Technological Progress and Denial

Our society is going through major growing pains right now. We’re struggling to cope with some of the most massive changes in human history, and I would argue that we’re not doing an awesome job at it. The current head-in-the-sand approach to globalization (see: Trump, Brexit, Le Pen) isn’t going to get us anywhere except maybe war. We’re addicted to smartphones which make our lives marginally easier, but which don’t make us happier. And we’re nonsensically fighting against automation by easing regulations on coal mining.

These issues are all intertwined, and all similar in our inability to A) take them seriously, and B) act in rational, informed, and compassionate ways about them.


Guess what folks, it’s not going away. There is enormous economic and societal gain to be had from embracing, rather than running from globalization. The question is not whether or not to participate, but how to use it to promote freedom and human rights while enriching the world. The “war on terror” will not be won by dropping a bigger bomb, but by changing people’s minds. The “war on drugs” will only be won by legalization and treatment.

Personal Technology

We’ve put ourselves in an enormous psychological research study without any direction, intention, or regard for the health of the test subjects. Perhaps this is what society has always been, but not at this speed. What if we discover that using iPads before the age of five causes psychological or learning disorders in teenagers? It would be impossible to know or study because iPads have only existed for seven years. Clearly they aren’t going away, but the faith people are willing to put into their devices is astounding. To me, the most frightening piece of the personal technology revolution is the trust we’ve put in corporations. We can’t regulate technology when we don’t know the effect it has on our health, and right now tech companies and marketing firms have free rein to use our psychological quirks and patterns for their own profit. Or to win elections.


Like globalization, this one isn’t going away. The latest TED Radio Hour did a chilling overview of the state of deep learning, which I highly recommend. Long story short: most of us may not have much work in 20 or 30 years. Computers are going to be better than us at pretty much everything, and unlike previous technological revolutions, this one isn’t likely to create other jobs in the process. Driverless cars are an easy example. One team of engineers can create software to put 3+ million professional drivers in the United States alone out of work. Deep learning machines are going to do the same thing to less mechanical tasks, like finding cancer (already done), real-time translation (already done), and global finance (probably close).

This sounds scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s the thing: work is not what defines us as humans. It’s time for our society to start thinking about what happens in a post-employment world. I find that idea hugely compelling, and an opportunity for arts and culture to flourish in ways we’ve never imagined. But it means reorienting our society and finding ways to support everyone, regardless of employment. Personally, I’m a fan of Guaranteed Basic Income, but more important is that we take the question seriously and talk about what our society is really for.

This is the basic idea here. We’ve taken a big step backward in politics in the last year (not just in the U.S.). Clearly this is happening for a reason. People are upset. Unfortunately, putting our heads in the sand and ignoring the issues isn’t going to make them go away. And technology isn’t going to wait for policy to catch up (clean energy, rideshare apps, laws and ethics). It’s time for us to recognize the magnitude of what we’re dealing with, clarify our ideals, and start working on an informed and compassionate way forward.

Meditation sounds

Being Yourself to Attract the Right Business

This has been a bit of a personal conundrum lately. Basically, I have a small business doing meditation and mindfulness coaching for offices. This does not resound with everyone. Clearly. Many people don’t get it, and only a small portion of the ones who do are willing to pay for it.

So, I’m faced with a choice. Do I water down or change my message to try to attract a wider audience? Or do I stay more true to myself, even if it means pushing certain people away? I’m not sure if this is an obvious choice or not, or if it is, in which way it’s obvious.

The first option has appeal. “I want people to like me!” This fits with our most natural desires for love and belonging. We want to be accepted and celebrated by as many people as possible. The fulfillment of this desire is why celebrities tend to be so strange, I think.

It also sounds good for business. It means attracting more clients, potentially selling more product, basically doing better all around.

Not so. At this point I’m convinced of the opposite. It may be different if you’re selling to the masses (although maybe not: Apple has way more personality than IBM, and their stock reflects it), but especially for small businesses and solopreneurs, being true to oneself is best for business.

Here’s why. When we work for ourselves, we’re constantly selling our business and we’re constantly selling ourselves. We are our business, and the two are relatively inseparable. When people buy our service, they’re buying us, and they’re doing it because they like what they see. They like the potential and hope we’re giving them.

When we water down or alter our message to fit the crowd, we attract people who aren’t quite as good a fit for us. This might be fine once in a while, but if it becomes the norm, we’ll be forced to put on a facade that satisfies clients who are not our ideal clients. These clients will want a business that is not what we strive to offer, that is not truly us.

We take this as reinforcement of how we should be and act. We see that it works to not be fully ourselves, and we compromise even more. We do work that is less and less true to our ideals, and that begins to strain our self-perception and self-awareness. We lose track of who we are and we lose interest in our work.

By staying true to our own selves as much as possible, we attract a (potentially) smaller group, but one that resounds more with our message. We attract our true supporters. Given the opportunity, these followers will become the champions of our work, promoting it to their tribes and friends. Having business we’re excited about will create more business we’re excited about. Vicious cycle averted, virtuous cycle embraced.

The real question is how can we: A) know our true selves, B) project that out into the world, and C) be receptive to accepting positive energy back into ourselves. Meditation and mindfulness are great for working on all three of these things, and that’s basically what this whole blog is about.


Side note: I’ve got a Beginner’s Meditation eGuide coming out in the next couple weeks. Get excited!

Side side note: With all this talk of finding our supporters, if you like these blogs, please share them however you feel comfortable doing so. It means a lot to me!