This is our update to all sorts of changes and clarifications to our organization, kickass stuff happening in this coming year, and invitations to jump in for you. Read on...
Figured as Kipling once encouraged, it's super important these days "to keep our heads while all about us are losing theirs."
But in reality, it's more important than just our heads––it's our hearts and what we love, it's our backbones, and what we defend and it's our feet, and where we stand.
Randomly glanced at our social media page last night and saw that we had suddenly lost a couple thousand "fans" so I looked at the analytics and saw a huge spike in unsubscribes on Dec. 22nd. Curious, I scrolled the page and found that was the day we'd posted a short 60 sec clip unpacking the rise in conspiracy thinking on both left and right, and how trying to reconcile the cognitive dissonance we're all experiencing leaves us vulnerable to epistemic hijack. Nothing throwing shade, or slamming any specific group, more just pointing out dynamics that are affecting us all right now.
And I was actually grateful that had happened. I wasn't mad at the young intern who'd posted it, or wanting to backtrack in the comments section.
Here's why: if you're getting lost in the parking lot, you probably shouldn't come on the expedition. The closer to the gate, the fiercer the dragons. And if someone's coming unspooled on social media memes, the Screaming Abyss will eat them alive. Kinder and better they stay home.
We're super clear on where we're heading, and why we're going, and we're amazingly grateful for the clear headed folks in this community. Truly.
"People get ready, there's a train a comin', don't need no ticket, you just get on board!"
I realized that it was time we named all of those things clearly for you lot too, so you can see if we're singing out of the same hymn book.
In a nutshell, we're following Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia's lead on this one: we do what we love, and we share what we've lived. Nothing more nor less.
Now that "Patagucci" is a billion dollar brand, it can be easy to forget how they got there. But in reality, Yvon was a dirt bag climber who started out at Great Pacific Iron Works banging pitons to climb the walls of Yosemite because the gear they needed for their adventures didn't exist yet. He made the first board shorts and fleeces because they wanted warmer clothing than army surplus leftovers. Winter gear for ice-climbing and backcountry skiing. They made waders because they loved to flyfish, and petroleum free wetsuits for when they surfed.
And every step of the way, they made contrarian, purpose-based "anti-business" decisions that sourced from their conviction for wild places and having a light footprint as they surfed the earth. From moving to recycled fleece, to organic cotton (when all their competitors were just slapping logos on chemical laden shwag), to taking out full page ads in the New York Times on Black Friday telling people not to buy any more of their stuff, to going head to head with an administration gutting Bears Ears national monument (a place dear to our hearts as well, and where we just ran our Fall Flow Canyons course). In short, they played the long game, with integrity, based on head, heart, backbone and an unflinching stand. (and we're proud to have them as our primary gear provider for all of our expeditionary trainings).
And we're doing the same––we refuse to crowd the lane of biohacking bullshitters, promising tips and tricks to transform your life in ten easy steps, or to whip folks into an ecstatic frenzy just to sell them on the next super-secret platinum club. Hopefully, those distinctions matter to you too.
Instead we're combining outdoor guiding with Tier One special operations experience (led by retired Commander Curt Cronin who worked directly with General Stanley McChrystal), with Montessori style learning, developmental theory, and a desire to help people live lives of courage and purpose.
So what's our passion––our commitment? (and hopefully yours as well)
Our mission is to train a core cadre of leaders (we don't want followers, we lead leaders) to effect positive social change for themselves, their families, their communities and the world––HomeGrown Humans who have woken up, grown up and shown up.
We do that by sharing best practices from optimal psychology, neuroscience, and experiential leadership––taught in dynamic learning environments that are challenging, fun, and transformational.
In other words, offering ecstasis without the crave (peak experiences without addiction), catharsis without the cringe (deep healing without woo), and communitas without the cults (connection without unreliable leaders and followers).
That's it. No supplements to flog. No advertisers to pimp. No affiliate marketers to pay off. No tithing to hustle. We charge a premium tuition for world-class training, or we give it all away for free. Other folks do it other ways, but this is the simplest and cleanest we've come across for us, and hopefully for you too.
And what about peak performance? It's still at the core of our trainings, and we're sharing the deepest cheat codes for neuro-physiological transformation––but we continue to stand by Abe Lincoln's take, "I care not for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it."
We've been at this for twenty years, teaching humans from three year olds in Montessori classrooms, to college students on Mount Everest, to special operators across three continents, to CEO's of Fortune 100 companies––but in every single instance, our mission has been the same––to provide an academically rigorous, experientially rich, delightful, engaging and honest path to people growing up and becoming more capable, competent and connected.
And we make "anti-business" decisions all the time––the biggest to date was choosing to write a book called Recapture the Rapture: Rethinking God Sex and Death in a World That's Lost Its Mind! Two years ago I submitted the proposal, and my agent at United Talent Agency went pale. I knew it needed to be written, but talking about apocalypses, global catastrophes, cults, sexuality, psychedelics and religion back then, seemed way more edgy than it might now as we all find ourselves hurtling towards the Intertwingularity, doom scrolling our newsfeeds, bingewatching Plandemic, NXIVM and Heaven's Gate docs, and wondering if our go bags are stocked. I wasn't wrong, I was just early.
It was a potential career ender, the kind of book that could leave us unable to ever get invited to give a plush corporate speaking gig ever again, and...fuckit. Needed to be done. So we submitted to the yoke, figuring our only "redemption" wasn't in cutting corners or playing it safe, but in committing fully to making it art––and then let the chips fall.
In preparation for when it comes out in April we're going to be teaching live a custom built program based on the three parts of the book––Choose Your Own Apocalypse, The Alchemist Cookbook, and Ethical Cult Building.
It's a crash course in future proofing yourself, learning to mend where you're broken, reclaim your inspiration and purpose, and connect to like-minded folks.
So stay tuned as we open applications in the coming few weeks––it's the debut of our entire HomeGrown Humans curriculum, including a summertime Flow Camp in the Rockies, adventure courses in gorgeous locations and digital trainings for everyone everywhere.
In the meantime though, we're releasing today a conversation I had with Doug Rushkoff who MIT called "one of the top 50 intellectuals alive today" and author of Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus and Team Human. He's so thoughtful and has always been at least a decade ahead of whatever's happening now. I'm so glad he's in the world, and so glad he continues to take a stand for Team Human––take the hour to listen––he's so worth it.
>> Check out the podcast with Doug Rushkoff
(and here's a sneak peek from Recapture that retells a mind-boggling encounter Doug had with some hedge fund bros and what they're thinking about the end of days)
"Rushkoff received an invitation to address a bunch of Wall Street financiers on the future of technology—a topic that he had spent his career tracking. And while he usually turned down those kinds of cushy speaking engagements (he was a founder of the cyberpunk movement back in the ‘90s, after all), he admitted that "it was by far the largest fee I had ever been offered for a talk — about half my annual professor’s salary." So he swallowed his disdain and did what most reasonable people would: He took the gig.
He showed up on the appointed day in what he assumed was the greenroom (the place backstage where speakers and hosts usually congregate during conferences). Five impeccably dressed men sat down and introduced themselves. Slowly Rushkoff realized this wasn’t the greenroom and there was no stage. There was no auditorium full of traders waiting to hear him talk either. These five men were his audience.
At first, they asked him a few easy icebreaker questions—what was the deal with blockchain and cryptocurrencies? How far off did he think quantum computing was? Can Google really upload Ray Kurzweil’s mind to the cloud? Alaska or New Zealand (to escape global warming)?
But then came the real question—the one those five titans of Wall Street had paid north of $50,000 an hour to learn: "How do I maintain authority over my security force after the event?"
That sentence requires some unpacking. Let’s start at the end and work backward.
"That was their euphemism," Rushkoff explains, "for the environmental collapse, social unrest, nuclear explosion, unstoppable virus, or Mr. Robot hack that takes everything down." By this point, discussing, debating, or wondering about future scenarios had given way for these men to a chillingly simple placeholder. Simply, The Event. And while these men may not have been willing to bet on which particular domino would fall first, that they all would topple soon after seemed self-evident. A fixed constant in a more complex equation they were still trying to solve.
Next, the verb.
"Maintain authority"—carries the distinct implication that a) authority might be challenged or questioned in the near future and b) that those five men had it and intended to hold on to it.
Finally the object of that action, the noun.
"My security force." Not "my personal assistant." Not "my bodyman," "butler," or "team." My "security force." Unvarnished. Plural, even without an s. And judging by the urgency of their $64,000 question on how to control that group after The Event, possibly mercenary.
For the remainder of their allotted hour together, those hedge fund managers laid down a few more of their cards. How would they pay their paramilitary if the economic system collapsed and paper (and digital currency) became worthless? How would they prevent a Lord of the Flies– style coup once things went pear-shaped? Would secret combination locks on food supplies work? How about shock collars? Or AI robots?
"That’s when it hit me," Rushkoff said. "At least as far as these gentlemen were concerned, this was a talk about the future of technology. Taking their cue from Elon Musk colonizing Mars, Peter Thiel reversing the aging process, or Ray Kurzweil uploading [his] mind into a supercomputer, they were preparing for a digital future that had a whole lot less to do with making the world a better place than it did with transcending the human condition altogether and insulating themselves from a very real and present danger of climate change, rising sea levels, mass migrations, global pandemics, nativist panic, and resource depletion. For them, the future of technology is really about just one thing: escape."
Stay tuned next week and after for a full share of our upcoming annual calendar, and invites to train in our newest programs––until, then, head, hearts, spine and feet!