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Conscious Creators Show — Make A Life Through Your Art Without Selling Your Soul

May 13, 2020

“I don’t think that we’re born individualists or we’re born a member of a community, but I think all these spaces are real. They all exist for all of us.” –Yancey Strickler


Welcome to the Conscious Creators Show; where through intimate and insightful interviews with authors, actors, musicians, entrepreneurs and other podcasters, you'll learn tools and tactics to 10x your creativity and strategies to grow and monetize your audience.


Yancey Strickler is a writer and entrepreneur. He is the cofounder and former CEO of Kickstarter, author of This Could Be Our Future: A Manifesto for a More Generous World (Viking), and the creator of Bentoism. Yancey has been recognized as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People. He’s spoken at the Museum of Modern Art, Sundance and Tribeca Film Festivals, Web Summit, MIT, and events around the globe. He co-founded the artist resource The Creative Independent and the record label eMusic Selects. Yancey grew up in Clover Hollow, Virginia, and began his career as a music critic in New York City.

On today’s episode of the Conscious Creator podcast, host Sachit Gupta speaks with Kickstarter co-founder and author Yancey Strickler. They discuss how Yancey’s background as a music critic and creator influenced his work on Kickstarter, how he and his co-founders infused Kickstarter with very intentional values, why he loves sci-fi, and more. Yancey also shares information about his decision making framework, Bentoism, and how he found and developed the idea. 


Episode Highlights: 

  • Yancey grew up on a farm in rural Virginia with no neighbors for miles around.


  • Up until now, if you want to raise VC, you have to be in NYC or San Francisco just for the necessary relationship building.
  • Yancey thinks with the recent increased interest in less urban areas, there may be a development of “flyover tech” or rural/red state tech, particularly with the increase in working remotely.
  • He moved to New York on a whim, with 2 days’ notice, and got a job writing the news blurbs for radio stations.
  • Yancey eventually became a music critic for The Village Voice and eventually Pitchfork.
  • During this time, a friend approached him with the idea for crowdfunding and the idea for Kickstarter began.
  • He and his co-founder struggled for several years as non-technical people trying to build a tech company.
  • Yancey didn’t quit his job at a record label until Kickstarter had been live for several months, because he found it difficult to take the risk to abandon his job stability having come from a family with little money.
  • It’s hard to know where you want to go as an organization, but it’s even harder to consistently make choices that push you closer to where you want to go.



  • Yancey found himself thinking about his future and where he wants to go, and realized he could divide it into Now Me, Future Me, Now Us, and Future Us.
  • He called this “Beyond Near-Term Orientation,” or BENTO, like the Japanese Bento box and the “hara hachi bu” dieting principle.
  • Now, Yancey asks himself a few questions in each of these quadrants in order to guide his decision-making.
  • Yancey does a weekly Bento check-in and uses it to schedule his week in a balanced, intentional way.
  • During lockdown, he has used Bento check-ins to shift his mindset from a self-focus to a group focus, thinking about the new responsibility of homeschooling his 4 year old as an additive experience instead of something that takes him away from his work.
  • We all have passive awareness and active awareness, and the Bento framework helps you cultivate more active awareness.



  • The collectivism of the East is likely why lockdown and COVID-19 response has been more effective in those countries, and their long-termism will similarly likely lead to more effective response to climate change.
  • Yancey predicts multiple false endings to this crisis.
  • They never announced Kickstarter funding because it would have been discussed exclusively in the technology press, and that attention would only create competition in the space.
  • Kickstarter was built for creatives, not for tech investors.
  • Yancey started The Creative Independent, which is an online magazine that features a different creative professional daily.
  • Yancey found a study that applied the idea of the Golden Ratio to business growth, which posited that the ideal size for a company is 50 people, and beyond that, you have to hire people to facilitate the administration of the company and the work slows down.
  • After 10 years working full-time on Kickstarter as co-founder and then CEO, overseeing a massive period of growth and reorganization into a public benefit corporation, Yancey left to work on his Bentoism book.
  • Yancey decided to write a book because as soon as he left Kickstarter he realized he was free to have thoughts that he didn’t have to filter through the company.
  • Yancey tried out many hypothetical careers or things to do, like teaching, writing a book, etc., and would spend the day imagining himself in that role and paying attention to his physical responses to that imagined reality.
  • Covering rock music influenced his work at Kickstarter by giving him an understanding of what’s “cool.”
  • Yancey loves sci-fi because it always reflects back and teaches him something about the present.



  • Being a conscious creator to Yancey means having intentionality, working through your vague idea and finding its meaningful expression.



3 Key Takeaways:

  1. We all need to balance our focus on ourselves, others, the present, and the future to lead a fulfilling life.
  2. Having a framework and value system to make decisions helps you to always make progress in a consistent direction.
  3. These ideas will help you to be a better and more conscious creator by giving your work an intentionality.


Tweetable Quotes:

“There’s so many assumptions built into the language of our cultural products that presume a shared belief system that is way more excluding than people might realize.” –Yancey Strickler

“I don’t think that we’re born individualists or we’re born a member of a community, but I think all these spaces are real. They all exist for all of us.” –Yancey Strickler

“With climate change, what we’re going to see is that the Chinese and the Eastern perspective of long-termism and collectivism is going to be far more adept at creating scalable solutions to climate change than the West.” –Yancey Strickler

“In every world, I think it’s can you create value for people? Can you reach out to people with gives instead of with asks? Those are things that go a long way. Traits that go a long way are communication and critical thinking.” –Yancey Strickler

“What I love about sci-fi is that sci-fi is always about the present. It’s just creating a different reality to reveal the truth of the present. And I learn a lot from that, and it engages my mind.” –Yancey Strickler



  1. Subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts or on your favorite podcast app and let us know what you think by leaving a rating and a review.
  2. Thank our guest and let them know what you thought of today’s episode — send Yancey a message through his website!
  3. Head on over to Creators.Show to get new episodes, exclusive guides like our guide on “How to Connect With Busy Influencers”, partner deals and additional bonuses.


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