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Robots, Time Travel and The Interview of a Lifetime

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It was almost as if I was dreaming when I heard the first words come out of his mouth. It took me right back to those hundreds of hours of CD’s that my high school tennis coach gave me to listen to.  At first I shrugged those CD’s off as useless “self-help” stuff that people who didn’t have ambition or the right attitudes in life needed – in order to try to get out of their own way.  But, the further I got into training at  higher mental levels – state championships, official visits at universities around the country and setting my sights on making an Olympic run for my home island of Barbados – the more I noticed that the words coming out of this guy’s mouth on these CDs were coming in more and more handy in my “self talk” as I was working my way through grueling matches in the 100 degree Florida weather.

photo 1And today, it’s almost like I’m in the future. I’m sitting in a hotel room on vacation, while my wife and kids are down at the beach. I told them I’d be back in an hour, I was going to go to San Francisco to NASA to conduct an interview with that same guy with the voice.  This only sounds truly crazy if you understand the fact that I was on vacation in North Florida.  I’ve been known to be unrealistic about time before, but to San Francisco and back in an hour?! What?!

How did I plan to do this?! Don’t laugh…a robot.  Okay, okay, I know this has the sound of a poorly-written sci-fi novel, but in reality it was all true.  I am working on a documentary right now about Peter Diamandis. If you don’t know who Peter is, he is the co-author of the New York Times Best-Selling Book, Abundance.  He is also the founder of the X-Prize. You know, the one launched in 1996 where some crazy guy offered $10 million to the first team that could circumnavigate the globe twice sub-orbitally, within a 2-week period?  The same one that Richard Branson bought the technology for and created Virgin Galactic?  Yeah…that X-Prize. And that crazy guy who made the offer, and didn’t even know where he was going to get the $10 million from, was Peter.  Peter is also the founder of Singularity University with Google and NASA.  He’s the real deal. And for this documentary, here are a few of Peter’s “friends” we’re interviewing: Richard Branson, Quincy Jones, Will.i.am, and quite a few more.

But today, I am using what’s called a “BEAM” robot.  The BEAM is made by Suitable Technologies, founded by Scott Hasaan, who was the key software architect and developer of Google, Alexa Internet and the Stanford Digital Library—another friend of Peter’s. Yeah, I know, what a slouch!

As I beam into Singularity University on the NASA Campus, I access the robot. My face comes up on the screen so others can see me and talk to me, and I start looking around. It seems eerily similar to what it must feel like for a newborn baby.  Darkness, and then light, and trying to make out where you are and what your surroundings mean…except this time, I’m in a closet…and I have to get out. (…cue joke here.) I start driving forwards, but I realize I have to drive over wires that look like some my film crew, who I flew in from LA, left in the doorway. And then I hear some talking.

I recognize the voices of my crew, so I yell for help, and they come and rescue me, helping me navigate the wires.  I drive down the hallway and make it through a few tight spots, as I check the camera angles my Director of Photography, Ramy, who many of you know, has set up for me, and then I drive to the spot right next to the camera that I would be sitting in if I were there live.  Actually, I had been in that same spot with the same robot about 2 weeks prior, interviewing the legendary futurist Ray Kurzweil, who Forbes Magazine called “the rightful heir to Thomas Edison”, who is also the Chief Engineer at Google.  You may also know him as the inventor of the synthesizer, the inventor of the flat bed scanner, OCR text recognition, and also as the New York Times Best-Selling Author of the book, The Singularity is Near.

As I was waiting today for our interview subject to come in, I see Peter Diamandis, and we catch up for a few minutes as I fill him in on where we are with filming -- he sounds pleased. It’s a nice thing to hear a guy who Fortune Magazine just ranked as one of the 50 Most Influential Leaders in the World in 2014, say good things about you, I’m not gonna’ lie!  After Peter and I catch up, Ramy and I exchange a few words and he asks me if I want to see the room where most of this event is taking place. I say sure, and we head down the hall together.  I keep trying to clip his heels…just for fun. He laughs and starts walking a little faster than the BEAM can so I’ll leave him alone.  But alas, we reach the limit of this robot, the stairs! So we back up and get into place to wait for the interview.

Finally, there’s some hustling and bustling from down the hall and I hear, “He’s coming,” and everyone gets into place.  He rolls in and is upbeat and very cordial, much more so than I was expecting.  We go through the common niceties, I tell him hello from a few of our mutual friends to build rapport.  He engages instantly and makes a few jokes to get back and tell them what he said about our mutual friends, and then says he’s ready to roll for the interview.  “Cameras speeding,” I hear, and we’re off.

I ask the first question and that voice comes out and takes me back to when I was 16 – listening to those self-help CDs in-between tennis matches and pop, rock and country hits.  The voice belongs to personal development juggernaut, Tony Robbins. But now, he is live. At least live with me and my robot.

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As you can imagine, the interview couldn’t have gone better. I could have practically sat there and stared at Tony and magic would have rolled out of his mouth, but I asked the questions for the perspective I need for the movie. I ask him about Peter, about Abundance, about X-prizes, about Singularity University, and he is very forthcoming about donating millions of his photo 3own dollars to these causes to see the advancement of the future. Tony is a part of this inner circle with Peter – among the richest, most famous people in the world – who all believe “the future is better than you think.”  Why? Because they’re dedicated to making it that way.  And my goal is to empower the messages of Tony Robbins, Peter Diamandis, Richard Branson, Quincy Jones and many others to help the world get out of a scarcity mindset and start helping to create abundance in the future for ourselves and our children.   Just as the interview ends, I realize it’s time for me to get back to my world and my children.  So, we take a quick selfie (of course!) and out I beam, back to Florida, back to the beach.  All in all, I was a bit unrealistic about the time frame. It took more like an hour and a half, but when I got back to the beach, my wife and kids were glad I wasn’t gone for too long, and ready to play in the surf again…all thanks to technology, and a future I couldn’t have even begun to imagine just a couple of years ago, before I met Peter. And I want you to be able to see the future the way I can now, too.

We are going to introduce many of you to these types of technologies when we host our X-Group Mastermind meeting with Peter in the X-Prize office in Los Angeles in February of 2015.  It’s going to be incredible.  Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that we have a few spots left for executive producers and producers who want to help fund the movie I’m making on Peter.  I truly believe it is going to win a TON of awards and make a huge impact on the world.  If you’d like to learn more about the X-Group or the movie with Peter, feel free to email me at: Nick@DNAgency.com or call the office at 800-980-1626.

For now, the kids are sleeping, and we’ve got more vacationing to do tomorrow. So, I’m off to dream of a future that’s better than I thought.

…Won’t you join me?