The Edge and Beyond

Salim Ismail is the author of Exponential Organizations. He’s an XPRIZE Foundation Board member, Founding Executive Director of Singularity University; Chairman of OpenExO & ExO Works, etc

He is prolific speaker that has spoken in front of top business leaders of Fortune 500 companies and boards around the world. Speaking highlights include keynotes delivered at TED, the Vatican, the G20 Summit and the UN.

If you are not disrupting your business or industry, someone else is. Salim Ismail

This week we take the deepest of dives into some grand concepts and truths, as we look back on the conversation that VESA had with Salim Ismail on his podcast. The over two-hour conversation ranged from art, NFTs and creativity to spirituality, the phenomenon of growth in different contexts and the possibilities of Web3.

What are the parameters that determine the fate of a movement, of a person, of a nation? How much decentralized and centralized elements do we need to thrive optimally? You don’t want to miss this chat, the type of which is not often heard in the space or elsewhere.


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For those wanting a bit more of a text summary first:

The conversation turns into the business of art. VESA relays how Web3 is truly a blessing, a liberation of a whole creative class of people, but at the same time there is a real possibility of us fumbling the ball, relinquishing the opportunity we have at this time. Much like their Renaissance Italy counterpart, the Web3 Medici family has the possibility of funding the arts, sciences and cross-disciplinary projects that improve our way of thinking. For this to happen, there needs to be a higher taste that opts for the Da Vinci way, the universal human that excels at multiple arenas of life. This is where the essence of the topic starts to form; how much structure and governance we need to guide us? From natural phenomena to business, we can observe how growth must always be followed by a period of consolidation, otherwise the growth starts to decay quickly. Embracing decentralized ideals and working in new technologies, VESA and his contemporaries arguably are standing on the side of free flowing, decentralized model, but he says he understands the need for some structure even from an archetypal point of view.

Portrait of Cosimo Medici

On Purpose

‘I had this identity once too, where I didn’t like structure, but it was only after I was shown that I use structures all the time in my work that I understood that they are a necessary tool’

Both VESA and Salim agree that structure is the firm piping around purpose that keeps the enterprise heading in the correct direction.

Speaking of purpose, Salim asks what gets VESA excited in the Web3 space these days, and VESA tells of one of his projects that he began with Brittaney Kaiser, the famous Cambridge Analytica whistle blower, whose life story VESA is turning into multi-layered NFT art with a complex concept around the production. Brittaney’s story is of course iconic when it comes to data ownership, but even when we think about digital identity and the leaps Web3 has seen on that front, it is incredible to think what lies ahead. VESA points out that as long as humans are the ones using Web3 spaces, human psychology will be the motivator behind our choices, like the motivation to purchase digital sneakers for metaverse use will be motivated by similar factors that purchasing designer brands in the real world is. Salim agrees on the gravitas of digital identity and tells a story from when he was the Creative Director at Yahoo! and how he understood the power of the blockchain and digital identity.

Promo image of the coming Brittany Kaiser Project

Mass adoption

‘They say most significant innovations take around 20 years for mass adoption, and so that means that Bitcoin is a pre-teen still that needs a lot of guidance actually’.

A lot of what is possible is predicated on the axis of scarcity and abundance, and Salim makes the observation that technology is often very good at distributing scarce goods abundantly, like for example Uber, and that this is the female archetype that distributes rather than hoards. VESA makes the poignant observation that in our western societies, it is women that own most of the consumer debt and most consumer choices are made by women. Perhaps these statistics speak of a changed society, where women swipe right on dating apps only 5% of the time and give their attention to a very narrow sector of the male population. The natural structure, the geographical location, has been muted in the era of the internet.

What is happening in America?

The conversation returns to the concept of growth needing consolidation, when the two touch upon what is happening in America recently. ‘It is the fulfilment of abundance without enough consolidation’, Salim says. They talk about the structures and institutions that historically have provided that consolidation, and he adds ‘perhaps it is the spiritual and religious institutions that have done that in the past, and largely still today’. He makes an interesting parallel between Star Wars with its more religiously inspired themes and Star Trek that could be categorized as the more free thinking, blossoming creativity type of world view, and the general opposition of centralized and decentralized. VESA finds these two forces to have a uniquely different outlook on life altogether; the discovering and the engineering type. The discovering type, typically, believes in some universal natural laws as opposed to the engineering type, which believes that most things are how we make them to be, with little underlying principles.

‘Making art is unique in a sense that it can bridge the gap between those two types of people, but at the same time it is important to avoid the messiah complex and to just keep facilitating awe’, he says.

As the first adopters of Web3, we live in an extraordinary time in history. We have more opportunities than any other people in the history of the Earth. It is incredible to think that a small team of tech enthusiasts went ahead with their plans against all the doubters and created Ethereum, a coin that is in the center vortex of creating the new creative economy. Salim tells an example of impoverished people creating a 3D printed sports car in Sri Lanka, and how the heads of German auto giants could not cope with this reality, where the power wasn’t tightly gatekept and regulated.

A 3D model of the VESA art car project

‘I think that’s what art can do so beautifully- easy people into these new paradigms without intimidating them so much’

There was a resounding agreement to sit down for vol. 2 soon, as most of these topics were just scratched on the surface.

Listen to the episode on YOUTUBE
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Thanks again Unreal Ape for the intro.

Crypto & NFT Artist
All links to physical, NFTs, and more below

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