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Michael Davidson, CEO of Alder, Shaping Leaders for a Better Tomorrow | RUHM Podcast

Tim Smith

Tim Smith’s name is synonymous with the coastal Orange County real estate market, where his well-established reputation and unmatched market knowled...

Tim Smith’s name is synonymous with the coastal Orange County real estate market, where his well-established reputation and unmatched market knowled...

Mar 6 70 minutes read

In this episode of RUHM Podcast, Tim Smith is joined by Michael Davidson, CEO of Alder - a non-profit with a mission to ignite Generational Leadership through a formative learning and growth journey for its members. Generational Leaders seek understanding and wisdom on consequential issues and cooperate in order to secure a free and just society for generations to come.

Tim and Michael’s conversation delves into inspiring topics such as the ingredients of a life well-lived; the inverse relationship between wealth and happiness; and the distinction between resume virtues and eulogy virtues. The two recount the life-altering experience of visiting mass genocide victims in Rwanda; and highlight that driving progress starts with the self and is shaped through a commitment to understanding the ideals and values that underpin human flourishing.

 Listen-in on the transformative ideas, summits and initiatives carried out by Alder which have gained support from some of the nation’s most influential executives and leaders including President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Under Secretary Glassman, Jack Dorsey, and Dustin Moskowitz.

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For those who'd like to read the episode.

Tim Smith  0:05  
Tim Smith of The Smith Group here at CineNewport presenting our podcast RUHM to share and highlight the amazing stories, people, places and properties of Southern California to the world. Today, my guest is Michael Davidson, CEO of Alder - great friend can't wait to start this conversation.


Michael Davidson  0:30  

Tim Smith  0:30  
So good to see you. Thanks for coming in. Flying in! I appreciate it.

Yeah, so before we get started, I just want to I always want to make this very Southern California centric and I know you're now in Nashville, and it's more of a occupational geographic thing. But talk to me about what brought you to Orange County because I know you didn't grow up here, and your feelings and fondness of Southern California?

Michael Davidson  0:56  
Well, I did, I spent some years in Orange County growing up, then I lived in Texas, then I went to college in the Bay Area, and then came back to Orange County, but really for the opportunity to build and grow Gen Next. And after meeting Paul Makarechian, and, getting to know, you know, kind of his vision and his passion and the depth. I was really excited about that. But also, I really loved that -- I liked it Orange County is it's more dynamic than I think it's given credit to, for the country at large. Because it has a bit of the association of like The OC and you know, Laguna Hills.

Tim Smith  1:35  
Which if you're in Europe, you say The OC. And they're like "The OC?" like, yes, The OC.

Michael Davidson  1:40  
There's also innovation hubs here. There's also manufacturing here. It's a large county, it's pretty diverse. So I think, in other words, there's a lot going on. But I loved, especially as Gen Next started to grow across the country, I remember I was doing an interview with a prominent magazine, and they wanted to continue the conversation. They're like, "Oh, let's meet and, you know, can we meet next week? Are you in DC? Are you in New York?" And this meeting was in New York. And I'm like, "No, I'm in Orange County, California." And they're like..

Tim Smith  2:11  
Like the music stopped?

Michael Davidson  2:12  
Yeah. What is a group like this, that's so soulful and purposeful doing - being born out of out of Southern California? Orange County, California. So I love that that's part of our story. One, because there is an element of frankly, status. You know, these are people of considerable means, who live in a place that's known worldwide for its kind of wealth and polish. And they're also extremely purposeful and deep and curious and worldly. And without entrepreneurs, executives, you, people like you in Orange County, this idea of leading and making a difference for future generations wouldn't have spread across the country.

Tim Smith  2:15  
So I've traveled everywhere, we've traveled together, been on some amazing trips, and every time I come back to Orange County, and I didn't grow up here, so I moved here, I'm a transplant. I literally come back here I'm like, this place is unbelievable. And the interesting thing, being in the real estate business, the secret is no longer a secret. Like because COVID, whatever that transition, whatever that purge, whatever happened with working remotely, a hypersensitivity to safety, lifestyle, climate, like, really think about how you live  - now, it's like we're seeing people from everywhere, come here. And so that's what the whole genesis of this podcast is. Let's talk about it. Let's expose it. You talked about Gen Next, which some of the viewers know, some of them don't. Let's talk about, I mean, give me your your kind of Elevator Pitch of Gen Next and now transition to Alder. And that's kind of how we met through other people. But give us give us that.

Michael Davidson  3:52  
By way of vision and mission, it's the same. These are - we're trying to champion the ideas and the people who set up future generations for success. And so..

Tim Smith  4:03  
of slow down "Champion the people for future...

Michael Davidson  4:08  
..and the ideas.

Tim Smith  4:09  
..And the ideas, like...

Michael Davidson  4:12  
So I'm gonna use some, if it's okay, I'll use some nerdy words

 Sure, please.

Okay, so...

Tim Smith  4:18  
You are a nerd, but a tough one.

The most well-read person on the planet.

Michael Davidson  4:25  
But let's even make it a little bit more personal kind of to start. When we say future generations, posterity, etc. But let me just say, like my kids, your kids.Your kids have a very entrepreneurial father. They, you, you take risks. You've innovated, you've created value, you've created opportunity. You are a living, breathing example of the sort of bounty and purpose of free enterprise and your kids are going to learn about taking risks, about creating wealth, about creating opportunity by watching you. And I think that's a beautiful thing. They will also learn about what you care about. They will learn about your philanthropy, they will learn about how you engage in your community, they're gonna learn about how you're having meaningful conversations in the community. And I don't think enough of our kids are - no - let me say this differently. Not enough of our parents are setting the type of example you're trying to set. And so we're not a parenting organization. But we are trying to take the best and the brightest in the country and connect them to two things. One, what are the ingredients for life well-lived, so you could influence the people around you and you could live a legacy and not wait till later in life.

Tim Smith  5:40  
Do you know, what the ingredients of a life well lived? Do we have like five or six or seven?

Michael Davidson  5:44  
Yeah, ad there's, there's an abundance of study going back to the ancients. Even, even to now.

Tim Smith  5:51  
Let's just, let's just spitball.

Michael Davidson  5:54  

Tim Smith  5:55  

Michael Davidson  5:56  
So deep, meaningful relationships are critical. So community is critical. Um, a commitment to, commitments in general. Commitments to your own growth, commitments to your family, commitments to your values, those are ingredients for a life well-lived. Taking the long view, so not being so short-sighted

Tim Smith  6:16  

Michael Davidson  6:17  
And we have a big - there's a reason, I think, why so much loneliness and division runs rampant in the country today. And I think it's because we're staring at what's right in front of our screens. And we're overwhelmed with information. It's totally disorienting. And that causes us to withdraw from one another, and that causes us to withdraw...

Tim Smith  6:37  
It's the disconnector.

Michael Davidson  6:38  
totally, and you withdraw from our commitments

Tim Smith  6:41  
But it's like an addiction. You watch kids with it? And it's like, would you rather sit and talk with your family and play a game? Or do you want to get on that? And it's just like...

Michael Davidson  6:48  
They're hooked, it might as well be nicotine. And that's just technology, but you just have an information overload. It's coming at you from all different directions. But commitments, which really means a exploration of your values, like, Who do you want to stand -- what do you want to stand for? Not, what do you want to do? But who do I want to be? And I think that happier people, they ask themselves these questions, and they try to answer them. The people who, and you see this, especially with wealth, they say that wealth doesn't change you. It reveals you. And now that we're a wealthy country, we're revealing a side of ourselves, that is more tribal, more divisive, more short-sighted, and less resilient.

Tim Smith  7:39  
Yeah, for sure.

Michael Davidson  7:39  
And that's a problem. So we're setting a bad example for the kids. But let me go back to like, what is the meaning of life well-lived. So you have commitments, you have values, you have relationships, you have foresight ,forethought, you're thinking about how are you making things better? People want to be needed. They, they want to be valued. And the thing that is different about this country, and the idea of this country, is that our entire system, our entire free and open system, democracy, free enterprise, and all of the things that it unleashes onto the world and in our own lives, it comes with an expectation that we live meaningful lives. If the people don't live meaningful lives, then we won't set a good example for our kids. We won't have healthy politics, we won't have healthy culture. And so we're trying to really..

Tim Smith  8:36  
What's something I just keep on thinking while you're talking - wealth and happiness, you think there would be a relationship. There's actually an inverse relationship.

Michael Davidson  8:44  
Yes, some of the happiest people are the poorest people.

Tim Smith  8:46  
It seems like the more wealthy you are, the more you become a slave to your things, the more you - it keeps you out of the relationships. I mean, when we were in Africa, in Rwanda, remember, we were going to hike the jungle and all the little kids there?

Michael Davidson  8:59  
Yeah, and some of these kids have never even seen an image of themselves. And remember, we were taking a picture with them and they had never seen an image of themselves.

Tim Smith  9:06  
We'll put that - will float that on here. But it's just like, you look at - they have - they don't know where the next meal is coming. But just to have some attention, they were so happy.

Michael Davidson  9:15  
Let's go. Let me let me even go a little - do another example from our trip to Rwanda. We were going to meet the victims of the genocide. These women who have had endured pure horror. Pure horror.

Tim Smith  9:34  
I mean, give a little snapshot of that for the listeners.

Michael Davidson  9:37  
Rwanda. So basically, about a million people were slaughtered in 100 days. I mean, just like that. Close to a million people, largely by machete, so very violent. They used the radio to spread this vitriol.

Tim Smith  9:55  
The thing that was most interesting when I was talking to the people, I remember I got there, I was with my cab driver, I went to the museum. And when he was explaining the genocide, he's like, "you don't understand. The the people that instantly were against us were the people that taught me school, because these two tribes were waged to go against each other. And so brothers and families were killing friends." It was like..

Michael Davidson  10:16  
No, I'm really glad you brought this up. Because I think it's instructive to the the points that we're making about how to how to go deep and live well, we'll get to live freely in a minute. But we were gonna go meet these, these women who were victims of the genocide, one in particular, and a friend of ours, Ambassador Pierre Prosper, he prosecuted the Rwanda genocide case. And because they won that case, rape became a..mass raping became a form of genocide and international law. Throughout history, it was never that. But when these women were going to testify, in the trial, they were harassed. In some cases, I think one of the women her husband was killed, her daughter was killed. And so they, and they had to go and face this horror over and over and over again. And so we're gonna go meet them. And it was going to be a lesson in courage and a lesson in purpose. But it became a lesson in happiness to me. You remember when we rolled up, we're going down the dirt road, we thought we were just going to meet about five of them, and it ended up being 50 of these women who have endured unimaginable hardship. And they were the happiest, most joyful people. And what did they keep talking about? They kept talking about their dignity.

Tim Smith  11:31  
Well, the funny thing was, is like, their whole thing is they just wanted to have a voice.

Michael Davidson  11:37  
That's it.

Tim Smith  11:38  
Right? They weren't looking for compensation. They weren't looking. They were, they wanted their voice to be heard. In the movie that was made about it, what was the movie called again?

Michael Davidson  11:48  
Um, The Uncondemned.

Tim Smith  11:48  
The Uncondemned. Everybody should watch it. But like, sitting in that room with all those women that were making us food and loving us, and the thing, the thing that shocked me dancing, the kid that was HIV positive, that his mother was raped, and had the kid and I was just like, this is like, just too much to handle. Yeah, HIV positive, she had the kid being a victim of rape. And this kid was like, I mean, just the -

Michael Davidson  12:19  
Now think of  the - contrast that with the things that trouble you - you know, first world problems, right? Your phone's not working, your valet didn't show up in time. Right? Your - the hotel room that you want to enjoy - the flights, etc, etc. Very, very different. And so it does put that - the adversity puts into perspective how you get through it, is also how you live a good life. When you have more. You're grateful for what you have you commit to your friends and family. And you commit to being the best version of yourself. And that's what these that's what these women did. That's also I think what the country at large is trying to do to your point about forgiveness is they had a policy of forgiveness. And it was literally a government policy to try to rebound from this. And so you could hotsy-totsy, you just, you had to forgive, and you had to move on. And so literally people would be trying to raise their kids next to people who were violent enemies of one another just recently.

Tim Smith  13:20  
Yeah. It's just like, just forget about it.

Michael Davidson  13:23  
Human beings are capable of a lot. And where I think that the more comfortable you get, the more you forget that, that you're really capable. Right? So going, going back to the point about human flourishing, is it it really is looking at what what are these things that help people live well, but not just sort of like in a bubble? I don't mean well, like comfortable. You know, you might be comfortable, but I mean, well, like meaningful.

Tim Smith  13:49  
Like meaningful, passionate, you sleep well at night, at peace with yourself.

Michael Davidson  13:54  
It's like, David Brooks wrote this book called Second Mountain. And he, he contrasts this idea of there's there's resume virtues. And there's eulogy virtues. And most people spend a disproportion amount of their time, energy, money, their own sense of value on the resume virtues. Did I accomplish X, did i amke Y, am I known for Z, but really, when you're up against the wall, what you really want people to say about you is that you had a big heart. You were a joy to be around. You made other people better.

Tim Smith  14:34  
It's an interesting point.. I went to four funerals last year. I've never had so many people close to me pass away in a year. I've really had never anybody but I went to one that was such a celebration. And this man was not affected by money. Right? Never wealthy to the extent - he had things - because he just, like, it passed through him. Now if he saw a need he'd give it up. There were hundreds of people - I took my nine year old son, which a lot of people are like, "You're taking a funeral?'" And I'm like, yeah, I want to see, I want him to have a vision of what a life well-lived looked like. All six kids got up and every one of them, the things they said, and anybody that knew him, just knew that the guy would give - he gave me a car. I worked for him. I didn't have a car. I wrecked my car. He gave me a car. And it's like, that's just who he was. But everybody there - he had been - I mean, his whole life was about service. And it's amazing when you see that.

Michael Davidson  15:33  
I love that you took your son. It's funny you say that because last year I took my son, when he was about 11, to a funeral also.

Tim Smith  15:41  
They're like - that's morbid! And you're like, well is it morbid?

Michael Davidson  15:43  
Yea, but he was in awe of what this person - and we didn't know this person, we just heard about it happening in the community because he was a servant leader. And a friend of ours encouraged -- sent it to me and was like you should you should go. I'm like, oh, I'm gonna take my son. There was a lot of military there and he got to see the the impact that a person's values, not achievements can have on the people around them. And it really took him. He was even talking about it like two weeks ago.

Tim Smith  16:15  
It's hard though. That's hard. Because I love my things, dude. I love my, I love my comfort. There's a comfort crisis in the world. Because of me, I like the comforts.

Michael Davidson  16:24  
There is a comfort crisis in the world. But you, I don't think that we should be a people who think that we can't be have a spirit of abundance, and a spirit of gratitude. And be able to appreciate adversity

Tim Smith  16:37  
But it's not that easy to be the widows mie, right? It's easy to give, it's easy to do when you still have a storehouse to take care of. It's when you have to give that you don't have, becomes a different challenge.

Michael Davidson  16:53  
So we do, from from Gen Next to Alder, I think the same thing is --

Tim Smith  16:58  
Go back to - we we can make this a series, I know, and like I really do think you will be the president of the United States, there's nobody in my opinion, that I would rather see lead the nation. And I want to talk about your commit to make America. I want to talk about when you were in Russia, because I can still have that glimpse. But give like, just the listeners - this is what Gen Next is and this is how it's transitioned? Because I'm not sure they understand.

Michael Davidson  17:22  
Okay. Same thing - high level. We are committed to just opportunity for future generations. Now, what that looks like to us is that we need certain ideas to capture the hearts and the imaginations of the American people, especially people with considerable influence. That's where we tend to focus on sort of being the lever of change. And so, you, and the rest of the community that that did not change. I think the, what we did change is a deeper commitment to values, Gen Next really focused on economics, education, and security. And those things are still important. But those things are only important if you attach the right values to them. So if I said, Yeah, I want economic opportunity but so does Xi Jinping the head of China, right? But we want to do that very differently. Different strategy, totally different strategy. Putin wants it too, you know, all the bad guys want it. And what is different is I want that by getting out of people's way. I want that by believing in people. I want that by enabling human flourishing, because we talk a lot about, say, capitalism, free enterprise. All that is, is the voluntary exchange of goods and services. That's it. That's it. But in order for a voluntary system to work, the people operating in it, have to understand the values that make it work. And they have to understand the principles that make it work. And they have to understand the -- they have to have the character to make it work. That is why America became the most powerful country in the world and the most prosperous country in the world because we believed in our people, and we expected something from our people, and we need to continue to do that. So all we did with from shifting from Gen Next to Alder is to say, let's go deeper. Let's look at -- what are the fundamentals for living well and living freely? What are those fundamentals and some of those things are, should be obvious to us. But as just you know, watch the news it's very clear it's not obvious anymore. Free exchange of ideas. The ability to disagree.

Tim Smith  19:25  
Yeah, freedom of speech.

Michael Davidson  19:27  
Freedom of speech. The -- even when you look at Gen Z and millennials and you poll them that means you poll all these kids about democracy and you poll all these kids about free enterprise -- the awareness and appreciation and approval of these things is drastically dropping. I don't blame the kids. I blame the adults. And it's because the adults are not paying attention to these things. The adults are busy. Ronald Reagan in his in his farewell address....

Tim Smith  19:58  
It's almost like were -- and especially with the media -- were becoming molded in a sense of this carnal security, it's like they're --

Michael Davidson  20:06  
Tim, what you used was comfort crisis.

Tim Smith  20:08  
It it. It's like we don't even understand what's happening because we're just not aware or being aware or standing up, or you said, change. We want to see change. Right? And I want to talk about that. One of the things that I've when I've spent the most time with you -- not only do I love our conversations, education, I feel more patriotic when I'm with you. Like you are a man who loves America, right? Like you do. But I want you to tell us a story about when you were in Russia, because I literally feel like I was there. And so if you could take us through that real quick, because isn't that one of the meaningful?

Michael Davidson  20:44  
That's when it hit me that America is different. Like we, we throw the stories around that America was the only country the only country ever formed built on an idea of how to live freely. It was definitely the only country at the time. Now that spread. But I didn't have an appreciation for that at the time. So I'm in Russia, I was there for some wrestling and judo and I was wearing a kind of a Russian like a -- what do they call that -- like a workout jumpsuit.

Like a gi or something?

No no, like a, like a just like a sweater or sweatshirt and track pants. So I'm walking around Red Square.

Tim Smith  21:26  
You're how old at the time?

Michael Davidson  21:28  
I was like almost 12 maybe.

Okay, very young.

Yea young. And I'm walking around Red Square and this military officer is yelling at me. And I don't know what he's saying but I could -- the only word I can make out was amerikanskiy. And I go to the translator, "What is - what's he saying?" He's like, he wants to know if you're an American. I'm wearing my, my Russian digs man, like  how did he know? And he says he says Americans get told this a lot. He could tell you're an American because you walk like you're free. And that just it just blew my mind. It's -- and you know, as a kid, I couldn't understand it, but it did capture my imagination. It planted a seed that stuck with me. And then I just always -- from then on out -- I was curious about purpose. I was curious about big ideas. I was curious about leadership, and how people lead with certain values. And they lead with a worldview and how they can rally others. I became very curious about these things, and then going to college - patriotic - and it's not to say that like our country has --

Tim Smith  22:36  
It's so funny, because you say that and coming from the perspective of born, raised, live free. You don't really get it until you see the contrast. And it just made me think of when we were on the border of the DRC and Burundi. And I decided that we should go to a nightclub. And everybody thought that was a bad idea. And so we go to this nightclub. And it was like, it was like, an 80s, it was kind of like an 80s Hip hop club. And we're up there, but we're looking over the wall. And on the, directly on the other side, you see guys military weapons, like it was like, here's there's free and you start realizing oh my gosh, there's, there's places in the world where there is no freedom. And people like can't walk around and feel safe.

Michael Davidson  23:22  
And not even - and not even freedom in terms of safety. That is a factor for in a lot of places. But also freedom to just be yourself. Or the call it the conditions that allow you to live comfortably. Infrastructure. You remember, from the border from Rwanda to Congo, it was like a paved road that stopped. And then it was a dirt road. Right? And there's a lot of history, a lot of reasons for that. But one of the reasons is the commitment of the people, the values of the people, and the leadership. Both countries have overcome a hell of a lot, including ours. You know, we were a colony of Great Britain.We've had to fight multiple wars. We've had to deal with the overcome, confront and overcome, call it the darkest sides of human nature - slavery. You name it. Women didn't get - even when women didn't have the right to vote, though, people were still coming here in droves, including women. Because it was still better - even at even at some of our worst times - it was still better than any other option. And part of the reason I think why we fight each other so much, is because it's an American way to set a high bar. Like, we set a high bar for living freely. And so as a result, if we say, life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness for all, well, that's going to have to expand over time and for millennia, 1000s of years, human beings were not able to do that. Have not been able to do it at all. So in the -- in that sense of the entire human experience, the American experience is a blip in the big picture, and that's why they call it - when the founding fathers did it, they called it the American experiment, because it was something you had to try doing over and over and over and over and over again. And it's it's that idea of commitment, and character, and understanding the fundamentals of the system and what makes it work better than others, that we have lost. And so we're...

And so yeah, how are we doing in the experiment today? And I mean, this is like, threads us right back into, like, the whole birth purpose in genesis of Alder.

It's mixed. You know, I'm not a person who you hear a lot of, oh, this is the worst time in history. We're more divided than ever. It's like, well, no, we fought a civil war. Actually, in Tennessee now, I live on a Civil War battlefield. There were -- it was a four hour battle and over 10,000 casualties of hand to hand combat, close proximity, very violent. And we fought that war to confront, I think one of the darkest parts of human nature,  the desire to oppress and control other people. So that was divisive, right? Right now, we're divisive, but we're also more shallow. And that and as a result, we're more brittle. Whereas I think previous generations there was a bit more, you know, kind of preparation of people to be knowledgeable, to spread knowledge to come together to be self reliant, to be resilient. And those qualities we have to kind of help restore in order to pass on these these big ideas. But so one, yes, we are divisive, but I think I worry less about the division. I worry more about the lack of depth. I worry more about the um --

Tim Smith  27:02  
That's more of a decay, huh?

Michael Davidson  27:03  
It's more of a decay. There's a guy Ross Douthat wrote a book called, might just been called Decadence. But anyway, and it's just a general kind of like atrophy. And these these big ideas unless they're under attack, World War II, it was all about self-determination. And you know, the Holocaust was a factor. The aggressiveness of Hitler and Mussolini and Tojo were a factor. But it was really about, are we going to live lives where we could determine our own destiny? And a king or a dictator is not going to do it. It's, it's, it's we're born with this. Then we went in and had the Cold War. And we have the threat of -- not only do we have the threat of nuclear obliteration, but also, we had the threat of -- we had to be able to see contrasting worldviews. You know, the way the Soviets was command control. Everything about their system was command control. Everything about our system was respected with dignity and expect you to do well. And you will go innovate, and you will go create opportunities, and you will go do good things. This is a very different way of looking at not only human nature --

Tim Smith  27:04  
Let people govern themselves.

Michael Davidson  28:15  
Exactly. Human nature, but also ordered liberty is a very, very different way of doing it. We haven't had threats like that. We've had the longest war that we've ever had in the Middle East. And most Americans haven't had to sacrifice at all. At all. They don't even -- most Americans don't even know people in the military anymore. More Americans are getting their information from memes and tweets, than they are even just reading books. In schools, civics is just not a priority. Families -- so I was going to mention in Ronald Reagan's farewell address, he said that, "In America, great change begins at the dinner table." You know, what you're doing with your son, you're taking him with you - happen to be a funeral.

Tim Smith  29:00  
But you can look at a lot of our issues in this country, personally and from families -- have come from just the war on the family, dude. Not having mom, dad, kids together.

Michael Davidson  29:16  
That's what - exactly - you're seeing this breakdown all kinds of places that you have information overload. We're more emotional and divisive, we're um - fathers are not around. There's a this economist Raj Chetty did a study of mobility across generations, meaning are you going to be better off than your parents, right? And he looked at the difference between Compton and Watts, and why one did better than the other. And one of the variables was more fathers in the community. If you remember in Boys -- in Boys in the Hood movie, Laurence Fishburne's character, how he had this stabilizing force, and and it's it wasn't even more fathers in every single home. It was just more fathers in the community. And so there's these, there's these common sense things. What is - what is that, really when you go - when you think about fatherhood, what is, you go upstream. What do you really value? What are you really committing to? You're committing to give your best to somebody else, your child, and I think if you're gonna see a decline in fatherhood, it's because people are choosing to not value that, right? They're not making that commitment anymore. They're distracted. For whatever reason.

Tim Smith  30:32  
Or it's just they're so self interested, right? They're so selfish.

Michael Davidson  30:35  
And me, I'm coming from a place of, you know, my dad hasn't been in my life since I was 16, at all. And that's, and so I'm sort of like a living example of this. And now trying to pour myself into my kids. All - Gen Next and Alder, even before I had kids was in some way was about a theme in my life of wanting to be a great dad. And a great dad to me was, you know, a home that is fun, and safe and loving, and instructive. Like you're teaching them how to grow, how to be the best version of themselves. But it also meant that I have to stand for something that shapes the world in which they're gonna grow up. I'm not just gonna show - I guess this is another way to articulate Gen Next and Alder, is, it's not just about you, it's not just about your family, it's not just about your business, that we - we are arguing that there are conditions that make those things flourish. And we're committed to those conditions, we're committed to shaping the world.

And not just taking advantage of the systems we've given - we're protecting it and we're trying to change it and keep it for our kids and their kids.

So here's what starts to happen, is, you start setting an example to your peers. And so your peers, I mean, a friend of mine, two friends of mine, actually, both members of Alder - one was - they're both entrepreneurs in different businesses, one of them joined Gen Next at the time, and he started talking about security issues and education and making a difference in all these people that he's around, you know, it's basic stuff, like you surround yourself with certain people, they're going to shape your conversation, they're gonna shape your identity, they're gonna shape your values. And then his buddy, on the other side of the country, was like, Dude, what's wrong with you? You're talking about all these heavy things? And where's this coming from? I join this group, you know. You know, Gen Next. And so then you start seeing a ripple effect affecting peers.

Tim Smith  32:48  
Something that I keep on thinking with that, because, you know, we're here we're talking about a lot of issues and the change. But really, when you start looking at the change we want to see in the world, we have to start making the change in ourselves.

Michael Davidson  33:09  
I'm glad you punctuated that. That that is exactly what it is.

Tim Smith  33:15  
And so part of the Alder model is, it's to become more aware, it's personal growth, it's becoming your best human. It's becoming your best father, your best mate your best. It's like --

Michael Davidson  33:26  
All we're saying - it's just beneath us - it's saying, look, I don't I don't know what's going on in the country right now. And rather than being all angry about it and bitter about it, I'm going to understand how I can make it better in my own sphere of influence. In order for to do that, I have to be better. I have to be more informed. I have to be better exposed, I have to have access to things that will help me make a difference. I have to know how to use my resources well, but it all starts with the choice and a personal responsibility.

Okay, so there's one thing we were talking yesterday about the book Discipline No More. Have you read that book?

No, no, I haven't. But I'm familiar.

Tim Smith  34:07  
So one of the things I just think because it's like one of those things where I mean, the crux of the book, from the way I understand it is that it's not really about discipline, if you're in a situation where you're having to discipline yourself out, you are in the wrong environment. Right? You are in the wrong environment. It talks all these different examples where if you break down cells, and you have a cancer like you, it's like, you're not going to discipline yourself out of there. You got to get out of there and a big theme of this is entrepreneurial, right? And it's so interesting, how many of the conversations come with, "I packed up my car and got out of my environment and I ended up being in the place I wanted to be." Obviously there's a million things you need to do after that but there was just this whole thing --

Michael Davidson  34:48  
Also I think it speaks to, again, patriotic over here. It speaks to the idea of, well, I use the word earlier "flourishing" and that basically means the chance to be your best self. It's not just, it's not happiness, the way we talk about happiness, which is like, fleeting. It's, it's the pursuit of happiness. That is a you're gonna go for it. It's not some fixed destination. It's not a fleeting emotion. When we wrote - when the founding fathers wrote their "life, liberty, pursuit of happiness," it was saying to people that deep within our souls, this is what we need to live well. And then they built a political system that protected that. And that's what made it very different than any other country around the world. But what does that all depend on? It depends on individuals understanding that and safeguarding it, and then making that choice to pursue. We were a little too enamored with the story of the entrepreneur and the story of the celebrity and, and how they made it. We're not enamored enough with like, the journey, and what you have to learn, and how you have to fail. How do you rebound?

Tim Smith  34:55  
Well, and it's like, there's this, there's this, this thought, oh, happiness means I'm just comfortable all the time. But truthfully, that's not how people are happy, like suffering creates the the contrast, it allows you, you know, you can't appreciate the wins until you experience a losses, it's like, and even being a parent, one of the things I find myself constantly conflicted of, is I want to keep my kids away from disappointment and pain. I'm like, what am I doing that for? Like, what am I doing that for? Like the thing is -- and going back to that -- because you said something I want to go back to. Father, you haven't talked to him since you were 16, right? I mean, you could have taken that example, and just been a bad father - you chose otherwise. Do you want to talk anything about that? Because that's really shaped you as a parent and I do love the story about your son that you adopted. Like, I think that it's like--

Yeah, let me even -- you talk about happiness. I think happiness is living your values. That's, it's, it's not a bumper sticker thing. I think it's actually really hard to live your values. It's really hard to live your values. And it's really hard to discover what they are. And the values are wide ranging, like I you know, I value a good time. But I also value free enterprise, and I value distribution of power. And I value, I have a lot of different types of values and so I have to be studied and committed to them in different ways and rank them. So now when it relates to how do I live happily, and live my values? Knowing my upbringing, and still, to this day, have to do a lot of deep work on what is my personal narrative about, "Am I valuable?"

What do you mean by that? That doesn't--

Michael Davidson  38:01  
So I grew up, it was just a very volatile home, you know, a lot of fear and a lot of placating and people pleasing to keep the peace in the home. And that became a part of my identity. And it also became a gift, but it also became a gift that trapped me because I didn't - you start to lose sight of like, "Am I, am I being nice because I'm trying to keep people happy? Or am I being nice because I'm nice?"

Tim Smith  39:13  
So that's a big thing of the question that we're asking others, where the question should really be - the question, we're asking ourself, right? Because we're using like, "Hey, am I valuable?" Well everybody in my environment is saying, I'm not unless I do this, when in reality, it has nothing to do with what you achieved to be valuable.

Michael Davidson  39:33  
It's all just flipped back around to --

Tim Smith  39:36  
And that's some very difficult -- when that's the hardware and the software -- that's some very difficult stuff to get that virus out. Right? Because it's like --

Michael Davidson  39:44  
And then when every signal you can imagine is about some signal about the certain type of life that you should live - you should be popular, you should have a lot of people who like you, you should money, you should have this..

Tim Smith  39:56  
Well because if you're not valued, you're asking everybody to value you and you're getting like this dopamine hit. When I'm valued by other people that makes me more valuable, which is really completely an illusion.

Michael Davidson  40:05  
It is an illusion. You can't control what other people think. Yeah, exactly.

Tim Smith  40:09  
My dad always said something. I think he's like, one of his rules was -- what did he say? He said, basically, "It's none of my business what other people think about me."

Michael Davidson  40:19  
I know, there's an enormous amount of wisdom in that. But so when I became--

Tim Smith  40:23  
So don't even think about it. Don't worry about it.

Is that by design?

Michael Davidson  41:38  
Yeah, I appreciate that. Thank you.

Tim Smith  41:40  
Right? So it's by design.

Michael Davidson  41:41  
Yes it's more that - it's, yes, it's by design. Now, it's not to say also that it's mutually exclusive, I was more so referring to the fact, like, why did I move to Tennessee? And it's one because I wanted my kids to be in a space where we have more options to create opportunities for them long-term. And one of those things for me was to remain committed to this mission. And so we moved them but going back to the point of like, decoding to try to live your values, and deconstruct the sort of noise in your head or get it out of there. After my first son was born, all I ever wanted to be was a dad. All I ever wanted - I remember being - so my earliest memories are wanting to be a dad.

Tim Smith  43:25  
Well, how do - okay so you said, "I didn't know how to do the work." How do you do the work?

Michael Davidson  43:28  
I just started, I started - well, first how it showed up, I started being very, very worried that I was going to fail him. And so all my insecurities were inflamed. I wasn't up to the task. This is a sacred responsibility to another human being, and what, what in the world do I think that I could do make any difference here? And so there was that I'll come back to the work. Then I had twin daughters. I was like, great, I'm a girl dad times two, right? And that was terrifying for all kinds of reasons. Still is. And then, and then we also, both my wife and I always wanted to adopt, independently. There were not any like big reasons for it, or obvious reasons for it in our past in terms of connection to the actual adoption, but we were very fortunate to have two, two pregnancies and three kids, right. And so then it was like, okay, I gotta, we have to adopt like this, we have to do this. Let's get after it. So then we went through the process, and it was it was heavy because of some twists and turns, it ended up taking three years but until we found the guy we found to help us, it was from May to August that we got Bo, right, my son. And we found out about Bo when he was a week old. I literally was going between we're on a trip, a Gen Next trip to Poland and Germany. We have left Auschwitz Birkenau and we're going to meet Lech Wałęsa, the Freedom Fighter revolutionary in Poland. And I'm also now getting these messages that, hey, there's a baby boy in Nevada, who's a week old, and he's going to foster care. What do you want to do? And so my son and my wife flew out to get to go meet him. And they're sending me pictures, they immediately fall in love. And all the terror is going in my head. Everything from it's going to be insanely expensive. All the early reports of how much it was going to cost, we're like, way more than we expected. And then I started learning about his own family of origin, some of the turbulence that his biological family had had.

Tim Smith  46:18  
Isn't it weird, though, because when you're saying that, I'm trying to think of the work. And there's, there's a constant like lens that we look at the world from. And it's impossible not to project that lens on other people, but it's just based on our experience.

Michael Davidson  47:08  
It's whatever practice you have of reflection, I think there's also a - whatever practice you have around purpose - you know, I would give it a faith form. I don't, you know, not everybody does. Also, I think, seek out people who will push you. It will be good for you. You were a big role for me when you were telling me I think I was debating some big moves like, you know, what to do about? What do you do - what do I do about Gen Next? What do I do about growing my family? What do I do about trying to make more money and more opportunity and all these things? And you told me, you're like, "You are addicted to fear." You said it to me. You're addicted to fear. And I had never thought of it that way. And you introduced this whole new paradigm in my life. And I started thinking, I don't want to be addicted to anything. I want to be addicted to just being awesome.

Tim Smith  48:04  
Being awesome.

Michael Davidson  48:05  
It's just like, I want my whole life just be a constant effort of just trying to be awesome. And you put that in front.

Tim Smith  48:11  
So go through - there's something with that - because you look at, so we're talking a little faith, right? So what's the difference in your opinion between fear and faith?

Michael Davidson  48:23  
Well, first, the context I was giving it with terms of faith was about believing in a higher power. But to the point of faith or fear, I think faith overcomes fear.

Tim Smith  48:37  
Well so, but if you if you break them down, in fear, right, I think the definition of faith is the evidence, the substance of things not seen, no, the evidence of things hoped for, the substance of things not seen, right? So fear is the same thing. We're, we're we're having a vision of how bad it's going to be that keeps us from acting where in faith, you're like, I don't know what I can't see but I know that I have to move into the shadow.

Michael Davidson  49:06  
And so going back to a theme in our conversation is, what values do you attach to that construct? Right? So the difference between faith and fear if they're definitionally, the same, but what makes them different, is the value you attach to it. So faith is about possibilities. Faith is about pursuit. Doesn't - even if we're not talking about high power - it can be faith in yourself. It could be faith in people around you.

Tim Smith  49:32  
But going back to the -- faith without works is dead. So it's like, fear keeps us from acting. Faith, the only way we get to that hope is through - its actual, the action, the work, doing what's uncomfortable. Doing, like, moving through the lens that you grew up with - it keeps holding you back, and just doing it, like stepping into the shadow and realizing the light will come to meet you, right?

Michael Davidson  50:01  
Yeah. It's - and I, I'm surprised that how few people don't -- how little people do this. You know, I think one of the things -- we did a conversation with -- we had a briefing conversation with Steven Pressfield. The novelist? He's a brilliant novelist - historical fiction. And he writes about about doing the work and fighting the resistance. The resistance is fear coming to take you and suck you back. Take you off of faith. And so, given that he writes a lot about ancient civilizations, and I went through, I got really curious about it somewhat recently. A few years ago, I wanted to read the whole Bible, wanted to read the Quran, the teaching, you know, the Tao - of all these different - the Gita, because I wanted to understand like, how did people in ancient times understand flourishing? Also, wanting to understand the founding father era, you know, what were they wrestling with? Not with our modern eyes, because we value - at a fundamental level, we value the same things - but it gets activated differently because once the spread, once the freedom spreads, you start to value things differently, which is another conversation. But when I'm going and I'm thinking about the ancients, and the founding fathers, and that generation, or even the World War II generation, you read their letters, hugely reflective. Hugely reflective about who they are, what's going on in the world --

Tim Smith  51:33  
It's almost like, it's like a constant, like, accountability of yourself and your awareness, right?

Michael Davidson  51:40  
And so I asked Steve Pressfield this question on that was like, "What is it that ancients had that we don't have?" And then we had the conversation about it. And you know, this is not a scientific thing here, but it's one, there was a level of reflection about who you are and why does life matter? And how do I play a role and it mattering? Across all faith traditions, across all time, across all cultures, that was a pretty dominant question that human beings ask themselves that we don't ask ourselves enough today. Another one was an interest in posterity, an interest in legacies? Like am I making things better for those who come after me? And I - we're so short-sighted, we just don't even do that anymore. And a third thing was, there was an element of coming together. There's always this idea of a band of brothers. In the, in the Old Testament, in the New Testament--

Tim Smith  53:51  
So I want to jump back to you're the CEO of Alder, which is technically a nonprofit. Right? So, as being a CEO of a nonprofit, like, you know, in a normal CEO role, you're totally focused on the bottom line. So how do you stay - as a CEO - what's like, what are your KPIs? What are you focused on? What are your metrics to measure and improve performance?

Michael Davidson  54:20  
Good question. So we're a little different as a nonprofit, because we have a for-profit business model. So it's a membership business model, it's a subscription business model. And we, part of the reason why we did that is because we call it generational leadership, that, if you're a generational leader, you are committed to doing all the things we're talking about - transcending your ego, reflecting, knowing your values, living your values, and you're you're doing that for the betterment of future generations and the greater good. That's being a generational leader. And so--

Tim Smith  54:56  
It seems sort of cliche, the generational leader but it's like, when you think about it, it's like, is there a more important role that somebody can actually take on?

Michael Davidson  55:07  
And I would say, No.

Tim Smith  55:12  
But if you could just say, the problem with society in the world is, I want everybody's focus to be a generational leader, which starts with personal change. Starts with me.

Michael Davidson  55:24  
So we did a subscription revenue model, because it needed to be something that was a recommitment. So, Alder is an interesting thing, because--

Tim Smith  55:36  
So just, so the listeners hear, as a member, you join.

Michael Davidson  55:43  
No, you have to be invited.

Tim Smith  1:00:10  
It's funny because in my experience with a life, that's like - I mean, there's something about the the longer you work in a career, you just find yourself doing the same thing over and over and over again, but through some of the summits, through some of the experiences that - you find, I find myself being pulled out of my world to focus and have conversations and thoughts and shape how this gets better. But it's amazing how it's like we don't have enough of that, that pulls us out. Right?

Michael Davidson  1:00:41  
Well because we're - everybody's busy. We're very busy. And not only, I think what I wish people would appreciate more of is one, I think is the need to step out. But also when that happens, you become more innovative. Like you're gonna get ideas from people out of left field. Like, oh, I should. I should do that with my kids. Or, I could do that with my business. Or even just like, you know, what, like, a lot of our members you included, who became very supportive of our national security work, you probably never in your life thought you'd be a national security philanthropist. Ever. But you did, and you changed a lot of lives, and you helped stop terrorist attacks. I mean, that's real. That's real. And now and then even President Obama is showcasing the work at the White House. And it it shifted paradigms, but that only happened because people showed up to learn. People showed up to build community, people wanted to explore their values, and then they chose to lead.

Tim Smith  1:01:45  
Dude, there's a common theme on everything - and it's showing up.

Michael Davidson  1:02:13  
Email me, [email protected].

Tim Smith  1:02:17  
[email protected]. Where can they learn more?

I really could say being a part of this organization is deeply impactful to my life but sometimes it feels like we're a part of a secret society. Right? People are like, oh, Gen Next like, what is that? What are you guys actually doing? And then they start getting into it, like, "I want to be a part of a group that's successful, that wants to work, that wants to better families, that wants to make a change, that wants to leave the world better for our kids, right?

Michael Davidson  1:03:09  
Can I tell a quick story about what what good things happen when you show up? And how this happens and the secret society thing. One thing a lot of our members did a number of years ago, is we started seeing the proliferation of social technologies and we were seeing regimes around the world be very oppressive and try to block people out from these technologies. And so we started seeing like, kids in Egypt would use Bluetooth to organize - like assemble - which is not a fundamental right in Egypt. Women were using YouTube, to to build a movement to protest not being allowed to have driver's licenses in Saudi Arabia. Kids in Colombia, we're using Facebook to organize mass protests against FARC. You know, example at Twitter, Moldova, communists rigged election, and they're doing all like all these things. And we're like, we want to help them. So a number of our members were helping put together summits and Jack Dorsey came and Dustin Moskowitz of Facebook came and Under Secretary Glassman from the Bush administration came and Hillary Clinton came, and you know, all this stuff. So we're, we're basically training young people to use technology to organize for human rights. That was basically what we were doing. Fast forward, the Arab Spring happens and these dictators are being toppled and these countries are, you know, going, and some of the people we trained were part of these movements. We didn't expect to be talking with dictators. But So Julian Assange--

Tim Smith  1:03:09  
But those were the seeds that were planted that actually toppled the dictators.

Well, we have so much more to talk about, we could talk for hours. A couple of final questions - is there a quote that you live by? A mantra?

Unknown Speaker  1:07:25  
You thanks for listening to RUHM presented by The Smith group. This episode was hosted by Tim Smith and produced by Michelle Akers. Chris Stacey is our studio director. Editing by Jake Austin. Special thanks to Pacific Staging in CineNewport

Michael Davidson  33:02  

Tim Smith  33:03  
And it starts with us, and even in parenting, more is caught than taught.

What happened if you acted up in your house?

Michael Davidson  38:33  
Oh, that'd be like beat-downs. Yeah. Just yeah, complete beat-downs. So yeah, it's pretty, it's was pretty rough, pretty bad. And so having to do that work of what did all those lessons teach me that, you know, unless I'm not winning, wrestling and Judo, I'm going to get beat-down. Unless I'm not like in a good mood and performing, I'm gonna get beat-down. Said another way, "Unless I'm achieving, unless I'm getting external validation from people, I'm not valuable." And so I had to do a lot of that my own type of deep work.

I think - I but I do think that - that journey to bring, I learned early that people living freely without oppression, which is how I grew up, and people living with love, are, they became profoundly important to me, at a really young age. And it, it became part of my worldview. I think that's why I love America and it's why I love my kids. And it's why I choose to try - but failed - to try to live the life that I'm trying to live. It's why I moved to Tennessee, because I'm not in a career that's going to turn me into a millionaire or billionaire. I'm in a career that's going to help me live my values, right? And so in order to do that, in order to have that career, in order to put my kids --


Tim Smith  41:21  
That you're living a life of values. Because you said, I'm not going to be a millionaire or a billionaire. I'm not a lot of people, you have a skill set that that when I'm looking at these people far surpasses that it's just you're not focused on that.

Which is interesting, coming from a family where you don't have any relationship with your dad.

Michael Davidson  42:24  
Yeah, I'm, and I'm super grateful for that. I think I think part of it, my older brother was a very positive male role model for me. There was still also good things that I did learn from my dad and I think I was able to compartmentalize like that. But all I wanted to be was a dad. And I remember I could give you example, after example of watching Fox and things I was reading, like, Hector, and the Iliad, and he was a warrior who was so loving to and powerful and loving, and that blew my mind. Or Mufasa in the Lion King. You know, like, there's nobody or like, you know, Laurence Fishburne in Boys in the Hood, like all these examples to be like, dang, man, you know, that's, they're out there. And so when but when my son was born, it was like, "Oh, shoot. I don't think I'm up to this." Because I hadn't really done the work on understanding what, what my value is. I was just sort of like a, I didn't like this so I want that. But I didn't know how to show up for that. And I think that applies on anything, could be --

Tim Smith  43:28  
Which was what?

Michael Davidson  44:00  
Jail time, drugs and extended family, and it's like, I'm looking at this thinking, this is gonna be - this is heavy. I can't even like keep my own head straight, how am I going to, like create, like help him be able to do this? So it's just self-limiting, self-limiting, self-limiting? And I think for me, through the course of a lot of these things, now the question of like, how do you go kind of decode and find your values? I think there's like the basic kind of tactical things like journaling and meditation. I think there's bigger things like faith.

Oh, for sure.

Tim Smith  46:35  
And there's just so many of these limiting things that constantly play in the movie theater of our mind, that stop us from action, like real action towards what we want. And so as I'm thinking about what the recipe for work is, it's finding a way to do the right thing. First of all, finding out what the right thing is for you, and finding a way to do the right thing against all the voices in your head. And consistently being a slave to that habit.

 Is that like community or?

Michael Davidson  52:33  
Yeah, community, community. There was always that interesting community of let's come together. And so be my best self with others and that will put me in a position to make things better for those who come after me. And I think that those are pretty important ingredients for doing the work. Doing the work. And if you do the work, you'll live a more meaningful life. That means you're gonna have more fun, you're going to have less stress, you're also going to be more powerful, because you're gonna live your values. And that transforms yourself but then it starts to transform the people around you. And it shapes the culture of the entire country. And that--

Tim Smith  53:13  
The ripple effect - starts with you, your family, your community.

Michael Davidson  53:15  
But we have this, like, we have this weird expectation that things happen quick and only point A to point B, and you pick one thing and mobilize and whatever. It's like, oh, let's just focus on politics. And politics is like consuming everybody's mind today. It's like, when did the role of government become such a dominant thing in America, and the federal government, especially in American people's lives? They they need to be thinking about, just, what can I do to make things better in my community? What can I do to make things better for my family? And how can I be informed about what's going on so I can make good decisions when I'm cutting a check to a politician or I'm voting? It's basic stuff.

Tim Smith  55:08  
There's just not, right?

Michael Davidson  55:10  
 If you want to live a meaningful life, if you're concerned with what's going on...


You join.

Tim Smith  55:40  
Right? But it's not just 'you have the money, you join.' You go --

You have to go through a process.

Michael Davidson  55:45  
And we're looking for to what extent are you aligned on these values? We're looking for - and values are twofold - values are big ideas about human flourishing, like, do you appreciate free and open societies? Values are also do appreciate listening to other points of view and being curious and being a winsome person. And that lends to more chemistry. So we'll evaluate those things. We also want diversity in all kinds of different forms. We also want to make sure people are committed. We don't - this isn't like a country club, where you're going to be - it shouldn't be - you're not, you shouldn't be tracking up your benefits. This should be a commitment, this should be a lifestyle, and advancement of a worldview that's living within you. And we do it together. So you join. And you know, you get invited, and then we onboard in and then there's all kinds of different experiences, different types of events, traveling around the world, content perspective. Our job is like to arm you to be a freaking awesome citizen. Like, if we can make you an amazing person, an amazing citizen, that's what we're trying to do. And if you're already that, then we want to use you to go out there and influence others, because that's how culture changes. And if you change culture, you change politics, change all these things. So going back to your question on the business side - there is a big rise in the purpose economy, you kind of double bottom lined. And so we will look at how our members engaged in the world. How are they - time, attention, money, the volume of causes that they're getting behind, because there's a network effect to this, we want our members to be these platoons that will go out and do great things in the world. But we also want to play a role in helping expose them to the opportunities that will introduce them to sometimes their own values, but sometimes it's like an initiative that they could get behind. And those initiatives will range from - oh I'm talking to my kids more about this stuff. Like I had a member tell me recently, really accomplished guy, sold his company, and he's like, you know, I always thought of myself as a great dad, like, I tuck-in my kids at night, I have a great relationship with all my kids, great relations with my wife, I'm really involved in my community, but I never thought about what makes this place special, ever. Never talked to them about it either. Just totally foreign. And he's like, I was just taking it for granted. But now this is - something greater is at stake, you know? And so that's an example of change. We also, as you know, and you've helped, we've done quite a bit of work in counterterrorism and counter extremism. We exposed our members to a big world challenge one face in this country, which is a several years ago, the spread of homegrown radicalization, white supremacy, Islamism, all these different forms of radicalization. And so we just got a reputation for being like, purposeful entrepreneurial people. And so we helped an NGO in London, and, and worked with Jigsaw, one of the Google or alphabet companies. And we built a worldwide community of former violent extremists and survivors of terrorism. Our members helped fund it, they helped develop the KPIs, they helped develop the plans whenever -  this - we've seen members get involved in political campaigns. Members are very close to Jared Polis, who's the governor of Colorado and members are very close to Ron DeSantis who's the governor of Florida. Democrat, Republican. We've seen members go start charter schools, we've seen members get involved in helping families with terminally ill children, Miracles for Kids. I mean, it's this is what you want to see more of, right? And most of the time the members end up being exposed to these opportunities, through the experiences with us, through meeting one another, because it's an institution that exposes and shapes people. So the KPIs that we look at are, what is the mobilization of the members and what is the engagement of the members in that journey? And then where the business KPIs come in, is like, we got to make you want to be there. So we got to, we have to create awesome content, we have to create awesome events, we have to have awesome people. We have to expose you to really impactful initiatives.


Tim Smith  1:01:50  
But showing up by design, not by default. A few more things and then we're gonna wrap up. One - for any of the listeners that are listening, I mean, we've talked a lot about about Alder, if they want to get involved if they want to get connected, if they're connected to the thoughts and the things that you're saying, what's the easiest way?

Michael Davidson  1:02:21  
You could go to, there's some stuff about our values. And then we'll connect them with somebody on the team. You know, we don't, we haven't historically, publicly promoted ourselves. We'll probably do more getting our - not so much our name out there - but getting our ideas out there. And, and, and getting the work that our members are doing out there. So we're gonna be doing a lot more of that

Definitely. And I'm not I'm not trying to give the impression like we caused this so--

Tim Smith  1:04:51  
Or we're taking credit.

Michael Davidson  1:04:51  
Yeah, but I do think we played a role in a highly disruptive world event that I, you know, we'll see. Another conversation. But Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks guy, was, he just he exposed communications between governments, and they were kind of talking about these, how these civil society, us and some other groups and organizations were out there doing it. And then he wrote an op-ed in a newspaper, I don't remember which one it was. But anyway, he wrote an op-ed, where he referenced a couple of our members and he referenced Gen Next as like, basically a conspiracy - that we're, we're we're appendages of the State Department and the CIA out there kind of mobilizing. But you know how the idea was born? A bunch of our members were all fired up about a bunch of stuff they were learning about from another member, Jared Cohen, who's thinking about the world in a really big way. I think we're at a bar, we were probably pretty buzzed, and we're like, "Let's go make a difference on this. This sounds really good." And then suddenly, we're conspiracy dictatorships or whatever. So, you never know how things can happen when you show up, when you participate. And that's ultimately what we want to see more of, but to your question about getting it out there. Right now, it's just and we have a small team of about 20. And someone on the team will walk you through it and connect you. Especially with a vibrant community here in Orange County and Orange County fueled the growth of the community all across the country.

A lot.

Tim Smith  1:06:41  
Is there one that's top-of-mind right now that you're really thinking about?

Michael Davidson  1:06:48  
A quote I haven't used enough lately, but that I've, that's really coming to mind that I care a lot and it's something along the lines of, "There's there's three types of people. Those who let things happen, those who wonder what happened, and those who make things happen." And we need more people who really claim their their values and their agency to act on those things and make things happen.

Tim Smith  1:07:16  
So for all those that are listening, if you're one of those people reach out to us. Thanks so much for coming brother. Always good to see you.

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