Nadia Piet

New Zealand-born, Amsterdam-bred terrestrial being, practicing the art of living in a digital age, and help others do the same. Passionate about shaping the future of work, education and life and helping people and organizations navigate the many challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. Because I believe "the best way to predict the future is to create it”.
New Zealand-born, Amsterdam-bred terrestrial being, practicing the art of living in a digital age, and help others do the same. Passionate about shaping the future of work, education and life and helping people and organizations navigate the many challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. Because I believe "the best way to predict the future is to create it”.
A timely note on the paradoxical relation of self-improvement and self-love

A timely note on the paradoxical relation of self-improvement and self-love

Transitioning moments like New Years have always been a big thing for me. I reflect on the progress of the past year and set intentions for the one to come. The self-improvement junkie in me must run deep, because I can remember doing this since I was like 7. For most of my life, I thought self-improvement was the answer to everything. People used to pride me with my unwavering commitment to self-improvement, as did I. But as I become more aware of its repercussions, my stance on it is shifting.

I had to learn the hard way (and let’s be real: still am) that

“no amount of self-improvement will ever make up for a lack of self-love”.

This Robert Holden quote got me going about the paradoxical relation of self-improvement and self-love.

 Undertaken from the motive of wanting to grow, learn, and blossom to one’s full potential, the pursuit of self-improvement is a rewarding and constructive one. Self-improvement helps give meaning to our daily lives, boost confidence, develop discipline, expand opportunities, and generally speaking, makes us more enjoyable people to be around.

When self-improvement is used as a response mechanism to self-loathing, the opposite effect can be expected. In that case we would be better off working on the relationship with ourselves rather than our goals. To try and accept, rather than improve, what is.

As much as self-improvement has propelled me forward in many areas, it was counterproductive to the relationship with myself. This is why we must question our motives. Why do we need to get better? Are we not good enough as is?
Mark Manson questions in his hyped The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck:

“isn’t the aim of self-improvement to get to a point where you no longer feel the need to improve?”.

Ouch. I admit, when I read that line, it hurt.

But in that one line, he points out the paradox of self-improvement. We try to be better so we can love ourselves, but more often than not end up hating ourselves for all the potential we’ve failed to fulfill. The more we think about what’s missing, the greater our deficiencies seem to grow. The more we focus on what’s wrong with us, the less we notice everything we’re doing right. Oh the irony.

We embark with the best intentions, but self-improvement can be a slippery slope. Always pursuing betterment, we can spend life replacing the race for achievement with a desire for the next. All the while believing we’re never quite good enough and none of it ever making us any happier.

Without acceptance at its foundation, the feats of self-improvements are but a high to fill the void of (self-)validation.

Maybe you recognize this mechanism. It seems a common response to the overdose of self-help advice, motivational quotes, success stories, and ads — designed for the sole purpose of making us conscious of our shortcomings— we’re flooded by on mass and social media.

This doesn’t mean that self-improvement is futile, and we should resort to sitting on our asses and being perfectly contented with ourselves and our shitty habits.

It just means that as young, ambitious souls, reaching for our potential, we should be cautious in keeping a healthy dynamic between the two, knowing that one will never solve or substitute the other.

We must seek out and protect our balance between the pursuit of self-improvement and the practice of self-love.

If you have an appetite to become more of what you are, go for it. Set goals. Try new things. Work hard. Push yourself. Glow up.

Alongside working on your goals, invest in accepting who you are here and now, with all your flaws, shortcomings, sensitivities and fallbacks (because they’ll always be there). Develop a kind of self-love that is unconditional of your achievements and pursuits.

On your quest for betterment, remind yourself that you are good enough.

Because our brains are always on energy saving mode and will focus most of their energy on our pursuits, it’s easy to forget what we’re doing right. That’s why we need to make a conscious and continuous effort to remind ourselves of it.

Next time you’re thinking of all the things you want to become, I invite you to take note of all the things you already are. To ponder on all the things you are doing well and wonderfully. To marvel at the things you are blessed with, things you have achieved, barriers you have overcome, struggles you have endured. To realize how much you have to be proud of, and grateful for. All this is yours.

A simple but effective way of doing this is a pride journal. It’s a variation on the gratitude journal. Instead of writing 3 things you’re grateful for, write 3 things you’re proud of today. Things you’ve done well. It can be anything from I didn’t start an argument when I got upset, to I delivered an awesome piece of work, to getting a compliment from someone else, to getting up and having a shower (some days, even that’s a challenge). Integrating this habit will help shift your thoughts.

Challenging as it can be, I believe keeping our balance between the pursuit of self-improvement and practice of self-love is what will lead us to sustainable growth. To enable a blossoming that is fueled by acceptance, rather than by disapproval, of oneself.

To power a lifelong quest of personal growth in which we not only rejoice in reaching the destination but in traveling the journey itself.

With love,

Posted by Nadia Piet in Thoughts
Know Thyself: 70+ Meditative Questions (for modern-day self-inquiry)

Know Thyself: 70+ Meditative Questions (for modern-day self-inquiry)

In a world full of noise, it can be hard to hear our own voices. And in a world full of on-demand distractions, it’s too easy to avoid listening altogether, and never truly being with ourselves. So I’d like to create a little space for that.

Today I want to share with you over 70 questions worth asking yourself and pondering on for a moment. Some may lead to affirmation, some to confusion, even frustration; but all will lead you to a deeper insight into yourself and your relation to the world.

We used these questions during the Intropreneurship course I co-designed and co-facilitated in spring 2017, giving them to the students during and in between the sessions. They found a lot of value in it and said it helped them get to know themselves on a deeper level. I also answered the questions in my own notebook at times and (re-)discovered a few inclinations of my own.

So I figured, if it works for us, it may work for you too.

All the credits for curating this list of powerful questions go to my Intropreneurship partner in crime and valued mentor Sandra Reeb-Gruber. She carefully handpicked and collected them in her notebooks over years of reading for us to benefit from.

Throughout the many chapters, friends and adventures of life, there is only one person you will always come back to, so you might as well make an effort to get to know them.

Whenever you’re ready; grab a sheet of paper, a beautiful notebook or open up a new doc, and start by answering one question that speaks to you in this moment. I admit these 70+ are a bit of an overkill, so just pick a handful at a time and see how it works for you. With this list, you honestly have no excuse not to try.

Happy inquiry & soul searching 🙂

70+ Meditative Questions (for modern-day self-inquiry)

  1. What is making you passionate about your life and the world?
  2. What bothers you (in the world)?
  3. How would you like to shape this world?
  4. What is your favorite place in the world? Why?
  5. How do you feel when you are there?
  6. What do you love to do?
  7. What main activities keep you busy?
  8. When (if) do you experience flow?
  9. Which things give you energy?
  10. Which things inhibit you? What is holding you back?
  11. Which 3 thoughts made you smile today?
  12. Which 5 things are you most grateful for?
  13. How do people see you differently than you see yourself?
  14. What are the 3 characteristics you hope others see in you?
  15. Who has qualities you aspire to develop? Who inspires you?
  16. Whats the one thing you can’t live without? Why?
  17. What are your core values?
  18. Are you being true to your values?
  19. Who or what has helped you on your path?
  20. Who or what can help you on your path ahead?
  21. Which things do you think you need luck for?
  22. How could you achieve them without luck?
  23. What are 3 things that are always on your to-do list?
  24. What nice thing did you do for someone else in the past 24 hours?
  25. Who do you want/need in your peer group?
  26. What is your most precious possession? Why?
  27. Who in your life do you trust the most?
  28. What is your addiction?
  29. What is your biggest fuck-up?
  30. What makes you sad?
  31. What is the most adventurous thing you have ever done?
  32. What are the things you want to be? Why?
  33. Whats stopping you from doing the things you should be doing?
  34. Which things do you have room for in your life?
  35. What things do you need to make room for in your life?
  36. What has been important to you so far in life?
  37. How do you currently contribute?
  38. How would you like to contribute more?
  39. Which talents / superpowers can you use for this?
  40. What is your secret magic power?
  41. What impact does this power have on the world around you?
  42. What character are you playing in this world?
  43. What job would you be excited to share with other?
  44. What did you want to be when you were younger? How does what you do now relate to this?
  45. What did you love to do as a kid?
  46. Which 3 people have had a major influence on you?
  47. Which 2 events have had a major influence on you?
  48. What is your big idea?
  49. Why this big idea?
  50. What is difficult about your idea?
  51. What is your secret big dream?
  52. What makes you happy?
  53. What gives you courage?
  54. What gives you strength?
  55. What gives you joy?
  56. What are the 3 thoughts that you have a lot?
  57. What character trait do you have that pushes people away?
  58. How does this same trait help connect you to others?
  59. In what areas of your life are you settling?
  60. Which 3 things are you proud of?
  61. Which 2 compliments do you often get?
  62. Where do you go to recharge your batteries?
  63. When are you at your most productive?
  64. What’s your favorite book/movie? Why?
  65. Who motivates you most in life?
  66. What is inspiration to you?
  67. When do you feel inspired?
  68. How do you feel when you are inspired?
  69. In which areas of you life would you like to experience more inspiration, why?
  70. What things do you think it is too late for?
  71. What do you want to achieve? What can you do (1 step) to get closer?
  72. Name 4 situations where you persevered even when the odds were against you?
  73. What would you like to experience in your life (if time and money are not an issue)?
  74. What desire is behind your answer?
  75. How can you already integrate this in your life?
  76. What would you like to learn in life?
  77. What is most important to you at this moment?

78. What question(s)0 would you like to add to this list?

With love,

Posted by Nadia Piet in Thoughts, 0 comments
The One Reason Most Innovation Efforts Fail

The One Reason Most Innovation Efforts Fail

When we talk innovation, the conversation is often sparked by technological advancements, new business models and product releases. Similarly, in our own innovation efforts, we often target grand market disruption strategies, dynamic team structures and rapid R&D cycles.

All ambitions aside: in the end the success – and even legitimacy – of any innovation depends not on creative ideas, but on the impact of its implementation.

If aforementioned designs, however magnificent they are, fail to be implemented in the systems they’re designed for, change will not occur and the so-called innovation hasn’t been much more than an inspiring brainstorm session. Brainstorm sessions are fun for sure, but it’s change we’re here for, isn’t it?

We all know implementation is the hard part. We see it time and time again, as innovation projects – even those built upon the greatest of intent, ideas and insights – stifle here.

Why is that, we should ask?
I believe it is for the one reason that people are not feeling it.

Whatever the ingenious design, it failed to trickle down into the minds of everybody involved in making the change. They didn’t manage to translate the new plans into existing, everyday experiences that the people within the organization go through.

If we really wish to manifest a change, we have to acknowledge that change comes down to our people.

It is not about the knowledgeable consultant (although they can help). It is not about the inspiring innovation manager (although they can be a powerful catalyzer). It is not about the top management assigning budget (although that is a prerequisite).

It is about those actually performing and managing the tasks, therefore sustaining the organization, on a daily basis. If you’re a company, it’s your employees. If you’re a start-up, it’s your team.

The success of any innovation depends on these people’s willingness and ability to adapt their behavior.

And changing has never been an easy feat, so it is your responsibility to offer them the right incentives, knowledge and tools to make the switch as effortless as possible. It is your role to guide that process.

Most innovation projects fail for the simple reason that they fail to recognize this. They are misled to think the power is elsewhere, and fail to assign the right amount of attention to the very people their innovation’s success relies on. The key to lasting change within any organization resides with them, and them alone.

Deep down I think you already knew this, but it’s so easy to lose sight. Now that you’ve been reminded, think about how could you set up your innovation projects in a way that acknowledges and harnesses their power directly? Will you embark on a search for empathy, and go out of your way to facilitate their change processes? Do you dare to co-create and include them even earlier on in the process?

I’d love to hear what you come up with and how your next innovation efforts pan out.
I also invite you to share any experiences or thoughts you have on this topic, as we can all learn from one another.

Keep innovating.

With love,

Posted by Nadia Piet in Thoughts, 0 comments
The One-Page Business Plan: Introduction to the Business Model Canvas and How it Can Help You (+ 14 Supporting Tools)

The One-Page Business Plan: Introduction to the Business Model Canvas and How it Can Help You (+ 14 Supporting Tools)

You’ve been hit by some sort of creative epiphany and are now carrying what we commonly refer to as an idea. Next, you’re looking for a way to translate your budding idea into a solid business case you can wrap your head around and pitch to others.

Traditionally, you would go on to write a detailed 50-page business plan.

Although writing a business plan can be a valuable process, there are some painful limitations to it.

  • First, it is a very linear approach to map something that is in continuous iteration: your business.
  • Second, it is extremely time-consuming, both to create (write) as to consume (read).
  • Finally, it is all text, a format that doesn’t work in everyone’s favor.

So what you would like is a way to build and present your business case in a faster, more flexible and visual manner?

Taddaaaa! Let me introduce you to the Business Model Canvas.

In this post, I’d like to propose you an alternative that is slowly but surely replacing the traditional business plan. By the end of it, you will have a good understanding of what the hell the BMC is and how you may use it to capture any business plans you might have in an intuitive, fun and agile way.

So let’s get into it shall we?

WTF is the Business Model Canvas?

The BMC is a visual business tool that captures how your business creates, delivers and captures value.

It presents all this in a visual template of 9 building blocks that together constitute your business.

It moves from the Customer Segments, describing who you serve, to Value Proposition, outlining what you offer, to Customer Relationships and Channels, which describe how you deliver the value. Then it moves along the Revenue Streams, exploring how to capitalize on the value, to the Key Activities, Resources, Partners and Cost to line up all that needs to be in place to manifest the value chain.

The BMC will empower you to design and communicate every dimension of your business plan intuitively, quickly and visually.

When should I use the BMC?

The BMC can be used for any business regardless of industry, offering, size or maturity.

It can help you design your initial business model(s) in an ideation stage, develop them throughout the start-up stage and can as well be used to re-explore existing models in a more mature stage.

The process of designing a BMC is fundamentally different than that of writing a traditional business plan.
The BMC defies the limitations of a traditional business plan but in turn, has its own flaws.

I have found the BMC particularly helpful when:

  1. You don’t have the time to write a traditional business plan.
  2. You’re bored to death writing your business plan.
    Anyone that has written a business plan before knows that, besides the enthusiasm that is a by-product of thinking about your business, it is pretty dull and tedious work. The BMC offers a more visual, creative and hands-on process.
  3. You’re not alone in designing your business model.
    Besides offering a framework to any individual, the BMC is particularly helpful when there’s more than one person involved. It offers a shared language to design, discuss and pitch business models. Using the BMC as a framework to lead business discussions amongst teams will help avoid misunderstandings and therefore promote better communication and ultimately, better business decisions.
  4. You need something more flexible than a traditional business plan.
    A traditional business plan is a static document and therefore absurdly inflexible. If you realize halfway through your business plan that something doesn’t add up, or you have an important customer insight in the early days, you basically have to go back and start from scratch. There are not many things I hate as much as having to do the same work twice and I find it hard to imagine this wouldn’t demotivate anyone. The BMC allows you to draft, to iterate, to go back and forth, try out different scenarios, see how they integrate and play around.

Pretty useful little tool, right?

Where did the Business Model Canvas come from?

Alexander Osterwalder found himself with the same issue you’re facing and set out to develop a solution. He went on to research what he coined Business Model Ontology, founded in 2006, co-founded the consultancy firm Strategyzer in 2010, and then went on to co-author the book Business Model Generation in collaboration with his mentor Yves Pigneur and co-created along with 470 Business Model Canvas practitioners from 45 countries.

This is the book that introduced the Business Model Canvas to the world and is described as “a handbook for visionaries, game changers, and challengers striving to defy outmoded business models and design”.

It’s quite something that they’ve created.

How do I use the BMC’s 9 building blocks?

Now that you have a general understanding of what the BMC is, what it’s used for and how it can help you, I will briefly go through each of the building blocks of the Business Model Canvas and provide a bunch of supporting tools to help get you going.

Each block includes a short description and links to tools that are developed specifically to assist you in this block’s design.

     1. Customer Segments

If you’re looking to build something that people will love; understanding them and their needs is key. By defining your targeted market, you can start to get into your customers’ head and develop your business with the end user in mind. This will prevent you from building a product that nobody wants and more importantly; enables you to find and fulfill a true need.

Tools: Customer PersonasEmpathy Maps by David Gray/XPLANE

     2. Value Proposition

Value Proposition Design seeks to pinpoint the unique benefits and relevant characteristics of a product that serve a specific customer segment. It pinpoints what needs are satisfied, what problems are solved and how the product stands out from its competitors. Knowing exactly what value is delivered to your customer will help you run your business efficiently and not waste resources.

Tools: Value Propositions Canvas by Strategyzer / buy the Value Proposition Design book, Validation Board

     3+4. Customer Relationships & Channels

Once value is created, we have to find the best way to offer and deliver it to the customer. These interactions take place with a variety of hand-picked communication, distribution and sales Channels, coloring the type of Customer Relationship. Try to illustrate all phases of the customer experience so you can optimize every step of their journey. These touchpoints in the customer’s journey hold the power to make or break the overall customer experience.

Tools: Customer Journey Map, Story Boards

     5. Revenue Streams

Revenue streams result from value propositions successfully and profitably offered to customers. Think about how you will capture the value you’ve delivered.

Tools: Revenue Stream Maps by Noorderwind

     6+7+8+9. Key Activities, Resources & Partners and Cost Structure

Now that we have a goal in mind, it’s time to make it happen. What has to be done on a regular basis in order to make this business plan a reality? Including the full cycle of value creation, delivery and capturing: these to-do’s are the Key Activities of the company. Key Resources are all the assets (physical, financial, intellectual and other) required to manifest the activities and the plans in all other elements. The Key Partners are stakeholders and suppliers of resources that are more efficiently acquired by outsourcing or collaboration.

Tools: BMC (link back between the other building blocks and these), First Principle ThinkingValue Stream Mapping, Value Chain Analysis, Process Mapping, Project & Resource Planning

     10. Macro Environment

To fully optimize the business model to the environment it will operate in, we will look beyond the internal factors to evaluate external influences and the potential threats and opportunities that result from new developments.

After all, businesses do not exist in isolation.

Tools: Business Model Environment by Strategyzer, Consumer Trend Canvas by TrendWatching, FutureGraphic by Future Navigator, Ethnographic Experiential Futures by Stuart Candy and Kelly Kornet


You made it.

That’s a quick overview of all 9 (+1) building blocks of the Business Model Canvas, along with the tools to help you along the way.

I carefully selected these tools so that you don’t have to get sidetracked Googling all these new terms, and can focus on what matters – developing your ideas and channeling all your energy towards making your plans happen – instead.

Will you?

How should I go on to design my own BMC?

If you’re ready to go, you can start designing your BMC right here and right now.

You can either print a template and get to work with pens and post-its, or make a digital version with the Canvanizer tool (easy to use + free, yay!).

If you’re looking for a bit more guidance before you make the leap, I think this Business Model Canvas guide by Alexander Cowan is very helpful. Or if you want to get physical, you can get a copy of the Business Model Generation book here.

If you prefer video, this great one from The Startup Hustle walks you through the entire BMC + Canvanizer process, or you can watch Osterwalder himself elaborate on the BMC philosophy and building blocks.

For a few more inspirations and visual innovation clues, you can also check out my Innovation board on Pinterest.

And finally: keep it simple, like Emad Saif’s Lemonade Stand BMC.


I hope by now you have a good understanding of what the BMC is about, and how it may serve you and those around you in crafting their business plans.

Whatever you decide to do with this new info, keep in mind that business model canvassing is a tool, but most of all a verb. It is powerful because it facilitates a process of testing and iteration – the fundament of improvement.

Hold on to that spirit, and I am convinced you will develop – and hopefully execute – some very interesting business models.

What are your thoughts on the BMC? Did you already know about it or is it new to you? How do you use or are planning to use the BMC?

With love,

Posted by Nadia Piet in Thoughts, 0 comments
Executive + Artist: The Dual Role of a (Business) Innovator

Executive + Artist: The Dual Role of a (Business) Innovator

As a business innovator, you don’t quite fit in predefined boxes of expertise.

You’re swaying somewhere between the business, the creative, and the technical domains. You may work in different industries, mingling with different groups, taking on different roles and speaking in a different ‘language’.

Although it’s probably this natural disposition that led you to the field of innovation in the first place, this dual role continues to pose a mental challenge as we grow into our talents, join teams and drive projects.

Being a business innovator demands you to strike a fine balance between the critical method of a business executive or VC, and the creative mind of an artist.

It asks you:
.. to be sensitive and perceptive to inspirations all around you, yet be strictly analytical about selecting which ideas to move forward with.
.. to form vibrant visions on the future of your business, yet bring this down to actionable tasks that can be done today.
.. to solve problems with creative, out-of-the-box thinking, yet be highly pragmatic in implementing solutions.
.. to be immersed in flow-states and deep thought, yet be diligent and rigorous in getting them out there.
.. to align behind your ideas strongly, yet keep an open mind to feedback from your users and stakeholders.

The practice of innovation is as much an art as a science.

Equalizing this balance will remain a challenge. We must be able to switch from the creative thinking hat to the polarizing critical in a matter of minutes. Sometimes we may have to make choices, holding both in mind simultaneously. And we keep developing our abilities in both hemispheres instead of excelling in one. It is this mind fluidity that allows us to do our jobs well.

Ultimately, it is even more of a treasure. Instead of limiting ourselves to applying one method in our career, and keeping the others “for our own time”: we are able to integrate all these different facets of our mind, of our personalities, of our being, into our work. Training our brain for such mastery keeps us from settling in a static way of thinking and ensures we’ll never get bored.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

It is the integration of the two that I love. Allowing my business-minded analytics to not only co-exist alongside my lateral creativity bursts but to combine their forces to create value in a way that neither of them could alone.

Do you experience this split in your work as an innovator? Or in what other places do you encounter this challenge of mind fluidity? I’d love to hear if your thoughts on this challenge, and how you make it work in your favor.

With love,

Posted by Nadia Piet in Thoughts, 2 comments
Introducing the Workshop Canvas: A Visual Tool to Design Educational Experiences

Introducing the Workshop Canvas: A Visual Tool to Design Educational Experiences

I’d like to introduce you to my new brainchild: the Workshop Canvas.

After carrying the idea for a while, a beta version is here and I’m excited to share with you what the Workshop Canvas is, how it can help you, how to use it, and I’m looking for feedback to understand how it works for you!

It’s early stages but I hope to collaboratively develop this canvas into a helpful tool that will make the design work of learning professionals a little bit more inspiring and engaging. I look forward and am open to your feedback, questions, thoughts and ideas on the Workshop Canvas so far 🙂 Without further ado:

WTF is the Workshop Canvas?

The workshop canvas is a visual tool to help you design your workshops, classes, courses and other (educational) experiences.

In my own work as a workshop and educational designer, I was struck by the lack of visual aids and the lengthy spreadsheets I saw most of my colleagues – and ended up myself – using.

Born out of this frustration and inspired by canvasses such as the Business Model Canvas, the Workshop Canvas seeks to offer a more intuitive, iterative and collaborative approach to the design process of educational experiences.

How can I use the Workshop Canvas?

1 Get the Workshop Canvas template.
You can download the Workshop Canvas below and print it on an A3. It works best in combination with the mini post-its. If you prefer, you can also use the file digitally.


2 Start by filling in the blocks on the left to set the stage for your workshop.
The blocks include: the overall learning objective, the total amount of time available, the title, the audience, the materials, and pre-tasks + follow-ups.

3 Decide on a time measure.
There is a timeline on which you can fill in your own timing. Depending on the duration of your workshop, you can divide your time into 5 or 6 segments – each top-to-bottom column representing one segment of your workshop.

For example: Say I have a workshop of 3,5 hours. We estimate 30 minutes are subtracted because of breaks. With 3 hours of teaching time, each segment will represent 30 minutes. I recommend creating your timeline with pencil so you can edit as you go – when i.e. you add other breaks or realize some segments need more time.

Extra: Within each segment, I would usually spend half the time (in this case 15 mins) speaking, introducing or explaining a concept, followed by a block of processing activities (for another 15 mins).

4 Devise a color coding system.
If you have multiple color post-its, color coding helps you keep a quick overview of what each segment entails. If you only have 1 color, you could consider an icon system.

For example: In the example below yellow represents information and speaking, and blue is for processing activities. The greens are the learning objectives.

5 Start outlining your content.
You read the canvas along with the timeline, from left to right, moving through each segment top to bottom, going through the different elements of content and activities. Each column (top to bottom) represents one segment, aimed at obtaining its specific learning objective defined up top, and occupying whichever time measure you set on.

If you’re bubbling with ideas: go! Start writing and outlining those post-its with content and activities and drafting where they might go. Don’t get too hung up on their order, as you can keep iterating furtheron. If you don’t know where to begin: I’d say start with learning objectives up top, and then think about which content and activities would support them.

And the wonderful thing of post-its is obviously that you can edit, shuffle and re-design as you go and as much as you like. Once you’re (mostly) done, you can use the whitespace around the post-its for final notes and to indicate breaks, transitions, etc.

I made one example of a filled-in Workshop Canvas that I think brings it all to life:

If the completely blank canvas intimidates you, you could also download this workshop canvas with digital post-its already there.

So that’s it. Should you have any other questions, I’d be happy to hear them.

After you’ve given the Workshop Canvas a go, I’d love to learn what the experience was like for you – the good, the bad and the ugly. What worked for you? What didn’t? What’s missing? What’s redundant? Hurdles, ideas, remarks, it’s all welcomed. Any piece of constructive feedback will contribute to shaping the canvas into a helpful design tool.

Finally, feel free to share the tool with whoever you think it might serve or be of interest to.

Now, I will let you get to work, and to design awesome experiences.

With love,

Posted by Nadia Piet in Thoughts, 3 comments
Be Your Own Life Coach: 20+ DIY Life Design Exercises to Inspire Creative Living

Be Your Own Life Coach: 20+ DIY Life Design Exercises to Inspire Creative Living

Wouldn’t you like to have a life coach?
Honestly, wouldn’t we all like to have someone on our side to help us figure things out?

Life design is the practice of consciously and iteratively shaping our time here on earth. It’s about taking ownership and committing to the continuous process of exploring, directing, manifesting and enjoying the life you want to live.

Well worth the struggle – it’s a tough thing to do.
This is the exact reason people take on a (life) coach or enroll in personal growth programs.
They are there guiding you through the process of life design.

We would all benefit from a little guidance but plenty of us may not have the appropriate resources for that – money, time or otherwise – or decide to ride solo for whichever reason.

That’s why today, I’d like to give you a DIY approach to life design.

I could tell you more, or I could show you instead. Shall we?

I’ve selected over 20 hands-on life design exercises that I have found to inspire creative living and working. They will help you gain clarity on what you want, why it matters to you, and how you’re going to get there – as otherwise a coach would.

These are exercises I have collected over time and frequently turn to when coaching others, and when directing my own.

I recommend doing them on a piece of paper – although digital works too – and with few to no distractions.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

20+ DIY Life Design exercises you can do right now

    1. Ikigai
      Ikigai is a Japanese word that means a reason for being, a reason to get up in the morning, and is similar to the French raison d’être. In a simplified approach, it is the sweet spot between 4 elements:
      * what you love,
      * what you’re good at,
      * what the world needs,
      * and what you can get paid for.
      Draw the figure and write at least 10 key words in each circle, then formulate and find opportunities in the overlap. For more elaborate guidance, visit Aly Juma’s blog on Ikigai.
    2. Purpose statement
      A purpose statement is one sentence that declares what, who, and how you want to serve the world. As heavy as that sounds, I assure you it is not and I’m publishing a step-by-step guide on How to Craft a Purpose Statement in 2 weeks.
    3. The Soon CV
      This is an amazing exercise that I was introduced to by Lorenzo De Rita from The Soon Institute when we invited him to speak at our Intropreneurship course.
      The Soon CV is a visual draft of what your resume will look like in say 5, 10, 20 years from now. Think about it: What jobs will you have had, what experiences? Where will you have lived? Will you study more, learn any new languages, other new skills? What did you achieve? What did you leave behind?
      So actually draw or design that CV, your Soon CV, and have a go at answering those questions. Once you know what you want, you can reverse-engineer.
    4. What’s your favorite flavor of shit sandwich?
      The shit sandwich is about what sacrifices you’re willing to make in life. Read more on the shit sandwich concept and these 7 strange questions that help you find your life purpose both by Mark Manson, author of the contemporary classic “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck”.
    5. What would you do if money and skill were no object?
      We’ve all heard this question, but have you ever given this blue sky thinking any real thought? I think you should.
    6. Meditative questions
      A great way of active self-inquiry is by answering, perhaps by writing, what we call meditative questions. I have collected a list of 70+ Meditative Questions for you to try out.
    7. Flow
      If you’re not familiar with flow theory, have a quick read on it here. What was the last time you experienced flow state? During what kind of activities do you experience flow? How could you integrate more of these activities into your work and life? How could you make other activities more flow-inviting (i.e. by taking on more difficult challenges or by doing them with new attention)?
    8. MVP
      MVP is the abbreviation for Most Valuable Player in basketball or sports in general, but in the context of lean start-up methodologies, it stands for Minimum Viable Product. It’s about creating something that delivers the key value with minimal resources, more commonly known as a prototype, draft or even sketch.When you think about what you want to go out and do, what could be the smallest, most bare and most basic version of it? How could you implement and start testing this version of your idea, plan or change today? Although the MVP concept is mostly used in business design, it can just as well be applied to life design.
    9. Circle 5 things
      I can’t remember where I read this, but I remember its message. If you feel like you’re lacking focus and are drowning in ideas (as I usually am), this simple exercise can help. Write down without stopping a list of all the ideas and concepts floating around in your mind. Now in under 30 seconds, circle 5 things. That’s it.
    10. Not-to-do list
      In the same way we make to-do lists or weekly goals, you can incorporate not-to-do and un-goals. Try it for a week and see how it works for you. For me it has worked if it’s the type of to-do list that you keep around all the time, …..
    11. Design the system, not the result
      If you read my newsletter, you’ve already seen the Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead post by James Clear come by. He presents a refreshing approach to the traditional goal-setting that focuses on iterative systems and focused effort rather than its direct outcomes and hitting targets.In other words: focus on the journey, not the destination; focus on the work, not the rewards. Very valuable to try out if you find yourself frustrated with your current progress. I’m experimenting with it at the moment and would love to hear how it works for you!
    12. Core values
      We all generally want the same things, but don’t prioritize them all alike. When it really comes down to it, what do you choose? Truly care about? Measure yourself and other against?
    13. Virtue chart
      This was originally Benjamin Franklin’s technique but I’m sure he doesn’t mind us using it. I’ll be writing a post on this soon so until then just read Aly Juma’s post on Benjamin Franklin’s 13 Virtue Chart to get familiar with the concept. Then use your own core values from the previous excessive to draw up and keep your own chart.
    14. Describe your perfect day
      Close your eyes and visualize the moment you wake up, on your perfect day. What would your morning routine be like? How would you spend the day? Where would you spend your time? When would you work? Who would you meet with? It’s a classic exercise but I relate it strongly to Alex Wolf, who is the queen of life design and manifesting her perfect days.
    15. Make a vision board
      This is the fun part! A vision board is a collage with visual inspirations for your future. Go through either print magazines or Tumblr/Pinterest/Gram feeds and gather images that represent or symbolize your future self, your future life. How would your future self act? Speak? Think? Spend their days? What would they wear, watch, read, and listen to? Who would they spend time with?
      Craft all your images into a collage and when you’re done getting crafty, keep the vision board somewhere you see it so it may remind you daily where you’re heading. You can also make boards for more specific themes like work or travel, or do them yearly either to forecast or reflect. By visualizing and giving attention to it, we are bringing it into our own and other’s awareness. Watch this amazing TED talk by Dan Gilbert on the psychology of your future self and how visualizing our future selves can help us make better decisions today.
    16. Write a letter to your future self
      We can delve further into the concept of the future self. Another way of doing this, in addition or instead of the vision board, is by writing a letter to your future self, as this Medium post by Tré Wee beautifully chronicles and inspires.
    17. What’s your narrative?
      What is the story you tell yourself and others about your life? What’s the theme you narrate your identity around? What’s your journey about? Watch this great video from The School Of Life on How to Narrate Your Life Story.
    18. Business Model You
      This is the personal version of the infamous Business Model Canvas. The BMC is a visual tool that helps you create a comprehensive business plan in one-page, and if you’re curious you can read more about it in my post later. But for now, we’re looking at the individual translation of the BMC: the Business Model You: A One-Page Method For Reinventing Your Career, which you can use to design, instead of your business, your career.
    19. Momento mori
      A little morbidity can go a long way. If we are fearful, the awareness of our own mortality can be a great guide. So fast forward to you laying on your death bed: what would you want to look back upon? Leave behind? At your funeral, what would you want people to say? To remember?
    20. Energy tracker
      For a week, keep a mood and energy tracker. Try to keep account of which activities, environments, people, interactions, places and objects give or which cost you(mental, physical, emotional, spiritual) energy. Of which elevate and which lower your mood. There’s a bunch of apps to do this, one is Daylio (both for Android and iOS). It’s quite an intensive process to do this for a week but if you’re thorough, the insights pay off. Once you’ve gotten into the habit of evaluating where you spend your energies, it will become as a second nature.
    21. Sit and breathe and listen
      This list wouldn’t be complete without a reference to meditation. It is true that you already have the answers inside you. You simply need to learn to listen. Although it isn’t so simple in reality, it is well-worth the effort. Sit and breathe. Be still and observe all the thoughts that emerge. Listen. If you’d like some guidance, I’m a big fan of the app Headspace by Andy ….. The first ten 10-minute sessions are free, and perfect to get you started on your meditation practice.
    22. Last resort
      If you feel without any hope and just want someone to give you the fucking answers, the guys over at WTF Should I Do With My Life will have some ideas for you.

There we are.

A list of 20+ life design exercises empowering you to be your own life coach and help you build the life you aspire.

I’d love to hear about it if you try some of the exercises and how they worked for you!

If you have any suggestions to add to the list please leave a comment so we can collect all the goodies in one place.


With love,

Posted by Nadia Piet in Thoughts, 0 comments
Where I Chill, Work and Meet Up when in Athens (20+ Personal Favs)

Where I Chill, Work and Meet Up when in Athens (20+ Personal Favs)

UPDATED: in August 2017, added my new favs to the list.

Athens has in a short time become as my second home.

Two of my closer friends, and members of Da Shogunz (the Hip Hop label I’ve been co-managing), both re-located to Greece. Me loving my crew and exploring new places alike, it couldn’t take long for me to go visit.

As summer holiday came around and school allowed me off, I seized this as the perfect opportunity to launch a month-long getaway to Greece, and mostly Athens. I invited along my beloved queenfriend Bibi, and we had the most magical and dream-like time as we seemed to meet the most kind-hearted people, eat the most nourishing meals and see the most astonishing views, continuously.

By winter break, we went back to celebrate New Years. Completely different vibes and snow for the first time in 10 years of Athenian history, but it was super chill again. In summer 2017 I went again, for 6 weeks this time. Is it obvious? I’m fucking hooked.

Something about the vibe in this city gets at me.

The contrast between its rich history and deprived contemporary; between the polished and protected Monastiraki and the anarchy-ruled Exarchia; between the lacking ability to speak english, but abundant means to welcome you anyway. And then there’s the tzatziki, the moussaka, the periptero’s, the rake’s, the temples, the alphabet, the parks, the sun and the water. Maybe it’s just something in the air.

Stating the obvious: I love Athens, and want to share some of my personal favorite spots in the city with you. These are none of the usual suspects (which are also lovely, but I reckon you can find in a 10-min google sesh) but rather a collection of my own hotspots in the city.

Without further ado:
20+ of my personal favorite spots in Athens

Monastiraki – Plaka

Forget Me Not (100 Adriannou St)
This is hands-down the cutest shop in town with all sorts of design items, gifts and original souvenirs.

Impact Hub (Karaiskaki 28)
If you’re looking for an inspiring and spacious co-working space, mingle with the entrepreneurial community at the local Impact Hub.

Six Dogs (Avramiotou 6-8)
The backyard bar at Six Dogs is everything. Perfect place to cool out with home-made watermelon juice and greenery all around you.

The Art Foundation (TAF) (Normanou 5)
bar on the picture (from this The Travel Porter article with more great bars in Athens)
TAF is a bomb coffee and cocktail bar with mini exhibitions around and a small but beautiful shop. So easy to miss if you don’t know about it.

Poems ‘n crimes (Agias Irinis 17)
Another art bar for either drinks or daytime coffees and reading.

wander-abouts in Monastiraki + Plaka
If you exit Monastiraki metro stop, you’re right at the heart of the centre from where you can roam freely around Monastiraki and Plaka, the ‘old city’.

Syntagma Square & Parliament (Pl. Sintagmatos)
Syntagma Square is one of the central squares of the city. At the end of it is the Parliament where, with the right timing, you can get a chance to see the changing if shifts of the guards.

21 grams (Petraki 10)
Once you’re done exploring, head down to 21 Grams; a tiny but atmospheric cocktail bar, amidst a few cute streets, that is owned by people with good taste in music. They also serve coffee in the daytime.


Kalimarmero, also known as the Panathenaic Stadium, has been used for various Olympian ceremonies and is the only stadium in the world built entirely of marble.
+ Local secret: If you go around the back of the stadium there is an alternate entrance there from where you can get on top of the stadium and even walk onto a small hill, quiet with awesome views on the city.

• Hotel Chelsea
In the street of Kallimarmero’s back entrance, there is a bar called hotel Chelsea. On summer nights, the outdoor seating is super vibrant and it’s a nice place to have a drink that often hosts local DJ’s.

Elvis Souvlakia
When you’ve done spent all your money on booz, right next to Hotel Chelsea is the perfect spot to get a little budget snack if you get hungry (and are not vegetarian). They have a bomb souvlaki with some bread and fries for only 1,50.

Superfly (Empedokleous 28)
A bit further down is another bar that serves cocktails, is named after a Curtis Mayfield joint and is entirely in retro-90’s interior style. They pay hommage to their name and I have never heard them play a wack song once when I was there.

• Plateia Varnava
In 3-minute walking distance from all these spots, is Plateia Varnava, the central square of the area where you can grab food, drinks, or something from the periptero (greek kiosk). It’s like a community meeting point where many locals from the area and of all ages chill on the benches on summer nights.
Local secret: Being from Amsterdam, this blew my mind: you can ask at any of the bars for your drinks to take-away. Instead of glass, you will get your Long Island or Jack on Ice in a quintessential take-away coffee cup. We used to do this and take them down to Plateia Varanava and chill there until early hours.

Bar The Way (Effranoros 40)
The coffee friendly priced, the cocktails delicious and the jazz music soothing, I like bar The Way for take-away coffees and laptop work.


nourishment in Exarchia’s Κιματοθραύστης (Char. Trikoupi 49)
The ladies here don’t speak a word of English, but the quality of the food needs no language. For a humble 4 or 6 euros you can fill your plate from an assortment of freshly cooked, authentic Greek soul-foods.

Navarinou Park (Zoodochou Pigis 26)
Exarchia is not just any neighborhood, but ran by anarchy. Cobs are not tolerated and expensive cars destroyed. Just down from the food spot, is a small park where you can chill and sometimes student events take place.
+ Local secret: There’s a reason they sometimes refer to this place as little Amsterdam. If you would want to obtain or smoke a spliff, this would be the spot.

• streetart in Exarchia + Psirri
These two neighborhoods are great to just wander around as there is streetart on practically every block.

soul food 🍲🍜

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Get away to the islands


With a 1-hour drive and 1-hour ferry you can be right on the island of Agistri. Known as somewhat of a hippie island and embracing that classic Greek island vibe, this is a great place to take a break from the big city life. If you bring a tent and sleeping bag, there’s places you can set up shop for free, lie underneath the shade of the trees, and take a morning shower in the beautiful sea there, which is exactly what we did. It was beautiful and I’d recommend anyone to take a one or two night stay there while you’re around.

Agioi Anargyroi

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If you visit Ikaria, you might scout some pieces of my heart that I left there. This island, with its slow yet natural pace of happenings, has left an impression on me like very few places do. It’s a longer ferry trip than Agistri or Spetses (7 hours instead of 1), but the ride is well worth it. My friend and talented writer Kristina Headrick, who I spent the week there with, posted this perfect round-up on how to best explore and enjoy the island of Ikaria on her blog Delphi Reclaimed.


National Library of Greece (Panepistimiou 32)
This row of buildings is great to admire.

Tiki bar (Falirou 15)
Tiki-style cocktail bar with live DJ sets.

Dildo tattoo studio (Nefelis 10 , Palaio Faliro)
If you want to get a tattoo during your stay, this is the spot. I got 3 of my ink works here. The crew that works there are amongst the coolest and nicest people I’ve met in Greece and they are very good at what they do. Oh and they play Wu-Tang in the shop which is mad points.

fresh note to self: the eightfold path (by @alfdildotattoo)

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• Gazi
This is the mainstream clubbing area. Although I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it (also ‘cause I’m a partypooper), if you end up in this area don’t give up too quickly. We asked around for some Hip Hop parties and ended up not returning home until 9 in the morning haha. Extra benefit: you can eat souvlaki’s here even at 6 in the morning.

• the hills
There are many hills and mountains in the direct surroundings of the city that are easily accessible by car and perfect places to chill. The views are everything.

once I find my center I’ll begin to flourish once again #athens

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• chilling in the house with E-food
In Athens, you can order practically anything from e-food to your door. And with anything I mostly mean: coffee. I’m a sucker for the morning double cappuccino deliveries, the fresh juices and the late-night Nutella crepes. Dangerous habit, this one.

+ corny souvenir shopping is done at Ifestou
If you turn left, you enter what they call the flea market, but what really is primarily a souvernir shopping area. Although nothing crazy (except for that one bead shop that has a dinosaur park in the back; wtf?!), it’s a good spot to grab some affordable physical memories of your trip.

Bam, there it is. Wonderful Athens.
You’ll surely have a beautiful time there.

I’m sure to return to Athens again sooner rather than later so if you have any more hotspots to recommend, or you yourself are located in Athens and would like to meet up, reach out 🙂

Enjoy! αντίο!


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Posted by Nadia Piet in Thoughts, 0 comments
Creating your future from your core: What we do in our Intropreneurship class

Creating your future from your core: What we do in our Intropreneurship class

If you follow me on the Gram, you’ve seen me share pictures and videos of the Intropreneurship classes on my feed and stories. If we’re connected on LinkedIn, you’ve seen the job title update. And if we’re real-life homies, you probably heard me say I need to prepare or teach a class a bunch of times.

I’m happy to see these snippets spark the curiosity and to receive questions over email and DM asking things like “am I a teacher?”, “what exactly is it that I teach?”, and “why doesn’t it look anything like a regular class?” (alternate version: “wtf is all this cool shit you’re doing?”).

And that is what this post will be about. I’d like to introduce our Intropreneurship class and some of the vision that supports it; explain what it is we teach, why we believe it matters and perhaps; why it doesn’t look anything like a regular class. And feel free to ask more questions as I’ll be happy to tell you more about what we do there. For those with an interest but limited time, I present to you: the Intropreneurship Aftermovie. In this 2-minute film we have the students speak on their experiences throughout the program and what it did for them. Peep it below and see what we’ve been pouring our souls and energies into these last few months:

I say we because this class is a team effort. I am fortunate to co-design and co-teach this course with my partner in crime and mentor Sandra Reeb-Gruber; educational innovator and the founder and driving force behind IBIS. She asked me to be part of this class last fall, and we’ve been happily creating and carrying it out as a team ever since.

To name our program we coined the term Intropreneur, and logically called the course Intropreneurship, which we define as:

Intropreneur [\ˈin-(ˌ)trō-p(r)ə-ˈnər, -ˈn(y)u̇r\]
noun, plural introtrepreneurs [/in-troh-pruh-nurz, -noo rz/]
a person who organizes and manages themselves, taking on greater than normal personal risk in order to do so.

The blind spot of education

If all goes well during our studies, we graduate with a bachelor or master degree. What’s still missing is knowledge of self, and clear ideas on what we wish to pursue, or refrain from, in our careers and lives. Although education equips us with a wide scope of knowledge and skills, we are left with some very big questions to figure out for ourselves.

    What kind of job would I like, and would suit me? What are my talents? What am I passionate about? What are my core values? How important is my career to me? Which environments do I best perform in?

Our ability to explore and find the answers to these questions determines our success these days more than our grade lists do. Yet somewhere along the line, it was decided that it is not the responsibility of schools to occupy themselves and the curriculum with such questions.

We disagree with that notion.

Personal + professional development as one

This is why we started our Intropreneurship program. In this 10-week course, an elective of the International Business Innovation Studies, we help a group of 25 students find their own answers to exactly those questions.

It is built on the premises that:

  • self-knowledge is the most important leadership knowledge
  • personal and professional development go hand in hand
  • that success is only experienced as such if it is in line with our core values.

The journey of Intropreneurship: inspired by Theory U

Through a journey of guided self-exploration and reflection, we seek to map their talents, values, passions and dreams, but also their enablers and disablers. We gently push them out of their comfort zones with the experiences and exercises, all contributing to them growing an image of themselves that is both affirming and sensible – will help them navigate the path ahead.

We draw inspiration from and tap into a bunch of theories, methods and sources but one of the key models to guide the Intropreneurship process is that of Theory U, a management model developed by Otto Scharmer and meant to inspire authentic leadership (illustrated in the drawing below).

Following the U-shape as illustrated here,

the first part of the program is about acknowledging the existing,
the second part about interpreting the emerging,
and the final part about manifesting the new.

This process isn’t just about gathering more knowledge and skills, but very much about seeing what’s already there, and expanding from there.

By the end of it, each student will channel their insights into a passion-driven project that is in line with their goals and priorities. They will start and build this venture during the class and hopefully, continue it beyond.

Outside-in vs inside-out entrepreneurship

The usual approach to entrepreneurship is outside-in. You scout for market opportunities and unsaturated user needs which your company could provide for. There is nothing wrong with this process, but it is not the only way.

The other approach, and the one we support in our Intropreneurship program, is an inside-out approach. Starting from the individuals’ talents, passions and goals, and moving from there to see and experiment with what kind of business endeavor would fit.

“A leader needs to know his strengths as a carpenter knows his tools, or as a physician knows the instruments at her disposal” – Dr. Donald O. Clifton (from Strengths Based Leadership)

Knowing and guiding one’s self

We believe the skill of knowing and guiding one’s self has always been crucial to success, but is only becoming more important in our 21st-century context, amidst all the changes, choices, freedoms and ambiguities that characterize our era. But we all know that this is a daunting task, and without the right tools, mindset and guidance; perhaps even an impossible one.

So that’s what our Intropreneurship class is about: providing that and empowering this group of talented students to live up to their potential and live life on their own terms, in harmony with, and ultimately capitalizing on, the developments around them. To help them know themselves, own up to their greatness and go out and manifest it. To create their future from their core.

Together we thrive: a word for our sponsors

And me and Sandra can’t take all the credit. We’ve had the privilege of enjoying amazing guest lectures by the likes of Boukje Vastbinder (Noorderwind) on rapid prototyping techniques, Lorenzo de Rita (The Soon Institute) on the SoonCV, Nuray Gokalp (GlobalTech.City) on the fusion of passions, and learn from both their personal and professional insights. We visited inspiring companies such as Shapeways, Singularity University, Dutch Design Week, Sport eXperience, Enversed on our trip to Eindhoven that gave the students real-life insights on how companies work, and what their role in it might be. We undertook the life-changing Nature Quest experience with Martin Cadee and Roos Moll to discover what is present when all distractions are stripped away. And we were invited by the kind people of Clubs & Subs in De Sloot to host some of our sessions in their dynamic working environment, and away from the classrooms. I want to thank you all so much for your contributions.

And in addition to that I want to give a major shout-out to all my students. There are few things more rewarding than the sensation of helping others, and witnessing others grow and get value from what you have created and facilitated for them. And I’m learning and experiencing so many wonderful things in the process myself; learning both from my own doing, the students’ feedback and the collaboration with Sandra, and not unimportantly: enjoying the ride.

Altogether, it’s been a very exciting journey full of inspiration, sharing, connecting, growth, surprises and lifelong memories. And we’re not even done yet 🙂

That’s what we’ve been doing and what Intropreneurship has been all about in a (rather large) nutshell. Let me know your thoughts on our program, if you have any questions, if you’d like to collaborate or feel free to share your own ideas on what the future of education might (/should) look like. Thank you for reading and always keep learning + teaching!

Posted by Nadia Piet in Thoughts, 3 comments
Why Humanity Will Remain Relevant – In Spite Of (Mass) AI Employment

Why Humanity Will Remain Relevant – In Spite Of (Mass) AI Employment

Being a vivid blog reader when it comes to the topics of innovation and futurism, last week I came across a handful of headlines reading “Elon Musk says humans must become cyborgs to stay relevant. Is he right?” on The Guardian, “Elon Musk Says Humans Need to Merge With Machines to Remain Relevant” on Fortune and “Humans MUST merge with machines or we’ll become REDUNDANT’, warns Elon Musk” on The Express.

Elon spoke on the impact of AI during his appearance at the World Government Summit 2017 in Dubai and as usual, Musk’s statements were the source of ample discussion and plenty coverage. These interpretations underline the general consensus of perceiving AI as a threat, and are based in logical fallacies. You can watch the full talk here if you like, or continue to read my concerns on these misconstrued headlines. 

Although most of the articles cover some nuances and quotes from the transcript when you read further into them, the alarming headlines themselves carry a strong implication that I believe requires a second thought and will elaborate on in this post.

What Elon said is that
“If humans want to continue to add value to the economy, they must augment their capabilities through a “merger of biological intelligence and machine intelligence”.

Elon is confirming our redundancy in terms of employment, once AI will take over the work and be able to perform our tasks better, faster and cheaper than we do. The question that logically follows in the minds of most is “will we no longer be relevant then?“.  And with regards to the economy, indeed we won’t.

But although he clearly states the redundancy of our employment, he does not conclude humanity irrelevant. I believe making that jump – as the preceding headlines do – is problematic, as it implies that we have no other value than that created by our employment. Only if we limit the relevance of humanity to economic terms, we could possibly lose relevance. This logic isn’t foreign to me, nor hard to follow, but it is concerning.

Has consumerism succeeded in making us believe that our value relies solely on our productivity? That our relevance is dictated by our employability? The headlines certainly make it seem so, yet all we have to do is to pause and think, to realize that this is false.

Employability, as an enabler of consumerism, is one of the cornerstones that our society is built upon. It’s what gives structure to our days, weeks and years. It’s what’s provides a shared goal in terms of economic growth. It’s what gives us some sort of hierarchy in a world where physical strength alone no longer yields much. Without taking any stance towards consumerism, it has provided us with an incentive; something to chase; something to achieve; something to strive for.

Someday soon we will indeed, lose our relevance to the economy, the construct that we have become so occupied with. And hence we will indeed, need to employ a new construct to give meaning to our existence and structure to our societies. From where I’m standing people embody many more dimensions, some of which we can again begin to explore once we free ourselves from the burden of work.

In a world of workaholism and paper chasing, perhaps we can imagine AI employment as a relief rather than a threat. It’s likely to free up an abundance of time and space for us to express, to connect, to learn and grow, to make sense of the world and give meaning to our lives.

Even though our employability will lose all its relevance, I argue that our existence will not. I daresay it’s possible that outsourcing work to our artificial overlords will allow us to rediscover what it means to be human; therefore making humanity all the more ‘relevant’. What do you think?


Posted by Nadia Piet in Thoughts, 0 comments