Feb. 3, 2022

132 Todd Rose: Harvard Researchers Revealed Breakthrough Research to Achieve Lasting Fulfillment

Harvard researchers revealed breakthrough research about achieving lasting fulfillment.

Imagine a world where you get to live your best, most authentic life—where you can follow your heart, listen to your gut, and do what you love.

You don't need to imagine it...Dr. Todd Rose has found breakthrough principles to achieve lasting fulfillment.


  • (18:22) (1:45:58) We talked about the 3 drivers and 3 obstacles to fundamental wellbeing—and he offered insights to build those drivers and get rid of the obstacles.
  • (6:33)We talked about finding a fit between our individuality and our environment in our lives and into how we make our day-to-day decisions.
  • (23:12)We talked about 2 different ways to predict your own behaviors: personality psychology vs. if-then signatures.
  • (1:24:30)We also talked about how we have all the know-how, all the technology, all the resources to go beyond the individualistic to the societal level.
  • (86:03) We talked about an environment that fosters "social trust" to make it happen.
  • (1:13:32)We talked about the "zero-sum game" mentality as the main barrier to realizing this.
  • (1:37:17)We also talk about public sentiment as the most powerful tool we have at our disposal to shift our culture.
  • (1:40:48)Lastly, we talked about how social change could happen at a speed and scale that is unimaginable. And we have in our power to unleash fulfillment and contribution never done before in human history.




Quotable Quotes

"The nightmare scenario for me was that all of these technologies and systems start to know you better than you know yourself. So they can control you in subtle ways in the name of personalization. And you will thank them for it."


"We did the largest survey ever using private opinion methods looking at the trade-off priorities people have for the life they want to live. Purpose and fulfillment and pursuing their own individuality in service of a greater contribution is the defining finding."


"Our brains are wired to conform to our groups. If you find out you're at odds with your group, it can trigger an error signal to correct your behavior. This conformity bias we have is fine except for it turns out our brains are spectacularly bad at estimating group consensus. And the reason being is your brain assumes the loudest voice repeated the most is the majority."


"You cannot understand behavior or motivation or anything independent of the context in which somebody is operating. Personality psychology therefore is miserable at predicting behavior; if-then signatures are very good at predicting behaviors"


"When you find the people who are objectively successful and like happy and just living life to purpose, what you see consistently is they do a lot is they figured out who they are and what they care about. And they learn how to turn that into a contribution"


"Find the one that optimizes fit to you and that you can live with the worst case scenario. Once you realize that the worst thing that could happen to you, you just get better and better at living a more fearless life."


"There's no path to self-actualization, fulfillment, excellence, where you're just stalled. Better to make a choice, you learn from it, and you move on."


"The most reliable insights about yourself are the ones you discover from repeated patterns. Without some sort of technological assistance there, it's deeply difficult to ever really extract those patterns about yourself."


"Get good at knowing who you are and get good at and how you make decisions and the rest will follow."


"Happiness is not a fixed pie. Flourishing is not a fixed pie. And if we get the conditions right, we can all live more richer and fuller lives."


"The opposite of that trust is control. Whenever you get in the name of efficiency comes at the cost of trust."


"Culture precedes policy. Public sentiment is the most powerful tool we have at our disposal."


"We have resources. We have the know how, and we actually share a lot of aspirations and values in common. What's holding us back is the misunderstanding that we actually share those things in common."


"You've got to find this middle ground between knowing who you are and trusting yourself and actually listening to other people. if you get that balance right, More often than not, you're going to make really good decisions"


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[00:00:00] CK: Welcome to Nobel warrior. My name is noble warriors and my interview thought leaders about their journey from the first mountain of achievement to the second mountain of fulfillment, so that you can find your purpose, clarify your vision and create your own legacy in meaningful ways.

If you have any friends who are on this journey, who could use more inspiration to take that leap of faith, go ahead and share this episode with them. They will. Thank you.

My next guest is Todd rose. He's the author of two best selling books, dark horse. In the enough average, he just published his newest book. Go to Amazon. Find his new book, collective illusions. You.

He's the co-founder and president of a think tank populace dedicated to transform how we learn work and live so that all people have the opportunities to live fulfilling lives.

imagine a world where you get to live your best. Most authentic life, where you can follow your heart, listen to your gut and do what you love.

don't need to imagine it. Dr. Rose has found breakthrough principles to achieve lasting fulfillment.

We talked about how there are three drivers and three obstacles to fundamental wellbeing. He offered penetrating insight on how to build these drivers and get rid of these obstacles.

We talked about how to take these insights, like finding a fit between our individuality and our environment into our lives, and into how we make day-to-day decisions.

We talked about the different ways to predict your own behavior. For example, a personality psychology versus if-then signatures.

We also talked about how we have all the know-how, all the technology, all the resources to go beyond the individualistic, to the society level.

We talked about the environment that fosters social trust to make it happen. We talked about the zero sum game mentality as the main barrier to realizing this. We also talked about public sentiment as the most powerful tool we have at our disposal to shift our culture.

Lastly, we talked about how social change could happen at a speed and scale that is unimaginable. And that we have in our power to unleash fulfillment, flourishing, and contribution on a scale that we have never seen before in human history.

So if you're an overachiever looking to find fulfillment beyond achievement, or if you care to make a societal impact, rose will unlock new worlds for you. Please enjoy my conversation with former Harvard researcher, Todd rose.

[00:02:38] Todd Rose: Thanks for having me excited to talk

[00:02:41] CK: Let's just hit the ground running. Dark horse is the mindset that empowers you or whoever's listening to consistently make the right choices that fit your unique interests, your abilities and circumstances, and what guide you to a life of passion, purpose, and achievement.

So you actually started this journey. 2013 when you started the research, this, so this just a through line of this. So tell us, what's your origin story?

[00:03:10] Todd Rose: So how far back do you want me to go?

Cause I can tell you I'm going to talk intellectual curiosity, how I arrived at it, but the personal path, which they, they, they intertwine quite a bit.

[00:03:21] CK: Um, well what compelled you to first explore the science of individuality?

[00:03:26] Todd Rose: Okay. So look, um, you know, on a personal side, the sh the short version, and we can come back to it is, you know, I, I grew up, um, and we're just like, school didn't work for me.

I was such a bad fit. I really internalized that. I wasn't very. Um, it culminated with me failing out of high school. Um, and my girlfriend got pregnant at the time. She's still my wife today, uh, 28 years later. Um, and we ended up, I ended up working in minimum wage jobs and I ended up realizing I'd hit rock bottom, how to turn my life around.

And, you know, the path that going from a high school dropout to eventually getting my doctorate at Harvard and then becoming a professor, I realized pretty quickly that, um, that if I was going to have success and I was going to find a more fulfilling life doing the sort of one size fits all way of doing that, clearly hadn't worked for me.

So I was going to have to make different choices. So that was the personal side of it. But how old

[00:04:30] CK: were you at the time when that insight.

[00:04:35] Todd Rose: It was actually, I started, um, I decided I was gonna go back. I was going to go to college, which was kind of funny, given that I had literally had a 0.9 GPA when I filled out of high school.

So, um, and that insight came, you know, I decided I had to do something cause I didn't want the life that I had in terms of the jobs that I was doing. Um, and I got my GED and enrolled in an open enrollment, um, uh, school called Weaver state university, great place. And my dad actually told me, so I was, um, 20 and my dad said, look, I don't know exactly what the right answer is, but what I can tell you is probably doing more of what you did before isn't going to work.

And so I, I approached everything from the standpoint of this has to work. We only had enough money to, to pay for a semester. And I was going to need to somehow get a scholarship or something. If I didn't want to go back to the last job I had, no kidding goes giving enemas for $7 an hour. That was like the worst job.

And so look, I mean, it's honest work and it needs to be done, so I'm not like, but that's not my, that wasn't my career aspiration. Right? Yeah, exactly. So, so I started making, I knew that like, okay, that the doing what everybody else did, wasn't going to work. And so I had to pay attention to like who I was and, and the truth is it sounds a lot more like I was really thoughtful about it.

I just kind of was like feeling my way around. And I knew, like, for example, some obvious things, like for me, it was the kind of professor that I had made a big difference. Right. Um, I knew that I needed to be very, very engaged in the topic because I didn't have study skills yet. And so I was maintaining a high level of motivation.

Would allow me to get through not being a good student. Um, and I can circle back. I've got some, like, there was a defining moment for me that really taught me about the power of fit that changed my life fit like no, like a good fit, like part of that pursuing fulfillment and having success. It's so much about grading a fit between who you are as an individual and the environment that you're in.

Right. And, and I just think we forget that that'll be a lesson that comes back around with dark horse as well, but I, and, um, I can tell you that story, or if you want to circle back to it, it's up to you. That's come back later. Okay. So, so I had this personal experience, so I went from a 0.9 GPA. I graduated as the honor student of the year, uh, from Weaver state 3.97 GPA pre-med psychology, um, and got into.

And so I knew intuitively that something about my individuality had mattered for that. When I got to Harvard, I was fortunate to study under a scientist named Kurt Fisher who had pioneered this new science called the science of individuality. And it's basically this for over a hundred years before the way we had done science.

And in some ways still do it in some sectors today is rather than study you as an individual. We would literally just get a sample of the population, study them and then make inferences about everybody. Right. And that's still true. Like, I, I was trained in neuroscience and like most, most things you see in magazines or reports about brain imaging was like an average of a bunch of people's brains.

So it turns out perhaps not surprisingly that when we started looking at individuals, what we found was that the group average. Apply to very few people. And quite often literally represented nobody and it was kind of embarrassing. Right. So we actually had to like think, well, like, so we did new methods, new approaches to starting with individuals and then working your way up to generalized theories, that approach to science has taken off.

And it is it's changed. I mean, think about personalized medicine, um, like an education it's changing, how we think about learning and development. Um, some of the most important things for me, like in nutrition, like the listeners right now, I mean, you think about, uh, metabolic problems period in the U S right.

A huge issue. Well, the whole approach to say the glycemic index, which tells us this food, elevates your blood sugar a certain amount. And we all live by that. If we want to try to keep from getting diabetes, right. It turns out my colleagues in Israel who were part of this science found out that like, no, Nobody responds the way the glycemia that says they should nobody.

And it's because it's all based on averages. But importantly, what they found is if you use this new science, you could literally create, hyper-personalized like predictions about your health, about my health. And they now have like an app. I use it all the time. Like one of my favorite things that I tell people is, so I was always worried about diabetes.

And my nutritionist told me, um, during, when I was a young adult, that grapefruit is like almost a miracle thing. Like it's so good. And it turns out on average. It's true. When I got my results back, it turns out that grapefruit is the single worst food I can possibly eat in terms of spiking my blood sugar.

It actually elevates my blood sugar more than chocolate cake. Wow. And, you know, I took from that, I should have more chocolate cake. My wife told me that's not the right takeaway, but, um, but for her, for example, it doesn't, it's great. And so what's really important here is what we've learned distinctiveness matters, right? You can't ignore it. If you want to understand human beings. And importantly, with our technologies, we have the ability to scale that, such that, whereas we were relying on group averages to help create metabolic health and wellness was guaranteeing a lot of people would get diabetes. Now we can literally ensure optimal metabolic health at a population level by focusing on individuals. So, so that's the science. I was a part of, I'm very grateful to have learned from one of the founders of that field. And it's been really interesting to watch it take off everywhere.

Um, I had written end of average, to try to summarize that new science for the general public, because I felt like there were lessons for us to think about our own lives and what I was seeing as a, as a professor with the people who wanted to know how to do this were largely the people in charge of big systems and social media companies.

And he's like, and I thought, that's great. You mean personalization? And I was like, that's awesome. But what worried me is if, if everyday people don't have this knowledge. Then these insights can be used to control you right. More than empower you. So that was the point of social dilemma. Exactly. Right, exactly.

Right. And what's funny is at least in the old standardized way, when you were being controlled, you kind of knew it and that you could feel it, right. It's just brute force. The sort of nightmare scenario for me was that all of these technologies and systems start to know you better than you know yourself.

And so they can control you in subtle ways and you will thank them for it. You'll call it personalization, but it's so I, I felt like in order for our understanding of individuality to be an empowering, like freeing kind of insight, right. That gives people a greater self-determination. It wasn't enough just to embed it in our technologies.

We had to get it to the people and change our mindset about how we see ourselves in these.

[00:12:24] CK: Yup. Pause. So the premise is that individuals are changing ever-changing and then I also read your academic papers in 2013 is based on pathways and context, right?

So you're changing based on the pathway you take as well as the greater surrounding the greater context. And therefore there's no one size fits all to give people this experience of success and fulfillment. Is that accurate statement? Absolutely.

[00:12:49] Todd Rose: Cool. To get to dark horse, so in end of average, I had, I had spent time profiling companies that had done a really good job of harnessing individuality. Right. Some places I thought were pretty great. Um, and what I found when I was there is I kept running into like individual employees who were just amazing at what they did and seemed to just just love the passion for their work. And they have these incredible backstories, just like, I'm like how in the world did you end up here? Right. Like, um, and I had to put that on the side cause I was finishing a book. Right. But so end of average became a best seller. That was great. And then my former Dean, so there's this.

So he said, well, what do you want to do next? And I said, well, you know, I'm actually really curious about these people that I ran into. Like, like how did they end up being so successful, but clearly didn't take the typical path. And I had assumed that, um, somebody had studied that. Right. And they dug it. I just didn't find anything that was satisfactory.

So we launched the dark horse project at Harvard and the idea was just, I just want to know it. Was there anything about these people that we could learn about it or was it like, they're just really just so idiosyncratic that there's no lesson to learn. Right. So I wanted to find that out and that's why we started the dark horse.

[00:14:15] CK: Yeah, so dark horse, 2018. How has your thinking evolved since then?

[00:14:22] Todd Rose: So, you know, the core insights from dark horse have held up really well. I feel very, very confident. Um, I often say this, like with my own children, if they would have asked me, should we follow your, like my personal, whereas I would have said, no, no, no, no.

It was too many lucky things. And like, it's not a reliable path after like synthesizing insights from hundreds and hundreds of dark horses across all walks of life. Those insights, I feel like are absolutely reliable. And in fact, my own children follow them in the choices they're making. So that's held up.

What's changed for me is I feel like, um, one way to think about dark horses is that. Uh, quirky set of people or a small subset of people. What we've seen with the research we've done at populace is this yearning for fulfillment. This yearning for purpose and passion has spread so wide. I can speak to the U S cause that's where we've done.

Most of our research, that it is the dominant way that people privately think about the lives they want to live. So we're now sitting here in a society where most people want that, but they don't necessarily know how to get it. And our institutions and our culture are not really built to facilitate that.

And so realizing this is less about some curious one-off, you know, dark horses and more about a complete transformation about the way we think about a successful life.

[00:15:48] CK: Yeah. So people say, I want a fulfilling life. It's a very rational reason. But if you look at their behavior and you wonder like, Hmm, you know, I'm not sure. Right? Cause you, you say you wanted to lose weight as a, as a generalizing mobile. Right. But yet, you know, donuts and you don't exercise, you watch Netflix. So, so, so I'm curious, based on your research from all your data points, what kind of people desire what we're talking about here, you know, not just successful quote unquote from, by societal standards, but actual fulfilling life that celebrates our individuality.

[00:16:27] Todd Rose: Yup. So good question. And, um, in 2019 at populace, we did the largest survey ever using private opinion methods, which I can explain in just a sec, um, looking at the trade-off priorities people have for the life they want to live.

Right. And it w we can, before we gave them this really complex instrument, um, we just asked him. That's kind of your version of your question. And a lot of people say, of course, I want fulfillment. Fulfillment is how I think about success. What's interesting is we give them trade off scenarios to try to like tease out those trade-off priorities.

Not just do you want fulfillment, but really if I give you scenarios and you have to trade, you can't have everything. What are your priorities? And we use methods that are really, really well developed in business and other places like, like, um, the same it's called conjoint, like on an iPhone or something like, how do I get it, the right combination of price point and features.

Right. If I just ask you, do you want more memory in your phone? Sure. Right. But, but what are you willing to sacrifice for that? Right? Or you will you pay more for it when you give up a better screen? So we applied those same methods to the trade-off priorities we have for how we define success. What was so shocking is this idea of.

Purpose and fulfillment and like pursuing my own individuality in service of a greater contribution is the defining feature. Like there's no way to cut the data, no way to cut demographics, no way to cut, uh, ideology for which a majority of people do not share that view. Um, so to your earlier question that you say, okay, fine.

So let's say we even believe them cause it's private opinion and it's really hard to fake. Why is that not showing up as behavior? Right. Like, and I think there are, there are three obstacles, um, that we could talk about, right. The first is, um, our institutions aren't really equipped for it. So it, it, it does take right now.

Right? I mean, you got people listening to you and following your guides because it's not something that you are just going to. Um, be able to, uh, slide into society and society's helping you figure this out. You're going to have to figure it on your own right now, until we get better at that related to that is, is that we don't necessarily, we don't know our own prior.

I mean, we can think, we know until we start making choices and, you know, I mean, that's how we learn, right? Like you, you either you think you want a fancy car, but then you go and spend all the money. And you're like, actually I liked the security that having money in the bank hat, right? Like, like, and that's good.

Right? Some of those things you just got to learn by making choices. Um, so, so that means we're not always going to make the best choices, the third thing, and the thing that we're really focused on now, and as the point of my next book, um, is this concept of a collective illusion and it's, it's, it's this and it's crazy.

So, you know, I, I was trained as a neuroscientist to begin with. And one of the things that is just so fascinating about human beings and this one. This will be shocking to anyone listening. We're we're we love conformity. Our brains are wired to conform to our groups, right? Quite literally, I can put you in a scanner and if I give you a task and I tell you that your opinion is with your group, it triggers a dopamine reward, like the same areas of the brain, that hard drug set, right?

If you find out you're at odds with your group, it can trigger an error signal, which is meant to correct your behavior. So we, so this conformity bias we have, that's fine, except for it turns out our brains are spectacularly bad at estimating group consensus, like so bad. Um, and the reason being is it, it takes a shortcut, which is your brain assumes the loudest voice repeated the most is the majority.

Like you can see the problem. So what's happened in society today because of the effects of things like social media, which we can talk about, but like, we are spectacularly wrong. About what our groups actually think. And the reason this is important is that when we feel the need to belong, we ended up behaving in ways that we think our group accepts rather than the things that we personally care about.

And it happens all over the place. So if we come back to success, this is, this is no cake. Cause one of the biggest illusions we've ever found out of 76 trade-off priorities for a successful life, the number one thing people think most, everybody else cares about is fame. Think that is the defining feature of success for most people, according to most people, um, in private, it's actually dead last 76 out of 76.

So again, here's the problem. I'm trying to live a life of fulfillment purpose, but I'm convinced most, everybody else cares about being famous, being this wealthiest person, you know, all these things. So what happens when I feel. I got a signal belonging. I make choices that are consistent with my group, not with myself.

So these collective illusions are actually warping a lot of our behavior in ways that harm us personally, but also harm our groups because it's not what the group really wants.

[00:21:51] CK: I mean, he's gonna do a quick recap. So what you said, uh, why aren't they showing up in behavior?

The first thing you said is institution not suited for it. There's no easy way for us to essentially discover this or slide into this. Right. The second thing is we don't know our own priorities. The third thing is, as you said, is the collective illusion.

So, so there's the micro or the individual that is the system is systemic and there's the ambient. There's the, the cultural right.

Um, So, so the, the second point that you said about, we don't know our priorities, um, let me push you on, on that just a bit, let's say my choice of eating this doughnut, or not depends on how hungry I am.

Let's say so it's contextual. So I may at one point, uh, hanging out with friends or whatever one, this fancy car, but when I'm by myself, I just want to go to the Zen monastery. Right? So what's your response to that? Yeah.

[00:22:51] Todd Rose: So the three principles of individuality are that every one of us has, we call jagged profiles. So we're, we're on the high end on somethings we're in the middle, on others were on the low end on something like, so there's no like, just like in body size, there's no size. That's not how that works. Right?

Like, and so, yeah, it is. And so we put, the second principle is the context principle, which is that you cannot understand behavior or motivation or anything independent of the context in which somebody is operating, which includes other people. Um, and so to your point, right? Um, it's, this is why like a lot of personality psychology, right?

You're a big five. I'm a, I'm a type a person. It turns out to be miserable at predicting behavior, like miserable because it's not true. It's like, it's your behavior varies pretty systematically in context. Right. And so what we see is that what the science talks about now is instead of sort of types of people hovering over all situations we model what's called if then signatures.

So we can get very good at predicting your behavior. If it's like, like, let's take about like, are you an extrovert or an introvert? It turns out that's not the right question. It might be with people, you know, really well. You're very extroverted. And with people you don't know, you become an introvert right.

Or whatever. And once I know that that is very predictive. If I know that you are with people, you don't know, I can predict with reasonable certainty that you will be introverted, you know? And so that same thing goes with our priorities. They certainly are contextualized. Right. And what's interesting is once you get into the habit of knowing how to think about your own motives and your priorities and understanding and observing your own behavior in the very nonjudgmental way, right?

Like it's like, why do they make that decision? Right. What do I learn from that? You'll get good at picking up these, if then signatures that help you understand your own contextualized, motives and priorities. Yeah.

[00:24:49] CK: I love it. I love that on speaking to a scientist where if we can talk about data, there's also, um, lack of better words, quite.

Because I'm really into like meditation and spirituality, that kind of thing. So in, in meditation, a huge part of meditation is you become the observed self. So you observe your thoughts, you observe your emotions. And at some point you realize like, Hey, I am not my thoughts. I'm not my emotions. Right. And then, then you then have cultivated this muscle of sovereignty.

I could choose at any given point to either turn up the thought or be the thought, or be the emotion and so forth. I don't know if there's any correlation in what you're hearing here, but that's kind of what comes to mind as you're speaking about that. It

[00:25:34] Todd Rose: was one of the most important things that I ever learned.

Um, and I had the great, great honor of spending time with the Dalai Lama. And we ended up getting locked together in DC over a lunch for four hours because someone called a bomb. It was just a few of us and we just sat and talked about everything and a lot of blessing, it was. So I was so great. I've never seen anybody who ever embodied their beliefs more than, um, but one of the things I took from the conversations and, and was eyeopening to me, it will be obvious to you because I'm still, uh, pretty novice at this, but like, it never dawned on me that the loop between my thoughts and my behavior, right.

It feels continuous. Right. It feels that there are my thoughts. I own them. And then there's just the behavior and learning to observe that number one, these thoughts just bubble up all the time. Right? My choices when I grab onto one, not, not that it came up, but even the fact that there is just this gap between the thought and the action and in that space is my self determination.

Right? My ability to decide my behavior off of that was transformative. Right. Uh, it's, it's a small space, but for me, everything matters about that.

[00:26:56] CK: Yeah. So since we're talking about that topic might as well jump, go deeper into the rabbit hole, right? Uh, Viktor Frankl that the, the there's a space between stimulus and response and in that space lies our growth and our freedom.

Precisely what you're saying. To me, that spaciousness, that awareness is the micro, micro atomic habits, discipline that awareness to ultimately grow into the person that I want to be the life I want to live. The, the, the, the life of success and fulfillment. Right. I'm curious to know your thoughts. You've got mean all the data.

They've done. All the research you've done. If you concur with that micro habit or habit

[00:27:44] Todd Rose: I do, because the thing is, is like, it's one thing to have. Right. As human beings work, we're blessed with that. We break the bonds of stimulus response. We have the potential to, right. But if you don't understand how to make use of that in a purposeful way and that, and that understanding hasn't become these micro habits.

Right. Then I hate to say, I want to say we're no better than it animals, but I mean, at the end of the day, you're wasting that gap. Right. Um, and so cultivating the knowledge and skills and converting those into habits and micro habits, as you said, allows us to take full advantage of that space that allows us to self determination, right?

To pursue a life of, of meaning and purpose and fulfillment on our own terms, which is really the only way you can ever get to a life of fulfillment and excellence.

[00:28:37] CK: So as a systems thinker, as, as society architect, right? You have a thinking to really do this. If you agree with that, then is the, I guess the first domino to make systemic change, starting there, like, what are some of the, again, I'm coming, jumping in a bit, but you know, what do you think is the, you know, w the aspiration I'm making systemic change, where do you then start?

[00:29:03] Todd Rose: So actually it's funny cause you swerve right into like the reason I left Harvard, which I loved the people I work with and that was, you know, big part of my identity and that was hard, but I get to do exactly only the things I want to do here at populace, which was amazing, but it is the reason we exist is there is the possibility for.

Right now we structure our society. Assuming it's zero sum in so many ways that your success has to come at my expense. It's just not true. Right. It's like demonstratively false. Um, and that societies can be structured to be materially and spiritually positive some right, such that, that we actually do care about each other's outcomes and opportunities because we all benefit.

Um, and so we exist to create those systems and cultural conditions. And so a lot of that involves, uh, the transformation of our institutions. And we, you know, like I said, I have a background in, in complex systems and like, we know how to do that. It's hard, but we know to do that. Um, for us, it's, it's two things simultaneously.

There are things we can do about with respect to our institutions that facilitate this kind of thing we're talking about. Right. Make it so much easier. So let's take one example, like. It's purpose is fundamentally wrong, fundamentally wrong, like right. The system we have was never built, ever built was never meant to develop autonomy agency purpose, meaning it's not even meant to develop anything. It is meant to batch process and sort,

and I don't mean that as bad as it sounds. It sounds awful now. Cause it is awful, but that was the industrial model. Right. And the assumptions behind it were that very few people had talent. Right. And that we could give everyone the same experience and sort the best from the rest.

And that was great. Okay. Fine. Those assumptions turned out to be wrong, like demonstratively false. But right now our children go into schools that teach them to see themselves in this standardized way, which actually makes it significantly harder for them to engage in the kind of things we're talking about.

Right. So there are things we can do and need to do about our institutions, but at the end of the day, You're not getting the transformation of society simply by changing institutions. Right? If, if we don't go direct to the individual, if we don't equip them with the knowledge and skills to do this in their own lives, you're not going to get culture change and you're not going to get broad systems transformation.

So the things you're doing not to not to just compliment you cause we're here, but you know, it really matters. It matters. And a good example is worth all the words we can, we can speak today. Right? So, so someone who internalizes what, you're, what you're sharing with them and goes and puts it to work in their life.

It benefits them, but it also benefits everybody around them because they see a model, right. They see it working. Um, so I think at the end of the day, there's really no way around like getting to the conversations with each other as, as human beings and equipping each other with the skills and knowledge we need to pursue fulfillment and make our best contribution.

[00:32:21] CK: Thanks for the answer. Thanks for the compliment. And back to you. I mean, we we're very much aligned. Absolutely. So human beings, we are social animals. We like to look at successful examples. Hence why we love gurus. We love teachers. We love celebrities. Celebrities somehow have the highest echelon of our society today.

We are are social animals. Great. So are there great examples of dark horses? Who do you think in your mind are exemplary since you've done an extensive study on this ?

[00:32:55] Todd Rose: Yeah. It's, it's so funny. Right? Um, so I've learned a couple of things from, from spending a lot of time focused on this topic and I've been fortunate to.

And I don't mean to sound like a jerk or, or like, like, like praising myself. I'm, I'm fortunate to know a lot of reasonably famous people and successful people. And number one, um, wildly disappointing in so many ways, right? Like, like this idea of like, you know what I mean? Like, and w I say that only because

with the dark horse project, we intentionally decided we weren't going to study famous people, because I felt like if there was going to be anything to learn, learning from someone who has more money than God, or is famous.

And it's like, is that why? Like, like, but what about the, like me, I thought about me growing up in rural America with no money and very limited opportunities. Like the insight that if you have a billion dollars, then this is all available to you is not very good, uh, information.

Um, and so what I have found is so even the most famous people, I know who we all know people who are objectively successful, so to speak and miserable. Right? Well, listen, don't emulate that, right? Like that is that there's nothing there.

But when you find the people who are objectively successful and like happy and, and, and just living life to purpose, like what you see consistently is they do a lot about what we're talking about.

Like they got to where they got to, because they figured out who they are and what they care about. And they learn how to turn that into a contribution. Right. Um, and what I love about it is the people that inspire me the most, when it's all said and done are I've met so many people on this journey that are just everyday people living lives of excellence and purpose. And what's funny is once you get out of the trap of seeing excellence through this standardized lens, right? Like this pyramid where it's like, there's only a few people that can be it. You realize seeing people doing things that they are deeply passionate about is nothing is more inspiring to me.

Nothing. I am such a sucker for those stories. Right. And what I've learned with the dark horse project is I prejudged so many of them before this, based on what it was they're doing, because in so many ways, I'd be like, I can't imagine why anyone would care about doing that. And so I didn't even, I stopped there.

Right? So unless you were doing what we all think we all should be doing, we just write you off. But when you realize what we want is to see excellence, we want to see people who are passionate and excellent at what they do. Then the aperture opens and you can see it's, there's so many people living really incredible lives and there's, there's such an inspiration.

And what I love about that is when you, when you free yourself from this comparative mindset, right, that you're seeing the world through the lens of I'm, I'm good because you're worse than I am. Right. It frees you to stop it. It frees you when you see excellence and passion, instead of see th th the, the emotion being envy, right?

It's it is one of, they make me want to be a better version of myself. Right. And I love that. And I think that it's when we get to that place where we are social creatures, but that does not mean that it has to be comparative. And it has to be like me versus you. We can use our social nature to lift each other up and, and, and benefit from each other's success.

[00:36:46] CK: Yeah, absolutely. One of the very selfish or self-serving purpose of doing noble warrior is I enjoy engaging with, you know, uh, deeply re reflective people like passionate people. Uh, as you're speaking, one quote came to mind. Hedge fund manager, Joon Yoon. He said, tell me, tell me your passion, allow me to see the world through your eyes.

Because from that, the world is much richer and more abundant through that lens of passion. So that's a very, self-serving reason why I do noble warrior.

[00:37:25] Todd Rose: Isn't it great. And it's like, why don't you come away from all of this? Like number one, I have such a brighter view of humanity from missing these kinds of engagements.

And you start to realize that human distinctive. It's not in contrast to our shared humanity, right? It is not something that has to work in antagonism, right. That it's, it's something we actually share. And it's part of our journey and part of our fulfillment and part of our contribution to one another.

[00:37:56] CK: Um, so as a father and also as a public intellect, right, as a teacher, a mini source, people look at you and then they want to learn from you, right? How do you encourage people to embrace, um, the dark horse model, right? That does this, this, this idea of embracing individuality, embrace who you are, embrace, what you want, because there's only one of you in all of creation ever, ever, ever. Embrace that.

How do you, and then, and then, and then the greater environment, whereas like no standardized success, you know, fame and fortune and societal approval is what you need. So how do you. Uh, gently or not so gently enroll your kids. People will look up to you to let go of the standardized version for the dark horse model.

[00:38:50] Todd Rose: It's hard.

It's hard. Look, I, I mean, my entire professional life has been about understanding individuality about channeling that in things that everything to success to like studying cancer or learning. And yet, uh, I'll tell you a personal story. So both my kids are older because we got married. We were 19. So like my wife and I, so, um, it's, it's been so fun to watch them, you know, make choices in life.

But we grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and I've never seen anything. Like my kids did the pressure towards standardized success, particularly with respect to college, you know, like for me, where I grew up, it was like, oh, you're gonna go to college. Okay. Well there's one up the road. Right. And you're like, wow, look, I went to college, right?

No, no, no, no. Here it was. Right, but what, oh,

the local college, you

got to go to Harvard and just trust me, man. Like, it's great, but it's not, there's plenty of great places. Um, but what's interesting is with my oldest son, we watched his effort. He did so well in school. Um, but the process of, so coming to the idea that you've got to go to the best school as everybody else decides, right?

Like not has nothing to do with what is good for you and what that took in the standardized path of success. He's such a good kid, but we felt like it was making him selfish, like even coming down to like, oh, should I choose this, uh, volunteer experience this one? Well, this one will look better on my record.

That's not how you choose how to serve other people. Right? Like, and then I remember he, um, thought about taking, I believe it was a French literature class and he said, well, I don't know if I like it. I, I think I do. I, frankly, I think it was for a girl, but like, um, you know, he said, well, if I don't do well, he was a physics and math major, but I don't do well.

It would harm my chances of getting into the best college. And I was like, actually, that's probably true. And that's really terrible. Right? So we actually, he, he, he applies, he gets into all these great schools, but we convinced him to take a gap year and like go work and go serve. So he went to work, um, at, at a place where, as an, basically an intern around computer science and he had no background in and then went and taught English for free, uh, in Morocco.

And he came back a completely different person, much more centered on who he was. And it turned out computer science was his passion. He had no idea. And now he is a top flight cybersecurity expert. Um, and, but, but, but the better story is, is his brother two years younger. So dark horse comes out. I'm very proud of it, you know, because bestseller and I'm out there giving everybody advice, right?

Like there's no getting around the fact that if you write a book like that, you are telling people how to live their life. Even though I don't think of it that way, but like, you know, here I am and I am like on the road and I get a text from my son and he says, when you get home, we need to talk. And I was like, oh, like, you know, I have my mind's racing.

Like what could this mean? Cause so I get home and he has a copy of dark horse and it's dog-eared and it's got sticky notes hanging out of it and it's highlighted. And he says, I think I need to make a change in my. And he had kept pursuing the standardized covenant, even though we had told him he didn't have to, when all the way through college was about to graduate with his degree in mechanical engineering and he was miserable.

And he said, but I don't think I can make a different choice because you've spent, we've spent so much money on my education. Wait, so because it's like sunk costs, right? Like we've already spent that money that does not mean you are condemned to a life with a lack of fulfillment as a result,

[00:42:57] CK: uh, collective illusions, for sure.

[00:42:58] Todd Rose: Absolutely. And so, so, but, but in true dark horse fashion, it's not enough just to follow your bliss off a cliff. That's not the advice. What I'm looking for is that you are willing to take responsibility for your trouble. And then I'll be there every step of the way. So we build a plan of the kind of things that he's passionate about and wants to explore.

And he stripped down his life in terms of his expenditures, to be able to do that. And he contributes and it's been amazing to watch. And so, but I will say my, my initial reaction when he was like, I want to pursue this dark horse thing. I almost felt like saying, oh no, no, no, no, that's for other people's kids, you just go get a job.

It'll be fine.

It's hard. Right. It's hard. But then you're like, no, no, no, no, no, no, listen, if it's good enough for everybody else, it's good enough for my kid. It's good enough for me. Um, and but I say that just because even as somebody who literally wrote the book on it, it's hard for the people around you. And so I think for me, besides sharing the.

The most important thing you can do is embody the mindset in your own life, right? Because especially for people who look up to you, your own children, um, um, your, your friends, your family, they're paying more attention to your life than you realize. They're paying more attention to how you live and the choices you make than you you think.

And so that being an example is probably the most important thing anybody could do right now.

[00:44:31] CK: Um, thanks for sharing that. Um, well, let's, let's go into that way. You just said we do live in a world of 3d reality. So in my mind, it's a constant choice we're making, it's not, oh, when I was 25, I made a choice going from first mountain and second mountain.

No, it's always happening, right? Because there are those external pressures, internal pressures everywhere. So it's that constant choice of winning. So going into that, what do you say for people who are still holding onto oh, well I need to be responsible but I do aspire what to what Todd is saying, right.

To live a life of fulfillment. So practically tactically, do you have any suggestions for people who is actively seeking to make that transition?

[00:45:22] Todd Rose: Absolutely. Like, and we can talk about a few of them here, because look, listen, I get it. Like, it can feel like fulfillment is something you should only be able to pursue once you've figured everything else out.

Or it's a, it's a rich person's game or whatever those hierarchy

of needs once they hit these levels.

And by the way, as someone who's read everything Mazlow's ever written, he never said you had to get it in sequence. In fact, he disagreed with that. Self-actualization was something that was available every step of the way.

And it was about the day-to-day choices you make. Isn't that funny? Like we tend to think, like he never said it like, so we've just interpreted that the hierarchy, in terms of like, first I have to do this, then I have to do this. And so we leave fulfillment and self-actualization, I guess what for our retirement.

Right. Like, um, but I also get like, again, like I have been there and I don't mean to glorify it, but I promise you, most people isn't, as, we're never as poor as I was, I mean, we were on welfare. I was working minimum wage jobs and that's about as bleak as it gets. Like, it's just, how do you get out of that?

Right. And so if you think about fulfillment, as you said earlier, it's not about one life decision. I mean, some choices have more consequences than others. It's about, especially with the darkness, they were so phenomenally. At making day-to-day choices and always make the right choice, but they learn quick.

And so there's a couple of things that, um, I think let's talk about the choice, the choice aspect. So, because I look be the opposite of responsible, isn't being a dark horse. It's not that you are abandoning responsible choices. In fact, responsibility was part of the heartbeat of dark horse mindset, right?

Your fulfillment can't come at other people's expenses right there. So, you know, there's a lot of things that I would do if I just let everybody else foot the bill. Right. But, um, so what I think is really important is we tend to think of choices as the big monumental amounts. But as you said, it's the day-to-day choices all the time and you always have a choice.

I'm sorry, there, it may not, you may not have every choice, but you always have a choice and the choices are almost never equivalent in terms of their potential for fulfillment. Right. And so recognizing what you're trying to do is chain together a series of small choices that ladder up to fulfillment and purpose, and then you realize we all have that path available.

And so recognizing and valuing the fact that you have choice and seeking it out and don't letting it pass. We tend to like hoard our choices because we're so afraid of making them it's like personal

[00:48:09] CK: choices.

[00:48:11] Todd Rose: So it's, we'll hesitate to make the choice because we want to preserve the escape route. We want to preserve.

It's like, as soon as I decide, let's just pretend as soon as I decide I'm going to go to LA because I want to be an actor. Well, shoot all this other stuff, you know? But as long as I stay in a state of not having made a choice, everything is in theory open to me and isn't that better. And so we ended up stalling out and we can come up with a million excuses why I can't make a choice right now.

Right. But, but here's, here's the. From the dark horse research that I thought personally, it was one of the most insightful things that we learned. Obviously what you're going for is a decision, a choice for which there is the best fit between the choice itself the thing it'll take you on and who you are as an individual, especially your motivations.

But back to the responsibility part, there's some choices that might be really, really optimally, a good fit for you, but for what you really can't make.

Right? You can't and that's okay. So this is how they made decisions, why that was so great of all the choices you have, which is the one that is the best fit to your, your individuality. And then here's the follow-up question that everybody should ask themselves. Can I live with the worst case scenario if I make this choice and you think about it, like I have two kids, I still do have two kids, but they were young that constraint.

It doesn't matter. If going to LA, I want to be an actor going to LA and giving it all up and like this. Well, if I have kids to take care of, I have some minimal set of obligation, so I can't just go, like I have to make a living fine. That's not a choice I'm willing to make. So go to the next one that and find the one that optimizes fit to you and that you can live with the worst case scenario.

And it's so freeing because once you realize that the worst thing that could happen to you, you could live with the fear stays behind, right. And you get better and better at leaving a more fearless life, which is really critical to all this.

[00:50:20] CK: So I love that.

[00:50:22] Todd Rose: Yeah. So that's, uh, that's a be aware of your choices and make them, and look, you've got to make them like there's no path to, to, to self-actualization fulfillment excellence, where you're just stalled right.

Better to make a choice. And when, and when. Working, you learn from it and you move on. Right. And so there's this, and then the last thing I'll say that anybody can do right now, um, you know, as I wrote about in, in the, in dark horse, there's a handful of things that, that you need to know to really make this, uh, a reliable path to success.

But the starting point is something that we rarely teach people, but it's so important, which is understanding your own motivations. And we called them micro motives because we were so shocked at how individual they are. Just like the things that truly get you out of bed. We tend to think they all consolidate around a few big things, right.

Just isn't true. Um, and so like, there are ways to pretty quickly start to get a handle on your own micro motives without making massive choices. Uh, and, and like one easy thing you can do right now. And, and we even have parents doing it with young kids. Think about the things that you are passionate about, like right this second, I don't care what it is.

And then there's a follow-up question. You have to ask yourself, which is, why are you passionate about it? And let me give you an example. I love football. Love it, love it, love it, love it. Like it is. But there are almost an infinite number of combinations of motivations for why someone could care about football.

Right? So passion is when your motivations align with your activities. But what happens if I don't know why? Because is it because I like competition is that I like strategy and team sport? Do I just like being outdoors? So grading some hypothesis for self about, oh, I know why I like football is really important because those are your motives.

Whereas I can't play football right now. Like I'm just, I'm only 47, but yeah, obviously that's not really a path. So. Do I have to go through a midlife crisis because I can't do the thing I was passionate about. No, if I understand my micro motives, I can find other things that check those same boxes and will be equally as fulfilling.

And you'll be shocked at how empowering that knowledge really is.

[00:52:47] CK: Yeah. In my mind. Sometimes you like things just because you like them, you don't even need to explain why. Right. But from this discussion or the journaling or, or the self-reflection or the inspection we get to tease out, right.

That space, you know, in our mind, that's like a gestalt feeling. Like, I don't know why I like it, but let's try to figure out what that is.

Right. And as you said, and you don't necessarily need to do the mechanism. The mechanism is just a proxy to the. Experience that you want. So let's say if your body isn't able to do the football, then you can go directly after you just swap out the mechanism essentially is what you're saying.

Yeah. Yes,

[00:53:29] Todd Rose: exactly. Exactly. And by the way, the, it works the other way too. So many times we judge other people, we see them doing work that we think who would ever want to do that. We do. And once you realize that judgment is not about them, it's about you and that's okay. Right. What is it about their life that you don't like?

What is it about the job they're doing that you can't even imagine? And if you see that as an opportunity to learn more about your own motives, rather than making some value judgment about them as, as individuals, it becomes quite useful, right? So we can learn from ourselves and our own experiences. We can learn from other people and our reaction to them, you know, and, and, you know, it's, what's, what's so interesting is you do that and you get better and better at making decisions.

And suddenly this temptation to pursue the things other people care about starts to dwindle because nothing beats success, nothing beats the feeling of making a choice. That to everybody else seems like, why are you doing this? But for you, it checks the boxes and is the best possible decision. And like, the problem is, is we can't get to that place of like, what's a good choice for you is almost never one that is good on average.

Like it's just so like, it's funny, even the way we think about risk is wrong. Right? So when we think about risks, like, should I go to, I want to be a, I don't know, computer scientists, I want to work at Google. Well, the percentage of people who are going to get to do that is pretty slim. So the risk seems kind of high to make that choice, but that's not right.

That's like the risk across everybody. Right? What you need to know is. Is this aligned to who I am and my motives. And do I understand the choices I need to make? And the strategies all pursue, right? And then you realize actually the risk is significantly lower or it's just the wrong way to think about risk.

And so it's, once you get the habit of that, you you'll gain the confidence to make decisions based on who you are and stop relying on like basically socializing the risk. Like, well, if everybody thinks it's risky, I'm not going to do it. Right. There's safety in that in a sense. But it's, it's, it's, it's, it's a false safety.

Right. And you'll pay for it in terms of fulfillment and success in the long run.

[00:55:48] CK: Yeah, for sure. I want to make a slight comment about the journey from finding this, this micro motives. And then we can go into more like decision matrix and all these other things. Okay. So remind me later, if I don't come back to the decision makers, if is that thing that's super important.

I think everything starts from this yearning, this urge, this curiosity. Right? And it's in my mind, you pull on the thread of curiosity. I don't really know why I'm compelled to have a conversation with Todd, but let's just try. Right. Let's just do that. And then I was like, oh, he's very into it. So go from curiosity to interest, to passion, to perhaps all the way you'd like this burning fire of like the devotion, I'm willing to sacrifice many, many things to do X.

Right? So to me, it's a journey of pulling in that thread of curiosity. So Todd curious to know...in terms of personal practice, as well as seeing all these dark horses, how do they, how do you find this intuitive inkling? That's very, very esoteric that only you can hear.

[00:56:56] Todd Rose: Yeah. The journey is important and the curiosity in particular, because curiosity by definition is interest in the unknown right. Interest in the uncertain. It's not, I'm not curious about watching the Patriots play football. I know that I care about it, right? It's, it's, it's about as close to stimulus response now, as you could get. Right. So I understand that curiosity is the idea, the inkling that, that there is something new that I don't understand that may actually be important to me.

Right? And so this is where that the fear part about it is so toxic, right? Because we know at a neuroscience level that when you are in a fear, orientation, curiosity is dramatically diminished, right? You have a avoidance behavior because look, the truth is, is things that are unknown are either phenomenally valuable for learning for you, right.

Or they can kill you. So at the level of your brain, every time you. You engage in something that triggers by cure that's triggered by curiosity, it actually simultaneously tees up a threat response, right? Because you gotta be ready if this thing is actually bad for you, you gotta be able to get out.

Right. And also an anticipated reward response. And so this learning to lean into the curiosity and creating situations that make it safe to do that right, um, is like so critical because otherwise you're stuck with a journey that is limited by the starting points that you could absolutely confirm right now.

And it's just never going to be good enough. But the, the, the sort of journey from that, from curiosity to how I see it as like discovering your underlying motives and your passion and turning that into purpose and contribution like this, this is everything. And I just I'll just circle back and say, I think it's so critical again, that you brought up the idea of curiosity, because often when people talk about this journey, they leave that starting point out.

Right. And it's almost like I've got my little script and I'm going to learn how to do that. And, um, the last thing I'll say on this journey, and it may be apocryphal, but I'm pretty sure it's true. And I I'm pretty sure I know who said it, but I won't, I won't name it. So I don't look like I'm, uh, you know, I still have some reputation, but it's been important to me.

Um, and this idea of where the idea of burning desire came from, right? Because you might think of it as like something you feel right. I have a burning desire. I feel it. Probably true. But the story that I was told was that it actually comes from the Vikings, right? Which is when they would go to another country, you burn your ships.

So there's no retreat. You are, you're going to succeed or you are going to fail. And the idea is good luck competing with somebody who has burned their ships, right? So this is what I mean when I was thinking about you hold onto these choices and you don't make them, you learn how to make those decisions, and then you gotta make them.

And every time you give yourself an out, you give yourself a reason to do it, to put anything less than a hundred percent into the thing you're going to do. And there's always a reason to quit, right? Always a reason to fall back to the standardization, covenant and follow someone else's path. So learning how to make choices and committing to those choices is critical.

[01:00:34] CK: I don't know if you're familiar with this whole new category of software called personal knowledge management, personal knowledge management software, right? So I'm a huge fan of Roam research is a great note taking tools in my mind.

I'm also using it as a way to excavate going deeper into the depth of my subconsciousness, because I can just keep going deeper and deeper. And it's a way for me to effectively treat. What's happening in my mind because my mind is a cluster of, you know, stream of consciousness is very, very difficult to make any kind of important decisions if I don't unpack them and look at them on paper.

So I'm curious to know what's your opinion about this type of software or roam research specifically about fostering one's ability to live the dark horse lifestyle?

[01:01:29] Todd Rose: So I look, I think it's really important and that the only caveat is, and I fall for this myself is when, when sometimes that kind of stuff, the discovery think itself could be so cool that you just do it.

And so it's like, it almost becomes its own reason as long as we don't lose sight of the fact that the reason we're trying to discover these insights. So then it allows us to make better choices on our own behalf, in real life. Right? Just like when I like, I'm like a hyper-organized person and I use getting things done and things, and, and if you're not careful, it just becomes its own.

Like I checked a box on getting something, right. But there's a reason you're doing this. Here's why this is a really important insight. It comes from me. It comes down to particularly learning about why you're making choices or what you're thinking about what you care about. But any one choice you make, it's very hard, especially when they don't work out.

It's hard to know why it didn't work out or even why it did work out. Right. So like, for example, if I engage with another person and it just is with just us go south, is it because the way I was behaving, is it because of the way they were behaving? Like, and so it's easy to project. It's easy to blame.

What I've found is. The most reliable insights about yourself are the ones you discover from repeated patterns, right? So it turns out anyone can be any reason, but when you start seeing it show up, you know, three, four or five times, it's a pretty reliable indicator. This is something important for you. So the thing is, is without some sort of technological assistance there, it's deeply difficult to ever really extract those patterns about yourself.

So I actually do think that this kind of approach is going to be instrumental. Um, if we're ever going to scale this way of thinking about our lives, well,

[01:03:19] CK: I know you did some machine learning to help humans make better decisions. So let's fast forward to that.

That's part of my fantasy is, Hey, it's really difficult to track streams of consciousness what's happening in my life. The internal decision-making mechanism was important for me was not important for me, my lessons of my failures, my lessons, and my success, all these things. It's just streams of consciousness.

So my attempt in doing Roam and then using, you know, very intricate systems like GTD orZettelkasten or things like that is our attempt to capture these buckets. So in my mind, I fantasize that, Hey, there is a platform that help us keep track of this data and make sense of it and point out patterns that we may not necessarily capture.

And also in reference to the external. Because the world is going even faster, right? Did you do the geopolitical, the Twitter NFTs, whatever the new technology is coming up is very, very difficult to even navigate with intentional effort. So what's your thought on the possibility of navigate with that?

[01:04:35] Todd Rose: I I'm there with you.

And like, if I were king for a day, this is what the technology would be. We need an intermediate layer between us and our digital systems. Right? I think about it as almost your own avatar, its job is to do nothing but represent you and feedback to you, right? These, because think about the problem with, with AI and machine learning in general, right?

You have two choices in terms of how you get these to be highly personalized and predictive. You can start with smart what we might call smart algorithms that make a ton of assumptions. The truth is that's just statistics. Right. And, and given the science of individuality, it will almost guaranteed not actually be about you.

And it will end up being a corrupting influence. It will be the thing that distorts your choices into stereotypical choices, right? About people like you. The alternative is dumb algorithms that need a ton of data, right? To get smarter over time. Well, if, if you can actually have this middle layer that interfaces across all aspects of your life, well, now we're talking, right.

If it can pull in data from Google and data from Facebook and data from your shopping habits, and it's about you, then now we can use your behavioral data, your like psychographic data, whatever is we're looking at to discover patterns that are applicable to you, even if they are not applicable to anybody else, that becomes really interesting to me, right.

That becomes technology in service of true empowerment. And now we just got to figure out then how do you monetize it? So someone will actually build it.

[01:06:16] CK: Well, I mean, okay. So I think that may be a good segue into this, right. Cause in my mind, um, what is success?

In my mind, my definition of micro motives is equivalent to micro desires, right? So success is the fulfillment of our desires, right? So that's, that's my definition of success. My definition of fulfillment is well being content with reality as it is without actually needing to fulfill my desire.

So curious to know what your, uh, definition of success and fulfillment.

[01:06:46] Todd Rose: It's so funny. So I would push on the idea that the contentment, so like it's tricky, right? So I think fulfillment is fundamental. T like the ability to achieve and contribute based on your own private values and priorities. Right? So, and, and how would I know that if I don't understand my desires, right?

That's, that's, that's the core while this, but if I can't turn those desires into achievement and contribution, then they're just latent. Right. They don't mean anything. But I, to your point, right? Like if you're not careful, if you don't understand the concept of enough, then this pursuit of more ends up cannibalizing, whatever it is you actually accomplished.

Right? The number of the thing that I've always invited, maybe I just don't know enough people, but I thought growing up poor. So I grew up poor. I just obsess about money, right? Like if you don't have it, it's like, wow, I sort of assumed. But when I started to get to know really rich people, they would recognize they have more money.

They could live a million lives and not run out of money, but at least the people I know, they tend to be even more obsessed about it. And so I'm surprised by it. And then you realize, because there's, if, if the way you got there is comparative, there's always, somebody's always somebody else. Right. And the way it leads people to make choices, right?

Like I forgot his name, but the story of this guy who, who had made like about $200 million, I just read about it like a couple of weeks ago. And, um, but he started to rub, he came from nothing, starts to rub shoulders with billionaires. He's on the board of like one of the major banks and decides he wants to be a billionaire and then ends up making like illegal insider trading moves and ends up in jail and loses everything.

And you're like, yeah, this concept of enough needs to factor in, right? Like you had a good life. So I think that there is this tension between like, Contentment without achievement is like, you can have a good life just lower your expectations for yourself. Right? Like we can revise our expectations so low that it's like having just learn to learn to live with the thing you have achievement without contentment is insatiable.

Right. And so I think that finding that balance is the key in sort of my view of success.

[01:09:20] CK: Yeah. Appreciate it. I mean, even that question alone is lifetimes of discussion. Right. So we're not going to solve it in this podcast per se, but okay. So let's talk about decisions.

Cause in my mind, how we make decisions ultimately is how we translate from an intention to. Right. So like our life is a collection of decisions that we make. So quote, unquote, monetization, I would say, you know, rather than thinking about monetization, I think like utility, right? Like usefulness. So if there's a way to help people make better and better decisions towards the life that they desire.

I think that is highly valuable. Thoughts on that.

[01:10:01] Todd Rose: Oh, absolutely. Right. Like I was thinking more just crass, like, like how do we get it to everybody? And you know, you either have a philanthropic route, which I I'm a little dubious about, or you have a free market route in which case somebody needs, they're going to have to make a little bit of profit.

So, but look, the truth is, is like even in that space, we live in a world where it's pretty shocking. What we take for granted has given to us for free, because someone has figured out a way to still make money. You know what I mean? It's like, so to your point, if you start with utility utilization, if it adds real value to people's lives, there's, there's a way.

[01:10:38] CK: Well this is, this, this may be slightly esoteric, but I wanted to ask, so the standardized model, right? The standardized common, uh, covenant is hard for me to say, and then let's assume that's one end of the spectrum, right?

And the dark horse, uh, covenant is, is the other, so when is there any like rule of thumb to assess when is appropriate? To pursue the standardized model Rooney is appropriate to yeah.

Whenever that Saturday model aligns with your private motives and, and, and opportunities like there, there's, there's nothing to facto wrong with the model, right.

It's just, we've stitched together and assume that it applies equally to everyone at every step of the way. I don't like it when people think that dark horse thing means we reject the standard and that makes us a dark horse. It does not right. It might make you stupid if you're not careful, like you have, it's about making choices, not in reference to other people, but in reference to yourself.

Right. And that can include your responsibilities and things like that. So provided to me, it's about how the choice was made. Not whether it was part of the standardized covenant or not. Right. Um, and I know plenty of people who. The standardized path, a good chunk of their lives and are very happy and fulfilled.

So it's, it's, I would say, ignore all that, get good at knowing who you are and get good at and how you make decisions and the rest will follow. And then you just don't have to think about whether it's a standardized choice or not.

So as a scientist or a former academic speaking to another form of academic, I love mental models. I love data-driven decisions. I love asking quite self reflective and otherwise. So in my mind, the dream is to essentially have, have a thesis, right? And then you would just have mini experiments throughout, and then you go conversion more and more into your, your, your, your thesis of what it means to live a successful and fulfilling.

Do you have something like that where you have like this grand thesis of what it is, and you just run many experiments for yourself, for your family, for your business and so forth, so you can have

[01:13:03] Todd Rose: lifestyle. Exactly. So, so I actually think of that as like the choice, my, my business partner I made to start populace.

And I mean, it's rooted in a mental model that makes some pretty sweeping assumptions about like society. And then what you do is you systematically test those components of it and you revise. And, um, but I don't think there's a more profound worldview decision to make than whether or not you think things are zero-sum like, is it just the case that there's not enough opportunity to go around?

There's not enough resources, there's not enough, whatever. And so therefore we really are playing a game of musical chairs because if that's true, Then you might want to be as ruthlessly cutthroat, and you might want to realize that like, actually it's a fool's game to care about anybody else. It's a fool's game to like invest in other people.

But if it's not true, then we are literally holding ourselves back. We are condemning ourselves individually and collectively to impoverish lives. Right. And I think for, for me on that side of it, and you think about like free markets properly structured, now that I'm a reformed academic. So this is what I get to talk to you about this.

But like up until Adam Smith, the prevailing model was mercantilism, which assumed economies were zero sum. And the world was unbelievably poor as a result. And we have arguably created more material abundance in the last 240 years than in human history before it right. And what we have not figured out what the leap we have not made is that now we accept that we can have material abundance by getting the conditions, right.

The psychological abundance, the spiritual abundance. We still act as though it's zero sum. I mean, you think about it. And I don't mean to bag on my former employer because there's a lot of great people, but think about higher education, quality equals scarcity. I mean like how absurd it is. It is not about how many people can we educate to put into the world living great lives and making great contributions as it should be in any other sector.

Right? It is literally like how few people can we let it, that's not a good place to be. Right. Um, I'll tell you, uh, one of the things we've been testing. Just, and then just to close the loop on this, um, if you follow the assumptions of positive sum systems to their logical conclusion, including the dignity and worth of every person, their ability to contribute something and, uh, this to be able create a multiplying effect.

It has implications in my mind all the way down to how we deal with things like poverty, right? Like it's unacceptable for people and to be in a state of need, if what you need them to do is be able to pursue fulfillment to make their best contribution. So we've been working with, um, our colleagues doing, uh, in their efforts to do some pretty interesting experiments around cash transfers for poor people is shocking.

Like, and you don't have to just assume of course, that we're giving people the ability to make choices, because we're back to what you and I have been talking about. I mean, choice is the heartbeat of all of this, right? If you don't have choices, what do you have? And so looking at ways to say, like, if we actually empower people facing poverty, not just with resources, so they don't starve, but with cash to be able to make their own choices, is that better?

And I always, I assumed it would be, but like, let's make an inappropriate question and test it, so.

[01:16:33] CK: Okay.

[01:16:33] Todd Rose: So, so the result,

ridiculous, like I, I can't believe so in this particular, uh, uh, study that was actually done by my colleagues at the Schott foundation, it was their baby. I mean, I just get to piggyback on it and learn from it. Cash transfers to people during the pandemic, the poorest people ends up spending, however you want.

Right. And they use debit cards. So you could at least not tied to that person, but at least you could see like, how do they spend it? Something like less than 1% of it was spent on alcohol and tobacco. Something like 70% of it was spent in, in the local community supporting growth and like the ability that, that the ability for that, that sense that I am being invested in entrusted, trusted to make choices for myself and the way that spreads in terms of building social trust within the community.

It's pretty remarkable. Um, and, and, and so like these mental models are important and it's important to test them. And I just, for me, I'm just like, wow, just like, just like before we realized you can have free free markets properly regulated. I'm not saying I'm not talking about, and you could trade and you know, right now China making, raising its people out of poverty, it's not coming at our expense.

That's ridiculous. Right. It's ridiculous. We're all better off. So I think that take that same mental model of abundance. And apply it to the psychological side, the spiritual side, and realize that happiness is not a fixed pie. Flourishing is not a fixed pie. And if we get the conditions right, we can all live more richer and fuller lives.


[01:18:18] CK: So with new technologies, cryptocurrencies and empties, right? Trustless, quote unquote trustless systems in my mind, as you were speaking about the cash transfer thing, I thought this new rise of cryptocurrency and technologies is perfect for some, because it's perfectly trackable is public on the everything transact.

Every transaction is public in the blockchain. You can actually do some series anthropological studies on what we're talking about here. Have you thought, have you guys thought about that? Is this something you excited for?

[01:18:55] Todd Rose: This is great because to me, um, the, the threat to self determination, and I mean that as in the, in this path of fulfillment and trusting people to be able to make decisions in their own lives, we just have a tendency to love, to control other people's lives.

Like we just, and the more we centralize things and standardize things, the more power we put into a few people's hands to determine the lives of way too many people. And, you know, let's just take something like, I, I actually think cryptocurrency is, has the potential, I think right now it's a lot of Ponzi schemes to be perfectly honest, but you know, like what do you do?

Um, I think that this kind of future for currency is critical to being able to like, are like right now a Fiat currency. Destroys wealth. I mean, it's just unbelievable. You cannot just print money and then think there aren't consequences. So the ability to say, listen, we're going to have like a cryptocurrency that you can't just the powers that be had to say, you know what?

My pet thing is, this I'm literally going to like print money. And then all of a sudden you get runaway and play. You know what I mean? Like it's going to, it's going to be important. And I think that these trustless systems in a weird way, promote trust, like, you know, because like you should have to trust in the absence of verification, what you want is anywhere possible to implement verification things, right?

So that we were left having to trust each other only in those places where it's not possible to do something else. So I'm, I think it's important. I actually think that that the, the currency issue and these other things are critical when we think about free societies, which I think are, to me, my assumption is all the things you've been talking about are more.

Likely to happen in free societies that, that give, create the space for individuals to make choices that may not be the same choices that other people would make. Um, and I think that if we don't get the technology, right, the technology is either going to be the great empower of this, or it will be the chains that take us back into bondage.

[01:21:05] CK: Yes. So we had touched upon a few, uh, touch points. One is this space is, you know, sovereignty, right? Internal awareness of what my desire is. We touch a little bit about, uh, the infrastructure, right? The societal, the systematic capacity. Right? And then we also talk about sort of the cultural aspect of it in my mind.

These are some, well, you said it, I didn't say that you said these are sort of the, the, the linchpins of what it takes to. Create a society that empowers humans to thrive individually, not just for the average of all. So having looked at this since, uh, I think you started populous a little while back,

[01:21:49] Todd Rose: right?

Yep. It's been, we've been going at this for seven years.

[01:21:54] CK: Yeah. And then, and then you also looked at, you know, the, the influence of media, uh, machine learning and different types of things. So out of all the different variables that one could devote, uh, what for you is the highest leverage point that you have sort of found, or is it really let a thousand flowers bloom?

We don't really know until, you know, one of them is going to succeed.

[01:22:19] Todd Rose: We, we don't really know. I mean, I'm a big believer in that. Um, I'm and I think that when that's the situation, you're better, you're best to bet on the house. Right. Bet. That on the far,

[01:22:32] CK: just

[01:22:37] Todd Rose: to me, when you think about what the one thing I would say is if I'm king for a day and I say, what's the condition that we need, um, in order to be most likely to get, to make the right choices, not just individually, but collectively that get us to the place we're talking about. And it's going to sound simple, but it's really critical.

And it's, it's actually like, you need high levels of social trust. Like you need. Cause social trust is trust in people you don't know, like, and it's your willingness to refrain from trying to control them just because you don't agree with what is they're doing. And if you don't have that, because think about, there's only two ways we can engage each other with each other as people, right.

We can trust each other, which is meaning at a minimum it's that tolerance, which is I'm not going to try to stop. But at best under trust it's investment. It's, uh, I don't really, I can't believe you like what you like, and I can't believe I would never do it, but I am confident that if we help you, you're going to do something amazing and your contribution is going to benefit everyone.

Right? The opposite of that trust is control. And when we get into a place where we feel like we have to control each other, that downward spiral inevitably descends into authoritarianism, inevitably, there isn't a, an example in history where that's not the case. And so to me, I feel like we're at this interesting inflection point where we've eked out as much as possible in a free society through standardization, right.

And there were some gains. And the frontier now is that the stuff you talk about the frontier is there is a place that free societies could go. That is so incompatible. Two authoritarian regimes. And that is the ability to unleash fulfillment and flourishing and contribution on a scale that we've not seen before in human history.

That seems grand, but I'm telling you, we have all the, know-how, all the technology, all the resources to make that true. What we don't have right now is the willpower and that's to me like, so it's why I'm so concerned when you see social trust, it is declined generation over generation. Since we implemented the standardization covenant, since Frederick Taylor and scientific management, and we start controlling each other, not surprisingly, every successive generation has had lower levels of social trust in the preceding generation.

Um, we have,

[01:25:14] CK: um, maybe cause that was, that was beautiful articulation. In terms of theory, could you give us maybe a little bit of like concretely, what made that look like? What, what may be a feature.

[01:25:25] Todd Rose: Well, maybe a feature of high social trust or yeah, exactly,

[01:25:30] CK: exactly. How would you foster a higher social trust?

Cause it's obvious that we have very little trust towards the government, towards the media. I mean, casing point don't look up is, is a satire, uh, around rattle together, right. Past the, sort of the zeitgeists of our time. So, so knowing that right then, then that's, if that's the direction, one of the head tours, how we rebuilt back the trust towards, you know, a particular system or a particular group or a particular industry, like how do we do that?

[01:26:03] Todd Rose: Three things, three things that like, if you look at the social trust, Like, there are three things. So first of all, the mistake we make with social trust is we let economists study it, which I had, some of my best friends are economists, but I don't care about the aggregate correlations. So they look at and go high social trust ones have good welfare system, like yes, but you don't know that having a good welfare system is what led to social trust.

Right? And like I'm more interested in the psychological and the individual. What do we know, leads an individual to say, you know what? Most people can be trusted. And there's really three things, as far as I'm concerned. And we focus pretty, pretty heavily on these. The first is shared values. So the moral foundation of all social trust is shared values.

You and I clearly share a bond around certain views, right? Like it's why I'm here. It's like the fact that we care about these first principles together, all it's equal. I am more likely to trust you. Right. Knowing nothing else about you. That kind of makes sense. Why does this matter and say, well, yeah, man, in this society, we're like descending into, like, we don't seem to have anything in common.

This is where the collective illusion thing is so important because I'm telling you we've studied more private opinion than any, I think anybody else in this country, and I'm telling you across demographic and ideology, we have a shocking amount of shared values, but because we are convinced that it's not true, it is manifesting is not true.

So this idea of collective illusions is so dangerous to society. And we've got to do something about that because we've got to reveal our shared values. The collective illusions phenomenon is that what ends up happening is using our conformity bias and our need to belong that we end up misreading the group.

And so you get this place where most people in a group go along with something, they don't really agree. Only because they think most people in the group agree with it. Right? And so like that is happening all over American society right now. It is shocking. You name anything that matters. And it's a coin toss, whether there's a collective illusion there.

And so like the simple way out of that, which it'll sound, it's hard, but it's, it's simple. And we know this from history, you can shatter those illusions. The second people start being honest about what they think, right? And that's why like this shift in our culture towards being willing to destroy people's lives because we disagree with their views has it's more than a political talking point, right?

It's unacceptable because even if they are wrong, the silencing effect that it has creates and sustains collective illusions. So right now we know from our own research and others that roughly two thirds of the American public. Say they self silence that they are not sharing views that they believe personally because they don't want to offend other people.

That's not okay. Even if we disagree with them. Right. So we've got to recover that culture, that respects difference of opinion and tolerates dissent. Right. We have to, if you do that,

[01:29:05] CK: if I think about a person, I mean, maybe I'm a pretty public person, so it was, uh, but, but let's say someone who is generally private, right?

What's there is no upside of sharing one's opinion. There's all the downside. There's no upside at all. So you can just even just do the internal calculus. It doesn't make sense to say anything, unless of course you're a public intellectual like you, or like me then, you know, we can pontificate.

[01:29:32] Todd Rose: And unless you end up with a culture where the norms actually like there, there is a place where my need to belong, leads me to be honest.

Right that I owe you to tell the truth about what I think. Um, so we, we, we can do that and it does work. And like, if we, if we're committed to dismantling these illusions, it will start to elevate social trust. That's number one, right? The second will be also fairly simple, but this is why it's good. The best predictor of whether someone is trustworthy is whether you treat them as trustworthy.

Like, like it's it's. So the number of times we have taught ourselves and we've been taught to distrust each other. Right. And so I'm not saying that you should make trusting acts like, Hey, here's my kids. I don't know you, but like who might, you know, or here's my life savings. I'm sure you'll do just fine.

What I'm saying is that if each one of us looks in our lives, We make decisions where we choose to distrust, even though the consequences of someone violating our trust are so small, right? But the act of being treated as trustworthy is contagious. And so looking in our own lives in ways that we can signal trust to other people without putting our whole lives at risk and things is something every one of us can do.

And it will really matter the third thing, which is harder for any one person to do. But it's really important is that our institutions, our public institutions have to trust the public. It's absurd. It's absurd that in a democracy, we have inverted the relationship between institutions and people up until Frederick Taylor and scientific management.

In the 1930s, it was taken for granted that their public systems serve the public. But Frederick Taylor inside in his book actually said, People were first in the future, the system has to be first and we flipped that relationship. And now we all sorta think we just slot into these public institutions that give us very little choice.

The problem with that, whenever you get in the name of efficiency comes at the cost of trust. Because one thing we know for sure is that when we look at the way institutions treat people, people internalize that as well. They must not be trustworthy. Right? Like, and so let's just go back to, uh, the poverty example, our food stamps program spends roughly, and I'll get this wrong by a couple of percentage points, uh, about 25 to 30% of all the money on overhead.

Like to make sure that like some single mom in Oakland doesn't buy the wrong kind of peanut butter or something. I mean, like nothing says we don't trust people like being willing to. A quarter of our tax money in forcing something where it's like the flip side is something like earned income credit, which is a cash transfer has 1% overhead and like it's wildly popular.

But so think about what it looks like when, and we've done this research too, in the space of poverty, most people who are poor and facing, and this comes as someone who was on welfare. That's right. That's right. When you ask them, are you trustworthy enough to be able to make, if we gave you cash, will you make good decisions as you understand that?

Of course, of course. But when we ask, what do you think most people that, what about other people? Oh, no, no, no. Most people couldn't be trusted. Like, like, like even, even people facing poverty, think other people facing poverty, aren't trustworthy to handle cash, but in fact they all think they are so like, imagine

[01:33:26] CK: the human condition though.

Like, I I'm better, like I'm more rational, I'm more, you know, soverign then.

[01:33:35] Todd Rose: Right. But isn't science and, and, and even contemplate of tradition, like getting beyond the sort of base part of our human condition. Right. Is it about channeling that in constructive ways and putting up like the guards so that we don't allow it to descend into something where we all lose.

And so like with, with poverty, I'm just going to keep hammering this in terms of trust, building. Sure. We haven't. We have known since Richard Nixon, this is what will surprise people. Richard Nixon was days away from converting all welfare to cash transfer because they had set up experiments all over the country and seventies to randomized controlled trials to figure out, is this more efficient?

Is it more effective? Does it work? And it conclusively lands as like, it is so much better, right? And then one of his advisors made up some garbage story that turned out really to be fake news, scared him into thinking he was about to lose. He'd get, would get reelected and they went the other way, but they had the whole program set up.

So we've known this for a while, but, but paradoxically, our distrust leads us not to take that next step and that unwillingness to take that next step, hold us back from actually elevating trust. But I promise you if we do this tomorrow, if we treat poor people with dignity and, and ensure that they have choices in their lives every bit, the same that we have.

Not only is it better for the economy so they're actually participating in the free market. Not only does it allow them to feel a sense of belonging and community, instead of feeling like they're outside of the rest of us, but it will help us. Right. It will help us in terms of like our trust levels. It will help us in terms of the contributions that they're going to make and their chance to have the kind of lives that you and I are talking about.

So that's just one, but like you could go to like, and I don't, this will sound like I'm political, I'm rabidly independent. Um, uh, when it comes to schools, God forbid, parents have any say in where their kid goes to school, unless you're rich. Right? So there's over and over again. If we start thinking about, hold on, why do we allow our public institutions to treat us with distrust?

Why do we end up distrusting each other on small things for which having our trust violated would not matter. We continue to live through self silencing under collective illusions, which hides from us, our shared values, which are the moral foundation of trust.

[01:36:14] CK: So you pointed out some faults of the systems and you also pointed out the value of priorities, right?

And then you pointed out possible mechanisms to change that ally lobbying or some kind of policy change. We'll touch a little bit about technology solutions to do this. So in terms of operationalize this, do you see more lobbying to make this a policy change.

Do you see more of a the software to help people make sovereign choices, or a media company that highlights more dark horses? What do you see as the highest leverage action that one could take to create this cultural of change towards that direction?

[01:37:00] Todd Rose: Well, you said the word, so I believe culture precedes policy. Like w we, we always think we need to go to a top-down solution. If we can just get the most powerful people to change. Some of that helps, right. Especially removing obstacles, but let's be clear. It's up to us. Public sentiment is the most powerful tool we have at our disposal.

Right. If we want this, we have to say so. Right. And like, I think it's too much and not necessary for everyday people to have to engage in lobbying and like worry about policy. But right now, like for example, we know from private opinion, research that most people in this country, the overwhelming majority believe and want the world to operate from a positive sum perspective.

And they absolutely reject zero sum thinking, but they believe there are 5% minority in society. Well, behavioral economics shows us crystal clear, even in a positive sum game. If the other person is behaving in a zero sum way, you need to behave in a zero sum way or you will be taken advantage of. Right.

I believe as a first step, we've got to shadow the illusion around zero sum thinking and, and, you know, as, as a path to something better at populous, we actually have a lot more detail. I mean, more than we could go into right now, but we have a whole model on systems. From complex systems. We have a culture model about dealing with some of the things we just talked about.

We have models for engaging in private opinion research. So we've got a lot of the under the hood stuff, but I think for everyday people, for people listening to this, like to recognize that when you look out amongst your fellow citizens, the vast majority of them want the exact same kind of life that you want privately.

And it is not a zero sum live. It does not have to come at your expense. And if we can recognize that fact, and we can see each other through a lens of cooperation and investment, rather than cutthroat competition, where somebody has to lose, we can actually get the world. We want it. It's closer than we think.

[01:39:07] CK: Hm. Um, well I asked you to reminds me of a book, atomic habits, you know, how do you change? How do you engineer habits change and so forth? Uh, I don't know about you, but in my mind thinking like, oh, okay. So maybe there's an atomic habit of some sort to cultivate one's own trust in oneself, as well as one's own trust my neighbor.

What do you think about that idea,

I love it and, and it's a fantastic book by the way. So I highly recommend atomic habits. Anybody love it. And I think that like, right. So think about like the flywheel of, if we can bust the illusion around positive sum thinking and the way people think about success then, because think about it even, um, entrepreneurs are under the same illusions, right?

So, so if I'm thinking about what do people need and what do they want, and I'm trying to add value there. I'm not gonna like, like, I think that there, once we recognize that we all want this kind of life, right. And that, that we want it together, it unleashes the flood gates of innovation and entrepreneurship to start to provide the kinds of tools and services that we actually need that make this easier.

And. Right, but, but as long as we're willing to live under these illusions, right, we are going to be stuck. Um, and, and I'll say it in sort of closing on this, this part, the bad thing about illusions is they're toxic when they're enforced, but they're actually fragile because they're based on a lie and his history has shown us when you actually shatter those illusions social change happens at a speed and scale that is otherwise unimaginable.

And my favorite example, and I'll end with this example, because probably way further, along than you are, you want to talk about one of the most important, um, social change, things that I believe like throughout history is the velvet revolution in Czechoslovakia. If you ever like this is a story of overthrowing communism without anybody losing their life.

Nobody. And what I love about the story is it was led by. Vaclav Havel, who was a poet and a playwright. Nope, no politician, no military. It involved, no outside help. Um, and what he discovered and what made it possible versus almost every other Soviet satellite state was just brutally suppressed. When they tried to revolt is he wrote a play called the garden party, which was a satire of communism.

And it was so subtle that the censors didn't recognize they were being made fun of, it was like the biggest runaway hit. It was like the Hamilton of its time. It was sold out forever. And he watched every night that people would laugh at all the right parts. And he said, you wouldn't laugh if you actually believed in communism.

So he realized that people would, were all saying they believed in the system, but they didn't privately believe it. And so what he did was he wrote, like, I would tell every listener, if you want to read something that is the most inspiring writing you're going to read in a long time. Vaclav Havel wrote this down in the thing called the power of the pallets.

It's freely available as a PDF on


[01:42:23] Todd Rose: power of the powerless

[01:42:24] CK: out the powerless.

[01:42:26] Todd Rose: And he, he reveals this idea that we don't actually believe what we think we believe. And he said, listen, we've all come to learn to live within the lie. And if we can learn to live in truth, things can change. And he was mocked mercilessly.

Like you're not changing anything. He said, people need to learn to live in truth. They need to learn to be honest with each other about who they really are and learn to be more congruent this way. If people thought he was crazy is that it's just not possible. You need military, you need to form a political party.

So he, he didn't even realize how fast it would change because like right before it all goes, comes down, he was interviewed in a foreign magazine and he said, Hey, listen, I'm in this fight for my life, but for the rest of my life. But I don't think I'll live to see the change. It's going to take that.

Three months later, he was the first democratically elected president of a free Czechoslovakia. And he went on to unify. He never formed a political party ever. So if a poet can overthrow communism without anybody losing your life, I'm pretty sure we can solve our problems today. Right? So we have a lot of opportunity.

We have resources. We have know how, and we actually share a lot of aspirations and values in common. What's holding us back is the misunderstanding that we actually share those things in common. Do you feel that's

[01:43:52] CK: There's a national national happiness index.

I forgot which country was it? Um, somewhere in Europe. That's right. That's right. Baton. And I thought that was a, such a beautiful, uh, scorecard of this fulfillment thing that we'd talked about. Cause it's very esoteric. It's hard to measure. It's very internal, right? It's very subjective. What do you think about that idea is that that idea is too esoteric where they do die

[01:44:19] Todd Rose: or so, so here here's what I'd make one change.

Um, I like the impulse for it. And then it was done by people who don't trust everybody because the one thing they don't actually ask in the happiness index are, are you happy? So they say, we know the things that everybody needs to be happy and we'll measure those things. And then we'll tell you, how's them.

I believe a more reliable indicator. And this is born out in research. It's not, you don't have to trust me on this is subjective wellbeing, life satisfaction. We know how to measure that. But, but to me, like what difference does. If you, so you have this amazing podcast, you just stuff like, I don't know how much money you make.

I don't really care. I don't care about that stuff. Doesn't really matter. Right? Like what matters is, how do you feel about your life? Right. And trusting people to tell us whether they actually like the life they're living is important. And so we have measures of that.

So at populace, that is, that is our ultimate metric on everything we use is whether people believe they're living the kind of lives they want to live.

And then doing the hard work of understanding what's under the hood to the extent they're not. So we can create conditions that allow them to have better opportunities to pursue the things that matter to them. But I do think the impulse towards it is better, right? Like, like the ultimate goal is to create a society.

Like, look, I mean, the perfect society would be one where everybody's maxed out in terms of their own subjective wellbeing. Right. But the thing is, is if you think about under the subjective well-being, and this is really. Despite it being highly personal and subjective, there are three universals that drive subjective wellbeing, your needs being met, which you can do in a standardized way really, right?

Like, like people need food shelter. Once you have those needs met, it comes down to just two other things. Do I have the opportunity to satisfy my desires? Right? Like pursue the things that matter to me and my wants it doesn't mean you have to get them, but it's the pursuit of happiness. The final thing is control choices, right?

Economists call it procedural utility because they don't know how to name things, but like they take an obvious thing and give it the worst possible names. But procedural utility is that cool thing, which is most people will give up. They'll take lesser outcomes. If they have a say in the choices that get them to the outcome.

Now, if you put those three things together needs, wants, and. It starts to help us understand the conditions we would create to ensure people have a good shot at living a good life. Right? And now we go back to say, that's why I was on my hobby horse about poverty, right? There is a way to ensure that people are not in a state of need that also gives them more control of their life.

And there's a way to do that, that robs that both control. But if we recognize we are trying to optimize those three things for everybody, we would have never done that.

[01:47:23] CK: Last question. What's one thing you would say to the younger version of Todd who is contemplating, who's not sure is making the right choice and leaning into his curiosity, his passion, his desire for is intrinsic desire. That's a keyword, right? For you and intrinsic desire for fulfillment. What would you say to the younger Todd?

[01:47:48] Todd Rose: So what I would say, um, is that

I would say that, like this, you've got to find this middle ground between knowing who you are and trusting yourself and actually listening to other people. Because I went from doing what anybody said and having it, not work to just rejecting it, like as if like nobody can tell me what to do. And like, that's stupid too, right?

Like, like we're social creatures and we can learn from each other and I don't need to make every mistake the hard way. Um, but that balance of, of learning to ultimately recognizing only you can make the choices in your life, but that you can listen to other people and learn from other people. And if you get that balance right, More often than not, you're going to make really good decisions.

And by the way, it's going to work out. It's going to work out like, like, I mean, for me personally, I'm, I'm living on welfare, you know, with two kids and a minimum wage job. And you could, you could, you could say, well, listen, I made some bad choices in my life is what it is. Or you can say it's never too late to turn it around.

It's never too late to get on this path that you talk about. And for me, I feel like I'm playing with house money now. Right? It's a great life,

[01:49:13] CK: Todd, before I acknowledge you in a moment where can people find your next book? When is it coming out? I think it's

[01:49:20] Todd Rose: February 1st, February 1st, uh, collective illusions.

You can get it Amazon. Um, and anywhere books are sold. Right? Um, I think you'll like, it I'm really proud of it. Do you have

[01:49:32] CK: like a specialized. URL you want to send people to, or just Amazon

[01:49:37] Todd Rose: Todd rose.com. There's a book page too, if that's easier.

[01:49:41] CK: Awesome. Hey Todd, thanks for sure. So much for sharing who you are, right.

As you said earlier, you know, the, the, the courage, the willingness to express truth, you certainly did that. You got very passionate about your dharmic path about like enlighten others, about the collective illusion, such that they have more, sovereignties such that they have more, um, uh, freedom and to, to choose their life.

You share your stories, you share your principles, you share your research, even share sort of the forward looking for thinking if you're a king for a day, what you would do, right? All those things. I'm really, really just so appreciative of you sharing who you are.

[01:50:26] Todd Rose: Thank you. Had a great time.