Bruno Marion| Interview | Podcast | Maria Franzoni | MFL Global

Interview with the Futurist Monk, Bruno Marion

This week Maria’s guest on the show is Bruno Marion. Bruno nicknamed The Futurist Monk, is an expert in global trends and innovation. For the last 30 years, Bruno has been traveling around the world, meeting CEOs, monks, all kinds of gurus, people in jail, super rich people, super poor people, artists, scientists, high-level politicians, members of the special forces, activists, and successful entrepreneurs. In that time he’s read thousands of books on the latest innovations in science, technology, philosophy, and spirituality. He has been experimenting with cutting edge technologies, investigating new types of governances, smart cities, and disruptive ways of living. Bruno himself is the author of several best-selling books on Asian cultures, and the aptly titled book, Chaos, A User’s Guide. All about taking advantage of chaos and uncertainty

Maria: 

Bruno, hello.

Bruno Marion:   

Hello.

Maria: 

How are you?

Bruno Marion: 

I’m super good, super happy to be with you today.

Maria: 

Super. I hope everybody’s got their … What do you call it? When you put your head on so that you can hear the French accent? What is your machine that you have?

Bruno Marion: 

Well, you better ask your listeners to upgrade themself, and download the French accent software so they can fully understand me.

Maria: 

Fantastic, I love your accent. Bruno, let’s start off with all this travel you’ve done. You seem to have travelled an awful lot more than the average person. What set you off on that adventure?

Bruno Marion:

Well, I guess I started to travel with my first around the world trip, which was about 30 years ago. At that time I finished, I already graduated, and I had started to work. And that was my first futurist vision at that time. I thought that Asia is going to be big. I know it sounds ridiculous today because Asia is obviously very big, but at that time Asia was not very, very big. It was big, but not on the markets, not in the economy. China was very small, India was very small too. And I had this vision that Asia is going to be big, and we don’t know how to work together.

Basically, I put my backpack on, and in the bottom of my backpack I put a pair of clean shoes, and a suit, and everywhere I would go in Asia, and I would meet expatriates. I would meet local business men, and ask them, “How can we work together?” Basically this is how I wrote my first book about how to understand each other, to help each other to design our future already at that time. So this is how I started to travel.

Maria:

That’s amazing, and you met some really diverse people. Does anybody stand out still in your mind today?

Bruno Marion:

I think the people who are really standing out in my mind today, they are the most ordinary people. I was lucky enough to meet super famous people, super powerful people. But, for me, the most amazing people they are what people would call, “Normal mother,” who is in the slum in India, is taking care of her kids, and trying her best to design them a future. The farmers in China, who in 10 years became multi-millionaires, but started as farmers.

All of these very, very ordinary people. Basically, I think they were the most inspiring to me. You have all these books that you can read about multi-billionaires, and I met some of them, and they can be really, really inspiring. But I think today ordinary people, you and me, you’re not ordinary, but I am. We can design our own future, and we can have an impact. I don’t have big names to tell you, but I have many, many names. First names mostly, coming to my mind, and I can see all these people doing day after day their job for themselve, and for the kids to design their own future, and their kids’ future. They are my heroes.

Maria: 

Fantastic. You say you’re ordinary, you’re so not ordinary, Bruno. And you’ve got this nicked name, The Futurist Monk. Who gave you that name, and why do you think you have that name?

Bruno Marion:  

This is really funny, because I have no idea. And, of course, I’ve been asked the question all the time. At one point I considered just making up a story, but I have no idea. It came slowly, and I just accepted it because basically this is me. When you look at my life, I would say a big part of my life I’m living like a monk. Right now I’m in my house in the south of France. My closest neighbour is 2KM away on the other side of the mountain, so we cannot see and hear each other. And I’m reading a lot, I’m reading more than 100 books a year.

So this is the monk life and the other part is I’m traveling, as you said, I’m trying to meet extraordinary people. Even if they are, as they said, ordinary. And I’m trying to share, I’m trying to share my tools, so we can design our own future. So I kept this name, The Futurist Monk, because I think this fits my life, and this is also how I see myself evolving in the future.

Maria:

Actually,you mentioned your home in the south of France. I know you’ve got two bases, one in Paris, and one in the south of France. And your home in the south of France, you call it an experimental resilient home. What does that mean to somebody who understand those words?

Bruno Marion:   

I think we are living an absolutely amazing time. Not everybody would agree with me, but I really believe from what I’ve seen, from all the people I’ve met in my life, but when you look at that, at all time, in 200 years people will look back and think, “Wow, I wish I was there.” And we have amazing opportunities, we have amazing risk also. And I don’t believe this will always be a very smooth ride. That is to say, we will go through crisis, that is why resilience is very important. And resilience is the ability to come out of a crisis at least as good as before the crisis, and hopefully better.

So, I’m trying to experiment whatever tools I’m sharing. So I thought, “What would be a resilient house? How can I have a place that can be sustainable, but can be a nice place, and sustainable through all these crises for myself and my little family. So I have this house, as I said, in the middle of nowhere. We produce our own energy. We have an amazing organic garden, etc. ,etc. And when I tell this story to my friends, to people I meet they say, “My god, so you can live on your own. You are self-sufficient.” And my answer is always, “No, no, no. I am not self-sufficient, and I don’t want to be.” Resilience by yourself doesn’t exist. You need people to be resilient together.

So, basically, I am connected with one windmill I have, which is a small windmill. I can produce two times more electricity than the one I’m actually using, and on top of that I have solar panels, etc,etc,etc. So I’m connected. A resilient house is a resilient that is connected. And there are many, many other things. I’m not a gardener. I’m not a farmer, obviously. I had to learn everything. And what I’m trying to prove is that as a regular family, let’s say two, three, four, five people. You can, even if you have a regular job, even if you travel, you can take care of your garden, but it can be reasonable financially and that it can be rewarding eating your own tomatoes, and making your own ratatouille every year.

Maria: 

I love that. I love that you’ve got your own windmill. I think you’re the only person I know who has their own windmill. That’s brilliant. You mentioned that we’re going through unprecedented world change. In fact, I think I read that you were calling it a reset. What do you mean by the reset?

Bruno Marion: 

By reset, I mean everything will change. Everything is changing, and everything will change. And a big, big, big difference, that in this reset you can design your own future. But most of my future is friends, which I love most of them, and we are good friends. They look more at technology. And they talk about what the future will be, and this is very important. And I’m doing partly the same. But I’m trying to go further than that. It’s not only about talking about the future, it’s how can you design your own future? This time as a total reset, is extraordinary because never in history you can, you have so much power to design your own future, if you understand what’s happening to you, and if you have the right tools. You can design your own future. You can not only be future fit, which is the first stage, but you can go further, and you can design your own future for yourself, for your family, for your community, for the world, if you must.

Maria: 

That’s incredibly exciting, and is this something that … Because you’re a member of The World Future Society. Is that something that, that organisation’s trying to do? What is the mission for that organisation?

Bruno Marion:

Basically this is an organisation, so futurists, we can meet. There is an even once a year, there are smaller events. Basically this is a group of people trying to discover, and understand the future, which for me is really great because it’s so amazing to meet all these people with the same goal, which is to understand what’s happening to us.

Maria: 

That’s brilliant. I wonder what you call a group of futurists? I’ll have to come up with a name for that, that sounds great. You also co-founded the … I’m going to try a bit French now, Université Intégrale Dupre. Was that all right? Which is the first think tank in Europe to discuss experimental, integral philosophy. What is integral philosophy?

Bruno Marion:  

Well, for the past millenniums human beings have been, some of them at least, have been trying to understand why are we here? What’s happening to us? Everything about life. And depending on the time, there were mostly three ways for us to understand our world and our life. That is religion and spiritualities for the first one, the second one has been science, and the third one is philosophy of philosophies. And depending on the time one was more stronger, or more powerful than the other one. I could say, but in the past 2000 years for most of the people on this planet religion and spiritualities have been the most important part to understand the world.

In the past 200/300/400 years, in all world science has been big, and in some pockets of time and geography, philosophy has been important. Like for the Greeks, etc. So I’ve been trying to understand and learn from these three ways to understand the world. I have a scientific background, I’m an engineer. So this is where I come from. And I try to learn from religion,  spiritualities, and philosophies. And today I’m using sciences. Science of chaos because I think this is a state of the art of technology, and science, to understand the world. For philosophy, the state of the art is what we call the integral philosophy, or the integral approach.

It started, you could say 100 years ago, was more popular for the past 30/40 years ago. Especially with the philosopher who is called Ken Wilber, and American philosopher who popularised most of the ideas. The main point is that never, never in human history we had access to so much, about so much knowledge. So the idea is how we can have meta philosophies, so we can understand and put all this together. So that’s the idea of the integral approach.

Maria: 

Wow, that’s blown my mind now. You are so not ordinary. You mentioned chaos, chaos science, chaos theory. How do you apply that to business? How can businesses take on board chaos science?

Bruno Marion:  

Well, to make it very simple, I believe our world has become chaotic. Chaotic in a scientific sense. For mostly, not only, but mostly three reasons. The numbers, there have never been so many people on this planet. 150 years ago there were approximately one billion people on this planet. Today, there are seven, maybe eight billion people. We have never been so many humans on this little white, blue dot in the universe. Second thing, connection. We have never been so connected. Obviously, through internet, and mobile telecommunications. We have never been so connected, because we are living together.

More than 50% of the population is living in big cities, and speed. Things are changing faster and faster. Because of these three reasons, the world has become chaos. And for most people chaos means mess. And what I’m trying to show, and to answer your question how we can use that, how we can use chaos theories. We can use them by understanding that chaos doesn’t mean mess. Basically you have mess, which is random, or randomness, and random is, well, random. There is no pattern behind it.

And then you have order. Order you can easily find patterns, and act on this order if you want to change it. And chaos is somewhere in between. When you look at it, for most people, this world looks like mess. What I can show you is that, no, for some aspect, it’s ordered, for some aspect it’s random, and for some aspect it’s chaos. And there is a hidden pattern. By the way, the world which looks like a poetic world, but is a scientific world, it’s called a strange attractor. There is a hidden pattern. If you not only understand this hidden pattern, then you can act.

Let’s say you’re the manager of a big company, or you’re just the manager of your own life, you can hack chaos. You can actually create your own strange attractor. You can create what I call in a very simple way, your dream. You never had so much power by hacking chaos to achieve your dreams. This is the main way, the main tools. Understand chaos, understand that it’s not mess. Create your own strange attractor, create your own dreams, and make it happen.

Maria: 

Wow. So, we actually had lunch back in February, late February. I don’t know if you remember.

Bruno Marion:

Yes.

Maria: 

And we were talking about that, but from a personal point of view. And you were talking about … You have a daily ritual of visualising your dreams. Could you explain to our listeners how you do that?

Bruno Marion:  

Yes, it’s very simple. If you want to hack this chaotic world, you need, as I said, a vision, a dream, which is like a strange attractor. Which may make you, whether bad or good things happen. Slowly, stay on the path of your dream, even if sometime you don’t understand how and why. You may think your daily life is chaotic, but if you have this vision, and what I call routines. You need rituals. One thing very important in a chaotic state, things are auto-amplifying.

That is to say, it’s like a broken thermostat. A thermostat went totally crazy. And a normal thermostat, when it’s too hot, it will stop heating. If it’s too cold, it will start heating. A crazy thermostat, when it’s too hot, we put more heat, and when it’s even hotter, even more heat. This is typically what we call auto-amplification. Chaos is auto-amplification. Because we have never been so connected, we have never been so many people on this planet.

There are many, many auto-amplification phenomenons. Let me give you an example. The more people on Facebook, the more people on Facebook. If everybody goes on Facebook, everybody goes on Facebook. This is what we call in marketing, the winner takes all. If you are the first, because you are the first, everybody comes to you. You can do the same with your own life. You can use these auto amplifications for yourself, by having routines and rituals.

Let’s go back to the dream. If you want your dream to happen, if you want your dream to become true, just have a daily routine. Every day live your dream. Read your dream, but not only read it, live it. Have what we call positive visualisation. Like, I have a dream for next year. I have a dream for the next 20 years. For instance, I don’t like the cold weather. So my dream is for next winter to be in a nice house by the water, maybe in South-East Asia. I’m reading this, and when I’m reading it I can feel the warm temperature. I can see the ocean. I’m feeling it. I’m feeling it. By having a clear vision, by having what I call a strange attractor, by repeating it every day, every day, you can make it happen. This is the easiest way to hack chaos, and make it to your advantage.

Maria:   

I’m going to tell you a little story now. When I met you for lunch at the end of February, I said to you that my partner and I had lost our dream home. And you said you should make a vision, and you told me to put it down on paper, to put pictures, make it bright, look at it every day. We went to see the people who owned our dream house. They’d taken it off the market and decided that they weren’t going to sell. We went to see them, we spoke to them, and on the 4th of May they accepted our offer to buy their house.

Now, when this podcast goes out, I’m going to update people and let them know if we’ve moved in. In fact, let me say it differently, that we have moved in, is what I’m going to say. That’s what I’m going to visualise. Hopefully that’s going to be the situation. But Bruno, for me, I’d given up actually on that. And you made me think about it differently. I went back from lunch, straightaway, and I immediately took all the photos from the website I could find, and the house had been removed from sale, but I managed to find the photos, and I put them all in one folder, and I kept looking at it, and I was in there, I was imagining myself in the office, living in there, cooking with the animals around me, my furniture there. Anyway, I will keep everyone posted. But I’m very excited.

Bruno Marion: 

I am so thrilled. And really, you are the proof that this is happening, this is true. Of course, there is logic behind that. It’s like making a little prayer every day. So if you believe in God, God will fulfil your prayers. If you believe the laws of attraction, the universe will provide. And if you believe in chaos theories, and you can believe in all three of them by the way. It can help, who knows. But if you believe in chaos theories, all the micro decisions, because you have a clear vision, a clear dream, because you are repeating it, you are living it every day.

It just takes a couple of minutes, by the way. Because you are doing that, all the micro decisions you are making day after day, even during the day, after hours, keeps you aligned. Mostly unconsciously, with your dream, and make it happen.

And by the way, you can do the same with your company. If you’re the manager of a team, if you’re the CEO of a big company, have clear vision. And clear vision, by the way, it’s not to increase your turnover by 20%. What makes you dream, and share this dream with your colleagues, with your employees, repeat it. If you’re the CEO now repeat, repeat, “How are we going to achieve?” Repeat, repeat, repeat, and repeat again.

Maria: 

I love it. I love it. Tell me, Bruno, all of this wonderful knowledge, how did you start speaking and sharing this message with companies and with businesses?

Bruno Marion: 

This is really funny, at least to me. I was already, because I wrote all these books about Asia, I was delivering talks about Asia, and what’s going to happen to China, and how can we understand each other? And at the same time I was having my futurist monk life. I was reading, I was writing, I’ve had a blog about how you can use chaos theories for 18 years. Well, of course now it’s different, but at that time it was the beginning of blogging.

And one day I was discussing with a CEO, we just had a masterclass about working with Asians, and of course, I’m talking about my passion over lunch. And he’s like, “But Bruno, you should come and tell my executive committee about that.” And I’m like, “No, this is just a hobby, this is my futurist monk life. This is not my job.” “No, no, no, no, I want this.” And this is how I started, and I thought but, “Look, this is really what I want to share with the world. Not only you can be future fit, you have power.” By the way, I can prove it to you.

In the previous world, things were what I call linear. They were not balanced, but not too far from equilibrium. If you wanted to change things, you needed at that time to be very, very powerful. That is to be a CEO of a very big company, the prime minister of a big country, or be super, super rich. Or many of you, so you can make a revolution, like in France. This is the past.

Now, because of what we call the butterfly effect, you remember auto-amplification, something very small can get bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and bigger. You never had so much power to change things today. And I can prove it to you scientifically. So I thought, “Okay, now this is my mission to show people that we are living an absolutely amazing time,” what I called and you called a reset. And you have the power to design your own life. Not only to be future fit, but to design your life.

Maria:  

And that’s such a powerful message, and businesses really need to hear that, to design their business future, and design their lives. Absolutely fantastic. And when you speak to audiences, do you give them some tools to help them afterwards to design their future?

Bruno Marion: 

You mentioned my routine. So every day, every day, and I promise, I did it this morning. Well, actually, one of my routine is to break my routine, so I only do it six times a week. And I have one day off, and it’s not always the same day. Every day I read, but during my talks and during my sharings with people, I want to be mind-blowing, paradigm-shifting, actionable, immediately actionable, and sustainable. Why is that?

I want to be mind-blowing because now we are living in such an entertainment era, that you’re mind-blown by everything. So you need to be mind blowing to change people’s mind. I want to be paradigm shifting, so after you listen to me, you won’t see the world … And I promise, this is one of the comments I get the most after my talks. People they come to me, “Bruno, now I understand. I don’t see the world as before,” paradigm-shifting, and actionable. To answer your question, yes, I think people they need tools. Like the one you mentioned for the personal life, write your dreams, read it every day.

But the same for an organisation. How can you have the right organisation, to be more resilient, to benefit from crisis. How can you make as a CEO, as a manager, how can you make the right decision when nothing you have learned still applies. How can you listen to your instinct? What kind of tools. So, yes, I want it to be immediately actionable. This is a thing I tell my audience, “Try tomorrow. Don’t believe me, try tomorrow,” like you did for your house. And sustainable, I want to make sure the tools you can learn from me, you can use them not only tomorrow, but for the rest of your life. If you can find they work for you.

Maria: 

Yes. No, fantastic. Bruno, our time is almost up. I could talk to you forever. So finally, and this is going to be a really difficult question for you, I think. Because you’ve read so many books, I’m going to ask you, can you recommend one, other than your own, of course, that really impacted your thinking?

Bruno Marion: 

One comes to my mind, you mentioned integral philosophy. So I would definitely advise, Integral Vision, by Ken Wilber. If I had to pick one that really changed my way of things, of seeing the world, I would pick this one. There are many, many others. But if I have to pick one, Ken Wilber, Integral Vision.

Maria:

That’s brilliant. Thank you so much, Bruno. That was mind blowing. Thank you.

Bruno Marion:  

Thank you, and I can’t wait to visit your new house.

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Banner photo credit: Gavin Whitner