Imagined Futures with Ty Fujimura

Who is Ty Fujimura and what is most important for people to know about you?

I don’t think it’s important for people to know about me specifically, but I do think I have a perspective on life and work that people may benefit from hearing. I take the art of living very seriously. I think this is a good thing, so long as one doesn’t overdo it, as I am one to do.

My first job is as a father. My lineage will last longer than the work I produce, and I am in a unique position to create ripple effects for many future generations, so I try to remember that fatherhood is the most important job I will ever have. I also believe this phenomenon is not unique to parenthood and that anyone can cause such ripple effects. The effect is merely clearest when it comes to intensely dependent relationships like with children. Children teach you how to be maximally thoughtful about the actions you take, because it is so easy to see how your choices mold their mentalities and expectations about the world.

My job is that I am the CEO of a web design and development company called Cantilever. We are a 100% remote team spread across the US and Canada, and we make exceptional websites. My career purpose is to unite business and creativity. I think it‘s important for people to know that they have a career purpose too, and if they don’t know what it is, they still do… but they might not like it…
I’m a very lucky person. I think it’s important for people to understand how much cosmic luck is involved in their lives (good or bad) and to adjust their impressions of themselves accordingly. If you are holding a smartphone reading this post that just immediately vaults you to the upper crust of human history when it comes to the standard of living that you can expect. It seems inevitable that human happiness always resets to a certain baseline. But I remain optimistic that as a society we can evolve greater contentment through understanding of the past.

I believe that most people are doing their best, but are also limiting themselves with the mental models they have around life. For instance, students in four-year college programs usually have a tremendous amount of time free outside of their studies, but rarely put that time to good use. So they may be trying their hardest at school, but there is a whole other resource that they may be leaving on the table simply through not understanding it as such.

I believe that the purpose of life is to spend the most time you can with the people you care about. Therefore I believe that it’s important to care about the people you work with, since you spend so much time with them.

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?

So my three words would be Work.Life.Harmony.

There are a lot of obvious macro answers like stopping climate change and reducing wealth inequality (at the very least, stopping the growth of wealth inequality). To stay within the themes that I generally talk about, I believe it is critical that we develop a model around work that makes it more harmonious with daily life.
Prior to the 20th century I don’t perceive that people had as much a concept of a separation between work and life. This is because the world was so poor and most people worked so hard that such a thing made no sense. I would hope that in a thousand years, people return to making no such distinction, but because we are so collectively rich that the “work” we do is integrated holistically into our lives and brings us fulfillment and pleasure more frequently than it does now.

The concept of “Work/Life Balance“ is a positive starting point, but the term ignores the inherent connectedness of these things, imagining them as opposite sides of a ledger to be “balanced.” Who can avoid their work life affecting how they operate at home? And vice-versa? I have found more peace in my life by accepting the inevitable entanglement of these things but structuring my life so that they enhance each other rather than being in opposition. The “balance“ term implies that it’s a zero-sum game. I strive for my work and life to be organized in such a way that I get more of both.

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?

I am a big believer in productivity. Productivity doesn’t mean squeezing more work into the day, it means completing optimizing the things you have to do in a day so you have more time for the things you want to do.

I am also a believer in delegation. It is so much better for a group of people to work together than for one to toil harder alone. Everyone wins when work is distributed.

In 1930 John Maynard Keynes predicted that by the year 2000, the standard work week would be 15 hours. This made total sense, since automation and efficiency should decrease the amount of net labor required for our society to operate. Obviously this hasn’t happen, because we have chosen to change our expectations of what we achieve in life to maintain the frenzied pace we have become accustomed to. As Yuval Noah Harari put it in Sapiens:

“One of history’s fews iron laws is that luxuries tend to become necessities and to spawn new obligations. Once people get used to a certain luxury, they take it for granted. Then they begin to count on it. Finally they reach a point where they can’t live without it.

I am 100% guilty of this, though I would like to be a part of the solution. Ironically I am working hard to change this and part of my evolution as a CEO is to commit to these concepts and demonstrate them more.

I am happy that we have people at Cantilever who are working sensible hours that fit within their lives, fulfill their financial needs, and they are fulfilled. It’s a good formula. I want more people to experience that.

What is one thing or an idea that doesn’t exist that you wished did?

A better operating system for democracy.

There’s something called the Unreal Engine which is used as a baseline for many companies to create advanced games without having to reinvent every part. I would like for there to be a baseline methodology for running a nation that is accepted as a best practices approach to making the most people the most fulfilled they can be. Individual nations could then tweak this model as they see fit for their specific needs and cultures.

I don’t know non-American systems as well as I should but I understand that different nations have hit on innovations that are powerful, and should be the kinds of things that could be integrated into an upgraded OS.

I believe markets are a powerful and wonderful invention that have and will continue to change the world. But markets need to be planned and controlled to be safe. The ideal system would harness the power of markets without allowing them to grow cancerous.
I would want incorruptibility to be built into the new OS in a similar fashion to how trust is decentralized in a blockchain.
It would be amazing if such a system allowed nations running it to work together in a more streamlined way, like a built-in trade agreement.

If there is a time capsule that was discovered in a distant future and there’s a message from Ty on it. What would that message to this future be and what would you say?

Maxwell and I were thinking of you and I hope you are also thinking of people 1000 years from now.

What are rules or philosophies that you live by?

I am a practitioner of a philosophy called Getting Things Done (GTD) of which I have become an insufferable evangelist. It has helped me to keep my complex life contained and efficient, with healthy boundaries and expectations. Otherwise I would have had a breakdown by now.

I believe anyone who feels that life is complex should at least understand the tenets of this system. They can decide for themselves whether it is a fit for them.

I have written about how GTD can help remote workers specifically .

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