Considering writing a book on creating humane technology & business

My sense is it would be useful to share my story since so few people have had this experience, let alone roadmaps or awareness of the intense challenges involved. Curious how this rough synopsis lands, and any ideas or resources for navigating the writing/publishing process!

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Part post-mortem and part playbook, weaving 5 years of experience building a celebrated humane tech product (Siempo) and living into the inquiry: what does society / life on Earth demand from the next generation of founders? What awarenesses, capacities, experiences, values must we be nurturing our rising leaders with? How can we find, learn, and integrate these without reproducing the same problems that we seek to transcend?

Much has been written on how to infuse tech and business with mindfulness and spirituality, or sustainability and ethics. Building off the work of The Center for Humane Technology and others, this book would aim to paint an evermore holistic picture of the ingredients that ought to be considered for humane tech in this historical moment, as determined by a diverse group of stakeholders. Research will be conducted to push the edges of understanding, highlighting and integrate what our human family has learned through time; from children, indigenous elders, systems thinkers, poets, witches, frontline activists, philosophers, capitalists, farmers, plants, elements, ministers, academics and more. Resulting in a tangible guide that one can use as a humane operating system for their project.

Between COVID-19 exposing the fragility of our systems, and Silicon Valley falling from grace with cautionary tales the likes of Facebook/Uber/WeWork/Theranos, it is becoming clear that the products and organizations and systems we create are expressions of who we are, what we value, our fears and biases and traumas, our stories. We need new stories and resources and guidelines, especially for the young, male, achievement oriented founders who think they need to be successful by conventional metrics in order to be loved (part of my story).

Going beyond the traditional startup post-mortem into the emotional aspects of bringing a transformational product into form, and my personal journey in that fire–spending as much time as I could learning about myself and the world, connecting with people and communities carrying different pieces of the puzzle that could inform how to steward new-to-the-world innovations in a time of transition in an omni-considerate way. It’s an edgy and vulnerable story filled with peak moments of synchronicity. Call to adventure. Meeting the mentors. Cultural awakening. Rising into leadership. Sand Hill Road. Burning Man. Visions. Delusions. Messiah complex. TechCrunch. Good Morning America. Saving lives. Coming out. Big Tech activism. Billionaire retreats. Celebrity dinners. Executive meetings. Silicon Valley shenanigans. New economy. Burnout. Pivots. Running out of $. Selling nest egg. Failure. Enigma. Self-fulfilling prophecy. Letting go.

This book is primarily intended for entrepreneurs, investors and engineers want to learn how to bring innovations into the world in a good way. My hope is that it would fall into the hands of educators and students, researchers and more.

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I think there is certainly a good opportunity to write a proper, useful book about the subject as youi describe it. Especially the holistic aspects - there’s much more at play than just the business itself - and in general the whole way of thinking about work, startups and - much less - about human values and life fulfillment, even meaning of life.

Some of the mindfulness + tech stories are full of platitudes, while other aspects of this might / could / should be commonsense. I am not in the ‘formal’ Mindfulness things, but am adopting what I call ‘practical mindfulness’. (I wrote a linkedin article about it recently: The Fifth State of Optimism).

Other than that most business-related stories, are either BS success stories, or they deal with ‘work, work, work’, VC-style startup culture. You find these constantly on Hacker News i.e. “Why my startup failed”, “How I made $100k in 3 months” and just today “The truth about starting a startup”. Also today, very funny, “How to run a ponzi scheme for tech people”.

Yes, indeed. All the things you mention are a new original take on the subject, and quite interesting I think.

You can test-drive this in a blog post series. Or did you already start with that?

PS Did you vote already? Poll: Choose your most-liked Theme for HTC Website Redesign :wink:

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Thanks @aschrijver! This is encouraging. I largely agree with your assessment :slight_smile:

Hi Andrew, I love the idea and I’d definitely read it!

I’d love to hear about any factors you felt gave you a boost in your mission and any big unsolved obstacles you encountered. Most of my reading about wisdom in tech has been pretty bleak stuff and we could do with some personal storytelling.

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Oh wow. YES! @andrewmurraydunn - I have enjoyed following your journey these past few years and I am very excited to hear this update. You have been a major inspiration to me. Keep climbing. Keep striving.

We need new stories and resources and guidelines, especially for the young, male, achievement oriented founders who think they need to be successful by conventional metrics in order to be loved (part of my story).

Ahh – I can so relate. And I’m proud to say that I found my way out of that spiral (chasing conventional success) but it took several years and, frankly, turning my entire life upside down. And, of course, it’s a battle that never truly ends, a la Arjuna on the battlefield. If there is any way that I can help, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Regardless, I’ll continue paying attention to you and your work. And hopefully our paths cross again.

Sending you a big virtual bear hug.

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Hi @loundy. I just watched your vlog and I truly loved it. You can say that indeed, about turning life around if before you were in the SV startup culture (were you?). There’s a lot to learn about your life’s changes and the approach you have to living it. Thank you for creating that vlog!

Edit: I read on your Readup blog. Very interesting to learn about the trajectory you took with the business. You might want to post another topic on the forum about it. It has a lot of humane tech aspects going for it. Maybe given your lifestyles changes you are able to take things further too. I read something about going the non-profit route and not choosing that because of dependency of wealthy donors, but there may be other ways. Also having the software be proprietary or not is something that interests me as FOSS advocate.

These boil down to choices that make things harder, not easier, but closer aligned to your minimalistic lifestyle choices and the concept of gifting. Like considering e.g. steward ownership and maybe capping salaries to a level that allows for ‘a good and decent life’, but not to become the next tech millionaire if things, and instead invest surplus revenue or hire the next employee.

Just ideas that I find very interesting. Some of this veers a bit off-topic of humane tech, but it was inspired by your video.

We need for a book for entrepreneurs that can help them create more ethical businesses. Currently, the most popular startup book at my local library is “The $100 Startup” which advocates several practices that I feel are unethical, and justifies those practices with the pitiful argument “it is not unethical because big businesses do it all the time.”

When I have worked with K-8 grade children I have noticed this younger generation is much more entrepreneurial, many children see themselves becoming the next founder of a massive tech company or inventor of a new product that will make them incredibly wealthy. Long-gone is the notion of holding a single career for a life-time, the next generation sees their best chance in life is to cultivate flexible skills and start a big business.

The younger generation also cares far more about social justice, business externalities, and activism. The last 20 years have seen much social regression, corruption, and the withering of democracy. Many Youths that are growing up in such an uncertain time are more interested than previous generations in having a helpful impact.

The next few years will be an excellent opportunity for your book to hit the shelves before this generation begins to graduate from secondary school!

You might check out Adam Alter’s “Irresistable” and Robert Putnam’s “Bowling Alone” and “Our Kids” for research; together they present a pretty comprehensive picture of the problems, it sounds like many of your experiences can help point to the solutions. =)

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