Featuring (in order of appearance)…

Aaron James
Author Assholes: A Theory
Professor of Philosophy, University of California, Irvine

Aaron James is Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of Fairness In Practice: A Social Contract for a Global Economy, Assholes: a Theory, Assholes: a Theory of Donald Trump, Surfing with Sartre: An Aquatic Inquiry into a Life of Meaning, and many articles in ethics and political philosophy.

He was an ACLS Burkhardt fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, a Visiting Professor of Philosophy at New York University, and a Visiting Scholar at Australia National University.

» On Assholes Website
» Twitter

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Aimée Morrison
Professor, University of Waterloo
Literature and Digital Humanities

I wanted to be a computer scientist until I was the only girl in all my high school courses. So I pursued my second love, English, working my way around to computers again eventually, working in humanities labs at York and Alberta, and on funded electronic text publications at Guelph and at Alberta.

My work focuses on popular reception and remediation of computer technologies, as well as on design for digital media. Now I teach literature, digital humanities, history and theory of media, and multimedia practice.

Increasingly, my research engages with emergent forms of social media as a set of complex and consequential rhetorical, literary, and social practices undertaken by ordinary people across the full spectrum of daily life. My current project, a book-length study called Deciphering Digital Life Writing, aims to produce a mode of criticism suitable to extant and future online communication tools, attuned to notions of personal identity, and to the constructive role of technology in mediating these online. Basically, I’m trying to figure out how people decide what to say about themselves online, and what motivates these decisions.

» University of Waterloo Profile
» Twitter

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Robert Hockett
Professor of Law, Cornell University

Robert Hockett is a long-standing member of the Cornell Faculty of Law, his teaching, research and publications focus within economics and law is the legal and institutional necessities for a just, prosperous, and sustainable economic system. Robert is a strong supporter of the ‘Occupy’ Cooperative and has dedicated much of his time to supporting the initiative and ideals of the movement.

During the 2015-2016 Presidential primary season, he served as a spokesperson for the Bernie Sanders campaign and his soon to be released book A Republic of Owners, focuses on programs and policies that are aimed at increasing the share of average Americans’ incomes deriving from business capital rather than labor. Robert has dedicated much of his life’s work towards advocating for, and actively creating greater equality in America and the elimination of the current divide between the average American and the 1%.

A Fellow of the Century Foundation and regular commissioned author for the New America Foundation, Hockett also does regular consulting work for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the International Monetary Fund, Americans for Financial Reform, the ‘Occupy’ Cooperative, and a number of federal and state legislators and local governments.

Prior to doing his doctoral work and entering academe, he worked for the International Monetary Fund and clerked for the Honorable Deanell Reece Tacha, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

» Cornell University Profile
» Twitter

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Paul Purcell
Baird Chairman

Paul E. Purcell holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame.

Paul is the current Chairman of Baird and a member of the board of directors of Baird Financial Group. Paul is largely credited as being responsible for the renewal and growth of Baird since his involvement in 1994 and has become known for his ‘no assholes’ policy that exists within the framework of the company;  something that has contributed to Baird being recognized as one of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For since 2004.  As someone who works within the financial sector and has dedicated his life to creating a better working environment for both associates and for clients, Paul is uniquely familiar with the push back against asshole culture.

In addition to his work with Baird, Paul serves as a member on the boards of over a dozen education, arts and community-based organizations. He has received numerous awards and recognition for his work including the Medical College of Wisconsin Warren P. Knowles Humanitarian Award in 2014 and the Milwaukee Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016.

» Baird Profile
» Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For since 2004

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Sherry Lee Benson-Podolchuk
Former RCMP Officer, Workplace Conflict, Bullying & Harassment Consultant and Keynote Speaker

I have taken my 20-year career as a female police officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) – the experiences with workplace conflict, bullying and harassment – and turned the negative into a positive. By first writing a book, Women Not Wanted (2007, 2ed. 2010) detailing these events and two, helping people learn to understand and deal with workplace conflict.

Over the years I created strategies and tools which helped me and I want to share this knowledge. I am frequently called upon by media and government agencies to discuss the subject of workplace bullying/harassment. I was part of two Senate Committee reports and provided testimony and written recommendations on workplace culture. The key is to have employees who thrive in the workplace and that makes better business sense. I believe that every person deserves to have a safe workplace.

In June 2015, I presented at TEDx Winnipeg on ‘Tools to Survive Workplace Bullying’. The goal of my motivational presentations are to create and foster a positive work environment, create a better understanding of mental health, stress and finally encourage those living with PTSD.

» Website
» Twitter
» LinkedIn

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John Cleese
Author, Comedian, Screenwriter

With the legendary, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Fawlty Towers and A Fish Called Wanda, the versatile John Cleese created a unique comedic style that has inspired countless writers and comedians. He is also a leading personal motivator and has published a number of books about psychology, including Families and How to Survive Them and Life and How to Survive It in collaboration with psychiatrist Robin Skynner.

John Cleese’s influence is also felt in the corporate world as the founder of Video Arts, the world’s largest provider of business training programs. Cleese brings his award-winning series of videos to life on stage with his trademark boundless energy and inimitable sense of humour, exploring corporate etiquette, customer service, creative thinking and problem solving.

Luckily for us John Cleese is a great fan of Aaron James’ book. So much so, in fact, that he has tweeted about it more than once. For example: “I recommend an excellent book about people who feel no guilt for their wrong actions. It’s written by philosopher Aaron James: ‘Assholes‘.” And a year later, in reference to Sepp Blatter of the International Olympic Committee: “To understand Sepp better, I recommend ‘Assholes: A Theory‘ by Aaron James, an American professor of Political Philosophy, with a Harvard Ph.D.”

» Website
» Twitter

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Suji Gelerman
Psychotherapist

Suji Gelerman is an unabashed New Yorker living in a rural community outside of Los Angeles. She’s a proud licensed clinical social worker with a strong social justice commitment who has worked with children and families for the past 44 years.

Her areas of expertise include early parental attachment, anxiety, trauma, depression, learning challenges, teenagers with an emphasis on gender/sexuality identity and blended, divorced and marital couples. She recently retired as the Clinical Director of a residential treatment facility servicing low income, underserved multi-generational mothers of color and their young children. She is an inveterate traveler (the more exotic the better), a project-er, gardener, animal rescuer, music, art and chocolate aficionado, and one who can laugh at herself and the insanity and absurdity of it all.

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Robert I. Sutton
Author The No Asshole Rule
Professor, Stanford University

Robert I. Sutton is an organizational psychologist and Professor of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University.  He is a much sought-after speaker and writes about leadership, workplace dynamics, innovation, and organizational design.

He is author of seven books including The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t, The Asshole Survival Guide, and Good Boss, Bad Boss.

Sutton has been teaching classes on the psychology of management and the workplace at Stanford since 1983. He is co-founder of the Center for Work, Technology and Organization, which he co-directed from 1996 to 2006. He is also co-founder of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program and the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design.  His current Friction Project is exploring why organizations make the right things too hard to do, and the wrong things too easy.

» Website
» Stanford University Profile
» 15 Things I Believe

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Geoffrey Nunberg
Author Ascent of the A Word
Professor, University of California, Berkeley

Geoffrey Nunberg, a linguist, teaches at the UC Berkeley School of Information. He is the emeritus chair of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary.

Since 1989, he has done a language feature on NPR’s “Fresh Air,” and his commentaries on language, culture, and politics have appeared in the Sunday New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, the American Prospect, Forbes, Fortune, and other publications. A winner of the Linguistic Society of America’s Language and the Public Interest Award in 2001, he is the author of The Way We Talk Now (2001), Going Nucular (2004), Talking Right (2006), The Years of Talking Dangerously (2009) and most recently, Ascent of the A-Word: Assholism, the First Sixty Years (2012). He lives in San Francisco.

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Johnathan Gilmore
Marine Corps Veteran
Undergraduate, Cornell University

First generation student, and one of 22 Veterans attending Cornell University. I grew up in a small town in Middleton, Idaho. I knew that I wanted to get out of town and travel the world so I joined the Marine Corps.

During my time in the military I advocated for gay rights by being the first openly gay Marine in my battalion. After the Corps, I went to a small community college in Bellingham, WA. Here I excelled in my academics, joined the student assembly, won the Transforming Lives Award, and was accepted into Cornell University. At Cornell, I acted as the Director of Communications for The Cornell University Veterans Association (CUVA) and wrote columns on such issues as toxic masculinity in fraternities for the university paper, The Cornell Daily Sun. Since graduating in 2018, I have worked at Amazon as the L4 Area Manager.

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Sherry F. Colb
Professor of Law, Cornell University

Sherry F. Colb, C.S. Wong Professor of Law at Cornell, earned an A.B. from Columbia College (Valedictorian) and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. She clerked for Judge Wilfred Feinberg of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and for Associate Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the United States Supreme Court.

Colb has co-authored a book about the connection between animal rights and fetal rights, Beating Hearts: Abortion and Animal Rights, published by Columbia University Press in 2016. She has also authored a book about animal rights, Mind If I Order the Cheeseburger? And Other Questions People Ask Vegans (Lantern 2013). She composes a bi-weekly column on Justia’s Verdict as well as regular posts on the blog, Dorf on Law.

» Justia’s Verdict Profile
» Dorf on Law

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Saule Omarova
Professor of Law, Cornell University

Saule Omarova specializes in regulation of financial institutions, banking law, international finance, and corporate finance. Before joining Cornell Law School in 2014, she was the George R. Ward Associate Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina School of Law. Prior to joining academia, Professor Omarova practiced law in the Financial Institutions Group of Davis, Polk, & Wardwell, as well as serving at the U.S. Department of the Treasury as a Special Advisor for Regulatory Policy to the Under Secretary for Domestic Finance.

In 2017 she testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs admonishing Congress stating that “if Congress truly wants to foster economic growth, it should take affirmative measures to assure adequate credit flows toward infrastructure and cutting-edge industry, rather than deregulating so as to permit a return to wealth-destroying, bubble-and-bust cycles in secondary markets.” To further this point, she referenced a new proposal offered by herself and Professor Robert Hockett, to establish what both call a new National Investment Authority.

» Cornell University Profile

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Bill Emmott
Author, Journalist, former Editor, The Economist

An independent writer and consultant on international affairs, now based in Dublin and Oxford, Emmott was the editor of The Economist from 1993 to 2006.  Author of a number of books, his attention focuses particularly on Italy and Japan, where in 2016, the government awarded him with the Order of the Rising Sun. He is a columnist for La Stampa, Mainichi Shimbun, Project Syndicate and for Nikkei Business, writes for a number of other top newspapers including the Financial Times, and is chairman of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

A deep connoisseur of Italy, in 2012, with Annalisa Piras, he co-authored and acted as a narrator in Girlfriend in a Coma. This is a documentary feature film on Italy, depicting its situation over the past two and a half decades – namely since Berlusconi entered the political arena. It has been widely broadcasted and seen by more than 1.5 million people. He and Piras then established The Wake Up Foundation, dedicated to using film for public education about the challenges facing western societies, and which will hold its inaugural Wake Up Europe Festival for social impact documentaries in Turin, Italy, in May 2019.

Emmott’s wide exposure to international issues and developments allows him a broad perspective on cultural differences, their roots and evolutions – particularly among Italy and Japan.”

» Website
» The Wake Up Foundation

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Edoardo Albinati
Novelist, Screenwriter
Author The Catholic School

One of the most prominent Italian writers today, Albinati has been working at Rome Rebibbia prison as a teacher since 1994. In 2002 and 2017, he took part as UN High Commissioner for Refugees missions in Afghanistan, Chad, and Niger. As a screenwriter, he has worked with directors such as Matteo Garrone (Tale of Tales) and Marco Bellocchio (Sweet Dreams). In 2016, his 1300-page novel La scuola cattolica – now being translated in several languages, and to be published in the United States next August by Farrar, Straus and Giroux – won the most prestigious Italian literary award – the Premio Strega.

In The Catholic School, Albinati investigates the 70s “Circeo massacre,” in which three wealthy boys (his own schoolmates) raped and murdered two girls of a lesser background. The actual case is in fact a pretext to explore how extreme right wing politics and gender education can shape abusive personalities. The nine years spent by Albinati studying the phenomenon and writing the book provide an extremely interesting angle to his analysis of assholery – both he and Aaron James classify it as a predominantly male trait. He delivers this analysis on camera with his usual intensity and insight.

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Lorella Zanardo
Filmmaker, Writer, Women’s Rights Activist

The work of Lorella Zanardo is rooted in gender education. The women’s rights activist is also director of the documentary, The Body of Women, which strikingly depicts the representation of the female body on Italian TV. She has also written a book of the same name.

Through this personal lens, Zanardo depicts the profound cultural decay experienced in Italy today, springing from the pervasive spread of Berlusconi’s private TV channels, and the consequent dumbing down of state TV, previously of a high quality. Zanardo has also been engaged in an awareness campaign for schools and universities on the negative image of womanhood on television and in media, both in Italy and abroad. She is convinced issues of gender are deeply entwined with asshole behaviour.

» Website
» Il corpo delle donne (The Body of Women)
» Twitter

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Tim Parks
Author, Italian Translator
Professor, IULM University of Milan

Born in Manchester, Parks studied at Cambridge and Harvard, and is a novelist, essayist, translator, journalist and university professor at Milan IULM. In 1980, he moved to Italy and has lived there ever since. Author of a number of fiction and non-fiction books, and winner of several literary awards, he has published several stories in The New Yorker, and writes regularly for both The London Review of Books and The New York Review of Books. Parks is also a renowned translator of important works, including Machiavelli’s The Prince, which is often quoted in Aaron James’ book.

Parks analyses how Italian social structure functions from an original and well-studied perspective. This is due to his expertise in Italian culture and history combined with his keen interest in its politics and social system. He also considers how a sense of identifying with, or wanting to belong, to a group can allow for, or lead to, asshole behaviour.

» Website
» Facebook
» New York Books Profile
» London Review of Books Profile

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Piercamillo Davigo
Italian Magistrate, President of the II Criminal Section at the Supreme Court of Cassation, member of the Superior Council of Magistrates

Davigo is one of the most well-known judges in Italy, and now sits on the Italian equivalent of the Supreme Court. In the early nineties he was one of the chief prosecutors of the famous corruption investigation called “Mani Pulite” (Clean Hands), that marked a turning point in Italian contemporary history. It led to the dissolution of political parties, and as a side effect allowed media mogul, Silvio Berlusconi to enter politics. Involved in many of the most important corruption trials of the last 25 years, Davigo highlights the sweeping legitimation of crime and corruption and its influences on everyday life: the disappearance of shame, the need to go back to a shared ethic, and the necessity of rules and laws to foster this.

Vladimir Luxuria
Writer, LGBTQ Activist, Artist, Politician

After graduating in Foreign Languages at Rome University, Luxuria started acting and organising events. She organised the first Gay Pride in Rome, and became one of the most active advocates of LGBT rights in the world – also demonstrating in Russia, where she was arrested during the Olympic Games. In 2006, she was elected to Parliament, with the Rifondazione Comunista Party. She was the first openly transgender member of a parliament in Europe, and the second in the world.

Glowing with charisma and wit, Luxuria, shares some of the countless episodes in which she has been the target of assholery – from her childhood in a small town in the south of Italy, to when she was in Parliament, to dealing with social media trolls today. She tackles other general issues revolving around asshole behaviour and psychology, and details how she learned to confront assholes through irony.

» Website
» Twitter

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Leslie Miley
Former Twitter, Apple, Google Engineering Leader

Leslie Miley is a Silicon Valley native who has worked in engineering leadership roles at Slack, Twitter, Apple, and Google. He got his start in technology taking apart cable TV set top boxes, moved on to building his own computers and teaching himself programming languages. You can find him either in the kitchen playing Iron Chef, playing fetch with his cat, or trying to learn Spanish. He serves as an advisor to several start-ups founded by women and minorities and is an investor in a fund dedicated to diverse entrepreneurs.

bethanye Mckinney Blount
CEO Compaas
former VP Engineering Reddit

bethanye McKinney Blount is Co-founder and CEO at Compaas. Compaas builds software to help growing companies make better compensation decisions. In over twenty years working in technology, bethanye has led engineering teams at reddit, Linden Lab, EMI Music, and Facebook.

She also Co-founded MailRank, a startup acquired by Facebook in 2011. In 2016, bethanye helped launch Project Include, a non-profit focused on increasing intersectional diversity and inclusion in tech companies. She has been featured in The Atlantic and Business Insider, and was named to Forbes list of the Top 50 Women in Tech in 2018.

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Mary Sarnataro
Comedian, TV host

Stand-up comedian Sarnataro, addresses all vices in her work. For a few years now, she has been featured on Le Iene, (Reservoir Dogs) – one of the most popular satirical shows on Italian television since 1997. This show revolves around Sarnataro hunting assholes through journalistic investigations.  She arranges ambushes of social media trolls who attack celebrities and confronts them by surprise with their victims.

With her direct and spontaneous attitude, she tells us about her career and her experiences with all the assholes she has met – including one of the trolls of Vladimir Luxuria, another interview participant of our documentary.

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Leslie Dixon
Baird Chief Human Resources Officer

Leslie Dixon has more than 30 years of human resources experience. Leslie joined Baird in 1987 and currently serves as the firm’s Chief Human Resources Officer. She focuses on strategic issues, working with President & CEO Steve Booth and Chairman Paul Purcell and other members of senior management. She is most proud of Baird’s recognition for the past 15 years as one of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For.

Leslie holds a Bachelor of Science from Miami University of Ohio. She has been actively involved in the human resources committee for the Securities Industry Association. Under Leslie’s leadership, they meet and network annually. In 2017, Leslie became Board Chair for Partners for Schools That Can Milwaukee.  She is also on the board of directors for the Milwaukee College Preparatory School, formerly the Marva Collins Preparatory School.

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A FEATURE DOCUMENTARY FROM JOHN WALKER

A JOHN WALKER PRODUCTION IN CO-PRODUCTION WITH THE NATIONAL FILM BOARD OF CANADA IN ASSOCIATION WITH DOCUMENTARY CHANNEL

CINEMATOGRAPHER PAUL MCCURDY EDITOR JEFF WARREN COMPOSER SANDY MOORE SOUND DESIGNER ALEX SALTER ANIMATOR RON MCDOUGALL LOCATION SOUND JIM RILLIE PRODUCERS ANN BERNIER  ANNETTE CLARKE  JOHN WALKER WRITTEN BY JOHN WALKER  ROBERT SANDLER DIRECTED & NARRATED BY JOHN WALKER

A John Walker Production in co-production with the National Film Board of Canada in association with documentary Channel and Canada Media Fund, with the assistance of the Government of Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Film & Television Production Incentive Fund, Telefilm Canada and the Rogers Group of Funds, through the Theatrical Documentary Program, Rogers Telefund and The Canadian Film or Video Film Tax Credit