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When I first tried to think of my values and goals it felt like a lot of vague and quick-firing ideas blazing around in my brain, some with empty-feeling words — perhaps there’s a way to view this more clearly, a way to create a guide or roadmap that leads to a purposeful life and being true to our self-interests. With some time, effort, and focus that’s exactly what I’ve discovered after diving into the insightful ideas shared by Yancey Strickler, author, and co-founder of Kickstarter.

With his book, This Could Be Our Future: A Manifesto For A More Generous World, Yancey shares with the world his eye-opening, generous, and powerful ideas. Some might even say this book is “seminal.” And while that mammoth book-praising term gets plopped around a little too easily, this just may be well-deserved. 

Around the internet, there are lots of fascinating things to learn about Yancey and his new endeavors as he moves beyond Kickstarter. His book is a terrific place to start, and it begins by spelling out some of the flaws that have stemmed from the idea of financial maximization. The wayward mission of so many people who follow the herd and play the game of capitalism to make as much money as possible. The problem with this is that it encourages people and businesses to create products and make decisions that are not for the benefit of society or the well being of human life, but simply because it has the potential to make the most money.

It’s somewhat senseless, but if the hockey stick graph goes up and to the right, you’re onto success they figure... but with Yancey’s perspective-shifting view of the future, he reveals a system that shows us there’s a better way to step ourselves forward.

That’s where Yancey’s idea of Bentoism comes in. Bentoism is Yancey’s ingenious awareness system to view your values and see if your decisions align with them. It’s a journey to self coherence as he puts it. It causes us to pause and have a greater awareness of the fact that our decisions influence and shape much more than ourselves at this moment.

We are connected to the people we care for and those who depend on us. At the same time, we are also shaping the person we want to become and the world our future generations will inherit. These decisions we make today will shape and set forth a path for tomorrow. 

Bentoism is based on the Japanese bento box – a four-dished container. So I made my Bento and I recommend you dive in and try and make your own too. My Bento revealed that I value learning, a sense of calm, and that going to film school might be a good idea. (Admittedly still undecided there). But it’s made me realize that my decisions are driven by a passionate value to inspire my family, nieces, and nephews. To instill the values of learning and kindness in them.

It’s revealed that I hope to see a future where more people have access to education and a curious drive to be lifelong learners, that it’s a place where the earth is healthy, prosperity is shared and the people are smarter, happy, and calm.

By stepping back and seeing this broader perspective about each decision we make, we are better able to determine if the next step forward is true to our character, the person we want to become, and how it will inspire the people around us and the future generations of the world. 

Yancey acknowledges that money is important. And I agree. You need the stuff. But he argues and provides compelling evidence that if we can value more than just money alone, it can make our world a much better place for all. 

The book has been a fulfilling appetizer and primer prior to diving into the small universe and community Yancey is creating. There is much depth to be uncovered and understood beyond the book. And I think it’s helpful to be more than just a passive reader, I’ve found working through the exercises of Bentoism and setting aside time to take on this little workshop of reflection and awareness is essential to comprehend the transformative power that lies within this way of thinking. He also offers online workshops and events to rally a community around these ideas.

I hope you’ll be inspired to make decisions with integrity and carve out a path towards the future you want to see too.

Yancey has a theory that it takes about 30 years to change a culture's way of thinking, and I’m optimistic about today’s fast-paced and connected world we can speed that up a bit. I’d sure be smitten to see it happen.


Johnny Michael began his writing journey at the age of 17, it was then he realized the potential power of writing his ideas down and found a love of telling stories with the written word. In 2018, Johnny won a scholarship for comedy writing with The Second City Training Center. He runs his blog and works with Razorfish, one of the world's largest interactive agencies. His solid creative portfolio includes world-famous brands such as Burger King, Chevrolet, Campbell Ewald, etc. 

P.S. The cover image is by Frank Moth, who makes some of the most exciting prints we've ever seen.


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