Category Archives: Musings

Change is slow

When looking to permanently change the physical shape of hard materials, it often requires an additional ingredient to be added first (eg. heat, water), then you work the material slowly and gradually, and finally let it rest. If you skip adding the necessary ingredient, work the material too fast, or don’t let it rest, it can break or bounce back.

I often think about how this applies to all forms of change, whether that be in self improvement or social culture.

When I feel impatient about something changing, I remind myself that slow change tends to be more permanent.

An exercise in understanding the impact of new technologies.

The effect of new technologies are difficult to understand. I think we’re still learning a lot about how social media influences the world today, which is an extension of how the internet affects us – both of which might not seem that new to us. Today, some of the newest topics we’re discussing are blockchain, artificial intelligence, and robotics. We as a society agonize over the impact of these technologies.

When trying to understand something new, it’s a good exercise to think of ways that it’s not new – specifically, look for something that’s been around for a while with lots of parallels.

Let’s take Bitcoin as an example, what is it similar to? One example I can think of is the Gold Standard. They’re clearly very different, but there are some similarities:

– Both tie government issued currency to the value of something not (directly) controlled by one government.
– Both are only as valuable as we consider it to be.
– Both have a limited supply.
– Both can be “mined” by those with enough of the appropriate resources and know-how.

Based on this exercise, what are some theories we can come up with on the effect of Bitcoin?

– It won’t replace government issued currency.
– It will continue to have value that fluctuates.

Looking at the differences, for example one being digital while the other is not, we can already see today how Bitcoin could be accepted as currency at most merchants while Gold cannot (or at least not easily). This may or may not affect our previous theories. What do you think and why?

All of the above is clearly oversimplification, but I present this method merely as a thought exercise.

Live an Epic Story

We all die and our bodies are handed back to Mother Nature. What is left of us then?

I have a little booklet I keep for an exercise I call “You are who you’ve met.” It lists everybody that’s had an effect on who I am and one sentence about what I learned from then. It includes my family, friends, foes, and even fictional characters. Sometimes the sentence I write down is the same, but the person it’s attached to gives it a different context, and therefor a completely different meaning.

The idea here is that we pass on values to others simply by interacting with them. Those values are then passed onto others. I think this is what makes us immortal. While our bodies may no longer exist, we passed on values from many beings to many others.

Sometimes, our name is attached to these values. Think historical figures, and how they’re existence is a symbol that signifies the values we pass on when telling their story. Religion and story tellers (like Disney) use stories to pass on values. It’s because we humans remember experiences, and stories are a way for us to experience someone else’s life. Values taught through stories are “stickier”.

So if you want to pass on the values that you believe make the world a better place, live a story worth telling, one that teaches the values you feel blessed to have learned from others. Be immortal. Live an epic story.

Celebration Nation

We are the citizens of celebration nation,
we walk this world with an attitude of gratitude,
our friends and foes,
from their head to their toes,
every single mood,
every type of food,
every day of the year,
both love and fear,
both sun and rain,
both pain and gain,
we thank them all,
’cause it makes us whole,
but watch out there’s a trap,
and it’s not on the map,
there’s one thing to remember,
from january through december,
and it’s to remember to “be you”,
’cause no one can do that like you!

What Is “The American Dream”?


Guy Kawasaki suggests that startups ditch the mission statement and instead have a mantra, a phrase with three or four words. It’s purpose is to help employees truly understand why the organization exists. A mantra creates a cohesive context for discussion, helps drive decision-making, and is a constant reminder of a shared goal.

The United States of America has a mantra, and it’s “The American Dream.” The definition of The American Dream has changed over time. It was initially about fleeing hierarchical or aristocratic societies. During the gold rush, it became about the potential for instant wealth. It’s since then been about home ownership and upward mobility. Most recently, it has been about equal opportunity and access to education and career.

It’s completely normal for the mantra to change over time; it should reflect the state of the world and the mind of the people in it. What’s important, however, is that the meaning of the mantra be discussed regularly. Without a shared vision, all debates will be inefficient and ineffective, laws put in place will be ephemeral, and dissatisfaction becomes inevitable.

Education isn’t producing the results it used to, so access to education clearly isn’t enough. Many are unemployed, and even those who have careers that can support their family are unhappy, either from work dissatisfaction or not having enough time to spend with family.

What is today’s American Dream?


The 7 Questions That Tell You Who You Are

I like the 7 questions posed on this Thought Catalogue article titled The 7 Questions That Tell You Who You Are. I know my answers to these questions may have been different a year ago, and may be different a year from now. That doesn’t mean that answering these questions isn’t a good exercise. It’s all part of a process…


1. What would you do with your life if you didn’t have to pay the bills?

I would make and entertain friends. I would host travelers at my house. I would create experiences where people feel comfortable expressing themselves. I would dance, like all the time. I would let my friends stay at my house for free. I would cook lots, and invite friends over for dinner all the time. I would read & write more. I would help friends achieve their dreams.

2. What cuts you the deepest?

Realizing I’ve hurt someone. Whether the reason be miscommunication or carelessness, there’s nothing that bothers me more than finding out after the fact that I’ve hurt someone. It’s impossible please everyone all the time, but I’d like to make sure I know if I’m hurting someone. They often won’t tell you, so you kind of have to keep an eye out remembering that it’s a possibility.

3. If you were going to die tomorrow, what would you do today?

I would spend all day writing down the best things about all the people I know. The kind of things you only remember to bring up drunk, late-night on a stoop having a heart-to-heart – I would write all of them down, for all the people I could think of.

4. Who do you love and why do you love them?

I love the people who love me. The people I can share silence with. The people that don’t question why I’m inviting them to grab a lunch or dinner. The people I would run errands with. The people that keep me from feeling lonely, and the people I can help keep from feeling lonely.

5. What do you quote?

Quotes about being true to yourself, about how everyone deserves happiness, on the work it takes to achieve happiness, and reminders on why it’s okay not to be happy all the time. Why? Because I want everyone to always be working towards happiness, without stressing about whether or not they’re good at it.

6. In those rare life-changing moments, how do you act?

I close my eyes, do a gut check, and dive-in feet first. Not head first, in case the water’s shallow. But feet first, without checking my pockets – so sometimes, I’ll ruin my phone (metaphorically speaking). I make these mistakes because I need to jump quick before I convince myself to do otherwise. I’m instinctively risk-taking, but consciously risk-averse.

7. What do you think about most?

How to be happy. How to take what I learn and help others be happy. How I can help others achieve happiness by being an example – discovering and admiring things & people that make me happy, removing stress & worry, and smiling all the time.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Ghandi

The change I want to see in the world in which people are kind, happy, and grateful.

What Cooking, Burning Man, and SnapChat Have In Common

My roommates make fun of me because I sometimes spend 30 minutes cooking a meal I devour in 5 minutes. I tell them I’m celebrating the temporary nature of art.

I was introduced to this idea at Burning Man last year when I saw five story structures being burned to the ground. People spend months creating art, only to destroy it. Sharing the moment of destruction with tens of thousands of people is a moving experience that can’t be described in words.

Then I realized, while on a smaller scale, SnapChat celebrates the same thing. My favorite snaps that I receive from friends are well-conceived and sometime staged. The fact that they captured this moment in this temporary format, makes it more beautiful. They could have taken a photo/video they could rewatch later.

Cooking, Burning, and SnapChat all celebrate the temporary nature of art. What else does?

Update: My friend Mariana pointed out that fireworks and orgasms should also join this list. Agreed.

Everything is a Remix

I just found out Eminem’s song publisher is suing Facebook and it’s ad agency, saying that in their recent ad, they stole his beats from “Under the Influence.” Then, the ad agency is saying Dr. Dre took the beat from Michael Jordan’s “Give It To Me.” Listening to all three, you’ll find the similarities uncanny. Question is, isn’t everything a remix?

Check out the video below titled “Everything is a Remix: Part 1”. The other parts are also awesome.

Everything is a Remix Part 1 from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.

What is mindfulness?


Practicing mindfulness is not necessarily about putting aside time to meditate. It’s about learning to switch on-and-off your ability to live in the moment.

Even if you have 1000 things to do at work, if you’ve set aside one hour to enjoy dinner with your friend, can you forget about work and engage fully with your present company?

That’s what mindfulness is all about.

Also, read this: Buddha had it right: relax your mind and productivity will follow.