Upcoming Events

Mon 1/23

Image - Socrates Café

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, January 23, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Discussion group

On one Monday evening of every month the Humanities Forum sponsors Socrates Café at The Commonwealth Club. Each meeting is devoted to the discussion of a philosophical topic chosen at that meeting. The group's facilitator, John Nyquist, invites participants to suggest topics, which are then voted on. The person who proposed the most popular topic is asked to briefly explain why she or he considers that topic interesting and important. An open discussion follows, and the meeting ends with a summary of the various perspectives participants expressed. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Tue 1/24

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Doubt, Deny or Defend: Republicans on Climate Change

Date: Tue, January 24, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
The GOP and the planet's climate

Jeremy Carl, Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University
John Hofmeister, Former President, Shell Oil Company; Chairman, Erin Energy Corp.
Bob Inglis, Executive Director, RepublicEn; Former U.S. Representative (R-SC)

President-elect Donald Trump is giving plum jobs to Republicans who deny or downplay the risks of climate disruption. That's a big shift from the time of President George W. Bush, when U.S. Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham pursued climate-fixing legislation.

Bob Inglis, a former Republican representative and executive director of RepublicEn, says Republicans should not doubt or deny the science. Rather, they should defend it because their party has the best solutions, ones based on markets and not mandates. He will be joined by John Hofmeister, former president of Shell Oil Company, and Jeremy Carl, a research fellow from the Hoover Institute at Stanford for a vibrant discussion about the tensions and challenges between climate science, America's energy needs and the Republican party in the coming years.

Image - Walter Alvarez

Walter Alvarez: A Most Improbable Journey

Date: Tue, January 24, 2017
Time: 7:00 PM
Big history and you

Walter Alvarez, Professor, Earth and Planetary Science Department, University of California, Berkeley; Author, A Most Improbable Journey: A Big History of Our Planet and Ourselves
Lisa Krieger, Science and Research Reporter, San Jose Mercury News—Moderator

One in a million doesn’t even come close.

Not when we’re talking about the odds that you would happen to be alive today, on this particular planet, hurtling through space. Almost 14 billion years of cosmic history, more than 4 billion years of Earth history, and a couple million years of human history, has led to you.

This panoramic viewpoint has captured the imagination of historians and scientists alike, and together they’ve created a new field—big history—that studies the entire known past of our universe to give context to our very existence.

Famed geologist Alvarez is best known for the impact theory explaining dinosaur extinction. His unique expertise and infectious curiosity gives us a new appreciation for the incredible occurrences—from the Big Bang and beyond—that have led to our improbable place in the universe.

Wed 1/25

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Terrorism Expert Brian Fishman: How Can ISIS Be Defeated?

Date: Wed, January 25, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
To defeat ISIS, you need to understand ISIS

Brian Fishman, Counterterrorism Research Fellow, New America; Fellow, Combating Terrorism Center, West Point; Author, The Master Plan: ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the Jihadi Strategy for Final Victory 
In conversation with Kori Schake, Research fellow, Hoover Institution; Former Deputy Director, Policy Planning, U.S. State Department; Former Director, Defense Strategy and Requirements, National Security Council

To defeat ISIS, you need to understand ISIS.

Brian Fishman is a leading expert on ISIS. He served as the director of research at the United States Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center and began studying the progenitors of ISIS in 2005. He predicted the rise of the Islamic State in early 2011, prior to the Syrian civil war. Fishman says that the rise of ISIS was neither an accident of history nor an unpredictable product of chaos in Syria, but rather the fulfillment of a vision to capitalize on Syria’s demographic and geopolitical frailty, detailed in a plan that runs through 2020. He says that "master plan" offers important insight into how ISIS might now evolve. Fishman says that only by learning the Islamic State’s full history and the strategy that drove it can we understand the forces that could ultimately tear it apart. 

Fishman is a graduate of the University of California Los Angeles and Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

Thu 1/26

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Arts Forum Planning Meeting

Date: Thu, January 26, 2017
Time: 5:30 PM
Planning meeting

For those of you with a passion for the visual and performing arts, please join us in discussion as we explore ideas for future Club programs and exhibitions. The planning meeting is open to all Club members. Come with your ideas, and your willingness to take an active role in producing our 2017 calendar of events.

Mon 1/30

Image - Middle East Forum Discussion
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Middle East Forum Discussion

Date: Mon, January 30, 2017
Time: 5:30 PM
Discussion group

The Middle East Forum discussion group—which primarily covers the Middle East, North Africa and Afghanistan—has been meeting monthly for nine years. We are not a debate group; we exchange ideas and opinions. The group is a perk of Club membership, but others who are interested, especially students, are welcome to attend.

Image - S.C. Moatti
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On the Go: The Business and Future of Connected Technology

Date: Mon, January 30, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Mobile technology insight

S.C. Moatti, Technology Visionary; Venture Capitalist; Bestselling Author, Mobilized: An Insider’s Guide to the Business and Future of Connected Technology
In conversation with Geoff Moore, Speaker; Advisor; Author, Crossing the Chasm

SC Moatti, in conversation with Geoff Moore, will address leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators about mobile technology and what it means for human nature and what we value as people. She makes the case for an all-encompassing formula that allows businesses to develop simple strategies to create successful mobile products. SC will discuss her three mobile rules about body, mind and spirit to showcase what mobile excellence looks like.

Moatti has served as an executive at mobile pioneers such as Facebook, Trulia and Nokia. She launched and monetized mobile products that are now used by billions of people and have received prestigious awards, including an Emmy nomination. Moatti is highly regarded in the tech industry, and has been called “a genius at making mobile products people love” by Andrew Chen, a top executive at Uber.

Geoffrey Moore is a best-selling author, speaker, and advisor who splits his consulting time between start-up companies in the Mohr Davidow Ventures portfolio and established high-tech enterprises, most recently including Salesforce, Microsoft, Intel, Box, Aruba, Cognizant, and Rackspace.

Image - Week to Week Political Roundtable and Social Hour logo

Week to Week Political Roundtable and Social Hour 1/30/17

Date: Mon, January 30, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
The administration and Congress are in office; let's talk!

Lanhee J. Chen, David and Diane Steffy Research Fellow, Hoover Institution; Former Policy Director, 2012 Romney-Ryan Presidential Campaign; Twitter
Joe Garofoli, Senior Politics Writer and Columnist, San Francisco Chronicle; Twitter
Barbara Marshman, Editorial Page Editor, The Mercury News; Twitter

We've got a new administration in the White House, a new Congress in the Capitol, and new down-ballot officeholders across the country, not to mention the impact of a raft of state and local propositions here in California.

So join us for our political roundtable as we explore the biggest, most controversial and sometimes the surprising political issues with expert commentary by panelists who are smart, are civil, and have a good sense of humor. Join our panelists for informative and engaging commentary on political and other major news, audience discussion of the week’s events, and our live news quiz!

And come early before the program to meet other smart and engaged individuals and discuss the news over snacks and wine at our member social (open to all attendees). 

Tue 1/31

Image - Tim Ferriss
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Tim Ferriss: Tools of Titans

Date: Tue, January 31, 2017
Time: 7:00 PM
Secrets of success

Tim Ferriss, Entrepreneur; Public Speaker; Author, Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers
Naval Ravikant, CEO and Co-Founder, AngelList—Moderator

Whether you’re a millionaire-in-the-making or just trying to check off your to-do list every single day, you’re always on the hunt for how to do your best, but where do you even start? Enter Tim Ferris of Four-Hour Work Week, and his latest book Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers. Just for you, Tim picked the brains of 200+ of the most creative, successful leaders from around the world to help you do better every day, including Brene Brown, Malcolm Gladwell, Jamie Foxx, Reid Hoffman, and dozens of others. He asked them actionable questions (What does the first hour of their day look like? What do their workout routines look like and why? What are the biggest time wastes they avoid?) so that you can apply their philosophies to your own life. To quote Tim, who tried many of these tactics himself, “The lessons have made me millions of dollars and saved me years of wasted effort and frustration.” 

Come hear from Tim at INFORUM, and who knows—maybe you’ll end up featured in his next book!

Wed 2/1

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Blinding Flash of the Obvious: Changing Your Feelings with Your Beliefs

Date: Wed, February 01, 2017
Time: 5:15 PM
Change your feelings

Steven Campbell, M.S., Information Systems

Campbell presents an eye-opening look at the latest research on how our feelings do not come from what has happened to us, or past events in our lives, or the relationships we have. They come from our beliefs about what has happened to us, and the beliefs about those events, and our beliefs about those relationships. When you change those beliefs, your feelings follow.

When this was posited back in 1962 in one of the first books on cognitive psychology, A Guide to Rational Living, it changed psychology forever. It argued that we can affect how we feel about ourselves, and about our lives and loved ones by changing our beliefs. Campbell shows how.

Image - San Francisco Foundation series logo
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Changemakers: Movement Leaders on Civil Rights in an Uncivil Time

Date: Wed, February 01, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Part of the People, Power, Place Series, which addresses access and equity in the Bay Area.

Lariza Dugan Cuadra, Executive Director, Carecen SF
Rashad Robinson, Executive Director, Color of Change
Abdi Soltani, Executive Director, ACLU of Northern California
Tom Steyer, Founder and President, NextGen Climate
Mina Kim, Anchor and Host, KQED—Moderator

Sponsored by the San Francisco Foundation as part of the People, Power, Place Series, which addresses access and equity in the Bay Area.

Black Lives Matter. Immigrant rights. Climate justice. Are demands for change leading to lasting change? Are we rewriting the rules, or just arguing about them? How do movements—their leaders and their members — successfully build power and spur lasting change? What can we learn from leaders of recent efforts and from history? At a time of great disruption, join us as we continue The San Francisco Foundation’s series People, Place and Power with a discussion with Movement Leaders on Building Power and Voice.

Ben Franklin Circles

Date: Wed, February 01, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Discussion group

Join us monthly, every first Wednesday, for a 21st-century version of Ben Franklin’s mutual improvement club. One evening a week, for more than 40 years, the founding father discussed and debated with his friends the 13 virtues that he felt formed the basis for personal and civic improvement, a list he created when he was 20 years old. The virtues to which he aspired included justice, resolution and humility (but don't misunderstand Ben on that one—his explanation of humility was "imitate Jesus and Socrates").

Ben Franklin Circles bring people together to discuss the most pressing philosophical and ethical issues of our time with the goal of improving ourselves and our world. 

The Future of America's Political Parties

Date: Wed, February 01, 2017
Time: 7:00 PM
What's happening to American politics?

David Brady, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution; Professor of Political Science, Stanford Graduate School of Business
Melissa Caen, Political Analyst, CBS San Francisco—Moderator

This program is sponsored by Relevant Wealth Advisors.

The 2016 election challenged what we know about traditional American politics. Both major political parties, Democratic and Republican, show fractures within their ranks. How will establishment politics move forward? Has gridlock politics left a vacuum for new parties and political movements to arise?

Dr. David Brady, known as one of the most astute political commentators in the country, joins us to discuss what's happening to American democracy. A political independent since 2003, Brady is an expert in the political history of the U.S. Congress, the history of U.S. election results and public policy processes. His recent research looks at how the transformation of the world economy (globalization) has shaken up Western politics and has led to political instability.

The program includes complimentary light hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar from 7:00-7:40. Conversation begins promptly at 7:45pm and ends at 9:00pm.

Thu 2/2

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Chinatown Walking Tour

Date: Thu, February 02, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM
Walking tour

Enjoy a Commonwealth Club neighborhood adventure. Join Rick Evans for a memorable mid-day walk and discover the history and mysteries of Chinatown. Explore colorful alleys and side streets. Visit a Taoist temple, an herbal store, the site of the first public school in the state and the famous Fortune Cookie Factory.

Image - Sallie Krawcheck
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Sallie Krawcheck: The Power of Women, Work and Wallet

Date: Thu, February 02, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Business help for women

Sallie Krawcheck, CEO and Co-founder, Ellevest; Author, Own It: The Power of Women at Work
Tina Sharkey, Co-Founder and CEO of Brandless, Entrepreneur; Investor; Advisor—Moderator

Are you ready to take charge of your career and financial destiny? Let Sallie Krawcheck show you how to harness your potential and fearlessly go after your goals.

Sallie Krawcheck has been called the most powerful woman on Wall Street, and she’s opening up her years of experience to create a playbook for women’s professional success in Own It: The Power of Women at Work—one that incorporates women’s strengths, allows for non-traditional career paths, and shapes women’s power to advance themselves creatively and courageously.

Sallie once held senior positions at Smith Barney, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management and Citigroup. Now, she runs Ellevest, a digital platform focused on redefining investment tools, resources and strategies for women. "[Ellevest] isn’t ‘for women,’ ‘pink it and shrink it,’ ‘make it smaller,'” Sallie shared in a recent interview, reminding us that women often have different salary arcs, live longer on average, and often make decisions such as taking a few years off from career to raise children—all key components in investment strategies.

Sallie’s wide range of experiences—from reaching the top rung in the “boys’ club” of Wall Street to launching Ellevest—mean there are myriad stories, skills, and sage pieces of advice, and we can’t wait to hear from her. Spend an evening walking in Sallie’s high-powered heels with INFORUM, and get inspired to own your future.

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Gopi Kallayil: Brain, Body and Consciousness

Date: Thu, February 02, 2017
Time: 7:00 PM
Conscious living

Gopi Kallayil, Chief Evangelist for Brand Marketing, Google; Author, The Internet to the Inner-Net: Five Ways to Reset Your Connection and Live a Conscious Life
Andrew Trader, Venture Partner, Maveron & Co-Founder, Madison Reed—Moderator

The Internet has become humanity’s invisible central nervous system connecting us with a click of a button. Yet the most important technology is still within us: our brain, body and mindfulness.

Drawing on his own experiences as a high-tech industry executive and a devotee of meditative practices, Kallayil explains the importance of conscious living and encourages yoga, mindful eating and even napping in the workplace.

From “logging In” (mindful ways of connecting and engaging) to “clearing out your in-box” (shedding what doesn’t serve you to make space for what does), Kallayil lays out practices and perspectives that can help you become more creative and adaptable, and live with more purpose, fulfillment and joy.

Mon 2/6

image - An Unnecessary Woman, by Rabih Alamaddine

Reading Californians Book Discussion Group: An Unnecessary Woman, by Rabih Alamaddine

Date: Mon, February 06, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Book discussion group

An Unnecessary Woman was written by Rabih Alameddine, one of Beirut’s most celebrated voices. The novel is a breathtaking portrait of a reclusive woman's late-life crisis that garnered a wave of rave reviews and love letters to Alameddine’s cranky yet charming septuagenarian protagonist, Aaliya, a character you "can't help but love," according to NPR.

Aaliya’s insightful musings on literature, philosophy, and art are invaded by memories of the Lebanese civil war and her volatile past. As she tries to overcome her aging body and spontaneous emotional upwellings, Aaliya is faced with an unthinkable disaster that threatens to shatter the little life she has left. Here, author Rabih Alameddine has given us a nuanced rendering of one woman's life in the Middle East and an enduring ode to literature and its power to define who we are.

An Unnecessary Woman was the gold medal winner for fiction in the Commonwealth Club's 84th Annual California Book Awards in 2014, an annual event that honors California writers. It was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award. The New York Times describes the book as "beautiful and absorbing."

Please join us to discuss this interesting and inventive novel by an author born in Jordan and educated in England and America. He presently lives in San Francisco and Beirut.

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Can Clean Tech Clean Up Our Future?

Date: Mon, February 06, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Kicking off Clean-Tech Week 2016

Holmes Hummel, Founder, Clean Energy Works
Andrew Chung, Founder and Managing Partner, 1955 Capital
Danny Kennedy, Managing Director, California Clean Energy Fund

With stock market values at near-record highs, again, how is the clean tech sector doing? One index of solar stocks is down 50 percent from a year ago and the industry was stung by the high-profile flame-out of SunEdison. Overall, however, the clean energy industry is growing and creating jobs. One recent report found the number of people who work in renewable energy grew 5 percent to 8 million people worldwide.

What technologies are most promising for making money and getting a job? What areas offer the biggest prospect for game-changing breakthroughs? Join a conversation with three battle-hardened experts about what’s real and what’s hype in today’s clean power landscape.

Climate One is excited to be working with CleanTech Open for this program, making it the kick-off event for Clean-Tech Week 2016. We will be hosting a post-event reception for extended networking and mingling.

Tue 2/7

Image - Lauren Leader-Chivee

Crossing the Thinnest Line

Date: Tue, February 07, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
The new world of diversity

Lauren Leader-Chivee, Founder and CEO, All In Together; Author, Crossing the Thinnest Line

Explore the social advantages of diversity. Crossing the Thinnest Line argues passionately and persuasively for the possibility, power, purpose and payoff of embracing difference. Already 89 percent of the world’s educated population is either female or minority. In less than a generation, the United States will become minority majority. The world economy is global and interconnected, and Leader-Chivee says that embracing diversity has never been more imperative.

With compelling data and powerful, personal stories, Leader-Chivee looks at challenges and solutions to immigration, education, business, media and politics and inspires Americans to rise to the challenge.

Image - Bret Baier, Fox News Chief Political Anchor
This event is Sold Out

Bret Baier, Fox News Chief Political Anchor

Date: Tue, February 07, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Why you might still like Ike

Bret Baier, Chief Political Anchor, Fox News; Author, Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower’s Final Mission; Twitter:
In conversation with Kori Schake, Research Fellow, Hoover Institution

This program is part of our Good Lit series, underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation.

Since 1998, Bret Baier has been a Fox news stalwart. In addition to being chief political anchor, he anchors "Special Report with Bret Baier," the top-rated cable news program in its time slot and one of the top five shows in cable news. Baier was the first reporter in Fox News’ Atlanta bureau and went on to become chief White House and then national security correspondent.

As the country grapples with the meaning of presidential leadership in 2017, Baier’s new book covers President Dwight Eisenhower’s leadership in guiding America out of war in Korea, through the apocalyptic threat of nuclear war with Russia, and into one of the greatest economic booms. In his last address to the nation, Eisenhower looked to the future, warning Americans against the dangers of elevating partisanship above national interest, excessive government budgets (particularly deficit spending), the expansion of the military-industrial complex, and the creeping political power of special interests.

Baier will discuss how these words resonate today and the lessons Eisenhower’s leadership impart. He’ll also discuss the current state of media and the new administration.