Making Big Bets: How To Change Your Life & The World

The world is facing several big challenges today—the climate crisis, food insecurity, racial injustice, the rise of AI, and insufficient access to healthcare, to name just a few.

Today on The Doctor’s Farmacy, I am excited to talk to Dr. Rajiv Shah about how large-scale change really happens, the success and lessons he has learned throughout his career, and why we need big bets—large, bold actions—in order to solve the world’s greatest challenges. We kick off our conversation by talking about some of the most successful big bets Rajiv has been a part of and the impact they’ve had on communities around the world. He played an integral role in the effort to vaccinate 900 million children in developing countries.

At the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under President Obama, he led the U.S. response to the Haiti earthquake and the West African Ebola pandemic. Now, as president of the Rockefeller Foundation, he oversees the global institution in its mission to promote the well-being of humanity around the world. Together, one of the big bets we have been working on is how to address the chronic disease epidemic and the problems within our food system.

Six out of 10 Americans have a chronic disease, four out of 10 have more than one, 93% are metabolically unhealthy, 75% are overweight, 42% are obese, and depression and mental illness are on the rise. Rajiv and I discuss why rates of chronic disease in the United States are so much higher than every other country on the planet and what big bets we can make to tackle this issue.

Too often, people hesitate when committing to solving a big problem. The sheer magnitude of what it will take—the high costs, the complexities, the daunting scale—causes them to step back. Rajiv and I discuss some tools to help identify a big bet, pick a pathway forward, and maintain the momentum and confidence necessary to keep moving forward. We also talk about some of the big bets that the Rockefeller Foundation is focused on, from climate change to school meal programs and food as medicine.

The Rockefeller Foundation is working to help deliver nutritious food to children and their families while advancing policies to transform the U.S. food system and improve health outcomes for everyone. They have also made a billion-dollar commitment to accelerate the fight against climate change. I hope this conversation leaves you feeling inspired and empowered to make a difference. 

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