COVID-19 Video Conversations

Michele Wucker has been in high demand for commentary on why so many pandemic warnings went unheeded and what we need to look for coming down the road including debt crisis. Here’s a compilation of recent video appearances.

Leadership Insights Episode 024
Brough Leadership Institute (South Africa)
Conversation with Andy Brough
July 8, 2020

An Insolvent World: Can We Avoid a Global Debt Crisis?
UN Global Compact Leadership Summit
Panel with Navid Hanif, Director of Financing for Sustainable Development Office United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA); Shari Spiegel, Chief of Policy Analysis & Development Branch, UN DESA), and Sebastian Grund, Harvard Law School
June 15, 2020

Transcending the Crisis
CEO Roundtable and Context of Things
Whitaker Raymond in Conversation with Michele Wucker
May 8, 2020


Is COVID-19 a ‘Gray Rhino’ Event?
Wildtype Media/Asian Scientist Magazine (Singapore)
Michele Wucker interviewed by Juliana Chan
May 22, 2020

Leadership Through and Beyond the Crisis
Micro Strategies
Michele Wucker in conversation with Lisa Nemeth Cavanaugh and Beverly Geiger
Micro Strategies
May 8, 2020

Twenty Minutes from the Future: Gray Rhinos and our Future
ImpactsCool (Italy)
Christina Pozzi in conversation with Michele Wucker
May 26, 2020


The covid-19 pandemic is not a Black Swan but a Gray Rhino: latest development of the pandemic in Europe and US 
Nottingham University Business School (China/UK)
A Dialogue with Michele Geraci, former Undersecretary of Finance for Economic Development for Italy
May 14th, 2020

Fireside Chat with Champions
A conversation with Deepak Pareek (India)
May 25, 2020


Black Swans, Gray Rhinos, and Tigers..Oh My with Michele Wucker
RCM Alternatives Derivatives Podcast with Jeff Malec
May 28, 2020

THE GRAY RHINO Kindle Sale: $2.99 for July only

For July 2020 only, the Kindle/ebook edition of THE GRAY RHINO is on sale for $2.99 across all digital platforms. Don’t miss this chance to get your copy of the #1 best seller in financial risk management –and even better, gift it to friends and colleagues!

COVID-19 Related Podcasts

Catch up with Michele by listening to the recent podcast interviews she’s done focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and its financial consequences. Here are links and short descriptions:

Moneywise Guys
David Anderson and Sherod White, KERN Talk Radio/Moneywise Guys, June 30, 2020
David and Sherod talk with THE GRAY RHINO author Michele Wucker about why you should be wary of the surge in the markets, and how you can keep from getting trampled when the bull market turns to a bear.

Would You Know If a Gray Rhino Was Coming at You?
Jim Blasingame, The Small Business Advocate, June 16, 2020
Michele Wucker joins Jim Blasingame to reveal the concept of a metaphorical gray rhino, which is a challenge on your horizon that you should be – have been – able to anticipate and deal with before it takes – took – you down.

A Conversation with Michele Wucker
Anne Janzer’s blog, June 12, 2020
Podcast and transcript
“Q: For people who aren’t familiar with it, we’ll talk about your book The Gray Rhino. The reason that it’s coming up today is because this pandemic is a wonderful example of a Gray Rhino: a risk that it’s obvious we’ve seen stampeding towards us—or some people have been seeing and shouting about—and yet we’ve done nothing until we’re on the horn of the rhino.”

Michele Wucker Breaks Down the Gray Rhino
Scott Kitun, WGN Radio/Technori
June 10, 2020
“When people think back to the 2008 financial crisis and other big events, they often jump to the moment’s inevitability that catastrophically impacts economies, businesses and lives in what has become known as black swan events. However, Wucker dissects just how much we overlook in terms of predicting global-scale events and phenomenon, with the answers often hidden in plain sight.”

Black Swans, Gray Rhinos, and Tigers..Oh My with Michele Wucker
RCM Alternatives, Derivatives Podcast, May 28, 2020
[Video Podcast]
“The financial world seems to have a fascination with zoomorphism – the attribution of animal names, emotions, or intentions to non- animal occurrences like market shocks. Black Swans are the famous one, but there’s also been White Moose and Gray Rhino added to the lexicon. This episode we sit down with the creator of the Gray Rhino risk metaphor, Michele Wucker, author of The Gray Rhino.”

The big questions we face in coming months
Amy Guth, Crain’s Daily Gist, May 25, 2020
“Author Michele Wucker coined the term “grey rhino” for a highly probable, high-impact yet neglected threat. In this episode of the podcast, she talks with host Amy Guth about how grey rhinos could shape economic recovery, the practical decisions we’re going to need to make over the coming weeks and months and what helps us to bounce back quickly.”

Covid-19 and the perils of prediction
Tom Standage, The Economist The World Ahead (podcast), March 31, 2020
“As the Covid-19 situation worsens, host Tom Standage explores what the pandemic reveals about the perils of prediction and what other future threats we might be overlooking. ”

Michele Wucker and Gray Rhinos
Richard Cutcher and Julia Graham, Airmic Talks, May 10, 2020

Interview with Michele Wucker
David R. Koenig, DCRO Risk Governance, May 8, 2020

The Truth About Facing A Challenge
Gary Sanchez, Beyond Your Why, May 1, 2020

Global Thinkers Forum in Conversation with Changemakers
Elisabeth Filippouli, Global Thinkers Forum and Athena40, 17 April 2020

War, What Is It Good For?
National Public Radio on the Media, April 3, 2020

Breaking the Fever Inaugural Episode
Preventable Surprises and Ethical Systems, Breaking the Fever, March 31, 2020

A Metaphor for Our Times

If the nobody-could-have-seen-it-coming black swan metaphor was the narrative of the 2008 market meltdown, author and strategist Michele Wucker’s highly probable, obvious “gray rhino” metaphor tells the story of the crisis we are in today. 

Amid the double calamities of the COVID-19 pandemic and market meltdown, both of which followed repeated public warnings that went ignored, the gray rhino has struck a chord and generated a flood of headlines around the world.  

Cover of New Model Advisor Magazine -a rhino's horn in front of a cracked wall with headline "The Signs Were There"

Crisis Response Journal recently called the gray rhino “A metaphor for our times.” The UK financial magazine, New Model Advisor, made the gray rhino the cover story of its new issue, relegating the black swan to a sidebar.

Nassim Taleb, who coined the term “black swan” for highly improbable and unforeseeable events, has declared on twitter and in multiple interviews, including on Bloomberg News, that the combined pandemic and financial crisis was and is not a black swan. It was neither unforeseeable nor even improbable.

Michele coined the term “gray rhino” to draw attention to the obvious risks that are neglected despite – indeed, often because of– their size and likelihood. The gray rhino metaphor has moved markets, shaped financial policies, and made headlines around the world. She introduced it at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos in 2013, and developed a five-stage analytical framework in her 2016 book, THE GRAY RHINO: How to Recognize and Act on the Obvious Dangers We Ignore, which has sold hundreds of thousands of copies around the world and influenced China’s financial risk strategy

Michele’s recent Washington Post op-ed challenged the tired black swan trope that has given portfolio managers and policy makers a convenient “nobody saw it coming” cop-out when they ignore obvious dangers: “Let’s trade the black swan for the gray rhino: a mind-set that holds ourselves and our government accountable for heeding warnings and acting when we still have a chance to change the course of events for the better instead of waiting for a crisis to act.”  The Wall Street Journal quoted her Washington Post article, offering the gray rhino as an alternative to the black swan. 

Axios, Fast Company, and The Economist’s The World Ahead podcast have adopted the gray metaphor to describe this crisis. The term also has made pandemic and financial collapse related headlines in Australia, China and Taiwan (too many articles to link), Japan, South Korea, Cambodia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the Middle East, South Africa, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece, the Czech Republic, Chile, Venezuela, Canada, and Mexico.

The black swan has been misused to normalize complacency. By contrast, the gray rhino provides an alternative that challenges decision makers to be held accountable for failing to prepare for and head off clear and present dangers.

It provides not only a new way to think about the twin pandemic and financial crises, but also a framework for how we can do a better job holding decision makers accountable when they fail to keep threats from turning into catastrophes. As Crisis Response Journal put it, the gray rhino is indeed a metaphor for our times.

The Economist’s The World Ahead podcast

The Economist magazine’s Tom Standage interviewed Michele Wucker on The World Ahead podcast posted Monday, March 30, 2020. In the episode, focused on Covid-19 and the perils of prediction, they talked about her gray rhino theory and how it applies to the pandemic and economic crises. You can listen HERE.

Washington Post: No, the coronavirus pandemic wasn’t an ‘unforeseen problem’

The Washington Post published an op-ed by Michele Wucker, “No, the coronavirus pandemic wasn’t an ‘unforeseen problem’,” published on March 17, 2020.

“An obsession with the “unforeseeable” black swan metaphor has promoted a mentality that led us straight into the mess we’re in now: a sense of helplessness in the face of daunting threats and a sucker’s mentality that encourages people to keep throwing good money after bad. And the facile willingness to see crises as black swans has provided policymakers cover for failing to act in the face of clear and present dangers from climate change to health care to economic insecurity. This accountability vacuum has pervaded U.S. policy on financial risk and on the pandemic,” she wrote, calling for readers to use the coronavirus crisis as a catalyst for adopting a more pro-active response to the obvious risks we tend to ignore. “Let’s trade the black swan for the gray rhino: a mind-set that holds ourselves and our government accountable for heeding warnings and acting when we still have a chance to change the course of events for the better instead of waiting for a crisis to act,” she wrote. Read the full article HERE.

Ben Zimmer of The Wall Street Journal quoted the Washington Post piece in an article published March 19, 2020 online and in print in the Weekend edition: ‘Black Swan’: A Rare Disaster, Not as Rare as Once Believed [paywall], noting her challenge to the black swan trope –for unknowable, unforeseeable events– which became popular during the last financial crisis.

TED Talk: Why We Ignore Obvious Problems -and How to Act on Them

Why do we often neglect big problems, like the financial crisis and climate change, until it’s too late? Policy strategist Michele Wucker urges us to replace the myth of the “black swan” — that rare, unforeseeable, unavoidable catastrophe — with the reality of the “gray rhino,” the preventable danger that we choose to ignore. In this TED Talk, she shows why predictable crises catch us by surprise — and lays out some signs that there may be a charging rhino in your life right now. This talk was presented at an official TED conference February 1, 2019, and was featured by editors on the TED.com home page as a Talk of the Day May 1, 2019.

Author Julia Alvarez Shouts Out WHY THE COCKS FIGHT in the NY Times

The author of “IN THE TIME OF THE BUTTERFLIES” and other beloved novels recommends WHY THE COCKS FIGHT: Dominicans, Haitians, and the Struggle for Hispaniola, alongside other classic works on the Dominican Republic and Haiti, in The New York Times“By the Books” column April 11, 2019:

What books would you recommend to somebody who wants to learn more about the Dominican Republic?

I always find novels a great way to understand the character, not just the content, of a culture. Dominican-American novelists who write about the island, not just the immigration experience: Junot Díaz, Nelly Rosario, Angie Cruz. Mario Vargas Llosa’s “The Feast of the Goat” owes much to the riveting nonfiction account by Bernard Diederich, “Trujillo: The Death of the Goat.” Crassweller’s “Trujillo: The Life and Times of a Caribbean Dictator.” But how can we write about the Dominican Republic and not include Haiti? We are one island, after all, sharing a history of occupation, appropriation, slavery, dictatorship and more. Michele Wucker’s “Why the Cocks Fight” is a compact history of both countries and their relationship. I also admire Madison Smartt Bell’s “Haitian Revolution” trilogy, and “The Farming of Bones,” by one of my favorite writers, the Haitian-American Edwidge Danticat. Ditto for how can we write about Hispaniola and not include most of the southern American hemisphere, and for that, the incomparable Eduardo Galeano’s books, most saliently “Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent,” in which Haiti and the Dominican Republic figure frequently.