Episode 088 - School of the Possible with Dave GrayEpisode 088 - School of the Possible with Dave Gray
Episode 088 - School of the Possible with Dave Gray

..There's no question in my mind that you could create a whole community just around collecting rocks that look like shoes. If you start putting your passion onto the Internet, you're going to attract other people who have similar interests. It's a wonderful machine for that. Or it's a ecology for collecting affinities or attracting affinities. I think once you put a stake in the ground and you kind of start creating a locus of energy around a particular thing, you're attracting other people who have that same interest, and you're also creating that interest in other people.

Contributed By: Julian Bleecker

Published On: Wednesday, May 8, 2024 at 07:21:57 PDT

Updated On: Wednesday, May 8, 2024 at 07:21:57 PDT


A conversation with my old friend, colleague, mentor Dave Gray founder of School of the Possible about our experiences creating communities that foster human connection, imagination, and possibility. We share our own approaches to building new kinds of ways of organizing human potential where people can explore ideas and practice creatively.

School of the Possible asks “What if school was a place where we could test our theories by creating prototypes, proposals, and provocations; where experiments were encouraged, where people could play, practice, and prepare for life and work?”

Dave discusses creating School of the Possible to help creative people connect, collaborate, and support each other’s growth and passions.

School of the Possible is about surrounding yourself with creative people. If creative energy fuels creative energy, possibilities build on other possibilities. The short term goal is to create the community of people that I want to hang out with. The long term goal is to make that sustainable.

Please support the Podcast and become a participant in the Near Future Laboratory Discord by joining as a patron over on patreon.com/nearfuturelaboratory. It goes a long way towards making the podcast production and everything else meaningful and sustainable. Thank you!

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# Dave Gray Episode 088
**Julian:** Are we, what are we doing? We're doing, are we doing a podcast
**Dave Gray:** Up to you.
**Julian:** Yeah. We, I wanted to talk about, about your, uh,
**Dave Gray:** oh yeah. School of the Possible. Yeah.
**Julian:** let's talk about that. Yeah.
**Dave Gray:** Well, yeah. So I'm finding it super energizing, really fun. And it's kind of like a very similar to what you're doing. I think at the near future laboratory, you're. You're holding a space for your tribe, I guess you could say.
**Julian:** So what is, what is the School of the Possible,
**Dave Gray:** Well, uh, so selfishly it was, um, I want to recreate for myself this feeling that I had when I was in art school or, uh, you know, this creative community that I like to be surrounded by, , surrounding myself with the people that I want to hang out with, you know, like creating my gang or whatever it is. And so, uh, I learned some stuff last year and I'm learning more stuff this year. And, it's the short term goal is to, uh, create the community of people that I want to hang out with. And the long term goal is to make that, uh, sustainable to where it's valuable enough that it, I can pay my bills with it.
**Julian:** Yeah. So how would you characterize the people that you wanna hang out with?
**Dave Gray:** Yeah. Well, they, um, they are, uh, self starters. They are creative. They're not satisfied with creativity in a vacuum. They. Want to see the things that they make have impact in the world. They want to have a sense of what that impact is. Um, they are not just creating and making works of art. They're creating customers.
They're creating customer relationships. They're, um, and they're inspiring. They've, they've got something there. They're, they inspire each other. They inspire me. And like everyone has, uh, well, not everyone and not all the time. Even people who are super creative don't have this all the time. Uh, there's a great feeling when you have a project that is fueling your creative energy, something you're excited about that you're working on. And, uh, I generate a lot of that energy, but I also feed off of that energy. Um, if creative energy fuels, creative energy possibilities build on other possibilities. Um, My, uh, my kind of like my, uh, iconic image is Picasso and Braque creating cubism. You know, they were, uh, they both talked about this, how they would be super excited at the end of any, every day to go see what the other.
Artists was doing in their studio and they would, um, and, uh, Picasso, I think, described it as we were like mountain climbers. We were roped together and we couldn't have, neither one of us could have created, no, nobody could have created cubism by themselves. It was a group effort. It was, uh, something that we did together.
And, um, so that feeling of being roped together and that feeling of. Creating things that are, that are bigger than yourself. Uh, I have this, um, I guess, uh, somewhat romantic image of the Paris in the 1920s with Gertrude Stein and Picasso and Hemingway and all these people who, uh, like, uh, hung out and inspired each other and to do interesting creative work.
And, um, yeah, so that's the, that's the community, the way I see it. Community of creators.
**Julian:** that's, that's beautiful. Um, I, I love the imagery and, uh, the anecdote. It's super resonant. So, um, the, the other thing that I really like, which is maybe, uh, not for me unexpected, but maybe people listening is like unexpected because you, you, you maneuvered from, Uh, deploying like idioms, like art and creativity.
And then you did a, you did a, you did a beautiful sidestep, which then you kind of like step back on the track, you went to sites of, um, not art, but it could be creating customers. Right. So you brought in the, this, this oftentimes, uh, commercial aspect to creativity that oftentimes creatives. Try to avoid because it's like this lurking nuisance
**Dave Gray:** Yeah, we've talked about
**Julian:** be commercial.
Yeah I think it's an important one to you know like kind of not only talk about but keep talking about because I think there are a lot of Just like what you're trying to do with your community Is um the dissociation between imagination and you know structure I call it You know, just the, the, the, the organizations, the dreaded client, you know, is, is, is something that we could do a better job as, uh, what, you know, generally, but I'm saying maybe, maybe part of our responsibility, you, Dave and me, Julie, and, and, you know, many other people of saying.
of, you know, of going back to art school and giving a lecture and saying, it's like, let's not talk about art. Let's talk about customers. How about that? And watch the dean freak out. Because I think it's, it's a thing that makes that, that, that, uh, it, it looms. And if you, if you, I never went to art school, but, you know, I hang out with artists and, and That kind of thing is that it's, um, it's not talked about enough.
It's like, you're not prepared for the world. If you go into the world that your imagination is going to help you pay the rent, there's a couple other lessons that you need. You need to learn how you're creating something of value and hold onto that value and not assume that, uh, you can just. Give it away because, or
**Dave Gray:** There's a ton of things that we could unpack there.
**Julian:** let's get into it. Let's get into it.
**Dave Gray:** So number one, um, you say you didn't go to art school. I don't know what, did you go to, you studied something in school though? Like, uh,
**Julian:** Yeah. I got, I got three degrees, one electrical engineering, one in a human computer interaction, and the third one in history of consciousness. I got a fucking PhD history of consciousness.
**Dave Gray:** All right. Well, the first two of those probably have something in common. The last one is got something probably in common with art school. The first two of those, what they have in common is that they're. They're probably perceived as training for a certain kind of career, right? You're, you're going to, you're going to train, you're going to like skill up on, um, engineering and there are jobs that have that description engineer.
Um, and a history of consciousness is one of those things. It's like, nah, there's no job. It's not like you're going to go out and you're going to see the job listings for, uh, seeking historian of consciousness,
**Julian:** Yeah. Yeah. Phil, I job, job number 47, three stroke 12. No referrals.
**Dave Gray:** Yeah, um, PhD work in the history of consciousness required, uh, you know, like, and that's the thing that the history of consciousness has in common with art school. You don't, you know, you graduate from art school, you're on your own. It's now you got to figure it out. And, uh, they don't, you're right. They, it's not like they're, maybe there are some conversations about different kinds of careers that might be available to you, but it's not like there's a line out the door of graduates from art school waiting with jobs, uh, like there would be from a, like, say a school where you're teaching, um, You know, Python or whatever, you know, it's not a line of, uh, employers waiting, so you, you do have to figure it out.
So that's one piece, but then also sticking with art for a second, artists have had this problem for, um, since there have been artists, I mean, um, The dreaded client, you know, um, in the case of Michelangelo was the Pope, right? We have this chapel, I don't know, you know, God, just something on the ceiling, uh, uh, you know, and like, uh, but you know, so that was kind of the, kind of the client thing.
But then you have this kind of more modern version of the artist that is, um, creating something that's pioneering. you know, there is still, uh, a customer in the sense of, you know, who wants to be the person who painted the Mona Lisa that sits in the closet that nobody ever looks at there's a, there is a desire, even in the, in the finest of fine artists, there is somehow a need to be appreciated a desire for that audience, you know, Van Gogh never sold a painting and to my knowledge, um, and that was, he killed himself.
**Julian:** Because he wasn't it. He said, what am I here for? If I'm not here to touch
**Dave Gray:** Well, I mean, he, he, he, he could see that there was something in that he was creating. He, he believed in it. He believed it was beautiful. And yet he didn't, uh, he didn't feel appreciated. And that's, I guess that's one of the mythologies of, uh, of great artists that the great artists has never appreciated in their time.
And, um, of course that can be an excuse. I'm you, how many awful, terrible artists were never appreciated in their own time. So the fact that you're not appreciated in your own time is no guarantee that you're Van Gogh. In my opinion, doesn't mean anything you could be not appreciated because there's nothing there.
So I guess, you know, whether you think of it as an audience, like you're Stephen King, you're going to write your books that you want to write and the audience will either come or not, or you're, you're going to make a movie, your movie or your film. And people will come because they appreciate your art or they won't or the client.
And like the case of, uh, like Michelangelo da Vinci was, uh, you know, he was. Pretty much. If you look at his resume, there's in, in his notebooks, there's like his letter to, I think it's to the, uh, Duke of something or other where he's like, I can devise weapons, which no. I can create defenses which no weapon can penetrate.
I can create weapons that can bridge any defense. Like his, his, his, his resume that he gives this duke is like, you know, mostly about weaponry and like, you know, secrets of engineering and tunneling and like, it's a little bit like I can also create an artwork that is indistinguishable from reality here.
You know, like, uh, if you, if you go and read Leonardo's notebooks and you find some of those letters. He was selling, he was, he was a salesperson. He was selling his expertise and, uh, he was pretty good at it too. Uh, I think it was maybe it's Milan, the Duke of Milan, or I don't know. Anyway. Um, so there's.
been this problem as long as there's been creative people, the problem of, you know, how do you connect with your audience or the people who appreciate your creativity or the change that you want to see in the world or the, the brilliant new thing you've designed. And that, uh, linkage I think is what fuels a lot of it fuels that creative energy.
You know, if you can, if you can do creative work, And make enough money on it, on it to, uh, feed yourself and have live in an air conditioned building and, you know, have a comfy bed to sleep on. That's that helps. I mean, you know, to be a starving artist, uh, I've been there, you know, like where I was, I was making, I was waiting tables and, and making my paintings at night and I got a job at a newspaper doing, um, creative work, art, illustration and art, you know, artwork.
And I, it didn't take me long to figure out, wow, if I, uh. If I'm working and doing creative work in a, in an office building all day, I have a lot more energy for painting at night than if I'm running around bartending and waiting tables all day, because when I'm doing that, I just, all I want to do when I get home is crack a beer and turn on the TV.
I don't have the energy for the creative work. So I don't know, it's, uh, I think creativity fuels creativity. Customers, patrons, there are people who, if you have, um, a desire and a goal to be appreciated, which a lot, I think most people do, um, rating a customer is a really powerful mechanism for, um, keeping yourself honest. Uh, in terms of your value that you're creating and, um, keeping you on track. I mean, a company will wants you to fit in a customer wants you to stand out. So customers are going to want to know more about what's unique about you. They're going to want, they're going to push you to, uh, well, how, how is what you're doing different than.
What so and so is doing and that makes you think, well, okay, I guess it isn't different. Maybe I should think of more about that. Well, it makes you special. They want to know company doesn't want to know what makes you special.
**Julian:** Yeah. They want to know if you can sit at that workstation for a day.
**Dave Gray:** Or they want to know what, you know, can you help me make my widgets?
**Julian:** So how, so how is this, how are these, the experiences that you've had and, and in your, your very, um, you keeping oneself honest. About one's value. How are, are, how are these connected? Feel like these are kind of elements of what you're building now with the school. The possible.
**Dave Gray:** Yeah. So I'm, uh, I used to be, um, in the, uh, kind of Michelangelo world where, you know, I needed clients to, uh, provided a service, visual explanations or, you know, change consulting, whatever you want to call it. I was, you know, I provided this, uh, kind of visual thinking service to help companies, um, imagine their.
Their, uh, processes and futures and kind of visualize very intangible stuff. And that was a, that was, you know, like the Michelangelo with the Sistine Chapel. I'd give clients, and I still do some of this work because it does pay well. Um, but it would, you know, client would hire me and my job is to help them clarify something, you know, get a story together, you know, get visualize a story that they want to tell for whatever purpose. But then I, uh, you know, when I grew that company and sold it and decided I wanted to do something different and what I wanted to do was, um, to have when you're, when you're doing the Sistine chapel and the Pope is your customer and you're not. Uh, you're, you're providing a service for somebody as opposed to, I guess, a product could say.
When you make a product that, you know, one thing that you can sell to a thousand people, you have a lot more autonomy. You have a lot more, um, uh, let's say freedom of motion. You're not just going to be okay. How can I serve you? What can I do for you? You have one client versus a thousand. You know what I mean?
That's a, just a different way of looking at it. And I wanted to try that other way.
**Julian:** Yeah.
**Dave Gray:** So I was like, okay, what can I do where I'm just doing it? And, uh, it's a natural thing for me. I enjoy it, but what can I do instead of it being worth 20, 000 to one customer, maybe it's worth 20 to a thousand customers and I get to the same place.
Well, it takes longer. It takes a while to build that up. But, um, and what I decided that really would have that value for me and also for others is community that people are craving it right now. I'm craving it. I know a lot of people are craving it. They, uh, we are not getting it from LinkedIn. We are not getting it from Facebook.
Um, we, um, we are more isolated than ever. Um, we're scrolling. Through tech talk and all these other places. And we're, we're getting these little kind of not even snacks, like a junk food of, you know, kind of like fulfillment, but we're not really getting true connection and meaningful, purposeful connection and.
Fulfillment that comes with belonging, being a part of something. Um, so one of the things I've, I could tell you, I can walk you through the journey of like throwing spaghetti at the wall to figuring out, you know, that this is what I wanted to do. And there was, there was a whole, I can follow the whole thread and there's a method there, we can dive into.
But what I have learned is, um, face to face conversations like the one we're having right now, uh, move. lot of things forward in terms of, uh, um, they create trust, they create community, they'd create belonging. Um, you know, we, we've probably spent maybe 48 hours of actual FaceTime in real life together.
And yet I consider you a very dear friend. And yet, and why? You know, we connect every occasion, you know, we're connecting more and more these days, but only virtually, right. I, I really don't have much of an idea of your life when you walk away from your screen and you probably don't have that much of an idea of mine when I walk away from this, but we have this, there's the, there is a space here, right. That we're in together. This was, uh, this is relatively new in the history of humankind, you know, that we can do this where you're in LA and I'm in Portland and you could be in, uh, you could be in, uh, Egypt and we could still do it, you know, it's like, there's something really powerful there. I believe that the technology is just starting to enable.
And then there are other ways that, you know, and I know you have your office hours that you hold on Friday and I hold a campfire call on Friday, which you kind of copied from you. Uh, but I think there's something really powerful about those face to face connections. You know, we might, you might give 30 seconds to a post when you're scrolling along, right. Uh, you know, and, but people will sit and watch game of thrones. For eight hours straight. Right. And they will also, I found they will, um, completely engaged and committed for a 90 minute where we're just having face to face conversation with other people that have kind of common ground or shared purpose or that care about something.
So there is something that we're craving that I believe you and I are both providing, uh, a, uh, a space for people. Oh, I don't know if community is the word that people use a lot, uh, a set of people where you're, you can invest your time and energy and feel like you're rewarded for that. A place where you belong.
**Julian:** It belong. Sounds right?
**Dave Gray:** Everybody knows your name.
**Julian:** Yeah. Yeah. That place. We went to see music the other night at a small local club and it gets, gets great acts. Um, and it's like, Oh, there's Ted Danson. He was there
**Dave Gray:** There you
**Julian:** uh, yeah, with Mary Steenburg and they were both there just sitting at the end of the bar. You have the irony.
**Dave Gray:** Yeah.
**Julian:** Of course, there's like the, you didn't engage him because you just leave the guy alone or whatever. But the, uh, um, yeah, every once again, someone would be like, Hey, you're on the wrong side of the bar.
**Dave Gray:** Yeah.
**Julian:** Uh, yeah. So, um, yeah, this, this, all, this all sounds right and so is it, so I I I love that we're kind of running these, these wonderfully kind of synergistic parallel and intertwined
**Dave Gray:** Universes.
**Julian:** universes, you know, and, and, and, and, and being of service, you know, in, in a kind of way. It feels very rewarding and satisfying and also, yeah, challenging and time consuming and, and always beautiful at the end of all the challenges, um, and. Yeah. And I, and I really, I'm excited for what you're doing. I mean, particularly that the, uh, there was a post, um, well, when, when, when we were talking, uh, like a few weeks ago and you did that little post and your notion of, um, creating a customer, I found it so beautifully forthright and it was particularly poignant and resonant.
I think because it came from you, you you Uh, you know, and, and, you know, I know you in the degree that in the way that you sort of described and, um, that it was, uh,
it, it was, it was, I knew that you were bringing the, the creative sensibilities and values that you had to this other, to this other realm that I think a lot of people find challenging, which is, you know, customer it's like, Ooh, uh, bad word. Yeah, we don't do, we don't have customers. We, we only work for the, we only operate for the purity of, of creative.
Yeah. Something about it.
**Dave Gray:** because you, you know, you say that and then I, it's like, um, I've had the luxury of, of having that space. You just, okay, Dave. You know, do your art, do whatever you want. You can, you know, like I had this, this, when I got out of art school, I had this theory. Okay, well, I'm going to, I'm going to spend the first half of my life getting rich and the second half doing my art.
**Julian:** Right. Right. Right. Right.
**Dave Gray:** And I did kind of, I kind of was on track. I did all right. And with my company and stuff, and I did get to a point where I could, okay, I can just do my art now.
**Julian:** I remember you talking about this. I remember a couple, maybe a year or so ago. I remember you talking about this.
**Dave Gray:** Well, uh, I found it profoundly unsatisfying
**Julian:** That's the thing is you're
**Dave Gray:** my own customer.
**Julian:** yeah. Yeah. I remember this. I remember you saying it's like, wow. Okay. This is real revelation.
**Dave Gray:** Yeah, it's like you, you get this, it's like, um, my dad said this when he retired, um, retirement is boring.
**Julian:** I think my dad had the same, a similar experience. He, I don't think he was prepared for it. Yeah.
**Dave Gray:** you have, you work all your life to have this, you know, moment where you have this freedom, you can do whatever you want. And then what do you do? You get up in the morning, you make your coffee, you read the newspaper, you watch TV.
**Julian:** You wait for, wait to go to sleep. And then in the worst of cases, when you're really not well adjusted, it's basically wait around, wait around to die.
**Dave Gray:** Right. Yeah. Well, and so that I think, um, and you know, the creative artist, you know, the Van Gogh of the world or whatever that, you know, you have, uh, you can, you can do whatever you want. You can make, uh, you know, if you have a vision like Van Gogh did, you can make beautiful stuff and still be profoundly unhappy.
**Julian:** Yeah.
**Dave Gray:** And, uh, so what is it in the ultimate, you know, goal, you know, what is it that makes you happy? Well, for me, you know, in the process of the, uh, wealth building, let's say in the process of learning how to make money, um, I did really learn this, um, kind of habit of creating customers. And it, it does generate a lot of positive effects if you can.
If you're doing something that you can do with a happy heart, as my wife likes to say, if you can do, if you find something that you can do with joy that also delights other people.
**Julian:** it brings joy to other people. I was going to say, yeah, yeah.
**Dave Gray:** if you can, if you can have, if there's something you can do that creates joy in yourself and joy for other people, um, that's wonderful.
And, um, there's nothing, uh, you know, crass or commercial about it. Um, and you know, the, you know, one thing that, you know, comes to mind is customers will be more honest with you than your friends. In many cases,
**Julian:** Hmm.
**Dave Gray:** customer customer doesn't like something that you did. They're going to let you know. Was your friend might be like, Oh yeah, thanks. Uh, yeah. And so if you really want feedback, you don't meaningful feedback on your work. Um, then you want to get it from your audience or your customers or, you know, it's like the movie critics aren't the ones who necessarily pay to see the movie,
**Julian:** Yeah. They probably don't.
**Dave Gray:** you probably don't.
**Julian:** They're probably lavished with like DVD players and, and luxury vacations by the studio executives.
**Dave Gray:** Right. Yeah. So, uh, you know, so that's kind of like, who's. You know, you know, yes, create, create joy for yourself. Yes.
**Julian:** Yeah.
**Dave Gray:** Um, if that's all, if you're the only person you're creating joy for, that's a profoundly empty existence that you're creating for yourself. You know, like this, there's this whole thing on, um, you know, uh, you see these all over the place, right?
Hey, um, my secret wealth building formula, right? Like I have, uh, um, have a way that you can get passive income. You don't have to do anything,
**Julian:** Yeah. Except, except take a nap, take a nap. And you're like,
**Dave Gray:** Whatever. Yeah. You're just going to, you're just going to crank, you know, just set it up, set it and forget it. You know? And it's like, well, okay, then what? Okay. Now, now let's say I can set up passive income stream and I don't have to work. Uh, then what, then what do I do? And why not, but why not do those, why not just sit and focus and go, okay, what can I do every day that brings me joy that really is, gives me a wonderful feeling. And, um, how can I connect that with something that would improve other people's lives that is, you know, and if they're willing to pay for it, that's an indicator. That they appreciate it and it becomes a virtuous self fulfilling prophecy, like in a good way. And so it becomes a, well, people pay me to do this. I'm going to do more of it. That means they like it. I'm going to do more of it. And then I'm going to, I want to, I make them happy, but I could make them happier.
Well, let's have a conversation about how could I do this better? What would make it even more fun, more engaging for you, more interesting. And yeah, so I think what I'm, the service that I'm providing in the School of the Possible is, um, uh, there's a process by which I'm attracting really fun and interesting creative people, connecting them with each other, um, creating structure for them to have meaningful, uh, conversation and activities that relate to their personal growth.
That they are adventurous and courageous people. They're brave. They're exploring unknowns together. It's easier to do it when you're in a group than when you're all by yourself. They're, uh, leaning into uncertainty and, um, working, you know, it's, it's an interesting challenge for a school because we're, you know, typically a school teaches you stuff that's already known and we're, we're in the, I'm in the, in the. mean, I guess you could say in the business of, um, not teaching stuff that's known, but, uh, creating frames for exploring unknown territory, new territory, and that's probably where we have so much of a connection, you know, we're, I believe we're both doing that in different, in very different ways, you know, enough, there's enough orthogonality to it that they're clearly distinct.
But I think they're, that we're both in a way, futurists
**Julian:** Yeah.
**Dave Gray:** like, or, you know, I would say we're also both Paul possibilitarians we're both, you know, we're both leaning into near future. What does that look like possibilities and very different with a very different kind of lenses or ways of doing it.
**Julian:** Yeah.
**Dave Gray:** Proposing possibilities.
**Julian:** Yeah. Who's, who's coming to the school of possible? Who, how are you, how are you, um, how are you finding your customers?
**Dave Gray:** Uh, well,
**Julian:** imagine you have a rich network to begin with.
**Dave Gray:** I do. Yes. I mean, I've over many years, I've been in like early adopter of a lot of social networking things and you know, working in public for many years and, uh, Well, for 30 years, I was building a consulting company. So my, you know, I really had to reserve a ton of time for people who had big budgets, um, to do consulting kinds of projects.
But along the way, I met a lot of wonderful and interesting people. I did a lot of workshops. I wrote some books. So I, I created a, let's say I. Cultivated a network of really fun and interesting people. You know, every time I'd go speak at a conference, I'd be like meeting the other speakers. That's a whole interesting thing that happens.
Um, you know, you have the speaker dinner, you get to meet the host, you get to meet the other authors who wrote interesting books or whatever. So there's a whole network I've been cultivating. And, you know, so now that I have something I can sell for 20 a month. Instead of, you know, 20 or 50, 000 for a project, there's a whole ton of people who are just ready to go.
They're like, okay. You know, and I think there's a subset of that community that to my great luck and appreciation are just like, Oh, Dave's going to do something. Uh, I'm going to show up and see, cause I think it'll be interesting. I don't know. I don't have to know anything other than Dave's. Hosting it for me to want to go.
And that's a really open, that's a great, um, push in, or I guess you could say, or a great launch pad for me to try different things and be exploratory and, and know that I have a very forgiving and generous audience and, or community for that. And then there's just a tremendous amount of like, uh, in social networking, they call it close the triangle.
Right. So,
**Julian:** What's that? I don't know that.
**Dave Gray:** that's a really nice one. Um, So, um, let's say, um, let's pick someone that, um, well, say, I know you, or say, you know me, but you also know someone else that, um, might be interesting for me to know, right? So it's, it's an angle, you know, these two people. And if you connect me with this other person, you're closing the triangle.
**Julian:** gotcha.
**Dave Gray:** That's how strong networks get created. So every time I'm pull, I pull together a, like a Friday call where people come in that might know me, but don't know each other, we're closing triangles all over the place, you know, it was like, Oh wow. These two people have a direct connection. I facilitated it, but I.
Now it's closed, it's not, uh, and as long as it's an open angle, I'm like, I'm sort of in this privileged position of being a gatekeeper because I can decide if I introduce you to so and so or not. As soon as I close the triangle, we're actually more like a community. We're more, you know, like this fictional person.
So there's Julian J., Dave D., and like, say, X.
**Julian:** Yeah.
**Dave Gray:** You know X, but I don't. Well, if we have a call like this and X comes and you introduce me to X and I know now I'm friends with X, then that means X and I can connect without you having to be there. So you've lost your privileged connection of. But your privileged position in the gate as gatekeeper in the network, you've, you've in a way generously provided that or given that away.
So we can now connect directly, which increases, you know, it can have all kinds of effects, but, um, I think it's a really, uh, uh, it's a great community builder, trust building, you know, it's like people. Now we all know each other. We can actually get more possibilities, get created more opportunities, more.
**Julian:** Why do, why do we do that? Cause it's interesting. You mentioned that because as, as you were talking earlier, before I learned about closer triangles, like I need to, I need to connect Dave to will. I didn't have, there was, I didn't know why, I didn't know why it was just, um, maybe the, the, yeah. The kinds of things that we were talking about, you know, just in this conversation now, and probably also a little bit of, I want to give, continue to give things to will, cause he's been helping me out with some things, you know,
**Dave Gray:** who will, I don't know who
**Julian:** yeah, so you don't know who will is, is
**Dave Gray:** X has a
**Julian:** that's the X that's, that, that's the X in this context.
And, um. And I, you know, feeling like the, the possibility of, um, yeah, I guess I, I want to be generous towards, towards Will. This came subconsciously, there's no thing, it just kind of popped in my head because he's been giving to me generously. It's somewhere it's like, okay, keep that, keep that going. Um, and then I also wonder on the other side, it's like, I guess, why, why do, why do you and I do that?
Or people of our sort do that?
**Dave Gray:** Well, um, we're going to get deep into, uh, social network geeky, uh, topics here, because I did do a lot of research in this when I was working on my connected company book. Um, but I think that the guy's name is Ronald, um, Uh, coasts or cars or something like that. Um, and he's done a lot of work in social networks and there are two major concepts, uh, in social network, uh, parlance.
And one is called brokerage and one is called closure. And these are kind of like two kind of different ways of approaching. A social network, uh, closure is that you're really good at building trust within a community that you're already in. So you're not, if you imagine the, uh, social networks as islands that are connected with by traders that go back and forth in boats, right.
And trading. In between. So closure is like, you're, you're the leader of your community in an Island or you're very well trusted elder or whatever in this Island community. And the brokers are the traders who are moving between the islands. They're not deeply connected to any one Island, but they're making connections.
Oh, you have a pigs and they have sheep. I know you like, you know, sheep once in a while. And I know that sounded strangely sexual. So for a second, sorry, you know, we have corn, uh, you know, whatever, uh, papayas, and so like we, the brokers are the people who are. Uh, kind of move between networks a lot. And, uh, then there's people who are trust builders inside of networks and they, uh, so I think, you know, um, maybe we're a bit of both that makes us kind of unique in the sense that we're, you know, um, we're probably both.
Uh, brokers in the sense that we like to have a lot of diversity in our networks. We'd like to visit a lot of networks, but we're also working on creating community and kind of a trusted, uh, center. So I don't know if you were, if you're one or the other, or if you have to be one or the other, but I think, uh, I think in generally speaking, both of you and I are kind of brokers that we, we, uh, we.
We see someone who has, um, something that is a value and we understand because we're bridging a lot of different networks, we understand, okay, there's someone over here who could really benefit from that. And we make those connections and we're creating value in that way.
**Julian:** Hmm.
**Dave Gray:** And also like, I think there's a thing about the, a membrane, you know, you want, you know, You want the membrane of your community to be such that the right people get in and the wrong people don't get in.
**Julian:** Yeah.
**Dave Gray:** And, um, if we, if you and I model a very generous kind of behavior, then we're going to attract generous people into our spheres.
**Julian:** Hmm.
**Dave Gray:** And, uh, if we, um, if, if we had a more of a scarcity mindset or point of view, it was like, well, what do I get for that? Or, you know, how do I benefit out of that? Then we're going to attract a whole different kind of maybe more transactional kind of set of people.
You know, it's funny because you think about a customer and I have a friend who said this to me. Well, that's so transactional.
**Julian:** Yeah.
**Dave Gray:** I don't want to, um, you know, I don't want to make friends with my neighbors so they can pay me. I don't want to go out and just sell hot dogs. Yeah. Well, but if you go out and start selling hot dogs, maybe you make friends too, you know, or you, uh, maybe you just give your hot dogs away.
That's fine. If you can afford it, just give away, you know, go out and make hot dogs. Either way, you'll make friends.
**Julian:** Yeah. It's a, it's a, there's a, there's a tension. It's a kind of duality. You know, because at one level, it's like you want to, I guess I'm saying I do, I feel like I'm providing something of value to the community. And I want people to, um, to, I want to be recognized for doing that. I'm not saying don't give me an award or something, but it's like, it takes time and energy.
Like there's value in it. Like what's, what is the value to you? To the, to the customer, um, is it 8 a month? Is it 25 a month? Do you expect it for free? Because it's just community and aren't those free? And it's like, so, and, and, you know, the, the, the thing spirals to no place of a firm conclusion other than like, it's, you know, it's a bit of an experiment.
Like some people, it is, some people recognize the value and they're like, Oh my gosh. Yeah, of course. You know, I'll, I'll, I'll, um, you know, I pay 150 a month for gym membership. I don't, but people might be saying like that. And you're asking me for 25 bucks for this beautiful experience where I feel like I belong.
Um, yeah, that's totally worth it. But then there's, you know, there's the other side of it where there is not a, uh, you have to represent it as a community. Like A gym membership or a social club, you know, kind of thing that people might join for, for a fee, um, and move away from the sense that, uh, that, that, um, you can get belonging for nothing.
You don't have to bring anything to it. You have to bring something like coming to someone's potluck and never bringing something, you know, you invite someone to potluck and they never bring something because they're like, well, I thought there was a free meal. And, or they bring up, they bring a box of Intamin's donuts.
It's like, you didn't really try very hard to bring something, did you?
**Dave Gray:** you know, there's so many big, there's so many pieces to that because. Like, um, first of all, what is the kind of community, because if we're talking about your family or your neighbors or whatever, these are people that you didn't really necessarily choose, you know, you don't choose your family, you don't choose your, uh, your neighbors usually, you know, to some degree, maybe you might choose the neighborhood you live in, but these are people that are just, they probably don't share your interest in, you know, entomology.
Okay. And then there's the very niche, very specific, um, audiences. Like I went to art school because I wanted to be in a community of artists. I paid for that. And, um, also I, uh, it's not just money, it's effort. I moved from Massachusetts to Los Angeles to go to art center. You know, I like, um, well, my parents invested some money there, you know, I took out loans, you know, like there's, there's an effort invested and, um, there's also this thing if you, if you just do something for free online, all kinds of idiots still show up, you know, like think about the LinkedIn groups that have 4, 000 members, all of whom are basically just.
Hosting their own self promotional gibberish, right? Is that community? So what's the membrane? What's the, what's the price of entry when you have a conference? Like when we did the, um, the overlap and, uh, um, Marin there, you know, we, um, that I curated that that was an event. Um, you know, people, uh, essentially paid their, uh, either time or money or both.
Invested to be there and everybody there knew they were invited. They were welcomed. They were sharing in the expense of creating this, you know, this event. Um, and it's true. Anytime, any, you go to any conference, right? I'm going to pay 200. I'm going to go get a hotel in Miami. I'm going to go to this, uh, conference.
I'm going to meet a bunch of people who have a very similar shared interest to mine. You know, Comic Con, whatever, you know, I'm going to go, we're going to be there. Well, that's somebody has to set that up. Somebody has to make space for that. Somebody has to, uh, provide some frame for what is in and out of that conceptual domain, what, what does belonging mean?
Like, I think you could probably tell me what belonging means in the near future laboratory. What is the common ground? You're creating, you're, you're, you're hearing into the near future by imagining the mundane details of that future reality and manifesting them today. There's something that, you know, it's kind of, it's in the Comic Con realm.
It's in the sci fi, you know, it's in the realm of, okay, well, we're creators and we're like indie, these indie sci fi imagineers, whatever you want to, you know, you have a pretty clear picture. And I know if I, like, if I visit that community, I know, well, I'm, I'm definitely peripheral. You know, I like to poke in and see what people are doing and maybe say a little bit of hellos, but that's a very, uh, specific, pretty specific.
It's accessible to anybody, like, just like ham radio, you know, anybody who wants to get a ham radio and become a ham radio operator can do that, but it's only a few people that decide that that's really where they're going to, you know, do it there, spend their time and do it. And you have something that is kind of like that.
It's like, uh, um, I think for many people, for some people, it's a profession, but for some people it's probably just something they really enjoy doing. Right. Yeah. And, um, for me it's something similar. It's like, okay, there's a certain, uh, I think it's maybe a little broader because I, and I have maybe a little more trouble defining it, but there's something about, um, like the, something about the creative person who Has ideas and they just are not going to be happy till they see them living somehow in the world, whether it's, whether it's planting a garden or, um, starting a business or making a product or writing a book, they're not going to be happy until they see it tangibly happening.
**Julian:** That's right.
**Dave Gray:** And there's something about that energy that, um, is super attractive and interesting to me. I like being around it. I generate a lot of it. I like, but it also builds on it, you know, possibilities build on possibilities. ,
**Julian:** We're both fascinated by possibility. And we're both fascinated with, like, unlocking the potential of realizing possibility
**Dave Gray:** Well, there's also this thing about, there's commun, you know, it's like, like every, I've lived in a bunch of different cities and in every city I lived in, there's a c there's an art community. There's a community of artists that you can, you know, you can go, you, you figure it's not hard to find them. You know, they're there.
They, uh, a lot, a lot of 'em know each other. They go to each other's gallery openings, whatever. There's a community you, you can connect in. You can be part of it. If you're creating and you're generating art, you're a part of it. Um, but the only thing you have in common is that you're, they're creative artists.
I might be, uh, uh, I might be doing oil painting. Someone else is doing pottery. Someone else is doing, um, you know, something with wood. Um, and so we have this kind of loose connection that we're all doing creative work. But it's loose because it's, it's limited to what's within a geographical radius. When you start getting on the internet, can get way, way more specific about, let's say I'm, you know, my oil painting. I'm, and I discovered this pretty early on in the internet. I can find the people. Who are doing landscape and still life painting are really interesting. Their work is really interesting to me. Not, not just that they're interesting, not just because they're creative, but they're actually creating in a, in a pocket, in a niche, in an area that's really interesting to me, like Picasso and Brock were when they started developing cubism together and they were building on Cezanne, right?
So there, they were. Lucky to be able to do that in Paris, but now we have the internet. We have a thousand Paris's, you know, at our fingertips. And all you have to do is put your, like, if I'm really into collecting rocks that look like shoes and I start putting them on the internet, either, you know, two things are going to happen.
One is it's going to be quickly. Attract other people who are interested in collecting rocks that look like shoes. And it's also going to create a trend of people who didn't never thought of it before, but now they started to like collecting rocks that look like shoes. And there's no question in my mind that you could create a whole community just around.
Collecting rocks that look like shoes,
, if you start putting your passion onto the internet, , , you're going to attract other people have similar interests it's a wonderful machine for that. It's a, or it's a ecology for, um, collecting affinities or, you know, attracting I think once you put a stake in the ground and you kind of start creating a, uh, locus of energy around a particular thing.
You're attracting other people who have that same interest and you're also creating. That interest right in other people.
**Julian:** . Um, all right. I'm liking this feeling like we have a nice little do a nice little
**Dave Gray:** Yeah. Right.
**Julian:** tidbit for the, for the podcast feed. So, um, you know, I'd say be well and be in touch as if we wouldn't be. Um,
**Dave Gray:** for, uh, thanks for reaching out and, uh, connecting the dots and, uh, like really, uh, there are so many more, yeah, we could keep going. We could keep going forever.
Uh, let me just, I'm going to just give you some connecting points. Um, the school, the possible it's just school, the possible. com it's, uh, it's for people who want to connect with other people who are all figuring out what's their next, uh, their best next step together. That's really what it's about.
**Julian:** Beautiful.
**Dave Gray:** Everybody has a best next step if they can only figure out what it is right towards the life that they want. Uh, that's what we're working on. Everybody helping everybody figure out their best next step.
**Julian:** Yeah. Amazing.
**Dave Gray:** Yeah. All
**Julian:** Thank you for that. Thank you for your time. Appreciate it.
**Dave Gray:** Well, it's been a pleasure. to see you, Julia.
**Julian:** All right, my friend. Talk to you soon.