Ditchley Proust Questionnaire - Sophie Hackford

Sophie Hackford Answers the Ditchley Proust Questionnaire. 

The jet-setting futurist on her upcoming book, polymaths and meditation.  

What are you working on right now?  Trying to write a book on the snake-oil circus that is the ‘thought leadership’ industry. Hopefully being a useful Chair to our data/AI startup.  

Writing a talk on surveillance, digital twins, and computer games for a student class next week.   

What was your first experience of Ditchley?  A philanthropy conference at the end of the last decade.  

What should change for good after this pandemic – generally speaking?  Community, and immunity. And a heightened awareness of systemic risks.  

What will you do differently as a result of this experience?  I can give up the battle to get the FT back into British Airways lounges.  

Name one likely change in your work/sector as a consequence (of the pandemic).  No more hopping on a plane to give talks.  

The technology that has most changed my life most is…  Video calling – even before the virus I thought it was close to magic.  

The best (political or other) biography you've read is…  Not necessarily the best, but the most recent was Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, by American poet Audre Lorde. Biography is my favourite genre—especially about mathematicians. I’m currently reading one about the eccentric Hungarian genius Paul Erdos.  

Which living person do you most admire?  Professor Lord Martin Rees, our astronomer Royal. I love a polymath.  

The company I wish I’d started…  There’s still plenty of time.  

Ditchley really should hold a discussion on…  Making boards fit for 21st century purpose.  

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?  Meditation.  

What’s your most treasured possession?  I recently went back to my house to pick up some things during lockdown. When I got there I realised I didn’t really need anything.  

Which talent would you most like to have?  I’d love to be a better surfer. I spend more time admiring the sea bed than upright on the board. It’s harder than it looks! 

What was your first ever job?  Waitressing at Henley Regatta. I opened a lot of cold bottles of champagne with numb fingers.  

What’s your favourite journey?  Driving through the Arizona desert is always a treat. The saguaro cacti seem absurd, like film props or pool toys.  

Who would you invite to your dream virtual dinner party?  All of my ancestors.  

What’s your motto?  What’s the worst that can happen?  

Sophie Hackford is Co-founder of 1715 Labs.