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Dastardly Cleverness in the Service of Good

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The podcast for people who make progress. For people who want to get things done in nonprofits, government, politics, and socially responsible corporations. Your host: Spencer Critchley.

The podcast for people who make progress. For people who want to get things done in nonprofits, government, politics, and socially responsible corporations. Your host: Spencer Critchley.
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Seaside, CA


The podcast for people who make progress. For people who want to get things done in nonprofits, government, politics, and socially responsible corporations. Your host: Spencer Critchley.




(831) 612-9200


Saving Democracy: The Way Forward

Our episode this time is a live recording of a terrific panel discussion featuring some very smart people from across the ideological spectrum who have national experience in politics and media. Amanda Renteria, Mike Madrid, Debbie Mesloh, Dan Schnur, Kristin Olsen, and Zach Friend joined host Spencer Critchley at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California to go way beyond the usual talking points and offer deep insights into where we are — and how we go forward. More at...


Bud Colligan: Social Entrepreneur

Business drives our economy — but our guest this episode thinks it can also make society better. Bud Colligan has been part of some of the most successful businesses of our time, including Apple. He’s also a social entrepreneur: he invests in ventures that promise to achieve social good, such as through education, or environmental protection, or inclusive economic development. One example is Pacific Community Ventures, which he co-founded and where he helped raise $100 million for...


The New Congress: Be Right or Do Right?

Can we look at the top priorities for the new Congress without talking about likability, who curses more, or a dancing video? Yes we can. On Dastardly Cleverness: Politics Edition it's not about the horse race, or the latest outrage, but how to make politics do what it’s supposed to do: make our lives better, not just more entertaining — or depressing. In this episode host Spencer Critchley brings brings back a previous guest and introduces a new one. Dastardly Cleverness veteran Zach...


Lenny Mendonca: Why Progressive Federalism May Be the Answer to America's Problems

Lenny Mendonca, a former senior partner with McKinsey & Company and a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, is the co-founder of New America, a self-described “think and action tank." In this fascinating conversation with host Spencer Critchley, Lenny explains why he believes progressive federalism is the solution to our biggest challenges, including climate change, the rise of artificial intelligence, the future of work, and the health of our democracy. More at the...


Beyond the Horse Race: What the Election Can Teach Us About Making Change

It was called the most important election of our lifetimes, but so much of the coverage has been the same old horse race stuff. Not on Dastardly Cleverness, though: in this episode we dig deep with experts who have worked with Barack Obama, John McCain and the Democratic National Committee, among others. Kevin Lewis was one of the first people to join Barack Obama’s presidential campaign back in 2007. He went on to serve as the White House Director of African-American Media, as press...


Highlights From Our First Year

We’re celebrating our first season with highlights from the past year! It's an episode full of gifts of insight from leading social innovators, on the future of work, universal basic income, reforming the way we bank and invest, why we vote the way we do, saving the oceans, saving democracy, and much more. Featured: That is a lot of concentrated Dastardly Cleverness! Subscribe to Dastardly Cleverness in the Service of Good with any podcast app, and find episode pages, notes, and links at ...


Amanda Renteria: How to Create Impact in the Public & Private Sectors

Raised in a farmworking family, Amanda Renteria has worked for Goldman Sachs, the City of San Jose, and two senators; has been a teacher and coach at her old high school; has run for Congress; held a top position in Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign; directed operations for the California Department of Justice and this year, ran for Governor of California. Through it all, she’s been focused on just how you get good things done: trying to bridge the private sector’s focus on results...


Saving Democracy: National Perspectives From Left & Right

How did the world's leading democracy get in so much trouble? To talk about that — and what we should do about it — "Saving Democracy" brought together a bipartisan panel with experience in Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns, the federal government, Congress, national media, the California Assembly, and more. Joining host Spencer Critchley were former Democratic Congressman Sam Farr, former Barack Obama and Kamala Harris adviser Debbie Mesloh, USC / UC Berkeley Professor and...


Joe Sanberg: We Can - And Must - End Poverty in 30 Years

Joe Sanberg grew up in poverty, raised for much of his childhood by a single mother who worked hard but still struggled to secure food and shelter. With scholarships and financial aid, he was able to get into Harvard, and after he graduated magna cum laude, he sought out the highest paying job he could get, at a major private equity group — so he could provide for his mother. But after accomplishing that mission and succeeding on Wall Street, he decided to devote the rest of his career to...


Find a Purpose or Face the Pitchforks: This Ad Agency Is Betting on Doing What's Right

Drew Train was a rising star on Madison Avenue, working at the legendary J Walter Thompson agency for clients like HSBC, one of the biggest banks in the world. But at night, he was going to Occupy Wall Street rallies. That's because he thought something had gone very wrong with business: it was extracting more from the world than it was putting back, and benefiting the rich over everyone else. Eventually, he couldn't stand the tension between his day job and his values, and he ended up...


What If Everyone Were Guaranteed a Paycheck?

What if everyone got paid - even if they didn’t have a job? That’s the idea behind universal basic income, or UBI. Its advocates say we need it to protect humans who are losing their jobs to robots — and as one of the best ways to end poverty. In this episode, Spencer Critchley talks to Natalie Foster, co-chair of the Economic Security Project, which advocates for UBI. More at http://dastardlycleverness.com/ubi.


How to Communicate for Impact

We sometimes think that good communicators are just born talented, like a Jefferson or a Lincoln. And it’s probably true that the great ones have a special gift. But it’s also true that anyone can learn to communicate better. To explore how, Spencer talks to Sean Smith, who has worked on presidential campaigns for Bill Clinton, John Kerry, and Barack Obama, served at the Department of Homeland Security, and is now at global PR firm Porter Novelli. Find more, and the show links, at...


Can We Make Government Work?

Dan Schnur is a professor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communications and the University of California – Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies. He worked on four presidential and three gubernatorial campaigns as one of California’s leading Republican political strategists. Zach Friend is a public policy and communications expert who has worked for Barack Obama and John Kerry’s presidential campaigns, the White House Council of Economic Advisers, U.S....


Why Do We Vote the Way We Do?

When Santa Fe Institute Professor Mirta Galesic was a teenager, her country fell apart. She lived in what was then Yugoslavia. But after the death of president for life Josip Broz Tito, that country was riven by ethnic nationalism. Amidst all the competing claims and rumors spawned by the turmoil, young Mirta was struck by a realization: people would believe whatever supported their group. It influenced the course of her life as a scientist. Mirta and several co-authors have just...


North Korea & WMD: How to Think About the Unthinkable

Spencer talks with David Schmerler, a researcher who keeps track of North Korea and its weapons of mass destruction. David says his work can be like a spy novel, or a video game — and in fact he even helped create a Minecraft simulation to help people understand what’s at stake. But knowing the difference between fiction and reality is crucial — for him, and for all of us. Find the full details, plus links, at the episode page:...


The Future of Work with Kristin Wolff

Everything about jobs is now open to question — including whether jobs will even exist. To sort it out, we talk this time about robots, the gig economy, income inequality, the disruption of education — even bitcoin. All that and more from someone whose job is to work on the future of work: social policy consultant Kristin Wolff. Find the show notes and links here.


More Than Just Pretty Fish: This Aquarium Is a Force in Ocean Preservation

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is world famous for otters, sharks, a spectacular setting — even appearances in movies such as "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" and "Finding Dory," and TV shows such as "Big Little Lies" and the BBC/PBS series "Big Blue Live." But that’s just the most visible part. The Aquarium is also a powerful force for protecting the oceans through education, advocacy, and the development of young leaders. In this episode, Spencer speaks with the Aquarium’s senior...


If We Got the First 5 Years of Life Right, It Would Change Everything

If we could get the first five years of life right, it would transform society: less crime, less violence, less poverty, more people having happy, productive lives. Lots of research backs that up. When young children suffer from poor health, neglect, missed learning opportunities, or trauma, they can pay for it for the rest of their lives. So do the rest of us. Many of our biggest social problems originate in troubled childhoods. So if the goal is to make the world better, improving life...


We Know How to Reduce Gang Violence — If We're Willing to Act

Cities across the United States struggle with gang violence, and the challenge can sometimes seem hopeless. But you may be surprised to learn that we know a lot about how to reduce gang violence — often dramatically. We just have to act on what we know. Our guest this time is an expert on the subject, from a small but innovative California city: Salinas. If you know about Salinas, it may be because your vegetables come from the Salinas Valley, sometimes called the Salad Bowl of the World....


"Debt-Free College" & Other Ways We Could Transform Education, Jobs & the Economy with Apprenticeships

What if we could get millions of young people good jobs, free them from college debt, and give the economy a big boost? This episode's guests say we can do it — if we just follow a proven model from Switzerland, now being tried and tested with promising results here in the United States. It's an update of an ancient concept: apprenticeships. Students attend high school while also working and learning at a real job. Everyone benefits: young people, employers, schools, and the economy...