Transcript of Tatjana Dzambazova — The Art of Asking The Right Questions (#27)

Please enjoy this transcript. Technology whisperer Tatjana Dzambazova on asking the right questions to avoid the waste of talent, connecting and inspiring others, becoming vegetarian, and the myth of a better life. Transcripts may contain typos. You can find the episode notes here.

0:00Tatjana Dzambazova: Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently. Oh, they're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, disbelieve them, glorify, or vilify them. About the only thing that you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagined. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward. Maybe they have to be crazy, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who do.

1:37Nono Martínez Alonso: Today I'm finally having the opportunity to talk to Tanja or Tatjana Dzambazova.

1:45Tatjana: Yeah, finally.

1:47Nono: So we're hear in Mill Valley, in California, in the north side of the Golden Gate, San Francisco. I will briefly introduce Tatjana. She moved from Macedonia to the US a while ago. She was working for Autodesk for around 18 years, leading different launches of different products as a product manager. And, more recently, she's been working with a startup that was working on metal additive processes, and now she's working as a Director of Product Management at Bright Machines, a company that tries to do software-driven..

2:28Tatjana: Software-driven manufacturing.

2:30Nono: So you studied architecture, right?

2:32Tatjana: Yes.

2:32Nono: That was a while ago in Macedonia, and more recently—and that's something that maybe we can talk about now or later—she's even learning how to program. The first thing I would like to know is what brings you to read to us today this quote that you use to introduce the the episode.

2:49Tatjana: It's interesting. This quote is known to the whole world. It was the ad campaign for Think Different by Apple. It was recently re-sent to me by a friend. She's an old hippie She attributed it to Jack Kerouac as many people do. But why I started with this quote is because I think it reflects.. It pretty much sums up the guiding principles of my life. Because what I like about the misfits, and the crazy ones are two things. They always question the status quo. And they're the ones who offer first solutions and different solutions to existing problems. And I think many problems in the world can be solved if we just ask the right questions.

3:32Nono: And one of the things that strikes me from your personality or your identity—of who you are—is how many contacts you have or how easily it comes to you to even suggest people for me to interview.

3:51 I recently was reading The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. I would perfectly classify you in what he talks about as a connector, [you seem to me] the prototypical connector.

4:02Tatjana: There are two sides of that. One is, I have chosen a life in which I want to learn a little about many things. Although in reality, I respect the opposite. I respect people who have dedicated their entire lives to the one thing perfectly. But my interests are so broad that I think my brain is a complete soup. I continuously read and learn about new things. And that is the path I have chosen in my career.

4:26 Some of the leadership of Autodesk very early recognize that I'm very good in a non-comfort zone in new topics. So I ended up leading new initiatives every two years, which meant I was entering the yet another industry yet another problem every two years. And due to the nature of my job, I haven't been meeting so many people that on one hand, the pool of people that I have met in my life and their diversity is amazing.

4:53 And then on the other hand, there is this Balkan matchmaking side of me that I like to connect people be it privately and romantically but, more importantly, there is nothing more beautiful [than] when you see a couple of people thinking about the same problem from different way. And they say, do you know about this guy? Or do you know about this girl? I'll connect them and then some magic happens. And there is nothing more beautiful than that. That's creation, pure creation.

5:21Nono: And you also, in a previous conversation, mentioned that some people are messengers. Can you elaborate a bit more on that?

5:28Tatjana: Yes. So there's one thing about people who are the inventors—people who have the first ideas. Obviously, without that, nothing can move. But then just as important are people who have the capacity to spread those ideas, to make them happen, to make them understood.

5:48 And I think one of the things that people have recognized, my skill is into translating ideas in a way that anybody can understand. And it doesn't matter if It is about the language, how I would teach somebody language, or if it is about technology, I continuously have been hearing, "Why is it that when you explain it, I understand it."

6:11 People love to learn, there is nothing more beautiful when you give a talk or when you give a lecture, and you see somebody's faces light up. That is because you opened a new door in their mind, you opened a new opportunity in their mind, and you taught them, they want to know more.

6:27 I think that there is a role for those of us who have the capacity to teach and to make difficult problems—or problems that are not yet understood—understandable and intrigable and lovable.

6:39Nono: What have been the most rewarding talks that you've given. In the sense of people coming to you and talking or trying to say, "Oh, we really got that when you said it."

6:50Tatjana: Yeah. It's such a panorama how many talks in the world I have given in how many languages and cultures and how many different topics. A couple of them stick out, mainly with kids.

7:03 I was invited to speak in the Computer History Museum in California and there were about I think about 150 girls. They were about age 12–13. They were learning how to code and that was supposed to be one of the rock stars of Silicon Valley, which obviously I'm not, but I was happy to be called that.

7:22 I was telling them about my life path. How I wanted to be a ballerina and I never planned to become what they became. Then I guided them through my career and through some of the projects that I've been working on. And when I finished these girls, like a swarm of bees, went around me and everybody, "How did you do this?" And one girl was super shy, and she came and said, "You inspired me so much. I want to be you when I grow up."

7:50 The interesting thing is that that happens even with adults, they come in they say, "I want to be when I grow up." Obviously joking.

7:58 Another episode was in Louvre I was demonstrating the ever first HP tablet. It was not working. It was clunky. But we had a software called architectural studio that was about sketching, architecture, combined with photos and 3d and stuff.

8:14 After a talk I gave and the demonstration, there was this guy who is some venture capitalist or investor. And he came to me and he said, I don't have a creative bone in my body, but I want to buy whatever you're selling here—which was really fun.

8:30 And the last one is my TEDx talk. [It] was really interesting because the entire audio and video system crashed in the middle of the talk—which nobody can see now after they patched it—but people were so happy afterwards and said, "Oh, you're a rock star. It was not problem. You inspired us so much."

8:48 And then one week later, I was in the same location giving a talk to about four hundred ten-year-old kids. That I think was the biggest success in life because.. Try to keep ten-year-old kids for about an hour and something quiet. The entire hall was quiet. And when I finished I was talking about the maker movement and showing them creative tools about making things and producing things with their hands and stuff. When it finished, it was still quiet. And then they all stood up and started clapping. I think after that it's like, "You see Napoleon and you die." I didn't have to make any more talks. That was the success.

9:28Nono: And what road did you.. From where do you come? What's your background? Where were you before coming to the US?

9:34Tatjana: Yeah, given the fact that I have a very strong accent, nobody can figure it out. So I get that question a lot. "Where do you come from?" And I always say, "Complicated." Because, you don't know if people are asking you because of your accent or just because they know somebody is always from somewhere else.

9:50 I was born in Yugoslavia. It was the most beautiful place in the universe and I miss it daily. That place of Yugoslavia is now called Macedonia or recently renamed [as] Northern Macedonia. I moved to Vienna after studying architecture. I was recommended during the international design seminar at which many famous architects, Herman Hertzberger, Anton Schweighofer, and Mario Botta, and many others were there and one of them invited me to work for him.

10:19 So I moved to Vienna. I stayed there for 12 years. And after that, I moved to London, I moved to Paris, Boston, and now I'm in San Francisco. A little bit all around the place and throughout my career also all around the globe in terms of globe trotting and teaching and educating technology.

10:37Nono: Yeah and, what would you say is your.. or has been, all these years, your main motivation or your mission, your creative endeavor?

10:46Tatjana: I don't know. I have so many interests in life that I wake up daily, and I think I'm such a failure. I never did what I really wanted. And it's untrue because I wanted everything I was doing, but the number of interests is so big that you simply cannot fulfill them in one life. Life is too short, right?

11:06 But my entire life was a journey of learning. I don't think I arrived anywhere. It is a continuous journey. I learned like a crazy lunatic ten different topics a day. But, have I really learned anything? I'm just always hoping that there's something left in the brain that connects the dots differently after I learned something.

11:25 I'm just curious about how everything works together. And, you know, I don't think I have a defined mission. The mission that I discovered through work was really that I teach well what I know and topics that are of importance, and topics that are dear to my heart, about taking care of people and taking care of our environment.

11:44Nono: So you mentioned to me before, also, the quote, "Working on solving the right problems."

11:49Tatjana: Yeah, so this is a very interesting topic, and you'll hear me being very passionate about that. As a product manager the role is to understand what problems are you trying to solve when you are finding or offering technological solutions. And living in Silicon Valley, sometimes it's really.. Hmm. It makes you question things.

12:08 Six months ago, I saw on Twitter an application that obviously, super smart machine-learning guys have been working on, and the application was doing, what? It was taking a picture of somebody and then showing you how that person looks naked. And this for me was absurd. Solutions looking for a problem. Don't we have enough real problems in life? What a waste of talent when you think about it. But that's only just by picking what kind of problem and, I think, between pollution, global warming, climate change, processing plastics, extinguishing fires, medications, human rights.. There's so many real problems to solve that I was just disappointed that somebody decided to spend their time on that.

12:49 But when I talk about solving the problems the right way, my manager Abhishek Pani—by the way unbelievably smart guy and that is somebody you definitely should interview—he pointed to me a story that I've never heard of before. And if you know it, sorry for patronizing, but if not, it's very interesting. It's called the bullet hole misconception. It's about how we use data. The story of the bullet hole misconception is basically, about the world war two bombers. And the fact that if the bombers were flying long missions, and penetrating deep into a territory, and, you know, deadly FlaK returning to the bombers, not many of the planes were coming back. The fatality was, from 100 soldiers, 40 were dead. It was just a huge price to pay for what it was doing. So the elite command insisted that bombing was critical to the success of war. They really wanted to solve the problem, how to cut the number of casualties. What they decided to do is, as the planes were coming back from their missions, they started counting up the bullet holes and the various parts of the planes. And usually that showed concentration of bullet holes on three parts of the plane: on the fuselage, the wings and the tail. So they said "Great, we have a solution, the bombers should be more heavily armed exactly in those areas to reduce the damage made by the FlaK and the enemy fighter planes." And by that, you know, they thought they had a solution. Obviously, you cannot arm the entire plane because it would be too heavy to fly. So the arm it there were most of the bullet holes weren, right? So this was an obvious solution. But as Daniel Siegel—from whom I read—the article said, "It's obvious but it's wrong," because actually, a guy called Abraham Wald reviewed the data and pointed out the critical flaw in the analysis, which was the command had only looked at planes that had come back. So obviously, of all the bullets that have been penetrating the planes—of the planes that came back—were still not deadly enough. Everything that was deadly and that they should have armored against, were on the planes that never came back. So for me this story is about what questions are we not asking? [They] K These, obviously had enough data. But they looked at the data the wrong way. And I'm very worried in the time of big data today that we look at data but we're not asking the right questions, and, blindly, just following the data. So this is something that I will always keep in mind since I found out about this story.

15:26 And there was also another story, which is funny—also from the world war two, and I'm not big on any wars or learnings from wars—but it's another story about strategy and solving the problems the right way. And it was about the tank production during the the World War II. There was a talk by Jonathan Parshall at a conference for World War II, and it was about the production strategy of tanks. If you look at tanks, tank production require money, labor, energy, and steel. So then he analyzes Germany, and Russia, and the America, who had how much of what, and who had the best chances to make most of the tanks and win the war. But it was not about that, it was about the manufacturing strategy. The Germans, as they are, they decided to do a very high quality product. They made 12 models, a preference for flexibility in manufacturing, if they need to change something... And they required, the process they developed, required the skilled craftsmen to work on it. The Russians on the other hand, they've done the math, they realized that the average lifespan of a tank was less than 6 months and once deployed on the battlefield it was actually less than 14 hours. So once you have that in your mind, the fact that the devices, the machines are disposable—as so as sadly the human beings inside of them—that led them to the right solution, which was basically only 3 types of tanks. No subcomponent, no engine, nothing should last longer than the predicted lifespan of the [tank]. And they crammed the factories very close to each other within very few spaces, and they didn't require skilled labor. And the rest is history. So the point is, what I learned from that lesson was, not only that you really have to, again, understand what problem resolving to find the right solution, because sometimes good enough solution is good enough. And even though we know that, sometimes we'll shoot for the stars, we'll want to make a perfect solution,

17:28Nono: And to continue a bit along these lines, what would you define that something is a real innovation?

17:36Tatjana: Real innovation? Wow.. Hmm, again, for me, it is about looking at a problem in a different way and finding a solution that was not obvious.

17:48Nono: You've previously mentioned that you always were working on new projects. What were some of the biggest challenges of that?

17:55Tatjana: Yeah, so in my 18 years in Autodesk and also the last three years, I somehow ended up always on the forefront of making some new or disruptive projects that were often very uncomfortable to people because they were asking for a change. And we as humans in general don't like change but especially in the professional world, once you have a safe solution, once you know a tool, once you have a technique, it's very difficult to persuade somebody that there is a better new way. But there are other challenges as well. It was internal negativism in the company or skepticism, why are we now working on that when we have AutoCAD when we have Revit, etcetera.. So I think shepherding through negativity and skepticism is a master skill that you have to have if you want to be on the forefront. And I never call myself an innovator because to be very frank with you, almost every idea I've worked on has come from other people: Brandt Matthews—one of my biggest inspirations—Amar Hanspal, Carl Bass obviously... All these people had the initial idea, but then they needed somebody to make it happen. And then they would pick me, and I was very grateful because I'm really not comfortable in comfort zone. I like solving new challenges. And I think the most important thing is, either if you're the innovator or somebody who is on the very front to make some new ideas happen, remember that it is never a failure to try something new, to innovate on a new solution by thinking out of the box. For me, it's a failure not to try. Innovation is not safe. People who changed the world don't rely on talent, they rely on work. You know, many people can have a good idea, but make it happen. And by the way, that is exactly what I told the girls, it's my only advice. I said "Don't ever let the disbelievers steer you away from a good idea. Just run with it. Just believe in yourself and go for it."

19:57Nono: What have been some of the most rewarding ideas you've percieved? Now that you can talk on retrospect,

20:02Tatjana: Oh my God, I've been very fortunate to work on some really interesting things. For example, at the beginning of the maker movement, Autodesk was at that time really just focused on design. And this is the first time that we're starting to think or talk about actual, how do you make the designs. And from talking about amateurs, and kids, and how everybody now—enabled by technology—can express their creativity, we turned that into a curiosity and a strategy change to actually think during design of how things are manufactured. And that turned out to be a whole new era for Autodesk—supported by many acquisitions—to talk about digital fabrication, and making of things, and the world of 3d printing, etc.. So that was really a beautiful path and I was very happy to be part of it.

20:51 The other one, today proves even more important than what I thought it was when we were working on it: it's the whole topic of computer vision. We started with photogrammetry—how can you make 3d models by taking photos—and that period of working on Memento with my amazing team from Singapore, and people from the San Francisco office, and Pittsburgh, was amazing. We were working on photogrammetry and laser scanning, basically the idea that you can digitize the world, and then you can make a new physical replica out of it or a new digital world out of it. That was the most diverse tool that we have ever created, because we had both architect civil engineers—capturing buildings as if conditions are capturing landfills—but on the other hand, the very same tool was used by Dr. Louise Leakey in Kenya to digitize all the skulls of the first humans and animals that were ever discovered, or by Sly Lee and The Hydrous to digitize corals underwater, by the Smithsonian to digitize the Smithsonian collections... It was beautiful. It was such a beautiful journey. And now that we were recently reminiscing with Amar Hanspal that we were right about believing in computer vision, and this was 10 years ago. Now without computer vision, you don't have self driving cars, you don't have any automation, any machine learning... It is fascinating. So it's really fun to be at the beginning, and remembering that many colleagues will tell you "Why are we doing this? This is so stupid." and then couple of years later, they say "You have the coolest job, and this was so cool." You just have to persist, believe and persist.

22:32 Another aspect of innovation—I've been thinking about this a lot lately and discussing with friends—when I look at many companies that have started with a fantastic idea, that sadly then turned out to have a lot of negative repercussions on our lives, I thought that it's almost irresponsible to innovate and to propose solutions without thinking it fully true. And what I mean by that is, if you're an innovator, if you do something new, you have responsibility and duty to believe in your success. Once you believe in your success, you can then say, "Okay, I will be successful. It's a year that and that.. How does the world look like with my solution already adopted fully implemented in the world?" If startups would have done that analysis, a lot of the problems that we are now trying to damage control wouldn't have happened If Facebook, Twitter—great companies—what they managed to do for many people is fascinating. But we also know how much that is now misused as well. If they only could have imagined the world with their solution, or if the electric scooters that are now a real problem in big cities, would have imagined "How does it look like, when my solution is successful? When it's implemented, when it's there." I think this is missing. And if I were somebody who is an investor, or an advisor to startups, I would never start a company without understanding, without believing that I succeeded and imagining the world with it.

24:02Nono: Yeah, I couldn't agree more. I mean, I think there are many times in life where we repeatedly see how technologies just get created for the sake of seeing if we can do them. But then we end up having that technology implemented in our daily lives by just "Download this new app in your phone." And then there are a lot of social and cultural repercussions that we now then have to damage control instead of doing more the Amish way right? Like thinking before and actually giving it some thought and agreeing, maybe as a community, as a city, or as a country, and taking those decisions beforehand.

24:39Tatjana: Yeah. For me this also points one other thing that I've seen in my career. People sometimes confuse technology and product. There is technology and there are products. Products are useful for people and they solve real problems. Technology can exist on its own. But you cannot make technology for the sake of technology. We have too many important problems in our lives, to just do larpurlartizam with technology. [From Wikipedia, "Art for art's sake" is the usual English rendering of a French slogan from the early 19th century, "l'art pour l'art."]

25:03Nono: How would you imagine—when you're developing a product—how would you take that leap and say "Okay, let's imagine how the world looks like with my innovation, or our innovation?"

25:13Tatjana: Well you know, it really depends on what topic are you doing. But if you look at the electric scooters—and understanding that people would just leave them everywhere in the stret—you would probably try to design a system around the fact that you have to return it somewhere else. And this is just a simplified solution. I'm just saying, you always have to take in to account that now we're working on factory automation, many people will tell you people will lose jobs even though in majority of the cases, this has proven that it is a debatable question because the world has actually a problem finding labor. New generations of kids are totally not imagining working in factories. But yet again, there will be places in the world that people will be probably losing their jobs through robots or machines and you have to work on the technology in a way that you can predict that and you can provide a solution that is not done after the fact that you created the problem, but it's designed in your solution. Did your creating the product—for example, I work on a software for how to teach a Robot easily—if I make that software so easy that I can widen the net over who can use it, maybe those very same people who today are doing a job that no human should be doing—assembling the same thing, 20 hours a day— maybe they'll be just much happier and totally capable to just operate the machine that will do that.

26:37Nono: Yeah, now that you're touching on happiness, I think—and it's really evident here in the Bay Area—we seem to be overly busy, but it seems like all the innovations—and you mentioned this before—like everything that we try to improve, is a bit of a myth for a better life.

26:54Tatjana: Yes.

26:55Nono: Can you elaborate on that?

26:56Tatjana: Well, I recently read a book called The Sapiens, and I strongly recommend you read it, it's from Youval Harari. It is a fascinating journey of the human species from our beginnings until today, and the technologies that we have been developing and how they helped us or hurt us. One thing that you understand from the book is that we were the smartest, the happiest, and the healthiest, when we were hunter gatherers. And you know, it's very controversial to say this, but actually all the facts prove that it is the case. A hunter gatherer would wake up and would go around walk to find food. Given that food was not just delivered in a plate, hey would walk for hours, and then their diet would be very diverse because today would they would find berries, tomorrow something else, tomorrow they'll kill something... So first they had to move in order to find something that is healthy. Secondly, the diet was very diverse. So the food looking would take them about 3-4 hours of the day. In order to do that right and not get killed by an animal, they had to have a very good sense of geography, of understanding the wind, and the sun, and the seasons, etc. And finally, after 3-4 hours a day of doing that, they had the day free to enjoy, to tell stories to the others, etc. And then came the myth of the agricultural revolution and that we can now produce wheat on one place, a lot of wheat, a lot of food. But that was the first thing that made humans a slave to meat, because now they had to stay on one place, because you had to take care of the field. Babies didn't drink mother's milk anymore because the mothers needed to work in the field. The whole diet turned into anything-wheat, which was not very good for them. And from then on, there is a whole history of how then the bad people saw [an] opportunity to use the naive people, and it's all downhills. Basically, it's really fascinating that we have been developing, developing technology to make our lives better, and easier. And yet, we have never been busier, we have never been more stressed, and we have never had less time to actually do the things that interest us in life, aside from work. And that is kind of sad.

29:22Nono: Yeah, so before that would come somehow naturally to us because hunter gatherers.. well, to us or to them, that's the only thing that they knew how to do or—as a culture—what they did. But today, that's not the norm, right? We need to sort of fight against that and establish our own routines, our own habits, our own ways of living... Can you mention any little things, maybe in your routine, or little acts that throughout your days you try to do to fight that stress or that speed?

29:56Tatjana: Yeah, so the first time you asked me to do the interview—and your podcast is called Do Less—I was like "I'm the wrong wrongest person for this interview, because I have not found a way to do less." I'm intellectually aware of the trip, but I have not found a way to do this better. And it is fascinating, I do take time for things that I like. I study my languages, I read a lot, my boyfriend and I always just try to solve your problems, learn structures, or physics, or something together... But I'm just adding to my stuff and not disconnecting in those terms. You know, I was recently in Europe, and I realized somehow Europeans still manage to work for a living. And in America, we live for working, and I feel like I'm postponing life because I would like to do so many other things. And I will say"Later, later. After this, after this is over, after this project is over."And there is never a later, if you don't do it now, you might never do it. So I have the discipline of asking myself everyday this question, but I don't have the answer.

31:09Nono: You mentioned Europe and America. Maybe that's a conception from here, but I think there might be companies there that act the same way, and maybe companies here in the US that act the same way?Maybe that's more project based,o r team based, or I don't know, company based? Sometimes it's like the culture of working in a company, right?

31:27Tatjana: But it's also the the systems, the societies. You know, if you're worried that you have a good job today, but after two months, if you don't have a job, you don't have medical insurance here... Well, that's a little bit a different stress than knowing when you live in Europe that, hey, you've worked all your life, you have paid your dues, but you're taken care of when you're sick, old, pregnant, or hurt. And that's a fundamental society issue.

31:54Nono: Yep, that's definitely an issue. I also wanted you to talk—you've worked on big companies and startups. How was that different? Was it different?

32:05Tatjana: You know, actually, it's not. There are some assumptions of how things work in big companies and in smaller companies. It's all about the people, you can have a small startup, be more bureaucratic and procedural process based than a big company. It's really all about the people. In my life, I was just interested to make great things with really smart people. Working for people who are smarter than me or with people smarter than me was always very inspiring. But we are weak, we're feeble as people and there is a lot of things that can make even the best people come into unnecessary conflicts. So it's a it's a lot of other people and sometimes a little bit about how the leadership drives an organization. There are people who like to create conflict in their organizations because they think that that brings new values. I don't believe in that. I don't believe in leading with fear, nor leading with chaos. So yeah, remember you're a human, remember that—as Sam Harris would say—"We're all on this Titanic together." Time is short, there is enough place on this earth for everybody, there are enough jobs, there is enough air to breathe. And we should just be more empathetic about people, and more open to other people's thoughts, ideas, and lives.

33:23Nono: Yeah, I think more compassion brings you more happiness.

33:26Tatjana: Empathy, yeah

33:28Nono: Working on different companies, how do you think working from home if you have, or the serendipity of meeting someone on the coffee machine, or something... How does that contribute to your creativity?

33:40Tatjana: Yeah, so I've been very lucky that wherever I worked, I was let to stay at home and work from home for a day in a week, couple of days a week, depending on the period, dependending for the work on. And sometimes when I write, and when I need to be focused, working from home is really working well. Especially when you leave among the Redwoods as I do, it's very inspiring. But there is nothing like being in the office. You sit at your desk and... You know, products are not done in conference rooms, or in meetings. The best ideas are the ideas that you hear two colleagues just chatting about something an your turn say "Wait, did you say that? Because if that is possible, oh my god! We can do this, and this, and then solve that problem much easier than what we thought." And that is fascinatingly working, that serendipity of not planned meeting: this is the goal of the meeting, this is the agenda, we'll be talking about that... That's okay, that has its place, but that's not how ideas are born. And you need really people from different types, from different profiles, from different skill sets, different industries, to really come up with the right solutions. And that is lacking. You know, I was always joking when you go to an architectural conference, everybody's an architect. That's not interesting. We did a conference a couple of years ago called "The Real" and it was all about reality capture, computer vision. And who was it for? For anybody who saw an opportunity to use that technology to push their profession to the limit. So we had architects, meeting doctors, meeting splace engineers, meeting museum curators. That was fascinating, because the one would see how the other solve the problem and say, "Wait, this is actually the same way I can do that for me." And I think bringing people from different backgrounds, and that often happens in an office even if we're all working on the same product or something, you have people from marketing from legal... And they have good ideas, they have good thoughts.

35:41Nono: If you have any stories or experiences, what has been a connection—of two people, maybe from really different backgrounds—that you've made that led to something? If you can remember.

35:54Tatjana: Well, on that conference, there were a lot of them that happened, and I would have to think about the concrete examples, but it was... Hmm, we've been connecting so many people that I don't have an answer now.

36:06Nono: On the last couple of days, you've mentioned that you missed being creative. And that's led you to learning programming, at least that's one action that you've taken. Can you share with us why?

36:18Tatjana: Yeah, so I need to be creative in two ways. One is: I need to use my hands. I'm incredibly jealous of your notebook, and your wonderful drawings, because that is what I wanted to do all my life. And I mentioned postponing life and thinking, I'm now buying everyday notebooks and Rockwell paints and stuff, but they don't have time to be used, so that's what I said. On the other hand, I decided at age of 54 to start a full web programming school and doing that with Coding Dojo, which is one of the more respected schools. It's very difficult, because the school has a philosophy that they're not going to PowerPoint you to death or do something to check boxes. They actually throw you in the fire alone and say "Go and figure it out." And only after a certain amount of time, if you cannot figure out something, and the algorithms, etc... Then they have beautiful material that shows you how to do it. The reason why I wanted to do that—aside from the obvious fact that I work in technology and whatever I do, I work with programmers—it helps me understand them. But it was more that I'm a little bit horrified in the last two years that the world started to make science be a question of opinion and not have effect, especially to social networks. People are now so passionate and so adamant about certain things that they simply don't understand. I think my motivation to learn programming was to maybe try to find a way through graphical storytelling and data visualization to—if I'm good with programming—try to explain some of those concepts, try to explain how climate change works: What about embedded carbon? Why is biodiversity important? How are our ecosystems failing us? There is somebody who I completely admire, we met and he is an adorable guy. His name is Jonathan Harris, he is 24. You two should make a project together. He's a storyteller who is using data from the web to visualize it in a way that is mind blowing. And he was probably my first inspiration to do that. Only yesterday, I read an article about pictures of species that are still alive, but they're on the brink of extinction. Basically the idea was that the pictures were composed of as many pixels as there were animals still alive from those species. It was a campaign created by an agency in Tokyo, Hakuhodo. It was actually somebody who did it—they said—as a programming challenge to do it, but it's fascinating how easy it is to convey the message. You have a picture that the pixels are only 100 pixels. You cannot recognize the animal anymore. It's not there, it's vanished and it's gone. There is a power, people don't understand abstract concepts. If I tell you 1 trillion, 10 trillion.... Does it make a difference? We have no idea what that means. People don't have time to read enough and to validate sources of what they're reading. So we live in a very dangerous era where we need to find a way to learn from the data properly, and to maybe use new technologies to make it available to others.

39:35Nono: Well, that's impressive that you're trying to do that now, to actually get into data visualization, programming, and understanding.

39:41Tatjana: Yes, I really hope that I will learn. Yeah, people like Aaron Koblin, you know there's so many people who have leveraged this medium to really make things interesting or more understood, I hope.

39:54Nono: Yeah, sure. The other day you shared with me the quote of Steve Jobs "Everybody needs to learn how to program because it teaches you how to think."

40:02Tatjana: Absolutely. That was actually probably my first inspiration to do it because I was intrigued..."What does he mean?" And now that I've gone through HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Python, SQL, Flask, Django,Jinja... Just kills me how many platforms and languages there are. I really see what he meant, because in programming, the first thing that I learned— aand especially through the way how Coding Dojo is doing this—you need to make sure you understood the problem well, don't skip over, don't rush through it, and read quickly and then immediately think of the solution. This is half of the problem. If you understand the problem well, if you really took time to understand it, the solution will start start emerging. And then the second step that I learned through programming is that every problem can be subdivided into smaller chunks that are much more manageable to overview, to solve, and to test for their validity. Along those two things, it's really changed my everyday life thinking of solving problems.

41:08Nono: Yeah, everything can look overwhelming, right? If you try to approach it all at once.

41:12Tatjana: Absolutely.

41:14Nono: I mean, I'm also surprised of how many little things of code are already made online for us to use.

41:20Tatjana: We're so spoiled. You had an interview with Ben and processing...

41:26Nono: Ben Fry.

41:27Tatjana: Ben Fry, that was so beautiful what they did. Because, you know, at the time, I did not know anything about programming— not that I know much more now—but it was so beautiful to just go through the examples. Just by taking this code snippet and changing it, you already learn, and that is beautiful. Learn two examples and then start augmenting them one after the other.

41:48Nono: Yeah, for me, that's fascinating. Who are other people who inspire you?

41:53Tatjana: The list is probably long and very diverse. Alex Dagon who runs conservation X-labs.I would work for Alex any day, anytime. His personal history and his latest book, you really just have to read it, The Snow Leopard Story. He created conservation X-labs with the idea to use technology to solve real environmental or conservation problems. And he's connecting people, companies, and making a lot of competitions with ideas of how to solve invasive species, or this and that... Fascinating, and he's just an unbelievable gem of a person.

42:31 Saul Griffith, a genius, the most humble person that I've met and yet the smartest in the world. He runs Otherlab. That place is just bursting of ideas, and experiments, and prototypes of anything that will make this world better be it from renewable energy solutions. He and his friend Corvin were creating energy with kite flying— that is now a Google technology— solar, and then soft robots so that we don't send humans into combat, but we send robots that are disposable and cheaper than the expensive robots that people were sent in front of.

43:06 And one person that I highly respect is Emmanuel De Merode. He is the ward of the Virunga National Park in Congo. That is a unbelievably special human being. He's trying to recreate society in a region raped by war, and paramilitary groups for the last 25–30 years. This is the region where, after the Rwanda genocide, a lot of people have migrated from Rwanda, and the war basically continues now. The Congo side is trying to build a solution to bring stability, to create jobs, to create meaning, a life for these people, to preserve the nature, to stop the cutting of the forest— these are the forest where the last mountain gorillas are living—to educate by mere understanding of the solution, and proposing the right problems, and navigating through complicated corruptions in governemts, etc. So he's basically building hydro electrons to create energy because he realized that energy is the best return of investment on poverty, and take it from there. His work is just unbelievable fascinating. And if you have not seen the movie Virunga that was nominated for Oscar a couple of years ago, his team is featured there. Eric and I went twice to Congo, and you feel so humble when you see people who dedicate their entire lives to a really worthy cause.

44:32 And then other people are Sam Harris. If it wasn't for Sam Harris, I wouldn't be the same person anymore. Especially not in the last two years. I don't meditate but my meditation is to listen to Sam Harris, because he's a fascinating philosopher and neuroscientist.

44:47 Maria Popova, unbelievably prolific person. She runs the blog the Brain Pickings, and connects literature and art in a way that nobody does. Sam Harris said she's the best reader he has ever met. She makes art out of reading, it's beautiful.

45:04 Iris Van Herpen. She's a friend. She's probably the number one fashion designer in the world and her things is always say this is the Leonardo da Vinci of the 21st century and in the world of fashion because she uses technology to make something that is new, creative, sensual, and not using technology for the sake of knowledge. None of these people do. There are many others.

45:29 Adam Lowe from Factum Arte. But what ties over these people is that they do something new, they question, they do it differently, and they're unbelievably hardworking and prolific. And that is an inspiration.

45:43Nono: Thanks so much. Now you got a lot of people and I'm sure that if we had more time, we would go over a longer list.

45:49Tatjana: Yes. But I'm not as important as they are, so it's much better you interview them.

45:54Nono: I'm sure there's that not true. So, I wanted to know—we've talked a lot about technology, and before we talked about being busy and things like this—how do you disconnect? Do you manage to get away from the screen? Do things with your hands, as you said before analog things...

46:10Tatjana: How do I disconnect? Do I ever? Is the question. It seems from the patterns of what I do and I try to disconnect, disconnecting for me is about connecting with people and with nature. I unbelievably enjoy nature and animals. We decided to move into our tree house in the woods here because there is something unbelievably calming and something that you call home when the colors are green and blue. I have been for 13-14 years every year going to Africa to spend the month with big cats, and rhinos, and elephants, etc... Because my heart bleeds about what's happening and they live now in reserves—hey should never do that—but that is the only safe havens for them. So I'm volunteering from medication, and getting them to just spending time with them and hope they have just as much fun as I do. That for me is having my nose stuck in a line for is calming me down like no other way in the world. Otherwise on the practical side we kayak, we paddle, we hike... The advantage of living here is that we have a 2 hour hike to the ocean or just, we hike up the mountain and there is a lot of philosophical conversations happening. I do a lot of reading, I love cooking, making stuff with my hands. I was sewing and knitting a lot with my mom—my mom was a genius—she knew how to do everything. I learned absolutely everything from her, all my clothes when I was a kid, we were doing them, etc. I don't have enough time for that. I do make a sweater or two a year for my friends or my boyfriend, but I wish I can have more time to draw, to write. Yeah, it's one life and you just don't know where to spend it on.

48:02Nono: Yeah, thanks for sharing. I heard as well that you're vegetarian.

48:07Tatjana: Yeah, that's a small big topic. So I've been enormously connected with animals all my life. My family, we lived on the 5th floor in a socialist building and we had at some point 12 cats, a dog, some hedgehogs, and rabbits, fish, birds... We even had 4 months a baby lion from the local zoo... When people were coming to our home, they were like "Oh, we came to the zoo Dzambazova." It was crazy. But we are all very connected with animals. My love for animals has made it very difficult for me to eat animals. But in Yugoslavia, at the time we didn't have anything that was non seasonal fruits or veggies, so you ate whatever the season was. And while there is not much meat in the food, there is still meat in the food. So when I was 11 years old and I announced to my mom that I would become vegetarian. She was really worried, because I was 36 kilos. I was really, very skinny, looked very undernourished. So she did not go through that very well.. I didn't manage to do it.

49:09 Then 7 years ago, when I met my boyfriend I realized that he really understood food, he understood where fibers come from. proteins, etc... I realized it would be easy to do it without hurting my body. So I switched from one day to another. It was fascinating how much I found peace, both mentally—in terms of I didn't have any more conflict—and also my energy came back, I was so full of energy. Oh my God, I was so tired in the evenings otherwise, and now not anymore. So people like me who have decided to stop eating meat—because of the unbelievably cruel industrial husbandry and industrial way of producing meat—you know, are usually considered... Oh, some hippies, or some activists, etc... I said "I did that from my own peace" It is a sacrifice when you smell meat on a grill, of course you want to... But the way I've managed to completely ignore it is by basically imagining the animal looking at me with wide eyes and long whimpers, both smiling and I'm like "No, I don't need to eat you."

50:19 The problem that we have today though, is much bigger than just understanding that animal cruelty is absolutely horrifying in the farms. And anybody, anybody, who would disagree that that is happening, please arrange a visit at any farm that you want. It will not be possible, the farms have triple fences like prisons. There is a reason why, it's because due to the push of cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap food, and feeding the evergrowing population, the methods in which industrial farming is happening is just horribly brutal. So the problem that we have now is the impact of producing meat on the planet. This is something that I've been very passionate about and having really hard time to explain to friends who simply do not seem to get it. It's about the companies—like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat—who are trying to solve the problem of creating plant based meat. And here is solving a problem the right way. What they're saying—especially the CEO of Impossible Foods is very vocal about this—is "We understand that we humans are weak. We love eating food, we love eating meat, meat has always been on the place, on the table, on the grill, the community, etc." So what they're saying is "We're not here to tell you not to eat meat, or to make all of your vegetarian. We're here to understand why do you like meat, and give you an alternative that is healthier, and that is better for the planet. And additionally, that is not cruel to animals."

51:55 So if you ask any meat eater, why do they eat meat? They don't eat meat because it comes from an animal carcass. They did in spite of that. They don't like the fact that there is an animal that was killed. Actually, whenever I say I'm vegetarian, people immediately say "Oh, I eat very little meat." And it's always like an excuse, and often it's not even true, but it doesn't matter. The point is we feel guilty that we do that. But these companies do not want to tackle the guilt aspect. They want to understand, why is it that you eat it? You eat it either because it's delicious, right? Or because you believe that those are the best proteins in the world for your body. So that is what they have done. All the ingredients are plant based, there is not a single ingredient in their solutions—you can read them on the website—that you don't consume today through other foods, plants or meat. And they've managed to do products that you cannot believe that you're not eating meat. They're just as tasty, they have the absolute right level of protein that you would have gotten and they are not bad for the environment.

53:01 Because what's happening today? If you account for all the buildings, roads, and paved surfaces in the world, they occupy about 1% of the Earth's land surface. And when it comes to the land of grazing and crops, it's 45%. So basically, we are cutting forests, we are ruining ecosystems... Why? To build fields, to do crop on them so that we can feed animals, so that we can then kill the animals to eat food. And the whole idea is that the animals are a very inefficient way of translating the plant biomass into protein, there is a much easier way. And with one tenth of the land that we use today, we could just immediately do this plant based products and feed the whole population. And there's so many myths about this. There are so many fake—obviously industry supported things—people who work in the industry who don't want it to go away. You will hear people say "Oh, but it's processed." What does processed even mean? Every single product we eat is processed. Only if you don't pick it from the tree, it might not be processed, and if you pick it from the tree, it might be genetically modified. Because we as humans have been genetically modifying absolutely every animal and plant since we exist. Carrots—I read recently—have been only orange for the last 70 years, or something like that. So using words instead of trying to understand the topic. It is really devastating the effects of it, especially beef production, which is what both of these companies are trying to do. So I think that we're all adults, and we make decisions in life of what we care about and what we want to impact. But in this particular case, it's not about saying "Oh, well, I will stop eating meat" for a few people. Or, some people have told me "Why don't you just eat veggies and stuff?" I can live without the plant based meat, but it's about all he people—which is 95% of the population—that still is too weak not to eat meat. If we provide solutions for them, I don't think that anybody would say "No, I want the meat that comes from the carcass" when they know that they can help change the world. Because some problems, today cannot be solved locally and cannot be solved just a group of people. We can only solve them globally and together.

55:23Nono: Yeah, I think these types of plant based meats are here to stay with us. I think they're a pretty good alternative to eating meat. I tried them yesterday, with you. I think they're pretty good, and even the sausages, right? Like burgers and sausages...

55:38Tatjana: Yeah, so yesterday you tried Beyond Burger and Beyond Sausage. This was at home, I just quickly did it on my frying pan. If you try it in any of the companies that are selling Beyond Burger, Burger King, etc... When they have a real grill, it's really tasty.

55:55Nono: I think what's more important is that many times, we eat meat, or sausages.. Things like this are cultural, right? Maybe the prototypical american barbecue for a birthday or something like that? So I think, allowing for something to have the same sort of meaning, or cultural meeting, but being an alternative to actual meat, it's...

56:18Tatjana: Yeah, there are so [many] facts—I can give you a couple of pointers that you can post—but the fact that one burger consumes 300 liters of water doesn't even cross people's minds. And it doesn't just consume the water, by consuming the water it also pollutes the water. But this global demand for meat—and fish by the way—and dairy foods is basically the primary driver of a complete meltdown in the diversity of wildlife population and ecosystems. And again, back to education and understanding things. While I care about the ecosystem, that is where it comes from. We need to learn about this thing.

57:00 I don't know, maybe I do include myself on the people who say, "I'm trying to eat less meat," but I don't actually do. Maybe I should be a bit more radical and actually take choice, or maybe be a bit more disciplined in that sense. But I do really embrace that we actually need to have systems to not be so centered around just "This is the way we've been living, and that's how we're going to continue living." I think the alternatives are not that bad, and it really makes sense now that we know. You know, it took 40 or 20 years to know that cigarettes were actually killing us. And we've got to I don't know how many years until we've seen that we're killing now the planet, in some sense. So yeah, I think we can all...

57:48 Yeah, it's really about awareness that each one of us can do something about it, but also supporting solutions that are actually going to have a much bigger impact. And you know, some of the naysayers say "Oh, this is lab created, processed, I'm never gonna put it on the plate of my kids." Well, I will just say, your kids might not have a table to put the plate on and the planet to live on, if we don't do something about these problems. And I really, absolutely believe in that. You know, there is one phenomenon that I find the most inspiring in my life, it's called murmuration. I don't know if you know what that is—well, we'll post a video—murmuration is when you have a flock of enormous loads of birds and they start dancing together, in the sky. It's one of the most beautiful things in the universe. And if you just think that each one of those birds is one of us, and we all go our way—but the right way—we can make beautiful stories. We can make beautiful things in life. And I still believe that that is possible.

58:55Nono: Nice. Where would people connect with you online?

58:59Tatjana: Where? Hmm... You know, I do have a Twitter account, I don't really kind of use it much. I created a Facebook account when Autodesk was researching Second Life and Facebook—very early days—I just understand what it is. I am now coding my own website...

59:17Nono: Wow! Awesome!

59:18Tatjana: God help me. It advances my programming skillset. So best thing to connect with me is email. I do post on Instagram from time to time, so yeah. It's more friends and stuff, but you're welcome to join.

59:33Nono: Do you have a domain name for your website?

59:36Tatjana: and .net and dot whatever I bought. Haha.

59:41Nono: Okay, great. Would you have any book recommendations?

59:47Tatjana: So, when it comes to books, [there are] books that have definitely remained my entire life as a reference, and books that I've recently read. From the books that I've recently read, I really strongly recommend The Sapiens. It has been most useful and thought provoking. Also the 21 Questions for the 21st Century, both from Yuval Harari. Any book from Sam Harris would also bring you a lot of value. Otherwise, The User Illusion from Tor Norretranders. That book is fascinating, it's about cutting consciousness down to size. It's a very long read, but it's very worth it. On the literature side, I love Labyrinths from Borges, I love Italo Calvino, every book from Italo Calvino. I like Baricco, Alessandro Baricco, and Novecento Pianista. Patrick Susskind, all the Russian Classics...

1:00:41Nono: Thank you. What's your favorite book of Sam Harris?

1:00:44Tatjana: I think that...What was the name? His first book mostly informed me about my dilemma. So, I've never in my life tried any psychedelics, any hashish, any marijuana. I've never managed to get out my.. in a mindful meditative zone. So to just see how his path started and where he is today, is very useful. I envisage the scene of him by the lake and going through this new world that you will never open unless you meditate a lot or take psychedelics.

1:01:19Nono: What would be your message to the world?

1:01:22Tatjana: Empathy with other people. Whenever you judge, just is put yourself in their shoes. Imagine you are the father from Syria with a kid in their hands. You are the person from the Bahamas who just lost everything. You know, whatever you find yourself not having enough, you're not compassionate with, just put yourself in their shoes. And other than that really, please, please, science is not debatable. It's not a question of an opinion. It is a very sad time in history, if we have 16 year old girl—Gretta—reminding us of that. That we have to stick to facts, and we have to be curious to learn before we have an opinion about something.

1:02:10Nono: What would you do if you were rich?

1:02:13Tatjana: Well, until recently, I was always saying "I only want to be rich to be able to sponsor some of the most creative people." I've seen people who are talented hard workers, and they've just not yet broken through. But frankly, with ever growing more serious problems on the planet, I think I would do just one thing. I would buy every piece of land I can. So I can save it from being converted into crops, I can save it from trees being cut, I can leave the place where gorillas, orangutans, or jaguars can live. And this is not just because I love the animals, but because by them disappearing, the whole ecosystems disappear. The outcome is not something that is debatable, we won't do that. And frankly, I'm very disappointed that this is not something that many leaders of companies—who are very successful, who have a lot of money—are not doing that. Everything that is for sale, I would buy as a land.

1:03:16Nono: Nice choice, that's a really empathetic way, or compassionate way, of using your money. What do you think of slowing down in life?

1:03:26Tatjana: I do think a lot about that, but I have not found the way. One of the most beautiful moments with my boyfriend is when we imagine an old RV and we are having everything that we own with us. And we just travel around the world meeting people. Actually even better, you travel up to a point but then you continue walking and traveling, because according to Werner Herzog—who is one misfit that I really love—you learn most about life and about people if you travel, as he says "By foot." But really, questioning material possessions, questioning working 20 hours a day 7 days a week, questioning not having time to spend enough with your friends—or especially with nature...—is a daily topic. And the dream of having a tiny house, or a mobile house, the transom, that is on top of an RV that is solar driven, etc... These are daily fantasies that we hope one day will be true.

1:04:30Nono: I hope I can do that as well.

1:04:32Tatjana: Yep, we will meet on the road.

1:04:35 And one last thing. I really invite everybody, to whatever you decide to do in life, do it fully. Do it passionately, put all your energy in it. Be serious, be playful, but be serious about it because life is too short to be small. Your time is valuable, and you should never do anything if you don't believe in that. So just give all your best. Because there is nothing more beautiful to seeing the power of your passion and your energy when people feel it. That is something that has been a true privilege for me after talking to people or giving conferences. Conference talks to just hear "You're so passionate, your energy is infectious.You inspired me." Do that. Believe in what you're doing and give your best.

1:05:21Nono: Okay, we're getting to the end of this episode. I sometimes ask this, and I wanted to hear if you have any questions for me.

1:05:32Tatjana: Okay, you know how we met. We actually meet for the first time, but you are so young, and at the same time so prolific. You draw, you write, you're very professional about running the podcast the same way. What do you want to be when you grow up?

1:05:50Nono: That's a really good question. It's tough. I would imagine myself doing maybe design projects that matter to me and that I can lead, so I have the decision to take whether I continue with them or not. And communicating a lot. So doing things like this, like communicating through sketching, through writing through podcasting, or maybe even video—so film, or a short film, or things like that—I think that's what I'm more passionate about. I think there are also a lot of opportunities in connecting with people, or allowing, or enabling people through technology. So as well like creating things that you think are going to allow people to access things they didn't have access to before. And I don't know, I think that summarizes it. I think I also want to keep learning a lot from other people—like you for example—or you know, Sam Harris or..

1:06:43Tatjana: I'm learning from you.

1:06:44Nono: ..or other people. Thank you. So yeah, I don't know if that answers it. But..

1:06:50Tatjana: It definitely does. So in a way you're also feeling that you want to use your talents and your passion through certain mediums to give people access to information, or—as you did with me—to inspiration, because that is also very important. Is there any one big problem that you would like to see solved in the world?

1:07:13Nono: Hmm... Not completely sure what that would be, I would have to give it more thought. But if I could choose one thing, I think trying to help people find their passion. You know, many times—I include myself—we do work projects, or even time jobs, or other things that are really utilitarian. So you know, you get, up get a paycheck—or maybe money—that is going to allow you to maybe buy recording gear, or a new laptop, or just go on a trip. Other times the money fades away to the background, and you're just doing that because you're improving your skills, you're working with people that you feel it's worth working with, doing a project that you're passionate about... It's not that easy. I think it's also not super necessary to do that as your main job, but you can have that as your own side projects as well. But I think that the luckiest part of what I have is that I did a lot of sampling—like trying computers, or trying art, or trying design, trying a lot of things. I don't know if I found my real passion or not, but I chose the ones that I seem to stick more with, that I can continue throughout the years without getting bored about it. And I found enough...

1:08:39Tatjana: You mean new challenges.

1:08:40Nono: Yeah, new challenges and subtleties that change the project. Now I'm here in Mill Valley with you, recording in someone's house. You know, I wouldn't have imagined that this would have happened this way, but I contacted with you—as I've connected with a lot of other people—and I ended up being here today. I think that maybe something that I really want to do is to learn how to connect with people deeply, and maintain those contacts. You know, many times it might seem superficial and really out of interest. But you learn that at the end of the day, even this interview... I have to thank you, I spent the whole weekend around this neighborhood, and it wasn't just sending an email, or agreeing on a scheduled time...

1:09:26Tatjana: It's the whole connection.

1:09:27Nono: Yeah, meeting for twoº hours. There's some deeper connection there. So I would say that what I want to do in the future is create the space for this to be able to happen more often.

1:09:42Tatjana: It's all about people.

1:09:44Nono: Yeah, it's about people as you said. So yeah, I think that summarizes it.

1:09:48Tatjana: What would you do if you were a millionaire?

1:09:51Nono: If I were a millionaire?

1:09:54 Or a billionaire? Well, I have to say, I am not a millionaire, or no billionaire. I'm not rich. What I have started doing already—I've been saying this to a lot of people on the last year, I think—is that I asked many people "What would you do if you were 20 years old? Or 30? What would you tell yourself?" So for me, I'm realizing now that one of the things that I'm going to regret if I don't do now is if I don't connect with minds alike, that are also creative, and want to do projects, and start collaborating with them, working with them. I recently had a really lucky collaboration—I mean, we had to work it out—with Daniel Natoli, which is a friend of mine that is now dedicating his whole career to film, short film, or videos or hopefully long films in the short run. And we made a collaboration. Of course, this is not like when you're young—you just collaborate, you just spend the weekends and the time doesn't matter—his time is valuable for me, and I have also to put my time. This is something that you have to say "Okay, you're a professional, you're creative, I appreciate what you do, I pay you for this thing and together we create something." I don't know, it might tic in someone or it might just be for us, but I think it has the ability to communicate better and to reach people in a different way than just writing a blog post, or something like that. So what we've produced so far—I don't know when this episode will air—but we'll release a short film that we got.. Hmm.

1:11:30Tatjana: Oh, that's great.

1:11:30Nono: Yeah, I'll announced.. It got accepted to a..

1:11:33Tatjana: What's the topic?

1:11:35Nono: The topic... He called it Sisyphus, which is the man who has to push a rock over the mountain, day after day. So the topic is about trying to render an aspect of Getting Simple, in which you have the same life over and over—I mean, you day after day have to repeat the same routine of leaving your house, going to work, doing the same tasks, and then coming back—and how maybe there is a way to escape that right? So that kind of thing. But for me, what I take away and what I wanted to say is that this makes me happy. Being able to collaborate with other creative people, do a collaboration that makes sense for both of us, I think he enjoyed the project a lot. And the fact that now even a regional festival, film festival, a short film festival selected it to premiere there, it just makes it a bit more real, right?

1:12:32Tatjana: That's great.

1:12:32Nono: It's like the podcast, like the fact that you record with a friend, you record with a few people that you meet, and you know, you go to the step of actually making it a bit more efficient, put it on YouTube, put it on Apple podcast, put it on Spotify... So I like that thing. I think that's one of the things I really like. You said what would I do if I was rich, right? That was the question, so why I told the story is because what I would do if I were reach, is actually do maybe even architecture projects, or design furniture... You know, as you said before, sometimes we just do things for the sake of doing them, and I think that's rewarding. I think I will try to tie that to some other goals, like to help in some way other people and improve people's lives in some way. At the end of the day, it's not only money that gives you that capability, but those connections, like actually bonding with people that have the same passions.

1:13:34Tatjana: Remember what I said during our dinner yesterda. That my dream of retiring is to have a couple of friends to buy a piece of land either in south of Spain, or in Italy. Everybody has their own little house, but we have a big barn in which we all make jams, cook together, read literature, play theater plays, but also build furniture, create beautiful things... And though, sustainable and ecological. There's something about sharing with others, and doing things with others. For me, it's super boring to go for a dinner with friends. I want to make things with friends. The moment you make something, it becomes something third. And that reference lives forever. It's some different thing. So it's beautiful that whatever question I asked, you always come back to the same thing: that for you It's about exchanges of minds, exchanges of creativity, creating some third new value between two people. And maybe just placing some thought teasers through your artwork, through your podcast, through your films, for people to stop and ask some questions, and that's beautiful.

1:14:49Nono: Well, thank you for doing this mini interview with me. I think that makes the episode. I would like to thank Tatjana, thank you so much for your time.

1:15:00Tatjana: Thank you. I was always wondering "Why would he want to talk to me?" But it is a pleasure to spend a couple of days with you, and I hope you have some of the people that I mentioned on your future podcast, because some of them are real misfits and changers.

1:15:13Nono: Yeah, these are the connections I was talking about, right? She's always, "These are the people I like, that you can connect with." I think it's been hard to schedule this, to be in person, right? I think the connection in person gives it a different dimension, and it was worth the wait. Really thanks for your time. I will add the show notes, or everything we've mentioned—a lot of stuff—so I'll add everything to, as I mentioned before, That's T-A-N-J-A. And you can see there everyone we named, links to their profiles, or some hints where you can find more about them, all the books, all the links, some of the companies, and some of the tools that we've mentioned. I really hope you enjoyed it, and we'll see you next time.

1:16:10Tatjana: Bye.

1:16:10Nono: Bye.

1:16:13 Before you go, I'd like to remind you that you can find all the episodes on Apple podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, or whatever you get your podcasts. If you're enjoying the show, it'd be great if you rate it on the Apple podcast store, because that's one of the best ways for other people to get to know about it. I would like to hear about it, as well. So if you like the podcast, if you're enjoying the show, I would really love to hear from you. You can just send me an email at and let me know what you think.

January 15, 2020


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