Replicants

A friendly futurist within our web3dsm community shared this Ray Kurzweil interview that triggered my continued curiosity toward our neon future.

One tangent they take in this extended conversation revolves around interacting with replicants. Long after it passed the turing test, I imagine my replicant to be an artificially intelligent, bioengineered entity that has consciousness rooted in the human (or machine) it originated from.

With the exponential advances in technology, interactions with different versions of our past and future self seem inevitable. We’re already speaking to holocaust surviving holograms, watching monkeys play video games with their brain, growing synthetic realities, and experimenting with nanorobotics. As the bandwidth of our content creation reaches escape velocity, what’s stopping us from pressing the record button and storing every angle from every moment?

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How can days feel long, while years fly by?

As this limitless library grows and we start to think about futuristic interactions, how might we reconsider the way we spend our time? Would you live your life differently knowing future generations may interact with a version of your own replicant? I have to think our thoughts and actions would be less careless with such a forward-focused mindset. It would also seem that staying in the moment would be more natural when every moment counts.

With a future that gives humans an opportunity to merge with machines, today can be when we consider ways to transcend time with purpose, abundance, and thoughtful appreciation.

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“…if tomorrow I wake up and I’m sixty years old,I hope when I look in the mirror and ask have you lived,I look right back and say, “shiiit, you tell me!” -Machine Gun Kelly

Breakout Valuation

Breakout valuations are achieved when a business is valued based on how it makes people feel and its future potential, not just what it’s done in the past.

The nine components of a breakout valuation are confidence, vision, curiosity, people, communications, cash management, financial forecasting, capital strategy, and business design. Whether or not you sell your company, business owners who optimize in these areas, position themselves to capture a breakout valuation.

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This caffeinated contribution is a special adaptation from Breakout Valuation, which is the #1 New Release in Venture Capital and was written by my good friend, Patrick E. Donohue. Patrick is an entrepreneur, mentor, advisor, investor, valuation expert, and community builder who offers unique insights into the dynamics of money and business.

While you’re running a company, breakout valuations make everything easier. It attracts talented employees and quality customers. This expands your market position, makes financial capital less expensive, and invites vendors to extend better terms based on your surging trajectory.

Knowing what your ownership of the business is worth helps you make important financial decisions and becomes increasingly important as a business matures. If a business grows to the point where it becomes valuable to acquire, academic and finance professionals attempt to make valuation objective, but the complexity of each transaction makes valuation subjective in the end. Along with all the objective data, valuation is highly influenced by the environment, relationship, and personal views of the participants in a transaction. Knowing how investors and lenders use objective valuation tactics is crucial, but understanding the potential value of the business, articulating it to potential partners, and having them buy into the vision will arm you with an advantage to get what you want—a breakout valuation.

Breakout valuations are not aspirational. They emerge from what you are doing right now. It’s all about being clear with your mission and vision. It’s knowing your numbers and how everything comes together through a shared mindset, communication, and workflow. The pursuit toward a breakout valuation compounds, requiring attention today, and every day moving forward. This aggregates understanding and builds confidence. When the day comes to part with some or all of your business, the confidence from a breakout valuation will maximize the payout or deliver assurance in walking away from the deal.

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What are we doing today to support our goals for tomorrow?

Bloop

Imagine yourself as a circle.

It’s tempting to suggest a sphere, but the added dimension is not necessary for this metaphor. Alright, with your circular self, take a tiny portion of the arc and “bloop”… push it beyond the circle’s circumference. Even the smallest nudge gives the entire circle space to expand.

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I had fun making all sorts of sounds as I considered the title for this reflection, but I’d love to hear how you’d describe the sound of such an expansion. Also, since I had to look up the terms to ensure this metaphor was translated correctly, here are the parts of a circle.

There’s plenty of research behind the idea of small improvements adding up. As we hear from inspired speakers and read about in Atomic Habits by James Clear, if you get one percent better each day, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the end of a year. It’s hard to define “better” and such steady progress would surely require sacrifice, but most will agree that small choices don’t make much of a difference, until they add up.

While establishing systems that support good habits and compiled improvements are great, this reflection is more about welcoming singular moments of exploration and growth, even when it seems unrelated, weird, or insignificant.

Perhaps it’s trying something new without preconceptions, saying yes when no is status quo, or being the initiator when movement is seen as risk? As we poke the box and invite a bit more bloop in our life, we give ourselves an opportunity to grow as our own circles expand.

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To thank those who have enjoyed brewing on these Roasted Reflections every week for almost two years AND to say hello to some new friends, here’s a free gift just for fun!

Winding Whys

Asking “why” seems to be innate.

As soon as kids learn to speak, the inquisitions begin. The first few whys may emerge from innocent curiosity, but it’s easy to tell when the game is underway.

It’s easy to see how endless whys may lead to frustration (especially when it’s bed time, eh), but I’ve found joy in making these winding whys into a fun challenge for myself. Instead of shutting things down, I enjoy trying to quickly answer every why with an accurate answer. Can I mindfully outlast the youngster’s attention span? What fun!

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I’ve enjoyed winding whys many times, but “Dad, why do you love me?” gave me pause. I found myself feeling appreciative as I tried to coalesce endless reasons into one answer.

As I poked around, it felt trite to reflect on how humans have so many whys we can not answer. Instead of going down the paradoxical path or leaning into understanding our own whys, I found the Five whys interesting.

Developed by system thinkers inside Toyota back in the 1980’s, this iterative Five whys technique was used to explore the cause-and-effect relationships underlying a particular problem. When following 14 specific rules, after exactly five whys, the last answer often points to a process that is not working well or does not exist. This rigid technique has critics and would seemingly lead to shortsighted interpretations, but it was fun learning about this historic use of why. Knowing the value of complexity vs. simplification, as well as, so many other methods like active listening, Socratic questioning, casual diagrams, storytelling, inverse charisma, and pure wonder, the Five whys may not answer all the winding whys of our world, but perhaps it’s another tactic to throw in the mix.

Why not?

Listen

Listening is louder than it sounds.

Most entrepreneurs like to talk and the more obsessed we are, the more vociferous we seem to get. Idea machines must be willing to share compelling stories, but listening is a key part of any transmission. This may seem obvious, but with precious air time up for grabs and knowing so much about our own interests, listening can devolve into feeling like a required distraction.

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Hearing is passive. Listening is active.

As we guide people through the layers of understanding, active listening forms a bond much faster than forcing yourself to be heard. The fear of not having time to deliver your message will linger, but when we truly tune into what another person is saying, it shows we care. It also helps us better harmonize our thoughts within the moment and counters the common mistake of overloading others with too much numbing details all at once. Knowing each conversation is part of a broader relationship and community-building journey, good listeners are almost always given a chance to make a bigger impact.

Ready for an experiment? The next time you meet someone new, embrace your inner scientist. Set your introverted/extroverted mindset aside and focus your attention on asking as many thoughtful questions as you can. The less you talk, the better. This will feel awkward if you just fire question after question, so be concise with each response, then return to more thoughtful questions for a more natural interaction. Consider expanding this social experiment by purposely doing this throughout an entire networking event. Remember who you talked with and track how the listening-focused conversations evolve. Over time, how do these relationships built on listening, compare to others where you’ve been more outspoken? Here are a few tactics to support your practice.

  • Center your internal attention.
  • Stay engaged with eye contact.
  • Use jarring questions to dodge small talk.
  • Don’t interrupt or jump to conclusions.
  • Occasionally paraphrase what was said.
  • Avoid the urge to make it about you.
  • Ask curious questions to go deeper.
  • Exit gracefully, without a sense of rush.

This type of active listening will extend your ability to hear more, but also make your responses more in-tune with what others are thinking, versus always trying to prove your point. Selflessness may keep a conversation from landing exactly where you want in that moment, but as you move from one topic to the next, you’ll learn how others work. When done well, an unspoken bond forms. This synchronization creates space to explore more directions you’d like to take future conversations, but now with the priceless ingredient of shared enthusiasm.

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Listening within a support network ignites optimism, connection, and motivation. A healthy balance is to also listen to your challenge network, which keeps us intellectually humble and rooted in reality.