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We've been set up to fail. AI didn't do that, people did that. Now here's a tool for us to solve our problems ourselves now. Here we go. We love our arms, drop the beat now! Yup, producer, singer, rapper, this man does it all- Seven times, Grammy winner, one of the industry's biggest names. Man, that's lyrical! And we started the Black Eyed Peas. No one believed in us? Now we're playing Super Bowls, World Cups, Grammys. You have to be hyper-creative. You can't grow anything without it. But there's a cost of creativity, right? What's it like to be in your head? I'm always thinking, analyzing everything. Get it, get it, go, go, make it, make it. That's not good. That's not healthy. Why? You make errors, you hurt people. I remember I got into like a dark period when I felt something that I've never felt before. Just like... Distortion. People want you to fail. But the anxiety comes when you're worried about what people think. When it's things that are happening that you didn't control. You have to be optimistic. You have to arm yourself with optimism and purpose. That's what it's about. That path was the hardest path in my life. This is a window into the mind of a creative, a divergent, an entrepreneur, artist and visionary. Someone we all know. But at the same time, someone we don't really know at all. If you're a creative, an artist, an entrepreneur, or someone with big ideas for the future, or just someone that's struggling to balance your professional ambitions with your personal pursuits, this conversation was meant to find you. Enjoy. Well, I am fascinated with people.
Personal Journey And Creative Process
Early context (02:03)
That is why I started doing this many years ago because I have come to learn about myself that I have a real desire to understand people. Because from that, I think I can understand myself because I think at the kind of foundational level, we're all quite similar as human beings because we're all related if we go back far enough. So in a pursuit to understand you, I guess my first question is, what is the context of Will that I need to know to understand the man that sat here in front of me today, the earliest context, the kind of kitchen that Will was conceived in, was cooked in at the earliest age? You write songs? No, I don't. I write a lot, but I don't write songs. Because you like, I get interviewed a lot, but very rarely do you get interviewed by wordsmiths. The kitchen I was stewed in, I cooked in, it's pretty, I like the visual of that because the chef would be my mom. And the kitchen will be the ghettos of East Los Angeles, Boyle Heights specifically. And that was encouragement, acknowledgement of our individual, when I say our, my family, like we all have our little superpower. And my superpower was creativity. And creativity has always been my currency when I had no money. I clearly was like, "Oh, look, Mahalo, but I made." "Well, that's really good. You really like that, Mah?" Yeah, and encouragement goes a long way. And then that type of encouragement from my mom that helped create self-belief, fearlessness to express, to share, to go in class and solve problems or raise my hand. I got the answer to that. That's really what fueled me as my mom. Let Willie solve it. Will he try to fix that? You know, this radio is broken, try to fix it. That type of stuff, my mom. Salute. Did she know that you were creative or was she just putting wind in whatever cell you'd pulled up? My mom was creative. My mom still is creative. She had her sewing machines. She would make our clothes to go to school. That's why most of the clothes I make is still, you know, one-offs, two-offs. I like wearing things that no one has because that's how I grew up. We would go to the thrift store by dollar clothes or 50 cent shirts. They'll always be too big for me. My mom would fix them and turn old into new. That's how we lived, you know? Willie, go to the store, take this food stamp, buy me a 25-cent bubblegum, get 75 cents back, and then you go to different stores, do the same thing. So now my mom has coins that she could go and buy other things with food stamps because with food stamps, you only could buy food. You can't buy needles. You can't buy thread. You can't buy fabric. You can't buy appliances. You only could buy food. So take this dollar, give me 25-cent scum, which is food, 75-cent chains back, go to different stores and do that. Now let's go and buy other things. And so she'll buy those other things and she'll make stuff for us. So my mom has always been like super ultra creative. So my mom is my biggest inspo. I've heard you refer to her as being your mom and your dad. Yeah. And then your household. When you grew up in a household, whether there's only the mom, like every Father's Day, happy Father's Day mom. Thank you, Willie and happy Mother's Day mom. In those contexts, it's easy for a kid to go one of two ways though. And I think that's what people often don't realize is when you're in a context where outside of the house, there's a lot of temptations either way, but inside the house, it takes a really, really strong mother. So she is a single mother to make sure she creates her own universe so that those kids can end up in a different place. And that's what I kind of read from a lot of the stories of your mother is that rigor and discipline and those values. Yeah, those are, we had this next door neighbor in the projects and she couldn't read or write. And then people used to make fun of her. And my mom was like, now if we all went to Japan and we had to go out there and survive. Are we not smart? Yes, we're smart. Could we survive out there? Yes, we could. Can we raise kids and raise families to go out and do awesome things in Japan? Yes, we could. But we will all go to Japan not being able to read or write. So the stigma that we put on folks that can't read or write, can they read people? Can they write a path to raise folks to go out into the world to do awesome things? Yes. So we value, my mom always valued humanity at its purest and people's intents and the things they want to accomplish before like, you know, cliche setbacks or and it was awesome that we were raising on Mexican neighborhood. Right. So most people didn't read or write. And which was beautiful. It was beautiful, you know. I love I love being raised in East LA. And we've we've we've fit. We fit it in. Is that right? Fit it in? Because I was going to say fat in this like past it's a fit. There goes reading the right for me. Now, I'm joking.
Your self story (08:06)
What was your your your self your self story at that age? Like what did Will think of Will? Who did you think you are and where did you think you were going in life when you were like 14? Oh, 14. It was set. Yeah, 14. I wanted to do music. I had these wraps that I used to write and I had these demos that I used to make and I'm a go to school and I would give my demos to my my friends. And one of my friends, his name is Stefan Gordy. His dad was Barry Gordy from Motown. And I'm like, you'll give this to your dad. Check out my demo. My sister had Teddy Rexman. It's like this little teddy bear. Mm hmm. I had a cassette and it's belly. Mm hmm. And my mom gave that to my sister for Christmas. And for me, she gave me like a boombox. It too played cassettes. And she got herself a stereo. And that stereo had two cassettes. Mm hmm. And came with headphones. And so I got my mom's records and I had a record player and two tape that's and headphone. And I don't know what told me to take the headphone, put it in the microphone jack. Take my sister's Barbie rockers tape. Put tape over the left side of the cassette tape record over it. Get my mom's record. Play the favorite part. Press unpause record. Pause it when my favorite part was over. Play it again and make a loop. Put the tape and the play. Put another sister's my sister's Teddy Rexman tape. Put it in there. Do the same thing record over it. Now press play on my loop. That's for three minutes and wrap over it. Take the Teddy Rexman tape with my newly formed song over loop stereo loops. Put it in Teddy Rexman. Press play and make Teddy Rexman wrap. So my mom was like, you did that boy. I'm like, yeah, my look. She was like, you should take that to class for your for a show and tell. They were like, wow, William. At that point in time, I was a William. Wow, William. That's really cool. You did that? Yeah, I did that. The song was whatever for a 10 year old. So then you graduate sixth grade at 12. So from from 10, 11, 12, it was clearer that my elementary school, I had like a different level of creativity. So when I went to junior high school, it was clear what my superpower was. I was creative and I wanted to express myself in that in that realm.
Figuring out you were poor (10:54)
Were you confident, whatever, however you define that, and what I guess what I mean by confident is like securing oneself and confident in their abilities and social value, I guess. It happened in three steps. I didn't know we were poor. And then I found out we were poor. And I found out we were poor when one year my teacher, Miss Rich, she said, you got to come to school with canned food and box food so we could give to the poor families. And I come home, I'm like, my homework assignment tonight is to go to school. I got to pick through the cupboards and give canned foods and box foods from a homework assignment tomorrow. She's like, well, you ain't going to school with no food. Like mom, but I'm going to fail the class. I'm going to get a fail on my grade. I have to turn this in. Well, I guess you're going to get a fail because you ain't leaving this house with no food. So when I go to school, empty handed, I don't complete the assignment. Then I see my rich white kids coming up the corridor, I'm like, hey, what's up, Brad? What up, Brad? What are you guys doing here? Yeah, we came here to bring the food to the poor family. I'm like, oh, really? So I start walking with them and we go to my house. I'm like, wait, that food's for us. We qualified and the school gave us that food. That's when I realized we were poor. So I go back to school and they made fun of me for a couple of days. William, he's, William's poor. We dropped the food off in his house. This one girl comes up to me. She's like, William, are you poor? How can you be poor if you always wear suits to school? Because my mom needs to make us wear suits. So it wasn't like a uniform school. It was like dressed the way you want to dress. But my mom put me in suits every day. And so the kids were like, why do you always wear suits to school? How could you be poor? And my mom would say, you ain't going to school with no play clothes. You ain't going to school to play. You want to school to learn. So you put on these, like you go to church to learn about God. You go to church to learn about life. And so put this suit on. So although there were like four or five people that were saying I was the poor kid that got the food, but then the rest of the kids were like, no, William's not poor. Look, if you always wear suits to school, you guys are lying. That became my cloth to express yourself. Because that drape, that attire separated me from the gang, separated me from your poor, your part of the have-nots. And expression just wanted to express. Sometimes mom used to say, well, what you doing? Nothing. Get your butt over here. What's wrong, mom? What did I say about saying the word nothing? What if you sit in there breathing, say I'm breathing? Or you're thinking about something? You don't got no business saying you doing nothing. So we would have to say what we were doing. We couldn't say nothing. Because you're never doing nothing. Even if you're breathing, even if you're hard-speeding, whatever you're thinking of. What you're thinking about, nothing, well, you need to start thinking about something. She didn't settle for that.
How do we become more creative (14:27)
So let's talk about creativity then because this is what you're really, I mean, this is one of the many things you're really, really known for. So is it possible to become more creative? And how does that happen? Okay. Let's say it's 1983. Yeah. Let's go to the past now. I was minus nine. Or if you're 1993. Okay, I was one. If you're in 1993 and you're a musician, the way to be more creative is to look at prints. Look at prints. Because prints was like the ultimate creative force. And the way prints became creative is he looked at Stevie Wonder. He's like, wait, he plays the keyboards, the drums, the bass. He writes the songs. Okay. Stevie Wonder was ultra creative because he looked at Marvin Gaye. He looked at Ray Charles. But looking from a different perspective, obviously because Stevie Wonder can't. Obviously, he felt he was inspired by, he was motivated by. So if you want to be creative, more creative, you have to one compete. You have to be super analytical on yourself and who you're competing against. You have to be elevated. If to take yourself from where you are now and position yourself and see the terrain, you have to be curious, humble, and a predator all at the same time. You have to do all those things to be ultra hyper creative. You have to be humble to where you walk in the room and you attract because nobody wants to freakin' send perspectives to a dick, to an arrogant ass. At some point in time, if you're too arrogant, people stop sending you information. People don't, they want to see you. They want you to fail. And they start sending you information for you to fail when you're arrogant. So you got to get rid of that. Be humble. You have to be a predator. You have to walk into a room ready to eat. But you can't eat everything. Because then you have to be selective on what you eat. What about hard work? Hard work is relative because to some, well this is not hard work, this is just what I do. My pinky to my lung, my pinky thinks my lung is working hard because I have to tell my pinky when to move my mind. My mind has no control over my lungs. My lungs are working involuntarily. If I tell my lungs to stop, I could do that. But then it's just going to kick in on its own. My heart's even more involuntary. I can't, well, stop now. You've been beaten for 48 years. I mean you need to take a break. It's what it does. You cannot. Yeah, you can meditate. You can slow your heart rate down, but you can't make it stop, bro. So hard work is relative to what's Oregon or who or what environment you're working in. And then there's tools. What tools do you need to be hyper creative? You need to humble heart. You need a fierce competitive predator type of vibe as well. You have to be disciplined because you can't eat everything. You have to be elevated. You have to see everything. And you have to be magnetic. You have to attract everything.
The relationship with failure & creativity (18:21)
What about failure and then also the goals of creativity? Because I think the two things are kind of linked. So fear failure and then what is the goal of creativity? Because if I set myself, I've just started learning to DJ about a year ago. And if my goal is to become the biggest DJ in the world, that might make me fearful. It's a huge mountain to climb. And that might make me scared of failure. So I might not start. But real creatives seem to, from what I've observed, they don't seem to really give much of a fuck about the outcome as much as other people do. So what is the right goal for creativity and how does role just fear and failure play in being a good creative? The reason why you're fearful is because you're worried about what people think. It's true. And if you're worried about what people think, then maybe true creative is not what you are. You just got the costume of creative on. Because creativity, when you're creating and it's like a rinse, whether the rinse, a sponge, absorbs, and eventually you got to rinse it out so it can absorb more. Do you think a sponge is like, "Oh man, I don't want people to judge how I'm rinsing myself out. I don't want my makeup mess." You know what I'm saying? The sponge ain't thinking about that. People are like, "Are you talking about sponge ball? Will?" Don't talk about just like the metaphor of absorbing and rinsing. Or let's say vomiting. It's powerful. You can't control it. And that's creativity. And some people will be like, "Yeah, that's right. Will you?" The stuff you make is like vomit. You make me want... No. If that's what you think, I don't care. I have to let it out. It's like shitting. Now, people could say, "Yeah, well I am. Your shit is like shit." But I'm going to ask you, which farmer does not need manure to grow and cultivate? You need it. You cannot farm without it. You can't grow anything without it. It's like cycles of life and creativity is that. The moment you start worried about people's opinion, then you definitely by default are not a creative. You're doing it for the wrong reasons. What is the right reasons? To let it out. To rinse yourself. It's like you absorb your rinse. Nothing you've said is about the impact it then has on the world or others. Well, no, that's a different tool. Right. And then once you mastered like, "I absorbed, I rinse." And that becomes therapeutic. And you see in how that helps you. And you're like, "Wow, wait. If it's helping me, well then I can be strategic and I could do something to help others." First, it has to help you. You make sense of the world in whatever it is you're doing. Whether you're painting, you're cooking, you're teaching, you're tutoring, you're making songs, you're making dance, you're writing films, you're doing journals, whatever it is you're doing, you would have absorbed the world and rinsed and contributed in some way that brings progress to yourself and others. Quick one before we get back to this episode. Just give me 30 seconds of your time. Two things I wanted to say. The first thing is a huge thank you for listening and tuning into the show week after week. Means the world to all of us. And this really is a dream that we absolutely never had and couldn't have imagined getting to this place. But secondly, it's a dream where we feel like we're only just getting started. And if you enjoy what we do here, please join the 24% of people who watch this channel regularly and have hit that subscribe button. Means more than I can say. And if you hit that subscribe button, here's a promise I'm going to make to you. I'm going to do everything in my power to make this show as good as I can now and into the future. We're going to deliver the guests that you want me to speak to and we're going to continue to keep doing all of the things you love about the show. Thank you. Thank you very much.
Back to the episode. Relationships. What role do you think? Because I didn't get into relationships until I was like really until I was like 28. Again I thought it was a hindrance on my chances of professional success. And then at some point I felt lonely. I didn't know what loneliness really was, but I just could feel something. What's the point? You know? When you have this mission, I'm mission driven. I'm like, what are we trying to accomplish? What am I trying to accomplish 10 years from now? What's my five year plan? What's my 10 year plan? How did I do my last five year tenure? And if there's someone that can help you that you could relate to, to help you ship this vision from the, in your mind to the future, I have a different understanding of relationship. It's like because you want to relate with someone that you could ship things with. Whether you're shipping in a PCU to the future, or you're shipping a PCU to the future. And if you could relate to that person to help you on your journey, that's awesome. It all depends on what you're shipping.
What’s it like being in your head? (24:01)
What's it like to be in your head? I know that's hard because you've never been in someone else's, but you know, you probably figured out from conversations that there's a, you think in a different way. Yeah, so thinking a lot, I think a lot. I'm always thinking. Not about nothing. I'm always thinking about something. Like very rare that I'm just sitting around like, oh, wow, look at that chandelier. I'm thinking like, I wonder how they made, how much that way, what a material is that? Like, I'm always thinking and analyzing everything. I'm like a scanner every time, every moment. And that can be overbearing to someone in a relationship. That could close them up. That can like, wait, wait, that's not good. That's not healthy. And I realized that. It took a long time for me to realize that where I got to turn that off. I didn't know there was an off switch. Is that one? No, there's not an off switch. But there is like a volume knob volume, though, okay? But I don't know how to not like, wait, that say that again? I don't know how to just take, especially with somebody you're in a relationship with. I don't know how to take like, oh, we're just, we're just at the beach the whole time. You don't want to go down to explore to see how deep this ocean is. You just want to chill here on the beach. Like, let's, let's go down to the, let's go to try to find the crevices. Let's go down deep, deep, deep, deep. And that's saying, no, let's just sunbathe. Let's just stay on the beach. And that's cool. If I'm not a beach guy, I'm a deep diver. I'm a freakin, I like the abyss. I like to be like, yo, look, what in the what? Look at that. I like that. I like to freakin explore. I like to research. I like to explain my go wait, this doesn't make any sense at all. Let's try to make sense of it all. Let's try to make sense of it. I like that. I love that. You have ADHD, right? You referred to it as the gift of ADHD. It's funny because I'm trying to figure out your relationship with stillness and silence. It doesn't seem, I mean, from what you've said. We're assuming that an electron and a proton and a neutron all have the same tasks and goals. So the electron that I am, the concept of stillness and silence is you have no purpose. Because the whole purpose of an electron is to do that. It's a cost to that, though. That seems exhausting. But cost to that, if you're coming from the perspective of the proton looking at the electron whizz around it, you got to know who you are in the equation. I'm the electron. That's cool. You kick it there, neutron state. It's cool. You steal. But the proton has something the electron doesn't have in the proton. The electron has something the protein doesn't have. But they're not supposed to do the same thing. And they both have costs and like they have a good, like a light side and a dot or a cost and a gift. Do they? So I think of like, I've been, I would say I'm more whizzing around electron generally. So I'm just playing devil's advocate here because when I've come into my girlfriend's proton world where things may be a little bit stiller, there has been gifts to that. There's been gifts to that. And I hear everything you're saying about to be in a relationship. You need to be able to lay on the beach. I can't lay on the beach. But I know that's what my girlfriend wants of me. She wants me to be present with her and not to think about the future and to think about where we are right now. Yeah. But there's a way to do it from an electron perspective. How? It's to really look at the word relationship and relate. Even though you can't relate, you have to have empathy, understanding of what their contribution is and support and be there. So from the perspective of the electron, it is steel for the electron. You think the electron's like, man, I'm tired. I'm tired of whizzing around you the whole time. That's not what's going on in the electron's mind. To the electron, I'm still and I am still going around. It's all the perspective of the word steel. There's steel and then there's constant steel. Which steel are you? Are you the one that's steel and you're just like steel as T E E L and you're steel or are you still and that is still moving still at it? No matter how you look at it, it's still still because from the perspective and the empathy of the electron moving, it is still from the from the POV of what it who's viewing it. It's moving. But to the electron, I am still and I will still be moving and gravitating around you. And I can still think and add to your life as I do the things that I do to add to life. But the moment you stop doing what you're doing, then it's no longer a relationship because they can't relate to what you're doing and what you're adding. And now you're conforming and changing when maybe that's not what you're supposed to do. Or maybe you weren't candid and forthcoming enough to make true understanding, to stand under the circumference and know the ledge of what it is you do together. You speak of almost like a recent epiphany when you say like realizing that there was this off button, even though you don't think the off button is necessarily there.
Do you want kids..? (30:25)
Where do you sit now with the concept of finding like a life partner and getting married and having kids and all that stuff? Is there work to be done? Is it finding the right person or is it an inward piece of work that needs to be done in your view? And is it something you want? I want to have kids. I'm going to be an awesome dad. If you were to ask me this 10 years ago, I would have a different answer. Really? Why has it changed? And what is it now and what was it then? That you don't do a family until you completed the ultimate. Well my version of ultimate. My version of ultimate is to be able to be of assistance and help and provide and service folks that resemble the lifestyle that I lived, the hardships that I lived without having to ever raise money ever again. 10 years ago? Yeah, yeah. What I know now, I would have had a kid. You would have had a kid 10 years ago. If I know what I know now, yes. Why? I was moving too fast and I thought the only way to get up the mountain is to move the way I moved when I was at the foot hill. To get to the middle of the mountain. And now that I'm up the mountain, you're thinking that I'm going to do it by myself still. And the purpose of me getting up the mountain was to take care of my mom. That was my motivation. That was my gas. That was my electricity. That was my energy. It's to take care of my family. Hunter Gatherr to go out and bring back to the village. I didn't know what I didn't know then. Now that I know what I'd be able to get up the mountain with family and offspring to take the information that I have and pass it on. I have knowledge here. I have knowledge of my DNA. Who do I pass it to? If something weren't happening to me. It's like different type of knowledge that you just don't say to someone. It's in me. It's stored in me. Somebody gave me this. And my grandma and my grandma's grandma. And my grandmother's grandma, that person had a different life. My grandma was born in 1920. My grandma's grandma was born in '18 something. That means it hadn't. Wow. That person was working in the field in somebody's factory, in some unknown company. But in America, just called it slavery. Like that wasn't that long ago. But that information was passed on to me, passed on to me, resilience, tolerance, hope, living in a different world. So your offspring can have a different life. I'm a recipient of that. When you're hustling and bustling, you think that, ah, I gotta wait until the ultimate. Was I wrong? Now that I can look back at my... He was wrong. But I was right, but still wrong. Would I be a... Would I be further along in my journey? A little bit more organized? Yes. Why? Because something would have forced me to be organized. It's not just for myself now. Even though it was never for myself, it was always for my mom and my family. I would have had even more regiment. I would have had even more streamlined aerodynamics so that could cut through corners and make tighter turns, keep the downwinds. It would be a little bit more aerodynamic. So, yeah, nothing will stop you if you have kids probably just going to motivate you more. But I couldn't see that back then. But I'm going to be an awesome dad when I'm a dad. But I want to be a full-time dad. And I realized that I don't have to be the juggler anymore. Before I had to do it all because the one really believed. And so I always had to prove. I had to be the creative, understand business, sit in the business meetings, cold manage, come up with the artwork, execute the artwork, learn Illustrator. Learn Photoshop, do the album artwork, hand it off to somebody else to fine-tune what you sketched up. Plan the tour with your manager. I had to do it all. Probably because a part of me didn't trust that someone cared as much as I cared. But now I don't have to do it like that anymore. I've got to a point where now I could assemble teams and fun teams. Now I'm the financier. I don't have to worry about somebody's financing me. That's an XL. And so when I'm a dad, I could be a full-time dad as my understanding of full-time. I'll still be working, just not working the way I'm working now. I don't know. I don't want to work the way I used to work. Not anymore. Not anymore. I was a proton for the planet and then just going around the planet. The longest I've been home since 1998 was all of the majority of 2002 and then the majority of 2020, like everyone else. Outside of those two years, the longest that I've been in one place, it's been two months, since 1998. Got to go. I'll be back two weeks. I've been doing that since I don't want to do that.
The symptoms that lead to you wanting to change (37:35)
So you're speaking to a change perspective and I'm wondering, for me in my life, there had to be a symptom. There had to be something I noticed where I go, "Do you know what? I'm doing something not right here." So for me, I talked about it being almost this feeling of loneliness that I didn't realize was the feeling of loneliness. It was this emptiness in my chest when you go to the office seven days a week and then you look at your phone and go, "Who are my friends?" Who is my partner? Tuning out of survival mode, tuning out of that and tuning in to thrive. How do I thrive as a human being is what made me shift. So really, I'm curious about the symptoms that you noticed in your life that made you go, "I don't want to do that anymore." I never had that. Really? What you're explaining? I had my best friends that I grew up with and we lived our dream to the highest level, imaginable. Kids that were broke. Apple, my best friend who came from the Philippines, who I started Black Eyed Peas with, he comes from a province in the Philippines where he pumped water out the ground. He washes clothes on the riverbed. He farmed rice with his pet bison. He experienced a different level of poverty. Taboo, single mom. His dad was in the gangs. And we started the Black Eyed Peas and we lived the, what? Wait, how do we do this guys? No one believed in us? Now we're playing Super Bowls World Cups, multiple Grammys, taking care of our families. No, bro, like this is the biggest blessing. One could imagine loneliness. How can I be lonely? I'm with my best friends. So why change? Because I live 10 years from now. I've always seen 10 years from now. Always. I don't know what it was, but when I was 13, I'm like, "Wow, I'm going to buy you a house." How old was I when I bought my mom a house? I was 26. I wanted to do it. Well, I still did it. Then 10 years from there, I was like, "How about everyone else?" We still, our aunts, our uncles, our need, our grandma, we're still in the projects. We're still going back to the projects on holidays. We need to do a whole exodus. She was like, "That's what you want to do." I'm like, "Well, I got to go back to the neighborhood because there's people that we grew up with and they have kids now. Start a robotics program there. Start a computer science program there so that when they, and a college prep program so that when they graduate college, they have skills that are needed. Don't just send kids to college so that when they graduate, they have debt and a diploma." We did that. There's purpose. I want to be purposeful. If I could see 10 years from now, okay, at some point in time, my 10-year looking around the corner, one day I'll be 70. One day I'll be Tom Jones' age, I'll be 80. I just stopped. I don't pass it on. That's what happens here? No, that's not responsible. That's not a responsible thing to do. You got to pass on knowledge. You got to pass on gifts. For me, it's a gift. You're a little kid on the bike. Have good intentions. It's all for the good. I want to pass it on.
How do you stay present when you’re thinking into the future (41:48)
You said you're living 10 years in the future of five years in the future. There must be a cost to that. When people talk and spiritual people talk about what peace is and happiness is, they talk about presence. You strike me as someone from what you've said. That is my struggle with the concept of being present when you're five years in the future. This leads into a point where people talk about the tortured creative. That is very cognitively active. How does one square being a creative that's living five years in the future with peace, happiness, presence, and calm? What's your story in that regard? Like I said, we're assuming that a proton, a neutron, an electron all should have the same role to make an atom. Actually, they all have different roles. The moment an electron acts like a proton, then an atom is not an atom anymore. I got out of my predicament because I didn't live in my current reality. Had I lived in my current reality, I would still be in my reality that was constructed for me. I had to live in this realm that was dreamt of and my whole premise was to manifest that dream, with strategy. I had to live as if it was real. I had to live like I already moved my mom out the projects. I had to live like this gang doesn't want me. I'm no use for this gang. Why even get initiated and live that gang life? Let me just keep wearing these suits because the suits that my mom made me as my attire for the world that I'm going to be living in. You have to live in some place that you know that you don't belong. You know you don't belong there. Why are you stuck in that? In my mind, I have to have always been that way. Unfortunately, I can't change how my makeup is. I'm constantly, if it got me out of that, it's going to get me out of this. Where we are right now, my people that live in communities that reflect where I come from are still in some version of that. In 2008, I started my foundation. Started with 65 students. My gut was like, "Yo, let me surround them with robotics and computer science skill sets." I went out in the world, absorbed these skill sets, these tools. I'm Jack Dangerman from Esri. I'm at Dean Caiman from Decca and First Robotics. I'm at Lorraine Powell Jobs from College Track. My vision was to take these three independent entities, duct-take them together to make a cluster, to give a new type of project-based learning to kids, 65 kids. That's 65 kids from 2008 to now. Now we serve almost 15,000 students in Los Angeles. We've sent kids to Dartmouth, to Brown, to Stanford, to Georgetown because in 2008, I was living right now. I knew that because the way technology was going, that kids in inner cities are going to be super conflicted with the way the world's going and the amount of jobs that are going to disappear. I thought I was just going to be blue collar jobs. I don't think it's going to be white collar jobs. I don't think kids in the suburbs were going to be impacted by this new digital age. We've seen the last one, but this generative stuff? Yo, bro. Thank God we were doing what we were doing in 2008. In God, we have a fleet, a herd of amazing engineers out of the inner cities of LA. Now we want to scale that. 2030, yeah, I'm living there right now because it's still work to do.
The hardest time of you life (46:14)
I was listening to one of your songs before you arrived here. It was very curious. What's wrong, my hums? That's just lyrical. It was a song that I think this one was called Be Nice. Oh, yeah, it's called Be Nice. When I started looking into the song, looking about what you'd said around that song, you said, "I was on a dip in the low part of a roller coaster." You wrote that song because it helped you to change your vibration, but also to help other people change their vibrations. The dip on the low part of a roller coaster, what are the things in your life that have caused that dip in the low part of the roller coaster? I think men, but particularly black men, we don't always talk about our mental health or the dip in the low part of the roller coaster. I thought it was wonderful that you made a song about that, but also you were speaking so openly about that. I was reflecting on my 1993 18-year-old. My path was the hardest path that I've ever seen in my life. 18 was the hardest. Because it was 30 years ago. This time, 30 years ago, it was March when I had a... It was March of 1993 when I felt something that I've never felt before. Just like... Distortion. I felt... That's a perfect word for it. Dissease. And dis-ease, vibrationally, is dis-ease. Like a dis-ease on a vibrational level. Like the word disease, there's really dis-ease of molecular cellular, where you're vibrating. There's no harmony or sense of your vibrational field. And no matter how you look at it. And in this case, you have a vibration and thought. And I was vibrating off. And when you're vibrating off, you're dark. You're vibrating off, you panic, angst. Your hyperactivity is off-tilt. And so from March till about August, it was a very, very, very turbulent time for me when I was 18. And there's nothing wrong with being emotional. And when you're creative, you're always sensitive. Like you're hyper-sensitive. That's a part of creativity. Like you feel too much. And I feel too much. I empathize, hardcore. I'm the guy in the elevator that talks to strangers. I'm the guy that's like, I was walking down the street, came out of Tesco, somebody's like, "Well, I am." I'm like, "Hey, what's up?" "Oh, I don't mean to bug you." "I'm not your ass, cool." Straight up conversation for like 30 minutes with random strangers. I like that. Because I don't ever want to ignore folks that I could shed light on or they could shed light to me. You never know the little nuggets that you give or receive. So that song, that lyric was just remembering, reminding myself of like what that period was like for me. It was a very, very like coming of age. And I didn't have a man in my life, a father in my life, to guide me through that. My mom did that, which probably made me even ultra feminine. Which is no, I have no shame of being super feminine. I remember in the 90s, we don't have the support in the LGBT community. Like now that we did them. So growing up in the 90s, we were like, "Are you gay?" Like a lot of people question if I was, because I was feminine. I'm still feminine. I sit the way I sit. I act the way I act. My mannerisms are my moms. But it was a very, and I'm strong with my femininity. I think it's a superpower. But when you know who you are, when you love who you are, how you are, how you vibe, that's what it's about. I like girls. Never was attracted to men. I'm attracted to females. But I'm feminine. What caused that chapter in your life? Do you know? What? What caused that chapter in your life? Was there a clear causal-- Distortion is a better word. Distortion. That chapter in your life where you had distortion. What? Weed. Weed. Okay. Interesting. Yeah. It's chemicals. You said shame and guilt as well. You said you used those words. Yeah, I was shameful because I did something that I knew hurt my mom. Right. You were smoking and her head hanging low. What is my son out there doing? What trouble is he getting into? What is it going to lead to? I saw her panic. I felt her panic. I felt her worry. I felt her concern. Do you still have-- have you had moments of distortion since? It's usually when you make errors, you hurt people, indirectly, clumsily irresponsible. When you let people down that you love. When I let people down that I love, I distort. Is distortion different from depression in your definition? Is there a difference? Oh, yeah. Big difference. Distortion leads to depression. All right. Okay. Like, let's take this water, right, and this metal cup. If I fill it up to the top, and now I don't move this table, the water is still. No matter how I fill it up, it could be straight to the top. If you don't interrupt the table, the water is not going to spill. This is when I start to shake the table. And if I shake the table fast enough, it could shatter the glass. It could crack it. If I shake this at the right frequency, that doesn't disrupt the table, but can mess up the object. Shattering the glass or obstructing with the form of this is depression. Shaping the table causing it to spill is distortion. Have you experienced anxiety before? A lot of creative speak to anxiety. And when are you thinking about that shaking table? It made me feel like it gave me that thing that I could liken it to was anxiety. Unfortunately, it comes with the territory of futurism. You are experiencing something that hasn't happened yet. Because your imagination has already created plausible, realistic scenarios. And you're already feeling the emotion. So that unfortunately comes with the territory of having a hyper imagination. And living over there. Doesn't that mean that you live in anxiety then? No. If you live in the future. Because once you're aware of that, then you know that's what it is. It's like the difference between the shower and the rain. People run in the rain and stand in the shower. It's a difference between bikinis and draws. You go to the beach with nothing on but get afraid when you see them in their underwear. Expectations. It's expectations. It's like once you're aware of you getting wet, you ain't tripping. Once you're aware that you're going to the beach with nothing on, you're not tripping. So once I'm aware that I'm thinking over there, I don't have to have emotions there. So the moment I start having emotion for future casting, then I'm doing it wrong. The anxiety comes when it's things that are happening that you didn't control. And you're now having emotions because your imagination is now thinking of the outcomes of things that are out of your control. Now when you're future casting and you're seeing stuff, you are controlling looking around the corner. I am purposely looking there and then putting my imagination to work on thinking, what do I have to do now strategically between now, five, ten. Got you.
FYI, your new app (56:20)
FYI. FYI is Will's brand new app, which is launch now. And the whole purpose of FYI is to help create, to organize, collaborate and communicate in one place rather than having all of these different communication channels and digital assets spread across all of these different products that we might use today. I had this problem last night. I was on Monday over here to do list over here. I want Google clouds over here, Google sheets here. And when I opened up FYI this morning, I can see from where we're on the roadmap looking into the future, how having all of that in one space with AI as kind of the agent to power a lot of the knowledge work, I guess, is a really special combination. FYI is now available on the app store. I got it this morning. I'm really excited to see what the roadmap looks like for the future. I can see the mission. So FYI.AI is like, we're at 1.0. 4.0? Do you understand how awesome of a platform FYI is going to be? It's also equipped with elliptical curve cryptography methodologies. Because during COVID, NFTs and blockchain told us that protect your assets. Here's a key. But why is it the same type of key architecture and product structure? I commit not for my data on messengers. Why am I not given a key to our own my digital assets when my digital assets are the data itself? Why is it just for NFTs and crypto? So on FYI, yes, those messengers that are encrypted end to end, but where's the key? If you're not issued a key that the company itself doesn't have, we ensure that your data and your stuff is your stuff. What is yours? Is yours? How you speak is how you speak. When it comes to AI and mimic machines, none of us own our face and none of us own our voice. I own the publishing to my songs. You could copyright and you could create NDAs to protect your IP. But when it comes to you, every human being, walking in the age of AI, who owns our essence and our likeness? And why aren't we talking about that enough? The Drake AI is, yeah, it was a buzz and it's still going to continue to buzz. But shouldn't Drake own his likeness and his essence? Why is that legal? Why is it legal that Biggie Smalls is wrapping a Tupac verse that was actually about him? Like why is that? I can't take a Nike swoosh. Nike owns a swoosh, but I don't own my face and my voice. Beyonce don't own her face and her voice, but it dees his own stripes. Something's not right for people. So as FYI grows, that encryption key, 1.0 versus 5.0, the vision that we have, what we want to go, how we need the community to help us get there, I want to build the people's tool. I want to build a company that where people own their data, 100% of it. I am not my identity to my driver's license and my social security number and my passport. I'm my data. I'm my searches. I'm my freaking spell check. I am my voice. I am my facial unlocked with the machine vision. I am all that stuff. I'm my location on my address book. It could predict me. But why can't I have power of that? Why I could say I want to weigh 194 pounds by November 24th, 2024. I currently weigh 210 pounds. You can't do that right now. There's no aspirational GPS. And for aspirational GPS, that means the system has to be mine. Not me have access to a system. I have a record deal because at one point in time it was expensive to record. Now recordings ubiquitous, everybody could do it. So why do I have a record deal? So what is luxury when it comes to what's premium, what's the highest way of creating? At some point in time making films and recording music was the highest level of creating, painting for the freaking, for the monarchy or for the church was the highest level of creating. Now you could just do it on your phone. But the highest level of creating right now is build models. To build models and compute is expensive. So tomorrow people are going to be training their own models. That's unheard of deal right now. We know the folks that are spinning out models at these companies. But soon, compute is going to come down and there's going to be new models that are going to be just as powerful as GPT. Some 15 year old right now is dreaming right now. When they're 25, that person is going to have his own model and his own company. And it's going to be morally sound for people in the communities because greed, not not saying that the models right now are greedy, I'm not saying that. But watch what happens in 2023. We're going to be driven by love because the concept that we had and that we're baking it off of with Terminator, that's not sustainable. That's not that's fear. And if you're going to base it off of movies, then go Star Wars, not Terminator, Star Wars. There's multiple models. There's multiple robots. They all speak different fucking languages, but there's Jedi's and Jedi is a different to yes, there was a dark forest. Yes, there was sith's, but there's fucking Jedi's. And if this is going to take us to where we are better humans to one another, then fucking bring it because we can't get any worse than we already are with one another. And I'm speaking that as a black person. We've seen what people can do to people. It can't get any more worse. So bring it the optimism, bring it. Let's be better people. Let's love better. Let's empathize better. Let's freakin serve better. Let's care better. Right? The tool for that because if we're mimicking, that's what they're fearful of. People are fearful of what people do. Yeah. People are gripped by AI at the moment. They're terrified. They are excited. Where'd you sit? And if you're if you were talking to those kids in the inner city about AI and what they need to know about it, what would you be saying? If I go to the inner city, I'm telling kids, hey, our whole entire life has been set up for us to fail. Our investment for education is that they've undermined it. Our investment to where other neighborhoods are getting a bigger investment for their education than us. The way they've zoned our communities, we have liquor stores next to check cashing next to bad food next to bad food. Our teachers are not being invested in to teach us the things that we need to learn. We have no financial literacy. So when we get our checks, we cash our checks and then we spend it on bad stuff. Our understanding of money is to spend it to pay bills. We're not even taught to grow it. We've been set up to fail. AI didn't do that. People did that. Now here's a tool for us to solve our problems ourselves now. Grab it while you can and we are now our own Calvary. Right? Because the people that are afraid are not the people here. We've already went through the worst and survived the worst conditions of life. Are these folks afraid? Oh, oh, those folks, the ones that are responsible for our zoning. Got it. Okay, cool. Now let's, let's build a better world. Let's educate ourselves with this tool. Let's understand that it is a tool. Let's understand that there's these biases there. Let's try to solve those biases so that what is the ultimate dream? My ultimate dream is like, wow, we all know this wave. We see it coming. It could be good or it could be bad. It's going to be good when we're mindful of what our contributions are to prepare people for this wave. We have to prepare folks and we've got to do information, inspiration, preparation, motivation and mentorship so that they can activate their creativity to unearth tomorrow's industries because this wave has got a topple. Yesterday's industry is today's industry. If you're a lawyer and you work at a law firm and you do redlining on contracts, that's not what you're doing in 2030. If you're an accountant and you're counting beans and penny pinching, that's not what you're doing in 2030. If you're a cashier at a retail, you're probably not doing that 2030. If you're a bus driver, Uber driver, taxi driver, that's not what you're doing in 2030 because you're seeing the construct of what tomorrow is now. You're dealing with machines that could go and pivot from subject to subject, go deep to subjects in ways that people can't. Writing songs, making pictures, mid-journey is freaking crazy. It's the most amazing tool ever like you. Mid-journey is nuts. People that don't know mid-journey is a tool that uses text to create generative images of whatever you type in in seconds. If you're a marketer, if you're an artist that works for a brand, if you're an agency that works for brands, this technology is going to give super creatives agency. Why do they need agencies? The vast transformation and for hypercreatives that now they just need a new tool to help them like, "Oh, and just birth stuff?" It's a new renaissance. The ultimate. It's the ultimate dream if you're preparing a section of the world whose problems have always been ignored to now go out and solve those problems with this tool. Are you using this tool to make songs? You know it's going to make better songs, isn't you? It's Pac-Man right now. We ain't even got the halo. We're in freaking Super Mario Bros. We even got the Call of Duty yet. This thing's going to make better songs in you, Super bro. The song's out already. I've talked about that in this podcast before that Drake song with the... No, but the Drake song still required somebody to sing it. Then they layer a plug-in over it to make it sound like Drake. I heard a song that didn't... I heard... Yo, this new tech is out of here. But more importantly, I saw it in 2010. In my mind's eye, I was like, "Oh, no, no, no. If I'm in this computer, that means it's computer." Wait. What? If I'm in the computer making music, I'm not a musician like Prince or Freaking Stevie Wonder. I make music because I can make the computer make music. With machine learning, that means eventually the computer is going to remember how I made it to make music and eventually just make it itself. Maybe even publish it itself. Maybe even not even tell you. No, no, no, no. If you're making something on Adobe, you're also making Adobe smarter at creating records. Why does Adobe eventually need the person hitting the buttons with the ideas when it can learn from a million of those? Then it can also track the outcome. Does that become a smash hit? It's going okay. When they did this to me, the film Oppenheimer's into cinemas shortly. Oppenheimer was the guy who was in the world, was told to go out to make the nuclear bomb. That is almost what I'm scared about in this current AI race where China or Russia or another country versus the US, they're all in a race to create the most powerful artificial intelligence system but also to use it for the defensive purposes but also attacking purposes, offensive purposes. When an intelligence is 100 times smarter than the smartest human, that world is the world where I go, do we realize what we're getting ourselves into? Is this another Oppenheimer moment where we create something that has the capabilities to destroy humanity? That's what I haven't figured out yet. But for everything that we create, a hammer, we don't make hammers? How many can kill? A screwdriver, a vehicle, an airplane, electricity, lights. Everything that we advance, the first caveman that found a freaking flame on a branch, imagine all the folks at some point in time when they first had a branch with flame on it. They were like, "You can burn the village down." And some villages burned down. Burn down. Because that was the capacity of that weapon. The capacity of this weapon is it can think for itself and take down civilization and that's the difference. Going from a hammer, which can probably take a couple people out, can't think for itself, and then you go right up to artificial intelligence where it has a propensity to be smarter than all of us. If programmed with malicious intent, I like your optimism. Yeah, but at the same time, who's responsible for the people that are living in villages in Africa that are clearly living under an abundance of resources but can't benefit from those. Is that AI? No, it's humans. Humans. So what you're saying is that it's not the AI that you're afraid of. 100%. It's people. It's the people. So maybe AI is to push us to love because we can't outlogic logic. If Will I Am has it, that's what will happen. If Putin has it, I'm not sure. Like a hammer. If you would create something dope with a hammer, Putin might hit me with it. I would create something like MC Hammer. Yeah, exactly. Can't touch this. But yeah.
Final Guest Interaction
The last guests question (01:12:12)
We have a closing tradition on this podcast where the last guest leaves a question for the next guest not knowing who they're leaving it for. And the person that's left this question for you, I think you know them. The question is what would be your superpower if you were, if you could be a superhero and why? It feels quite. Somebody asked me that? Yeah. Should I say it? It's Rita Ora. Oh, Rita Ora. That's she's my fave. I love Rita. But she didn't know it was for you. Get the frick out. She just writes it in the book. I don't tell her who's coming next. Oh, wow. So usually I don't tell people who's written it, but I figured you might know her. So. Yeah, I've worked with her many years and recorded songs that we never released. But yeah, I love Rita. She was sat there yesterday. She's awesome. It's going to sound super like cheesy or corny. I would be particle man. Oh, my, my, my superpower will be. I could. I can influence particles to vibrate harmoniously because that's the concept of love. It's when everything's vibrating harmoniously. And there's, I'll be the ultimate superpower. Are you vibrating harmoniously right now? In life. And life at the moment? No. And then. Because I feel too much. And when you feel it affects your vibration and then it takes a while to make sense of what you're absorbing your rinse out and that and you repeat. But in that process of absorb rinse repeat. You learn more about environments that you're in, people that you're around. And your curiosity, my curiosity and search for knowledge. Like, why did I go to CERN? I'm going to go next in two weeks and then they send me emails all the time. Hey, Will, we're here. You're going to be in Geneva. You want to come down to CERN. Just come see our, you know, advancements and learn more. I just like to know as much as possible. And when you, in my pursuit of knowing, causes some distortion. There's nothing wrong with a little bit, Jimi Hendrix. There's nothing wrong with a little bit of distortion. You can't just be consumed by it. Sorry with amplification comes some distortion as you amplify. And to get the word out or to get the vibe out, you know, you just got to be aware of how you're amplified. Not turn up too loud or too fast. And that's, you know, double entendres on turn up. But, yeah, so no, I'm not, that we've got superpower is still. But the name particle man's whack. Particle man. That was a good say. Yeah. That's a good catch on kids ain't going to watch this. Supatomic. But, yeah. Vibration, man. I don't know. Vibes, man. I think. Yeah. Super vibes. Yeah. Super vibes. Yeah. Super vibes on a particle level. That will be like, as soon as a, as soon as a motherfucker wants to fuck around and do some wild shit, he's like zapping with some super vibes and change the other particles. Because that's where we're all made of that down every molecule, every cell. And if you could, if you could put consciousness on a particle level, that's some awesome sauce. Will, thank you. In many respects, you are super vibes because you've created a lot of awesome stuff and you've brought, brought people's vibes into harmony. Certainly mine with your, with all that you've created, with your art, with your creativity. Walking through your studio, your office in Los Angeles was a real trip into a decades time. It was a glimpse into the future in many respects. I remember looking at some of the stuff you'd created in there, the backpacks. And I remember all of these dope inventions that I saw in that space and to meet you, it kind of makes sense now. When you talk about living in the future with that, of course, comes a disharmony, I think. And that's what you've spoken to as well. I think a lot of creatives have that feeling of dis-ease. I think it comes with wanting to bring about the future and that impatience that comes with all of that. I really do hope you find the personal harmony that you spoke of, the next passing it on to somebody. I really do hope you find that because I think I do agree you'd make an absolutely incredible father. Oh, thanks. Because you're so, you're so, you're so built on love, which I think is a real testament to your mother. Thank you. Thank you for being here today. It's a real honor to get to spend some time with you, you're someone that I admire greatly for all of the creative reasons I've said, but also just as a human being. Quick one, you guys know that for years now, my office has quite literally been everywhere on a plane in the back of my car, in a terminal, in an airport or on a train. You name it, I've probably worked there. Ever since I started my first business at 19 years old, I've been working on the move. All I need is Wi-Fi, a desk and my headphones and I'm set. And one of the places that has always had my back when I'm struggling to find an office is WeWork. I've been using WeWork for years now, whether it's in Manchester, London, Manhattan or LA, WeWork is easy. It literally requires no thinking. There's no stress of finding the perfect work and location. WeWork does it all for you. Many of desk space, meeting rooms, collaboration spaces, drinks, snacks, it's all there. So for your next remote working trip away from the office, or if you want a new fresh space to work in, then don't just work anywhere. WeWork might just be your answer. And you can get 25% off your first six months of WeWork all access by using code CEOWorks. That's one word, CEOWorks. And to redeem this offer, visit we.co/CEOWorks. Quick one. If you've been listening to this podcast for some time, one of the recurring messages you've heard over and over and over again, especially when we first had that conversation with Tim Spector is about the importance of greens in our diet. And a while ago, I started pressing my friends at Hule to come out with a product that did exactly that, allowed you to have all those greens, the vitamins and minerals you need in a drink. And after several, several, several months of iterations and processes, they released this product called Hule Daily Greens, which is now one of my favorite products from Hule, because it tastes great and it fills that very important nutritional gap that I had in my diet. The problem is, it launched in the US and it sold out straight away and became a smash hit for Hule for the rare reasons I've described. It's now back in stock in the United States, but it's not here in the UK yet. So if you're a UK listener, which I know a lot of you are, it's not yet available. So, let's all attack Hule. Just DM them everywhere we can and tell them to bring Hule Daily Greens to the UK. This is the product. When it is available in the UK, I'm going to let you know first, but until then, let's spam their DMs.