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  • Siria Contreras

Technology x Life


The last couple of months have been quite busy on my end to say the least. I’m sure they’ve been for you as well. At times I thought I might even be a little too busy.


As I’d predicted a few write-ups back that “just as the world was forced to take a collective pause over a year ago, the world is now picking back up where it left off again as a collective.” No surprise here.


This is great news for many, and although I still predict that there will be a few false-starts for several industries as “the new” and optimized way of doing things gets figured out, there are still many variables at this time. The biggest one being all of us humans.


Regardless, of any hiccups along the way we are all moving forward. Moving forward is good, lest you should get left behind or even worse yet, have decisions made for you that you don’t agree with.


Yet, it is as we move forward that we continue to discover what no longer works for us. I’d also mentioned in the past that as humans, I’d also hoped that this limbo stage gave everyone an opportunity to reconnect with themselves and what still resonates with them and what doesn’t. Fortunately or unfortunately, the biggest catch with spending so much time with oneself is that life doesn’t proceed “business as usual” and the reintegration into this new phase of our daily lives will not come without some continued work on ourselves as we continue to identify what we are ok with continuing to participate in and who we are ok with being surrounded by or even what surroundings we want to wake up in each morning.


“Stop asking to get paid by the hour and start getting paid for your mind.”

I recently came across this quote in my Instagram feed and because I think about things a little differently than most, I instantly felt a sadness for those who have to rely on an hourly wage --an issue that is very mission-centric to The Nourish Foundation part of my life, but on a larger level it also made me grateful that I haven’t had to give hourly pay for myself much thought in a very long-time with the exception of hour-long consultations, or when factoring time estimates into proposals, etc.


This quote also made me think of this second one that I’d heard a very long time ago that stuck with me, apologies as I’m likely butchering the actual words but it was something like, “You don’t get paid for the hour, you get paid for the value you bring to the hour.” This second quote is a bit of a harsh reality when you assess what some of the lowest-paid jobs are. From agriculture workers, to service and hospitality staff across industries, much of it either tedious work or back-breaking manual labor.


I once had a colleague while at a happy hour back at NBC grab my hands exclaiming how feminine and soft my hands were in comparison to hers. I was only in my 20s so of course my hands would also be youthful, she was only about 10-15 years older than I and for some reason her hands were her insecurity, although I saw nothing wrong with hers at all--I’m certain no one else would.


However, she made such a fuss about my hands and youthful appearance as a whole that I was a bit annoyed in the moment even though I just laughed it off, I guess I likely should’ve been flattered. In that moment where my mind went though was manual labor, of course my hands would be softer then, because of my age, but years later they still remain soft because I’ve never had to rely on my hands to make a living not because I take extra care of them (ironically, I actually hate the feeling of most hand lotions). Of course not all manual labor is created equal, for there is of course the category of the arts where artists, musicians, and writers all use their hands as a vehicle for expression and some if lucky, monetary gain. Technically, I too use my hands as most everyone does to earn their living via the typing I do on my keyboards--my hands are that which I convey yes sometimes art in some forms, but even more so that which stems from my mind--strategies, communications, formulas, roadmaps, recommendations, analysis, etc.


However, if I’m honest the exact thought that came to my head in that moment when over-discussing my hands with my colleagues and those who surrounded us was one where I was reminded of a particular moment in childhood history class where we addressed the topic of children working in cotton/wool factories and the side effect of their hands becoming overly soft and would often bleed profusely from even the tiniest cut. I’m sure adults dealt with a similar fate, but being a child at the time I was more saddened by other children being put through that labor.





So anyhow, history flashback and hands-talk aside, I am lucky that my mind is often sought after. Yet, just as I am often contacted for my ability to ideate, I do every now and then call on other peers to participate in a brainstorm when I have new projects every now and then because even one mind can get over-taxed at times or you just need that spark of collaboration. I’m really good at coming up with ideas and bringing things to life on my own, but at one point or another I typically do need the help of others to absorb certain elements and take on a specific role to make it a success. If you don’t know me you might be surprised to learn that sometimes I might be the person wearing the hat of various roles in many of my projects--mostly because that allows me to employ both my strategic and more creative/artistic attributes.




For example, I recently drew inspiration from Sol LeWitt’s mid-century Minimalistic art for a forthcoming campaign and in turn came across the app that pairs AI technology with his artwork. Definitely worth checking out.


However, while often you can do much alone, sometimes you need to bring in others who can do something even better than you. That is one thing that I try to do whenever possible, surround myself with people even smarter than I am or that are specialists in very specific areas that I can collaborate with.


The mind of one is quite powerful and this I know to be true as I’ve seen the effects of my own out in the world, but the minds of a collective can really accomplish the impossible which I also know all-too-well.


For many of these in-demand minds, in this very unique moment in time we continue to find that for those of us who are not physical laborers in some way can provide the work that stems from our minds from anywhere in the world, leading to that other unique opportunity that many find themselves encountering.


Many now have more of a choice on where they can physically reside than ever before. Oftentimes, decisions are made for us and in the past one might’ve moved to a new location because that is where a job opportunity was, or where their family was located, or where a significant other might live. However, these days it is easier than ever to remain in contact and connected, that the “where to reside” question really comes back to each one of us as an extension of what makes us happy and where we might feel the most at-home, inspired, or at peace. Yet, you would think that having the “world be your oyster” scenario for those of us to whom this applies, would give you a freedom--yet, in reality I think it’s causing many to overthink. The reality is that most if they wanted to could split time in multiple cities so long as you can still find a way to fulfill professional obligations.


This is why you’re seeing communities of like-minded people working on very big things pop-up in certain parts of the world. Things that will change the way we do many things, some very basic things, in the near future, most of which all come back to the role that technology plays. The one thing that I am sure of these days as I too decide what parts of the world I want to call home for the most of is that I’m mostly only interested in more meaningful and actionable dialogue-- I have even less time and interest in small talk, gossip, or other social games these days (I’ve mentioned that I never have had respect for gossip in the past), yet I always welcome conversations and will make time to connect with and engage in conversations with those who with to impact the world in a more positive way. Aside from friends and family, if I find you interesting or what you're working on interesting, I'll carve out some time to give you.


A lot is happening in the world at this time, but that’s been the case our whole lives now is just the time when we all have a really big opportunity to continue to evolve what wasn’t working and that work really does begin with ourselves.


And so while, I’ve been so busy in the past couple of months that I haven’t had much time to ponder at great length on the next chapters for the world too much, that is also likely because I am seeing some of these changes from the inside, working on a couple of the forthcoming things that will impact industries, I do look forward to seeing what some of the worlds greatest minds start to share and how technologies also advance and are optimized to meet humans where we now find ourselves.


I hope you are as well and remember, this does not have to be a heavy and dark period. Be excited for what’s next, bring that freshness and new student-approach to this new chapter that we’re all embarking upon and remain open to possibilities. You are paving a new path and it’s ok if it doesn’t look like the old one.

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