Me, searching for wisdom where it’s often been found.

A preface: my parents are my mentors (in business).

I found myself nestled into my nonprofit sector niche pretty young. I like to joke that it’s the family business. I grew up listening to dinner table conversations about fundraising, board relations, and leadership. I was raised by my market — and that’s why I find it so easy to connect to nonprofit leaders on an emotional level.

My parent’s wisdom is some of the best in the business. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Whenever there is a decision I need to make, I run it by my dad to…

Albert Memmi, 1982.

I’d just devoured Aldous Huxley in a 36 hour period. I was about to pitch a research project to a professor I really liked. I had a first date to attend immediately following the meeting. I was excited.

I came in guns-blazing with my thesis: we are simply pawns being moved around by powerful algorithms. We’re on a steady trajectory towards complete sheeple-ness and we’ve got to stop it.

My professor dismantled all of my thinking in one simple sentence: “You’re not really giving human beings a lot of credit are you?”

I had spent the last three years reading…

Me — smoking a cigarette correctly.

When I was 15 I smoked my first cigarette. I was outside the local convenience store, surrounded by like-minded peers. Within 5 minutes I was one wrong move away from vomiting all over the vinyl and linoleum flooring that my high school janitor had just recently buffed. I was queezy and light-headed. It was horrible.

I thought to myself: “Why would anybody smoke cigarettes”.

Cut to…

Two years later I was chain-smoking Canada’s Marlboro Red knock offs at picnic bench after band practice. It was objectively disgusting, but subjectively very cool. I was going through 2 packs a week. …

My entire image gallery.

Imagine your family photo album was filled with old newspaper clippings, receipts, and class notes. You had to sift through clutter every time you wanted to remember that beautiful moment.

That’s how most phone photo galleries are organized. Filled with screenshots, duplicates, and other useless things.

At some point in the last 5 years I decided to go a different way. Because of that, I’ve been left with a peculiar artifact: a set of organized, original, honest photographs.

These are five reasons you should do the same.

Did you know that the median net worth of Americans under 35 has declined by 68% since 1984?

Connected to that, the portion of wealth owned by Americans under 40 has gone from 19% to 9% since 1989?

Why? Because opportunity for youth to accumulate wealth went through a MASS EXTINCTION EVENT in 2008.

“Americans in their 20s and 30s lost the most wealth in the recession and have been the slowest to recover.”

2020 and the COVID crisis has been the second mass extinction event for opportunity in the last 20 years. The kids are not alright.

We are an entire generation of people renting our space in society.

No wonder we want a sense of ownership and independence in our work…where else would we get it?




Gosh, did it feel good. The acne that I thought I’d gotten rid of 6 months ago was coming back the day before. Every time I shaved I knew why the acne was coming back.

I wasn’t treating my skin kindly. Every time I shaved it was rough. It left marks. Every time I shaved I knew was doing damage. But I thought I just had to take that damage.

But then I went into the drugstore today and saw something beautiful: a razor-blade for sensitive skin. Gilette knew me. They were speaking right to me.

And then, as if…

“Hilltop” — Coca Cola/McCann Erickson (1971) (i wrote that citation from memory)

Two years ago I wrote a film called “Loving Offline”. It was about a bad-ass revolutionary radio host and a down to earth musician waking the sheeple up from corporate control.

It was the year I got really into Phillip K Dick and media theory.

It was also the year that I decided to become an advertiser.

But wait! How do you go from revolutionary radio waking up the sheeple to being an advertiser? Isn’t the role of the advertiser to build a world of narcoleptics on behalf of the corporations?

Well dude you’ve been right for about a century…

My brother, looking back at me on a windy day.

It’s as simple as saying that I don’t understand what’s next.

As it stands, I’m wrapped in the unique warmth of home. I’m dressed in my brother’s clothes and sitting 9 feet away from my mother’s closed office door.

I’m preparing to go for a walk. I have about an hour of audio-transmitted client research to do.

I missed 12am two nights ago.

I haven’t played video games in at least 18 months, but I played them on New Years eve with my brother. It was 12:09 when I realized that it was 2021. …

By @dortasphotography on Instagram

For the last four years, I’ve been working with a rag tag group of hooligans to build The Neighbourhood Watch.

Now I know what my LinkedIn network is thinking, and no, I’m not a musician. I’m a very serious business person.

For the last couple years I’ve pushed music to the side, and hidden it from the people that I work with day to day. It didn’t feel relevant, or dignified, to be mentioning in an office experience. But more and more, my hobby has become a core part of my identity. …

Two people I love wearing masks (out of necessity, rather than for pleasure).

This year has catapulted me into mess of stress-inducing bodily awareness.

I’ve committed to a violent head turn upon hearing any cough (who knew people over the age of 40 coughed, seemingly randomly, throughout the day).

I’ve called my local digital health clinic at least 12 times this year.

I’ve gotten tested for COVID-19 11 times.

And now I have to admit something that I’ve been keeping from the people I love. Something that I fear would render me a pariah in my community. Something I fear could immobilize me for at least two months.

I’ve got a sore throat.

Tristan Surman

Young person interested in vital ideas. Finding love and laughter in digital, social, and creative spaces. @TristanSurman

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store