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👋 Hi, I’m Kyle—the human behind Sloww.
In a Nutshell:
After an existential crisis in 2015 while a marketing executive, I spent my free time the following few years getting to know myself and life itself—eventually leading me to become a corporate dropout and pursue solopreneurship. In one sentence: my purpose is synthesizing lifelong learning that catalyzes deeper development.
A big epiphany along the way was realizing that thinking can be a passion (and that it’s my primary passion). I’m not a professor, philosopher, psychologist, sociologist, anthropologist, scientist, or guru. I’m an interconnector across all those humans and many more—an “independent, inquiring, interdisciplinary integrator” (in other words, it’s just me over here, asking questions, crossing disciplines, and making connections). To keep it simple, you can just call me a “synthesizer.”
I do all the homework—questioning, researching, curating, reading, note-taking, summarizing, synthesizing, writing, creating, and sharing. You get all the highlights—so you spend less time on all those things and more time learning, practicing, and mastering. I’m learning why and how to live and publicly sharing what I learn along the way. Sloww shares the art of living with students of life. Sloww currently has a Premium membership with 1,000+ global members, weekly email newsletter with 10,000+ subscribers, social media following of 35,000+, and website with 70,000+ monthly visitors.
My “Old” Life (Pre-Crisis): Life was heavy and depleting—one thing after another that I had to do. Externally focused. Lacking purpose. Superficial. Complicated. Reactive. Unconscious and spiritually poor.
My “New” Life (Post-Crisis): Life is lighter and regenerating—one thing after another that I get to do. Internally focused. Purposeful. Deeper. Simpler. Intentional. More conscious and spiritually rich.
The Short Story:
Late 2015: My story gets interesting in late 2015, at age 30, when I found myself in the midst of a self-diagnosed existential crisis. I was well into my marketing career—at my 4th company in 8 years. I was also a certified workaholic (or “total worker“) who glorified busyness and was working 60-80+ hour weeks for 6+ months straight at the time. But, life works in funny ways: I was getting paid six figures in my day job to reinvent an old apparel brand that was having its own brand identity crisis, and the work sparked my own personal existential crisis! Looking back now, it seems like my crisis was caused by a one-two punch of burnout plus purposelessness. I had worked long hours in my career before, but I hadn’t worked long hours this consistently on something that I found inherently lacking purpose. This is when all the questions started—probably beginning with something along the lines of, “Am I really here to sell people more stuff they don’t need?” I had been a high achiever my whole life in school, sports, and work, but I completely missed the most important subject: LIFE!
“You can get all A’s and still flunk life.” — Walker Percy
I had lived 30 years without really questioning much about my life or life in general. My self-worth was my work. My identity was my LinkedIn profile. My energy in life had been primarily externally-focused up to this point. But, one question led to another, led to another, led to another. I questioned everything: “What is my purpose?” “Why am I here?” “Who am I?” The crisis seemed like my personal problem to solve, and I started to give myself a crash course on life. The acute portion of my crisis lasted six weeks (but little did I know it would plant the seed that would change the course of my life).
“I’ve never heard of anybody who awakens in their comfort zone.” — Eckhart Tolle
This is also when I first discovered intentional living (what I consider Sloww Stage 1). I emailed my parents on Christmas Day 2015 and said, “Just bought the domain Sloww.co. Not sure what I want to do with it yet, but I’ve been inspired reading about downshifting, minimalism, simple living, and the slow movement” (I’d go on to discover unbusyness, voluntary simplicity, decluttering, digital decluttering/minimalism, and more). I had no idea there was an alternative/contrarian path to how I had been living. I had followed the typical path in Western society: go to school, get a job, get better jobs that pay more, buy more, spend more, repeat. Intentional living seemed like a cure or antidote to my busyness. I wondered if it could even be an escape from my purposeless career.
“Every transformation demands as its precondition ‘the ending of a world’—the collapse of an old philosophy of life.” — C.G. Jung
2016-17: During 2016-17 while still working full-time, I immersed myself in the inner journey in my free time—trying to get to know myself with the intent of discovering my life purpose (what I consider Sloww Stage 2). In conventional/traditional terms, killing myself at work “paid off” with a promotion to Marketing Director and higher salary, higher bonus, more stock, etc. The seeds of intentional living I had recently discovered hadn’t bloomed into my actual lifestyle yet (this is a common, recurring theme I’ve noticed: learning about something plants a seed that may not germinate/develop or blossom/bloom for months/years—if at all). My wife and I experienced lifestyle inflation and bought a McMansion in the suburbs and a sports car—unconsciously sucked into keeping up with the Joneses and the modern American Dream. Externally, you’d think my life was amazing. Internally, I was more miserable than ever and dying inside. I had to live and learn the hard way. No amount of pleasure offsets a lack of purpose. No amount of money offsets a lack of meaning. You can’t buy yourself off. Luckily, I discovered the FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) movement in mid-2017, my wife and I cut our total household expenses 30% in 2018 vs 2017, and I did a no-buy year with clothing.
“I’ve never seen any life transformation that didn’t begin with the person in question finally getting tired of their own bullshit.” — Elizabeth Gilbert
2018: I continued to work full-time for 2.5 years post-crisis (late 2015 to mid-2018), but these were the roughest years of cognitive dissonance. What I was learning about life and myself in my free time increasingly conflicted with how I was still living by showing up to my purposeless career. I felt like I had a foot in two worlds:
“Many people who are going through the early stages of the awakening process are no longer certain what their outer purpose is. What drives the world no longer drives them. Seeing the madness of our civilization so clearly, they may feel somewhat alienated from the culture around them. Some feel that they inhabit a no-man’s land between two worlds.” — Eckhart Tolle
Finally, the cognitive dissonance reached a tipping point, and I quit my career to pursue entrepreneurship in mid-2018. It took me a long time to realize I was actually an entrepreneur who unconsciously stumbled into a marketing career for a decade. While I couldn’t have told you my purpose in a single sentence at this point, I directionally felt like I knew what I needed to follow (and equally important, what I did not need to follow anymore). I knew I had to align my life with something more purposeful (see 🔒my personal lifestyle design):
“I wanted more than a job. I wanted deeper congruence between my inner and outer life.” — Parker J. Palmer
2018-Today: Most of my lifelong learning (“horizontal development”) and deeper development (“vertical development”) really started to take off after mid-2018. It was probably 2-3 years into Sloww before I started getting into Sloww Stage 3, and another couple years before Sloww Stage 4. Today, I’m approaching the 5-year anniversary since I quit my career. The total forfeited opportunity cost since then is over $1M in potential earnings ($250k/year x 5), but there’s no amount of money (literally, no amount) you could pay me to relive these last 5 years differently.
“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.” — Joseph Campbell
In the 5 years I’ve been full-time on Sloww, I’ve learned a life-changing amount about life that has been a catalyst in transforming my life: lifelong learning, human development, financial independence, lifestyle design, happiness (+ Hierarchy of Happiness eBook), life purpose (+ Ikigai 2.0 eBook), meaning of life, death, self-actualization, biology, science, psychology, philosophy, spirituality, consciousness, systems thinking, cognitive biases & mental models (+ Mini Mind), meta-crisis, wisdom, transcendence, enlightenment, nonduality, lottery of birth, free will, and much more (see my 10 most life-changing ideas after 500+ posts).
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