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  • Charlie Thiel

Ron Sparks - Innovative designer of experiences and thoughtful human being

Updated: Apr 5

How often do we get to meet someone who reimagines user experiences, who is a writer, thinker, philosopher, and coffee roaster? Ron may not describe himself in quite those terms, but he certainly all of those things and more. How often do we get to meet people in this life who work with teams of of people all over the globe, who reimagines product experiences, roasts coffee, and writes about topics like the creative condition, cutting edge strategy, and the future. I had the pleasure of talking about a whole range of topics with Ron. Below you can see the broad range of topics we topics we delved into and jump to those moments in the conversation.


1:30 - What does Ron do? What is technology's place in our lives? Now can humans get better at being human? (As you can tell we jumped right into some interesting topics!)

3:30 - "What do you do?", as a way to assign value to individuals. How do we define our own value?

6:00 - The scale of impact and what is the responsibility of the companies that have that impact.

8:00 - Art inside the machine

8:40 - Usefulness vs usage

11:35 - Empathy, manipulation, compassion, and design thinking

20:15 - The creative condition and the future. Side hustles.

22:22 - Dropping out of college, road tripping with a band, and making websites.

25:45 - Where that led. Artificial Intelligence and the world of machines we live in now.

28:15 - Being bitter at Apple Maps.

28:30 - Skydiving - Taking global ideas down to the granular level.

29:35 - Philosophy - thought vs. action, philosophy as action.

30:20 - Becoming a better human when technology has inundated our lives.

36:50 - Innovations and connecting the dots.

37:25 - The nexus of two evils

40:15 - 50 ideas a week

40:50 - Idea refinement through the development of multiple ideas.

42:30 - Ron's role in tech and business. Making the wedge.

45:20 - Ideas, side projects, mentoring, and the day job

46:15 - Ron's badass single mom

48:00 - Videos, computers, to business.

51:30 - Business mentor, hard work, meeting the right people, and luck

54:34 - More about Ron's awesome mom.

58:40 - Encouraged, allowed, or tolerated.

1:00:05 - From makeup artist to NASA mission control - his sister is pretty awesome too

1:01:35 - Hard work, luck, and tenacity

1:02:00 - What it felt like to use the fire, and how he found his way back.

1:05:00 - The other aspects of life and fitting it all in.

1:11:00 - Exercise, meditation, and why it helps (or doesn't)

1:13:00 - Trying to do it all and how that fails

1:13:54 - Roasting coffee

1:20:05 - Chuck Klosterman, author of But What If We're Wrong? Thinking About The Present As If It Were The Past.

1:20:00 - The world feels a little dark, but there is so much good.

1:21:00 - Hans Rosling, author of Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About The World -- And Why Things Are Better Than You Think.

1:23:00 - The Bend culture, still keep hustling, why you make what you make

1:25:00 - Identity, job, career, avocation, vocation, picking your purpose.

1:28:00 - Being the same person in your job as you are outside your job

1:29:20 - Pushing human thinking forward just a little bit

1:31:00 - Another Book. The True Believer by Eric Hoffer

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