The importance of us

The Weekly Bento // August 6, 2021

Hello my friends and welcome to the Weekly Bento. Of all the emails you did read or could have read today, thanks for making this one of them. In today’s issue:

  • Perspective: The importance of us

  • Invitation: The Bento Founders Club

  • Recommended: Olympics, quitting, public goods

  • Happening: The Weekly Bento

The importance of us

The first time I ever shared the Bento with strangers was in the home of an 89-year-old woman in Los Angeles named Noel. That talk took place in Noel’s house; an incredible home in the hills of Silverlake that was designed by famed architect Arthur Schindler in the 1920s that she grew up in.

After that talk, Noel and I became friends and soon I began spending each day at her house, writing This Could Be Our Future in a spare bedroom — an experience I wrote about on the Ideaspace several years ago

Being in Noel’s house — all windows, filled with light, elegantly and simply constructed — brought an incredible feeling of peace and calm. One day when I mentioned this to Noel, however, she surprised me with her response.

“It might feel peaceful to you now,” she told me, “but growing up in this house as a kid, the views were lonely. I hated it.” She explained how when she started raising her own family, she didn't want her kids to be lonely like she had been. She made sure to move to “the middle of a block of a very regular street in Venice with lots of kids around.” 

She underlined this to me again: nice views are good for the parents but bad for the kids. Be with people, was her advice.

Last week my family and I moved. The house we moved out of was similar to Noel’s house. Windows, views and light, a forest-and-sea sanctuary built in the 1950s by architect Arthur Erickson. The room with the wooden beams in the ceiling that I’ve hosted nearly every Bento session in is in that house. 

This week my family and I moved, and already life could not be more different. We’re now in a walk-up in the middle of a bustling neighborhood. This morning alone I interacted with more people than I did the entire previous year combined (an exaggeration but not by much). In the previous house, I was more likely to see a bald eagle or a raccoon on a given day than a person. Now it’s the opposite.

The move and transition have been tiring. The rest of my life has been put on hold to get it done. And yet in three separate conversations this week people have told me unprompted how happy I seem. Even my father told me this when I was exhausted and felt anything but. After the third time, someone told me this I started to listen and wonder: was this the case?

Then yesterday it came full circle. I was unpacking when I found a gift Noel had given me: a small book, a monograph of a sculpture series children and their mothers she made in the early 1970s, called “Sons and Daughters”:

“Every child begins the world again... And love begins with love,” it reads.

The tender artwork brought back Noel’s sage words: the views are wonderful in the house on the hill, but they’re also lonely. The light that truly shines comes from togetherness. Both in our children and in us. 

Bento Clubs

The Bento Society is blessed with many amazing community leaders, including the incomparable Cecilia Wessinger. From her work as an ecosystem builder to her natural energy as a connector, convener, and caring human, Cecilia creates so much value and warmth all around her.

I mention this because Cecilia is organizing a new regular gathering for founders and entrepreneurs in the Bento Society — and there are many of us! — who are looking for fellowship and growth with a group of others.

The group (which I’m calling Bento Founders Club as a placeholder) will have their first session sometime in September. If you’re a founder and wish to be a part of it, sign up here:

Sign Up for the Bento Founders Club


Bentoism at the Olympics. This week in the Men’s High Jump final at the Olympics, something extraordinary happened: two world-class athletes decided to cooperate instead of compete. The final two jumpers in the competition, one from Italy and one from Qatar, proposed a deal to one another on the spot: how about we refuse to jump and share a gold medal instead? The Olympic official agreed.

Not only was this very smart — two golds are better than one! — it’s also a strikingly cooperative choice in a venue built for competition. If we think of this from a Prisoner’s Dilemma standpoint, the two high jumpers managed to find the harder-to-reach Now Us outcome rather than falling for the paradigm of Now Me competition. Inspired, and truly a reflection of a new age.

Should I quit decision tree. In my Bento Group this week two people were discussing whether someone should quit their job. To help with this question, they modeled a decision tree on whether to quit that was really excellent. Here’s the helpful drawing by member Mark Benjamin, who credits Steven Bartell for the framework:

A new public good. I’m honored to be a member of the selection committee for a grant that’s soliciting new ways of thinking about the creation of public goods. There are two core questions the project seeks to answer: 

  1. Who comprises our notion of the “public,” and can there be multiple publics served? 

  2. What values drive our definition of “good” and who determines what’s in the public’s best interest?

This week, Other Internet and Gitcoin, the two entities behind the project, announced the grant, and a request for papers exploring the topic. Learn more about submitting a paper here:

Learn More

The Weekly Bento

This Sunday I will be hosting the Weekly Bento — fifteen minutes to ground yourself and your intentions for the week ahead. I’ve used the Weekly Bento to approach every week for nearly three years now, and cannot speak highly enough about the impact it continues to have on my life.

After we set our intentions, stick around for Bento Cafe — a space for deep, open conversations with a group of new and old friends around the world. 

Join us:

The Weekly Bento
Sunday August 8 
12pm EST sharp
Doors open at 11:55am EST

RSVP for the 15-min Weekly Bento

Peace and love my friends,