Charlie Huguenard of Meow Wolf - How do you create a Therapeutic Work environment?
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. (5-10 minutes) 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. (10-15 minutes) 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. (15-20 minutes) 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. (20-25 minutes) 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. (25-30 minutes) 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." (30-35 minutes) 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.
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