Joey Camire on caring

Before all this talk of “quiet quitting,” Joey Camire noticed people just tapping out of their work and other responsibilities. He realized there was something big going on, something beyond apathy and approaching nihilism. With waves of bad news, how can we reach people to reengage them, and apply meaning where they may have lost it? This conversation touches on ways we put humanity first, and manage what is in our control to inspire others. Joey is principal and managing director at Sylvain.

You can find Joey here:, he talks more about nihilism on Critical Nonsense here.

And Sylvain here:

Find your host, Adam Pierno at

Transcript of this conversation with Joey Camire here:

Adam Pierno  0:02  
This is The Strategy Inside Everything. I’m Adam Pierno. The Strategy Inside Everything is the podcast for people who think for a living. If you have an idea, a question or you want to push back on something you hear in this episode, go to and leave a message or a voicemail for me. The best and most interesting messages will be added to future episodes. And I can’t wait to hear from you.  All right, welcome back to another episode of the strategy inside everything. Really looking forward. I am full of hope. I am motivated. I am excited to have this conversation today with our guests. He’s the principal and managing director at Sylvain Joey Camire. Joey, how are you?

Joey Camire  0:52  
I’m great. Thank you for having me on. I’m glad that you are prefaced your emotional valence before the conversation.

Adam Pierno  1:00  
Oh, buddy, I am tapped into my emotions at all times. No, I am. I am emotionally immature, I think but for the purposes of our conversation today, I’m emphasizing my engagement. Perfect.

Joey Camire  1:12  
Yeah, I, I will tell you, my emotional valence is cautiously optimistic, but generally positive.

Adam Pierno  1:23  
Okay, those are those are great. Those are great words. Nice. Well done. I know exactly where you are. So if you wouldn’t mind, Joey, before we get going, would you give people a sense of what you’ve done and where you been?

Joey Camire  1:35  
Yeah. So I grew up in New Hampshire, that maybe that’s relevant, maybe it’s not, but I was the first person in my family to go to college on either side. And so I had no idea what I wanted to do. I got to college, I studied neuroscience and psychology. I loved it. In theory, I was lucky enough to get placed as a graduate assistant while I was in undergrad and sensation and perception lab, sort of neuroscience lab and realize that hated it in practice, like the lab just was sort of constitutionally opposed to who I am, you know, a lot of isolation. A lot of people who are drawn to that line of work, are not particularly social, did not like to say, Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, good night to them. And I sort of took a left turn I went to I was like all prep to apply to PhD programs. And I went to career services one day, I was like, What are my other options, there’s like my eighth semester, and they’re like, you could go to grad school for this thing. I applied to the now VCU brand center, it was the VCU ad center at the time, and got in and sort of pursued, this tracking in strategy sort of more broadly came out, me and a friend that I had made, and we sort of, because of alphabetical order, we’re getting partnered every semester, on projects, but we really developed a rhythm with one another, and just sort of had like a level of simpatico and sort of compensatory skills for one another that we sold ourselves as a team coming out of grad school strategy team, which didn’t exist and I think still doesn’t exist. But we were able to get a job at the bottom of the recession. Like we were among the first people to get a job as a team, which was sort of surprising to every all the teachers who told us not to do that. And then we sort of found ourselves in a bit of a toxic environment. We had become friends with Alain Sylvain, the namesake of the company. And he was sort of in a similar situation where he had been in a really vibrant culture, the first non partner employee, mother, New York helped sort of set up mother New York, the advertising agency. And he had gone on to another place had an allergic reaction. And so we were kind of coming in this situation where we’re like, hey, you know, anywhere we should be looking to find a new job. And he was like, hold on, let’s talk. And we he was looking to start a company, we were looking to do something new, we are excited at the prospect. And so, you know, the three of us started the company in 2010. Now, I guess 12 and a half years later, here we are, you know, we faked it till we made it and so far so good.

Adam Pierno  4:47  
That’s amazing. There’s some some pretty good luck down from alphabetical order to get your first gig as the team like good good fortune. What do you attribute that?

Joey Camire  5:01  
To think, you know, just sort of like theming the cards that you’re given and trying to make the most of it, you know, I think it was sort of, there was there was one professor, a guy named Charles Hall, who was sort of, I mean, I still sort of attribute our decision to come out of school as a team, to him giving, like everyone told us no, he was the one person that sent us an email after we’d like, won some competition at the end of our first year of school. And he had come just to watch teams present and things like that. And he sent us an email that the subject was like Sampras, and Augusti. And he had been out he had written Jordan’s dear basketball letter, and he was just an incredible is still an incredible writer. And he wrote us a short email that was just so potent. And I responded, I was like, this is like, the next thing that anyone has ever said to me that, you know, he was talking about us going back and forth and playing off of each other, and it was just sort of poetry. And I was like, everyone’s telling us not to do this. And he’s like, Why do you care? What the thing? And I was like, You’re right, I don’t. So let’s do it. I think it’s, it’s just been a series of, of, you know, situations that we’ve been presented with him trying to make the most of it maybe, you know, in the vein of some of the conversations that we’re gonna have, just, like having a certain amount of an optimistic outlook, I guess, and saying, like, here’s what we got, what can we do with it? And, you know, here we are,

Adam Pierno  6:47  
are you an optimist by nature?

Joey Camire  6:51  
I think I, I’ve been thinking about this a bunch recently, both for this conversation, and some of the things that I’ve written about recently, but also, you know, just like a certain amount of introspection, and self awareness. And I think I am defiant, in in some ways, like, I don’t like being told what to do. And I don’t like telling other people what to do in sort of a decisive fashion. And so when you’re sort of presented with a set of circumstances, and it seems unlikely that you can make something happen, there is like, that challenge of being like, Well, why couldn’t we make it like that, that idea of like, signs are pointing you in one direction and the ability to sort of persist or defy what, you know, prevailing wisdom may be exciting, excites me, for good, better other and so you know, that? I think maybe that is sort of like in a vein of optimism were presented with a context. I’m sort of optimistic and you know, the people that I’m surrounded by, and my own abilities that there is some solution that could be figured out. Maybe I just don’t like being told no, even by like, the universe or whatever.

Adam Pierno  8:22  
I don’t think most people do like it. But I don’t think they have the awareness to recognize the universe is speaking, when it when some of those weird things happen, do you? So you and I were talking about oh, man, what are they? What were all the nicknames for the the current employment? The great, great resignation, but I’ve been calling it the great reshuffling because more people are jumping until until this quarter when it seems like there are layoffs happening and the tide may be turning. But it was initially reported as everybody’s resigning and sort of implying that people are just leaving the job market, which no, but I don’t know if people are just retiring outright. I’ve seen I’ve more aligned with the idea

Joey Camire  9:12  
of fire movement has really taken off. Yeah, everyone’s retiring at 28

Adam Pierno  9:17  
Yeah, I mean, who needs to work? They gave a stimulus 14 months ago and it was almost $1,000. So you probably set for life, right?

Joey Camire  9:26  
Like, if you put it in good mutual fund, you will have approximately $750 now so

Adam Pierno  9:34  
you can manage the hell out of that money. However you however you describe that I think you and I were talking about the the mood among workers, you know, the mood among employees among people in their jobs is probably the better way to say putting the humanity first. What have you observed?

Joey Camire  9:57  
I mean, I think you know, I I mean, I’m fascinated by complex systems, right? You know, so many of these things that we’re talking about when you’re discussing sort of macro economics or sort of social mood or sort of broad attitude and old dynamics as it relates to the job market is there are so many influences that factor into these discussions that it’s important to say, like you, you can sort of make hypotheses, but it’s always going to be more complicated or more complex than that. But sort of analyzing, I think it’s important to first say that there is sort of a age related like demographic component to this discussion, whether or not people explicitly state that in, you know, whether it’s like big New York Times think pieces, or Atlantic think pieces or wherever, like, sometimes they will state it, sometimes they won’t, but there is sort of a large, generational divide within this context. And I think a lot of that has to do with the young people today are sort of facing a number of sort of disadvantaged positions in one capacity or the other, right, you know, student loan debt, you know, systemic racism, environmental problems, you know, the sort of inability to own a home while sort of contending with the need to work from like all of these dynamics, I think, factor in, but I bring a bunch of those up, because I think a lot of it has to do with sort of the ability to exert control and autonomy within different contexts. And I think, you know, when we talk about sort of traditional corporate structures, inherently younger people will correlate with less power, right like not to say that there aren’t like Wonder kins that are sort of accelerating up the corporate ladder faster than other people, but sort of exceptions as a group. Yeah. And so when you look at all of those other social factors, and then decisions being made on restructuring and rethinking about the way that we’re working were, in most cases, I think, younger people weren’t getting the opportunity to necessarily participate in those discussions, you’re sort of stacking all of these factors that are sort of a reduction in the amount of autonomy control, ability to sort of exert will, on the forces that are sort of changing your life, the pandemic, right.

Adam Pierno  12:59  
Don’t forget, don’t forget to go with pandemic that’s still going on? Yeah.

Joey Camire  13:02  
Yeah, the, the result is sort of a feeling that has grown it and now more and more people seem to be writing about it. And when I first started thinking about it, it was sort of observational and anecdotal. And I began to try and see if I could find if other people had written more intelligently or, or research more deeply this idea of sort of, like, an increasing feeling of nihilism, within work, or maybe beyond work, and it seems like that does exist, sort of this idea of like, you know, effectively, nihilism is about the idea that like, life it, you know, life is meaningless, or decisions are meaningless or sort of is, from my perspective, coming from like a psychology and neuroscience background, I immediately go to sort of learned helplessness, right, that any sort of will that you’re exerting has no impact or ability to sort of change your conditions. And so that feeling of learned helplessness can pervade where I’ve tried all of these things to adjust my situation. And so looking at things like the great resignation, or the great reshuffle, or people trying to adjust, like that is sort of this final thing that you do have control over. And so people like making decisions to say like, Well, I’m just not going to work here anymore. Like, I don’t even necessarily, I’m not going to like think about all of the sort of carry on effects anymore. Like I have a set of values, these values, they’re being sort of reinforced in my social circles, and I feel strongly enough that I’m going to like roll the dice and go out to the market and lucky for most people, I guess, the the job environment over the past For years, has been such that, like, it was a sort of like a demand side market or however you might talk about it where employees had the power to be able to start to make decisions and exert control. And, you know, maybe that is sort of like, a way to contend with a nihilism is the ability to sort of find places where you do have control and exerted.

Adam Pierno  15:30  
Is it about you mentioned a couple of different avenues there as it relates to work? Is it more about the values aligning for the individual and their place of work? Or their supervisor? Or is it more about control and having some element of control over their work product their day to day? Because, you know, if you read the back and forth about people who love the idea of remote work, and that’s the only way it should be, or people that are hell bent on getting everybody back to the office, I fall squarely in the middle? I really don’t care. Yeah, but it matters a hell of a lot to a lot of very vocal people on both on both parts of that spectrum. For whatever reason. The idea of working remotely seems to be you get have more agency, you have more control, you have more time for yourself. But it’s, as you were explaining your setup, it’s like, yeah, but it also could be a constant reminder for someone that they are in a home, they don’t love. They don’t own. You know, it’s like just a different kind of cubicle that they have to pay for themselves. Is that part of it?

Joey Camire  16:38  
Yeah, I mean, I think when you’re when you’re thinking about like the remote work, situation, it’s really important, you know, not that I’ve looked for it, but I haven’t, I haven’t seen anything where people are normalizing the data based on sort of leadership or managerial positions within a company, I can tell you, we wrote, we write these things called like, off white papers, sometimes. And we wrote one, after we’d sort of maybe three or four months into the pandemic, you know, myself and other leaders at that company were like, talking to meters in other companies and saying, like, what are you doing? What’s going on? I was talking to clients who are in leadership roles of, you know, what are the things you’re contending with? How are you responding to them? what’s working, what’s not just, everyone seemed to be sharing information at that point. And so we wrote something about I think that we call it distributed, not divided was the name of the off white paper. And it was basically about like, what are the things that we should factor when designing new modes of work, and thinking about the fact that like, being in an office like as a leader, for me, having everyone in the same place acts as sort of like an extended sensory system for me, if I’m paying attention, like I can see who’s having a problem, this team seems to be like moving fluidly. And like, they’re all in high spirits. But this team isn’t, or this individual isn’t like, I get a larger amount of data. Yeah, for myself to be able to maintain the culture, people’s morale or happiness or condition, whatever it or faster signals when something goes sideways. And so from for me, that is effective. Now, as an individual, I’m also an extrovert, I’m highly social, like all of those conditions also, sort of pushed me in the direction of like, I was coming to the office every day when no one else was even coming. I have ADHD, like having that rhythm and structure to my week acts as sort of a scaffolding for me to not think about a bunch of other things and focus where I need to write but everyone in our company doesn’t have all of those same conditions. And so I think what we’re starting to see in the way that people are are writing about this is now whatever, two and a half years and they’re starting to you know, if you think back to like the first 369 months it was this overwhelming cry for like, freedom of work. remote work is going to rule all like the SAS companies are like, now’s the time for air table.

Adam Pierno  19:32  
I’m surprised I would have thought airtable in Slack would have been like, no, no, let’s, let’s proceed thoughtfully. Now.

Joey Camire  19:43  
Yeah, now you’re starting to see the conversations about like, where the trade offs are. And there were some there were some thoughtful pieces written at the time around like, the understanding of like strong and weak link connections within the work environment and how in remote work are strong link connections were strengthening meaning like the five people that you felt the strongest relationship with in your company you’re getting closer to in remote work. But all of the weak link connections were sort of like withering, or if you’re thinking of like a network diagram, those connectors were thinning. And there’s a lot of benefit to weak link connections, both for like, social support, morale, as well as sort of like serendipitous ideas. You know, there’s also sort of the idea of like, culture, how do you maintain culture across digital mediums, when, you know, people are still people were like, we we had, you know, a million years of design between like, Australopithecus and and Homo sapiens. So make us more and more social and, you know, whatever, two and a half years to try and make digital products to equate that thing.

Adam Pierno  21:03  
Somehow that the absurd traditions of office culture, you know, like birthday parties, and just some of the stuff that has always been a little bit, Verity anyway, got really blown out when it’s happening digitally, and everybody’s on a zoom call having birthday cake that they ordered from UberEATS or something. It’s like, what are we doing? This, we don’t have to carry this part over to we don’t have to find a digital version of every single thing that we used to do in the office.

Joey Camire  21:32  
Everyone get their individual cupcake. Yeah, to celebrate danitz birthday.

Adam Pierno  21:39  
All the main birthdays, like, you know, it’s all the corny stuff that offices have always done, but they we tried to figure out how to make it exactly the same. Instead of saying like, Oh, maybe that’s not what culture is. And maybe that’s why people tap out of it. Because I can remember being young in a big company, and, like, opting out of all that stuff, just because I was like, I don’t know. This is socially awkward. I feel weird. If I want to talk to people, I could just go to their desk and talk to them. I don’t want to go sing Yeah. Birthday to all the people who had a birthday this month. It’s yeah,

Joey Camire  22:13  
force forced fun, right? Yeah. Yeah. Like, you know, it’s sort of coincides with some of the discussions that people have had around the distinction between productivity and, and performance, right? Like, not just did you sort of invest hours? And, like, can you point to the fact that like, you did a thing within those hours, which is sort of where productivity is oriented, it feels like very much a product of like manufacturing and industrial culture versus performance. Like, the idea is a bit more on like, what were the outcomes. And I think that that sort of transition and the confrontation that the pandemic has had is, I think, writ large, sort of forcing work culture or at least, you know, professional, like knowledge, work culture, I don’t want to speak outside of the domains that I exist in, to contend with problems, right? Like, you know, there, if you if you look at it, from a scientific perspective, there have been lots of pieces written about like journal articles, and, you know, economists writing about like, I remember reading at one point, like 53 hours in a week is where you top out on, like, you sort of reach the point of diminishing returns on the number of hours that you invest. And yet, companies that are, you know, like, whatever white shoe law firms and big for consulting companies are still pushing people to 70 plus hours per week, even though the data suggests that, like, the outcomes are not going to equate. And so like contending with that idea of like, time versus outcome, and, you know, sitting over someone’s shoulder and making sure that they were in at nine o’clock and they were there until 630 or something was like never an effective way to sort of get positive outcomes out of your team or your talent or however you want to talk about it. And I think, you know, I will tell you like as just a sort of an anecdotal example, I think we realize as a company that we sort of, had this, like deposit in the bank when we came into the pandemic, of like, goodwill from our team, because so much of our culture had always been sort of around and autonomy around sort of like embracing diversity in all its facets like, yes, like demographic diversity, but also also sort of cognitive diversity and these other things and allowing people sort of the autonomy to make decisions and guide things in the way that they saw fit, sort of meeting some quality standard, but the the way in which you do it is sort of left to your devices. And I think we benefited in those, those early days of the pandemic, as a result of those things, that we built up the muscle to be sort of a little bit more distributed, as well as the fact that like, our team, you know, appreciated that, like it was, it was going to be more of the same and they kind of locked arms at the pandemic, like we all locked arms together and said, like, Okay, how are we going to keep everyone employed, you know, facing the this massive issue.

Adam Pierno  26:01  
So it but it seems like in your case, you were able to translate the positive things that were happening in the in office, culture and operation that you had built? And you’ve said, Okay, well, we’re just going to translate the good stuff anyway. Because we have, these are things that people enjoy, or they appreciate or makes them more productive. So do you think, is it I mean, it sounds like you are better positioned to handle the let’s go remote overnight situation? Or was it just hey, this is we’re gonna operate by giving people this by trusting people and giving them this autonomy. And then we’re just kind of a continuation of those same policies.

Joey Camire  26:46  
I think in like the ways of working, we were sort of prepared, like, we already had people working across multiple offices, we, you know, we already had people using digital platforms that, you know, could be asynchronous and remote for building and conducting work. So so, you know, and I don’t think that is particularly unique to us. But certainly, we had that, but I think, because we had a culture that sort of made it, you know, psychologically safe for people to show up to work and bring themselves, you know, like, we weren’t, we weren’t just like, making it okay, to bring yourself to the work, we were sort of like encouraging and trying to create the conditions. And so we had a level of goodwill at the beginning of the pandemic, to try and figure figure out how we were going to create culture remotely. And I can’t say that, you know, we’ve done it great or poorly. The reality is, is like in that force, fun type of stuff that you were talking about, we’ve just cycled through new things more quickly, like this thing works, or it doesn’t, it doesn’t work, like can it try a new thing, like one of the more successful things just on a cultural level that we’ve done is on Friday, we do versus the, you know, like playing off of the internet. Sort of content platform where they they pair two artists like playing their hits together, we just do that off of like, weird concepts on Friday to people compete playing songs against like, you know, like, reggaeton songs or, you know, 1990s, r&b, just to categorize charts. Yeah, they, they can embed, like, we had one that was like, bangers that make you cry, like, like, it was like absurd things. But people get to show up, it’s participatory, it’s fun. It’s like, a net new thing every week. And so that has been successful. It’s sort of like an event that everyone is trying to go to, and make sure they don’t like schedule client meetings around it and stuff like that. And so, you know, it has to be an experiment and sort of like a natural product of the team. But I think the bigger thing is like, in that case, again, coming back to that autonomy and your ability to participate in your environment, like, that idea came from someone on the team. And we’re like, Yeah, let’s, like, let’s do it. We’ve, we’ve tested lots of other ideas from people across the team, and you can’t be like precious or like, that would never work. Or that’s like, that’s not my idea. It’s like, okay, like, let’s see if that works. And it did, and it’s been, you know, like, a super net positive for like, the cultural

Adam Pierno  29:44  
sort of worn off and you can do it until it doesn’t work.

Joey Camire  29:48  
Exactly. You don’t have to. We won’t do it anymore.

Adam Pierno  29:51  
Right, right. It’ll stop. It’ll stop serving its purpose of bringing people together. Yep. But I gave you five questions in a row a while back So I want to come back, he talks about autonomy. But I had asked, I had put in a string of questions that I blurted out about values too. And, you know, when you were laying out the case for some of the younger people in the workforce opting out part of it was values based? And is that the values, their personal values, aligning with the company mission? Is it a purpose base? Or is it just like, you don’t treat people nice, and I don’t want to be here, because I value I have a value that I put on myself and my time, or all? Yeah,

Joey Camire  30:41  
I mean, I think I think I mean, the honest answer is probably all, but I think, you know, the, in ways, I don’t want to say that it hasn’t. It wasn’t happening in the past. But I think, because we’re sort of contending with such a number generationally of sort of systemic issues, there is this orientation from younger people, and I’m, I’m a geriatric millennial, like, I would still, like consider myself in this cohort of like, you know, like, money. And like, financial gain is not like my primary motivator, like, you know, I’m, I know, there are things that I could sort of probably go and pursue that would be like, more, you know, fiscally positive for myself, but like, I want to come to work and, and be happy, I want to come to work and be like, I can be myself and that I’m in a place that allows sort of, for, you know, I mentioned earlier, I have ADHD, like, there’s sort of some aspects of like neurodiversity that I just have to operate slightly differently and be in a place where that can work. Also, though, the fact that like, I don’t, you know, I don’t want to come in work for a company that is not like, in the professional services context, like a client is disinterested in sort of making things better if it is possible. And so, like, all of those things add up, I can tell you, you know, within the context of the great resignation, and all of that, like, we we were a B Corp, in like 2017, I think is when we officially got our B Corp status. But the number of people who, who applied for jobs, or were sort of, you know, looking at that idea of like, I want my time to be invested towards making some sort of positive impact and change in the world was significant, like the majority of people who are applying for jobs. Were sort of like, starting in there, like cover letter or whatever sequence sort of idea. Yeah.

Adam Pierno  33:09  
Oh, that’s interesting. So there’s a value alignment that you’re seeing right from from jump.

Joey Camire  33:15  
Yeah. And we, I think, when you work in a place where your sort of values feel irrelevant, like any, any movement in that direction is going to feel positive. I think our approach to that as a company at Sylvain is is not to proselytize. We’re not like coming to companies and being like atavistic necessarily like our approaches? Like, how do you how do you not leave your individual values at the door when you come into a project? And how do you solve the problem for them in a way that is like, factoring in more constituencies, right. Like, we go out and do research with different companies, customers, or potential customers, and they tell us things about their lives, they tell us things that they wish were different. And if we can use that companies money we talk about our mission is to leverage the might of corporations for the greater good, but that is that’s sort of like on our website, and our clients know that we’re not coming in saying like, you need to be an activist. So yeah, you’re not trying to change things. Yeah. But as I’ve always, I’ve always said like, you know, if, when people have asked like, if you’re working with X, big company, like how do you justify that within the context of this discussion of being a B Corp or orienting towards progress and the impact of our work, and I’ve felt like this big company, whatever imaginary big company, it’s not super relevant. Like, if they’re hiring someone to do a job. I I would rather us show up and be factoring those things in. And if we can get that company that move two degrees in a positive direction, versus like a smaller company that is like, has social impact at the core of what they’re doing, if we make them do a 180, but they’re smaller, like the amount of impact and change, we can create by moving Google two degrees in a positive direction versus air table, two degrees in a positive direction is significant. And so, you know, we’re not saying like, coming in on some individual problem, and then telling them that they should do other things across some parts of the business that the person thought touching. But if we can, I find that like, most people want to do good if they can, and if you show them a path, but it’s sort of solving their problem, while also factoring in these other things, like, they’re excited to do it. Like it makes them happy to be able to sort of do a positive thing that they weren’t anticipating what was sort of, like, in the cards for them.

Adam Pierno  36:00  
Yeah. And you’re not taking the protest track, which is, you know, another viable way to go, but not an effective one for a business that serves its clients.

Joey Camire  36:10  
Right, yeah, it’s sort of like, in the, the, like, positive assertion, negative assertion way, it’s just sort of like, here’s a solution that is better than packers those things in instead of saying, like, instead of talking someone not to do this thing, which is right, like, in, like the old advice that that people would tell you, like, bring, you know, don’t go to your boss with problems, go to your boss with solutions, like it is the same type of thing. Instead of saying, like, This is bad. When you do this, you’re saying, like, do this instead, here’s, here’s the alternative. And here’s the,

Adam Pierno  36:44  
here’s the, from the voice of your customer that this is what they actually want. Is this other better? So? Yeah,

Joey Camire  36:52  
yeah. Yeah. And, you know, like, it’s also from, like, an intellectual perspective, I can tell you, like, you know, I told you earlier that, you know, I’m excited by complex systems just sort of like, as a human, like, like, the challenge is a little bit more difficult from an intellectual perspective, like, how do you? How do you move this lever while also getting a positive effect with this other lever? Right, like, instead of just saying, like, how do I drive up sales? Or how do I like increase revenue, which could tell you like, you know, give people less goods in a smaller package, but charge, right, like, the the sort of things that Elizabeth Warren is talking about in terms of like, give less or, or the news articles about like, toilet paper packaging is getting smaller, but costs the same? Like how do you how do you do something that is better for someone better for society and better for the company who’s just like, it’s more challenging, and that like, for some subset of people who are like, predisposed to become a strategist, like that’s an exciting problem, as opposed to like one that, you know, certain people might want to shy away from,

Adam Pierno  38:07  
and they, they tend to stay more engaged with problems that they can present a solution to, versus here are 50 slides outlining a problem that we know you and the marketing team can’t touch? Yes, that’s in place.

Joey Camire  38:23  
Yeah, I’m curious. I just know you’re in a university environment, like, can you see those same dynamics that people are talking about in terms of like, the great resignation or things like that in the sort of discourse within the university? Like, do the those same forces seem to be like working within academia? Or within like, campus culture? Or or, you know, it’s a reality of like, professional life not set in yet? You know,

Adam Pierno  38:51  
no, as I talked to people across industries, and in higher ed, it’s the same challenges, which is so ironic because I feel a sense of purpose being here in my job that I am contributing, but across the country, it’s hit, you know, that changeover as it was going on was hitting higher ed, it was hitting, you know, just as bad as it was hitting any other industry. I think of people just putting their tools down and walking off the job and going to find another thing. So that’s, that’s a mystery to me. You know, I would say, oh, it’s values. I don’t, I don’t think it is any one thing. But I think the way you you laid out the idea of the complex system and its values, its autonomy. It’s, Hey, I just was pent up, I was cooped up for two years, and I’m just going to make decisions that are more satisfying to myself, even. For some people, I think the idea of telling someone they quit is like, that’s a satisfying Daydream that you have and you go, Oh, I’m gonna go do that now. Like, I don’t like my boss, and I’m gonna go tell them I quit. That might be as far whereas they thought for for some small segment, you know, and I can’t, I can’t say that’s a good thing or a bad thing. That’s not probably when I was younger, I would have done that. I have a mortgage now. Yeah.

Joey Camire  40:13  
Yeah, I mean, I think it’s interesting to know, there’s like, a lot of psychological research around sort of the fidelity of expectations, right? Like how clear are your expectations of a potential future scenario, to how disappointed you are in this outcomes, right. Like, if you think about a vacation is ahead of going and you get really explicit, like, my room will look like this. And the, you know, beach will look like this, and I’ll be doing these things. And then it changes, even if it’s not bad, the difference in expectation versus reality will create a sort of negative valence of emotion for person. And there was a study that came out recently, I can share it with you, if you want to put it in, like show notes or something. But it was about graduates coming out of college this year, having an expectation of their salary, that was almost double what the market was sort of anticipating for entry level roles for new graduates and things like that. And I think that while that is sort of like one example, around salary, I think what you’re seeing is because of the level of discourse, online and sort of this, like, broader discussion around ideals and the way things should be versus the way things are, there is more opportunity for people to be frustrated at the system as it exists today. And my fear, and this sort of like broader and maybe to sort of bring the discussion closer to a conclusion is that if expectations don’t meet reality, and you feel so frustrated that you turn towards this sort of nihilistic perspective, maybe a philosopher would correct me on the appropriate language that’s sort of like the shorthand I’m using, there’s not an opportunity to change things. If you think that like, if you if you move towards a point of learned helplessness, or that it doesn’t matter, it’s meaningless, then it becomes difficult to make progress because it progress takes sort of like a stamp, maybe not a plurality of people, but a bunch of people moving towards something. And so

Adam Pierno  42:48  
it’s just becomes a logjam. And then nothing is moves forward, because everybody’s pulling in all the leverage is going in different directions.

Joey Camire  42:56  
Yeah. And I think like, that’s where I, I worry, like, I don’t disagree, sort of broadly with a lot of the ideals that you hear sort of raised in the discussions about, like, what should work be like? Or what should people be paid? Like, in general? I’m like, yeah, like, Let’s see them. Let’s figure out how stuff.

Adam Pierno  43:20  
Oh, that’s a good idea. And that’s also a good idea. And I could see the bad idea. Like, it’s all yeah, there’s a lot of good ideas. But But I don’t think there’s one universal company that can do every single idea that here and so there’s always going to be something imperfect, and in any, any system that involves humans. Yeah, it’s

Joey Camire  43:40  
sort of a perpetual pursuit of experimentation and trial and error. And, you know, even when I talked about at the beginning, sort of like the distinction between theoretical neuroscience and applied neuroscience, and where I was sort of, like, out from being in the lab, I think, like the same reality is true when you look at complex systems, like if you if you focus on a narrow, individual thing, whether it’s pay, or like, how many days is someone going in the office or whatever, if you isolate that problem, coming up with solutions can be easy and interesting. But when you start to apply those solutions, they have to still exist back in a complex system. And so it takes that trial and error, but it, it has to be like, Okay, we’re gonna try this so that we’re no try something new and you need like, a certain level of resiliency against those failures, because the failures are enough, but I can tell you from the 12 years of this company, like the number of things that we thought might work and fail, and just have to like lick your wounds and move on and try something new.

Adam Pierno  44:52  
We tried it didn’t work. No, there’s a lot. Joey kaymar Where can people find you online?

Joey Camire  45:00  
Um, I mean, I you can follow the company. I think the handle on Twitter is still at Sylvain labs because we when we changed our name to Sylvain, they handle similar code. Yeah, so is is the company, we have a newsletter called progress report, you can find it on the website. It’s just sort of around ideas like this. How do you sort of get that perpetual, like momentum of changing and being better. And we have a podcast called critical nonsense, which is probably less less serious than this. But still, it’s sort of just exploring, like nerdy ideas and science, culture and technology.

Adam Pierno  45:50  
Very cool. Thank you so much for making time for me. I appreciate it. It’s great talking to you.

Joey Camire  45:54  
Yeah, thank you, Adam. I appreciate you.

Adam Pierno  45:57  
The Strategy Inside Everything is produced by me, Adam Pierno If you like what you’ve heard, leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Actually, I have no idea if that helps, or if it’s ever done anybody any good. If you really want to help the show, and you liked what you heard, share it with someone else who you think will dig it. That’s the best way to help the show and keep the conversation growing. New Music for the strategy inside everything is by Sawsquarenoise. If you have an idea, a question or want to push back on something you hear here, go to and leave a message or a voicemail for me. If you want more information on your host Adam Pierno you can find it on and learn about my books, speaking and consulting practice. Thanks so much for listening.

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