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The upside of Hyper Expectations and Ambitions (HEA)

Added on by Chris Saad.

At the end of last year I wrote a post about the downside of Hyper Expectations and Ambitions (HEA). I guess living in silicon valley it’s easy to get jaded with the negative effects of our fast paced journey to change the world. It also didn't help that I hadn't had a holiday for 3 years. Since then, however, I’ve visited my hometown in Brisbane Australia for 3 weeks. The truth is they live a very different lifestyle there. The government and other institutions help provide a powerful safety net for those who are sick or unable to find work, the environment is beautiful, warm and welcoming and the people expect (or in some cases demand) less from each other. Those that stand out or show off can even be shunned (a phenomenon we call Tall Poppy Syndrome).

The result is that things there are more laid back, the lifestyle is more comfortable and people suffer the downsides of HEA far more infrequently.

This can be a very fulfilling way to live and many people there are (rightly) happy and healthy.

It was, however, a cold splash in the face having just written about the negative aspects of our Silicon Valley ambition to be confronted with the opposite. It reminded me in stark ways how different our lives are and what some of the advantages to living with HEA are.

So in counterbalance to my previous post, let me try to summarize some of the advantages of HEA.

Fulfilling your potential

If there's one thing that upsets me the most and keeps me up at night it's the concern that I or someone I know is not living up to their potential. One of my defining characteristics is a thirst (some may some lust) for the potential in things. I am far more interested in what could be than what is. A great example of this, in fact, is my very poor relationship with times, dates, orders of magnitude or 'rules'.

The great thing about HEA is that it vacuums out most of the reasons/excuses for someone to not live up to their potential. All of us here are insisting to ourselves and each other that we do the next great thing we know we can do; Or better yet, to do something that scares us.

Remove the roadblocks and put aside the excuses. We attempt to extract every last drop of potential and turn it into outcomes.

Extraordinary and Surreal Experiences

While there's great value in routine and tradition, we with HEA are far more interested in doing things that are extra ordinary. I split those two words on purpose. Things that are outside the realm of an ordinary life.

Backstage at a concern. VIP at a party. Hanging with a personal hero. Writing a line of code that affects millions of people. Writing that blog post that might influence the influencers. Living in beautiful places. Meeting with smart people. Disrupting that tired business model. Changing the way people live.

There is no patience for the mundane here. Instead there's a strong hunger and appreciation (and for me, real-time nostalgia) for doing things that are out of the ordinary.

These moments are priceless. And if you're lucky, they happen often in Silicon Valley.

Changing the World

People with HEA get to change the world. With a line of code, a great piece of UI, a new business model or a conversation with the right person.

Through our skills, ambitions, ideas and access we have the smallest possible gap between our intention and their manifestation into reality and this is not only the ultimate super power (think Neo/Matrix) it's also a precious gift. We use this super power to make a real dent in the universe (#namethatreference).

Redefining humanity

The heading here might be fairly grandiose but in many ways it's true. In San Francisco this town has thrown out most notions of 'right and wrong' and embraced philosophies that are radically different than most of the rest of the world. From Gay Rights to massive temporary communities in the desert based on the sharing economy, we are forcing open the definition of what it means to live, love and be human.

Almost every day here I have conversations that vacillate from short term tactical business concerns to wide sweeping philosophical quandaries - and back again. Relationships here are just as likely 'non traditional' (open, polly, casual, gay, bi, whatever) as they are traditional.

These are all related attempts to leave dogma in the past and explore what the future might look like.

For some of us with HEA we're not just trying to ship software or make millions of dollars, we are trying to better ourselves.

Leverage and scale.

Through all of the above, and much more, we get to live high leverage lives. In some ways our work is no harder or easier than the work of coal minors or brick layers (in other ways its obviously very different, but go with me here). We work long hours in back breaking postures and rarely see our families or have enough emotional capacity to invest in some of our relationships. We get to invest similar energy and sacrifices yet touch more lives than most and, for some, make a lasting impact. That's the gift of leverage and scale.

Conclusion

So there we have it. Like with all things there are both upsides and downsides. The trick is moderation in all things (my mother taught me that - hi mom!).

Up and to the right.

Declare your Interdependence

Added on by Chris Saad.

I just discovered this. It's a crime that it has so few views. Like the US Declaration of Independence, it is a manifesto for a new era. And this new material supersedes it.

I am a citizen of the world. Not of any country, dogma or outdated institution. We are interdependent and our common goals must now be broader than just life, liberty and happiness.

Watch it, share it, live it.

 

Compelling Behavior

Added on by Chris Saad.

I've been thinking a lot about what compels people to behave a certain way. In business. In personal relationships. In life. I'm certain there are countless books espousing countless metaphors for thinking about the issue. For me it comes down to some common themes.

Perspective

Perspective is perhaps one of the most important human traits. Along with tool building and self-awareness, it's one of the core things that separate us from the animals. It allows us to switch angles, points of view, lenses, frames of reference or ways of thinking in order to evaluate an idea or circumstance in multiple ways.

Often times when you're feeling down, confused or looking for a better option, simply try changing your perspective and your attitude or feeling can change almost instantly.

Priorities

Our priorities can affect our actions in fundamental ways. In fact just re-ordering a few subconscious priorities can dramatically change our behavior, loyalties and outcomes.

When you hear someone say "they've changed" it's likely that the person in question has changed their priorities or their perspective because the rest of the items on this list are pretty hard to change without a lot of conscious thought and self-evaluation.

Patterns

Patterns are about what a person has seen in his or her past and is either repeating or trying to break away from. You might also see patterns from your peers or they might even imprint them on you directly with advice. In the worst cases this is peer pressure.

Perhaps it's their parents. Perhaps it's a previous business failure. Whatever the case, human beings are pattern recognition (and repeating) machines. We are doing it all the time. It's very, very easy to fall into them and almost impossible to change them - particularly the fundamental ones.

Patterns are not just about behaviors. They are also about subconscious ways of thinking and the way we might emotionally identify with situations.

In many cases our behaviors change, but the underlaying emotional pattern is the same. Some patterns are probably fairly immutable without a LOT of pain and conscious thought.

Predispositions

There are certain temperaments and personality traits we're born with. Some babies are irritable, some sleep through the whole night. This isn't learned behavior, it's  genetic. Our chemical make ups have a profound impact on our patience, personality and actions.

Sure you can take pills to help with depression or anxiety. Ideally, though, you use exercise or other meditation techniques to adjust your brain chemistry but the core genetics are obviously locked in stone.

Pride

Pride is a powerful force. It can stop us from reaching out, reaching in or just fundamentally seeing the truth. Pride often times leads us to our worst fears and can block us from getting what we want. It's like a poison that can fundamentally break our lives in ways we can't understand and may never be able to repair. It's based on fear (detailed next) but it's so specific that I thought it deserved it's own section.

Fear

Fear is an overriding motivating factor. Fight or flight can shut down all other factors listed here and drive us to do crazy things. When we think our person, personality or future is at risk, we can lash out, cut off and fly away from situations or people faster than you can say 'hey relax, you're no longer fighting for your life out in the prehistoric caves'.

Love

Living in Love is the highest form of decision making. Highest form of living in general really. Making decisions based on your highest hopes and grandest version of yourself is hard to do because everything in your brain and body tells you to run like hell. When your perspective is wrong, or your priorities are shifting or your patterns are locked in or your predisposition is messing up your clarity or your fear is shutting down your brain and forcing you to simply react, or your pride is getting in the way  -- finding your love, much less acting on it, is near impossible.

Find it you must, though.

[Update] Love also has another effect. When you truly love someone else, they become part of you. Part of your definition of self. The way you treat/behave towards yourself is vastly different than the way you would treat anyone else. This can dictate your behavior in ways that even supersede fear.

[Update] Purpose

[Editors Note] I left this out when originally publishing the post but a couple of hours after writing it I attended an inspiring dinner where it was clear many people were trying to use this factor to drive their behavior  - it was an oversight not to include it in the first place.

Purpose is, in many ways, the easiest way to manipulate your own behavior. In fact In many ways it's the only way to practically (in material ways) determine success because by clearly defining your purpose (and change the world or be important is not clear enough) you can carve a smooth trajectory for your life, make your actions more consistent and ultimately give you something to succeed at. After all, the definition of success is first stating a goal and then achieving it.

Having a grand purpose also helps inspire those around you to action as well. In many cases our purpose is defined by the factors listed above and just as often the factors above block us from achieving it.

Did I miss any?

You don't need to ask permission to change the world

Added on by Chris Saad.

I was just watching a great TED video about the guy who runs 'Improv Everywhere'. If you don't know what that is I strongly suggest you google it and watch the video.

His TED talk had some great themes and some funny videos showing the result of their work, however my key takeaway was from a small innocuous line that he kept repeating as a one of his throw away comments... "and we didn't even ask permission".

His final summary in his talk speaks to our collective need to, as adults, remember to play and have fun. But I think that his statement about permission reveals what 'Improve Everywhere' is really doing. It's showing people that it's ok to impact the world... without asking permission.

Too many people assume that they need to ask permission to change the world.

"I'm studying to be a writer" basically suggests that you are waiting for someone to hand you a permission slip (A degree) which declares you an 'English Major'. Then maybe you can call yourself a writer? Or maybe after you get your first writing job? Maybe after you publish your first book? Which of these permission slips allow you to declare yourself what you want to be - give you permission to change your little corner of the world?

This applies to everything we do. To be an entrepreneur, to love, to change the rules.

More people need to stop asking for permission - or worse, assuming they could never do something because it's against the written or unwritten rules.

This theme was echoed by an old interview I recently watched featuring Steve Jobs. He said that the old electronics kits that he played with as a child showed him that ANYONE could build the things they saw around them. A radio, a TV, whatever - these were man made, understandable and attainable things to invent and build for yourself. He mused that these kits were one of the things in his early life that helped him understand that he could build anything he wanted and impact the environment of millions of people.

So for all of you out there waiting for permission to change your life, your career, your perspective or your world - stop waiting. Go do it. Be, Do, Act as my friend and colleague Philippe likes to say.

Thoughts on Tron: We're living in a recycled generation

Added on by Chris Saad.

We're living in a recycled generation. Think about it. Much of what we do in the 21st century is recycling what has gone before. Sure there are the obvious examples - positive examples - such as recycling paper and plastic. But I am talking about the recycling of ideas and culture.

There is now far more emphasis on people recycling (Retweeting, Reposting, Repeating) news than creating it. Social media makes us each story tellers, but a large percentage of the story we're telling is someone else's.

Movies are also being recycled. I'm going to go see Tron today. A recycled idea from 1982. In fact many of the movies that come out these days are adaptions, remakes, sequels or prequels. Recycled ideas.

Why?

I suspect that much of it has to do with information overload. In a world where there is so much information, two of the most powerful and interrelated mechanisms for getting Attention is social proximity and nostalgia.

Social networks use both to encourage us to read and share each other's status updates by feeding off our social bonds and our ego driven need to participate in a form of real-time nostalgia. How many of us have thought 'this is going to be awesome when I go back and read it in the future'.

The same is true for Movies. Movie studios have realized the surest way to get an audience into the theater is to bet on the older generation's nostalgic memory of the past and the younger generation's cult like respect for it.

I am not necessarily judging this as a negative phenomenon. I am just observing that it is one.

I worry though, will this generation be remembered for anything great of its own - especially when it comes to movies? Can you think of the last great original movie you saw that would last the test of time?

Share it with me...

Study shows that 100% of people thoroughly read beyond the headline

Added on by Chris Saad.

I knew people don't read beyond the headline, or if they do, they just skim, but this is just crazy. I just found out that many, many people believe I am Pro Life because of my ironically titled post "I am pro life"

I guess I should have known better.

I've added a disclaimer above the post in big red letters to hopefully avoid the mess for anyone who stumbles on the post in future.

*smacks forehead*

I am pro life

Added on by Chris Saad.

NOTE: It has been brought to my attention that the intent of this post has been mis-interpreted. I am *actually* 'pro-choice' to use the standard terms. This post is trying to highlight hypocrisy and the corruption of emotionally charged language to mean very narrow political things while ignoring the broader definition. I am trying to explain that the 'Catch Phrases'  paint liberals (of which I am one) into unnecessary corners. We should reclaim that language and re-broaden its definition to mean what it REALLY means.

Something that frustrates me about liberals in general and Democrats in particular is that they seem content to take the carefully chosen language constructs the Right manufactures and paint themselves into the corner that was laid out for them.

With the Health Care Reform bill they managed to smash out of that corner and get the job done anyway, but they still failed to take control of the debate and wrestle it like the true wordsmiths and salesmen the Republicans are.

They need to take control of the language and redefine it for us or they will continue to lose elections even if they have found the courage to stand up for legislation they believe in...

I am pro life

I believe in life. I believe in allowing people to have the life they choose and make choices about their body. I believe in the life of a mother forced to make a terrible decision.

I believe in the life of the mother that might have prevented her unwanted pregnancy if only actual data from real life was listened to when we're told that teaching abstinence doesn't work. Life tells us that condoms and sex education works. So I believe in listening to life.

I also believe in lives that are out on the street because we fail to look after the poor. We fail to provide for their basic needs like shelter and healthcare. I believe in the life of people in foreign countries - life that is equal in value to my own. I believe that you can't invade their countries or prop up their dictators without having violent reactions. That's just how life works and how people protect the lives of their families. When life gets desperate you take desperate actions.

I believe in life. I am pro life.

The life of undifferentiated cells, however, is only one form of life. I believe that abortion should be safe, legal and rare because I am pro life, and life happens. Abortion is horrible, however, abortion is going to happen if it is legal or not. We need to safeguard the lives of the young mothers involved. There are many, many lives to consider.

You know who is pro choice. Republicans. They believe that the government should get off our backs and let the free market decide. They choose to believe that making money is more important than providing basic checks and balances to make life a little easier for people.

They believe that we should have the freedom and choice to pick an insurance company and they should have the freedom to choose to screw their customers. That is pro choice. They believe that gays and lesbians had a choice when it came to their sexuality. They choose to believe it matters to them.

I am Strong on Defense

I believe in defeating those who would hurt us. I don't believe in fighting a tactic. Terrorism is not something you can defeat any more than you can defeat walking or shooting a gun. A war against terrorism is not being strong on defense, it's being weak on language skills.

I know that being strong means having the courage and conviction to know when I am wrong, to understand my enemy's motives properly (and not the characature some might choose to paint) because I know that without understanding their true motives and methods I am just flailing around like a defenseless fool.

I am strong on defense because I understand that defense is not hurting defenseless people, but rather helping those people defend themselves against ignorance and violence.

I am strong on defending the freedoms and liberties that I believe in. I am strong enough not to let 'Terrorists' scare me into compromising my way of life.

I am strong on defense.

I believe in protecting a flag

I am against burning Flags. Actually no, not flags, but rather the things those flags represent. The American flag represents the freedom to burn flags. So I believe in protecting the flag by letting people burn it. Because in burning it they are demonstrating the power of that flag to transcend any moment and last forever. By performing the symbolic act of burning the flag those people are at once making their point and undermining it. I believe in the flag to transcend its own burning.

I believe in Civil Unions and defense of Marriage.

I believe all marriges should be civil unions. Why is a religious institution handled by the Government? Why can't any two people (including heterosexuals) form a civil union in order to confer certain basic rights to each other and leave the government out of it. Why is marriage not protected by and sacred to the church instead of allowing it to get corrupted by Government.

If you want to get Married in the eyes of God, then go to a church. If you want a legal contract to confer rights onto another through the state, get a Civil Union. They should be two, separate things and the church can make up any rules it wants about Marriage, and the state shouldn't discriminate when it comes to unions.

I am a regular Joe

I hate being elitist, I don't like reading books and I sure as hell don't like to over think problems. That's why I am not a politician. I also can't run very fast or very long, that's why I am not an elite athlete either.

I'm sure as hell glad that elite people run our government though, and run our races, and practice law and do all the other important and hard things they do. I am glad that the elites who run for office think through problems properly and consider the complex systems that make up our society rather than knee jerk reactionary 'ordinary people' who would easily let their emotions and mob rule guide them.

I love regular people, I want to have a beer with them. But I don't want them running any country I live in.

I have faith

I am full of faith. I believe deeply in the things I believe. They are different from the things you believe but that does not make me a 'non believer'.

I have a strong moral compass - one I spent a great deal of time thinking about and defining for myself. In some ways, I might have given more thought to morality than you have.

As a wise man once said, You believe in things that have not been proven; Well I believe in people despite abundant amounts of evidence to the contrary. That is faith. I have more faith in the divinity of people (something Jesus taught) than you do.

I might not believe that Jesus (or anyone else who has been elevated to his status) was God, but I believe in his message. His actual message of unconditional love and forgiveness for all. I believe he taught us to look after the least among us and to turn the other cheek. That means that bombing other countries, allowing the poor to persist and judging others for their sex, race or geographic location is the exact opposite point of having faith in his teachings.

He also taught us to be free thinkers, not to believe in institutions just because they are there. He was a rebel who blasphemed the religious institutions of his time.

I have more faith than you in the actual words and deeds of Jesus. And that means I am not afraid of all the scary gays and terrorists and flag burners out there. If you question my faith you are simply showing a weakness in your own.

I could go on and on... but you get the idea.

What words would you like to reclaim for reality?

My New Years Resolutions

Added on by Chris Saad.

Be even more true to myself and others

There are too many times when there are people in our ecosystem, and in our world, who bully or bluster their way through things. This is corrosive to us all and blocks innovation and real discourse. I plan to be true to myself and others when dealing with these kinds of people.

We need to remember that those who have a voice are not necessarily right. And those who are right are not necessarily being heard.

Forget the numbers - Make a connection

All too often our community turns into a game of numbers and influence instead of real friendships. Sure having an audience is important for some of the things we do, but I'd rather have a group of 5 real friends, than 5000 'friends' on facebook.

This will include less parties and more private dinners or gatherings with people I love and respect.

Remember to pay attention

All too often we are too busy looking up to others, trying to get on the next big level, and we forget that there are really valuable people and projects right here next to us. I want to meet more people who have less voice, but have equal (or better) ideas, projects or companies.

I want to help those people succeed.

Maintain optimism

I don't want to become jaded or complacent about where I live and the opportunities I have. I've lived in Silicon Valley going on a year now (+ all the time I spent there before that) - it could be easy to forget just how lucky I am.

I will continue to try my best to avoid that this year.

SPOILERS: Understanding the deeper meaning of Avatar

Added on by Chris Saad.

"...some of the darkest chapters in the history of my world involved the forced relocation of a small group of people to satisfy the demands of a large one..." Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek Insurrection

All the writeups I've seen about Avatar have focused on the timeframe it took to make it (something like 10 years), the cost (most expensive film ever made), the CGI (the most realistic CGI and motion capture ever), the 3D (yes you get to use those cool glasses), the fantastical imagination of James Cameron (the world presented is fully formed and utterly believable) or the theme of mother earth and symbiosis with the life around us.

In my mind, the film is not really about any of those things. It is in fact about what Jean-Luc Picard says in Insurrection and I have quoted at the top of this post.

It is about what all great works of art are about - the fallibility of the human condition.

Avatar is about a race of humanoids that could not be more alien from us and yet, by about half way through the film, it manages to completely convince us of their reality, their plight and their humanity.

The trick is so thoroughly executed that by the time SigourneyWeaver's character is brought to the tree to be saved (unsuccessfully), she looked thoroughly alien to me. The blue CGI creatures around her seemed more real, more noble and more sympathetic than her tiny pink body. She could have been a little green man.

The point, however, was not to demonstrate the power of CGI or storytelling to convince us of an unreality, but rather to show us something that is all too real in our world; An all too pervasive inability to understand how those we perceive as 'other', as 'aliens', as inhuman, are just as human as ourselves.

Most of the Human characters in Avatar were perfectly happy (at least for the most part) to force the re-location or destruction of these blue creatures for the acquisition of 'wealth' from the ground on which they lived. The way they rationalized this inhuman treatment was to label them 'savages' and later 'the enemy'.

The human characters could not understand how smashing their trees and destroying their homes - terrorizing them - could result in acts of rebellion and resistance. Acts of Terror.

Does this sound at all familiar to anyone? Are there any people in our world (who at first glance seem inferior or strange) that have been relocated, interfered with, oppressed, suppressed and generally toyed with for decades for the purposes of ensuring and 'securing' access to stuff in the ground - to oil?

Have those people become desperate? Have they fought back? Have they perpetrated acts of Terror? Have we perpetrated those acts in return? Has the cycle continued unabated with each side blaming the other?

Of course it's all too unpopular (or downright unpatriotic) to suggest that the violence taken against 'us' in the west is somehow justified. In fact I believe that no violence that is not in immediate self defense or in the defense of others is really justified at all. Not ours, not theirs.

Avatar didn't just manage to thoroughly convince me of the humanity of these blue CGI creators, it also showed in stark terms our ability to be inhuman to those who appear different from us. To justify killing by minimizing and demonizing the 'others' amongst us. To forget the acts of the recent past and justify the acts of the present and the future.

Avatar is a film that should go down in history as a feat of genius on every level of story telling and political commentary. Its deeper and much more profound message, however, like the message of the Matrix and other masterful works that balance popular culture, mass market appeal and important truths, will probably be lost on most movie going audiences.

It wont be lost on those in our world who seem Alien to us though. They probably won't see the movie, but they are no strangers to throwing stones at tanks, being crushed in the name of valuable resources and being so oppressed and desperate as to resort to extreme interpretations of religion and acts of violence.

I wonder what our excuse is when we use our religious views (both of faith and commerce) to justify killing them.

Let me end on two notes of positivity.

Read my (naive?) post about how Social Media may help

And watch Barack Obama speak about the potential for a pragmatic and persistent peace

A special thanks to Michael Arrington and Techcrunch for kindly hosting us for a screening of the film.

Climate Crisis over, nothing to see here

Added on by Chris Saad.

WARNING: In case it's not clear, this post is satire

The climate crisis argument has finally been debunked as fear mongering by tree huggers and polar bear lovers. These exposed email threads show the true nature of the forgery that has been perpetuated by these 'scientists' on an unsuspecting world. These few scientists discussing this random data set in some random out of context conversation have totally and rightly undermined all the years of debate and research. Of course, the visible aspects of change in our environment are just part of some cyclic, non-human generated climate change. It's normal! Pollution in the air, extreme droughts and floods, record breaking hurricanes and the death of entire ecosystems under the ocean is perfectly fine. We don't need to breathe, grow crops, live on dry land or have a food chain.

Also, the fact that our current energy 'solutions' are based on a resource that is about to run dry, located in a region of the world that hates us (in most cases for our 'energy protection' actions) is ideal also.

As we all now know, Climate Change is fake. Sure the precarious resource and geo-political struggle fossil fuels continues to place us in are clearly real but instead of investing in clean alternatives, we should continue to destroy and re-build nations half way around the world. That's a much cheaper and more productive alternative than investing in our own infrastructure and innovating our way out of the very real logistical and foreign-policy problems we've created for ourselves.

Speaking of cost, we can't afford to save the planet or invest in our future. That could hurt the economy and we can't risk that. We can just switch planets or go back in time when the planet dies. At least the economy will be safe though. There's no possible way that comparing the needs of the economy to the whole planet is a false dichotomy. Sure, the economy depends on the fact that our world remains as it is today - No mass migrations due to new extreme climates. No real shortage of energy. No resulting wars (well, not too many anyway). Land to grow things. The status quo is the most likely future scenario right?

Of course if any of those things happen then our economy, and the world as we know it, will be over. Maybe we can switch to trading Water. At least you can drink water! Have you tried drinking money? Yuk! I'm so glad that climate change is now finally debunked.

In the mean time, we get to keep spending money on killing people. It makes for better TV and it's easier to understand. You fire the missile, something blows up. Easy.

Causality between dirty, finite energy and climate change, health and war are way more boring to think about. More important, but definitely more boring. I'd much rather watch Fox News than the West Wing after all.

I'm so glad that debate is over - back to more important things like gay marriage and keeping marijuana illegal. Those things really affect my life.

 

You get what you deserve

Added on by Chris Saad.

Lately a number of my friends seem to be having great wins and making their mark on the industry in awesome ways. When I first moved out to Silicon Valley (starting with a short trip in 2006) I already knew (by reputation) many of the names and personalities that made up the ecosystem. I read them on blogs, listened to them on podcasts and generally admired their work and learned from their ideas.

Once coming out here, I got to know many of them personally. Some let me down, others surprised me with their generosity and still others became wonderful friends.

I'd like to highlight just a couple of those today because they've been on my mind.

4829_SM_biggerJeremiah Owyang (and his new partners Deb Schultz & Charlene Li) has/have always struck me as one of the hardest working and smartest people in the valley.

Most recently I've had the pleasure to get to know Jeremiah on a personal level but had never actually worked with him 1:1 on anything serious before.

That changed last week when we sat down for a real 'business meeting'. He blew my mind. That doesn't happen often. His blog posts only show a fraction of the mans thinking. Not only does he think 5 steps ahead, he manages to find a way to package it on his blog in a way that even laymen can understand.

I am so happy for his collaboration at Altimeter. Jeremiah, Debs and Charlene are the nicest people and are all wicked smart.

Those that have been around me in the last 12 months have probably heard me talk about the need for an Altimeter group style firm and I'm glad that they are the ones to pull it off. They've done it with grace, style and stunning execution.

Can't wait to see what they do next.

steph2.0_biggerStephanie Agresta is another of the people that I got to know as a friend once moving out here. For some reason and on some level we connected as kindred spirits who love to smile.

I've always felt like she had an undeserved level of faith and affection for me - but I accepted it gladly because it meant she wanted to hang out!

She too has recently made a move that not only befits her stature as a connector and thinker, but also rewards her kind spirit and positive attitude.

She gave me her new card at her birthday the other day - it says EVP of Social Media, Global - Porter Novelli (or something like that hah). EVP, Global, Porter Novelli. Are you serious!?

This is such wonderful news for our community because it means that someone who not only gets it, but loves it and is one of us, is in a position to help the brands we all know and love.

These are just two of my friends who have gotten what they deserve lately - in the best meaning of the phrase possible.

Congratulations peeps.

If I can help any of you reading this to achieve your goals, please let me know. This whole ecosystem, worldwide, is built on pay-it-forward. And I have a lot to pay forward.

Wisdom of the individual - Playing the Game

Added on by Chris Saad.

I've spent a great deal of my life in the last 10 years trying to understand crowds, trends, patterns - things on a broad scale over broader periods of time. I've been mildly successful at it. Observe a pattern here, define a trend there. It's all been quite fun and fascinating.

What I've fallen behind on, however, is understanding individuals. Understanding details.

In one on one interactions from the professional to the romantic there is a clear gap in my understanding that I've started, in the last 6 months, to try to rectify.

Some people I've encountered have suggested it's a game. Some of those are referring to an implicit thing that all people play with each other - most without even noticing. Some are actually talking about a real, concrete game that they study and learn.

I've struggled with this. While I am perfectly happy to play a game with a crowd, observe trends and try to shape or leverage them, I find myself vacillating between exhaustion and guilt at even the prospect of playing individual people like a game.

I feel exhaustion at the realization that I'm just no good at this, and I have a long way to go to learn and become natural at it. Somewhere along the line I seem to have miss-learned some signals and the prospect of unlearning and re-learning new things is daunting for me right now. It's clear though that, from the reactions I sometimes get, and the suggestions I'm afforded, there's something I'm actively doing wrong.

I also feel exhausted because it seems like much of these games, explicit or otherwise, involve a whole host of preamble and pretense that adds such complexity and conscious effort to a conversation.

I feel guilt because I like to think of myself as honest and genuine. I say what I mean and I mean what I say. Or at least that's what I intend to strive for. Often the advice I get feels at best petty or at most manipulative.

I'm probably wrong about all of this though. Maybe the real answer is that people just need simple things from each other. They need a framework for discussion. They need to feel wanted. They need to feel acknowledged and accepted. They are also attracted to those who are interesting and exciting and communicating that (through words and actions) is usually done in a very particular way. A way that is either instinctual (for most) or learned (for people like me).

I'm not sure yet exactly how microcosms fit into this, but I think they do. I believe a great deal in the truth of microcosms. For me they suggest that the way you behave in the smallest incident reveals how you think and behave in all incidents - large or small.

Do you let people out of a car park before you drive by them? Then you will always let people in front of you in lines, in conversation, in thoughts and feelings.

Do you have a clean house but a messy basement? Then you are probably more interested in your outward appearance than your internal mental health.

These are observations that might be useful and prove predictive, I think, but I don't make them in day-to-day interactions. Once again I am oblivious.

So for now, I continue to listen and learn and take from these lessons the parts that I can map to my own personality without corrupting my core.

Right now I feel like I am failing at these life lessons - I have so long to go. I'm not even clear on the path right now. But as usual, writing a blog post about it makes me feel better and helps to parse out some of my thoughts.

How do you feel about 'the game'? Is it a natural talent or a learned skill? Is it ordinary human behavior - are we all playing games or is it manipulative and deceitful? Is it both? Perhaps it's advantageous to abandon the game and find others like you who have abandoned it too? Is abandonment giving up on the path of least resistance or is standing up for some moral standard? Is the perception that it's immoral itself a misconception?

As you can see - too many questions yet to answer...

Wisdom of the individual - Playing the Game

Added on by Chris Saad.

I've spent a great deal of my life in the last 10 years trying to understand crowds, trends, patterns - things on a broad scale over broader periods of time. I've been mildly successful at it. Observe a pattern here, define a trend there. It's all been quite fun and fascinating.

What I've fallen behind on, however, is understanding individuals. Understanding details.

In one on one interactions from the professional to the romantic there is a clear gap in my understanding that I've started, in the last 6 months, to try to rectify.

Some people I've encountered have suggested it's a game. Some of those are referring to an implicit thing that all people play with each other - most without even noticing. Some are actually talking about a real, concrete game that they study and learn.

I've struggled with this. While I am perfectly happy to play a game with a crowd, observe trends and try to shape or leverage them, I find myself vacillating between exhaustion and guilt at even the prospect of playing individual people like a game.

I feel exhaustion at the realization that I'm just no good at this, and I have a long way to go to learn and become natural at it. Somewhere along the line I seem to have miss-learned some signals and the prospect of unlearning and re-learning new things is daunting for me right now. It's clear though that, from the reactions I sometimes get, and the suggestions I'm afforded, there's something I'm actively doing wrong.

I also feel exhausted because it seems like much of these games, explicit or otherwise, involve a whole host of preamble and pretense that adds such complexity and conscious effort to a conversation.

I feel guilt because I like to think of myself as honest and genuine. I say what I mean and I mean what I say. Or at least that's what I intend to strive for. Often the advice I get feels at best petty or at most manipulative.

I'm probably wrong about all of this though. Maybe the real answer is that people just need simple things from each other. They need a framework for discussion. They need to feel wanted. They need to feel acknowledged and accepted. They are also attracted to those who are interesting and exciting and communicating that (through words and actions) is usually done in a very particular way. A way that is either instinctual (for most) or learned (for people like me).

I'm not sure yet exactly how microcosms fit into this, but I think they do. I believe a great deal in the truth of microcosms. For me they suggest that the way you behave in the smallest incident reveals how you think and behave in all incidents - large or small.

Do you let people out of a car park before you drive by them? Then you will always let people in front of you in lines, in conversation, in thoughts and feelings.

Do you have a clean house but a messy basement? Then you are probably more interested in your outward appearance than your internal mental health.

These are observations that might be useful and prove predictive, I think, but I don't make them in day-to-day interactions. Once again I am oblivious.

So for now, I continue to listen and learn and take from these lessons the parts that I can map to my own personality without corrupting my core.

Right now I feel like I am failing at these life lessons - I have so long to go. I'm not even clear on the path right now. But as usual, writing a blog post about it makes me feel better and helps to parse out some of my thoughts.

How do you feel about 'the game'? Is it a natural talent or a learned skill? Is it ordinary human behavior - are we all playing games or is it manipulative and deceitful? Is it both? Perhaps it's advantageous to abandon the game and find others like you who have abandoned it too? Is abandonment giving up on the path of least resistance or is standing up for some moral standard? Is the perception that it's immoral itself a misconception?

As you can see - too many questions yet to answer...

A conversation about impending World Peace

Added on by Chris Saad.

A friend and I just had a wonderful 1:1 chat, and I wanted to share it here (with her permission). She asked me to remove her name because she thinks she was off her game - I think she's crazy - but I will respect her request none-the-less. Please excuse the raw nature - this is a straight copy+paste chat log from Adium.

Also, for clarity, my timeframe for this world peace is not days, weeks or even decades. There are also all sorts of things that can screw my assumptions up. But this is an interesting thought exercise none the less.


9:11 - My Friend:

Chris, about your idea that our connectedness will bring world peace... someday?

9:11 - Chris Saad:

yes - most people think i'm crazy … i think it's already happening

9:12 - My Friend:

Do you think that it's making us more moral?

9:13 - Chris Saad

no… i think it's broadening the set of people we apply our morality to

because we are coming to the obvious revelation that everyone is human, everyone has the same fundamental desires (safety, love, hope) and deserves a fundamental level of respect and dignity

9:14 - My Friend:

do you think it's changing our ideas of what morality is?

9:14 - Chris Saad

… i think humans are always fundamentally selfish - but they prioritize themselves first, and people like them second

… all i'm saying is that people will increasingly realize that there are a lot more people like them than they originally thought - i.e. everyone

9:15 - My Friend:

I think yes we are redefining our standards of morality b/c of the connectedness

9:16 - Chris Saad

I think it looks like that at the surface … but it's only because we are applying our same morality in different ways

9:16 - My Friend:

interesting

9:16 - Chris Saad

which sort of creates a new morality or at least a different looking morality … but its probably the same morality more broadly applied … e.g. we'd never bomb a state of the US … that's morality … so why would be bomb a state of the world … that's 'otherness' which is dissipating … but its the same morality … man i speak a lot of shit like i know what i'm talking about … i should get a bullshit award … i do believe it though

9:21 - My Friend:

maybe it was the wrong question. do you think moral codes are changing morals w/i established groups

9:22 - Chris Saad

can u give me an example of a moral code and how it might have changed?

9:23 - My Friend:

Churches granting priesthood to homosexuals, for example

9:24 - Chris Saad

see i still think that's a broadening of application of an existing morality

… the original moral code was to grant priesthoods to those who worked for it and were pihas  (sp?)

9:24 - My Friend:

maybe it's just a swinging back of the pendulum

9:24 - Chris Saad

… i could be wrong - this is just my opinion hah

9:29 - My Friend:

… but to everyone

you posit then that it's a broadening of moral code - a shedding of the sense of "other" for a set of fundamentally understood values

9:29 - Chris Saad

a broadening of the application of moral codes … but yes

… we're not broadening the scope of the moral code, we're broadening the group of people who fit inside the original scope.

All they are doing now is applying it to a broader set of people - people once considered 'other' … We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. … this is our fundamental morality … its only just being applied more broadly … to more people - not just americans, or males, or straights

9:30 - My Friend:

and this is one of the contributions to a more peaceful world?

9:30 - Chris Saad

its sort of like the big bang, planets and solar systems are not moving - the space itself is moving heh … like dots on an inflating balloon … the dots aren't moving - the balloon is

9:31 - My Friend:

we're on the whale. I just wanted to better understand your view.

9:32 - Chris Saad

presumably it does lead to more peaceful world yes - just like *most* people would not rape their daughter, they would also not rape their neighbor or their countrymen or a foreigner

… we would not embargo our family, or our neighbors or our states or our foreign neighbors - even the word foreign becomes obsolete

9:35 - My Friend:

what about the big brother aspect of all this connectedness?

9:35 - Chris Saad

I'm not sure it's strictly related

… although if most things are public, then 'big brother' becomes more like 'social consciousness' - taboos break down and privacy based on fear (taboos like health conditions, weird sexual interests etc etc) begin to lose meaning

9:36 - My Friend:

Interesting.  Why not?

9:38 - Chris Saad

well privacy is still a right - social media is not about giving up privacy but it does somewhat diminish the need for and the value on privacy because as I said above taboos begin to evaporate

A conversation about impending World Peace

Added on by Chris Saad.

A friend and I just had a wonderful 1:1 chat, and I wanted to share it here (with her permission). She asked me to remove her name because she thinks she was off her game - I think she's crazy - but I will respect her request none-the-less. Please excuse the raw nature - this is a straight copy+paste chat log from Adium.

Also, for clarity, my timeframe for this world peace is not days, weeks or even decades. There are also all sorts of things that can screw my assumptions up. But this is an interesting thought exercise none the less.


9:11 - My Friend:

Chris, about your idea that our connectedness will bring world peace... someday?

9:11 - Chris Saad:

yes - most people think i'm crazy … i think it's already happening

9:12 - My Friend:

Do you think that it's making us more moral?

9:13 - Chris Saad

no… i think it's broadening the set of people we apply our morality to

because we are coming to the obvious revelation that everyone is human, everyone has the same fundamental desires (safety, love, hope) and deserves a fundamental level of respect and dignity

9:14 - My Friend:

do you think it's changing our ideas of what morality is?

9:14 - Chris Saad

… i think humans are always fundamentally selfish - but they prioritize themselves first, and people like them second

… all i'm saying is that people will increasingly realize that there are a lot more people like them than they originally thought - i.e. everyone

9:15 - My Friend:

I think yes we are redefining our standards of morality b/c of the connectedness

9:16 - Chris Saad

I think it looks like that at the surface … but it's only because we are applying our same morality in different ways

9:16 - My Friend:

interesting

9:16 - Chris Saad

which sort of creates a new morality or at least a different looking morality … but its probably the same morality more broadly applied … e.g. we'd never bomb a state of the US … that's morality … so why would be bomb a state of the world … that's 'otherness' which is dissipating … but its the same morality … man i speak a lot of shit like i know what i'm talking about … i should get a bullshit award … i do believe it though

9:21 - My Friend:

maybe it was the wrong question. do you think moral codes are changing morals w/i established groups

9:22 - Chris Saad

can u give me an example of a moral code and how it might have changed?

9:23 - My Friend:

Churches granting priesthood to homosexuals, for example

9:24 - Chris Saad

see i still think that's a broadening of application of an existing morality

… the original moral code was to grant priesthoods to those who worked for it and were pihas  (sp?)

9:24 - My Friend:

maybe it's just a swinging back of the pendulum

9:24 - Chris Saad

… i could be wrong - this is just my opinion hah

9:29 - My Friend:

… but to everyone

you posit then that it's a broadening of moral code - a shedding of the sense of "other" for a set of fundamentally understood values

9:29 - Chris Saad

a broadening of the application of moral codes … but yes

… we're not broadening the scope of the moral code, we're broadening the group of people who fit inside the original scope.

All they are doing now is applying it to a broader set of people - people once considered 'other' … We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. … this is our fundamental morality … its only just being applied more broadly … to more people - not just americans, or males, or straights

9:30 - My Friend:

and this is one of the contributions to a more peaceful world?

9:30 - Chris Saad

its sort of like the big bang, planets and solar systems are not moving - the space itself is moving heh … like dots on an inflating balloon … the dots aren't moving - the balloon is

9:31 - My Friend:

we're on the whale. I just wanted to better understand your view.

9:32 - Chris Saad

presumably it does lead to more peaceful world yes - just like *most* people would not rape their daughter, they would also not rape their neighbor or their countrymen or a foreigner

… we would not embargo our family, or our neighbors or our states or our foreign neighbors - even the word foreign becomes obsolete

9:35 - My Friend:

what about the big brother aspect of all this connectedness?

9:35 - Chris Saad

I'm not sure it's strictly related

… although if most things are public, then 'big brother' becomes more like 'social consciousness' - taboos break down and privacy based on fear (taboos like health conditions, weird sexual interests etc etc) begin to lose meaning

9:36 - My Friend:

Interesting.  Why not?

9:38 - Chris Saad

well privacy is still a right - social media is not about giving up privacy but it does somewhat diminish the need for and the value on privacy because as I said above taboos begin to evaporate