DECIDING FACTORS takes a close look at decision-making, what influences it, and how to learn and apply insight to make an informed choice. Our guests are experts in their fields. Our host, Eric Jaffe, uncovers how they navigated their own paths, what they learned from their journey, and how you can apply these lessons in your own life and career.

If you’re faced with a decision and would be interested in hearing about the Deciding Factors that influence it, email us at and we might cover it in a future episode.

November 16, 2021

Dr. Oxiris Barbot: How Can We Prepare Our Cities to Tackle Pandemics?

It’s been more than a year and a half since the coronavirus pandemic spread across the globe, and while some aspects of the crisis have been brought under control, others remain extremely difficult to manage.  Navigating the pandemic, particularly at its outset, required resourceful experts who could make decisions of enormous consequence with limited data […]

October 29, 2021

John Podesta: Reflecting on the Art of Leadership in a Divided Washington

You don’t have to look far these days to see that many Americans are skeptical of our political leaders, and even our political system writ large.  Despite our wariness, however, many of us remain eager to participate constructively in the political process, or even run for office. Yet the path to getting involved in politics […]

September 16, 2021

Maurice Obstfeld: Inflation, COVID-19, and the Economy

In May of this year, the Labor Department’s Consumer Price Index, a top gauge of inflation, showed that April 2021 prices had jumped 4.2% over those recorded in April 2020. Prior to this, inflation had remained relatively dormant. But COVID-19 changed that. In this episode, Maurice Obstfeld, Professor of Economics at Berkeley, and a nonresident […]

July 15, 2021

Susan Ennis: From the Front Line of the Streaming Wars

The streaming world has grown complex. In simpler times, there was Netflix and Hulu, along with a handful of niche services to choose from. But now there are more than 200 streaming services crowding the marketplace, competing for viewers every day. The good news is that only about six or seven of those are dominant, […]

June 10, 2021

Dr. Ruth DeFries: Climate Change — Anxiety and Optimism

The fact that the climate is changing is an incontrovertible fact. If we do nothing – or fall short of what is needed – human beings as a species are headed toward unprecedented disaster.  Our guest in this episode, Dr. Ruth DeFries, Professor of Ecology and Sustainable Development at Columbia University and Co-founding Dean of the Columbia Climate School, is one of the people committed to addressing […]

May 17, 2021

Ashley Allison: Everyone Needs a Seat at the Table

There are many voices in the United States that government has struggled to hear, thus failing to consider every point of view when it comes to policy making. While government has made progress in listening to marginalized communities, much more work remains to be done.  In this episode of Deciding Factors, our guest played a large […]

April 29, 2021

Ajit Pai: Closing the Digital Divide in Telco

Virtually everything we do in our lives today relies on technology. Yet, between five and six million Americans still don’t have access to high-speed internet. And while that number is startling, it has fallen significantly in the last four years. In this episode of Deciding Factors, Ajit Pai, former Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, talks about the role […]

February 23, 2021

Matthew Perault: The Law Behind Free Speech and Censorship on Social Media

On January 8, 2021, two days after rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol, Twitter permanently suspended President Donald Trump’s account on the platform. Though responses to the ban split along partisan lines, Trump’s suspension from Twitter has deep roots in a piece of legislation that draws criticism from across the political aisle: Section 230 of the […]

January 4, 2021

Dr. Michael Osterholm: Conflicting Signals – Outlook for Combating COVID-19 in 2021

In this episode of Deciding Factors, we talked with Dr. Michael Osterholm, Regents Professor, McKnight Endowed Chair in Public Health and Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, and author of the 2017 New York Times bestseller The Deadliest Enemy, about the outlook for the world’s […]

December 17, 2020

Rear Adm. John Polowczyk: COVID-19 Medical Supply Chain – A Historic Challenge

In this episode of Deciding Factors, Admiral John Polowczyk discusses how, after he was asked to lead the White House supply chain task force, he saw it as a duty as a naval officer.

November 5, 2020

Jeff Kindler: Difficult but Essential – COVID-19 and a Vaccine

More than six months into the pandemic, COVID-19 is still not under control in the United States. With cases continuing to rise in what looks like to be a severe second stage of infection, the hope for a vaccine is a lifeline for both the mental health of individuals and an economy stretched thin.  

October 3, 2020

Dr. Stephen Ostroff: COVID-19 After Six Months

In this episode, Dr. Stephen Ostroff, former Acting Pennsylvania Physician General and as Deputy Director of the National Center for Infectious Diseases, discusses what the U.S. learned about COVID-19 in the six months since the initial lockdown orders,

September 25, 2020

Ambassador Dennis Ross: Why the Middle East Matters

A significant change in the fundamental dynamics that shape the Middle East may have recently taken place, marked by the recent Israel-UAE “Abraham Accord” that formalizes what was a pre-existing relationship between those two unlikely allies. 

August 5, 2020

Dr. Leana Wen: Reopening Schools Safely

While other countries have managed to contain COVID-19 and have now cautiously reopened their schools, the United States has not succeeded in suppressing the infection which is still showing up in record numbers throughout the country.  

June 30, 2020

Dr. Michael P. Jeffries: A Global Awakening

Across the U.S. and the world, people have hit the streets to demonstrate for an end to systemic racism and police brutality. Dr. Michael Jeffries, a professor of American Studies at Wellesley College, discusses why this time things seem different

May 22, 2020

Dr. Betsey Stevenson: Job Loss vs. Job Destruction

In this episode, Dr. Betsey Stevenson, former Chief Economist of the U.S. Department of Labor, discusses how COVID-19 has impacted the job market, where it might go, and what it might look like after the pandemic.

May 17, 2020

Ben Baldanza: Airlines and the New Normal

In this episode, Ben Baldanza, the former CEO of Spirit Airlines, talks about the state of the airline industry; what it will take for airlines to survive the COVID-19 downturn and what managing for the future of air travel might look like.

May 6, 2020

Ron Klain: Reopening Safely

In this episode, Ron Klain, the former United States Ebola response coordinator under President Obama, discusses the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic and what we have learned from the current state that can help us contend with a future resurgence.

April 29, 2020

Dr. David Shulkin, MD: COVID-19 and the Status of Hospitals

Are hospitals prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic? In this podcast, Dr. David Shulkin talks about hospital staffing, equipment shortages, and how hospitals might look after COVID-19.

April 22, 2020

Dr. Mark Dybul, MD: The World’s Health is Our Health

In this episode, Dr. Mark Dybul, MD, former Global AIDS Coordinator, discusses the importance of regarding the COVID-19 pandemic as a true global crisis.

April 22, 2020

Dr. Sarah Bloom Raskin: The CARES Act and Federal Stimulus

COVID-19 is a public health crisis that has unleashed an economic crisis both in the U.S. and abroad. In this episode, Deciding Factors brings you Dr. Sarah Bloom Raskin, former U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary and former member of the Board of Governors at the Federal Reserve Board.

April 15, 2020

Neel Doshi: Motivation in the Time of COVID-19

In this uncertain time, it’s increasingly difficult to motivate ourselves, let alone our teams. In this episode, Deciding Factors brings you Neel Doshi, author of the New York Times Bestseller, Primed to Perform: How to Build the Highest Performing Cultures Through the Science of Total Motivation.

April 15, 2020

Eric Jaffe: Introducing Deciding Factors

We make decisions every day. Often, there can be a lot riding on the choices you make: the future of your business, your investment portfolio, other people’s livelihoods. That’s why it’s important to understand all the factors that can impact a decision before you choose a path of action.

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