Finite and Infinite Games

Estimated Reading Time: 9 minutes

“The actor who will accept anything that happens seems supernatural; it’s the most marvelous thing about improvisation: you are suddenly in contact with people who are unbounded, whose imagination seems to function without limit.” – Keith Johnstone, Impro: Improvisation and the Theater

Our last post examined life as a series of boxes. We learned that each box can both define and constrain our life. We can grow by examining and changing boxes or we can stagnate by staying in our existing ones.

In that post, I highlighted a talk given by Tobi Lutke. He referred to the process of moving from box to box as “an infinite game.” This phrase reminded me of the book Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility by James Carse.

Carse describes two mindsets: infinite and finite. Infinite players approach the world aware of their ultimate freedom to make choices and accept surprise as the norm. Finite players feel like they have little freedom to choose and compete for the recognition of past accomplishments.

We’ll explore why the infinite mindset is able to handle surprise and change better than the finite mindset. The goal is for you to be able to add these ideas to your toolkit for developing psychological freedom.

Life: An Infinite Game
In his talk, Tobi Lutke described life as:

this really, really interesting series of entering a box, seeing what it is sort of made of, probing at it, analyzing it, seeing how things work, seeing what way gravity is pushing you, and then sort of understanding it and feeling familiar. This is the nice part. Every time you reach there it becomes very comfortable. And then you might learn something that isn’t reconcilable with this world you think exists. That is the very thing that cracks it and you get into the next box. And you start it again. Again and again and again.

He refers to this process as an infinite game.

What does it mean to think of life as an infinite game?

James Carse, author of Finite and Infinite Games, has a definition for an infinite game:

  • An infinite game has no beginning or an end.
  • An infinite game has no boundaries, either temporal or spatial.
  • It is played for the purpose of continuing play.
  • The rules of an infinite game are changed to prevent anyone from winning the game to bring as many persons as possible into the play.

We can think of life itself as an infinite game even if it ends for each individual. No one says when life starts, it just starts. It continues after we die. No one can win life and more people over time have been able to participate as human societies have restructured.

Within life, humans have created complex social and economic structures. These things are completely made up by humans and only humans really care about them. These are our boxes or finite games.

Boxes = Finite Games
Carse contrasts an infinite game with a finite game:

  • A finite game has a definite beginning and end.
  • A finite game has temporal, spacial, and numerical boundaries.
  • Unlike an infinite game, a finite game “is played for the purpose of winning.” i.e. Finite games end with titles or rewards.
  • A finite game must be resolved in the context of its rules.
  • Those rules are set by people and everyone who plays must agree to those rules.
  • Finite games cannot be played alone. There must be an opponent and/or teammates.

We can see that Carse’s definition for a finite game is similar to a box. Take the example of a high school student. The student will enter high school and graduate, so there is a definite beginning and end. There are spacial, temporal, and numerical boundaries to being in that school. The student will end as a graduate and have a “score card” to potentially enter college. Many people agree to the rules of going to high school and there are even truancy laws that society uses to reinforce the social norm. Thus, high school is not played alone.

We can conduct a similar analysis for jobs, university, athletics, and politics.

Society itself is a finite game. Carse even claims that the “principal function of a society is to validate titles and ensure their continued recognition.” Thus, societies can easily get stuck in the past.

The Differences Between Infinite and Finite Players
In the previous post, I talked about how people can get stuck in their boxes, while others can examine their boxes and move to new ones.

We can think of people who get stuck in boxes as finite players and people who examine and move between boxes as infinite players.

Carse describes some differences between these players:

  • Finite players play within boundaries. Infinite players play with boundaries.
  • Finite play is limited by external factors (rules that people make up, expected scripts, social norms), but players choose to follow the rules so finite play is self-limiting.
  • Finite players win titles and then enjoy life. Their reward is life (you could say their recognition and titles are a form of immortality). If you lose, then you don’t get immortality. Therefore, you die.
  • Infinite players die while playing the game. They do not play for life, they live for play.

However, there is one similarity between finite and infinite players: Both players are free to play. If either player must play, then they cannot play.

Like the person who gets stuck in their boxes, finite players often feel like they don’t have a choice. They feel like they must play.

Carse says that “it is often the case that finite players will be unaware of this absolute freedom and will come to think that whatever they do they must do.” In extreme examples, like slavery, this can be true. But most people, especially in Western democracies, have a choice.

A Playful Life

Self-Veiling & Seriousness
One of the tenets of Permissionless Life is that people have a lot of control over their life and if they don’t realize it, they can rewire their mind. But why are some people unaware of their ultimate freedom to choose?

According to Carse, to account for the difference between perceived freedom and actual freedom, players of finite games (boxes) must be “veiling” their actual freedom from themselves.

This veiling occurs because a person must have a sufficient desire to win the finite game (Otherwise they wouldn’t play). To have sufficient desire, the finite player must take his/her role seriously.

What causes a person to take their role seriously?

It may be that we often care too much about what other people will think of our decision to not play (often that means quitting something).

Think about the times you have assumed things like “If I don’t play this role of student or teammate, then I’ll be ostracized or seem like a loser.” Or “If I quit my job, I’ll be jobless and then people will look down on me.” It was totally normal for you to feel that way because society created a set of expectations to literally make you feel that way.

Carse describes exactly this phenomena when he says:

As finite players we will not enter the game with sufficient desire to win unless we are ourselves convinced by the very audience we intend to convince. That is, unless we believe we actually are the losers the audience sees us to be, we will not have the necessary desire to win.

We can say that finite players veil themselves because of a belief that they will be seen as losers if they do not play. They give too many fucks.

At this point you may be feeling a little anxious. Maybe you have kept going with a job, friend group, or lifestyle even when deep down you didn’t want to. But as we discussed, you have tremendous power to change the way you think.

Let’s learn what infinite players do differently.

Carse says, “the issue here is not whether self-veiling can be avoided, or even should be avoided. Indeed, no finite play is possible without it. The issue is whether we are ever willing to drop the veil and openly acknowledge, if only to ourselves, that we have freely chosen to chase the world through a mask.”

So the difference is infinite players acknowledge that they play finite games (boxes) with a mask. They know deep down that they can always quit. The mindset they operate with is similar to Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck.

Infinite players “enter into finite games with all the appropriate energy and self-veiling, but they do so without the seriousness of finite players. They embrace the abstractness of finite games as abstractness (Carse defines abstract as being a part of the whole and concrete as the whole), and therefore take them up not seriously, but playfully.”

Living life playfully is not the same as nihilism or assuming finite games are trivial:

To be playful is not to be trivial or frivolous, or to act as though nothing of consequence will happen. On the contrary, when we are playful with each other we relate as free persons, and the relationship is open to surprise; everything that happens is of consequence. It is, in fact, seriousness that closes itself to consequence, for seriousness is a dread of the predictable outcome of open possibility. To be serious is to press for a specified conclusion. To be playful is to allow for possibility whatever the cost to oneself.

We can make a simple distinction between finite and infinite players here. We can say that finite players live life theatrically. They accept roles and scripts. They alleviate anxiety of an uncertain future by focusing on winning titles, awards, and games set up by other people.

On the other hand we can say Infinite players live life dramatically. They choose themselves. Like improv actors, they accept uncertainty as the norm. Thus, they embrace surprises, “no matter the cost to themselves.”

Surprise
If you’re below the age of 35, then you probably were raised by people who grew up in a world that tried to create lots of order. Call it a symptom of industrialization and mass production. From the day Gutenberg invented the printing press to the dawn of the internet, the linear ordering of society has been a foundation of Western culture.

The internet, software eating the world, the digitization of everything, and free movement of information are disruptive because they result in non-linear outcomes. Human society is returning to a tribal-like global village that is more organic and interconnected than the linear world of assembly lines and snail mail.

The result is that uncertainty and surprise are the new norm. The irony of Donald Trump being elected is that a group of marginalized people who typically didn’t vote went out and voted because of technology. We’re going to continue to see technology unlock the energy of underserved populations.

So if surprise is the norm, playing with an infinite strategy, a fluidity of personality and skills, is the best way to navigate in an ambiguous and uncertain world. Because “surprise causes finite play to end, but it’s the reason for infinite play to continue.”

Infinite players live by the principle that “only that which can change can continue.” They realize that the only way to keep the game going is to keep changing it.

[They] prepare themselves to be surprised by the future, they play in complete openness. It is not an openness as in candor, but an openness as in vulnerability. It is not a matter of exposing one’s unchanging identity, the true self that has always been, but a way of exposing one’s ceaseless growth, the dynamic self that has yet to be. The infinite player does not expect only to be amused by surprise, but to be transformed by it, for surprise does not alter some abstract past, but one’s own personal past.

Finite players live in the past: rules are set in the past and titles are attributed to past effort. They build walls and try to make things great again.

The power of the infinite player to be amused by surprise is what helps him/her escape boxes.

Towards The Future
We no longer live in a world where you learn one thing and do that thing your whole life. Governments around the world aren’t providing us a vision for the future. Most of them are trying to retreat to the past.

Rapid change is now our reality. We’re watching, in real-time, the development and convergence of several exponentially, game-changing technologies (Machine Learning, CRISPR, Blockchain, 3D Printing, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, Space Travel). A lot of weird shit is going to happen and there will be many surprises.

Those surprises are already changing our political, social, and economic infrastructure and relationships. Using that as a starting point, doesn’t it make sense to be actively aware of what boxes you’re in and be able to fluidly enter and exit them as quickly as possible?

If rapid change is the constant, then we should assume that we’ll be surprised. Thus, going forward, people who play with an infinite mindset/strategy will thrive. As Carse says, “To be prepared against surprise is to be trained. To be prepared for surprise is to be educated.”

We can distill this wisdom into a simple mental algorithm: Take change seriously. Adapt to it playfully. Repeat.

Do so and you’ll see that “the joyfulness of infinite play, its laughter, lies in learning to start something we cannot finish.”

What Box Are You In?

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

“People with dull lives often think that their lives are dull by chance. In reality everyone chooses more or less what kind of events will happen to them by their conscious patterns of blocking and yielding. A student objected to this view by saying, ‘But you don’t choose your life. Sometimes you are at the mercy of people who push you around.’ I said, ‘Do you avoid such people?’ ‘Oh!’ She said, ‘I see what you mean.’” – Keith Johnstone, Impro: Improvisation And The Theater

Our recent posts have focused on psychological freedom and some things you can do to achieve it.

This post focuses on psychological freedom, but from a different perspective. We’ll look at life as a series of boxes. Those boxes influence what we pay attention to. We can stay in the comfortable boxes we know the best, even if they’re not right for us. We can also choose to take a leap of faith by jumping into new, but uncertain, boxes that may help us get closer to what we really want.


A Thought Experiment
One of the things I like to do when I’m caught up in my emotions is to imagine I’m experiencing life from a third-person perspective.

Try it right now for 10 seconds. What do you see?

Most of you probably see yourself, maybe the back of your head, staring at the computer screen reading this blog post. Maybe you’re riding the bus home, reading this post on your smartphone while being squished like a sardine between weary-eyed office zombies.

I find this exercise fascinating because it makes life feel like a video game and the character I’m playing with is Dino. Every day I choose all the things to do with Dino. There are a few things I must do with Dino, like bathe and feed him. Otherwise, the game might end prematurely. But a large number of things are totally up to me to decide: what to dress Dino in, who to have Dino hang out with, what Dino should learn, the places Dino should live, or even when Dino should talk/see his family.

This exercise is useful because it takes us out of our discrete, habitual routines and allows us to see the gestalt.

Seeing the whole of our life helps place things into perspective. We occasionally develop tunnel vision for our current standing in life. We tell ourselves that we have to get that promotion or we have to study a specific subject in order to fit into society. We assume that reaching these end states will give our lives meaning. But how often do we stop to ask ourselves if we truly want that end state? Is it what I want or do I want it because I’m narrowly focused on my environment (i.e. what my peers are doing, what my parents expect, what I think society expects)?

I like to think of this tunnel vision as being stuck in a box. You can think of this box as an identity or a desired identity. It is something that is defined by external factors, but it feels like a part of you.

Examples of boxes could be student, teammate, investor, dancer, investment banker, wife, mother, engineer, or assistant to the regional manager. Those identities can be positive or negative identities. I’m a “good public speaker” or I’m “bad with relationships.” These labels come with a set of internal and external expectations and norms/rules.

Boxes aren’t good or bad. Like almost anything in life, the answer is it depends. The more time we spend in a box, the more we learn about how it works. The goal is to understand how the various emotional, cultural, social, and psychological components of our boxes shape our perception of life. Then we can figure out if a particular box is right for us.

What’s In the Box?
I stole this idea of boxes from a talk by Tobi Lutke, CEO and Co-founder of Shopify (See the bottom of this post for the full video). Tobi uses this box idea to describe his self-development process.

In the talk, Tobi tells a story about being in school and wanting to be popular. He analyzed the situation and came to a conclusion: he needed to buy Air Jordan sneakers. Tobi says he, “was vaguely aware that there was more to the world, but it didn’t truly matter. Within my little world, this school, the most obvious profound thought I had was that I needed Air Jordan sneakers to be a part of the popular kids.”

Tobi is saying that he wasn’t aware of the gestalt. He describes school and the social goal he cared about as “this box I was in and everything I was experiencing could be explained from within this box.” The dynamics of what was going on in his box shaped what he viewed as important. It also veiled him from other rich aspects of life.

It’s funny. I can certainly relate to Tobi’s Air Jordan experience. I bought Ed Hardy clothing in high school to be “cool.” Other times I changed the way I talked to try to fit in with certain groups. And it wasn’t 100% my fault. I was influenced by the boxes I was in!

If you think of a box as your environment, then everything in that environment will influence you: your peers, the titles, the rewards & punishments, and the older people who went through that box and expect you to go through that box the same way. Luckily, life has a way of automatically pushing you into new boxes when you’re young.

The Problem With Getting Older
The problem arises when we get older and it’s up to us to get up and move boxes. We end up like Alice In Wonderland, asking the Cheshire Cat, “Where should I go from here?” The Cheshire Cat responds, “Well that depends a great deal on where you want to get to.” Except we don’t move.

Instead of continuing to play the game of exploring the next box, we develop tunnel vision and linger. We stay in the mediocre job, the shitty relationship, or hang out with people we don’t really like because the certainty of our current box seems to outweigh the uncertainty of exploring the next one.

Life In A Box

Tobi highlights this danger of getting stuck in a box, “There is significant automatic churn in this infinite game. Every time people get comfortable [in a box] some people leave. Everyone has an uncle at some family reunion who has left this process way too early.”

Getting Out Of The Box
Tobi moved on to university and then started working. These next stages became new boxes. Sometime during his first job, Tobi gained a mentor. This mentor was able to operate within the same box Tobi was in, but he could also take events in that box and make sense of them with context from other areas of life. The box that Tobi shared with his mentor was really just a small box within a “much bigger box.”

This situation forced Tobi to realize that the boxes he occupied could be constraining him. He started asking himself several questions to understand these constraints: “what is my world? In which ways is the box I’m currently in constricting me? And how is it stifling my thoughts and ambitions? What are the kind of thoughts that will lead me out of this particular box?”

I think Tobi’s questions are useful to pair with the idea of viewing your world in the third-person. When you combine them, it’s like pausing a video game, going to the menu, and looking at the map. Some parts of the map are gray and blurry because you haven’t explored them yet. You may not have even been aware of those parts until you paused to look around. While you won’t know what lies in those gray areas, you give yourself the option to move in those directions.

Near the end of his talk Tobi summarizes this whole process for us:

Life is this really, really interesting series of entering a box, seeing what it is sort of made of, probing at it, analyzing, seeing how things work, seeing what way gravity is pushing you, and then sort of understanding it and feeling familiar. This is the nice part. Every time you reach there it becomes very comfortable. And then you might learn something that isn’t reconcilable with this world you think exists. That is the very thing that cracks it and you get into the next box. And you start it again. Again and again and again.

Fortunately, like the quote at the beginning tells us, the life you end up with is often the life you choose. It’s your choice to stay in your current box or move on to the next one. If you think your life is dull, it’s probably because you haven’t left a box you find comfortable.

You can leave though. You can start to understand your current box by viewing your life in the third-person and asking the same questions as Tobi. Then you can turn any anxiety you have about exploring a new box into an opportunity for personal growth by reframing the situation. Tobi is living proof that “if you’re ambitious and you’re deliberate about [getting out of your box], you can accomplish very great things.”

Our next post will continue with this idea of life as a game. We’ll consider what it means for life to be an infinite game and look at the series of boxes as individual finite games.

Psychological Freedom

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

I’d like to thank Asia Noble for the illustrations this week. If you are looking for a talented illustrator, you can find her at http://asianoble.co/ or email her at n@asianoble.co. I’d also like to thank Bill Ledley and Ryan Vanzo for their valuable feedback. Now on to the post.


I laid out six beliefs in the Founder’s Letter. Over time we’re going to explore each of these beliefs in detail. There is a high degree of interconnectivity between the beliefs, but the first belief – you have control over your life and if you don’t realize it you can rewire your brain – is foundational. I think developing a sense of control over your life is more important today than ever before. But first we’re going to need a little bit of history to understand why.

Technology, Scarce Resources, and How Society Changes
Humans are very good at creating and using technology to solve problems. We’ve had a tendency to make better technology over time. These technologies change the way we fulfill our basic needs. We’re able to do this through the knowledge loop. The knowledge loop is a process. We discover something, next we create new stuff based on what we discovered, then that new stuff helps us discover something else, and the cycle continues. Sometimes these improvements in technology have sweeping effects that shake the foundations of society. This occurs when the new technology changes society’s scarce resources. The various agricultural revolutions changed the scarce resource from food to land. The industrial revolution changed the scarce resource from land to capital.

Scarcity Switches from Land to Capital

These shifts in scarce resources resulted in positive and negative outcomes for different people. The agricultural revolutions created cities, the division of labor that made making more technology possible, and the foundations for the industrial revolution. The downsides were patriarchy, slavery, wars over land, and poor diets.

The industrial revolution created jobs for displaced farmers, mass production, leisurely lifestyles, air travel, better medicine, an efficient education system, and rich cities. It also resulted in the military-industrial complex, urban sprawl, global warming, nuclear weapons, and two World Wars.

The Scarce Resource is Changing
We’re currently going through a phase transition caused by the rise of digital technology and the internet. In the book, World After Capital, Albert Wenger, a venture capitalist at Union Square Ventures, argues that digital technology is shifting the scarce resource from capital to attention. The gist is that capitalism was very successful at creating a shit-ton of capital. So much capital that we can or will soon be able to cover the basic needs (shelter, education, healthcare, clothing, food) of every single person on earth 1.

Digital technology allows for the distribution of information with near zero marginal costs. That means anything you create digitally, can be sent to every person on the planet. Since the cost of creation is fixed, each additional copy has a lower unit cost. This is one of the reasons why apps sell for $0.99 and music is basically free on the internet. The upside is that this means the knowledge loop can spin faster than at any other point in human history. The caveat being that misinformation and shocking news can also spread faster. So what you pay attention to matters. You can either improve your mind faster than ever before or you can hide at home, scared, playing Call of Duty on your couch while eating food that contains 300 ingredients you can’t pronounce.

Psychological Freedom and Why It Matters
Wenger argues that we need to have three things in order to take full advantage of scarce attention and thrive in the knowledge economy: informational freedom, economic freedom, and psychological freedom. If you’re reading this you have access to knowledge and thus informational freedom. Economic freedom means escaping what Wenger calls the job loop. The job loop is having to work most of the day just to be able to pay for your basic needs. When you are economically free, you have the ability to choose how you spend your time (Wenger argues for a Universal Basic Income to free people from the job loop).

The Job Loop

Psychological freedom is the ability to structure your own life through managing your emotions and applying your free will. It’s being able to deal with uncertainty through trial and error. It means not being afraid to create and share because you have a deep understanding that any feedback you receive can only make you better. It’s being able to die living life rather than to live life dying.

Developing psychological freedom is more important than ever when attention is the scarce resource. I quote Wenger at length:

It’s important, first of all, to acknowledge the profound psychological dimensions of the breakdown of the industrial society. Social and economic disruption makes life more stressful; we’re more afraid then ever of losing our jobs, and we’re in general unsettled by what we perceive to be the heightened pace of change… For the knowledge loop to truly succeed, each of us as individuals must adapt. Not merely must we wean ourselves away from unhealthy uses of technology; we must look honestly at ourselves and recognize that we are not well prepared psychologically for the freedoms the knowledge loop requires. As we break with ways of thinking associated with the job loop and scarcity, we must identify the deep-seated fears and emotional attachments that hold us back from engaging fully in an economy bereft of jobs. Until we do, the knowledge loop will not fully take hold, and we will never feel the sense of security and calm we crave. Right now our technologies and the systems they make possible are mastering us; we need to learn how to master them.

The Breakdown of the Industrial Society
Our society is facing an identity crisis of epic proportions. We trained ourselves to be cogs in an industrial system for the people who had the means (psychological and capital) to create their own realities. Many of us gave up our creativity and curiosity in return for a predictable life with a pension.

We built our self-identities on a system that neatly laid out what we had to do to in life. It went something like this… You went through the assembly line-like public education system and either got a satisfactory factory job or went to college. After college you got a job at a great company. You mostly stuck with either choice for your whole life, which was followed by retirement and a healthy pension. If your company failed, the government had your back. All the while, you spent your money (which is really the value society placed on your labor hours, i.e. your time) consuming products to feed your self-identity so you can measure your relative “success” versus everyone else.

This was the cost society had to pay to get to today. The optimistic case I will present is that despite all the uncertainty, the collapse of the industrial institutions, the rise of automation and globalization, this is the greatest point in history to be alive. In each of your pockets is a super computer with access to the entire wealth of human knowledge ever created and the possibility to connect with billions of people on the planet. You just need to develop the mindset to take advantage of these facts.

We Can All Develop Psychological Freedom
I truly believe each of us has the potential to create our own meaning in this world by utilizing and participating in the knowledge loop. There is an abundance of resources available to help us in this journey. The way to take advantage of them is to develop a creative mindset based in experimentation and iteration (Silicon Valley calls it the hacker mindset). It is the complete opposite of the education system’s standardized tests. This mindset favors creating something without knowing if it will work, observing the results, and then iterating based on the feedback. It’s okay if something doesn’t work, try something else. You can figure out a way.

Creating and Sharing Knowledge

Fortunately for us, the cost of creating and running life experiments is in secular decline. It’s only going to get cheaper too. If you have the right mindset, you can take advantage of the vast distribution and fulfillment network Amazon is building, you can take advantage of communication mechanisms like Twitter, Medium, Facebook and WordPress, you can outsource creating designs to people all over the world on sites like Fiverr, and you can meet all sorts of people who share your interests on sites like Meetup. But you have to become extremely comfortable with uncertainty. Ironically, in order for something like a Universal Basic Income to work, we each need to take greater individual responsibility for our mental well being. Nobody is going to do it for you.

We can wait for society to reach a breaking point or we can start doing something about it now. Opportunity is available to the prepared mind. Regardless of whether or not you are economically free today, you can develop psychological freedom.

Next, we’ll examine some of the pernicious mental loops that prevent us from being psychologically free.

Founder’s Letter

Welcome. I wrote a letter to potential readers because I view you as stakeholders in this endeavor. You invest your time. You deserve to have a roadmap as to what you’re investing in and a North Star by which to hold me accountable.


Dear Reader,

I started Permissionless Life because I think it’s one of the greatest times to be alive. I also think things are going to continue to get a lot better. The problem is that my opinion doesn’t seem to be the current consensus. The narrative in the mainstream media and on social media is one of anxiety, uncertainty, fear, and divisiveness.

My goal is simple. I want to use this site to counter the fear narrative and replace it with a narrative of opportunity and self-empowerment. I’m not trying to be optimistic for the sake of being optimistic. I think I’m actually being a realist. As a society, we are collectively focusing on the negatives while undermining the positives to a dangerous degree. It is a group-think driven thought distortion. If we want to take advantage of opportunity we need to have the right mindset. I want to help us do that.

My optimism comes from the following underlying realizations and personal beliefs about the world:

    1. You have a lot of control over your life. If you don’t realize it yet, you can rewire your brain.
    2. Once you figure out #1, you’ll realize the average individual is more powerful than ever.
    3. Knowledge is cheap and easily accessible.
    4. For many people, the cost of experimenting with life is low.
    5. It’s cheaper and easier to start businesses than ever before.
    6. It’s easier to find people who have similar interest than ever before (and they don’t bite! …but monkeys do!).

I intend to accomplish my goal through personal writings, content curation from around the web, interviews with inspiring people, guest posts, and live chats. My posts will seek to revolve around or include these six beliefs.

The last 16 or so years have been characterized by the rise of giant tech companies that have “disrupted” multiple industries — and their success has created the reality that underscores these six beliefs. Some of these companies will be familiar: Google, Amazon, AirBnB, Shopify, WordPress, Instagram, YouTube, Udacity, Coursera, Wikipedia, Stripe, Etsy, Kickstarter, Alibaba, and Squarespace to name a few.  Dan Rosensweig, CEO of Chegg, believes those companies succeeded because they “acknowledged that the organizing principle for their industries should be around the actual consumer, not the channels built to reach them.”

That organizing principle based on the consumer is why I am so excited. Not all of us are going to become technologists and start tech companies (I hope some of you do). But many of us can leverage the tools that these companies have invented to create meaningful lives. I’m using several of them right now to provide this content to you.

All of us have a choice. We can sit around waiting for the government, some giant corporation, religion, or someone else to create structure for us or we can start to utilize these tools and empower ourselves.

I’ve been at a job I didn’t like, afraid to quit because I was terrified of not having a steady paycheck. I was afraid to travel by myself. I was afraid to have faith in myself.

This site is for those of you who sit at your desk at work bored as hell wondering how the hell you can do something more interesting. It’s for the college student who doesn’t know what to study or is anxious about getting that first job. It’s for the person who wants to travel and doesn’t know how. It’s for baby boomers who want to understand young people.

The journey isn’t easy. In order to create our own destiny, we need to accept uncertainty as normal. Every time we take a step and become comfortable, we’ll take the next step and become uncomfortable again. We’ll start by examining our psychology and how we can develop the appropriate mindsets for our current reality. From there we’ll examine the content and tools available to create our lives and meet people who are doing this today.

The title Permissionless Life is a play on a popular term in tech circles, Permissionless Innovation. Permissionless Innovation is one of the philosophies that underlies the internet. It means that no one has to give you permission to create things on the internet. There is no gatekeeper. The irony is that life can be that way too and it’s easier than ever in our current reality.

All the best,

Dino