What recurring daydream for 2016 inspires you to do business as unusual like never before? Scott Barry Kaufman (The #Quest2016 continues)

My daydreams wander. Road trip to road trip, imaginary trains, ocean liners of bygone eras, whimsical and lush caravans, camels in the Australian outback… there is wandering at the core. I have a deep love of wandering, and the “wheres” and “hows” are varied. There are jungles and deserts, oceans and volcanoes, missed connections and uncomfortable buses. I imagine childlike explorations, curiosity, and unexpected treasures.

And in between… there are hobbit houses and yurts. Tiny houses, natural houses, underground caves, curved surfaces, organic materials that invite me to trace my fingers along them… textures, sensations… deep, natural, and secret waters… and community. Lots and lots of fantasies of living in small spaces surrounded by people who live in communion with nature. Villages that are walkable, permaculture designed spaces… dreaming of home and dreaming of the road, pulling in opposite directions.

In a fantasy novel, I am the unexpected member of the quest, the adventurer that must be retrieved from a quiet village life who brings with her secret, surprising, and essential skills… and hesitates not one moment to bring the pack and the bow out from under the bar and throw them on her back.


So. Business. What does this bring to my “business as unusual”?

I am currently building software. You can see that I’m not dreaming of riches or power, fame, or even impact. One of my startup colleagues said to me, “It’s not clear to me what you want from all of this.”

So. “What’s my motivation?” (she said to her director, and finding she had none, decided to answer it for herself.)

On the one hand, directly: Intimacy. Exploration. Experience. The financial and temporal freedom to pursue those things. This precludes a 10-year plan that involves corner offices, power suits and skyscrapers. It puts me at odds with the majority of the part of the world that build software (but not with my business partner, which is at least a minor miracle.)

On the other, indirectly: I have a deep love for human beings in the abstract. I don’t want liberty that comes at somebody else’s expense. I want to pave the way for others… or possibly, given my leanings, build a really nice boardwalk through the forest. I don’t see much point in my solving these problems without sharing what I find in a way that is usable.

The software I’m building is designed to share the wealth, to spread the benefits around. It is software informed by permaculture principles, and by my earlier work looking at the ethics of technical decision making. It is pragmatic and romantic at the same time. Holding this dream requires me to hold those two truths simultaneously and not to get caught in other people’s stories of what is possible.

Now if you will excuse me, I believe I may have a dragon to fight.