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QUEST MEANS BUSINESS
The Mental Toll of Coronavirus; Trump Says Israel and Bahrain to Establish Full Diplomatic Relations; Rio Tinto CEO Resigns After Destruction of Ancient Site; Biden, Pence Cross Paths At 9/11 Memorial School; Closing Linked To Depression, Suicide; Founding the Good In An Upside-Down World. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired September 11, 2020 - 15:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS HOST: QUEST MEANS BUSINESS tonight. How the markets are looking as we start? One hour left to trade, 60 minutes, and
the early gains have disappeared. The market is decidedly unimpressed. Just a third of a percent gain on the Dow Jones, but that's been the nature of
the day. It's not a huge amount in market terms that they have been focusing on.
However, there has been a wealth of other news that we need to bring you tonight. For instance, Donald Trump says Bahrain will normalize diplomatic
relations with Israel, the latest country to do so after the UAE.
Rio Tinto's chief executive has quit or was fired depending on your point of view after the company destroyed a sacred indigenous site.
And six months after the virus was declared a pandemic, tonight a special look at its collective mental toll. The stresses and strains on us all.
Live from London, it is Friday. It is September 11th. I'm Richard Quest. I mean business.
Good evening. We will get to the business agenda in just one second. But I do want to point out that tonight, we are doing things slightly different
in the back half of the program. It is a Happy Friday to you.
But after six months of lockdowns with various pandemic restrictions, with more restrictions on the way, six months since it was a pandemic, tonight
we are going to look at the mental and psychological effect that it is taking on us all. We are all feeling the strain. I know I am. And I guess
from what I hear from you, you are too.
Tonight, we are looking at working from home fatigue. It seemed like such good idea at the time, at the start. We were all really looking forward to
it. Now, some can't wait to get back to the office. And that burnout lockdown, the prospect of more.
Travel anxiety, even when we could we didn't because we didn't want to. Loneliness. Is it macho to admit you are lonely? I don't know whether it is
or not. But the fact is, many of us are. And it is compounded by back to school fears.
On the program tonight, we will have the experts who are going to help us navigate this, Arianna Huffington is the founder of "Thrive Global."
Arianna will be with us. Matthew Syed, the author of "Rebel Ideas." There is something that we can gain out of this, the silver lining if you like,
and Noreena Hertz, author of "The Lonely Century." And your thoughts as well, we will take.
First though, the day's business agenda. All of that will be coming at the half past.
Next week, the Jewish community starts the high holy days celebrating Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. Israel is already turning over a new leaf
announcing today that it has reached a peace deal with the Kingdom of Bahrain. President Trump says the two have agreed to full diplomatic
The President calls it historic. It is the second agreement of involving Israel in less than a month. The other of course is with the UAE, and then
we knew there was another one on the way.
My producer got it right. I thought it would be Saudi Arabia. My producer said, no, it is going to be Bahrain. He was right. I was wrong. Donald
trump, though, says I may be right sooner than later. He says more countries will follow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As more countries normalize relations with Israel, which will happen quite quickly, we believe, the
region will become more and more stable, secure, and prosperous. In the meantime, we are pulling most of our soldiers out. So we are doing it the
They were doing it with nothing but fighting and blood all over the place. The sand was loaded up with blood. And now, you're going to see that a lot
of that sand is going to be loaded up with peace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Our correspondent, Oren Liebermann is in Israel tonight and joins us. Oren, the opening secret has been that many of these countries have got
on in back room deals and back door diplomacy. However, what, in your view, has driven, first the UAE, now Bahrain, to come along and do deals.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is obvious with the Trump administration. They are two months out from an election and they want
foreign policy accomplishments especially with President Donald Trump trailing in the polls.
So for them, there is an incentive to make sure these deals go through. We saw that with the UAE a month ago, we are seeing it with Bahrain now.
The UAE opened the door and Israel along with the U.S. pushed and pulled with the U.S., stepped through that door and that connects Israel to two of
the main business hubs of the Gulf, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain, both of which also have a large U.S. military presence. There is economic benefit, there
is military benefit, and there is tourism benefit for everyone involved here.
And for Bahrain and for the UAE for that matter, it is a win-win no matter what happens on Election Day. Either Trump wins reelection and both
countries are in a great spot or to a Biden administration, and both these countries are off to a great footing there as well.
For them there was no reason not to. But you are right to question Bahrain as relates to Saudi Arabia. The expectation here was that Bahrain wanted to
normalize relations and had back room relations for years, if not decades, but they would not do so without the Saudis. Now, we see the Bahraini
striking out on their own, and that raises a big question, did the Saudis give tacit consent to this? Could they be next? Certainly, it is possible
and there is no doubt the Trump administration would like the Saudis to be next.
But I think, King Salman made it very clear that the Palestine issue is historically and institutionally important to him and he needs to see
something big there before he took that step, I think.
QUEST: Right. Now, the Saudis have agreed to let Israeli overflight not just to Abu Dhabi but to other flights as well for El Al. So, the Saudis
are inching ever closer. Is it your gut feeling that eventually they come on board providing Netanyahu, the Prime Minister in Israel, doesn't kick
sand in the way with the Palestinians?
LIEBERMANN: I suspect the answer is yes. The key question is, what is the time frame on the word eventually? We had the sense it would happen
eventually with most of the Gulf States -- Oman, may very well be next. But let's not forget Oman hosted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, I believe
Saudi is also on that list. The question is, where? And you raise an excellent point about, what does Netanyahu do vis-a-vis the Palestinians?
It was clear with the UAE, the UAE said we only normalize relations if we have halted or to the very least, suspended for a timeframe, annexation.
That was part of it.
What do the Bahrainis get in return? Well, that's still an open question at this point, since this wasn't just a free transaction or something given
and something returned. Certainly, in Trump's world view, and although we know what it is with the UAE, it would be very interesting to see what it
is with the Bahrainis.
But right now, Netanyahu, as he racks up these foreign policy victories, that annexation that he promised so many times, that grows farther and
farther in the rear-view mirror.
QUEST: Oren Liebermann in Jerusalem. Oren, thank you.
Now, Rio Tinto's CEO has resigned, some would say, pushed out, others would say fired. Whatever it is, he is going and he will be gone by next March
after Rio Tinto destroyed ancient indigenous sites in Australia. It triggered huge amounts of fuss and furor, and rightly so.
And the Australian government has now promised more scrutiny of mining operations. Anna Stewart is outside Rio Tinto's headquarters here in
London. How did this happen? How does a major mining company not know about incredibly important sacred sites going back tens of thousands of years?
ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Forty-six thousand years. I think you get to the heart of the point, Richard. Did they really not know the cultural
significance of that site? That is what the CEO said in the Australian Parliament during the Inquiry, which is still ongoing.
And yet, Richard, they got legal permission to develop the site, rightly or wrongly, from the Western Australian government many, many years ago. And
ever since that point, there has been huge opposition from aboriginal groups in the region.
Also we found out in the Inquiry that days before that demolition took place, Rio Tinto actually employed additional lawyers to try and protect it
against any last-minute injunctions.
So that is the question? Did they really not know the cultural significance? It seems unlikely.
QUEST: Okay, but Anna, having done that, you know, having blown up -- it was the investors, it was the shareholders that finally said, this cannot
STEWART: Yes. You have got look at the weeks between what happened at the end of May when they -- during the demolition and what's happened since.
First of all, the terribly slow response, it took two weeks for the CEO to make any kind of public statement.
Then what has been going on in the Inquiry, which has worried many people. And then, the fact that the internal probe and the company's remedy was to
dock bonus pay for executives which many investors felt missed the point.
The issue here is one of governance, one of communication, and also of course many groups in the region saying, this isn't to do with money. This
site was absolutely priceless.
The big question though for investors, will it change at the top really change the issue of governance? Will they communicate better between the
headquarters here in London at site, which is over 9,000 miles away in Western Australia?
QUEST: Anna Stewart. Thank you, Anna.
It is worth to use now taking a further look at exactly how business interests have been allowed to override sites of significance to other
indigenous populations or indeed, of environmental importance.
It is just not Australia, it is elsewhere. Business miners enjoy a particularly strong immunity in Australia, in Western Australia, where all
the large mines are located. Since July 2010, companies have gotten approval to destroy or disturb 460 sites. Only one application has been
denied. That's after the Rio Tinto debacle.
So what happened with Rio Tinto? That was in June. Aboriginal flags flew at Black Lives Matter marches, racial justice protests spread around the world
as a result of what took place.
And the global movement underlines global problems.
In Brazil, it is President Bolsonaro who was opening up the Amazon to agri- business and in doing so, ignoring indigenous outcry.
Jamie Lowe is with me. He is the Chief Executive of the National Native Title Council. He joins me from Melbourne, Australia, which by my reckoning
is somewhat early in the morning, but I am very glad, sir, that you have joined me.
I suppose, a great victory at one level. An overall loss because of the damage done. But you have laid down a marker that you won't be messed
around with when it comes to these important sites.
JAMIE LOWE, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, NATIONAL NATIVE TITLE COUNCIL: Yes. There is no doubt how our communities of traditional miners here in Australia put a
line in the sand saying enough is enough. We are tired of our sites being desecrated and destroyed by mining companies here in Australia and not
QUEST: In the end, though, I mean, to get rid of the CEO, it was the protests, yes, but it was the investors, it was the large corporate
shareholders and the pension funds that finally said he has got to go.
Does that mean when you are doing these campaigns, you need to target your fire power more towards investors and less on street marches for example?
LOWE: There is no doubt the activism element is crucial, and also bringing our allies on, which in this case were the investors along on the ride is
also basically is important. So, I think that's not a draw. They are both are elements of the kind of I guess, he strategy to create change.
I guess in this situation, money talks. Money talked when they blew up the mine and also the investors used their power and their authority as
investors to call for the CEO to -- for heads to roll.
QUEST: Right. Is there a natural inconsistency between the requirements of large mining corporations and the historical title claims on lands of the
indigenous people? Can the two live together? Or are they inevitably in discord?
LOWE: I think they can live together, but the power sits within the mining corporate at the moment. There is no power given to the indigenous people
in the nation of Australia. That power imbalance needs to shift, and it needs to shift quickly. And of course, it needs to change not only within
state governments here, also with the Federal governments. There are similar issues there and there are historic issues.
So indigenous values here in our land need to be valued just as other values are.
QUEST: I want to go back to the caves that were destroyed in the first -- the first drawings, it is believed, going back more than 40,000 years. Rio
Tinto said they didn't know they were that important. Frankly, that's almost impossible to believe bearing in mind the fuss and hullaballoo that
there had been.
But in your view, how significant a loss has the indigenous population suffered as a result?
LOWE: It is incredibly significant. The site is 46,000 years old in anyone's estimation, it is incredibly ancient. There were sites there which
predated the Ice Age. It wasn't only of value to us, as indigenous people, it should have been of value to the nation of Australia, but also of value
to the world for its --.
LOWE: So I think the mining industry in this situation has won out. There was $35 million worth of iron ore underneath the caves, so they decided, so
I think it was a business decision, there is no doubt that they will blow up those three other sites which they could have explored. It wasn't
disclosed to the traditional miners of that area, so there is no doubt it was a business decision, and I guess the business issues and the fallout of
that is the CEO is gone.
QUEST: Jamie Lowe, thank you for joining us from Melbourne this morning. Have a good weekend.
Now, regular viewers to this program know that I was born in Liverpool, and then I spent much of my life living in Leeds, where football dominates in
both cities. Now, Leeds at the moment of course is about to re-join the Premier League after a gap of some 16 years toiling away in the lower
leagues. The club chairman of Leeds United joins me after the break.
QUEST: The English Premier League returns on Saturday. The clubs have been writing to the U.K. government. They are hoping to get fans back into the
stadia as soon as possible. The revenue being lost from ticket sales is now turning into something extremely serious.
There is enormous demand in Leeds for Leeds United which is back in the Premier League after 16 years. The season begins tomorrow, as we said.
Leeds -- I am not sure whether it is an omen or not, but faces the champions, Liverpool, in the first game.
Andrea Radrizzani is the Chairman of Leeds United. He joins me now.
I was going to say, you hear my dilemma as to who to support. I was born in Liverpool, but I was a Leeds United supporter for many years in the 1970s
in their heyday.
So I suppose for the purpose of this interview I am your supporter. Look, this is the first time back in the Premier League. But it's a long way back
and you still have long way to go. What is your strategy going to be now?
ANDREA RADRIZZANI, CHAIRMAN, LEEDS UNITED: I think you should support -- you should support your club, Leeds United. We want to be the outsider. We
want to be a challenging team that will be hard to beat.
So, obviously tomorrow, we start with the most difficult game against the champions. And the team is still already -- we haven't finished our work
with transfer campaign and the he players, because of additional team duties, they arrived very late to Leeds.
So we are not already 100 percent, but I am sure that we are going to try to challenge every top team from tomorrow until the end of the season and
do our best every game.
QUEST: In terms of the money being spent, you obviously haven't got fans in the stadium. That's a loss of revenue from Elland Road. It is known that
you are looking for outside investors. Qatar wants to come in. Other wants to come in.
Is it necessary for you to get extra money in?
RADRIZZANI: No, it is not necessary and it is not related to the COVID consequences. Obviously, we -- the business for Leeds United amounts to
around 30 million to 40 million pounds because of the lack of patrons in attendance. Normally, we sell out every game. We have a long list --
waiting list for buying tickets in our stadium and hospitality, so it is a big damage, but the reason that I would consider eventually, a partnership
and investment into the club is to take this club back into what it used to be.
So, I think my idea and my strategy is to close the gap with the top six teams in as shorter period possible. So, when we arrived in Leeds, I said,
I would have a five-year plan to be back in the Premier League. We made it in third years and we were very close in the second, and we made it finally
in the third year.
I think, now, we start a new cycle, where obviously in the first phase, our objective is to maintain the league and stay in the Premier League for at
least one or two years, but this club has big potential in terms of brand, in terms of football and commercial possibilities, so ultimately, we need
to have the ambition to go.
QUEST: You also of course have got your other interests. Live now entertainment which is boosting the music side of it. And I am wondering
for somebody like yourself who has this entertainment section -- online entertainment section, which of course thrives in times of COVID, how
important it is to have this balance within your group so that one side does help the other and can promote each other.
RADRIZZANI: Yes. I mean I spent my entire career in sports and media. Last year, I started this project to launch live events distribution with a free
model and data driven model, across different categories particularly entertainment music. And therefore, for the music industry to monetize and
actors to monetize in different ways, by live events and in the venues.
Accidentally and unfortunately, we had to live with a crisis like COVID and obliged and forced to shut down the live events and obliged to promote it
to close down the businesses. In some cases, they are struggling unfortunately, and then, in a way, we found much more opportunity to go our
business for the long term now, but at the same time, also, there is more competition, and I believe, confusion around the licensing opportunities,
but we are very glad because we are starting with some big events coming up in November and December.
One will be -- just announced yesterday -- it will be to the tune of the Gorillas and the event that is in the U.K. and the U.S. So we just had last
week, Ellie Golding, so live from the Victorian Museum in London. So we are very happy to distribute top international and local events.
QUEST: Good luck in tomorrow's match. Good luck for the season.
RADRIZZANI: Thank you.
QUEST: And please, God, with a bit of luck and a following wind I will get to Elland Road this season and we get to talk more. I appreciate your time,
sir, thank you very much.
RADRIZZANI: We will wait for you, Richard.
QUEST: Thank you. Now, before we take a short break, our business travelers, many of us are back on the road. I'm back on the road. I was in
Prague. And now, I am here back in London.
So if you are back on the road, we want put some of us together to discuss how we are enjoying our travels. What are we finding? It is a virtual
"Business Traveler." A virtual business traveler, are you one of them?
E-mail me, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, we are putting together business travelers to discuss virtual issues,
After the break, our special look tonight at the mental stress, the strain, the psychological effects, the way we are all weathering COVID, six months
to the day since it was declared a pandemic. After the break.
QUEST: Hello, I'm Richard Quest. QUEST MEANS BUSINESS continues in just a moment or two. There is plenty more still to come.
Our special report tonight on the mental and psychological effects of coronavirus as six months of pandemic draws on. It's officially six months
today. We will talk about that. And a great deal more. It is all after the news headlines, because this is CNN, and on this network, the news always
Urgent evacuation orders have been issued as raging wildfires tear across three West Coast states. More than half a million people have been
evacuated from the U.S. State of Michigan. That's more than 10 percent of the state's population. The West Coast fires killed at least 24 people in
the past month.
Greek Riot Police have been sent to the site of a new refugee camp in Lesbos, the one that is replacing the overcrowded Moria Camp, which was
destroyed this week by fire. The displaced migrants are lining the road demanding freedom. Greece is refusing to let them off the island that is
apart from 400 unaccompanied children.
The U.S. has marked the 19th anniversary of the September 11th terror attacks in a rare in-person meeting between the Biden and Trump campaigns.
The Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, and the Vice President, Mike Pence, attended the Memorial in Manhattan, where they greeted each
other with an elbow bump.
It is six months to the day since the WHO declared the COVID attack coronavirus, a pandemic. Since then. Well, every single one of us in some
shape, form or description has had our lives attended. And for 900,000 plus people more than that, they've lost their lives as a result of what took
place. A half a year inside lockdowns, lockouts, losing jobs. Our focus tonight for those on the toll on mental health. The anxiety and stress
levels are soaring.
The fears of deadly virus, the intense loneliness that so many of us admit to now seeing alcohol sales up for instance. Google searches for anxiety
and panic attacks are hitting all-time highs. The CDC survey says 41 percent of us, 41 percent are struggling in some shape or form with mental
health issues during the pandemic. As I said, alcohol sales up, gun sales in the United States up too. It's not just of course stress. There's
reasons behind it, loss jobs, dealing with economic insecurity.
And for those with jobs work now invades every part of our lives. So, for instance tonight, as I have been in New York, tonight, I'm broadcasting to
you from my living room in London. For the simple reason I'm undergoing a two-week quarantine before I go filming for "QUEST'S WORLD OF WONDER" and
"BUSINESS TRAVELER." The regulations require it. I'm here for two weeks, but it means my living room, well, it's no longer living room. Luckily the
sofas weren't here anyway.
The living room is now just all television equipment all over the place. It's not surprising that the psychologist Dr. Gretchen Schmelzer said it's
normal to be overwhelmed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. GRETCHEN SCHMELZER, LICENSED PSYCHOLOGIST: We have to create moments in our lives where we can fall apart. And we have to create moments in our
lives where we connect to other people around what we're going through.
QUEST: Is it okay to burst into tears for seemingly no reason, as has happened to me on a couple of occasions, I've just sat down, had a cup of
tea and burst into tears?
SCHMELZER: I think you have to release some of that emotion and energy. I think it's perfectly normal for where we are right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Now all that would be bad enough. However, it gets worse because we are now leaving the summer and entering the autumn and then the Winter. And
with that rising number of cases, in some cases, it's hotspots. In other cases, it is second waves. And that's giving calls for more lockdowns, more
restrictions, and more stress. Look at it. The summer is ending in the Northern Hemisphere, few outdoor activities. You have a virus spiking in
Europe, in Israel in India.
For instance, in the U.K., the rule of six comes into play on Monday, those new restrictions in France, Israel might go to a total lockdown. Dr. Fauci
has been clear, hunker down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR NATIONAL, INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGIES AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I just think we need to hunker down and get through
this fall and winter. Because it's not going to be easy. We know every time we restrict -- we lift restrictions. We get a blip. I mean, it's getting --
it's whack a mole.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Arianna Huffington is with me, founder and CE of Thrive Global. Arianna, it is good to talk to you. The one thing I find extraordinary,
I've been talking to everything from our producers, to people on the working from home program, the stress levels, and the psychological and
mental health issues could becoming calculable.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, FOUNDER AND CEO, THRIVE GLOBAL: Absolutely. You know, Richard, you wrote a piece after you started recovering from the virus and
you said COVID is a tornado with a very long tail. Well, it's very clear from all the data you mentioned, that the long tail is going to be the
mental health consequences. So, it's imperative that we recognize that both as individuals and as companies, we're working with many companies that see
not just the dangers now, but the dangers ahead.
And we need a different playbook, where we recognize that there are actually micro steps we can take every day who I work, acknowledging their
sense of overwhelm and stress to course correct.
HUFFINGTON: We have that power in us we need to start using it. Based on the latest neuroscience for example, it takes 60 seconds to course correct
from stress, we're never going to eliminate stress but taking the 60 seconds to breathe, to remember what we're grateful for, to get enough
sleep at night, and to avoid or limit sugar and alcohol. All these things, even if we start small with his micro steps that thrive, we call too small
It's imperative that you recognize we can no longer just power through all the stress and anxiety, we need to take corrective measures.
QUEST: Right. You talk about the importance in the corporate sphere of the Chief Human Relations officer. I sort of -- somebody who's always thought
of as being where to do the CEOs dirty work in some shape or form. But the reality is, I wonder how many corporations already for this wealth of -- I
mean, just, you know, it doesn't mean you're about to collapse and have a nervous breakdown. But it does mean that there are intolerable strains that
need to be accounted for.
HUFFINGTON: Absolutely. When we are working with some amazing CHROs, like Alan Sugar, Accenture, for example, and Donna Morris at Wal-Mart who
recognize that this is not a business imperative. This is not just being nice to your employees who have some latest data that show five to 10
percent drops in productivity because of the accumulation of stress. And there are things we can do. And we launched with Accenture, for example, a
program called thriving mind that is a preventive mental health program.
It's not enough just to have hotlines, very important though they are. And telemedicine, once you are depressed and anxious, we also need to adopt
healthier behaviors that can back up from becoming depressed and anxious.
QUEST: I think many of us back in March, we sort of always had a sneaking suspicion, this wasn't going to a way -- going to go away sort of very
fast. But I don't think any of us really grasped. You know, when Boris Johnson said earlier that normality might be here by Christmas. And now
we're finding out that normality will not be here by Christmas or into the new year. How damaging does that do to it? What do you make of it?
HUFFINGTON: Well, actually, Richard, I believe that this is also an incredible opportunity not to allow this crisis to go to waste by
recognizing that the way we're living and working before was unsustainable, even pre pandemic. And kind of changing the way we work and live, making
sure that we recognize that taking care of ourselves is not a sign of weakness that is actually essential for top performance and for health.
So the one thing that makes me optimistic is that this pandemic can be a portal where we leave behind all the things that were not working and build
a new world which is going to be healthier, frankly, much more productive and creative and also more empathetic and inclusive because all these
qualities that we are looking for now as individuals and as corporations and (INAUDIBLE) are very hard without taking care of ourselves first.
QUEST: Ariana, I'm here in London, I'm in quarantine. The only person I've seen for the last two weeks -- of last week, I should say is the Waitrose
delivery grocery person and they ran off down the corridor of the building and the Amazon delivery man, I seem to be getting deliveries every day. How
do -- how does one engage, turn one sells round that mental condition?
HUFFINGTON: Well, and the first thing right now is to recognize that even during this time of isolation, which for many people, it's even more
extreme, Richard, because at least in two weeks, you're going to be free out in the wild, and is to recognize that we can connect with ourselves
first, that we have that place of resilience, wisdom, strength, peace, every spiritual and philosophical tradition tells us that and from that
place, it's easy to connect with others whether we are on zoom, on a phone call, or in this virtual ways until we can break bread together again.
QUEST: I am looking forward to that day. Be it in Los Angeles at your place in London at mine, New York in the middle. Ariana, I'm looking forward to
that day when we break bread together again, thank you for joining us tonight on the program. Arianna Huffington. Now when we come back, Arianna
talked about the loneliness that comes about through all of this. Our next guest is an expert on this, in fact, so much so that they went out and
rented a friend in New York.
The experience of renting a friend, along with the loneliness that comes from the toll it takes.
QUEST: Now all this would be fine if it was just one level, but it's this the extent and extremes of it. Remember, we are a business program QUEST
MEANS BUSINESS. And it's not just being cuddly talking about these things. It's having real damaging effects on the economy, which is why our next
guest is so important because as an economist, she's written a book, The Lonely Century. It's Noreena Hertz, and this lonely century, this idea of
we are on our own, even in zoom meetings, and the like, which are not satisfying at the best of times.
So, Noreena, I'm very glad to have you with us. Thank you for taking time. This, you know, you may have heard Arianna a moment or two ago. The
significance of this loneliness is not just psychological and, you know, I'm lonely, it does have a damaging effect on our productivity too.
NOREENA HERTZ, ECONOMIST: Oh, absolutely. I mean, the research is really clear on this. Employees who feel lonely, also feel less engaged with their
company, a less productive and are also less loyal. Employees who don't have friends at work, and much more likely to leave it, makes sense. We're
thinking a lot about loneliness in the workplace right now, of course because of the pandemic. But I think it's really important to remember that
even before the pandemic, the workplace was a really lonely place for many people.
Forty percent of office workers globally, felt lonely at work, pre pandemic. So, we need to think much harder about why that was, so that when
we come out of this, we can rebuild and redesign a workplace in which people feel much more connected to each other.
QUEST: But that's assumes we know what the workplace is going to be like. And this working from home, I've given numerous talks (INAUDIBLE) programs
about this. Everybody came into this thinking this is really good, work from home, spend all the day in the PJ's in just a few e-mails on a Zoom
call. But what we're discovering, isn't it? Is that particularly, particularly junior members of staff who see that careers being upended,
don't know where they're going, don't know what's happening. And now looking forward to getting back in the office.
HERTZ: Absolutely. Because essentially, we are creatures of togetherness, we are hardwired to connect, and being on our own isn't our natural state.
And people initially you're absolutely right. They thought oh, this is quite far more at home, but now they're really craving that connection.
That banter at the water cooler. They -- hey, how are you? How was your weekend? And those moments, those make correct changes we have with each
They make us feel not only happier and more connected to each other, but in the work contest -- work context, they enable us to be more innovative, and
more creative. And without them, companies are in danger of losing something very profound. So, some companies have been very excited at the
thought of being able to reduce overheads and slash their physical footprint and keep all their workers away from the office now, forevermore.
But I'd caution that, and I'd say that that's potentially a very damaging strategy. Because if you want your employee -- employer to be loyal, if you
want -- feel connected, you need them to interact with each other face to face.
QUEST: All right. Now, on this interacting face to face, look, there's 1001 strategies. You heard Arianna talking about some of them. You did a rent a
friend which sound s -- I mean, with my smutty mind of course. I mean, we think of some sort of poor man's Tinder type of thing, but it wasn't
anything to do with that. It was obviously a legitimate operation. I mean, is that the answer? Zoom, happy hours, rent a friend? Pay for a cuddle?
HENTZ: Well, and this was purely for research purposes. Can I be clear, Richard? I did rent a friend in Manhattan. There are 600,000 people
friends, one can rent on a Web site, www.rentafriend.com. A whole loneliness economy. That's what I found fascinating as an economist, has
emerge in order to meet the needs of people who are lonely. And it wasn't - - I was also a bit worried. Was it something untoward? No, it wasn't.
I spent three hours with Brittany, Ivy League graduate, wandering around shops at after the end of three hours. We were having so much fun. I forgot
that it was renting out until she said that will be $120, please. I talk about it in my -- I write about it in my book. But one thing that I do --
so I think it's fascinating that whole loneliness economy has emerged. Actually, she told me that her main people who rented her 30 to 40-year-old
professionals, often in finance, tech or consulting, didn't have time working hours, didn't have time to make friends.
QUEST: Noreena, and when the -- when we can we will meet, I will not charge you 120 for three hours. I promise you that, and I'll even pay for lunch.
How's that? Good to talk to you, Noreena. Thank you very much. That's a deal. Excellent. You're the big deal somewhere in today's program. When we
come back, look, we've talked about the downside, the worrying side. Our next guest on this issue of psychological and mental stress believes this
is absolutely a moment, a disruptive moment that we can turn to our advantage. I'm not sure how. He's going to explain to us after the break.
QUEST: New study on COVID closings and school closings now shows that the link to depression and to suicides is absolutely obvious. It's concluded
that school closures seem to be impacting mental well-being for both obviously pupils, teachers, parents, everybody involved. And yet of course,
it's one of the reasons why it's such a priority that even if there are further lockdowns, it's perceived that schools will be the last to be
Our next guest is the author of Rebel Ideas, The Power of Diverse Thinking. There's even challenges of upside down world during the pandemic. There's
an opportunity there. Matthew Syed joins me from London. I sort of know what you mean, but I'm not sure I see it, if that makes sense. And this
idea that, you know, obviously, there are lessons and opportunities within this, but where do you see on this individualistic basis, the opportunity?
MATTHEW SYED, AUTHOR, REBEL IDEAS: THE POWER OF DIVERSE THINKING: (INAUDIBLE) resilient systems and even though -- and different companies in
different ways, and a rather -- nevertheless, I do think that there will be opportunities for business to grow from the rubble. To really come up with
new ideas, try and redefine the way we work, the way we interact, the way we -- so I agree that it's tough, but I don't want us to be holy glue.
QUEST: I'm glad you said that because one of the reasons we really wanted to talk to you, at the end of our program tonight is we've heard the
downside. But I'm wondering if you've got examples or you know of examples where you are already seeing that entrepreneurial innovation, and I'll add
the word inspiration that goes with it too.
SYED: Well, I mean, I will come up with two examples. If I may. One is from the instance thoughts and how -- become people and fresh -- besides us as
you stay -- and this is extremely regrettable. But I do think there are --- they're accentuating the fact that change is a part of disruption in life.
(INAUDIBLE) with the resilience abilities to be such important and they leave school thirsty. And I just hope that keep an eye on that. I have to
say I'm -- feet. I'm here -- voice not to extend -- answering these question which is probably -- in the business fair, I think there's a
massive opportunity, amongst other thought.
It's gone now. So, I'm a bit more clear. There's a massive opportunity just to give one example, to rethink the way we do meetings. I mean, it's very
well known that meetings are highly dysfunctional. People tend to say not what they think but what they think the leader wants to hear. And I think
with this virtual environment, giving people the opportunity to speak up to share their diverse ideas. We're going to get better decisions if we take
QUEST: Firstly, Matthew, congratulations. I don't know how you kept going, there are many of us who do this professionally, that when we hear
ourselves coming back, we give up the ghost and sort of become gibbering wrecks.
QUEST: It's a testament to your academia. that you kept going. Look, Matthew, and within this context of schools, I -- what I really worry about
is that those who have will succeed, but I worry about those who do not. And I wonder whether society is able to cope with that.
SYED: I think that's a very significant concern. There is a phenomenon, as you probably know, called summer learning loss, which is during the long
summer break that we traditionally have at the end of an academic year, six weeks in the U.K., perhaps 10 weeks in the U.S., I'm not sure. But people
from poorer backgrounds tend to drop off more significantly, cognitively, because they don't have access to private tuition to museum visits and
other things of that kind.
And I think you're right to say that lockdown will increase the differential between kids from richer and from poorer backgrounds. I think
governments have to think highly strategically about what they do about that. But we should remember that even though this has been an
unprecedented disruption, industries will be disrupted significantly in the future. If we can think carefully about how we equip young people with the
capacity to deal with change, rather than positioning change as wholly negative which I think we're doing a bit too much in the media on this side
of the pond. I think that could be a positive to take away.
QUEST: Matthew, two years' time, three years' time, sure we will both still be around, please God. Let's talk about the change that we've seen. And
we'll keep doing that for the years ahead. Very grateful that you've entered on that very positive note for us tonight on the change and how we
can take advantage of. Matthew Syed joining me and hats off for battling on. We will take our profitable moment and when we come back, I'll show you
some of the things I've been practicing during quarantine and (INAUDIBLE)