How to Exploratorium, Embrace Embarrassment & Become a Resilient Leader

PLUS: Forging Personal Mythologies, Reckless Resumes, Invitation to an Entrepreneur-SHIP, The Not-Boring Club + The Spell of Total Work

Ahoy Fellow Curious Human 👋

📆 What Are You *Most* Excited for in 2020? // The theme of the year seems to be one of embracing transition. I’m reminded of the Anais Nin line that ‘Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage’—so with that in mind, I’m asking what expansive intentions I might set for the year (and decade) that awaits.

🌎 How to ‘Exploratorium’ // Last week I embarked on a creative pilgrimage. Tucked away in the northern corner of San Francisco there is a sacred temple to curiosity known as the ‘Exploratorium’. As I wandered through their wonder-inducing ‘explore-for-yourself’ exhibits—what resonated most was their idea of the ‘exploratorium-as-a-verb’—and how this lens of fascination served as an invitation to see the world through perpetually curious eyes.

📝 Resilience Survey // Sincere thanks to those of you who took the time to complete the emotional resilience typeform survey in January. The response has honestly felt a little heart-wrenching—we’ve received over 230 stories of burnout (more coming through every day)—which has left me feeling responsible and fired up to create something genuinely helpful.

🧘‍♂️ Download a Resilience Meditation // one of the most underrated uses of meditation is as a tool for processing challenging emotions. I’ve recorded a (15 min) emotional resilience meditation—designed to guide you through the process of integrating + extracting insights from triggering experiences. You can listen or download free here (offered as a gift, but feedback is always appreciated).

As always, please do reply or share any reflections in the comments. I’ll leave you with a prompt question that has been on my own mind lately:

Who will you be, when you finish being who you think you are?

Stay Curious Out There!


p.s. what is the weirdest job you've ever had? A good friend is crowdsourcing fun ideas for a ‘reckless resumes’ project—celebrating your odd jobs, semi-illegal income streams, and the quirky stuff you'd never actually put on your resume—share yours over at

📸 Left: sunrise above San Francisco // Right: San Francisco sunset at sea level

On Becoming a Resilient Leader 📝

This felt like one of those posts that I wrestled with & felt rather nervous to eventually hit publish, but I’m proud that it’s now out in the world (below is an extract).

It’s common to hear that we should learn to be resilient, yet far from being an innate character trait, resilience is a skill that must be practiced — which requires permission to invest time & resources into cultivating it, which for most people is a financial constraint.

I was fortunate to spend a week wandering the west coast of Ireland with the poet David Whyte in 2018 and he shared something that has stuck with me:

“Work is where we can make ourselves; work is where we can break ourselves.”

Many of us find purpose through our work, and push ourselves hard, but this has lead to significant burnout especially with those in positions of responsibility, both publicly and behind the scenes.

Whilst certainly not limited to the financial costs: founder and leader burnout severely impacts the bottom line of companies — yet it’s still not taken seriously at work.

Given sufficient time for recovery and processing, these ‘stressful obstacles’ forge resilient leaders. It is the alchemy of turning challenging setbacks into fuel for both personal & professional growth and ultimately into wisdom.

In fact, being in a position of leadership is one of the most efficient vehicles of personal growth imaginable. The level emotional intensity (eustress) will serve to surface your previously unexamined fears, insecurities and limiting beliefs.

So the question becomes, how do we train our resilience to stress as the path to growth?

Read Full Post

Emotional Resilience World Tour 2020 🌎

The four locations and dates for the 2020 Emotional Resilience Masterclasses are set and places are filling up fast (limited to 24 per location).

I’ll be facilitating these day long experiential workshops—designed to expand your capacity for confronting fears, and identify avoidance strategies—attendees will leave knowing how to remain centred in challenging environments, hold space for their teams and embrace their leadership potential.

If you know of any founders + leaders who may be a suitable fit, I would be grateful if you could forward this newsletter to them or put us in touch.

🌉 San Francisco // March 27
🇸🇬 Singapore // April 22
🇬🇧 London // September 25
🌴 Bali retreat // October 26-29

View Masterclasses

📸 Captured in South Ubud // above the rice paddies (close to our retreat location)

📆 What Events Are You Excited For in 2020?

The calendar is quickly filling up with exciting events! Here are three that I’m especially looking forward to (and would love to see fellow Curious Humans at):

🇲🇽 Founder Summit // Mexico City, March 13-15—curated by Curious Humans reader and Earnest Capital founder Tyler Tringas—I’ll be running a workshop with Anne-Laure on Mind-framing + Resilience for founders.

🚢 Entrepreneur-SHIP // Departing from Rome, June 7-11—stopping off in St Tropez, Tuscany + Monte Carlo… but luxurious locations aside, the attendee line-up is shaping up to be rather exceptional (I’m an ambassador and it’s invite only so let me know if you’re curious to jump on board).

🌎 World Domination Summit // June 23–29 in Portland—Already sold out! But spare tickets are available via their FB group. It’ll be the 10th and final WDS, having attended the previous two I’m excited to see what they team have in store!

Two Ideas Worth Sharing… 📝

1 // Why You Should Create A Personal Mythology 🐉

I spent a couple of days last week with previous podcast guest and thoughtful human Buster Benson and our conversations took an unexpected deep dive into the world of tarot and mythology.

Mythic mode is a way of looking at the world through a story-like lens. When you enter mythic mode, you recognize that you’re a character in Omega’s story, as is everyone else.

Embracing mythic mode feels like a medicine for our times. We crave story a+nd archetypes—they give us relief from the the anxiety of our perennial problems by creating spaces for shared meaning-making.

The realm of myths, the archetypal lens, and mythic mode are different ways of seeing this way of connecting our reality to the universal story directly.

He acknowledges that this post is just a working ‘scratch pad’ and that the real work is to internalize the mythologies in order to better participate in the world’s problems and opportunities. Read Buster’s full post here.

2 // Embracing Embarrassment + The Power of Not Knowing 🤔

I have been following the executive coach Ed Batista on Twitter for some time (he lectures at Stanford on the ‘Art of Self-Coaching’) and this piece of his on the power of not knowing really resonated (extract below, bolding mine)

“Life is full of potentially embarrassing moments, and we have to learn to navigate them without undue distress--but at times our efforts to avoid embarrassment come with a cost. A common scenario in which this occurs is when we realize that we're expected to know something we don't, and we seek to cover up our ignorance.”

He goes onto share how we often feel obligated to have the correct answers (in my view this is a hangover from our archaic schooling system). It’s funny how afraid we are to simply admit when there’s something that we don’t know, and forget that this comes with a cost:

“It's easy to bluff our way through these situations, but this comes at a cost: When we prioritize our desire to avoid embarrassment, we relinquish the power of not knowing.”

🔗 Et Cetera

🚶‍♂️ How to walk + talk

☄️ Per aspera ad astra

✏️ Why writing matters

🧚‍♂️ The spell of total work

💯 1,000 true fans? Try 100

😃 Join the not-boring club

👪 How to build a micro-tribe

🥣 When in doubt, make soup

🌴 Do you fear taking time off?

⏳ How much work is ‘enough’?

📝 Beautiful app for self-reflection

🤔 How to choose what to work on next

🙏 How mindfulness helps solve problems

🙌 Make 2020 the year of maximum enthusiasm

😨 Healing Trauma & Awakening the Vagus Nerve

📝 Parting Poem

This isn’t one of mine, but written by Guillaume Apollinaire, I’ve revisited it many times recently and it feels like a prayer to courage (which we could all use an extra dose of every now and then!)

“Come to the edge," he said.

"We can't, we're afraid!" they responded.

"Come to the edge," he said.

"We can't, We will fall!" they responded.

"Come to the edge," he said.

And so they came.

And he pushed them.

And they flew.

📸 Left: Sunset at Lake Tahoe // Right: Sunrise through the trees in Nederland

Emotional Resilience, Reverse Gratitude & The Cure for Anxiety

PLUS: Thoughts on Life's Slipstreams, Giving Yourself Away + An Ode To Friendship

Ahoy Curious Human 👋

I’m typing this miles above a baron Arctic ice-shelf // I've always loved flying since I was young, and somehow those sensations of childlike exhilaration have stayed with me to this day.

But what struck me today // seated by the window close to the wing—was the moment just before the aircraft wheels leave the runway and that invisible slipstream appears, shaping itself around the wing.

Those misty threads // only materialised once the plane had totally committed itself to the take-off and they continue to keep us all soaring above glacial rivers as I’m typing these words.

So my invitation to you is this // as you prepare to take off and propel yourself into the open skies of a new decade, take a moment to consider where those intangible currents appear in your life, and how you might orient your wings towards their flow.

Maybe those intangible currents // are the friends who are there for you when times get tough, the unexpected opportunities that appear when you are brave enough to commit to that take-off or simply the moments of inspiration that flow from a dedicated creative practice.

My experience has been // that staying alert to these slipstreams, pulls me towards a life that has the potential to be infinitely more wondrous than the limited horizons of pre-conceived goals I’ve spent so many of my days chasing.

I wish to extend a deep thank you // to those of you who have read and supported me from afar over the past 18 months. The conversations, support and companionship that have emerged from this space truly means the world to me.

Here's a question to ponder as you embark on this joy-filled lap around the sun:

'Who will you be, when you're finished being who you think you are?'

Stay Curious Out There,


p.s. if you appreciate these updates, the best way you can support these Curious Human Creations is to contribute to, or share the Emotional Resilience survey mentioned below 🙏

Above: taken on Jan 1st whilst at Bali Silent Retreat

🏔️ Embracing Emotional Resilience

A few months back (it almost feels like another decade), I wrote about my ‘Makers Dilemma’—the decision to turn down a very tempting job offer, pledging instead to continue hacking my way through the thickets of the entrepreneurial pathless path.

Since writing those words and following my intuition (+ generous invitations) to various far-flung corners of the world, it seems that a way forward has emerged in the form of a mission that scares + excites me in equal measure.

Those of you who have been listening to the recent podcast episodes (or watched the TEDx talk) will have noticed a theme that emerged around what I’ve been calling ‘radical curiosity’—the capacity to courageously enquire into our inner challenges and embrace life’s obstacles as a source of growth.

So I’m now in the process of investigating, designing and facilitating workshops and retreats to build Emotional Resilience for startup founders & leaders.

One of my insights from last year was that I thrive when collaborating with others (and frankly it’s more fun)—so with this in mind I’m excited to be teaming up with the talented humans over at Studio D.

Although he describes himself as a ‘failed academic’, the founder—Jan Chipchase—has crafted himself a career that enables him to plot expeditions, decode culture and essentially get paid to be professionally curious (Jan has also distilled his life’s work and philosophies into this thoughtful ‘Field Study Handbook’ and runs a high-signal + satisfyingly minimal newsletter called RADAR).

Above: credit Jan Chipchase / Studio D.

Together, we’ve crafted a survey with the intention of learning and developing resources centred around emotional resilience, based on a shared mutual belief in the deep importance of this work.

We have received some extraordinarily moving and heartfelt responses so far. It’s becoming clear just how many in leadership positions feel isolated, overwhelmed and verging towards a state of burnout.

If you fit the description of a founder, leader or investor—please take some time to share your thoughts with us (it won’t take more than 6-7 minutes unless you find it therapeutic to spend longer) and if you know any communities for whom this might resonate, please do hit reply or forward this newsletter on to them.

Contribute to the survey ➾ ➾

I will also be sending a curious humans care package from Bali as a thank you gesture to someone at random who fills this out 🙏

🔥 Breathwork, The Cure for Anxiety?

“How We Breathe is How We Think” – Ed Dangerfield

This might be the most powerful podcast conversation that I've recorded to date. If you haven't already heard of Breathwork, I think it's fair to say that you that you likely will have by the end of the year. It's exploding in popularity, in the same way that yoga and meditation has over the last decade, and I think for good reason.

On a basic level, breathwork is the practice of changing your breathing pattern to shift your mental, emotional and physical state... but what I deeply appreciate about Edward is his clinical approach that is backed by years of training, endocrinology research and self-experimentation mapping out the human nervous system.

The aim of this conversation was to create something of a comprehensive beginners guide to breathwork and some of the areas we dive into are:

🏂 Ed's personal journey from being trapped in an avalanche and nearly dying, which led him to being a highly functioning alcoholic and depressive.

🗺️ How he has been able to map certain emotions onto specific breathing patterns. 

🧙‍♂️ Insights gathered from living with the Canadian Tribal Elders 

😲 Some of the healing that he has witnessed in his time guiding sessions: from a man who re-lived and processed a near-drowning experience to powerful stories of women who have been able to process experiences of sexual abuse.

Listen to the Episode

🤔 Three Reflections for the Decade Ahead

📆 Give Yourself Away // the first week of January is usually my time for future planning: who is the me that I want to become this year? What traits do I hope to cultivate, what experiences do I desire to feel, what creative aspirations do I dream of fulfilling. Instead I took a strategic silent retreat and spent the first few days in stillness, learning to give myself away.

❤️ An Ode to Friendship // Anais Nin once remarked that each friend ‘represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive.’ We see ourselves more clearly reflected in the eyes of another, the mark of friendship might be someone who lovingly reflects both your highest creative potential and your blind spots.

🙏 Reverse Gratitude // I believe most of us have the idea of 'gratitude' backwards. We’re told that we ought to be grateful ‘for’ something (bonus points if you complete your 5 minute journal)—which is wonderful, but in my experience gratitude is more of an orientation—a flavour of awareness and a way of being. You might say gratitude is the happiness that doesn't depend on what happens.

🎙️ New Guest Episodes

One of the joys of hosting a podcast is that every so often, someone invites you to appear on theirs. It’ fun surrendering to the mercy of someone else’s questions, sometimes you overhear yourself saying things you didn’t realise you knew. Here are a few that went live recently:

🔥 1 // I enjoyed a wide-ranging mind-meld with prolific creative Conni Biesalski which she appropriately title how to be a curious + whole human on her CREATE podcast.

🧠 2 // Shared thoughts on mental health with Taryn Raine on her ‘Embracing Human’ podcast.

🤔 3 // I talked about embracing radical curiosity on Matt Bowles’s Maverick Show.

✊ 4 // Dropping in with Celine from the Sattva Soul podcast on the topic of emotional resilience and what this means to us both.

🔗 Et Cetera

✈️ Buy or wait?

🍌 Duct taped banana

👊 Quality & effort (via Seth)

🎺 Very unlikely instruments

🧘‍♂️ Top notch meditation tips

👩‍🚀 MIT built an empathy suit

🐦 Gorgeous guide to Twitter

🔍 In-depth guide to deep work

😲 52 fascinating factoids from 2019

🐶 Dog playing jenga (you’re welcome)

🙈 Embarrassment leads to creativity

🍕 34,000 words on pizza toast (via Craig)

📆 2019 told six-word stories (via Twitter)

😋 Story of an automated food influencer

👊 Ewoks have the best fighting strategies

🐶 My Balinese friend Mr. Ketut goes viral

📆 Antifragile new year planning (via Taylor)

🗣️ The language you speak influences your attention

🙏 Advocating for buoyancy over burnout (via OnBeing)

🌘 Parting Poem

Lying under lunar limelight

Notice the jubilant firefly

Carving her signature

Into the thick of night.

Follow her phosphorescent line,

Up to a numinous thumbnail,

Cradling an Earth Shadow

Caught in a cobweb of stars.

Think of the ways in which

Your own shadow is revealed

By those, spinning in your orbit.

And how the world you inhabit is

Eclipsed by a thousand fragments

of projected, disowned Darkness.

Be still now.

Put down the weight

Of all that you know.

Recall your true nature.

As Sun. As Firefly.

Illuminate the cosmos.

Write your radiant love note

To the skies.

The Gifts of Grief

My TEDx talk on Embracing Courageous Curiosity & The Art of Surrender

🗺️ Greetings from the northern coast of Madagascar! I'm writing these words from a room appropriately named the 'Cabinet of Curiosity'—filled with a compendium of eclectic artefacts: from 17th century maps and charts decorating the walls—to various shamanic totems (used by Madagascan witch doctors) and a glorious old brass diving bell helmet.

💌 This particular newsletter is a slight departure from the regular Curious Humans broadcasting, but I have something that feels important to share…

🌴 Two months ago, I was invited to give a TEDx talk in Ubud on the theme of the ‘Gifts of Grief and the Art of Surrender'. At the time, it honestly didn't compute how much emotional labour might be required to dig into the depths of two years navigating grief.

🤔 However, what emerged from this exploration was my case for embracing ‘radical curiosity’ and having the courage to sink into the emotionally challenging experiences that we’ve been conditioned to habitually avoid.

🙏 What happens now feels somewhat beyond my control, but I hope that my story may invite in some new perspectives, questions and contributions to our cultural ideas surrounding grief, mental health and perhaps even reconsidering our relationship towards 'negative' emotions.

🔗 Alright, that's enough preamble from me, here's the link to the talk for those of you who are curious: (there’s also a transcript here)

Watch the TEDx Talk

❤️ Final thought, if you think of someone who maybe has been through an experience of grief and might appreciate this talk please do forward on this email or share the TEDx video link on the socials.

Stay curious out there,


Eating Knowledge, Mindframing & The Art of Productive Disagreement

PLUS: The Privilege of Being Alive, How to Transcend Regret, ‘Clinical Breathwork’ & My Most Treasured Possession

Mahalo Curious Human 👋

I recently learned that the writer Michael Montaigne imagined the act of travel as allowing us to ‘rub and polish our brains’ against those of others.

Whilst it may seem presumptuous, my hope is that these multifarious musings also take you on a mini-adventure, schmearing curiosity-evoking elbow grease to those whirring cogs of your mind (as always, any brain-polishing replies, thoughts and ponderings are most welcome here).

🏄‍♂️ What is your most treasured possession? // Two years ago I spent two weeks shaping a 7’6 single fin wooden longboard in Ericeira Portugal, and last week I rubbed the first coat of wax on the deck, screwed in the fin, attached a leash and paddled out towards the horizon… not only did she not sink but rode like a dream, flying along the face of the high tide sets, hopefully the first of many stoke-inducing waves to come!

🏔️ How to Human-ing // after many months of ecstatic flailing, clarity is finally emerging around the shape of this How to Human project. I intend to shift the central enquiry of the podcast towards ‘How might we learn to human better’ and have enthusiastically begun designing Emotional Resiliency workshops (and tentatively planning a ‘vision quest’ for startup founders).

📆 40 Days till 2020 // Our human lives tend to expand or shrink in direct proportion to both our courage and our capacity to pay deep attention in any moment. So with just over a month left of this decade, I’m feeling a renewed urgency to simplify and sink into that state of reflective hibernation—letting go of all that has passed and creating space for something new to emerge—as David Whyte would say ‘we are all compost for worlds that we cannot yet imagine’.

I’ll leave you with my new favourite journal and conversation question, as you step back from the maelstrom of your life and reflect forward into 2020:

"What feels most alive for you in this moment?"

That’s all for now folks—as always—Stay Curious Out There.


p.s. Please forward this link (or tweet) to a friend who might appreciate these musings. You can also support my enthusiastic flailing and future creations by casting a vote of confidence in my direction and becoming a Curious Humans subscriber.

Above // Taking the wooden ‘Sophie’ longboard out for a test run

🎙️ Three Nourishing & Smile-Inducing Podcast Conversations

The Curious Humans podcast is approaching 10,000 downloads and the itunes reviews that you guys have been leaving are so appreciated, I just wanted to say how much it means and fuels me to keep forging ahead!

😱 1 // Eating Knowledge & The Art of Productive Disagreement with Buster Benson

In all honesty, I’ve spent most of my life chronically avoiding conflict and had inherited a belief that conflict was never ‘productive… but after this conversation with Buster I’m starting to really shift my perspective in this area and flip my fear of conflict.

We get into the meaty questions about his new book that's hitting the shelves this week called 'Why Are We Yelling', a whimsical and disarmingly powerful case and strategy guide for ‘productive disagreement’.

Buster covers the three truths or misconceptions about arguments, why he likes to eat knowledge, he coaches me through the process of engaging in a disagreement around climate change and we talk about what he calls the voice of possibility.

Then towards the end we explore some fun ground around: Why he's writing a 'Codex Vitae', His 100th birthday plans, what death-bed points are and why he took a photo at exactly 8.36pm every day for almost a decade! This was truly one of my favourite conversations to date!

Busters new book contains some timely and powerful ideas, and if you don’t take my word for it, this is what Seth Godin thought:

“This is a life-changing book. Read it three times and then give a copy to anyone you care about. It will make things better.”

Listen Here

😲 2 // Curiosity, Grief, Wonder & The Privilege of Being Alive with Mike Slavin

This was a real honour, Mike is trained as a magician and also the CEO at 'High Existence' — a community and network of practical philosophy and for expanding human consciousness — and he's one of the most articulate and poetic people I've had the pleasure of meeting.

Mike and I riff on definitions of wonder, ambition, grief, the role of inviting in the unexpected, the difference between purpose and destiny, and so much more.

"Certainty is a bit of a misnomer, it's more of a clinging tendency to pre established worldviews often inherited from parents or the education system... when I lose certainty, I'm invited into this chance to be curious, to wonder and to explore." —Mike Slavin

Get in touch with Mike on Twitter where he cultivates wisdom & wonder @highexistence

Listen here

🧠 3 // Cultivating Curiosity, Self-Authorship & Mindframing with Anne-Laure Le Cunff

Anne-Laure is an ex-Googler, a talented writer and part-time neuroscience student. We bounce around between topics that resonated with me personally including: time anxiety, why we don't tend to take curiosity seriously as adults, a powerful technique for personal growth she's developed called 'Mindframing' and her recent decision to leave Google in order to go back to study neuroscience at Kings in London.

"Take the time to think what your own mental gym will look like. Training a few minutes a day can help you be more creative, more productive, and more resilient." – Anne-Laure Le Cunff

I would thoroughly recommend signing-up for Anne-Laure’s Maker Mind newsletter, it’s consistently one that I look forward to receiving each week!

Listen Here

Three Powerful Ideas To Ponder 🧠

🤦‍♂️ 1 // How Can We Transcend Regret?

One of my favourite people to follow on Twitter, Malcolm Ocean wrote this in-depth and vulnerable post on what he learnt about how to truly let go of regret.

The essay is centred around this koan:

“If you had a chance for a do-over, would you choose for everything to go exactly the same? If not, you have not yet surrendered.”

Would you choose this? Genuinely? I thought back to Nietzsche’s idea of ‘Amor Fati’, his formula for greatness in a human being: “That one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backwards, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it….but love it.

This is powerful stuff. And for me it surfaces the idea that all suffering we experience—the things that don’t go the way we intended—is almost created by divine design so that we can learn the lessons that we needed to learn in this unfolding curriculum of life. What do you think??

🌬️ 2 // Exploring the World of ‘Clinical Breathwork’

The more that I have been learning and exploring this emerging (and also ancient) world of ‘breathwork’ the more fascinated I become. As I mentioned in last month’s newsletter, I’ve been working on an IF [THIS] THEN [BREATHE] format for simple exercises that can be carried out anywhere to help cultivate focus or calm.

However, recently I’ve been diving into the world of ‘clinical breathwork’ and after several 1-1 sessions I’m becoming convinced of its potential for deep healing and lasting self-transformation (on a par with any psychedelic or plant medicine).

As this Guardian article mentions, many of us learnt to breathe in very unhealthy ways. It turns out that our subconscious breathing patterns impact our nervous system, which in turn impacts our endocrine system, changing our blood chemistry… which leads to changes in our organ function, focus, clarity and thought processes.

Not only that but the way we breathe impacts our digestion, nutrient uptake, heart-rate variability and (PHEW takes deep breath) perhaps most crucially… is a gateway into the subconscious mind and creates an opportunity for unprocessed emotions to surface and be released.

In short, it’s a freggin powerful tool that the vast majority of humans take for granted.

NB. I’m taking part in a 5-day facilitator training in Feb 2020 here in Bali (let me know if you’d like more info on this as I’d love to train with fellow curious humans!)

🍄 3 // How Do Psychedelics Actually Work?

This Aeon essay explores questions of ego-dissolution experiences and the psychedelic revolution that we find ourselves amidst.

Psychedelics have a remarkable capacity to violate our ideas about ourselves…

Stan Grof, one of the early LSD pioneers once suggested that the potential significance of psychedelics for psychiatry and psychology was comparable to the value the microscope has for biology or the telescope has for astronomy. The research in this area is exploding and it’s exciting that our generation gets to come along for the ride. It seems to me that there are few more important questions than understanding the nature of consciousness and this sense of ‘self’ that we all seem to be so concerned with.

‘The self itself does not exist as a persistent entity, but is a fundamental cognitive strategy… it is difficult to escape the conclusion that we have evolved into an ape that takes things personally.’

Et Cetera

💌 A poem a day

🖋️ How to write better

📝 Daily Writing prompts

😈 How to overcome your demons

🌳 Relationship lessons from trees

📝 13 Life Lessons from Brainpicker

👨‍⚕️ TED playlist for emotional first aid

🐟 Artifishal: fighting to save the salmon

🤓 Unlocking the emotional brain (deep dive)

🏫 The future of online education (twitter thread)

🤾 The war against dangerously dull playgrounds

☄️ Earth’s magnetic fields being hit by a solar storm

🍄 Trip report from a mushroom ceremony in Amsterdam

💰 The difference between wealth and prosperity (podcast)

🎙️ My conversation with happy startups on decision making

👨‍🎓 Tentative curriculum for psycho-technologies of self-transformation

Parting Poem 📝


You are not the author
Of this life.
But a willing scribe,
Taking grateful dictation.
You must learn to pay attention 
as each word emerges.
Like a stepping stone,
Into the great mystery.
Look up and 
Gaze in rapture,
As the story
Unfolds before you.

The Maker's Dilemma, TEDx Ubud & An Antidote to ‘Total Work’

PLUS: Do You Even Meditate, Bro? The Fed-Ex Letter Hack and a Conversation with a Remarkable Afghan Refugee

Ahoy Curious Friends 👋

🤔 The Maker’s Dilemma // A couple of weeks back, I received an unexpected call from a friend back in London. The unexpected catch-up call ended with an even more unexpected job offer. This is the story of how I navigated that decision making process between heading back to London for a dreamy full time role or keep hacking through the unknown wilderness of side-projects here in Bali?

🌴 TEDxUbud: Why Talk about Grief to 500 People? // Over the last two years since Sophie passed, I’ve experienced powerful, embodied moments of joy and aliveness, felt deeper connections forged with friends and family and received truly immense gifts from leaning into the grieving process. Here are some short reflections on my TEDx talk.

👨‍🎓 If [This] Then [Breathe] // Over thirty of you curious humans have signed up to be guinea pigs for the online course that I’m building, thank you! That's enough of a signal for me to begin making it! (psst… reply to this email with ‘I’m Curious’ to learn more and potentially join the first cohort)

📝 Journal Prompt // There are exactly eighty days left of 2019, and with that in mind, I’ll leave you with the question that my wise housemate Danielle asked me as I was navigating the job decision mentioned above and invite you to take a moment to close down your eyes and feel into whatever arises:

“Imagine feeling into a space of abundance, you have all of the time, resources and credibility that you need, forget all scarcity: where do you see yourself and what would you be working on?”

Stay Curious Out There,


p.s. Please forward this link (or tweet) to a friend who might appreciate these musings. You can also support my enthusiastic flailing and future creations by casting a vote of confidence in my direction and becoming a Curious Humans subscriber.

Left: preparing to talk at TEDxUbud to an audience of 500 + twice as many mosquitoes // Right: Plotting dreams for 2020 in Yoshino, Japan during a StudioD FOCUS retreat (Photo Credit: Craig Mod)

🙋‍♂️ Eight Ideas Worth Sharing…

🌎 1 // My Conversation with an Afghan Refugee

One of the TEDx Ubud speakers was a remarkable 20 year old called Abdullah Sarwari. Four and a half years ago his family came to Indonesia to seek refuge, where he then realised that they weren’t allowed to work or study here (there are 14,000 refugees in Indonesia alone).

After the talk he told me the story of how there were professional ‘smugglers’, officials open to bribes and how at every point in their journey they were both relying on the kindness of strangers but also liable to being exploited, not having any rights recognised in Indonesia. Along with his sister he also started a school that provided free education to over 300 refugee children.

It was a shot of perspective about both how fortunate most of us are to have the passports we do in the west and how much important work there is to be done to create universal basic human rights, regardless of where people are born.

☕ 2 // How to Get Coffee Meetings with 50 Fortune 500 CEOs

One of the most interesting humans I met in Japan was an enigmatic Harvard Business Professor who wrote a book about White Collar Crime, interviewing 50 corporate execs (from the Enron fraudsters to McKinsey inside traders and the likes of Bernie Madoff).

I cheekily asked if I could be his ‘research assistant’ so that I might get an email address as well, enabling me to also get in touch with famous people. He laughed and said that that wasn’t his approach…

Instead for each exec, he printed out a short letter requesting a call at their earliest convenience, which he sent by the most expensive urgent $200 Fed-Ex delivery so that when it landed on their assistant’s desk the following morning at 7am, they would immediately hand it on to the busy CEO thinking it to be of extreme importance.


🧘‍♂️ 3 // Do You Even Meditate, Bro?

On of my favourite online writers Oshan Jarow, wrote this thoughtful and poetic post titled: ‘Why I Meditate’, exploring his relationship with cultivating stillness.

Whilst coaching friends and family in meditation, the question of ‘why do it’ and motivation inevitably comes up over and over again, albeit in different forms.

Of course, there are the numerous scientific studies revealing health benefits—high achievers pointing to meditation as giving them a mental edge, talented creatives surfacing deep insights through sitting practice and many more who have healed and processed trauma from getting to know their own minds.

But I love the non-instrumental perspective that Oshan takes; framing attention as art:

"I meditate because attention is my art form. I’d even wager that much of what we call art — paintings, novels, poetry — are secondary, byproducts of rarefied attention. Attention, then is the primary art form."

🏢 4 // Antidotes to ‘Total Work’: The Way of Wonderment (WW) & the Way of Loss (WL)

I have been diving into the thoughtful essays of the practical philosopher Andrew Taggart and recently asked him how he thinks about conveying the essentiality of stillness and silence to those who are deep in the ‘Total Work’ mindset.

Our twitter exchange led to this post of his ‘Coming To The Other Side Of Total Work’ which I thoroughly recommend reading. Here’s a teaser:

“Yet it is life that, through some event, is the best teacher, life that may split one open, life that can provide the aptest pointer… It is necessary for him to experience an opening, a rupture. If he does, he shall soon discover that the opening is only the beginning. Through the portal lies the Mystery.”

🖥️ 5 // Email Apnea & Why ‘Take a Deep Breath’ is Bad Advice

As you’re reading (or perhaps skimming) this newsletter, ask yourself: how is your breath? Is it shallow and in your chest?

If you are like the vast majority of smartphone tapping humans then the answer is yes, and you might even be holding your breath—a phenomenon known as ‘email apnea’ defined as:

Holding one’s breath unconsciously while reading an email.

So many of us do it and it keeps our bodies in a state of low-level stress or anxiety as opposed to slower diaphragmatic (belly) breathing which is a cue to calm and relax. I have been devouring everything breath-related in recent weeks—from peer-reviewed journal papers to several thousand year old yogic literature—and I have learnt so so much that has real practical value (hence why I feel compelled to create an online course).

For the TEDx talk I gave last weekend, had I followed the traditional advice of ‘taking deep breaths’ to calm down, this actually would have activated my sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) and would have led to my feeling even more nervous before the talk.

(related: CO2 isn't a waste gas. It's responsible for red blood cells releasing 02 into our cells... when we soften our breathing more 02 gets to the cells)

Instead, I practiced 10 minutes of alternate nostril breathing (I call this ‘Dim Hof’), in through the left for a count of 5, then out through the right for a count of 10 and a short pause after the exhale.

I could literally feel my heart rate slowing down in my chest and a wave of calm washed over me, conveniently moments before I was called to step out into the big red dot on-stage.

❣️ 6 // Our Cuckoo Clock Hearts

There is a quirky animated film that I watched many years ago called Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart. I watched it several times, but I don’t think I fully understood the message until recently.

Jack the protagonist was born on the coldest day ever. Due to the extreme cold he is born with a frozen heart which will not beat. But the attendant midwife saves his life by replacing his heart with a fragile yet functioning cuckoo clock.

But she tells him three rules to prevent his untimely death: he must never play with the hands of the clock, lose his temper or fall in love.

The final scene (sorry, spoiler) has Jack throw away his key, choosing to feel love even though he risks death doing so.

I think I realised that we're all Jack—when we love what death can touch, it will explode our heart, but that’s the point.

Maybe, that’s why we’re here.

🍂 7 // If Trees Acted Like Humans

You would see them reaching down with their branches and raking up all the leaves to hold onto them for security. Wouldn’t you feel bad if you saw the trees doing this, holding all their leaves to themselves as if they were in an existential crisis?

This is our tendency as humans, to pick up the pieces of our fallen identities, beliefs and theories—holding on for dear life. What if instead we let it all go, trusting that Spring will arrive in due course.

📝 8 // Advice For Starting Out on Creative Projects

Whilst trying to find a suitable starting point for the How to Human project, I reached out to a wise mentor, who generously replied with this wisdom that I wanted to share—as a reminder to both myself and any of you who may find yourselves at the beginning of a new creative endeavour:

“What I can say to you is that I started with one idea and everything else emerged. And perhaps you can work with your fear by realizing you don't have to start with a complete complex vision. You need to know where and how you want to begin, or what comes next out of what you're doing now, and make THAT happen. It's worked for me/us to let the project be emergent as a matter of principle."

🧠 Et Cetera

🦇 Bats argue (a lot)

😂 A million nameless joys

😺 Real life Schrödinger's cat

🐘 Elephant-assisted backflip

🐝 Wasps are mind-controllers

🐙 Watch an octopus dreaming

🌳 How and why to do nothing

📝 Good advice from storytellers

🏄‍♂️ The surfer’s secret to happiness

👨‍🎓 Rise of The Intellectual Deep Web

🎻 A midsummer morning adventure (video)

🎵 Canon in D performed on rubber chicken

🍄 How psychedelics create the Overview Effect

📚 Curiosity depends on what you already know

🕷️ Spiders fly hundreds of miles using electricity!

🧠 Our brains use attention filters, not a spotlight

📛 Why 'taking a deep breath' is bad advice (podcast)

💬 Gaining perspective through untranslatable words

🤝 50 ways to be stupendously generous (more ideas here)

🎨 Would you make your art if you were the last person on earth?

📝 Parting Poem

The Shadow

What is the question,

you are scared to ask?


Tell me of the shape

That your shadow casts.


You must turn around,

Seek your seeker.


Find the courage

To meet it's gaze,

And speak its true name.

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