Michele’s Favorite Thought-Provoking Global TV Binges

During the Covid-19 pandemic, I haven’t been able to go around the world the way I did in Before Times but traveled virtually via way more time watching television than ever before.

When a friend recently asked me for recommendations of the TV binges that have gotten me through the pandemic, I realized that my favorites had common threads running through them. As you might have expected, I particularly enjoy shows that let me travel the world vicariously and have something to say about society, present and past.

So, since I’m in the mood for something a bit lighter this week, I wanted to share the list with you. Here it is:

Dramas

Photo credit: Netflix

Money Heist (“La casa de papel”) Set against the backdrop of the massive money printing unleashed during the Great Financial Crisis, this series is the story of not one but (eventually) two robberies: of the Spanish Central Bank and of the Spanish Mint. Every time you think the series could not possibly do more with the story of a rag-tag band of thieves led by a nerdy master criminal (who is hot despite, or maybe because of his nerdiness), it proves you wrong. (2017-2022)

The Bureau (“Le bureau des legendes”) is a French spy thriller exploring the complex relationship between the US CIA and European intelligence agencies in the Middle East, North Africa, and Russia. Powerful story lines, great writing, moral dilemmas, and fully drawn characters. (2015-2020)

Lupin Assane Diop, a French-Senegalese gentleman master thief out to avenge his father, who as a boy saw his father’s wealthy employer frame him for a diamond “heist.” Diop is inspired in his exploits by a series –17 novels and 39 novellas–written by French novelist Maurice Leblanc about the gentleman burglar and master of disguise, Arsène Lupin. (2021)

Homeland Brilliant and bipolar, CIA officer Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) risks everything, including heartbreak and sanity, at every twist and turn of this long-running thriller. Against a global backdrop that takes viewers from Washington, DC, to Iran, Syria, Germany, Afghanistan, Russia, and Israel, Homeland has its own take on the global War on Terror and its unintended consequences. Oh, and it showcases award-winning performances by Claire Danes, Damien Lewis, and Mandy Patinkin. Need I say more? (2011-2020)

The Americans This drama about two Russian spies posing as Americans in suburban Washington, DC, in the 1980s, was inspired by the spy ring that the FBI busted in 2010. A few months before that bust, I briefly met one of those spies, an eager young man who handed me his card after a panel in New York City where I was speaking about risk. He later became a travel agent, inspiring the profession of the husband in this series, played by the talented Matthew Rhys. Keri Russell was also fantastic, as was Costa Ronin, who later played a Russian spy in Homeland. (2013-2018)

El Presidente (Do you really need this translated?) This Emmy-nominated eight-episode Chilean drama takes viewers inside the 2015 FIFA soccer scandal from the perspective of a hapless small-town soccer association club who is tapped to head Chile’s national soccer association. The FBI later leans on Sergio Jadue, who becomes the linchpin of their case against FIFA. It’s a poignant, sometimes comical, look at how corruption insidiously drags people in and how hard it is to give it up. (2020)

Quirky Comedies

Call My Agent (“Dix pour cent”) is a French comedy drama about a talent agency, with cameos by real-life movie stars playing versions of themselves. (2015-2019)

Kim’s Convenience Based on a play of the same name by co-producer Ins Choi, Kim’s Convenience is the story of a Korean family in Toronto running a small convenience store. The dynamic between the Korean-born parents, Umma and Apa, and their Canadian-raised children, is achingly bittersweet. See the performances that got Simu Liu noticed and cast as the Marvel hero, Shang-Chi. (2016-2021)

The One I Missed

I may be the last person on the planet who has not seen Squid Game, the global phenomenon released in 2021. I was eager to watch because I’ve enjoyed so much other TV, film, and music from Korea’s amazing culture industry, and because of its implied commentary on global inequality and economic desperation. Alas, I only got a few minutes in to the first episode then became too squeamish. But as I understand it, that’s entirely my loss.

I’m always looking for new suggestions, particularly smartly written series from around the world with well-developed characters and insights into salient issues. Please share your favorites in the comments.

This article is part of my LinkedIn newsletter series, “Around My Mind” – a regular walk through the ideas, events, people, and places that kick my synapses into action, sparking sometimes surprising or counter-intuitive connections. 

To subscribe to “Around My Mind” and get notifications of new posts, click the blue button at the top of this page. Please don’t be shy about sharing, leaving comments or dropping me a private note with your own reactions.

For more content, including guest posts and ways to engage me for keynotes, workshops, or strategic deep dives, please visit www.thegrayrhino.com.

You Are What You Risk Taiwan Edition Launched

Michele’s latest book, YOU ARE WHAT YOU RISK, is now available in Taiwan in traditional/complex Chinese characters as “Find the Gray Rhino in Your Life: Knowing Your Risk Fingerprints and turning a Crisis into Opportunity,” published by Commonwealth (Tianxia/World Culture imprint).

Use your browser translator (if needed) to read this profile in Global Views Monthly Magazine published on occasion of the book launch.

Watch video highlights (in English with traditional Chinese character subtitles) below:

NYC Allows Legal Immigrants to Vote in City Elections

The New York City Council has overwhelmingly approved a bill to allow more than 800,000 lawfully present immigrants to vote in municipal elections, becoming the largest U.S. city to do so. As a founding member of the New York Coalition to Expand Voting Rights, created in 2003 to research, recommend, and advocate for the ideas that culminated in this new policy, I could not be prouder. Even though I moved to Chicago in 2014, part of my heart will always remain in New York City and I am so happy that New Yorkers who support vibrant democracy have finally carried this initiative over the finish lines.

If this is the first time you are hearing about noncitizen voting –which was widespread in the U.S. until early in the twentieth century– please wait before you pass judgment. Many of the arguments of opponents simply do not hold water. The word “citizen” comes from the days when people’s allegiances lay with their cities because nations did not yet exist. The NYC policy does not allow voting in state or federal elections, so does not remove an incentive for recent immigrants to become U.S. citizens. To the contrary, it helps prepare them to become full federal citizens as they wait until they are eligible.

Below is the testimony that I delivered to the New York City Council for November 14, 2005 hearings on Intro. 628, the first bill introduced in favor of municipal voting rights for lawfully present non-citizens.

“Why the Voting Rights Restoration Act (Intro. 628) Is Good for New York City”

Thank you for the opportunity to testify on why New York City should allow non-citizens who reside legally in this city to vote in municipal elections. My name is Michele Wucker and I am a Senior Fellow at the World Policy Institute at The New School, where my research focuses on immigration and citizenship issues, particularly on how immigrants integrate into their host communities, on the policies that can promote or retard that process, and on the consequences. With Ron Hayduk, I am a co-founder and co-director of the Immigrant Voting Project (www.immigrantvoting.org), which documents and analyzes the initiatives to enfranchise non-citizens around the United States and the world, both throughout history and during a revival of the practice that began in the 1960s and accelerated in the 1990s through the present.

You’ve heard important testimony today about rights, democracy, and the ways that non-citizens would benefit from being given a voice in the city’s affairs. But I wouldn’t blame you, or your constituents, for asking, “What’s in it for me?”

All New Yorkers should care whether or not non-citizen New Yorkers can vote in city elections for the same reason that we care whether anybody votes at all. It’s not at all hard to see why people are alarmed that the voter turnout last week was below 40% and the lowest in five mayoral elections. Municipal voter participation reflects how much residents care about the city where they live and how much of a stake they feel they have. A recent New York Times Magazine article argued that, given that the likely benefit to any one individual of casting a vote is tiny, it’s a wonder that anyone votes at all. The broader community benefits far more than any individual does when he or she casts a vote.

In Fall 2003, the Los Angeles community of Lynwood, where 44% of voting-age residents are not citizens, discovered the hard way what happens when a large part of the community is disenfranchised. Taxpayers were funding Lynwood City Council members’ exorbitant salaries, fancy meals and junkets to Rio de Janeiro and Hawaii. The whole city suffered because the local government was not accountable to all of its residents.

When a city fails to create engaged local citizens, the consequences can be devastating, as has been happening in the immigrant suburbs of Paris. Similarly, the 1992 Washington Heights riots here in New York City were caused in part because community residents were isolated from the rest of the city and felt they had little say or influence over policies that affected them. The solution was to develop policies to address residents’ needs. In Washington, D.C.’s Adams Morgan neighborhood in 1991, ethnically charged riots inspired several suburbs to respond by granting local voting rights to noncitizen residents as a way of making sure that their concerns were addressed before they reached a breaking point.

When I first heard about the idea of noncitizen voting rights, my reaction was similar to the one I often get today when I tell others about the work of the Immigrant Voting Project and the New York Coalition to Expand Voting Rights. Why would someone bother to become a citizen if they already enjoyed the right to vote? While it is an understandable reaction, because Americans are far more likely to vote in national elections than local ones, it also is mistaken. The New York movement, like many similar ones across the country, only involves city-level voting rights; you still must be a citizen to vote for, say, President of the United States.

Adopting a new nationality is an emotional and very personal decision. Legal residents must wait five years before they can even apply to become a naturalized citizen, a long and often frustrating process. For many immigrants, the big hurdle in deciding to apply for naturalization is emotional: when they say the Pledge of Allegiance, they want to mean it. They want to feel like they belong to a place before they do the paperwork and undergo a process that is so complicated and frustrating that only those who really want to be citizens will go through. Giving incipient Americans a voice in their communities is a way to create involved, educated citizens at the local level, which will encourage many of them to go on to become U.S. citizens as well. At the same time, by cultivating all immigrants as citizens of this great city, New York will benefit immensely by welcoming into our civic life even those individuals who may not ever naturalize.

Becoming a “citizen of the city” is very different, both emotionally and in terms of results, from being a citizen of a nation. While it is only logical to think long and hard before changing their nationality, people are arguably citizens of a new city the minute that they take a job, sign a lease, enroll their children in schools, or begin a school semester of their own. Everyone who lives in a city immediately have an interest in securing safe and clean streets, good schools, and reliable and affordable transportation and health care. City officials’ decisions have immediate and tangible effects on the daily lives of every single resident: whether we have to walk through garbage or pass by crack dealers on the corner, how long we have to wait at the bus stop or subway station. We cannot afford to wait until the newest New Yorkers become U.S. citizens to make them full citizens of the city.

All residents depend on their neighbors being willing and able to participate in making sure that elected officials know what their needs are and meet them. Last year, I moved to Washington Heights, a neighborhood that is heavily populated by recent immigrants who, because of their citizenship status, cannot vote. I had to depend on the “A” train, which I quickly learned was unreliable at best. But, because the residents of Washington Heights had only a limited political voice, nobody expected more frequent or reliable train service any time soon. Meanwhile, lower Washington Heights finally succeeded in ending the skip-stop 9 train and increasing 1 train service, a feat achieved only when the number of likely voters to be courted hit critical mass. I think about the businesses that depend on reliable transportation for their workers no matter what their citizenship status and about the citizens who cannot get the services they need because their neighbors have no voices. And in these examples, I hope that you too will see clearly the answer to the question, “What’s in it for me?”

You Are What You Risk China Edition

The Chinese edition of YOU ARE WHAT YOU RISK: The New Art and Science of Navigating an Uncertain World (Pegasus Books, April 2021), translated by Feng Yi and Zhang Liying, as “Gray Rhino 2: How individuals and Organizations Dance with Risk,” was published in September 2021 by CITIC Press Group to high praise.

The book is part of the Rhino Books imprint featuring high-profile business books by international authors, which was created in 2017 around THE GRAY RHINO: How to Recognize and Act on the Obvious Dangers We Ignore (translated as The Gray Rhino: How to Deal with High Probability Crisis).

Cover of white book cover with red simplified Chinese characters for "GRAY RHINO 2" and image of fingerprint superimposed on a rhino

From the publisher:
“The popularity of the author and the popularity of the previous book. “Grey Rhino: How to Deal with High Probability Crisis” has become a well-known, hotly discussed and widely used phenomenon-level vocabulary since it was published by CITIC Publishing House in 2017. “Gray Rhino: How Individuals and Organizations Dance with Risk” is not only an extension and supplement to the concept of “gray rhino”, but also a deeper and more microscopic exploration of the essence of “risk”. We cannot ignore the constructive significance of this book for every reader, enterprise, government, and country in the future. “Gray Rhino 2: How Individuals and Organizations Dance with Risks” will once again become a work of the era with great influence with its acumen, foresight and professional depth of content.”

Praise for the China edition of YOU ARE WHAT YOU RISK/Gray Rhino 2:

SINA FINANCE Book recommendation: “This book is Michele Wucker’s new masterpiece.”

Wucker’s “Grey Rhino: How to Deal with a High Probability Crisis” allows us to improve our awareness and trade-offs in the face of political and commercial risks. Her new book reveals to us that individuals at risk, their risk personality, organization, and society’s dynamic feedback loop will affect citizens, organizations, and the government’s different perceptions, reactions, and response results to risks. Building a good risk ecosystem, establishing healthy risk relationships, and fairly distributing risks-related gains and losses, so that as many people as possible can live a better life, should be our principles and pursuit of understanding and weighing risks. 
— Wu Xiaoling (Executive Vice President of China Finance Society)             

??There are various gray rhino risks in the current society. Personal risks, policy risks, professional risks, economic risks, organizational risks and global risks are intertwined to shape our lives, work and the world. Wucker’s new book, based on the tremendous changes that have taken place in the world in recent years, deeply explores how we make our own choices based on our unique risk fingerprints, and how risk choices shape the relationship between individuals, organizations, and society, and help us inspire us. Work together to build a benign risk ecosystem to support the sustainable development of the economy and society.?
— Xiao Gang (Member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference)  

??The great changes unseen in a century and the superposition of super-epidemics mean that this era is one of frequent occurrences of “black swan” and “gray rhino” events. To gain insight into the new laws of this era, we should peruse this new book by Wucker. This book is not only an extension and supplement to the concept of “gray rhino,” but also a deeper and more micro-systematic exploration of “risk,” which has constructive significance for individuals, enterprises and governments.
–Liu Yuanchun (Vice President of Renmin University of China, Economist)    ?

??We have entered an era of comprehensive, full-time, and global risk. Whether it is an individual or an organization, how to accompany risks and build a constructive relationship with them will determine their future. Wucker’s new book provides guidance and an operating system for this.
-Qin Shuo (China Commercial Civilization Research Center, initiator of Qin Shuo Moments of Friends)  

??Risk has become the norm in this era. The theme of Wucker’s new book is how to deal with the endless risks. There is no uniform standard answer, and people of different cultures, generations, and personalities have different views on risk. You need to understand your “risk fingerprint” first, and then exercise your “risk muscles.” This book is a survival guide everyone needs to read in the age of risk.
–He Fan (Professor of Economics at Shanghai Jiaotong University, author of “Variables“) 

??The big change that has not been seen in a century is also a big opportunity that has not been seen in a century. “Danger” and “opportunity” are always dialectical and mutually transforming. Embrace change, promote change with a positive attitude, shape a good risk personality, and dance with risk. This is the law of nature and the wisdom for us to get along better with the world. Wucker’s new book has strong enlightening value for us to refresh our risk awareness and prevent and resolve risk events.
— Ren Zeping (Economist)  

YOU ARE WHAT YOU RISK In the News

Read, listen and watch more about Michele’s latest book, YOU ARE WHAT YOU RISK: The New Art and Science of Navigating an Uncertain World at the links below:


Recognition:
You Are What You Risk book cover with Next Big Idea Club seal

A Next Big Idea Club Spring 2021 Nominee
An AudioFile Earphones Award honoree (audiobook edition): “Michele Wucker examines how gender and age, cultural and family norms, and economic status impact how we view and handle risk. With refreshing, often hip, writing, she explains the perceptual flaws that cloud our ability to grasp the chances we take in life…this enlightening lesson is full of insights and strategies for seeing the risks we take more clearly.” 
A Porchlight Books Editor’s Choice:  “Beyond understanding risk on a personal, an academic, and even a geopolitical level, what I think readers will be left with is a better understanding of the topic that Wucker ultimately uncovers—reality. To live in reality is to understand risk, and that it is no longer confined to our daily lives or the life of the communities, countries, and nations we live in.”

News Coverage and Reviews:
Los Angeles Review of Books: Risk Management and its Discontents: “Timely….Wucker offers a cultured, societal, gendered, and generational look at risk across the world.” 
Take the Lead Women: How Risky Are You? Discover Your Risk Profile to Succeed
YOU ARE WHAT YOU RISK: A Review by Anne Janzer
Q&A with Deborah Kalb
Grist: The World Is Getting Scarier
Risk & Insurance Magazine: COVID’s Unsettling Impact on the Future of Work and What Perils and Potential Upsides Remain
Book review in The Rewired Soul
World Class Performer: Short Life Lessons from Michele Wucker
Maeil Business Newspaper (Korea)” [5 Years After The Gray Rhino, Author Asks “What’s Your Risk Fingerprint?” (Cover Story) (in Korean; use browser translater)]
Financial Times: Risk Specialists Draw Lessons from Greensill Saga
The Wall Street Journal: Losing Dollars by Pinching Pennies

Lists:
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: 40 Books for Summer Reading
Capital Spectator BookBits: Six More for the Investor’s Bookshelf
Practical eCommerce: 14 New Business Books for 2021
Business Digest EU: Les lectures à ne pas manquer – Printemps 2021 [Books not to miss -Spring 2021]

Watch:
FlexJobs Webinar: Risk and the Future of Work: How to Thrive Amid Uncertainty
Sustain What? with Andrew Revkin: Two Experts Offer Personal Solution Paths Amid Complexity and Inevitability
YOU ARE WHAT YOU RISK Book launch “at” The Book Cellar in conversation with Amy Guth

Listen:
Next Big Idea Club Book Bites (download app to listen)
Disaster Zone Episode 41: Personal and Organizational Risk Management
Steady Trade Episode 200: Discover Your Risk Fingerprint With Michele Wucker
Human Risk with Christian Hunt: Michele Wucker on You Are What You Risk
IBTalk with Paul Lucas: Why You Are What You Risk
Populyst with Sami Karam: You Are What You Risk, with Michele Wucker
OODAcast: Michele Wucker on Identifying and Confronting the Obvious Risks of Gray Rhinos

YOU ARE WHAT YOU RISK Chicago Book Launch video

Chicago media personality Amy Guth moderates a conversation with Gray Rhino & Company CEO Michele Wucker about her new book, YOU ARE WHAT YOU RISK: The New Art and Science of Navigating an Uncertain World, for the Chicago launch at independent bookstore The Book Cellar, in partnership with Institute for Work and the EconomyChicago Global Shapers, Human Citizen Workplace, and The Authors Guild Chicago Chapter.

They are joined by Chicago-based interviewees Agam AroraPeter CreticosJermikko, and Genevieve Thiers.

Watch here:

YOU ARE WHAT YOU RISK

YOU ARE WHAT YOU RISK: The New Art and Science of Navigating an Uncertain World, is now available at your favorite bookseller. Please support your local independent bookstore.

The book is:
A Next Big Idea Club Spring 2021 Nominee
An AudioFile Earphones Award honoree (audiobook edition)
A Porchlight Books Editor’s Choice

YOU ARE WHAT YOU RISK: A Review by Anne Janzer
Q&A with Deborah Kalb
Grist: The World Is Getting Scarier

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: 40 Books for Summer Reading
BookBits: Six More for the Investor’s Bookshelf
Practical eCommerce: 14 New Business Books for 2021

What drives a sixty-four-year-old woman to hurl herself over Niagara Falls in a barrel? Why are cor­porate boards paying more attention to risky personal behavior by CEOs? Why are some countries quicker than others to recognize—and manage—risks like pandemics, technological change, and the climate crisis?

The answers to these questions define each person, organization, and society as distinctively as a finger­print. Understanding the often-surprising origins of these risk fingerprints can open your eyes, inspire new habits, catalyze innovation and creativity, improve teamwork, and provide a beacon in a world that suddenly seems more uncertain than ever.

How you see risk and what you do about it depend on your personality and experiences; culture and values; the people around you; and even unexpected things like what you’ve eaten recently, the temperature in the room, or the fragrance in the air. Being alert to these often-unconscious influences will help you to seize opportunity and avoid danger.

You Are What You Risk is a clarion call for a new conversation about our relationship with risk and uncertainty. In this ground-breaking and accessible book, Michele Wucker examines why it’s so important to understand your risk fingerprint, and how to make your risk relationships work better in business, life, and the world.

Drawing on compelling stories from risk takers around the world and weaving in economics and social psychology, Wucker bridges the divide between professional and lay risk conversations. She challenges stereotypes about risk attitudes, shows how the new science of “risk personality” is re-shaping business and finance, and reveals how embracing risk empathy can resolve conflicts. Wucker shares insights, practical tools, and proven strategies that will help you to make better choices, both big and small.

“There’s a huge need in the business world to better understand the human factors behind how we perceive and evaluate risks, and there’s no better guide than Michele Wucker. Drawing on the stories of compelling risk-takers, practical research, and proven strategies, You Are What You Risk treads essential new territory for executives who want their organizations to be innovative, creative, and industry leaders.” — Danielle Harlan, author of The New Alpha: Join the Rising Movement of Influencers and Changemakers Who are Redefining Leadership

“The world is complex. But if we can’t be aware of all things happening everywhere all the time, can we at least have a framework for understanding what risks loom large and small in our lives, and start to think rationally – as individuals, companies, governments, and societies – about how to respond? You Are What You Risk delivers that story, that framework, and that action plan.”
  — Parag Khanna, author of Connectography and How to Run the World

“As Silicon Valley illustrates, risk attitudes and behaviors are at the heart of why organizations and economies thrive or head for disaster. In You Are What You Risk, Michele Wucker explores the dynamics behind individuals’ and companies’ relationships with risk, from personal experience to cultural values to policy ecosystems. Her original insights and practical recommendations will help readers choose healthy risk-taking over dangerous missteps in business, life, and the world.”

  — Deborah Perry Piscione, author of Secrets of Silicon Valley and The Risk Factor

“Whether you’re an investor, entrepreneur, of simply trying to forge your career strategically in any field, you’ll benefit from Michele Wucker’s innovative, clear-eyed approach to taking wise risks and navigating uncertainty. This book will help you to get from ordinary to extraordinary.” — Laura Huang, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and Author of EDGE: Turning Adversity into Advantage

The Gray Rhino in BTS hit single”Blue & Grey”

The gray rhino inspired a lyric in the hit single “Blue & Grey” by the global K-pop phenomenon BTS released with its album BE in November 2020. BTS, which is known for smashing music records and bringing needed attention to under-appreciated issues, shone a full-on spotlight on mental health with “BE.” Vox called the release “essential pandemic pop.” The hit singles “Life Goes On” and “Blue & Grey” (which Rolling Stone called the album’s standout song) in particular refer to the pain of depression and loneliness during lockdown but offer a message of hope: we can get through this and life goes on.

A rap line in “Blue & Grey” uses the gray rhino as a metaphor for anxiety and depression: “This lump of metal does feel heavy/ A grey rhino that is coming toward me/ Absently, I stand with vacant eyes.”

Listen to the song along with real-time translations here:

My tweet about the song, which BTS’ official account “liked,” went viral and generated headlines in Japan, Taiwan, and Korea.

Watch below as BTS’s V (Kim Tae-hyun), who wrote the main text of Blue & Grey and was producer for the song, interviews J-Hope (Jung Ho-seok), who wrote and performed the song’s rap overlay including the gray rhino lyric. J-Hope begins discussing the concept around 9:10 in the video, explaining that “It’s also a term used in economics… It’s a term used to describe a danger that you’re aware is approaching, but you neglect and ignore it. Grey rhino is used to describe those dangers. And when I used that term it was like having a face-to-face with myself. The job I have has many dangerous factors, and there are other dangerous factors. But for these parts I have to carry with me the dangers I can’t be sure of. So instead of being afraid of it, I wanted to face it. And that’s what I wanted to convey.” In response, V says, “When I saw the lyrics, ‘gray rhino,’ I told our producers, ‘Holy moly, baam. Wow, grandfather!’ I think I’ve used all the exclamations I can think of!”