Imagined Futures with Margaret Trainor

Who is Margaret Trainor and what is most important for people to know about you?
The most important things for people to know about me and what I value most about myself is that I have a fair amount of irreverence both for myself and the people around me. Another thing they should know is that I am an optimistic person and I think you pick up on that when you’re around me. So in summary it would be my general sense of optimism and irreverence. I don’t really believe in taking yourself too seriously. That is what I think people should know about me.

Where does your optimism came from?
I believe my optimism is something I was born with. It might sound weird, but I think either you have it or you don’t. Also, I’m not saying that optimism is the best thing ever and that everybody should have it. I have a background of working in media and pessimism is important, too. Pessimism can push you not accept things as they are, look for the holes and poke at ideas a little more. If we are talking about Entrepreneurship, optimism can be a good quality to have because you actually need to believe that the crazy thing you’re talking about is going to work. I don’t think it’s an either or thing. I think it’s something that you tend to bias a little bit more towards one side or the other. I definitely err on the side of everything’s great and we can make it great. I’d say my optimism is all natural, free range and grass fed.

This interview is for a series called Imagined Futures, where we explore possibilities for our worlds of tomorrow. If you’re thinking about an Imagined future, it can be in a hundred or even a thousand years in the future. What’s important to be in that imagined future? And what are three words that describe it?

Love. Connection. Spirituality. Stewardship.

If I’m exploring what would be my Imagined Futures, it makes me reflect on history. I’m grateful that I studied history and what I love about history is that there’s so many things that are consistent throughout time and space. Things that were true 100 or 1000 years ago, you can read a text, see a quote, and it can still be relevant and meaningful for you in this moment. When I’m imagining the future, there’s certain consistencies that I would like to see carried forward. I’m sure we’ll have the bad ones, but I think we’ll also have the good ones too.

Some of the good things I’d like to see carried forward into the future are love, a sense of connection and spirituality. Maybe an additional fourth one, stewardship in the sense of caring for each other and caring for your environment.

How do these elements of an imagined future play out in your day to day life in who you are as a person and the work that you do?

These elements of the Imagined Future I shared manifest through the things that I’m most focused on. One part takes shape through the work that I do. My passion for my work comes from a place of love for humanity. Through my company ATMO, I make sustainable cleaning products and connect people with the products and information to make safe and healthy lifestyle choices when it comes cleaning products. My work connects into the stewardship angle in the sense of caring for yourself and your space, whether it’s your home or the environment as a whole.

In terms of the other piece of spirituality, I believe we should always be in the pursuit of a higher purpose and a higher mission. I could not do what I do without that feeling and sense of purpose and mission. The way that I see my life is as an act of service. I am lucky in the sense that I have a wonderful family and I’m educated. I feel strongly that I have a responsibility to do something positive with that privilege, because there’s a lot of people in the world that don’t get the same kinds of opportunities.

For me, doing something in the pursuit of connecting with something greater than yourself, the spiritual sense of a larger purpose or mission, a love of humanity and my life in stewardship of our world is how I view myself and how I bring that Imagined Future in existence.

Is there anything that doesn’t exist that you wish did?
If there is anything that doesn’t exist that I wish did, ummm I mean let me just plug my own product, real quick but it will be coming soon so let me pick another one. I think there’s a micro and macro ways that you can think about this question.

What I’m doing right now in a micro way and that hopefully translates to a macro impact that is creating a line of cleaning products that are concentrated and more sustainable. So I’m invested in bringing to life more sustainable products and services. Sustainable cleaning products and services is one thing that I’m doing that I just think is the greatest idea on earth, obviously but also believe that more things in this category should exist.

If I’m thinking about something outside my scope then what I would love to see exist would be more water recycling and further development around capturing rainfall. My dream for the future is to have a home space that is pure and self-sufficient. It would harvest the rainwater and purify it so you can use it in your own home. Also my futuristic home it would need to be able to create sources of energy within all the spaces.

I’m imagining a future where home spaces or workspaces or office spaces that are self-sufficient. That can be they are green buildings with plants that are emitting oxygen back into the atmosphere or they’re extremely efficient with harvesting rainfall and having more garden spaces. My dream is creation of more of these self-sufficient spaces and us all focusing a little bit less on having one static life experience and focus more on creating more environments that are suited to the environment that you’re in. I would love to see more of these kind of ideas and spaces exist.

What are some of your philosophies on how you approach life?
In terms of philosophies that I live by a lot of them have come from the things that I’ve read. There’s certain things in literature that have really touched me deeply. I’m a big reader and I really love reading fiction and children’s books. I have a series of books that I loved as a kid. As I reflect and reread these children’s books as an adult there’s so many kernels of human wisdom that have different meanings at this stage of my life than it did then.

In my life I wouldn’t say that there’s like one guiding philosophy. I’m always open to discovering new ideas, ways of living and that exploration takes place for me through literature. There’s one philosophy that’s right now really resonates for me and it’s the man in the arena speech from Teddy Roosevelt. There’s a couple of lines from it that really speak to me, which are the man who errors, errors while daring greatly and it’s about the man in the arena whose face is marred by dirt and sweat and blood. But, while failing, fails while trying to do something bigger than yourself.

This is something that I feel strongly as I examine how I look at life. I look at myself and would like to see more people behave as if our lives are an act of service and to go for something that is bigger than ourselves. And if we fail, at least we failed while trying to do something better. That idea can be manifested in so many different ways but is definitely something that’s a guiding philosophy for me today.

If there’s a time capsule into the future and there’s a message from Margaret, what would that message say?
If there a time capsule from me in the future it would be quite hype and just me being super excited. I really would have no chill in my time capsule message just for clarity on why that is that is because A, I’ve always wanted to find a time capsule and B, I love museums because I’m like oh Napoleon slept in this bed! I’m going to just start crying all over it.

But anyway in my time capsule, I would probably just write a note, be like “hey, I hope everything’s good?” but I mean failing that that I’d probably put my favorite books in lt. I really love literature. I really do. I love literature and I love art and architecture so probably add these things as well because they are beautiful expressions and manifestations of the human experience that we have. It’s so fascinating to see how they’ve progressed through time. Having studied history and having an appreciation for the early representations of the world and it all comes through the eyes of the people who saw it. So I would put items in there that would be objects that were meaningful to me in terms of how I saw the world. I feel like one thing that’s really comforting about the human experience is that it doesn’t last forever, which is a mind altering thing to think about. A friend of my mom said to me one that “the idea of an eternal rest sounds quite appealing.” And there’s a part of me that’s like, oh, yeah, I totally get that. With that said I think it’s also really motivating to just go for it. Life can be hard and scary but it is nice to know that it won’t last forever.

This time capsule idea kind of feels similar to when I was an undergraduate, the school I went to had us write a master thesis as an undergraduates. So you spend all this time researching and writing and eventually you put out this piece and I felt like this was my contribution to the historical record. It was my perspective and my idea and it lived in that tradition of scholarship. We are all time capsules you have your own life experience. And part of it is about you personally and part of it is about the generation that you’re a part of. You kind of make your experiences of life and then you put them there and you leave them in the record and there to be witnessed. My message for the time capsule is my life and if I had to fill one it would be filled with literature, architecture and art.

If there is a book written about your life, what would be the most important chapters of that book?
If a book was written about my life then I rather have a book written about something positive that I contributed to than about me personally. I don’t think that it’s just about me. If there’s something written about me, I would want it to be written about the work that I did together with people because nobody does anything alone.

It would probably be a business book. Which would be about the companies that I was apart of building or things that I tried or things that I did and any sort of insights and learning that I had to help the next generation of people go forward with that.

When I look at things that I’m reading now, that stuff is what is meaningful for me and that’s really what I want my life to have been about the idea of being in service to others. If there’s anything that I could give to people through the book and what I’m trying to do for myself would be to engender a sense of fearlessness or a sense that you can take something, you can go forward with it. Here’s what I did and how I did it. Can you apply that to your own life?

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