• Transcript
  • Show Notes

Related Content: Listen to the bonus content for this episode here

On this week’s episode of Stay Tuned, “Thinking 2.0,” Preet answers listener questions about possible sedition charges against the Capitol insurrectionists, and Trump lawyer Sidney Powell’s unusual motion to dismiss a defamation suit stemming from her false election fraud claims. Plus, Preet settles a Bruce Springsteen debate.  

Then, Preet is joined by Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist, Professor at Wharton Business School, and the author of Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know.

In the Stay Tuned bonus, Grant discusses the life and legacy of Daryl Davis, who has convinced many KKK members to rethink their racism. 

To listen, try the CAFE Insider membership free for two weeks and get access to the full archive of exclusive content, including the CAFE Insider podcast co-hosted by Preet and Anne Milgram. 

Listen to the entirety of Doing Justice, Preet’s new free six-part podcast based on his bestselling book of the same name. You can hear Preet’s incredible stories from his time as U.S. Attorney on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Sign up to receive the CAFE Brief, a weekly newsletter featuring analysis by Elie Honig, a weekly roundup of politically charged legal news, and historical lookbacks that help inform our current political challenges.
As always, tweet your questions to @PreetBharara with hashtag #askpreet, email us at [email protected], or call 669-247-7338 to leave a voicemail.

Stay Tuned with Preet is produced by CAFE Studios. 

Executive Producer: Tamara Sepper; Senior Editorial Producer: Adam Waller; Technical Director: David Tatasciore; Audio Producer: Matthew Billy; Editorial Producers: David Kurlander, Noa Azulai, Sam Ozer-Staton.

REFERENCES & SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIALS

Q&A: 

  • 18 U.S. Code § 2384 — Seditious conspiracy, Legal Information Institute 
  • Spencer Hsu, “Former top prosecutor in Capitol riot case faces internal review after ‘60 Minutes’ interview,” Washington Post, 3/23/2021
  • Katelyn Polantz, “Sidney Powell argues in new court filing that no reasonable people would believe her election fraud claims,” CNN, 2/23/2021

THE INTERVIEW:

  • The Science Of Leadership (with Adam Grant), Stay Tuned, 12/27/2018
  • Adam Grant, Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know, Penguin Random House
  • Katy Milkman, “Escalation of Commitment,” Wharton, 2011 
  • Alexandra Appolonia, “How BlackBerry went from controlling the smartphone market to a phone of the past,” Business Insider, 11/21/2019
  • Peter Rubinstein, “The Hidden Upside of Imposter Syndrome,” BBC News, 3/17/2021
  • Adam Grant on Murray Davis, Twitter, 4/10/2018
  • Adam Grant, “The Surprising Value of Obvious Insights,” MIT Sloan, 2/5/2019
  • “Motivational Interviewing,” Psychology Today 
  • Adam Grant, “The Science of Reasoning With Unreasonable People,” New York Times, 1/31/2021

BUTTON:

  • Benjamin Weiser, “Manhattan Is On Track to Have Its First Black U.S. Attorney,” New York Times, 3/23/2021

Interview recorded on March 23rd, 2021

How can you convince a skeptical friend to get the COVID-19 vaccine? Or a relative to rethink their politics?

Organizational psychologist Adam Grant shares how to encourage rethinking. 

Wharton School organizational psychologist and best-selling author Adam Grant understands how and why we change our minds. He’s also watched–like all of us–as political and cultural polarization has intensified throughout the country. What better time than now to get a primer a primer on how people change their minds? Luckily, Grant has put his most tried and true experiments and takeaways into a new book, Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know.

Grant shares several strategies for persuasion and even walks (a somewhat hesitant) Preet through a role-play about how to talk to people who are skeptical about getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Grant advises using “motivational interviewing,” a type of non-judgmental yet probing communication that can get to the bottom of resistance to change and logical development.

Preet Bharara:

From CAFE, welcome to Stay Tuned. I’m Preet Bharara.

Adam Grant:

I think about the mindset of a good scientist as involving simple values, like preferring humility over pride and curiosity over closure. And that means you don’t let your ideas become your identity. That when you have an opinion, you treat that as a hypothesis to be tested.

Preet Bharara:

That’s Adam Grant. He’s a professor of management and psychology at Wharton Business School. Last month, he published the book, Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know, which quickly became a number one New York Times bestseller. Grant is an organizational psychologist, which means that he applies experiments and psychological concepts to the workplace and to our institutions. His previous books Give and Take and, Originals, shifted how millions of people view their relationships to work, life and success. He also co-wrote Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s powerful memoir, Option B. There’s been a lot to rethink over the last year from confronting COVID to pursuing racial justice, to positioning our own politics. Grant has a whole lot of ideas about how we can best rethink ourselves and one another. That’s coming up, Stay Tuned.

Now let’s get to your questions. This question comes from Twitter user Now MD who asks, “Hey Preet, would the recent statement by Michael Sherwin raise seditious conspiracy charges? How likely are we to see those brought against at least the ringleaders?” Of course, that’s a reference to the former acting US attorney in Washington, DC, Michael Sherwin, who now has returned to service as an assistant US attorney in Florida. Well, what I can tell you is seditious conspiracy charges are not common and they’re tough to bring. I think the last time a seditious conspiracy charge was brought was in 2010 and they often fail in their issues with the first amendment and the intersection of protest and sedition. So there are issues, it’s an uphill battle frequently, but even though it’s uncommon, the events of January 6th are also not common. One might say they were really unprecedented.

And part of the issue, I think, for lay people in thinking about seditious conspiracy is when the word sedition rears its ugly head, some people will think that it means sort of a massive undertaking, the overthrow of the entire government, but that’s not what the law says. The law, which has set forth in title 18, US code 2384 says essentially if two or more persons conspired to overthrow, put down or to destroy by force the government of the United States, that can be seditious conspiracy and that sounds like a mammoth undertaking. But the statute also says, “Or by force to prevent, hinder or delay the execution of any law in the United States.” What happened on January 6th during the insurrection? A group of people tried to prevent, hinder or delay what? The counting of the electoral votes in the Congress, which was the execution of any law. So if you apply the statutory language and you look at the tapes and you hear the testimony of people who were present, especially members of Congress and others, and you heard and saw people saying, “Hang Mike Pence. Stop the votes. Where’s Nancy?” It seems that the statute kind of fits.

So the question will be if prosecutors think that the seditious conspiracy statute is applicable to whom is it applicable? And it seems like just given the evidence that it should be applicable to some. So what’s the significance of Michael Sherwin, the former acting us attorney in DC saying on 60 Minutes, “I personally believe the evidence is trending towards that and probably meets those elements?” Well, he has been in some position to know what the evidence is, including evidence that’s not available to us. The wrinkle here though, is a lot of people, former prosecutors and including the judge in DC are not happy with Mr. Sherman’s remarks. Generally, prosecutors do not go on air and in the media to talk about cases that have not yet been brought and make references to evidence against people who have not yet been charged or who have not been charged with particular statutory violations, which is the case here. In fact, the judge called in lawyers from DOJ, admonished them, and it’s been reported that Mr. Sherwin has been referred to the office of professional responsibility within the justice department.

This question comes from Twitter user Lagreka_Tina who asks, “Can you address Sidney Powell’s latest request to have her case dismissed because her attorneys argue that, ‘Reasonable people would not accept such statements as fact, but view them only as claims that await testing by the courts through the adversary process.'” Well you’re of course referring to the former lawyer for Donald Trump, and also Michael Flynn, by the way, but with respect to Donald Trump tried to get him some success in overturning election results in various States around the country in 2020, failed in every single instance. She’s been sued now by Dominion, a voting software company, for all sorts of outlandish allegations she made about Dominion and about Dominion’s deliberate efforts to swing the election to Joe Biden from Donald Trump. And yes, lots of legal experts have been raising their eyebrows at this interesting defense, which is basically Sidney Powell was saying, “What I said was so outlandish and so crazy, no reasonable person would have taken it seriously. No reasonable person would have accepted these statements of fact.”

And she’s hiding from what was her actual intent in the first place. The implication of the defense by the way, is that lots and lots of people who did believe her and who wanted to believe her and who ate it up are inherently unreasonable. Those include Donald Trump and millions and millions of his supporters. If you think back to how Sidney Powell conducted herself, she was very specific in her allegations, she was not engaged in parody. She was trying to convince not just ordinary people in the country, but also the courts themselves in state after state, that her allegations about Dominion were absolutely true, were absolutely factual. So it is a little odd to hear her say now that reasonable people would not have taken her seriously. So I think it’s fair to say that legal experts think that this is not a viable defense in the defamation suit, but putting aside who succeeds or fails in the defamation suit, I think there’s a bigger picture question here and issue, and that is Sidney Powell and others who over and over again, propagated lies specific and general, in state after state after state, all contributed in some way to the big lie and to the perception on the part of lots of people in America, that the election had been stolen from Donald Trump and in a sense caused and prompted the insurrection on January 6th.

And for that, she and many other people should be ashamed. This question comes from Twitter user Aaron Mattson who asks, “Let’s go deep, Nebraska or Tunnel of Love? #Springsteen.” All right. So both are great albums and you will not be surprised to hear me say that there are very few not great albums by the boss, but I’ve got to go with Nebraska, songs like Atlantic City, Reason to Believe, Highway Patrolman, in my estimation make it a better album than Tunnel of Love. If you disagree, let me know, and I will respect your opinion. Stay tuned, there’s more coming up after this.

My guest this week is Adam Grant, the Saul P. Steinberg professor of management and a professor of psychology at Wharton Business School. We’ll talk about Grant’s new book, Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know, which provides advice for how to encourage innovation and open debate in business politics, and even in how you root for your favorite sports team. Adam Grant, welcome back to the show.

Adam Grant:

Thanks Preet. I’m excited to be here. And I actually mean that.

Preet Bharara:

You mean everything you say, you’re that kind of guy, right?

Adam Grant:

I hope so.

Preet Bharara:

You fall into a rare category of returning guests on Stay Tuned. Not only people love listening to you, not only are you a returning guest, but you are in a small group of podcast guests whose episodes we have re-aired when we have gone on break.

Adam Grant:

I didn’t know that, that’s a huge honor-

Preet Bharara:

It is a high complement.

Adam Grant:

Now I know why I get notifications from time to time from your fans. I’m like, “That was a couple of years ago. I don’t even remember what we talked to. I remember vaguely.”

Preet Bharara:

I think we ran it during a Christmas winter break, because we thought people could listen to it again and new listeners would enjoy it. That’s our high praise to former guest and current guest.

Adam Grant:

I’m honored.

Preet Bharara:

So you’ve written another book, which I don’t know, all your books go to number one. It’s a great book. We’re going to talk about the concepts in it at some length because I think… You might be surprised to learn that these are some of the issues that I’ve been thinking about even though I used to be a prosecutor. The book is called Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know. But as we were mentioning before we started taping, your subheading actually on the cover of your book appears above the title. Are you rethinking the way covers are supposed to be organized?

Adam Grant:

I don’t know. Should I be? I love how linear you are Preet.

Preet Bharara:

I don’t think that’s a compliment.

Adam Grant:

You’re a man after my rational heart.

Preet Bharara:

I don’t think that’s a compliment. Is calling someone linear, is that an insult?

Adam Grant:

I don’t think so. I think, I mean, for me it’s almost a synonym for logical. I like logic.

Preet Bharara:

You do. But you say many times in your book that maybe that’s not enough and you have been… What’s the phrase that people have used with you?

Adam Grant:

Oh, one of my own former students called me a logic bully.

Preet Bharara:

A logic bully. Yes. A logic bully. Let me get ahead of ourselves, but part of the thesis of your book is that maybe you shouldn’t be a logic bully and that a way to get other people to change their minds about things is not, and you used my old profession as a foil, is not to prosecute the case. Can you explain before we get into… I have a lot of examples that I want to ask you about, because I think they’re relevant to things going on in the world, your way of thinking about persuasion. My first question is why is it that people hold onto their views so stridently?

Adam Grant:

I think one of the big problems is that being wrong is, at least in our culture, a threat to your intelligence and your competence. And so a lot of people want to insist that they’re right. And that leads to many of us to think like preachers, where we decide we’ve already found the truth and we’re trying to proselytize it and like prosecutors, where we have to win our case. And that means proving the other person wrong. And what that does is it gives us the comfort of conviction, it protects us against the discomfort of doubt. It turns our ideas into our identities and it allows us to walk around feeling righteous, even when we might not be right.

Preet Bharara:

So the negative effect of that is many fold, but one effect of that as you write is that it causes people to be less innovative, right? If they have a particular idea about something or a conclusion about something, whether it’s in business or in politics or in a relationship, and they persist in that view, they’re not open to thinking in a new way. And that can be devastating in many ways, including in business, correct?

Adam Grant:

Yeah. There’s a name for this trap in my world of organizational psychology, it’s called the escalation of commitment to a losing course of action.

Preet Bharara:

So how do you tell the difference? And this is an unfair question. Success begets success, right? And so isn’t it natural for a business person, and I’m going to use a particular business example that you recite in the book that I’ve talked about also, and thought about a lot. But doesn’t it stand to reason you’re an intelligent person and you’ve started on a course with your business and it’s gone very well and customers like your product, and let’s even say, as an initial matter, your product was an innovation itself. It was a new thing that didn’t exist in the world before and people like it and people buy it and you get a huge market share. Then someone comes along and says, “You might want to think about changing everything about your product.” Isn’t it natural to say, “You don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m the innovator, I’m the genius and I’m going to continue…” And I’ll now invoke the example, “I’m going to continue to make the Blackberry the same way that we’ve made it before and I’m not worried about the iPhone at all.” Discuss.

Adam Grant:

It’s natural. That doesn’t mean it’s effective.

Preet Bharara:

Is it sometimes effective? How do you know when it is and when it isn’t?

Adam Grant:

Well, I think in an ideal world, what you’re doing is you’re thinking more like a scientist. So I think part of what Mike Lazaridis and others at Blackberry got wrong was they preached the virtues of the keyboard. They prosecuted all the problems with the touch screen. I mean, they were also convinced that everybody wanted this device for work emails. Why would you want a whole computer in your pocket for home entertainment? That doesn’t make any sense. And I think what a good scientist would do… I like to offer… Thinking like a scientist is an alternative to preaching and prosecuting. And I don’t mean that you need to go out and buy a microscope or a telescope.

Preet Bharara:

Oh, good.

Adam Grant:

Yeah. You’re in the clear. I would like it Preet, if you walked around in a white lab coat from time to time, I would get a kick out of that, personally.

Preet Bharara:

No, I do that at home. I’ve been doing that during the pandemic quite a bit.

Adam Grant:

Awesome. I hope you have a few test tubes in your pocket too, just to complete the look. But when I think about being a scientist, I think about the mindset of a good scientist as involving simple values, like preferring humility over pride and curiosity over closure. And that means you don’t let your ideas become your identity. That when you have an opinion, you treat that as a hypothesis to be tested. So let’s take a couple examples of this. One is there’s a brilliant experiment that was done recently with startup founders in Italy. And they go through a three to four month crash course in learning how to start and run their own business. What they don’t know is that half of them have been assigned to a control group that gets the regular version of the course. The other half have been randomly assigned to think like scientists, they don’t get any extra information.

They’re just told, “Hey, when you come up with a strategy for your company, it’s just a theory. When you talk to customers and interview them, that’s a great way to develop specific hypothesis. And then when you launch your product or service, that’s an experiment to test whether your hypothesis are true or false.” And it turns out just being randomly assigned to think like a scientist over the next year, leads those founders to bring in more than 40 times the average revenue of the control group. And the main reason is they’re more than twice as likely to pivot. When they’re taught to think like scientists and their product launch doesn’t work, they start to look for reasons why they might be wrong, not just prove that they must have been right. They listen to ideas that make them think hard, not just the ones that made them feel good. And they actually consider feedback from people who challenged their thought process, not just the ones who agreed with their conclusions. And I think this was completely missing at Blackberry. Technically we should say RIM, right? But we just think of it as Blackberry. The crazy thing is he’s a scientist.

Preet Bharara:

He wasn’t the CEO?

Adam Grant:

I mean, he is a scientist. Yes.

Preet Bharara:

So when you say, “Think like a scientist,” that means more than be a scientist, right?

Adam Grant:

It does. I mean, right. Lazaridis is a brilliant electrical engineer. He reinvented the way that we communicate, helped to launch the smartphone revolution. The problem was he was great at rethinking other people’s products, he was not willing to rethink his baby or the market for it. And I mean, this is the crazy part to me Preet is, I think Blackberry was valued at around $70 billion, and that was still the only product that they made. When you’re on the top of your game, you don’t want to fall victim to the fat cat syndrome and rest on your laurels. That is the perfect time to rethink because you have the resources and the slack and the flexibility to reinvent yourself. And usually leaders don’t start doing it until it’s too late.

Preet Bharara:

But what’s interesting is, based on my own anecdotal experience, I had a Blackberry because that’s what the Department of Justice issued people some years ago. Even when DoJ moved to the iPhone, or I obviously in my personal life could have bought an iPhone, I was wedded to the keyboard of the Blackberry, which obviously the CEO thought was a great innovation-

Adam Grant:

So did I.

Preet Bharara:

… Because without looking at the keyboard, I could send a perfectly spelled multiple sentence emails without error. Now I think I spend a quarter of my life backspacing to try to send an email or a text on the iPhone, but it was not wrong for the CEO to think, “You know what? There are lots of people…” And I’m sure they weren’t as blind, right? They must have been doing surveys and they must’ve been doing focus groups presumably. And there was a large group of very, very… I think you point this out. A large group of very loyal people who liked the Blackberry, but it was a finite group of customers. It was a finite population. And what they gave up was, and tell me if I have this right, they gave up a multi-billion person population by not going to the touchscreen.

Adam Grant:

Yeah. I think that’s right. I think they were focused on power users and business and government mostly. And-

Preet Bharara:

I guess I was a power user.

Adam Grant:

I guess so. I mean, I still miss the Blackberry keyboard. I can’t believe there’s still not an iPhone with a physical keyboard that you could type on, but that is another conversation.

Preet Bharara:

I learned something from your book also. I presume this is still true, even though you probably wrote this a few months ago, is the Blackberry making a comeback?

Adam Grant:

The technology has been licensed for a comeback. I think you can buy one. I actually got an email from a reader in Canada recently saying, “Hey, you should come to Toronto, I just got a new Blackberry.” I was pretty excited and then I realized I’m still not going anywhere. I’m probably not going to be crossing the border anytime soon.

Preet Bharara:

The problem was, and the reason that I ultimately switched and don’t want to go back is this other sort of myopia that the Blackberry people had, and that is, they didn’t have a good browser. If someone emailed me an article or a video or something, it was really not a pleasant experience to look at that or read that on the Blackberry. I had an iPad and I would go over to the iPad to play it, and that’s not convenient to have to use two devices. And so they had sort of blinders on when it came to that also.

Adam Grant:

So many missed opportunities. And in some ways the biggest one was for a while, they were dominating messaging. Remember Blackberry messenger?

Preet Bharara:

Yeah.

Adam Grant:

I mean, that’s basically WhatsApp.

Preet Bharara:

So part of the problem here that you talk about again and again, and I want to know how you think about it and what the balance is, because everything in life is a balance. What’s the difference between confidence is and overconfidence. And what the difference is between insecurity and humility. How do you think about those concepts so that other people can think about them and how they conduct themselves in work, in business, in friendships, et cetera?

Adam Grant:

Well, I think going into writing Think Again, I thought that the perfect place to be was to have your confidence match your competence. That’s the definition of healthy confidence, is you have a realistic appraisal of your skills, your knowledge, your abilities.

Preet Bharara:

And that includes if you suck at something, your thought was you should be self-aware of your suckiness?

Adam Grant:

Exactly. Yeah. You should know how terrible you are.

Preet Bharara:

Okay. So self-awareness good or bad.

Adam Grant:

Yes. And now I’ve rethought that.

Preet Bharara:

You have?

Adam Grant:

I have. I think it’s actually healthier to slightly underestimate yourself.

Preet Bharara:

Oh, so if you stink at something, you should actually think you stink a lot?

Adam Grant:

Maybe a little more than you actually do.

Preet Bharara:

Right. And why is that?

Adam Grant:

Okay. So the reason for that is some research that a former doctoral student of ours, Basima Tewfik did, she’s now an MIT professor and she took on impostor syndrome. So maybe just to set the stage a little bit.

Preet Bharara:

Yeah. Explain what impostor syndrome is, because I think I don’t maybe have that at the moment, but I definitely have had that in the past.

Adam Grant:

Oh, I can definitely give it to you if you want.

Preet Bharara:

Well, no, I always have it and I have it still, but I had it in the most pronounced way when I first became US attorney. I’m thinking clearly there’s been some error because this to me was the best legal job in the world, or at least the country, what business could I have being in this job? Is that sort of accurately describe impostor syndrome?

Adam Grant:

That is impostor syndrome in a nutshell. And if we talked to your colleagues, they would say, “Preet is super qualified. He’s exactly the right candidate for the job.” And your confidence is below your competence. And we could flip that and say, okay, the opposite of that is the armchair quarterback syndrome, where-

Preet Bharara:

People don’t know anything… Yeah. I’ve dealt with a lot of those too. And who are they? Just define them.

Adam Grant:

I mean, some people would say that you got fired by one of them.

Preet Bharara:

Someone who doesn’t come along but has a lot of certitude about that. But impostor syndrome, it’s a fancy term. Isn’t that simply just humility? All the US attorneys at our first gathering after Obama became the president, we were addressed by somebody who talked about impostor syndrome and praised it as a virtue and said, “If you don’t from time to time, given the authority you have and the power you have and the prestige you have in these jobs that are very, very hard to come by. if you don’t have an impostor like feeling from time to time, what an asshole you must be.” Is that fair?

Adam Grant:

Yeah. I think you just hit on the critical distinction, from time to time. Basima’s question was why do we have to make this into a syndrome? Like you’re diagnosed with some kind of disorder, this is abnormal, it’s pathological, when in fact all of us have those thoughts from time to time. They’re common and they can even be nutritious in the sense that yeah, I think it is humility. A lot of people hear humility and they think, Oh, that means you have low self-esteem or you’re too meek. You don’t think you’re worth anything. If you go back to the Latin roots, humility translates to from the earth, it’s about being grounded, right? Knowing that you’re flawed and fallible, and you might have strengths, but you have weaknesses too. And the cool thing about the data on impostor syndrome…

So, Basima studied investment professionals and medical professionals. And instead of making it into a syndrome, she just measured it as kind of ongoing doubt, right? Am I really as good as other people think I am? And she measured how frequently people had those doubts. And there were not any consistent costs of feeling those doubts more often. There were benefits. Investment professionals who question their abilities more often made better investing decisions. Medical professionals who felt like impostors more often actually listen more carefully to patients and offer them more respect and compassion. And I think what… And Preet, you’ve lived this, so I want to hear your take on it. But my read of the data is that when you feel a little bit like an impostor, you think you have something to prove, so you work harder and you also know you have something to learn, and so you work smarter.

Preet Bharara:

Oh, that part of your book probably resonated more than any other section.

Adam Grant:

Is that a compliment of that part of the book or a critique of the rest? I’m hearing your inner prosecutor.

Preet Bharara:

No, it is a compliment to all of it, but it resonated with me because I saw myself in that. I’ve written about that in my own book. I talk about the occasions where I had deep concerns about whether or not I had what it takes to do the job, roaring self doubt but also quite a bit of confidence. And hopefully you don’t have one or the other for too long a period at the same time, right? It’s this from time to time aspect of it. If you think you’re right about everything, that’s arrogance, that’s your enemy. If you think you’re wrong about everything that’s paralysis and that’s also your enemy. That makes a lot of sense to me.

Adam Grant:

Well, if I were a fan of puns, I would say you just did justice to the analysis in your book, but-

Preet Bharara:

But on self-awareness, I think we think very similarly to this, except I didn’t really understand how to talk about this stuff until I read the way you described it. There are people that I have supervised in life, right? In particularly the US attorney’s office, who were not self-aware. And I used to think lack of self-awareness was a terrible problem because there were people who thought that they should be promoted very rapidly and no other rational person would have agreed with them. And I had this from time to time, right? There were people who thought, “I’m the best prosecutor in this area, I should be the supervisor.” And a survey of eight people who had dealt with them said no, they would be terrible at that. And they had good qualities, but they had other qualities that prevented them from becoming supervisors, and they didn’t have self-awareness. I kept thinking that’s terrible. And this maybe just a restatement of what you said a few minutes ago. And then there were also people who are excellent. Really, really amazing leaders, lawyers, tremendous judgment, who, when I promoted them were surprised at the promotion. So they lacked self-awareness but in the other direction, but that’s okay because that’s humility.

Adam Grant:

Yeah. I think that’s okay. And ideally it turns into confident humility where you’re secure enough in your strengths to acknowledge your weaknesses. And you’re comfortable saying, “I don’t know yet, but I think I could figure it out.” And what that allows you to do is not only to recognize your limitations, but actually to overcome them.

Preet Bharara:

You said something else that I agree with and that I’ve thought about. I have to rethink everything if I’m agreeing with you. Well, this idea of innovation, and because I found this in the sort of staid profession of the law and in particular in law enforcement where people think they have to be some kind of inventor, or you talk about science a lot. And I don’t know if that frightens people, but lots of innovations come from just thinking about something a different way, opening yourself up to something. The example I use in my own book is something that I may be overly obsessed over. And that is how long it took for people to figure out that the best way to get ketchup out of a bottle is to just turn it upside down and put the cap on the bottom and take advantage of gravity. And that didn’t take a Nobel prize winning scientist, that didn’t take a PhD. I don’t know who’s responsible for that, but do you agree there are innovations like that, that people can engage in, in every profession, no matter what their level of education is?

Adam Grant:

I hope so. I think if the answer is no, we’re all in trouble. And one-

Preet Bharara:

So hence the answer must be yes.

Adam Grant:

Yeah, exactly. No, I think a lot of people, when they hear creativity or innovation, they think, “Well, that’s not for me because I’m not a breakthrough thinker. I’m not a genius.” And the reality is that most innovations are just people taking a second to recognize a problem that others haven’t defined and then think about how to solve it. And one of the things that stands in the way is there’s a term I love in psychology for this it’s called cognitive entrenchment. And it’s when you have such deep experience in a field that you start to take for granted assumptions that need to be questioned.

So there’s research for example, on expert bridge players who struggle when you just change the rules a little bit, because they don’t even realize they have all these assumptions about how to play the game. Or highly experienced accountants who are actually slower to adapt to new tax laws than novices, because they’re so used to the way they’ve always done things. And I think for me, this is a case to say, not that we should limit people’s expertise or experience, but rather we should constantly be broadening our own so that we don’t get trapped in one way of viewing the world.

Preet Bharara:

So the power of all this thought in your writing, I think can be seen when we start talking about real life issues and ideas and how we persuade people and how we get along better in society and in our communities? But just before we get to that, something you wrote has sat with me. You write somewhere, and I think you credit a sociologist Marie Davis, who argued that “When ideas survive, it’s not because they’re true, it’s because they’re interesting.” What does that mean?

Adam Grant:

This is one of my all time favorite papers and yes, it’s possible to have favorite sociology papers, even if you’re a psychologist.

Preet Bharara:

Is that an implicit condemnation of all the other papers as less interesting?

Adam Grant:

No, it’s the opposite. It’s admiration for Davis’s creativity and ingenuity. Davis I think hit on something profound, which is when an idea piques our interest, we pay more attention to it and we remember it. And he was trying to trace why some ideas survive and others don’t. And he noticed that marketplaces of ideas are remarkably inefficient. How many years did it take for people to debunk so many of Freud’s ridiculous assumptions about the psychodynamic unconscious? We can have a whole conversation about that. And I still find myself having to say, “Wait a minute, no.” I actually like to do experiments and gather data as opposed to just making things up in my armchair. But I think that what Davis realized is that when people’s curiosity is peaked, they start to take ideas seriously, and they get a rush or a jolt of excitement when they discover something that they believed wasn’t true. The problem is that only happens with weakly held assumptions. So when somebody tells you, “Hey, did you know that there’s some tyrannosaur species that actually might’ve had brightly colored feathers or that Cleopatra wasn’t Egyptian?”

Preet Bharara:

Yeah. Or how the moon was formed.

Adam Grant:

Maybe out of magma rain from the center of the earth? There are some experts who are advancing this as the most compelling theory of where the moon came from. And I’m like, “Whoa, mind blown. Love it.”

Preet Bharara:

And your point in part is when it’s something like that, that people don’t have some central belief system, when people are not invested in some concept, I don’t know many people who were fully invested in the way that the moon was formed, they’re open and they’re curious, and they can rethink, and they can unlearn what they learned in school that was incorrect. On the other hand, as you write, when a core belief is questioned, we tend to shut down rather than open up. And that’s the difference between things on which people can be persuaded and things on which people can not be persuaded.

Adam Grant:

Yeah. I think that’s a great summary. I think one of the ways that I’ve started to see this is through the lens of what’s called the totalitarian ego. So I just picture in everybody’s mind, you have one of these, I have one of these, there’s a mini Kim Jong-un trying to kick out threatening information just like the real dictator controls the press in North Korea. In the short run that’s comforting, right? It allows us to not have to admit that we’re wrong or to question some of the deep seated beliefs that we’ve maybe based our lives on. But in the long run, it prevents us from unlearning and rethinking. And it means we stand still while the world around us is changing.

Preet Bharara:

To pick a real world example, does this explain why when people talk about inequality in the country or in the world, and they talk about the existence of unconscious bias, or even structural racism in democratic institutions in the country, that becomes a much harder thing to convince some people of, because many people have a core belief that the institutions are good and they don’t like the implication that some people might be either inadvertently or overtly racist?

Adam Grant:

Yeah. You’re threatening their belief in a just world. You’re also potentially forcing them to re-examine a bunch of choices they made in their lives that they thought were moral. That now you’re saying could have been immoral, that’s threatening. And then there’s another layer of risk that comes into play here, which is some people are not bothered by inequality, right? They believe in meritocracy and they say, “Look, I’m not interested in equality of outcomes. Stop showing me that certain groups are disadvantaged. What I want to know is did everybody have an opportunity?” And I think by the way, this is one place where liberals fall far short is we’re always trying to highlight injustice and inequality through outcomes when we should be measuring opportunities, if we want to get through to conservatives. And I shouldn’t even say we, because I don’t identify particularly as a liberal although I guess my views are more progressive than they are conservative. But this is a great example for me, of trying to convince people to adopt our values as opposed to trying to explain our ideas in terms of their values.

Preet Bharara:

We’ll be right back to my interview with Adam Grant after this. Here’s something that you described in your book that I’ve been thinking about, and it goes against a view that I’ve always had, which is when you’re trying to persuade somebody of something, if you have nine reasons, you want to give them all nine reasons, because the numerosity of your arguments, that’s got to be more persuasive than just having one reason. And the experiment that you ran which is not the greatest stakes in the world, but my recollection is you were asked by a university to try to come up with a good pitch for people to give money to the university. Alums to donate back to their Alma maters. And you had two emails, the campaign with one email, which suggested that people would help students if they donated to their Alma mater and help the school in various ways. And then you have another that suggested, well, people will feel good if you give to your Alma mater and you’ll get a glow of happy feelings. And both of those email campaigns were successful and you got about 6.5% of folks to donate.

Adam Grant:

Which sounds like a tiny number, except these were lifetime non-donors who had never given a cent. To me-

Preet Bharara:

It’s kind of amazing. I wish I could’ve seen what the language that was used. But then you did an email campaign giving both reasons. “Hey, here’s reason one and reason two, now give money,” because two reasons should be better than one. That’s been the way I think about the world. And you recite that the donation amount went down to 3%. What gives?

Adam Grant:

Less than half. Yeah. Well, let me start by saying I was completely wrong. I went into that experiment thinking we’ve got one message that says helping others will do good, another that says it’ll feel good. And if we combine those, that’s a win-win. You can help other people and experience the helper’s high or the warm glow of giving or whatever you want to call it. And it completely backfired. We did a bunch of follow-up experiments to try to unpack it, and eventually where I landed is I think there are two things that go wrong when we give people too many reasons. And I say this as a recovering logic bully, where if I think you’re wrong, I’m going to give you 17 because I want to bombard you with as many data points and as many facts as possible. The first mistake I’m making when I do that, which we saw in our data is that I’m raising your awareness, that a persuasive attempt is occurring. And every extra reason I give you kind of leads you to put your guard up, right? The inner dictator comes in and says, “Wait a minute-”

Preet Bharara:

Because you know you’re being lectured at some point.

Adam Grant:

Or manipulate, even worse. And I don’t want somebody else to control my beliefs. And that means I either attack back or I defend. And then the other issue, which comes out in research on expert negotiators, comparing them to average negotiators is they use fewer reasons on average. And the explanation there is they’re afraid of diluting their argument. Let’s say Preet I want to convince you to shift your view on climate change. If I come in and give you eight reasons, and you’re resistant to the argument, you’re just going to pick the weakest reason and throw out my whole case, and that’s your excuse, right?

Like, “Oh no, that doesn’t make any sense. All your arguments are bunk.” Whereas if I just give you my two most compelling reasons, it’s a lot harder for you to just dismiss them. So I think the argument dilution effect is real, and it’s really made me rethink the way that I argue. There is a big caveat here, which is if the audience is receptive, if they’re open to your point of view or they generally trust you, then the more reasons you give, the more likely there’ll be to assume, “Alright, you must know what you’re talking about, I’m on board.” But if the audience is skeptical, or hostile or defensive in some way, then I think less is actually more. What do you think?

Preet Bharara:

Well, I’m just thinking about my experience as a lawyer in that narrow category of effort, this would be a routine argument on appeals briefs, right? If you’re trying to argue that the lower court decision was incorrect and you have limited space, do you spend your time making all six plausible arguments? And obviously you order them by priority and by level of persuasiveness and the debate would always be, should we just have two arguments because those are our clearest ones and leave aside the four weaker arguments, or you never know if the judge is not going to be smart or the panel of judge is going to be smart enough and maybe they won’t like your two strong arguments and you don’t want to leave anything on the table? I was always of the view that you go with your strongest arguments, but smart, rational people don’t like to do that, because they think they’re leaving something behind.

Adam Grant:

Yeah. I also wonder if the formal procedure of the courtroom though, changes this phenomenon a little bit. Because if you and I are going to have a disagreement or a debate and forget trying to persuade you, I just want to open your mind to say, “Hey, maybe there are other ideas out there.”

Preet Bharara:

In the courtroom situation, it’s not like the alums of the university. The judge knows that they’re being lectured at, by the lawyers. It’s part of the procedure. They expect arguments to be made., and you’re not trying to sneak up on the judge to open their minds. So maybe more arguments make sense sometimes.

Adam Grant:

I think that’s possible. And also you’re not going to get any back and forth there, right? The judges aren’t going to tell you that they don’t buy your first two arguments, which in real life I would say, okay, that’s your rejection then retreat. You lead with your two strongest points, if those get demolished then you might have a few others to bring in. Whereas you had to put everything on the table at one time, right?

Preet Bharara:

Yeah. And so I was thinking about some issues that people debate publicly like the death penalty, for example, and that’s in the news from time to time still. And there are various arguments you can make against the death penalty. Some people who think the death penalty is fine for various reasons also. If you’re having a debate in front of sort of a lay audience, and you’re trying to make the argument that the death penalty is not something that the government should do, and maybe this is an unfair question also, do you pick one super persuasive argument? Like there’s been proof that innocent people have been put to death and there’s lots of people on death row who we find out later shouldn’t have been on death row. And so it’s unfair in that way and try to hammer home that point, is that more likely to change minds or if you make that argument and you also argue about deterrence and you also argue about the morality of it, and you also argue four other things, racial disparities, et cetera? What does your work tell us about the best strategy for debating those kinds of issues.

Adam Grant:

That is an excellent question. I’d love to see the data. Honestly, not sure. I think there’s been a lot of research on let’s say in this case we’re talking about sort of moral versus logical arguments and they’re persuasive in different situations and with different people. So the upside of the more logical approach, “Hey, this is actually not necessary or effective for deterrence, according to the data that I’ve read,” the advantage of that is you can actually agree on the standards of evidence. And that’s what I would do first, by the way, I would say before I even tell you what the data show, talk to me about what the most rigorous study you can imagine is of deterrence. If that’s your goal, that’s your value. And then I’m going to show you one that’s better that rules out even more alternative explanations.

Adam Grant:

And if we agree on the methods, then we might be able to find some common ground on the conclusions. It’s a little bit like the Rawlsian veil of ignorance in the justice world where I think that prolonged time, right? In political philosophy, we’ve judged the justice society by whether you would accept a place in it if you didn’t know what your position was, to your earlier point on equality. Well, here, I want to judge whether a study is valid by whether you would accept the results based on the methods alone. So I would start there personally.

Preet Bharara:

You also have an extended discussion and I’m reminded of it when you invoke the veil of ignorance and roles, because I don’t think you used this term when you talk about the intense rivalry and hatred that exists between Red Sox fans and Yankees fans, right? And you try to engage in various ways to try to make Red Sox fans hate Yankees fans less and vice versa. And nothing really worked until you happened upon and seemingly a version of having people do the veil of ignorance experiment, not knowing when they would be, and to ask people to contemplate the fact that you are a Red Sox fan or a Yankees fan is totally arbitrary. And the likelihood is if you had been born in New York or Boston, as opposed to the other way around, you’d probably be a fan of the other team. And something about that, and having people contemplate that made them less voracious haters of the other side. Did I fairly summarize that?

Adam Grant:

Yeah. I was a little surprised by it, honestly, because some of the other techniques we tried like, “Well, you’re all baseball fans,” or let’s humanize one fan of the rival team. People just said no. Yeah, I get that they’re baseball fans, but they’re idiots who root for the wrong team, who cares. And so I was a little skeptical of going into this approach, but there’s something really powerful about replaying the circumstances of your own life and realizing that you could actually belong to a different group, maybe even a rival group that you dislike intensely.

Preet Bharara:

But for the Grace of God, you could be the other guy.

Adam Grant:

You could be. Right. It’s like not… What’s the godfather line, I could have been a contender? It’s like, I could have been my competitor. And once you realize that, you start to see that one set of views that people hold or one group that they belong to, doesn’t define them. And that makes you a little bit less likely to hate them. So recently, Tim Kendra and I did the Red Sox, Yankees experiments. We extended this to the gun debate and we said, okay, let’s ask people who are passionate about gun rights to imagine if they would hold different views if they had grown up in Columbine. And we did the opposite for people who are championing gun safety. We said, what if you had grown up in a hunting family? And we found that reflecting on that alternate reality was enough to get them to actually show less hostility toward the other side.

Preet Bharara:

I’m trying to think about how to react to that. Isn’t that in many religions, basic teaching, and isn’t it just basic obvious truth that people are lucky? And you could have been born into a poor family versus a rich family, a Black family versus a White family. And that all of this happenstance causes you to have the positions you have and to have the station that you have. And if so, why do we have to keep having this discussion, which is a little bit about empathy and understanding there, but for the grace of God go why? Why do you have to have one for the Yankees and Red Sox debate? Why do you have to have one for gun control? Why do you have to have one for poverty? Why do you have to have one for racial equality? It’s the same point, right? That you should have grace and understanding and empathy and sympathy for these other people and their points of view and moderate your own point of view because you could be them.

Adam Grant:

Yeah. I think there’s some good news and bad news here. The good news is we don’t necessarily have to do it on every issue. We ran another version of this experiment where we had people on opposite sides of the gun issue reflect on growing up in the family that believed the reverse. And then we actually found that they were less likely to hate the opposing fans in baseball. So we got spill over from one issue to another. The problem is it doesn’t last that long. So you’re right. Religions teach this, but there’s a reason they have to keep teaching it because it’s not salient to us. And we don’t always remember it, especially when you come across somebody whose beliefs you think are hateful and wrong. It’s easy to essentially them and say, okay that person is bad or that person is evil or that person is just stupid. And that’s in some ways it’s a version of binary bias where we take all the shades of gray in people and in issues, and we like to oversimplify them because it helps us make sense of a messy world. And it also helps us feel like we’re on the side of right and truth.

Preet Bharara:

Here’s another example of what we’ve been talking about that you wrote about in a New York Times article. So let’s talk about COVID for a second. And you tell the story about conversations you’ve had with a friend of yours and the title of your article, consistent with our conversation, is The Science of Reasoning with Unreasonable People. And you describe a friend who you don’t identify fully or even at all as someone who doesn’t believe in vaccinations against the Corona virus. And it sounds like you try to apply some of the things you’ve learned in putting together this book and from your research and expertise as an organizational psychologist, to try to get him, your friend, to change his mind. How’d that go?

Adam Grant:

It went better than any of the previous conversations that we’d had, where I swore that I would never talk to him about vaccines again, because I thought it might ruin the friendship.

Preet Bharara:

And your first conversations about vaccines with him was long before the coronavirus.

Adam Grant:

Yeah, it was, I think four years ago. I didn’t realize that he had such strong oppositional views, but he started deciding all these one-off studies. And I just said, “Hey, in science we use a technique called meta analysis where we accumulate all the studies and then we adjust for the biases and the flaws in them. Let’s look at what the meta-analyses say.”

Preet Bharara:

So try to answer my questions with an eye towards explaining to people who may be listening, who have a neighbor or a relative, or a friend like you have, who doesn’t want to go get the Pfizer shot or the Moderna shot, or the J and J shot. How should they engage in a conversation with a neighbor or a friend to get them to change their mind about that?

Adam Grant:

Do you want to be the friend or the neighbor?

Preet Bharara:

Oh boy. Okay. I ran to get my two shots, so I’m not going to be very plausible as an anti-vaxxer, but I can try.

Adam Grant:

I mean, that’s actually the first problem. I’m not going to call you an anti-vaxxer. You might have some concerns about vaccines, but I don’t want to identify you with a group that’s completely opposed to them. All right. So Preet I understand you’ve got some hesitations about one of the COVID vaccines or maybe all of them?

Preet Bharara:

Yeah. All of them. Look, I’m a fairly healthy 52 year old man, it’s not completely true. But obviously I got my shots before my age group, but I’ve seen some studies that suggest that there are problems with the vaccines. You also get very sick, I’ve seen after the second shot. And the overall rate is incredibly low. And by the way, on top of all that if lots of other people get the vaccines, I should be protected anyway. So why should I go out of my way to put some foreign thing into my body when it’s only been a few months. I mean, we were told at the beginning of the pandemic that vaccines take years and years, and all of a sudden the government who is not to be trusted, is telling me that for the first time in human history, we developed not only one, but two, three, four, five vaccines, something that was not doable for polio or any other disease in the… I mean, how can you trust that? It’s not been long enough, so I’m not going to do it.

Adam Grant:

Wow. There’s a lot to unpack here. So first, let me try to set the record straight. I’m not here to convince you to get a vaccine. I don’t think that’s my place. I think we live in a free country, that’s ultimately your decision. As somebody who cares about your Preet, I’m just here to make sure that you’re weighing the pros and the cons and then making an informed choice. And I’ve been trying to figure this out myself too. It’s complicated. It’s not as clear cut for one person as it is for another. And I’d love to understand your views better. So I guess let’s start with the safety issue with the vaccines. We’re in a fortunate position I think that we have both traditional vaccine and mRNA. Which risk are you more worried about? Is it the old school or is it the mRNA?

Preet Bharara:

I don’t really have a view on that. And anything that’s new, and I think science bears this out.I mean, you talk about data and that’s the mode in which you talk to people about stuff. I mean, it stands to reason that new technologies are inherently less trustworthy until more time has gone by. And I don’t want to hear six months or eight months or 12 months from now there’s something we didn’t know about these vaccines, and it turns out that the new method for developing these vaccines causes some other problem further down the line. I mean, I’m not anti-science, I think that what I’m saying is consistent with science. It’s not unheard of that we learn about problems no long after, and I don’t see the rush.

Adam Grant:

Yeah. I’m worried about the risks too. I would love to actually to get a DeLorean or a Tesseract or pick your favorite time machine that could take us five, 10, 20, 30 years into the future so that we really know what the long-term effects are. I think obviously to stop the pandemic, we’re not in that world. We’ve tried a lot of other approaches, they haven’t worked. So it seems like you had already said earlier that if a lot of other people get vaccinated that might help us make progress and that might give you a little flexibility there. I guess what I’m wondering is how do you weigh the risks of getting vaccinated against the risks of not getting vaccinated? Because one thing that scares me personally, and I’d love your perspective on this is, I don’t know either what the long-term risks of getting COVID are. Are there neurological conditions that might arise from it? I know there’ve been a lot of breathing issues and personally, I want a time machine for all of it. I want to know what happens to people who get COVID not just the current long haulers, but real long haul, 10, 20, 30 years down the road. So how do you weigh those two things, given that there’s uncertainty about the risks of COVID as well as the risks of the vaccine?

Preet Bharara:

So I’m going to come out of character for a second, because I agree with you. Yeah, look, you have to think about… So my response was going to be, and was before look, there are risks to take in the vaccine. And the risk of dying from COVID is really, really low. And you make a great point, which is, those are not the only risks to consider. And to the extent I was going to say, I’m not afraid of something that’s the flu. And mostly it’s just the flu. I know people got mad at Donald Trump for saying it’s just the flu but for most people, it appears to just be the flu. You get a fever, maybe some cough, and then you’re fine. And I’m prepared to take that risk. And it may not have occurred to me that we don’t have enough data about that either. And so, yeah. So I appreciate not to come out of…

Adam Grant:

No. It sounds like you’re ready to break character. So let’s debrief.

Preet Bharara:

Yeah. I think there are… Part of what you have done is to take the concerns and the logical reasoning methods of the person you’re trying to persuade, or at least open their minds and turn it back on them. And at that person, like I was saying, if I really care about probabilities and it’s not just about the unholy injection of some foreign substance into my body, but I’m actually thinking about it in terms of risk, then you introduce other concepts of risks that I may not have talked about, and that will make me ponder it. I think that’s-

Adam Grant:

That’s the hope, right? What I’m trying to do is plant a seed using your own concerns and your own values as something for you to think about. And I don’t expect it to change your mind tomorrow. But I think the most important thing is the tone there, right? So what I’m trying to do is I’m trying to tell you, “Hey, I’m worried about this too, right? I’m not here to judge you or to threaten your freedom, I’m just trying to understand your thought process better and I haven’t quite figured out exactly where I would draw my line too. And this is a conversation where I hope we’re both going to learn something and depending on where you went, my next step might’ve been to ask you, well, all right, what would the mortality rate have to be?

Or the transmission rate have to be in order for you to say, “I don’t care what we know about the vaccine, I’ve got to get it.” And then the goal there is for you to at least acknowledge that there are some circumstances where you would change and then to get you to reflect on what those others might be. Maybe do you have a vulnerable family member that you’re worried about? Maybe there’s… Another version of this is to say, okay you’re really into freedom. Well, I really want the country to open up and I think the vaccines are the best path to freedom that we have right now, talk to me about that.

Preet Bharara:

The most interesting part of your conversation with your friend that you recited in the Times piece, and maybe this is what gives you an opening is that you noted that your friend never said he would never ever get the vaccine under any circumstances. That he was very likely not to, which gave you the opportunity to ask him, “Well, if we change the hypothetical, so we change the parameters, or we changed the data, what is the thing that would get you to do that low probability thing?” And to me, that’s one of the lessons of everything that you’ve written and that we’ve talked about is to ask people… The takeaway for me is in conversations like this going forward, the point is to ask people who don’t completely close something off to say, “Okay, well, now that, that possibility exists, what are the things that you would have to be shown? What’s the data that would have to change?” And then you make progress.

Adam Grant:

I think if everyone in America understood that principle, I think we’d have much more open-minded conversations and maybe a little bit less political polarization than we do right now. And I think that there are ways… I guess the underlying principle here in motivational interviewing is that when people are considering a change, almost everyone has some ambivalence, right? Like you said earlier, they have a lot of reasons that they can martial and maybe parrot a little bit that they’ve been told by others for staying the course. But they can also generate a couple of reasons for, “Okay, there might be a time or a place where I would shift a little bit.” And then once you understand those, you can gently inquire about those reasons and see if they are motivated to talk themselves into changing. And I guess at some level, this is a longterm investment, right? You’re not expecting to radically shift somebody’s vote tomorrow or to get a climate denier, to suddenly start advocating for efforts to curb climate change. What you’re trying to do is to get people to recognize that their own beliefs are more complicated, more nuanced, and more multifaceted than they realized. And I think that’s the starting point for a lot of change.

Preet Bharara:

Adam Grant. Thanks again for being on the show, the book is, Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know.

Adam Grant:

Thank you Preet. This has as always been so fun and so thought provoking, and I love how you take your own experience and both illustrate some of my principles and also challenge and complicate some of my principals. It’s the perfect balance of having a great prosecuting attorney force me to sharpen my thinking and then also having somebody with the curiosity of a scientist to say, “Hey, I’ve actually gone out and tried that and here’s what happened.”

Preet Bharara:

Well, that’s high praise sir, thank you.

Adam Grant:

You’ve earned it.

Preet Bharara:

My conversation with Adam Grant continues for members of the CAFE Insider community. To try out the membership free for two weeks, head to cafe.com/insider. Again, that’s cafe.com/insider. I want to end the show this week by talking about my old office, which you hear me talk about often. US attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York. It’s the place where I’ve spent more of my career than any other place since I graduated from law school. And anyone who knows me knows how much I love and care about that office. SDNY has had four leaders in four years. It has not had a Senate confirmed US attorney in a long while. The last Senate confirmation was of me, that’s almost 12 years ago. That office as you know oversees incredibly important cases of national significance, terrorism cases, cyber cases, corruption cases involving both Democrats and Republicans and some politically sensitive cases in recent years, including the prosecution of Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen and Trump associate Steve Bannon, at least before he was issued a pardon by the former president.

Well, in case you missed the news, I wanted to let folks know that Senator Schumer, the senior Senator for New York, has recommended a permanent US attorney candidate to the White House. His name is Damien Williams, who I believe to be an excellent choice. And how do I know that? Well, in 2012, I hired Damian to be an assistant US attorney at the Southern District and it was an easy decision to make. He has immaculate legal credentials. He went to Harvard college in their law school, he clerked for justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court, and he also clerked for a guy who you might’ve heard of recently named Merrick Garland on the DC circuit court of appeals, who happens now to be the attorney general of the United States.

He’s one of the most impressive trial lawyers in that office. He’s now one of the chiefs of the securities unit, which handles incredibly complicated and sensitive investigations of financial fraud and crime, but more importantly than all of that, he’s a person of integrity, he has leadership skills and he will believe in the independence of the Southern District of New York, like the best of his predecessors. By the way, Damien Williams would also be the first Black US attorney in the history of the Southern District of New York. Congratulations Damien, on the recommendation, I wish you a speedy nomination and an easy confirmation and congratulations to the Southern District of New York too.

Well, that’s it for this episode of Stay Tuned. Thanks again to my guest, Adam Grant. If you like what we do, rate and review the show on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen. Every positive review helps new listeners find the show. Send me your questions about news, politics and justice. Tweet them to me at Preet Bharara with the hashtag ask Preet, or you can call and leave me a message at 6692477338. That’s 66924 Preet. Or you can send an email to [email protected] Stay Tuned is presented by CAFE studios. Your host is Preet Bharara. The executive producer is Tamara Sepper. The senior producer is Adam Waller. The technical director is David Tatasciore, and the CAFE team is Matthew Billy, David Kurlander, Sam Ozer-Staton, Noa Azulai, Nat Weiner, Jake Kaplan, Jennifer Korn, Geoff Isenman, Chris Boylan, Sean Walsh, and Margot Maley. Our music is by Andrew Dost. I’m Preet Bharara. Stay Tuned.

 

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