Two men are walking down a street in sunny Berkeley, California. They have met before, but they do not recognize each other. One is walking much faster than the other. The slower man decides to strike up a conversation as the faster one passes.
Process: Good day, sir. My name is Process. Lovely day today.
Point: I had not noticed. My name is Point. Why are you talking to me?
Process: I enjoy a good conversation, and thought you might as well.
Point: Fine. Where are you going?
Process: I am just going for a walk.
Point: I do not understand.
Process: Every day, when my body feels ready, I go for a walk by these trees. And I think about everything I did the day before. And I think about how I can do things better today. And every day I commit to get better at something, and to get closer to someone. And I remind myself not to compare myself to other people. And I think about who my real friends are, and how I can help them. And I remind myself to always be honest. To always do what I say. And to always do what is right. But I still forgive myself when I make mistakes. And then I walk home.
Point: So you walk and end up right where you started. What a waste of time.
Process: How has your day been going?
Point: Terrible. I went out drinking last night with some Instagram influencers. I can’t stand those people. We just drank and looked at our phones all night. But I got a bunch of new followers, so it was worth it.
Process: More internet stalkers. Congratulations.
Point: Thank you. Then this morning my alarm clock woke me up before I had enough sleep. But winners never get enough sleep. And I am a winner.
Point: Then I stared at my phone for about an hour in bed getting hypnotized by Instagram, outraged by Twitter, and brainwashed by The New York Times. But important people like me have to be informed, you know.
Process: Well garbage in garbage out.
Point: Then I got on my stationary bicycle to pedal and pedal, going nowhere, while an instructor on a screen yelled at me. But it’s worth it because I am getting closer to my fitness goals. My wearables tell me so.
Process: Yes I noticed you are carrying and wearing many clocks and machines.
Point: I love updating all their little software packages and charging their little batteries. And their frequencies tingle my brain.
Point: Then I started working. And by that I mean I made my whole company do a morning stand up meeting over Zoom.
Process: Do you actually make them stand up?
Point: Of course. Then we spend all day talking to screens about the company’s goals.
Process: Instead of actually doing them?
Point: Exactly. Nothing ever happens. But thanks to all these meetings we are always on the same page. Communication is important. Especially when you have a lot of people in your company like I do.
Process: Sounds more like "busy-ness" than business.
Point: Ok Process, what do you do for money? How old are you? How many followers do you have? Where do you live? Where are you from? How much money do you make? Include bonus please.
Point: Sorry I need to accelerate our customary conversational obligation. I am very busy today.
Process: Sure, I just thought we were having a nice conversation. I was learning a lot.
Point: What is the point of learning?
Process: Most of our decisions and abilities come from our subconscious, which is fed by the knowledge we accumulate every day, even if we do not consciously remember it. So it is important not just to learn and practice, but to have good influences, so we make good decisions.
Point: What is the point of making good decisions?
Process: Here is an example. I have decided not to fill my brain with the endless stories of murder, lust, and witchcraft peddled by Netflix. They are enjoyable in the moment, but they make me unhappy.
Point: Being happy is the point?
Process: Not just that. I want to live a good life. And I want to help people around me live good lives. I personally find the process of making decisions: discernment, very interesting and important.
Point: I do not need your help. I do not need "discernment". My life is fine. In fact I am well on my way to having everything that I want.
Process: And what is that?
Point: Money obviously. Money is everything. Money is the only thing. And women, but women like guys with money. And I want everyone to like everything I post to social media. And a big house. And I want people to like me and respect me. And I want my company to raise a huge amount of money. It all comes down to money.
Process: Do you have any of these things?
Point: Not nearly enough. I must work harder. I must suffer more.
Process: It seems like you are only focused on the things that you do not have. And I suspect when you do get something you want, you just realize that it wasn’t what you really wanted, and you start wanting something else.
Point: That’s not true. Everybody that is rich and important is happy. I read that in New York Magazine just this morning.
Process: I am curious what is your company's product?
Point: We make enterprise software and sell it to companies that make enterprise software.
Process: Ah yes, the snake eating its tail.
Point: Well last year we abandoned the product anyways so we can focus more on diversity and issues of social justice. There are a lot of people that are marginalized you know.
Process: It sounds like you just marginalized all of your customers.
Point: It doesn’t matter. I just tell customers and investors what they want to hear until they give me money. But this fundraising process is taking too long and I am envious of people that raised more money than me from investors that are cooler than my investors. It reminds me of my high school trauma when I got invited to the second-coolest prom afterparty. I cried all night instead of enjoying it with my beautiful date.
Process: Do your employees think this way?
Point: They have to. I keep everybody focused on their goals all the time and encourage them to set complicated and unrealistic goals for themselves and their teams so they will be forever insecure and unsatisfied. Every month I fire the bottom ten percent to scare the others.
Process: Do you enjoy doing that?
Point: Of course not. I just feel like I have to.
Process: It seems like you don’t enjoy a lot of the things you do.
Point: Are you simple? Victory demands sacrifice. The more of my own happiness and other people’s time I sacrifice the more successful I will be. That is how the world works.
Process: You do not have to do things the way other people do them.
Point: What about you? It seems like you don’t know the first thing about running a company.
Process: Actually I do run a company. It is much smaller than yours. But we are trying to build different things. I want to build something that we can all be proud of. Something that will stand the test of time. And something that really helps people, instead of just trying to take their money.
Point: So you do believe in goals.
Process: Of course I do. But the goals are not the point. Every day I ask myself. Did I treat my employees well today? Did I treat my customers well today? Did I further the company’s mission today? Did I spend less money than I made today? Are we all in a better place today than we were a year ago? Do I have a plan to make next year better than this one? If I can say yes to these questions then I have a successful business, and it will only get more successful with time. You see when you do something every day, you get really good at it. What are you getting good at?
Point: Well I've gotten really good at unlocking my phone. I do it 700 times a day.
Point: Didn't you go to school? We have been trained from birth to focus on our grades, our points.
Process: Instead of our skills, relationships, or character? Thank you Rockefeller Foundation and American Society of Education for destroying America. They even banned prayer but kept the pledge of allegiance. What a strange ritual that is. I guess God was competing with the State religion.
Point: Education prepares us for the real world.
Process: The world of points? It sounds like a game. Children are trained to spend all day obsessing over grades. Then they go home and rack up points in League of Legends. Adults are no different. They spend all day obsessing over money, then go home and rack up points on Instagram.
Point: You’re obviously crazy. Everybody knows the point of business is to make money and to sell it to make more money. Nobody cares about selling products. What matters is buying and selling stories and shares. Besides, that sounds like it will take forever to build a big company.
Process: Maybe that’s not the point. And what if it does take a long time? What is the point of life except to die?
Point: I want to be remembered. My legacy gives me life after death.
Process: You are not Aristotle. You will be forgotten. And if you spend your life chasing goals and obsessing over your own self you may forget to live your own life. You cannot take your money with you when you die.
Point: It sounds like you just don’t believe in hard work and success.
Process: Oh I do. I just see if differently from you. Work can be fun! My father told me before all this technology and finance that life was very different. He said there wasn’t really a clear distinction between work and play, between manual and mental labor, between business and social life.
Point: You’re just romanticizing the past.
Process: Maybe you should pay more attention to the past. Philosophers warned us that if we weren’t careful technology would turn us in to slaves.
Points: You don't believe in technology?
Process: I believe science is incredibly beautiful and important. Precious few people are allowed to openly study nature and the mind. The educational institution, federal government, and publishing industry have monopolized and suppressed it. I believe in technology that brings freedom, like perennial wheat, a very exciting technology you have probably never even heard of. Today when people say "technology" they implicit refer only to the very limited technology of mass media which is currently being used to control us. There are other technologies.
Points: So it is money you do not like.
Process: Money is great! But like technology, it can mean different things. The founding fathers warned us that the financialization of the economy would take everybody’s property away and replace it with a fake currency, that all the capital would get tied up by corrupt governments and financial institutions and the creators and individuals would have none. Maybe we should have listened.
Point: So you are a communist?
Process: No, I believe in property. Real property like land and homes, not stories of shares and bits. In fact, if you did study philosophy you would know that the ideal of social justice you just sabotaged your own company for certainly could be a force for good, but it is Marxist, and a for profit company is probably not the best vehicle for it. Philosophy may not make you money directly, but it certainly leads to better decisions.
Point: I still don’t see the point of all this philosophy.
Process: What is the point of philosophy? What is the point of a baby? What is the point of soil? What is the point of a tool? What is the point of love? The point of life is to discern the best process for life, to find and make meaning. If you cheat on every test and skip to the end of every book you will learn nothing, and you will enjoy nothing. You have cheated yourself out of your own life. Life is a gift and is meant to be enjoyed.
Point: Once I have everything I want I will enjoy my life immensely.
Process: You have a lot! You could enjoy it immensely today. You would enjoy it more if you focused on what you do have instead of what you don’t. And you may actually go farther and faster if you focused on the process, instead of the goal. But it may take a little faith, and a little patience, and I know those are in pretty short supply among the Watchers of the Screens.
Point: You know what maybe you’re right. Maybe I’m going to cancel my next meeting. I’m going to turn my phone off for a little while and walk through these trees and think. I’m going to really think. I’m going to delete these awful social media and dating apps and really think about my relationships and who my real friends are. I’m going to look beyond the gossip rags and money pushers I have tried so hard to impress and think about the real value my company can create. I'm going to focus less on "productivity" and more on finding processes that we all enjoy. I can’t even remember the last time I did this. This is great!
Process: Great! Just remember to stay grounded.
Point: What’s the process for that?
Process: That is a story for another time.