Straight Talk with Hank Paulson-logo

Straight Talk with Hank Paulson

Business & Economics Podcasts

From growing up in the Midwest to leading Goldman Sachs and then serving his country as Treasury Secretary, Hank Paulson offers a unique point of view and a life experience unlike many Americans. With Straight Talk, Hank brings this experience to his conversations with the world’s prominent leaders and thinkers, exchanging a lifetime of stories and lessons from both the private and public sectors. Each episode reveals compelling viewpoints, topical discussion, and behind-the-scenes stories. A podcast by the Paulson Institute


United States


From growing up in the Midwest to leading Goldman Sachs and then serving his country as Treasury Secretary, Hank Paulson offers a unique point of view and a life experience unlike many Americans. With Straight Talk, Hank brings this experience to his conversations with the world’s prominent leaders and thinkers, exchanging a lifetime of stories and lessons from both the private and public sectors. Each episode reveals compelling viewpoints, topical discussion, and behind-the-scenes stories. A podcast by the Paulson Institute




Episode 90: Melissa Kearney

Hank welcomes Melissa Kearney (Director of The Aspen Economic Strategy Group and Economics Professor at University of Maryland) to the podcast to discuss her new book, The Two-Parent Privilege, which explores the rise of single-parent households and the benefits two-parent homes provide for children. Kearney looks at widening inequality, eroding social mobility, divergent family structure, and why marriage is so important for children. They talk about potentially controversial takes in the book, the social and economic reasons for declining marriage rates, and the importance of investing in America’s youth. Melissa Kearney previously appeared on the second season of Straight Talk with Hank Paulson, stream that episode here: The Two-Parent Privilege:


Episode 89: Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton (67th US Secretary of State and former US Senator) joins Hank on Straight Talk to discuss the state of American democracy, political polarization, and US-China relations. She shares insights into leadership and civic responsibility, America’s role in the world, her advice for young people, and the importance of education in navigating a rapidly changing world. Hillary Clinton: Clinton Foundation:


Episode 88: Bob Rubin

Hank welcomes Bob Rubin (Chairman Emeritus, Council on Foreign Relations and 70th US Treasury Secretary) back to the podcast to discuss his new book The Yellow Pad: Making Better Decisions in an Uncertain World. Rubin shares his insights on decision-making, the importance of free expression and unfettered discussion, and leadership. They dive into climate policy, the state of politics today, and America’s current fiscal situation. The Yellow Pad:


Episode 87: George W. Bush

In this episode of Straight Talk, President George W. Bush (43rd President of the United States and Founder, George W. Bush Institute) joins Hank to discuss the 20th anniversary of PEPFAR and more. They examine the financial crisis, increasing calls for isolationism, building relationships across the aisle, and the need to work together to accomplish things. Bush shares insights into tackling the AIDS epidemic through the successful program PEPFAR, his crisis management style, the importance of culture in business and politics, and his sense of optimism and what gives him hope about America today. George W. Bush Institute: PEPFAR:


Episode 86: Stephen Hadley

Hank welcomes Stephen Hadley (Principal at Rice, Hadley, Gates & Manuel LLC and Former Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs) to the podcast to discuss his new book Hand Off and the Bush Administration’s accomplishments and missteps. He shares insights into China in the Bush era and the China of today, national security, and America’s trade policy. Stephen Hadley: Hand Off:


Episode 85: Bono

On the heels of releasing his book, Surrender, Bono (Lead Singer, U2 and Cofounder, ONE and (RED)) joins Hank on Straight Talk to discuss creating award-winning music with U2 while advocating for causes affecting the world's most vulnerable people. From advocating for AIDS relief in Africa and fighting poverty to addressing climate change and the importance of inclusive growth, Bono talks about how vital it is to surround yourself with a diversity of ideas and people in order to tackle complex issues. Listen in as he shares insights into his activism, the radical center, prayer, how he thinks about creativity, and how Dublin shaped him. U2: Surrender:


Episode 84: Jim Steinberg

Jim Steinberg (Dean, Johns Hopkins SAIS and Former US Deputy Secretary of State) joins Hank on the podcast to discuss growing up in Massachusetts and being inspired to pursue public service by the Kennedys, his pivotal shift to foreign policy, and his philosophy of education. They delve into US-China relations, the meeting between Biden and Xi, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.


Episode 83: Nicholas Stern

Hank Paulson welcomes Nicholas Stern (Chair of the Grantham Research Institute, Chair of the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, and IG Patel Professor of Economics and Government at the LSE) to the podcast. They discuss takeaways from COP 27, carbon markets, and the opportunity for the US and China to work together to address climate change. Stern shares insights into the intersection of economics and climate change, his transition from economics and academia to public service and climate policy, resolving tensions over who sets global climate standards, and implications for Europe-China relations after the 20th Party Congress. Nicholas Stern:


Episode 82: Paul Ryan

Hank welcomes Paul Ryan (54th Speaker of the US House of Representatives) to the podcast to discuss how his upbringing in Wisconsin shaped his values and beliefs, his approach to policymaking, fixing political polarization in the US, and the role and challenges of being Speaker. He shares his advice for the new GOP Speaker, insights into his principles of leadership and his new book: American Renewal. Paul Ryan: American Renewal:


Episode 81: Minouche Shafik

Minouche Shafik (Director, London School of Economics) joins Hank on Straight Talk to discuss her philosophy of education and her vision for the London School of Economics, the role the IMF and Central Banks should play in the transition to a green economy, and her acclaimed book. She shares insights into growing up in the American South, economics and public policy, and how governments can navigate economic growth, national security, and climate change. Minouche Shafik: What We Owe Each Other:


Episode 80: Cristián Samper

Cristián Samper (Managing Director, Bezos Earth Fund and tropical biologist) joins Hank on Straight Talk to discuss his upbringing in Colombia and the importance of the country in preserving biodiversity, how he developed his connection with nature, COP 15 and important agenda items and challenges. He also shares insights into the approach and priorities of the Bezos Earth Fund, tipping points in vital ecosystems, biodiversity financing gap, and creating the next generation of conservationists. Cristián Samper:


Episode 79: Admiral Mike Mullen

Admiral Mike Mullen (17th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and retired US Navy Admiral) joins Hank on Straight Talk to discuss how his distinguished career in the Navy unfolded, the role of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and advising both presidents Bush and Obama. He assesses the status of the war in Ukraine and shares insights into nuclear risks and the threat of nuclear proliferation, US-China relations, and executing the plans that led to the death of Osama Bin Laden, and current terrorist threats to the US.


Episode 78: David Sibley

David Sibley (Author, Illustrator, and Ornithologist) joins Hank on Straight Talk to discuss birding, bird collisions and the impact of cats on bird populations, and the biodiversity crisis. He shares insights into his love of drawing, the Sibley Guide to Birds and how the guide works, and his advice for young birders. Sibley Guides to Birds:


Episode 77: Hal Harvey

Hank welcomes Hal Harvey (Chief Executive Officer of Energy Innovation) to the podcast to discuss the influence of his mother’s environmentalism on his career, his knack for innovation in the energy space, and his new book—The Big Fix. He shares insights into what he’s working on and his goals for Energy Innovation, how we can keep from losing ground in the fight against climate change as we navigate the current energy crisis, and a path forward for US-China cooperation on tackling climate change. Hal Harvey: The Big Fix:


Episode 76: David Axelrod

Hank welcomes David Axelrod (Director, University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN Senior Political Commentator) to Straight Talk to discuss his experience in journalism, how he met Barack Obama and was inspired to work on his campaigns, and the shift from advising in politics to governing. He shared insights into Obama’s historic presidential run, navigating the financial crisis, polarity and the state of US democracy, and the impact of social media on politics and division in our country. David Axelrod:


Episode 75: Darius Adamczyk

Darius Adamczyk (Chief Executive Officer of Honeywell) joins Hank on the podcast to discuss Honeywell and its role in the planet’s energy future, data architecture, and the economic, business, and policy aspects of US-China relations. He shares insights on operating a multinational business in an increasingly unpredictable political landscape, creating an environment for innovation, and his management principles. Darius Adamczyk:


Episode 74: Austan Goolsbee

Hank welcomes Austan Goolsbee (Professor and Economist, University of Chicago and former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, Obama Administration) to Straight Talk to discuss his talent for and enthusiasm while public speaking, the economy today, and demand and supply shocks. He shares insights into how he ended up in the field of economics, advising Barack Obama, and interest rates and the chance of recession. Austan Goolsbee:


Episode 73: Walter Isaacson

Hank welcomes Walter Isaacson (Former Chair and CEO, CNN and Editor, Time Magazine) to Straight Talk to discuss lessons from his books, innovation and climate change, and bipartisanship and increased ideological polarization. He shares insights into creativity, his writing process, and the gift of storytelling. Walter Isaacson:


Episode 72: Samm Sacks

Samm Sacks (Cyber Policy Fellow, New America and Senior Fellow, Yale Law School Paul Tsai China Center) joins Hank Paulson on Straight Talk to discuss the core issues and key technologies of US-China tech competition, data flows, and governing the digital economy. She shares insights into the need for the US to invest in itself and not inhibit advancement by avoiding competition, data security and privacy, and global tech value chains. Samm Sacks:


Episode 71: Evan Medeiros

Evan Medeiros (Professor and Penner Chair in Asian Studies (China), Georgetown University) joins Hank on Straight Talk to discuss US-China relations and balancing the world powers’ intensifying competition with economic interdependence. He shares insights on the rapid decoupling between the West and Russia and potential impacts on the US-China relationship, expectations for China’s 20th Party Congress, and America’s economic and diplomatic engagement in the Indo-Pacific. Evan Medeiros: