Goofing Off On Purpose – Kevin Kelly on owning his time, staying optimistic about the future, raising children, and his new book Excellent Advice for Living | The Pathless Path Podcast

@KevinKelly is the founding executive editor of Wired magazine, a writer, and a photographer. When he was young he dropped out of college and traveled to Taiwan, which he describes as a life-changing experience. Kevin is passionate about owning his time, the importance of goofing off, and staying optimistic about the development of technology.

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Conversation topics

  • The importance of taking time off, playing, and fooling around, as these activities are essential for creativity and productivity. He shares his experience of biking across the US in 1979 and how it opened his eyes to different perspectives.
  • New collaborative tools are needed to honor and empower other dimensions of our lives beyond productivity and money. He suggests that we are still in the early stages of developing these tools.
  • The trap of the startup entrepreneurial path is that people often assume that money will definitely come with success. He suggests that it’s more important to find things that fire up your soul, even if they don’t necessarily bring financial gain.
  • His experiences of traveling and living in Taiwan in the 1970s, which greatly expanded his worldview. He discusses the cultural differences he encountered and how they impacted his perspective.
  • The changing relationship people have with work and that there is a growing dissatisfaction with the current centrality of work in people’s lives.
  • His family life of juggling full-time jobs while raising their three children. He suggests that one of the most effective ways to manage time and responsibilities is to outsource tasks when possible.
  • His optimism about the future that is primarily based on history and the potential of future generations. He is currently working on a project called “Protopia,” which imagines a desirable future 100 years from now.
  • He encourages people to become themselves fully and to work on something that’s much bigger than themselves.

My Favorite Quotes

On Goofing Off

You have to have a good work ethic, but it has to be counterbalanced by a great rest ethic. You have to be able to rest well and um and goof off…I’m firmly in the belief that the value of goofing off and creative waste sometimes we call it um where you are throwing things away. That’s why young people invent most of the new things because they spend 50 hours wasting time playing a video game. You can’t make a good video game unless you spend time playing video games and so this idea of goofing off, taking vacations, playing, and fooling around is essential.

Kevin Kelly

On How His Son Created His Own Master’s Program

And that was my son who went to bilingual schools, they went to a Chinese American School in San Francisco. They went on to a very demanding High School, they went out to college and did everything well and did everything. And so at the end of college, I said um don’t go into a career, don’t get a job, goof off. You haven’t goofed off your entire life right. I mean you’re like your entire life you’ve been striving and trying to get good grades and it’s like you need to spend some time just goofing off, doing nothing. So he decided to give himself his own degree. So he made a course where for a year he made art every day and then wrote a thesis and sent it to his professors, published it and printed it and then awarded himself an MFA. I love that and I said yeah that’s what you want to do.

Kevin Kelly

On The Goal Of Life

Your goal in life is to be able to say on the day before you die that you’ve fully become yourself.

Kevin Kelly

On What He Wants To Do Next

So, um, I want to become a YouTube Star. YouTube is an accelerant of our culture and that’s where I want to be. It’s vastly more influential on culture in accelerating the speed of learning and disseminating ideas than anything we’ve come before and people don’t really recognize the degree to which it is

Kevin Kelly