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January 2015

What is the purpose of your intuition?

To tap into your intuition is to find that perfect balance between thinking and feeling, and then to allow it to carry you.

To allow your intuition to carry you is to stop doing, saying, and thinking what you do not believe and do not feel.

To stop doing, saying, and thinking what you do not believe and do not feel is to make room for nature to guide you.

To make room for nature to guide you is to become all that nature has intended for you.

So, the purpose of your intuition is to allow you to become all that nature has intended for you.

Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

Is Ello worth joining? Well, it doesn't solve the 3 fundamental problems with social media.

Does anyone feel the way I do about social media? It seems there is something fundamentally and obviously wrong with all of today's social media sites. Ello, the anti-advertising, stripped-down new "alternative to Facebook", is unfortunately no exception. I will go through the 3 fundamental problems in great detail. I will then describe an entirely new, different, and better type of social media site.

I should have fallen in love with Ello. I really wanted to. I despise all forms of advertising, so Ello's charter as a Public Benefit Corporation inspired me to the extent that I am founding my venture with a similar anti-advertising charter. But as I was saying, I don't love Ello because it doesn't solve the 3 fundamental problems of today's social media sites.

Ello, Facebook, Tumblr, Myspace, and all of the rest of the social media sites are fundamentally flawed. They no longer serve any useful function, and are obsolete, for the following specific reasons:

Fundamental Problem #1:  Social media contributes to information overload by providing a massive amount of irrelevant information. This makes us feel physically ill.

When I logged-on to Ello, I had to start with nothing and nobody. I immediately realized the enormous amount of work ahead of me. Obviously I would need to make some friends, otherwise nobody would care about what I have to say. So then I tried really hard to force myself to care about what other people were posting. I browsed around and did some searches. The truth is, a lot of the content I saw was pretty good. These are clearly smart, talented people who are embracing their passions. The problem is, their passions aren't my passions and I don't really care about these random strangers enough to pay them proper attention. It occurred to me that these same, random strangers weren't likely to care about my posts either (regardless of how brilliant and worthwhile I believe my thoughts to be!). 

Now that the Web 2.0 novelty is ancient history, I no longer have the time or energy to care about meeting someone who I will never know in real life, who I will never work with, and with whom I will never create anything. What I want isn't the same thing as what those people want. My life has no connection to theirs and we are essentially not compatible. How is it going to help either of us to know each other? Why would I want to see the paintings of a random Italian artist? Why would I want to listen to the music of an unknown band who's music is in a genre I don't like? Why would I want to read someone's thoughts on a new gadget, when I simply don't care about new gadgets at this very moment? After a short time on Ello, I felt as though I didn't belong and, worse yet, I started to get physically sickened from the endless stream of irrelevant content. It wasn't as bad as advertising, but I felt the same way I do on Facebook.

So what instincts or needs drove me to Ello to begin with? Here's what I do care about: 1) raising capital for my start-up, 2) finding an appreciative audience for my music, and 3) finding an audience for my blog. Those are the things that give my life meaning and purpose, outside of my family and real-world friends. I know that I need to meet new people, which should presumably be the point of social networking websites, right? 

Unfortunately, Ello doesn't help me. Instead, in order to look "popular", I'm supposed to pretend to care about a lot of people who I don't feel anything for. Then they can, in turn, pretend to care about me. We can pretend that we both have an audience but, in truth, we don't have a real audience. Even if we did, we don't actually feel anything about each other or care. Using today's social media sites is like trying to scratch an itch and being left with an even greater itch. It is a cycle in which we are left tired, empty, and frustrated while we make no progress in our lives.

Fundamental Problem #2: There is no real mechanism to meet new people in order to form a solid, mutually-beneficial relationship.

Today's social media, including Ello, is really only useful if your intention is to stay in contact and keep up-to-date about happenings in the lives of your real-world friends. Outside of that, there is no systematic, usable mechanism to connect us to the people who we should know who we currently do not know.

Fundamental Problem #3: Social media leads to stagnation and inaction in our lives.

We all have a limited amount of time on this planet and energy in our days. How shall we use it? Here are some pretty good ideas:

  • Sharing beautiful moments with real people
  • Accomplishing our goals and dreams
  • Working toward something, creating something, solving a problem, or earning money so that we can, in turn, do something that excites us
  • Learning something that excites us
  • Experiencing something that excites us
  • Taking care of loved ones and maintaining our closest relationships
  • Feeling pleasure and experiencing real beauty that we can touch and feel
  • Experiencing human emotions with others, face-to-face
  • Relaxing in a way that brings us closer to the present moment and improves our overall well-being and sense of peace

We aren't doing any of these things on social media websites. Instead, we channel our time and energy into a black hole that gives us little in return. Sure, we may stay more updated on what's going on in our friend's lives, but even that is done in a way that is disconnected from the true value of those relationships. 

  Ello

Above: random cats, bracelets, art, and irrelevant stuff that gives me a headache on Ello

So, after a short time on Ello, I signed off (far more exhausted than I was when I signed on after having accomplished nothing at all). I started thinking about the whole concept of social networking. What kinds of people do I actually need to meet to do the things I actually want to do? 

Interest 1: I want to raise funding for my start-up so we can launch the People Economy.

Who do I need to meet? angel investors, wealthy individuals who have an interest in the social good, people who are involved in the venture capital community.

I need a social networking site that connects me only to those people while skipping right past the brilliant Italian artists, other musicians, as well as the other entrepreneurs. Likewise, those investors need to meet me because this idea is brilliant, we will change the world, and they will make a fortune. They want to meet me but, today, they have no way of finding me. Instead, we all have to resort to a lot of email spam, social media games, blogging tricks, and other gimmicks if we hope to meet the right people. The whole system is inefficient and we can do better.

Interest 2: I want to reach an audience for my band's music.

Who do I need to meet: music bloggers, album reviewers, music podcast producers, concert bookers, etc.

Likewise, these people need a simple, elegant way to skim through all of the new albums coming out in a particular genre and region, for example. We need a way to connect to each other while avoiding the headaches.

Interest 3: All of that other stuff I wrote about doing stuff that improves our lives and excites us.

Who I need to meet: people who want the same things and are willing to meet new people and do something about it.

What we need is a way to connect two people based on their compatible wants -- a way to meet the right people! That connection should then be tied directly to an action. In just seconds, we should be able to get in touch with all of the people we need to meet to move our real lives forward and to make our lives better. We should be willing to work with these people, meet these people, and establish mutually-beneficial real-world relationships. We need to network with people only when doing so excites us...only when doing so is compatible with what we actually want!

The good news is that there actually is a way to meet new people, work together, meet, and carry on with our lives in just the way I'm describing. Unfortunately, Ello isn't it.

Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

Meditation is much easier (and more beneficial) than I thought

I used to think that meditation was nothing other than a waste of time. The truth is, I'd never even given the topic much thought. What would be the point of feeling calm and "centered"? The idea of sitting still for 20 minutes with my eyes closed...well it just wasn't something I would ever want to do.

Then I started listening to the Tim Ferriss podcast. Almost without exception, Tim's guests (all of whom are extraordinary, super-successful and accomplished leaders in their respective fields) talk to some extent about meditation and how it is important to them. So I started thinking...if it is good enough for the likes of Seth Godin, Kevin Rose, Jason Silva, Mike Shinoda, Richard Branson, Maria Popova, and Tim Ferriss, himself...well maybe it is something I might consider. When I then started hearing Russell Brand talk about how it changed his life, that was my tipping-point. Perhaps there is some correlation between meditation and the success, wisdom, and overall effectiveness that these remarkable people demonstrate?  Could be.  So, a few months ago, I decided to give it a try.

Starting with a blank slate, I first looked up something I had heard of called transcendental medidation (TM). It turns out, this type of meditation is most commonly practiced by celebrities and it is probably the most well-known form of meditation. The bad news is that I found that it was nearly impossible to begin practicing TM without first going through a course. How long is the course? How much does it cost? None of this information was readily available. So I did as the site requires and submitted an inquiry. A day or two passed, no response.  

Probably because of my location in Europe, it took the TM people 3 weeks until they finally did respond...and then I was told that I would have to travel 12 hours to the nearest person who could teach me. The process of learning TM would take about 4 days. Oh, and the price is based on my place of residence (so I still didn't have an answer and was left with a strange feeling that they were trying to extract additional funds from me due to  my...American-ness). Here I was, 3 weeks later...on my quest to find inner-peace...and if I was relying on the TM people, I would have found nothing but inner-frustration! To be fair, I'm sure TM is a amazing...maybe I'll even give it a try someday...but I wasn't going to wait because I wanted to try something!

The good new is that I found another (much more simple, practical, and free) way to meditate. Over the years, I had vaguely heard about the concept of "guided meditation". Whereas TM is practiced alone, in silence (as you repeat your own, secret mantra), guided meditation is a lot easier and more approachable to those of us who are not yet aware of our oneness with the universe. You are simply guided along by an instructor, who tells you exactly what to do. So I searched iTunes for some guided meditation podcasts. The first and most popular program I found is called Meditation Oasis. After continuing to search some other sources, I ultimately decided that I trusted Meditation Oasis enough to give it a try.

Maybe this guided meditation isn't going to bring me quite to the level of Gandhi or Russell Brand -- but holy shit, look at me, I'm meditating!!!  

Meditation Oasis

The podcast is hosted by Mary Maddux.  She offers 50 different meditations, for free, on different topics that you can choose based on whatever it is you're going through. I've probably given most play to the Accessing Intuition session, where she takes you on a mental journey beneath the waves of a pond into it's quiet depths.  She then prompts you to essentially "throw a problem" into your calm, deep consciousness...and the solution will come to you in the form of a thought, a vision, a sound, or a sensation. It seems to work pretty well, because my consciousness has offered guidance on some of the most complicated issues I've been dealing with (and also some not-so-complex stuff). To offer an example regarding the not-so-complex stuff, I received an answer from my intuition without even having to consciously throw anything into the depth of my mental pond. Prior to meditating that day, I had spent 20 minutes looking for some important files on my computer, on CD backups, everywhere I could think of without success. I had given up and decided, instead, to meditate. 10 minutes later, in a state of stillness, the answer came to me without any effort at all.

I'd also recommend her Morning Energy guided meditation. Put it this way: you will end up feeling a pulsing sensation of energy in your pelvic region. Not bad, right?! What I realized is that my mind has the power to provide energy (so it seems that energy doesn't only come from coffee, though I still love my coffee). Other meditations of hers that I'd recommend include the Relax Into Sleep meditation if you ever have any problems sleeping. Other shows help you cope with stress, anger, and a variety of feelings you could be dealing with at any given time. I prefer the episodes that include music because, after several days doing this, the music itself becomes an automatic trigger to go into a meditative state.

So, if you've never tried it before, what do I mean "meditative state"? From my experience, it is a state between being awake and asleep. You learn, through Mary's guidance, to accept everything you feel....to even allow your mind to wander a bit as long as you bring it back. Everything is alright...no pressure...no expectations...no doing things right or wrong. If you fall asleep, that's ok too because that's what your body needed. It is a great thing to experience...simply accepting that everything is ok.

So I've been meditating 2x per day; once in the morning after taking my daughter to preschool and before I start working...and then once again in the mid to late afternoon. With respect to meditation in general, I've heard that the best practice is to allow 20 minutes per meditation. However, with this program, I end up coming out after 15 minutes feeling as though I've had the right amount. When I "awaken" from meditation I stretch, yawn, and feel completely calm, relaxed, and accepting of everything. But, you might ask, great, so you feel better...but how has Meditation Oasis affected my life in a tangible way? Here are four general areas where I feel my life has changed through meditation:

1) Mary says, in many of the podcasts, that you can actually get more done in a very relaxed state. I have certainly found this to be true. I work in a much calmer, more relaxed way. After meditating, I actually make fewer mistakes. I don't spend as much time doing things I shouldn't be doing. When my mind is less stressed-out and panicked, I can get more done and do things more effectively. In other words, I do the right things and get better results with less effort.

2) I have much more energy throughout the day. I don't burn myself out after 4 hours of intense work, like I used to. If I start feeling tired after lunch, or stressed, or lousy, then I'll just do another meditation and I'll be good to go for another few hours. It's like recharging the battery on your iPhone. So, in this respect, the 30 minutes per day spent meditating actually lead to a lot more being done through the course of the day. Before meditating, I wasn't so much limited by lack of time, but by lack of energy. This has changed pretty dramatically.

3) I'm healthier. So far I haven't been ill. Also, because I go for massages because I have real problems with my back (mostly stress in the shoulders and neck), I noticed another big change. During my last two massages, my therapist noticed that I was a different person. No tension at all in the areas where I used to have tension. This is related to allowing my shoulders and arms to fully relax 2x per day.

4) I'm more on top of my emotions.  I'm aware of my emotions and, as you learn through meditation, the process of being aware is the same process that helps you overcome stuff. You don't have to force yourself to feel, or to do anything at all. It is enough to "breath-in" to your anger or anxiety, and in time it will go away. You can go on with your day in a relaxed way.

January is typically a very stressful time for me. I'm hustling for new customers, booking summer concerts for Abscondo, now I'm raising funds for my startup and putting a dev team together.  I'm actually working about 2x or 3x harder than I was before I started meditating. However, largely thanks to meditation (and Meditation Oasis in particular), I'm in a really good place right now despite the challenges and the workload I'm facing. Life feels lighter and I feel happier.

In my experience after these two months, meditation is as important to your lifestyle as eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising. Meditation is, quite simply, just something our minds need to do...it is an ancient gift that we can embrace to go through life in a much better way. It also makes you sound really cool because you can act all deep and mystical.

Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

Falling in Love with New Music in 5 Steps

Do you know anybody who is completely stuck on one particular musical genre? Getting tired of listening to their same stale music from that other era? Have sympathy, because it can be a chore to embrace new music and most people don't even know how to do it. I'll try to offer a little help.

If you care about good music, you've probably had some help along the way. Maybe you had that cool, "indie" friend in high school. Or maybe it was a cousin, a sibling, or a crush.

My first musical influencer was my best friend at age 16. My friend Tucker led me away from the likes of MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice. It was a long, hot Wisconsin summer and I spent so many days at his lake house. Tucker's enthusiasm for U2's Achtung Baby infected me and changed me. We'd turn his stereo up so loud that we could swim to the floating dock on the lake, lay in the sun, and still hear every guitar riff and brilliant lyric through the open, rattling windows of his upstairs bedroom. I hope his neighbors shared the same enthusiasm for his music as I did.

Tuck and I would then would move on to Matthew Sweet's Girlfriend album, R.E.M., Jane's Addiction, and so many others. It isn't that any of his stuff was all that obscure (it wasn't), but what is important is that he pulled me into a genre I would have never otherwise ventured into. His enthusiasm was contagious and I guess it changed my life.

Unfortunately, friends can lose contact and (worse yet) they can change. Without the internal desire or willingness to seek out and embrace new music, even the best of us can find ourselves wandering in a musical wasteland. But a life without a healthy amount of great music, (including new music that sounds fresh) is the life of someone who is slipping toward old age and death. New music keeps us young inside.

I'm a massive music fan and I'm proud to say that I kept myself moving forward on a continually satisfying and stimulating musical journey. I'm not gonna tell you what to listen to (although you seriously should check out this super-obscure band called Abscondo), but I will tell you about 5 steps that will help anyone move past a stale music collection.

1) Find at least one source you trust to stay updated on a wide variety of new music. It could be a magazine like NME, Q Magazine, Rolling Stone, Spin, or Pitchfork. Go to the bookstore and check out a few mags. See which ones seem to fit your preferred genre. Ideally, there will be at least a few references to bands you actually do know. Otherwise, check out KEXP, NPR All Songs Considered Podcast, or a local indie publication or website (like Seattle's The Stranger, for example) for reviews of bands that are coming to your area.

2) Make plans to get out and seeing shows! Find out who's touring near you, read reviews, commit to going to a show as often as you can (even a few times per year helps). If there is a band touring in your area, don't buy the tickets just yet, but first go to step 3. Better yet, just buy tickets to to a summer music festival then go to step 3.

3) Before you go to said concert or festival, check out the band online and listen to a few songs. If you like the songs at all, or can imagine the possibility of liking them, just buy the album. But don't expect to fall in love with their music right away!

4) Before you see the show, listen to the album at least 5 times (regardless of what you think after the first spin). You don't even need to listen to the whole album...at least listen to the first 5 songs at least 5 times (even as background music while you're working). This is the natural process of allowing the sounds to penetrate your consciousness. It takes a bit of time! After 5, 6, 7 spins, you will know whether this is something you are falling in love with or not. If not, you will naturally gravitate toward some of the other bands you're considering. But if you kind of dig it, commit to going to the show.

5) Convince a friend to come along with you to the show. Shared musical experiences add to the magic! Oh, and then when the day comes...you should actually go to the show! Maybe it's been a long day at work or perhaps you have to get up early tomorrow morning. Who cares? The energy and inspiration you will get from the music over the long-term is more important than any minor short-term discomfort.

Don't expect to be blown away every time. At the concert, you will be left standing too long waiting for the band to come out, maybe even yawning. Even during the performance, you may end up checking your watch a few times and wondering how many songs are left in the set! But, in the end, (at least some of the time) you will have fallen in love with a new band...in so doing you will have found one of the secrets to eternal youth and lasting coolness.

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Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

You made a list of all your heroes

And you thought about what they went through...

Yeah, you thought about what they went through...

It's much darker, much harder than anything that happened to you

- Belle & Sebastian from the new song "Allie"

Packshot

Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

If there was a Revolution, who would lead it?

Who is going to lead the Revolution? Yes, I mean a real Revolution. Do we want a better society with a new economic system? Do we want a system that lets us govern our lives by something other than today's corporate, governmental, and organizational systems of corrupt domination and power? If so, who would we look to as leaders of that kind of Revolution?

Would it be the anti-capitalist, hippie, intellectual protesters? I doubt it. They understand the world's problems well indeed, but their clever words and provocation are not the solution. For the most part, they get stuck on the problems and don't seem to do anything to solve them.

Who else is going to do it? Politicians? Come on. They serve the status quo to an extent that no real change is possible. Forget about it.

We need a group of creative people whose function is not to serve the established institutions of power; yet who possess the skills and the capabilities to get something done. If anybody is going to change the world, it will be this guy: the self-motivated, problem-solving, action-driven entrepreneur with a brilliant idea.   

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With all of the technology available to us, we are a new breed of entrepreneur who is capable of achieving anything. We are the change agents in the modern world and it is up to us to create something better. We are inventors who can build an alternate system to make everyone better off, happier, and more free.

We need to go further than merely on carving out some small niche market where we, individually, can thrive. Let's think bigger because the world needs us. Today's economic system is slowly destroying the world, just as it fails to serve human nature. Human potential remains dramatically under-developed. Our interests, skills, passions, and abilities are ignored just as our free time and life experiences are unnecessarily limited...and for what purpose? Anything is better than what we are doing today. A new future must be invented, built, and intelligently implemented. Let's do it for the greater good and on our own benevolent terms.

The concept of "invention" is not something that should be limited to conventional products and services. Let's broaden the concept in order to realize that everything about our daily lives is an invention. Our present form of money was once an invention. Corporate law was also invented by way of a legal system led by individuals who represent a specific set of values. Likewise, our generally-accepted doctrine of blind economic growth and profit at all costs...the whole concept was once a new idea, an invention. Even beyond the economic realm, we allow outdated ideas about relationships to dictate the way we love and connect with others. There is no reason to believe that there is anything inevitable about the status quo. Radical change and Revolution is the inevitability.

We entrepreneurs (who also happen to be radical thinkers, content producers, entertainers, inventors, and leaders)....we are the answer. Launching another niche, luxury business to fulfill a profitable customer need is great. But it would be much more profitable and worthwhile if we were to, instead, launch another economic system. We can create a new way to structure economic and social relationships between people. We can create and use our own currency. Nothing stops us from offering a tangible, user-friendly way for people to gradually, peacefully shift to another paradigm by simply ignoring today's systems of power, corruption, and control.

We are far from perfect, but it is time for us to realize that we are better than today's world leaders. We are the people who have what it takes to launch a Revolution. We need to think bigger and commit to creating a better world...and we need to do it in a peaceful way.

The Revolution will be an excellent customer experience! 

Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

Free Work

Charlie Hoehn has come up with a great idea called "free work". This is a radical new approach to start anyone down the path of building the career they want, and the life they want, while doing what they want to do.  

I wish I had thought of this at the start of my career. Instead, I followed the conventional path and wasted years of my life in corporate misery. I finally found the courage to break free, but it just wasn't necessary to wait.  

In his TEDx session, Charlie talks about how frustrating the traditional job search actually is. Searching for a "normal job" is the first step down a path toward creating a life you absolutely do not want. 10 years later, you find yourself in an industry you did not choose, surrounded by people you did not choose to be with, doing a job that does not tap into any of your true interests or talents. This is the conventional path that we are told to accept, but there are other ways.

What I find most interesting about Charlie is how he struggled with, and then ultimately found himself overcome by, his gut-feelings and intuition. His decision seems to have come from a place of feeling backed into a corner. Oftentimes, extraordinary accomplishments come not from our exceptional talents or capabilities, but from panic and desperation. 

Faced with options that makes us feel sick inside, too many of us try to cope. We turn to anti-depressants and we lie to ourselves because we can see no other options. But thee are options. There are endless options in life and infinite solutions to every problem.  Free work is one.  Enjoy the video.

Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).