5 min read

Legions of Meaning

Legions of  Meaning
Very impressionistic

This week we explore how our individual traits make us messy but human and a focus on meaning-making for a deeper, more rewarding life experience.

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Research Roundup

We Are Legion

Stop trying to understand the “average” person: from populations to individuals, we are messy.

Behavioral interventions rarely generalize across a population because factors like intelligence, attentiveness, and prior experience all impact how individuals respond to nudges or educational campaigns. By measuring these usually ignored factors, we can better understand why some people respond to interventions while others don't.

To make matters even more complicated, even individuals change over time. Our cognitive abilities (learning, memory, decision-making…) fluctuate over time in response to things like mood and daily activities. We aren't static beings but rather a legion of different selves shifting with the tides of our inner world.

Managers, marketers, and policymakers: embrace the beautiful messiness and dynamism of humanity–only then can we build a world that truly works for everyone!

Stressing the Meaning of Life

While both early childhood adversity and everyday stressors impact our mental well-being, finding meaning in life might just be the key to navigating these challenges. 

People with adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) explore less and undervalue potential rewards, suggesting a dampened sensitivity to positive experiences. A childhood that repeatedly knocks you down erodes the very brain circuits that support a deeper, more rewarding life experience, leaving only the shallows. 

But adversity isn’t the end of the story: having a strong sense of meaning in life is associated with better coping mechanisms, especially when facing everyday stressors. Individuals high in strength of purpose reframe challenges, plan proactively, and ultimately experience less distress. 

We must invest in building a world that fosters both exploration and meaning-making, helping ourselves and others navigate deeper life with resilience and optimism.

Weekly Indulgence

My spring world tour still has open dates:

  • #London April 30th & June 7th
  • #MexicoCity May 17th
  • #Boston July 4th
  • #WashingtonDC 21st

Book me for a keynote or briefing at your company, university, or conference. Support our research AND blow some minds at the same time!


Stage & Screen

  • May 8, Boston: chatting with BCG on lifting Collective Intelligence and The Neuroscience of Trust.
  • May 8-10, Santa Clara: I return to Singularity University
  • May 18, Mexico City: I'm giving a keynote for El Aleph, Arts & Science Festival at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. ¡Qué bueno!
  • May 23, Seoul: keynoting the Asian Leadership Conference! (from last year)
  • June 5, Online: Mobilize Women Summit I'll talk starting my company to end postpartum depression.
  • June 10, Cape Cod: RFK Compass on my workplace dignity program.
  • June 18-19, Stockholm: Buy tickets for the Future of Talent Summit and so much more!
  • June 20-21, Amsterdam: TNW ...well, I don't know exactly what I'll be talking about, but it will be huge!
  • June 21, Leeds, UK: Society of Otolaryngologists What else: changing education for doctors in an AI-rich world.
  • July 3, Boston: National Charter School Association We must change education or we'll be trapped in a future that needs explorers but builds cogs.
  • July 22, DC: Keynote at Jobs For the Future Horizons!

If your company, university, or conference just happen to be in one of the above locations and want the "best keynote I've ever heard" (shockingly spoken by multiple audiences last year)?

<<Please support my work: book me for a keynote or briefing!>>

SciFi, Fantasy, & Me

Last week I complained that The Three Body Problem took a book full of amazing ideas left on an OK show full of (largely) unconvincing characters. In contrast, Fallout has taken a video game I could care less about and produce a show that pulled me from episode to episode. It felt big where the other felt made-for-TV. While not a masterwork, Fallout balanced drama, mystery, humor, action, spectacle…and not a little political philosophy, in a way I haven’t seen in recent scifi. Highly recommend!

Similar shows: Sweet Tooth, Lost (in its way), and (obviously) The Last of Us…though Fallout is lighter on the personal drama.


DALL-E has watched too many Marvel films.

Try this thought experiment…and be honest.

You are the CEO of a multinational company with 100,000 employees. Rate all of their jobs on a scale from "lowest" to "highest" skill. Now consider a near future in which AI and automation have disrupted the bottom 80% of those jobs by skill-level. Those 80,000 jobs are not needed anymore, and those lower-skilled employees are staring at pink slips. But just as with the Industrial Revolution, automation, in this case in the form of artificial intelligence, has created an equal number of high-skilled jobs. So you have 100,000 employees and 100,000 great jobs–or maybe even more. This is wonderful! Problem solved, right?

But wait, now your company needs five times as many high-skill employees. AI hasn't created any new lower-skill jobs because if they fall below the skills threshold then those jobs are in turn automated as well. So ask yourself these questions: will many, if any, of those lower-skilled employees be qualified to fill these new top-20% roles in your company, even with reskilling?

Take a step back. Today, how easy is it to recruit for and fill those top-20% positions that already exist in your company? How would that change if you have five, ten, twenty times as many “top jobs” to fill?

And what if we’re not talking about the top-20% but the top-1%? Will productivity boosts from AI lift your entire labor force into these elite roles? Do you truly believe you can retrain even a minority of your workforce to fill those new jobs?

I believe that we can, but it isn’t going to be through reskilling or the gig economy. It won’t be because we’ve given everyone a university degree or taught them all to program. This is not the Industrial Revolution. In order to secure a robot-proof future for our children and our economy, we must stop pretending that it is.

Read the rest when Robot-Proof hits the shelves!

Vivienne L'Ecuyer Ming

Follow more of my work at
Socos Labs The Human Trust
Dionysus Health Optoceutics
RFK Human Rights GenderCool
Crisis Venture Studios Inclusion Impact Index
Neurotech Collider Hub at UC Berkeley