April 20, 2021No Comments

3 Ways to Tell Your Story Better

First Impressions are critical, we know this. Recently in a network I'm a part of, I participated in a cohort that lasted a month with one goal: Improve an introduction.

Whenever I've given introductions in the past, I had one of 2 problems, I'd give too much detail or I hyper simplified. My background is complex, but aren't we all? Depending on the setting, I may say that I build software or run a cleaning business or produce a podcast or write blogs. Worse than picking one of the above, I would sometimes try to squeeze in all the above.

We all want to believe that we're special. The bridge to getting others to understand what is special about us can be a frustrating one to cross, but the models I learned in this cohort helped me to create a digestible narrative for my background that feels leaps and bounds above my previous introductions in quality.

Here are the 3 takeaways from that cohort that helped me the most.


Don't let details cloud clarity.

This was perhaps my biggest problem coming in whenever I would branch beyond over-simplification and attempt a full introduction. I aim to be precise by nature and so when I'm explaining something in any domain, much less my own background, I have a natural tendency to over explain at the expense of the understanding of who I'm talking to.

One week in the cohort, we talked about a famous psychological phenomenon known as "Miller's Law", which in short suggests that the human mind can only retain 7 ± 2 details, facts, etc from an idea dump or exposure to other data. Beyond 7 or maybe 9 details for some high throughput individuals, it is not a slow decline to what we can retain and what we cannot — it's an absolute drop-off.

This totally changed my default perception that the increased description and detail added value to someone I was speaking to when in fact, it's the opposite.


Categorization = Understanding

The next thing that helped me level up my introduction game specifically was when we discussed the idea of making ourselves categorizable.

The human mind naturally categorizes people and ideas.  Rather than fight this tendency (because we are all more than just simple categories) we learned that we should use this to be able to describe yourself in a unique but understand able way.

The best categorizations happen when you take two things that don't seem to go together, but when you explain them, suddenly make you both relatable and interesting to think about.

I was able to use this idea of blended categorization to make sense of how I am a tech CEO, but also the executive producer of a podcast among other things.

  • "I build things that connect people and ideas"
  • "WAND is a mobile app to connect customers to cleaning suppliers"
  • "The Vance Crowe Podcasts connects it's audience to ideas that are 'up-the-graph'"

The clarity I achieved by doing this was orders of magnitude higher than if I had attempted to layout all the details of what I do in various domains.


Only Stories that Can Be Retold Matter

When we came to this concept in our speaking gym cohort, I loved it because it was the touch of clarity needed to create a fuller understanding of how to have a better narrative as a whole. What is it that makes a story retell-able? Vance who was leading our gatherings brought this idea to the group with the context of the different patterns for an introduction that I'm going to botch a bit by comparing to the Mandarin language intonations.

Vance pointed out that there are 4 different types of introduction that are ironically very similar to the intonation patterns above:

  1. The 'Everything is always Perfect' Trap
  2. The 'Everything just kept getting better and better' Rise
  3. The 'I woke up and it was all down hill from there' Fall
  4. The 'Root for me' Conflict/Resolution Arc

#3 and #4 are flip flopped from the above image, but the main idea is to tell a story like #4 that features a opening state that is interrupted by a challenge, then describing how you overcame that challenge and are on an upwards trajectory that those listening should root for.

For me, I opened with the broader intro I mention above but then go on to note the conflict I faced with WAND at the start of Coronavirus and how we overcame this challenge by repurposing our infrastructure to connect people and ideas in other domains.

Those familiar might appreciate drawing the comparison to elements of fiction arc here seen here:


I can tell you first hand that the ideas presented here have the potential to change how you give introductions now and forever. If you found these ideas useful, we cover them in more detail and many more in a course we created after the cohort to teach others these same ideas. You can check that out if you're interested HERE.

March 25, 2021No Comments

Lessons Learned from 1 Year Working with Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality is still in the early adopter phase; so when most people use it they don't see it's raw potential. After holding dozens of events, even interviewing one of the most important tech CEOs of the modern age- we have seen what will make VR more powerful than a Zoom call could ever be...


Last Thursday on The Vance Crowe Podcast, we published our first interview recorded in virtual reality, set in our own custom environment. We interviewed Jim Rutt. Jim was the CEO of Network Solutions during their fifteen billion dollar acquisition, a former chairman of the Santa Fe Institute, and current head of a movement called GameB. With that interview live and us now at a peak in our exploration of the virtual reality space, we have the opportunity to talk about some things we've learned so far. We explore virtual reality as part of the work we do surrounding the podcast. We host our monthly book club in VR, office hours with Vance and meet-ups between listeners and even past guests.

About a year ago when colliding with others in physical spaces became drastically more scarce, we started exploring ways to connect virtually. Like many others we were quick to hop to Zoom to connect with our audience and Articulate Ventures Network, but this medium lacked the spontaneity that comes from break off interactions in it's pass the mic for audio format. We eventually found, and in Vance's case, rediscovered, VR. Having already had a headset and messed with a few apps solo, Vance was adept with the technology. It was when we were invited to coordinate a custom experience in VR and I too got a headset that we were blown away by the social difference between connecting over VR and video/voice chat.


Physical Space

The initial reaction to the idea of connecting with another person in a virtual space using an animated character might be that it's more novel than genuine. This is 100% the opposite. If you jump inside VR to connect with someone socially via an app like Mozilla's Hubs, work with them over a productivity app like ImmersedVR or anything in-between, you will surprise yourself by how quickly your suspension of disbelief lets you see your peer through their animated character.

Observing hand gestures, body language in head and torso movement and perhaps especially the subconscious instinct to follow personal space norms all build the sense of immersion gained through connecting with someone through the medium that- even though you can see someone from a flat bubble, just isn't replicated over zoom.


Audio Proprioception

Audio proprioception is one of the most amazing things about connecting with others in VR. Because the format on Zoom and other video platforms is pass the mic to talk, there is no need to break volume to add a layer of depth, you simply watch and listen to the person speaking at full volume.

In VR, advanced meeting environments alter the volume of others in the space at a rate relative to how close you are to them physically. This is one of the main reason that we've built our AVN Underground Bar over Mozilla Hubs. Audio proprioception in our bar lets us hold a meeting with 10, 15 and often over 20 guests and attention of the group can be focused on more than one speaker.

The layer of depth added by connecting one on one with friends and small groups in VR is one important reason to take note of audio proprioception. It is another dynamic entirely to observe and take part in small breakout groups throughout the space. The ambient noise of others communicating paired with the local conversation with a handful amongst a large group creates a dynamic that is not far off from similar engagements in the real world.


Architecture and other Important Nuances

Many people building in VR think by default to build large, open spaces. We've learned that in order to cultivate conversations more like a group in the real world, it's better to build a smaller, somewhat tighter space to squeeze people together.

Vance and Jim talk about this idea and more nuances to think about when building in VR in this clip from their full interview —


Are you looking to explore VR but don't know where to start?

Individual —

Consider joining the Articulate Ventures Network. We hold regular events in VR as well as 'VR filed trips' where we set aside a block of time to discover something new together.

Corporation —

We build custom experiences to show thought leaders in a company the value of Virtual Reality. The format is a 1 hour Zoom meeting followed by an immersed experience for up to 7 internal team members.

March 8, 2021No Comments

Signaling Virtue

“Courage is the first of human virtues because it makes all others possible.” — Aristotle

Courage is under attack by the status quo. The status quo is encouraging the collective to virtue signal fear. A collective virtue signaling fear can grow only wide, not tall. How can we go back to building tall?

The Purpose of Fear

Fear does the perceiver no good past its ability to alert you to danger. Fear is the evolutionary instinct that dumps the body with adrenaline in the face of danger and helps us transition into fight or flight mode. Fear is a trigger.¹ A trigger should elicit a state change, not remain a constant state. You don't hold the trigger down on a gun after it fires.

Fear: an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

Remaining in a fear state is unsustainable. It is an unwanted state that should prompt you in one of two directions.

Anxiety

If you're entering the downward spiral, then the second stage akin to being fearful is anxious.

Anxiety: a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.

To be anxious is to be unbalanced.³ If we are one removed from balance when we are anxious, and we continue down this path of worry towards a future state, when it arrives we will be unprepared to meet it's challenge and our net balance will be further disrupted. Anxiety is a distraction from the now. We can only prepare for an uncertain future state by preparing for it, in the now.

Caution

So what's the alternative in order to spiral upward?

Caution: care taken to avoid danger or mistake.

The actions you take in a state of caution as opposed those taken in a state of fear or anxiety are drastically different. In a way, one leads you forward and one leads you stagnant. Choosing caution is like saying, 'Hey, there's danger out there. But now I know about it, and so I can take steps to better situate myself for what initially brought me fear.' Choosing to be anxious until what we are afraid of comes and goes steals away our opportunity to endure a challenge better prepared, or maybe even prevent it.

Looping back to Courage

There will always be new things to be afraid of, and so the decisions we make in the present build habits for how we will respond when we re-enter the state of fear. Anxiety hopes for an outcome, and until one or another comes to pass, does nothing for the individual, and so you return to a new loop in a state no better than before. The incorrect response to anxiety is stagnation, whereas taking any action at all in caution is courageous. Even if it's wrong action, we learn, we adapt, and we re-enter the loop better than before.

At the end of the day, definitions are anecdotal; but, I'm about to throw down the last one. What I’m really getting at is how to choose the best path forward from fear, and that's where courage really becomes important.

Courage: the ability to do something that frightens one.

Assuming a position of courage requires taking on a certain amount of responsibility and risk. The only way to move forward requires taking risk. You can't take a single step without risking a fall. This is what triggers my fear: that we are easing into a paradigm where we stop being celebrated for doing things that frighten us. I am anxious that we are accepting this new norm with the justification that it's safer to stay still rather than have the courage to overcome our fears and move forward.

The status quo

I wanted to write these thoughts down because I'm watching it become more and more common to virtue signal fear. Virtue signaling refers to the act of expressing opinions or ideas publicly with the intention to obtain a moral high ground on an issue. Virtue signaling fear looks something like this —

Washington University, St. Louis

If I had a dollar for every email I've received from companies letting me know that "The health and safety of our customers and team members is the most important thing to us...etc, etc", I'd have enough to have bought a share of GME at its high a few weeks ago. This genre of virtue signaling serves only as a fear reminder and is hypocritical in practice.

Mike Rowe, former host of Dirty Jobs and Returning the Favor who promotes 'Safety Third' puts it succinctly —

If Safety were really first, companies would pay their employees to be safe. Of course, they don’t. They pay them to work, and to assume risk. Saying “Safety Third” reminds me of that simple fact. And that keeps my crew and me more focused, and hopefully, more safe.

So what is there to gain other than moral high ground from virtue signaling fear?

Danger Propheteering

This is profiting socially off of being a prophet of danger.

The social status of a person who warns of a danger is increased in proportion to their successful prediction when that danger arrives. This will always be the case, but when left unchecked, the cycle may become alarmingly self-fulfilling. Even now, some thought leaders are incentivized to increase their status by continuing to beckon more impending doom. It's why I think the present state of fear has been perpetuated beyond reason. It's become a calling card of social brownie points to be more afraid than our anonymous peers, and this mechanism is carried forward by danger propheteers warning of continuous imminent cause of worry.

If only we'd just do or have done {X}, {Y} would all be behind us.

It's curious how new Y's continue to appear despite broad compliance of X.

Slave Morality

Our status quo is alarmingly exemplary of Nietzsche's slave morality. Slave morality suggests a post-modern era that promotes weakness and pacifism as virtues and places victimhood on par with sainthood.⁶

In this same vein, Nietzsche goes so far as to pull the utopian ideal from its pedestal. He suggests that utopia is built by investing power in the state in exchange for protecting its citizens from death and supplying endless pleasures. The net negative arrives when the myriad ingrains this new rejection of death and struggle and succumbs to a stale future and purposeless endeavors in the present.

But who desires this state?

The Mephistophelian Mob

There are massive, irreversible forces now developing the exterior waves; who will speak for the interior development that alone will divert catastrophe? -Ken Wilbur⁷

The massive irreversible forces at work are mass-less as well. They take form in the ethereal motivations and actions of a subset of society. This reversion to collectivism works against the sovereign individual — he or she who can and has the freedom to give form to potential from their place in the world.

Collectivism with empathetic intentions turns selfish when the game turns to equality at the expense of liberty. The collective amalgamation and reduction of a set of motives creates a structure supported by common denominators.

Majority yields value {X} which inhibits value {Y} when they are mutually exclusive. Safety at the expense of liberty for example, you can't have a value above liberty as that would serve to inhibit liberty. This happens over and over until we reach gridlock freedom or none at all. I call this the action of the Mephistophelian mob because it's resembling of the motives of Mephistopheles in Goethe's Faust.⁸ People who act out Mephistophelian philosophy are out against being for the crime thereof and so subconsciously take actions in the world that inhibit being itself.

The Nuclear Individual

We create heroes to match the ideals we need to move towards more broadly. This is also the case with gods. Our current religions aren't outdated, but they have lost credibility due to broader access to information and global communications. This increasingly became the case in the past as well. Deity abstraction hit a cap amongst tribes and eventually world religions began to clash rather than merge to create a new hierarchy of gods.

Sovereign nations arm themselves such that it's in each others' best interests to resolve conflict through non-violent tactics. Sovereign individuals can work towards the same. To do this, though, they have to go nuclear to move the collective towards the currently required ideals.

The nuclear individual doesn't become a raging lunatic, they instead speak their truths into the world when they are in position to do so. Currently, some truths are being nulled by popular lies that everyone has agreed on.⁹ The nuclear individual is courageous because they put forth their truths into the world.

Right now, there's a misconception that speaking what you deem to be true doesn't outweigh the cost of how you may be perceived should that truth be spoken. This is in fact currently true for the individual. Why speak up when livelihood is literally at risk in many cases? What we need to rediscover is our transcendental 'why'. The 'why' that supersedes what's best for our personal state.

My 'why' is that when I look out into the world as it stands right now, the thing that pushes me closer to anxiety than caution is that there are people taking action based on false truths. People's attention is the most valuable thing that they have.

I want to do what I can to help people discover what they deem to be true with all the information available to them so they can best act in accordance with how they are capable of making a positive impact on the world.


  1. Penn Medicine, Fight or Flight: The Science of Fear...And Why We Like Scary Movies, October 02, 2017, Accessed February 10, 2021, https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/health-and-wellness/2017/october/fear.
  2. Collins, James C. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap ... and Others Don't. Collins, 2009.
  3. Jung, C. G. The Symbolic Life: Miscellaneous Writings. Princeton University Press, 1989.
  4. Mark Peters, Virtue signaling and other inane platitudes, December 24, 2015, Accessed February 11, 2021, https://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2015/12/24/virtue-signaling-and-other-inane-platitudes/YrJRcvxYMofMcCfgORUcFO/story.html.
  5. Mike Rowe, OFF THE WALL: Safety Third Conversation Continues, August 11, 2014, Accessed February 11, 2021, https://mikerowe.com/2014/08/off-the-wall-safety-third-conversation-continues/.
  6. Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm, and Kennedy John McFarland Tr. The Genealogy of Morals; a Polemic, Translated by Horace B. Samuel, M.A. Peoples and Countries (Fragment). Macmillan Co., 1923.
  7. Wilber, Ken. One Taste: Daily Reflections on Integral Spirituality. Shambhala, 2000.
  8. Von, Goethe Johann Wolfgang, and Barker Fairley. Goeth's Faust. Toronto University Press, 1970.
  9. Schnieders, Sven. A Philosophical Walk. Self Published, 2021.

December 20, 2020No Comments

Integral Character Traits | Christina Kohler Skyhook

Building in Public

There's a growing number of founders and companies in the start-up sphere that tote how they are 'building themselves in public'. The idea is that doing this will give founders not only an infinite supply of things to talk about, but also help them build trust with their customers, users and audience. The reason that this idea comes to mind is because constantly inside the AVN, we see Christina Hudson Kohler building her self in public.

She does this by sharing her far out goals in addition to progress as she moves towards them. From her small wins to bigger struggles, these tid-bits she shares in passing serve to make us more invested in her hero's journey. I for one, can't wait to attend a New York State Fair in which Christina Hudson Kohler is the head organizer.

Iterating > Marinating

@VisualizeValue on Twitter

Christina is an iterator. Over the last few months, she has consistently show up, put herself up for feedback on her ideas and speeches, and repeated. It is one thing to receive and marinate a piece of feedback or even an idea, but its another leap forward entirely to show back up and implement the change. At every opportunity, Christina takes that leap.

Mirroring Enthusiasm

We have a developing pattern language in the network of 'Do you see what I see?' and what we mean when we say this is roughly, 'here we are, 2 or more primates observing something, and we want to find common understanding in what we are seeing.'

More than words, Christina speaks this pattern language through her enthusiasm. There's an idea in public speaking that you need to roughly multiply your energy to match that of the audience in a given room. I once received this as feedback years ago, and I'm not sure I understood how to properly implement it until I met Christina. Almost like a poker tell, Christina's 'I see it' is spoken in nuance through how she mirrors the enthusiasm of the room in her interactions with the room. This makes Christina a standout character in a more populated setting because of how she communicates seeing what others see.


Whether it's her egg family farm in Syracuse, New York or her role as the New York Farm Bureau Young Farmer & Rancher Chair, Christina Hudson Kohler is an integral member of every system that it's she is a part of. While we haven't had the opportunity to see Christina in action directly in either of these roles, we are immeasurably grateful to have the pleasure of colliding with Christina inside of The Articulate Ventures Network on a daily basis.

Christina was among the first to join us in our little experiment we called the AVN. What started off as a beta pool of 10 users building the bedrock of our culture is now a growing community with members throughout the English speaking world. Christina has carried more weight than she knows in this initial effort, and we want to take the opportunity to skyhook her because we suspect that is the case in many of the places she plays a role. There are a handful of characteristics that Christina embodies that make this the case, here we've highlight just a few.

What traits make you an integral character?

December 9, 2020No Comments

No, we don’t need Critical Race Theory in Compulsory Education

The Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading Standards will go before the Illinois State Board of Education on December 16th for a vote, and onto state lawmakers should it pass. The register contains a set of teaching requirements for primary school educators, which suggests how diversity should be made to be part of the curriculum.

The proposal reads like a Critical Race Theory training mandate inflicted at the k-12 level as opposed to when entering post-high school education and career paths where it's often more prevalent. Just this year, Critical Race Theory was banned as a part of sensitivity training in government agencies and companies that would hope to contract with the federal government.

Some excerpts from the proposal:

Leading Standard b) "Systems of Oppression – Culturally responsive teachers and leaders understand that there are systems in our society that create and reinforce inequities, thereby creating oppressive conditions.

Sub points 3 - 7 really go for it — 

3) Understand how the system of inequity has impacted them as an educator.

4) Know and understand how current curriculum and approaches to teaching impact students who are not a part of the dominant culture.

5) Be aware of the effects of power and privilege and the need for social advocacy and social action to better empower diverse students and communities.

6) Know and understand how a system of inequity creates rules regarding student punishment that negatively impacts students of color.

7) Know and understand how a system of inequity reinforces certain truths as the norm.

In regards to all the above, I can't say I'm even remotely a fan of promoting this sort of political indoctrination at the compulsory education level.

This is a luxury viewpoint however, I can't pretend to know about the experiences of others. I can only reply my gut feeling that teaching people that they're at a disadvantage in society because of their background and that the systems that govern them are inherently biased against them will push a generation into the world that will seek to change an external system as opposed to the tried and true human method that's promoted our progression thus far across the board — of being the change we want to see in the world.

I liken this to the broader empathy first agenda. Promoting external empathy and seeking problems in society over ourselves is like ignoring the shadow to think of it in line with Jungian psychology. The main idea here being that the problems we see in others are often more readily available in ourselves. This is the shadow, the traits not easy to acknowledge that are likely undesirable.

By promoting the maximum tolerance of those around us while having absolutely 0 tolerance for those without this new age rendition, we're implanting simultaneously an easy out for acknowledging and thereby improving our own faults. The strength of the individual comes in our ability to act in accordance with the good in our being over our bad. Think yin and yang, you cannot remove one or the other, but you can choose a side and take action in its alignment.

Returning to the more tangible issue of teaching that society is inherently off-kilter, this is what CRTLS wants to make part of the curriculum —

Society is inherently bad. It has wronged you and it is against you. You should know this as a facet of your learning prior to entering into this system.

Teaching the next generation that a problem exists is not equivalent to teaching them the solution. Instead we should be saying something along the lines of —

YOU are a member of society, a part of the whole. The system in place has flaws but it is improving with each new generation. To continue to make it better, it is YOUR responsibility to be better.

In conclusion, I'd encourage you not to be among the lot to only point at the outside world and say, 'Get better'. Instead, look inside yourself and be better.


For more thoughts that make you think, subscribe to Conscious Repository or follow me on Twitter. I'm not always right, let's have a discussion.

December 2, 2020No Comments

Endurance or Sacrifice?

Mike Compston is a retired rancher in his 70's living in Nevada. In their full interview, Vance and Mike talk about how values are created and handed down, regrets he has from his life, the value of the Articulate Ventures Network, and what he thinks happens when you die.

In the below clip, they also touch on a dichotomy between 2 ideas that have been circulating in the network opposite each other, and are worth a deeper look into. There's the Three Quarter's End Concept which suggests an act of endurance is what you need to carry through a difficult situation, and there is also the Cain Sacrifice, in which you ask yourself, "What sacrifice am I not making to achieve my ultimate goals."

The Three Quarters End Concept

This idea comes from an interview Vance did with running coach Mark Spewak. In it, Mark explains this premise that can be applied at the micro or macro level in the things that we do. Looking at the micro first, Mark goes on to connect the concept to his native field of Running. The first quarter of the race comes with relative ease, the second quarter is when you start to hit something of a stride, but it's the third quarter where he sees runners struggle the most.

The reason in the micro example is that as a runner, you're far enough in that it's no longer easy, but you're equally far enough from the finish that the end isn't yet in sight. Mark goes on to note that this mental limbo is what causes many runners to 'check out' in the third quarter and start taking it easy either continuing that lull off effort until the home stretch burst of energy or worse off, riding it out until the finish.

Taking this concept then and thinking of it in the macro, I think that Vance did a great job of summing it up in this clip from full interview. Vance breaks reaching this junction simply into three steps:

  1. The euphoria of trying something new.
  2. The excitement of making it happen and seeing results.
  3. The long march down to the valley of disillusionment.

It is the decision of the individual to when they reach this valley, put their position into perspective and gather the energy to march forward in their objective.

In the macro, while valid in many cases, this idea starts to get a little murky dependent on the broader goals of the individual which is what leads to our dichotomy of ideas.

The Cain Sacrifice

Back to the above clip with Mike, during the interview, they touch on the perfect place to draw a murky example when talking about marriage. Having been together for ~50 years, Compston is able to talk about the subject from a position of authority. When talking about the sacrifices one sometimes needs to make in a lasting relationship is when Vance brings up idea of the Cain sacrifice as opposed to the three quarters end concept.

The idea in a sentence is that sometimes we need to give up something of value now, in order to obtain a greater return in the future. The Cain title comes from a story in the bible where Cain and Abel are both making their respective sacrifices, yet Abel is receiving dividends for his and Cain, none. God goes so far as to reject Cain's sacrifices because put simply, they aren't of great enough magnitude.

I'd first heard the concept from a Jordan Peterson clip which then came up in discussion with Vance when talking about an opportunity I'd had with WAND that fell short of the results I'd hoped for. The opportunity was a $50,000 grant where we'd made it to the final 40 out of some thousand submissions but didn't manage to seal the deal. In hindsight, this was for the best, even if not directly for WAND. Another member of the network and president of St. Louis Bank, Travis Liebig, had prompted me to ask myself, is $50,000 what's holding the business back? — Because if that's the case, then go out there and get $50,000 through a loan or some other arrangement and if it's not, then keep on keeping on and figure out what needs to be done. This prompted me to make my greater sacrifice in the form of bringing in a new team member to fill my day to day responsibilities and divorcing from WAND my time as the means of promoting its growth. This has allowed WAND to continue to grow at a pace where the team is happy as well as given me the freedom to continue to follow the path set forth by my daemon.

What's the takeaway?

The correct model is subjective to your goals, the desired outcome, and especially how broad the frame of reference you're looking through. When pursuing a direct goal with a direct means for good as the outcome, the play of endurance to follow through via the three quarters end concept may be the right lens for you. If however, you're in a scenario where winning the day doesn't win you the year, it may be worth considering what sacrifice you aren't making to serve the longer term good.


I'm Benjamin Anderson, executive producer for the Vance Crowe Podcast. In this series of articles, I dig deeper into Easter egg ideas from the podcast. Here, I will explore the 'why' behind concepts mentioned on the podcast, where otherwise you may only get the 'what'. I want these deeper dives and info riffs to help us build a tighter relationship between you the listener and us the podcast creators. Please feel free to send me a note, feedback and especially constructive criticism to ben@articulate.ventures.

November 24, 20201 Comment

The Character Flywheel | Miriam Hoffman Skyhook

Originally published at https://www.articulate.ventures on November 24, 2020.

Miriam Hoffman is the type of individual that when you collide with her, you won't be able to help but receive a budding motivation to do what you can to promote her along her path. Miriam has a unique blend of humility and confidence that gives her a clear edge when it comes to her personal development. She's also recently become one of 6 National FFA officers and the first out of Illinois in 14 years. After watching her journey to this incredible achievement inside the AVN as she opened herself up to feedback and criticism to prepare for the competition, our whole community is ecstatic to continue to follow Miriam as she serves as the Eastern Region Vice President for the next year.

In this new series of AVN member Skyhooks, we're going to take the opportunity to highlight member achievements on no set schedule and relate them to ideas that we discuss inside the network. Because of Miriam's unique blend of humility and confidence, a noteworthy idea that came to mind is to plot these traits on a character flywheel, a concept pioneered by James Collins in his book Good to Great where he describes it in the following way —

No matter how dramatic the end result, good-to-great transformations never happen in one fell swoop. In building a great company or social sector enterprise, there is no single defining action, no grand program, no one killer innovation, no solitary lucky break, no miracle moment. Rather, the process resembles relentlessly pushing a giant, heavy flywheel, turn upon turn, building momentum until a point of breakthrough, and beyond. — Jim Collins

Amateur philosopher and friend of the network, Rob Long took Collins's flywheel concept and applied it to his own character to create what he calls his Stoic Flywheel. Long's flywheel consists of the following repeating cycle based on what he notes to be his core virtues, wisdom and courage —

  1. use wisdom to determine worthy goals
  2. use courage to accomplish those goals
  3. use transcendence to view the result of achieving the goal, which generates new wisdom
  4. return to the first step

Taking this same idea and mapping instead to Miriam's standout blend of humility and confidence, we can build a very similar character model —

  1. use humility to seek room for improvement
  2. use confidence to make those improvements
  3. use transcendence to view the result of having improved, which generates new humility
  4. return to the first step

When looking at the above 2 models, the pairings of wisdom with courage and humility with confidence look like synonyms. Knowing the terms individually however, and especially Miriam and Rob as individuals who embody these traits, the distinction becomes increasingly clear.

In a way, humility and wisdom are dichotomies. Rob has the wisdom to choose a course of action and know what challenges it may bring. He then has the courage to move forward despite these challenges. Take this opposite to Miriam who has the humility to see opportunities to promote growth, and she has this humility in tandem with the confidence or self assurance to pursue these opportunities. It is appreciable all the same that modeling both against a flywheel is a vivid way to understand how these two continue to make strides in their character development.

The fun question then becomes —

What are your flywheel traits?


To connect with a community of growth-oriented individuals like Miriam and Rob, check out the Articulate Ventures Network. We are a patchwork of thinkers that want to articulate ideas in a forum where they can be respectfully challenged, improved and celebrated so that we can explore complex subjects, learn from those we disagree with and achieve our personal & professional goals.

November 12, 20201 Comment

Obstructions to Truth

My Medium account has been suspended and is currently labeled as under investigation without explanation after I posted this article. No big issue, all my writing is still available on my independently hosted site which is most likely where you're reading this. However this does bring to my attention a larger concern I'm beginning to have for censoring of perspectives that are counter to the broader narrative.

I think we saw a modest version of this with Coronavirus when it rapidly became outside the Overton Window to consider the possibility that it had a synthetic origin. I feel that we'll be seeing it over the next few weeks as information continues to surface surrounding the recent election as well. To reveal the truth at scale, it's important to maintain the ability to consider all possibilities in a civil way. It's when we shut out the ability to communicate perspectives in the public forum, regardless of whether the outcome changes, that the intransigent minority I reference in my banned post are driven to radical action.

Consider that nearly every outlet you use to consume information is a private entity subject to influence by outside motivators. It's worth a beat of extra effort to validate what you see as fact on the onset and come to conclusions independent of any one outlet. It's safe to say that the major social platforms can no longer be trusted as unbiased information filters on behalf of the public. Internal activists and trolls have already been shown to make tweaks to the platforms without supervision. Hop on Twitter and give 'loser' a search —

Or maybe you caught the furor surrounding Winston Churchill back in June of this year. Around the same time, the former British Prime Minister's profile photo and a critical information block was temporarily missing from google search —

If you haven't listened to the recent testimony with the CEOs of Twitter, Facebook and Google about whether their technology enables bad behavior and how they filter truth, it's worth pushing back the block of time where you'd usually listen to Joe Rogan and lend an ear. You can check it out here:

Take stock in assessing how you come to conclusions. It's worth expanding the net with which you usually take in information. If it's being based off of what comes up in a digital feed, it's highly mutable and especially subject to internal bias. Rugged Montana social observer Lyle Benjamin points out a more zoomed out concern in this line of thinking —

I have predicted that our current age will be the least documented of the last five hundred years. Our digital archives will be fragmented, corrupted and censored in ways both accidental and malicious. By turns there will be more bits of data, and less usable information than anytime since the Bronze Age.

— Lyle Benjamin | June 14th, 2020

In short, we have access to more noise than ever but it's becoming increasingly the responsibility of the individual to find signal. The scarcity of individuals taking up this responsibility to read deeper than the surface is equally a factor in the nation's current divide. The issues we are discussing as parts of the whole are more complex than the binary tags we're giving them and need to be exchanged as such. It takes effort to pursue the truth. The broad inclination to avoid this effort is being massively taken advantage of as a means of serving up easy to find, false truths.

We're identifying too much as members of a party and too little as individuals in a society. A greater emphasis on the latter would promote the breadth of empathy that we are pretending to encourage through depth.

I promote no partisan perspective. I only encourage you to take the effort to seek the truth and I'm confident you'll find it worthy of your attention. My pull to be a cairn to others on this path is what excites me most about being a part of the Articulate Ventures Network. We are a patchwork of thinkers that want to articulate ideas in a forum where they can be respectfully challenged, improved and celebrated so that we can explore complex subjects, learn from those we disagree with and achieve our personal & professional goals.

For more ideas like this or to stay up to date, Follow me on Twitter or subscribe to Conscious Repository —

November 5, 20202 Comments

The Last President Paradox & The Intransigent Minority

I'm Benjamin Anderson, executive producer for the Vance Crowe Podcast. This is the first of an on-going series of articles that reveals the Easter egg ideas from the podcast. Here, I will explore the 'why' behind concepts mentioned on the podcast, otherwise you may only get the 'what'. I want these deeper dives and info riffs to help us build a tighter relationship between you the listener and us the podcast creators. Please feel free to send me a note, feedback and especially constructive criticism to ben@articulate.ventures.


On his recent podcast with Jeremy LaKosh, Vance mentions my Peter Theil Paradox perspective that “(Ben Anderson) believes that Trump will win the election and be the last president under our current system of democracy.” Since this Easter egg directly references a viewpoint I had, I thought it'd be a great candidate to start off this series.

Jeremy LaKosh is a savant historian and host of the Historical Context Podcast. I'm happy to have the opportunity to interact with Jeremy offline through our Articulate Ventures Network, he's a deep thinker who has a knack for exposing truth through primary sources. In the full interview, Vance references this prediction I made in July while discussing a concept pioneered by Nassim Taleb, “Fractal Localism.”

My prediction Trump will win is the less interesting perspective here and grows less definite with each passing hour. At the time of writing this, we're heading into the 2nd evening of counting ballots and results could swing either way. I still think that if he does and maybe even in either scenario, the winner will be the last under our current system because of the power of another buzz phrase Vance mentions with regularity on the podcast — The Intransigent Minority.

The Intransigent Minority in short are the subset of the population who are loud enough in their perspective, that they are able to cause waves of change that effect the majority. Take this as opposed to the other way around which is how we usually expect democracy to work. We've observed for some time now how a subset of the population can steer the national conversation. 

A friend's dad and mentor once told me that 'Those who are the loudest, are often not the majority.' I believe that this same subset would seek to impose radical change in the wake of a Trump victory. Social media has created an outlet where the lay observer may look at the broader conversation and get a skewed view of the facts of a given scenario based on the echo chambers created by these platforms' algorithms in their feed.

The form that I foresee this radical change taking, is an overhaul of the system that instigated it. The least drastic scenario would be the abolition of the electoral college. There were calls to action to do this back in 2016 under similar circumstances albeit less disputable than they are now. The most drastic being a larger overhaul to how we elect and what it means to be a leader in the United States. Like many things I think, I hope I'm wrong. In either case though, I have a cautious optimism that in times of chaos, we are annealed into stronger structures. Hopefully this too is only another opportunity to weather chaos in exchange of a stronger structure.


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Executive Producer Perspectives

November 1, 20202 Comments

100 Days with Visualize Value’s Daily Manifest

The Daily Manifest in Visualize Value's own words is — a distillation of the "best of" many different habit tracking apps, journal formats, coaches and time management systems. Everything you need, nothing you don't. Subjectively to me, it's been a habit forming tool and a system for personal accountability. You can check out the tool here and ask yourself, "Why would I pay $20 for a product I can copy from the images it uses to promote itself?" I did exactly that when I first looked at it but I dropped the practice of writing out my DM all of 2 days later.


What got me to actually buy the Daily Manifest?

I first checked out the product because I follow Jack Butcher on Twitter. Jack is the genius behind Visualize Value and seems to spend most of his time creating unique visuals to promote mental wealth as well as building things once to sell them twice. I caught a short video from Jack one day in my feed, and the way he pitched his DM was so spot on, I bought it right after the video, because he'd nailed what caused me to give it up initially after 2 days. He said something along the lines of:

"I could send you this PDF for free, but then you'd neglect it. Instead, I'm selling it for $19 so that if you do buy it, you'll have a mental/financial incentive to put in the work to fill it out every day for at least a week, and I'm confident that after that, you'll see the value and it'll become a regular practice."

— Jack Butcher (paraphrased)

He was right there too. At the time of writing this, it's Sunday, and I've already filled out my 102nd DM to guide my Monday tomorrow.


How do I use it?

At the end of the day, how you use the DM is subjective. Jack has put together a quick explainer of some of the core concepts that you can checkout here —

Aside from the concepts he highlights above, here are some of the ways I've used mine over the last 6+ months —

  • I use a printed copy of the DM and write it out in the evening before the day of.
  • I don't use the DM on the weekend. I leave this time completely open to enjoy leisure or to pursue the work of my daemon.
  • I usually do my reflections before filling out my next day's DM in the evening but often the next morning also.

My main takeaways —

With filler and background info out of the way, here's a few breakdowns of the biggest things I learned using the DM for 100+ days.

Better Grasp of Time at Micro and Macro Level

Within my first day of using the DM, I realized how little I understood how much time it actually took me to do things.

At the micro level, this was evident after just a couple days. I'd give myself an hour to do something that took 15 minutes like type an important email or mock up some social content or worse off, 30 minutes to do something that'd take 2 hours like program an improvement for the WAND app or write a decent blog post.

At the macro level, it took me a little longer to get a grasp of this but the same concept applied. I gave myself 90 days to achieve things like run 10 miles in a row or obtain 1000 followers on a novelty project, both of which took around 30 days and would have been great mezzo goals. Then again, I'd give myself 30 days to achieve things that in hindsight seem completely foolish like be conversational in Ukrainian or achieve $1,000/mo in passive revenue, both of which eventually became 90 day goals and have since been accomplished.

The DM has made it so that in the future, and on a daily basis with tasks I fill out, I have a much better understanding the time it takes for me to achieve something in a handful of different verticals.

Over Productivity → Complacency

Before I used the DM to give myself a better framework of what I should be doing at any given moment in the day, I used to bullet out my priority tasks, punch these out in the morning, and then work with as much discipline as a self-employed, ADHD individual could muster. After a few weeks of using the DM, I became self aware of a problem I knew I had before being on a regular schedule. If I have a hyper productive morning, subconsciously, I'd use this as an excuse to be less intense the remainder of the day.

The DM not only helped keep me accountable if I had a day's worth of tasks lined up to stay on track after a morning that would otherwise make me complacent, but it helped me to learn this behavior in myself. Now I usually space out my most mentally intense or productive tasks throughout the day and put some filler work chunks in between to stay engaged my whole day.

Maximize My Value

I have a new rule with anything I do, but it started mainly within WAND. If I'm doing something for more than 4 hours per day, or in my head, half of the average 9-5, it's time to build a process or outsource the work. This is probably the most abstract of the 3 concepts I'll share in this article but the one that was personally of highest value to me.

In the same vein as the first idea on time tracking, eventually, I began to understand how much time I was allocating to certain areas within my business where it was not best spent. The first for example was catering to customer service requests. After a couple weeks, I was consistently getting backed up on other tasks and determined that it was because at random, I'd get thrown off course in 15-30 minute blocks by a call, text or email to our customer support line for WAND. Individually prior to the DM, these didn't seem like much and could be chalked up as part of my day-to-day, but after a few rough days of wondering how I lost hours of my time, this became a tangible issue. We've since solved it by upping our game through automation and now I now check for requests that need my attention for just 15-30 minutes a day.

This is one of many examples and I continue apply this model of thinking that the DM helped me identify in programming, marketing or anything else that warrants my focus on a daily basis. My time is my most valuable asset, so the value I've received from the DM to be able to identify where I can save more for higher functioning output, has been immeasurable to say the least.

Sound worth it?

It was for me, 100%. I should point out that this post was in no way sponsored by Jack Butcher or Visualize Value. I mention in passing the value I've received from not only the DM, but the VV community at large regularly so decided to write this up as something to share or point people towards. If you do decide to checkout the DM, I also recommend the VV community which I've been a part of since I got the manifest. I do get a kickback if you join through that link. The ongoing signal I've received from Jack and his community through weekly office hours, models of thinking and connections has inspired much of what my day to day looks like now and especially the work I'm doing with The Articulate Ventures Network. Even this post is a example of his Permissionless Apprenticeship concept.

I encourage you to checkout both, or at the very least, hope you've consumed a concept worth the price of admission. If you liked this post, you can follow me on Twitter or Subscribe to my weekly newsletter —