I’ve spent my life working on audacious projects that might help save nature, mitigate climate change, and feed the world responsibly. But, every day I struggle with the question, “Are there reasons for hope?”. To answer this question, I have learned it is necessary to hold multiple conflicting beliefs rather than try to resolve them into one.
There is no reason for hope. Everything that can be lost will be lost. Life is suffering. Nobody gets out of here alive. We’re each an irrelevant speck of stardust in an infinite universe living for an insignificant blip of time. Nothing we do matters. …
I will explain how we solve climate change. It’s simple, but not easy. You might not like what I say, but I’m not wrong. COVID-19 is a lesson.
In the midst of COVID-19, what good is happening? Extremely rapid innovation, adaptability, and life-saving inventions all over the place. Regulatory and market barriers getting plowed through to get products out to help people in need. Companies working remotely instead making employees face soul-crushing commutes and flights. Companies trusting people to do the best work they can without as much oversight. People everywhere staying at home with their families and talking to loved-ones and friends by video chat. People volunteering to make their communities more resilient. We’re helping our kids with their school work. We’re being kinder to each other. We’re being creative. We’re not just surviving, we’re thriving. …
The surreality of protecting wildlife from inhumanity.
The ear of a massive 35-year old bull elephant wraps over me like a warm blanket, shielding me with shade from the hot African sun. I’m crawling underneath as if into a humid cave as its rough wrinkled skin makes my hands feel soft and fragile. The scent of a large mammal and the dirt and the Earth are so potent, so alive, so foreign yet so familiar, they blast their way with physical force deep into each of my nostrils. Time slows down.
Suddenly, unexpectedly, as I slip ahead, a giant eye appears, inches from my face. Wide open, unblinking, staring at me. I’m shocked by the soft beauty of the tan iris. It is loving, and that jars me. He’s no longer an elephant, a huge dangerous animal, he’s an individual being, a soul on his own journey. The eye is so human-like I’m uncomfortable with the intimacy I just created without his permission. …
Finding My Soul with Charging Rhino’s & Elephant Shit
Recently I stayed for two week at Il Ngwesi eco-lodge in northern Kenya, part of a conservancy that is owned and operated by the Maasai. As it’s slow season and quite rainy, I was the only one there most of the time. I experienced some of the most joyful, soulful, peaceful moments of my life. I wanted for nothing more and felt immense grief and sadness for a life chasing those feelings, often in ways that produced the exact opposite result.
Most beautifully, after a night sleeping under the stars, I awoke in the warm light of dawn to the sounds of countless animals everywhere. Across the river was a herd of dozens of elephants. I watched them for two hours, completely mesmerized. I observed their behaviors and imagined what they were feeling: mothers protected their babies with tenderness as they approached a water hole, young ones ran around with floppy trunks and trumpeted like unruly teenagers, and large bull males slowly patrolled the perimeter with stoic confidence. I journaled, jotted down notes, and sketched the scene with curiosity and calm excitement like when I was a kid filling all my notebooks with drawings of animals. Whether I was “right” in my analysis was not important to me. I wasn’t trying to get recognition as an elephant behavior expert. I wasn’t solving anything or fixing the world. I simply “let the soft animal of [my] body love what it loves” as poet Mary Oliver wrote. …
My first week in Kenya was a whirlwind tour (on a small prop plane with a few people from the Northern Rangelands Trust) of the remote, mostly unpopulated northern part of the country. It’s a harsh lands where armed violence and conflict have been the norm for eons, where every single rhino was poached as well as most of the elephants. Though things have been getting better in the past decade or so thanks to excellent community development work and conservation. More on this another time.
I am humbled by the challenges of protecting wildlife and habitat alongside the humanitarian goals of helping people live in peace. I’ve seen how ecotourism can be done well but also how frequently it goes horribly, painfully wrong. …
“Not all those who wander are lost.”
Wandering. That’s exactly where I am in my journey right now. In October, I put my life’s possessions into a small storage unit in Santa Cruz, California, gave up a permanent address, got a bunch of immunizations, and boarded a plane… one way to Nairobi, Kenya.
It’s both exhilarating and terrifying. I feel more like myself than ever before and less clear of who I really am. I used to know exactly where I was going, or so I thought. Now, I have little confidence in any of my ideas, but I am ok with that. I feel relatively awake and free to choose my own adventure… and for that, I am deeply grateful. …
I believe that magical, unprecedented, innovative things happen when people who don’t typically interact actually meet. Two people from different worlds, coming together, can create unimaginable change.
This is my attempt to 10x how often these chance encounters happen, hopefully making the world a better place in the process. Imagine if this took off and spread. I can’t predict where this may go, and that’s the point. But I need your help. This is your excuse to introduce cool people who might never meet otherwise… what an honor you have!
Here’s how it works:
I’m a child of the 80’s. I’ve always been obsessed with computers and technology. So obviously “Back to the Future Part II” wasn’t just a movie to me, it was a roadmap; a roadmap to a time when we won’t need… insert dramatic pause… roads. This week, on October 21, 2015 we celebrate “Back to the Future Day”, the so called “future” predicted back in 1989.
So what the heck happened?!?! Where are my friggin’ flying cars and hoverboards?
But I’m not going to talk about flying cars and hoverboards because what they represent is far more important. These crazy technologies represent our hope for a “fantastic future” (a term borrowed from Ashley Vance’s excellent book about Elon Musk). …
Whether you’re changing jobs mid-career or just starting out, you face the challenge of building up a resume to show that you have experience. I’ve been asked by people countless times,
“How do I get experience if nobody will hire me until I have experience?”
This feels like a real Catch 22, huh? In this article I’ll describe what’s worked for me over and over again during my major career transitions.
It’s really simple. Invent your own job for an organization you love and be willing to work for free, if necessary.
If you are capable of doing a job but have no experience, you’re a risky bet for a company. You won’t win in a head-to-head comparison against other candidates, which is why applying for jobs hasn’t worked for you. So, you must lower the company’s risk in bringing you onboard. How do you do that? By volunteering your time in exchange for getting experience. …
How Standup Paddling Lead me to Google[x] and Facing Down a Maori Haka with the World’s Greatest Ocean Navigators
Just ahead of us stood dozens of large Maori who pounded their bare chests, summoning blood until their skin glowed red. The cold gray skies and brisk ocean winds made our situation feel more grave. The whites of the angry men’s eyes doubled in size as they bulged. Tongues shot down to their chins. Weapons flashed with blinding speed as everyone jumped in unison. Powerful screams hit us with the force of a hurricane. …