"And then, our consciousness can transcend, together." - Damian Madray
Damian Madray sits down to talk human to me about human behavior, human experience, realities, diversity, growing up poor, art, technology, and consciousness.
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Our Conversation with Damian Madray:
Note: Add [00:01:38] to each timestamp to sync with recording.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:00:00] Hey Damian. So, what about humans strikes you the most?
Damian Madray: [00:00:11] Hm. Um, yeah, what about humans. Interesting. Interesting creatures we are. Um, what strikes is that it's always the thing, this concept of like, there's so many of us, but we're just talking about reality. And you know, like, with eight billion people on the planet, technically, that means there's eight billion realities, because everyone just has like their own interesting world view and perspective based on their experiences. So, I always find that very intriguing and interesting about us humans. You know, like we need a, like any other sentient being, it's like, for us, we're just like, it's super interesting how we're--not only does the reality exist, but we can communicate that reality in many different ways, whether it's true, or opinions, or art, or poetry, or writing, you know, like, we can communicate it. And, that leads to like this massive diversity. So, I think that finds, that, I find interesting about humans, but there are many other things as you go into it, that every day, that might just strike me. I mean nothing comes to mind right now, it's, it's interesting, but, yeah, I think that's one of the most striking things. What about you?
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:01:31] I mean, for me, I definitely agree with you on the diversity of humans, and I like that you're not just talking about cultural diversity. I think you're almost referring to a diversity of behavior. Can you talk more about that? Because, I think that's something you were alluding to.
Damian Madray: [00:01:55] Yeah, um, you know, going into it, it's behavior, it's, um, and it's also like experience, because--which is why I'm so like fascinated or interested in the topic of, you know, experience in human behavior. Um, we might have, you know, you go to, if you even think about, like a concert, and you go to it, and you listen to music. They way you listen, and the way you interpret, or the way we experience that, it's so different. And, I think ultimately the experience that we are having is going to impact or influence the behavior, you know? So, depends on how I'm, sort of like, um, taking in this experience, you know, could lead to a different outcome. So, for one person, that might be emotional, you know, sort of a behavior reaction, you know, that's physical. And, another person might totally just, like, zone in and be, like, spiritual, or another person might be upset. So, the fact that the experience can have such an effect on us, which is why you know that ties into your reality. Like, the experiences that we have, fundamentally affects, you know, that outcome, that physical outcome, whether it's emotional, whether it's, like, our behavior or actions. And, then that will impact our reality, and what we see in front of us. So that's, kind of like, how I connect, you know, you know, an individual's reality and worldview, to sort of like experience and behavior. So, it's sort of like what I was a lluding to which is--Which is fascinating to me.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:03:48] Do you think this emotion, is it getting humans in trouble? I mean just overall, especially in the different generations, because I think different generations have expressed emotions or have directed their emotions differently. I would say, a lot of folks would say, millennials are very emotional now, and they're very open about their emotions, whereas maybe baby boomers were taught to get in line and suppress their emotion at work, but, have also, be, have a certain type of emotion at home, right? So, with this in mind, in kind of the world view that you have. Do you think our next generation is screwed? Or, even just, our current generation is screwed?
Damian Madray: [00:04:46] No, I don't really think, I don't think so, I mean it, it all depends. That answer depends on an individual's, sort of, outlook on life, whether it be pessimistic or optimistic. I lean towards the optimistic side based on reasoning. It's kind of easy to say that millennials is this or that, and we're screwed. Millennials ultimately are inheriting, you know, a planet, and a society, and an ecosystem that the baby boomers gave to us, that the generations before gave to us, right? So we're just, we're making do with it. And if it--if we're screwed, it's definitely not on us. But, I think, I don't think we're screwed. I think our generation has a responsibility to be bridges to the next generation, because there's a lot of things, where, like--we live in an interesting time, and a lot of things are happening, whether it's, there's a, there's a shift in human consciousness, the access to technology, and what it brings: wealth, and the problem that brings in terms of economic inequality. We're living, like, an amazing period where there's a lot of different things happening. And the way I look at it, it's all learnings, right? It's almost like, you look at a startup and you say it has growing pains. You could look at our civilization and say we have growing pains, you know? And, you could say that we had to deal with those growing pains, or we don't, and if we don't, we die, just like, a startup, right? We cease to exist. So, it's a very interesting period where all these things that are happening, and all the things that we're learning, the shift in consciousness that might be occurring, It's important that we pass it on, to pass that on, those learnings on to the next generation. So our -- there's a, there's a tad bit of arrogance with millennials too in our generation where they think, like, "We'll solve the problems". And, the truth is we won't. Because, it'll take a very long time to solve a lot of the problems that we have. So, we won't solve the problems, but we're experimenting and we're trying different things and we're saying no to the old system and the old way of operating and we're saying no we're like how about this, This is stupid like why are we doing this way. We're pushing back and we're in a place where we're learning and we're discovering. But it's so important that for the next generation for us to pass that on to them. And I don't know if we're thinking about it that way and if, if we're doing a good job of it, I don't know. But I think that's our ultimate responsibility is the learnings that we're having and the things that we're dealing with. How do we pass that on to the next generation -- cause there are a lot of people you meet and they're like, you know, they think about -- we just don't see things the old generation do, we think about expanding our consciousness we think about mindfulness we think about all these new age thing that was considered hippie. You know we're ultimately embracing them. And in that embracing, that's where I mean like we'll get the learnings, and the learnings we'll get will be like, you know, like any, any tool you take and you start learning it. Right? You're not like grand master at it, and it's going to be passed on and passed on and passed down. Right? There's this interesting thing about like, um, why you should go, um, I don't know, like the audience who are listening here, but if talk a lot about ayahuasca people are like, "Oh you should go to Costa Rica and do it", because why? Because the people there has basically had that knowledge passed down from their ancestors, right? Passed down, passed down, passed down. So there is a certain sacredness there is a certain knowledge innate to them, um, in the way of doing it, right? Um, so you could say very much in our society the things we're learning, and the things we're experimenting, and re-mixing and appropriating and changing, right? The good things we learn from it, it's important we pass it down to the next generation cause they're sort of like the make-or-break generation, not, not us. We're, we're that bridge. That's what I think.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:09:09] Well, I guess my question around that is -- cause you mention that a lot of times the baby boomer generation almost finds that annoying about the millennials, um.
Damian Madray: [00:09:24] That we will solve everything?
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:09:26] That, that we, that we seem to have some level of arrogance that, yeah, we will solve everything, that we're bringing the things are important nowadays that should matter, um. Why do you think they, why do you think they interpret that? And almost -- cause I feel like it is only a very small pool that are championing that attitude from millennials from the other generations, um, but it's a very small pool. Most of it, uh, in the media there's constant comments and opinions about, again, millennials being these spoiled brats. Right? Why, why do you think there's that misconception?
Damian Madray: [00:10:12] Well, that misconception, I think the one thing that we mentioned, "media", there would be why that misconception exists, cause the media never portray everything in its accurate form. I mean, yeah the misconception is that -- every time you talk about, you know, entrepreneurs it's always like how we want to change the world, or we want to do this or want to do that. And we focus on the people who are successful, and the people who are successful do have a bit of arrogance to them, as they should to be successful in bringing about certain changes. Um, but if that is always communicated that's what, that's going to be the perception, that's going to be the reality that created of our generation. But, I think, in all honesty, there's people who are like behind the scenes in our generation doing awesome cool things not talking about it, not, ya know, bragging about it. It might not even be someone who's like doing a Facebook or an Uber or whatever. Um, but, ya know or, or anything. It might just be someone who's working towards art, working towards nonprofit. Um, ya know, I have a friend whose, uh, ya know, his start-up is, or, his "start-up", and I put it in quotes because it's not really a technology company. But it's around like helping people, uh, homeless people, um. So no one, no one highlights that or talks about that. It's not really sexy or cool, so if the media's always portraying, you know, the arrogant side of millennials then that's, that's going to be the reality of it. But I think that millennials are -- And it might be biased of an opinion to say that. But I don't think millennials are arrogant, um, or spoiled brats. It's a big general, it's a huge generalization to make.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:11:59] Right.
Damian Madray: [00:12:00] That being said it's easy if you go on Twitter, um, or if, it's easy if you go on Instagram and look and walk away with that opinion, be like, ya know, -- especially, coming, think about it, you're talking, like, baby boom, obviously, baby boomers are going to think this cause the, ya know, the old generations gonna always gonna be like, "oh I remember the day when I had to like use a map." Right? Just like we're going to be saying you know in 20 30 50 years we're going to be saying, "oh I remember the day when I had a phone." Right? And at that point it might all just be like being uploaded to our brains because it just like wired in some chip or some shit like that. We're just like digitally connected to a cloud or we have an A.I. in our ears that's telling us everything that we need to do and just like making the world just look so, like, seamless and smooth because it's constantly prepping and analyzing and taking in data and making appointments and doing all these things for us. Like that might be the case then, then we'll be the ones saying, like, "oh shit, we didn't have that. Ya know, remember the day when you had to work to do this or do that?"
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:12:57] Right.
Damian Madray: [00:12:58] Like it's always that perception, it's a constant cycle where old generations will always look back and be like, "remember the day?". And the new one's like, "what the fuck are you talking?", you know, like, "no I don't remember those days.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:13:12] (Laughs)
Damian Madray [00:13:12] Ya know, like so their reality is different from our reality and what we exist in right now. I think the important thing -- this is why I talk about "bridge", right, like the important thing is instead of like, you know, this is the annoying thing that if any of the baby boomers or anyone in the media are going to be out there saying millennials this and that and the other, it's so annoying because their job, right, they're dropping the ball on it. They're supposed to be the bridge they're supposed to take what they learn and pass it on to us instead of, like, putting us down and saying, like, we're "spoiled" we're this we're that and the other, right? Like how do you be the bridge? How do you pass on your knowledge? That you've been around for all these years, how do you pass that on to us, right? Don't put us down. Like, and when we get older we shouldn't be putting that generation down we should be trying to pass on knowledge. This is why I'm talking about the bridge, right?
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:14:01] Right.
Damian Madray: [00:14:01] Like the only way to, like, to expand our consciousness and evolve as a society is to connect in that way. Right? Otherwise, we're always just gonna be a mother and leaving every generation to fight and fend for themselves. And not to say that generation won't, because, we will, they will, cause they'll have access to more resources or different resources than we have. But it slows the process down. Ya know, like, if they can just, like, if we can connect and just, like, push forward then we'll move faster, but -- That's the annoying thing for me. When I hear that, ya know, anyone says that about millennials, it's like you're missing the point. It's not to look at the few who were, ya know, actually being spoiled or pompous or obnoxious about the resources they have.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:14:50] The rich kids on Instagram. (Laughs)
Damian Madray: [00:14:52] Yeah. It's not necessary to look at that crowd or those individuals and generalize and judge an entire generation who actually want to bring about change. Right? Just like they did back in the days they wanted to bring about change, too.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:15:07] Right. Right.
Damian Madray: [00:15:08] So that's like my, you know, that grinds my gear when I hear when I hear that like that statement about millennials. Like, there's no good or bad it's just, we're just, we're all trying to figure shit out, um, so yeah.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:15:23] You have this strong visualization and description or way that you describe the responsibility of each generation, and you're calling it this "bridge", this way of kind of communicating and passing things on. Now I definitely see that as probably maybe a common sentiment and I deal with a lot of entrepreneurs, but specifically for you where does that strong feeling of community and bridging knowledge and in passing that torch from generation. Where does that come from?
Damian Madray: [00:16:20] That's a good question, um, hm. Ya know I wouldn't say that -- I think it's something that's developed over time. Um, getting my first computer the first thing I built was a forum. Ya know, like put that up and I wanted a place for designers to come and give each other feedback and help each other.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:16:41] When did you get your first computer?
Damian Madray: [00:16:43] Um, I was, uh, I was actually about 15 or 16. Um, so being in a developing country the resource that you have access to is kind of like slower.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:16:53] Right.
Damian Madray: [00:16:53] So I got it much older than most most people.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:16:56] What country?
Damian Madray: [00:16:58] Uh, that'd be Guyana.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:17:00] Mhmm.
Damian Madray: [00:17:00] Um, so yeah I.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:17:01] Where is that for folks that are listening that don't know?
Damian Madray: [00:17:07] So, Guyana is in the north coast of South America. Uh, right above Brazil.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:17:08] OK.
Damian Madray: [00:17:09] Yeah. Um, so yeah that's the first thing I did and that idea of community has always like, I think, stuck with me cause I notice that in community you learn faster cause there's the exchange of knowledge happens much faster the exchange of experiences happen much faster. The idea of connection happens much faster.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:17:30] Right. Right.
Damian Madray: [00:17:32] So I've always, like, you know -- and I've done that in the digital space and it has been, like, since you know that age and spanning in all the communities I've worked like at DeviantArt and, you know, built like design communities. In all the things there's a sense of wanting to help and pass that knowledge down. So I think it's something that has developed over time, um, and that strong sort of, like, visualization that's strong, that the way that I'm drawn to it is because of that, because like, "yeah, like this works, this works right? It's over here. We can we can do this. Like, communities awesome, like, we should be in communities. It's good for us, um. Helps us to connect. It helps us to relate, helps us to identify, um. It's so good for us, um. So yeah, I've always been doing it and then when I came to San Francisco literally six months after coming here the first thing I did it was a community and that was like an on and off line version of a community and I was the first time doing it offline, um, and then I was like, "wow, this is cool." It's like, all the things that I've been thinking are the things that I know about digital communities, it's actually more real. Um, it's more real here. So, so yeah, like it just it's almost like a skill. Calling it a "skill" probably not the right word, but it's almost like it's the way a skill would develop, and become strong over time is the way that sort of like feeling has developed and become strong over time with all those experiences and all the things the little -- and it's not like you'll see, like, you'll have a big epiphany. Right? It's not like an epiphany. It's just like little things that you see all the time contributing. Here's how people like to help each other. Here's how people connect. Here's how they chat. It's fascinating cause we're drawn to it, you know?
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:19:29] Right. Right
Damian Madray: [00:19:31] So I love to think about, I love to think about communities, um, and the way it works, because ultimately I think communities could be a form of operating our society, right? Instead of government it could be communities, um. So, I love to think about how, what that would look like, how that would look. And so what I do is sort of like all around communities, because it's sort of developing that language around communities, and how to perceive them and how important they are to us, um. So yeah, the visualization that I can do is because of that, it's because of over time. And it's even it's interesting even to me, cause I just look back I'm like "huh" these are all the things I know. But what's most fascinating thing recently is just seeing the massive trend towards communities, ya know? Like, it could be a case where I'm biased and just because I'm passionate about something you know like if you're you're passionate about cars and you see cars everywhere, you're passionate about, you know, if you passionate about something you see it everywhere. I was just talking to my friend earlier and he has a moving company, um.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:20:45] "Moving" as in --
Damian Madray: [00:20:46] Yeah, a moving company, call a mover and you just like, he moves furniture but he has all these vans that he uses.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:20:51] Yeah.
Damian Madray: [00:20:51] And he's just like we're just walking down the road and he's like, "Aw that's a cool van, yeah". Ya know, he just like can't help but see vans, right? It was awesome. He's like, that's his thing, he cares so much about that. He's like, "that's a dope van, yeah, look at the suspension in that.", you know, like he got into it. It could be the same for me where it's like, "oh, this is an interesting community. It's fascinating. Look at how they're doing it. Look at how they're forming it." Right?
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:21:19] Right.
Damian Madray: [00:21:19] I literally went out to Miami to stay a week at this start-up called, "Roam". And I just stayed there, uh.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:21:27] What does "Roam" do?
Damian Madray: [00:21:30] So, "Roam" is like this live-in, co-working space.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:21:33] Right.
Damian Madray: [00:21:35] Targeted or geared towards digital nomads so to speak or anyone who travels a lot, and want to stay in different locations for like three to six months or so. Right? So I went out there and stayed for a week and that was fascinating. It was so awesome to see that community spirt. One of the first things I said to them is, "I can't wait to come back and see how this evolves." Right? Cause when community starts it's a beautiful thing it's really really great, um. And then like seeing how it evolves is what's the intriguing part to me, um. But getting to look and see how, um, the community starts and how it behaves and how it reacts and all these kind of things. It's like, "Cool, now let's see how that culture that magic evolves." Right? That's the interesting thing, cause I think we're all trying to figure it out. And so if we can if we can figure out how to design communities, right, then -- cause humans design everything. So if we design everything we don't necessarily design, um, intentionally or our culture or our communities. Most times we rely on it to just happen right.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:22:55] Right.
Damian Madray: [00:22:57] We just gather whether it's around certain things and it happens. Whereas, now you'd see like people experimenting or doing things intentionally. Like whether it's a community towards a specific activity like you know "consciousness hacking". Right? Or trying to develop mindfulness. And people are just like intentionally creating communities around that. Right. Or whether it might be a community like like "Roam" or any of the digital nomad experiences that they have out there. Right? Um, all these things that are happening they have to think about how they create their community how to design your community. It actually fundamentally ties back to their business or their product.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:23:39] Right. Right.
Damian Madray: [00:23:41] So that's cool, right? That's super cool to see that because like 10 years ago communities wasn't seen as. Right? It's kind of like how the rise and the importance of design. Right?
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:23:53] Right.
Damian Madray: [00:23:54] It's like that. It's the rise and the importance of community. And hopefully that can, ya know community can have that impact where it's like businesses and products are influenced by the community in a very strong way. Then that would be cool. Instead of selling to the community it's more it more like the community sort of creating, you know, and forming products and businesses and models because people come together, are passionate about something, and create something around that.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:24:23] Right. Right.
Damian Madray: [00:24:23] So it's interesting. It's super interesting to me to think about communities that way. So I like following and I like listening and reading and hearing all the things around communities. Which is why I would go to somewhere like "Roam" to immerse and observe and engage and learn, um, from that community. And so I'm always interested in checking out and being in and out of any community. It's really cool.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:24:52] Now you obviously have this strong passion for the science and physiology and the sociology of communities. It's pretty much the, I think, really the core part of what you do as an entrepreneur. Now I've been asking everybody this and it's not, I mean, it's slightly confrontational, not too much, but as an entrepreneur, I mean, you obviously have that passion. But, now be honest here. I don't want like the soft answer. Do you truly believe that the things you think about and work on actually really matter in the end. I mean, and I'm talking about in the big picture, the universe, of just the world.
Damian Madray: [00:25:56] Um, the answer to that. I don't know. I generally don't know. There's times when I will wake up and there's days that are going to go by and I keep asking myself, "are you crazy, are you crazy, what are you doing, what are you doing?" Right? I don't know. I don't think what drives me is to matter in the grand scheme of things.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:26:22] Why?
Damian Madray: [00:26:22] I used to think of it that way. Like, wanting to leave a legacy and doing all that stuff, um, and what success is and making a lot of money and then taking the money and investing it back into, like, good deeds or whatever. Um, and that changed because a part of that changed, because as humans we always want to -- when we talk about interesting things about humans -- we always externalize and project outward. And I think what what I've been wanting to do is internalize and reflect inward as to connect to, um, to me. Right? To like what me as an individual what I'm passionate about what I care about, and do that thing. Cause the ultimate win in life is to be able to exist where you're doing something you care about. You're surrounded by really awesome, amazing people working with them doing great things. And you were able to exist and operate in the society we live in. I want to say that I'm basically talking about the financial means to live. So I think that perspective changes like I don't think, yeah, what drives me is not to matter in the grand scheme of things. I think what drives me is to align with what I'm passionate about, and it so happens that, you know, what you're passionate about I think that's when you might actually have some impact to be honest. And not going after it for the glory. I always find it interesting. It's interesting because like, 300 and the story of that is like they battle for glory. You know?
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:28:16] Right.
Damian Madray: [00:28:17] The message in that and I always found that interesting. It's like, hm. Isn't it deeper than that, though? You know? Shouldn't it be deeper than glory? So for me it's really thinking like aligning it with my passion. Going beyond. It might not be glorious. You know? It might not make me money. It might actually lose me money. Right? But I keep doing it. And there are times -- and this is where it's important to me -- There are times when what you do will have an impact and one person, today, right now. Ya know? And it might change their life or have an impact on their life in a small way. That would lead to a good thing for that person. I think that's cool. I think to be able to do that to one person is really it's cool to me.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:29:15] Even just one?
Damian Madray: [00:29:16] Even if it's just one. So like when I do the "Glint" experiences, when I do that, and one person comes back and say it did this for me or this happened then I'm like cool. That actually made the entire thing worth it. Because like that's the impact we should strive to have because honestly we strive to have impact in the grand scheme of things for it to be big, right? And we step on so many people along that journey. Or the things that we have to do along that journey, ya know, it's contrary to actually helping people. So I don't know. You know and also we live in a society where we've glorified success in such a way that it only means Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates or Elon Musk. That's not necessarily why I do, or wanting to do what I do.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:30:18] Right. Right. Now, you touched on that actually twice when you're talking about the story of the 300 Spartans and also just the reference to you know Zuckerberg and how that's defined as "success.
Damian Madray: [00:30:33] Yeah.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:30:34] Why do you think these, okay there are these specific words and phrases and trains of thought that is defined as what to strive for. And I think like "victory", "winning", "glory", "achievement", "success" even just the word success itself. Why have these words or feelings become people's goals, primary goals? Like, to beat someone to win. Like IBeatYou.com, I remember there was something like that. Like what. Why has that. Why is that so attractive to humans?
Damian Madray: [00:31:27] Hmm I might have like this weird controversial --
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:31:34] We invite controversy here. (laughs)
Damian Madray: [00:31:39] You like you say "success" -- given my background and where I come from just like for some context here is .
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:31:49] Do talk about that a little bit.
Damian Madray: [00:31:50] You know I'm from because I mentioned earlier I'm from Guyana and it's from a really small country. And it's, you know, it's a developing country or a poor country you could say, um. So, I understand living in poverty and where I grew up I grew up on a farm and sort of my reality then is so different from my reality now. And it's a reality where, you know, you grow up in a country where if you don't have a means of getting out of the country you go you'll be there.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:32:26] Right.
Damian Madray: [00:32:26] And let's just say being in a place like San Francisco is a very very very difficult thing to imagine happening, right, when you're from from a country like that.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:32:38] Well, do you mind if you're comfortable describing kind of illustrating what surroundings you grew up in.
Damian Madray: [00:32:47] Um, well you know I my, my mom is, uh, she's a single parent. So I grew up moving around a lot in Guyana, and she left when I was 12.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:33:02] Wow.
Damian Madray: [00:33:04] Yeah 12 I think, ha, a while ago.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:33:07] She left or did you leave?
Damian Madray: [00:33:08] She left the country you know to find work and better opportunities. And to be able to provide.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:33:15] Do you have siblings?
Damian Madray: [00:33:16] No, no so it's me alone and when she left I kind of moved around and lived in different locations. And then before that there's always been moving and living in -- you talk about ghetto. I've lived in the ghetto. You talk about being poor. And I, I, I lived that. Um, so the environment was always sort of like challenging. Alight? You have to, you have to really strive and make an effort to, um, walk a certain path, I would say. Because for example if you're growing up in the in the ghetto then you can run with gangs and then you've, that one thing lead to another to another. And that's every every decision every experience is altering your reality and where you can exist. Right?
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:34:08] Right.
Damian Madray: [00:34:10] And so my mom made that effort, I made that effort. But fast forward you know it --
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:34:17] Could you have easily fallen into a gang in your situation?
Damian Madray: [00:34:21] With making poor decisions. Yeah. I could, you know it could happen. You don't, you never realize when you're falling down that rabbit hole but it could have happened, um. My mom used to, uh, in our apartment we had a small room and it had many other rooms which are apartments for other people.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:34:45] They were all connected?
Damian Madray: [00:34:45] No it's just like one building apartment buildings or small rooms like a hotel you could say but like five rooms or so right. You know my mom and I was like living in like a really bad neighborhood in this city. And when my mom left for work she would lock the door.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:35:06] Right.
Damian Madray: [00:35:06] And I would be in this like a really small room which was our apartment where we lived. And to give a context of how big that room was it basically holds like you know one bad small table with two chairs and like a TV kind of closet area.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:35:24] Wow.
Damian Madray: [00:35:24] So super small room right and it's pretty filled with that. And my mom would lock me in there when she goes out to work and I would be in that room all day. And the reason she would do that is not to be cruel but it's essentially to help me stay on that path where I wouldn't get mixed up in the wrong things you know because if she leaves the door open and I go out and I hang with friends then I do this and do that. Next thing you know you go down -- cause it's a bad neighborhood.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:35:58] Right.
Damian Madray: [00:35:59] So you have to make the effort so you sort of like -- With that in mind and fast forward to being here it's kind of crazy. So what was the original question again? I kind of like went on a tangent.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:36:17] You know I actually kind of forgot, too, but --
Damian Madray: [00:36:19] But yeah it just goes on and this crazy thing where, um, that like being there and then being here is sort of like surreal. That's the word I'm looking for. Surreal. Yes. It's like, "whoa". Right? And every day I'd wake up and be like, "whoa this is --"
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:36:43] What was the time difference between going from that experience to now? How long ago was this?
Damian Madray: [00:36:50] It was like really like when I was 12 I left Guyana when I was 20.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:36:55] Wow.
Damian Madray: [00:36:57] Um, and I only left because my mom made a decision that she should leave to get a better job. And because of her I left. So, yeah, I left at 20 and then I was in Toronto and then I came here. So I've been here for five years now. So I've been here for five years and just bounced around the Bay Area.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:37:18] So those memories are still very much very part of you. You've been truly shaped because I know a lot of people sometimes they leave their original community when they're very young. But you've been in that community until your 20s.
Damian Madray: [00:37:33] Yeah yeah exactly. And so it helps keeps me grounded. And what the question was around "success". And the idea is that you know that does keep me grounded. So now what is success. Originally it's defined as these things that you should have. Whether it's like middle class America where you have a nice home, your bank account, car that was like always my dream growing up was like oh that's what I want.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:37:56] Right.
Damian Madray: [00:37:57] That's what success is, right? That's why everyone thinks it thinks of it as. And then over time it actually keep kind of like going up leveling up in terms of what success is, right?
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:38:07] Because that's what they tell you like you're supposed to get a promotion you're supposed to make more money.
Damian Madray: [00:38:12] Now you're supposed to be an entrepreneur and raise money, right, and then IPO or exit or something like that. That's what success is and it's just like scaling towards this like always this crazy dream the thing that you need to strive for. And so when I think about my past and where I come from and I think about where I am right now you could technically say that I'm here in one of the most awesome cities in the planet and being able to do all these cool things. So why isn't that considered success?
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:38:47] And we're in San Francisco.
Damian Madray: [00:38:48] Yeah like that. That should be success. Like do I really need to keep reaching for more and grappling for more. But like everything all the messaging that we have in society and system is to do that. So we always keep working and working and working and working being part of this machine. Right? That is always like trying to achieve growth and achieve more and achieve quantity. Like we always you know it's almost like producing more more more more more more for who? And then people and then you. Yeah. It's produce more to consume more produce more to consume. It's like this really weird cycle. And so I think it ties into why I'm so like you know what -- I don't like the idea of like if I'm passionate about something and I should do it because. And the key word is I do it just like do it. You like it? You love it? Does it make you feel good you feel awesome that you light up inside. This is the thing that makes you feel on top of the world then do it. No excuses just do it.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:39:59] And I think just again from the surroundings and circumstances which you grew up. You don't waste opportunity, I think.
Damian Madray: [00:40:09] No no no no no no wasting of opportunities you. I go with the flow because I would say that leaving Guyana is not something I didn't want to leave I actually I had friends, life, family. You know I existed there. So living was tough but you know I went with it and that led to being in Toronto for five years studying design running my own agency and starting that grind of like being an entrepreneur, um, and hustling and chasing that success. Right? I was like I was in a relationship in Toronto and I had my design agency.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:41:06] What was it called?
Damian Madray: [00:41:07] It was called DepSkins. DepSkins at that time. I know with current times DepSkins is like a really bad name. And I would just be like working working working working all the time on the computer and you know my partner would be there and you know it's just like no time being in the moment and being present with this person who has made a conscious decision to sort of like share her time.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:41:42] Right.
Damian Madray: [00:41:43] Right? Share her existence her reality with you and just like you know and it's kind of crazy like you don't stop to be present and enjoy. And so even with what I do today right now is those things that keep me grounded like to try and stop and just enjoy just experience you know just be present. So those things keep me grounded in terms of what is success. But you know we have a system and we have a society where we peddle this message, um, and you know we take it in and that's what we go for it that's what we do we're programmed to answer the question programmed to think -- cause even with all even with what I know and even with my perspective and how I think about success. When you say the word "success" the first time it's actually not what I think. It's what was originally programmed.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:42:42] Exactly.
Damian Madray: [00:42:43] That's the crazy thing.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:42:43] It's so drilled in.
Damian Madray: [00:42:44] It's so ingrained and it's almost like an evolutionary level but not definitely not evolutionary it's culture, right?
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:42:57] Right. Every culture, too.
Damian Madray: [00:42:59] Every culture it permeates every culture it is there like what is success, right? It's this dollar bill like whatever language or culture or society, right, it's this bill this paper that has no value or meaning except the crazy thing is that humans actually place a lot of value on it. Right? And we will do all kinds of crazy shit for it. And with all our consciousness and our awareness and our intellect and creativity we are the only sentient that we know of. Right? And I've seen a lot of people make this point at that place so much value in it right?
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:43:38] Right.
Damian Madray: [00:43:39] Like you go to you go to, um, you know gorilla and he has a banana and he's like I'll give you this for your banana. Like what? Why would I give you my banana for a piece of paper.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:43:55] Right.
Damian Madray: [00:43:56] Right? That's probably the reaction but we don't see it that way. So yeah it's it's we have to be conscious of the fact that we've been we are programmed whether we want to admit it or not. We are programmed and a great documentary that was really good was a "Century of the Self".
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:44:17] "Century of the Self"?
Damian Madray: [00:44:18] Yeah. "The Century of the Self". It's a great documentary to watch. That no matter how cynical you might be towards, um, opinions about our society being designed to program us, um, or anything like that is to watch that. And that's a good documentary cause it covers a lot of interesting things. And in the middle of it it's like Freud, right? In the middle of this entire thing and it's awesome it's so great to watch and see that what one human discovered about other humans lead to creating something that can oppress or control humans through consumption, through public relations, through media, through marketing. And I've studied advertising. I do marketing. I'm a designer, you know, so I'm not talking like I'm not talking about this from a perspective of like I don't know. I'm coming from a perspective of like what I've been paid. Like I know this because it's part of my job description so to speak. And so that's why I'm passionate about taking what I learned about design to create experiences where people can connect. Right? Being intentional it, where we can probably create experiences where people can expand their thinking and their consciousness by triggering them in some way by using art for doing that. So. So, uh, yeah it's crazy how we think about success, though. It's -- these things is like when you ask me that first question like what's striking about humans is, um, it's all these little things. That's fascinating. And I'm not and I and that includes myself right. It's me as well or I'm participating in this. And it's really crazy how all these things gets us. You know and I like to stop and think about it for a second or two and be like Yeah this is crazy. Like I don't need to do this because why one of the things that I love to talk about is or you know I've talked about before is and this is a bias like why I contract and I consult I have a full-time job and I did have a full-time job last year and the full-time job before that I was consulting and freelancing. Right. And I never saw before that last year that full-time job. I've never had a full-time job. And what was interesting to me about that is how in a full-time job weekends become the most important thing. It's like it's crazy.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:47:11] That format of I go in around 9:00 or 10:00 and I leave around five or six, and so life literally becomes a balance between work life, right?
Damian Madray: [00:47:25] Yeah yeah yeah. And then we're waiting for the weekend.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:47:31] Right.
Damian Madray: [00:47:32] Cause what do we want to do? We want to play because humans just want to play.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:47:36] Right.
Damian Madray: [00:47:36] That's the reality of the situation. We just want to play, um, we want to produce and create but we want to play and we haven't figured out how to balance those two things so we have like the week we work and then the weekend we play we separate it and it's kind of miserable.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:47:54] It is. It's a never ending cycle.
Damian Madray: [00:47:57] Isn't that crazy that we've designed a society that does that?
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:48:01] I think that's a product of the Industrial Revolution.
Damian Madray: [00:48:04] Yeah right. Exactly. Exactly. So that's that's happened then and we see how it kind of like transcends generation and culture and it keeps like moving with us because we still do it today.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:48:18] Right.
Damian Madray: [00:48:20] But when people when when baby boomers are saying millennials are this and that and we're kind of being useless and they have their points at the same time we're the ones who are pushing back and saying here's a weird system. Why do you guys jsut work five days and then just hang out and today it's weird.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:48:38] You're literally miserable for more than 50 percent of your life.
Damian Madray: [00:48:45] Yeah. Exactly. Like why are you guys doing this?
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:48:46] It makes no sense.
Damian Madray: [00:48:48] This is crazy you guys are crazy. How about we just you know start a company that you can go live across all over the world, right, for three to six months. Or why don't we just like start roaming experiences where we can like do shit like remote year right and just go work in different locations for a year. Why don't we do that? Sounds cool. That sounds like more fun because I get to we get to travel we get to hang out we have to build communities. You know we get to do all these cool, awesome things and that sounds like a better existence than what you guys have been doing for the last century.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:49:21] Right.
Damian Madray: [00:49:24] So what does that mean it means that we're not, millennials are not worthless or useless. We're ushering a new paradigm and we're ushering a new system a new way of thinking we're shifting consciousness towards you know a better existence as opposed to an oppressed existence which seems to be the case, um, present day. And we're lucky. And I take that moment in our time to say we're lucky to be able to do that. Anyone who can go to remote year anyone who can go see at "Roam" anyone who would just take a trip to Bali and who can live in San Francisco at our age hasn't been here before but can move here and live here and work here and exist here, um, we're privileged. We're very very privileged. And it's a weird thing for me to say but I will say it because you know I don't I don't have a privileged background but I am privileged now. And and so that's that's the thing. Let's go back to the other point I was making about our responsibility to be that bridge, right, because we live here and we're able to experiment with all these things right like experiences and consciouses hacking and connecting and all these things. This is why it's great to be here. We're experimenting with these things that most other places don't or can because they don't have that access. And so because we have it, um, we essentially get to experiment and do these things. It's important that what we learn we can pass it down and say hey this is why this is good this is why this is cool right. And we lead by example we show. So our generation would be like Yeah this is a better way of existing we should invest more in communities you know. Who should invest more in their experiences. We should iterate on our experiences. We should iterate on the way we connect because we've been connecting like various ways for for centuries like religion for example and it's stagnant. Right? It doesn't change. Why shouldn't it change? We've changed our thinking have changed. Why shouldn't that change? So we should iterate and know the way we gather to where we connect you know iterate, change. There's no reason that religion should be the way it is for the next century. There's no way. It should change. So yeah that's that it goes back to a point of like us having that responsibility be the bridge pass it down. And what we have now is we're going to experiment and we're going to continue to experiment and we will try things and we're going to fail we're gonna mess up. We're going to come across arrogance and all those kind of things as well as we'll come out with positive things like Zuckerberg, right? We will bring change because of our thinking. Right? In fact Facebook entire thesis is like he wants to connect the world, right?
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:52:31] Right.
Damian Madray: [00:52:32] That's that's a guy who started with that experimentation and pulled off something phenomenal. Right? There's more things that can be pulled off or done based on that thesis based on that idea. But yeah yeah I think that again going back to that point of like millennials being you know what what baby boomers are calling us is, um, I don't agree with it. The one thing I would put out there and say is that every time I get into a conversation of like similar to like baby boomers and and what we're doing what we're accomplishing now the one thing I do would point out is when you talk about the topic of where we are like who or who are heroes and who are who are a great baby boomers we look back a lot and we look at it like Gandhi and Nelson and Martin Luther King. I think that's another thing that we do. You know what those people did was great. And we should celebrate and remember. What I don't hear a lot of is like who are the greats alive that we can rally around.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:53:46] That's true.
Damian Madray: [00:53:47] You know like it's like we rally around the dead you know but who are the people that we can rally around now that is alive that we can we can champion them or we can push them forward.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:53:57] Do you think it's because because they're still alive they're still they're so human. Whereas the dead --
Damian Madray: [00:54:06] Transcends?
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:54:08] Yeah.
Damian Madray: [00:54:08] In a way yeah. It's a consistent thing throughout our culture and our society. You're alive and you're doing your thing and you pass and suddenly it's like you know there's this joke of like to do well you if you're an artist and you're painting maybe part of your marketing scheme marketing campaign would be to die.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:54:32] Right.
Damian Madray: [00:54:32] Cause then your shit gets more valuable. What? Why isn't it valuable now? Why don't we value it was you're alive? And yeah like why does that happen? I'm not sure but it's a very you know is it our ego at play where we're just like -- I think it's not that I think you just have to meet a certain stratosphere and it goes back to like what is success, right? Because once you're alive it's like we will only champion you if you reach a certain success and done certain amazing things to blow our minds, collectively. We agree that you're awesome. And then we rally, right? But know I feel like that was that's cool. That's great. I'm not saying that's a bad thing. I do feel like we should we should look at people in different genres different category and like who are the people we can champion who are great whose who's our Gandhi? You know? That's what's interesting to me and I don't know is it a case where they get lost in the noise cause you know Dr. King was, um, people who rallied around him way before --
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:55:48] When he was alive.
Damian Madray: [00:55:49] Way before. Yeah. So is it a case where it you know it doesn't necessarily mean that we don't want to rally around but it could just be because there's more noise. There's just so much more noise to cut through that how do we there's all this information coming at us. And largely you can argue useless information coming at us and you know where we're navigating through that sort of thing that could get to us that can communicate and help us rally behind someone maybe doesn't get to us as fast as possible. Maybe you know maybe you just have to be more intentional and work harder for it to get at it. But yeah it's interesting but that's one of the things I like to bring up to you. I have like conversations I'll get into and then it will be like Yeah. And they bring up Gandhi as a point usually a rebuttal to my point because we're probably talking with something conversational. I'm like yeah but why are you bringing up Gandhi? That's what I say. Bring up someone who is alive. I dare you bring someone in this conversation right now, make your point with someone who is alive right now.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:57:03] Right?
Damian Madray: [00:57:04] And then it's like crickets. No response. It's like really. We don't have a response? Don't you find that crazy we don't have a response to that? So that's the thing with millennials is like why, of all the thinking and all of the things that we're doing that's cool why don't we have are greats that we can rally around? I mean that'd be cool. Yeah.
Jeffrey Shiau: [00:57:28] So this has been an amazing conversation. And I'd actually like to close this conversation with just one final thought from you. And I ask all the folks that I've been talking with this is ultimately what does it all mean?
Damian Madray: [00:57:54] You ask some tough questions. Ultimately what does it all mean like what does existence means? What does what we do mean to the world? Gosh I could get super philosophical based on like on Alan Watts or something and say "nothing". It means absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things. You know but I don't know. I have been thinking of like what does it all mean. I think this is more like a working thought or theory that I've been thinking about and developing and taking a lot of information from different philosophers and -- consciousness is a very interesting thing and a hot topic, also, today. And what it means to be in this existence this is reality this life which is really fascinating interesting ordeal almost that we go through. And then we die. And I wonder if it all means to -- but there are certain things that we're supposed to do in this existence in this thing called life and we're the goal of it would be to sort of like transcend or like expand or level up our consciousness. Right? And in doing so then you know death in itself becomes another experience and another journey not necessarily, you know, the end, darkness, oblivion not necessarily that, right? Cause you can be probably be on the other side of something and be like, "what is life?", like. It can be that so you know I've just always been wondering about that and when I listen to a lot of philosophers it sounds to me which is interesting is that they're basically saying, "guys don't worry about that. That's that's all noise. Come over here. This is where the real -- you need to come check this out. Come come here." It's almost like they're over here and they've got this world view this perspective. This expanded thinking, um, that allows this see the world and it's construct entirely different. Right? To what we see it as right? We're like caught up here in the rat race bullshit and these guys are over here like drinking tea or smoking a cigar sailing across the world or doing something cool and chilling out and then they're just writing and sharing their thoughts trying to tell us like, "do this, do that". Like think about it this way. Think about it that way maybe we'll connect better. You know like it doesn't have to be always this constant tension and struggle and fighting like there's this beautiful experience over here that you can have, but you need to do these things you need to have this world view this perspective, um, this way of thinking before you can you can you can do that, right? So what it's all about would be the get get that type of enlightenment. You know the things that you do in life what you're doing. So I get that enlightenment. And what's interesting is that all these philosophers and these great minds will share their thinking. And they're sort of like guidelines and road maps. But ultimately we should know that we should think that we all have to find that for ourselves. And so ultimately that's why I think it's interesting to come back as like what you care about what are you passionate about. So I believe that guiding thing you know and -- cause innately at our core humans are good you know we're good. Like that's it we're at our core our mind is good.
Jeffrey Shiau: [01:02:10] Even the people who are publicly perceived as evil?
Damian Madray: [01:02:15] People who are perceived evil people who do evil. We aren't born evil, right? We aren't born bad as children we aren't malicious and we aren't that way. We're prone we're trained we come up in a society that allows us to become that, right?. So innately it's like if we can if we can find ways to reconnect with with that. If everyone can be that'd be great. And my thinking is that you know if you can find your passion then, um -- and I know there's a couple articles on "fuck your passion". But I see passion differently. I see passion as the thing that you don't have to do all the damn time. I see passion as like may be passion and I want to do this right now. And then when I'm not I just don't just go do something else. Because that's what we do as kids right as we did. I think Mark Manson made a good point. I hope I got his name right, but I think it's Mark Manson, um, who wrote an article and you know that was one of the best points I've read where he's just like you as kids we were like we want to play with dirt. We'll play with dirt. And we get tired. We'll go to something else we'll play with our truck or watch we'll do something else. So we don't have to like our passion doesn't mean being stuck to one thing because it's our passion. Right? So if we can do that though it ultimately gets us to this place of good. I feel, um. So, that's like what it what it all means it's just like trying to get to that place and following that connecting with your passion aligning your passion doing these things in life that aligns with you connecting to yourself and not always projecting and externalizing outward but connecting with ourselves. And when we connect with ourselves we can better connect with others. So I feel like that's what we should we should do, right? And if we if we achieved that cause it sounds simple but it's not. But if we achieve that as a collective consciousness as a collective as a society then then maybe we can actually reach type one civilization right. Maybe we can actually start thinking on a planetary level, um, and then maybe we would transcend because we do have the potential of you know having our consciousness be around no matter what like we've we've reached that point with technology. But we're the danger how we move forward is the important thing how we move forward in terms of our thinking and our and our collective consciousness. I think that's important. So, yeah I think that that's what I would say. It's an interesting question. I could probably give like several different answers to that, but that's one way I look at it is -- Do that like it's a lot of like really intentionally aligning what you deeply care about. Passion is almost like a buzz word so maybe you should say deeply care about write something you love, right? Which is why they say "love" is actually the answer. So find something that you love not passionate about, but love and that brings out the best in every single human. And then hopefully we can work towards. Those of us who've been privileged and those of us who have access can work towards creating a society or a civilization where everyone has that. And it's no longer a privilege. Right. And then and this is this is probably naïve or you know just a fantasy of sorts but maybe then when we we achieve that and everyone is working in alignment with what they deeply love and what they deeply care about then we will possibly start thinking holistically and planetary. And then our consciousness can transcend together. Right? Cause there's a lot of people who like doing a lot of consciousness and opening their mind and the first thing you realize is that we actually can level up our consciousness as an individual. It's really difficult like you get you cause you operate in this, right? So the way to do it is collectively like so then and only then when we can start doing that our species can advance and then that will be really awesome and that won't happen now. That is the reality of the situation which is why anyone who talks about change, um, should understand that any change the like in my opinion change, your contribution should be that type of change and you accept and embrace the fact that you're you're just a small part of it. But you're also a big part of it because the next generation and the next generation and the next generation hopefully they'll start improving on their consciousness that shift will sort of like move upwards steadily because it's you know it's moving upwards. Cause we're now starting to have it, right? So we need to keep that moving forward. But realistically we're not bringing it around not our generation not the next generation. As much as I think in this like optimistic way I like to think practically and practically it's not going to happen now. We're pretty far off from it but it's happening. And if we can contribute to it that's what it's all about. Let's contribute to that. Let's contribute to the expansion of human consciousness.
Equipment & Software:
Audacity for Mac
WD My Passport Ultra 1 TB
Macbook Pro Retina 15inch Late 2013
Smile by Daniel Alan Gautreau
Tiny Bits by Felipe Adorno Vassao
Time & Reflection by Bjorn Lynne
Retro Video Game Hotseat by Bjorn Lynne