Rajiv Shah’s New Book Is A Master Class On Decision Making
India-West Staff Reporter
NEW YORK, NY – Rajiv J. Shah, the president of the Rockefeller Foundation and former administrator of President Barack Obama’s United States Agency for International Development, introduces an innovative approach to achieving large-scale change in his latest work, ‘Big Bets’. Drawing inspiration from his involvement in some of the most significant humanitarian projects in recent history, Shah shares his experiences in the pursuit of the seemingly impossible.
Shah is no stranger to pulling off the impossible, having been involved in helping vaccinate 900 million children at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and leading high-pressure efforts to halt the spread of Ebola. His secret, he says, lies in the “big bets” philosophy—the idea that seeking to solve problems, rather than making incremental improvements, can attract unlikely partners with the power and know-how to achieve transformational change.
‘Big Bets’ is part career-sweeping memoir and part inspirational playbook, offering a master class in decision-making, leadership, and changing the world one bet at a time. Shah emphasizes that a big bet aims to solve, not just improve, a problem. These bets start with audacious goals, whether it’s ending hunger, eradicating a disease, or transforming race relations. The scale can be global or local; what matters is the impact, not the size of the problem, he suggests.
Shah underscores that successful big bets require three essential elements: innovative solutions, building alliances with unlikely partners, and solid data. The book breaks down these elements in action and provides practical advice at the end of each chapter, including the importance of asking simple questions with humility and how a hesitant partner can sometimes strengthen your case.
Throughout the book, Shah enlivens his strategic insights with vivid behind-the-scenes stories, memorable conversations with household names that have shaped his approach to creating change, and his personal journey as an Indian-American from an immigrant family seeking a sense of belonging. He distills his battle-tested strategies for creating change, arguing that big bets have a surprising advantage over cautious ones: a bold vision can attract support, collaborations, and fresh ideas from key players who might otherwise resist change. Shah also traces his unlikely path to the Rockefeller Foundation across a changing world and through some of the most ambitious and dramatic global efforts to create a better world.
The book has garnered praise from prominent figures such as Hillary Clinton, Bill Gates, Ben Affleck, Josè Andres, Admiral James Stavridis, Helene Gayle, Sean Penn, and Adam Silver, among others.
Shah is a graduate of the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and the Wharton School. He has received several honorary degrees, the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award, and the US Global Leadership Award. Shah is married to Shivam Mallick Shah, and they have three children.
BIG BETS: How Large-Scale Change Really Happens
By Rajiv Shah
320 pages. Also available in ebook and audiobook