The perfect circle

Humans can’t draw one. But we can design something that can.

The question is when do we want tools to intervene to make something more polished and when do you want the rough edges exposed.

After all, you just have to ask AI to generate any work of art now.

Handmade or made by a robot? Does it matter? Does it change the story we are telling?

Atom bombs

We quickly trust the science of aeronautical engineering when we have to take a flight to Cleveland. We trust the math to E = mc² and when we send out a text it will reach the recipient.

But we struggle to trust it when it contradicts our worldview. When something is too complicated to explain, we are more prone to dismiss it. As humans, we are afraid of what we can’t understand.

As a result, we question carbon dating or the efficacy of vaccines, because the friction caused by misinformation is enough to cause us to question. We grab the low-hanging fruit of explanation (i.e. a quick Google search, a Facebook post, or a tweet). It’s quicker to put a bow on it and to move on than to read a book on the subject.

Navigating traffic

When we are caught in the rat race, trying to get from Point A to Point B as quick as possible, we begin to treat the other cars as obstacles that need to be overcome.

But they are not. They are people. People are not obstacles.

It’s the same with talking to someone at the DMV or on Capitol Hill.

When we work together, the culture works better.

Perspective shift

From NASA’s website:

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has produced the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the distant universe to date. Known as Webb’s First Deep Field, this image of galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 is overflowing with detail. Thousands of galaxies – including the faintest objects ever observed in the infrared – have appeared in Webb’s view for the first time. This slice of the vast universe covers a patch of sky approximately the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length by someone on the ground.

I read a Tweet that said, “Of all the hundreds of trillion stars and galaxies, we inherited the planet with a 40-hour workweek.”

That one made me laugh. But when we do remember how large the universe is, why do we care so much about the problems we have? They obviously do matter but most are not as important as we make them. That’s because perspective matters. My favorite thing to do when I go camping is to stare at the stars. It’s a reminder that we are not our problems.


The word feedback makes most people cringe. That’s because we are not actually very good at giving it. We care about what people think of us. And when our biases get in the way it influences the conversation. Often in a negative way. This can be true for the one receiving feedback too. After all, if you have a low opinion of the boss, you are not likely to hear what they have to say.

Giving feedback is a subtle art. The key is to talk about the work, not about the person.

It isn’t about the person’s character, it’s about the work. When we are focused on the work, now we are talking about tactics, strategies, and choices made. And if we are enrolled on this journey together and want to go to the same place, then why wouldn’t you want to hear how to make the work more effective?

What does it cost to show up?

How much is it to start a blog?

How much is it to post your song on YouTube or to publish your e-book?

Does it cost money to start a band?

How much for a library card?

How about posting your drawings on Instagram?

Does it cost anything to take an internship or to market for a local nonprofit?

Is there a fee to jog around the park?

The barrier to entry is almost zero for most of these things. Yet, we create a larger narrative about we need more resources to begin. There is so much power with just showing up. When we begin that is when things start to happen, not before.


I often think about what is the one thing that can cure all of the problems of the world. Sadly, there isn’t one thing that can fix all these challenges and difficulties we face. Too many people and the systems we rely on are too complicated. However, there are different ways to think about solving problems. One is how to raise the floor or how to raise the ceiling. In other words, help people survive or how to help them grow. And what I keep circling back to of all things is literacy.

Frederick Douglas taught how there are many forms of slavery and that literacy is the path to freedom. When he taught fellow slaves, he remarked, “Their minds had been starved…they had been shut up in mental darkness. I taught them because it was the delight of my soul.”

I cried the first time I read that. To do something so meaningful without fanfare. To teach something that is such a game changer that many of us today take for granted. Indeed, the written word is one of humanity’s most important inventions. But things have changed.

According to Good Reader, “33% of high school graduates never read another book the rest of their lives, and 42% of college grads never read another book after college. 70% of US adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years and 80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year.”

That is alarming, to say the least. We just consume media differently today. Some good and a lot of it is just junk food. Sitting down, not being distracted, and taking the time to read 200 or 300 plus pages on one subject so you can a better idea of how something works, it’s magical. Reading illuminates dark corners in our lives. It can change the way we think and ultimately how we feel. Reading is freedom.

If you need a recommendation here is a list of my favorite game-changing books that I think everyone should read (in no particular order):

The War of Art
The Gift
The Design of Everyday Things
The Gifts of Imperfection
The Big Sort
The Infinite Game
Start with Why
What to do When it is Your Turn
The True Believer
Make Good Art
The Master Switch
Guns, Germs, and Steel
Life Inc.
On Anarchism
The Rock Warriors Way
Nonviolent Communication
The Tipping Point
The Red Queen
The Beginning of Infinity
Godel, Escher, Bach
On Immunity
The Last of the Omelas
The Art of Possibility
Thinking in Bets
When Things Fall Apart
Understanding Comics

Put down your phone. Take a break. Read! When is the last time something on Netflix or Twitter changed your mind anyway? These books, however, will change your life. Not bad for 12 bucks.


Yvon Chouinard has shifted the goalposts again. In 1973, he started Patagonia, and now almost 50 years later, it is a billion-dollar company. Instead of sitting by, Chouinard has taken more action to be an example of how a company can run. In 2018, Patagonia changed its mission statement to say, “Patagonia is in business to save our home planet.” Now, it has been announced that Patagonia will transfer all of the ownership to the Holdfast Collective–the nonprofit arm of Patagonia that funds environmental organizations to fight climate change.

While the culture is constantly putting pressure on all of us to think about ourselves, consume, and take, it is the torchbearer that gets us to stop and notice. To look around and see there is another way.

“I’m not comfortable with this.”

This is important. With group thinking and peer pressure, many of us forget that if we have concerns we should voice them.

Is the data questionable?

Is it the level of risk?

Is it because you are not used to navigating the unfamiliar?

Is it the tension?

Am I hesitant to speak up because of how much we have invested?

Am I afraid to admit I was wrong?

Is it because it might fail?

Maybe you don’t have permission?

Is it the fear that is getting in the way?

If you are not comfortable, you should make it known. And make it clear why it is you are not comfortable.

The sooner you make your objections known, the better we can work through the process to get to the point of decision. Even if that means turning around.

The way culture works

What is more powerful than an idea?

Ideas compel us to do unspeakable horrors and elevate us to something larger than life. Ideas are what lead people to fight a crusade and to stand in front of a tank. A human can die but an idea can spread long after someone has passed.

The study of memetics is the idea that organic evolution is based on the replication of organic information. We call these genes. The culture follows a similar pattern where replication of cultural information is spread through memes. Simply put, you can observe a behavior and then copy it. The stickier the idea is the better it can spread throughout the culture. Like a virus. How else do you explain why Gangnam Style can go viral and why we follow traffic laws? The culture is a collection of these successful memes that influence our behaviors.

There is a reason why you show up to a job interview looking your best. You didn’t choose what you really wanted to wear, you chose what they wanted to see.

The question then is: Does the status quo actually benefit people? The way things are done, is this really the best we can imagine? How do we really know if the culture we have built actually benefits people? Is a 40-hour work week really the best way to organize our lives? Is sending our children to 12 years of school the best way to educate a population? Is this language we speak the optimal way to communicate? What about capitalism? No one wants to go back to the way things were but we are simultaneously destroying our planet–what do we do?

All interesting questions without correct answers.