In this Generation: Mark Evan Prado
Why Create a Personal Website?
Firstly, for what purposes do I write a website on myself and my outlook / values / philosophies / interests / projects?
I wish everybody wrote a website about themselves! I research people before I do business with them, or even before I spend much time on them.
Perhaps you should, too. Then put a link on Facebook, Linked-In, forums you participate in where you have a Profile, and other social networking sites, all pointing towards your one personal website. Focus on maintaining just one main website. You can also add it to your emails to selected people.
The one thing we all have limited amounts of is TIME. The internet age allows us to get a whole lot more done with a lot less time.
I have little patience for old style people who insist on first having a personal meeting without having done any online research on a person in advance. Personal websites are partly for time efficiency in getting to know somebody. It is a waste of time to introduce and discuss with people verbally, over and over, what is already here on my various websites in much better clarity.
I enjoy in-person meetings, lunches and dinners, after filtering for companions who are serious about building on shared interests and values. Both sides should filter each other and agree.
(I am not out to meet ordinary people in order to entertain and educate them one-sidedly as the expert, nor to pontificate for just mental stimulation. I am a do-er, not just a talker.)
This website is also partly for outreach, to find other people who share the same values and interests.
(A personal website clears up some inaccurate information elsewhere, as well as serves as a historical record.)
I have no shortage of ideas, only a shortage of time and good partners, so this is a main method of outreach to other people who may want to work with me. Some of my projects have an entire website of their own, which are linked from and to this website. Other projects and concepts have not started yet or are not ready for the public.
There may be some things for others to learn from my experiences, so they can learn them in a time efficient way and without having to go thru the school of hard knocks.
The most important of my websites are not-for-profit about human goals, purpose in life, and the leading edge of progress as I see them.
The less important ones are the businesses which I depend upon in order to financially support myself and my work on humanistic websites and projects.
Relationships and people are very important to me, especially people who are on the cutting edge, or people who I can work with, or people who are very different from myself and ambitious in their own way.
In a recreational way, I am drawn towards people who are different, be it philosophically, culturally, politically, or however, whose lives, outlooks, and viewpoints differ from my own, and/or who have skills and strengths in some areas better than or complimentary to my own. These are people I learn from, vicariously, and can work with. As long as I can carry on a reasoned conversation, and mutual respect and trust can be established, then I can engage in personal or business relationships with people, if I believe they will honor their word.
Reliability of people is very important. We need to know in what ways we can trust and/or rely on each person, and in which ways we cannot, based on their values, interests, and situations. It is best to not expect too much of people or be too demanding if that is not natural to them, and that is OK. It is important to have realistic expectations, a reasonable degree of clarity, and longterm harmony.
About Mark Prado
I am not a conformist nor a trend follower. My father was a psychologist, and my mother was rather independent minded and unconventional herself as well. In some ways, my parents were opposites, which is even better.
Beyond my family, I look at other people as members of our species with their own genetic predispositions and upbringing environmental experiences, the latter both within my culture and around the world, which are often very different from my own, for better or worse.
I have learned my most valuable lessons over the many years since I left the university environment. I think that I am a very different person since that time. Actually, it seems that I am a significantly different person after each few years of experiences. One thing that is very clear is that I don't do the same things over and over for very long, but seek out new opportunities.
This includes relationships of various kinds.
Indeed, this is what got me into doing internet as a pioneer starting in the mid-1980s, long before it was trendy or popular in American culture, much less the world, and remember the times that I had to argue to skeptical people that personal computers, modems, and emails were better than relying on secretaries, paper, voice calls, faxes, and meeting people in person.
The majority of my best friends and associates have been people who I met on the internet, not those from my immediate physical environment, going back to the 1980s. Nonetheless, I've met many good people people by chance face to face.
Still, after 2010, there are many ways that I use computers and internet which few other people do. Many of my systems I still design and develop myself because nothing suitable exists.
My computer and the internet are a cyborg-like extension of myself. My hard disks store most of my memory, computers and networks are increasingly an extension of myself in how I function fundamentally, including project management, accounting, data and people databases.
My staff, associates, and friends are also an extension of myself and I am an extension of them.
Computers and internet are a means, not an end. Relationships are a great part of this.
Social networking is important, but I am far from satisfied with the structure of social networking sites such as Facebook, Google groups, or most others. Linked In is an OK business network site but also very limited. None have the structure which I would have designed for.
On those, I just put in my basic data and then put in a link to this website. This way, I update only this website, not a lot of social networking sites, and can organize my information using the same tools and formatting which I do for my other websites.
As you may see from reading my early life, people were not important to me back then. A scientific understanding of the world and the universe were, and I loved nature. It was really during my adolescence, and much more seriously after my university years after moving around far beyond my home state environment, that people and relationships started to become very important to me.
My last fulltime job was just a few years out of the university. After that, I ran my own business as a consultant for 15 years. The main motivations were:
Over time, I have cared less and less about what other people think about me, and have become increasingly secure about myself. I know and understand myself, though for many years early on I was a bit more defensive. At times, I've gotten a bit cathartic, but I'd rather get things out sooner than later, and let people either take it or leave it, thereby saving me time from the outset. I have no time for BS. Also, you don't need to mince words with me. I may be sensitive at times, but that's my problem, not yours, when applicable. Comments which are applicable may take a little time to ponder. However,
BS > null
It is important to learn from mistakes, and that comes only from being realistic, including taking a big step outside of yourself and looking back.
Often, that means taking a step into others' heads.
While many sophisticated and well read people are good to be around, many are not due to the usual issues of ethics, ego, greed and so on. Money does not impress me. I put great emphasis on ethics, and try to discern peoples' values and interests in life. Sometimes it is relatively ordinary people, especially earthy country folks, who I love to be around for awhile. Country folks usually are very honest and straightforward. Country villages usually have a nice community conscience.
In my younger years, when first doing business in the big city, I started playing by some of the games of people who I would deal with. As I have gotten older and wiser, I have dropped pretenses and gone to "this is it, take it or leave it".
When we come across careless and self-serving people, especially when they steamroll over us (rip us off, or get aggressive), the pain can make a strong impression. It's important to keep in mind all the people who are good to us, who often don't elicit such a strong reaction.
Just driving anonymously on the road, it's easy to remember all the people who cut you off when you turned on your blinker to change lanes, but it's important to remember those who slowed down, and people who stopped to let you make a u-turn. This tends to vary from urban to rural settings, and from country to country. (My favorite: Perth.)
Periodically, I have to get away by myself in nature, just relax so it's only me and the cosmic consciousness for awhile.
I could live like a monk if I didn't have responsibilities, to both my family and moreso my generation and the world. Escapism is not right. Nor is hedonism, greed [is not good], and excessive indulgent consumption, just taking all you can because you can.
The greatest joys and indulgences are not material, they are in appreciating the little and big things in natural life and the universe, and engaging in guidance of progress for the Greater Good.
One should appreciate life, and it is good to know one's individual place and purpose in this time, world, and universe.
The time of our life is limited, and we should not waste its moments. Most every day now, when I wake up, I think about my "calibration" questions:
It is my purpose in life to contribute to evolutionary progress in my generation as best I can. That starts with understanding the world, the universe, and the relativity of everything to each other. I do things (1) which others are not doing and (2) which need to be done.
For a contrast, I am the opposite of copy cats, and not a reactive trendy conformist. I am just me, and do what I think and feel is best in view of the big picture. I don't need the approval of those immediately around me. If you're looking for somebody who is trendy, then you may as well close this website and mouse elsewhere.
In fact, what drove me to be an internet pioneer starting in the 1980s -- to link up with the best minds in the planet -- well beyond those in my immediate environment.
Watching the internet unfold is one of my greatest sources of happiness. I used to introduce people to the word "internet" and try to persuade them to use global networks, "push". Now it's "pull" to the extreme. It's great, such a distant memory of my work pushing people.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the actual content on the internet, the applications, it is still push, an uphill battle.
My main project in life is humanistic, www.permanent.com to ensure the survival and positive progress of intelligent life from Earth, in view of human extinction threats due to our own advancing technology which can easily be used against ourselves.
The former website, PERMANENT.com, is the solution and is a massive website. The latter website GainExtinction.com , is the problem and is relatively brief.
Unfortunately, on most days when I wake up, I usually have some business to get done in order to make sure my businesses survive, my employees (and their families) are OK, and my customers and their dependents are all right. I am not rich, I was not born into a rich family, I pursued a scientific education rather than a business or mainstream engineering one, and I've had to learn business from experience, for which I haven't had any big lucky breaks yet.
Nevertheless, I keep in mind the big picture and work in moments here and there to build, brick by brick, a better future.
An individual cannot do much on their own, so in order to achieve bigger goals in life, it is important to develop a team with shared interests, values, and goals.
For example, it is my goal to have my business running itself as best it can, by promoting and developing individuals in my business based on their good intentions, competency, good nature, and recognition of a shared destiny in the big picture. Once others can manage the various sectors of my business on their own, then I can spend more time leading, writing, and creating & developing philanthropic yet sustainable projects. If someone else could do something, then I should not be doing it. There are too many important things in this world that nobody else is doing.
This website is my personal website. I have many other websites which are about projects, places, and business activities. Most of those websites are interlinked. This one is from the personal angle.
If you want to get to know me as an individual, then this website provides that. It saves both you and I a lot of time in this regard. I have always preferred to read about others' histories and gotten to know them that way whenever this option existed. I wish more people would develop personal home pages, and I hope this may be a good example. Who are they ("being") and what are they "doing".
I also hope there are some things to learn from my experiences, vicariously, especially during my business years of age 25 to date. Otherwise, it would be a partial waste of a life, so I will document significant experiences here.
Any sort of feedback -- criticisms, praise, comments -- is welcome. That's the best way to improve oneself, correct mistakes, and broaden one's horizon. I haven't always taken criticism well in my life, but I have learned to rise above my ego instincts as part of my continuing development. All my life, people have commented on how I get along with such a wide variety of people, and my ability to understand others' viewpoints.
Brief History and Self-Description
I am a calm, thoughtful, analytic, action-oriented "creative solutions" person. I am not a hedonist, nor am I materialistic. Happiness is not my goal in life; it's an important means but not an end.
My nationality is the United States of America. However, I tend to forget that, since I've lived overseas since 1994, and the vast majority of my friends and associates since 1995 have been non-Americans from all over the world (with very few Americans). Having studied political science at the university as a minor, and been an avid reader about the world, I have always tried to see the world from various viewpoints, none of which dominate. A multipolar world is the best checks and balances system we can have. I am patriotic towards principles, such as a free media, ethnic equal opportunity, and other things, regardless of country. Internet and multinationals have eroded national identities ... more about that in my Nationality section, under Travels.
Somehow, happiness finds me. If I look for happiness the conventional ways, it doesn't last as long nor is it as deep. I'm just too unconventional. When I forget about happiness and just do what I think I should be doing in the world, then happiness comes to me and is enduring. As always, some of it's because I'm doing what I think is meaningful, not trying to conform to others, as far back as I can remember. However, it's also about working on my attitude in new situations, some of which are pressed upon me by circumstances beyond my control.
I love to pioneer and explore new and different things and places, much more than the typical person. I usually do this alone, simply because I don't need to worry about or take care of anybody else, and to maximize my freedom. It is risky to explore new things and places. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but attitude has a lot to do with one's ability to even see the good and interesting sides.
Free enterprise and business is done ethically and responsibly. "Business is business" is NOT any motto of mine, unlike many peer/reference groups or groupthinks. I think by myself and choose good people to associate with, which does not include many "successful" people with economic class but lacking intellectual and good spirit class.
I've always driven a familiar old car which I've come to love like a partner (until my company bought a new one in 2006 so our property business could drive customers in a good car, so I drive it to not wear out the old car), live cheaply, invest most of my spare money into various philanthropic and business ventures, and try to make enough spare TIME for myself, in a nice environment. It doesn't matter how much money I make, I look and spend humbly so I have more free time. If you spend too much, you have less free time because you must work more.
My young background is a boy who grew up in nature (forest, hills, little mountains) and came to love and appreciate it. I was things-oriented, not people oriented, and sought peaceful refuge alone most of the time. When I entered adolescence and the mating instinct arose, I became much more social and fairly popular. However, I see a big turning point when I went to the university and really grew up into adulthood.
At the university, I pursued scientific subjects (as I always had before, in extracurricular reading) and eventually got my degree in physics (after nearly completing an engineering degree before abandoning that field for physics), and was a sort of "professional student" in that I took a variety of courses which did not count for my major. I also found that I qualified to get a minor in political science (and was elected president of its honorary society, whereby nobody knew I actually wasn't a political science major). However, the vast majority of the education I got at the university was not for credit, as was the lion's share of work I did. I spent weekends in the library reading all kinds of things, and drove my car or motorcycle into the mountains with the most wonderfull books.
After graduation from my state university (University of Arkansas), I turned down better paying jobs elsewhere and packed up my car and drove to Washington, D.C., as my first step into the thick of things in this world. I did some volunteer work for not-for-profit organizations, eventually got a great job in advanced planning in the US space program for the Pentagon (my first good paying job), and started to teach myself how to use a computer (this was 1985) so that I could write my own analyses and plans.
As PCs were new to the world, in my free time I helped other good people and organizations to computerize (from pens and paper), and that included modem communications for people networking. I taught myself a lot.
My main frustration was that I didn't have much energy after work. My best time of day is the morning, when my mind is clearest, but I felt I was wasting the best time of my life on things which weren't really important -- the defense space program. I also get "a second wind" late at night, which clashed with my need to get up and go to work in the morning. So many days, I was so tired at work. I'm so much more productive when I get my sleep completely.
A friend of mine was a freelance computer consultant and though he did not make much money, his example of a flextime lifestyle with broad exposure to the needs of different realms of this world had appeal to me. (I didn't agree with a lot of his sociopolitics but a lot of it I did, as he had some brilliant fundamental human issues worth contemplating, too.) Anyway, the idea of becoming a computer consultant, especially in modem networking, really switched me on for its human applications, not so much the love of technology. One day, I decided to resign my job (which I had dramatically lost interest in for reasons I'll discuss elsewhere), so I resigned it and started a life as a computer consultant with emphasis on communications. (I also had some opportunities at that time, but I forewent them to invest in this career of people networking.)
Notably, I'd hardly touched a computer by 1985, yet in 1987 had quit my professional career to become a computer consultant. (All I'd done is a 1 hour course in a card-reading mainframe in 1978, nothing after that until I bought a PC in 1985 for word processing. Took it apart, looked at it, put it back together, learned what a floppy disk is, a hard disk, an operating system ... and application software and a modem!) I know this is ancient history to many young readers and is hard to imagine, like my Thai wife growing up without electricity in her home, yet so highly literate and worldly by gaslight, eventually becoming a journalist at a high level. Anyway... it's all about what you can do...
I didn't know much at all about business, but I figured that the best way to learn is by doing it. I've always had a lot of self-confidence, not too reliant on others' opinions and comments. Everyone thought I was nuts to quit a dream high level job with a lot of social prestige and money, in order to take up what was seen as risky, low income, and had the perception of a low level techie job. It wasn't "techie" to me, but I did need to learn a lot of techie things.
While I had come to understand how computer systems work in general, I was not interested in the technical aspects, though I could figure them out as needed. (Most of my learning was on-the-job for customers, but I didn't tell them that, and when I figured out a solution, they usually assumed I'd known it all along.) I was interested in the human applications, not the technical stuff. However, I had to invest a lot of time at the outset learning the computer basics, so I practically volunteered (minimum wage) to work at a computer assembly and repair shop for a month or two right after I quit my job ... working right alongside a Romanian nuclear physicist who had gotten amnesty in the USA (these were still the Cold War years) but he was clueless about business and cynically thought I was nuts about what I just did and the future.
Especially communications - that was my main goal. I set up private networks, and also one of the first purely private, public access internet service providers in the Washington, D.C., region, back when less than 1% of the US population even knew what internet was, and the user@domain email standard was not even established yet. Web did not exist, and the main applications were email and forums (usenet, fidonet, others).
I met such a diversity of people. Writers and researchers, such as co-authoring books. Journalists. Travelling businesspeople needing to stay linked to their office. A writer for an Oliver Stone movie. Interesting nonprofit organization -- leaders and staff. I had something to offer practically anyone in any high position in society. Nearly everyone was interested in me after I offered this.
I was known for making computer systems very easy to use, and which gave people the solutions they needed, without making them too dependent upon me, and not making them learn techie stuff though I did train them as much as I thought they could use and absorb without overloading them and changing their attitude. I did what was best for them, not what was best for me. So many were relieved to switch from their techie (who knew technical things a whole lot better than I did) to me (who knew what the customer really needed, and made it simple and easy to use). I tried to just be the manager of their techie whenever possible, if the techie helped me back and had a good win-win attitude.
I must say that a major factor driving me to be a consultant is that I valued a diversity of experience in business as well as peoples' personal projects, rather than sitting in the same old company working in the same kinds of projects. My period of consulting from 1987 to 2001 was invaluable experience.
Some of my consulting was for the US government, mainly the US Agency for International Development (USAID), but some also for the United Nations and others such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and countless private networks. I set up the first internet connection for many countries, linked to my Washington, D.C., "hub". This is all a long story, so I will cut it short here, except to say that it eventually led to an opportunity to travel to the city of the Asia Regional Office (headquarters) in Bangkok, Thailand, at no expense to me and where I stayed in a luxury condominium without needing to pay rent. I decided not to turn down that adventure opportunity, for better or for worse (the impact to my life of which to be discussed later).
That relationship and consulting actually went slowly, and in my free time I also explored and marketed to the private multinationals in Bangkok and met a lot of Australians and British company directors who offered to hire me for consulting. As I have always preferred the private sector over government bureaucracies, I switched after just 4 months, which also meant I moved out of my free housing in the heart of the central business district. Actually, I chose to make a big break:
My outlook is that if you are going to live in a foreign country, then go live in the purely indigenous suburbs, not among the transplanted Western people and the gold-digging indigenous vendors hunting in the expat part of town. So after exploring the greater Bangkok metro region, I moved out to a distant suburb where I would sometimes go for days without seeing another foreigner. I learned to speak Thai and to read the Thai script somewhat (a derivative of sanskrit and pali, but a phonetic alphabet, unlike Chinese thank goodness).
The years 1994 to 1998 were golden years in my life, between my consulting and personal relations with multinational private sector people and operations, analysis of foreign cultures which I lived in, and travels to various other Asian countries (and occasional consulting there, too).
There was one big loss, however. I was outside of the US, and internet was very slow to come to Asia. When I left for Thailand in 1994, I was one of the leaders of the internet and could have made a fortune in the US when the "information superhighway" bandwagon first started. In Asia, I was very much cut off. By 1998, I was way, way behind. I probably could have retired by 1998 if I had stayed in America, and spent the rest of my life focussing on my philanthropic projects.
Indeed, the 1997 Great Asia Economic Collapse meant my work dried up in Thailand, and in fact the vast majority of people I was working with, who were in the engineering and construction industry, left. With nearly all of Thailand's savings and loans going bankrupt, Thailand's economy shrunk a staggering 10% almost immediately, and its currency plummeted. I had saved in Thai Baht by working in Thailand, not US dollars, and new laws had been passed to stop the exit of money at the very start of the collapse, so my savings dropped by more than half in a very short time, in terms of converting them to US dollars. Plus, many of my customers left without paying, and they'd gotten far behind in paying before the crash (it was an economic liquidity problem, long story).
I was basically looking at starting all over. Practically no work, and best to stay in Thailand where my Thai money was worth something.
I spent the next year living off savings, and since there wasn't much going on, I chose that time to complete writing a book which I had intended to do 10 years before ("PERMANENT", discussed under Projects, with PERMANENT being an acronym for Projects to Employ Resources of the Moon and Asteroids Near Earth in the Near Term -- P.E.R.M.A.N.E.N.T.), put it up as a free website, and self-publish it in paperback since no publisher would support me if I required it freely available on the internet and kept updating it there. For me, it was more important to get the concepts out than to make money for myself. (I know there are tradeoffs... but this is my choice, and it will always be my choice in the new era, not paper and others' business-is-business control.)
The feedback was great, and it got well over a million visitors (the equivalent of a best seller of a million), but no big money philanthropic supporters, just some book buyers plus donations of low to medium size which were insufficient. Most volunteers proved quite unreliable, though some became very special people and most reliable within their capabilities. Special people on this planet in this generation. A fraction of 1% of precious people, like "parts per million", people per million.
Some of the last of my savings went to travelling to the US in 1998 to a professional conference where I presented a paper on the PERMANENT electronic conferencing system (and arrived to find out I had been appointed as moderator and other roles, which had somehow been lost in email, most likely their network). That was followed by a trip to Japan, which I had long wanted to visit and analyze the culture, but it turned out to be a fantastically expensive trip and that was the end of my 5 years of travelling around Asia, for that time period of my life.
I returned to Thailand and an economy which was in a much deeper recession than I had realized after "finishing" my break to complete my book and website, as there was practically no new work at anything near my old consulting rates, unemployment was a real problem, with demand down and the competition of supply willing to work at desperate wages.
My savings and money eventually went down to zero, literally, and I had never been so poor since my university days. I had to borrow to eat!
I was forced to stop and focus on business 100%. However, it would be different this time. No more operating as an independent consultant. I would set up a company, hire and train my own staff, and manage my own employees. Eventually, the company would run on its own, giving me free time rather than being the only productive person to make money. The only problem was that I had no money to get started, and trying to find business partners willing to take the risk proved too much of a time waster. Most people want a guaranteed salary, and will quickly lose interest in the longterm when any shortterm money opportunity comes along.
Starting with nothing, I did start some new businesses, purely bootstrapped, in fact several businesses since I needed diversification for security. I always paid myself last, and at first I was the lowest paid person as CEO.
These businesses have taken years to develop to their current status. I am on the verge of realizing my steppingstone goal of having some financial security and sustainability -- not in terms of savings, but in terms of monthly income derived from teamwork which is not too dependent upon myself, with enough to pay everyone and invest some into expansion, plus enough diversification of the business to be fairly immune to any one major event. I have some good people, I have learned a whole lot, and most of all I have hope for the future.
I have no big debts, no credit card debt, no house mortgage in Thailand (paid off), only a car payment and some old debt to my father which he hasn't wanted to burden me with. I don't like debt, in contrast to most people, and I believe in sustainability.
Another thing that separates myself from many people is that I can take a lot of pressure and difficulty without getting moody or giving up. I look for this in other people who I consider working with, who will continue to persevere in a civil way to solve an important problem.
I also owe a great deal to Sam Fraser, my friend from New Zealand, who was the volunteer artist for my www.permanent.com website. After that, Sam came here in 2001 to help me start this business, and has been a key to its success. Sam is still here and we plan to be partners and friends for life.
I have 2 wonderful half-Thai daughters.
Over the years, I have learned to improve my ways of thought and my role in the world. My animal instincts are well understood and kept in perspective. My ego is recognized, checked, and double-checked (with help from my good friends). However, I do get temperamental when frustrated about lack of progress in my own life, and I let that energy flow whereby I channel it into focused work. Getting angry with myself sometimes gives me the necessary energy and focus to get over a hump. (I also get angry with careless people, but they are usually lazy and the only thing that gets them to work is fear, then I move on to better people, but I'm known for having a temper and straight words at times.)
I don't hold grudges long (and never really did). Achieving power and money do not corrupt me nor make me arrogant, a problem I have seen in a lot of other people. (A little bit of money in Thailand gives one a lot of power! However, my main experiences with this also include in American circles in the USA, especially Washington, D.C.) I don't use brute force over other people. I tolerate a lot of abuse from others, and just try to minimize animosities and a bad attitude, while maximizing reason over emotion. I quietly give up with an awful lot of them, simply move on to better horizons.
Finding overlap of interests and values is a key, and developing them in a balanced way.
Success in life will come down to the team work, and that is my main focus at the moment: finding good people and ways to work together.
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