I predicted Trump and Brexit in my 2016 international best-seller, Age of Discovery. Oxford political scientist, China scholar, blogger and impact investor. AMA!

Christopher Kutarna
Mar 9, 2018

Chris is a two-time Governor General’s Medallist from Canada, a Commonwealth Scholar and a Fellow of the Oxford Martin School from the University of Oxford. In 2006 he moved to Beijing, started a business and sold it. He then paid himself for five years to do a doctorate in politics at Oxford and to write the best-selling Age of Discovery: Navigating the Shocks of our Second Renaissance, published by Bloomsbury and St Martin’s Press. Prior to that, he spent time with the Boston Consulting Group in New Zealand and Australia. 

Chris’ writing appears everywhere from TIME Magazine to Vogue. His open letters, posted weekly on his website, are deemed required reading by some of the world’s smartest people. His words shape debate in frequent media appearances, boardrooms and on stages around the world. 

In January 2018, London Speaker Bureau recognized Dr. Chris Kutarna as a Global Top Ten Speaker on the Future Of Work.

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Conversation (74)

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Do you believe there is an effective way to resolve conflict and build lasting peace without war and why?
Mar 13, 12:11PM EDT0
Why, according to political science, are interest groups necessary in American politics?
Mar 13, 5:25AM EDT0
Why do political scientists consider multi-party systems the most representative of all the systems?
Mar 13, 5:20AM EDT0
In what ways does the TV series “House of Cards” accurately portray real life politics?
Mar 12, 2:51PM EDT0
What is the difference between unitary and federal systems?
Mar 12, 9:42AM EDT0

Here's my latest thinking on different political systems 


Mar 12, 2:11PM EDT0
Would you encourage young people to learn politics?
Mar 10, 11:20AM EST0

Absolutely. Politics is like finance. Or health. Whether or not the topic excites you, you need to know about it because it has such a big impact on your quality of life and your real freedom

Mar 12, 2:09PM EDT0

Why did you choose to pursue a doctoral degree in politics and not in e-commerce?

Mar 10, 10:51AM EST0

To me, the questions in politics feel so much bigger than the questions in e-commerce. And I'm attracted to big questions.

Mar 10, 11:04AM EST0
What are some of the compliments that you received after your predictions came true?
Mar 10, 8:42AM EST0

The best compliment I receive is simply knowing that people are reading my writing, and finding value in my ideas. For those who do, I keep in touch with a weekly letter ('a weekly retreat to 50,000 feet', as I like to call it). If you like my ideas, you're welcome to sign up for the next one

Mar 10, 10:43AM EST0
Where do you see the future of the US politics?
Mar 10, 12:21AM EST0

I think that both the Democratic and Republican parties need to go through big revolutions, within the parties. Each party needs to decide: going forward, are we going to advance a Conservative agenda (close the borders, shut down trade, etc) or a Liberal agenda (stay open).  

Mar 10, 10:40AM EST0

Can you predict that Trump will win in 2020?

Mar 9, 4:43PM EST0

I don't think he will. Or, to put it another way, it is possible to beat him, if his opponents follow the right strategy. My next book, How To Beat Trump, is going to explain that strategy.

Mar 10, 10:38AM EST0
On average, for how long do you do your research before you predict what is likely to take place in politics?
Mar 9, 12:55PM EST0

Hmm...the question suggests that "research" and "analysis/prediction" are two separate phases, one after the other. The reality is that I'm always doing both.

Mar 10, 10:37AM EST0
If you were made Trump’s Personal Advisor, what are some of the changes would you recommend he should make in his government?
Mar 9, 12:50PM EST0

Fun question. Maybe two answers. At a high level, he needs to articulate a vision for where America needs to go in the next 20-30 years. One role of the federal government in the US is to signal the national direction. That signal helps to align resources in the private and public sectors to get things done. (e.g., Kennedy's moonshot). Right now, his Administration is wasting the opportunity to send a signal, and a key moment of opportunity is being wasted because different sectors of the country are acting against each other.

Second, flip from an isolationist to a globalist agenda. In a world of "every country for itself", America is going to lose, because it won't be the biggest player--not economically, certainly not in population terms, and eventually not militarily either. But no other global challenger (China, India, Russia) enjoys the network of alliances that the USA does. Trump is weakening those alliances, and by doing so, he's making it possible for China to claim a far greater influence in global affairs. 

Mar 10, 10:36AM EST0
Any inspirations that you got from Boston Consulting Group in New Zealand and Australia that motivated you to write your book?
Mar 9, 12:27PM EST0

Actually, yes. One of the most valuable lessons I took away from BCG was how to change people's understanding of the world by changing the language we use to make sense of it. That's remained a key idea for me: noticing the language we use to try to understand the world, and finding better language. My first book is heavily informed by that insight. For example, the world isn't "connected" now, or "hyper-connected"...it's "tangled". "Tangled" is a more accurate metaphor for the state we're in, and guides our intuitions more accurately. 

Mar 10, 10:29AM EST0
Do you have a plan to shift to another field of business apart from what you are doing now?
Mar 9, 12:14PM EST0

yes and no. I work in several fields simultaneously, because I think that the big insights are going to come where fields overlap. From time to time, a big idea excites me, and then I narrow my vision down to that idea...whatever field it might be in

Mar 10, 10:30AM EST0

AMA :)

Mar 9, 10:00AM EST0
What was your reaction when your predictions on Trump and Brexit came true?
Mar 5, 1:00PM EST0

Decidedly mixed :) 

But it confirmed a lot of my thinking for me. I felt "Okay, the 'Renaissance lens' I've researched and trained myself to see through...it's helping me to make sense of the moment I'm in."  

And so, even though the events were quite unsettling, they also gave me greater confidence in my ability to navigate them.

Mar 8, 12:11PM EST0
What do you think is the primary reason for your success?
Mar 5, 11:05AM EST0

Heh heh, I guess it would be: still believing that I'm a failure? :P

But seriously, success and failure are things that we can only judge at the end of life, I think. One thing I've discovered is that the past is always changing. Things that felt like failures, turn out, years later, to have been important steps toward later successes. And vice versa.  

Mar 8, 12:13PM EST0
What business were you undertaking? Why did you sell it?
Mar 5, 7:20AM EST0

It was a D2C (direct to customer) custom clothing business. I still have an interest in it, actually. But my primary reason for starting it was to get myself "stuck into" the rapidly developing economy of China--as a participant, not just as a scholar--and eventually the business grew to the point where it really needed someone at the helm who was primarily interested in making money. "Retail is detail", as they say, and I lost my excitement for the details, once I understood them.

Mar 8, 12:16PM EST0
What do you typically invest in? What do you look for in a project?
Mar 5, 4:46AM EST0

I take it you mean $$$ investing? I'm a value investor, so I'm primarily invested into things whose cashflow I can confidently predict 5-10 years out. But I do invest 25-35% into emerging tech. Just so that I can lose money, too :) 

I also keep some money aside to fund my own startup ideas, as they come to me/my friends.

Mar 8, 12:17PM EST0
What were the negative responses you had to tackle upon predicting Trump and Brexit?
Mar 4, 2:52PM EST0

Oh boy...let's just say that most people in the politics dept at the University of Oxford had a very different set of expectations.

Mar 4, 4:31PM EST0
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