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The Dumbest Guy in the Room

The Dumbest Guy in the Room

By CivicScience
The Podcast Where Data Meets Life
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Leading from the Bottom: How Systems Thinking Can Revitalize Everything From the Ground Up | Jeff Wilke, co-founder and chairman of Re:Build

The Dumbest Guy in the Room

Politics and Tech: Why Can't We All Just Get Along | Congressman Mike Doyle
Our elected leaders used to set the tone of political discourse. Today, politicians take cues from their tribe, gleaning their talking points from whatever's trending on social media that day. And because legislation can't be written in 140 characters, there's a huge disconnect between the soundbites that voters want to hear and the substantive policies the country actually needs. That disconnect is particularly pervasive in technology policy — or the extreme lack thereof. The tech industry moves so fast and the nuances are so complex, Congress can't keep up. Today on The Dumbest Guy in the Room, host John Dick welcomes Congressman Mike Doyle, who's retiring after this term following 28 years in the House of Representatives. Congressman Doyle holds a seat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and he chairs the subcommittee on communications and technology, where the most important debates on tech policy are happening. The two talk about the changes the congressman has seen over three decades in Washington; how the new breed of politicians is more interested in being social media stars than passing laws; and why tech remains largely unregulated. 
September 22, 2022
Leading from the Bottom: How Systems Thinking Can Revitalize Everything From the Ground Up | Jeff Wilke, co-founder and chairman of Re:Build
This week on The Dumbest Guy in the Room, host John Dick welcomes Jeff Wilke, who played a major role in building Amazon into the company it is today. After his retirement from Amazon in 2021, Wilke co-founded a company called Re:Build to help revitalize American manufacturing. John and Jeff talk about how short-term, quarterly earnings-driven corporate decision-making in America has created a host of problems that only corporate America can solve. Jeff also shared the origins of Amazon’s famed leadership principles and why they were so crucial to the company’s success.
September 14, 2022
Did COVID Save Retail? The Painful But Essential Lessons of the Pandemic | Shelley Bransten of Microsoft
It's no secret that the pandemic changed everything that businesses knew about their customers overnight. But old habits – and big systems – are hard to break, especially in big corporations where innovation is expensive and "risk" is a swear word. On this week's episode of The Dumbest Guy in the Room, host John Dick welcomes Shelley Bransten, Microsoft's corporate vice president for global retail and consumer goods. John and Shelley talk about how COVID became the new "chief innovation officer" in retail, how companies need to be agile and resilient in the face of constant change, and whether it's better to write a grocery list by hand or on a smartphone.
September 08, 2022
Remaking Media: How to Build Trust in an Ever-changing Landscape | John Battelle, co-founder of Wired and The Recount
Like many things in our country, media is broken – badly. It's hard to know where to start to fix it. Media outlets who once prided themselves on rigor and objectivity are now forced to pander to the biases of their tribal audiences, lest they lose viewers and advertisers to the countless other things vying for our attention. Algorithms help to promote the most sensational and divisive content possible – all while our private data is collected under murky terms. On this week's episode of The Dumbest Guy in the Room, host John Dick welcomes John Battelle, a legendary journalist who helped create Wired magazine 30 years ago and has launched several influential companies since then, including The Recount. The two discuss Twitter, TikTok, the future of privacy, and the role advertisers can play in saving media – and saving us from it.
August 31, 2022
Bringing Economics to the Masses: Finding Hope in Today's Economic Uncertainty | Michelle Meyer of Mastercard
The U.S. economy is absolutely massive. It’s also extremely complex, and that makes it difficult from the political perspective. You can’t thoroughly explain globalization and supply chains in a meme. We need to make economics more approachable and more relatable for the average person, and stop talking about the US economy like it’s one big monolith. In this episode of The Dumbest Guy in the Room, host John Dick welcomes Michelle Meyer, the chief North American economist for Mastercard and one of the most influential people on Wall Street, Madison Avenue, and CNBC. John and Michelle talk about the rising prominence of women in economics and finance, why Michelle isn’t alarmed about the recent economic chaos, the role of technology in improving productivity, and why you should rinse your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.
August 24, 2022
Failing on Purpose: Changing the Way We Think About the World's Biggest Problems | Astro Teller, CEO of X
It’s almost impossible to keep up with all the crises in America today. There’s inflation, energy costs, drug prices, mental health, supply chains, inequality, and so much more. Even COVID is raging again. Meanwhile, we’ve just kind of accepted the political animosity. Then there are the existential catastrophes on the horizon: climate change, food shortages, geopolitical crises. But what are we supposed to do about it? Those problems take science, and a boatload of money, and an almost reckless amount of courage to tackle. Thankfully, we also have those in America. In this episode of The Dumbest Guy in the Room, host John Dick welcomes Astro Teller, the head of an organization simply called X – the so-called “moonshot factory” of Alphabet, the parent company of Google and YouTube. Astro and John talk about how X is trying to solve seemingly unsolvable problems by failing as quickly and shamelessly as possible.
August 17, 2022
Return to Health: How Healthcare Needs to Change in the Post-COVID Era | Norman de Greve, CVS Health Chief Marketing Officer
The health implications of the pandemic are staggering. Tens of millions of Americans got COVID, as many as 1 million may die from it, and countless others will deal with its lasting effects – maybe forever. Then there are the indirect consequences: 35% of U.S. adults are heavier than they were before the pandemic, drinking and smoking are on the rise, and exercise and healthy eating are on the decline. And don’t forget about the mental health effects, particularly among women and teens. But a return to health is coming – we just don’t know when. CVS Health Chief Marketing Officer Norman de Greve joins host John Dick to talk about pandemic health trends and which will stick, how businesses need to adapt to them, and a passionate disagreement about eggnog.
December 16, 2021
Divided We Watch: How Media and Entertainment Reflect Our Increasingly Tribal Culture | Sara Fischer of Axios and Rich Greenfield of LightShed Partners
It’s hard to imagine TV shows or movies captivating our nation the way they used to, which is a shame, because we’ve never needed something to bring us together like we do today. Sure, there are shows like Squid Game and Ted Lasso, but a third of Americans don’t have Netflix and many more don’t have Apple TV+. It makes you wonder if entertainment does more to divide us — both because of how fragmented it is and how it’s deliberately engineered to appeal to specific segments of the population. So where does it all leave us? In this episode of The Dumbest Guy in the Room, Axios Media Reporter Sara Fischer and Rich Greenfield of LightShed Partners join CivicScience CEO John Dick to discuss the present and future of everything from the news to the movies to the metaverse — whatever that is.
December 08, 2021
Delivering Time: How the Pandemic Permanently Altered Our Values | Claudine Cheever, VP of Global Marketing at Amazon
Of all the questions we ask at CivicScience, the rising value of time over money has been evident in spades during the pandemic. Why? Because we finally learned what it was like to have time. This week on The Dumbest Guy in the Room, Amazon VP of Global Marketing Claudine Cheever joins CivicScience CEO John Dick to discuss how companies can deliver on promises of speed and convenience, and how Amazon is hoping to become the world's best employer at a time when employee expectations are changing fast.
December 01, 2021
You Are What You Eat. And Wear. And Watch. | Morgan Flatley, Global CMO of McDonald's
As political tribalism rages across America, supporting brands on social media has gotten more complicated. The brands we align with have to align with our values – because supporting the wrong ones could alienate us from our political tribes. This week, McDonald’s Global Chief Marketing Officer Morgan Flatley joins CivicScience CEO John Dick to discuss how brands can navigate the minefield of politics and cancel culture, and whether it’s possible for a brand to appeal to everyone – or even most of everyone.
November 17, 2021
It's Politics, Stupid: Why Economic Realities are Drowning Under the Flood of Political Tribalism | Tony Fratto of Hamilton Place Strategies
Politics used to take a backseat to economics, but at some point that all changed. The average American today is better off financially than they were before the pandemic, but consumer confidence – our economic outlook – is in the tank. Why? It's politics, of course.  In this episode of The Dumbest Guy in the Room, Tony Fratto, the former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and current partner at Hamilton Place Strategies, joins host John Dick to discuss the friction between political tribalism and economic truth, how government and media have failed in explaining basic policy virtues to the American people, and why bagel sandwiches kind of suck.
November 11, 2021
Renewing the American Dream: How Hispanic-Americans Can Save our Fractured Nation | Roberto Ruiz, executive vice president of Research, Insights and Analytics at Univision
CivicScience data tell us that Hispanics today are a mind-blowing one-and-a-half times more likely than non-Hispanics to believe they can achieve the “American Dream.” Non-Hispanics are 20% less likely to believe the American Dream exists at all. In our final episode of the season, CivicScience CEO and host John Dick talks with Roberto Ruiz, the head of Research, Insights, and Analytics for Univision, the largest Hispanic-audience media company in the U.S. The two discuss the growing and evolving population of Hispanics in America, why they’re so crucial to marketers, and – surprisingly – why a growing number of them supported Donald Trump in 2020. Subscribe to the CivicScience newsletter at
April 22, 2021
Banking, Breadwinning, and the Changing American Household: Part II | Andrea Brimmer, Chief Marketing Officer of Ally Financial
Research tells us that the way math is taught in elementary schools is better suited for boys, while the majority of high school math and science teachers are men. Play that out over a few hundred years and it’s not hard to understand why the odds are stacked against women in STEM. But the ripple effects don’t end there. In addition to – or perhaps even because of – the foundational gender biases in math, girls are also less likely to learn about financial management and investing at a young age, leaving them less equipped in those areas as adults. In Part II of our series on the evolving role of women in America, CivicScience CEO and host John Dick welcomes Andrea Brimmer, the Chief Marketing Officer of Ally Financial. Andrea and John discuss how better digital tools have enabled a new generation of women to take control of their financial lives, why sponsorship of women's sports is so crucial, and how she uses bottles of wine to tell the days apart during COVID. Subscribe to the CivicScience newsletter at
April 15, 2021
Banking, Breadwinning, and the Changing American Household: Part I | Meredith Verdone, Chief Marketing Officer of Bank of America
To say the COVID crisis has been harder on women is an egregious understatement. The disproportionate mental, emotional, physical, and financial toll on women since last March will be one of the lasting – and saddest – legacies of the pandemic. Yet, according to Civic Science data, U.S. women continue to take on a greater share of household responsibilities in areas like finance, insurance, and major purchases like houses and cars. Most men are barely taking on a couple extra grocery runs. To talk about the challenges facing women today, CivicScience CEO and host John Dick welcomes Meredith Verdone, the Chief Marketing Officer of Bank of America, one of the largest companies in the world and a leader in corporate responsibility. Meredith and John discuss the impact of the pandemic on women in the workforce, the women who inspired her, the role of empathy in marketing, and the one place she can’t wait to go when the pandemic is over. Subscribe to the CivicScience newsletter at
April 15, 2021
The Future of Work | Bracken Darrell, CEO of Logitech
By now, everyone knows about how the pandemic sent millions of (former) office workers scrambling to outfit their homes with new tech for the onset of a year of remote work. What isn't so intuitive is how much people have -liked- working from home: More than 40% of U.S. adults now say they'd be willing to take a pay cut to be able to work remotely from anywhere they choose. On this episode of The Dumbest Guy in the Room, Logitech CEO (and this week's smart guest) Bracken Darrell joins host John Dick for a discussion of how the pandemic jumpstarted tech and work trends that began years before COVID-19 entered the lexicon. They also talk about company leadership, what it means to "fire yourself," and who exactly is picking up all those phone calls from unknown numbers. Subscribe to the CivicScience newsletter at
April 08, 2021
Shuffling Playlists: How Music is Reborn (Pt. 2): Matt Mangano, Bassist for the Zac Brown Band
Live music has been, without a doubt, one of the industries hit hardest by the pandemic. According to the latest CivicScience data, just 37% of Americans would be comfortable attending a concert right now. In this episode of The Dumbest Guy in the Room, Zac Brown Band bassist Matt Mangano will share an artist’s perspective on the music industry, how professional musicians were uniquely equipped to weather the pandemic, and what music will look like when everything opens up again. Subscribe to the CivicScience newsletter at
April 01, 2021
Shuffling Playlists: How Music is Reborn (Pt. 1): Bob Lefsetz
CivicScience data show that Americans’ passion for music has been on a steady decline since 2016 — especially among Gen Z. In this episode of The Dumbest Guy in the Room, legendary music critic Bob Lefsetz joins host John Dick to talk about the state of the music biz mid-pandemic, the effect of streaming, and how the music industry can turn things around.
March 25, 2021
Polling Sucks But We Need It - John Anzalone
In this episode of The Dumbest Guy in the Room, host John Dick explores the existential crisis facing the polling industry and why it needs to be saved, with smart guest, John Anzalone, the lead pollster for President Joe Biden and many others. The Johns will also talk about how political research evolved during the 2020 election, why Democrats were easier to reach at home during the pandemic, and why America might not be nearly as divided as it seems. Subscribe to the CivicScience newsletter at
March 18, 2021
Mark Cuban: The Next Generation of Sports
Mark Cuban (the smart guy in the room this week) is a legendary entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist. In this episode, Mark and CivicScience CEO John Dick discuss the economic climate, the growth of non-fungible tokens, and the future of sports and media. They also discuss the potential for Gen Z and breakdown some of the insights we’ve gleaned from CivicScience polling data. Subscribe to the CivicScience newsletter at
March 11, 2021
Welcome to 'The Dumbest Guy in the Room' In Season 1, CivicScience founder and CEO John Dick will interview some of the most gifted visionaries in business, technology, media, entertainment, and politics. You’ll meet people who are changing entire industries thanks to the most unexpected insights. Please subscribe!
December 24, 2020