I followed a twitter status from Fred Wilson to a blog post by Seth Godin about “freemium, abundance, and scarcity“. Seth demonstrates his point about “free” (as in a business model) by referencing a company that gives “free Yoga lessons” in order to sell and promote their brand of yoga clothing. I followed the link and read the article and lost heart (disclosure: I am a yoga practitioner & teacher).
Fred & Seth have way more practice & experience then I do when it comes to business, so I can’t challenge them on that front. There is only one thing I can responsibly relate to in all of this – and that is Yoga. That stuff that was given for “free” in the park is not Yoga – it is an illusion made to look like Yoga – a misapprehension due to a lack of Yoga. Therefor, any logical argument based on that illusion is tainted by it. I very much wanted to reach the conclusion that Seth is wrong – but I honestly couldn’t because:
- I think he’s a smart guy and I’ve have been inspired by him numerous times.
- I wasn’t able to follow his train of thought.
- I didn’t care to make an effort because I felt that this post (which is just a case in point, that happened to brush closer to me) doesn’t qualify for a “wrong and right” argument. It lacks context – as did most of the battle around the idea of “free”.
- I believe that his thoughts would shed a different light if they were applied in a context.
I’ll stick to the Yoga. The fact that Yoga is so popular indicates that:
- People are suffering (this is so spiritually obvious, yet seems to get overlooked – after all those yoga-clothed people in the park look happy – don’t they?).
- From that suffering shines a small yet unwavering light of seeking (there is hope).
- People associate Yoga with a remedy to this situation (people know good).
People are looking for something – and that’s a promising prospect. Seeking is a treasure of potential energy that can be used or abused. Yoga (and I am assuming other spiritual) teachers rely on that energy to guide people towards freedom. Others ab-use it to create bondage. Business, the way I see it as of the writing of these words, is dominated by ab-users (though I can see islands of inspiring change).
As a Yoga teacher I often get an urge to shout out to people “you are getting it wrong, let me help you” – but I don’t act on it. It doesn’t work for me because that very thought is an act of enslavement – it insinuates that I know better and you should follow me (and abort your way – your freedom), and I know, from my practice, that’s just plain wrong. In the Yoga-related article Seth linked to there is a quote that depicts an opposing position:
“You don’t need anything to do yoga. You don’t even need shoes. ”
This is also misleading. To take on a practice of Yoga you have to have a caring and passionate interest in yourself, in others, in life and in nature , a sense of purpose – and maybe, just maybe, if you carry those with you for some time you may encounter a teacher. Passion, care and purpose can’t be sold off shelves in stores. Fortunately – they exist in infinite abundance inside every one of us and all we have to do it sit still long enough to take notice of them.
The only conclusion I’ve been able to reach and sustain about the idea of “free as a business model” is that the people who support and use it, think they can afford to. There are strong undercurrents in this post of my critical views of current business practices. I have not yet matured enough to connect all the strings needed to make my point in writing. So, I leave you with two video clips from two seemingly unrelated issues – and I leave you to invest your own caring efforts in making your own connections: