Aaron Fulkerson (How we learn about and explore the world)

In this episode of the Judgment Call Podcast Aaron Fulkerson and I talk about:

  • The very short history of information sharing inside an enterprise and open-source distributions (and Mindtouch!)
  • What punk rock and entrepreneurship have in common?
  • What social media does to our children?
  • Did the Facebook algorithm change in 2015 start the polarization of the world we currently see?
  • How Youtube has been changing the world of education already.
  • Is success early in your life a curse or blessing?
  • What is the best age to discover philosophy?
  • And much more!

Aaron Fulkerson is a serial entrepreneur. He is the founder and former CEO of Mindtouch and is now working with ServiceNOW.

You can reach Aaron via LinkedIn.


Welcome to the Judgment Call Podcast, a podcast where I bring together some of the most curious minds on the planet, risk takers, travelers, adventurers, investors, entrepreneurs, or simply mindbogglers. To find all the episodes of this show, please go to iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, or go to JudgmentCallPodcast.com for more resources, including how to become a guest, how to advertise, and to see all the lectures, podcasts, and books I would like to you, would like you to listen to or read. Please also go to our website at JudgmentCallPodcast.com. Like this show? Please consider leaving a review on iTunes or Like us and subscribe to us on YouTube that will make it easier for other users like you to find us later on. This episode of the Judgment Call Podcast is sponsored by Mighty Troubles Premium. Full disclosure, this is also my business. What we do at Mighty Troubles Premium is to find the best travel deals for you as they happen. We do that in economy, premium economy, business and first class, and we screen 450,000 new airfare deals every day just for you and present the best based on your preferences. Thousands of subscribers have saved up to 95% of their airfare deals. In case you didn’t know, Americans and Europeans can already travel to more than 80 different countries again, South America, in Africa, and in Eastern Europe. To try out Mighty Troubles Premium for free, go to mightytroubles.com slash mtp. That’s too much for you to type, just type in mtp4u.com, mtp4u.com to start your 30 day free trial. I’m here today with Aaron, Aaron Falkerson, and Aaron is an entrepreneur and he used to be CEO of Mindtouch, a company he started, and he’s now the product leader for a company called ServiceNow, I don’t know so much about it, but I really want to know about it. Aaron also has quite a passion for education, something else we want to talk about. With that little intro, welcome to the Judge of the Call podcast, Aaron. How are you? I’m doing great. Thanks so much for having me. It’s great to reconnect with you and you’re always an interesting person to speak with in preparation for this. It was great to hear about what you’ve been doing. As I mentioned, I’ve been wanting to do a podcast for so long, and I think I had explored this but never found the time to do it. I usually turn down people who asked me to be on their podcast, but you have such a great background and interesting pitch, I thought it’d be great to reconnect. Thanks for the loss. I appreciate that. We traced back the last time we spoke, I think a couple of weeks ago, before that. We haven’t spoken in like 10 years, so I’m curious about what’s new on your side. Give us maybe a short background about your time at MindTouch. I remember you guys, and I always admired what you guys were up to as the most bootstrapped company with the biggest outreach and the biggest audience I’ve ever seen. I know it’s been going for quite some time, your MindTouch time is probably around 10, 15 years. Give us a quick rundown, maybe you can share a quick story on your top three entrepreneurial learnings from that time. Sure. Gosh, my top two or three entrepreneurial learnings. Maybe I should start with a little bit of background of MindTouch, because that might be curious. Should I start there? Yeah. Sure. Yeah. Let’s go. This is an open source project that Buddy and I created, and within a year of releasing it, it was in the top five most popular open source projects on the planet. We just struck a chord at the time, and what it was was an enterprise wiki. It was a tool for people to collaborate. The original idea was born from, he and I worked at Microsoft together in research, and I wanted to create a technology that made it easier for people to disseminate their research, and the knowledge management systems that have been around, which still exist today, tend to focus on either storage, I’m just dumping files, or search and retrieval. But the thing that was the most interesting challenge was how do you get somebody to grok or understand a concept very quickly and get ramped up on it? That was what MindTouch was born out of, was this idea that people don’t consume files anymore and mobile was coming, and there was going to be these different interfaces like chatbots and what not, and conversational interfaces, and how do we deliver content that helps people become proficient in a topic and understand a topic more effectively. So we were focused really on that last mile of knowledge, not the storage or search retrieval, but the human consumption of it, and it became very popular. Maybe that’s good for people and for folks out there to understand. There was a time, and I think you guys were in the middle of this, it was probably 2005, 2006, when there were a bunch of new tools, like blogging was a new thing, and people were experimenting with blogging inside the corporation and outside, and so was Viki. So Wikipedia was a big public name, but there was tons of places where people wanted to use Viki’s inside the corporation, between different corporations as kind of a supplier contact, kind of as a growing knowledge base, which is always the big problem in corporations, that you have this huge body of knowledge, and it’s maybe semi structured, or it’s not structured at all, and then there’s no water cooler knowledge, and so it’s difficult to find out also for management, where is the actual knowledge in the corporation? I felt Viki’s really ideal tool, right? That’s about 15 years ago. Yeah, so you nailed it exactly, which was the Viki being just a simple technology for I can quickly edit a page and create links between articles, was like pretty groundbreaking, right? It was the real promise of the ReadWrite web, where for the first time ever, you didn’t have to be a programmer to be able to author and publish and collaborate and content online. So what we did is we just took literally Wikipedia’s engine, and we forked it, and we released it with what you see as what you get editor and a lot of enterprise features, and it became just enormously popular in the open source community. And then, so you took that open source project, I think this is also a business model, I don’t know if it’s still so current, but there was a time, and this was like the thing to do. Pretty much any successful open source project got a service company layered on top of it, and I’m not just thinking about MySQL, there’s SugarCIM, there was a bunch more than a bunch of databases, NoSQL movement kind of started the same way, CouchDB, Downey and Palo Alto. So what was the company you layered on top of this, and did you have, you must have had, based on this open source popularity, you must have had a lot of potential customers, you had all the freemium people already out there, and you just need to upgrade them to the premium. So the first go to market was around just selling a support subscription on the free open source, which would, you basically spike your customer, your paying customers around every upgrade, because they go to upgrade, and there’s all kinds of components underlying MySQL and PHP and all these components underlying the software that they would need help with. And we started there, and then we started adding premium features, which were connectors to enterprise applications like LDAP, Active Directory, and other tools that were premium features, and then, ultimately, what we decided to do, by the way, the whole concept of open source was very disruptive to your distribution model, right, so it could lower your cost of customer acquisition, and it didn’t, like, that’s not where I started from. I wasn’t like, oh, well, this is a disruptive force for lowering your cost of customer acquisition. No, it was just, I saw something I was passionate about, we built a product, it became wildly popular far beyond our dreams, doing thousands of installations every single day, and then I was like, well, shit, like, we should sell something. So we turned it into a business, and then, later, the distribution economics of SaaS, Cloud, is even more disruptive, right, you don’t have to install and configure a web server and a database and a programming framework, like PHP, like, get that installed, you know, so we switched to a SaaS model, and then from there, we really shifted from being kind of a general purpose enterprise wiki to all of our customers at the time, we’re using us for a very specific use case, which was self service customer support, so everybody from like Mozilla developer network to PayPal to, you know, today, even like NetApp and Whirlpool and Electrolux and all these large enterprises use MindTouch for their self service customer support, so you just touched upon one of the things that I learned in my time at MindTouch, which was the founders often focus on the product or the technology, and the only thing that really matters is distribution, so how are you going to get your product in the hands of your customers, distribution, and that could be distribution in terms of, you know, it’s free to use, and how are you going to scale that, or it could be in terms of what’s your go to market engine, so back in the days when I started MindTouch, like, you could bootstrap a company, you know, we did, I bootstrap MindTouch to eight figures annual recurring revenue, right, without any outside investment, and profitably no debt, nothing, right, so it’s very hard to do that now, because there’s so much money in technology companies that it’s hard for me to imagine bootstrapping an eight figure company today, because how do you get the distribution, how do you build the sales model, how do you stand out against all of these other venture capital backed companies, it’s difficult for me to imagine. Yeah, I think you’re raising a really important issue that most people, most entrepreneurs don’t really look at, because they by themselves are excited about the product, right, and they also are excited about an idea that other people give them feedback about, it’s kind of like putting a YouTube video out there, there’s one point is you really want to be seen out there, but you also want to get validation, right, you want to get feedback about what you are up to in this video, and this idea is something that’s good, and I was talking to Evan last week and he runs a digital marketing agency, and I was really stressing that point, he was not so sure about that, I think he has a more global view on this, but I felt all of these trends of software development or entrepreneurship that has to do with software because that’s the stuff that really worked the last 20, 30, 40 years, it came along with the marketing revolution, and marketing revolution, the sense of it was really cheap to do SEO say 15 years ago, and you know, you couldn’t be, you could basically not fail if you had a brain. Yeah, I mean, if you had time, if you had an ounce of sense and a little bit of time and you just, you just stayed at it, you know. It needs, literally it needs a bunch of guys who kind of have a little experience in it, and you would be number one in tons of terms after a couple of weeks, and then that shifted away, and then you could do the same thing with Google AdWords, and then this whole thing would move into, you know, more an Instagram model, but there was always a marketing revolution that went along with it. So currently, maybe that’s because I’m too old now, I don’t see an easy marketing model, you can do well on YouTube, and there’s a bunch of channels to do extremely well, but it’s a relatively small group, and it’s already pretty saturated, it’s hard to break into those if you just start out and say, well, I’m gonna do some YouTube videos, not saying it’s impossible, but it takes more than just a brain, it takes a brain, it takes quite a bit of luck, it takes the right language to connect with your audience. So I feel currently, and this was kind of my concern, this is why I started this podcast, I kept saying, well, you know, it’s harder to be an entrepreneur from my point of view, and this might be because I’m too old, or could be, but it’s harder to be an entrepreneur, especially in a bootstrapped environment, to be kind of how do we foster this, and there’s no marketing revolution right now that you can really attach yourself to. Maybe there’s one, and that’s kind of my question for you. Maybe there’s one out there, and we’re just too blind to see it. Yeah, so I think that the thing that’s changed dramatically is all of the things that you and I grew up doing, just punk rock, figuring it out, because that’s what we were doing. It was just punk. We were like, I don’t know, let’s just go, we’ll just like look around, we’ll scurry around the edges where the big companies and the money haven’t yet figured it out, and we figured it out, right? So those techniques that we use that used to be subversive or punk are mainstream now, and there’s a whole lot of money that get dumped into them, and I suspect that there’s still opportunities to be executing on subversive marketing tactics that get you lift off. They’re going to be around the edges where big companies and big money haven’t found it, because as soon as they find it, they dump cash on it, and they have an unfair advantage to the entrepreneur who’s bootstrapping something. Yeah, I think that’s absolutely true. Digital marketing used to be an afterthought 20 years ago, and people were like, well, let’s try this out, and let’s dump some money on a website, right? But it was relatively limited because the customers were not online. But now for ton of companies, especially the ones who had this atmospheric growth in the last five years, they basically all their customers are online, right? They only do online marketing, and when you look at Netflix, I always like the Netflix example because from my point of view, they’ve done very little marketing, like compared to Uber, for instance. Companies that should have had a network effect, they shouldn’t have needed any marketing, right? But Netflix did very little marketing, they did some sign up marketing, they did some affiliate programs that they tested a bunch of channels, but compared to the size of Netflix, they haven’t done anything. And they’re still growing by, I don’t know, 100 million subscribers, or probably a little less, say 20 million subscribers a quarter, and they have a very, very well established way to monetize their traffic. But they still don’t invest into most digital marketing channels. Even a company like Netflix, and that’s what I’m trying to get at, that could afford real hardcore marketing and pay everyone 50 bucks free for the first year or whatever. They don’t really do it because they don’t get the RI out of it. That’s my assumption. I’m sure that’s accurate. I know that when I began MindTouch and built the business big enough to actually start investing in digital spend versus when I left MindTouch, as I’m still serving on the board, but when I left MindTouch, the landscape had changed so dramatically from what you could expect in ROI from digital spend, or even in things like your demand generation programs that involved email. It was just the landscape was so vastly different. It goes back to like, well, go ahead. Sorry. Yeah, people go out and I’ve seen this with pitches in Silicon Valley. It’s all about the lifetime value of a customer. So you get numbers of $120, $150, $200, whatever the number is for a particular business, usually subscription businesses. And I think this is great, right? And this is kind of an accepted metric. The trouble do is most of these companies only run six, 12 months, or maybe two years, but still the customer value changes so much where you get your traffic from, where these people are, how this develops over time, how happy they are with your product. So when you go outside of a smaller initial customer group into a bigger wider audience, these metrics are subject to so much change, yet most of the marketing is based literally if you say you have a lifetime value of 120 bucks, they’re ready to invest $100 on Google AdWords in signing up one person. I’m like, whoa, this is really risky, right? I mean, from a margin of safety, from a float perspective as a value investor, you’re like, this is really risky for most VCs to, this is great, right? They say, oh, your acquisition value is slightly under the lifetime value, so you’re great. Just keep adding more money to this. Yeah, I never looked at the metric of life and value. I mean, I’ve always done subscription based software companies. The metrics that I always looked after was my customer acquisition cost and my churn. So I want to see negative churn, and I would always look at it in terms of, if I spend a dollar, how much do I acquire in net new revenue in the first year, and then what does that renew at? That’s really, I ran my business and advise businesses and just run it off that. That’s how I’ve always looked at it. The lifetime customer value, when you’re that young, it looks like infinity, or it looks like, it just gives you these weird metrics. So speaking about that, yeah, for sure. So speaking about things that were subversive and on the edges, that now are so mainstream and would be difficult and require a lot of cash to actually run, it’s like brand ambassador programs on social media channels, like there’s some different CEOs and entrepreneurs that I’ve met that built their companies to eight figure recurring revenue companies doing, they’re more in like lifestyle, they’re not in software, but it’s like they’ve built $40 million a year businesses, and they were one of the early pioneers that were doing brand ambassador programs online, where they just figured out who their target buyer was. It’s women 18 to 27, for example, and then they would reach out to them on social media and ask them to join their ambassador program in exchange, they’d get free product for which they charge them shipping and handling that covered the cost of the product. And then they, of course, they felt special and important, and they would post about it on all their social media channels. And so when you’re posting your photos of your dog on Instagram and people are DMing you for collabs, that’s all become like a big machine that runs those now. But there was a whole wave of companies like Movement and other ones that that’s how they built their business was through these brand ambassador programs. But now it’s like mainstream and money’s flown in, it’s flowed in and it’s difficult to build it that way now. Yeah, I think this whole, the Instagram revolution was, I don’t know, six, seven years ago, when you describe was absolutely true, and that was a golden age for entrepreneurs. The last two or three years, I mean, you literally have 15 year old kids and they say, I’m not even going to mention your product until you give me $10,000. And you look at what, they definitely have followers, but not every video gets the same reach, right? So that’s especially on TikTok, it’s almost, nobody knows what your next video gets in terms of reach, it can be a thousand views or it can be a million views. So the follower count doesn’t really help so much. So there’s a whole industry I was looking at at a website yesterday, I always feel that’s a little, I feel something is wrong there, I can’t really put my finger to it or I can’t really describe it enough. You see a bunch of 13 year olds and they all are run by a talent agency and they have these pictures but they kind of be made like grownups, boys and girls, and they are part of a talent agency as an influencer and you’re like, dude, these are just kids. Why are they, why are they so weirdly dressed in the portfolio that you have? I mean, they’re not models, they’re influencers, right? So they’re not actors necessarily. And I feel like, whoa, something has gone wrong, I mean, there’s this, for whatever reason it has taken off mostly with this age group, you know, 10 to 20, a TikTok and at the tail end also Instagram do it, definitely has an older audience and older creators. And I feel like, man, something is not right there, but you know, it is what it is. The kids are extremely fascinated by it and there’s, as you say, a lot of money walking into these influences now. Yeah, I think the thing that your intuition is telling you is not right is that it’s a vicious cycle of, here’s how I think about it, in the same way that you see how Facebook algorithms polarize people into different factions because they are recommended content that validates their worldview and then increasingly radicalizes them. It’s almost an inverse that happens with young people or influencers who they are increasingly guided to fit into a particular box and normalized to fit a specific demographic. So in the way that we are polarizing society through social media, social media is driving conformity within our children to segment the market with influencers that serve a specific demographic. Yeah, it’s kind of deep. This is a deep question and there’s this big debate out there. We all know about the polarization and it happens because that’s the engagement algorithm is written this way, right? If you can get through the limbic brain and if you get an immediate, like from the time of when you viewed this article, an immediate like or an immediate dislike or comment that kind of expresses that the algorithm thinks this is a good thing and this is how these algorithms were born and there’s truth to this, there’s something to it. It’s definitely not boring but it usually works best with addressing the limbic brain, very emotional stuff. And sometimes I’m not sure the social media companies, if they were just born into this and kind of with a good sense of being with a moral don’t be evil model in the first place and then the VCs push them into that strong monetization and you need those things, you need the clicks and you need the people to come back in order to make money because the CPMs are extremely low on Facebook and Twitter. They don’t have the advantage of Google or they marketed that way to investors but they have very, very low CPMs so they don’t make a lot of money per page view so they have to increase the page who’s doing insane number and spy on you to even make any money. And I’m not sure, is this something that happened, do you feel there’s some people with bad intentions or this is something that just happened and nobody really knows what’s going on. It’s just this super AI is so distributed and there’s like a couple of competitors and everyone is like racing through the bottom. No, I don’t think it was intentional. I think that it’s something that happened organically and what is it, it’s, yeah, Hanlon’s razor never attribute malice, never attribute malice to incompetence, right. So I think that it was never the intention but it was a result of incompetence that they simply didn’t think through the second order consequences and then when they arrived there, they were already in a position where making a course correction either they couldn’t understand how bad it was because they were so incompetent because they lacked empathy or their entire business model was predicated on this. And what I was just describing about the normalization of people and the drive for conformity, I haven’t watched that social dilemma movie, I haven’t seen it yet. I haven’t. No, I haven’t. Yeah, I haven’t seen it either. I’m sure it goes into the polarization and radicalization of people where it creates an echo chamber for them. But I wonder if it goes into the normalization of people where it’s having this impact. Yeah, I think the normalization, yeah, it’s on the same time. I think both sides, you have this normalization that you kind of, there is the stereotype and it’s defined by a group, right? So you’re being shown a group example and then you should conform to this group. And I think this is on both, and maybe in politics we have two sides, but in many, many other places we only have one side. It’s literally only one opinion to be had. Like think about COVID, there’s only one opinion on COVID you can have. If you do something else, your video goes away on YouTube, right? If you get a certain reach and someone does a manual review, you’re gone. So there’s a lot of places today where you can only have one opinion and this opinion is maybe a 90% opinion, maybe it’s a 50% opinion, I don’t know, but it’s certainly a 90% opinion in Silicon Valley. And I’m not sure there’s an easy way back from this because I traced this back to the algorithm change how the Facebook newsfeed works, right? So up to 2013, 14, you would accumulate subscribers and followers and you could obviously pay for them or you could just organically get them and then they would have exposure to whatever you posted in your newsfeed, that’s why you build a presence on Facebook. And then suddenly in 2014, 15 Facebook experimented with this big change to just do engagement. This has no role if someone follows you or not. And I was checking a couple of news agencies and they have 100 million followers on Facebook and they literally have two likes on their posts because nobody gets to see this anymore, right? It has completely switched to engagement and the engagement algorithm started this polarization. I think a lot of these problems we see today started in 2015 with the first engagement algorithm for the newsfeed in Facebook. That started it all and it’s still based on this stupid, very easy engagement idea that they had in the first place. That’s interesting. I didn’t think about that. So you’d go look at the Atlantic on Facebook, it’s got zero engagement so it doesn’t show up in your feed or other people’s feed. But you could go see Newsmax and it would show up in people’s feeds because everybody gets really violently emotional about it. Yes, a Buzzfeed or Ben Shapiro’s outlet on the Daily Wire. So it’s packaged as very emotional. It doesn’t really matter. I don’t think that there needs to be two or three opinions only. There can be a bunch more. But if you hack this algorithm and I think everyone had to do it for a simple survival in the news media, if you didn’t hack the news media, you were gone in 2017. And if you hacked it successfully, you became like a hack outlet like Vox where things have long, long time ago stopped to make any sense. But it gets the Olympic brain, you read the headline, you react. And this is all that’s important. The article could be completely empty. It could be a fake article, to be honest. Not that it’s fake news necessarily, but you want to press like and this is what the algorithm wants. And people, I think, underestimate this self experiment that we do with humanity because you could feel and there was people associated this with Trump and Trump definitely hacked the news algorithm. But I think this predates Trump by about a year or two that people suddenly went crazy. And I feel this is the Facebook algorithm. This is really where I traced it back and obviously Twitter copied it. Google never went that far, but I don’t know, maybe they never really got Google Plus to take off. And I think this is really, for me, this is the single point I associated with. And I think everybody knows, but I mean, I go back to Twitter and I’m like a little reptile, right? I clicked like on these things that emotionally are of interest to me. How often do I actually click through the article? Not very often. Yeah. Well, I don’t do much social media. So I post a lot because I love photography, and I post to Instagram. When I go to social media, I look at my old photographs. That’s about it. You’re too old, man. You’re too old. Well, I used to be different, though, like when, I mean, I got on Twitter when they launched it South by Southwest and I was on Facebook when it required a college email address. Yeah, yeah, that’s a long time ago. It’s a long time ago. It is. Lots of changes, man. When I, how I behaved then is very different from how I behave now. Like I would go, I would post this stupidest shit. Like it would be like, I’m eating a burrito. You know, it was, it was like children behave now. And I, because we didn’t know what it was either. We didn’t know what it was. Like Twitter and Friend Feed were like, oh, it’s like status update. I guess I’ll post my current status. I’m eating a burrito. You know, it was just dumb stuff. You can still do that. If you’re, you know, Musk, you still, you still get a billion likes off this. But when you see this with kids, I think we are too old and we are kind of, we are making sense of this thing. And we are like, whoa, it doesn’t make any sense. But then I see my kids, how they reacted to this. And they are there. They don’t question it. Right. They just say, okay, this is what you need to do. I want the billion followers or want at least a million or want to be the most followers in the whole, whole school, right? This is the most important first step. How do I get there? I need to put something extreme that looks good and has like fleshy titles and the very fleshy thumbnail. And they’re really good with graphics. I mean, they’re amazing with graphics and the regs. That’s the positive externality of this for sure, is that, you know, at least they’re making stuff and they’re getting good at like visual aesthetics, you know, that’s definitely a positive externality. Yeah. That’s, I don’t know if we wanted that, but so, I mean, the, the, the, the, the, the part of your brain that deals with language and deals with speech, I mean, these kids are amazing. A friend of my, my, my son, um, we, we, we, we got a Starbucks coffee and he gave me this speech. I mean, I was like, boy, are you running a, a YouTuber or how do you, how do you know so many warts? Um, he’s like, no, no, I just, I just watched YouTube, but I have my own channel with a couple of thousand subscribers and I’m like, whoa. And he’s just a kid, right? But the, that’s something you wouldn’t see in most people until 25, right? So the, the brain definitely adapts to this and, um, but the sense making skills, they’re completely gone. Nobody worries about that. And it’s just not, I don’t know, it’s not a skill that’s required anymore. That’s maybe a good thing. I don’t know, because we specialize more, right? If you forget about the big picture, we easily go into these rabbit holes for better or worse, we can be influenced, but also we become this very knowledgeable, I don’t know, coders or, or mind, mind, we use our mind in a, in a very specific area, which is what’s required on the internet, right? We all want to be nine billion independent brains helping the hive to get better. Well, the, the more specialization one has, the more inclined they are to be replaced by an automaton. So I don’t know specializations like the best idea for my children. I will tell you a funny story though, my, my daughter, uh, this was years ago. She had a, um, remember when slime was hot or remember like all the kids were like making slime at home. And it was, I don’t know if you’re plugged into that whole thing. My, my daughter. There’s a real thing. Yeah. For a second. No, no, no, it’s like, like they were, it was like a big thing for young children and they were all these Instagram and channels and this was pre tick talk. So they were making slime and, um, she did it with a couple of her friends and, uh, I don’t know how, four years ago or something, five years ago and, um, uh, her friends, uh, one of them hijacked her Instagram channel and, um, my daughter created another one and she’s like, well, I’m like, we’ll just create your own and do your own thing. You know? And she’s like, okay, I’m going to do that. So she, she created her own slime channel and I went and bought followers for her. This is not a proud parenting moment. Oh no. It’s a funny one. So I went and bought Instagram followers. Yeah. I’ve never done before. So I was like, I don’t know. I was like, Google it. You know? And, uh, you know, I, I, they’re, first of all, they’re remarkably cheap. And then, um, I think that I, uh, I think that I had, uh, bought like, I don’t know, it was like 10,000 or something like that. And you, you selected like spacing it out over a number of days, which I was like, oh, that’s, that’s cool. It’s more real, so, um, you know, I, I spent probably like 30 bucks or something. I don’t remember how much it was. It was less than $100. And, um, which I was impressed. That seemed like real value. Yeah. I was like, it’s pretty cheap, you know? Uh, so what happened was though is that within, within like the moment I purchased to like 24 hours later, she had like a hundred thousand followers on Instagram over like five posts of slime and all of her friends were freaking out. And she’s like, she, she was at the time I want to see, she was probably like 11 years old, right? So she’s 15 now. So it was probably four years ago. And she was like, dad, you did something, didn’t you? And I was like, why, what would make you say that to, why would you think that? Uh, but she totally immediately knew it was me. And, um, yeah, that’s, that’s my, my Instagram slime influencer follower story. That’s how I made my daughter a slime influencer. I guess, I guess she’s, she’s still, uh, living off that fame a couple of years later. No. She killed the account. That was the thing. She was so embarrassed. She killed the account. I was like, I paid for those followers. No, she’s like, that’s embarrassing. I closed the account. So good for her. Yeah. There’s a, there’s a bunch. I mean, you know, the life, life in, in, in the digital natives often, uh, works, works just with followers. Like it’s, it’s irrespective of what you do. It’s all, um, this is hierarchy of followers. And, um, you know, it’s, it’s obviously a flawed metric, but there is something to it. I think, um, that has helped us. It has been, well, when, when I looked at YouTube, say eight, nine years ago, most of the content was really boring and it was not something I would want to watch. And it was, was definitely below the TV level. There’s a lot of YouTube content now that’s way above it quality, but way more important in content, way above what’s available on TV. And I think this is, this is certainly a gift to humanity that you can explore every angle of human knowledge. Most of it, I wouldn’t, maybe the word knowledge is not the right word, but every kind of entertainment, but also knowledge, a lot of education there and, um, the, and that’s, you know, ideally what I want to do at some point with this podcast is kind of sneak in education. It doesn’t sound and it doesn’t, um, doesn’t feel like education, but you learn something from it. And this, this is an amazing gift that YouTube is giving to humanity, um, as, as, as much as I can criticize a lot of the social media, this is a great result. And, you know, in 20 years, nobody will look at that, will, will, will talk about how it actually happened, right? They look at the results and say, how could you even live without YouTube? How could, how could anyone learn? How could anyone, um, you know, figure out what, what, um, they want to, they want to learn about how could they try it out and I was, I was talking to, to some of my favorite Yale professors that I never met in person. I didn’t go to Yale, but I listened to their, their courses online and their, their, their wall changing for me, so to speak. They, they gave me knowledge like in the middle ages or, um, about religions, about the Old Testament that I would probably have never been able to access in that form that quickly on that high level by myself. And I’m, I’m very thankful to YouTube for this, um, and it’s, it’s, they, they’re getting a lot of email where they say, well, for the follow up courses, you would, would have to go to Yale, right? That’s kind of the idea. It’s kind of a, it’s like a free email model. But I think a lot of people just go somewhere else where they get the follow up for free. So education basically, and it’s happening right now, it happened the last five years, has become free and extremely high quality. Yeah, if there’s, um, uh, first, let me say that the, uh, concerns we have over social media are certainly well founded, but I expect that when we look back on this 20 years from now, it, we will look similar to the people who, um, were concerned that the newspaper was going to destroy humanity, which that really happened. People were concerned that the newspaper was going to destroy humanity. And, uh, newspapers, uh, I mean, heck, just go back to the founding of the United States. The newspapers were, uh, they looked a lot like social media. They were, they were trolling each other. They were, um, inciting, uh, riots and, and, um, spreading lies. So this isn’t new, the format’s definitely different and it’s just a function of where we are societally. And I believe that the pendulum swings back and forth. And, uh, I do think that at some point we’ll look back at this and go, Oh, I remember when people thought that this kind of online social media, it was, was going to rot our brains. You know, it was in books, truly books were another one, you know, thousands of years ago, uh, that was something that was, there was a concern that that was going to cause like societal issues and rot people’s brains if they read books, um, or maybe it was a thousand years ago. I don’t remember. Uh, anyway, as, as it pertains to century, I believe, yeah, hundreds, there you go. So, uh, as it pertains to, um, education, uh, the, the very idea of MindTouch that I, I really wanted to go after, which I left out was I wanted to go after Elsevier because they have an academic publishing platform that requires people to pay huge annual subscriptions to get access to their research, which the research is produced by, uh, public dollars that we pay for as part of our public university system, I’m private colleges too, but a lot of it comes from public universities at our tax dollars fund and their research papers then get put behind a paywall, which Elsevier monetizes. So the very original idea was I thought that, uh, providing a framework for people to have online publishing, um, and peer review was something that I was very passionate about and wanted to disrupt. Um, it’s interesting that the technology of MindTouch, uh, was adopted by a variety of different, um, open textbook, uh, organizations, including LibraTex, which now is the largest, uh, body of, I know, chemistry and several other disciplines online and the most traffic to kids like, you know, millions of viewers a day who visit LibraTex to do, um, chemistry and other research and they’re a, uh, nonprofit organization that started out of, uh, University of California Davis and they used MindTouch to, uh, solve, to create an open textbook is, is where it began was, you know, textbooks are incredibly expensive and they’re unnecessarily expensive. So, uh, professor of chemistry at UC Davis decided that he was going to create an open textbooks, the textbook, he, he nailed it for like Kim 101, 102, and then he started building from there and then other disciplines piled on and, um, they also created curriculum in MindTouch, uh, and, uh, they’re one of several open textbook networks that are filling niche like the, the LibraTex one does it for, um, uh, college level. And then I know that there’s, there’s another one whose name is escaping me right now that does it for elementary schools, uh, in, in disadvantaged communities to be able to get access to, uh, curriculum. Um, so the, uh, fact remains that, you know, technologies are, there’s, there’s always a double edged sword, right? There’s, there’s always the good, the bad, but I’m an optimist and I, I overwhelmingly believe that there’s a march toward progress that is overwhelmingly positive for humankind and society. Yeah. I mean, that’s, that’s a strong message. Of course. I think the same, but you know, sometimes it’s hard to the in betweens and go through the ups and downs of the in betweens and, you know, in terms of education, you know, someone who, who grew up with us, um, and I think, you know, well, Aaron Schwartz, who designed the RSS system for the RSS, um, feed in the, in the first place, he, he had the same idea, right? He published, um, a lot of papers from the court system for free because they were supposed to be for free. Just a download was like a delivery charge and he was like, whoa, this, this makes no sense. And he got a big trouble for this, um, a big legal trouble. He obviously violated copyrights, but it is kind of a gray zone, um, because those were non copyrighted, freely, publicly accessible documents. Um, he was, he was arrested and prosecuted for, for, uh, taking court documents that were, uh, in the public domain. Um, and, and I don’t remember this, the details of it, um, but I can’t recall what he was like transporting them on a thumb drive or something and yeah, so he, they were excess, they were accessible anyways, um, for, for this download fee, right? And, um, so he, he put them on this, on this, um, on his local drive and they were, they were assuming he would release them because we had released other documents before. He was kind of not planning to do that or maybe he wasn’t really knows, but a lot of what, what they were worried about is that you, did you scan through all these documents? There’s a lot of names of, uh, secret service agents of FBI agents that were kind of in these court filings, but nobody could access them in bulk. So they were kind of protected, which sounds lousy to me as a lousy excuse, but, um, he had a little big trouble with the FBI. I don’t know. He, he died eventually. I don’t, I don’t know if there was a suicide or people say he was suicidal. I don’t actually know what happened in the end, uh, but that was a really sad ending of someone who really believes in the open internet, um, and really put his life, um, you know, underlying for this. Yeah. I think there’s a thing that happens with people who have, um, really meteoric success early in their careers that, uh, causes them to become, um, to, to expect that that’s like their path. And when they reach a point that there’s, there’s, uh, uh, the slope decreases or even dips, they, uh, become desperate. Um, there’s, there’s other examples of this, like, um, Child Actors. Sure. Child Actors. I’m thinking in tech though, like Ian Murdoch, right? Like he’s self destructed, you know, the creator of Debian. Um, I mean, what a wonderful human being and he completely self destructed. I don’t know if there was maybe mental health issues otherwise, but it just seems like this is a thing where, you know, people get so tied up in their identity and, um, labels. It’s hard. Yeah. I mean, I, I struggled with that too. You know, when I was 19, I was a billionaire and I didn’t do anything for it. I mean, I did work a lot, right? But I, well, paper billionaire, you know, the paper, paper billions, um, so our company was about to go IPO and I was maybe, I was 20 and a half by that time, right, when it was supposed to go IPO. It never went IPO or distinct when bankrupt a couple of months later or kind of, right? It got a, it got an underwater route. But what, I struggled with this in the sense of, you know, you, you, you think, and if you’re really young and I, we were talking about this, um, I was talking about that with another guest, um, when you’re really young, you feel like it’s your ego. You can’t distinguish external events that happen. You happen to be in the middle of it and that’s good luck. Maybe there’s probably also a lot of talent involved, but it’s very difficult for you when you less than 30, but it’s still hard even in your 30s and 40s, but it gets a little easier to separate what is external forces and your ego and what is your own talent. And you mix those all up and you know what your ego does. And I think this is very natural. Your ego says, no, it’s all you. All these, all these people around you are idiots, but you’re so smart. You figured this out. And then once you’re flying so high, you obviously don’t want, that’s, and I said this in the context of nobody wants to go on a podcast because the people still like it, so arrogant. They don’t even want to talk about it because they also feel like I kind of don’t deserve it, but I’m so, on the other hand, they feel like I’m so smart. And then there is a, you, you, you come down from this drug and it’s, but it’s a strong, it’s a deep struggle, I feel. And it’s kind of, I’m, we’re looking at my own children. I’m not so sure if this is a good or bad thing that you have early success in your career. Maybe it’s not such a great thing. It kind of opens the doors for you. But on the other hand, it’s, it’s moving, it’s a moving target, right? You move where you want to be in 20 years from now in a way that’s doable, but extremely unlikely. Yeah. I, so I went through, you know, I left MindTouch and I was the founder CEO. I went through a divorce and my, so much of my identity was wrapped up in being a husband and a founder CEO that it was, it was really difficult for me to transition, right? To what, oh, I don’t even know who I am now, right? And I think I’ve observed other people who, you know, both, both, one, they can’t get out of a toxic relationship. So they just double down, triple down and they stay in it because their identity is wrapped up in that. Or two, you know, they, they have a label that they’ve so interwoven into their identity founder CEO, a billionaire, right? That they don’t ever recover or they’re always chasing that same label. Even though it’s, it’s hurting them, it’s not helping them. You know, I’ve seen it with, with founder CEOs that either they sell their company, their company implodes, or they just reach a point where they, I mean, I don’t know, even like me, like I left, I left and it was, it made sense to, you know, I think a lot of people don’t realize it’s time to move on because they’re so wrapped up in that label. And how it manifests itself is it’s kind of like the guy in high school who his best years were in high school and he can’t, he can’t move on from the high school football game. So they’re chasing one new founder CEO title to the next founder CEO title. Even though to really develop themselves as a human being and advance themselves in their career, they need to move on from that. You know, I, I went and took a senior director position at a big company. That was, that was a huge shift. I was running a little four person team and it was, it was a big shift. And the whole time I was like checking my ego, like why am I getting, why am I upset? Why am I getting anxious? And I’m like, oh, because I’m being an egotistical prick and I’m like, this is so beneath me. Why am I only running a four person team? Why am I only, why am I only a senior director? And it’s those, those tricks, your mind play on you that’ll get you. And it’s the fear, the fear that the ego generates that will get you. One of the things that I, I, I learned. So I gave you one about distribution, focus on distribution, right? In entrepreneurship, that’s the number one thing is how are you going to, like if you got $500 million, you’ll figure out the distribution. No problem. You got it. You know, but if you don’t, then you better come up with most of your energies needs to be focused on distribution and coming up with a disrupt, disruptive go to market that gets your product distribution. So that’s, that’s one of your original questions. One of the three. The second thing is, I like how we, how long, how we stretch out the, the answer to this podcast. I like it. You keep, no, I like how you keep going back to this. That’s very nice of you. Makes my job much easier. Oh yeah. You have to like go back and like cut it. It’s like, it’s like you planned it this way. No, no, no, no, no cutting. Okay. Well, the second, the second thing I learned was, I define your identity based off of your behaviors that you value, like your core values and your behaviors. Don’t define it off of your, your achievements or labels, right? Like your achievements, your, your, uh, how much you’re making a year or, uh, your, your title, those, those are, that, that changes, that’s, that’s transitory. But if you instead define your identity off of your core values, integrity, hard work, humility, um, uh, beginner’s mind, you know, my, some of my core values or behaviors, I’m the kind of person who likes to help other people. I’m the kind of person who likes to build businesses. I’m the kind of person who likes to start businesses. It’s just a much more healthy, effective place to be. Um, so that, that was another key thing I learned from, um, my time at MindTouch. Uh, and I’ll give you a third one as we keep talking at some point. Okay. No, I, I, this, this is a big one. I, I fully agree with you, um, this, this, I can see a lot of wisdom in what you just said. And it’s, it’s a, it’s a tough personal development to get there. Um, I noticed from my friends, some haven’t gone there. So I had cofounders in the first ventures and some are still a prick, right? You can’t talk to them. They just, they’re living in their own world and they’re, they’re certain, they’re better than everyone else. And they kind of tell you, they kind of not, they don’t tell you, right? And then I have others who, when I, I, I came back to this, we, we always had people, designers, you know, at the time, who were kind of in between development and in between sales. And they kind of, they had their own identity and everyone was like, everyone wanted to be like this, but everyone also didn’t want to be like them, right? Everyone wanted to be more successful, but kind of as cool as they were. Like they were, they were, they were also doing product development. And I always felt, and they were never really, you know, they were kind of their own cell. They had nothing to do with management. They really didn’t report to anyone. They did what they wanted to do and then you went home and whatever that was, it could be 11 a.m. And I always felt they, even as young people, they had enough experience with philosophy, with art, with places they can attach their mind to that whatever they do, if they work tomorrow, that’s kind of, it’s fully optional. They read a lot of philosophy. They, they were really close to what’s going on in religion without being really steeped into one religion per se. And I always felt this is a good model if you, and I was, you know, 20 years ago, and I used the last 10 years really to, to develop myself, to see the world, right? See 130 different countries to read pretty much any philosopher I can put my hands on to, to read the Old and New Testament. I felt those things really helped me to, to not just grab some random values, but also think about those values long enough so I can identify the ones that not just matter to me emotionally, but also matter to me. That’s how I want to be interacting with other people. And incidentally, those are very similar to what you just said, right? This is a portion of humility. Again, those are values that the military teaches you and a lot of people ignored. Obviously in that 20s, they’re like, whoa, what is this? I’m just, I’m going to do it, but I don’t know if I want to be like this. But it’s this, this way that you ask more questions. It’s the way that you, you, you help other people solve problems in their lives and eventually these, these things will help you survive. And that’s why I call religions kind of as a, as a survival handbook, right? They teach you this, but they’re hands off enough, depending on the religion. They don’t actually tell you these 10 things you have to do, but they kind of give you a whole set of stories and you can kind of read these things sooner or later out of it. Have you explored religions? Have you looked into philosophy? Where did you learn these values or did they just came out of like a daily thinking process for you? Yeah. So I, before I started my career, I didn’t, I didn’t go to college until I was 25. And I went to college for applied mathematics. Prior to that, I just, I traveled with mostly backpacking and I read. And most of what I read was philosophy and religion. So that was my, my, you know, early life prior to going to college. And that had a pretty significant impact, but it’s interesting because I went through a shift when I went to college, uh, where I then, I then, you know, got on the hedonic treadmill and wanted to focus on, um, providing for my family. It was, I guess it was right after college, you know, cause I initially like all, all of my efforts with MindTouch initially were altruistic, but then I was like, I, I, I’m, I can eat ramen, top ramen and I, I’m about to have children. So I got to figure something out. So, you know, I really moved away from my, my roots, my foundation that were, uh, all of my spiritual roots, I, I really just, I guess I just suppressed them. And then after going through the divorce, I, I met a woman who actually grew up in the same little town in Northern California as me. Um, and we went to the same junior high school and high school. We didn’t know each other who were only two years apart, didn’t know each other, but she’s a, she’s a yoga therapist. And we started dating and it reminded me of all of the things that I believed as a young person, like it is in my, my late teens and twenties, and it got me to reconnect with that. I mean, I still exhibited those behaviors, like I was still, uh, very focused on service of others. And in fact, even, even, um, all of my entrepreneurial efforts, I often struggled with, uh, until I could find purpose in helping others advance their careers. And that’s where I was like, Oh, okay, this is something I can be passionate about is my work doing knowledge based software for companies, which sounds so boring. Uh, I, I could get excited and passionate about because I could help other people develop their careers and, uh, support their families and, and, and really accelerate them. Um, so, but the point I was making is that, yes, I did, uh, read religion and philosophy a lot and I’ve gotten back to it. I mean, I’ve always, you know, read Watts and, you know, I go back to Buddha Dharma and the Dow, even when I was an entrepreneur, but I really didn’t start reconnecting in with this until really like the last, you know, probably year or so when I, uh, started dating this wonderful person as a yoga therapist and kind of brought me back to things that I, I held so closely that I had not been focused on. Yeah. It is a journey and it’s, it’s, it’s not something you can teach it, I feel, but it, there is a certain life experience or choir to take these values seriously. Right. I, I, I went through philosophy at this first bout before I started my venture of 17, 18, 19. I found it supremely interesting, but it didn’t really speak to me. It wasn’t something I, I found it interesting because I wanted to feel and learn how the world works, but their learnings kind of didn’t really speak to me in that sense. You know, I read Kant and Heidegger and Schopenhauer and those are complicated books and especially if you have no life experience to speak of, they’re like, um, okay, this sounds, yeah, it sounds fascinating, but it, this is not my life. This is just like, I don’t know, some kind of history or read, right? It’s, it’s really hard to connect to it with just dates and you’re like, okay, whatever. Um, and it took a long time to get, to get back to this. Um, and I, I was about to say, you, you probably heard, you probably listened too much of Jordan Peterson, who is for a lot of people, that person who gave them a bit of a spiritual awakening, um, way to, to think about this and, uh, he, he’s done a marvelous job at that, at that, I feel, um, I, sorry, it’s interesting what you just said, which was that there was these textbooks you’ve read that, or these, these, these great works that you read that you, uh, did as a child, uh, which I did too. Like I, I was reading things that, that I, you know, up some of, some of the philosophers you’ve mentioned and other psychologists and then Buddha Dharma and, you know, Kabbalah and stuff like that. When I was, when I was in my late teens and early twenties, but it didn’t really start clicking for me until, you know, pretty recently, and I was just like, oh yeah, right, you know, you go back and you revisit these things and when, with life experience, you can connect with them more meaningfully and it makes more sense. Yeah. They’re very difficult to teach and I don’t know if this is a fixable problem. Maybe YouTube is going to help us with that. And you, you, you were saying that the earlier that nowadays is enormous access to the library of human knowledge and it gets more accessible, it’s more entertaining every day. I feel we haven’t seen the fruits of this yet. It’s there. And I’ve always referred to the African example. There’s a lot of connectivity in Africa now, but we, we don’t see this uptake in, in that generation yet. And maybe this is just a delay, probably this, right? It’s only been really available for the last 10 years, maybe even just the last five years where literally every college has a bunch of, um, introductory courses online that you can follow pretty much any degree. You can do a psychology degree without getting necessarily the degree is not, you’re not accredited, but you can go through all the lectures and you can go through the same tests. I’ve, what do you think happens in 20 years with everyone as kind of, you know, I, I’ve just been started, I started driving a couple of years ago just to have time to really digest all this material and have, have my, my, my day basically free of this. I’m not looking at emails. Um, what do you think is going to happen when everyone makes use of this right now? People are kind of on the, on the border lines and they kind of, they have maybe a little time reserved for this and then the kids do a little bit of that. But what if the whole planet is basically just learning, learning, learning eight hours a day? Oh, what do you think happens to society? Well, I think, uh, we’re seeing it already, right? Which is we’re seeing an acceleration, right? Things are, you know, looking at the concept of the singularity with it being exponentially exponential, um, look at what’s occurred over the last 100 years, people’s intelligence and knowledge has just accelerated and it’s going to continue to accelerate. I think that the, uh, the, when we look back on the last, let’s say, I don’t know, 10 years, I hope that we look at it as though it was the dark ages, which I have every expectation that we will, you know, if we look back at the last 10 years and this divergence that we’ve taken, uh, into this narcissistic psychosis of social media where people invest their time there, you know, it’s, it’s like a transitional period to when people then, um, realize the, the true potential of this, this massive network, I, I got into, um, I always liked math, but I went into software and I studied applied math, uh, with an emphasis on, on computer science because of the potential for the internet to accelerate mankind’s or humankind’s excuse me, um, ability to, um, progress through knowledge. And, uh, when I was in, it was, it was for me, it was a, you know, I, I grew up pre internet on bulletin board services in the Bay area, like my, my little farm town, Morgan Hill. I actually had a San Jose phone number and it was probably the most profound thing that happened to me in my entire life is that I had a San Jose phone number so I could dial into the bulletin board services in San Jose without paying $2 a minute long distance fees, which I, my family couldn’t have afforded. So the internet was always this great potential to, uh, act, it was this great access to knowledge even back when it was just a BBS service, right? And then when the internet happened, I, I spent a big part of the nineties in the woods, didn’t have a TV, didn’t have a computer. It wasn’t until, um, I think it was 90, uh, gosh, I think it was like 98, I got a computer again, even though I grew up programming. And when I went online and I was like, okay, yep, it’s way more mature. It’s way easier to access stuff. I’m going to go study computer science. Um, and when I was studying, I, I started, uh, some nonprofit organizations in North Carolina because I went to Chapel Hill and the thing I saw was my now ex wife, um, she was teaching in inner city schools with children who were, um, they lived their entire lives within like, uh, you know, probably like three to five mile radius of their home. So their experience was their public housing community and, um, the, the, the gang violence and, uh, drug abuse that they saw around them. So what, what I did was I was like, okay, this is untenable. These are my, my wife at the time’s students. And I set up a computer lab and I got it connected to the internet and I started taking them around the world over the internet. And this was, I mean, this was night, so I guess this was would have been 99, 1999 was when I first started the first lab. And then by the time I left North Carolina, we had 16 community centers and they would be inside the public housing communities or the schools or church basements and, um, they were staffed with, with local people and, uh, there was a curriculum, um, and the crime rates dropped. I don’t, I’m going to get wrong with the crime rates were, but they dropped by like almost 20%. Maybe it was 20%. I don’t remember. What happened was I was getting these young people into a collaborative situation with people from across different gang lines because the public housing communities tended to run around the gang lines. Like that’s what determined, I’m from a Google terrace, I’m from whatever, but because staffing was a problem and you’d have surges of kids in one location and another one to be empty. I partnered with the local churches and we would just take the vans around and get them to the different community centers. And we got them doing, uh, projects online, um, with one another and traveling outside of their neighborhood and it opened their eyes to an entirely different universe. So where does this go, uh, you know, it’s, it’s, I, like I said, I’m an optimist. It’s difficult for me. I know things look really bleak and bad right now. We just had the capital, uh, attacked by terrorists. Um, there’s so much polarization in our society, but I, I’m, I, I believe that, um, there will be new technologies that make it easier for people to, uh, under, to consume knowledge like facts, not, not, uh, propaganda from Russia, which by the way, I think is one of the most significant contributors to the polarization polarization of the United States is its propaganda from troll farms in Russia. I think it’s grossly understated how much of an impact that’s had on the United States. And um, we’re going to have new technologies, new ways to make education snackable, uh, so that it’s more accessible to people and it’s going to have a profound impact. Um, and, and I, people think things are really bad, but look across the, the scope of human history, we’ve never lived in a more peaceful time. Yeah. I mean, that, that alone gives me, gives me a pause because you know, I, I, I’m a big fan of NASA telep and the idea of fragility, um, if, if something, you know, it’s like, if the stock market hasn’t gone up for, has gone up for so long and, um, we have that much peace that to me immediately means something bad is coming. That’s like the storm clouds are basically just behind the invisible horizon. And, um, I, I think what, what, what, what we all going to be, and I, I think this is, this is, this is on one hand, um, something that we all wanted as, as, you know, early Internet entrepreneurs, and on the other hand, it’s something weird that’s happening right now. There is this idea that we all work for the platforms, right? We, we, this video is going to be on YouTube and YouTube wants creators because they make money off creators, right? So they, they basically hire a billion freelancers, so to speak, YouTube creators. Now they get something out of it too, right? The problem is always with these platforms, they control the whole process. Um, they can shut off your traffic tomorrow. They can shut off your monetization tomorrow. They can just kill your account and you’re gone. So it’s a very odd, uh, relationship that we are entering where the tag platforms and it’s always the same names, right? It’s Apple, Facebook, um, Google, um, Twitter, and they, they control our lives. And I think they, they, they drive this atomization of knowledge, what we talked about, right? This neckability of knowledge, um, that’s something they, they, they have at their heart. And I think this is, this is really, this is not just pretentious virtual signaling. This is actually true. And it’s happening in front of our eyes, right? It’s the, the, the knowledge, the depth of knowledge and the, the availability of this. Um, it’s never, the last three years are incredible. I mean, just the amount of videos, even the ads are really incredible that you get on YouTube. I’m, I’m blown away every day by this. And this is where you exceeded the, the, the TV quality. So this is all great. And I think this will lead to something better sooner or later. I’m not really sure about the in between you made, you, you, you mentioned this about, um, Russia. I’m sure these exist and they’re very, very, very effective. But on the other hand, you know, the U.S. has done this on a, on a scale, pretty much any under country in the world. And it’s, it’s made an impact. I’m not sure it makes that much of an impact. So I’m sure we have Russian interference. I’m sure we have Chinese interference. Um, it’s relatively cheap and they have all the skills to do this. And they know where our weak points are. And I, I, this may even go into the election. Um, these things are all true, but you always feel that the, the values of the average American kind of protect you against this. And I think they have for some, for the longest time at, it hasn’t really happened for the last five years. And I mean, I trace it back to the Facebook feed and people are so addicted to Facebook. There’s something else going on that I can’t quite understand. So I know this is something how people have been manipulated. What’s amazing to me is that they, they have accepted the manipulation, but despite being all that other knowledge out there, they could have access to the kind of diverted to, okay, we just give up on common sense and we just go into this rabbit hole. That is something I kind of explain. I see it in San Francisco every day, right? People outside, it’s really no, in San Francisco is a city of lots of smart people, right? I mean, they are abundant here. It’s people that started companies, but they, they’ve been very successful in art as well. There’s been so many restaurants, but 90% of the people here, they are, I don’t know what it is. It’s a deep depression. I don’t know how to describe it. They kind of have shut themselves off from reality and they are cloudified themselves. That’s how I call this. They’ve, they’ve trying to escape the reality by going into the cloud or in another world, right? But often it is the cloud. And I, I can’t next, I couldn’t put my finger onto this, why this happened and why it happened to America. It happens to other countries too, but I think we’re definitely leading the way there. Yeah. There’s, there’s a lot in what you just said that, that I had thoughts about the, the first point you made it was that when you see that the stock market hasn’t just keeps going up and up and up, it feels like there’s like a, a shoes about to drop or there’s cloud storms on the horizon. Is that, are you, are you expecting that there’s like some reckoning or correction that’s about to happen? Is that what you’re, you’re suggesting? Yeah. I’m not saying it’s tomorrow, but I’m, I’m, we are in this, you know, the last sucker punch that’s kind of the name a lot of people use for this is we had these crises and they are all generated by money printing by the Fed and, you know, really weird inflation targets and the asset price bubbles that we see. They won’t go away. We just maybe go in the next iteration of this and then maybe next time it’s going to start a real revolution. I don’t think it’s going to go on much longer. I mean, it’s maybe five or 10 years, but it’s not going to be like this for 20 or 30 years. Yeah. I think so, um, modern monetary theory would tell us that, which, you know, you could, you could debate, which I’m not, I’m not versed enough on it to debate, um, that I used to think that the government can’t just print money. And yeah, it actually can. And we won’t actually feel the effects of inflation. Um, and there’s, there’s reasons behind that that I could not personally describe. Well, to, to break it down, it’s really about technology growth. So technology is so deflationary, it doesn’t make sense to print money. I’m not against any money printing. I don’t want to go back to the gold center. That’s, that’s, I think a little crazy, but the, the extremes we have gone and you see this in the total numbers, it can be okay, but we need extreme technology, um, uptick. So we need extreme, extremely higher productivity, um, in order to make this money printing not a problem. It could happen, right? I mean, I’m not saying this is not going to happen. I’m very hopeful this would happen, but it’s a really high risk we put ourselves up for. Or you can tax the dollars back out of the economy and the way you tax the dollars out of the economy, I mean, you, you can write that would decrease def inflation, right? It would make it so inflation wouldn’t occur. And if you look at our trend on inflation, it’s not, we’re not seeing like massive spikes in inflation. It’s not politically feasible. I don’t think we can do austerity or high taxes. It’s not going to happen politically. I mean, too shaky for that. But, um, so the next thing you were talking about was, uh, there was a middle point, but I’ll jump to the San Francisco one, um, I used to spend a lot of time in San Francisco. You know, I grew up in Morgan Hill, South Bay area. And, uh, because of work, I, I spent like at least a week a month in San, I live in San Diego, so I’d spent at least a week a month in San Francisco. And there was, there was like a shift in San Francisco. By the way, the last time I was doing this, like where I was spending one to two weeks a month in San Francisco was in 2017, I think, yeah, probably 2017. So it’s been a few years now. Um, but there was a shift that went back to, I don’t know, probably like, that was 2018. Probably it was like 2014 or so where there was a wave of people who came to the city that probably would have gone to Wall Street, right? And that was, you know, the East Coast crowd, yeah, yeah, yeah, they went to technology. Yeah. And they, instead of going and taking a job in finance, they, they came to the Bay Area and there was that massive wave and I guess it was probably like 2010 was when it really kicked off and started accelerating. And the, the state of the city just changed so dramatically. I remember going to San Francisco as a kid and hanging out in the hate or going down by the, the, the peers, um, and it was just a completely different environment from what it is today. And when I would go there, you know, one to two weeks a month, people would say like, you’re here all the time. Why don’t you just move here and my brother lives there and my sister lives up there. And, um, I was like, you know, everybody’s trying to pitch you. I don’t know if it’s still the, this way now, because it’s been a couple of years since I was like consistently up there. Everybody’s trying to tell you about their startup and pitch you and it just, it was exhausting. It’s like, I just want to go talk to people who do real things, like run a restaurant or, you know, a farmer or they’re a mechanic. It’s just like, I don’t want to constantly be pitched to your fucking web highlighter or whatever bullshit software that you’re excited about because you’re looking for your next round of investment or you’re trying to do a startup or it’s just, it just was exhausting. It sounds like a, like a first world problem, but, but that’s changed a lot. The East Coast crowd is all gone, you know, we’ve lost 50% of the people who spend a lot of time here. Let’s put it this way. They, most of them were not residents. They commuted anyways, but 50% revenue, sales tax revenue already came down and the rents came down by 50%. So that seems to be about half the people. Yeah. It’s a lot of people left. So there’s no entrepreneurial talk anymore. It’s a completely different world and all the, yeah, yeah, it’s very empty. It’s very empty. It’s a, it’s a different city. Just the last 12 months have changed it completely. And even before that, it started changing. So this is not just COVID, this already happened before just accelerated a lot, leaving this place. Huh. Yeah. My issue was, you know, the twofold one was the, I just, I want authentic human connection where people are sincere in their desire to connect with you. And it’s not like a transaction. And that’s where I was like, I just, it was exhausting because it was so transactional. And then the, the hypocrisy of what was the richest city on the planet combined with how we treat people who are mentally ill and we don’t, we don’t care for them. They’re all over the streets because we haven’t cared for them. It’s like, when I go to, you go to London and, and I run, I go to London and I, I would run five miles every day and I would never see a homeless person. I live in San Diego and I split my time between San Diego and San Francisco. And it’s like, it’s just the streets are littered with people who they need to help. They’re mentally ill. I mean, oh, they’re drug addicts. Yeah. That’s called mental illness. Right. Or, or they, they have schizophrenia or something else. Yeah. The city, the city has trouble. There’s been a lot of money and it’s been spent primarily on social services. And the, the, the problem with, with the homeless population is really it’s not spending the money. It’s what policy that is within the realms of the city. They’re very woke, right? So they’re extremely left wing. And part of this, and I think this is a good thing. But part of this very left wing idea, very liberal idea is you can’t really, you can’t expect anything from people, literally nothing, and you shouldn’t expect anything. And you can’t enforce anything either. So you can only provide services, but you cannot enforce anything. And so the trouble is there were shelters that were built, obviously we get a lot more people. There’s a lot more homeless people that went over the years to San Francisco because of the very sustained useful handouts and the free services that the city provides, which I think is a good thing, but nothing is enforced. So what happened is you, a lot of people who are in this cycle of drugs and mental illness, they are not people that are, because the shelters have a policy, you shouldn’t have drugs. It still happens, but you shouldn’t, right? So the sooner or later they get thrown out of these shelters and then where do they go? Well, they go back on the street, right? So, and can you hold them against their will? You cannot, right? We also have no laws enforcing that you cannot camp on the sidewalks. So sooner or later, you’re going to have the same cycle appearing kind of irrespective of what you offer. There were even, so we now most homeless people on this, it’s gotten better in the sense of we have a lot of hotels that were converted into homeless shelters, hundreds, well not hundreds, but dozens and thousands of homeless people were sheltered during COVID 19. But they all turned into meth labs, like every single one is a meth lab and they have security guards, right? They are not unsupervised. So there’s obviously the security guards have been there in on this, or maybe they sleep a lot. I don’t know what happened. And there’s a lot of violence. There have been a lot of gang violence, drug violence resulting from this. So there’s a huge backlash against these immediate neighborhoods that just don’t want these shelters anymore. And I think the problem is if you’re on one hand, you have all this money, but you still have the same problem. I think you could throw 10 times the amount of money it is if you don’t enforce any policies that are actually good, but it’s obviously hard for the individual might not be good, but for in general, they are good. If you don’t enforce those, I don’t think this much you can do. I wonder what else you could do if you feel like you can’t enforce and you can only spend more money. I think that’s why this, what the city is trapped in. Yeah, there was a period in which people who were mentally ill were put in mental hospitals. And that’s a horrific chapter in our history. When you read about the circumstances and the environment that they were put in. And then in the early 80s, they were all emptied out. And they literally emptied them out into like Skid Row and LA and other places. Neither approach is tenable. And there has to be something in between that provides a compassionate environment for people to live. But the idea that, you know, we can have, I mean, San Diego’s just as the population of homeless in San Diego’s is just as I, it’s been a while since I looked at the stats, but it was, they were comparable. I think San Diego was the same as San Francisco. So we don’t have like very liberal social policies down here. So I know that a lot of San Franciscans, particularly right leaning ones are like, oh, we attract them because of our social network and we pay them to be here. And that’s not true in San Diego, you know, San Diego’s got a long history of being more Republican and our populations just as large. I don’t know what the answer is, but, you know, the San Francisco point you were originally making was about a kind of malaise over the city. And is that, was that an observation you had pre COVID or was that something that you’re making? So the COVID problem has, it’s less visible now, sorry, the homeless problems less visible due to all the shelters that opened during COVID, which basically were hotels. So we had a lot of these motels that were not able to accept any guests anymore for about six months. And they paid the hotels very well, it’s $200 per person per room. And these hotels would run at $50, I mean, this is not the highest, right? This is like the Motel 6. So I think everyone was happy. And that was actually something that worked for six months. You kind of, you kind of made the problem invisible. And then it came back with the vengeance. I don’t know if there is a simple idea that you can do. I think there’s been, Europe has been a little more successful in that, but also because the societies in Europe generally allow less of a freedom. There’s way more standards and social standards and they’re being enforced from person to person, not as much by the government, but the government joins in on this. And what they’ve been doing is they give people methadone and they kind of, I think there’s more of an enforcement with that policy and to give you free drugs for life, basically. And in the U.S., it’s kind of more off on, right? You get free drugs for a while, there’s free heroin, for instance, that was offered for a while and then it was over, right? And then you’re addicted to it and then you’re in trouble, right? Where do I get my next dosage from? So I was wondering if, I was hoping there is an easy solution for this and I think what is always my solution for a lot of these problems, obviously it’s not for people who are mentally ill. But in general, I feel if we have the opportunity to give people access to opportunity, right, if we show them like you did, right, you did with the schools, if we show them there is another world out there and this is the opportunity and maybe we should do UBI as well, right? So we kind of have two sides of this, we guarantee a certain minimum and on the other side we give people a lot more opportunity and we make them see this opportunity. I think that would be my recipe. If you’re really seriously mentally ill, that obviously doesn’t help, but if you can get yourself out there and I’ve talked to a bunch of homeless folks and not everyone is mentally ill, right? I’d say this is a good group, but I’d say half of them are, they’re kind of decently very functional human beings, right? They don’t see demons all the time. Yeah, I mean, when I talk about mentally ill, I’m not talking about the, you know, there’s spiders in my brain, mental illness. But if you’re, I mean, drug abuse is addiction, we know now better than we ever have that addiction is a symptom of a trauma, it’s a symptom of a mental problem that’s been created by either trauma or something else, right? And then similarly, like, look, I live, I could live my entire life from the road and often I do, like I’m in my Jeep, my motorcycle, I work from the road, but I’m not living on the sidewalk in San Francisco. And if you’re willing to live in those conditions, you should try for maybe a week or two. I’m really curious about that. I really want to do it. There’s a bunch of people who do that or have done that in Europe and I really admire their their results. I want to do it. So I have been homeless before I’ve been homeless and I’ve slept on the street, but it was not much city. I was Minnesota, Minnesota, but it’s not something I’d recommend and it’s not something I recreate. And when I, when I’ve been homeless, it’s more been like, well, one time I had a house that burned down and I had no home literally. So, but I was in, I was like in my, I think I was 19 or 20. But I mean, I’ve also been homeless in the sense that I just lived out on my backpack and was on the road for a lot of time. So that kind of homeless, I wouldn’t characterize as mental illness. But if you’re willing to sleep on the streets in San Francisco, my guess is you’re dealing with some problems. Probably, probably. I mean, I don’t know. I would also call it the tenderline, which has a lot of, you know, free housing and there’s an in between. It’s hard to really get a good view into the community, to be honest. I talked to a bunch of folks who work in community outreach and I couldn’t get a clear picture. It’s we need more money. We need better policies. We need that. It’s, it’s, I can’t, I mean, I couldn’t solve it. If you are like me, the mayor of San Francisco, I can’t solve it, to be honest. I would have different policies for sure, but I’m not sure it would work much better. I think, I think you touched on it too is like, I’ve talked to a lot of people who are in, in housing, in programs and policy, I can’t get a clear picture on it either. My, my understanding is, I think you touched upon it. Like if you look at the model that’s been provided to us by Europe, those are probably pretty good models, you know, there’s models where they’re required to be in housing. They cannot sleep on the street and they get their regular doses of whatever chemicals they’re addicted to that help them maintain. And there’s certain expectations that they have to meet, but they aren’t allowed to just go live on the street. I’ve, I’ve jogged all over Paris, all over London, all over Barcelona, all over Budapest, all over, you know, different countries. I don’t see what we have here in the United States. And I think part of it is that the idea of our culture has this concept of, you know, the, the pull yourself up by your own bootstrap and the, the individual mandate that you have like complete autonomy that was created at the time that there was a westward expansion in the United States. You were on your own was the idea that’s, that’s become the conventional wisdom of how people live during the Western expansion. That’s not how they lived, but it became this idea that is just infected the American psychology and our culture. Yeah, there’s something to it. I know where you’re coming from, but I think it’s, you’re not giving him enough credit. I mean, that’s certainly true, what you’re saying. And, but it also, you have to see the upside of, of the spirit on the entrepreneurship and pioneership that America is still holding or has been holding until the short time ago. And if you, if you’re an entrepreneur in Europe, like I was an entrepreneur in Europe, you see the difference and how stark that is on that other hand, right? So you, you need both, you need the carrot and the stick. And I think in the U S we certainly, we sometimes we have a few really nasty sticks, but generally we leave it out and use the carrot in Europe. We have, you have a ton of sticks, right? They, most of them are not that nasty. You won’t, there’s no death sentence, but there’s so many rules and most of them are enforced 99% of them and most of them are socially enforced. But especially in the, in the countries that are, you know, north of the Alps, and that’s really annoying. If either you, if you fit in, it’s great, right? But if you’re one of those, I don’t know, 10%, 5% who doesn’t fit in, like I counted myself one of those, I don’t know why my, my, my siblings, they fit in very well. It’s not fun. I’ll tell you that. So it, I think it’s good to have different models in the world, like we have different states, right? It’s good if people can figure out what works best for them and then we give them the freedom to choose. If you say, well, this is really no social support net in the US, that’s great. You should go to Europe and you have it there. But you also have tons of restrictions on, on anything you want to do with your life. You do what people tell you to do or you don’t do anything, which is fine. You get some money and you can live, but you won’t feel happy. You won’t feel happy using your life and using your potential. I think it’s very difficult, even if you like have shelter and you have, and that’s the problem with the UBI and that’s where I want to get it. You have enough money and that’s great. But if you never use your potential over a long stretch of your life, that’s pretty depressing too. Yeah, but I think people are going to use, they’re going to, there’s people who have a drive to achieve their potential and there’s people who don’t and it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what you give them or if you starve them, they’re going to, they’re going to become subsistence or they’re going to become somebody who focuses on thriving and it’s really more of a mental model. It’s that scarcity mindset or abundance mindset. You know, that’s, I’ll say this to you, like the third thing, they’re going back to the original question. Yes. What are three things? You’re holding back on these things and you’re like, oh, I need to eat. I’m telling you, I’m giving you number three. So the third one is trust and people who have an environment that lacks trust immediately go to a scarcity mindset. So I’ll talk workplace and then we’ll talk in like the public domain related to people who are not achieving their potential in the workplace. When I began on like my, so I cooked, like when I was, when I was young and I was backpacking, I cooked. So I worked in a lot of kitchens and I worked with chefs that went to court on blue, went to CIA, went to, you know, great schools and there’s a culture in the kitchen of people who are just dicks and they, they have that, that Steve jobs mentality where if I, you know, shout at you and challenge you and throw stuff and get angry, that’s going to get the most out of you and it’s a culture in, in, in restaurants, like in good kitchens, people who go to culinary school, it’s, it’s a thing. So I really picked that up and I didn’t internalize that and when I started, MindTouch wasn’t my first business, but it was my first big business, you know, I had that same mind mindset. And then I learned that the way to achieve a high performance team is to have a foundation of trust where people can perform their best and be part of a team and have, have the knowledge that when they bring up an idea, they’re not going to be ridiculed or if they pass the ball to somebody else, they’re not going to, they’re, if they do drop it, they’re not going to get blamed for it. So it’s something that’s interesting because Silicon Valley has so glorified Steve Jobs who was a horrible leader, a horrible manager, right? He built a culture of fear and yet he was, he was enormously successful and I, I can’t explain that. Maybe there were layers between him and the staff, but the, the key thing that I learned in the first several years of MindTouch and it took me, it took me a while, it took me, you know, probably five years or so to figure this one out is you’ve got to have that foundation of trust. Yeah, that’s really deep and you know, I’ve, I’ve, I like that example that you made with the kitchens. I never understood why kitchens are such mean places. Everyone is really mean to each other and they love that and then they go home and then they hug each other. I’m like, really, isn’t there a better way to do this? So I coowned a restaurant for a while and I didn’t like that part. I like, this is terrible. I don’t want to be involved in this. I couldn’t deal with this because I felt unnecessary and I’m so repetitive, right? They do the same thing the next day. I’m like, dude, do you like each other or not? Can you figure this out and then we can arrange? Yeah, but what do you have to be so mean for like a few hours and then you’re good, right? I think, I think it’s an extension of toxic masculinity. I think is what it is, but I mean, and it was like, you would only, you, you were the meanest to the people you actually cared about and respected. I mean, you mean to everybody, but like the ones that you most respect, you’re the one through the ones you most ridiculed. I don’t, I don’t see this in like, you know, like in, like in Navy SEALs environment. I don’t see this in a, in a purely male environment. Does it typically, I mean, actually there were 90% female in the environment I was. And then the people that we hired, what I wanted to get at is, you know, and it strikes me a couple of times, people say, well, we have to change society and those are the things we, we, we should do, but then you read Socrates or Plato, right? Socrates didn’t write anything down, Plato wrote down Socrates. And you’re like, whoa, does it exact same questions we have now? And that’s two and a half thousand years ago when it was written. And it’s not like technology touched any of this, right? And what I feel like after what, 40, 50, maybe longer, 10,000, 100,000 years of civilization, human civilization, we still have plenty of criminals, we have plenty of liars, we have all these behaviors, we, we were trying to, to select out of the next generation, right? Nobody wants to be, wants to be associated with an asshole. You want to be, you want people who are empathetic. You want people that are not using their empathy for something nefarious, like sociopath. But we still have all these people. And what it tells me sometimes is, you know, a certain percentage of the population needs to be nefarious, needs to be so negative. Needs to be Steve Jobs, needs to be an ass. Because I mean, what we need to, we need to recognize this. But if we, if we wouldn’t have these people, society wouldn’t be as honest. Well, like, I feel like they keep us honest. They don’t make us naive. They keep us, they keep us in check. They kind of, if you have too many criminals, obviously society goes down the drain. But if you have too little, it seems, the same thing happens. Everyone is just going on and versus signaling and nobody does anything productive anymore. All right, you know what I’m trying to say, it’s these, these, these negative characters that we’ve been, most people don’t really get to choose their character. We’ve been carrying them along for such a long time. I feel they’re necessary for, for a healthy society. Even if those people are obviously, they shouldn’t be part of society or not part of active society if some of them belong behind bars. Yeah. I mean, you’re, if, if we were being good Buddhists, we would recognize this construct as dualistic thinking and the idea that good and bad and right and wrong or liberal and conservative are, you know, assigning labels to them are things that are intrinsically good or bad. Right. And it’s just, that’s just not how the universe works. And yeah, I just, you know, spun out on my train of thought there. And I’m not sure how to tie it back to my third principle of trust. What about rule number four, I don’t know, I, I, you know, I, I do keep a, a catalog of these. Oh, cool. Yeah. I actually do. I have a catalog of them and I periodically post them on LinkedIn with a photo that I took from the road, but the trust thing, you know, if you map that to society, the people who are suffering, I think there’s, there’s two types of people, right? There’s good people and there’s good people who’ve been hurt. And the good people who’ve been hurt, that trauma manifests itself in different ways, which it’s, they’re hurt is, is there’s a lack of trust with society, with the system. There’s a scarcity mindset that then they’re, they’re a victim or there’s too many barriers in their way. So why try? Right. There’s no way that I can be successful. So why would I even try? Or they simply, they were hurt in the sense that they don’t even realize what their potential opportunity is. You know, I heard a comedian talking about white people and it’s like Elon Musk, who, who would ever think that I could build a rocket and go to the outer space on a Tuesday? That’s preposterous. Like I would never, ever think that that was even something that I could do. Like the whole point was like the white privilege of being able to think that you could do something like that is preposterous to a large portion of our population. They would never even think of that because they’ve never been put in a position where they weren’t oppressed by a system that made them a menial labor worker or a slave for 400 years, right? So the trust and empathy is the two key points there. Yeah. Those are very important things. I’m not sure if I, if I believe in this, this, this very, I think we have, we are suffering from, from the victim disease. Too many people make themselves a victim. But I think they’re doing, they’re doing this to gain favors from others. It’s a survival technique, so to speak, but we are reallowing them. And what I wanted to say is that Jordan Peterson has a nice framework for this. He says there’s three stages of a person as a, as a person grows up. You start naive, you’re innocent as a child, and you think everyone else is innocent, everyone else is a great person out there. And that goes on for a while, and eventually you get hurt. You get betrayed. That’s the term he uses. And I think this goes back to Sacred Freud. And once you, once you get betrayed, once you get hurt, you get into the second phase. That’s what he calls it, what you just said earlier, is you, you are nihilistic. So you think everyone, everyone is a gangster. You should not deal with anyone. Everyone is just out there to hurt you. And that’s the second phase. And eventually you get out of this phase and become realistic and you figure out a code. Those are the people who are gangsters, they’re going to rip you off, you know, just, just go to any, any country that’s in Africa, for instance, and try to get a taxi. Good luck with that. It’s, if you don’t, if you don’t know how to, how to see the world and how to distinguish the right people from the wrong people, it’s not, I’m not saying it’s hard to get a taxi, but it’s, it’s harder than you would expect. And you need to have these skills to distinguish, or Turkey for that matter, or in many other places, you need to, to figure out that there’s really bad people in this world. And that’s okay. They keep everyone else honest, and that’s not, shouldn’t be the majority. Actually a small minority. And then you, the third phase is what makes the individual, and probably a lot of people don’t reach this until a certain advanced age. And what he’s been saying, and I think I fully agree with him, these phases have been, has been moved forward and live, or backward. So you, it takes longer and longer. You have to have more years to reach that, that phase, because a lot of kids kind of that lived on the street, a lot of exposure, they’ve been experienced in that trauma, as you say, and they’ve been moving on to the realistic phase, maybe in their 20s. But now most people don’t do it until their 40s, because they live in this coddled environment. The college is very coddled, then your first employers are very coddled. You never get there. Maybe you do have children, and you’re not even realizing this, and you’re like, whoa, what’s going on with my children? They don’t behave like the way I wanted to. Because they’re not nice. They’re barbarians. Yeah, I get it, I get that there’s this generation of people who folks believe are overly coddled and overly entitled, and I certainly have seen in my startup life, both at MindTouch and other companies I’ve served with, that there’s like, I’m not a vice president yet. Mark, you just graduated from a high school, and you barely can put a belt on for God. Why don’t you have a belt on? I have hundreds of followers on Instagram, so make me a vice president, or I’ll ruin you on Instagram, the next sentence. This is not just really weird. I mean, this is understandable, because there was this boomer generation that had everything and seemingly done everything right, an enormous amount of GDP growth, and they’ve done everything right, and they kind of like, let’s protect everyone from all evils that are out there, and it’s back to Nassim Talib. If you keep doing this, and if you do it on an industrial scale, like we have done the last 30 years, 40 years, it’s going to come back in one really big storm, and you can’t avoid it. I mean, if I think if you think you can’t avoid it, and I grew up with communism, which had a similar idea, right, you can’t avoid these things by just virtual signaling, but actually not solving people’s problems and not allowing for flexibility, you’re in trouble. And I think this is why we are in trouble right now, because there isn’t enough outlet of becoming real, so to speak. And if you change this, and we will, I mean, it’s not up to us, it’s going to happen anyways. Well, I think that the pandemic might help with that, though, because these people. Maybe, but you stay home more. I don’t know. I mean, staying home is not fun if you’re a 20 year old, you know, I don’t, and then I just love it. They love it. It’s the best thing ever happened to them. No school. You know, your school is out at one every day, and it’s only on the iPad, and you have full Wi Fi at home. They don’t want to go anywhere. Yeah. Well, I think that’s not a new thing that they don’t want to go anywhere. I was talking to a friend who’s another software executive, and he was talking about how kids don’t get their driver’s license until a lot later, like in their 20s, when they get their driver’s license. And for us, I mean, we were, I was, we were literally stealing cars. Yeah. We could drive. I mean, I was driving when I was 12. So, but that’s what I mean by cloudify, right? The cloudification of a society that we so willingly now adopt with COVID, right? Nobody worries about the COVID restrictions. Some states are really bad. Like some states are pretty decent, but in the bad ones, even there is no real talk about it. They’re just people are like, okay, I just go to the cloud. Don’t worry about that. And I think there’s something going on that’s big that we, that people don’t really think about in public discourse much, because this willingness to just say, okay, I’m going to upload myself literally, and just going to go, go completely virtual, but also in the sense of my own life, my family life, that seems, seems like everyone was ready for this anyways. And now they just do it a little quicker. That’s pretty amazing to me. I mean, something’s biggest going on there. I’m not sure if it’s a good or bad, but there’s a lot of good things about it. I’m stunned by this every day. Yeah, I don’t, I don’t know. I think that when the, like you call it cloudify begins to blur with physical reality through things like VR, like my son’s VR headset, does it matter anymore? Like does it, does it actually matter that they’re, because their, their experience is going to be just as real as if they were there in person, and we’re not there yet. We’re not there yet, but so I guess it’s, it’s, it’s true. I’m just, I’m like, I’m like a little, the technologies and its infancy, right? And it’s, it’s, it’s kind of like, I remember when I bought a digital camera in like 99 and everyone had these big as SLDSLR cameras that were with film, right? And I took this sub VGA standards. I don’t know, it was like half a megapixel, it was ridiculous. I remember I had one too. Yeah. And you could, you could do a thousand pictures too. I mean, I mean, it wouldn’t, that many wouldn’t fit on the memory card, but say you could do a hundred and you didn’t have to develop them and you would see it immediately. And I was like, so proud of it. And everyone around me was like, what on earth are you doing? I mean, this, this is never going to be any use, even if it doubles every year, it’s going to take decades and then, you know, doubled even quicker, quicker. And it eventually got to the DSLR world that took quite some time. I feel with all the cloud technologies, we are kind of where the digital cameras are, but even more crude, but we’re, we’re, there’s so much demand to, to go into this. I’ve blown away because I wanted to be in a virtual office for so long, nobody could understand it. And now everyone is like, why don’t you, what else is there? Right? It’s almost like the world that we had is forgotten. Do this another two years of lockdown and people don’t even remember. Oh yeah, there’s, there’s no way that, that we’re going. So I know from productivity rates at companies that they’re up like 40%. So if companies are getting 40% more productivity, if they’re getting so much more productivity that they’re mandating days off because they’re concerned about their employees working too much when they’re working from home, that’s, that’s a pretty clear signal that we’re never going back to the kind of office experiences that we had before. And then, so you introduced me as running a product. I’m now a general manager for a new business, for a business at, at ServiceNow, but looking at our employee voice surveys, 100% of our, our participants in the employee voice survey prefer work from home. So this, this is not like, just, just think about the consequences of that on the economy, like the, the dry cleaners and the, you know, the food, the restaurants and, and Aramark who puts snack foods and stuff inside the, the office buildings, like to, and then the social impact of it where, frankly, I’m with you, like I, I even when I had an office, I would, I’d go to Santa Clara, I’d go to San Diego and I went just because I wanted to see people, but not because I needed to. And I’ve, I’ve freed up all this time now where I can spend more time with my kids and I have time to read more and I can go ride my motorcycle more. It’s, it’s just, it’s, it’s going to be really interesting how we see this shake out into 2022 and I just, I don’t think people, like I talked to people about this and like, oh no, people are going to go back to work. I’m like, no, you’re wrong. They’re just not, I’m, I’m, there’s no reason to. Yeah. I think there’s a, we’re going to do a couple of leaps, which, which I think is a good thing because they, they will bring technology adoption to the place where I felt we had the big stagnation and we, we, we, we, people call it the first world problem, but I don’t think it is because it literally affects the second and third world way more than the first world. The first world probably will do fine with the big stagnation, but the third world is suffering more. I mean, it’s comparatively right. There’s a lot of the third world is coming out of what we define as third world. But I think this will give us a big jump into whatever it is and however it will work. But we, we, I think it will change government. It will change the way we, we, we transact. It will, it will shake the foundations of this place and it won’t be, it won’t be very peaceful at times. Let’s put it this way. I’m, I’m pretty convinced this is within the, within the near term within the next five years, so to speak. And, but I, I really feel this would bring us back into in line because in technology adoption has been so slow with a lot of innovations and that’s Peter Thiel’s team. And I think he’s spot on with this. We’ve really closed our mind to a lot of other areas where no innovation happened, right? We have permissionless innovation in, in that’s the idea at least, but we only really had it in certain semiconductor influence software hardware fields and lots of other fields. There is not permissionless innovation like healthcare is the opposite of it, right? This feels more like, like Eastern Germany, if not worse because it’s so expensive. And there’s tons of other fields that have been deregulated or completely regulated, not enough deregulated. And if we, if we get this going, if we get to the same, the same speed of technological progress everywhere else, like transport seems to be hot right now. Who knows if it’s actually going to happen this time. That would be fantastic. I think then we all are going to be much happier afterwards. So I think this is a good thing in the end, but in between is pretty miserable. Well, you touched upon this earlier where you were talking about what, what’s going on with this kind of cultural shift. And it’s times of huge economic disparity or massive cultural change, which, you know, Trump and Trump supporters are a reaction to this massive cultural change, right? And you know, their, their, their whole thing was like around, it’s a culture war, right? There’s, they’re changing our culture. It’s times like this, that there’s an acceleration and innovation. And interestingly, it’s also times like this, that new religions are born. So you look at like QAnon, it’s, it’s a textbook death cult, right? And it’s, it’s a mark my words, QAnon will become a global or it will become a world religion, right? That’s what we’re seeing happening here with this, this, this movement. And if it’s, it’s really fascinating to follow and, and read about this. I’m fully with you. Yeah. I’m fully with you. I was talking to Paul Friedman yesterday and saying, you know, we need, we need, we’re going to have to see a lot more cults because that’s what happens in these, like in the 70s, or we need a new religion that will really take off. I think it’s not going to be QAnon, but I mean, I’m not willing to bet on this, but I think the people want more religion, people need it. And something big will really unite, unite people when you read RenĂ© Girard, he’s like, well, we need to find that scapegoat to come together. He’s going to be the martyr for the next generation. And I’m fully with you. People want that it’s going to happen and it’s going to look scary maybe, but it’s going to be fine. Like, you know, to the Jews, I think to the turn of the century Christianity looked pretty crazy. Yeah. It looked crazy. And I mean, hell, it looks crazy now when you read the actual New Testament, you know, there’s some crazy stuff in there, but the QAnon movement, I don’t know what form that takes, but that’s got so much energy and momentum, it’s not going away. And you look back at the similar cycles like this, and it was like, okay, Seventh Day Adventist, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses were all born out of tumultuous times with significant economic disparity and large cultural shifts. It’s a fascinating time to be living. I think that the opportunity here is an acceleration and innovation, which accelerating how we innovate education like we touched upon here is something that is just absolutely right. We still, the field of education has not changed in hundreds of years. The methodology hasn’t changed. The mediums have changed, but we’re still in like a Web 1.0 for education. We’re just now starting to see, oh, now, and just in the last five years, it’s like, oh, Yale and other universities have adopted new technologies. This is going to accelerate it over the next two years in particular because of the pandemic. And all of this, like I said, I’m an optimist, and I think all of this is only going to be good. Will there be negative externalities, for sure, but overall, it’s going to be positive. On this positive note. We’ve got to wrap this up. Yes, on this positive note, I was just about to say, I want to let you go, Aaron. I took a lot of your time, but there were some fantastic insights. Thanks for doing this. Thanks for taking the time. Please tell us what the name of your podcast will be so we can check that out in a couple of weeks. Yeah, I think it’s going to be LMNOP. Okay. Yeah, like QAnon, I think I’m going to do LMNOP public. Okay. There’ll be some play on LMNOP. It’s my favorite part of the alphabet. Okay. You’re going to give us some QAnon theories? No, no. I have absolutely nothing to do with that. I just thought. I want to learn more about it. I know too little about it. Oh, there’s some good reads. Like look at the Atlantic did a good article like back in August about it. And it’s pretty fascinating. There’s plenty of other good objective articles about the whole energy around that, that bizarre movement. And then if you get into their belief system, it’s pretty bizarre. I have to get someone on the podcast. It’s a good idea. A really good idea. Okay. Do it. Let’s see, let’s see. All right. Thanks for doing this. Thank you. Many thanks. Talk soon. Hopefully. Okay. Have a great day. Thanks. Bye bye.

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