Finding my Theme, again. Part 4 – Upsetting tradition

Finding my Theme, again. Part 4 – Upsetting tradition

Reading Time: 3 minutes
  1. For as long as I can remember I’ve felt that something is exciting at the intersection of _______ and _______
  2. I sincerely believe that the world needs _______
  3. Never in history has there been a better time for _______
  4. My whole life I’ve been fascinated by what happens when you mix _______ and _______

So I did this once before, it’s an exercise from the book “Entrepreneur Revolution” by Daniel Priestley. The idea is that you can use the four questions to try and find what your theme or passion is in your life.

Last year my business was crushed under by the global pandemic of COVID, leaving me with nothing but debts and angry creditors who once were friends. In contrast, I am lucky enough to have some work. I am taking this time to find out where I want to be before starting again.

So here is the final part, trying to answer the questions above and maybe from there, I’ll move onto a plan and finally a business venture.

My whole life I’ve been fascinated by what happens when you mix a traditional domain with something unexpected

The status quo, the traditional, the institutionalized, the norm. These things are often there not because they are good, efficient, or effective but because they are familiar, tried, and tested. Some of the institutions we work with and struggle with are dinosaurs, and their traditions are now holding back entire industries. Some of these are more obvious to see, school curriculums based on old textbooks training students for work that may not even exist when they enter the market. Language teachers training language teachers about intelligence types, when even the person who coined the term later said it wasn’t accurate.

Fair to say I’m not a big fan of things that have calcified and now hold us back. This isn’t usually any particular person’s fault; it’s the nature of the beast; the larger the institution, the more calcified and rigid it becomes. Governments and the systems of administration are obvious culprits. They tend to be huge established institutions where the people in charge have spent 40 years in that institution mastering its various systems. Why would they want to change or disrupt it? Those who arrive fresh-faced with ideas tend to be ignored, and so the cycle continues.

Also, the larger the beast, the slower and more difficult it is to make any changes. To change you need key players to get on board, you need to produce documents and arguments as to why the idea will help the institution. These organizations suffer not from a lack of intelligence or willingness from participants. Usually, it’s the massive gears of bureaucracy that grind the change-makers under. That’s also why you tend to find huge changes in an industry coming from the outside. Not necessarily someone ignorant of the domain but someone who independently pushes a solution. Something that would have been impossible from within.

woman in red long sleeve writing on chalk board

“The entire education system is a beast of tradition

Take Khan Academy 1, creating a whole new MOOC approach for people to learn at home. It wasn’t that training videos like this hadn’t been suggested before YouTube had existed for ages. Teachers suggested it as a means to teach maths over traditional drilling. But the entire education system is a beast of tradition. Trying to suggest this to the government would warrant meetings and hearings, budget reviews, and of course, the training required. Technology is a key part of this disruption. Of course, tech is getting cheaper and cheaper, smarter and smarter, and it’s going to appear in some unexpected places in the upcoming years.

But it’s not just in the world of politics and institutions that I find this interesting. I love it when people take a well-known concept or industry and turn it on its head by doing something unexpected. The traditional fantasy genre tropes that were with us since Lord Of The Rings got torn up with the movie Bright on Netflix. Of course, people hated or loved it. It took what they were familiar with and upended it. In my youth, the tales of Drizzt, a noble Dark Elf who was the antithesis of his race. Essentially, and I think this is something I need to write more about, any institution or domain that has remained entrenched in its ways for more than 50 years is probably an area that should be looked at from an entrepreneurial standpoint.

  1. https://khanacademy.org[]
Finding my Theme, again. Part 3 – find your tribe

Finding my Theme, again. Part 3 – find your tribe

Reading Time: 4 minutes
  1. For as long as I can remember I’ve felt that something is exciting at the intersection of _______ and _______
  2. I sincerely believe that the world needs _______
  3. Never in history has there been a better time for _______
  4. My whole life I’ve been fascinated by what happens when you mix _______ and _______

So I did this once before, it’s an exercise from the book “Entrepreneur Revolution” by Daniel Priestley. The idea is that you can use the four questions to try and find what your theme or passion is in your life.

Last year my business was crushed under by the global pandemic of COVID, leaving me with nothing but debts and angry creditors who once were friends. In contrast, I am lucky enough to have some work. I am taking this time to find out where I want to be before starting again.

So here is part 3 of 4, trying to answer the questions above and maybe from there, I’ll move onto a plan and finally a business venture.

Never in history has there been a better time for finding or creating your tribe. 

The first time I heard about the context of modern tribes was back in 2009 (holy crap where did 12 years go) when Seth Godin gave his TED talk on the subject. It’s such a great talk I’ll link it here so you can watch it now.

It’s a remarkably uplifting talk showing how many businesses are interested in tackling problems that will raise the standard of living, education, and the human condition to greater heights. Also, as it clearly says in yellow, it’s about Tribes. We all have, or at least want to have a tribe. A place where we belong and those around us support and reaffirm our place in the world. As he states in the talk above:

The Internet was supposed to homogenize everyone by connecting us all. Instead what it’s allowed is silos of interest. So you’ve got the red-hat ladies over here. You’ve got the red-hat triathletes over there. You’ve got the organized armies over here. You’ve got the disorganized rebels over here. You’ve got people in white hats making food. And people in white hats sailing boats. The point is that you can find Ukrainian folk dancers and connect with them because you want to be connected. That people on the fringes can find each other, connect and go somewhere.

Seth Godin: The tribes we lead TED

Of course, this has a dark side, a glance at the Qanon community, anti-vaccine sentiment, and far right groups also can find each other and feed each other to fuel their hate. The exact force for good envisioned by Godin here is equally good at creating silos of extremism. With humans at the whim of such effects as cognitive-dissonance 1, Dunning-Kreuger 2 and confirmation bias 3 the Internet is a place where our inner prejudices can be refined and sharpened as easily as our values and humanity.

However, despite the risks, finding your tribe has a lot of benefits, if you’re surrounded by optimistic, forward-thinking people, you tend to take on that mindset. If you have regular discussions with others about ways to improve the world around you and how things have improved that can be a real boost. If you cannot find people already in groups that share your ideas and goals, then the internet has made it an incredibly simple task to reach out to them. If your Tribe has a bonding goal whether it is running a better company or building mars colonies there is no harm in seeking out that group and leaving if it’s not for you.

Side note: Not all your Tribe will agree

Crowd of protestors

While it would be great if you could find a group of ideal people to talk with you need to be prepared to understand that not everyone will share your point of view. In any group, you’ll have conspiracy theorists, crackpots, and trolls, who won’t follow your line. As Seth says about the schism in the Balloon Animal community. Don’t expect any group over the size of 1 to agree on all points. Even if everyone in a group is in agreement that GMOs are good, or that God doesn’t exist, that doesn’t mean you won’t have racists, homophobes, and bigots as well.

People are more nuanced than their tribe and even if everyone agrees on a broad topic “let’s save the planet” you’ll have a million different ideas on how to do that. So in light of all that, what do we do with the tribes we are building?

Making tribes, not tribalism

One of the greatest threats to the progress of humanity is one of its greatest strengths. We seek out a tribe but then we get caught in an “Us vs Them” mindset. We see it clearest in politics these days, where we vilify and demonize our “enemy” or hero-worship our “spokesperson” to the point where the group cannot accept anything said by the other as true or right. We dig deeper and trenches and then refuse to notice or consider them. These chasms of understanding are not always rational, many are based on prior convictions or worse outright manipulations by fundamentalists in any given tribe. If you feel that you don’t have any preconvictions or prejudices, I have some bad news for you, it’s almost impossible as a human being to not have them. It takes considerable effort to take a step back from something and really consider it, particularly if you have a long-standing belief to the contrary.

So while I deeply believe that we can all find our tribe out there I worry that without an accompanying caution of our nature and a study of critical personal reflection we may cause as many problems as we solve.

  1. https://www.simplypsychology.org/cognitive-dissonance.html[]
  2. https://thedecisionlab.com/biases/dunning-kruger-effect/[]
  3. https://thedecisionlab.com/biases/confirmation-bias[]
Finding my Theme, again. Part 2

Finding my Theme, again. Part 2

Reading Time: 3 minutes
  1. For as long as I can remember I’ve felt that something is exciting at the intersection of _______ and _______
  2. I sincerely believe that the world needs _______
  3. Never in history has there been a better time for _______
  4. My whole life I’ve been fascinated by what happens when you mix _______ and _______

So I did this once before, it’s an exercise from the book “Entrepreneur Revolution” by Daniel Priestley. The idea is that you can use the four questions to try and find what your theme or passion is in your life.

Last year my business was crushed under by the global pandemic of COVID, leaving me with nothing but debts and angry creditors who once were friends. In contrast, I am lucky enough to have some work. I am taking this time to find out where I want to be before starting again.

So here is part 2 of 4, trying to answer the questions above and maybe from there, I’ll move onto a plan and finally a business venture.

I deeply believe that the world needs to invest heavily in transformative technologies such as AI, robotics and Space exploration. 

Many people have come to think of science and technology negatively while ignoring the massive benefits it has brought about globally. Yes, globally that’s a whole other topic, but you can read more about it the incredible progress humanity has seen in the last 50 years in almost every conceivable metric. But as stated in the link “That doesn’t mean there aren’t real concerns. But when we worry about everything all the time instead of embracing a worldview based on facts, we can lose our ability to focus on the things that threaten us most.”

The objective facts show that the world has gone through a massive shift in the standard of living, reduced violence, and currently, more people die of obesity than famine. While it does seem difficult to believe considering the constant pain and suffering, we see every day on the news. Humanity is on the cusp of making the world a healthier and happier place for all its inhabitants. Not universally and not uniformly, that is sadly true. But technologies are emerging that will soon help reach millions of lives and enrich health, longevity, and the environment in ways that are hard to imagine. 

The three main areas that interest me are AI, robotics and Space exploration partly due to my interests in these domains and partly because of the growth and potential in those domains to revolutionalise what humanity can do and become. AI is already making inroads into providing new insights into medicine 1 and even identifying disease in scans 2. This is only the beginning, as the technology has only really come into its own in the last ten years (after decades of research), the actual impacts of AI are only just beginning to emerge. They will impact every area of society over the next 15 years: better medical treatments, batteries, material designs, processes, and energy savings are all within our reach. Imagine a system that can find us better and faster ways to solve every problem from waste to power production. 

Of course, such systems will be used for purposes both benign and nefarious. For every use of deep learning to produce a cure for something another group will use the same technology to patent a treatment, image processing Deepfakes, hacking into accounts or scamming people in more subtle ways without ever requiring a human in the loop. But that should not stop us from pushing hard and fast to get these technologies operating at maximum speed and efficiency, the economics of the world are going to undergo a radical shift if we can have near-infinite cheap energy, a global high-speed internet and the vast resources available in the asteroid belt around the solar system.

  1. https://deepmind.com/blog/article/AlphaFold-Using-AI-for-scientific-discovery[]
  2. https://deepmind.com/blog/announcements/announcing-deepmind-health-research-partnership-moorfields-eye-hospital[]

102

Reading Time: < 1 minuteWhat is the purpose of the community?

This has been covered in numerous past entries, however there is no single use to a multi-tool. But the more these entries are written the more the purpose has evolved. From being prepared -> providing for the community -> helping those organisations that currently exist through our expertise.

Thus we can help the world via the frameworks that currently exist, alongside our own contributions. The ultimate aim is to reduce the suffering of the world and that of future generations.