Dave Erasmus sold his first business at 21 and has been finding & doing work worth doing ever since - broadening the scope of how we look at things. In this very first episode of the impact billionaires we talk about what it means to have impact, how Dave lets it guide what he does, the economy of giving, the role of technology in all this and many, many more topics.
The common thread throughout is Dave's experience & brilliant insights on finding ways that challenge his thinking & the thinking of the people around him in order to challenge the status quo.
The Impact Billionaires | Dave Erasmus
Hello, and welcome to this very first episode of the impact billionaires. [00:02:00] to kick this off, I wanted to find some money whom I admire. Somebody who, if I would project myself a couple of years down the road and would have done similar things to what they do now, I would be more than proud. And so with that mindset, I started looking for a guest that I think would be awesome to kick this off with represent the values of what I think this podcast should be about.
And I asked Dave Erasmus. And Dave Rasmus. we met through coming friend and he's somebody who, from the first moment that I started talking, talking to him, I'm like, Was was, was filled with these interesting ideas about how, how we could do better. basically. And so, Dave Rozman is known amongst many other things as the founder of a social media platform, givi and network for giving to charity, which he kind of like revolutionized.
Really cool to dive a little bit deeper into, but he's also known for public speeches. as you'll hear, has a really nice voice to listen to, [00:03:00] including Ted talks about giving, and also, his YouTube channel, Dave harassments. that's the name of the YouTube channel with tens of thousands of subscribers, where he posts a variety of videos, on, on travel and creative videos, with a focus.
For example, I'm exploring on and off a great living. And at the age of 19, he founded his first company that he then sold at the age of 21, from then on, David's been on a mission to find, communicate, and work around inspiring ideas, to create a thriving future for all. a common thread that I really see threads Dave's work is that he's always looking to find work worth doing, and then he does it.
so we could not kick that off, have kicked off this first episode, of the impact billionaires with a better guest as I'm sure you'll agree, at the end of the SIPP episode. So without further ado, let's just dive into it, and welcome to the impact billionaires.
All right, Dave, thank you so much for being here. the very first [00:04:00] podcast of the impact billionaires, you are the chosen one how does it feel?
Dave: [00:04:05] Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. It's great to be talking with you again.
Tom: [00:04:08] so I, I will have done an introduction of you and then people will be like, Whoa. Dave is really a really cool guy. I already know this. I'm going to be doing those, those ones. I wanted to start off today a little bit about like first, maybe dive into, what we're trying to do here with the impact billionaires.
so my very first question to you would be, when you hear the word, the impact billionaires, I talked to you briefly before we started about what I see, but what does it bring to mind for you? How do you see this? what does it mean?
Dave: [00:04:38] Yeah, firstly, I love it. That's the first thing that I feel it's like a heart response to how you describe it in terms of, like exciting, big, a safe place for big ideas for people to dream big. And I love what you're doing in terms of saying, Hey, it's not about what we can get, but what impact [00:05:00] we can leave.
So I think you've mentioned that, struggle with the idea of there being financial billionaires, but it does my brain naturally looks at something like that. I love language and I want to look at all of the options straight away. So I guess for me right at the top, I think, okay.
Impact. So I think, what does it mean? Why are we even wanting to have an impact? What does that mean? Because actually in a lot of the world that we're in, people are having a big impact, but it's not necessarily a good one. And, I learned in, in like spiritual language a few years ago, I learned something cool.
The difference between katabatic and apathetic theology. So katabatic gets at, we believe God, is this an apathetic says we could never know what God is, but we could know. Maybe we could describe what God isn't right. Forget about the spiritual discipline. Just think about that in a concept for anything the, or they call it the via [00:06:00] negativa.
What about getting at what we shouldn't do? as well as what we should do, and that was actually the nature of our conversation around justice, that where you were helping me think a little bit about the values of justice. If you're going to think about that from scratch, where do you go?
So part of me thinks not just. What makes impact in our lives, but what impact do we not want to make as well? And actually that value could be just as important as what we do, if that makes sense as the first kind
Tom: [00:06:30] No, absolutely. And actually they're Jumps me to something you did where you spent a whole moment living off grid, right? like how long was that? It was quite a while, right?
Dave: [00:06:41] Yeah. So I did 10 years of doing social entrepreneur impact stuff, and then went the opposite way, extracted myself again. It's all part of that train of thought. I just mentioned where I was like, can I start from scratch, live simple, take everything out and then see what things I want to add back in.
[00:07:00] and yeah, I had a 25 acre Woodland in Sussex in England and, managed to strike a deal with a landowner. And I just bought a hut on eBay and wheeled it in like an old school Shepherd's heart and just began spending as much time there as I could.
Tom: [00:07:14] what did that teach you about having, or being conscious about a certain impact that you don't want to have?
Dave: [00:07:21] before I got to the sort of, that sense of don't want, I, it just brings up your level of consciousness to see, How much impact our normal lives does have and how dependent we are on extremely complex systems and therefore how limited our choices really are. Because in order, just to have, let's say a normal kind of house, you've already made tons of choices that your super invested in with massive debt probably.
And it's very hard for you to act with. So your values, basically, because you're already sold down the river on a particular [00:08:00] lifestyle. just really simple things. Like I took all my modern thinking into the woods. I thought I was going to be able to get this little hut to feel like an on-grid hut with a flushing, toilet and electricity, and basically running all the usual appliances.
But obviously it only takes a couple of days of being there to start realizing that. Oh, my gosh, what was I thinking? I'm not going to run a waste pipe for 200, 300 meters back to the main road. that's going to be crazy. I've got to find a different, simpler, more connected way of handling waste. And so that kind of circular thinking where.
Nothing is wasted where everything becomes valuable and goes back into a cyclical process, starts coming at you very quickly. And that did reformat my whole way of considering impact and how I am in the world. so yeah, it basically, it shows you the things we've accepted that are hard to get your head outside of when you're inside them.
[00:09:00] Tom: [00:08:59] I think that's a general kind of principle when I think about impact as well, is that you start with. I call it a bit of the vector space, right? you have these certain vectors that are set out and for example, buying a house, that's, a path that you set and there's a vector that will have an impact throughout your whole life.
And I think, if we're to look at real. Profound impact. that's where it starts. It's looking at that vector space. what kind of vectors are we setting out? What does a system that will we're building? and what outcome is that system destined to produce in a worse than a best case?
And I think that's, what's so interesting about what you did is you're saying, I'm not gonna run that pipe for 300 meters. I have to find a different system, a different. Way that works at that, and all of a sudden you have different kinds of things that are important in doing that different, different values, different things that are setting it up.
Dave: [00:09:52] I think you've hit the nail on the head with values there, because I was going to say if as a 20 something year old, you set out with these different things you want [00:10:00] to achieve in your life. I want to have this kind of picture. I want to have these kinds of practical material things.
Then, you really are setting yourself down a track, but also if you set out with a certain set of values, I want my life to embody these values that lay beneath the practical doings of life. Then I think that can make you braver and, make you more agile and more adaptable because your character effectively is what's holding your aspirations rather than your external expression.
And the extended expression contains, one minute. you're living high up on the Hill, the next minute you're down in refugee camps. living life with people who are on the rough end of it. And it doesn't offend your sense of identity because it was being held at a lower place.
And I think that's, again, going back to the spiritual thing, Yeah, I don't really care about what people's theology is. In fact, I think we have to higher place for theology in [00:11:00] society and have done, but I do think that having some kind of spiritual practice outside of the doingness of life helps to develop that character and those values that lay beneath the doings of life, which help us be braver and more likely to be calm, like an impact one way or
Tom: [00:11:17] no for sure. Yeah. I a hundred percent hear what you're saying. although I'm also thinking about like the, the. Wider scale. Cause I feel like, for me as well, values has been such an important thing. And these are things that you find in being this, right? This is something like you say, like I think meditation and things like that.
And when you can help you understand that, you, in the first place are something that doesn't necessarily mean to do anything. but to get at that space, I think, especially in these times, is incredibly challenging for a lot of people. So how did you come to your set of values or what did you, were you very conscious about it or is it something that you have grown into or how do you manage, how do you [00:12:00] manage your values?
how do you set them up?
Dave: [00:12:02] that's a great question. I grew up in a Christian environment, like a very active, loving Christian community. It wasn't a bad experience for me. There were some things that I didn't love, but overall really valuable, set me up with intergenerational friendships and community and, amazing, a sense of sacrificial love being.
a key component to what makes a good life. And I still hold that in a philosophical way. I just, don't necessarily believe in the ex the sorts of the theological claims that the heart of Christianity, but what I, like I said earlier, what it did do is train me in a belief that what values you hold are very important.
So I guess what it did was it created that space in me. but then I like took those ones. I was given out. and then allowed my ones, which may or may not include the wine that I've been given. but I guess what it did give me [00:13:00] was the awareness of the box deep in my guts that needed.
Those values to be articulated and clear. and you're right at the heart of that is an acceptance that we are human beings, primarily not human doings, and that we all have value and our moments matter. That's the first thing after that, you begin to start thinking well, so that means that.
You must invert embraced diversity, just as nature shows us, we are healthier when we embrace diversity. If we can have some kind of agreement at character level, then we can embrace far greater creativity at an expression level. and then, so what are we going to do together? What should we make?
and that for me is the exciting thing which leads back into this sort of, impact billionaire vibe that you've got going is So what are we going to make them? Because out of that place where we all belong, if anything, what we're trying to do is protect us from other forces that might get in the way of that natural goodness.
So then what the hell are we going to make together? And how can we make [00:14:00] sure that it supports the most people most deeply as possible. and if I can come on to the whole question about billionaire or the point about billionaire, I think. It's interesting to me. And I'm, it's a question for you.
If you don't mind, I see that there's three kinds of, there's two kinds of basic capital in our lives. One is human capital and one is natural capital. And within the human capital, I see that we have three forms of capital financial capital, social capital. And intellectual capital and my beef with the markets is that they focus so much on trying to get us excited about financial capital, that we don't realize that we're spending and sometimes getting into debt, or at least underperforming on our social capital and intellectual capital.
So I guess my question is. If we've got a critique about somebody being a financial billionaire and thinking that may or may not be the best way for us to organize financial capital in society. why is it okay or good for somebody to [00:15:00] be a social? Why is there a value that we hold for them to be a social billionaire like should, and then I guess, sorry, the final bit on top of that is, do we see it as only one link away?
Or can we hold our sense of billionaires in a couple of links away? And I have an example I'll come on to, but maybe I just, I really fascinated to hear what your, what you're saying about that.
Tom: [00:15:25] Awesome question. we're we're doing a little switcheroo here, but, that's. That's awesome. So to me, it's not an oral question. It's an and question. so I've been diving deep into the work of Ken Wilber. who's a, philosophical philosopher and American philosopher, that speaks about integral theory and speaks about how, basically it's this at 23, he was the, he dropped out of medical school because he wasn't happy.
He couldn't, they couldn't see. where he could find his happiness. It was like, what the heck am I doing in these classes here? I don't belong here. And so he went literally in [00:16:00] search of happiness by reading millions doc. I'm thinking a lot of books. Oh, millions of books now. And that's what I mean, it's not millions, but a lot.
and he started reading about, Buddhism. He started reading about valleys and Christianity. He started reading about all these different sets of values, that could bring him happiness. and what he came through is that, if you look at it from a certain level, they seem to be contradictory.
But if you start shifting your perspective and you start really trying to integrate them and really accepting the fact that both of them are right, and then you start looking at cable, what's the level from which I can look at it. And it all makes sense. And he speaks about this concept of whole arms and, like how, these atoms make up molecules and then everything is part of something beyond that.
I think, he also speaks of levels of consciousness that we're going through as a society. like we used to have the rational, level where we just have the enlightenment and, all of a sudden God was dead. while before, God was literally the explanation for everything [00:17:00] happening and neither are really true, but neither or both are super true because there are things that we cannot explain that have, this bigger impact.
So I think coming back to, those three forms of capital, my problem with it is that we're not integrated. We're not using a system that, balances them out. And that looks at them like you say, in a, in an integral way. So what I did is I looked at I'd built this, cryptocurrency called an impact coin.
And so with this impact coin, my idea was to create a system that integrates all of these together. so very simply the proof of concept that I built was, I created an app and it was for my university. And in the app, you could vote to lower the temperature in your classroom. you can not vote to put it high, but you could vote.
And so if a majority of the people voted to lower the temperature was lowered, and incentivize people to bring extra jackets and to just keep their jackets on and in class and all those things. And so what happened is that [00:18:00] once everybody voted to lower that temperature. They got paid out in a micropayment of impact coins.
And that impact coin, was directly related to the value that the university could save from not having to, buy extra fuel to warm the chambers. So the idea is to create these loops. That tie everything together. you have the resource, the monetary resource in the sense that you need in a way to really, keep a system flowing and keep assisting going, but it tie it to, directly to the impact that you incentivize the more positive and the more, social, action into it.
And you just create a system that incentivizes. all these together. And then if you're talking about intellectual capital, you create, like you said, a different vector space where all of a sudden we have a different system and we're thinking, maybe the way that we've been doing this within the system, isn't the right way to do it.
Maybe we need to rethink this. Maybe we need to bring an extra jacket or maybe, we need to figure out something else to do. [00:19:00] that is just another way of doing it because that makes sense.
Dave: [00:19:03] It does. It does. And it's a brilliant model. And I love, and we've been talking about, you introduced me to the language of liquid democracy, which was like a beautiful way to articulate what we had been working on in my group. And I'm thankful for that. I guess my question in this model then is when you're like thinking as a contribution towards your impact billionaires, how do you value it in that model?
Was it to do with the number of people that. We're voting and participating in change, or was it the amount of money that got saved or like what is it that you measured in that scenario that would contribute to your impact? Billionaire?
Tom: [00:19:42] yeah, that gets to a, another question that we can dive into a lot deeper of what is impact, right? what does that mean and what does positive impact? And so that's also part of this exploration is really finding, I really. Like you, you started out with a very crucial thing.
It's like understanding what is not impacts to [00:20:00] understand what impact is. So for me in that system, the impact was, rebalancing, in, on a system map on a systemic level, the, the excess of resources that we've been taking from our natural world, and figuring out a way, I think.
I think in a sense impact is about keeping harmony and balance, across different systems and within relationships, and really making sure that the integral system, keeps holding together and keeps making sense that doesn't get out of balance.
Dave: [00:20:33] yeah, I think actually, In your system, if you're trying to get people to essentially incentivize the lowering of the temperature and the buy-in to that idea, you are talking about like a negative impact as in the not impact you're talking about. Cause there's the world and we're trying not to use more resources, but encouraging and incentivize people to buy into that story.
which I really get. And actually, I want to just bring in a couple of other concepts that I think we'll get to a fuller picture that I [00:21:00] haven't really articulated before. So it's nice to be able to do it with you. w the, kind of the values that we roll around. actually I should, for the listeners say that we, from that year in the woods, I started making weekly YouTube videos to almost like a video diary.
And that ended up building a community. And we ended up having 20,000 people a week watching the videos and people started flying in to come and visit and help me build. But then we started getting invites from. Chateaus and castles around the world as particularly in Europe, inviting us to go and bring that kind of Renaissance vibe that kind of creative, open thinking to their places and build connections and essentially build friendships.
And, and actually now we're hitting this new wave over the last few months where I'm getting like inundated with new land projects and just this morning. My friend in Mexico just said she finally got her land. She's got her place on the beach. We're going to build a Costco hot there. The project is called Corcovado and we're going to build a little cocoa hot there and plants and [00:22:00] trees, and use it as a community hub.
so when we would go to these castles and chateaus, I would just facilitate and open up in the morning with bringing in a couple of values. And I would basically. Talk about how beauty and justice are two sides of the same coin.
So after six months of me frolicking around in the woods in like the garden of Eden, the idyllic land with no pressures, no stresses, no money, nothing wasted, nothing wanted. I started to realize, not everybody's living like this and actually for me to enjoy this more, I actually need to participate in the other side of the beauty coin, which is justice.
I need to help bring about this valuable experience to more people. Otherwise I actually can't enjoy it fully. It's actually the path to enjoy the beauty more fully is also participating in justice. And what's interesting. Is that fairness, the term fairness, we know, relates to justice. You want a justice [00:23:00] system to be fair, but what we've lost is the connection to the beauty side.
So we used to talk about, Oh, the fairest of the fair, in these old fairy tales, all that stuff, but we've lost that connection. And for me, a fair society. So if you've got fairness here in the middle and you've got beauty experiences over here, and you've got justice experiences over here for me, what impact is bringing things back to fairness.
Do you know what I mean? So what is fair? So it might be about doing less, or it might be about doing more beauty, might be bringing more beauty into the world or doing less injustice, but both of those. There are two sides of the impact coin. If you will, I guess we could say in this, in the way I'm describing it, the impact is bringing us from either side of that equation back to fairness.
and I think in the world that we're in, where we're smashing up the environment and extracting way too [00:24:00] much, a lot of. What needs to be done at a systematic or systemic level is reducing doing less or the not impact stuff. But that doesn't mean we need to, we have to stop the arts and the beauty and the, all of that and the what makes culture and life so exciting, but that doesn't necessarily need to happen as much through government.
You know what I mean? Through the system? I think the system needs to. Be much less of an intervention engine.
Tom: [00:24:30] I think it's interesting because it really, It really speaks about different levels that I like, how I was thinking about like the different levels that you can see the world through and how it makes sense and how it's about integrating all of them. It's I feel like what you're talking about with justice and beauty, it's something that is very profoundly in the i and we space.
If you understand what I mean? It's like we, we can agree on something to be beautiful or something even not to be beautiful, or we can agree on just as a, not as something to not be just, [00:25:00] it there's a profound level of subjectivity and a profound level of needing to perceive. those things, but I'm curious too, as to like, how could we, like, how could that concept be, integrated with, for example, an it space where, are there ways that we can. If use those stoves that balance that I really like and think is very important. are we talking about, is there a way that we can, or do you see a way that you can integrate that in a more, objective it's space or is there a point to even trying to integrate that or not?
What do you think?
Dave: [00:25:43] So it's the first time I'm hearing this language about the it space. but I understand what you mean about I think I understand. So why don't you clarify about the objective space?
Tom: [00:25:51] I believe like the ice spays are our first person experiences. it could be for example, a spiritual experience. I don't know if you've ever meditated to a poem where you feel bliss, [00:26:00] there's something you can not put into words. This is something that you experienced that is within your space that can.
Go past your space where emotions are great thing as well that are in the ice space. for example, I can tell you that I'm sad, but you will still interpret it. My sad as how you feel sad. Maybe we experienced that in a completely different way. We don't know then there's the we space.
which is which just, which comes down to things like beauty or culture is something that we. Create together. It's something that we can perceive together. and that is born from, still a subjective space, but one that we create together and agree upon together. and then there's the it space that is just that speaks more about things in the absolute truth.
if there is such a thing that we can perceive as human beings, that's the other philosophical debate. but it's really about, this glass is here. that's just,
Dave: [00:26:49] Yeah. Yeah. The, which is why I'm [00:27:00] asking these questions about the nature of, do we want any kind of billionaires at all or how do we hold what that means? Because. I think that for the progression of society and for a greater move towards fairness at large, we need to with greater. Vigor encourage individuals to consult their own conscious and their own state of being to make decisions. So not just for the sake of ontological or I experiences, but actually to deploy capital. And this leads us back to the liquid democracy stuff. So the more you ask humans to switch off that.
[00:28:00] Their irrational and beautiful, intuitive response to the world. They find themselves in the more that defers power to more centralized places and can I think we can more easily get led astray in zoo. Into an earth society that has less fairness that is more extractive, more exploitative, et cetera. I actually really believe in humans and not individually, but collectively and the power of our tools to help us like language, to help us connect and actually at a digital level, we can see that we've succeeded with the digital thing.
to bring our voices together in this sort of digital way, in the same way that three or four of us were trying to hunt an elephant to try and to knock it out so that it didn't kill us. And we could eat something in the same way. Now we manage with the tools with our voice, but we haven't quite managed with the tools of our decision making to bring it to that individual level.
So I guess the. The short answer would be to say, to bring about more beauty and justice and [00:29:00] fairness. I believe we have to make the most of the tools that we have of the internet and blockchain to be able to allow us a straight line between consulting our, being our conscience, our human conscience.
And bringing that to bear in decision-making like you did in your classroom, you know where you're talking about, whether it's put the heating up or down, because I really believe in the moral fabric of that hive mind more than I do a bunch of elites. And that is quite a strong statement and not one that's been upheld.
Over the years in history, really. But I really do believe that. And, but it does take training. We need to train the public to be good at that because we are not well-trained in that at the moment.
Tom: [00:29:44] I think it hits the nail on the head of what an impact billionaire is about versus a normal billionaire. A "normal" billionaire is about acquiring so many resources while an impact billionaire's about [00:30:00] giving so many resources, if that makes sense. Because you only become an impact billionaire, if somebody else undergoes a positive impact of what you're trying to do.
So it is by, it's not it's by definition, not selfish. It is "otherish". You know what I mean?
Dave: [00:30:17] I wanted to go back to the example I was going to mention earlier with one of the girls I work with is called Zoe and she has a lot of followers on YouTube and they just did this amazing campaign, which was about getting everybody to get off their phones for one day digital detox day. And for the second time in history, I think second could be third.
the lights at Trafalgar square got turned off. So all of the marketing messages of Carlsberg and Guinness and Nike and all the other big brands that for 50 years or a hundred years, or whatever, have been pumping out blaring, like for me, the signpost of modern capitalism and the on world, she managed with her crew to [00:31:00] get it turned off.
And run a campaign for the day that was encouraging all the young people that follow our like 10 million young people to get off their phones. And, Sam Smith got involved and the run of the rolling stones and little mix and a bunch of other characters from across the side now, like how do we evaluate my role in that?
Like my impact in that, because. If you ask the Zoe on here I work with are one day a month and help them pull together some strategic thinking about where to go next and what they want from their lives. Now, no money got made. If anything, people stopped doing things. I didn't do the work, but yet how I've been holding space in living in the woods on and off grid lifestyle.
I think. Has filtered through, into the work that she's ended up doing. She may not even agree with that. She might say, no, [00:32:00] I didn't even think of that. It was just something else. I feel comfortable that I've held a space and held relationships that have led to cool things happening that I think there was, it was something crazy, like 400 million impressions on the project.
And. How do you evaluate that in terms of my billionaire sort of impact? I don't know. I don't really know. you could say nothing or you could say a lot, and that goes back to my point about, how many links away do you look, six links to Kevin bacon? Is it all about your first link, your, the people in your classroom in that university campus?
Or is it. The people that they then talk to or their, like how they then turn their lights off or Walmart clouds back at home afterwards. And there that maybe if you measured the bills of the, what'd you call it the residencies where pick, where they live, the halls of residence, like maybe all the bills came down in the halls of residence where people were like, so I, and I think that goes back to your point around giving rather than taking the, [00:33:00] the there's this rabbi John sax that has this quote, where he says.
Love doesn't work like power because if you have this much power and you give it away, you end up with no power. If you have this much love and you give it away, it just multiplies. It's just viral and it just continued. You still have that love and you've given it away. And it's that both and world you're talking about.
Now you have also that love and you can give it away and hold it as well, which is just mental, the mathematics and the economics of love, and of the economy of giving completely transcend the homo economicus as rational man model that we have for humans, which is why I cannot believe that humans are in their nature rational. I think they are beautifully irrational and exponentially creative, and that's what makes this whole thing so fucking exciting.
and if you really hold that and you believe that then of course you want to build a system that tries to encourage [00:34:00] as much of that as possible, because we're really good at it so I lost my train of thought, cause I just went off on one, I think.
Tom: [00:34:06] I think you're hitting so many, important spots that really clarify that, my message is what would the impact billionaire is really about. It's not about "one day, I'll be one", it's about: "you can, you have to be this today already. You can be this today.
it's something that it comes back to this being versus doing. I think, when like love is something, you did, you are, you feel it's it's it's it's, it's being, obviously you translate it to doing. But I think that's where the big difference is it's really about the mindset and really about, the consciousness around designing that the systems that you work with and the consciousness in the doing that you bring from that being, because for me, like the normal, definitions definition of, a billionaire is rooted in the doingness.
It's not in, it's not in the being. it's really in that, [00:35:00] in, I do this to acquire that. And, there's these transactions that are happening. and so I think that's where the big difference is.
Dave: [00:35:09] and also, you know what's striking me as you're saying that after I got all excited about the human spirit is like, So we sit down with a billionaire and I'm like: "is that all you've got is that all you've got to show for your life?" Because if you have spent all your time collecting money, then all you've got really, probably is that money you've collected.
I find that a bit embarrassing. if we're able to count pretty much everything that you've got, because we can put it all on a table or put it like just on a phone. I find that an embarrassing account for a human life. And whereas if you spend your time pushing it out there and you're like: "I don't know. I can't tell you because my stuff has just so... we'll have I've sowed seeds like this everywhere and I, you can never know, and I can never know. That's far [00:36:00] more exciting to me. I find it embarrassing if we could account for what you've done in your life .
Tom: [00:36:03] Brilliantly put, I think that's brilliantly put, I think it's really about it's about that one dimensionality and again integral thinking.
Dave: [00:36:12] And then can I give an example actually? this is a bit of a, I'm not saying this nonchalantly, cause it is a big deal for me. Like when I received the email about this, I actually shed a tear and cried a little. It made, it meant a lot to me when I received it. But in a couple of weeks, I go, as I think we've talked about to the Oxford union and I get to debate about whether the city of London is moral, whether we should be proud of our friends that go through Oxford and Cambridge and end up working in the city and then often working in politics like Boris Johnson, the prime minister of the UK was the president of the Oxford union. So you're really talking to the next chamber of political people, financial, political people.
The guy I'm debating is a guy called Jonathan Ruffer and he has, made [00:37:00] 380 million, I think. So not quite in your billionaire club, but he's set about giving it away. And he's given a lot of money. I think he's given 200 million away and I, guess he'll probably get to giving it all away by the time he dies.
So interestingly, like you might say, cause he did it through running an investment company in the city. So you might say the first half of his life was about collecting all these coins and that kind of what we're describing as "if that was all you did in your life, an embarrassing account for a human existence".
But actually he seems to be spending the second half of his life giving it away, which is far more exciting.
I think the position I'll probably end up holding in that debate is basically just saying guys, w we don't have time to do that. We are not living in a world anymore where we have the privilege of taking the bet that we can do 20, 30 years of collecting [00:38:00] stuff. To then have the jobs to give it away and actually given the technology that we now have, that he didn't have when he was saying now it's probably not the most effective way for us to let capital flow through us anyway, more effective to...
to rise the human consciousness, the kind of the relationship between the conscience. And decision-making better to train that. Now we've got the tools to be able to do that in our brothers and sisters than it is to say, Oh, I'm the clever dude. So I'm going to collect it all. And because what if the world's over by the time you go to start giving it all away, like we're not where we were 30 years ago.
So it's, I guess what I want to say is. Each generation has its own challenges to encounter. we have massive moral quandaries to solve with artificial intelligence, how we deal with refugees, how we deal with the environmental crisis. They weren't the same challenges that the last generation had to face.
So I'm not sitting here in massive judgment abroad, for [00:39:00] example, but. but I am glad he's got a chance to give it away. Otherwise it would be a bit embarrassing if he just collected all those coins and sat them on the table. but it's probably not the call for us in this generation. If I can put myself in the same generation as you, I think you've got a few years, less than me, but.
Tom: [00:39:16] I think we're close, man. We're close. We didn't have that. We didn't have to, get into that. No, but I think there's a couple of interesting. I think there's a couple of interesting things, to go further on. and I think it's about, again, Getting tools to shift perspective.
And I think, throughout your career as well, you've leveraged technology, in ways that you were able to see where the things were going and you were able to understand. What paradigm shift those technologies enabled. and so I think it's, that's, one, is there a way that you specifically do this, do you look at technologies and try to really see, okay, how, what paradigm does this enable and how can I apply [00:40:00] this to, certain things and to how do you then choose the challenges to work on.
Dave: [00:40:12] Looking backwards over my 15 years of work, I can see that. Yeah. I have three years of focus, three years of exploration, three years of focus, three years of exploration. And I got lucky that I sold a company 21 that gave, let me pay off my mortgage, build a cabin in the garden and live for free for 10 years.
So that was lucky because that enabled this three years expansion contraction to happen. I will say though, that everybody that goes to university is giving themselves that first three years of exploration. So it's not Oh, obviously if you're living in a refugee camp right now, you might say, I don't have that chance and totally agree.
But if anybody is going to university, you've got that opportunity bait. Then if you choose to take it, What I will say is that it starts with a philosophical belief. [00:41:00] That technology is neither good or bad that it is a moral in its nature. It's just an amplifier of what spirit we put through it.
that's the, you have to believe that otherwise you wouldn't bother engaging with it in the first place. So for me, then it makes it really important work to decide what we design and build with it. Because if you don't do something good with it, something bad will probably happen with it. and that's both in terms of the design of the tool and the ownership of that tool and to what purpose that's all is built and owned.
And, so I guess I've. I've set about learning. I think I've become a good learner. I think on those periods of exploration, I've used tools like YouTube videos, podcasts, blog writing, and just literally just going to events basically, and writing down my thoughts from the events as a way of assembling kind of a body of knowledge about what might be coming about what's at the very early stage and trying [00:42:00] to.
I guess ascertain, which of all the tools that have been generated are the ones that are likely to come to a head in society within three to 10 years. And, and then set it up. Yeah. Yeah. Positioning and creating something that invites the use of that technology into something that supports our human beingness.
And if you do that well enough, then yeah. Often then people are, the market will then ask, Hey, we're looking for people who are thinking about how to use this kind of mobile, social, local technology in a good way. And then they, maybe if you get the timing, they ask you to come and sit on panels and do talks and stuff like that.
So I guess I would say. It's been, I wouldn't say it's intentional. I would just say it's just been like a very privileged journey and using my skills the best way I can. I'm not good at. I'm sitting in a room of techies and be in techie. but I can translate into layman terms, what techies are [00:43:00] talking about and building and designing.
And I can think about what that means. I interface, between human experience and what the technological tools do. And so I've been lucky. I've been able to live quite a few of my work days out of that space.
Tom: [00:43:13] Yeah, absolutely. I recognize a lot of what you're saying myself . That's what humane is doing. So my company. and so that's really about, we've had to simplify everything we're trying to do. And so now our big mission is simplify human life. but like you say, it's really what we've noticed, especially in the age based today.
That's still pretty young. is I really like what your, what you said about technology isn't inherently good or bad, yet, if you've watched, for example, the social dilemma. if you've watched, those kind of things where you really see the, how data is completely, being used to nudge and to change behaviors and do all those kinds of things.
sometimes it's just way over our head. Like the thing with AI is that it really can really it's about, Really taking so much data that we cannot possibly [00:44:00] decide which way it should go, because it's, we don't really understand it. It just happened. and so I really just to tie back to what you were saying is I really understand what you were saying about, that interfacing.
but with AI it feels like we're at this kink of the exponential growth curve that is absolutely exploding and that we're here and we're like, There's no way we can still understand very well what is about to happen. And we're working with AI ethicists to really see, like how can we, be ethical by design in such a system and how can we make sure that we set up certain guard rails, within those things.
So my question to you then a little bit is looking forward, having that had that experience, maybe it's not necessarily intentional, but how do you look at, those technologies that seem to be going far beyond, do you think technology in that sense, this could save the world or would it rather really just, break the world first?
Dave: [00:44:58] so firstly, let's take [00:45:00] our example of Facebook. there's two issues with that. it starts with the governance structure, because if you look at it as that as a, obviously it's a publicly traded company now, but it's privately controlled one chairman, one CEO, and it's built, it's been built with the intention of private gain.
Therefore all of the objectives of the nudging are all to drive ads to drive that objective. For me, it really does start with the governance structure, the ownership structure and the objectives. For example, one of the things I'll be saying at the Oxford union is that like the London stock exchange should be changing its companies act. Changing its responsibility from just the shareholders to broader stakeholders, much like the B-Corp movement is doing. If it did that and change the incentives of the fund managers [00:46:00] and everybody in the financial ecosystem to be rewarded on the basis of like CO2, basically of what they were doing with CO2, we overnight, we would have an infinitely different system, So the governance structure for me is everything, because the tool that you designed slowly gets changed and evolved and massage because of that structure and the incentives. so when it comes to AI, the biggest worry for me is who owns it. and that's why with our, we've built a cryptocurrency that's backed by trees to incentivize reforestation, and a movement towards getting our proteins and stuff from nuts and fruits away from. So we take like tree, sorry. She planned and cow grazing land. And we work with farmers to turn that into agroforestry trees. And then we turn that as that's like the golden, our bank as the basis for an economy that people trade with.
And. That too. Like I had a guy off of me, like a hundred grand of venture capital, [00:47:00] if I would wrap that into a privately held system. but I had to turn it down because I knew that it wouldn't do the business long term of what we're trying to do. And it's owned by the community, the Corcovado community.
So in us as your question, That's the biggest issue for me is we have got wildly powerful tools wildly beyond our imagination, like here and around the corner. And there's always been the human challenge to build tools and try to develop the wisdom, the story, the narrative, the consciousness, to allow us to get outside of that and observe it for what it is and make sure that we discover fire, but don't burn our house down with it. And safest thing is to get rid of fire, but there's too many useful things for us to get rid of it. So same for me, AI is the first discovery,let's say, that is on an equal footing with the primary discovery of fire and how to harness it. And I'm [00:48:00] sure a lot of tribes even burn their houses down in the process of, trying to develop it.
The problem is at a global scale now. So we're not just, we have to see ourselves. I think as a tribe of 20 people, that's discovering fire for the first time. It's just burnt one of our tribes alive. It's burned one of our forests of like trees down. And then we're thinking shit, how do we, but we know we need it still.
So how do we. How do we do this, but we can't see it. It is one, we are one tribe again, because the problems are the existential problems are at that tribe level. so it's just, I haven't given you a short answer to that, but I would say that w we are struggling to develop the wisdom, the best chance we have of developing the wisdom in a sufficient time period is by having the right governance structure, which leads us back to that skin in the game mindset of give the power to the people, give the ownership and decision-making to the people that are affected by [00:49:00] this thing who should own the governments governance structure that holds the other smaller structures of AI, the people, nobody else.
It shouldn't be anything short of that.
Tom: [00:49:11] Yeah. I like the analogy that you're talking about the fire as well, but I think the big difference today, and that's also why I really speak about the impact billionaires and not the impact millionaires or, I think it's the scale at which we think, because obviously with the fire, you can afford as a tribe to maybe lose one
and unfortunately, maybe one member of your tribe, but today, if you look at platforms like Facebook, for example, they have 2 billion users or more even, I don't know, half of the world pretty much is on there. So if all of a sudden we see Facebook because of this, hut and that had burns down.
We're trouble. And I think we can already see that in how, it has influence in influenced an election and in how it has influenced, Brexit. and it's really, it's I think it takes a bunch of very big thinking, very aware people to, like you [00:50:00] say, see the thing for what it is, develop a narrative around it.
and then co filter that back to a Castro. How shall we deal with this? but the problem is that, it required, it requires a unified trial. And if there's one thing that's happening all around the world right now is that we are as divided as that. so in that sense, what kind of solutions do you see.
They're like, why, how can we tackle that? Maybe there's not a ready answer. Maybe it's really worth exploring, but I think
Dave: [00:50:30] Yeah, I know how I'm approaching it at least, and it does lead us back to the first conversation we had before today, which is essentially we are living with global existential problems. But we are operating with the fallacy of nation state power structure. And it's, for me, it's like we have a company, but with no C-suite [00:51:00] and we just have these middle managers of 200 middle managers of company countries around the world who are going on, like, how are we going to do this?
Because they're missing the C-suite and what we don't want the C suite of. PLC to be is Donald Trump and a few others. We want the C-suite to be the people and for them to create the CEO type voice, that then helps the middle managers to do what they need to do, because basically they're in over their head with these global existential issues.
And so what I'm trying to say is that to keep. To make the most of our human experience, the most of the unbelievable human creativity that you find on the ground, everywhere you go anywhere in the world, we have to use tools that help us bring that reroute our economy back in this biosphere that we have that bringing the power of decision making to those individual people with unbelievable creativity .
[00:52:00] And by doing that. Outside of this nation state paradigm as one global tribe of global many global villages. However you want to see it, but looking at the scale of the problem. And continuing to connect and make decisions and deploy capital on that basis. By doing that, I think we can bring about more, a more fair society.
One that handles the challenges, the fire that we're discovering in a better way that houses people and looks after them and keeps them healthy. So I think we are living in a strange generation where we've got this 400 year old nation state idea that is dying. Yeah, you don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water and have anarchy.
So we've got a new kind of global tribe architecture emerging, and we need to do it quickly quicker than we probably normally would because all because we're smashing our resources so quickly. So basically I think we have a decade [00:53:00] to basically bring to account and bring justice into an extractive economy and political landscape.
Cause it probably won't do it for itself, by developing these new, more collectively owned tools that can help us to govern better. and that's the game that's, as I see it, that is the game for us to play for the next 10 years. It's can team human saw that shit out quickly enough
Tom: [00:53:27] yeah, no, absolutely. Wow. Yeah, I think brilliantly, I think that does, also tied back to, again, like the vector space that we were speaking about in the beginning, We currently have this vector space that I like. I think it would be interesting to dive a little deeper into what those factors are and how they differ from the current system.
But I think a very important first one that I see straight away is the scarcity factor. I think we need to move that scarcity factor to an abundance factor, through technology, like for example, one of my very big dreams in life is to, [00:54:00] build, an AI. Farm that is completely runs on solar, needs no human intervention whatsoever because once we start doing that, if we look at them, the hierarchy of needs by Maslow, once we start taking care of these needs, because that's in essence what our governance are supposed to do for us now, they're supposed to provide us what, those basic levels.
of safety, and, food, but I, through that whole system of taking care of each other, I think if we can create a decentralized system across the entire world through, for example, both AI and solar power on exponential price, performance curve, that means that every single year.
the performance of these technologies doubles for the same press. So that means that at some point there's going to be a price level that is so cheap that we can literally just, install. One farm and we'll start in Sub-Sahara Africa. but that provides food for an entire community for free at literally zero costs.
That completely starts shifting our vector space of Oh, I need to go to [00:55:00] work to put food on the table to, Oh, now I have all this free time and I can start maybe like working on, an education where I can start taking care of my community if that's something that I want to do. and so I think it's the impact.
Lies in finding those vectors and shifting them and enabling them. and so yeah, if we can do that, I think we can move to what you were describing as at the sea level, where, the people are.
Dave: [00:55:27] No, I totally agree. And that's a very exciting idea. And I'd love to hear more about that. I think where does that, if we're going to ask the question, where does that all begin? I honestly believe that it is. In this simple statement in our own hearts, which is believing that we are enough and we have enough.
And for me, that is the beginning of the abundance mindset you're describing. If you can believe that we have enough already, that we've got enough technology, we've got enough thinking we [00:56:00] have enough natural resources. There is enough money. Then you, the problem changes. and I think we are at a unique point in the human story where we have done enough.
We have done enough for at least our lifetime. And that's all I care about at the moment in terms of what should we do with our lifetimes whilst we're here. So I would like to see us. Putting an immediate ban on all extractive processes. Like no more oil Wells, no more digging and use what we've got of course, but then just play that out over time.
And for me, that abundance mindset also needs to come into our daily habits. So for example, I aim to earn between 40 and 60,000 a year. That's what I will always aim to earn, unless unless for some reason I don't need it anymore. And I aim to do that in. At maximum [00:57:00] half of the week, so that I have at least half the week to work out of this kind of almost like creating my own basic income, if you will, that universal, basic income in a short period of time.
So I have most of my time and resources available to think long-term outside of the existing market and existing game, to be able to have time like this, to talk with you and put the world to. and, but that is a. But that is a fundamental shift in how we think about money. that's why I will never be a normal billionaire because I'm never going to work more than 40, 50 grand a year.
but that's me saying 50, 40, 50, 60 grand a year is enough and add it. It has no more money. Doesn't have the utility that I, or the world needs in the same way that, but you have to really believe in your own. In your own creativity in your own sort of sense of being and your presence and that your social capital and your, the intellectual capital market that you can share in is worth [00:58:00] it.
and so we have to believe in ourselves and that comes from sitting with ourselves and, and getting back to that quiet place where we can. Build up our conscience and our spirit as well. So it's weird. Isn't it? The spiritual stuff mixed with the political stuff, with the busy technology stuff, it all, it, you cannot reduce it.
It's all connected.
Tom: [00:58:18] so when I, again, it comes back to that integrate the integral approach and for you and for the listeners, I really encourage you to dive a little deeper into the work of Ken Wilber. that really speaks about how we can integrate all those views and, how we can, use all of that.
we're coming near the end. And so there's three questions. I think that I always want to end every interview with. I did think about this. I've been thinking about this, podcast for a long time.
That's why I'm so excited to be able to do it with you because man, up until this point, usually blow my mind and we, we need to figure out a way to do this. I don't know, A monthly or two by the two monthly, because I get so much energy from your ideas. And we really have, yeah. there's a lot there, I
Dave: [00:58:59] that's good, [00:59:00] man. It's good. It's good.
Tom: [00:59:02] I'm going to end with questions that you can just have a short answer to. doesn't have to be super long, but the first one is what do you do to help yourself think bigger?
Dave: [00:59:15] nature and poets and musicians. Like they are my life source. my soul for musician, friends. I know you make some music as well. my soul full musician and poet friends sitting with them around the fire in nature. that's my addiction. Basically. That's what gets me back out of the box.
Tom: [00:59:33] Yeah. That's a whole other conversation that we can dive into as well. you know what the, when it comes back to beauty, I guess it's really, for me as well, music is such an essence to who I am. It's something. So you can't really put it into words, but it really feeds you.
So I, yeah, that's.
Dave: [00:59:51] And I love your hoodie by the way. I love the flowers on your head. Yeah, I think that's really cool.
Tom: [00:59:54] I like this one too. Thank you. all right, so next question is what advice would you give to people who want to [01:00:00] out there and lead their communities or even the world, to have more positive impact?
Dave: [01:00:07] I would, it's I didn't read the book, but I, Peterson's 12 rules for life or whatever. I think one of them is make your bed, or something like that. And I think there's something in that kind of, Do it well in small ways, definitely YouTube is like this, you have a billion, you could have 10 million, you could have a billion watches or viewers, subscribers, but you have to make impact on one person at a time.
it's a million or a billion individuals. So what is, what are you giving each one of them? and the same with technology development, like. Can you make it amazing for one user? If you can make it amazing for one user or one customer, then you might be able to make it for more. So focus on quality before quantity is my, is my suggestion. Once you've done it once. you could might be able to do it more well, if you don't do it once, you won't do it more.
Tom: [01:00:54] Yeah, that's a really important one. Really good one, I think. thanks.
Dave: [01:00:57] thank you.
Tom: [01:00:58] so the last one is [01:01:00] what do you think it takes to be an impact billionaire?
Dave: [01:01:13] I like the, to be one, again, getting back to that being not doing, because if your identity is in your being in, this is who I am. It's how I roll. It's what I do. Then you're less attached to the outcome. And the knowing that I think there is an attachment, the money gives you a knowingness.
I have 65,000 pounds in my, I don't, I've got about minus 12 pounds. You know exactly how much you have, that's it like I know exactly. So I think there's a fundamental. Dissociation with the knowing, which allows you to be that kind of person and be okay with the fact that I will never know. And it's actually exciting.
It's what makes us human and having a valuable [01:02:00] life is that I will never know whether I had a big or a small impact on Zoe's project, in Trafalgar square, but I just, I think I did. I just feel like I did and that's enough. and it comes back to that term enough as well. Are you willing to accept. That enough is enough.
Are you willing to say no to some things? And are you willing to not know, everything about your impact and deal with that ambiguity?
Tom: [01:02:26] brilliant. Brilliant. Thank you so much, Dave. I've got like goosebumps. I really enjoyed this. thank you. Thank you so much for being one heck of a full first guest. and hopefully we can do this again sometimes, with, or without recording, but I think it's worth recording them because it's man, this has been amazing.
Thank you so much.
Dave: [01:02:46] My pleasure. And thanks for giving me your time first to help me on my problem and thanks to Pauline who connected us, as well, because she's the connector in the middle, and this is exactly what I carve out, how half of my week to do, [01:03:00] to share energy and love and intellectual thought. And, hopefully some inspiration with you and others that connect them with this.
anytime mate, let's do it again soon.
Tom: [01:03:09] you so much.
Dave: [01:03:11] All right. Take care.