"The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why." - Mark Twain
It's been two and a half years since I started work on making my own Soylent, manifested as the product formerly known as zoylent, and matured into Lembas. A journey that has given me the best thing in life so far; my North Star, my sense of purpose. For which I am immeasurably grateful.
(for brevity I shall refer to my past company/product zoylent as its current iteration, Lembas)
I started Lembas not to make a quick buck; but because I had felt keenly the need to eat, sheer hunger, from an early age but not often the accompanying pleasure of the process. Whether from simple lack of tasty food or that I derived more happiness from physical activity than eating, I do not know. I knew only that when I first read of Soylent and the proclamations of "the End of Food" from "the Man who thinks he never needs to eat again", a 2 decade old problem of mine looked to potentially be resolved.
The details are documented so I shan't rehash them. This year, I had a revelation that gave me my sense of purpose, self confidence, a wondrous sense of perspective, a spring in my step and fire in my eyes. I wake each morning knowing exactly what to do for the day. My occasional stutter, which has been with me the past two decades, has vanished, replaced with calm and measured tones. I discovered that my purpose is to inspire and enable others to do what they love.
I was born in 1989, which makes me a millenial I abhorred formal education and knew from 15 that the typical Singaporean education path of good grades, good university, good job, good boy was definitely not for me. I remember vividly my first day at a part time job doing data entry for a jewellery company copy and pasting numbers from one Excel sheet to another. I was paid $15 an hour which would probably be about $30 an hour today? At the end of the 8 hour shift I ran outside to the lobby and was violently sick into the bin. It didn't stop me from taking the money from that day's work but it confirmed to me that there was something viscerally wrong with the state of work and working culture. I have never held a full time salaried office position and hopefully never will.
People are at their best and happiest when they have the time and resources to pursue their passions, be with their friends and family and - this last piece is so overlooked, so rarely taught, so buried in modern society that it's heinous - when they are helping other people. Our present society and economy demands excess and worship riches - here are the top 10 billionaires, you have to be rich to be happy or you're nothing, chase the carrot chase! This mentality all stems from the 70s and 80s when companies stopped seeing people as people but numbers; when executives realised they could get obscenely, finger numbing, buy-a-small-country rich if they could stomach shafting a few thousand, and later tens of thousands of people along the way. And they did, and the media showcased them in all their glory, but the additional price they didn't realise were their souls.
Now that generation is in their 50s and 60s. Their children, the millenials, have grown up and seen that the economy is wrecked; their jobs leave them drained and sick, that fancy cars and backpacking trips do not make for good sleep. It's through no fault of our own. We were never taught to look at our neighbour not to envy, but to make sure he had enough; never taught not to stretch out our hands to take, but to give. We were not taught that the greatest joy in life was service to others, that in helping others we helped ourselves the most.
Now we're grown up, and we're pissed. Pissed with long working hours, nonsensical bureaucratic rules, sensing that we're wasting our time with not making an impact and feeling unfulfilled. We try to cope with our unhappiness through alcohol, partying, and the latest and most accessible drug - social media. But the answer lies in deep, meaningful, interpersonal relationships. We need a strong network of friends and family whom we actually talk to, whom we care about and care about us. We need to realise that we are very much an interdependent society and that personal fulfillment comes from truly being with other people.
It's our turn now to take control of what's ours. To be the exact opposite of our hated bosses and managers and become leaders instead. To stop looking at the bottom line and thinking "how much money can I make?", and start thinking "how many people can I help?" We can start businesses and be in senior positions where we rewrite the rules of business and culture as we see fit - for people, not profit.
Lembas is how I can help the most amount of people at present; to inspire and enable them to do what they love. Too much time is wasted each day on travelling and obligatory meals - meals that we consume not socially or for pleasure, but for energy. Almost everyone has an obligatory meal each day, taking up half an hour to 2 hours daily. Saving 2 hours a day equates to having two 3 day weekends each month! That's a lot of time that could be put towards personal and interpersonal advancement.
I'm excited beyond words to bring Lembas to market and to hear feedback about how Lembas might improve people's lives. Beyond that - a third of the world are starving, and a third of the world are obese. A gross mismanagement of the world's resources which is unacceptable given the present day's technology and logistical reach. I hope to develop a form of Lembas that could put a dent in world hunger and advance on the path where humanity is closer to being equal. That to me would be the ultimate fulfillment of purpose.
Addendum: I want to be a billionaire, but not necessarily in terms of net worth; I want to help a billion people, have a positive impact on a billion lives, either directly through Waybread, or indirectly, through inspiring them and the people around them. I think when everyone on Earth has the means and freedom to do what they love, we'll see a Second Renaissance, and usher in the Golden Age of Humanity. But it's more likely that we all become the Borg first, not that that's a bad thing either.