Future Insights: Aligning Your Superpowers with Your Purpose


Future Insights: Aligning Your Superpowers with Your Purpose


A conversation with Vinay Chaudhri, brand and content leader for Backed VC, about doing what we can to heal the Earth, and letting the Earth do what she needs to.

In this series of short interviews, we ask the HOO KOO E KOO council about their insights for the future.

Vinay Chaudhri

Vinay Chaudhri

0. Tell us a bit about you. Where are you living right now, who do you live with, and what you are currently working on?

My name is Vinay. I’m the head of brand and content for a VC fund in London called Backed. I’m of British-Indian heritage. I was born in East London, and then I grew up in London, Switzerland, India, and Luxembourg. I was in London for the last 10 years, minus some time spent traveling the world from 2018 onwards. I’m currently in Lisbon, where I arrived four days ago. I love hiking, trekking, surfing, techno, plant medicine, cooking, making music, hugs, and being in the forest. Oh, and mescal.

What are you working on currently?

I’m working on a lot of things at the moment. I’m developing a bunch of content series for Backed a little bit like the one you’re doing now with the Future Insights interviews. I’m developing an office hours format, where founders can get practical advice from our investors. I’m developing a series called Deep-Dives where we explore frontier technologies. We are looking at the impact they’re having on society, and how we think those technologies are actually going to roll out to the place where they’re being used by the everyday person.

Backed VC website

I’m also developing another series, which is about helping founders of seed-stage startups understand more about people management. Leadership, managing talent, conflict resolution, and team dynamics — all are soft skills needed to launch a company, which founders often struggle with because they haven’t had to lead a company. And yet, they’re going from being like a one-person team to being a 500 person team in a very short amount of time. This does not come naturally for everyone. That’s why I’m creating a content series through expert interviews and panel discussions to provide practical advice for people around these topics.

I’m also organizing a retreat, which is a little bit like Future Horizon, although of a slightly different structure. It will happen in September, in Portugal. We will host 60 to 80 of Europe’s leading investors, entrepreneurs, intellectuals, and artists. The theme is, first of all, about reconnecting with people: spending time out of the office, in a natural environment, to develop deeper, more meaningful relationships that they’ll depend on throughout the rest of the year. As the world is heading towards remote-first work patterns, I think creating meaningful moments of interaction is super important.

Future Horizon, 2020 Edition

Future Horizon, 2020 Edition. This initiative, started by Mateusz Cyrankiewicz, the founder of HOO KOO E KOO, can be best described as a gathering to envision, build and celebrate a new sustainable future for humanity and the planet.

1. What are your hopes for the future?

On a personal level, my hopes for the future are to live a fulfilling life, which means being a good friend to myself, being a good ally to the people who are meaningful to me, looking after my body and my mind, trying to be in connection and in harmony with nature, trying to minimize as best I can my negative impact on this Earth, its people and its creatures, and trying to maximize my potential and impacts as a result on the same stakeholders.

My hope is that I will become more clear about what my superpowers are, and use these superpowers to try to make a meaningful difference, both personally, and to people, to the planet, and to the creatures here.

That would be the best thing I could do with my life.

Do you think that the world is evolving in a way that supports your goals? Or do you think you will be fighting against the direction the world is headed?

I think I’m a person of extreme privilege. And I have the life experience, the social capital, the tools, and the opportunities to make a difference. I think I probably have been afraid of committing myself to that cause because the responsibility is enormous. I have probably throughout my life, kept making excuses such as “let me just achieve this first, and then I’ll do good” or “let me just get that done and then I’ll do good”, “let me just look after this personal need, and then I’ll do good”.

I think the biggest limiter in this narrative is actually myself, and my commitment to this truth that I know. That truth is that my purpose is to protect the Earth. That’s the message I’ve received. I know that this is my purpose.

2. What are your fears about the future?

In some ways, on a personal level, I was afraid that I’m not good enough to take on this mission.

What does “good enough” mean to you?

Smart enough, strong enough, resourceful enough, creative enough, brave enough. But then I realized I don’t need to do it on my own. This is not an individual mission. It’s a collective mission. And I should work on my own superpowers as my contribution to it, but not see it as something that I need to do alone and actually, to do it in unity with like-minded people. Not only will it be more effective, but it will also be a lot more fun. That’s my way of resolving that fear.

My other fear for the future, which I think is a fact, is that I think human beings are a parasite. We try not to be but if I look at our behavior, and our contribution to the planet, I just see us as being a very destructive force. I think the awakening is happening too slowly, and not aggressively enough.

Ultimately, my hope is that the earth will take the right logical decision — and that’s to destroy us so that she can return the balance, which is the way that it should have always been and was going to be.

Humans have become too powerful and hedonic. The sadness is that we’ve already done so much destruction that even if the human factor was eliminated, there is so much concrete and so much plastic and so much waste already suffocating the Earth, that even if she takes back her queendom, there’s still going to be so much junk, everywhere.

I think women are the superior species, or the superior gender, and have a much stronger intuition for how to keep things in balance and harmony with the systems in which they live. Whereas men are much more selfish, generally speaking, and much more complicated and chaotic.

world leaders

Image source: The Guardian

Even though my hope is that I will do my part and that I will find the courage and find the community in which to do it and to really commit to the idea, my macro hope is that the Earth will do what she needs to do. And I think what she needs to do is just get rid of us. I’m okay with that. When I sit in a forest, or when I sit on a mountain, or when I surf in a wave, I’m happy to be gone. Because I keep thinking “it’s so beautiful, and it’s so intelligent, and we are just not intelligent enough to understand that there is a higher consciousness operating here. We think we’re the gods. And therefore, we’re just not the right caretakers anymore”. That’s my answer.

I was going to ask you how you see these two hopes of yours working together.

I think I oscillate between the two spaces. There are times when I think things are really bad (and of course that’s true) and I think “what’s the point of doing anything?”. And there are other times when I think “yeah, things are really bad but let’s try at least, we can’t just give up”. The story shouldn’t end like that. If you imagine the whole thing is like a narrative of the human being and their quest on this earth. It would be kind of lame if they just gave up and said “okay, fuck it, let’s just keep destroying it until it destroys us. Like where’s Bruce Willis in this story?”.

Bruce Willis saving the world (again).

Bruce Willis saving the world (again).

3. What are you most excited about 10 years from now? Is it the Earth getting rid of us?

10 years from now, I think what I’ll be most excited about is the transformation of the energy industry: renewables are becoming cheaper, vehicles are becoming electric. Remote working means there will be less travel overall for business. Virtual Worlds mean there’ll be less need for physical consumables in order to fill the emptiness we feel — instead of buying a pair of jeans, maybe you will just buy your virtual avatar a pair of jeans, and then, I don’t know, get loads of likes from your virtual avatar friends.

Merlin Mobility
Merlin Mobility 2

Our team at HKEK worked for Merlin Mobility to design the autonomous vehicle and core screen designs that inspire further ideas and creative solutions.

Merlin Mobility 3

Our team at HKEK worked for Merlin Mobility to design the autonomous vehicle and core screen designs that inspire further ideas and creative solutions.

Merlin Mobility 4

Our team at HKEK worked for Merlin Mobility to design the autonomous vehicle and core screen designs that inspire further ideas and creative solutions.

I think three things are happening right now that are worth noting. One is we’re seeing a generational awakening, which, unfortunately, are not the people in power yet. The people in power still are a generation that believes wholeheartedly in their individual right to a good life. But I think we’re seeing a new generation, which beliefs in the collective duty to create a good life, both for people and the planet. That’s promising. Even if it’s a lot of social media activism, some of it is translating more than ever before into real-world activation. And social media activation is important and validates the cause, spreads awareness, and educates people. It’s not the solution, but it’s part of the mix of solutions.

Additionally, we are seeing technologies being developed, which will disrupt the existing negative technologies that are the mainstream right now. And hopefully, those two things will collide in slowing things down enough that we can buy ourselves more time to find even deeper solutions. That’s on a macro level.

On a personal level, I hope to resolve some of my own complications, which I mentioned before and become a true agent of change in the way that I think the world needs. I will need to become better, faster and smarter, and more organized in my own role in trying to change the dynamics of the planet.

Vinay Chaudhri

Vinay Chaudhri

Do you see yourself as the agent of change on a big scale, or will you be satisfied if you manage to inspire change within your close circles?

Well, I think it has to start with the close circles. I’m not one of those people that’s setting the goal of becoming a change maker of world renown fame or recognition. I think my focus is much more on building the behaviors and the processes within my life and within those around me, than within a wider group of people which hopefully results in a more gradual systematic change.

Storytelling is one of our most powerful tools to change. Everything I’ve just said now is a story, right? How do I see myself within the story? How do I see the story of humanity? We are all writing and interpreting stories all the time. Our whole experience of this thing called life is a story. And if we can rewrite some of the stories we tell ourselves, that’s going to be a really powerful way to shift attitudes and behaviors.

ancient drawing
egyptian drawing

Ancient examples of storytelling. It’s been with us through millennia.

That’s why I went to communications in the first place. I kind of got lost along the way, but initially, I was very idealistic. I went into advertising to learn how to use it as a tool for manipulation. Because my intention was to then manipulate people to make better decisions and to change policy and change consumer behavior. I got lost on the way but it still sits in my core of what I want to use my skills for.

4. What trends do you think will form our future?

I think we will continue to see a reduction in meat consumption in the Western world. It may be counterbalanced by an increase in consumption in markets such as China, and other markets, which see meat as an aspirational good. We may find a way to make meat substitutes aspirational for other populations, that would be very smart.

china city

Will China’s appetite for meat eclipse the efforts to make meat substitutes go mainstream? Image source: https://thekindtourist.com/asia/20-things-to-do-in-shanghai-china/.

VR and AR will become extremely powerful tools and will shape a lot of how we consume media and how we do a lot of things that we now do physically.

I also think we will see more renewables being used more frequently, more commonly.

Unfortunately, I think loneliness is going to be an increasing problem to deal with. As the world becomes more digital, it’s not a replacement for physical interaction. I think we are already seeing that the amount of loneliness people are experiencing is increasing tremendously, partly due to COVID isolation, but also partly because our relationships are happening within the screen. Our brains, our bodies, were not designed for a life that exists only within the screen.

social distancing

“I think loneliness is going to be an increasing problem to deal with. (…) partly due to COVID isolation, but also partly because our relationships are happening within the screen”. Image source: shorturl.at/pyFG6

Like I said before, hopefully, Mother Nature will walk in and say “Okay, guys, enough. Stop. Put that plastic bottle away, put that bacon down, stop filling that car with petrol. It’s over”.

5. Fast forward 30 years, what will be the key changes for humanity?

Some people are going to build a spaceship and try to start all over again on the moon, or Mars, that’s for sure. Obviously, everyone is not going to move to the moon, so we will inhabit two planets. Probably by then, we’ll have the first Hard Rock Cafe, the first McDonald’s, and the first 711 on Mars.

mcdonalds on mars

“We’ll have the first Hard Rock Cafe, the first McDonald’s, and the first 711 on Mars”. Image source: shorturl.at/vETZ3

To be honest, I don’t know. I genuinely think in the next 20 years, there’s going to be a huge geopolitical conflict and I just don’t know what’s gonna happen after that.

Let’s talk about some nice things. I think there’ll be a lot more mixed-race people, I think we’ll have a lot more integration in that way. I think VR and AR will be pretty cool. I think blockchain will have an impact on accountability, there is a real power for information transparency and transaction accountability. If we can somehow move much of the financial systems into a blockchain-based system we may actually recuperate a lot of the taxes that we’re losing right now to money laundering, tax evasion, and tax leakage. I think so much of that money could give governments the resources they need to do along with the innovation funding, in conjunction with the private sector.

Thank you for reading!

Interviewer: Justyna Cyrankiewicz, Creative Content Curator and Writer.
Proofreader: Joe Foxton, New Business.

With love, HOO KOO E KOO 💛