Logo

People I (Mostly) Admire

Steve Levitt, the iconoclastic University of Chicago economist and co-author of the Freakonomics book series, tracks down other high achievers and asks questions that only he would think to ask. Guests include all-time Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings, Harvard psychologist and linguist Steven Pinker, and top literary agent Suzanne Gluck. People I (Mostly) Admire is a production of the Freakonomics Radio Network.

19. Marina Nitze: “If You Googled ‘Business Efficiency Consultant,’ I Was the Only Result.”

People I (Mostly) Admire

  • 790 views
  • 3 months ago
  • 38:03

At 27— and without a college degree — she was named chief technology officer of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Today, Marina Nitze is trying to reform the foster care system. She tells Steve how she hacked the V.A.’s bureaucracy, opens up about her struggle with Type 1 diabetes, and explains how she was building websites for soap opera stars when she was just 12 years old.

Ken Jennings: “Don’t Neglect the Thing That Makes You Weird”

People I (Mostly) Admire

  • 730 views
  • 9 months ago
  • 45:38

It was only in his late twenties that America’s favorite brainiac began to seriously embrace his love of trivia. Now he holds the “Greatest of All Time” title on Jeopardy! Steve Levitt digs into how he trained for the show, what it means to have a "geographic memory," and why we lie to our children. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Steven Pinker: "I Manage My Controversy Portfolio Carefully”

People I (Mostly) Admire

  • 430 views
  • 10 months ago
  • 42:24

By cataloging the steady march of human progress, the Harvard psychologist and linguist has become a very public intellectual. But the self-declared “polite Canadian” has managed to enrage people on opposite ends of the political spectrum. Steve Levitt tries to understand why.

6. Nathan Myhrvold: “I Am Interested in Lots of Things, and That's Actually a Bad Strategy”

People I (Mostly) Admire

  • 410 views
  • 8 months ago
  • 48:01

He graduated high school at 14, and by 23 had several graduate degrees and was a research assistant with Stephen Hawking. He became the first chief technology officer at Microsoft (without having ever studied computer science) and then started a company focused on big questions — like how to provide the world with clean energy and how to optimize pizza-baking. Find out what makes Nathan Myhrvold’s fertile mind tick, and which of his many ideas Steve Levitt likes the most. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

10. Suzanne Gluck: “I'm a Person Who Can Convince Other People to Do Things”

People I (Mostly) Admire

  • 340 views
  • 6 months ago
  • 37:45

She might not be a household name, but Suzanne Gluck is one of the most powerful people in the book industry. Her slush pile is a key entry point to the biggest publishers in the U.S., and the authors she represents have sold more than 100 million books worldwide. Steve Levitt talks with Gluck — his own agent — about negotiating a deal, advising prospective authors, and convincing him to co-write Freakonomics.

Steve Levitt: “I'm Not as Childlike as I'd Like to Be” (Bonus Episode)

People I (Mostly) Admire

  • 330 views
  • 8 months ago
  • 41:13

Steve Levitt has so far occupied the interviewer chair on this show, but in a special live event — recorded over Zoom and presented by WNYC and the Greene Space — the microphone is turned toward him. His Freakonomics friend and co-author Stephen Dubner checks in on the wisdom Levitt has extracted from his interviews, finds out why Levitt is happiest when angering everyone across the political spectrum, and asks Levitt why he ends every interview with the same question. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.