Jared Leto Talks "Sociopath" CEOs, Social Media Discipline at Innovation Festival

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Jared Leto at the Fast Company European Innovation Festival

"You know why I like Snapchat? Because it’s a one-way conversation. Social media is not the best thing for your mental health," said the actor-musician during the Fast Company European Innovation Festival in Milan.

While in Milan for the Thirty Seconds to Mars world tour on Wednesday (before heading to France on Thursday and on to Russia), Jared Leto popped by the Fast Company European Innovation Festival, held at the Gucci Hub and sponsored by his favorite Italian fashion brand. (Leto is a close friend of Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele, appears in brand campaigns and regularly dons the label.) Sitting down with Fast Company magazine’s editor-in-chief Stephanie Mehta, the musician-actor chatted about everything from his love of Snapchat, information overload and digitization of society to global warming, sociopath CEOs and investment advice. (Leto’s portfolio includes Spotify, Uber, Airbnb, Nest, Blue Bottle Coffee, Munchery and more).

This year’s festival, themed “The Dawn of Superintelligence,” runs through Thursday and also features appearances by filmmaker Darren Aronofsky, filmmaker and musician Samuel “Blitz” Bazawule, Vrai Pictures founder Jessica Brillhart, Net-a-Porter founder and Imaginary Ventures co-founder Natalie Massenet, Gucci CEO and president Marco Bizzarri and Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala, among others.

Excerpts of Leto’s comments at the conference are below. 

On integrity: "There are a lot of sociopaths out there, especially in business. There are some great companies that have sociopaths at the helm. I mean, let’s be real. They make good CEOs sometimes. Not great people. probably. But there have been a lot of multi-billion-dollar companies run by full-on sociopaths. And sometimes countries!"

On an investor he admires: "Seth Berman [of Susa Ventures] — He is a really intuitive investor. We do deals together. He’s got big cojones, as they say. I don’t know how to say that in Italian? [Bizzarri calls out "Le Palais."] He’s [Bizzarri’s] got ‘em too. Trust me!"

On advice for startups: "I still think, as I used to, ‘What could I have to offer a tech company?’ I’m just a dumb-ass artist who dropped out of school who works really hard and had some good fortune. But I’ve learned that I actually have a perspective. Having a band is kind of like a startup. You have a group of people in a garage around a computer using software, usually to write songs and make an album. You’re very involved in the marketing and all the forward-facing stuff. The record company is kind of your venture capitalist, although your terms are backwards. They keep 80 and you keep 20, if you’re lucky to see the 20 ever!"

On news and information sources: "You know why I like Snapchat? Because it’s a one-way conversation. Social media is not the best thing for your mental health. I mean, have you ever gotten a little anxiety from scrolling a little too much? It’s not that healthy of a place. You really have to have some discipline. That’s why I like Snapchat. Because it’s more of a share, and I don’t have to think about what you think about what I shared."

On information overload: "If I could encourage everybody to do one thing here — and I know you’re never going to listen to me — it’s to put your fucking phone down. We all need to remind each other of that. Put it down. Whether it’s for an hour, five hours. If you have the luxury, turn it off for 24 hours and see how your body feels."

On technology overriding humans: "In some way, it wouldn’t be so bad, if you look at what we’re doing to this planet. I think there are some things that we could use guidance with. … Even if you look at the elections and what happened in the States: a real clear example of how powerful technology can be, and we’re in the infancy of what is going to be possible. God, we’re getting dark real quick!"

On global warming: "I mean, we’re on borrowed time as it is, okay? Isn’t that the truth? You read about this glacier in Antarctica. This thing is, we’re going to be swimming pretty soon. It’s not going to be Lake Como; it’s going to be Lake Mediterranean. The whole thing."