What do I bring to this table?
I’ve been fortunate to have lived, studied and worked nearly everywhere in the US.
It’s one thing to read about or visit a culture. It’s another to “live” it. You learn to appreciate people, be they blue San Franciscans or red Houstonians, big city Manhattanites or bayou-rural Mandevilleans.
You learn that they think the way they do nearly always for reasons that make sense within their own environment. You simultaneously learn that it’s difficult for them to understand why different things make sense to other people, in different environments. But you come away appreciating that nearly all of them have important perspectives to contribute, not regardless of environment, but because of environment.
As an outcome, I don’t have inherent contempt for any major worldview. In my own worldview the important thing is that we work together among worldviews to get things of common interest done (which could include, incidentally, seeking to influence others’ worldviews).
I was born in New York (blue), raised in Texas (red), high schooled in Massachusetts (blue), college in North Carolina (blue university in red state) and then settled eight years in DC. At the time DC was mixed and people learned to appreciate and work with their opposites. I then moved on, living in Louisiana, New Mexico for five years and Arizona before settling in San Francisco for sixteen. Also spent quite a bit of time in Florida and Colorado during these years. Then came full circle back to Manhattan for three years, before locating in Florida for my current project. Could it be I finally found a single community with the full range of viewpoints collected all together in one place, forced to work together? We shall see.
Through that I’ve lived inside a diverse range of ideological perspectives. Three lessons jumped out:
- Everywhere you go, the locals think parochially. Whether in Marin County CA or Beaumont TX, one is right and “those other people,” in that other locality, are clearly wrong.
- That doesn’t make a lot of logical sense. How can one know that others are “wrong” if one interacts nearly exclusively with people who think like oneself; if one doesn’t regularly interact with the others and explore their rationals with a genuinely open mind?
- More recently, I’ve seen this ideological intolerance worsen to the point where it legitimately obstructs our nation’s ability to function.
This is “selves”-defeating.
It prevents us from understanding our “team-mates,” empathizing with their underlying concerns and working with them to jointly resolve common challenges, from declining manufacturing jobs to increasing global warming. The deepening antipathy has us all on the path to a destructive outcome.
So I chose to work on it, equipped with the asset — and responsibility — that my background on the topic is somewhat unique.
My professional career is mostly in Silicon Valley tech start-ups, specifically in persuading skeptical organizations to make large investments in visionary new technology products. I specialized in building sales teams for tiny companies with new, not-yet productized solutions that challenged the status-quo, but which still needed to “find their way” to a form that would actually solve a market need.
Educationally (thus far) I have an AB in Political Science and Economics from Duke University.
But my life dream — plotted out way back in 1990 — has always been to work on humanity’s problems. By 2016 I’d stashed away enough to support myself, gave six month’s notice, then left the tech world to make a more direct contribution to the well-being of humanity.
After a long process of evaluation, “ideological intolerance” is the first issue I chose to work on. There will be others; first we fix this.
- High initiative — I’ve started 7 new business ventures and 1 statewide non-profit advocacy organization, for which we raised a three million dollar budget.
- Have lived first-hand among a diverse range of US cultural perspectives.
- Excel at high integrity salesmanship/persuasion, specifically million-dollar plus, considered, multi-year investments by large organizations.
- Passion about this issue.
- Financial independence to work it full-time (until the market tanks… 😉
Why do I care about advancing humanity? Here is that explanation.