Things in the land of Namasme keep getting sweeter and sweeter. The clients and work that are coming our way get progressively more fun and interesting and our intention to collaborate more this year is bearing some beautiful fruit. Case in point—a week and half ago I had the opportunity to co-lead and facilitate a conversation (well, a songversation really) on the future of money and prosperity with 60 of the brightest and most influential minds on the planet at a dinner hosted by Prince Constantijn of Holland.
The theme? Tomorrowland— a glimpse into our world during the year 2119 and how we got there. The venue, Tao Haus, a beautiful creative sanctuary in San Francisco became a one-night museum dedicated to telling the story of the shifts we made to create a more beautiful, sustainable, and prosperous future for our planet. How I ended up there? Well, that’s a story worthy of it’s own post. Let’s just say that serendipity and I are on friendly terms these days. (Special shout out to Nicolas Alcala and Seth Bunting!)
Seeing as the house was transformed into a museum, each of the 5 common areas where guests were received was turned into an interactive exhibit of some sort. As I mentioned before, I was given responsibility to cover the future of prosperity… to a room packed with people who have mastered the language of money and who had thoughts of their own on the subject and in some cases clearly communicated them publicly…People who in the last two or three decades have helped shape that very same conversation in this country and worldwide.
To say that I was intimidated would be the understatement of the year. That said, I’ve always liked a good challenge and I decided that this was an opportunity for me to rise to the occasion, to possibly have a positive impact, and to have some fun while doing so. I had enough research and contemplation under my belt to feel prepared to carry at least an informed conversation so I jumped in with both feet.
Our 60 guests were divided into smaller groups of 12 for each session. I didn’t want to go down the traditional route when thinking of the structure of mine so I came up with a concept where I would be an AI robot that embodied the consciousness of money in the year 2119. The idea was that we would have a sort of inspired Q&A with participants and to let the evolving relationship/conversation dynamic determine the direction of each session. This gave me the opportunity to be a little cheeky in my interactions with our guests to ensure that everyone was having a good time discussing what is usually a very serious subject.
I reached out to Lukaijah, a friend of mine who is a prolific spoken word and hip hop artist and together we wrote a song/rap that I would perform at the end of each session. (see vid below) To add a cherry on top, as we drew closer to the event, I was joined by Bear, an improv genius, solid guitar player, and proper expert on the topic of finance as a collaborator for the session as co-leader. To complement my robot self, he would play the role of a futuristic yet medieval-like troubadour to serve as the musical glue and comedic relief in our effort to stimulate conversation. The result was incredible!
We led our guests in a discussion that encouraged them to participate… to take ownership of the fact that they were in a key position to create a more prosperous future for all. To ask themselves how many of their peers (and themselves) they knew to be genuinely fulfilled and happy—big houses, yachts, islands and all. To realize that being wealthy and prosperous are two very different things and that a better, brighter future would require us to focus on the latter and not the former… That our current societal zero-sum mindset combined with destination consciousness sets us up to never ‘make it’ and to always be afraid and feel like we’ll never have enough… and isn’t that exhausting?
The key question we focused our discussion on was:
What role did you play in creating the more beautiful future that we know is possible?
What I loved about this question is that it compelled our participants to A) assume and admit the big responsibility they have as key players in the development of the future of the world and B) to open their hearts by allowing themselves to be guided by a positive vision… to philosophize a bit rather than offer overtly logical or linear present based thinking… To switch gears and not engage in a problem solving exercise but rather in the creation of an overarching Vision and reverse engineer from there.
It was truly magical to see moment when some of our participants realized that in order for this exercise to work, they had to engage their deeper purpose, open their hearts, and to allow themselves to perhaps not offer tangible solutions to problems but to instead work with us to dream a bit. Their faces softened, their posture changed and their voices took on a different tone. From the feedback I got from our guests, it proved to be a useful and inspiring exercise. As far as I was concerned, mission accomplished!
As for me? Well, I learned that:
Art is a universal language and a very potent one at that.
An engaged mind is a beautiful thing to witness in action. An engaged mind at the service of an open heart? That’s the reason we’re all here.
Good improvisation requires two key components: 1) presence 2) trust. If you’re present, the energy of the space will guide you. If you trust yourself and the moment, you allow others to do the same and you can turn whatever it is that you’re doing into a fun co-creation.
This dinner served as confirmation for me that I will never stop being amazed by people. I can genuinely say that collaborating with such incredible folks changed something in me. When we surround ourselves with people who inspire us and who push us to think bigger, love harder, and be more open, we flourish. This also applies to the ideas we entertain in our daily lives. Are we investing our energy wisely in the thoughts we entertain and the work that we do or are we allowing our mind to hang out in the gutter? Are we finding ways to connect and to grow together or are we, in our search for significance and individuation, losing ourselves and each other?
At the end of the day, creating what you want to see more of in the world is infinitely more energizing and efficient than fighting against what you don’t. We did a video of that not too long ago but it never hurts to remember that as Buckminster Fuller so eloquently phrased it,
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
I truly believe this is our task moving forward if we are to be successful in creating a new paradigm for the planet. Will you join me?
*** The photo for this post was taken by David Redish. You can find him on Instagram at @redishd***