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December 29, 2015

Amit Sharma on Counter-Terrorism, The Financial Crisis, and Impact Advising

Amit Sharma (email) is one of the greatest storytellers you’ll ever meet. And for good reason; what this guy’s seen will blow you away. From living in a tent in Mongolia for 2 years to tracking down terrorists through financial markets, to lifting the hood under Wall Street’s institutional investors, Amit has seen some shit.

Be a fly on the wall and listen to some of the private conversations he had with Foreign Ministers and his own leadership in the US Government, all in the name of tracking and shutting down terrorists through financial markets. His story about Afghanistan puts you in the middle of a marketplace you would never know existed. I can say this because the US Gov’t didn’t know about it.

Then hear about Amit’s experiences as he led one of the largest banks in the world through the financial crisis, eventually buying 21% of Morgan Stanley for $7 Billion. You’ll get a front row seat into that historic time and hear from someone smack dab in the middle of it… with cash.

The good news is, he’s one of the good guys. His newest endeavor is Empowerment Capital where he’s advising bulge bracket companies to grow the top line and reduce risk through their “impact” strategies. His foresight into what’s needed to develop the impact ecosystem will help anyone interested in getting into this space – be it on the investor or entrepreneur side.

This is a TWO PART episode because it was a monster interview.

Enjoy the show!

QUESTION OF THE DAY: What do you believe is true wealth to you? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…



If you can’t see the above embedded players, here are other ways to listen:

Selected Links from the Episode
Show Notes (Part I)
  • How Amit Sharma uses his land as a vehicle for expressing creativity [8:45]
  • What mindset shift occurred when Amit Sharma moved from a big city to a rural space? [13:30]
  • How do you live with contradictions (e.g. hustle vs. slowing down)? [18:40]
  • How do you break down complex issues into simpler bites? [25:25]
  • What resources does Amit Sharma turn to when seeking knowledge and counsel? [37:36]
  • Amit Sharma on playing professional polo in Argentina [43:00]
  • What expectations did Amit have of living in Mongolia and how did that match with reality? [50:25]
  • How did Amit Sharma use his development experience to work on counter-terrorism in foreign countries? [1:01:00]
  • Amit Sharma recounts a time when he went unguarded into an Afghan market to gain field intelligence [1:04:30]
  • Post 9/11, who was Amit meeting with and what was he doing to fight terrorism? [1:12:35]
  • Amit Sharma explains how some counter-terrorism tools could be used to find corruption and the impact that had on convincing foreign governments to implement them[1:19:20]
  • How terrorists like ISIS and Hamas gain legitimacy to receive foreign aid and use donations and grants to fund their illicit activities [1:22:00]
  • How are counter-terrorism tools in financial markets being used outside of catching terrorists? [1:32:45]
Show Notes (Part II)
  • Amit Sharma explains the unintended consequences on people and communities of a high compliance banking system [5:40]
  • How Amit Sharma parlayed his Treasury experience to becoming Chief of Staff at Mitsubishi Bank of Tokyo [16:50]
  • How did company culture affect Amit Sharma’s strategies during the financial crisis? [19:40]
  • Amit Sharma on planning in crisis vs. steady-state [22:30]
  • Why Amit Sharma started a private enterprise named Empowerment Capital to solve global social problems [24:50]
  • What innovations need to be driven in the “impact” ecosystem? [33:08]
  • What advice would Amit Sharma give to people interested in getting into this impact space? [41:45]
  • Amit Sharma’s call to action: if you are interested in getting involved with Amit’s work either personally or through resources, reach out to him [48:00]
  • What 3 classes does Amit Sharma wish were taught in school? [52:00]
  • QOTD: What do you believe is true wealth to you?
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