Could a Collaboration Economy Replace Our Current System?

I think it is pretty obvious that humans wouldn’t be here today if throughout history there wasn’t a strong sense of working together for the group rather than the self. With modern advancements however, it seems we have moved from the days of collaboration to days of trying to swing the biggest dick. We like to compare the amount and quality of the assets we have accumulated, and we are selfish with those things. The interaction between humans has decreased and diminished in quality.

Right now money dictates a lot of the things that we decide to do. Acquiring money is the most reasonable way to put food on the table and put a roof over our heads. The most common way to get that money is to go work for someone else and trade our time for the money. We collectively put in our efforts to make bigger things happen, but most of us wouldn’t do them unless we were getting paid for it. So, the question is, if money disappeared, would a world where we have to collaborate to survive lead to human advancement, or would it be human demise?

Obviously this is a big idea to try to process, and no one would be certain as to what would happen if we suddenly had to make a worldwide shift in behavior. But let’s just look at Wikipedia as an example of a voluntary collaboration effort. The success and mass effort that people have put into Wikipedia, without compensation, gives hope that if things came down to it, we would still thrive as a whole. In case you didn’t know, thousands or hours and people voluntarily spent their time to make Wikipedia into what it is today, and it wasn’t their “job.”

Let’s say in this collaboration economy an average week would look like this:

Monday: Work on something passionate about

Tuesday: Community work

Wednesday: Work on something passionate about

Thursday: Community Work

Friday: Work on something passionate about

Weekend: Social time

Based on the huge population the varying sections of what people are passionate about would probably almost be sufficient enough to cover a lot of the things that would keep society going. But, for the places where additional resources may be needed, we could offer rotations each week where people participate in varying tasks to contribute to things that are needed, but are tasks that few people are passionate about. Maybe on a Tuesday you have to pick up trash from your neighborhood. The next Thursday you are doing janitorial tasks at a school. Whatever it may be, the fact that the sole reason you would be doing it is to improve the lives of fellow humans, the intrinsic reward would be much greater than if you were doing it for money. Plus, with the different tasks for each week, people wouldn’t fall into the soul sucking cycle of daily repetition of mundane thing for years on end. This isn’t even considering the fact that most days you would be able to work on your passions. Progress would still be made, and we would have less focus on the menial shit that makes our lives more difficult.

Now, of course the ideas I just stated may not even come to fruition if currency died entirely, but I think things like Wikipedia show that we are wired to collaborate for the betterment of everyone. The combined knowledge of everyone in the world combined in one place is an insanely powerful thing. And to think most of it was created without payments to any of the contributors.

To ever get to a place like that something quite catastrophic would have to happen and the values of the masses would have to experience a large shift. Instead of ignoring our neighbors or trying to outdo them, we would need to know them and have to work together.

Even if all of our current systems fail, I think it is our DNA to find a way to survive by becoming one large thing, instead of separate opposing factions.

My Cell Phone is Awesome, But Life Sucks When It Won’t Go Fast Enough

On a recent trip to the grocery store I saw a lady complaining to a store employee about the fact that they ran out of unsweetened almond milk. The lady acted like her entire day, perhaps week, was ruined by the fact she wouldn’t be bringing the nutty milk home from that grocery store. That lady got to go home and sleep in a bed in a house with a roof and heat. If she was making over roughly $30,000 a year then she resides in the top 1% of the world (monetarily speaking). We are so quick to jump to complaining about our situations. Letting the most minute shit ruin our day. The webpage doesn’t load fast enough on your cell phone. The car in front of you is going 4 MPH slower than you want them to. Or heaven forbid, that grocery store that has thousands of different items on the shelves, ran out of one of the things that was on your list. We consistently fail to appreciate that we have it easier than any other time in human history. If you are reading this there is a good chance that you are a member of the global 1%.

I’m not trying to say that we are living in paradise, in my opinion mankind as a whole is falling way short of its potential. There are tons of flaws in the accepted systems and the design of those systems that we have created. We make life much more complicated than it needs to be. We fight meaningless wars and live our lives according to primitive ideals. A lot of the stuff in this world really does suck. Even more, we are tiny in the world. Even if we have great ideas on change that would make everything better, we don’t have the power or influence to make a difference.

But… you don’t have to worry about surviving a night in the open. You don’t have to worry about trying to kill an animal so that you have something to eat for your next meal. You probably can’t even fathom that the human species survived long enough to see all of the advancements of modern society. I know I can’t.

Eventually there is a good chance humans will be the thing that eradicate humans from the earth. But that probably won’t happen in your lifetime. So let’s appreciate the relatively easy lives that we are living. We have all of this awesome shit but we are so quick to complain when it doesn’t work quite as well as we want it to. Without having to worry about the basic components of human survival, we should appreciate all of the opportunities that this situation opens for us.

It brings up another interesting thing to ponder. If we complain about things even when they are as a whole awesome, have humans always been that way?

God damn it Marge, this patch of dirt that I am sleeping on tonight is way too hard.

That deer that we spent five hours tracking just doesn’t taste good enough by my standards.

Maybe our quality of life would improve if we had more appreciation for how relatively easy humans as a whole have it.

Decreasing the Monthly Nut

A big part of life revolves around sorting through what is a distraction and what is real. What is important and what is just fluff. Our society does a good job influencing the average person, making us think that we need this or we need that, we should spend our time doing X so that we can receive Y. We need to buy new cars, the American dream is to own a house. We need kids, need the newest xx product. We should watch the news, this reality television show, whatever. The monthly amount of our obligations, both monetarily and time wise, determines how much we owe to things that most likely have little value.

I think to successfully manage our lives we need to try to drive down our monthly obligations (or financial nut) to be as low as possible. The less time and money we owe to someone else, the less we have to worry about sacrificing in order to meet these goals. The more time and money we have to spend/invest in the real shit that matters.

It can be hard to manage. After all, it goes completely against this consumerism culture that surrounds us. I think a good practice to start whittling the obligation down is by thinking of everything as an investment. If I buy xxx, can it be used to create some sort of value in the future? Either intrinsically or monetarily? Will that value sustain into the future? Or if I agree to spend time doing xxx, will it help me develop as a person? Will that activity make me feel alive? Or are they just sunk costs. If either one or both of the answers to these questions is no, then it is probably not a good investment of time and money. Sure, there are some things we just have no control over, but for the things we do, I think it makes sense to think about them this way. Obviously we can let it slide on little things, but for anything that takes a significant amount of money or time, this way of thinking can help us make better choices.

In the end life isn’t about what we accumulate while we are here. That next-level BMW won’t mean shit once you are gone. Instead life should be about trying to create value for other people, focusing our time on this earth by doing the things we were meant to do. This is easier to accomplish when our monthly nut is less. When we aren’t stressed out about our obligations because we went in over our heads. We bought too much shit on credit and promised to spend too much time on things that we don’t need to be doing, or don’t want to be doing.

Bob Ross – The God


The title of the post says it all. For those who don’t know who Bob Ross was, he was best known for his painting show, The Joy of Painting, where he created an amazing piece of art in less than thirty minutes. When I was a young kid I used to watch his show at my grandparents house. I didn’t realize it back then, but I was watching a person who was an expert in the thing that made them come to life. I have spent a lot of time over the past few years writing and thinking about the importance of having the things you love doing make up the core of life. Last night I watched an episode of Bob’s TV show for the first time since I was a kid. Only a few minutes in it was obvious that Ross was one of those people who succeeded in having their life revolve around their creativity and passion.

The show is simple. It’s just him and a blank canvas, his paints, and his brushes. He dives right into throwing paint around the canvas, looking to be entirely random without much thought. He instructs his audience as he goes, ensuring them that it is something anyone is capable of doing, and if they really wanted to learn that there are classes available. It is a subtle form of marketing through a display of an incredible skill. The thing that is the most mind blowing is that he creates something amazing in an average of twenty-seven minutes. No erasing, no copying another image, just creation from the mind at its purest. It was inspiring to watch him work. It reminded me of the first time I watched John Butler destroying it on the guitar.

If anything it is just more proof that you can make a life for yourself by focusing on doing the thing you love. The first show debuted in the 1980’s and he passed away in 1995. Today his legacy still continues, as the classes he helped create and develop are still being taught today. He has helped cultivate a passion for painting in thousands of people simply by sharing his art and technique with the world. This is the importance of sharing the shit you do. You might not get 10,000 page views on everything you write, but you might provide value to someone, and you could change a life without even knowing it.

Go watch an episode of the show yourself, you’ll almost instantly understand what I am talking about.

In 2014 it is easier than ever before to make a Bob Ross of yourself. It all starts with mastering the thing you are passionate about and then finding an appropriate avenue to share it with the world.

Congratulations on that debt!

Have you ever found it awkward when a salesman tells you congratulations when you buy a car? Awkward because you didn’t really accomplish anything by agreeing to purchase an asset that is going to be worth less than what you paid for it the moment you drive it away from the dealership. And then most of the time you don’t even own the car, the bank does. Meaning on top of losing value, you will be paying interest for a period of months (24+) on a depreciating asset. And they tell you congratulations. “Congratulations Timmy! Not only did you make me some money, you added some debt to your books for the foreseeable future!”

The falsehoods involved with buying a house are even worse. The average person doesn’t buy a house, they obtain a mortgage. The bank buys the house, you agree to pay them back for it while you live there. Hence, when the realtor says “Congratulations Timmy! You are a homeowner!” They are essentially congratulating you for something you are not, but simultaneously making the realtor some money. Other than the magnitude of the purchase, the only thing that makes the congratulations on the house a little more substantial, is that it has the potential to be sold for more than you purchased it for. In the meantime though, being a mortgage owner, you will more strongly attached to the system, as you will go to desperate lengths to pay the mortgage each month (ahem, working a job you dislike for 30 years).

Combine the two of them, and you have the framework for the American Dream. Debt on the thing that will take you to and from the place you go to pay the debt on the other place that you won’t get to enjoy to its potential because you will be spending a ton of time trying to meet your financial obligations. The funny thing is that no one really tries to get people to look at it from this angle. Banks want you to buy houses and cars because with those purchases comes loads of interest for years to come. (This wouldn’t be as disheartening if statistics didn’t show that some 80% of people don’t care for their jobs).

The next time the selling facilitator of a vehicle or property tells you congratulations, look them in the face and say, “no, congratulations to you.” At least you might come off as being fully aware that each day you will be driving your debt home to where you will sleep inside of your other debt.

Don’t get me wrong, if you are financially able to kick the crap out of the down payment on a car or house then you won’t be at risk of becoming a victim to the system, but that isn’t the case for a lot of people entering into debt.

Book Review: Jesus’ Son – Denis Johnson

Overview: I read this book after hearing Tim Feriss mention it in a podcast. He claimed that Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club, has read the book hundreds of times. Fight Club is one of the books that help me re-connect with an innate love for reading/learning, so upon hearing this I became intrigued. After reading this book and several of Palahniuk’s novels, there is a strong resemblance in the style of him and Johnson.

The book itself is a compilation of short stories that cross into a dark area told by a strung-out narrator who seems to be transcending his life. The plot of the stories isn’t typical in the sense that there isn’t much structure, but the writing style is pathologically raw and pure to the essence of what the narrator is experiencing. Despite the dark nature of the stories, there is a real draw towards continuing to read, just like what you get when you are reading a book written by Palahniuk.

Lesson: I am going to take a different approach with this one. The lesson for me revolves more around the writing itself than the content within the book.

This is one of those books that I think you should be reading if you are trying to re-tell stories or develop fiction that is based in humor or has a level of darkness to it. The writing style Johnson presents is unique, and I believe that the feeling you get while you are reading it brings out creativity and energy.

I’m sure you have heard that a good thing to do before addressing an audience is to listen to a clip from a comedian’s special. I think this is a book you should read before you start writing any sort of creative piece. Even if you aren’t aware of it, taking in words written by Johnson will probably influence your own.

Important Passages (Per Sean):

I mean that he couldn’t tell me what he was dreaming, and I couldn’t tell him what was real.

Down the hall came the wife. She was glorious, burning. She didn’t know yet that her husband was dead. We knew. That’s what gave her such power over us. The doctor took her into a room with a desk at the end of the hall, and from under the closed door a slab of brilliance radiated as if, by some stupendous process, diamonds were being incinerated in there. What a pair of lungs! She shrieked as I imagined an eagle would shriek. It felt wonderful to be alive to hear it! I’ve gone looking for that feeling everywhere.

He’d wasted his entire life. Such people were very dear to those of us who’d wasted only a few years. With Kid Williams sitting across from you it was nothing to contemplate going on like this for another month or two.

There were many moments in the Vine like that one—where you might think today was yesterday, and yesterday was tomorrow, and so on. Because we all believed we were tragic, and we drank. We had that helpless, destined feeling. We would die with handcuffs on. We would be put a stop to, and it wouldn’t be our fault. So we imagined. And yet we were always being found innocent for ridiculous reasons.

Later in the afternoon, with sad resignation, the county fair bares its breasts. A champion of the drug LSD, a very famous guru of the love generation, is being interviewed amid a TV crew off to the left of the poultry cages. His eyeballs look like he bought them in a joke shop. It doesn’t occur to me, as I pity this extraterrestrial, that in my life I’ve taken as much as he has.

But nothing I could think up, no matter how dramatic or completely horrible, ever made her repent or love me the way she had at first, before she really knew me.

They splashed holy water on my cheek and on the back of my neck, and I didn’t feel a thing. Not for many years.

She wanted to eat my heart and be lost in the desert with what she’d done, she wanted to fall on her knees and give birth from it, she wanted to hurt me as only a child can be hurt by its mother.

The motor traffic was relentless, the sidewalks were crowded, the people were preoccupied and mean, because Happy Hour was also Rush Hour.

“That’s too bad, because asking me if I’m alive makes you look kind of stupid. Obviously, I am.” “Well, maybe I mean alive in a deeper sense. You could be talking, and still not be alive in a deeper sense.”

I looked for work because people seemed to believe I should look for work, and when I found a job I believed I was happy about it because these same people—counselors and Narcotics Anonymous members and such—seemed to think a job was a happy thing.

No more pretending for him! He was completely and openly a mess. Meanwhile the rest of us go on trying to fool each other.

But I felt about the circular hallway of Beverly Home as about the place where, between our lives on this earth, we go back to mingle with other souls waiting to be born.

All these weirdos, and me getting a little better every day right in the midst of them. I had never known, never even imagined for a heartbeat, that there might be a place for people like us.


The Essential Group Companies Need for Scalability

Dodgeball – Credit Wikipedia

Imagine if your full time job was to think about ways for grown adults to have fun, and then organize these people to do the things you think of. Capture the flag on Friday afternoon. Video game tournament mid Monday morning. Trampoline after lunch on Wednesday. You name it. That would be pretty awesome, right?

If you think about it, most established companies have a wide array of groups that serve different purposes. Sales, marketing, finance, engineering, et cetera. Together they make everything work. But what about the well-being of the people who work in these groups? Is both the mental and physical health of these people not one of the most important things for making the company run as efficiently and effectively as possible? Would it not make sense for there to be a division of the company devoted to making sure that there are opportunities for employees to incorporate fun into their day to day lives? Based on some studies, and from the general consensus of anyone I have met, the majority of people do not really enjoy what they do for a living. As an employer, would it not make sense to try to offset this general trend by trying to lighten things up a bit? Balance out the mundane nature of work with a little bit of fun?

I know a lot of startups and tech companies do a pretty good job at this. I know Google pays employees to give them time to work on whatever they want, and more and more companies are adopting a similar policy. I think Twitter has live music (or a DJ) in their onsite cafeteria, Riot employees play video games, and I’ve heard of standing meetings taking place around a foosball table. The often repetitive and mundane quality of our daily work goes against the spark of being human. Without a balance, our moods plummet, our anxiety skyrockets, and we become less interesting people.

You can probably get the idea as to where I am going with this. With this problem comes an opportunity. An opportunity for you to become the person who incorporates fun into the everyday life of the 9-5er. Become a consultant, become the facilitator. It wouldn’t be hard to convince people of the benefits of daily fun in the workplace, and it probably wouldn’t be hard to get people to want to participate in activities which go against the mundane. I didn’t do any research while writing this, but I would guess this is already being done by people. But it probably isn’t being done as much as it could be.

In 2014 this is all it takes to come up with an idea for a business, product, or service. You think about something that sucks, or something that could be improved, a common problem that people have, and you think of how you could solve it. Boredom and people hating their jobs, having high levels of stress and low levels of fun, is a pretty significant and widespread problem. In my opinion, it is something worth solving, or at least improving. And the average person who dislikes the day to day grind probably wouldn’t be against it.