reason to even be here. You could be back in America, living your life, let me be the local. You don't have to be here. So that I think gained a lot of his respect. And I said, if you don't do, if you don't help me with this, I understand. I shouldn't be of a priority or anything like that. But I beg you, I beg of you. I need, I need for this to go on this week. And he said, okay, that's how I got my meter. One of the two meters became mine. So then he said, but we have a problem. And I said, what? He said, well, the truck, we need a, of a truck to be here to do it because, because of where you are from the pole, we need long cable lines to get it all done. But the truck is, I don't know, I don't know where the truck was because they had this one truck, so I don't know how many customers. So I go to the mayor of a town with whom I'm quite friends, but you see, I know people, but it shouldn't be this way.


Societal Issues And Corruption

How Mayors Help Us (55:15)

So I go to the mayor of a town and I said mayor, he happens to have the same name as me first, last name, same, but except he's the ugly one, I'm the pretty one because, you know, he's, you know, he's. That's so people can tell you apart.


Trucks Off of the Market (55:32)

She's. Exactly. I'm the pretty one and he's the, whatever. So I got to a mayor and I'm like, mayor, how did you help? You need to help me with this. He's like, now what? And I explained to him and he's like, okay, you can take the truck from the, from the city hall. I'll tell the guys that they can allow you to have it and then they come and then you guys can do this. And then we arrived there. Guess what? I thought I was done Lex, but I was not done because now the electricity company by the way, whom we paid everything was there. They've been sitting on the money for nine months by now. Well, we need a ladder long enough to, you know, like one of the super, super professional ladders that normally the electricity companies have the various was in some of the village and they didn't know if it was going to be back for another three days or four days. I said, are you kidding me? He's like, no. So I call mayor again. I'm second mayor, do you have a ladder and I explained any, and that's how I got my electricity hooked up. Otherwise, I probably would still be waiting.


Electricity Needs More Time (56:30)

So Lex, you add all of these things together. And also the fact that in my country, by the way, the label laws are so stringent. Basically, you are married to employees for good or for bad. And some people say, oh no, you're not married for good or for bad except that it will just cost you a lot of time and money to get rid of any of them. As a matter of a circumstances, do you think I really, an entrepreneur really need to hear something like that? You know, the head of the ILO, I had an argument with him at the UN and I said to him, listen, and you listen to me very well. The reason if you want to protect employees as you claim everything you're doing is to protect employees. A, you know better for human being than I am in terms of making sure that people are treated right and fairly. But last time I checked, Google for example, is not offering their employees chef cooked meals, super healthy, anything they want, feeding them for a morning till evening, having some babysitters or having childcare, childcare on site, all of these perks that come on top of really cozy salaries. It did not happen because you the ILO told them you have to do this. It happened because there are enough jobs created around that now you're in an employee's market and employers have to fall all over themselves to attract the best talent among us. That's how it's done and not with your nonsense that you're imposing me right now, which the only results you're going to get like in my country, do you know what we have to show for all of these, the fact that the Senegalese employees, the most protected employee on paper in the world? Well, we're one of the 25 poorest countries in the world. That's what it got us. So let's try to untangle this. So there's a system in place.


Corruption as a Symptom (58:28)

There's a momentum in that system. Like you said, ladies, it's not my level, which is for somebody who grew up in the Soviet Union, at least echoes some of the same sounds I heard from people I knew there. It's kind of this helpless feeling like, well, this is just part of the system, this gigantic bureaucracy. And the corruption that happens is just like the only way to get around, to get anything done. So the corruption grows. Maybe could you speak to the corruption? To what degree is there corruption in Senegal and Africa? And how do we fix it? So when you said to which degree is there corruption, I will respond to you the same I respond to people. I say, yeah, we have corruption. And it's almost as bad as in Chicago, right? So now what I want people to understand when it comes to corruption, it's because we are misguided with corruption. If in corruption is the root cause of problems, when corruption is simply a symptom of the deeper root problem, in this case, if you make the laws so senseless, meaning let me give you an example of senseless laws, every time I have to import something in my country, I have a business, we're making bombs in this case and others, skincare products. Some ingredients I'm able to find in the country at the standard that I need in order to remain competitive. Because for example, our products are sold off its market, you can understand it's a pretty sophisticated and really, you know, they don't just put anybody on the shelves.


Corruption (01:00:17)

But the thing is, it means that on the other hand, my inputs has to be right. So out of those, some, we have seven ingredients, seven items that need to come from abroad to go into the making of this product, some packaging and some raw material. But guess what? Like for five of them, I am paying a 40% tariff and for the other two, almost 70% tariff. That I call senseless laws. These tariffs are senseless. The corruption is just a symptom. They reveal that something was broken about the laws. And the laws are so taxation, this kind of restricting laws, laws that slow down the entrepreneurial momentum. They do, they do. Because in this case, when my product comes, what do people have to do? Because every time, if you add 40%, you're basically on the other hand. So every time you add, if let's say my product normally cost a dollar and with your 40%, by the time I'm done, I had to pay, I had, now it's costing me 140. By the time it arrives in my warehouse, in my manufacturing facility, it's now at 140 because of a tariff I left behind. That 40% you added to it, do you know how much it's going to add to my final cost? But once the product is finished, I have to sell it to the customer. I have to sell it for $1.60 more because of that 40 cents extra you took from me. In order for me at the end of the day, to have some type of profits because profits at the end of the day is the blood of a business. There are two people on misguided. They say, "Oh, you dirty, greedy business people." And it's all about profit, profit, profit, profit. You know, I belong to this organization called, I'm a board member on the Conscious Capitalism. It is the largest organization of purpose-driven businesses and entrepreneurs. The type of proposal you're about, we start our businesses because we see something that needs to be taken care of in society. Whole Food Market is one of them, the Container Store, you know, all of these companies that are beloved in the US that you can hear of. We believe that the end goal of business is purpose. And in order to do purpose, you have to have profits to stay alive. And the best way for people to think of profits so that they not all twisted about it, Lex, if I ask you, what's your goal in the world? You're probably going to tell me your dream.


Corruption (03:19:32)

And around that time, it's also when I was discovering a lot of what we talked about today about what makes the country rich. And for me to understand that my network, I was very much into left oriented network. And to just start to see all of this, I tried to address it to realize that many of these people would prefer go running for the hills than except for a moment that maybe capitalism might be part of a solution when many of them were involved in capitalism. So that was a hard time. At some point I was, yeah, so many things were happening around that time that basically shook up everything for me. And it's hard to talk about because it's very personal in the person that I was having a problem with, passed away last year. And I'm wanting to always say, leave a dead alone. So because of that, I won't speak about it. But there too, having a major fallout with somebody who was like a fab figure for me, somebody that I completely trusted. And so at some point you just ask yourself, was my whole life built on a lie? Right? And then you're confused and then you become confused. And then at some point you lose 90% of your friends because of ideologically speaking, it doesn't work anymore. Then you just wonder, have I been asleep this whole time? And then you start to wonder, remember when you asked me, who am I? At some point, Lex, I literally was like a candle in the wind. I felt like I was a candle in the wind. And it was very hard to come back from that. And people have a hard, the few people I talked to about this, they have a hardest time understanding or even believing it because they're like, you, I'm like, yes, me. I used to be a candle in the wind. What got you out? What made you overcome that? My current husband, my current husband. Love. Love. See, when I tell you, love is the answer. But him, he came with love, but he also came with really helping me figure out the world. So what Michael, because that's him who we're talking about, Michael Strong. That must be special. He's so special. He's so special. So you have no idea how special it is. But you know, Michael, the reason why I have such love, respect and admiration for my husband, I'll never say it enough, is because actually it's one of those relationships that got built based on intellect first. You see, at some point, I was in the position where I could start a foundation after having built my first business. And all I wanted was an ability to power as many, especially women, African women, entrepreneurs, like me a few years ago, before then, to do something like I was able to do. Bring back to the world some really cool aspects of our culture built into a really cool brand, 21st century type. That's what I wanted to do. The more I could promote women like that and put steam behind them, and the more my dream envisioned for respected Africa, prosperous Africa would happen. Back then, that's what I wanted. And around me, this was also part of the whole crisis of ideologies I had back then. Everybody was like, "Well, we should be just doing grants." And I knew that I, my people didn't need grants. They didn't need like a handout. They don't want your charity. I didn't want charity. I wanted someone who could work with me on my accounting. I wanted somebody who could help me brainstorm marketing-wise. I wanted somebody, or I needed to raise money to pay my research and development guy to help me take the juices from my grandma's recipe to something that can be shelf stable. I, if you're going to, I needed coaching. These are all the things that I needed to make my dream happen. I didn't want you to give me some crap for free. That's not what I want. I just want to be able to build my business with all the things that business building needs. And so, that's what I wanted to do, and it's what it was needed. And so, Michael, somebody found out about what I was doing because back in the days of Moscow, they would write a lot about me and everything. So Michael, along with John Mackie, the founder of Whole Foods Market, they had a nonprofit called Flow, and it's all about human flourishing. They want for people everybody to get this choice, this ability to be able to get to a point in their life where they're in complete flow. It's, Michael, just make high. Michael is the only one who could say that last time. But the whole concept of Flow, when you're in a state of Flow, you're basically doing what you're supposed to do, the way you're supposed to do it with the people who are supposed to do this whole concept of Flow. It's a made-inspirational version of that desire.


Positive Psychopaths (01:03:08)

You're going to talk to me about what you're doing right now and how you want to be uniting, you want a more harmonious world, you want human flourishing. That's what you're working towards. That's what you say to me. You're not going to say, well, my biggest goal in the world is to produce as many red blood cells as I can. Except you need to produce those otherwise no Lex. And if no Lex, no one working. You know what I mean? So that's how people need to stop with this whole profit non-profit. Do we have some psychopaths among us? Yeah, one person of us in this world of psychopaths in every field, anywhere you look. And surely you find that in the entrepreneurs world as well. Yeah, so we have one person of us who are psychopaths for sure. But do they define the rest of us? Absolutely not. And thankfully not. So let's just be clear on that. So here, you know, my, you charge me 40% tariff, which is outrageous. Then you're forcing me to sell it for $1.60 more than my competitor who does not have to go through that nonsense because she's an American woman who is operating in America and she doesn't have that nonsense put on her. So now on this market competing against this woman, I to I, so if we're selling the same value product, mine costs $1.60 more simply because of some stupid rules from back home, then guess who is going to stay in business and who doesn't? See, they want to talk about equality. That's the type of equality I want to see. The playing level, the playing field has to be leveled. I told you English is a full language. Two people talking. You know, maybe we'll have this English thing figured out. We'll have it figured out. So the idea of capitalism, the idea of conscious capitalism is the thing that in large part enables this level playing field. That's what we want. So, so what you're trying to say. So here, so when I talked about census laws, that's an example. So when you make when you make the tariffs so high that you're going to render me, you know, uncompetitive, then that's where for people who make make sense. When the product arrives at port, they say, Hey, I give you this. What I give you, maybe it's 10% of the price or 5%. It's surely not 40%. But you are happy with it. You're the government official. That's what we call a bribe. And me, I'm like, Hey, I saved myself money. And also I saved myself time. But you see, if the laws where you pay 5%, or even the 10% that I just left behind or nothing, you come, you paid, you move on, because who has a business of fooling around and staying behind? And no, you do that when it's actually makes sense to do that. So I'm not sitting here telling people I engage in unlawful practices, in my case, because I'm around saying the things I'm saying right now. So I'm a target. You have to do things cleanly. And I believe in doing things that way.


Personal Views And Entrepreneurial Spirit

Why I want to leave Senegal (01:06:03)

So what I had to do was go to the ask again mayor. We have a problem. Mayors, whenever he sees me, he's like, Now what? So I'm like, we've got a problem. You press now. So I say, Now it's the customs. And it's like, What do you want me to do? I said, Do you know anybody at customs? I need a higher up at customs because I got to explain to them what's going on here. They all know, of course, but I think they're not always maybe understanding or maybe they understand. And in this case, he understood. So we went and he's like, Yeah, I know this is not this is not very, this. And I said, What do we do now? And I saw him going through binders and binders on in his office, because he's going to try to go and look where in the law can we find something that can help me escape these rules. And you know, the best he found Lex was, Oh, well, here, see this one, if you've been in business for two years, then we can allow you, there is a special term for this, which French is technical, we can allow you to bring your raw material. But you have to tell us exactly how much you're bringing. And it has to match your formulation, because you know, they don't want you to bring in more that we need and maybe sell some of that to the rest of the market and they didn't make their money on it. So there it means I have to give a my recipe. Some Coca Cola being asked to give their secret sauce to government officials in a country that you can't even know what might happen, let alone even in business, you don't do that. I mean, trade secrets and trade secrets. But here you ask to be putting it in front of some people, you don't know where it's going to go after that, because wherever they get to see, okay, her recipe calls for X amount of of of Candida works, X amount of coconut, coconut oil. Okay, and on top of that, we have to think about how much damage might be or not, because again, we don't want her to to to to buffer the other there. So you have to get naked in front of them in terms of your recipe, which might end up only God knows where tomorrow, maybe competitive competition or maybe even them. They started business and they compete with you because we've seen that. So you have to do that. And then each time file out a paperwork, get the approval, then it can come in. So when it can come in, you don't have to pay that tax. Oh, and by the way, you only have you have one year one year to make this product and get it out. And all of it needs to be back out because if it's any of its days here, you're going to pay the taxes that we held up. So you're basically forced by these. Yes. Senses laws to be dishonest. If you want to succeed. All of this was so it's so cumbersome because each it means more paperwork, paperwork everywhere, maybe having to disclose your thing. So me in my case, what I did is, you know, this person said, okay, we're going to see how we can how we can work with you. But for the first two years, we were more or less in the gray area. Yeah. So even gray area is good. Yeah. But but but what does it mean in a situation like that? Whenever they want to mess with you, it means they can come and they will look and they will find something. So it means that every day I'm trying to do business, I'm running the risk of being harassed and or maybe even put in jail, depending on what it is. I mean, you're an incredible person because it seems like there's two ways to change this. Become president or gain power in the country and to try to change the laws, which seems really difficult to do. And the other way is fight through the laws and create the business anyway, build the business community and through that method create a huge amount of pressure to change your laws.


By culture (01:09:45)

You're totally getting it by with your last part because this is the other thing. And this is where I get so upset sometimes with my fellow Africans because they get so disgusted by what they're seeing, right? And they think the answer is to go for politics. Let's go be president. Let's go be this. Let's go be that and we're going to change everything. I see that in the US too. People thinking that presidents have all this power. Do you know who was the least power in government? The president. I mean, people don't get that. Your best bet if you're going to a system going into politics stick to the local level. That's where all the skeletons are buried and hidden. That's where you can make the most impact.


Practicing & Preaching (01:10:30)

Local level. I know it's not shiny. I know it's not exciting, but that's where it's at. So if you must go into politics, but there's another way. So in my case, what I do is two things. I preach and I practice. I preach when I'm here talking to about this, I'm preaching. I am sharing with people that is which I found. And by the way, the answer was there. I was doing these two businesses, realizing the difference in treatment of the doing business environment of the US compared to the doing business environment of Senegal. And at first, I was like, of course, us, everything is messed up. It's because we're poor country. But when I started to put two and two together, I'm like, you're poor because you have no money, at least not enough money to take care of your basic needs. You have no money because you have no source of income. Where does a source of income come from? For most of us. It comes from a job, doesn't it? And some people sometimes at my UC Berkeley class, they say, oh, no, it comes from government too. I'm like, I would like to think that even if you work for government, you're going to be paid something, right? And they're like, yeah. And then even before I can say something, they're like, oh, yeah, because that money we use to pay our public officials comes from taxes, you know, employers, employees, we go back to the private sector for most of it from where this whole thing is created. So it's clear. You're poor because I have no money, no money because no source of income, source of income for most of us is a job. We're talking about, so where do jobs come from? The private sector, primarily small and medium size enterprises, then don't you think that we should make it easy, that we should have friendly doing business environment. And also a lot of it comes not just in the small and medium size businesses, but I think a lot of the value is created from new ones being launched. It's not just like me saving somehow through regulation, the ones that are already there. No, no. It's like letting the market, letting the new better ideas flourish. Yes, it's about what I mean by doing business environment is all the things that you and I talked about earlier. Even the access of electricity is part of doing business. We're doing business. So basically when I've discovered all of that, when I put all of those dots together, then I'm like, well, I guess the business and it makes sense. Like, if you want to grow tomatoes, you're going to have to have two things. One is a good seed, right? It has good attributes. And then you're going to have to have a good environment for it. Is the soil the right one? What's your pH level? All of those good nutrients that you're going to put in it? Is it in a place that has tons of sun? How much sun exposure or not? The climate in general, is it going to be cold, not not? You can't have some beautiful tomatoes in the middle of Siberia last time I checked. So same thing here. The No-Mohamed Eunice, the noble laureate for peace said, poor people are bonsai people. They're the same people. If you put them in the normal natural, friendly habitat, where they can thrive, they become the tallest tree in the forest. Poor people are bonsai people. So you see that tiny pot you put around the bonsai tree? That's the tiny pot that you created by giving me such a hostile business environment. That basically we're put together by the set of laws that you have put. That basically I have to jump through as a business person, practicing business in my country. If you turn that environment into a friendly environment where I am not married to my employees, I have flexibility of the labor laws are simple, straightforward, clean, where the tax code is very simple. It's not worth truckloads of laws like in my country. It's so complicated. You have to hire a CPA, which costs more money. And even them tell them, "Girl, we're going to make some mistakes. They don't talk to me like that. They don't have any go up. They shouldn't. They better not." But they say, "Whatever they say, they're secure." I'm scared. But bottom line is we're going to make mistakes. Visiting is so complicated, we're going to make mistakes. Which means my ass is on the line. Anyway, if the tax code was so simple, straightforward, like it is maybe in Texas where up till a threshold you owe me nothing, go online, five minutes, fill out your taxes, you're compliant, keep building your business because that's what we need from you. If you made it so easy and straightforward, then you know what?


What is an entrepreneur? (01:15:15)

That's when you get all of these people. Like, what you're talking about saying, "You know what? My name is Aminata and I live in the middle of nowhere Senegal. But you know what? I've got this great idea for this really hot, nice hot sauce. But I know the Americans are going to love them. Hearing that hot sauce is a big thing. Let me bring it to them. But everything is there for you to jump into the ring of entrepreneurship. You don't have to know someone like my God. You don't have to even have the ability to sell yourself maybe like I can sometimes. You are someone with a great idea. You're willing to work hard for it and pour everything you got into it. Guess what? It's there. You can get into the race. You can be a dreamer and you can be a dreamer in a rural little village and then that has ripple effects throughout the entire country, young kids growing up. I want to be the next ex, whatever. And it doesn't have to be the next Steve Jobs. That seems really far, far away. It's at all levels. You create local heroes because representation matters. Yes. Right? And we are so badly in need of that. So that's what all the things that have been stolen from us as long as things remain the same. So once I found out that basically at the end of the day, the answer is economic freedom and that when it comes to that, the indexes, economic indexes that measure that, whether it's the dream business index ranking of the World Bank or the Frazier Economic Freedom Index of the Heritage Foundation, when you look at all of those indexes and others, what do they have in common? One after another, they show you that it is harder to do business in almost anywhere in Sub-Saharan Africa than it is, per se, anywhere in Scandinavia. So it is telling you that Scandinavian nations, that socialist Americans tend to love so much and take as an example over there too, they're showing you that they don't understand what's going on really in Scandinavia, that Scandinavia is more capitalist. Scandinavian nations are more capitalist than almost any Sub-Saharan African nations. Ultimately, the political systems actually don't even matter nearly as much as the private sector being able to operate the machinery of capitalism. There you go. There you go. There you go. And it's almost like, like I said, it's almost like its own little widget within it. You can have whatever type of society you want to exercise at whatever level you want to. But if you're serious about becoming a middle to high-income nation, there is no other pathway that we know of at this point. And you know what made me super excited about that, beyond having finally found my answer. I have to tell you, when I found that answer, I literally fell to my knees. It was the type of feeling that, you know, if something is not well with you, whether it's physical or mental, something is not well, you're not well. And you go around and you go to the so-called specialist, some of them, you know, but you're going around for years going around trying to get help for your ailment. And here they don't know. Here they tell you things that you can't tell why, but you just know it's not true. There's there that and it's going on for years after year after year. And finally you meet this one person and boom, it's there. Not only the liberation, but also this whole new world that comes with it. You know, I'm still ill, but guess what? There's a path forward. We know that. I'm going to have a lot of work to do.


Become Your Own Beacon (01:19:18)

There's hope. And you're the beacon of hope actually for a lot of people in that part of the world. And those beacons are actually really necessary. So not only is there hope, but you can become, I mean, the beacon for your people, your home, this power that you see, that you feel all around to become, to escape the feeling of being trapped. Is there a device you can give to people that, to young girls and boys dreaming somewhere in Africa of how to change the world? That's right. And by the way, I want to say there are bigger beacons, there are better beacons than me. I just happen to be someone who has the chance of talking to you right now. And one of my goals is to open the same doors that were open for me because together our voice, there's such amazing stories out there. And so bigger beacons, better beacons out there. One thing here for me, the reason why I do what I'm doing right now, and it's almost to the point of self-destructing my own health, I feel invested with such the mission of I have been afforded the truth. So it is my moral duty to try to take it around. I know I sound, people sometimes say, "Well, I listen to you, I feel like I'm talking to a priest." And I'm like, "Because the gospel, I receive the gospel." So anyway, but the thing is Lex, who tells you these things to this day when they talk about the poverty of Africa? What do they talk about? They sit in there telling you, "Oh, yes, because of colonialism, it's because of racism, it's because of imperialism, it's because they're stealing raw material, blah, blah, blah." Is any of those guilty to some level of where we are today, maybe part of the reason where we are today, maybe, maybe is that the only reason or the overwhelming reasons? No, is that unceasingable? Absolutely not. So for me, don't stay in that place of that steals and rubs you of your agency. So, I think it's important for people to, A, get the right diagnosis as to why we are where we are, because what you and I just talked about, the mainstream does not talk about this when they even talk about Africa in terms of, you know, not the usual suspect of, "Oh, a famine is building over there, wars building over here. Oh, we're having Ebola is coming." All of that stuff, even when they were talking about the monkey pucks, which at first, you know, in this wave, it started with white people in Europe. Well, even in the many newspapers you pull out, it's black people with monkey pucks on their skin. I'm like, "Wait a second. This time around, it did not start with us. So why are you always showing us when it's right now happening to white people?" You know? So, all of that is happening. So for me, the thing is, we, the world, simply right now, does not have the right diagnosis as to why this continent right now, despite all of its riches, because Lord knows it's got riches starting with its young population. 75% of the population in my country is below the age of 25 years old. So when we're talking, I know we're talking about, you know, repopulation, you know, is important. We're going to have to go for that. Maybe you'll get me going about climate change. I don't know. But anyway, so here, my point is, A, we need the right diagnosis as to why this continent is the poorest continent in the world, despite its riches starting with its young people, all the natural resources, diversity in land, people, cultures, languages, everything that make for great ingredients for awesomeness. Despite all of that, we are the poorest region in the world. People need to know that the reason why that is, it's because we also happen to be the most over-regulated region in the world. At the end of the day, what Africa, and I dare to say Africa here, and treat it as one, we are 54 countries, 55 depending on how you count, yet we almost for a tiny minority of these countries, we almost all lack one of the most crucial freedoms that they are. If you are serious about prosperity building, we lack economic freedom. And economic freedom is the thing that unlocks that human potential of the young people. Yes. For them to run, to run with their ideas, to start businesses, or to start initiative. It doesn't have to be for profit all the time, right? But it is this thing that gets you to get up and go and do something criticized by creating young people are naturally wired to want to criticize by creating. They are not sitting around waiting or complaining usually, unless you put them in a tiny box and they have no other way to go. And in this situation, what they do, let's talk about pre-colonial Africa, of four favors, before slavery ever happened. There were black people on the continent. You see, when we talk about the story of black people and African, you know, black people in Africa, for most of us, even me, I noticed that, unconsciously, it started to be a false-wish slavery. But you're like, no, we were there before. But for what men ever said, "Who are we?


The Economic Freedoms (01:24:51)

What were we doing in our diversity? What economic systems were we running on?" And then you realize that for most of them, they were free marketeers and they were very much on the free trade, on the free enterprise side. So even that is a reinforcement. This is a place where we do not understand our history. So proper diagnosis, Africa is a poorest region in the world because it happens to be the most over-regulated region in the world lacks economic freedom. Number two, what do we do about that? We got to become serious about reforms, economic reforms, so that we can become beacons of free markets. Just like the Asian Tigers, that's what the Asian Tigers did. They had to become serious, Singapore, Taiwan, you know, South Korea, those guys had to become serious about the free markets. Lee Kwong-woo, you know, when he's just like, "We got to do something," and he looked around and he realized at some point, "We got to make these reforms." And he went on to that journey of reforms, making his country one of the most free market, you know, countries in the world, and voila, the magic happened. Back in the '30s, the stock market crashed and the Great Depression and everything, the world's, and we've all the lies that were told to the world coming from the Soviet Union, Stalin, while they were starving and dying over there, but, oh, no, you know, I mean, the Durante was telling the world that, "Oh, no, no, everything is going well. Nobody's dying when we know now and getting put into prices based on this stuff." But then the world went on believing that, oh, no, capitalism failed. This is this, you know, crash that you had in the stock market is proof this is what Lee's stage capitalism produces. You guys always have your big ups and downs, but that time it was so hard on people that they're like, "We're done with this." And at the same time, we were told the lies coming out of the Soviet Union that supposedly the communism was doing just fine. And you had the point where the free market concept almost died, and it's, you know, the Asian tigers who kind of helped, you know, bring that idea back to life, right? Their success having used the free markets. And so for me, we got to have, we got to make a new commitment to the free markets on this continent if we want to go anywhere, if we want to go anywhere. And the timing is perfect because the young people, there's a, there is a kind of freedom for the revolutionary free markets in this whole space. Exactly. And you said something, oh, say that again, because I want to tell you what I'm hearing in that because something's really cool. Say it again. Come on, Lex. I don't know which part English is my second one. No, you said you said there's something revolutionary in that because you know how young people are attached to the revolution and how, you know, I understand, look, look, Lex, I understand when I am willing to give the benefits of the doubt to some of these socialists who cut, who came to it because they had to witness some of the horrors of, you know, of their times, you know, there's a revolution behind that. It's ultimately, yeah, criticized by crazy.


Freedom And Empowerment

Violence (01:27:48)

Exactly. Exactly. But violent revolution is never the answer. But that's what they went for in 1789 in France, you know, the French Revolution and you know, Marx and Engels, you know, they're promoting these ideas that usually for them justifies violent revolution, then in all of these people, the I am with them when they say that they want to see equal rights for people. Of course, I don't agree with their therefore we need to push for equal outcomes. Equal rights is right, but equal outcomes is not right. So but I am with them for all the way to equal rights, but this is where the two paths go this way and also they're, they're, they're none of the fact that they have no issue with violent revolution. People get killed, you know, people get put in gulags and people get, that's not right.


Process of Economic Freedom (01:28:57)

So what you just said here, just give me goosebumps because there is revolution in the free markets, but that's the type of revolution we want. The revolution that comes from people creating, criticizing by creating, it's one of the best forms of revolution. If you ask me, that's the most sexy way of revolution, criticized by creating. But what, you're going to go shoot people or be like, what's his name? The Che Guevara, who tells you, I love it's in writing. I love nothing more than to fry this, the brain of a man with his gun, really? Well, in terms of sexy, there is power in that message of the oppressor, the abuser, the enemy that has abused their power, they need to be destroyed. And there's power in that, in the message of that violence. Unfortunately, the lessons of history show that the violence, one doesn't work, but it does, it does the following. There is something about human nature as the old cliché goes that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely is the people who are in charge of committing that violence. It does something to their head, the first person you kill, the second person you kill. For some reason, you lose your ability, the compassion for other humans. Even if you began as a revolutionary, as the Soviets did, fighting for the worker, for the rights and the basic humanity of the people that really do the work, you lose the plot somehow because of the violence. So in that way, it seems like the lesson, at least of this part of the human history, until the robust takeover, is that the economic freedom free markets and protecting those and allowing anyone from your country to dream and to make that dream a reality by creating it with as few sort of roadblocks as possible. Exactly. So that's why for me, the message is very clear is what we talked about today. The reason why Africa is the first region of the world is because it happens to be the most over-regulated region in the world. And for some people who might be put off by it because they're like, "Oh, just fucking let's say fair!" No. Let me put it maybe in a way that you can understand. Do you think that it should be as easy for any person in Africa, for any entrepreneur in the enterprise, than it is for any person in Scandinavia to enter price? If your answer is yes, which I would hope it is, then you have a moral obligation to work with me to make my country and as a whole my continent more free markets. It's that simple. At that point, there's no like, "Yes, but on the other hand, no." And for me, on that question, and I yet have to find somebody who claims to say no. If you say, "No, then we have a whole other problem." I'm not even talking to it but point anymore. So, yes. So it's just to clarify, you know, there's a perception in some reality that the Scandinavian countries have elements of socialism and their politics and their society even in their economics. So at the very least, Africa should have, in terms of economic indices, should be as free as the Scandinavian countries. You're just giving that example. So, economically free, yes, because the Scandinavian, they do have a subsidized, you know, like welfare system that's what a more socialized welfare system, but the way they make their money is very much the way of the free markets. So there is how you make your money and then there's how you maybe decide as a country to redistribute it, right? And so even there, even in Scandinavia, again, yes, they have more economic freedom. So then from there, like where we go is, my job and my goal is for every single African, young and old, to know what I have come to learn. We are not doomed. It's not over for us. We will never catch up. The time for catch up is gone. But guess what? We've got a strong, strong possibility and chance to leapfrog. And leapfrog we will.


Stifle Entrepreneurs (01:33:33)

It is still time. But for that to happen, like I said, we need to know what we just talked about today because that is not what the mainstream keeps us abreast with. When you go to the World Bank, they don't necessarily work along these lines. They're still it's not when you go to universities. I will ask you, MIT, the MIT econ department or even some of most of the professors, are they free market oriented? We find that oftentimes in academia, there is a strong anti-captos bias, there is a strong anti-free market bias. So this is a problem. This is a problem. Nobody cares about the economists anyway.


Separate Continental Experience (01:34:12)

So we move forward in MIT, the spirit of the entrepreneur burns bright, not in the economics department because they just write op-ed articles, but in the dreamers, the young undergrads that actually build something. No, I get that. But then we cannot be stifling their efforts by putting these artificially made regulations and laws that stand in the way and clip their wings. So that's why when you were saying what advice do you give to them? The advice I give to them is each one of them, they have to pay attention to this discourse we just had. I don't ask anybody to agree with me on face value. Go back, do like I had to do. I come very much from the left to the left if you can believe that. But I had to have my own intellectual journey. And in this case, my intellectual journey was very much complemented by my own life, starting to build these companies on two separate continents and having to, I had front row seat of the differences. At first, I thought it was this way just because we're poor and therefore we messed up and therefore it's like this. But eventually I learned that no, we're poor because we lack economic freedom and if the country allows its citizens the economic freedom to enterprise, then they become rich. So yeah, I had it upside down, you see. And so it's important for people to know that. So number one, know your facts. Because your facts will empower you. In this case, I like to use that word. Facts will empower and they will even furthermore, they will power you and power and power you because empower is like inside and power is like a push you forward and up. So that's what it does to know the facts. And then go on and look around you. Where are the best practices of this? Who is it? The cutting edge of a free market. We're starting a way where people don't necessarily be left behind or anything like that. We're in 2022 for Christ's sake. We don't have to do entrepreneurship the same way maybe was done 50 years ago, 100 years ago when as a community, as a people, we were maybe less enlightened because of our times. We can update this thing and move forward. But update is definitely not build back, build back, what do they call it? Build back new or whatever they're calling it, the WF? Whatever nonsense and stop their smoking over there, it's not that. There are some principles that are universal and that stand the test of time.


Empowerment (01:36:42)

Those we have to keep and on top add the new things we learned from our times and from life. So that's what I want them to know. Learn new facts, be empowered and powered. And then look around, think about and look to see where the best practices are around the world because the world is yours. You might be African, but the world is yours. So stop this nonsense of, oh well, it's done by white people, so we're not going to do it. Get the best that exists in humanity for what you're trying to solve. And on top of that, put your own twist, right? Bitcoin is all of ours to take. Bitcoin is not the white man's thing. So therefore, oh, come on, you know, because, you know, we have a misguided pride. We're not going to use Bitcoin because it's white man's stuff. Bitcoin is Matthew, it is. And the graph is universal, so it belongs to all of us. There's no color.


Emergent Order (01:37:35)

Exactly. In the space of economics, in the space of ideas, and there's a chance to leapfrog too, which is really, really powerful. Exactly. Because here we will leapfrog and Lex, I'm not crazy. This is going to happen. You mark my words, but it's going to happen if as many people hear what we're talking about today, because at some point, the solution is not going to come. It's not me. It's not. It's going to come from the wisdom of a crowd. This is why I love the crowd. There's no better wisdom than the crowd. And that's also why I believe in the free markets. This concept of emergent order. There's no way. There's no central planning that is smart enough, that has the level of intel that street level people have, trying to create something. It's just we just have to be humble. There's something at the bottom of a pyramid that just bubbles up and happens. They're the best. I think the cynicism, the idea that people are dumb, is at the core of a lot of things that prevent the flourishing of society. This kind of anecdotally people are like, "Ah, everyone is stupid." And people say that jokingly. But the reality is people are incredible. They have the capacity for kindness, for love, for innovation, for brilliance in all kinds of dimensions. You might suck a math, but you might be amazing at carpentry. You have to find that thing. And there's something about, when there's freedom to find that thing, and people interact, they get excited about shit together, and then they build. If you look at authoritarian places that limit that freedom, at the core, I think, is the idea that people are dumb. Let us take care of everything.


Cultural Identity And Diversity

Pure Authoritarianism (01:39:22)

We'll come up with the rules and the regulations because people are too dumb to manage things themselves. And then that idea builds on top of itself where you think that the entire populace is much lesser than the wise sages sitting at the top. Then you add violence at the top of that, and that leads to corruption, to corrupting with just the human mind of the leaders. And the whole thing becomes a giant mess. The antidote to that is economic freedom. People have a freedom to enterprise. When we allow for that to happen, have you looked around lately and look at the level of niche that has happened in this country? You have clubs where you have places where people are into guitar strings, like some of them. It's all about guitar strings. And others, it's all about this best cupcakes. And others, it's all about this new crypto thing over here. And others like hair, best, you know, weight. When you allow us, because seven billion geniuses, each one of us, I believe, came to this world with something, something that only he or her possesses.


Your Identity (01:40:36)

And that is the genius, and it is their contribution to the human problem. When you think about your identity today, so it all started in Africa, just like it did for the entirety of the human species, there's a bit of European flavor in there, a little French, Silicon Valley, you're now in part a Texan. There's, you really are an American, but you're also an African. Who are you? When you look at a man, when you think about yourself, when you listen, when everything gets quiet and you listen to your heart, who are you? Can you figure out that puzzle? That's a very interesting question, because it's been a long time I haven't asked myself. I have before. What I have found is, I think who I am today has been for sure shaped by, I call it Dakar Paris San Francisco, Dakar is Senegal, Paris, France, and San Francisco primarily. And now, yeah, I think I might want to ask you a little bit of Texan in there. How do you say Texas and French? Success. Success. So, Austin, Texas, Austin, Texas, Austin, Texas. Not quite as good as Austin, Texas. Yeah.


Reverence (01:42:18)

Yeah. Yeah. Us. Texas. Yeah. So, you, I was formed by those three. I have to say that what I enjoy from my sonigalese roots are our commitment to peace, love, and tolerance very much. And Teranga, obviously. And I like that it's a culture that's very much about reverence. We're big on reverence. I don't think you could ever hear me tell an older person, especially not my parents or my grandma or anybody like that, for us to be able to tell an older person that's not true or you're lying, who would never cross my mind. Because that's the most disrespectful thing you can think of, the most irreverent thing you can think of. It doesn't mean that you have to agree with everything that said, but there's a way to disagree. There's a way to push back that doesn't have to rob this person who happens to be older than you especially from their dignity, from their dignity that older age normally provides. And there's wisdom to their words that you yourself may not see. So the reverence is for the idea of wisdom of tradition. Exactly. Exactly. And again, so that is something that I really enjoy, especially in something I'm very attached to to this day. And then from France, what I had to, what I really came to enjoy, of course, is all the fineness that one can find within French culture. The fineness? Yeah, the fineness. Foods? I mean, you mean the intricacies, like the very stuff. There's stuff sophistication in there. I mean, French lingerie, for example. I mean, don't tell the laces, all of that. Super, it's exquisite.


French & Senegalese cuisine & art (01:44:22)

So the fashion, the food. Fashion, the food. I mean, there's something to be said about all of that. And it's very beautiful. And I love also, even when I talk about fineness, it's like a meal is not about this big thing they put in front of you. Yeah. But you know, smaller portions, enjoy what you're eating and spend time at the table. Like the eating time is not necessarily just this function of feeding yourself, which I understand it. But for, this is something that they share with, with Senegalese culture is eating is a moment of communion. It's a moment of friendship, family. It's a precious moment. To this day, and my husband is American, we eat our meals together all the time. I would not have it any other way. And there's a prep time, all of that stuff. It doesn't matter how busy I am, but we're doing it. Actually, to push back a little bit, it's interesting because the camaraderie over a meal is a beautiful thing. I got, I mean, I was in a pretty dark place because on the way to Ukraine, I traveled to Paris and I stayed in Paris and I wasn't able to enjoy the fineness. Because it was almost a distraction from the humanity for some reason to me because there's such a focus on the art of it all that you lose the basic connection to humanity. Now that said, that's what you're talking about.


The ethnicity structure in France & spanish (01:45:42)

I think some of the lack of connection over humanity was the fact that while I did know how to speak French for a long time, I forgot most of the language. And so part of it, there is a barrier. You said hospitality, there is a bit of a barrier in French culture to where in order to be welcomed in, you have to hear the music and be able to play the music of the people. And if you don't, there's a bit of a barrier. I must admit on that, and that it is true, you would feel less that if you were with a group of Cinegorees people per se, or I would even say for a group of Spanish people, and I think this is maybe the other side of it for the French people, they can be a little bit, you know, up there. And I think maybe that's what you're sensing there. If you don't have the codes, which is what you call them, you don't sing the music, then it's hard for you to be part of it. But I was speaking here from the standpoint of you're in. Yeah, from the inside. Yeah. Also, come on, coming from Texas and also Ukraine, Ukraine, I should say some of the best steak and meat I've ever had. Cheap Texas, some of the greatest meat in the size of the meals in France. It's like, what are we doing here? I mean, I get it's art. I like to look at my art on the wall. No, okay. And then eat my damn steak.


Food in Ukraine (01:47:16)

Did you go? So maybe, okay, no, no, no, no. Okay, now here I have to defend them over. Sometimes I'm the worst. Now you, did you go to submission star restaurant? Maybe that's why. That's why. A little bit. Because next time you go to France, I'll take you to the countryside or any French home. They will serve you multiple times. I mean, you're, by the time you're done, even if it's, you know, the portions are smaller, if they're smaller if you want to, but because that way you get a chance to really, you know, if you're were to eating and then have more and all that stuff, but not be like this.


Influence Of Notable Figures

Michelins and diverse cultures (01:47:43)

And then, you know, but no, you'll eat plenty, but it's because you went to the Michelin's places where they were like, I'm sure the warmth of the people is there. It's almost makes me sad that sometimes I think to properly be in a place you really should spend a long time there. Yeah. And also be emotionally ready. Again, I was emotionally unavailable. I just like. Well, I would imagine a way to be Ukraine. I'm like, who can think about food? But in your identity, a bit of Texas, a bit of San Francisco. And yeah, San Francisco. And I guess from America, the defining thing for me for America is it's the freedom and the entrepreneurial mindset. See, very quickly when I moved from France to the United States and I started becoming successful in the United States, I found myself, me and my husband, he was French and my first husband, who passed away. We found ourselves at some point, we stopped talking to our friends in France who stayed in France because we were talking to them about things that were so outside of their comprehension. What do you mean? You're in your twenties and you just raised, I don't know, a million dollars or two million dollars, especially from back in those days today. It's easy here and there. So even in France, that entrepreneurial spirit didn't burn quite as bright. I mean, I mean, don't take me wrong. Do you have some entrepreneurial people in France? Yeah. But to the level that you have it in the US, absolutely not. It's just, I mean, in France, it's still very much, you know, you're born in this area, you go to school in that area, your parents live around. Eventually, you'll marry and be where your parents are, or maybe go to where your spouse's parents are and you buy your house and you buy it once and you're not going to do like the Americans, two years later, I sell my house, I go somewhere else. You don't have any of any of any of any, what do you mean? You know, like just stopping from nowhere, you're going to do a bit, you're going to do what? Start a business and you have nothing to back you up or whatever.


The American Dream (01:49:50)

Oh, and even this idea of, you know, going and fundraising this venture cap, especially back in the days, venture cap, all of that is, it's very American. We take it for granted, but it's very American. Who would have made a bet on me in France? The same person. I would not have found the same people. I would never in France have been able to raise at, you know, a some point, it was $32 million for my first business. Never would have been able to do that in France. And it doesn't mean that French people are bad people or anything like that. It's just something that's just not so in the culture, right? Just like this whole concept of philanthropy, it's not that the French people don't do philanthropy, but philanthropy in America is very different from the level and also the magnitude of maybe what the French people do. And also they have this always like, oh, let's do it behind the scenes. Money is suspicious, you know, success is suspicious. So at some point my husband and I just felt like a friend actually where maybe thinking that we're maybe some drug dealers or something. So we just stopped because it just was not flowing anymore. And so, so yes, in America, I found, I found this, this entrepreneurial spirit, but then I was able to link it with something that I'm very familiar with in my country. The back home in Senegal, I'm part of this, you know, you have what we call the movie, I'm a movie. So what it is is one of the four brotherhoods in Senegal, moreism is the most influential of them and the biggest one. And us, it's all about entrepreneurship as well. I mean, of course, there's the whole religious part. And but our mantra is pray as if you will die tomorrow and work as if you will never die. And the way we say the way somebody will say that somebody passed away, we say somebody has retired, somebody has retired from their work, right? Beautiful. Right? So, so, so I think it's funny because in, in that community, we're very much entrepreneurial, you know, left to our own devices, we're entrepreneurial. But then what happens is the minute people start going to, they're being educated through the education system, you know, like the French, especially the game system that tend to breed more like, you know, the French bureaucrat mindset, then you can see all the entrepreneurial mindset kind of starting to dwindle down.


Rabbit Hole (01:51:56)

So it's kind of very interesting. So in a way, America helped me reunite with that side of my, of my roots where America tells me reinforces that side of my roots and also gives me more tools to practice that side of my roots, if that makes any sense. Through all of that, that's what brings out the heart of a cheetah, which I think is a beautiful, beautiful thing that encapsulates that whole trajectory, which I think is the best possible answer anyone could give. It makes me want to really think about who I am because you really have brought together so many cultures within yourself. Like, just talking to makes you feel like we are just all one people. Because at the end of we are. At the end we are. And you know, when you come from, at the end we are. And also I think for me, if people can take anything from my story, it's at the end of the day.


The Human Family (01:53:06)

I am very care about it. And I'm all for harmony among people and among us peoples. If we can accept that we're all, I know this sounds so cliche, but some for me is so true. But we are all humans. You know, when I left Senegal, when I was about to leave Senegal for the first time and to go to Europe to be reunited with my parents. Because now they had emigrated and things were going to be fine. And I was going to be, things were stable for them. Now they're like, it's time to be reunited with her. They brought me over. But before I left Senegal, my grandma sat me down. She actually, she lowered herself down to my level and she said, "Maggad, you're about to go to this place where most people will not look like you." And most people speak the language that's going to be different from yours. And you're going to realize that all the kids are going to school and you're never being to school because, you know, I was, like I said, a free range kid and I was just living my life. And she said, "But I don't want for any of that." And she said her words, "I don't want for any of that to intimidate you." She said, "You can be impressed by some of it if you want, but no intimidation." And she said, "Because the fact that they might be different from you, yeah, they're going to have a different skin color from you. But it is still human skin. You're human, they're human." And she said, "This language you're going to speak, it's a different language from yours. But it is still a language that humans speak. You're human, they're human. Therefore you can speak it." And lastly, they have gone to school. Going to school is what little humans do. You're a little human. So you'll be just fine. And I went and grandma was right. Right? It was right. And that helped me. And I think when you internalize that so early on, it just makes you belong to the human family that you're part of.


Wherever you are in the world you feel at home (01:55:06)

I am part of a human family. And I would have no problem going to Russia, for example. And be totally open. Maybe don't go right now. No, not now. Maybe not now, you're right. Or at least don't bring weed if you go on the plane. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, yeah, right? That girl, I don't know what she was thinking. No, so, but what I'm trying to say, Lex, is I feel like I can go anywhere in the world, including some of the most unfriendly places in the world to someone like me, because there are places like that. And yet I know, I know that somehow, somewhere, someone will take care of me. Someone will help me. When I first came to this country, I came as a tourist. But, you know, you had this amazing family who had a family business in India, Columbus, Indiana, the Wences, Carolyn Eldon Wences. I owe them everything that I have in this country, that I am in this country. They are Americans in the mid-America from a place that most of the Americans would maybe, you know, look down on, because, you know, and some people would be like, "Oh, you're going to this place where they have more churches and cows than people," you know, that type of behavior, because, you know, the coastal elites. But it is in the Midwest that I found that I, black, young women coming out of nowhere, found support. They all rallied around me. I didn't even come from the same faith as they are from. Yet, their whole church rallied around me to find me an apartment. My host family found me, got me a job, and it was not a pity job. They were like, "We need, we are in serious needs of getting our accounting under control and our marketing and all of that." And I had to catch up years of accounting, like, 2% and come up with marketing all of that. And I did it way faster than they thought I would ever be able to do that. At some point, they look at me and they're like, "Look, there is a future for you." And we are too small for that future. And now we could be selfish and keep you here with us, and we would want nothing more than that, because really, they like my parents to this day. I just came back from seeing them. And they said, "But there's so much more for you, and we don't have it. So we want you to go and find out what it is." And that's eventually when I, you know, because something was brewing up in South Francisco when I say, "I left my heart in South Francisco." Because, you know, my man would become my husband. We went to the same business school in France, but then he was older than me. So he had come to South Francisco and started a business there. And it just looked like there was something there. And I was like, "You've got to go to South Francisco and find out what's going on." And I went and I left my heart in South Francisco. I came back and I'm like, "Okay, I'm leaving. Here's the keys to my apartment." I'm like, "I don't know." But I'm out of here. So no, but, so this is it. This is what I'm saying, especially in these times when this country loves to dwell on, you know, you're bad because you have this skin color. Here are people with a completely different skin color than mine, completely different faith in mine, yet embraced me, protected me, paid for my visa, you know, for my lawyer, for my H1B, everything. And also played emotional support for me. And no one, no one asked them to do that. They didn't have to do it. They didn't. So what I'm saying is, and this has been the story of my life, everywhere I go, regardless of the hostility around me, you bet you have that there's always, always going to be somebody who shows up for you and somebody who is at the extremes of, at the antipods of where you are and who you are. And that tells me something. In the end, we are good people. Most people are good people. And there's so much power to that. The internalizing of this idea, the world, just human. And there's human kindness all around us. I've seen it a lot where people internalize that and they're able to walk lightly amidst hate and walk past it. And it doesn't stick to them in a way that they build resentment and it paralyzes them. If they internalize the world as human, they can be in the, just like you said, in the worst places in the world for them. And someone, somewhere that human magic in touch is there. Yeah, you'll find them. Yeah, yeah. And you know, the other thing too, Lex is, especially in these times we're walking in, it is to remind yourself, I think this is where we all are called to practice more, more courage. I call it courage. It's the courage to show up with curiosity, with empathy and with love. To me, verse three, I have the antidote to pretty much anything. Curiosity didn't be in love. In the face of fear, can you show up with curiosity? In the face of hate, can you say, I'm going to engage with love? Even if I'm scared to death and even if I'm pissed off to death by this. But can you do that? In the face of just like, you know, judgment or whatever, can you show up with empathy? And I had just found that when you try to do that, you engage very different parts of your brain that's proven by the way by the brain scientists, but you also can feel it in your body that you're engaging very different parts of your soul. And so I try myself, I'm not always good at it, but it's a practice that I try to honor, which is curiosity, empathy and love. As I told you offline, those I agree with you 100% on that. But there is, you know, when you go to Ukraine and you can say, you can speak about the power of love, but when you lose your family, when you lose your home, all you have in your heart is hate. Even if you know it, you're not supposed to have it. You still all you have is hate. So sometimes it's a very human thing to have resentment, to have hate. But it is about trying not to stay there. And it's okay if it takes you years, but it is about trying and I'm in the word trying.


Blaise Dien, Niro Rei, Kwame Nkrumah, Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. Du Bois (02:01:40)

It is about trying not to stay there. Let me ask you about some of the things you see in this country from your perspective of everywhere you've been in the world. What do you think about the Black Lives Matter movement here in America that does struggle with the role of skin color today and throughout the history of this country and maybe even throughout the history of the world? Well, Black Lives Matter has been a very hard one for me because do Black Lives Matter, those three words together in that order, what they mean, they mean everything because Black Lives do matter as any other lives do matter. But I know in this case why they say Black Lives Matter because some of the context we have had. Now while I agree with the principles that Black Lives Matter, I have a big problem with the organization and what it stands for. When I have an organization that pretends to want to stand for Black Lives to matter, that you are self-proclaimed Marxist socialist, I pause. Why? I pause and then I'm like, have we learned nothing? Have we learned nothing? And the reason why I say that, Black Lives Matter is because 60 some years ago, it started before even 60 some years ago, Black people in this case, I'm talking about the African people, I'm talking about the Black Africans who would go on to really cement this concept of African emancipation and African liberation and here I'm taking us back to 1945. They had four of them before that. But in 1945 in Manchester, UK happened something that would become major for Africa and its future, especially in southern Africa. In Manchester, UK, people like Blaise Dien of my country, Niro Rei, Tanzania, Kwameen Krumah, Ghana and others and others from different parts of the continent got together with Marcus Garvey and W. E. B. Dubois. And I say Dubois because that's how we say it in French. Here's a French name. And Americans would say for American listening, I know you say Dubois. But Dubois, no, because just in case we're talking about, that's what I'm talking about. So all of those people got together in the UK and with W. E. B. Dubois and Marcus Garvey, big top African-American intellectuals of their times.


Radicalization And Liberation

A movement taking after white supremacists women (02:04:51)

The B. E. B. Dubois had so many things happen to him, starting from the north, being more or more or less a liberal type guy, came to the south just to see at this time black people being lynched and some of the body parts being shown in store windows. I mean, just for a second, we put ourselves in his shoes. I put myself in his shoes. And that's when he started to become radicalised. Right? Because at first he was like, "Oh, reforms, we said that." And I was like, "Got down it and I mean these people, we don't talk to them. We force." And eventually, little by little, going through. Yeah, you have these people. They're very much on the Marxist socialist train.


Black radicalization (02:05:39)

So you think the sort of political movements that are just using? Yeah, because what happened back in those days, it is true. That too, there are credit. Communist socialists were fighting for equal rights. They were fighting for the rights of black people to have equal rights. So of course, I could see why one could say, especially in those times, you being lynched.


Slavery teaches the importance of freedom (02:06:11)

It is burnt. Body parts showcase that window stores.


Independence (02:06:21)

Meanwhile in Africa, under colonization, in your own country, in your own land. And you have this group that's saying, "Your fight is part of what we fight." Of course, you're going to say a side with you. Especially if this is all happening at a time where, you know, so 1945, these guys who would be the liberators of various African nations, the meeting with Garvey, with the E.B. Dubois. And that's where this meeting is very important. It's the fifth pan-African congress meeting. It's very important. It could be the last one, but it's the most important one because that's when they formed their plans and really rallied around this concept of African emancipation and African liberation, working to liberate our countries. And later, so that's how all of these movements started to happen. And from there, Gandhi was already making some progress with India, you know, getting them out of British rule and all of that. So all of this was happening and really, like this whole thing was bubbling, bubbling, bubbling. You know, like there's like a new force going on. And then we were arriving in the late '50s and, you know, crewmen with, you know, them with the British as well, they might manage to become, to become, their colonization is over. They're the first ones to go in, '57. Then from there, it's what we call the 'independences'. That's what, when most, most, some certain African nations are getting their independence as different dates, mine, April 4th, 1960. So all over.


After India, it takes 140 years (02:08:11)

So this is happening. When I think about it, you're talking '57, you're talking '60. We like it though. We like at this time now with the middle of the Cold War. See, because we have to put things in context if we want to understand what's going on. Because people today ask me, why do you think, because even now when they understand, oh, right, it makes sense. If you have no economic freedom, you're going to be poor. But why? Why did they go for this? Why did they go for this? And they don't understand. So that's what happened. So, beginning of times, pre-colonial Africans were free marketeers, free enterprise. It's pretty well recorded by someone like Georgia YouTape. That's where I got the cheat I think from. And Ghanaian economist. And then slavery happened, colonialism happened, and then the independence is late '50s, early '60s for most African, most, most, sub-Saharan African countries.


Socialist Decadence disrupts Liberation (02:08:55)

So they are what you have is, but then what happened there? So I told you in '45, fifth African Congress in the UK with the liberators of Africa under the leadership, because he was the wise, you know, eldest man, Dubois was. He was in his 70s back in the day. So he's older than them, you know, and he's coming with all of his ideas and everything. So we're like, whoo. So there they are. Now in the late '50s, early '60s, we're starting to make progress with the independence you know, India has gone there before. So all of that is starting to happen. And at that time, remember, they already were being introduced to the concept of socialism, Marxism, all of that way before by some of these, you know, black African-American intellectuals of their time who were very socialist Marxists by that time. So now we're becoming independent because I do independent like this because I reckon that there's still neo-colonialism going on. So now this is happening, we're becoming free, but then you look around, what do you see? That now most of these liberators of their nations become the president of their nations. But remember what I told you? Most of them have the drunken, the socialist Marxist socialism, Kool-Aid. So as these African nations become independent, with their first independent governments and you know, presidents, most of them, most of them are socialist, various forms of the statist type of government. And this is because at that point, we had made a fatal mistake of going off saying, we are Marxist socialist because you guys fight for equal rights. So in this case, there should be no colonialism or anything like that. So not only you have that going on and the people, so right now you had this battle of ideology going on because on one hand, represented by freedom and the economic, what do you call it? The economic system they were using is capitalism. And these are represented by the Western nations facing off with Eastern bloc, practicing various forms of statism, socialism, communism, various forms of statism. And these two are fighting for influence. So and we also have, it's also not, so two things there. One is we are the time where, remember, the free market concept was almost dead, almost dead. So almost every intellectual at that time was social Marxist or Marxist socialist, I put the name, that's what you were. So you're in a world where it was the normal thing, it was just mainstream acceptance. So not only you have that force, but at the same time, if these two forces are fighting one another, it turns out that the one representing capitalism and freedom, well, sorry, but isn't it you who enslaved us and colonized us? And you're fighting with the people who represent, you know, supposedly people who are saying that who had been fighting for equal rights for us, with us for the longest time, these are our friends. And that's when we made a fatal mistake. Because while yes, there were maybe good things to agree on with the Marxist socialist of the times, I especially know equal rights for all people and all of that, that's the only thing we should have among the only things we should have agreed upon. Their violent revolution tendencies, no way. When it comes to the economic nonsense, no way, we should not have thrown the baby out with the bath water, but that's what we did. And that's when we made a fatal mistake. So when we became free, all of these nations, and most of them started with socialist or communist leaders, my country, socialist. Leopold Sridhar Sangha, he was a socialist. And they stayed in power for 40 years, the first 40 years of our freedom years. And all over the continent, more or less that's what you had. But on top of that, something else that the French don't know, the people don't know, is France with its colonies said you cannot not do, you have to keep the French civil law. So we're talking about the Napoleonic civil code. Are you kidding me? So that's what happened. So the reason why I go back to BLM is while I have all the respect in the world and all the compassion in the world for people like Kruma, for people like Nierrewe, for people, all of those people of those times, the liberators of Africa, while I have so much love, compassion for them. I am also able to say, because I got the benefit of 67 years time and you know, where you get to do a debrief and see what worked, what didn't work, what happened. We have had the 60 years to look back and to reflect. So yes, I can understand why they did what they did. I can even, I can understand why they sided with these people who on the surface, or at least some part of a fight was the same fight as them when it came to equal rights. I can excuse them, but I will not excuse the BLM founders because that mistake was tolerable 60 some years ago. Today, no. The blacks of today cannot be serious about black lives mattering and saying in the same sentence and we're going to be socialist Marxists socialist. It just doesn't work.


Perspectives On Racism And Socialism

BLMs anti-humanism doctrine (02:14:58)

So the BLM movement is too deeply integrated with with the idea of Marxism. Yeah, they are anti-frame market, anti-capitalist. So we do know that you have to have free markets in order to build prosperity and prosperity means economic power. If you have economic power, no one messes with you. Or if they're going to do it, they're going to have to think twice and when they do, they're going to have to pay consequences. So if you, if you want for blacks to be respected anywhere in the world, you're going to have to be serious about black prosperity. All mass, not just a few people or probably here in somebody over there. Uh, no, we as a group have to be critical mass of prosperity across the board. And because we're talking critical mass of prosperity across the board, it means black people everywhere in the world. But guess what? We in Africa happened to represent 90% of the representatives of a black race. So you're going to be serious about black lives mattering without being serious for Africa, the 1 billion people in Africa that are black and for them to have access to the free markets and yes, fossil fuels so that they can rocket up prosperity wise. And the resources of the young people, the young minds. So that all of these young people, young minds can finally manifest their greatness that I know they have and that they're showing you us every day despite, despite the obstacles. That's what we need. Senegal becomes rich and Senegal can become and will be richer than France. The colon, I, I've single-ported it. We can do it. Mali rich, Nigeria rich functioning as well.


The solution (02:16:52)

Malawi rich, Tanzania rich, Uganda rich, Zimbabwe rich, Niger rich, everywhere rich, prosperous. If not more prosperous than Switzerland or Singapore or the US don't know of it or the Lichtenstein or Luxembourg places that have no resource, natural resources. We become rich and you watch the world having a very different relationship with us.


What black lives matter missed (02:17:16)

That's the only time we will commend any type of respect. It's when people, even the, our common psyche will change even about black people. All of the stereotypes that they have of us is gonna melt away and you may still not like us but you will still respect us because we are a force to be dealt with. And only economic power does that.


Brutal Truth About Socialism & Marxism (02:17:48)

It would be nice of course for us to respect people because they're people. You would be nice but let us not kid ourselves. This is, this is earth. And someone said, you know, nice people will make it to heaven but not to Harvard necessarily. It's true. It's interesting that pity does not ever turn into respect. It would be nice if it did. It would be nice but it doesn't. Prosperity is the only thing. And the way we do that there is no, just like all of us humans have to inhale oxygen and excel carbon dioxide. That's a human way of breathing. You bring me on, but you want to be foolish and be like, oh well, sorry. That's how white people breathe. So as black people, we're gonna have to do something different. Well, good luck with that. Right. So this is here why I'm saying I have no patience for black lives matter. They're making a mistake that was made 60 some plus years ago. Even more than that, maybe even 100. You know, when we were citing with a Marxist socialist because they're the ones who've been fighting for equal rights. Let me ask you though, about racism. Do you as you travel through this world, as you travel through America, feel the burn of hatred? You've spoken about the revolutions that have been fought throughout the 20th century against racism. But today, as people talk about educating, reminding the world with even with more philosophical ideas of critical race theory, for example, do you think this is still a battle that needs to be fought at the forefront of culture in the United States? Does racism exist? Yes, it does. But all forms of isms exist.


Racism... Should We Fight It? (02:19:56)

Some people, it's about various forms of ableism. All the races about size and racism, yes, is one of them. Does it exist? Yes, it does. But is it what's going to stop anyone from manifesting their greatest potential? I say no. I say no. Many people in this country have showed it. Whether they're African Americans or African immigrant, I'm an African immigrant. You have African Americans like O'Brien or others and other people even before her who, despite the nastiness around them, were able to make it. So we do know, especially as black people, but I think it's humanity as a whole. And that's what I love about the human spirit. It's resiliency. But resiliency only can happen if you don't allow yourself to be beaten down and to lose yourself of agency. Of course, is your say then done. And some among us need a little bit more help to not succumb for it than others do. And I've seen it. It might be harder for you if you're somewhere in a city, you know, in a city black America. Maybe the environment might be a little bit tougher for you to try and get you back together and all of that stuff. And it's okay. But even in that situation, we need to, I think it's important that we still do not rob you of your agency. And this is where I am mad as heck against those who supposedly care. And their idea of how to make sure that I don't become or stay a victim of racism is through all the things we talked about, the CRT, the anti-racism crap of, you know, Abraham X. Candy. And what's her name? Robin D'Angelo. I mean, her, I'm shocked. The woman is making all of this money, supposedly fighting a war on our behalf. I'm like, lady, I hear you lied loud and clear that you are a true racist. I know that you told me you are. And for you to think that your anti-racism makes you less racist. And that happens too. She comes from a racist background, fine. She's saying it. It's true. But this idea that every walking person on earth belongs to one category of your other, depending on what you know, which can color you came with. It's problematic at its root. So my point is does racism exist? Yes. Do you think it's going to stop me from doing anything I have to do? No. Might it make it harder, longer? Maybe. But it will not stop me. But for it not to stop me, I can't engage in victimhood mentality. I can't lose myself as self. I got, I got to use all the agency that I have to fight back and fight beyond.


CorporateGoebbels Intercept-Style (02:23:12)

See, it says some just about a fight back. You fight back and you fight beyond. Because at some point, yeah, and it's this concept of yes and. So this is why I have loved the job. So when I have somebody who is like, oh, anti-racism is the way we're going to go and tell all the white kids that, you know, because they happen to be white, that they're really the oppressors and blah, blah, blah, and the black kids because they're black, you know, you're not changing anything when you're doing that. Nothing except that you're causing, you're putting problems where there were no problems to start with. All we had to do was maybe go for a different route from there. Kids are kids. Kids are born kids. And this, I'm not sure if you want to get me going on to the whole science of bias because that's something I spent years of my life on. And my journey on the science of bias started with the days of Philando Castile, Eric Garner, that whole summer of 2016, when we had this horrendous, horrendous situation of black people being killed by the police where they shut before asking and the people left to die in the most inhuman way for the rest of us to watch from the social media. That's me. That's when my George Floyd moment happened. Not later, four years ago, and the whole world is like, you know, so that sent me on a journey of understanding what discrimination is and bias is. And in a way, that's the reason why I started this company that I even called Skinny Skin.


Bias Identification And Discussion

The Science of Bias (02:24:44)

That's where it came from. Again, criticized by creating. I needed to understand what discrimination was. How does it work? Is it true what Kendi is saying? Is it true what Daniel is saying? Is it true that it could be that your race is just because of a skin color you happen to be born in? Is it true? Is it true? I needed to know because I was at the time of my life where at some point, you know, when those killings were happening, it was so hard for me being a black person in this country and wondering, I mean, what is this? And what do we do with this? Yeah, is it true how much discrimination am I operating under in the system? All of that. You need to understand the full characteristics of if you're dreaming of making a big change by building companies, you have to kind of into it. How much, what am I up against? What am I up against, right? And so this is why, you know, spent all of his time on some of the work. And then eventually I understood that discrimination, if you wanted to understand it beyond, it's, you know, beyond the big lines of especially the clickbait lines would make it very black and white, then I had to really take a moment. And I spent time, you know, with a world of brain scientists, with behavioral psychologists, with evolutionary biologists. So you have all of this ecosystem, but to gather, form what we might call the science of bias. And especially I came across the work of this team of scientists at the University of, I think it's Wisconsin, and they're the only ones who made sense in this sea of nonsense back then. And this article was in political, and it was saying something that I could relate to. And eventually what I learned was, and this part comes from evolutionary biologist people. They, in a way, tell you that right around age three, can happen sooner or later because, you know, we're all different. But you go from this person who has to rely on these other people, usually your parents, to stay alive, to be fed, to be housed, to be even, to diaper change, all of that stuff, right? To now, something is kicking in where you have to, in order for you to survive, and this is all wired in. So you don't even understand it consciously as I'm saying it now, where in order for you to survive, or in order for you to go from the state of dependency to the next stage, to the next stage more and more and more, you're going to have to develop this ability to make sense of the world. And what's making sense of the world at this most basic level means is, can you determine if a situation or a person is good or bad for you? Failure, and you need to be able to do so ever so quickly. This failure to be able to do that means that you might not be alive the next second. See, it's so wired in. So this process is starting to kick in. And at that point, your brain is going to be your best ally for that. And what the brain is going to do is it's going to help you, and the way the brain works is through, it works with, it's all wired for efficiency. And the way it goes for efficiency is through automation. Meaning that every time it has computed, and you probably know these things way better than me, every time it has computed one algorithm, it doesn't want to do it again. It's almost like this, okay, got it, stored, stored, right? And then it adds maybe some little levels of complexity to it, but it has to be something new, meaning the new level of complexity for it to even be willing to reconsider. Otherwise, you have, so then all of a sudden what you have is these neurons in the back of your head and they have created pathways, right? So and every time neurons have created pathway among themselves, because basically they're attached, and here is the pathway, well, this pathway in the world of science of bias, it's a habit, in general, it's a habit when they form two pathways, when they form a pathway, it's a habit. So, if we're willing to talk about unconscious bias, because of course, it's very different from somebody who tells me to my face, there's no world in which you or I could ever be equal, because you're black and I'm white, you're a woman, I'm a man, this, this and that, that people like that, again, 100, 1% of psychopaths in our world, they're out there. Unfortunately, by the time they do nasty things, it's pretty horrible and that's what all we hear about, but I'm talking mostly about the rest of us. Remember when I told you that most of us are good people, bumbling along, making it up as we're going, that's why I have compassion for human nature. So but really, in the morning when I wake up, do you really think that I'm waking up and thinking, how am I going to go kill? How am I going to go kill Lex? That Lex guy needs to go down. He's a man, he's a, don't take me wrong, I'm sure there's some women who feel like that, but I'm not one of them and I do think a majority of us or not, whatever. But you know, in the morning I'm waking up, I'm just like, gee, can I get my tea? Oh, my dog is not looking okay today. You know, we've got, right? It's a lot going on and you're using these kind of, just like you said, brilliantly, the brain has a bunch of simplifications is built up and it uses those simplifications to get through the day. To get through the day, exactly. So then here you are needing to make sense of a world and then the brain is your best ally in that. The way it's going to do it is for efficiency. Efficiency done through automation. So every time it thinks it's figured something out, it's never going to think about it again. So that's how you build all of these habits of unconscious bias because everything, so it's somewhere along the line, you come up with the information that black man walking on with a hoodie equals danger. So later, what do you see? After it's like, "Oh my God, I'm walking in the dark alley, I see a black man with a hoodie, maybe I'm going to run away because I've been given that information." So the best way to think about it is the brain is the hardware and the software it runs on is what do you call it, is a cultural imprint. All of this information that we're getting from the Disney movies that you're reading, telling you that damsel's ought to be saved by the prints and all that stuff and girls were pink and all whatever.


Need to be Uncomfortable & Talk About It (02:31:24)

You watch the movies and all the movies whenever you watch them, it's about Africa. They're talking about the blood diamonds or they're talking to you about slavery or they're talking to you about this. And then one day you walk away thinking that all the ills of Africa are caused because of resource extraction of the diamonds or they're always fighting each other, look at the amine and the movie or slavery all the time. You walk away and this is it. And we all programmed along the same lines. See, that's the beauty of it. All of us are. Because even some black people who are going to claim but didn't visit up when they registered, really? So the truth, so then when I learned all of this I'm like, wow, this concept of if you've got the brain, you've got biases, it comes with a territory, that makes sense. Now it doesn't mean we can't we can't transcend that function of a brain and that we should transcend it, right? But I think it's very important because once you understand that a little bit more peace is created among us because this is not about a black and white or a yellow and green issue, it's about we are human issue. And these are part of things we developed to, you know, to keep to stay around. Just like we no longer have to rely on, you know, this flight, you know, like ability of a brain because bears over there start running and running fast, right? Today we're over bears. Show me where they are. But we have kept this tendency to go for fear of fear of flight. I don't know how they say it. And so we have this, you know, courtesan done by the stress, you know, stress triggers that back in the days we have a stress trigger, we run and it's all, you know, expelled out. But today we get triggers and we don't know what to do with it because where do we run to? What do we do? The bear is not even here. So same thing here with that.


Learning to spot the bias (02:33:23)

And so when you realize this whole thing that is now we, what you understand is that this problem is not about anti-racism BS, but it is about can each one of us do the work where the work is needed, which is we look inside. Can we go for this work of deprogramation? This concept of a mindful practice of undoing the habit of bias. And that doesn't necessarily have to do with a simple categorization of black and white. It's all kinds of biases. It's about everything. It's about everything. And you know, when I started on that journey and need my friend back then built, you know, this practice of undoing your habit of unconscious bias, we had all types of people come and say, wow, I discovered that my bias against larger people. And I'm like, what do you mean? I think I, it seems to me like I've found that larger people maybe are dumb. No, we hurt things. And you know, and you don't judge. Yeah. You don't judge. And so, and you see, it's at every level, you know, like, I don't know, like there's even this one friend. She was like, you know, when I looked into the whole dating thing, I absolutely didn't want to have, you know, date the Asian men because she went, her mind was into some stereotypes about the size of whatever. And she was like, no, but you see, you, once you start, because this whole thing of, it's the five step thing, bias awareness, this, basically, at this level, what you're doing is you're learning to spot the biases in our culture, because that's where the cultural imprint comes from. You watching this movie and you're realizing, just like I said, wow, gee, I realized once again, the black person is portrayed like, like the fog of the movie.


If everyone is a man? (02:35:04)

Or, you know, Latina lady, this is how she's been portrayed. And you see it everywhere. Even the NPR, NPR is happening, like you're listening to something like NPR. It's gonna be more liberal than that. And this gentleman is asking these two candidates, one of them is a woman, political candidates, if everyone is a man. I'm hearing him asking the lady a question that I know he's not gonna ask the man and he didn't ask her. He said, how do you, how do you balance, you know, your race with a family? Does the man not have a family? Right there, you see, it's very subtle. But you see, but because now my mind is kind of trained to see things, I'm like, interesting. Or like when the media just says, throws climate change issue on something without even the choice of words. So it's pretty much everywhere. You open the book everywhere. The interesting thing though, I mean, even that man, woman example, is I think it's really powerful to bring that bias to the surface, but not let that lead to kind of fear and paralysis. You should almost, I mean, that's what humor is, make fun of it, bring it to the surface. Like acknowledge the fact that those things are a part of the conversation. And a lot of them are, it is, you know, it's a cultural imprint because it's part of culture and that might be there could be, you know, I grew up in the Soviet Union where the gender roles were stronger than in other places. That's right. In other culture, we have to acknowledge exactly that this is how this is affecting how I think. You might exactly, we might like how that works when we might not, but we have to acknowledge it and not get, you know, make it part of humor, make fun of yourself, you know, all that kind of stuff. That's the thing. And so Lex, that's why this first step is bias, bias awareness. So you get, you train yourself. Oh yeah. Okay. That was one or it's, you know, and it's about, it's in you. We're talking about you. We're not. Where you like, um, um, replace the bias, like bias replacement, then it is, um, where you practice the empathy, you're like, gee, wow, I wonder how I would feel every day I walk into a store and the guy thinks he should be following me because maybe I can, I might steal something because I'm black, right? Because when, once you try that to put yourself in the other person's shoes, all of a sudden something else starts to click. And then from there, you go on to making connection, then you're making a connection, and then things start to change because now you, um, no, you're making, um, then you make cultural immersion. So this is where we had some people like this one woman. She was very, um, uh, quite, uh, very feminist oriented and, um, she had an issue with women wearing the hijab. And because for her it was like, how come you, how come, how come you, you, you, you, you just slow it, you know, like how come you're accepting this, uh, demeaning of yourself, not understanding everything else that comes with it. But through as she understood that she even had that bias, then she went on through all the different processes. And then eventually when comes the next step, cultural immersion, she started going, uh, to the most during, uh, Ramadan when the Muslims are doing, you know, they're, uh, they're, it's the holy month of, um, you know, fasting and then we break, uh, at night. And as she started understanding very different things and eventually happens the last step that happens naturally making a true, real, genuine connection. And this is where friendships happen. This is where that's it. You guys can go home now because it has been challenged with reality and understanding. And so for me, that is what I was after. And then, but then the world was just like, we don't want to be told with part of a problem. So, but I still reckon that it is the type of mindfulness type of practice that's going to need to happen. And it's one that's very internal to, to, to you. It is, it is not, and it happens everybody at their own pace. So all of this, I take it back to, um, to the racism, the question you were asking me. Does racism exist? Yes, it does. Is it going to stop me from doing anything I want to do? No, it's going to make it harder, but this is where for anybody who is serious about making sure about fighting racism, I think the only job you have to do is to make sure that people keep their sense of self agency and be, can you help provide people with the tools to stand up? So this is why I have so much respect for Van Jones. People like Van Jones, although I disagree with him on so many things, but people like Miss Alice Johnson, she was pardoned by President Trump through the work of people like Van Jones and Kim Kardashian and others.


Ill take on the task of helping caucasian folk, in particular anti-racists, to relate (02:39:57)

They all joined forces. This is a case where people of, and, and those folks then went on to combine forces. Furthermore, no regard given to their political belongings. They said if the issue is criminal justice reform, then anybody who stands for it has to come together. And so what they did in this situation with, with, what they're doing criminal justice reform in my mind is a valid action to fight racism in my mind. Because what are you doing there? You're trying to get people out of jail who really have no business being there. And also when you have people like Bishop Omar and the people he passed away unfortunately, but today we have Anton Laki, who was in jail for having killed his cousin. He had started, I think he started the gang in South Dallas. So we're talking really tough guy who was within the wrong side of the equation and then in, in, in jail literally he found Plato, the cave and all that. So today these people, I'm like, why don't we hear more about them, the urban specialist? Because these people, it's not about the anti-racism crap of Candio D'Angelo outside again until the cows come home, but it is about we go where help is needed. We go in, we go in, in urban, you know, inner city, inner city, black inner city neighborhoods and block by block, we change the culture. And they say it like that. It's their words. These are African American people who have as many writers, anybody else, to talk about their own culture and they will tell you we have to change the culture. I have some, some videos like that on my YouTube with Bishop Omar. What these people are doing is what we need to do. Bishop will explain it. He says, sometimes people are, they, they fit and fit deep down in the mud. And what we have to do is to try to pull them up. And you cannot say you didn't pull them up because we're not seeing their head out yet, but how much, how much progress have they made from the bottom to where they are now and keep going. So what I see these people doing, you see, I have so much, I, I love and respect Glenn Larry and company, you know, and Ian Rov and all of those guys. I, I love them. I, I love a lot of the things that they say. You know, this whole concept of personal responsibility, don't know that. But I'm just like, at some point, it also needs to be matched up with real actions. And that's what the people like Anton Lucky, urban specialist, Alice Johnson are doing. They're going where it's hard. Alice Johnson is getting people out of jail every single day, literally. And then people like Anton Lucky and his team are giving them the tools to leave the gang life to, to be better people, to go for life of redemption. This is happening right now. But what I find is they're not getting the bulk of your attention. But this is anybody who's serious about this is why how I would love to see people do anti-racism is help lift people up for real action support support. Um, a school choice, support school choice. Black mamas are, they know what's going on. And when they tell you we want school choice, they know what to talk about. They're not idiots. Yeah. Especially at the local level. Yes. Helping about the local level. Yes. So help them make sure that they can take their kids out of these public schools that are doing horrendous things to them. You know, Miss Virginia, watch that movie. How could you not support black moms in this country to take their kids to safety when it comes to education? How come not? That's what I want to see happen. And not like some, yeah, let's go to some classrooms and everybody's white. You go over here, everybody's the next thing. You go over here and kids, let us tell you about this. No, no, no, no. As a black person, I don't want you to do any of that crap. Let me grow my wings. Yeah. Help put some fuel behind them and let me take my flight. That's all I'm asking for. That's the only way for you to do a four. That's the only way for you to be part of a racism battle if that's what you think is the most important battles of our life. That's it. That's what I have to say about that. And so for me, I'm keeping my head very straight.


to those condemned by the strictures of discrimination. (02:44:37)

It's about what enables black people to thrive. I don't need for you to be an activist on my behalf. No. When you're doing that, you're doing exactly what you've been doing to us, black people in Africa, our whole life. I don't need your white savior complex because that's what anti-racism is. White savior complex. That stuff doesn't work. It only works to make you feel better about how superior you are to me.


Charitable Efforts And Leadership

Dont name the struggle. (02:45:04)

But it does nothing, absolutely nothing to change my everyday life. If it is not, if it is, at least in the African side, to actually even change my, you know, turn me into somebody who's waiting for handouts. So if I would encourage people to really, those people who are really serious about wanting to be part of a solution, and I know there are many out there, for the love of God and everything that's out there and we'd care about, stop. It's about thinking about what's gonna enable people. Maybe the world is wrongly chosen, but know what I'm talking about. Give them the freedom to spread their wings. Yes. And you had to learn to teach a person how to fish and don't give them a fish. When you're putting your stupid signs on a lawn with black lives matter and all that crap, you're not helping. And when you're buying one more anti-racism book or as a company, you know, financing one more DEI, you know, if it's done along those lines, I think we've got a problem. Yeah. So you do think that the efforts of diversity, equity, and inclusion are often not effective. Not only are they not effective, but they're also backfire and there are reports on all of this. And at the end of the day, it makes sense. It makes sense. So for me, I am very, very glad that people have developed an enlightenment about this. Very happy about that. Very. But let us not keep going for the easy perceived solution to problems. Again, they've done this to us, the poor people of Africa. They thought the solution was to give. It does not work.


Its more important to us to love people than to be them. (02:46:54)

And then they say, oh, we're going to do a social social, social entrepreneurship on you, Tom shoes buy one pair of shoes and we give one pair of shoes to some people in poor countries. Then guess what happened to us? You know, in the town where we operate in Senegal, where I have my little manufacturing, we have 2000 little mom and pop businesses. And guess what they happen to be in Lex?


Tom Shoes moving into Charities (02:47:15)

Showmakers, right? So every showmakers, each one of them hires at least five, 15 people. Do the math. Family businesses. Guess what happens to them the day the ton shoes truck shows up with bunch of free shoes. Yeah. Yeah, who can who can compete against free? Now all of these people little by little, you're going to have to close their shops because who can compete against free? Because Tom shoes dumping all of his shoes on them. And then they go out of business and now instead of helping anybody, you actually sent all the kids who depended on these adults working in these places. Now they have to join the rank of kids who need to be given shoes because you took their parents's ability to make money through their wages by them shows. You see, so first they said, we just have to give. So that was primarily, you know, the charity business and you still have foreign aid business going on. So we just need to give. And then the social entrepreneurs came in place. But I'm like, the only person for this is business is good is for Blake McCarthy, you know, the founder of Tom shoes, but other than that, I'm not sure really seeing who else is winning from this. And then they and so today my whole thing is we got a challenge to have a mind for the poor or to have a mind for the lesser fortunate, maybe in this country, it is easy and less a fortunate because, you know, for anybody that you see, you feel like it's been trampled upon because of something, maybe it's because of economic circumstances or maybe it's race in this case or whatever. To have a heart for the lesser fortunate among us for whatever reason, that's easy. But to have a mind for them, that's a challenge. Let me ask you a difficult question. Yeah. As if we were not already asking difficult questions, the president of Senegal, Maggie Saul is also now the chair of the African Union. He met with the president of Vladimir Putin on June 3rd. I think primarily was to discuss food security. Africa seems to be split halfway on their perspective in the war in Ukraine. So broadly speaking, what do you think about this? That's all the geopolitics of Africa and the geopolitical relationship of Africa with the rest of the world and this current conflict with the war in Ukraine. What are your thoughts there? Well, you've seen that many countries, when it was time to vote, some of them abstained, you know, which in a way says something. I think for the Africans today, especially as represented by the African Union because not all countries fall along the same lines. I feel like again, we're back to, we're back. For the longest time, the West twice tell us what to do. They decide for us.


Maggie Seel playing hard to get with Putin (02:50:33)

And here they are, there's trouble, meaning there's definitely a rift, major one, between most of the Western world, as represented by, you know, Europe and America primarily, and they have Australian and all that. And then they're saying, you know, I think this is more or less an attempt to stand on their own as well. It's like, you're not, don't tell us what to do, as usual. You always verb us in with when it makes sense for you to try to verb us in and then we're left hanging on our own. So there's a, this goes back to the sentiment you were talking about earlier. It's been challenging for me to watch this because remember, I have one foot also, you know, like, because there is what I get to see and hear from being in the Western world. But there is also what I get to see and hear from when I'm in the back home. So I wear all hats. And I think this is a situation where the African Union and African nations in general are saying, we don't, it's, this is a case where we're almost like, you guys are fighting. You guys are fighting. Maybe for once we have to watch out for ourselves.


How politics and friends affect aid (02:51:59)

Yeah. There's a sense in which this is the embodiment, sort of, you know, abstaining from a vote on the war in Ukraine is a political embodiment of resistance to the influence of the West. Right. It's not about the war between whatever you guys are fighting. Yes. It's saying, we're not going to let this particular empire, this seems to be at the top right now, which is the United States empire in Europe, to dominate our political discourse, our geopolitical considerations. It's almost like, no, we're not touching this. Yeah. Especially that given usually, so when they need us again for influence, which means more power, oh, you guys vote the same way we do. And when the, it's all over and they go back to, they go back to spreading, you know, they go back to how do you say that? They go back to exchanging and sharing between themselves the goodies of, you know, their Halloween collection, we're no longer, we're not there when the goodies are being shared. So I think it's, it's definitely one of those situations. But for me, it's still, it's hard because I watch everything that's going on. And I'm, I, it's going to be complicated vermification of all of this. I would like to see our African leaders also, what they're doing is clear, but this is a place where I almost, I'm also tempted to say yes and yes to the reasons you're advancing right now. You know, we don't want to be always siding because we're tired. We're tired of always being dragged around and taken for granted and you vote away, you know, come on guys, when, when you need us, we're, we're great and everything is good. And then when it's time to go and share the goodies, we don't exist anymore. And you actually go for policies that go against us. But in this situation though, I would like to still see us do the right thing. In my case, I was not very happy to see us going and more or less begging for, you know, what do you call it, cereals, you know, oh, please let the cereals make it. So at least we get them and we don't starve. I can understand why a president would say something like that or try to negotiate something like that. But when it comes to an African president having to do that with a non-African president, I'm sorry, but for me, it's too close to begging.


How African leaders must earn respect, primacy (02:54:36)

Listen, it's hard to be a leader, such a difficult dance because in some sense, sort of the, the flip side of that is you're creating a market, a geopolitical market of saying, we're willing to sit down at the table with America, with European leaders, with Russian leaders with China. And we're going to let you guys convince us who we should collaborate with. And that's what sort of great nations and groups of nations do. Now, there's a cynical, of course, a dark perspective of that because what's in that game played by leaders, the people that hurt people, Ukraine hurt people of Africa can hurt. People of Russia, people of Russia can hurt people of China, people in the United States, but it is the way of the world. And to earn respect, you have to earn respect and sometimes earning respect, at least to the suffering of many. Well, but except in this case, yes to all of that. And the reason why I'm actually upset with going and being like, oh, can you let at least the boats that are supposed to come to Africa, full of cereals come over, the wheat and all that, is just like, look, Africa has the highest land. That you can do agriculture on. Yes. You know, we have a larger surface, such surface in the world. Why is this not a time for us to try to win ourselves off of cereals that we don't necessarily have on the ground? But no, let us go and plead. Don't beg, create instead. Create instead. Exactly. This should have been, you know, just like how the rest of the world, when COVID happened and China had to close off for different reasons and since then has not completely reopened and people have started to realize, wow, we've got too much, we're too dependent on China for a lot of what we need. So we're going to have to bring back some production to the US, the Europeans are doing the same, all of that. This should have been a time for African leaders to be like, we need to be serious now about food security. And maybe the stuff that maybe don't grow under our climate necessarily, can we work on coming up with different things? Now, I understand it, it can take time. But if I knew that that was happening at the same time that we're saying, well, let the cereals come in, maybe I would be a little bit easier with it. But right now, I'm just like, is it going to be the same business as usual? And in this case, I'm just like, are we going to go? Are we going to keep going from one masa to another masa? I mean, really? The interesting aspect of all this is if we look at all of human history, it's possible that the 21st century is defined by Africa. It will be. And the young people, the huge number of young people, it's like the trajectory could be, there's so much possibility to define the future of human civilization in Africa. And I don't mean sort of in the next 10 years, I mean in the next 50 years. But so some people concerned about overpopulation, some people concerned about us dying out as a human species. Both of those people live in Austin.


Inspirations And Global Perspectives

Restoring competition in Africa, primacy (02:58:12)

I know. You talked to me off in the book. I know. I know. I know who they are. But yeah. What's in Africa is at the center of this because there is a vibrant, huge number, probably over a billion people. We're 1.3 billion people and of those 1 billion blacks. I mean, that, where do you land on that? There is a reason, Lex, why I say I'm haunted, that I'm obsessed, that I'm monomaniacal when it comes to the free markets, and that I have such a strong sense of urgency to the point that literally it is affecting me. And it has to do with the fact that yes. You have the youngest region on earth in terms of the age of this population and the growth and the rate at which it's growing, demographic-wise, I am not willing to stay there and say it's a curse for humanity. But it will be a curse for humanity if we don't make sure that these people, our youth, gets to partake. And what it takes to partake is not much. So if the rest of the world thinks that get to partake means you have to send more foreign aid, you have to have more charity businesses, I mean, charity organizations, sending stuff our way, of course, you're almost thinking parasites. I'm sorry to say it this way. If this is what you're thinking, you're seeing us as no more than parasites. But if that's what it's going to be, I could see why some people might be worried about that. Although humans should never be seen as parasites, no matter, no matter, no matter.


GMFFFFP rip (03:00:07)

But some people will go there. Now people are here. What are we going to do? Dispose of them? That's not an option. So the only option we have left is to make sure that people partake. And what partaking means is that the people get included in them and are part of the systems that allow for human flourishing. And it doesn't, it's not much. In this case, it's about can we be serious about the reforms? So we have free market zones, areas where people, where the flourishing can start to take place. The wealth that people will need to flourish, they don't need you to give it to them. But it's all about, can I let you fly? And you will make it happen for you. And also for me, every young African I see today, I realize how stupid the rest of the world is if they're not supporting what I'm trying to talk about. Because even if you don't want to do it because that's the right thing to do, which I think it is the right thing to do, yourself in it. You engage your selfishness. Because this person right there, remember I told you, seven billion geniuses, everybody is, came to this world with a piece of solution to the human problem. This person and that person and that person hold something for me because I'm part of humanity. This person might have a cure to a cancer that might take my wife out, the wife I haven't met yet, but this kid right here has it inside. And if I help this, if I make sure that this kid gets a chance to flourish and to manifest his genius or her genius, that trickle down many years later comes straight back to serve me and the love of my life.


Allen Steences future (03:01:48)

If we can't see it any other way, maybe let's try to think about it that way because it becomes a very good proposition at that point. So in this case, by 2050, Lagos, Nigeria will be the largest city in the world. The future is African, wherever we want it or not. But is it going to be an African future where you have a youth being a ticking bomb because they have not, you know, there's no hope. They stay in poverty because they belong to nations that don't even understand sometimes the importance of common law versus civil law because they're trapped in countries that don't understand that, you know, you need to make the legal framework to provide for better economic freedom. So you can unleash the genuineness, the awesomeness, the ingenuity, the industries, the industrial side of your young people, especially of your women, so that they build all the wealth that your nation is going to need you to build and with it the respect that comes from that. See, we have a choice to make and this is why I feel so, so, so restless about this at this point of my life. We just lost George Hayate. George Hayate is one of a few Africans that I knew who put this out. That's who I learned from. He's gone and I feel a strong sense of urgency to not only bring back to the table that which he has been working on, but to also make sure that it gets seen. That's why being here talking with you today, it's, it's, you have no idea. It's, if people ask, if someone like you could say, what can I do? You did, you did more than you could ever, ever imagine. I just allowing me to take this message to one more person. And because if we do this, the change is going to happen somewhere down the line. Yeah, the ripple effects of all of that on the, on the, on the human potential of all those people and Africa building cool stuff, amazing things. Yes, yes, yes. So some are going to be built stuff. All of us are going to work on the reforms. So we're working on reforms by the way. I'm, I'm the head of the Africa Center for Prosperity of the Atlas Network, the largest organization in the world, working on taking down barriers of entry for entrepreneurs around the world in their respective countries. So we're doing great work there. Are I, I basically, you know, all the, I obviously all the think tanks we have in, in Africa right now, free market think tanks. And we want to promote more of them to come up. And these are local solutions by local people for their local problems. Always, that's where we drive a line. And so, um, there, so we're working on reforms primarily and making people understand the free markets and the importance of it. Um, but it is piecemeal legislation. It takes time. It is hard by the time you accomplish something here, more crap has happened over here. More laws have been pounded up because you know how they fix a bad law most of the time. Everything in the US somewhere else put other laws to kind of undo the law from before, but it's keep stacking up. But before you know it, where you should have one thing and it's clear you have a hundred and they go against each other and then it's all, it's worse.


George Haiti (03:05:19)

So we have piecemeal legislation that happening, you know, our teams are doing really amazing fantastic work, especially the team in, you know, in Ghana, we have a group in, in Burundi, the great, and the great lakes. I mean, people are doing amazing work, amazing work, but we need to run faster. So while we keep, we help them running faster, we also have to unlock other things. And right now I'm working on one of my most craziest projects, something bold, radical, crazy for some people. But I know we're not crazy because before a Singapore has done it, you know, Hong Kong has done it. Later, the most recent China with the S.E.S. the smell, the special economic zones, some of the most radical free market zones in the world. They've done it. And oftentimes within a generation, meaningful change starts to happen, right? So here, what I'm working on is this concept of some call it charter cities, Paul Romer, others call it the free cities. And I like to call it startup cities. But these are, it's for us to think about, okay, if piecemeal digitization takes forever, while we have this demographic that's growing faster and faster in Africa, there is a discrepancy here between the progress we're making to set the right environment for business to prop up and how many more people are coming to life, literally every day on the continent. There's a discrepancy here. And so the ticking bomb is going faster than the process we, the progress we can make. This is a problem. So what some of us are working on is this concept of startup cities and to say, piecemeal digitization takes too long. How about we continue doing that work, which is essential and critical.


Every source of inspiration can be a business idea but for the rest (03:07:18)

But at the same time, can we think of zones? And I like to call them also common law zones where we basically try to have within the country an area where for business, I'm not talking about family law or any of that stuff. No one is talking to culture or anything like that. But we're just saying business wise, an enclave where you have the best practices from around the world, including yours in terms of what constitutes a great business environment and allow people in, like it's a, it's, you know, you get in freely or nobody's fortunate to go, nobody's fortunate to whatever. So in these, so basically you're to think about this rather unoccupied plot of land within a country, think Dubai on 110 acres of land. Dubai is thinking that in their case, they're like, maybe they decided maybe to realize that the best for business in their case. And they said, they looked around and were like, wow, but common law, especially British common laws seems like a very good one. So at that point, they decided for business only, not family or anything like that, which is going to stand a, you know, Sharia or whatever. And so they said, we are going to bring in, you know, so they hired a retired British common law judges to educate the law and train the people under there. And I'm oversimplifying, but at the end of the day, in within a generation, Dubai became one of the top international financial centers of the world. It is what it is today. So in the case of the African nations that zone can then spread. Yes, it can not only spread, but maybe let's say Senegal, Senegal was to go for this. Here you have this one and then over there you have another zone. And then what they start to do is they're not all modeled the same way because maybe this one is saying, hey, we want to attract more, I don't know, maybe we want to attract more medical research, right? This one is going to be saying maybe we want to attract more crypto or maybe it's going to be more like us, we want to be more about religious, this or whatever. You know what I mean? So it will need to fit more of this of that. And just kind of give the basics, the grounds and then watch the magic happen on it, right?


China (03:09:40)

And so this is what we're working on and the hope there because some people are like, you know, I know some people are like, you guys are crazy, but I am like, no, it's, it's more or less the story of, you know, the Asian tigers. And most recently, most of China's progress, economically speaking, because some people might say, well, you don't want to try and aware for developing, you see, even then I say, and it's okay. You can always do better, but we cannot deny the magic that they have accomplished. What they have accomplished is nothing short of an miracle. 800 million people getting out of poverty, such a short amount of time. Exactly. So it's not, yeah, for the quality of life and the majority of the Chinese population. Yes. Yes. There's something like that happened without problems. Of course not. And so the next person to do something just actually gets to learn from lessons, from lessons, that's all. And leapfrog. And leapfrog. And leapfrog. Exactly. So for me, this is a promise. And people are like, oh, but you guys are crazy. But I'm like, just like with everything. You know how many attempts it took before the first flight, you know, the Wright brothers took off? Do you know how many? And that's important. You try, you crash, you try, you crash, but each time you're going higher up higher. And you want to get up for once, then you stay up longer. And before you know it, you're doing all types of things. So here's the same thing. I tell people, listen, all I need is one success story. And then the sea change. People don't even wait for us. Everybody. But this is hard because it's the first time. So but the good news is there are many groups working on the continent. There are some groups in Zambia. There's a zone there. Folks are doing something like this in Nigeria. We're part of a project there in Nigeria. The one that I'm most excited about, I cannot disclose the name of the country yet. But my God, I'm so excited by it. I just know, I just know Lex is going to happen in our lifetime. I hope so. It's a really powerful vision. And you know, it's not being dramatic to say that the future of humanity depends on that your success, that success in Africa. It's such an important continent. It is. It's the continent where everything started. And I think it's the continent where we have that continent has to finally, finally, finally thrive. And all of us call ourselves an enlightened society as a whole. When you have such, when you have this, it's a humongous continent. Have you seen the size of it? You know? Yeah. It's hard to fathom actually. Yeah. Forget. Exactly.


Personal Reflections And Corruption

Her music (03:12:31)

And it has such ingenious people. You know, sometimes I look at my people. I have to tell you. I'm so proud of them and the young people especially. And you know, you would look at them and you know, somebody said sometimes one day and it was so true. They said, you know, we've seen poverty other places. But here it is just maybe somebody doesn't have money, but they have dignity and it's true. Yeah. So everything else we can handle and we will handle you have to mark my word for this. This is going to happen. And our youth is amazing. You should see them.


Why humans have potential (03:13:11)

So full of creativity and it doesn't matter. You know, you were telling me what makes you different. Many things mix is all different. You know, the Rondons are very different from the West Africans that we are. Rondons, for example, never dance with their hips. They dance more like, you know, with this part of the body. West Africans hips. Us, it's hips all over the place all the time. And it's, you know, more jumping stuff like that. In one that you feel it's more like, you know, I mean, if they remind me more of the ballet thing, Rondons have a sense where, you know, they don't eat in, you know, more so much in public. It's not very well, it's something you do. Us, we, the West Africans, we like to be loud. We're almost like the Italians of a continent. And then the Rondons are more like, you know, the Swiss stuff. Actually, that country even looks like a Switzerland. I mean, we're so different from one group to another. Then you go to the Congo and you see these guys. They're so crazy. I mean, Lesapur. So we are a very different bunch. But you know what I love about us, what I love about my people, we are the, we are the manifestation of what resiliency means. And so everything we need is there. Everything we need is there. I will say that there is nothing wrong with the seed. Everything that's wrong with us is that pot that we put around us. So we're tired of being bonsai people. We need to be the tallest trees in the forest that we were designed to be. And so... And that can be fixed. And that can be fixed. And that's the beauty of it. And that's why I am so, I'm almost dizzy with, I get dizzy with hope.


The shift (03:14:57)

I know my history. I know my economics. My fellow humans and all of that. And we know that there's an unfailing recipe. And when it comes to that recipe, we have the hardest part of it. One missing ingredient, which is a free market. As we go around and talk and people start to understand and each country tries to figure out, okay, where do we go there from here? I know that I will die with my continent having taken the right shift for a turn. I don't have to see where it ends because I cannot in my wildest dream imagine where it's going to end. But I know it's going to be... Yeah. So all my only job is to get this message out and then let my people do with it what they want to do. That's all. In fact, it's just boundless. It's kind of cool.


Monique's personal journey (03:16:00)

I mean, sometimes we think about individual problems and how do we solve them? We look up to certain individuals like the, I don't know, Steve Jobs's new law musk. But it's so much more powerful to just without knowing what they will do, give the freedom to millions, to hundreds of millions of people to do whatever the hell they're going to do. Can you imagine? Can you just imagine? It's truly, truly exciting. So in that sense, the work you're doing, it's unimaginable the kind of impact it would have. Now going back to that hard moment, this dark place you went in your mind, in your personal life story, you lost your husband, what gave you strength during that time? What were the places you went to your mind in terms of personal struggle, in terms of maybe even depression or these kinds of struggles? I think for me, when my person passed away, I went to, maybe my friend could see what was going on, maybe they couldn't, I don't know. But on the surface, I looked like I was fine. But what happened is, the only thing I think that kept me around as I thought about it was the job to be done. These women relied on me. And I was no longer free. I did not own myself. And they said it in those words, you don't own yourself anymore. And it was true. But it helped me because I was able to, you know, sometimes whatever it takes to keep you around, whatever it takes. And that's what I would tell people who feel like they can't just push one more push. And they think they need to end it. At that point, whatever it takes, just stick around for one more second because the next second, you know, so I stuck around because of duty. I felt a very strong sense of duty. My duty was in this case, I think, stronger than my pain. I don't know if it's possible. I don't know how that was possible. But it was. And I just pushed my grief under the rug for years. For years, I worked like a mad lady. I would travel. I would do three states in three days, landing at twin the morning around five or six, going to ride along with our distributors because it was beverage and just keep going. I'd have all of this energy and look like everything is fine. But what happened was just like I was focused on the job to be done. And sometimes it is okay to do that. At least for me, it was my safety. You know, like when you're in the water and you're about to sink and they throw you that round thing, I don't know who you call it. You know that. You know that keeps you afloat. Yes, yes. Yeah, whatever. Yeah, whatever that's between the two of us, we're still terrible. We're bad. So we said you were you. I know exactly what you mean. Exactly right. So you understand me. So we said you mentioned and you just I was just hanging on to it. My life depended on this thing. So these women, they carried me. They carried me. And with time, things are moving forward. And at some point I went into really, really deep depression and I went into a very dark place, even darker than the one I think I came from. Because by that time, I had worked for years on this company and now some other things was happening.


Corruption (01:00:17)

But the thing is, it means that on the other hand, my inputs has to be right. So out of those, some, we have seven ingredients, seven items that need to come from abroad to go into the making of this product, some packaging and some raw material. But guess what? Like for five of them, I am paying a 40% tariff and for the other two, almost 70% tariff. That I call senseless laws. These tariffs are senseless. The corruption is just a symptom. They reveal that something was broken about the laws. And the laws are so taxation, this kind of restricting laws, laws that slow down the entrepreneurial momentum. They do, they do. Because in this case, when my product comes, what do people have to do? Because every time, if you add 40%, you're basically on the other hand. So every time you add, if let's say my product normally cost a dollar and with your 40%, by the time I'm done, I had to pay, I had, now it's costing me 140. By the time it arrives in my warehouse, in my manufacturing facility, it's now at 140 because of a tariff I left behind. That 40% you added to it, do you know how much it's going to add to my final cost? But once the product is finished, I have to sell it to the customer. I have to sell it for $1.60 more because of that 40 cents extra you took from me. In order for me at the end of the day, to have some type of profits because profits at the end of the day is the blood of a business. There are two people on misguided. They say, "Oh, you dirty, greedy business people." And it's all about profit, profit, profit, profit. You know, I belong to this organization called, I'm a board member on the Conscious Capitalism. It is the largest organization of purpose-driven businesses and entrepreneurs. The type of proposal you're about, we start our businesses because we see something that needs to be taken care of in society. Whole Food Market is one of them, the Container Store, you know, all of these companies that are beloved in the US that you can hear of. We believe that the end goal of business is purpose. And in order to do purpose, you have to have profits to stay alive. And the best way for people to think of profits so that they not all twisted about it, Lex, if I ask you, what's your goal in the world? You're probably going to tell me your dream.


Corruption (03:19:32)

And around that time, it's also when I was discovering a lot of what we talked about today about what makes the country rich. And for me to understand that my network, I was very much into left oriented network. And to just start to see all of this, I tried to address it to realize that many of these people would prefer go running for the hills than except for a moment that maybe capitalism might be part of a solution when many of them were involved in capitalism. So that was a hard time. At some point I was, yeah, so many things were happening around that time that basically shook up everything for me. And it's hard to talk about because it's very personal in the person that I was having a problem with, passed away last year. And I'm wanting to always say, leave a dead alone. So because of that, I won't speak about it. But there too, having a major fallout with somebody who was like a fab figure for me, somebody that I completely trusted. And so at some point you just ask yourself, was my whole life built on a lie? Right? And then you're confused and then you become confused. And then at some point you lose 90% of your friends because of ideologically speaking, it doesn't work anymore. Then you just wonder, have I been asleep this whole time? And then you start to wonder, remember when you asked me, who am I? At some point, Lex, I literally was like a candle in the wind. I felt like I was a candle in the wind. And it was very hard to come back from that. And people have a hard, the few people I talked to about this, they have a hardest time understanding or even believing it because they're like, you, I'm like, yes, me. I used to be a candle in the wind. What got you out? What made you overcome that? My current husband, my current husband. Love. Love. See, when I tell you, love is the answer. But him, he came with love, but he also came with really helping me figure out the world. So what Michael, because that's him who we're talking about, Michael Strong. That must be special. He's so special. He's so special. So you have no idea how special it is. But you know, Michael, the reason why I have such love, respect and admiration for my husband, I'll never say it enough, is because actually it's one of those relationships that got built based on intellect first. You see, at some point, I was in the position where I could start a foundation after having built my first business. And all I wanted was an ability to power as many, especially women, African women, entrepreneurs, like me a few years ago, before then, to do something like I was able to do. Bring back to the world some really cool aspects of our culture built into a really cool brand, 21st century type. That's what I wanted to do. The more I could promote women like that and put steam behind them, and the more my dream envisioned for respected Africa, prosperous Africa would happen. Back then, that's what I wanted. And around me, this was also part of the whole crisis of ideologies I had back then. Everybody was like, "Well, we should be just doing grants." And I knew that I, my people didn't need grants. They didn't need like a handout. They don't want your charity. I didn't want charity. I wanted someone who could work with me on my accounting. I wanted somebody who could help me brainstorm marketing-wise. I wanted somebody, or I needed to raise money to pay my research and development guy to help me take the juices from my grandma's recipe to something that can be shelf stable. I, if you're going to, I needed coaching. These are all the things that I needed to make my dream happen. I didn't want you to give me some crap for free. That's not what I want. I just want to be able to build my business with all the things that business building needs. And so, that's what I wanted to do, and it's what it was needed. And so, Michael, somebody found out about what I was doing because back in the days of Moscow, they would write a lot about me and everything. So Michael, along with John Mackie, the founder of Whole Foods Market, they had a nonprofit called Flow, and it's all about human flourishing. They want for people everybody to get this choice, this ability to be able to get to a point in their life where they're in complete flow. It's, Michael, just make high. Michael is the only one who could say that last time. But the whole concept of Flow, when you're in a state of Flow, you're basically doing what you're supposed to do, the way you're supposed to do it with the people who are supposed to do this whole concept of Flow. It's a made-inspirational version of that desire.


What was said where incorrect (03:25:13)

So, you know, I'm with this man. Okay, so he finds me, he's people find me. And then there was a program where it was all about accelerating women and entrepreneurs. So it's during those times that I'm starting now to see things. That's when actually all of this stuff that I noticed. How come here, it takes me all of this time to start my business. Over there's 20 minutes, here it's free, over there's thousands of dollars. All of this nonsense that I just took, oh, maybe it's just because we're messed up, we're poor, that's why everything is so messed up. Whoa, these people are introducing me to concepts. I'm like, first of all, I'm like, oh, really? What did you call the doing business in the, right? What is that? You know, all of this stuff. And I'm starting to discover this whole of a body of work, that the free market is like this thing that I was sensing, this environment that I was sensing that I was different around me and that they called it the free markets over here and over there that. And then I started to butt head those ideas with the ideas that I was fed with before that. And the evidence won. And further, more than the evidence, the evidence combined with my lived experience, it was so powerful. So I basically understood and I studied these ideas from the most visceral part of my body, you know, of my being. And it makes sense. So Michael, Michael helped me find the solution, the answer to my lifelong little girl's question of why do they have this and we don't? And how do some countries like mine be poor while others are rich? And with understanding all of that, the greatest, biggest sense of liberation came upon me. Like, I have no other word to describe that. True liberation, the liberation that comes from a peer. To finally understand and be vindicated in your own, you know, in your own deep knowing or feeling that they're not, what they're saying is not true. You're not the problem. It's not you. There's something else. And when I discovered that, my whole life changed. So and since then, I have been very serious about going deeper and deeper and deeper into my understanding of all of this, understanding the subtlety. At some point, I was very angry about the liberators of Africa because I was like, yes, you helped liberators. But just to keep us in this marism, I was angry for longest time. And then eventually you have to engage empathy and love to put yourself in their shoes and try to understand the time at which they were living. And that got me onto a journey of trying to understand history more. That's how I understood I was able to go beyond these liberators and try to understand and rebuild the world around them at the macro and at the also the macro level. Just really, you have to try to walk in their shoes. And from there, finally separate the baby with a bathwater that they were not able to do back then. That's why today, I'm sorry, but I have no patience for the BLM organizers, founders, especially the founders. I don't know what the organizers think, but the founders told us what they stand for. And I say, guys, don't make that same mistake again. If you're serious about this, you cannot make that same mistake. The liberators of Africa, they have an excuse. We didn't know better. It was so easy back then to conflate everything. But today, you, me, anybody alive, cannot with a straight face embrace Marxist socialist ideas, especially, especially when they claiming that they want people to thrive. No, you can't. I'm sorry. And I will hold you, I will hold your feet up to the fire on that one. I will, I will. And that's what I'm doing. They will give me a lot of grief for this, but guess what? I could care less. Do you know why I could care less? Because we have an entire population to help rise out of prosperity into prosperity where they become co-creators, global co-creators of innovation.


Progress And Idea Generation

What we need for progress in Senegal (03:29:40)

And those ideas give you hope for the place you love, for Senegal, for Africa. They do. They do. I live the world I live in. The new centers of culture and fashion are in Dakar. The new centers of tech and crypto even is somewhere, maybe Nigeria. So you see that future. You see that future clearly. I do. I do. I do. It's a beautiful thing. And it's also beautiful to see that the space of these really powerful ideas is where you also found love. Right.


Where Ideas Are Born (03:30:26)

So at the intersection. Michael and I would spend hours talking about all of these ideas. And I would be like, but what about this? No, it doesn't make any sense. No, no, no, no. And then hours every single day for months, Lex. And then from there, our love was born. Because I tell people, for us, love is not about the case of India, it's like you know, they all think. But it's about we look in one direction and in this case, it's this vision, what we know to be possible and true. If only you liberate people. What we know to be true and possible. We all of us are miracles walking around. Every time I get on a plane, it's a miracle of engineering. All the things we're able to do, you know, now when they do operational new teeth, how they're able to put the pain down away. All of this is us. You're working on this robot. This, this, this inside here. Yeah. Humans are amazing. I know. It works in great tandem with this guy. Yeah, yeah, yeah. These two working together. Yeah. Ooh. Watch out. Nothing we can't become. Nothing, nothing. Okay. You're one of the most incredible people I've ever talked to. Oh, you say that. You met everybody. Thank you so much. This was truly an honor. Thank you for everything you're doing. Thank you for the fire that burns within you. And it's just a passion you have for a place that's going to, I think, define the future of humanity. So thank you for everything you're doing. Thank you. Thank you. And sometimes I hope this fire doesn't consume me. That's how much it is. But I am grateful to you for this. And yeah, thank you for, I know you don't do a lot of this, you know, I am. It's a, this type of interviews. Maybe I don't know, but I'm so, so happy. You mean fun, inspiring, powerful interviews? Yes.


The Greatest Sense Of Liberation" (03:32:15)

I need to do more. You're amazing. I don't know because at first I was like, Lex Friedman, really? You're really? How's this going to go? I'm going to talk to Lex and go all crazy. I think you need to work on your unconscious bias. Right. Thank you. My God, you're the best. Thank you.


Closing Remarks

Thanks For Listening (03:32:32)

Thank you so much. Thanks for listening to this conversation with McGot Wade. To support this podcast, please check out our sponsors in the description. And now let me leave you with some words from Nelson Mandela. Money won't create success. The freedom to make it will. Thank you for listening and hope to see you next time.


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