The lesson I learnt from co-founder of Google X: Personal growth is not about you

By Annamaria Nagy,

Tom Chi, co-founder of Google X has visited our office at Mindvalley to give a talk about how rapid-prototyping can be used to restore environmental damage and save our planet. He has shared how he built the first prototypes of the Google Glass, his models of turning vague strategies into results and his definition of failing & learning. His concepts of reality amazed us all, but it wasn’t until an unexpected question from the audience that my tears started falling in the midst of a hundred people sitting in sheer silence.


Tom has flown over from San Fransisco to Kuala Lumpur overnight and after four hours of sleep, he arrived directly to our Hall of Awesomeness in track pants and slippers just to deliver his speech and then continue his journey to another city.
He shared myths about virtual reality and how a 10-minutes experiment can beat a theory perfected for 18 months.
We have learnt how many times we have to try and fail in order to increase our chances of success by 87% and how dark spots in our brain prevent us from innovation.

But what is fascinating about all of this is that Tom doesn’t just use these techniques to increase his revenue or enhance his productivity, he is actually using these techniques to slow down deforestation and reverse global warming.
In the current speed of climate change, our globe could become unlivable in a few generations because of the exponential pollution we create on the Earth. Tom is committed to the audacious goal to bring the planet back to its state before the industrial age and he is doing it in the most humble way I have ever seen.

At the end of his talk we had the chance to ask questions so Klemen, our CMO raised his hand and addressed Tom: What is a global problem worth solving for a personal growth company like Mindvalley? Despite the complexity of this question, Tom has answered it without thinking and his response left us all speechless. This is what he said, paraphrased.

In the beginning of the 20th Century, we have discovered the splitting of the atom. But what was the consciousness level of humanity at that time? Nationalistic views, one culture against the other, and the superiority of one race over other human beings. So how did we decide to wield this technology in that level of consciousness? We decided to make the most deadly weapon ever created in the history of humankind. And we are still dealing with the consequences a hundred years later.

Here we are now in the 21st century and we are getting major gains on computing, artificial intelligence, and robotics but our level of consciousness is still not great overall. People are worried that robots will take over the world. Well, artificial intelligence has already taken over the world! We are living in a commerce consciousness where the best AI is used to serve you ads and trade stocks and which makes money more important than anything else.

Maybe the national boundaries are getting blurred as long as you’re rich. But where is the story about millions of people living in poverty? When the price of coffee crashes in a hundred milliseconds the wealthy loses a bit of money, but the families in the developing world who have spent 3 years making it possible to grow that coffee crop will live in poverty for the next 10 years. We don’t realize how many people get hurt by a single algorithm.

If in the past you wanted to build a tactical missile you would’ve needed a $2.5M asset. Right now you can buy an industrial drone for $1000, buy explosives for another $4000, fly directly above your target and destroy it. It’s about the level of consciousness. If you can use drones to replace a $2.5M tactical missile then you can also use drones for reforestation and to turn back climate change.

Technology is getting more and more powerful while the level of consciousness is far behind. If we don’t advance consciousness faster than we advance technology, we are done. I don’t know if I can say this strongly enough:

If the power of technology keeps on doubling continuously and in the same period of time consciousness only gets 20% better, we are done.

This is about consciousness, and what you guys are in a business of is elevating human potential and human possibility. This is your medium. I am emboldening you guys to be ridiculous about this! Personal growth is not only about being fit and making tons of money. These are great things but right now we are plugging it into this consciousness which is so disconnected. Technology is getting tenfold more powerful – so what happens when it costs $100 to blow up any building you want?

This is the world we are creating right now and you guys are at the forefront of advancing consciousness faster than technology. It is possible, we just need something we haven’t seen yet.

I couldn’t keep myself getting emotional after hearing these words. I often talk about my personal vision of breaking down the walls between ethnocentric people. To unite people regardless of being straight or gay, black, white and all the colours of the rainbow. The disabled, the divorced, the victimized. I live and breath personal growth, just like everyone else at Mindvalley, but sometimes I need to be reminded of the fact that personal growth is not so personal after all. It’s much more.

It’s not about me and it’s not about you. It is about growing together so that we can step through those walls and trample them beneath our feet. As Vishen, our CEO said, it is time to get up from your yoga mat, get off your meditation cushion and go out to create a dent in the universe. There are no extra people in this world and all of us have a vision to fulfill. Tom Chi has chosen to fight global warming before he knew how to do it.

It is time to ask yourself the question: What do you stand for?

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Written by Phil Collins

Good news enthusiast, always looking at the brighter side of life


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