Have you found yourself experiencing a lot of stress recently? Do you want to be more creative? Stewart Alsop interviews successful creatives to find out how they work with and manage the stress that is inherent in creative work. He investigates the questions: "What is the connection between stress and creativity?"
Episodes with Smash Notes
The guys at Podcast Notes take notes on the best podcasts on the planet as a business and I thought it would be interesting to interview them about all the things they have learned. Check it out for a good synthesis of the best knowledge being produced at the moment.
Kiril Zubovsky is the founder of SmashNotes, a website that curates highlights from millions of podcasts in the form of Q&As. Be it science, business, startups, education, news, or anything in between, they've got you covered. He also hosts his own podcast called Rad Dad. In this episode, Kirill shares the insider knowledge he's collected both as a founder in the growing podcast industry and also as a YCombinator alumnus. From life lessons to startup culture, you will leave this one feeling a little wiser and more well-informed about the way our world operates.
Really enjoyed sitting down with Yoni, the founder of podcast notes and getting his wisdom about the world of podcasting and how he started it. So interesting!
I sit down with Julian Weisser, who does Growth for a company called Virta Health which has figured out a way to reverse type II diabetes without the use of medication. Julian was an absolute blast to talk to and is one of those behind the scenes geniuses. He even has a framework for attaining happiness!
How do you tell your investors you've got a terminal cancer the day after you closed a Series A, and more importantly, how do you continue to run your life and your company forward, despite the odds. Submittable CEO Michael FitzGerald was faced with this choice, this is his story.
Hannah introduces herself and Within Meditation. Within Meditation studio is in San Francisco and they offer 30 minute guided meditations to people who work in the financial district.
Hannah talks about how she teaches beginners and how that is different from teaching more experienced meditators. Beginners have a lot of expectations and they aren't sure what exactly meditation is. This requires Hannah to be more present throughout the meditation with cues to come back to the breath and the body. When she teachers more experienced practitioners, she usually leaves a lot more silence as that is what they are looking for.
We talk about our mutual experiences with Vipassana. Stewart asked Hannah which day was the worst day. She says that day 3. Stewart asks her about integrating after the ten-day meditation retreat. She says that in Vipassana on day 8 they usually talk about how people can bring back what they have learned on retreat. She said that a voice inside her said, "having a child is a way to bring love incarnate into this world". At the time she had never wanted kids and after the retreat, she ended up coming back and having two of them!
She talks about how having kids is an amazing experience of unconditional love. Stewart mentions that they originally taught him how to do loving-kindness or Metta meditation and Hannah's description of being a parent perfectly describes this.
Stewart asks Hannah where she got the idea for Within Meditation. She says that she noticed that in other countries with meditation traditions that they don't consider ten days to be too long. Here in the west, 10 days is a really long time. She realized that for people with busy lives the best way to introduce meditation is in short sessions and she started offering 30-minute sessions to people at pop-up events. Then they found a space in the financial district.
Stewart explains his own meditation practice and story and how he worked in office environments. He explains how he met a founder at a cryptocurrency event recently that reminded him of this intense energy that founders have when they try to create something out of nothing against a lot of barriers. He asks Hannah how she deals with this intense fire energy that founders have or how does it show up in her work.
Hannah replies that when she takes her teaching into office environment's she often meets people who are skeptical about the whole practice. She says that skeptical people often say that they have good thoughts and they want to hold on to them because they are good. She tells these people to ask themselves "What are we doing right now? Are we just thinking or is there something else going on?".
This reminded Stewart about a time on meditation retreat where he had a good business idea and he couldn't do anything about it at the moment. He couldn't let it go and it caused him to have insomnia. Once he learned how to let it go he was able to find that there will always be more ideas, but very few ideas that you actually want to spend your time or energy on.
We talk about how creativity arises out of a natural byproduct of the meditative state and a quiet mind. Not a permanently quiet mind, but a mind that finds the spaces in between the thoughts.
Hannah says that a lot of beginners realize that their minds and neurosis are running their lives. They realize that meditation is a non-pharmaceutical way of calming the mind and letting go of the neurosis.
Stewart explains that a lot of beginners have an idea of what meditation will be like. He asks Hannah how she helps people move away from these preconceived ideas of meditation. She says that she helps them realize that mindfulness meditation is a method for coming back to the present reality. As Thich Nacht Hahn says, mindfulness is keeping one's consciousness alive to the present reality.
Hannah talks about coming back from Vipassana and the difference between practicing alone and practicing with a group. She says that when she got back she needed to find a group of people who she could practice with and found her teacher Michael Mcalister.
Stewart mentions that "The Power of Now" was the first book that got him into a mindfulness practice. He also mentions that he has been reading J. Krishnamurti.
Stewart asks Hannah about Within meditation and where she sees it going for the next couple years. She says that she wants to fill the room and build the community.
We discuss "How do you sell meditation?" Stewart brings up headspace and the other apps that have actually got consumers purchasing meditation services. Hannah says that apps are great for beginners, but that they don't serve the purpose of having a teacher give accurate feedback in the moment.
Stewart responds by saying that Headspace is going to bring a lot of people into meditation and then a whole bunch of other services and teachers will not be needed to serve this larger population who are now into meditation.
We talk about how prerecorded meditations like Headspace and others are a different experience than live ones. In live meditations, everyone in the room is on the same page and a prerecorded session is more of a solitary undertaking.
Hannah brings up that she likes the meditation apps that give short practices that help people bring mindfulness into their daily lives. Stewart asks her how she helps her students at Within take mindfulness into their daily lives. She says that she gives students a trigger like a stoplight for remembering to stop and take a breath and notice what is going on.
Hannah brings her own experiences up about how she tries to bring mindfulness into her life and she says the biggest practices is with her kids. When she is noticing anger she can regulate her emotions and take a break up.
Stewart brings up the two main tools that mindfulness gives us: regulation and awareness. Hannah says that when in a formal meditation practice she just uses awareness and whatever comes up she just moves through it without regulation. When she is having difficult moments with her children she uses regulation for example something called affect labeling, essentially labeling what is going on in her experience and choosing to respond skillfully to that.
He asks Hannah about whether she uses any regulation practices when it comes to the breath. She says no. Stewart mentions his own struggles with reverse breathing and how he had to use a lot of breath regulation to help him heal this. He mentions the difference between Buddhist traditions and a lack of breathing exercises as opposed to yoga and its reliance on breathing exercises.
Hannah brings up how she asks her children some time to regulate their breath. This reminds Stewart about how he came back from his meditation journey and he tried to teach his nephew. It didn't work. He wasn't buying it. Hannah tells about her experience at Wisdom 2.0 and how someone asked Jon Kabat-Zinn about teaching your family or the people you love the most. He said, "You don't, just lead by example".
Stewart asks Hannah about the main thing that has changed in her relationship with other people. She says that she learned about her own responsibility in any interaction with another person. She became more empathic and let the wall fall down between her image of herself and how that's different for others. She allowed herself to become messier.
Hannah talks about the conflict between living in the material world, but then realizing that those things don't really define us.
Stewart asks Hannah what the relationship between evolution and meditation is. She says that it doesn't appear that other animals don't have the ability to be aware of our own awareness, but humans do. We have a linear time frame that other animals don't seem to have.
Stewart brings up epigenetics and how what we do gets expressed in our genes and that meditation seems to have a place in this process. If he had had kids ten years ago, those kids would carry different genes then they would now.
Hannah brings up her experience giving birth and how helpful mindfulness has been for that. She learned how to experience intensity without translating it into pain. Her birth process was pain free thanks to her mindfulness process.
Really loved digging deep into Jude's philosophy on life and work as well as how Golden is going to organize the world's information like no one has done before.
Here are some other questions we discuss:
What did socrates say about the unexamined life?
What would it mean to have free will?
Is there a specialization in studying interdisciplinary studies?
What does the university of the internet look like?
What are the three components of effective education?
What does excellence look like?
How do you think more clearly?
Where does originality come from?
Follow Richard: @richardprice100 on Twiter
Maia Bittner (@maiab), co-founder @Pinch and @Rocksbox, is a startup advisor and investor, as well as an alumna at Olin College of Engineering. Currently based in San Francisco, she likes "drinking dirty chais, making web sites, and climbing rocks".
In this episode, you'll hear us talk about:
- How to Negotiate Your Rent (yes, you heard that right!)
- Entrepreneurship: from kid to adult
- Social Media, and Vulnerability
- Self-worth and Independence
- Business, and Hustle Culture
- Uncertainty and Risk-taking
- Death and Decision-making
- Asymmetric Opportunities
- Traveling, and Adaptation
- Ambition, and hard-work
- Remote, office, or both?
- NYC, and its culture
- Imposter Syndrome
- Start-up loneliness
- Community in SF
(02:31) How is the community of SF changing? Ambition and incentives.
(05:18) Seizing opportunities: how did Maia learn business?
(08:32) Traveling, Negotiation, and Sales
(13:46) What challenge is Maia currently struggling with?
(15:59) Death or Future Self: two methods for better decision-making
(19:03) Scheduling: to plan or not to plan
(22:06) Work virtually, Live personally
(27:35) Maia's social life: how do you live anonymously?
(38:22) What sets the Olin College of Engineering apart from others?
(41:25) What was the greatest challenge about starting two companies?
(45:36) The biggest lesson that Maia has recently learned
(48:12) Social skills, and social media; Closing thoughts
Please support us by subscribing and leaving a rating + review on Apple Podcasts. You can also help spread the word by sharing this episode with friends and family!
We also talked about the following questions:
How does education work different in different countries?
How has internet connectivity changed in Myanmar?
How does an authoritarian government affect education and creativity?
What does it take to learn?
What does it mean to learn?
What was it like to grow up in a dictatorship that is based on Buddhism?
Here are some of my favorite questions:
What is the lifespan of an average system?
Why does a system prioritize its own existence?
How do adaptable systems manage inertia?
Why is real estate so stable?
Why are corn and soybeans such a good investment in the mid-west?
What is regulatory capture?
Why humans are so crazy about curiosity?
How does consciousness help us eat, have sex, poop, and sleep better?
What is the point of subconsciousness?
What does it mean to be a system engineer?
Can the systems of technology and the systems of nature coexist?
Is a human pushing a rock off a cliff an example of technology?
How would you describe the intention of a tree?
What percent of services are automated now? What percentage will be in five years?
Follow Matt on Twitter: @thatmatt
Here are some other questions we discuss:
What is alternate reality cinema?
How did COVID19 change the usage of social media?
How did the online world change the meaning of fiction?
How did COVID19 change the way that cognition is distributed on the internet?
How do you build habits to affect the structure of human society?
How did social media change psyops from central governments?
Did we forget the important lessons that the initial internet taught us?
How does Facebook think about second-order engagement?
Check out an event that Michael is hosting this Friday:
Here are some other questions we discussed:
What is 3D trading technology?
What is an idea market?
What are the broken structures of the corporate media environment?
How do you battle systemic corruption?
How has the internet affected nuance?
How can decentralized finance help to reshape the broken structures of modern institutions?
How do you align interests without building monopolies or duopolies?
What are the interests of corporations? What about the shadowy ones?
How long is the average lifespan of an institution?
How is attention like a currency? In what ways is it similar? In what ways is it different?
Follow Mike here: https://twitter.com/harmonylion1
Warren is the father of Arik Gohl who is a previous guest and master bodyworker.
Warren story is fascinating and has served in many roles over his life. He speaks several languages fluently and has keen insight into historical forces as well as how language creates the reality we live.
I highly recommend listening to this episode.
Jesse is a old friend and has a company that makes it really easy to for cities and counties to make sure water is flowing in and out of houses.
Follow Jesse here:
This was actually recorded several months ago before COVID19 but it's probably more relevant now.
You seriously should check out SoundSelf for your 2-month quarantine-style meditation retreat:
Here are some other questions we talked about:
- What is the effect of COVID19 on residential real estate?
- What are the differences and similarities between 2008 and 2020?
- What percentage of the US economy is in real estate?
- How is COVID19 going to affect the Airbnb businesses?
- How did the government stimulus of 2020 effect commercial real estate?
- Why is a lease on commercial real estate so long?
- What are the cool cities in Wyoming?
- Jackson Hole
- What are the hybrid cities in the west coast?
- Why will people become more dependent on investment for income?
- What are the skills that matter at a high level after COVID19 and the drive towards automation?
- Generate and invest wealth
- What was it like to invest in the late 1990's?
- What is the mentality of the investor right now due to COVID19?
- How do you hedge in order to protect yourself in the market?
- What is debt monetization?
- What is the effect of unlimited money on the global economy?
- How do you separate the printing of money and the long term outlook of innovation?
- What are the fundamental trends that are immune to unlimited printing of money?
- What are the investments you should be making if you believe in the long term positive investment horizon?
- Bristol Meyer Swig
- Berkshire Hathaway
- What are dividends for stocks?
- How do you find out whether a company has a long term vision?
- How does this work differently between startups and established companies
- What are the world-class companies out there right now?
- What should you invest in biotech right now?
- How does a 20 year old change their investment horizon from 1 year to 40-50 years?
- How do you invest in CRISPR?
- What is the relationship between specificity, time, and prediction?
- How do hypotheticals help you make better investments?
- How do you get better at speculating on the future?
- What would happen if you believed that more money would be digital?
- medicine is more personalized?
- Why do you want to buy a basket based on trends?
- How do you buy a customized platform for investing in a basket?
- How do you change the
- How do you get better at risk management both in life and investing?
Follow Mike: https://twitter.com/mikealfred
I sit down with Michael, the CEO of Bottomless, to talk about how his company is a key solution to the problems with the supply chain. He also shares his wisdom about how China has dealt with changes to its manufacturing capability in times of COVID19.
Find Bottomless here: https://www.bottomless.com/
I've been seeing Arik for years and is one of my favorite bodyworkers. He developed something called manual ligament theory and his findings are counterintuitive and contrarian but correct. I sat down with him on my way through Guadalajara, Mexico a few weeks ago to go deep on this subject.
Check out manual ligament theory here:
I haven't talked too much about Iboga on the show. I think I've mentioned it a couple of times in a few episodes.
I decided to take Iboga on my way back from Colombia once I heard about Corona virus in early January.
The experience itself was bewildering but it has been a key part of keeping my mental health in order during this period of chaos.
This is an interview I did with Levi, one of the providers at Iboga Wellness Center. Here is the center:
What does ADHD feel like? What are the latest medical advice for someone with ADHD? Are you crazy, or are you just ahead of the curve? What is the foundation of self belief? What is the relationship between self belief and tough love? Is it possible to be both insecure and intellectual fearlessness? What is the risk of telling the truth? All of this is in this episode, but if you have ADHD, you just might not get through it.
We talk a lot about latin america and its use of crypto and how Simon's company is helping to make it all easier.
Even though this was recorded almost 3 months ago before everything happened it is very prescient today because we talk about the rise of authoritarian governments, something which is happening rapidly with the corona virus (and very few people are even noticing it).
Follow @simonvaliu on Twitter:
Reid is CEO at Virtue consultants where he helps tech companies get their ethics in order. He has a PHD in Philosophy. Here are some things we cover:
Are ethics and morals just preferences?
Why is academia so focused on novelty?
What is the importance of foundations when learning something new?
What is meta-ethics?
How can philosophy help you do better business?
Is there an issue with studying by dissecting?
What is the relationship between psychology and philosophy?
How can you tell when someone’s argument is not coherent?
Follow Reid here:
Here are some other questions we come up with:
What was Neitzche reading from Eastern Philosophy?
Are there paths of knowledge which will lead you to be more strong, and powerful as well as keeping the social norms of society?
What is Schopenhauer’s understanding of will?
How are wills exchanged when meeting online?
What does it mean when the Bible says “the meek shall inherit the earth”?
What do the hermetics say about goals?
What is the relationship between courage and strength?
What did nuclear weapons do to our understanding of centralization?
What are your critiques of modernity?
How do you make people wise at scale?
Is wisdom for everyone?
Check out Cent: https://beta.cent.co/
Sam and I have been connected for a while online and it's clear that he is up there in terms of thinkers that will define our generation. We talk about his theory of colors and how working with different colors can help our mental health. Highly recommend this episode.
Follow Sam here:
Jacob wrote this tweet thread and I had to reach out to him to find out what the hell free energy theory is:
I had read a very interesting wired article on it but didn't understand most of it. Jacob lays it all down here and connects it to psychedelic and mental states.
Check out Jacob's blog here:
Mathew is a podcast host and author and the Best Selling Author of Zen Athlete.
We talk about a lot of things, mostly having to do with yoga, spirituality, and how to live a good life. The biggest thing I got from this episode is that if you want to change your life in a big way, do three kind things for strangers without telling anyone that you did those kind things.
Check out the Zen Athlete here:
We talk about the following questions:
What did the 3 mile island do to the public acceptance of nuclear power?
What is the age distribution of nuclear engineers?
What are the nuclear technologies Leslie is most excited about?
Whats it like to build a startup in a field that is at the prototype stage with huge capital and regulatory requirements?
What is currently going on in the Fusion startups?
Check out nucleation capital here: https://nucleationcapital.com/
Here are some other questions we investigated:
What is your objective function?
Did Religion provide people with an objective function?
When do you experience a child-like novelty?
Is there anything more to life than just seeking experiences?
What is the relationship to unique experiences and difficult experiences?
What is the relationship between optionality and commitment?
What are some things that are fungible besides money?
And many more.
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You will like this episode if you have a basic knowledge of crypto and want to find out more. Dan is an investor in crypto from a venture point of view and understands it deeply and fundamentally. I don't know that much but I am intensely curious so I invited him on to learn as much as I can. This is the product.
Follow Dan for more insights from a master:
This was a great episode about remote work and how to manage effectively in a remote work environment. We also talk about how life puts us into trying situations and its part of the way we make meaning to overcome them.
Follow Gary here:
We also talk about the following questions:
What is the value of internationalism?
What is the nature of progress and collaboration? What is the relationship?
How is the growth of convenience and infrastructure is going to take the whole world by surprise?
Follow Svilen here
Check out Dronamics here (its pretty cool):
We talk about two types of creativity:
1. Creativity that VC unlocks through the companies VC's invest in
2. Creativity of how to make investment decisions
We also talk about these questions:
How do you set up a relationship so that its good for the long term?
What is the difference between creativity that is exponential and creativity that is linear?
What will the search algorithm for Voice technology be once its more widespread?
What are the roadblocks to speech to text algorithms today? Computation?
Is imagination just a virtual game?
What have you learned about reality from programming computers?
Follow Leo here:
I talk with Doug about his plan to give people $10K to move out of San Francisco and how they are building a network of coworking places where people can work remotely yet still find personal connections.
We investigate the question:
Will big companies trust remote work at scale?
We also went into a tangent on what remote work looks like in China.
Follow Doug here on twitter:
Check out Mainstreet here:
This one was really fun because I got to talk to Brian about how humans are adapting to cities, one of my favorite things to talk about. Brian started a company that creates tiny rooms that people can use for meetings or podcasts escaping from open office floor plan hell. He was actually in one of the rooms while he recorded this podcast!
Follow Brian on Twitter:
And check out Room:
I reached out to James on Twitter because he posts a lot of interesting things about machine learning. He's building a stealth startup in the space and studies it at university so he has some relevant and recent knowledge.
If you have an interest in AI check this one out.
Also follow James here:
This one is a personal interest one for me. I found the CoffeeZilla Youtube Channel through a friend of mine and I immediately wanted to interview the guy who does it.
In this channel, he goes after internet-enabled fake gurus and picks apart their schemes and shows people how they create fake value and sell that value and take people's money. It is so elegant and I highly recommend this episode if you want to understand how not to be a fool.
Follow CoffeeZilla here:
Chad and I both interviewed each other about how to learn effectively on the internet and not let it use you (and the companies behind the internet). This one was really fun!
Check out Random Baddassery here:
Jan teaches creativity and how to create inspiring change in entertainment, technology, and media through the use of content design and development.
We talk a lot about what creativity means and even how to use your dreams to be more creative.
Here are some free downloads from Jan's work. I highly recommend checking it out:
The Book Chapter from Thirty Days to Dream can be downloaded for free at www.Dreameroo.com.
We talk a lot about how to sell something in this episode including these questions about what to ask yourself when you have an idea for a product or service that you want to sell:
What’s the value?
What is the consumer receiving?
We also talk about how:
Most people aren’t successful because they build a system
Change is difficult for everyone.
Sales is trying to help
Follow Steven Here:
This one is fire.
As soon as he said that he named his firm after the famous Isaac Azimov book right of the beginning of the episode, I knew that this was going to be a great episode. We go deep here into the challenges we are going to face as a species moving forward and what to do about it at the family level and the society level.
Follow Ben's work here:
We also talk about the following questions:
In what ways is a university a tribe?
Are entrepreneurs lone wolves?
Do entrepreneurs start out questioning assumptions more than most people?
What are the best practices of turning a niche into a profitable and sustainable company?
When does a piece of Software become mission-critical?
Follow Tyler here:
James is a Physicians Assistant in Greensboro, North Carolina and gives us the lowdown on how the hospitals work on the inside and how technology is impacting hospitals. We also go into ideation on an idea that James has been exploring.
Follow James on Twitter here:
This is a special episode where I went to a small town outside of Medellin to stay with and interview Orlando about his life growing up in abject poverty and then making his way out to the US to start a whole new life filled with love, adventure, and duty. There are some real new insights here for those who are interested in my main theme of stress and creativity and the interaction between the two.
By now you know the name of the game.
All silences left. The audio quality isn't that great.
Yet this episode will change your life and kill all your sacred cows.
Subscribe to the show.
Here I talk with Benjamin Fernandes about how he pitched 290 investors before finally getting into Y Combinator. We also talk about the startup scene in Tanzania compared to Africa as a whole. By the time they got into YC Benjamin had way more traction than most of the other companies in their batch and this has to do with starting the company in Tanzania and focused on the African market. This makes a startup highly underestimated but also that's where the reward is if one does make it!
Follow Benjamin here:
This is one of the unexpected episodes I record because someone I don't know that well stays in my guestroom. Jacob needed a spot to crash in SF for the night and we have a guestroom. We decided to record this episode and very glad I did because Jacob is on to something with his company IdeaFlow. Listen if you want to understand more about how to be a true master in whatever you want to do.
Follow Jacob here:
Jillian knows a lot about what it means to build a community as well as be part of a community. If you have wondered what it means to be a part of a community you will like this episode.
If you are in NYC and want to find community, check out what Jillian built, a way to find community based events:
I've been staying at Indie Studio in Medellin, Colombia and I interviewed the owner. Indie Studio is a coliving space.
Coliving, as a trend, probably started in San Francisco in the 1960's with the hippie communes and then had a resurgence in SF in the 2010's. As a business, coliving didn't quite work out in SF because of the high economic costs but in other parts of the world its clearly a viable option, particularly now that digital nomads roam the globe.
Here we talk about the latest in Coliving in Latin America.
Check out Indie Studio:
Very proud to release this episode with Camilo who shares the truth, not just the hype about the particular stresses that come from starting a company in Medellin, Colombia. We also did a later interview in Spanish which was a lot of fun.
Follow Camilo here:
I sit down with Christopher Michel to talk about photography, creativity, stress of talking to strangers, taking pictures all over the world, the cultural complexity of taking pictures of strangers in different countries and a lot more.
Follow Chris here:
Dulma and I talk about what it means to create something that requires 100% of your effort and if its possible to remain balanced in the process. Dulma has a lot of wisdom to share and I like her definition of suffering about half way through.
Ben and I sit down to talk about the growth of technology innovation and entrepreneurship in Singapore. Ben knows a lot about this seeing as his an EIR at Entrepreneurs First in Singapore.
He is also the host of the Idea Machines Podcast which can be found here:
This is a really great low down on the Mexican (and overall Latin American) startup scene from someone who has experience in both San Francisco as well as Mexico.
We get into the specific challenges of what it means to raise money in Mexico and entrepreneurs there are limited by the old school capital. Highly recommend it if you are interested in global startups.
Follow Domingo here:
Tracy and I talk about the founding of modern American healthcare training, mindfulness, technology, and a lot more.
I found Tracy via Twitter where I highly recommend you follow her cause she is saying some things that need to be said.
Anna and I sit down to talk about what it means to be a public intellectual in the current age and what is the difference between a mainstream public intellectual and a niche public intellectual. You will like this episode if you like to understand more about the context of what social media is doing to our social relationships.
Check out Pynchon here:
Follow Anna here:
Kamal and I talk about his philosophy for loving oneself and how to do it. The day we recorded I was actually in the midst of a pretty deep depression and so it was telling that Kamal's message was to love myself, which I do believe is the way to get to the root of the depression.
Check out Kamal's book here (or search for "Love yourself like your life depends on it" on Amazon:
The answer from James:
"When it creates problems, rather than dissolving them."
If you like the episodes with Kapil and with Kunal you will like this one. Be warned I kept the long pauses as well. Enjoy the pregnant silences!
Find James here:
We also discuss the topic of using your strengths to help support the areas where we are weak.
Krystal runs a business that is past 100 employees and she has a lot of insight into what it means to build such a business from the ground up. If you are starting or running a business this is a good episode for you to listen to.
Also if you happen to feel like a 3rd culture kid this would also be interesting for you as Krystal shares her experience with that.
Find more info on Bentobox: https://getbento.com/
This is the second time I've had Kunal on the show. He gives a great description of what the study of philosophy does to our desires as well as the way he found his way out of some problems that the study of philosophy presents.
Find Kunal Here:
This is the second episode of my 2 part series with the founders of FathomAI. Here we go into the actually biomechanics behind the relationship between technology and injury prevention. I really had fun with this one! Hope you enjoy.
Check out the FathomAI device here: https://www.fathomai.com/
This was a very fun episode where I sit down to talk with Ivonna about the device her company (FathomAI) built to help people exercise with less injuries. We talk about the subjective and objective components of injury prevention as well as a little bit into the biomechanics of what their product is measuring.
I enjoyed it so much that I then interviewed her technical cofounder about more of the biomechanics and I'll be releasing that this monday.
Check out the FathomAI device here: https://www.fathomai.com/
Or get the free app here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.fathom.fathomai&hl=en
Josh and I have a conversation about the latest in AI research and he gives me the breakdown on what is Unsupervised learning and what is Supervised learning. This would be a good one to listen to if you fear the AI apocalypse (doesn't seem likely).
Follow Josh here: https://twitter.com/josh_tobin_
Jani and I talk about how his company helps people in India who don't speak English leverage the internet to reach their goals. This is one of the episodes of the series I'm doing on the rise of innovation outside of Silicon Valley.
This company is particularly interesting for me because there are linguistic borders to the internet and Lokal is breaking them down for people who don't speak English in India. There are a lot of languages in India.
I'm trying to do the same with my podcast with the languages of Spanish, Portuguese, and French and will soon be publishing those episodes on other channels.
Follow Jani here:
Mark works with innovation and technology at Innovation Lab.
We talk about a lot of science related stuff including:
How you can't have both innovation and risk aversion
Check out Mark's Website: Marsbound.com
We talk all things culture and how culture spreads from place to place. We talk about how burning man culture is changing the culture of Singapore. We also talk about the differences and similarities between the culture of Silicon Valley (where I grew up) and Singapore. There are also some tidbits in here for anyone who wants to thrive in the stressful era we might be entering.
Follow Visa here:
She is the author of “Restoring Prana - A therapeutic guide to pranayama and healing through the breath.
We talk about the connection between breath, posture, and voice.
We also talk about the relationship between the breath and the nervous system
You can find more info on Robin's website here:
I talked with Mike about:
narratives and why one wins and another one loses
narratives in China
the demonization of technology through sci fi since the invention of the nuclear bomb
24 hour online ideological warfare
how religion never really went away, it just changed.
Find Mike on twitter @micsolana
Marco is like the Batman of entrepreneurship. No one knows of him in Silicon Valley but the guy has created like 6 companies that are all growing like crazy.
Biggest takeaway: Business is the process of creating structure out of chaos. Money serves as the truth validator of the entire process. No business without money. Solve someone's problem and you have created structure out of chaos. Turn it into a system & get paid = Business
Find Marco on Quora where he writes a lot about entrepreneurship
Mimi Young is a shamanic practitioner and founder of Ceremonie, a shamanic and ritual-based brand focusing on in-person and online shamanic education, Remote Shamanic Readings, and an aura + skincare line that is made in ceremony. Mimi works with a blend of modalities including core shamanism and botanical healing, hedge magick, and Chinese shamanic modalities, with a focus on integrating the subconscious with the conscious, past lives work, divination, dream work, ancestral healing, and divine feminine reawakening.
We talked about how philosophy can help us do better business.
We covered the following questions:
What are the most important questions to ask yourself while starting a company?
What is the most important thing to know about hypergrowth?
Follow Kulveer here:
Find out more about Zeus Living:
We recorded this episode right after Jeff started working at Lambda school doing growth. Jeff has a lot of insight into how remote works and how it doesn't. He also has a lot to add about how to think about investing in remote companies as well as companies in general.
It was also very interesting to hear how Jeff broke into tech as well by making a move to Kansas City in response to a tweet!
Find Jeff on Twitter:
And Chapter One Ventures:
My friend Ruben talks about how he helps people connect with the people around them.
I have learned a lot from Ruben about how to start a conversation with someone I don't know and it really has had profound effects on my life and I don't have that much social anxiety anymore (also because I've been doing this podcast)
If you want to find out more about how to break down your barriers towards expressing yourself authentically check out this episode.
Find out more about Ruben's work here:
You will like this episode if you are interested in Advaita Vedanta Non Dual philosophy or if you have a meditation practice.
If you aren't interested in those things then this one might not have to much value for you but if you have even a hint of interest in these things then you will want to watch this.
If anything doesn't makes sense please feel free to ask and I can explain or show more.
I take pride in my ability to spot talented and articulate people before the mainstream and I can promise you that Priya is one of the most articulate people I have found when it comes to this.
Here are a few questions which we discussed:
What is the difference between writing for your business and writing for yourself?
What is the relationship between imagination and writing? How do they intersect?
What is the difference between desire and craving?
Is writing thinking?
How does the idea of human exceptionalism limit our understanding of intelligence?
How can confusion be an answer?
Find Rachel on Twitter:
If you remember the interview I did with Ian Livingstone last thursday about starting companies outside of Silicon Valley, this is actually the episode that got me on to the trail of Ian and his company Dropout Labs.
Boris basically helps me map out the entire global ecosystem for startups and where its headed particularly from the investment angle.
Find Boris on Twitter:
Find Version One:
We talked about the following questions:
What is unique about Africa when it comes to merging of technology, culture and capital?
How can individual Africans find role models to model after colonization destroyed the local culture and imposed a different language?
How does Nigeria show that the brand of being scammers is only representative of a small part of the population?
Also we mapped the startup ecosystem in Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, and a few other places. Africa has a lot of things going on in a lot of countries so might take a few more episodes to get all of it on here.
Follow Wiza here:
You will like this episode if you are into machine learning, remote work, the rise of entrepreneurship around the world, secure computation, video games and their role in startup creation.
Another good question we came up with was:
Can the journey from 0 to 1 be done remotely?
We talk about the rise of startups outside of silicon valley. Also about the interactions between large companies and startups and how their relationships have evolved over the past 10 years.
You will like this one if you want a snapshot into high technology, the replication crisis in science and some of the reasons behind it, or if you are really interested in global business.
Find Torsten here on Twitter:
If you are a startup looking for opportunities check out YouNoodle:
We talk about the limitations of video for learning and what works best.
We talk about the difference between implicit, explicit, and experiential forms of learning.
We talk about neuroscience and how the brain works and learns.
Find Hossein on Twitter:
We talk about the following questions:
Was Sales the first tech job to go remote?
When do you know when to meet someone in person or whether the conversation can be done remotely?
How does bias show up when tech companies recruit salespeople?
How did Shaan go from mathematics to becoming an expert in sales?
Find Shaan on Twitter:
We try to get at this question:
How can we incentivize the truth? Is this possible?
We also talk about the rise of the personal computing industry and Robin's role in that.
Check out Robin on Twitter:
Check out more about Living in Digital Times and their event at CES:
More question that we talk about:
What happens when you build a product with an expectation of what will happen and then something entirely different happens?
Is San Francisco losing its soul? Is its soul becoming distributed?
Dhru on Twitter: https://twitter.com/dhrupadkarwa
Dhru shares HaikuJAM on TEDx: https://youtu.be/XzB0KwWsT5g
We cover these questions:
What is the difference between a pitch and telling a story?
How do you confidently broadcast your values while remaining curious and open-minded?
What is the current state of technology production in the greater midwest?
How important is it for founders to build real relationships with investors?
Should founders assume that building a business will be a bumpy road?
Can you build a startup ecosystem using virtual/online resources?
Follow John here:
If you are a founder and want more info on Firebrand:
We talk about Stephen's long history in computation and the really big questions that we need to answer as a civilization to come into a more harmonious balance with the machines we are creating.
Get Stephen's Book here: https://www.amazon.com/Adventures-Computational-Explorer-Stephen-Wolfram/dp/1579550266
We discuss the following questions:
Where is the age of computation leading us to? Why did we stop innovating in terms of atoms and go into the innovation of bits?
To what extent has technology changed the nature of the human condition?
What is the key attribute for a strong or powerful human in the age of computation?
What is the temporality of ethics?
We talk about the future of work, the joy of dancing and how to think about living a healthy life while also building a company.
and Check out:
I sit down with @dthorson and we talk about where civilization is headed and how we can help support it.
You will like this episode if you are into civilization design, intentional living, how to be a human, and much more.
This is a special episode where I sit down with Henri Meijer, my business counselor, and we talk about how team-leads and managers can build better processes so that the company can flow more harmoniously and be more effective.
I sit down with Emily Webb the founder of Mission Fusion to talk about dance, martial arts (krav maga), emotions, pain, trauma, innovation in dance, how dance makes us healthier and a lot more.
You will like this episode if you are interested in the philosophy behind Bitcoin, centralization, and decentralization, as well as some information about stress and identity politics.
Check out more about Dan here:
Mike drops some magical life wisdom about how to find what's real:
I sit down with Mark and we talk about his powerful meditation experience which happened only a few weeks before we started recording and he hasn't talked to anyone about since it happened.
We also talk about rationality, awareness, business, identity politics, the future state of the US and a lot more.
Find Mark on Twitter
We talk about the mathematics of pain and pleasure. Lots here if you want to understand the science of bliss without the dogma that comes from the traditional understanding of pleasure and pain.
I go back to my family roots and talk to Nathaniel about the current state of geopolitics and how technology interacts with it. Nathaniel is an expert in this subject and lectures at the Yale Jackson Institute of Global Affairs.
I sit down with JT and talk about bodyweight strength and how to get stronger in all realms of life using stress.
I interview my uncle Joe about his over 30 years taking a company from idea to IPO. There is a lot of valuable wisdom here if you are seriously starting a company or have already done so.
Third episode I've done with Kapil. This one is hard to publish and I've kept all silences. Subscribe if you like it.
I talk to Shuang about many things including her experience with Beatsaber, conciousness, VR and much more!
He's a neurobiologist from Stanford that I found at Family Fish camp! He studies fish brains and has a lot of insight into the human condition.
I interview Shar about her business Bohoing and much more including dance, consciousness, and how to live a good life.
I go deep into David's theory of Modia and Mundia and how they relate to each other and explain social behavior.
Steve Schlafman (@schlaf), based in NYC, is a seed-stage investor and leadership Coach at Primary Ventures. Here, he shares his experience of chronic pain, how it prevented him from starting his own podcast, and the ways in which he explores creativity in his life.
Check out Steve's blog at https://www.schlaf.me/
In today's episode, we mention:
- Chronic pain + the science behind it
- Industries, and their ecosystems
- Meditation, Yoga, and Chakra
- NYC, and the fly-wheel effect
- 10-Day Vipassana Retreat
- Mind-body techniques
- Surgery, and stress
- Inner Resources
Timeline of our conversation:
(04:24) Steve's experience with chronic pain
(08:05) Different types of pain reception
(09:23) What did Steve learn with a 10-Day Vipassana retreat?
(14:30) Dealing with stress: Steve's (serious) cycling accident
(23:12) The untapped potential of ancient mind-body techniques
(32:38) Struggles and Lessons that Steve's gone through with stress
(39:56) Steve, on Creativity: what is he most excited about creating?
(45:54) NYC: Startup Ecosystem, and Culture
(51:29) Steve's timeless one piece of advice
Please support us by subscribing and leaving a rating + review on Apple Podcasts. You can also help spread the word by sharing this episode with your friends and family!
I sit down with Georg Baunach of Hatch Ventures to talk more about how to invest in ocean technologies.
In today's episode I invite two of my best friends, Eric Levin (@ericrius1) and Eric Fisher, for a laid-back and entertaining conversation. Having previously worked at Facebook, Fisher is currently a character coach and social designer at MiNDFUL iMPROV. Levin is a VR developer who experiments with art, meditation, and yoga in his work.
In this episode, we discuss:
- VR, AR, and Technology
- Meditation, and Yoga
- Creativity and Business
- Job automation, and AI
- Skepticism, and Beliefs
- Freedom in Tech, Science and Truth
- The Age of Acceleration
- Limitations of language
- Psychedelics, Spirituality and Therapy
- Consciousness, Awareness and Attention
- Being vs. Becoming, and Flow
- Socialization and Improv
- Society and Culture
(02:43) Who is Eric Levin?
(04:17) Keeping Creative integrity in business
(06:58) Job automation, and creativity: will AI replace humanity?
(10:03) Designing digital spaces within a capitalist society
(13:17) Spirituality: Skepticism to Belief
(17:54) Creating Tech that serves Freedom, not Capitalism
(21:29) Are we entering the Age of Acceleration?
(29:05) Can work be a place of therapy?
(33:02) Ayahuasca, and other flow-inducing plants
(38:28) Flow: Being, or Becoming
(42:30) What is Improv: closing thoughts
Please support us by subscribing and leaving a rating + review on Apple Podcasts. You can also help spread the word by sharing this episode with friends and family!
Having previously developed Postmark as well as Beanstalk, entrepreneur Natalie Nagele (@natalienagele) joins me for a light-hearted, honest and open conversation about the process of building Wildbit, a fully self-funded, hybrid software company.
In this episode, we mention:
- Deep work
- Leadership in business
- Loneliness in remote work
- Hard work vs. Smart work
- Fundraising and profitability
- Meditation and mental clarity
- Building a meaningful business
- Remote work, in the early days
- Values, and their constant evolution
- Productivity software that can do more harm than good
(04:57) What is Wildbit? How did it start off?
(09:32) Pioneering remote work: Pros and Cons
(17:24) Slack, and anxiety: the effects of micro-managing expectations
(22:58) Remote work: how big of an issue is loneliness?
(26:17) Which should you do: work hard or smart?
(32:13) Fundraising, VC control, and Profits
(37:01) Meditation: Natalie's practice, and company culture
(43:50) How is writing therapeutic?
(46:47) How procrastination obstructs your mental space
(50:11) 'Trillion Dolar Coach', and the lost secret of leadership
(55:50) Technological innovation: what is next?
Please support us by subscribing and leaving a rating + review on Apple Podcasts. You can also help spread the word by sharing this episode with friends and family!
After the last two episodes of setting up the exact problems we are facing with our oceans, I interview Bren Smith of Green Wave about his insightful company and what they are doing in order to provide protein to the world with low environmental impact.
Andreas Klinger (@andreasklinger), currently Head of Remote at AngelList, is a product-centric startup founder. Previous to AngelList, Andreas was founding team member and CTO at ProductHunt, as well as VP of Engineering at CoinList.
In this episode, we discuss:
- Benefits of traveling while working
- The phenomenon of globalization
- Product ideas for remote teams
- Uploading our consciousness
- Andreas' meaning for life
- Innovation and sci-fi
- The spirituality trap
- Job automation
(04:35) What is Andreas' notion of spirituality?
(10:30) Andreas' meaning for life
(14:40) Globalization, and decentralized cultures
(19:40) The inevitability of remote work
(23:15) Consciousness, computers and the 'Bobiverse'
(29:15) Technological evolution: are we living in a sci-fi scenario?
(30:10) Remote work: from hype to banal
(38:15) Market solutions for the upcoming demands of remote work
(43:50) Slow travel: how you can make the most of remote work
(50:45) Striking a balance between in-person and remote work
(54:00) The trap that Silicon Valley has fallen for
(01:00:03) Jet-lag: how do you deal with it?
If you've made it all the way down here, please support us by subscribing and leaving a rating + review on Apple Podcasts. You can also help spread the word by sharing this episode with friends, family or just about anyone who'd find it interesting. Thank you.
Norland Téllez is an Artist, teacher, and mythologist with a background in film animation. Grounding himself in classical painting and drawing, his core artistic and intellectual life centers around the study of the Popol-Vuh, a classic of Mayan mythology.
In this episode, Norland shares what it means to be a visual artist whose work centers around the Popol-Vuh, the Mayan epic of creation and perennial wisdom. Having this cultural masterpiece as our guiding thread, we explore different facets of life such as:
- Language and other artistic forms of human expression
- The intersection between psychology and mythology
- Happiness, Pleasure, and Hedonism
- Creativity and self-destruction
- The quest for the unknown
- The meaning of dreams
- Non-linearity of time
- The Hero's journey
Find out more about Norland and his work at norlandtellez.com
(00:04:01) What is the Popol-Vuh?
(00:04:57) What contribution did the Mayans make to the world?
(00:10:35) How does Mayan wisdom approach our biases?
(00:17:14) Jumping into the unknown, spirituality and psychology
(00:20:14) Language, artistic expression, and the layers of human experience
(00:28:27) How can we bridge the gap between the conscious and the unconscious?
(00:32:52) In what way has the study of Mayan wisdom influenced Norland's life?
(00:40:46) Myth or Ideology: what is the line that separates them?
(00:45:59) What's the Mayan story of human creation?
(00:52:26) Jouissance, Creativity & Death-drive
(01:07:00) The Hero's Journey: from selfhood to self-divestment
If you made it all the way down here, don't forget to subscribe and please take the time to leave us a rating and review on Apple Podcasts.
I sat down with Daniela to talk about Ocean Health and her organization: The Sustainable Ocean Alliance (@SOAalliance).
We talked a lot about plastics in the oceans, in the fish, and in our freshwater supply. If you are interested in solutions to solve some of the major problems we are facing with our oceans then check out this episode or her organization.
Gregory Wendt is a veteran wealth advisor, CFP and economist who works at the forefront of sustainable and responsible investing. As a social entrepreneur, Greg has founded several non-profit community organizations by applying a multi-disciplinary approach to financial innovation.
Greg is by all means a natural conversationalist and will not disappoint even the most demanding of listeners. In this episode, we cover two main topics - the universe and the world of economics - with a hint of science, spirituality as well as philosophy. Check out the preview of this talk below.
Visit Greg at https://www.gregwendt.com/
(00:03:27) Business and Hippiedom: Greg's story
(00:08:37) The collision of Spirituality with Science
(00:13:05) Capital markets and the concept of cosmos
(00:14:28) Natural laws vs. Social Dynamics - how groups can destroy your innate potential
(00:17:30) Epigenetics: how does the environment affect your genes and your worldview?
(00:23:55) What's the point of predicting the future?
(00:27:19) Technological paradigm vs. Biomimicry
(00:31:13) The specialization epidemic
(00:33:39) What are the limitations of (economic) theories?
(00:35:24) Social Darwinism vs. Cooperation
(00:38:03) Win-Win games in the economic context
(00:41:02) Earthlings: our human and cultural evolution
(00:48:40) Bioregions and how Greg is working to make this concept a reality
(00:53:47) Building resilient, smart cities across the world
(00:58:03) How Greg is moving capital away from destructive industries into Bioregions
(01:05:49) Venture Capital funding, alternatives, and creating systemic solutions to connect the dots
Please subscribe to Crazy Wisdom wherever you listen to podcasts, and leave us a rating and review on Apple Podcasts.
Lawrence Wang works as a software engineer at MakerDAO, a decentralized project that operates within the Ethereum blockchain.
This interview was special. Lawrence has a way of putting things so clearly and concisely that you'll be left speechless. From spiritual surrender to cryptocurrencies, this one's all about learning to navigate the turbulent waters of modern society with wisdom and clarity.
More on MakerDAO at https://makerdao.com
(03:20) - What is MakerDAO?
(04:20) - How does Lawrence work with stress?
(07:16) - How can we adapt to the increasingly large networks of people in our lives?
(10:26) - Signal vs. noise
(13:20) - What's recently changed Lawrence's life in a meaningful way?
(14:36) - The sweet spot between optimism and pessimism
(16:00) - How is ignorance a form of freedom?
(18:02)- What's the impact of technology on principles?
(20:25) - What is actually going to save us (the world)?
(23:39) - Co-dependence vs. Interdependence
(25:38) - Anti-fragility, and the spiritual equivalent of "FU-money"
(29:09) - Establishing (energetic) boundaries
(32:12) - Lawrence on Meditation and the role of Technique
(39:00) - What are Stablecoins?
(44:42) - Cryptocurrencies' biggest promise
(48:20) - Remote-work: the future of human connection?
Please subscribe to Crazy Wisdom wherever you listen to podcasts, and leave us a rating and review on Apple Podcasts.
I did a special interview series about humanity's largest creative asset: the ocean, and how we are putting huge stresses on it and what we can do to fix it.
Hiten Shah (@hnshah) is a startup investor and the co-founder of FYI, a company that has developed research-based software to help people find their documents as quickly as possible.
In this talk, we explore the connection that is gradually flourishing between two seemingly distinct worlds: Technology and Spirituality. Hiten has a lot of insights to share and is keen to delve into the many different ways in which computers, the human condition, and business intertwine with each other.
If you're interested in either of these topics, you can't miss this one.
(04:33) - Is the human experience necessarily a spiritual one?
(08:20) - Hiten's personal experience with the internet
(12:06) - What is Hiten's view on the relationship between technology and spirituality?
(16:57) - Shadow work: what is it?
(22:45) - Samskara, energy body and the essence of observation
(29:18) - Judgment vs. Discernment
(33:07) - What is Hiten most excited about right now?
(37:05) - Start, Grow, Scale - the changing nature of a business
(42:22) - How relevant is memorization in the face of unlimited digital storage?
(48:27) - What does Hiten think about predicting the future impact of technology?
(51:42) - What projects is Hiten currently working on?
(54:17) - Hiten's relationship with stress and creativity
Please subscribe to Crazy Wisdom wherever you listen to podcasts, and leave us a rating and review in Apple Podcasts.
If you are interested in applying for an online course I'm running with Anders Jones on how to raise money for a distributed team check out this 15 minute episode.
We go over the crazy amount of value we are offering in this course including:
How to raise money
How to build a distributed team
How to build a hypergrowth business
How to establish creative constraints which make employees more effective
Such a great, candid interview with down-to-earth Ryan Caldbeck, CEO of CircleUp, on some of the rarely-discussed, yet crucial aspects of entrepreneurship, its effects on mental health and how leaders can improve their lifestyle to boost their company's performance. Ryan was very open and receptive towards sharing some of the most intimate issues that he's faced on his journey as a founder.
Check out Ryan's tweetstorm here: https://bit.ly/2O7vhmY
Timeline of the conversation:
(3:18) - What is the #1 lesson that building CircleUp has taught Ryan?
(6:26) - What is the job of a CEO?
(8:35) - Ryan's spiritual backdrop
(11:43) - Ryan's advice for inexperienced entrepreneurs
(15:49) - Distinguishing between what is Important, what is Urgent, or what is both
(23:30) - Business context: Work vs. Non-work
(26:20) - Why you should be wary of going to conferences
(28:15) - Ryan's experience with series-C investment
(34:22) - The role of authenticity in the grand scheme of business
(48:44) - Related reading and closing thoughts
I am joined by entrepreneur and angel investor John Ramey, founder and CEO of ThePrepared, to discuss the bizarrely unconventional subject of prepping. In this episode we get to dig deep into the lost art of survival, how modern prepping is bringing it back, the stigma surrounding it and where his company fits in all of this.
Find out more about John at @jpramey
Timeline of the conversation:
(04:13) - What's ThePrepared all about?
(05:55) - What's the story behind John's company
(08:56) - What type of people is interested in prepping?
(11:10) - Specialism and the untapped potential in our genes
(13:05) - Human agency and the desire for control
(16:41) - Communities as a by-product of our survival instinct
(20:40) - The dark side of primal human nature
(24:14) - Investing your time in learning survival skills
(29:00) - The media narrative and Ramey's prediction for foreseeable future
(31:53) - What steps should you take to prepare for an emergency?
(40:19) - Best places in the U.S. for preppers to live in
(42:25) - Climate evolution and life on Earth
Coinmine founder Farbood Nivi shares his understanding of the basics of crypto mining as well as the historical implications, where it's headed and how his company is aiming to simplify the whole process. Miner or not, I highly recommend you listen to this episode.
If you enjoyed this episode you can find out more about Nivi and his venture at @farbood
If you want to understand how to write clearly and get your thoughts out on paper watch this episode.
Check out Andy at @SparksZilla if you like this episode.
This one was really fun and I got to go deep into Tiago's understanding of the impact of technology on our ability to learn. Its a huge passion for me as well so we got some interesting stuff out there.
This was so much fun. If you like this episode I highly recommend following Jim on Twitter at @jposhaughnessy
Really interesting interview with Russell about his company Drop which is building the next virtual computing operating system for when we make the switch to computing through VR.
I sit down with David Weekly who has a long history of operating experience in Silicon Valley and his new startup Medcorder is very interesting. I think you will like this episode!
We talk about our thoughts on a book called Exhalation by Ted Chiang which goes into the influence of technology on our lives. I highly recommend this episode, the book, and finding out more about Shippo if you need help shipping.
This is a special dual interview that I did with Allen Saakyan, the host of the Simulation Series which you can find on Youtube.
Safi is the author of a book I highly recommend you check out which talks about innovations in organizations. Usually, I don't interview authors will newly released books because that's a podcast trap, but making the exception with Safi because this book is a must-read.
I sat down with Charlie Pinto and have a conversation about how to become a whole person not the fractured selves we often find ourselves thinking we are.
I talked with Peter McCormack about the stress of running his popular "What Bitcoin Did" podcast.
I really enjoyed this interview with Brett Fox because he is an operator through and through and speaks the truth from his decades of experience building business from the ground up and being a fixer who comes in and fixes businesses that need fixing.
I sit down with Marc Bitanga, the host of the Growing Pains podcast, and talk to him about the first principles of marketing and how he views the relationship between stress and creativity.
Sahil is really sharp and definitely has his head on straight. He has a lot of wisdom to share here about painting, life, and startups.
I sit down with Ryan Delk after both of us read Creativity Inc By Ed Catmull. This is part of a series I'm doing where I ask someone what they are reading, we read it, and then have a conversation about it.
Creativity Inc truly inspired me. It is like a guidebook for how to be creative when other people are involved. So many gems.
This is part 2 of a special series I did with Dr. Cameron Sepah about Stress and how to work with it intelligently. This particular episode goes into Dr Sepah's particular specialty, ACT or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, which Dr. Sepah uses both clinically in his private practice and studies its efficacy at UCSF.
I sit down with Annie Duke who is an author about randomness and uncertainty and how to work intelligently with these things while also trying to live a good life.
This is one of my favorite episodes because Dr. Cameron Sepah has done years of training on the topic of my show and just puts it all out there. All the evidenced-based knowledge we have on what stress is and the most effective ways we can work with it.
Not only that but Dr. Sepah has operating experience in how to build a company in addition to clinical and academic experience in this field. This is the truth straight from someone who has experience in both theory and practice. Very good idea to listen all the way through.
I interview Nate about why he is always a customer of a product before he works or invests in the company that creates that product. We also talk about nature, fitness, ego, the gold rush and much more.
This is part of a special series I'm doing where I ask someone what they are reading, I read it, and then we have a conversation about it.
Jake Chapman and I both read the book Doomsday Machine by Daniel Ellsberg about the regulation and governance around Nuclear Weapons in the United States and abroad.
Stay away from this episode if you dislike exposing yourself to things you probably consider to be "Woo". This content isn't for you.
Here I talk to Howard Teich and we talk about Jung and I even do a little online therapy for everyone to see the process!
I talk with Arianna Simpson about her contrarian views on remote work as well as the current crypto market and the most interesting projects which have benefited from the quiet of the bear market.
This is part of a new series where I ask someone what they are reading, I read it, and then we record a conversation to get the main points of the book. The point is to let you the listener get access to the wisdom of a book without necessarily reading it.
We both read the book "The New Dark Age" by James Bridle about the unintended consequences of technology.
I really enjoyed sitting down with Kuval who lives in India and is spitting fire on Twitter about how to make money doing what you love. We get into that as well as first principles, and the transmission of morals in the time of globalization.
Vinay is one smart dude and lays down the knowledge about neural networks as well as the stress of growing up in the middle of Illinois as a person of color. Also how that lead him to be who he is today and propels him towards success. This guy has a lot of valuable things to say.
Another episode with Kapil Gupta laying down the Truth with a capital T
Sumon is an Angel Investor and Entrepreneur, Current Chief revenue office in Plato design and had invested in 25 companies in AI, the extension of human life, and many others.
We talk about the intersection of wisdom practices that are thousands of years old and modern technology.
Just interviewed @kylebrussell about his thoughts on the relationship between stress and creativity. This was one of my favorite interviews. His reading and the way he uses the knowledge he gains from reading is truly astonishing. Insights as follows.
Mental models: best way to learn is to see how the mental models of others have failed or succeeded and then update your own mental model based on that. There are drawbacks to only playing with mental models. This is where intuition comes in.
Intuition can be trained. Intuition can be balanced by checking intuition against the intellect. It's a process between weighing both of these and adapting the feedback from what happens back into the mental model and training intuition. System 1 and system 2 from D Kahneman.
Two general types of creativity with overlap include business person and artiste. A business person is motivated to solve large problems due to external motivations such as legacy and status. They build and buy into a narrative that they are the ones to solve this huge problem.
Artiste is motivated by an internal motivation to express that which is inside them. They are tortured by their un expressed creativity and must manifest it into reality. @theartistsway is a great book.
Woah. This one was the hardest interview I've ever done. Kapil warned me that what he had to share was not what any of my other guests had shared before and he was right.
I actually had to cut out 8 minutes of the interview because all that could be heard was silence and heavy breathing as a tried to integrate the intense truth he shared. My life has changed drastically in the few days since I have done this interview.
Yours will too if you listen to this. You have been warned.
Paul drops some knowledge on how to find yourself, live more creatively while being less stressed, and find your purpose here on the planet. Really deep. I hope you enjoy.
I just interviewed Lavinia Cerasela Ionita about her work using stress biomarkers and personalized video conferencing with doctors to help people get a handle on their stress.
I sit down with my roommate David Zangwill who has a lot of interesting things to say about the relationship between stress and creativity.
I've been doing Improv for the last month to improve my ability to be more spontaneous on the podcast and I've started to fall deeply in love with doing improv.
I interviewed Jill Eickmann the founder of the local improv studio I go to called Leela and I ask her about her upcoming improv festival called Femprovisor Fest.
I interviewed Maria in both English and Portuguese. This one is the English one and we go pretty deep metaphysically speaking. We even talk about moving into the 5th dimension and Maria's thoughts on the evolution of mankind and whether aliens are helping us.
I sit down with Tommy Leep who does BD at AngelList and also helps people find their life's work with his company Jetstream. We talk about how people can minimize stress while finding a new career and stress in the context of raising money from investors.
Here is my interview with Peter Rex where I interview him about his fast growing company Trustwork as well as his experience going against the status quo.
It was very interesting interviewing someone about stress and creativity in the context of relationships. Its not something that I have thought a lot about, but lead to some wide-ranging insights.
If you ask a genius where their ideas come from, none of them are able to actually tell you the answer. It comes from this place of emptiness. This is why meditation can help you become more creative.
You already are creative because each thought you think is an example of fascinating creativity. You are creating your reality right now. Your brain is creating meaning out of all the information coming into your brain from your senses. Think about language and all the meanings we prescribe to it even if the other person speaking it meant a completely different thing!
I asked her: How does having a stable and secure romantic partnership allow people to become more creative and to manage stress better?
She gave a really powerful story about how her own relationship helped support her partner in creating an amazing statue for burning man after crowdfunding it. His car was stolen the night before filming for the crowdfunding campaign. Talk about stress!
Just did an interview with the CEO of Gitlab, Sid Sibrandij.
Gitlab is a multibillion dollar company that helps developers become more efficient with less stress.
One of the most interesting values they have is that they are totally transparent. They post lots of their meetings and code reviews to youtube so that everyone can see. I was able to ask Sid pretty much anything about the company and he would answer.
This could be a source of stress because there is always this line between honesty and kindness. There is such a thing as being too honest and it can hurt people.
A really interesting side effect of their strategy of transparency and publishing everything online is they get a whole lot of business because people just find them. That's how I found them too!
Today I interviewed Serge Faguet who is a successful serial entrepreneur and also a biohacker who believes he will live for a very long time thanks to his ability to acquire the best medical care money can afford.
We talk stress, creativity and aging.
Taylor Jacobson is the CEO of Focusmate an amazing product that pairs you with a virtual coworking buddy. Both you and your coworker keep each other accountable for an hour while you pound through tasks. I reached out to Taylor because I'm a user of the product and wanted to hear his thoughts on the connection between stress and creativity.
In this episode I do things a little differently, instead of interviewing Henri Meijer, he helps me to remove limiting beliefs that get in the way of me starting and running a business.
Its kind of like business therapy and I'm getting all vulnerable by showing it to my audience. Mentorship and coaching are so important but if you have never done it before it can seem quite abstract. If you've ever been interested in what it might be like, listen to this episode.
Check out Henri Meijer's Linkedin for more on what he does!
Francis has read widely and understands greatly the connection between stress and creativity as the CEO of a company that helps to automate repetitive work. We also go into how remote work is changing the relationship between stress and creativity in the corporate world.
I sit down with Eliot Peper and we talk about how the world is going through a time of great uncertainty and Eliot shares his advice on how to thrive in this uncertainty.
Technological breakthrough is reaching the point of breakout acceleration and this is causing people stress because they don't know where they will end up. The old rules are gone and now the rules are changing every few years.
Listen to this episode if you want to understand how to make it through.
Today I sit down with Jason and interview him about the stress that comes from managing other people.
One of the most interesting things I learned is that managers should not try to be therapists. They should focus on coaching and if one of their employees is needs more therapeutic help they should be able to refer out to specialists.
In this episode I sit down with my father Stewart Alsop II to talk about being a journalist, being a VC, his favorite investments, and how he thinks about stress and anxiety.
In this episode, I sit down with Marisa Toriggino to talk about Yoga Garden and her process for starting and growing her studio.
In this episode, I sit down with Mike Maples Jr. to talk about the role stress plays in entrepreneurship.
In this episode I speak with Mark Lutter.
I sit down with Michael Gasnoriek, founder of the Truth Cartel and former co-director of Startup Grind. We talk about how to live an effective life which starts with your personal philosophy. When you've figured out your personal philosophy then you can easily figure out your strategy, tactics, and goals. Start with why and then work from there and life becomes filled with flow.
In this episode, I sit down with Arik Gohl to talk about pain, stress, and the human body.
Stewart interviews Mak Gutierrez of Hackers and Founders in Guadalajara, Mexico
Stewart interviews Chris Saad, a serial entrepreneur and former head of developer relations at Uber. We talk about how stressful it was to work for Uber, the difference between stress and anxiety and a lot of tips to actually work with anxiety, particularly what worked for Chris.
Interview with Patrick Larsen the CEO of ZenLedger
Anders Jones is the CEO of Facet Wealth, a financial management company that works with financial advisors to grow practices, enhance service and plan responsible transitions. He is a daily meditator.
Meditation helps him to find balance in the face of rapid change and knowing when to change based on the current circumstances. It also helps him make better decisions and be more empathetic to the people he is managing.
You will like this episode if you want to learn more about empathetic or service based management, how to start something new which results in stress, or some really good tips for maintaining a daily meditation practice while living a busy life.
Demian Rosenblatt is a graphic designer who has done design work for both tech startups and larger organizations. He just recently helped the MTA find their core emotional value and put that into their new branding and design. He has some really interesting insights into how to protect the integrity of the design while interfacing with multiple stakeholders in large organizations.
You will like this episode if you want to find out the difference between art and design, if you want insights into how to find your purpose, or if you just want to hear a voice full of joy and creativity (Demian has one of those voices). You will also like it if you are interested in the question: "What is the connection between stress and creativity?".
Why you should listen to this episode:
Andy started taking pictures of yogis around the world in 2012. Anyone who spends time with people devoted to a yoga practice has a lot of interesting stories to share. Andy does not disappoint. The New York times even did a piece on his work.
There is so much valuable info here in terms of yoga's growing popularity around the world. It's like a virus and Andy has a lot of insight into its spread.
Andy's voice is so soothing and melodic. Seriously, listen to this episode just to hear his voice!
If you want to check out more about Andy's work here is a link to his website, which features his new book, Serpent in the Wilderness. The book was recently published by Kehrer Verlag.
One of the most powerful lessons I learned from this interview is that Keith is a relentless self-experimenter. Everything he talks about in this interview he has tested on himself. What of the most effective ways to learn is to learn the hard lessons from other people so you don't have to learn them yourself the hard way. Keith offers a lot of wisdom here for you to absorb.Keith suggested the book "The Upside of Stress" to me on our twitter exchange.
This book basically says that the conventional wisdom that stress is harmful is totally crazy. Instead, stress is an inevitable part of being human and that the stress response can be a huge tool for growth when you view stress not as a threat but as a challenge.
We talk a lot about this.We also talk a lot about the evidence behind High Intensity Interval Training and how it can lead to feeling better throughout your life. Keith gives a lot of wisdom about his own HIIT practice and how it helps him to stay productive throughout the day.
Why you should listen to this episode:
Julia has some really great techniques and tips for practicing mindfulness and meditation. She is an experienced teacher and has taught all around the world including in refugee camps.
Julia offers some powerful wisdom about how to operate when surrounded by stress and friction. She does not sugar coat her wisdom and if you value truth you will find it here.
I've found that many people are unaware when they meet truly compassionate and wise people. Julia is one of these people and I ask you to listen closely to the wisdom she has to offer as it is powerful.
Bill Tai is a very successful entrepreneur and investor. Not only is he successful according to
external validators of success, but he is also humble and shares his knowledge and brilliance
without expectation of reciprocation. It is a rare gift to be both successful and humble, and
our conversation contains actionable wisdom to do this.
Even though my podcast is primarily about meditation and its effect on creativity, we veered
into talking about the history of work and how technology is contributing to a lot of change. A
fundamental component of mindfulness training is the realization that everything is
impermanent and change is the only constant. We are entering a period of rapid change. Bill
gives some good insights on how to capitalize on this trend.
I think the most valuable thing I got out of this conversation is that whether rich or poor, you
have to find the thing that lights you up on the inside. For Bill, that activity is kitesurfing. It is
the keystone activity for which the rest of his life is rejuvenated by. Listen to this episode if
you want to find actionable insights into how to find joy in your life.
Julia Plevin is an author and entrepreneur. She is the founder of the Forest Bathing Club in San Francisco. She started studying the mental health consequences that people suffer from when they don't get enough time in nature. After this she decided to dedicate her life to getting people back to a state of nature and thus the Forest Bathing Club was born.
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What is Forest Bathing?
She explains how it comes from a Japanese practice called Shinren Roku which literally means luxuriating in nature. It is essentially a practice where you go into nature and do nothing but attend to the present moment. It comes from a period where the Japanese started doing lots of research in the 1980s into the health effects of being in nature and how it lowers the heart rate, levels of cortisol and stress.
When did you first start Forest Bathing?
Julia says she has always loved being in nature, but it was only when she started living in New York that she became aware of the lack of nature and how that would affect her mental health. She started doing her graduate work on the mental health effects of being disconnected from nature in 2015. The forest bathing club was born out of this research.
Is the Forest Bathing club a business?
Forest Bathing is a community organization. They usually do an event that is a co-creative event where people bring something to share with the whole group, an offering back to nature. Sometimes they do charge, but usually it is to ensure that they can afford to make the experience a supportive one for all participants.
When did you first start getting into mindfulness and how does that relate to your love of nature?
Julia says she has been doing yoga since she was 15 years old and was aware of mindfulness, but didn't really know what was. She never wanted to do the meditation at the end of the class. She loved being in nature but she would always be running through. She then started to realize the importance of slowing down and finding that more mindful state of being.
How does it feel to go from spending a lot of time in nature and then back into the city with all its frantic energy?
Julia explains a story of how one day she was running through Sutro park in San Francisco and a guy stopped her and asked her "Do you know why there all these ribbons around the trees here?"She was like "I'm just trying to run here. Don't bother me". He responded by saying that "These ribbons mean they are about to cut down these trees". She became aware of what was going on and realized that someone had to shout at her in order to really pay attention. She says that this man told her about how they planted Eucalyptus in the park 140 years ago and now UCSF (who owns the land) is trying to cut them down. It is feared that they might be looking to build more housing there under the guise of reforestation. She talks about how in order to write her book about Forest Bathing she found a small cabin by Stinson beach and spent time deep in nature every day.
As new communities form new cities or we restore old cities, how do we ensure proper access to nature as a byproduct of living in cities?
Julia says that its important to make space in new cities for nature, but Forest Bathing is actually practiced where the city meets nature. Its the integration of urban and wilderness areas. She brings up an important point that as humans we usually separate nature from urban environments, but we forget that human beings are a part of nature and so is everything we create.
The streets and buildings are all part of nature as well. While in your cabin in Stinson beach, how long would you spend in between times in nature and time spent with other people?Stinson Beach is a beach town in the summer, but Julia was living there during the winter so she didn't have much contact with other people except for a friend who lived up the road. Its also only 45 minutes away from San Francisco so she could also come back pretty quickly.Stewart mentions that the most difficult thing for him when practicing in nature for long periods of time was coming back into an urban environment and being hit by the wave of frantic energy that most people spend their lives in. Most people who live in cities are always on, always under a sympathetic nervous system response.
How do you deal with coming back into the city and the hustle and bustle?
Whenever Julia would find herself coming back to the city and getting stuck in traffic she would look at a tree on the side of the road and this would remind her that she still can find an avenue of relaxation when surrounded by urban chaos.She also mentions that when humans look at nature we go into a soft focus which calms us down as opposed to a hard focus when scanning the environment for danger which many of us are doing all the time. Just looking at nature lowers stress. She would reminder herself that every breath she is taking is nature and all the people surrounding her are part of nature. In times of stress she would continuously repeat this.
In your meditation practice do you use mantra?
Yes she has picked up various practices like this over the years studying with various teachers. One in particular she picked up from Llyn Roberts when working with her for five days in the Hoh rainforest which is the largest temperate rainforest in the world. Llyn wrote a book with Sandra Ingerman. Julia was called to live in the Hoh forest with llyn. She reached out to Llyn about research for the book. There was a synchronicity where Llyn had reserved the dates that Julia wanted to come see her in the Hoh for another client, but that client couldn't actually make it so it worked out perfectly. While in the Hoh rainforest, Llyn gave Julia a few simple mantras. One is "Out of my head, into my body, my heart and the earth". This can be done while putting your forehead into the ground and letting go of thoughts. She has another one that she uses.
She went to Japan and lived with a shegendu monk. Shegendu buddhism is a lineage of Buddhism that holds that nature holds the ultimate truth. If you want to learn you have to go out into nature. The monk asked her "do you feel a connection with the universe?"She said "somedays, but somedays not". This guy also gave her a mantra that she uses with certain hand positions. She says her name out loud and says the date. She says "I'm grateful to be born in a human body. Today I connect to the universe and I aim to use my connection to serve the highest good."This reminds Stewart about the traditional understanding of mantra and how many teachers will argue that you need a mantra in Sanskrit because Sanskrit is a holy language that is able to make all the sounds that a human is capable of making which other languages cannot. Stewart says he doesn't buy into this, but the idea behind mantra was that you connect to a deity through Mantra and Julia's mantra fits this purpose.
Can you describe the feeling you get when you are in nature?
She says she can try and will do so through a story. When she first started writing the book, she was really stressed out about the process of writing and deadlines. She started getting imposter syndrome and questioned who she was to be writing a book about nature when stress was still a constant struggle for her. This feeling of stress became a sort of bullshit meter. She started to use it as a trigger to practice all the techniques she was learning from these people. She learned that its great to learn all these techniques but there is no point where the anxiety will somehow stop for good. It always comes back. Even today when she has a big decision to make she had to go to a redwood grove and just sit on the earth and let it take all the stress. When she uses the practices and techniques they seem to work for what she needs them for.There seem to be two trends for a certain part of millennials: a move back to nature and a tendency to live out of vans.
How do you see both of these trends playing out and connecting together over the next five years?
Julia says that she sees a lot of awakening around the benefits of nature. People are in such a grind all the time. They have stressful jobs and then in order to mask the stress they start drinking or shopping. When people start to spend more time in nature, they realize that they need way less to be happy. All of a sudden instead of stressing out about the job, they find way more joy in what's growing in their backyard. People are starting to wake up and ask themselves the question: What am I doing with my life and why? As people start to move into nature more, Julia questions what will happen to cities.Stewart explains how cities evolved because they centralize knowledge and talent in one geographical location and idea exchange almost happens by osmosis. People are stimulated to innovate in cities. Now with the internet this process is becoming more decentralized. This couldn't happen really with older people because they are used to transmitting ideas person to person, but with people who are younger they are more able to do this on the internet almost naturally. So the necessity of living in a city might change and young people might end up living in nature more. This could be a positive change but might also put stress on natural ecosystems.Julia brings up the point that when people are living in a city they have a much smaller ecological footprint. Stewart explains how self driving cars will also started
What is the main practice or technique you have used the most over the past 30 days?
She says that she does the sun salutation described above pretty much every day.Julia also asks people "What do you get from nature?" People start with saying food, water, and then they eventually realize that they get everything from nature. Then Julia asks people "What do you give to nature?" People usually realize that they never really thought about this.
What do people do when they go forest bathing?
Julia starts by saying that its easier to describe what forest bathing is not. It is not a hike and it isn't being lead in the forest by a naturalist. Some people come regularly, others come just once. Basically on a forest bathing trip they start off with describing where people are geographically. If they are in the Presidio, Julia starts off by explaining what is the cultural, historical and natural environment and its significance. She also talks about where they are cosmically, for example talking about whether we are in a full or new moon. Everyone has an opportunity to share their name, where they are coming from, and an intention for the experience. Throughout the forest bath there is nothing you have to do. You can sit underneath a tree and thats it. As a group, Julia leads different meditations. She leads people into connection with their five senses. There are games and shamanic journeying. It depends on what is going on in the environment. At the end, there is a council where people can share their truth. After this there is a tea ceremony where people drink something from the forest around them. The next one is on the 29th of April with an organization called Kismet.
How did you find your voice on your journey to create Forest Bathing?
Julia says that it has been difficult to find her voice. When you start to share things like mindfulness and meditation, there is no way to do it in without authenticity. There is no other option besides practicing what you preach. Its really hard to find your voice.In the beginning, she would speak one way with someone and then another way with a different person. Part of finding her voice was to speak from a place of authenticity all the time. This is scary.
What is your definition of yoga?
The union of breath, body and movement. Julia says that Yoga is a really powerful way to move energy through her body. She says that Forest Bathing is just one part of the pie. The forest is very grounding and contains an earth energy. She found out that she was actually too grounded and she needed a different energy. She started going to Hot yoga classes to find some more fire energy. This reminds Stewart about the original form of yoga which changed once pictures started to enter the technological milieu. It's pretty clear from the historical record that the yoga we practice today in studios has very little connection with the practice of yoga as it has traditionally practiced. Many people think that the movement side of yoga was actually more of a dance. There was little to no thought put to how the poses looked to an external observer. Julia explains how she is leaving for Guatemala tonight and the retreat she is about to go on.
What will you do on the retreat?
Its a group of reiki healers and there will be a lot of Mayan astrology.
If you have one piece of advice for someone picking up a meditation practice?
Find something that works for you. Its important to find your own voice. When Julia first started training to become a yoga teacher she found that she tried to copy what the instructor said, but instead she realized its important to live the practice so that it comes through you without trying or efforting. That it flows out of you.
She explains how she first got into mindfulness. She says that originally she didn't know what mindfulness was and thought it wasn't that cool. After quitting PayPal she started to look inward. She didn't know what mindfulness was but she did know how to practice self-love and self-care. She used to be really busy all the time when working. Once she quit she loved having the time to practice self-love and a more simple lifestyle compared to the working life.
She would learn from people around her. Her friends served as the teachers instead of trying to find a formal teacher.
She went on a retreat once to a center called Sunburst in Lompoc, California near Santa Barbara. The center was run by the organization of Sivananda.
How do you practice mindfulness?
She lets her mind wander. She doesn't really have any formal practice. She essentially drops thoughts of future and past and hangs out in the current moment.
So you don't have a formal sitting practice where you reserve a set time each day and focus on the breath or another object of meditation?
She usually spends about 5-10 minutes in the morning before doing anything and just lets her mind wander. She practices free association meditation which is a different technique which most people associate with mindfulness where you focus on an object of meditation.
Do you teach mindfulness as well?
Michelle describes the backstory of how she got into sharing mindfulness. She wanted to start a company called Artificial Soul which is a way of automating therapeutic counseling. She applied to Singularity University. Michelle wanted to help people make better decision by having a non-judgemental robot voice that could guide people.
She says that she got distracted by only working on the robot angle of spreading mindfulness. She also needed to spread this stuff to other human beings. That's how she first got into sharing mindfulness on Facebook live sessions with her friends. She started weekly sessions covering everything from beliefs, relationships, and inner child work. She said only the brave people among her friends would do this work.
Michelle says that mindfulness is an inner work. It's not only positive. A lot of people in the mindfulness world only see the positive side. They are stuck in duality. Its necessary to go beyond duality and recognize that the bad leads to the good and vice versa.
What is your most used technique when leading people to access their inner child in a safe way?
Michelle uses dialogue and also vision boards to help people do this. She would have people work with visualization and using the symbolism and metaphors of those visualizations to help people to see deeper into their subconscious patterns.
For Michelle, her visualizations would include lots of scenes of nature so her vision board was full of camping and nature.
How does your mindfulness or meditation practice contribute to your ability to create?
In order to create it's important to be original and not care about what people will think. To create you have to own your actions. To create means that you are no longer a victim. You are responsible for the things you are putting out into the world.
Michelle says that when she is creating she seems to find people who will help. An important part of creating is collaboration with other people. They just find her and they are often weird but it works out.
She says that faith helps her because she believes that what is best for the world will happen of its own accord. Everything will happen exactly as it needs to and creation just kind of happens.
What is something you recently created or that was created as a byproduct of your faith?
Michelle explains who she gave up a high paying job and a lot of stock options so that she could be free to create.
She created Robotics for Good. She was rejected by Singularity university after pitching them, Artificial Soul. Shortly after this she was at a conference and started talking with an astronaut about getting rejected. He told her about some investors who wanted to invest in consciousness and then she met the investors. She lost touch with them for a year after this.
During this year Michelle started working with the Loving AI project. They are building robots that help humans become more loving. At some point, the investor mentioned above responds to an email thread saying that they invested in the Loving AI project as well. It seemed synchronous and Michelle finds that synchronicities are a divine gift that must be received with open arms.
What is the Loving AI project?
Michelle explains how the loving AI project just made it through level 1 of the X-prize competition. They teamed up with Hanson Robotics which built an actual robot named Sofia. They are trying to build a robot that learns how to love people better than humans can. They have started trials with human beings testing these robots.
One person who underwent this test says that he found transcendence from talking with Sofia.
This interaction reminds Stewart about the novels by Philip K. Dick and the virtual therapists that Philip created in his fictional universes.
Do you think that robots can serve as more effective therapists than human beings can? Do you think a robot can love us better than a human can?
Yes because there is no judgment. She saw this directly with Sofia. She says that AI can support humans 24/7 days a week which in-person teachers or therapists can't compete with. It just makes sense that robots will love us better than we can do ourselves.
What is Hack Temple and what is your involvement with them?
It is a church in San Francisco that was turned into an incubator. Michelle says she is a mentor for the entrepreneurs from all over the world, helping them with legal issues. Negotiations and contract law. This brings Stewart to a topic he really wants to discuss further.
How do you bring mindfulness into negotiations?
She says that as an attorney she has always been really calm and present. Even though lawyers generally get upset and angry, she is known for remaining calm when others are crazy. She says that mindfulness also gives her the ability to see into people's true intentions and know what they are looking for which is a very important skill in negotiation.
Is anger ever an effective tool in negotiations?
Michelle says that she can appear angry on the outside, but would be equanimous on the inside. She is used to lawyers around her yelling and screaming. There are a lot of time pressures and people are stressed. She says that mindfulness helps her to stay calm and collected. This doesn't mean that she doesn't question or be assertive.
Stewart mentions that this constant returning to presence and equanimity can help in situations that are supercharged and particularly when other people involved are not present. He notices that when he is in these situations, his ability to return to the present moment influences those around him to also remain calm and collected. Stewart asks Michelle whether she notices the same thing.
She says that she always has had the gift to read people really well. She notices that now she can tell beforehand what someone's intentions are and this helps her to filter the people who are really clear about their intentions and can be clear with those around her.
This leads her to explain how she is now prioritizing working with people who are conscious and present. She mentions that she quit her job so that she could prioritize being real all the time as opposed to only on her time off.
What does it feel like in your body when you are in environments that prevent you from being real or being your true self?
She says that a lot of people in the corporate environment are after really superficial stuff. Most people are playing games of status like a bigger paycheck, status, or other external validators of success. People do a lot of subtle put-downs or devaluations of human existence.
Michelle brings up the idea that unity itself is truth and at all of this stuff is bullshit and violence. The reality is that we are made of the same stuff and that this stuff detracts away from the realization of this.
She gives a definition that mindfulness is letting your true self-shine. She makes it clear that if someone tells you something about yourself that you don't find true, it's your responsibility to realize that it is representative of the other person's issues. Michelle says that due to her mindfulness practice these games that people play don't really affect her and she can stay true to herself most of the time.
She mentions the book "The Games People Play".
As a lawyer, you must have run into many people who could be diagnosed as sociopaths, psychopaths, or narcissists. What are the main tells or triggers that help you identify at the moment whether you are dealing with someone like this? What attitudes or techniques do you use to protect yourself in these situations?
Michelle says that she can detect people like this really easily and she usually stays away from them because its impossible to win when dealing with such people. She says that Wikipedia page for narcissistic personality disorder says that there are 14 defining characteristics of these people and there is also a book called "The Sociopath Next Door" that talks about what qualifies someone as a sociopath or a psychopath.
The main thing that lets you tell whether someone is a sociopath is that they play the victim. If they continuously try to get your sympathy, you should be careful about dealing with such a person. They try to get into your heart which is counter-intuitive. They want to gain access to your feelings. They are highly trained to be liars. This is particularly affecting in relationships.
Stewart mentions that they always try to make the situation confusing.
Michelle says that this is called gaslighting which is the process of making the situation confusing for anyone involved. Stewart says that they are excellent at making sure anything they say can never be taken as evidence of wrongdoing or being clear.
Michelle reiterates that the key is to just stay away. She talks about narcissistic supply and how they are trying to use those around them to keep their sense of self large. She says that they have been doing this since they were young and are way better trained than other people. It's important to stay away because you will never win. If you are in business with them, then take the loss and walk away.
She brings up the fact that it is not only something that men do and she has known women who also look for this narcissistic supply. There are lots of patterns that you can see beforehand if you look for them and are aware of them. She says it's not worth it to be involved with.
What is the thing you are working on right now that is most exciting or what type of advice do you have for the community?
Put people first. It's important to think about the community and your contribution to it. Be eager to learn. Don't try to control too much because you can't. Life will show you that it is out of your control. It's scary to hear, but when you lose control and things work, you become so grateful.
Stewart mentions that we don't really have control and never have, but we build up the delusion that we are. It's important when creating to realize this and to tap into the everchanging conditions of life.
Aldric is a serial entrepreneur from Portugal who owns a 3D printing company which builds 3D printers for designers all over Europe. They also make scans and designs which are all open source and come up with new concepts for 3D printable objects. Its kind of like a research and development company for 3D printing.
How did Aldric first get into yoga and mindfulness?
Aldric is originally from Mozambique where his mother first introduced him to Yoga. He went to the yoga teachers house every day after school. He wasn't really aware what he was doing for the 3 years. He didn't recognize the significance of the practice at the time. He says that now when he practices yoga he has a whole different recognition of what the practice is and his awareness is much more focused. HIs practice has evolved.
Does that have more to do with you maturing as a human being or as a natural by-product of spiritual practice?
He says that, as a man, he matured later than most. He was a late bloomer. As his awareness slowly evolved he noticed his reactions to life-changing significantly. He's not sure how to answer the question.
Do you have a daily practice?
He continues talking about how his yoga practice evolved. After leaving Mozambique for Portugal, he found a yoga teacher at the university and he practiced 2-3 times a week. He normally practices meditation on weekends. He says that he can only meditate after running or walking.
Stewart explains how Aldric's experience of needing to move before meditating is consistent with the historical evolution of yoga as a spiritual practice. Thousands of years ago it was developed in order to calm the body and mind and release neurotic energy before sitting silently. The practice of movement or Yoga asana can be from running just like moving the body in more traditional poses in a yoga studio.
Aldric says that he most enjoys running into the forest until he finds a tree he likes and then sits underneath the tree for 3-4 hours of meditation. He says he did a maximum of 6 hours. He likes to meditate at night and stays until midnight at his special tree spot.
What techniques do you use for meditation?
He says that he uses music, in the beginning, to get him in the zone and then slowly transitions to zazen. He says that he likes to sit in half lotus as well. He says he can sit in half lotus for about four hours without pain or tension. He starts off with a guided meditation mixed with music by Alana Fairchild.
He focuses on the breath and tries to relax. Sometimes he gets sleepy and he wakes himself up. He says its a struggle, but not a violent. It is a peaceful struggle. He says that afterward he finds himself singing often. Aldric says that many of his worries seem to dissolve, but often times they come back shortly.
How do you bring the practice of meditation into your daily life?
He explains how he is pretty busy with an important project at the moment so it's hard to fit it into his daily life as he used to. He says that he has to devote more energy to this project and less to wellness.
This brings Stewart to interject with the idea that meditation is the practice of heightening and focusing an awareness that is already present every waking moment of the day. Thus it's important to see that the real juice of a meditative practice is to actually meditate when things are crazy and hectic. To bring the practice into everyday life.
How does mindfulness or meditation help you do your job better?
Aldric says that it helps him for sure, at least indirectly. Meditation gives allows him to conserve energy and to face the day with more energy reserves. He says that he also struggles with insomnia and meditation helps him to rest. He says that right now because of a big project he can only meditate on the weekends.
What is this big project that you are working on?
Aldric gives a little backstory. He explains how he found Ajahn Brahm and the theory behind meditation. He was so inspired by Ajahn Brahm that he decided he wanted to do something to help spread Buddhism, meditation, and mindfulness around the world. He didn't find anything at the beginning and started his 3D printing company instead.
Shortly after this, his girlfriend broke up with him and he fell into a depression. He was sitting in the same chair as he is sitting in the interview in his office in Portugal and he tried to meditate. It was very difficult so he put some music on. His suffering was so great and he just started spinning in the chair in circles.
As he continued to spin in circles he noticed a meditative state start to unfold naturally. He felt calm and connected. All of a sudden his depression lifted and he felt in the zone.
This is where the idea for Zenvow, his new project, came to him. He wanted to find out how to find external markers for the same meditative state he found spinning in his chair. He decided to build a sensor that could sense movement, respiration, and where the body is in space and time. These things could help track whether people were meditating or doing yoga.
He also started working with blockchain technology and realized that he could allow people to get paid in cryptocurrency to meditate and do yoga. This is what Zenvow is trying to do.
ZenVow will release two products that will help people earn cryptocurrency for practicing yoga and meditation: A meditation pad that senses whether you are sitting upright and a chest sensor that monitors breathing and body movement.
Is it possible to give accurate feedback into the meditative state? Isn't meditation in someway immeasurable? Are there external validators of an internal practice such as meditation?
Aldric says that its true that meditation is difficult, but as long as you are sitting there with the intent to practice it is enough to get people into the practice. It is aimed at beginners.
Stewart explains the Sufi practice of Whirling Dervishes and how they spin in order to connect with a meditative state or an experiential understanding of God. Kids spin a lot. Kids move around.
Can you explain the state that occurs after practicing the spinning or other movement practices that bring on this experiential understanding of God or ecstasy?
Aldric explains how when he is floating in the water he gets an experience of spinning. This is how he usually finds this state and spinning in circles also brings this on. He explains how awareness is drawn to practices like this.
What breathing exercises do you practice on a daily or weekly basis?
Aldric brings up the app Prana Breathe which gives him instruction in breathing with a ratio of inhales, exhales and holding your breath. He also uses Wim Hof breathing.
How would you describe your creative process?
He says that its impossible to accurately indicate who had the amazing idea or why the idea became available to you instead of another. You can say that the neurons themselves and the connections between them created the idea, but then you have to dig further. Why did those neurons form in that way? What was the influence? Likely the idea is an interaction between you and your environment.
Aldric goes onto say that when you say that I am an inventor or I invented something, that isn't quite accurate. Each inventor is influenced by their environment so it impossible to say that the inventor had any more responsibility for the idea than the results of the environment around her. He also states that modern physics and science still cannot accurately describe reality. It would be a mistake to say that we know how it works, including when we make mental models of how our personal lives work and why we have experienced the things we have.
How do you deal with the conflict of being a separate individual, yet at the same time being part of a greater whole?
Aldric says that its difficult for him to speak to this because he has only recently come to understand this conflict and can't speak to it exactly. He needs to practice more meditation in order to speak intelligently on this. He says the wants to design a life that is more dedicated to practice.
Stewart explains his own story about wanting to design a life of practice and doing it. He says that it is a common learning experience for most people who find meditation to go off and give up everything in their old life. This can cause issues because the person will have a radical disconnection between their old life and the new one. This makes integration harder which is a key part of the process. You have to integrate the difficult and deep experiences that meditation makes clear.
What is one piece of advice or one article or one teacher for mindfulness that you would suggest for our listeners?
Aldric says that he more practice and skills which he can share about engineering, but he doesn't have enough experience to talk about mindfulness and meditation.
This said he says that Buddhism can give us insight into reality and phenomena. Without seeing into reality, we suffer. Buddhism offers us a way out of suffering by being more realistic about where we are, what we are, and where we are going.
Corvas is a founder and CTO of Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Meow Wolf is a psychedelic art installation that is a mix between Disneyland and burning man. Corvas runs their technology. Stewart taught Corvas yoga and meditation previously and they discuss how his practice has evolved over the last ten years as he has helped to build Meow Wolf into the thriving business and art collective it is today.
Corvas explains how he doesn't think that he would be able to do what he does at Meow Wolf without mindfulness.
He describes how he discovered meditation in college along with experimenting with other avenues toward self-exploration. The first time he meditated he had messages and insights waiting for him. From that moment on he felt like he had an internal knowing of what meditation is. He said the only instruction he had at the beggining was that meditation was about bringing awareness back to the breathing. Focus on the breath. Let his mind unwind until it gets quiet.
Stewart agrees and says that the breath is such a good meditation tool because it's always there. You don't need anything extra. Wherever you go you are always breathing so you never need another tool besides that for meditation. The breath is the thread that links many meditation traditions together.
Stewart asks Corvas about his informal practices that he uses throughout the day in order to remain mindful and present. Corvas talks about how it's important to maintain a certain mindset while in challenging situations. He looks at environmental triggers where you intentionally leave a mark or a symbol to help him to remember to come back to the present.
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Corvas talks about his experience investigating the shadow side of his personality. When he encounters dark thoughts he uses his environment trigger to look and acknowledge these negative purposes. These shadow aspects have value. If we look away from these and pretend everything is great, then we become distorted. Corvas is learning how to appreciate these moments.
Stewart brings up the cult of positivity and how it's difficult to share negative emotions with other people because they have taught to be positive all the time. We are all humans and we are fallible. Corvas says that fear and anxiety are really powerful motivators and that if you can have a healthy relationship to these negative emotions, there is great power there.
This brings Corvas to talk about public speaking and the anxiety that comes with that. He's learned that just by acknowledging these emotions they tend to lose their power. They are still there but they don't bite as deep as they used to. Stewart brings up something one of his friends once said to him that "Anxiety is excitement without the breath".
Stewart talks about his own experience with public speaking and how they are actually his best opportunities for mindfulness because they are the most emotionally affecting. Corvas says that human beings usually hear tone and body language before they connect with the linguistic and intellectual components of speech. You can talk about the most important things, but if you do it with no emotion, nobody will connect with it. This also works the opposite way too.
We talk about the beginning of Meow Wolf and how difficult it was in the beginning. Stewart asks whether Corvas was doing individual work to create the first exhibitions. He says that yes and that everyone was. It was an organization without hierarchy and if you were a part of the team you were creating. Now Corvas is in more of a strategic role and doesn't do as much creation.
For Corvas, as an artist, he has had to adapt become an administrator. He says that because Meow Wolf is such a creative place to be he hasn't felt like he has left the creative process, but it has been an adjustment to being more hands-off in the process. He goes on to explain the story of Meow Wolf and how in 2014 they decided to move from an art collective to becoming a business and starting the House of Eternal Return. This was the first time many of the people in Meow Wolf actually had jobs.
This transition was the first step in moving from an individual contributor to actually creating the circumstances for other people to be creative. He said that this transition was at first very scary because he thought he needed to be an individual contributor to feel like he was being creative. After he got into it, he realized that he could still find creativity and satisfaction in a more managerial and administrative work.
He says that given all of the above, there is no replacement for the feeling of being on your own and creating a piece of art. That he still needs to find an outlet for this creative urge of his and he is waiting to get Meow Wolf to a more sustainable spot before he can take some time to fill this part of him.
Stewart talks about how dancing fills that spot for him that Corvas talked about when he was explaining the solitary creative process and the cathartic experience that comes out of it.
Stewart asks Corvas about the state of creative flow and whether he still experiences creative flow while doing administrative or strategic work or communicating with coworkers. He talks about a new experience he is building for their new exhibition in Las Vegas. He felt creative flow in this project as he was building out the script for one of the exhibitions there. He hadn't experienced a flow state like that for a month beforehand and he hasn't experienced one after that for a couple weeks. He says they are rarer these days.
He says that the experience of creative flow happens most often when he is working with a team and they are advancing an idea and everyone is on the same page. Now that he is in a more high-level position, other people end up taking what they are working on and rolling with it. He no longer gets to keep the ball rolling and continuously has to zoom his work to a higher level. He says that a lot of his job is context switching throughout the day where the creative flow comes and goes.
Stewart explains how it sounds like Corvas' job is now to set the conditions for his team members to experience creative flow for themselves.
Corvas explains how at the beginning when Meow Wolf transitioned into a business in 2014, the founders had to ask themselves the question: What is the most valuable thing I can do right now?
Many times the answer was not the same as what is the most fulfilling thing I can do, so there was a sense of sacrifice that had to be made to make sure Meow Wolf got off the ground.
Now that they are doing well and finding success, Corvas is asking himself: "What can I do right now that will bring me the most joy?"
Stewart says that the more he finds joy in his life the more he is able to share with others. Corvas agrees.
Stewart asks Corvas how he deals with the state of friction that is necessary to find creative flow. He says that the friction used to be depressing for him. He would get trapped in it. Now he has learned that those states of friction are important to his growth. Once he found the value, purpose, and lessons of the friction. He said the last time that he fell into such a depressed and lost state was maybe 4 years ago.
He goes on to talk about how the state of friction between people is really important for creating something. They have worked with the same people for 10 years and he learned that the disagreement creates that dynamism where something really interesting is created.
Stewart talks about his time at Meow Wolf and how the thing that impressed him most was the ability for anyone at Meow Wolf to speak about their concerns and bring friction to the table.
This sparks Corvas philosophy for one Meow Wolf can be. They want to reinvent what it means to come together and work. For most of our culture, we have two boxes that we fit life and work in to, and that we keep them separate. For Corvas, this idea is silly and if work is preventing you from enjoying life, then you should look for new work.
He explains that Meow Wolf they have built a culture where the people working there can treat others as people. They are reinventing something about the workplace. Everyone that ends up working at Meow Wolf is a young inventor archetype. Everyone has their own inspiration to work on what they need to. Meow Wolf allows them to be who they are even if they don't know how to play corporate politics. Meow Wolf gives people the space to fail and come back.
Stewart brings up the fact that Meow Wolf is interesting because they are starting a revolution in the corporate world in a place where there are very few corporations, i.e. in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Stewart mentions that in the past 50 years or so the center of a lot of new economic growth has been moving to San Francisco because of rapidly evolving technology. Now it seems that this trend is decentralizing and Meow Wolf looks like a spearhead in this campaign of decentralizing innovation.
Corvas says that he doesn't feel like he has the space to answer such a broad question about big macro-level trends in society and technology so he doesn't really have an answer. But he says that something is happening and Meow Wolf is a part of it.
Corvas says that there is no way that Meow Wolf would have survived in the Bay Area. He loves living in Santa Fe. He can see the mountains from his window. He loves the pace of life. Not everyone is going at the speed of sound like they are in San Francisco. He can choose to work faster if he needs to, but he doesn't get encouraged by the people around him to do so. It's not in the air.
Stewart changes course a little bit and asks Corvas about psychedelics and what their effect has been on his ability to create. He goes through his history and how he tried psychedelics as a teenager at around the same time he started to see himself as an artist. It was a coevolving of circumstances. He says that psychedelics give him the space necessary to look on his artwork with fresh eyes or from a different angle. They allow him to get out of himself for a time period. At the same time, he says that its hard to really pinpoint how psychedelics help him to be creative.
He says that overall psychedelics have played a supportive relationship in his growth and life. He is very grateful to have established a healthy relationship with them and that they have assisted him in breaking down structures, identities, and expectations that have failed to remain important. He says that now his primary relationship is with Ayahuasca.
Ayahuasca helps him to shed old layers of his personality. Layers that were helpful at the time but fail to continue to serve a purpose.
Corvas says that psychedelics aren't something he uses out of a lack of ideas or being on deadline and needing to finish something and thus needs to take psychedelics. He says there is not a 1-to-1 correlation between psychedelics and creation, it is not a linear process, but the two are correlated. They do help him to be more open and receptive to the creative impulse.
Stewart brings up J. Krishnamurti and how he talks about identity as a reaction to fear which we receive when we are younger and then fortifies throughout our lives through conditioning. These images and conditioning can hold us back as humans and so psychedelics can help us to peer into this conditioning and maybe even find some quiet space where creativity emerges naturally.
Stewart asks Corvas: What does creativity mean to you?
Corvas talks about his first art teacher who took Corvas under her wing and taught him how to create. She said that creativity was connecting two dots that didn't exist before. At the same time, he doesn't want to put creativity in a box. He says that creativity is one of the fundamental aspects of humanity. He talks about how creativity will be the only thing left for humans to do when all the robots take our jobs.
Stewart asks Corvas, what the plan is for the next couple years?
Corvas says that Meow Wolf is spreading to two new cities, Las Vegas and Denver. They are going to build new exhibitions in these towns. He says that even longer term Meow Wolf is creating a new model for how experience and art can be made. How artists can get paid for doing good work and not have to suffer for their art.
He talks about how the audience at the House of Eternal Return is not divisible by any known metric or socioeconomic class. It's for everybody. The visual arts should not only be found in the houses of the elite. It should be for everyone. Meow Wolf is bringing art back to the people.
Stewart ask Corvas: What is one thing that you would recommend people do, read, or undertake in order find the creativity within them?
He says do the thing that feeds that part of you the most. If you are a musician, buy the instruments or create the time and space to put your energy into it. For most people it's about time, giving yourself the time to create and do something that feeds your innate need to create. Creation is part of you and it wants to exist so just follow it. Remove the blockages.
Check out Francis' Company Invisible Technologies
Stewart asks Francis: What does meditation mean for you?
He says that being in the present is a bad response because it doesn't accurately reflect what the present is. The future merges with the present. He says you can continue to meditate when doing something mundane like thinking, planning, or abstract reasoning. He says that state of meditation is being connected to source or flow. When you are connected to everything else. This is the state of meditation. He says that meditation is about fully expressing yourself in the cosmos. Meditation is not anti-thought
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Stewart responds by saying that sounds like a non-linear reality. Francis says that there was a time when he meditated for 8 hours a day. He did the Santiago de Camino in Spain and started to use headspace, he took an art class in Florence and then continuously increased the time that he meditated until it was eight hours a day. He ended up in monasteries in the east, particularly in Thailand.
At some point, he realized that this meditation practice had permanently shifted him and he could either bring it into his daily life or he would stop living his life and end up in a cave. He said that spending time in Buddhist monasteries leads him to realize the falseness of secluding yourself in a monastery. Practice is meant to be lived.
Francis talks about the Buddhist ideal or messiah, the bodhisattva. He explains that the first movement of Buddhism is realizing that the world is suffering. The second movement of Buddhism is that through meditation we can experience the unity behind all duality. He says that meditation is an act of living death. Its the act of getting used to death before it happens. He says that this consistent with Stoic forms of meditation. He says that if it ends there, then you have a pathetic religion. Francis says that its great that Buddhism doesn't end here and that the third movement of Buddhism is coming down from the mountain and sharing what you have found and fully expressing yourself.
Francis gets into the idea that people who are fully expressing their truth are what the Buddhists refer to as Bhoddisatva's. He says that Donald Trump is a Bhodisatva, that Genghis Khan is a Bodhisattva. That horrible historical figures are more enlightened than your average person who is not fully expressing their own truth or dharma. He says that people like Martin Luther King or other "good" historical figures are also enlightened or bodhisattvas. All of these people, both "Good" and "Bad" fully expressed themselves. They took a position and risked being wrong.
From here Francis gets into the historical evolution of Zen and how it is a combination of Buddhism and Taoism that merged in China. He talks about the great historical loss of great temples in China under Communism. He discusses the Yin Yang symbol of Taoism and how it represents duality and how duality becomes one. Male and female are one. Good and evil are one. Past and future are one. They are both present. We are all playing our part.
Stewart talks about how Enlightenment itself is misunderstood and that the actual state of enlightenment is not a concept but a way of being or an experience. He says that this whole comparison of enlightened beings kind of misses the points because each experience of enlightenment is a unique and subjective awareness of unity. He expresses that talking about enlightenment and comparing different historical figure's state of enlightenment gets into murky territory. He questions the validity of comparing different states of enlightenment.
Francis responds that validity itself is a dogmatic word. It implies that there is one right way to do things, a scripture or a code that will tell you how to get there. How to find enlightenment. He offers that the explanation of enlightenment as someone who continuously comes back to the present is a trite one. True enlightenment comes from fully expressing your own truth, no matter what that entails. Essentially Francis says that if you are red, be red. If you are blue, be blue. But if you are blue, do not try to be red, blue, green and everything else. You have to choose to be who you really are.
He returns to the idea of Trump being a bodhisattva because he believes that the person who is fully expressing their truth and triggering everyone around them is challenging everyone else to live their truth and express what reality wants them to become. He says that this is why he doesn't like normal people. They are ignoring their god given destiny and hiding from reality. He likes villains and heroes because at least they are playing in the drama of life.
Francis brings up an important point about the three movements of Buddhism he mentioned earlier in regards to movement two and how meditation brings on a sort of psychological death. He says that with this psychological death comes the philosophical underpinnings of nihilism and that this is a dangerous field to play in. He says he considers himself a Taoist and Taoism has managed to fully move past this stage of nihilism.
Francis talks about how in Zen monasteries they tend to decondition new participants harshly so that they come to find reality faster. They ask questions and any verbal or intellectual answer comes with a slap in the face. The proper answer could be something like a shout, something that fully expresses the terror or joy of a life being lived as opposed to the dry intellectual understanding of life. This leads to the realization that the truth is beyond words.
Stewart asks Francis about how the three movements of Buddhism played itself out in Francis' own life.
Francis explains that his own journey through these three movements of Buddhism was precipitated by the failure of his first company, Everest, along with the failure of his first ideology. He explains a little bit about his own life story. He grew up in San Diego, in the suburbs. He says its so nice that its horrible. It's purgatory.
He says that his first blessing in his life was taking a five-year course on the great books of western history. He says that going to Cornell barely taught him anything, but he kept on reading the great book and his education flourished on its own as opposed to the schooling. After university, he started his first company which tied in with his first ideology. He built an app that helped people complete their goals. He thought technology could be used to make humans better at being human, i.e. accomplish their goals. He thought he could build an ecosystem to support this. He was building an educational system
Francis explains his story of developing his own ideology while he develops his first company, Everest. He says that he believed in truth, a final truth. He believed in Good and Evil. He thought that questions have answers. That it was possible to develop a unified theory of everything. He believed that someday humanity might grasp objective reality. He realized through reading that when reading an amazing book he would feel enlightened, he would feel like he would understand reality. Then, of course, he realized that feeling would go away and he would realize that he doesn't know.
He explains how this ideology and his company failed. He made the mistake of not charging users and tried to use the Facebook strategy of growing very large and capturing a small amount of value. He and his team thought that everyone has goals so it would be a universal app that anyone could use to achieve goals. This failed because he realized that most aspirational products are just that, aspirational. Nike doesn't make money when people exercise, it makes money when people want to exercise. Amazon doesn't make money when people read books, they make money when people want to read books, etc. The failure to achieve goals is a deep-rooted human issue that technology might not be able to fix. People fail to achieve what they set out to do and building a business that tries to solve this problem didn't work.
Francis realizes that goals themselves are a flawed construct. Goals are a really bad way to frame decisions or actions. The goal "get fit" is a very vague one. Goals are preconstructed blueprints that we try to fit on top of reality instead of listening to what reality makes clear. Humans are bad at defining goals and really anticipating what the human will need in the future. Reality is very complex and even though our brains are very advanced, they have very little chance of developing theory or goals that accurately map reality.
This failure broke him. He spent $3 million. His team lost their jobs. He was distraught and undertook his mindfulness journey through the world. This brought him to the point of nihilism and lack of meaning.
He puts this into the perspective of the 20th century where we had complete destruction with WWII and then it turned into peace and a golden age for the world. People thought that History had ended and we were all good from here on out. Then people realized that's not really the case, we are just in a break. We are actually in what TS Elliot calls the wasteland. Francis says that the West started to turn towards the east for answers to more deep questions of human consciousness and existence.
Stewart argues that instead of looking at the West looking towards the East for answers, he says that the West actually looked back in time at what the East had written. Just as what happened in the dark ages in the West, the East also experienced a period of darkness and a loss of the wisdom that they had developed. We are still only just discovering much of the wisdom of the past.
Francis argues that this loss and then rediscovering of what had happened in the past lead to the rise of nationalism and stories being created that lead to the rise of national consciousness and thus fascism in places like Japan and Germany.
He says that the best person to read for understanding the world today is Rene Gerard. Rene says that we need enemies and that if we don't find one we will invent one, a scapegoat. Society will unite to kill the enemy and sacrifice the scapegoat.
Stewart says that again when the west looked towards the east for wisdom they also looked at it with their own filters and perceptions. When we rediscovered Buddhism we changed what Buddhism was into something we could understand. Francis says that we have created a monstrous caricature.
Francis explains how he sees a consumerist culture in New York that creates a political correctness that is false and superficial and is based on fear. He goes on to explain the beauty of Nietzsche.
David Foster Wallace ended up grappling with this nihilism and ended up committing suicide. To combat this humans end up in commercialist paradises like Sweden or San Diego. We try to mold the world so that we feel secure and safe with our creature comforts. Francis says that most of his millennial friends want to move to Sweden and look up to Sweden.
He describes Nietzche as the romantic nihilist. He was able to complete the Buddhist journey and have a victory over nihilism. He was able to say I'm not sure if God exists, I'm not sure if heaven exists, or if there is a goal. He was able to see that society was also confused. Amongst all this confusion, Neitchze was able to assert that his values were correct and true, even though he was not able to really say for sure that they were. Essentially he will do his best and accept the consequences of acting without full knowledge. I don't know what absolute truth is, but here is my version of it.
Francis brings up an interesting point which is that you have to choose what you believe and that when you choose you are choosing not to believe something else. You cannot have both privacy and security. You cannot both express yourself and be politically correct. You cannot be both red and green at the same time.
This realization leads him to start his next and current company Invisible. He realized that the biggest problem is the problem of finding a solution that works for you. There is now technology that can do anything to the problem becomes harnessing the technology to do work humans don't want to do. He built one single bot that coordinates humans and automates the repeated tasks. They automate repetitive work.
Andrew talks about his struggle with technology starting when he was 12. He grew up in the suburbs and had a sibling rivalry. Technology created a happy space where he could go to get away from these things.
Technology helped Andrew connect with others, but the problem was that he was always on. At the time he thought it was great.
He accidentally got disconnected from technology for a week and experienced presence and being aware of all the things that were going on when not connected to technology. He realized he had an issue and started to develop his own methods for staying mindful when using technology.
He developed a way of taking notes offline when he wasn't connected to the phone using low-technology but then realized that a hardware device would be way better.
This lead him to create Siempo which is a layer on top of a smartphone operating system that turns your phone experience into a more intentional but less distracting interface.
Stewart explains the evolution of how technology is evolving quickly and human beings are adapting to it slowly. Siempo and Andrew are attempting to now harness technology to mediate the harmful effects that technology created.
Mindfulness leads to the meta skill of where to place attention and how to prevent distraction from becoming chronic. It can enhance the tech that is being built
We talk about how technology plays itself out differently in diverse cultures. In Latin America, it seems that there is a strong family-oriented culture. They end up using a lot of technology and are some of the heaviest users of social media. Yet they use it differently.
We discuss how its easier to take the social media off the phone, but when using the computer it's hard to regulate because of the way this technology is presented to users.
Andrew mentions that Facebook seems to have engineered a system to get people addicted to new information in a very stick way. Mindfulness helps us to step in and cut this process out before it begins.
He mentions that the social conditioning that humans have always undergone is now mediated by technology and we are having hyper-targeted versions of it on Facebook. Its a much more pervasive form of societal conditioning.
Stewart asks Andrew about how maybe what we need is a lot more educational opportunities to teach people how to use technology mindfully. Andrew says that it is probably a mix. He mentions a program in Vermont that has its students sign a pledge to not drink or do drugs. In exchange, they get access to a lot of yoga and mindfulness programs as well as a special dorm.
Andrew notices a trend that Wisdom 2.0 conference is full of older people but hasn't found many young people getting into mindfulness solutions. He says that the banks, tech, and consulting are still taking most young people straight out of college because of high salaries.
Stewart brings up the idea that many older people have a difficulty adapting to a new world with rapidly evolving technology. This is a difficult problem for the future. Stewart says that maybe its easier to get younger people to adapt faster than older people. Andrew says its still important to get older people as well.
Andrew mentions some figures about how children who grow up in single-parent homes are much more likely to spend most of their waking life on their phone.
Stewart asks Andrew about some of the practices he uses to get himself back to the present moment. He says that he has triggers that remind him. He has a google chrome app that reminds him to breathe every fifteen minutes. He has a fake watch that says "Now" on it. He makes sure that he takes time for rest. He downloads meditations that he can use offline.
Andrew talks about how his meditation practice has evolved. He mentions his first retreat where he was taught that meditation is about focusing the mind on an object, which can be anything (the breathe, the body, etc).
Charlie talks about the Meow Wolf working environment and culture. He explains how its this weird progressive culture that actually supports the people working there as opposed to the stiff corporate environment that is present everywhere else. He says there is a punk angst to Meow Wolf that really draws people in. Everyone he works with gives him hugs and genuinely asks him how he is. Charlie talks about the difference between working in the tech world and working at Meow Wolf.
Meow Wolf seems to be questioning everything that has been traditionally been considered necessary to get work done. He says that it is an emotionally draining place to work, but in exchange, there is a realness to is hard to find anywhere else. Charlie's main challenge is to help people at Meow Wolf see how some of the stuff they are doing might lead to problems in the future.
Working at Meow Wolf has helped Charlie to heal some of the trauma that he experienced when working at dysfunctional startups. Stewart mentions that working at Meow Wolf is like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in a working environment.
Stewart talks about how a lot of our reactions to things are based on what happened in the past and not what is currently going on. Stewart asks whether Charlie sees this at Meow Wolf. He says that he has seen this because there isn't a lot of judgment which allows people to quickly reassess what is going on. He mentions that this is a skill that is common for people who have gone through recovery and alcoholics anonymous.
Stewart asks Charlie whether he considers himself to be an artist. Charlie says he is a musician, but his main art is actually writing code. Charlie explains his history of learning how to code and how he found an interest in it that he had never found it before.
Stewart asks Charlie how the perception of art is changing as technology changes how quickly we are able to create and with way fewer resources. Charlie says that writing code will become like writing. We will need to start teaching elementary school kids how to write code along with reading. The key is to learn how to use technology to make something. Technology is becoming ubiquitous and as they become more so if you don't know how to build something with technology you are missing out.
Stewart asks if its possible for programming to get easier and Charlie says yes. He gives the definition of engineering as finding something a scientist has figured it out and making sure that no one ever has to figure it out again. It is the process of automation. The scientist figures out whether something is true. Engineers read what the scientist writes and finds a solution to incorporate the truth of what the scientist found.
Charlie talks about why he doesn't use Facebook. He deleted his account about 3 years ago because he was getting really depressed reading what a lot of his conservative family members were writing. They wrote a lot of homophobic things that caused him trauma. He also brings up the fact that he didn't really trust Facebook and he was giving them a lot of information.
Stewart asks Charlie whether the creators or engineers of successful products have an ethical responsibility to make sure that their products do not become golems or Frankensteins. Charlie says that its very difficult for someone to create something and to know what the consequences will be, particularly for things like Machine Learning. He says that the product carries the biases of the creator. He also mentions that once it starts to grow and evolve other stakeholders like advertisers, employees and consumers start to change the product as well. It eventually becomes something of its own.
We talk about how pockets of the internet are centralized now such as Facebook or Google, but the internet itself is decentralized. Stewart brings up cryptocurrencies and how a lot of ideology behind cryptocurrencies is based on the benefits of decentralization and how that is really important. He mentions that it could evolve into another form of centralized products operating off a decentralized network similar to how the internet evolved.
Charlie brings up the fact that the internet now gives everyone a voice, but some people's voices are toxic. He brings up how direct democracy allows for the majority to promote legislation that affects the minority such as legislation against gay marriage.
Charlie talks about ways to try and correct some of the negative consequences of new technological products. He says there are two options: work from the inside and try to influence the evolution of the product or not use the service or work for the companies creating the products.
Stewart brings up the fact that we don't really know how pharmaceutical products are created and we can figure out short-term complications from their use, but they haven't been around long enough for us to know what the long-term consequences of taking them are. Humans tend to think they have a lot more control than they actually do. Charlie responds by saying its probably a good idea to internalize the saying "I am not that smart" to stay humble when faced with complexity.
This brings Stewart to note that this idea of "I don't know" is really important for a spiritual practice as well because it brings us back to the present moment and how our awareness of what is really going on in the current moment is limited by our conditioned perception of what is going on.
Charlie asks Stewart what his definition of Spirituality is. Stewart says that it is the process by which humans realize that the limited ego they have created is actually a puny mirror of the whole and that they are actually part of a much bigger universe. Its the process by which the self-constructed barriers to union with all that is around us crumbles. It is a felt experience of union with all that is around us. Stewart says that he recognizes that there is a divine presence that underlays all of experience and existence and that spirituality is about surrendering our individual consciousness to this greater reality.
Charlie talks about how he has a difficulty with the term spirituality. He conflates it with religion or believing in ghosts or other things that aren't actually backed up by evidence. He practices a lot of things that a lot of other people consider to be spiritual but he sees them as practical. Stewart brings up the fundamental division between the theological underpinnings of Hinduism and Buddhism. Buddhism proposes that there is no separate individual self and Hindus believe that there is a bigger "Self" hiding behind the smaller "self."
Charlie brings up his idea that well-working technology is indistinguishable from magic. Stewart talks about how we are now creating what would have been considered magic with technology. Stewart says Meow Wolf is in the business of doing magic.
We talk about how augmented reality and virtual reality will bring about a feeling of magic to its users.
We segway into Nuclear power and how it relates to other fossil fuels. This leads us to talk about how a lot of fossil fuels create jobs and a lot of the reasons why we haven't moved to Nuclear power is because it would lead to fewer jobs.
Eric introduces himself and explains his current passion which is mindful improv. He teaches groups of people how to respond mindfully to social situations. He explains some exercises that he uses at the beginning of class.
He talks about how he helps beginners get through initial blocks and past their fears of opening up in front of an audience. Stewart then brings up his experience as a beginner in Salsa and how when we begin anything we are only aware of a small fraction of the stimuli that is being presented to us. After we start to improve whole new layers of awareness open up.
Eric explains how he views teaching and how its really important to impart to new students only one thing about what they are learning. He has people focus on their emotional experience. Whether they are fearful or excited? This brings people into how they are feeling now. He says that mindful improv is about helping people develop a practice of it not only in the class itself but in their lives as well. Stewart brings up how this is one of the most important parts of a meditation practice as well: to bring the practice into daily life.
Eric explains how he has been practicing disciplined mindfulness practices for several years now and has taken notes. He shows how no matter how much we practice some things just continuously come up and we have to learn how to deal with these issues and not wish them away.
We talk about how Eric doesn't really have a formal practice and that he really tries to bring the practice into daily life. He mentions that many friends of his try to convert him into a formal meditation practice. From Eric's perspective, he is already aware, at least a little bit, in everyday life. Awareness is always present so its a better practice to just heighten that awareness in everyday life as opposed to setting off a time where we do it.
Stewart mentions how historically he would have disagreed with Eric about the necessity of having a daily formal sitting meditation practice, but how over the last couple years he has started to see it differently. Any technique is just a crutch that makes the conditions more favorable to drop into a meditative state. The meditative state is what we are looking to engender, not the technique. Humans have a way of turning positives experiences into stable beliefs, but these beliefs are not accurate indicators of reality.
Eric mentions that culture itself is a byproduct of these stable beliefs. He explains the process of ego development in a young child. The infant starts off as just pure consciousness. There is no separation between the baby and its environment. The baby just is. As it starts to develop, the baby takes on communication with the family and starts to develop a sense of self. The baby starts to develop likes and dislikes.
At some point, the individual then becomes conscious of this conditioning and they have an opportunity to make a shift to say "Oh now I'm an individual and I am on my own". In reality its difficult to do this because the process of the individual's relationship to the environment continues. We are always conditioned to the environment around us. There is no separate self.
Eric goes on to explain how formal sitting practice might be helpful for someone who has a 9-5 job and needs a sense of structure to their practice to make it stick. Eric doesn't have this life. He talks about how his schedule is very erratic.
Stewart mentions that he often finds himself in a state of friction and that its difficult to remember in those times that those times are necessary for the creative times.
Eric mentions the cult of working hard that is endemic in the startup world. He believes that this type of deification of work is unnecessary. He mentions that most work and conversation are worthless and busywork.
Eric mentions the importance of being clear from the outset as to what the people working on a task are doing. He says that many of his friends are working long hours in something that they supposedly like, but then end up totally drained at the end of the week.
He talks about how work environments lead to people stealing energy from each other. He mentions that with his company Mindful Improv, he teaches people how to share energy with each other which leads to lots of exponential benefits.
We drastically switch topics to how Eric uses marijuana to improve his meditation practice. He says that it helps him to do problem-solving and increases his sensitivity.
He talks about his personality and how he tends to always be in problem-solving mode. He says other people used to tell him that he overanalyzes anything and he agrees, but at the same time, it is a gift as well. Weed helps him tap into this more frequently.
Stewart asks Eric whether he has any negative aspects of his marijuana use. He says that after intense analyzation and note taking he can't find any real drawbacks to its use. Sometimes he has to police his use and he checks in to see whether it is a problem, but he hasn't been able to find any.
Stewart explains about the endocannabinoid system and how its the oldest system in the body. It reacts directly with cannabinoids or cannabis. An Israeli researcher found something called Anandamide when researching cannabis and named it after Ananda, or the unconditional bliss that arises once you tap into a meditative state. Anandamide naturally occurs in the body, but if the endocannabinoid system doesn't produce it naturally due to trauma or other conditions, the body can react favorably to cannabis.
Stewart talks about plant medicines and how they make it clear that we are not separate selves and we are in a constant relationship with the outside environment. Eric brings up how the cells in our body are constantly changing.
We bring it back to Mindful improv and how relationship is really important and maybe one of the most important places to bring mindfulness into. Conversation is not a real thing. They are symbols of reality. They are not reality itself. Language is a construct that humans created.
Eric explains how his sense of self developed. He never felt like he fit in with the kids at school. He never liked the noise. Kids usually create an identity for you. This leads to a sense of self and kids who are bullied usually need to develop a protective shell by becoming what they think they are as opposed to what the other kids say.
Eric talks about how the ego develops and how we find ourselves in romantic relationships with people who fall in love with the false ego we have created. Then when the partner starts to change from the thing that we fall in love with, we fall out of love with them because they aren't the person we fell in love with.
Stewart brings up how the sense of self is changing just like everything else, as much Buddhist wisdom points to. Everything is impermanent.
Eric brings up the fact that many humans are tied to an emotional connection with people and people are balls of emotional baggage. It's important to be careful with those we choose to be an emotional connection with because everyone has stuff going on beneath the surface.
Stewart starts to tell his story of how he created his sense of self as an overweight nice kid who people liked, but was a bit of a loner and awkward. At the age of 19, he started smoking cannabis and his diet changed radically. Eric says "shouldn't you have eaten more because of the munchies". Stewart explains how he started to change his diet based on the input of cannabis. After Stewart lost the weight people treated him very differently.
Eric also has a similar story but with different storylines. He was thin and people treated him that way. He brings up the idea that its hard to tell what other people see when they look at us.
Stewart asks about Eric's practice and whether he has any practices that have to do with the breath. He says that anxiety is excitement without the breath and that for much of his life he hasn't been breathing.
He explains that he moved to San Diego and he took four months to just focus on breathing, weightlifting, yoga, and eating. He gained 16 pounds of muscle which went away right after he changed his diet. He tapped into a different way of breathing underneath the anxious breath. Weightlifting and yoga taught him how to find this deeper breath. He found this breath quite liberating because he decided to take this time after getting tired of constantly over analyzing everything. He could take all the energy of trying to analyze everything and just focus on being here now.
Stewart asks Eric whether he has any practices currently. Eric explains how he is now done with a five-year challenge where he moved to a new place every 6 months and practiced creating a new version of himself. He would meet totally new people and developed a new sense of self based on these new relationships with other people.
Stewart explains his own experience living in new countries for a year at a time and then came back to integrate it and then repeat in a new country. This experience allowed him to form a new more confident self who wasn't trapped by the boxes that other people placed him in. He became more confident and ready to take on challenges. The most difficult thing about this is coming back to family and having a total reversal of all this to come back and play the old family dynamics.
Eric explains how Boulder is great for him because he has a fast paced mind and Boulder is slowed. He can't live in fast-paced places because it's too intense. He had a moment in New York where he realized that he isn't even there when he is there. He says New York is a place of human doing, not of human beings. He says that in Boulder people are ok with just being.
Stewart asks Eric about the most important thing going on in his life right now. Eric says that a wise friend once told him that there are three phases in your life that you must go through. Number 1 is to figure out who you are. Number 2 is to figure out where you want to be. Number 3 is who you want to come along.
Stewart asks Eric about the balance between chaos and rigidity and how he deals with it. Eric says that mindful improv brings a lot of chaos into that. The ego creates rigidity. If you have a strong ego it makes it difficult to adapt to change. This applies to companies as well. He brings up that humans are the most adaptable species on earth.
Stewart brings up a theory from "Sapiens" about how grains and other vegetables used humans to make themselves more widespread.