Part 3 of the Camino Story – Aaron Lammer and New Matt
Wanna see the other Walk n’ Talks? Here they are!
1) Kevin Kelly on Death
2) Hugh Howey on World Building
3) Matt Mullenweg on WordPress and more
Where do I start with this guy? Maybe here with this 360 video (a reminder that you can grab the video and turn the camera any way you want).
When I was invited on this 150km hike in Spain with 10 people, I didn’t know most of them. But I did a little googling ahead of time so I would get a sense of the sorts of characters I’d be stuck with for a week. One of them was Aaron Lammer, who was easy to get-to-know because he has three podcasts. One of them is on cryptocurrency, one of them is about weed, and one of them is about long-form writing. I only listened to the crypto ones and I was immediately impressed by his approach to the subject matter.
What impressed me the most was his openness in his understated approach of “I don’t know anything about Crypto, but let’s figure this out as we go along by talking with other experts and funny, strange stories from the crypto world.” Note that isn’t an exact quote, but that was basically his pitch for the show.
I’m not going to talk much about crypto here. I’m a believer that this will be how most humans transact in the future. Actually, even though I love my friend Hugh Howey, he could not disagree more! I’ve met many people that are quite divided on this subject. It’s interesting at a meta-level how an idea can be so divisive. But most people on this walk were really into philosophy, so it made for some great conversations.
I’ll step back a moment and explain why I liked Aaron so much.
He has a lot of deep knowledge in a vast myriad of subjects. I think whatever subject I brought up, he had strong opinions about everything.
Also, during our final dinner with all of us, he had a good old-fashioned cry, as most of us did. That’s a big deal. When you can cry in front of a bunch of other dudes. I won’t say what we all talked about because I’m the best secret-keeper in the world, but it was all wonderfully emotionally stirring.
Aaron does so many things! He even just produced a music video for Francis and the Lights. How does one guy do so many things that appear to be unrelated?
My armchair psychoanalysis is this: Aaron gives 100% of his energy to things that are interesting to him. The only commonality between producing music to crypto to weed to long-form writing is Aaron himself. I get the feeling that he’s tried hundreds of things, but they just weren’t all that interesting to him, so he focused everything on these items. And, if they don’t serve him in a few years, he’ll be onto something else interesting to him.
Perhaps my favorite part is that he’s unapologetic about his interests and beliefs. It’s a delicate balance to have strong opinions on a myriad of subjects and not be an egoic asshole about it.
I really like this quality in people. Maybe this is a solipsistic thing because I am very similar. I’m easily distracted but when I find something interesting, I put 100% of my energy into it without apology.
There is a funny story along the Camino with Aaron. Well, there are dozens, but I’ll tell you this one in particular.
Just before the final day of our hike, Matt Mullenweg (founder of WordPress, my roommate, and the subject of a future story) left us because he had to go speak at their annual conference. Also, his knee was really hurt and he was hobbling around in a terrible way that made us all feel bad for him. Anyway, our group was one short, and we made a “friend” at one of the rest breaks that we called “New Matt”. I don’t remember the guy’s actual name, but it doesn’t really matter because he was New Matt.
New Matt totally sucked.
We all hated him, but he walked with us for many hours anyway. Who hated him most? Aaron Lammer. He turned out to be the diametric opposite of Aaron. For example, Aaron knows a lot about music. This New Matt could not have infuriated him more. New Matt says he refuses to listen to music after The Beatles and thinks everything is terrible.
What really ground Aaron’s gears were the same argument techniques that seem to be used by people raised in the Jewish culture. Aaron is not a practicing Jew, but he definitely has those funny Woody Allen argumentative tendencies. New Matt was a bit more hardcore Jewish, from Israel, and even more opinionated than Aaron. The big difference is that New Matt had his entire ego and “story of self” tied into his opinions and he was completely blind to hearing other viewpoints. This drove Aaron absolutely crazy and, even after New Matt finally left our crew, it was the subject of conversation for countless hours. It was like Aaron ventured off into the forest to have a pee and he got a splinter in his nutsack he couldn’t extract for weeks.
I think our experience with New Matt really helped us to get to know Aaron better. Not until one meets their foil does one come to know oneself. And we were all listening in to their heated conversation with reckless delight. You don’t want to get on Aaron’s intellectual bad side. No matter how cunningly Aaron attempted to paint New Matt into a corner of his own logical demise, New Matt would slip away into a straw man argument that was only loosely related. Aaron prepared a riposte with a steel man, only to be deflected in a subtle way with another unconnected point that would increase Aaron’s frustration and re-direct the verbal battle.
We recorded countless hours of our talks, but that is the ONE talk I wish we had recorded.
Anyway, we all love you Aaron. You all should go listen to one of his podcasts now.