Venkatesh Rao (Ep.27): The stress that makes you come alive

Venkatesh Rao, creator of Breaking Smart and Ribbonfarm

Venkatesh Rao (Ep.27): The stress that makes you come alive

Venkatesh Rao defies labels — he’s a blogger, thinker and futurist, whose ideas span the digital economy, science, economics, and the zeitgeist. Rao is the creator of the Ribbonfarm and Breaking Smart blogs. We discuss “paycheck addictions” and the wave of transformation that’s going to hit the economy. Is becoming a free agent a way to stay ahead of the curve? How should a mid-career executive prepare? An immersion in the technology conversation is a must — but so is the ability to emotionally self-regulate.

More about Venkatesh Rao

+ Rao’s book Tempo: timing, tactics, and strategy in narrative-based decision-making

+ RibbonFarm: Experiments in refactored perception

+ Breakingsmart: Seeking serendipity through technology

+ Premium Mediocre life of Maya Millennial: Keeping up with jones in the “new age”

+ Fingers of the mind: The power of emotional self-regulation.

+ Consciousness Explained, by Daniel Dennett

Rao on Blogging

A mental model that people who are new to this kind of reading need to adopt is that you aren’t in a writer to reader relationship with the blogger. What you’re doing is a mind meld, forming a collective consciousness over two or more brains.

On getting the courage to “jump” from the corporate world

At some point, financial stuff is just a problem to be solved. You need a runway, a cushion, something to land on, and a starting point. After that, it’s all improvisation. The financial insecurity and anxiety is the cost of doing business as a free agent.

Financial insecurity can be healthy

Distress is the bad kind of stress that eventually kills you. Eustress is the shorter term, acute stress that wakes you up and makes you more alive as a person.

 The economy’s “Trump Moment”

You’re going to have a Trump moment in the economy. And when that hits, the people who are prepared, they’ll land on their feet. People who are intellectually prepared, but not emotionally prepared, they’re going to be thrown into a serious state of `{`depression`}`.

 Free agents have their blind spots

A good percentage of `{`free agents`}` are also going to get shocked, they have a different kind of blind spot. There’s a utopian discourse developing, but when you look at the reality of people lives like you and I, the truth is we are still 80% in the old economy. I make most of my money via consulting contracts with traditional companies and senior executives. So when it actually comes about, it’ll be a shock to me. It may be even more of a shock because we’ve deluded ourselves that we’re actually prepared.

How to prepare professionally

Stay aware of how the “software is eating the world revolution” is actually happening and jump on the bandwagon at the right time. Don’t naively just go to the flashy startup that claims it’s going to do banking on the blockchain. Look at the subtle reinventions of the entire premise of an activity.

Uncomfortable introspection

There’s an internal transition you have to make. Things that you hold dear, the right values to hold are being challenged — new ones are being proposed. This can be an emotional shock. The people in the new economy don’t hold the same values you do, they don’t respect the same things. It can be as superficial as your expensive suit or the language they use looks obscure. This is the classic moment where people retreat, live on savings for a while, go on a mindfulness retreat and hope that solves the problem — but it takes a lot more work than that. You’re going to have to do some hard introspection and really look back on your career and ask “what was I really valuing when I was doing that thing?” And reassessing the story of your life through the lens of new values. It’s a profess of tough introspection where you kind of have to hit rock bottom — it’s sort of a death and resurrection moment.