So, YxYY was a big deal, and affirmed for me that I could and should shift my work from being (to oversimplify) based primarily on my skills to being based primarily on:

  • Being able to bring my whole self to my work
  • My vision of what’s possible and good in the world
  • My passion for working with others to evolve that vision and make it happen
  • My excitement at the possibility of re-inventing what work looks like
  • The role I think VR can have in all of the above

So: I bought an HTC Vive and a system that could operate it. I started checking out what was out there already, and thinking about how to navigate away from standard VR fare and into the “here be dragons” territories that promise adventure.

I also started thinking about who to take that journey with, and that let me to take steps that for me were terrifying and liberating.

The first was a message to my sister’s friend Claire Roberts. The second was an email to ZomeTool.


In the social murmurations my sister and I have been a part of in our lives, there are patterns that stand out, and people often at the heart of these patterns. Claire’s one of those people. From gatherings of the Living Closet arts collective through house parties, wakes and various gatherings, Claire’s often been there, and when she is she’s usually an active part of the happenings. As one of my sister’s long-time friends, she’s partaken of some of the aura that came with being part of my sister’s “cool crowd” while I was growing up.

Claire’s also an artist both classical and digital who’d been working in the video game industry for more than a decade, and been specializing in VR for more than a year and had just launched her own business to work on her own projects. My gut told me I needed to get in touch.

An important snippet of context: I have residual anxieties from being one of the outliers of nerdliness and general oddity in elementary school. One concretization of that anxiety is that sometimes when asking someone cool if they want to play, I feel really vulnerable.

I messaged Claire, and we found a time to get together and discuss our respective interests in VR, and to plan a gathering of a few folks involved in the industry in Vancouver. Anxiety pretty quickly turned into wild enthusiasm – the more we talked the more we found we were on the same page as to the kind of work we were wanting to be doing (self directed, collaborative, innovative, life-affirming and ideally world changing), and the specific projects we were keen on were in strong alignment.

Over the next few weeks the conversations evolved, and we decided to partner on creating a VR company focusing on innovative work with an altruistic aim, and a new approach to business and work.



At the same time Claire and I were figuring out what we wanted to work on, I had an idea that provoked a strong tension in me but that seemed irresistible. I’d been thinking of different VR projects that would be interesting to work on, and I kept returning to ZomeTool, an extraordinary phi-ratio based construction set that my friend Sam Ryan had introduced me to years before. It was one of those things whose basics were extremely intuitive, but that the more I tinkered with it, the deeper the implications were that seemed to unfold.

The initial thought: wouldn’t it be cool to have an infinite ZomeTool construction set in VR, with a few procedural tools to build complex structures of various sorts.

And so, I found myself filling out the “Contact Us” form on the ZomeTool website:

“Would ZomeTool be at all interested in a team creating a VR application that allows people to construct with ZOME in Virtual Reality, save and share their virtual creations, and purchase the required parts from your company to make it in real life?

If so, I’d be interested in talking about it.”

I sent it off with a presumption I wouldn’t hear back, a hope maybe a project manager at ZomeTool might get back to me, and humorous incredulity at my decision to send it in the first place. I was reasonably sure the corporate world didn’t work this way, but again, my gut told me whoever was making ZomeTool were probably not your typical corporate types.

I was more than shocked that Carlos Neumann, president of ZomeTool contacted me the next week to set up a time to talk.

The call with Carlos was extraordinary – and solidified for me that the approach to business I wanted to develop might work. Carlos was personable, sharp, engaging and inspiring. We talked about technical and business challenges, and about potential project ideas, but a large part of the time was spent discussing the potential and actual uses for both ZomeTool and VR, and about our respective excitements and inspirations around what could be done. There was no sales pitch nor negotiation. Instead, we connected around where our interests and goals aligned, and agreed in principle that if we could find a way to make a project work, it would be good to try.

I’ll write more later about our subsequent conversations and experiments, but for now want to focus on the tremendous impact Carlos’ interest in talking and in engaging with me on a deeper level had on me.

Our Deepest Fear…

One of the biggest shifts that these two calls has had for me is to move from terrified hope in to increasing joy from a guiding principle that had stuck with me since I was first exposed to it. At times the world makes me feel like I have to hide the bulk of who I am. To appear more modest in beliefs, outlook, and story of world and self, and to not discuss the weird, wonderful, magical and amazing world I feel like I inhabit. And sometimes it really is a need. But it can also be a dangerous habit that precludes diving fully into life.

The amazing thing is that when we tell a bigger story about the world and ourselves, and when we bring our full self to bear on the things in the world we’re most passionate about, sometimes the universe * supports us in extraordinary ways so that we can do that Work.

Marianne Williamson’s oft referenced poem encapsulates the piece that’s bringing me joy. I give it here with humble appreciation for the ways that privilege makes this dynamic play out, and for you to translate into the theological / atheological language that works for you:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.