An Interview Question

A got an email survey recently asking what I thought it was an interesting question.

“If you could ask one question in an interview, what would it be?”

My response (maybe it would change if I thought more about it) below:

“What’s one thing you do better than anyone in the world?”

I think it reveals what level of self-knowledge and confidence a candidate has and whether they are aware not just of generic skills, but truly unique aspects of their personality and experiences, and how those can create value for others.

Who’s Calling the Shots, Your Future or Your Past?

I heard an interesting talk from Dan Sullivan on why 10x growth (in business, life, whatever you choose) is actually easier than 2x growth…if you get your mindset right.

He described 2x thinking as fundamentally controlled by the past.  You look back at what it took to get where you are and you attempt to do more and better of the same activities, approaches, and processes.

10x thinking is controlled by the future.  Since the future hasn’t yet happened, you first have to imagine the future you want.  Once your idea of that future is firmly in place you work backward from it.  You deconstruct what it takes to get there.  You let this vision of the future determine what you do in the present.  The past may occasionally provide lessons, but it’s mostly a distraction.  What does the future demand?  If you are to grow 10x, what would have to happen to get there?

It’s amazing how much this little insight helps.  So many things we do unthinkingly just because we did them in the past.  We assume they are necessary because they were before.  When you ask only what the future wants, instead of replicating what the past was, your entire mindset shifts and you begin to focus only on the truly key activities and those that are scalable.

Are you a slave to the past or are you letting your vision of the future lead?

Help Me Publish A New Book!


Support the KickStarter campaign to get this book printed and claim your copy!

I’m so excited about this book.  The basic idea has been one that infected me about five years ago and I haven’t been able to ignore it.

It’s simple.  Instead of demanding elaborate justifications for doing some big, crazy, out of the norm thing, demand reasons why not.  In other words, flip the burden of proof so that the status quo demands damn good reasons and that wild dream of yours is assumed to be a good idea until proven otherwise.

The project has been a blast to work on.  The book is made up of 10 chapters written by 11 different people, all of whom stopped assuming their dream was too impractical and just went for it.  It’s part personal story, part inspiration, part information, and part how-to.

Drop out of school?  Move to a new city?  Write a book?  Quit your job?  Start a business?  Travel the world?  Audition for American Idol?  Have a bunch of kids?  Fly first class?  Climb a mountain?

Why not?

This book is very personal for me because this question is the breakthrough that led me and my wife to move away from a place we didn’t realize how much we hated until we left to a place we love.  People would ask us, “Why would you move to a city where you know no one?  Why would you leave your roots?”  Our answer became simple and immediate.  “Why not?”

We realized that if we demanded perfection from any change we’d never make one.  If you need a long list of guarantees before you make a move, you’ll probably never do it.  Instead of demanding good reasons to move to a specific city, we started demanding good reasons to stay.  When we scrutinized the status quo we realized it didn’t have much going for it.  Why not leave?

I’m excited to get the eBook, paperback, and hardcover finished product on the shelves and in your hands.  But I need your help!

There is a KickStarter campaign live now to raise the funds to pay for turning the draft into a beautiful book.  We’ve got everything lined up and we want to do it right.  I hope you’ll be a part of bringing this book to life!

Check out the campaign to pledge your support and claim your reward – from copies of the book to having an author come speak to your event.

Why not?

The Futility of Reform

Don’t run for class president.  Don’t go to HOA meetings.  Don’t join a committee.  Don’t get involved in political campaigns.

All of these activities are about reform.  Get into the institution, play by its rules, and try to make it behave differently than it wants to.

Forget this approach.  It sucks.  Here are four reasons why.

It makes you less happy

Have you ever been to a town hall meeting?  Life’s too short to endure such horrors.  The worst life to live is a boring one.  The machinations of every political institution are stale and boring and full of self-serious processes, procedures, and practitioners.  Your every moment is too valuable to suffer through it.  It’s inhumane.  If Roberts Rules of Order are relevant to any effort you’re involved in, get out and go build something new.

You can’t change the game by playing

Political institutions do one thing best: restrict individual fun and freedom.  It’s natural to want to reduce the role of these rule-happy entities.  But you can’t win playing by their rules.  You can’t vote your way to a system where votes no longer curtail progress.

Trying to reduce the role of the state by engaging in politics is like trying to put a casino out of business by playing blackjack there.  “Oh, I have it figured out.  I’ll beat the house!”  No.  You won’t.  They want you to think that.  They want you to keep playing.  Abiding by house rules is no way to protest or change them.  Especially when the house gets a little richer every time you do.

If you don’t want the casino to keep luring people in don’t go in yourself.  Build something better that people want to go to instead.

Progress always comes from without

Political institutions are reactive.  They wait until the world forces them and then they change.  If humanity is a car these institutions are the brakes, able to stop progress but never create it.  If you want to get to a new destination you need the accelerator.

Accelerators are new ideas and products and services that forge ahead, paying no mind to the consensus-seeking bureaucrats nested in the status quo.  Accelerators don’t care about argument, nor protest.  They care about creation.  They build the world they want to live in instead of hoping to prevent its decay.

There is no permanence

The great thing about innovation is that it only needs to happen once.  That painful, gruelling, child-birth like experience of the creative act or eureka moment is born out of imagination, hard work, and courage.  If the result is of any value to the world it lasts forever and serves as the stepping stone to still greater innovations.

The wheel was invented once.  No one has to re-invent it.  It’s world-improving powers are permanent and irreversible.

Any apparent victory within a political structure is fleeting by definition and design.  You align all the powers and elites and interests just so after years of butt-numbing meetings and pompous proclamations from people you’d never want to have a beer with but now you must woo and coddle.  You have your mandate or constituency or whatever other serious sounding label you slap on the gaggle of interests vying for a win within the house rules.  You get your way.  Hooray!

Until the next month or year or election cycle when the new interests group outmaneuvers you and the tables turn in an instant.  Everything you created in your coalition vanishes, along with all the money you convinced people to throw at it.  The same tiny sliver of ground must be re-won, each time as if from scratch.  Only then do you realize that broader social forces created by the outsiders accelerating humanity are the master, not the servant, to these stale political institutions that apply their rusty brakes against all odds.

Go out and build something

Build something instead.  Exit.  Go your own way.  Forget the suits and speeches and posturing and canvassing and internal climbing and deal-making.  Go build your wildest dream.  Imagine and create things that excite you.  Move to a place that doesn’t suck.  Create a job that’s not boring.  Live a life you want to live.

Don’t wait for the world to change or beg for permission to let it evolve.  Go change your own world.  The rest will follow.

Why You Should Move Away From Your Home Town

“A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.” – Mark 6:4

You want to grow, progress, live an interesting and meaningful life.  You want to do and be something big, by your own definition.  You want the freedom to explore and dive deep into what interests you and maybe even master a few things.  You want to know yourself and most of all esteem yourself.

If that’s true – and I hope it is – you need to move away from your home town.

You can always go back later if you want, but if you never leave you’ll always be contained within strictures not of your own making.  At home you’re always only an outgrowth of your perceived past.

In another place you’re that wild outsider with intriguing ideas and a fiery passion for life.  In your home town you’re little Jimmy, Bev and Stan’s kid.

In a new town you’re the girl who’s full of promise.  You can define yourself, write your story, let your first impression speak for itself.  Anything you do is potentially interesting and you can potentially be successful in any endeavor.  Back home you’re the kid who wanted to be a vet when she was twelve and to many people anything you do other than that will be seen as a compromise.

In a new city your value must come from what you can produce.  You are judged on your merits, by your fruit.  In your home town you’re loved and cute and special no matter what you do, but never fully respected as an independent being.

It’s hard to discover yourself when you’re defined so much by your heritage, perceptions others have formed about your family and their place, your past self, etc.

People from where I grew up still ask me if I’m going to be President some day.  Nothing could be more repulsive to me than the idea of running for political office.  I wouldn’t wish office on my worst enemy and I think politics is the most backward form of human activity and energy.  But once upon a time I thought politics was a viable method for expanding human freedom.  I told people around me about it.  That’s the me they knew.  To them, I will never be successful or interesting unless and until I achieve a goal that is totally meaningless to me now. (I wrote here about why I’m glad I failed in this regard.)

Even if you care about your home town and want to improve it the best way is to leave.

Outsiders are more likely to innovate.  This is true in all fields.  The most likely to have a breakthrough in one industry is not the industry expert or insider but the expert from a different sector who’s looking in with fresh eyes.

I once heard that the definition of an expert is someone who traveled more than 150 miles to deliver a message.  Introduce a speaker from next door and no matter how much they know about the topic at hand few will be moved and impressed.  Fly someone in from the next city and they’ll get attention no matter what they say.

Leave.  Go out into the world and discover who you are.  Not who you were when your imagination was limited.  Not what you grew up thinking and wanting.  Not what your family or friends thought about you.  You needn’t reject or be angry with any of them.  You simply need to do what they don’t know how to help you do; grow into something beyond the confines of your point of origin.

Go out and become what you want to be and you’ll discover something interesting if you go back home.  You’ll have a level of respect and influence and freedom you could never have  won had you stayed.

You’re not just somebody’s kid.  You’re somebody.

Four Ideas I Don’t Think Are Crazy (but you probably do)

I think these ideas are so straightforward and unscary that the world wouldn’t even look that different tomorrow if we did this today.  Shortly after tomorrow, the world would look significantly better.

  • Stop funding the Post Office and replace it with nothing.
  • End the TSA and let airlines do security however they wish.
  • End the FDA and replace it with nothing.
  • Scrap criminal law and let civil law handle everything.

Unexpected Ways I’ve Changed in Recent Years

  • I now enjoy Twitter more than Facebook
  • I used to be an extrovert, now I’m an introvert
  • I now prefer cheap, lighter beers over fancy, heavier craft brews
  • I used to only take coffee black, now I quite enjoy cream
  • I now listen to new age type mood music as much as classic rock
  • I now prefer writing to almost any other activity
  • I once found Star Trek boring, now I love it
  • I used to hate politics, now I hate it even more

Does Future Orientation Mean Anything?

It’s not easy to stay out of the future.

I live a lot of my life there.  I don’t know that it’s bad, but there is this universal approval of ideas like, “be in the present moment”, and, “don’t put off living for some future date”.  Those platitudes sound right and put the tiniest weight of guilt on my forward tilt.  I’ve learned guilt is rarely a good road map unless backed by clear reason.  Still, it does seem weird to be always pushing, thinking, dreaming, and building today for some imagined land called tomorrow.

It’s hard to rest.  All rest seems like a stop with a purpose – to recharge and regroup for another forward march.  I sometimes wonder what it would be like to have a few purposeless moments, outside of time.  The arrow of time runs always on, left to right, and drives most of my excitement and lust for life.  Stillness, unless deliberately practiced as a way to make me a better forward moving vehicle, feels like stagnation.

Does the relentless, Crusoe-like desire to add on to one’s present options set with ceaseless improvements indicate something about the nature of reality?  Does the magnetic sojourn into the not-yet place we build in our imaginations mean we are hard-wired for something eternal?

I suppose it doesn’t have to.  It sure feels like it does.  It’s hard to imagine all this forward-facing energy coming to an abrupt end in tandem with my bones and sinews.  Where is the arrow trying to fly?

This of course brings up the equally baffling question of from where the arrow came and what gave it thrust.  Is it accelerating, decelerating, or remaining constant like a geosynchronous satellite?

Even when I am in the moment, the thing that gives it that intoxicating flow is the fact that the moment is movement.  It is the process of overcoming a struggle towards some happily anticipated future probability.

It’s hard for me to imagine that I’ll ever be done.  The thought of ever unfolding creation gives me comfort and, paradoxically, energy when I’m tired.

Things got a little mystical there didn’t they?  Must be this yoga music.

Back to my bowl of cereal…and whatever comes next.

Forget Long Term Strategic Planning

We serious adult types really value planning and prepping and researching and approaching problems in a well-considered manner.  We also overestimate our own ability to plan and predict the future, and our efforts to do so can be a big hindrance on living a good life.

When you’re thinking not just of the next move, but a long sequence of moves and counter moves based on the probability of how others will respond, you get into some pretty dicey territory.  If you are an expert chess player, this is exactly how you want to play (or so I’ve heard).  It works because chess is bounded.  There are only so many moves, and when you’ve mastered the game you can quickly narrow down the variables and predict the set of options several moves out.  The squares, pieces, and rules of movement are the same, move after move, game after game.

Imagine a chess board that, as you were pondering and planning a long sequence of moves, changed shape?  Then a third player joined with her own pieces, and those pieces didn’t move by the same rules.  Then the pieces started talking to each other and your Rook quit and joined the white Queen to form an independent alliance.  Then the black Pawns invented machine guns…you get the point.  This is more like life.  There are way too many variables and complexities to plan many steps ahead.

There are some big benefits to taking a more modest approach.  I was recently reminded of a great TED talk about the spaghetti and marshmallow tower challenge.  Teams are given some sticks of dry pasta, a bit of tape and string, and a marshmallow and have a time limit within which to build the tallest tower with a marshmallow on top.  Apparently, MBA’s are pretty bad at the challenge, and little kids are pretty good at it.  The MBA’s spend all their time working on the single perfect plan, then build it and place the marshmallow on top just as time expires.  Then it collapses.  They have so much discussion and prep and detailed delegation of tasks that the plan becomes very rigid, and every single part has to work perfectly or the whole thing will (literally) crumble.

The kids take a different approach.  They just started building immediately.  The throw together small structures and put the marshmallow on top.  Then they take it apart and make a bigger one.  They are rapidly prototyping.  They just start learning about the pieces and possibilities in front of them by directly engaging with them.  They plan no further than the first idea that comes to mind.

I heard a podcaster say she always loses to her young daughter in Jenga for the same reason.  She’s so focused on the position of the blocks five moves from now that she doesn’t always make the best decision in the moment.  Her daughter keeps it simple and lives in the moment, always plucking the safest possible piece on every turn.

That’s how I manage to survive playing tennis with my wife, who actually knows how to play the game.  I know I lack the technique and strategy she has, so I simply go all out to return every shot and just keep it in play.  I figure at some point she’ll make a mistake.  Plus, when I try to get tricky and set up a sequence of shots, it usually goes wrong.

There is overlooked value in the novice approach.  Just taking in the resources currently before you and fully diving in to the problem at hand has major advantages over long deliberation and planning.  When you’re a kid or a novice with nothing to lose, why not take a stab?

We may gain expertise in many things and develop the ability to plan into the future with greater detail, but we shouldn’t mistake expertise at a single thing like chess or tennis for expertise at life.  In life, we are all novices.  We’ve never (as far as we know) lived before, and we have no idea what will happen at any moment.  The way you might plan a single, solitary event like the construction of a house (if you’ve ever done that, you know that never goes as planned either!) doesn’t translate to the span of your life.

Take some pressure off of yourself and don’t stress about what Job A or School B next fall will mean for your retirement account 40 years down the road.  You have no idea.  No one does.  Take stock of your loves and hates, do more of the former and less of the latter, and seize on the best opportunities before you.  If it’s not working, take a lesson from the prototyping kids.  Adapt, grab the sticks, and try a different approach.

Against Life Plans

Life plans seem pretty daunting to me.  I know people who feel stressed and depressed because they don’t have a clear one.  There are incredibly rare people who know beyond the shadow of a doubt what they want to do in great detail.  If you are one of them, don’t let anything stop you.  For the rest of us, I suggest we drop the notion of a life plan altogether.

I often talk about why trying to find what you love is not the best idea.  How can you know with so many options?  It might not even exist yet.  Instead, I recommend making a list of what you know you don’t like.  Don’t do those things, and everything else is fair game and moving you closer to the things you love.

But it’s not just about narrowing down and finding the things you most enjoy.  It’s about enjoying the process.  Try a bunch of stuff.  But don’t waste time once you know for sure something makes you unhappy.  Not only do you want to drop it because it’s not likely to be your long term sweet spot, but also because it’s not fulfilling right now.

Every day do your best to avoid things that truly make you unhappy and crush your spirit.  Every day show up, create, work and do things that are fulfilling, even if (especially if) they are really hard work.  You don’t have to plan your life, but you should live it.  Fully alive.  Fully awake.

If you’re not in a spot where you’re enjoying life right now, why not?  Can you change it?  Not two or ten year from now, but today.  Every day get a little bit closer to only doing things you really enjoy.  You’ll end up with a life better than what you would plan if you could.

The Shortest Summary of How to Change the World

Help people imagine new things by introducing new ideas.

Help people experience new things by creating new alternatives.

These two things – ideas and experiences – change people’s beliefs about what’s possible, and their beliefs about what’s possible are the binding constraint on the institutions we live under.

If you want to change the world, spread new ideas and create new experiences.

Things I Care Deeply About That Cannot Be Changed Through Law

My heart breaks over the knowledge that more than a million abortions occur annually in the US alone.  Yet I do not believe changes in the legality of the practice are the best way to improve the situation.

Let me state at the outset that the entire issue of the morality abortion comes down to one thing only, and that is whether or not one believes that a fetus is a human life, and at what point it becomes one.  I’ve never met someone who believes that killing an innocent child is moral.  Yet a great many people believe that abortion is moral.  This does not mean they are evil or unprincipled.  They believe that a fetus is not yet a human.  I do not attempt here or anywhere else to convince people otherwise.  I don’t pretend to have knowledge of some clear-cut point in the biological process when a fetus becomes a human.  I am only writing about why I, as someone who does believe a fetus from the earliest stages is a human life, do not believe that outlawing the practice of abortion is the best thing to advocate.

In other words I believe abortion is a tragic act, but not all tragedies are best reduced through law.

Government Failure

I am skeptical of the ability of governments to enforce laws in general, but especially those with which a huge part of the population disagrees.  Even laws most people agree on, like those against drunk driving, are enforced poorly and often with more hassle and harassment of innocents than actual curbing the activities of the perpetrators.  Anti-abortion laws do not seem to me a likely way to reduce the number of abortions significantly and they do seem likely to produce a great many other ill-effects.  Illegal abortions that pose a greater risk to the mother would boom, and entire black markets around them.  Attempts at enforcement would doubtless cost billions and open up a bevy of privacy violating medical and personal interventions affecting millions of people who were not even attempting to abort.

But there’s another thing.  For those who feel this is a deeply moral issue, the practical aspect is perhaps less important than the ethical one.  Many people believe that consumption of alcohol is immoral, yet even they will admit that the prohibition era did nothing to improve the moral fiber of individual Americans but had the opposite effect.  AA and rehab programs are far more effective at getting to the core of alcohol related problems.

So if I believe abortion to be a tragic ending of a beautiful human life, what kinds of activities do I think might reduce it?

Keep Innovating

Abortions in the US have dropped every year for some time now.  I suspect the main reason is myriad forms of birth control are better, cheaper, and more accessible.  No one wants to abort.  Those who do would prefer to not have gotten pregnant in the first place.  Where there is a need in a free market, there is an incentive to meet it.  Companies big and small have continued to produce more, better, and cheaper technologies for preventing unwanted pregnancies.  This will continue, and could happen even more if regulatory barriers were eliminated and markets freed more generally.

Open Up Markets in Adoption

Currently, those who want to adopt have to pay for it.  In this sense, there already is a market for children without parents.  The problem is it is illegal for the birth-parents to receive this money.  Pregnancy and labor is emotionally, mentally, and physically taxing.  It reduces ability to earn money and increases risk of health problems.  It’s a full-time job.  Yet women with unwanted pregnancies who don’t feel comfortable ending them have no real way to make up for this cost.  Carrying a baby to term and having another couple adopt puts tremendous cost on the birth mother.  Removing the laws against payment to birth mothers would dramatically reduce the number of abortions.  Getting government agencies and regulations out of the adoption market altogether would do more still.

Imagine the power of pro-life activists and philanthropists if they channeled their energy and resources away from protest signs at clinics and towards funds to pay pregnant women to carry to term and choose adoption?  Many organizations do as much as they legally can in this direction today, but the legal and moral resistance most people have to open markets severely constrain this option.

Care and Support

I would venture to guess most women who abort do not do so easily or impulsively.  Regardless of their beliefs on the morality of it, it’s a hard decision.  A woman faced with this decision is likely to be pushed away by loud yelling about the immorality of abortion or attempts to make it illegal.  It is impossible to advocate making abortion illegal without putting mothers with unwanted pregnancies on the defensive.  They feel condemned and hated, which is not a recipe to get someone to reconsider.  Even the suggestion of judgement will push people into secrecy, where they are likely to suffer more during the process.

Those who are deeply moved and saddened by the act of abortion would do better to come alongside those with unwanted pregnancies and help them in a nonjudgmental way.  Offer emotional, spiritual, and material help without being pushy or manipulative.  This works best with someone you have established some kind of relationship with, and on a one-on-one level.  Yet organizational efforts could do the same (and many do).

Many might call this moral suasion.  I suppose it is in a way, but it is very difficult to convince someone that their idea of morality is wrong by simply telling them so.  The thing is, you don’t even need to convince someone that something is immoral if you can show them a better way.  Show a course of action that is better for them even given their current moral beliefs.  If they have an environment that won’t judge but will support them every step of the way, even offering to help with parenting or to adopt the child, the chances of an abortion will decrease.

The Nirvana Fallacy

There are a great many horrible things in the world.  Murder, theft, sickness, poverty.  It’s easy to get righteous and proclaim support for laws and institutions that do not tolerate these things.  Such posturing is pretty empty though, because there is no system or law that can eliminate them.  The important question is not, “Which system is right?”, because we’d all choose perfection.  The important question is “Which of the possible systems is preferable?”  It is not enough to condemn the status quo compared to an imaginary world where none of the things you dislike occur.  When condemning the status quo it behooves us to ask, “Compared to what?”

I think a change in abortion laws is a distraction from better methods to reduce the practice.  Pro-life advocates, to the extent they outsource their energy to lobbying and politics, feel good enough about their efforts to slack in other, more practical ways that do more.  What happens if abortion is made illegal?  If the pattern follows similar policy battles the winning side will feel really good about themselves and probably do less of the more valuable kind of work.  Think of those who fight for government efforts to end poverty and the way it crowds out more effective private efforts.

The Takeaway

I don’t normally talk or write about abortion, but I think it’s an important example of how even things that some find fundamentally wrong are not always best met with the ham-handed approach of policy.  Our tendency to idolize law as a means for achieving our ends, no matter how moral they might be, is to our detriment.

The Amazing World In Which We Live

Not long ago I decided to give away an idea.  It was something I think is a truly awesome idea, with tremendous potential value.  If I wasn’t fully devoted to building Praxis, I’d probably pursue it.  But I am, and no one I could find was able to do it without me being significantly more involved than I realistically wanted to – raising money, finding programmers, etc.  So I considered penning a public post about it.  I figured best case, it prompts someone to do it and this cool new platform would exist that didn’t before.  Worst case, it would be ignored and nothing would happen, which would leave things as they already stood.  Either way, I liked the idea enough that I felt the need to do more than keep it in my brain, so I wrote about it and posted it to Medium.

Then something really cool happened.  It never went viral.  It didn’t get a lot of views.  In fact, of the twenty or so posts I’ve put up on Medium, it has the fewest views and shares by a long shot.  Still, it felt good to do something with this idea even if it was just to get it into words and put it into the internet ether.  But I digress.  That’s not the cool part.  The cool part is that among those few readers were some incredibly interesting people.

Executives (or at least people with executive sounding titles) of four separate companies emailed me in response to it.  One was a social media company that said, “Nice article.  We don’t do that, but you might like what we do anyway.”  Interesting.  Another said, “That’s exactly what we do!”  Turns out it wasn’t, and their app was good but not great.  A third emailed back and forth a few times asking me questions, and then told me they are launching something similar in coming months.  We’ll see.  The most interesting of all, however, was one of the companies I mentioned by name in the article.  I got a LinkedIn request, which moved to email, which set up a phone call.  I spent twenty minutes talking with the president of an awesome company about how I use their product, and how I could see my idea being used.

Maybe they’ll do nothing with it.  Maybe it was just a polite gesture.  Who knows.  Regardless, it was really fun.

The point of this post is not to brag.  I don’t think I have some amazing following or amazing writing ability that other people couldn’t match.  Far from it.  Nor do I think I’m the first person with an idea for an innovation on an existing product.  Lots of people do, and I’ve had many before myself.  But I never felt like I was qualified to write about them publicly, or pen something akin to an open letter to a successful company with my average Joe notions.  The thing is, now more than ever, no one cares about credentials and gatekeepers.  Anyone can share ideas.  Of course you’re not guaranteed a happy reception, or any reception at all, but the possibility exists.  People won’t really look down on you for openly sharing your thoughts.  If it’s interesting, it can immediately make its way to interesting and relevant parties.

This is not something that was possible a few decades ago.  And it goes both ways.  Not only can consumers communicate ideas to producers and execs without gatekeepers, but the other way around too.  Celebrities can communicate directly to their fans, as a group or individually, without journalistic gatekeepers.

This decentralized world has staggering implications.  Primarily it means that the future belongs to those who focus on product, rather than credentials or the imprimatur of powerful institutional gatekeepers.  Do your thing.  Openly, freely, and with abandon.  Keep doing it.  Don’t be afraid to let the world know.  Direct connections to your ideal collaborators, consumers, or investors can result if you keep producing your unique stuff and putting out there.

The Myth of Misanthropy

It’s normal to hate people.  Everyone hates people.  Fortunately, there is no such thing as people.  There are only individual persons.

There are no classes, groups, nations, or any other collective capable of acting or believing.  Only individuals love, hate, lie, steal, give, create, think, and act.  Collectivism is a convention of language, but it is probably the most dangerous paradigm in human history.  Not just because it has led to massive violence in the hands of mobs and states, but because of what it does to the individual.  It let’s us get sloppy in our thinking.

We like to collectivize because it lets us avoid responsibility and accountability.  I can say I hate people and that people are guilty of all manner of crimes and deserve what’s coming to them.  But if I’m forced to point out a single, actual individual that I hate and believe ought get it, things get very uncomfortable.  I want to place blame on a fictitious entity and get the self-righteous satisfaction of setting myself above it (while simultaneously benefiting from the false humility of lumping myself in with it) without any sort of repercussion.

If you find yourself angry at humanity it’s instructive to dig a little deeper.  It’s often not the millions of individual actors pursuing their own ends that cause annoyance as much as certain phenomena and patterns that result from these interactions.  Those are the result of the norms, rules, institutions, and incentives faced by the actors, and those can often be altered or worked-around.  It’s not people that cause traffic jams or bad movies, but individual persons responding to incentives and seeking satisfaction.  Maybe you can change the incentives or introduce new ones?

De-collectivising doesn’t necessarily make you any happier, but it can focus your discomfort onto real entities that are changeable or avoidable.