Alan M. Webber
Global Detective
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“As a global detective you are a student of life.” Alan Webber tries to solve global problems by writing and speaking about it and by connecting and engaging with social entrepreneurs. “Basically I am trying to contribute to making the world a better place.” His advice: “Write more because you want to keep a record of your thoughts and don’t listen to the critique in your head! Believe in yourself!”


Drei Ratschläge an Dein 14jähriges Ich!

Number 1 is write more because you want to keep a record of your thoughts and you want to be able to capture your ideas, so don’t hold back, don’t censor yourself, don’t listen to the critic in your head that says you can’t do it. Try everything, write it all down and believe in yourself.

Was steht auf Deiner Visitenkarte?

My name is Allan Weber, I live in Santa Fe, New Mexico and my job title is global detective.

Was ist das coolste an Deinem Job?

The coolest thing about my job is the people I get to meet. I get to meet the most interesting people in the world because if you are a global detective, it’s not about you, it’s about them and so you go out and meet people and you ask them, tell me what you do, tell me how you see the world, how you would solve the problem I’m curious about and they tell you, and they get excited and you write it all down and you learn from everybody. So you are basically a student of life all the time.

Welche Einschränkungen bringt Dein Job mit sich?

The restrictions are you don’t do anything illegal and you don’t do anything that would embarrass your parents and you don’t do anything that would end up on the front page of the newspaper as a scandal. Everything else is okay. But you should always have fun, if it’s not fun, don’t do it.

Worum geht es in Deinem Job?

What is a global detective? A global detective is someone who has a very curious mind, curiosity and who sees the world as full of mysteries and clues that need to be interpreted to figure out how things work and how you make things work better, how you solve problems in the world. So for example, why would a global detective come to Unis Global Summit, because there are a lot of clues here at this summit about how to solve problems in the world; clues in the form of companies, social businesses that have been started, clues by listening to the speakers, clues by interacting with interesting people who are doing startups and trying new things. Global detective is someone who is fundamentally employed to answer interesting questions, how do we solve problems in the world, how do we make education better, how do we make poverty go away, how do we make cities more livable, how do we solve political problems or social problems. My job every day is to engage with people who are doing that to write about it, to connect people, to act as a bridge between people, to introduce people to others who are involved in the same work but they may not know each other and to speak about it, to be a presenter who tries to helps other people become global detectives too.

Wie sieht Dein Werdegang aus?

First of all, I have always been a kind of a journalist, when I was in high school; I ran the high school newspaper, when I was in college I ran the college newspaper. After I got out of college I went into politics in Portland, Oregon and I first worked for a magazine and then worked for the Mayor of Portland Oregon. So I learnt a lot about organizing political campaigns and analyzing policy issues and understanding how the pieces fit together. How do you have a strategy around making the city a more livable place? Then I went back into journalism and worked for an alternative weekly newspaper, and from there I went back into politics. The man I worked for who had been mayor for Portland became the secretary of transportation when Jimmy Carter was president. So I went back from Portland back to Washington DC. When President Carter lost the election to Ronald Reagan, I went from that to the Harvard Business School where I did a study on the auto industry and how to make America’s auto companies more competitive. That led from studying an industry to becoming the managing editor of the Harvard Business School Review Magazine. I did that for about 10 years and then I started my own magazine, a magazine called Fast Company. I started Fast Company in 1993 and in 1999 we sold it to Gronorenya from bertelsmann and I stayed with it until 2003 and then I left it and became a global detective writing books, newspaper articles, columns, giving speeches, volunteering time to help young entrepreneurs to get started, travelling to conferences like the Unis Conference and being a moderator and basically trying to be a person who contributes to making the world a better place.

Ginge es auch ohne Deinem Werdegang?

If you want to be a global detective, you need skills and a quality of your mind not necessarily a career path. I think what you do with your curiosity is more important than the career path because let’s face it, we live in a world where people change jobs all the time. People start out with the expectation that they are going to college or go to university and they are going to get a degree and they are going to become an engineer and all of a sudden there are no jobs for engineers. So now you have to pivot and say, well, I’m not going to be an engineer, I’m going to be an entrepreneur who uses the skills of an engineer to help other people do things. But it’s the quality of your mind, the curiosity, the learning skills you have, you keep learning all the time, what you do with it will evolve if you are curious.