I had the opportunity to sit down across thousands of miles of internet cabling with Tom Goodwin to discuss his new book, ReThink. He was open to breaking down and challenging the core concept and I think you’ll agree the conversation was a lot of fun. You’re hearing the author think on the fly.
You can find the audio on any podcast platform, or here on my Substack. Please consider subscribing. https://specific.substack.com/p/rethink-with-tom-goodwin
Tom Goodwin 0:06
It may be obvious, but I’m not particularly clever or strategic or fussy about what goes out there.
Adam Pierno 0:22
I think you’re pretty clever.
Tom Goodwin 0:23
Yeah. I get quite fussy about how I spend my time and who I talked to. It’s not like if this comes across like, it was interesting, but not, but maybe that stupid, then I’d be fine with that. If it’s boring, then that’s
Adam Pierno 0:38
different, but I feel like it won’t be so No, I know it won’t be just pulling up. I have the notes here that you sent me and I need some notes on those notes.
Tom Goodwin 0:46
And the other thing is, um, you know, feel free to be as comedic in the kind of joke of the book not yet being written as you’d like in the, you know, we could literally do this odd thing where you pretend that you’ve got the Book in front of you, and you’re almost like so on page 37. And he said, obviously, that’s kind of disingenuous, but I thought it might be quite nice if if there was almost like vagueness. So you can write things which are kind of true, even though they’re not true. So you can say things like, why did you decide to write this book, which is kind of, you know, both factual and also miss? Yeah,
Adam Pierno 1:26
let’s, let’s let’s do it that way. Let’s just take some license and fuck around.
Tom Goodwin 1:29
Yeah, exactly. And, you know, who do you have in mind is the reader and stuff like that?
Adam Pierno 1:33
Perfect. Yeah. I’ll do an intro later. Because I don’t think it’s really critical to this conversation to do a whole setup and and your background. I can just add that in. Okay. If you’re cool with that.
Tom Goodwin 1:47
Yeah, absolutely. I’m very easygoing. So
Adam Pierno 1:50
it seems so
Tom Goodwin 1:51
thank you for your time and for being up for this as well. So,
Adam Pierno 1:55
of course, you know, I owe you a favor because in the fall, I was coming to New New York and I know your memory. You probably won’t even remember this. But you were like, hey, if you want to stay at my apartment, just let me know the dates. And I was like, oh, man, that’s so generous. Well, at anytime, anytime. Thank you very much.
Tom Goodwin 2:12
Now you get to see what you could have had. So,
Adam Pierno 2:15
yeah, yeah. Well, we had a great trip anyway. But yeah, but thank you. That was very nice of you.
Well, so I’ve been reading your book. Rethink? Yes. Yeah. So I’ve been reading rethink, and I have questions for you. And making think it has made me think. Now, one of the things I know about you, Tom, is you’re an optimist. Yeah, General. Absolutely. So tell me all right. This is a two part question. Yeah, that relates to the book that is not stated. Specifically, okay. On the continuum of time as you understand history in the past and where you see us going and some of the some of the directions you plot out The book they’re not predictions really they’re more direction. Yeah. Where do you plot us today? Like, where’s humanity? Or where is urban society or the person at the center of this book? Where are they today?
Tom Goodwin 3:13
You know what that that is the question that gets to the very heart of what this book is about.
Adam Pierno 3:17
That’s what I do. Tom, I asked questions I got to the heart of book
Tom Goodwin 3:22
in like two minutes time, you are absolutely right, that I’m incredibly optimistic. And it’s the kind of delta between how I feel a life should be and how it actually is, which is what inspired me to write this book because I felt, you know, in the words of the cove now disgrace comedian, everything is amazing, but nobody is happy. And I think there is this sense somehow that the promise of technology and the possibility of technology is somehow not quite matched by our everyday expectations. And the internet should just make us unbelievably enlightened. And the internet should make us win. Incredibly connected incredibly, together, we should have this incredible sense of belonging, life should be amazing because we have everything we need. We have more than enough food, we have enough information. We’ve never known such abundance. But instead, there’s this really odd feeling, I think in the world right now. And I think it’s come about because no one’s made sense of this technology. We don’t know how to behave. We don’t know what etiquette to use. I think as a species were designed to evolve quite slowly and to do things face to face and all of this technology has created this big kind of rupture. in society. I think that’s what we feel. So on that kind of continuum, I think, I think life will only ever get better. And I think we’re going to see a kind of a reversion back to the norm, where what we should be feeling and what we experience should be more closely aligned with what technology makes possible. And I think that will be a remarkable time and I think we’re probably sort of five 10 years away from that sort of fatty, slow snap back. So so the the path that we should be on?
Adam Pierno 5:06
What’s the part of it that either as individuals living in the world, or as providers of these solutions, what’s the gap that’s keeping us from that happiness from appreciating it or understanding what you know, you assert? I’m pulling a quote here. People don’t know how to live, how to communicate and what matters from the book. I’m wondering, like, Where’s the gap there? Where are we why why can’t we do that?
Tom Goodwin 5:31
The gap has come about because we’re not willing to kind of quote, Steve Jobs unnecessarily I think we’re living other people’s lives. So, you know, rethink is the idea that comes about from the fact that so much of our life is led on autopilot. So the presumptions that we have around us in all directions are entirely fixed by constraints of the past, every single thing so in everything drama, zip code being defined, To our careers being defined to our educational establishment, to government, everything really around us that we orchestrate ourselves around is one fixed to fix based on things in the past three things they fixed based on technologies and society’s limitations from the past. And slowly when you begin to question those things and challenge those things, you realize that all of those things that we use to shape our lives are completely nonsense. So this idea that we need a system of government, which allows people to have a voice is entirely based on the idea that we don’t have a voice. We don’t have telephones, we don’t have the internet and we can’t just tweet away. Something like education is based on the assumption that books are incredibly expensive. And the only possible way it’s going to work is by having people gather in a physical space and we’ll read the books together from someone that’s more intelligent. Our careers are based on the assumption that we have to earn as much money as we can as quickly as we can, and then our bodies will get worn out because by definition Work for all of humankind has been physical work. And then at some point, we’re going to get so old that we get retired from the factory, and then we shouldn’t have to work anymore. Me should be paid money back from a system and all these things. That’s not true anymore.
Adam Pierno 7:13
Right? Yeah, I think it would be harmful for me to retire. If if I’m a if I’m a thought worker, you know, it’s actually more damaging for me to let my brain atrophy.
Tom Goodwin 7:24
And it’s tempting is just dumb. I mean, like, you know, you’re only gonna get more clever every single year, and you’re only gonna get more valuable. And you’re going to get more context on the past and you’re only going to become more calm. And I think somehow we think that people that have seen it all before will, by definition, be negative, but I think they will. And this idea that just at this point in your life, where you’re the best person you’ve ever been, and the most helpful you’ve ever been, that’s the day that we decided that you should go and play golf in Florida. It’s completely bananas. Yet Doesn’t mean that you have to go to an office every day and you have to be signed on for full time work. But this idea that somehow we can’t find a way to tap into your knowledge of that point is extraordinary.
Adam Pierno 8:08
It doesn’t have to be binary.
Tom Goodwin 8:10
Absolutely. So much of the world is based on entirely binary things and I’m not the person to talk about things like gender sort of Blurred Lines, but virtually everything around us is now we So when do we start working? When do we stop working? Are we working right now? Is this your job? Or is this far like you take the microphone away? Does this become less work like is because we’re just doing it for ourselves? You know, where is the place of work like, like none of these things that we used to have that would create these very tight containers for life like none of them have these these lines. So you know, value is kind of removed from how long we spend working, output system and unlimited The global nature of work means that you’re more likely to get something done by shopping in a mall in Beijing than by looking at a book in your office. And I think we need this need a bit more kind of radical thinking away.
Adam Pierno 9:12
And a lot of the A lot of what you’ve described, and even as you just close comes back to this idea of spontaneity. Yes. Which maybe it’s just the way I consumed it, but you’d seem to tuck spontaneity way at the back. Yeah, but it seems to be pretty central to the to the thesis of the book. And here I am married with children. I own a home in a suburb suburb you know, of a medium sized city. Yeah. And I miss spontaneity, spontaneity was fantastic. I remember it fondly. You know, I lived in New York and we could go where we want it. But now, that’s not something that’s that’s realistic. And I wonder if the lens that you pull Spartan at through and some of the examples you use How a How important is that to the understanding our, our place and our potential future? Yeah, it’s it’s a good lever to pull for me to understand what you mean by like, I don’t know if I’m ever going to be able to, to do some of the things that you’re describing just because I’m, I’m now encumbered by some other responsibilities and things that prevent me from that.
Tom Goodwin 10:22
Sure. I mean, I I am always aware in any of my writing that I am both naive and provocative, but always well intentioned. And so when I do you have conversations with people about this? Most of the time people say things like Tommy, I have no idea. It’s extremely an irritating question. But I can possibly do this for that reasons, and you have no idea why. And you will never know unless you’ve got kids or that you you know, own a car like this or whatever. And those people are kind of absolutely probably nearly always right but that doesn’t mean that
Adam Pierno 11:01
Yeah, but I don’t mean to, like challenge you and say how dare you?
Tom Goodwin 11:04
But I didn’t mean that doesn’t mean that that question wasn’t a helpful question. Just because I ended up looking like I was wrong doesn’t mean that I’m not glad I asked it. Yeah, I’m a much of this stuff. And again, this is, this is a kind of big part of of the book is that things are difficult if you’re the one person is acting this way. So if you’re the the one person that doesn’t really think the streets in New York should be labeled streets going east to west and actually, you know, avenues and streets. So for places, if you’re the one person that thinks that then life’s gonna be really hard for you, but if you can persuade everyone else to behave the same way, then I see things might get better. And I think spontaneity is one of those things where I do genuinely believe that all forms of planning come from things like tickets having to arrive in the mail, and I come from things like venues, having to sell out venues way ahead of time. They come from this need, everyone’s life was somewhat routine and repetitive. And of course, there are, you know, far, far more jobs in the world that do have a factory, and they do have people clocking in and clocking out, and these things are predictable. But increasingly, whether it’s kind of thought based jobs or whether it’s demand based jobs or whether it’s more informal things like the gig economy, we do just realize that things like algorithms do a very good job of allowing people to monetize empty space and monetize excess capacity. And actually, right now, if I was to go in an Uber kind of ironic late to the airport, I would find that probably a flight. The next flight to Heathrow is probably the same price or maybe even cheaper and it was a couple of weeks ago, I realized that to get into a hotel using Hotel Tonight would probably be cheaper than booking it way in advance of everything from theater tickets that was suddenly open up to restaurants that have spoken patency two friends that I can just tweet and say, Hey, you know, you’re in town after all. And if everyone starts behaving like that, then all of our lives become really exciting.
Adam Pierno 13:08
Yeah, there’s definitely more opportunity. And that’s, that’s the key point that you’re making is that technology is making that possible. Yeah. Even the ability to, to that people can visualize or have a visualization of the way flight, the cost of flights are pattern and I can look on it. If I booked it on a Tuesday. It’s cheaper than booking another Monday. Yeah, yeah. And that same idea. Yeah. Do you do you see everything through the lens of spontaneity? Because when I think of your you’re thinking about education and work, a lot of that is what you said, you know, we’re living other people’s lives. And we’re living that, you know, three generations ago. Yeah, factory has shaped the way I come to an office for some reason, but it couldn’t. If I wake up at 3am and I haven’t idea for my for my job, shouldn’t I be able to sit down and execute it and send it off?
Tom Goodwin 14:05
I think I think that’s I’m thinking the spirit of this piece, is it saying that there is a huge delta between what is possible how we’re actually living, there is an incredible sense of stress. I think that is happening in the world right now. And lots of pressure that people face. And I think everyone puts down that pressure to faster changing times, or they put that pressure down to less job security than ever before, or they talk about how different is to work with different generations in the office like this. There are lots of explanations for this anxiety and stress and difficulty. And I think they’re all fair and true. I also think a lot of the stress comes from the fact that we are in this interim period where like some people are able to remotely and some people at night some people kind of feel like if they were to have an amazing idea at first o’clock in the morning and then write it down and then say that they can’t come in that day because they’re exhausted, there is an assumption that would be bad behavior. So we’re kind of in this hybrid period where we’re kind of living in the shadow of the rigidity and the assumptions of the past, but we’re trying to behave in a way which is more future focused.
Adam Pierno 15:19
You’re, you know, you just raised the question for me, you’re a manager of people, you have a team of people that report to you.
Tom Goodwin 15:26
I have a very I mean, in in what appears to be a kind of ludicrous example of my old life. Through my normal publicist job, I don’t have any formal help whatsoever. There are people who will help me but because I can persuade them, which is a whole nother book, probably. cloud of everything from a full time intern in London, who I recruited because he’s remarkable, but had quite interesting background to about in any given year. I’m probably wet with about 20 to 30 Five people from all over the world. And it might be anything from an incredible researcher from Manila who might help me find people in companies all the way through to a virtual assistant. All the way through to a man who is Australian, but lives in Shanghai. And I just occasionally say to him made me clever about Chinese commerce. You know, here’s $1,000 give me stuff. You know, that’s reasonable for that. You know, Slovakian logo designers, Serbian website designers, like I’m spreading my money everywhere. So
Adam Pierno 16:35
you’re making the whole economy a global economy. That sounds pretty Greg. I like it.
Tom Goodwin 16:41
Yeah, I have like 25 different income streams again, like, you know, I say this not to be boastful, but just to explain how weird it is that we assume you have a job like that’s how you make money. The idea that your job might take you two years for three weeks, then you decide to Airbnb your apartment while you’re away and then all of a sudden that’s an income stream. That’s not how we’re used to thinking, the notion that you might record a training course once on Skillshare and you might get you know, like on average you know, nearly $1,000 a month just from a training program that’s out there like these are all things that are not supposed to happen and we’re not set up to think like this. It’s not at least things like the texting system I Where do I pay tax? If I write a presentation on a plane going to Dubai, that I deliver in Singapore from a Filipino company that wants me to talk about trends in the world while I live in America? Like Where should I pay tax on that? Like is that illegal to work on the plane and no one has any I
Adam Pierno 17:44
don’t ask that I’m gonna cut this because that question,
Tom Goodwin 17:48
rob me on the fly and be like told me not allowed to work. You know, if the plane is above a certain altitude does it become okay, but no one has any
Adam Pierno 17:55
idea. I think every country is going to be knocking on your door. We want our 7% That’s true. You’re gonna owe on that work you did on the plane. Where do you so so you put well the reason I asked about managing people let me start there is, do you it? It sounds clear since some of those people are non salaried employees are more task or contract. You allow for this flexibility though, from your, from your salaried employees that you work with. Hey, if you get the idea to work on this at 3am, as long as you hit my deadline, I don’t really care when it happens if you’re at home or at a bar work.
Tom Goodwin 18:31
I think I’m absolutely correct. That’s That’s precisely how I feel. And I’m aware again, that by being someone that works that way that doesn’t make these people’s lives easy. Like you would imagine that would be the most wonderful thing you could ever hear someone empowering you to work this way. But again, the reality is they then need to fit into other systems and work with other people, etc. but I personally am a ridiculous believer in trusting people until they Prove repeatedly that you can’t trust them to like empowering people to just do things the best possible way. And three asking people to come to me with solutions whenever they ask for a problem. But by far, my biggest thing is I just say, I would like you to accomplish this. I really don’t care how you do it. I really don’t care where you do it. I absolutely don’t care. When you do it, just get it done. But anyway, and I’m here to help. And if anything’s in your way that I can deal with in particular, then that’s my role as a manager is to kind of clear your path. And within that, the people should then realize that as you often the best way to do that is to come to the office. And often the best time to come to the office is between 10 and four on a Wednesday, but I’m not telling them they need to do that. It’s just that you should be aware that, you know, if you want to speak to a team of seven people, all of whom are writing code for you And probably the best way to do that is in person. And that’s when they’re all there.
Adam Pierno 20:04
You said a word that I was I had written in my notes to see if I could get you to say, and you said, I feel like it’s a victory.
Tom Goodwin 20:12
I’m trying to think of what that would have made.
Adam Pierno 20:13
And the word is trust.
Tom Goodwin 20:16
So yeah, so for this future that you’re so rethink is all about this setting forth a vision of how things could work and how things could. What’s funny about the book is not that you’re not making these predictions of what will happen. There’s very little new IP that you that you’ve invented for the, for your theories. It’s more like yes, this is how these pieces will snap together if we want to live this kind of life. Yeah, absolutely. But you said the word trust and how so I understand for managing people and for the freedom from work rigidity, right. Trust Tell me about trust as an as an underlying theme
That’s a very good question, actually. I think for so long Trust has come from the fact that we all knew each other. I mean, so if we really do think about this in the kind of human history, for most of our time alive, we would have had reputations that came from the valley, you’d gone to the local pub, or you have paid the tradesmen over years. And I think then the kind of global nature of the world and early computers meant that we became quite globalized as a society and then we needed to find no the signifiers of trust. So trust, if you are an employee came from being employed for a long time. You know, you could trust someone if they’ve worked at IBM for 15 years, because clearly they were good. Trust will come from other things, and sorry if this gets a bit close to the bone, but it comes from educational institutions, you know, to to know that someone has got a certificate to show that they’ve studied a certain place carried great meaning.
Adam Pierno 21:55
Yeah, that’s what those credentials are for.
Tom Goodwin 21:57
Yeah, exactly. So these kind of brands have been in extremely important to us. And I think, again, none of this stuff’s going to happen crazy fast enough, it’s going to happen with a huge tipping point necessarily. But I think we might just get used to the fact that, again, if we, if we really accept that this is a new paradigm where work happens in a different way, then actually a reputation is carried by what we’ve done before. Our curriculum retires or resumes become kind of websites where we show off things that we’ve accomplished before. Our reputation is really carried by a recommendations or followers and all sorts of fairly obnoxious new currencies of the digital age. And also, if we are working in a way where we’re spontaneous and where our value is, is quite easy to see. Then actually, the notion of employing someone doesn’t need to be this huge leap of faith. And the idea of buying something from someone without a storefront doesn’t need to be a huge leap of faith. I think we might get to a kind of new form of trust with Which is just based on reputation and sort of digital currency is like that.
Adam Pierno 23:05
But doesn’t the is it reputation? So there’s another area where we talk about social conscious social construct that are based in the past and you talk about the family construct and why a woman need to be married to a man and what it meant for a man to be married to a woman and have a stable family life. Those along with things like your college degree and the brand from which you earned it. Those build that truck have built I should say that trust going back to the 1800s Yeah. to the to the second wave of higher ed. Yeah, what what will make trust what will be the shorthand for reputation and trust going forward then please tell me it’s not my reviews on Fiverr.
Tom Goodwin 23:55
scary though, I think. I mean, you made me realize something The I hope that doesn’t come across from the book, which is I’m not saying Look at all these nuclear family, these married couples that get these people having kids that these people would jobs like what loses they are there?
Adam Pierno 24:11
No, I didn’t take it that way.
Tom Goodwin 24:13
It stuck to kind of the traditions of the past. I think I’m just saying that if you assume that everyone can now question every assumption, and if you empower people to live a life which is most suitable to their own personal circumstance, then that certainly means that perhaps we don’t need to enter this spiral of assumptions that people make. So what tends to happen is that people get, you know, good degrees. I mean, again, I’m being kind of awful in my presumption that people listen to this podcast to people who are kind of quote unquote, a bit like us. But you know, many listeners will have degrees and that means that file of debt or that your parents had to save up a lot of money and that means you need to get a great job just to show that the investment is worth it and that means that you probably need to live in quite a big city. And that means that you probably want to buy a house at some point feel like you feel significant. And then you probably want it to have a garden, if you’re going to have kids, then you need to have as many bedrooms as you have kids. And then it’s going to be extremely expensive. And then you have to get that promotion to make sure that you can keep paying mortgage repayments, and you have to start saving up for, you know, for education for your kids. And and before you know you’re you’ve entered this incredibly stressed world where you know, you’re in a marriage that you can’t possibly lead, you’re in a house that you can’t possibly sell, you’re in a career that you can’t possibly change. And you’ve got lovely lawns and lots of bedrooms. And again, this is sort of cheeky and radical and naive and, and hopefully not unhelpful. But if you imagine that none of those assumptions are there, if you just imagine that you were plunk down as a kind of 27 year old with no degree but with a good brain and with no debt, but owning nothing but with the skills that one might expect someone to have, you know, you could just start living in a cheaper country and just do some kind of remote consulting, you could write a book, this leap of income, you could, you know, do some arbitrage on rental properties. And, you know, you can find yourself in a situation where you don’t really earn that much, but where you don’t really spend that much, and where all of the social constructs that we put in place or any are not necessarily that limiting. Yeah, that’s interesting. that’s a that’s a different way.
Adam Pierno 26:30
I guess it implies in the world of rethink, you know, in the 10 years, 15 few 15 years future, that we will have it together enough to, to reconsider those things, but I don’t know. I
Tom Goodwin 26:46
mean, we were promised that we would all have so much time off that we wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves. Like, you know, there were books written in the 70s and 80s and 90s. And, you know, the idea of the four hour workweek, like the whole idea of 10 was not that we were going to create all of these money, then inflate house prices, then inflate asset prices, then inflate house prices again, and then we’d all be crippled by debt that we have to service. And then we all have to work extremely hard and do side hustles to keep alive. Like, the idea was that we’re all going to chill out a little bit, and Gulf and bake bread and carrots and stuff. And I think when you talk about that stuff now is presumed to be some kind of a reaction against the rat race. And I don’t, I don’t mean it like that. I mean, I work really, really hard, but I choose to do so out of my own desires among curiosities, rather than a sense of obligation. And that’s why it feels good to me because the kind of pressure on me to maintain my income is not really there.
Adam Pierno 27:48
But that’s the that’s the thrust of it is that we all have to so there’s some people at the I wouldn’t say they’re at the top of this but the people that are generating the the increase pressure on finances, people that are making loans and trying to gin up, make real estate more expensive and more lucrative for them. Yeah, kind of breaking the whole system for everybody. Yeah, for the future. It’s for me to have spontaneity in the way that it’s outlined here. And I think, which sounds beautiful. And the idea of the four hour workweek, yes, that’s made possible by technology. It’s really only possible if I count on the other structures to say, oh, okay, well, that’s the world we all want. We all want this. Yes, everybody. We want to slow down. But that’s the that’s one of the questions I have is cannot cannot be counted on.
Tom Goodwin 28:41
It’s an extremely good question. And it makes me realize how provocative this thinking is. And I would never go so far as to say I’m some kind of wild radical and I’m taking on the system and there is a system and these people are complicit in creating a destructive narrative. blinded I’m not See you.
Adam Pierno 29:00
I see you leading a political rally right now
Tom Goodwin 29:04
as we speak, is the burning of the suffragettes. And here’s the deal. So like, there was so many assumptions we made in life, and I don’t think we’ve challenged any of them ever. I think it would be wonderful to go through a process where we start challenging those assumptions. And then we might realize, actually, you know, what, if we can do anything on the planet, we’d still like to be an accountant that lives in Baton Rouge. Okay, maybe we can do absolutely anything crazy yet, but I still want to buy a nice house in Baton Rouge and I want to kind of go skiing in the in Colorado in the winter, and then that’s fine. And I just, I would like to think that the process of doing this empowers you to then I know, take your kids out of school for one year and travel around the world and give them the most amazing education possible by by traveling around the world. Maybe you can you know, take a You’re out when you’re 18. And trying setting up a drop shipping company or try and develop an app or something maybe while doing your quite sort of normal and quite traditional accountancy job, maybe you can occasionally just take a weekend off and you know, drive a few hours away into the hills where you have a cabin, that’s actually a tiny home. That actually is off the grid, because solar power means that any home can now be off the grid and the way that water treatment works these days, you can actually not have to be plugged into a system, which is a home that was actually remarkably cheap. Maybe this is a home that you rent out on Airbnb, and maybe you have a local cleaner and maybe you end up generating extra money even though you’ve bought something that allows you to be more relaxed. So there this is not a binary thing where you’re either running around sort of eating vegan granola and talking about global climate change and living off away from a normal life. It’s more about finding your placed on that journey.
Adam Pierno 31:01
Yeah. And we’re seeing more and more. You know, 510 years ago, some of those examples you gave would have been seen as fringe. Yes. But now every day you come to work or you meet someone, and you hear a story, either them directly now more often, or others that are in your immediate circle, I just heard a story about a student, high school student who has earned a million dollars playing video games. And like that person’s life and the life of their family. That’s not a traditional job. That person did not set out to say, Oh, I’m going to I’m going to do this, I’m going to become an expert. They were just like, oh, enter this contest. And next thing, you know, they were winning contests. And they said, that person set for life, their family trajectories that they can make any decisions they want. Yeah. And 20 years ago, that was not an option. There was no, there was no twitch led revolution of gaming eSports that would give people those opportunities. Yeah. So that people could make that choice and now do these things.
Tom Goodwin 31:56
I think. I think it’s incredible. And this is where my I’m so glad that you noticed my optimism at the start because I am a genuinely optimistic person. And I just think I have Fred, how amazing would it be if you’re a golf instructor, and you can just orchestrate your diary in a better way, because there’s some kind of app a bit like Uber for golf instructors, not where you’re kind of putting a de hatsue and driven to someone, but where your calendar is just managed. And then you can just decide to work three days, do lots and lots of lessons and then take a few days off and, you know, chill out. Or you can be a chef as a side gig who you know, just does private dinner parties, or you can be a math teacher that does extra math tutoring. And you have kind of surge rates just before exams, and everyone’s kind of okay with it. And then you make lots of money from people who are happy to spend that money. It just seems like there’s so much more value to be created so much time that can be released so much more. So much greater leverage of the knowledge that people have, and many of these new systems to do that have not been used for that yet. So it was mainly based on making everyone the same and suppressing them. Now, what happens if there are platforms about expressing people’s differences and trying to make sure that they get paid by being very unique and very different? A very expert, and they should get paid extremely well as a result?
Adam Pierno 33:14
Yeah. Well, I think that the vision for those platforms of giving people freedom, yeah. are beautiful. Yeah. Yeah. You know, and a lot of what you theorize in the book is beautiful. Yes, it’s this idea that hey, all this all the pieces, all the plumbing exists. Yeah, just we just don’t all agree that we can do it. You know, somebody, somebody, the people that are doing it today are the first people to move it forward.
Tom Goodwin 33:38
Yes, absolutely. That’s precisely It is precisely that inflection point where and a huge part of the book is this idea from the blue hand that first we shape our tools and then they shape us. And that is to say, we’ve now had Airbnb and the way that we treated it so far, is how can I rent out eight bedroom house In bejoy, turn into a 37 person hostel.
Adam Pierno 34:05
Yeah, we’re trying to milk everything in the old,
Tom Goodwin 34:07
buy the cheapest, have like spinning around number leave, and we quickly hope please don’t notice and get away with it. And actually, that’s really not what these are the intentions of Airbnb whenever to do that kind of first creation of the new behaviors where this technology has been to be slightly money centric. And I’d like to think that over time, we will understand the meaning of this technology. So we realized the meaning of Airbnb is that I can share this apartment with you, Adam, when you come here and, you know, we can figure out a way to make sure that you use this excess capacity. I’d like to think the meaning of Airbnb will be, you know, nurses who are married mechanics will suddenly realize there is just a way for them to be able to buy a little cabin in the woods and it not cost them as much money as they thought. So that that’s precisely what I mean. It’s a kind of new evaluation. Based on the realization of the potential of technology, and not working around either what we’ve done most recently with it, but also what we’ve done in the past as a sort of human behavior,
Adam Pierno 35:13
the tools all exist, the infrastructure all exists, you think people are ready to? I don’t know, did the tools need to evolve further to push the behavior over the line and change the financial motivators at the very, very center of what holds it back? Or where’s the
Tom Goodwin 35:34
side because you you delightfully but earlier, you talked about how this stuff is becoming slightly more normal. I can remember your your slow, delicious phrasing, but this idea that someone that you know, or someone that you know, knows, has a million dollars through Twitch. That’s a good example of how this comes about. So it’s not there, you decide to give up everything. It’s not everyone we notice decides to give up everything. It’s not that I immediately moved to rural France. It’s just that You notice that more and more of your friends have a political Patreon channel or the more and more of your friends use that week that they had they took off to set up a website where they now do commercial writing for companies. It’s it’s the people who are influencers actually have been around long enough and maybe they’ve saved some of their money. And now they’re using that as investments in other types of companies. I think we’ll see a gradual kind of creep in all directions. I mean, even even something quite as worrying is the coronavirus right now that this could do amazing things for a culture around working from home. Yeah, you know, the commutes are incredibly expensive, massively environmentally destructive, generally quite pointless, and incredibly stressful. Like, you know, the most stressed people on the planet and normally 40 to 50 year olds, and often the men actually who basically just Working their butts off to try and maintain a lifestyle they thought they wanted. And to know that those people can work from home two days a week would be completely game changing.
Adam Pierno 37:09
Yeah, I that’s the commute. The driving in and the getting home are definitely the points that I’m like, it’s not that I want to get home. But look, that part of getting there is not fun.
Tom Goodwin 37:20
Yeah, I mean, and and that’s a good example of your question about is the technology here because I think we thought it was going to be the self driving car that would allow that. And actually, we now realize its culture like I see we now realize the reason why people aren’t working from home is because of the trust where we talked about before. Lots and lots of company cultures and structures mirror each other because no one really wants to be the first company to say you know, this is our new working from home policy is radically different. So I really am I really believe that we have everything. I really believe it’s a big deal. I really think this isn’t about everyone going wild and crazy and free spirited but is just about people living a life, which is precisely the way they should have lived rather than based on other things.
Adam Pierno 38:08
You know, go ahead, go ahead.
Tom Goodwin 38:10
And one of one of the key moments that kind of led to me thinking, yes, this book is right is when, for the first time ever, I decided to get a financial advisor. And he was a absolutely fantastic person, like incredibly funny knew everything about finance. And he just wasn’t able to understand me at all, because he’d say things like, what’s your number? And I would say, I would you mean, he’s like, you know, the number that you earn that you can retire it, and I was, I wouldn’t really want to retire. So that kind of threw him off.
Adam Pierno 38:39
He didn’t know he had no idea what to do. From there. It’s like, everything is built on that premise. So yeah.
Tom Goodwin 38:43
And then he was the day when he just decided to do a lot less work. And I was like, well, I might decide to do less work in about three months time and then just take off two years, and then I’ll come back to this and that clearly blew his mind again. And then he said things like, what are your regular outgoings and I was, I don’t really have any regular Like, sometimes I go bananas, and I just decided to, you know, give $5,000 to someone in Europe to do some research for me, just because I think it might be quite interesting. And sometimes I don’t spend any money at all because I just don’t do anything for a bit. And all of these things just I think he’s having a mental breakdown, to be honest, because I was so weird. But it was that kind of process that made me realize quite how structured and uniform so many people’s lives have been. And by having a generation of people who are a little bit like me, he would kind of gradually getting older and more, more indicative of the future, like many of these systems are gonna have to change that. Was that was that meeting with the financial planner, the genesis for the book, or was that already while you were writing? Um, I think like all of my books, what tends to happen is I have one or two little ideas, and then they start taking root to the point where I think that maybe there are two or three quite different ideas that probably can’t be joined, like so a tree growing. And then suddenly, I realized that there were other saplings further away that the trees were all growing and a canopy was forming. And moments like that would, it was more validation, or there’s something here, more than it gave me entirely new thing to think about. I mean, the process of writing a book is kind of painful, but also wonderful. So you can just be, I was in a virtual reality experience the other day in a sort of exhibit in Brooklyn. And they showed a things called Blue Marble is the first ever picture of the world taken from space. That was really cool. Yeah,
Adam Pierno 40:32
that is beautiful.
Tom Goodwin 40:34
I mean, as a side note, but imagine not knowing what the world looked like. I mean, it’s nuts to think that there were just people who didn’t know that. That’s the context in which we live. You know, you can understand
Adam Pierno 40:45
Yeah, you know, what’s nuts is? I mean, how, how old is that picture?
Tom Goodwin 40:50
I think like 1970 or something, so it’s not not that long ago. No,
Adam Pierno 40:55
no picture of the world. You know how fortunate we are to have that photo, hazy,
Tom Goodwin 41:02
have that link on all our bank notes. And then like, every day, we should be like, wow, like, this is what matters. It really
Adam Pierno 41:10
is it really is to think that the day before that, no, there’s been like five people that had seen what the world looked like from outside of it.
Tom Goodwin 41:20
And so what they did without venture graph is they took it and then they flipped it. And the reason why they flipped it around is because everyone knows that that’s what the world looks like. And I was like, tell me about 10 minutes and I was like, wow, like so. Like, we have a preconceived idea of what the world looks like. And I started looking into it and I was like, yeah, you know, obviously the world looks like it does because North these are the top and north is based on sort of magnetism and like North should be the top I guess, but there isn’t really any race should be at the top like there’s nothing about milk that means up like like the South could be knows and then I thought I sleep with the You know, maybe it’s just growing up in England that being the English educational system, but it’s always weird that England is at the center of Yes. Of all maps, when actually if you know most of the world’s population, I’ve got nothing to do with them GMT anymore. And anything, it’s kind of weird that we all have like time zones rather than just all living in one time zone and actually changing work hours around different times a day. So it should really be the case that there’s just one Universal Time. And people in America just go to work, you know, two o’clock in the afternoon or something. And it just made me that was another one of these moments where I was just like, wait a minute, like everything about our world, like a maps are based on where the power used to be, like RP just based on nothing. And it makes you realize how much of our worldview is both fixed, but arbitrarily so.
Adam Pierno 42:47
Yeah. And how much of the future depends on reframing that future vision to what we know today. You couldn’t just say if you presented Uber or Airbnb to your earlier examples in the 70s at the time picture and didn’t give them any more context. Yes, you have to be like, No, that doesn’t make sense for how we live, we had to be boiled of the water around us had to be heated up enough for people’s brains to say, Okay, I get this. I understand how this would work because I’ve used priceline.com for 15 years. Yes. And now I understand I can rent instead of a hotel room with my phone, I can rent a single room. Absolutely. But if we had shown them the picture upside down, and just introduced Airbnb, the internet would probably be defunct, nobody would be using it.
Tom Goodwin 43:37
I should have done more of it by I should have written more about how, like what kind of tensions and opportunities are there in the world right now to be the boiling of that water. You know, so I talk a lot about the artificial constraints. And actually, if I’d had my time again, I would have written more about the opportunities and the underlying themes of the world. Because, and again, I am aware that this comes scarily close to flame bait or trolling but, you know, the something like manmade climate change becomes a challenge that we can design solutions for. So, you know, the there are things like resource depletion, which is such that it means that it’s inherent upon all of us to just use less and movements like beyond burger and meet listeners, you know, obviously very helpful in that regard. But if we assume that sea levels will rise and that climate will change that means that we have interesting things like how do we move people from you know, the kind of drainage basins of the Brahmaputra and Pakistan and deca how do we move those people to Canada? I what what does it look like to create new environments in Canada? What homes that live on, you know, floating homes look like? And I don’t mean in this order, dramatic Waterworld way. And so suddenly you realize that you know, rather than it being this desperate fight for survival, they become was a really interesting architectural challenge. Right?
Adam Pierno 45:02
Yeah. Just has to be framed that way. Yeah. Yeah. Well, I think I just expect a royalty for the next book. I just planted the seed.
Tom Goodwin 45:11
It’s one of your new side hustle.
Adam Pierno 45:13
There you go. Tom Goodwin with Adam. Pierno. Yeah. I’ll write the foreword. Perfect. Tom, thank you very much for making time. This is fantastic. And I think people are really gonna enjoy reading this.
Tom Goodwin 45:30
I think that’s a I think it’s hitting the stores in like, 2022 because I have to write the thing first
Adam Pierno 45:40
how long what’s the process like for you?
Tom Goodwin 45:42
Um, I don’t know, it’s, it’s hard to write a book. The main thing that I think when I write a book is I want to be extremely respectful of the readers time because I start to read a lot of business books and then they stopped reading them very quickly because I’ve got their bit like albums used to be whether it’s Good singles and there’s lots of padding out tracks of filia.
And the filler always you’ve got good if you listen to music enough, but books aren’t like that.
Adam Pierno 46:12
The concept for this book I’m presuming has been shared in presentations with clients and at presentations, what kind of response you get from from people inside brands.
Tom Goodwin 46:23
I haven’t done that with this one. So my my last book is very unusual innovation. They was written it almost a diamond structure where I’d have thoughts i’d tweet them out when things looked interesting and it got people engaged and then write an article. Then after writing lots of articles, someone said, I used to read to write a book. So yeah, some of those good articles, not many of them, and I kind of thought how do I create a book out of this? So it wasn’t a compendium of essays by any means, but it was somewhat informed by the writing. And then obviously the the promotion by writing articles about the book and he tweets about these articles. It was like a diamond. This was weird in that I am still in the early stages of writing. podcast, I talk about it as if it already existed. And I’m trying to make sure that I’ve got enough in it. And I’m quite a lot of my tweets at the moment. People won’t notice, but they are exploring things in the book. So I will think things like, you know, what kind of assumptions are there and how we live our life. I think it’s personally quite strange that people like lobster isn’t directly helpful for anything, but I don’t think the lobster tastes particularly good. I think if there’s another world where if lobster was completely abundant, and was not so hard to get out, and people just eat lobster and be like, you know, I wish we could have some tuna, man, that’s really exciting.
Adam Pierno 47:39
Right? It’s the same as a diamond. Yeah, forest. It’s the forest supply and demand thing. Yeah,
Tom Goodwin 47:44
not exactly. So I think. So. I like just thinking things like you know what, what is like lobsters? They haven’t done that to me yet. But they’ll there’ll be a series of tweets where I kind of used to say what kind of assumptions are there about how we live our lives, silly, what kind of technologies you thank you Yeah underrated as i mean i get it LED is actually extremely boring but has really radical implications.
Adam Pierno 48:07
I don’t know I don’t think we’ve scratched the surface of what led is going to change about absolute.
Tom Goodwin 48:12
I is you being absolutely like morons right around New York and a nice pizza now but if we’ve never known come and in fact, people had designed life around in scooters and every single building and a big a scooter lobby or the scooters and docking stations. It realized that pretty much he skiers would just be the best way to ever get around the city. And then very occasionally, you’d be like, Oh, we need to find the scooter that fits for people. I guess that looks a bit like a Tesla worry occasionally thing Oh, and even easkey to that, you know, carries heavy material on it. That’s like a electronic truck, right? But it’s exercises like this, which I like doing to again, they seem quite cheeky and they seem quite destructive and they seem a bit sort of dreamy, but they do make me realize that and why why do people think is really ugly. If there are three scooters parked on the street and they’ve they’ve fought over. Wade spine if there is 17 massive tank like cars.
Adam Pierno 49:09
It’s just like the map. We just got used to what which way is doing?
Tom Goodwin 49:12
Adam Pierno 49:14
Alright. Well, thank you for making time and talking through this book down. I appreciate it. I hope I was constructive as you’re working on your outline for it. You are incredibly constructive. And I really enjoyed it and really appreciate this conversation. Awesome. Hey, I will send you the this. I’m not going to edit this very much, but I will send you a transcript of it.
Tom Goodwin 49:33
Yeah, Yeah, that’d be amazing. Yeah. Because
Adam Pierno 49:35
then you can hopefully copy paste stuff out of it as you’re thinking of your outline.
Tom Goodwin 49:38
Yeah. Now this was um, this is I didn’t even know what I wanted this to be or what I thought it would be. But it’s definitely more and better than both of those things I ever could have imagined.
Adam Pierno 49:46
Awesome. I’m gonna put that in my book.
Tom Goodwin 49:50
I can help that. So either now or in the future or next time you’re in the city like you know, give me a shout and yeah,
Adam Pierno 49:56
I would love to get together for a pint or a coffee or something. Yeah, that’d be Great, be really, really good. Awesome. Hold on. I’m going to stop recording again.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai