Big Shifts = Big Opportunity (Part 2)

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Photo by Tarik Haiga on Unsplash

In Part 1, I broke down the drivers behind the powerful shifts that are now taking place, namely our transition in the outer to the information age, and the evolution of the inner, heralding the rise of heart-based consciousness. These shifts have deep implications for us but by far the biggest and most important are the empowerment of the individual coupled with an unraveling from centralization to decentralization. Change is uncomfortable, and radical change more so. 2020 has turned into a meme because it is destroying and dismantling outdated 20th century structures from the industrial age and the ego-consciousness matrix. As discussed in Part 1, the number of previous such paradigm altering shifts for humanity can be counted on less than one hand, so this is a really big deal. Resistance will make it all the more uncomfortable and unbearable, so it’s imperative we understand, align and flow with these winds of change. Ultimately, I believe this is laying the foundation for a much better future for humanity and the world, but there will be growing pains.

In this Part 2, I’m going to dive into how I see these changes reverberating across key aspects of our lives. I believe these changes will come to fruition over this coming decade, some a little sooner, but of course there’s no way to really offer a precise timeline.

“Contrary to orthodox belief, success is not being on top of a hierarchy. Success is standing outside all hierarchies.”
— Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Author and Flaneur)

Work is finally being freed from the constraints of space. In a blur of a couple of months, working from home went from something most folks usually felt sheepish about to the “new normal” (I promise this is the first and last time I use this term). Our offices and the eight+ hour day were designed mostly for an industrial world. Most people now have freedom of place, or freedom to work from wherever they want (including the office for some people). But no more forced commuting for hour(s), to clock in by 9am, only to check one’s email. In the very recent words of Shopify CEO, Tobi Lutke, “office centricity is over.”

I agree with Tobi, but this is just the start as I foresee even bigger shifts on the horizon. As people get their first taste of freedom of place, the next variable to be freed will be time. This will start as a trickle (it has already begun), but I expect this to become a much bigger movement over the coming years. No longer satisfied with someone else’s agenda dictating so much of their time, more will feel the inner pull (or be pushed by circumstances — company layoffs, automation, etc.) to free themselves to do what they really want, when they want, until that pull will become unbearable enough to act. Further, as discussed in Part 1, the information age provides the means to do this with abundant opportunities — people with high value services to offer, ability to communicate well, and the motivation to create independently can become sovereign entities in of themselves. Having the courage to wean off the certainty of a regular paycheck will be an uncomfortable adjustment, but the pull and taste of freedom will be well worth it for many that forge this path. The boomer generation’s one company for life evolved to one company for a few years. This will now evolve to multiple companies at any given time, or no company at all. The era of company centricity will be over. This is the decentralization of work with the rise of the sovereign individual.

Daniel Vassallo is a great example of this — he left a high paying, secure job at Amazon about a year ago and is charting his self-employment journey online, helping others along the way (and doing quite well so far, as he surpassed $100K of sales from scratch in just 4 months this year with an impactful e-book on this topic — also an anecdotal indicator of the growing demand for valuable tools and guidance on becoming free!).

“In the Information Age, a ‘job’ will be a task to do, not a position you ‘have.’”
— The Sovereign Individual

Companies will have to adjust to this displacement of talent (notice it will not be the other way around this time), but may actually benefit in the long run with lower costs and overhead. Full time employment certainly won’t end, but expect companies to be run more dynamically with short-term staff and freelancers for specific projects. In “The Sovereign Individual”, the authors see company projects being run akin to a movie production, where a team gets together for a project, but doesn’t expect to be working on it forever. Open source projects employ a similar model. The authors go further and extrapolate this to virtual companies that will be created and disbanded on an as-needed basis. All of this will be aided by the continued reduction of information and transaction costs (I expect blockchains and blockchain governance models to also play an important role in practically realizing this), allowing projects to ramp up and down swiftly, negating the need for companies to keep big teams on their payroll indefinitely. This certainly will have huge implications for company strategy, product strategy and operations, but creative entrepreneurs and leaders (who themselves will already be, or driven to be sovereign) will adjust and build thriving businesses with their ingenuity.

The opportunity is here for those that are ready, open to learn and prepare themselves by building/upgrading valuable skills that will be of service, and most importantly have the courage to follow and build from their hearts.

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”
― Mark Twain

Here’s another bold prediction: on our current path, the power, prestige and influence of universities/colleges/schools is going to wane significantly over the coming decade, as the education system faces headwinds like never before.

The pandemic has certainly made things a little awkward, forcing everyone into virtual classrooms. If this continues, some may soon start wondering if online learning warrants the price of a high priced education. Also, once online, universities are competing squarely with a plethora of online education platforms (this was generally starting to be true even pre-pandemic). Again, not sure if this will continue, but the pandemic has served as a catalyst, and the questions are now being raised (at least on my Twitter timeline).

The bigger challenge comes from what was discussed in the previous section on jobs/employment. A university education serves as important signaling to potential employers. This signaling gets diluted in a world where many may no longer be concerned with pursuing traditional employment.

“The best engineers I’ve worked with learned to code before or after college, rarely during.”
— Sahil Lavingia (CEO and Founder, Gumroad)

Then there’s the question of actual learning. I went to a fairly well reputed school for engineering, and have to agree with Sahil. In my personal experience, everything I’ve actually applied in the real world has come from things I’ve learned on the job, or by learning what I needed to in the moment. Sure, there were a couple of courses in school that were useful and provided good foundational material, but a couple of courses out of a four year program is a pretty dismal hit rate. This was a long time ago, so maybe things have changed, and there’s no denying there are good courses at school (if they’re actually taught well but that’s another discussion), but it tends to be severely diluted with other frills in an attempt to fill out a four-year curriculum.

There are other benefits to a university education like learning to collaborate and work together with peers. Tests and examinations force you to pay attention. However, I’d argue these things can also be learned via an internship, launching your own projects with friends, or taking online courses.

I’m not predicting the complete demise of universities, but the classical model is going to have to adapt. I also don’t think we’ll stop attending schools, but more than ever before there are solid alternatives (example Lambda school). University will still make sense for many, and it also depends greatly on the program of study, but I no longer believe it will be the default prerequisite to excel in life. With so much knowledge and training available online in almost every domain, from actual practitioners and experts who’ve built things in the “real world”, its getting increasingly difficult to justify paying a significant premium to listen to a professor’s lecture, when you can get much better learning online. In addition, for anyone interested in living sovereign and free, the current model of starting one’s young career with heavy student debt will be the antithesis of everything they believe in.

“…experienced people are uniquely capable of teaching a real world subject: doctor trains doctor, nurse trains nurse (& doctor), risk takers train young risk takers (not some nerd), accountant train budding accountants, thief trains thief, prostitute trains…”
— Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Education will get decentralized. These forces are going to put a strain on universities, that for centuries have sought to centralize education (it made sense in previous eras). This will have an affect with reduced university attendance in the decade ahead, as well as universities having to adapt to offer lighter/alternative models (read lower cost). Here’s an interesting twitter thread from Nassim Taleb for anyone interested in diving deeper into one such discussion on the latter.

For students (of any age), there is ample opportunity to learn practical skills online. One of the best ways to learn is by doing, and many will forego the cost of a high priced education and instead invest in themselves and their business. For those with practical experience, valuable skills, the inclination and capability, teaching and online courses will offer yet another revenue stream to support their independence.

I have another bone to pick with the current educational system. Education currently is rigid, rote and teaches one what to think, not how to think. It feels more like an indoctrination to following a schedule, following orders and operating like an ‘if..then..else’ statement, almost as if preparing us for work in the Industrial age. This leaves little room for creativity and experimentation. It also emphasizes the avoidance of failure at all costs. As anyone that’s ever lived can attest, life doesn’t work that way, as everything cannot be solved by memorizing a textbook. Life is inherently uncertain, so when you take risks, try new things, you’re vulnerable and risk failure. But this is also how you really learn and grow. Emboldened by the heart, I expect more people to drift away from traditional education in many domains and forge completely new and innovative paths. I also expect new teachers and schools to arise that will challenge the traditional curriculum and classical teaching methods. Teaching as a profession will give way to teaching as a passion.

“The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.”
― Nikola Tesla

Near the end of the 20th century, and the early part of the 21st century, there’s been a gold rush to develop new technology as the next step in humanity’s evolution to the Information Age. Those with the foresight to see this shift and sub-trends early, as well as the courage to align with and shape them have made fortunes.

But we’re at the end of the road. To be specific, we’re at the end of the road for technology development within the paradigm of the ego-consciousness matrix. If allowed to continue unimpeded down our current path, we’d be certain to eventually threaten our existence or make life a living hell. The ego can’t help it.

As an example, the development of artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning as a tool to automate rote or dangerous jobs is great. Humans aren’t meant to spend their lives working like robots. But on the current path, the endgame (and hope for some) leads us to artificial general intelligence (AGI), and an AI singularity where machines will one day be smarter than humans. In the hands of the ego, this is a very dangerous and unpredictable conclusion, leading to almost certain destruction. I don’t have answers to the hows or whats, but I do know this vision and any concerns around it will not materialize. It might be true on some alternative dystopian timeline with Skynet online but not the one we’re on. While the ego can’t help itself, the heart will not allow it.

I also expect major advancements in the fascinating area of quantum technologies, but not until we’ve fully evolved into a heart-based consciousness. There are still many missing pieces that our ego cannot and will not be able to access. As explained in quantum physics, ‘“reality” requires an observer, and in the act of observing, the observer changes the measurement, or affects reality. An observer trapped in ego consciousness has a limited view and will not be able to unlock the magnificent secrets of the quantum universe (things we aren’t even aware of yet). It will require an evolved view. Just like an ant cannot comprehend a human’s perspective, the ego cannot comprehend the infinite/quantum perspective of the heart.

Given the boom in technology, a lot of people gravitated to tech as a profession over the last few decades. As with all professions, I expect this to wane (some voluntarily, some due to automation), but the passionate will remain because building cool tech lights a fire under them. Those building and creating from their hearts are going to make amazing discoveries and literally create magic. The next big advancements are not coming from Big Tech, it’ll be the little guys. The sovereign engineer/scientist/coder will have more idle time (fewer meetings and status updates), access to more information than ever before, with some breathing room to unleash pent up passion. We’re going to see the return and rise of the tinkerers and inventors — those crazy enough to dance and persist with far-fetched ideas (this will happen across every domain — medicine, healthcare, agriculture, artisans, architecture, you name it, but my familiarity is with science and tech). It’s time for this generation’s Nikola Tesla’s to rise.

“I am credited with being one of the hardest workers and perhaps I am, if thought is the equivalent of labor, for I have devoted to it almost all of my waking hours. But if work is interpreted to be a definite performance in a specified time according to a rigid rule, then I may be the worst of idlers.”
―Nikola Tesla, My Inventions

This decade, we’ll start realizing some of the futuristic visions we dreamed of in the 20th century, but these creations will go well beyond “do no evil”, as they will be grounded in love, service and truth. The era of tech dominance is over, making way for tech as a true service.

“The Internet replaces mid-sized businesses with network-effect based monopolies, each hosting a long tail of creators. We’ll end up with one town hall, one social network, one video host, one music label, one taxi dispatcher, one big-box retailer. Antitrust law is obsolete.”
— Naval Ravikant

This is a subset of technology, but it’s big enough that I thought to separate it out. E-commerce platforms, social networks, blogging platforms, marketplaces have decentralized retail, media and creation of all kinds (art/craft, images, video, writing, etc.). For creators, it’s possible to build a following and viable business atop these platforms to support their sovereignty. While there continue to be hiccups, these platforms really capture the essence of the information age. It’s no wonder that companies in these spaces have catapulted themselves to become the most valuable companies on the planet.

But I feel there is still one more turn of decentralization possible here. While existing platforms are extremely popular, they are still centrally owned and operated. This leaves them open to control, censorship, corruption and breach of individual privacy (all have already happened, or are happening). See ‘Facebook Says It is Deleting Accounts at the Direction of the U.S. and Israeli Governments ‘ as example of censorship that’s already started.

“Facebook Says It Is Deleting Accounts at the Direction of the U.S. and Israeli Governments” [Whether you agree or disagree with specific POVs, it is only a matter of time before YOUR POV gets censored, unless you are an automaton]
- Jaffer Ali (
tweet)

I agree with Naval’s quote at the top of this section, but I’ll add that future networks will be hosted on decentralized platforms (likely some form of blockchain that solves current scaling concerns). To cap Naval’s point, I believe centralized network-effect businesses at a mass-scale will be obsolete.

Bitcoin, Ethereum, crypto. Enough said.

Well okay, maybe I’ll say just a bit more. Although yet to completely fulfill it’s original goals, this is the arena where the idea of decentralization first took hold in a big way. Still relatively nascent, bitcoin and other cryptos are incredibly important because they are currencies out of the direct control of any country, group or individual. They also offer opportunities to decentralize banking and financial services (Ethereum in particular is making a lot of progress here with decentralized finance) by removing those pesky middle men, central control and the privileged access to a few. The crypto boom of 2017 already created it’s first wave of sovereign individuals, but there’s more to come for those with an appetite for volatility. In addition, in-spite of the rocky start, ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings) and securitized tokens/shares provide an opportunity for the individual investor to get equity stakes in early startups, which up to this point had been the exclusive domain of wealthy angel investors and venture capitalists. It also provides startups and new businesses alternate streams of capital.

As if on cue, major cracks are starting to appear with the current system of centralized money. The current environment of unprecedented money printing by central banks across the world has many very nervous and predicting the eventual collapse of fiat money and the current banking system, leading to a complete financial reset. This bodes extremely well in the long run for assets that cannot be directly controlled by central banks like cryptos and precious metals (gold, silver).

This is probably my most extreme prediction, but pour one out for centrally controlled nation-states and governments. I don’t see most surviving this decade in their current form. Local communities will come to prominence as smaller jurisdictions can better, and more practically manage their affairs. They can be effective dealing with real, practical issues on the ground that affect their constituents. This becomes extremely difficult at the scale of central governments, where issues are more abstract, making it easier to duck and dodge, leaving ample room for much theater and corruption. Switzerland is well ahead with a network of sovereign cantons that govern local policy, and doing so with much success.

“Decentralization is based on the simple notion that it is easier to macrobullshit than microbullshit. Decentralization reduces large structural asymmetries.”
- Nassim Nicholas Taleb in Skin in the Game

All the changes mentioned up to this point will put enormous pressure on current political and governance structures (we’re already starting to see this, but there’s a lot more to come). The information age allows individuals to work anywhere. Countries and states with high taxation, or considering to raise taxes, would be well-advised to tread carefully, as information citizens are no longer bound to stay. It’s not completely there yet (a matter of when), but the decentralization of money is another control lever slipping out of government control. Political leaders and governments are going to be forced to evolve from treating residents like inmates with mild freedoms (suffering varying degrees of Stockholm syndrome) to treating them like customers, and competing with other jurisdictions for their services.

In addition, there is growing disillusionment with the status quo, as tolerance for the gross levels of incompetence and corruption at the highest levels of government reaches a breaking point. As discussed in Part 1, in the ego-consciousness matrix, a lot of the darkness and hidden agendas are disguised with clever distractions and programming (red vs. blue, conservative vs. liberal, us vs. them, etc.). We’re already seeing unrest bubble up across the world, but my sense is the final straw for Big Government will come when the extent of the darkness and corruption is finally revealed (incoming). Nothing less than radical truth will be demanded in the age of heart-consciousness.

I also expect seismic shifts in healthcare, nutrition science, food (production and distribution), media/entertainment, architecture (design and construction), energy and religion, based on the underlying shifts discussed here. However, my circle of competence is very small in these areas (even smaller than the topics above), so I won’t embarrass myself with any further predictions, except to say, expect big changes.

Like it or not, things are in motion. The future belongs to those who embrace the information age, and embody true heart-based consciousness. Those that continue to resist, or dig their heels in ego-consciousness are in for a very rough time. Ultimately, everyone is free to make their choice, and live in a world of their creation, either as heaven or hell on earth.

We are now presented with a divine opportunity to rebuild the old structures atop principles such as sovereignty, freedom, love, authenticity, courage, truth, abundance, acceptance, harmony, and service. There is no messiah coming to save us or do the work for us. Individual empowerment means individual responsibility. It’s time for each of us to step up, look within and have the courage to heed the pull of one’s heart — this is our bridge to the new world.

“The revolution that takes place in your mind, will not be televised. The results of THAT revolution, will be televised.”
- The Real McCoy (
tweet)

It will be turbulent in the short term as we uproot centuries-worth of weeds and rot, but we’re creating something beautiful in the process. Order from chaos. I’ve never been more optimistic for humanity.

“It turns out that an eerie type of chaos can lurk just behind a facade of order — and yet, deep inside the chaos lurks an even eerier type of order.”
―Douglas R. Hofstadter, Metamagical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern

Interested in more goodness like this? ‘No Heart, No Glory’ is my email newsletter for macro and micro wisdom on leading from the heart in business/work/tech/life to help usher in a brighter new world. Subscribe here.

Originally published at https://www.arthart.ca on June 6, 2020.

Investor, writer. Website: arthart.ca; Newsletter: noheartnoglory.substack.com

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