Davion Ziere
Co-Director, Mobius
Davion Ziere
Co-Director, Mobius

Why is trust foundational for systems change?  How might we restore trust within ourselves and amongst each other?

Show Notes

In this episode we're exploring a foundational topic: trust. Our guest Davion Ziere, known as Zi, has been thinking deeply about this topic for years. He's even written a yet to be published book on it. Davion is co-director of Mobius, founder of an online community marketplace called Origyn, a recording artist, and student of many indigenous traditions. This is the first of a two part series exploring Zi's work.

In this conversation Jenny and Zi touch on:

  • Trust and grief [2:54]
  • Defining trust [5:31]
  • Trust in pre-modern cultures [8:10]
  • Learning from Zi's study of indigenous groups in Hawaii, Peru, and the Amazon [13:30]
  • Why trust is a root issue to address [17:00]
  • Trust of self [19:59]
  • Defining self worth [26:09]
  • Restoring trust and the importance of truth [30:04]
  • The importance of listening [41:51]
  • The first law of thermodynamics [44:05]
  • Zi's values around trust [45:47]
  • Moving from transaction to trust [56:08]
  • Redefining ownership [57:26]


"Davion Ziere (DZ): Yes, it is our responsibility to live true to self. And it can be incredibly difficult too in a system, in a framework that does not validate us simply for being and for us being true to ourselves. A lot of times we have fear of being ourselves because we feel like, ‘Well, if I'm true to self, I might not have money. Or it might not be liked. Or they might not want to hear what I have to say. Or they may not care.’ Or whatever it is that comes up in the mind around me being valid. But that comes from deep systems that have gone to their ends to wash away the sense of self. 

We have industrialized, and mechanized and machine-ized as much as possible for efficiency's sake to drive the goals that are very clear of our system. For gain, for this idea of gain and profit and growth. In the process, you don't get one thing without sacrificing something else. And what's been sacrificed is going back to that piece – of you." 

[00:01:15] Jenny Stefanott (JS): That's Davion Ziere. He's an entrepreneur and artist, co-director of a nonprofit. He's one of the most brilliant people that I have met in doing this work. And this is the Denizen podcast. I'm your host and curator, Jenny Stefanotti. 

In this episode, we're exploring a foundational aspect of society. Trust. Why is trust essential? How has trust been broken? And how might we re-establish it? Our guest for this episode has been thinking deeply about this topic for years and has written a not yet published book on it, Davion Ziere. He's co-director of Mobius. A nonprofit focused on creating a thriving ecosystem for liberation technologies. 

He is an entrepreneur. He founded Origyn, an online community-based marketplace. He's also a recording artist. He's traveled to many different parts of the world studying different indigenous traditions. He's really just a wizard. He's so wise beyond his years. He's not yet 30. 

In this conversation, we dig really deep on trust. Again, why is it so important? How has it been broken? We talk about trust within ourselves as well as trust amongst ourselves. We talk about what trust means in the context of institutions, and governance and so much more. It's a little bit of a longer conversation than usual because I couldn't bring myself to cut down the brilliant insights that he has to share. I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did. 


[00:02:35] JS: This is a really important conversation because it's really foundational around trust. And it's something that you've spent a long time thinking very deeply about from many different angles. And it ties to so many different components of our inquiry here. I'm very excited to dig into this. 

Now we were just reflecting on the past year that you've had and where you are at this moment with respect to trust. And you mentioned something about trust and grief. I just love to start there.

[00:03:09] DZ: Oh, thank you. I do want to just say, my name is Davion Ziere. Davion Starchild Ziere. That's not something I often actually share in this context. But everyone calls me Zi. We were just talking about trust as it relates to grief. 

For me, that's been a very intimate walk over the past year to surrender in the face of experiencing deep pain and to go, "I feel this pain." And not to run from it. Not to dismiss it. Not even to hide it from people that we may run into. But to lean in and go, "I'm hurting. This hurts. This is painful." 

The beauty of that is that a window is just created. A lot of times we look at the window and we go, "Oh, I'm vulnerable. Someone else could cause greater pain. Or someone's going to not care." Or whatever it may be. Or maybe they don't have the tools to hold us or have the capacity to meet us where we are. 

And that's often where we go. We go into fear. Which is totally understandable. And also, that window also opens up an opportunity for someone to show up and to hold us. To share wisdom. To share support and resources. And actually, a beautiful bond can be formed more deeply through that, which engenders greater trust. 

And there is even a trust in ourselves. And we will know, if it doesn't feel right in the body to share in a certain moment or it doesn't feel right, then don't force it. But if it feels right and we open up. And all of a sudden, a bond was formed, and trust is more deeply established. 

And I'll just pause on this point by closing on that by saying, in our bodies, like our physical bodies, there is no flow without trust. The cells in our body can't even communicate with one another freely and information is not passed on without that trust. There's not this transactional nature of like, "Yeah, I need $50 to pass this information along to the brain." It's just flow. 

And when that flow is there, we have life. And it's brilliant. And so much is unlocked. I'll pause there. But I wanted to really kind of draw that note home around leaning in and surrendering in the space of grief and welcoming in gratitude so as to establish more deeply trust. 

[00:05:31] JS: I mean, let's just unpack the word to start, right? Trust, Merriam-Webster. Assured reliance on the character, ability, strength or truth of someone or something. One in which confidence is placed. Dependence on something future or contingent. Hope. Reliance on future payment from property. Care. Custody.  

This is interesting. A child committed to her trust. It's called a trust. A charge or duty imposed in faith or confidence or as a condition of some relationship. Something committed or entrusted to one to be used or cared for in the interest of another. 

This is very interesting, right? It is a confidence around someone else's behavior essentially taking into account me. It's interesting that this word care comes up. To point back to your example of the opportunity of me being in pain and someone showing up to establish trust. We see trust as repeated interactions where somebody cares about me. 

Because an agreement is based on some contract around how one is going to behave based on mutual needs. And so, I find it interesting when we really unpack this word. We see care being quite central. 

[00:06:56] DZ: Yeah. Yeah. It is. It is. And you don't have trust without that care. 

[00:07:02] JS: It's like reliable care. 

[00:07:05] DZ: Reliable care. You don't have trust without reliable care. I mean, well, and that's care where there's been accountability and responsibility. There's care – when you say reliable, you get it into the realm of – I think in other words you might have mentioned just dependable or depending. 

And so, without this sense of responsibility, you don't necessarily have the trust. And you don't have that without a sense of ownership. And you don't have ownership really without being aware. 

[00:07:36] JS: And these are all really big things that I want to unpack because these are so central to your document. Ownership, and redefining ownership and thinking about trust. We'll get to that. I'm very excited to get to that. And I think as you talk about the values and awareness, I want to unpack that. But for now, I want to stay on this interrogation of trust. 

[00:07:55] DZ: Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:07:55] JS: I think it is, it's confidence that you are going to act in the future and that is unknown to me. And I want to have confidence or belief that the way that you will act is in accordance with what we've agreed on, which takes into account what I care about. 

[00:08:10] DZ: This is good, because this is Merriam-Webster direction. And I want to invite us into, even pre-Merriam-Webster, which is like what is the trust of villages of people that are operating not in a space of mine, yours, that sort of thing? If you want this, you have to give me that. Or I'm going to emulate this much. These are ways of viewing even trust that are quite transactional and have come of the way that our systems have even been established. 

Let's take a walk down that path. What we discovered is trust, care, and reliability. There was a point where it was understood that this is this earth, and the lands that we walk on and the resources that just naturally are birthed from this planet and from the cosmos. Because sometimes there's literally like comets that hit the earth and there's metals and minerals produced that wouldn't have without that. 

Literally without going metaphysical, literally to go material, that's an actual phenomenon that occurs. That there are things that are born that just happened. Nobody transacted for that to occur. And so, there was a time that it was just understood that this is ours. This is ours to steward. And so, we share. 

And the trust that was built at the time in reciprocity and in giving, right? To the point of awareness even, it's so important for us to know who we are and what our unique gifts are? And how to share those things with one another? So that way, we can give freely and we feel good about it because it's resonating with who we are, right? We feel a sense of belonging, and connection and meaningfulness in our own life, in our own offerings, if you will, of what we offer. 

The same way that the Earth does this with fruits, vegetables and so on and so forth, people have mirrored this, right? And so, there is then this understanding of, "Well, when I share something with you, one, there's a natural exchange that's already occurring." Sometimes just receiving is a gift in itself. It's like, "Oh, you're receiving this thing that I worked so hard to make, this song? This dance? This food? This land? My family? My community? Myself? You're receiving it.” And that's such a joy. And there was pride in that. 

And then I want to bring us up to Merriam-Webster and all the definitions that we have now and how we hear them. And then insert people that come and go to different lands and aren't coming from a space of this is ours. It's very much like I find my place in the world. And I'm looking for my validation. I don't necessarily have confidence in the environment around me and the people around me. And so, I got to stake my claim. I got to go out and get it. I got to grind. I gotta go hard. 

And I'm going to go so hard that I'm willing to actually discount this sort of unwritten – it wasn't even written in most cultures. The things were just to be shared, and understood and things of this nature, right? It was just understood and shared. Just in terms of – and even like we go to documents. I love to reference folks called like the founding fathers of the United States of America. Thomas Jefferson is noted as one of the greats who supported the writing of the Declaration of Independence. 

And this is someone who actually did write about this phenomenon that we're discussing right now. He has actual writings where he's saying in his notes on the state of Virginia. He's saying, "Yeah, the tribes here, there's many of them. They don't have a constitution, or a rule book, or anything, but they seem to operate in great harmony with one another." Now we want to trust. But at the time, people were trusting. But the trust was broken by a totally different set of philosophies and approach to the world that wasn't coming from the shared resource and supply of this planet. 

[00:12:12] JS: I so appreciate a lot of things about what you just said. I mean, one. Trust is remembering who we are. We're going to talk about that. Giving these examples of indigenous cultures where, frankly, cultured mimicked nature. And how in our evolution and part of the process that you articulate that we'll get to is also understanding how we got here. 

There was a conversation that we released just a couple weeks ago with Robert Gilman, founder of the Context Institute, called Beyond the Enlightenment. And we talked about Enlightenment thinking and the mindsets in the Enlightenment. And what the blind spots were. And how to kind of identify those and evolve the current mindsets. And that was so baked in scientific thinking and just general bias towards the intellect and the mind to make sense of reality. 

And there was a divorce from nature and our role in nature that was also part of the philosophies of that era and the mindsets that really were what underpinned the institutions that were established subsequently. Particularly if you look at the US. 

And so, one of the things that Robert talks about is the dominance of a language and linguistic thinking that came from that era. And how do we move to kinetic thinking? And visual thinking? And other ways of knowing. I also appreciate the irony of going straight to Merriam-Webster to answer that. 

[00:13:30] DZ: You know, it's real and it makes sense, right? That's where we are. That's what we do. And so, that's why it's just important to set context all the time to give that in. And I've been on different lands with different tribes such as Peru, or Hawaii, or the Amazons. And at this stage I've kind of come to a few very clear and key realizations about my time in these spaces. 

And that's that I've spent time with people who are actually never colonized. These are people who actually never experienced having to start indulging in, or engaging in capitalism, or being enslaved, or any of these things, right? 

And so, with the caveat around Hawaii, which is the most recently colonized, actually, land on the Western Hemisphere. There's still a lot of evidence of how things were. That's probably the one place I'll note there. 

But what I discovered in all this time was that people went as far as to go to the highest points in the mountains, the deepest points of the jungles, the most inaccessible remote areas of the desert just to get away from this violence that was persecuting people while people were just operating in harmony, with one another, and the land and things like that. They went so far away. That was the only way that they could actually even preserve their existence. We wouldn't have them today if they didn't go places that they felt like other people would go. They knew that people were like, "That's not even livable." 

And what they were able to keep and retain, and I love that they're still like artifacts and monuments across the world that are reflective of these times, is when you look at all of them, whether it'd be like going up to areas like Machu Picchu, or you want to talk about places like Sierra Nevada, Ciudad Perdida in Colombia, or like the pyramids, these mountains that all exist across the world is that there was not only – to your point, there wasn't just an understanding of a relationship to one another. But there was a great relationship and understanding of how we are in relation with the stars, with the earth itself. What is the perfect way to actually tend to the soil and to bring crops forth? 

Even the process of slavery and things like that, I want to mention this intentionally. Because it wasn't as though the folks who were colonizing actually even understood how to grow certain crops in certain seasons. There's a great brain trust even that was taken and forced that didn't exist for them. They were like, "Well, we don't really know how to grow things here." But they do. 

And so, we're not only going to use their physical labor. But this is a great thing that often goes un-discussed. We're going to take and force the emotional and mental labor and say, "Hey, you do this. This thing that I don't know how to do. You figure it out.”

But what they thought was happening was like, "Oh, they're just doing this material process. And we're going to take in and make it our own and continue to let them do it. Or force them to do it." But in reality, the reason why things are growing in the ways that they were in seasons that they were to sustain life was because they understood, "I'm in a relationship with this Earth, and with the seasons, and with the cycles of the moon, and water, and tides." And it's also related in our culture today. We have separated ourselves in a way. Objectified. Like we talk about even objectifying bodies, and women and things like that in our culture today. But we objectify the Earth. We objectify – 

[00:16:57] JS: Yeah, 100%. 

[00:16:58] DZ: And so, yeah, it's just – 

[00:17:00] JS: And this is a lot of “the telling the truth” that starts the process to evolve from where we are today that we'll get to momentarily. I first just want to – I mean, I just love to hear from your perspective. You say, “Our most critical issue in enabling our people and planet to be whole is trust. Whether trust of self, companies, trusting the economic or justice system, trust in personal relationships, the environment. This root issue is running rampant and counter to all of our efforts. Trust requires an underlying set of agreements that enable it to operate seamlessly. And our current underlying set of agreements do not activate a trust that we can collectively depend on.”

 I just want to hear from you, why is trust the most critical issue? Can you unpack that a little bit more? 

[00:17:45] DZ: Well, and it's also noted there that a body that can't trust his parts shuts down. If information isn't flowing from cell to cell – or blood isn't being able – and isn't able to pass through our breath, it isn't able to access where it needs to go. It shuts down. Physically, you cannot survive if that flow is not occurring. 

And it's the same thing with water not reaching certain parts of this planet. Things become desolate. They dry up. And it's very difficult to have life in spaces where there is no flow. And it's difficult to have flow without trust. Yeah, I'll just note that there. And you can look at it in many respects. Even a society.

[00:18:28] JS: I appreciate that. Yeah, I appreciate that. Well, it's also – I think it runs in both directions, right? But just an awareness of our interconnectivity. Just like a fundamental consciousness where trust is inherent. That is not the case. I just think that's a really interesting point that you're making, that without trust the flow and right relationship doesn't follow. And the right relationship is one where there's an awareness of the interconnected nature of reality and not the atomization that we inhabit in the dominant paradigm. 

[00:19:03] DZ: Yes. Well, and put it in a relationship context. Do you really want to be in a relationship where you really don't trust the person that you're with all the time? It generates very uncomfortable anxious feelings of you're worried, you're stressed. And then it starts to manifest in your body, like literally. 

[00:19:19] JS: Yeah, totally.

[00:19:21] DZ: And then it affects other relationships. 

[00:19:23] JS: Totally. 

[00:19:24] DZ: And it affects how you show up to work. All of a sudden, you went from like this one situation where you're just like, "Oh, gosh. I just do not trust." 

[00:19:31] JS: Well, I love that point about the spillover, right? I have some data points that I can't trust with me, vis-a-vis this person, or this institution, right? And then I extrapolate. Well, I can't trust anybody that looks like that. Or I can't trust love. Or I can't trust any corporate institution. The fact that we extrapolate also leads to a breakdown in these sorts of foundations of society. I appreciate that.

[00:19:59] DZ: Yeah, absolutely. We'll go one further. It was like the first one that you even mentioned. But it's the trust of self. It's like do we have trust within ourselves? Do we have that confidence within ourselves? And it's not to say that we don't have our days where we're not sure about things. 

Certainty is a bit different from trust. Trust, in this case, we're asking am I allowing myself to experience my truth? Am I even able to walk in my truth of what I know to be true for myself? A lot of times we self-suppress those things. And so, we don't – 

[00:20:33] JS: 100%. 100%. Davion, number one regret of the dying. I wish I would have lived a life true to myself and not what others expected of me, right? I was going to get into needing to tell the truth. But before we get there, let's just stay here for a moment because we're in it, right? Because it's so interesting. How disconnected we are from self. From inner wisdom. From the ability to self-actualize.  Because – well, for many reasons. But one of them being we inhabit a cultural context that in many ways is very captured by capitalism that tells us that what we value is more. I value more property, more money, more status, more followers on Instagram, right? And we get so – and it's so validated by everyone around us. 

Because when you show up at the party, you're more important if you have more Instagram followers or whatever. And so, we're just so caught up in that current that we don't connect to that inner wisdom about what really matters. And then here we are at the end of our lives, and what's the number one regret? That I wasn't living a life true to myself. 

[00:21:49] DZ: And pause there. For everyone listening, for ourselves. Today. Before we get to that end point. Let's reflect today. Are we living a life where we are true to ourselves? This is so important what we are stepping into in this conversation topic before getting into the other pieces that you mentioned. Just are we living a life true to yourself? 

Another part of our history that's important that connects to this though – because I want to give some compassion here. I want to be compassionate to everyone listening. I want to say that, yes, it is our responsibility to live true to self. And it can be incredibly difficult too in a system and a framework that does not validate us simply for being and for us being true to ourselves. 

A lot of times, we have fear of being ourselves because we feel like, "Well, if I'm true to self, I might not have money. Or I might not be liked. Or they might not want to hear what I have to say. Or they may not care. Or whatever it is." That comes up in the mind around me being valid. But that comes from deep systems that have gone to their ends to wash away the sense of self. 

We have industrialized, and mechanized and machine-ized as much as possible for efficiency's sake. But to drive the goals that are very clear of our system. For gain, for this idea of gain and profit and growth. In the process, you don't get one thing without sacrificing something else. And what's been sacrificed is going back to that piece – of you. 

[00:23:38] JS: I think also, to underscore what you just said, it highlights how much courage it takes to be true to self in the current story, right? Because that actually means failure in many cases. That rejection of that story of self-worth means failure in the eyes of society, right? 

[00:24:03] DZ: Well, I want to say this though. I was sitting with my stepfather who I say dad and pops too all the time. Yes, two days ago. Hadn't seen him for a while. And he's telling me and my sisters, he's like, "Hey, I'm just so sorry." And I'm like, "Why are you sorry?" He's like, "Because I feel like I failed you all." We're like, "Why? Why do you feel like you failed?" And he's like, "I failed because I didn't give you certain things in your life. Or you just wouldn't have to worry about anything. And you wouldn't have –" Because my background is I don't necessarily come from generational passed down of financials and things like that, right? 

He's like, "Man, I just wish we could have given you more. And I wanted to give you more." And I had to pause him and I said, "Hey, really, I'm grateful that you wanted to do more or this idea of more that you're sharing. And I need you to let go of this idea that you failed. Because you actually are such a success. Coming from where you have come," which his whole life's story is something totally different. Coming from the streets and things like that. But to come out of all that he came from, navigating sort of like what might be considered the worst of this country and this sort of system. To come out of that and to still find love in his heart. To want to pass love on to family, and to share that, and to raise daughters and a son who all do value family, who value community, who value love. 

And our courage is to be who we are. I'm like, "You've given us the greatest gift, which is love and your true self. And empowering us to love and be our true selves. And so, I need you to let go of this idea that you have failed because that is not something anyone could ever pay for. It is priceless." And no one can take it from us either. That's the thing at the end of the day. Nothing can take that sense of who we are away from ourselves. I wanted to note that about because it's so deep. 

[00:26:09] JS: Well, I also think there's something you've said so many times. And I want to make sure we surface it in this conversation because it's so central, which is that you are worthy because you are. 

[00:26:18] DZ: Yes. By birth on Earth, we are valid. The pure miracle of math and science that you are and to even exist. There is not a single person on this planet that would bet on the odds. It's less likely than the lottery that you would be born. And that you would have your unique personality and the things that make you. And that you would even continue to live into a certain age where we can have this conversation and you could listen to it or you could speak and have your voice and have your perspective. That's the least likely thing to ever happen. Such a mathematical miracle in your pure existence. 

If that isn't something of value, I don't know what more proof that we would need. And so, let's really pause and relish in the magnificence of our existence. The validity that has already been baked in. This is how – by starting to recognize this. And recognize is a key word here. By recognizing yourself and recognizing one another as valid and valuable. And not to my personal gain and benefit. But just because you are. Just because you are as you are. 

And instead of going, "Well, how can I –" again, not to my benefit. My gain. Not going how do I bend, and make this, and manipulate it and shape-shift into something I want it to be. But going, “How do I actually just appreciate it as it is?” Brief note on that word appreciation. What we appreciate appreciates. 

[00:28:03] JS: Yeah, I've heard you say that many times too. That's a classic quote of yours. 

[00:28:07] DZ: It grows. It stems in the whole space of energy flows where our attention goes. And it's true. And our attention is set on where our intentions are. We can set an intention and our attention will go there.

[00:28:20] JS: Yeah, it's interesting. Someone said to me this morning, "Words are air." Sort of like actions matter. It's kind of like, well, when you put the words out there, it's, to your point, energetically. Right? You are directing something in a direction, right? There may not be follow through, which compromises trust. But it's something. 

[00:28:41] DZ: And we really shouldn't reduce – I won't say shouldn't. But I would not encourage us to reduce words to not even being actions. It's still an action to speak, to write. How else are we primarily communicating? They say 85% of communication is non-verbal. Sure. And still, that other 15 is so substantial in this world that we live in. We talk, and listen, and read. And there's songs. And there's movies. And there's all these words. What do we make of that? What's the point of us even having them if it's not about words mattering just as much as our actions? 

[00:29:21] JS: Yeah. Yeah. And again, this is about integrity and trust, right? And so, words are kind of the first piece of that. And this is so central and it's so aligned with I mean, Denizen's tagline is Chang From Within, right? And so, this notion that restoring trust starts with restoring trust with the self. And then it'll go up to these other layers. 

And I want to get to that. But there's like a parallel process to that. The inner work of really interrogating what trust with self looks like? And how do I live in alignment with that? And then how does that spill over directly? And how do I engage intentionally around trust in the interbeing space and then the collective space? And we'll get to that. 

But I do want to touch on – this is such an important piece, which is we're not starting with a blank slate here. We're starting with a legacy of Institutions and a history that just ripped trust to shreds. And you say in your document, trust starts with telling the truth. In the words of our ancestors, “The truth will set us free.”  Also, in the words of Marian Williamson, "If we don't have a deep understanding of how we got to where we are, we don't have a deep understanding of where we are now. And if we don't have a deep understanding of those two things, then we don't have a deep understanding of where we go from here." 

[00:30:38] DZ: Yes. 

[00:30:40] JS: You also talk about how it begins with the healing process. Healing is important too. This points back to our atonement conversation that we put out early on. The healing process of being radically honest about how we are and then choosing where we go from here. 

Let's talk about telling the truth and how that allows us to have a starting point? And also, the role that that plays in healing and repair. 

[00:31:10] DZ: I love this. I absolutely love this. What's coming up for me – and this is funny because this is probably a different way of approaching this piece of telling the truth. Let's look at it as surface as we can get. Let's look at cosmetics. Like something that's like literally. 

[00:31:29] JS: I was not expecting you to go there. I love it. Tell me. 

[00:31:33] DZ: Let's go then. We say a ton of acne or a ton of like – maybe it's something hair related to my scalp or something like that. And we know that cosmetics is like – I mean, the industry of cosmetics is ginormous. Because we're doing a lot to address what we feel like are our flaws, our marks, our scars, our whatever it is that we don't like. A lot of times these kinds of industries are driven based on us wanting to be more beautiful or cover-up things that we don't like. We're trying to create an image here. That's what we're doing, right? 

[00:32:11] JS: We'll make you feel bad about yourself so we can make some more money. 

[00:32:15] DZ: Absolutely. 

[00:32:14] JS: Jameela Jamil. I don't know if you're familiar with her. But she's amazing in this regard and really pushing this narrative of how outrageous it is.

[00:32:22] DZ: Yeah. Well, and make you feel bad about yourself. What industry is actually not predicated on these sorts of things, right? And we're talking about healing. This is a really important piece. I want to note healing. I mentioned cosmetics because that is – that quote that you just noted is a primary approach of the systems and how we respond to them, right? There's this cycle. 

But the real healing occurs even for the skin and the hair. And I'm sure you may have come across someone who's like on their natural skin journey, or their natural hair journey, or whatever it may be. And the only way – they were like, "Oh, my goodness. This person's skin is flawless." And we're like, "How did you do it?" 

Or even if you go to an actual – like a professional who works in this sort of aesthetic space. And they're willing to help you on that journey. They're still going to ask you the real questions, which are like, "What's your diet like? What's your regimen? Do you wear sunscreen? Are you moisturizing? What kind of vitamins are you getting?" 

And all of these sorts of questions start to illuminate the truth behind what appeared on the surface, which were simply oftentimes they're symptoms of something deeper. Whether it'd be genetically, or their family, or ultimately how we're tending to ourselves right now or day-to-day. It might be a buildup of the last ten years that something popped up on our face or on our bodies. Or it might just be something that happened very recently, such as it could even be stress. 

But without a willingness to be honest and say, "Yeah, I smoke every day. And I'm stressed out. And this is actually – this is coming from this situation that happened in my life." We don't get to this sort of calm or peace that comes with accepting the truth of the matter and being able to actually grow and heal from within – to the tagline – from within without having to spend all of this going outside to spend our coins and to spend our energy trying to cover up something that is true. It's not going to go anywhere when we cover it up, when we wear the mask. It only heals when we actually address it for what it is. 

Yeah, I know that might have been a bit of an unorthodox note to get to that notion of trust within. But that truth-telling really is important if we want to address it. And so, you can extrapolate that across. 

[00:34:52] JS: Well, yeah. I mean, your answer got me thinking about – this is not planned, this part of the conversation – but I think it does beg a very deep and philosophical question in the realm of epistemics, right? Which is: what is truth? Can we know the truth, right? Given the vastness of the information available and the inability of us to compute all of it in our tendency to have a story in our head that we perceive reality through confirmation bias towards. 

[00:35:30] DZ: Can we comment on this? 

[00:35:33] JS: This is deep, right? 

[00:35:34] DZ: Yeah, can we comment on this though? 

[00:35:36] JS: Yeah, of course. 

[00:35:36] DZ: Okay. This is key. There's a quote in Robin Wall Kimmerer's Braiding Sweetgrass.

[00:35:43] JS: Yep. Must read, if you haven't read it, for those listening. 

[00:35:46] DZ: Absolutely. And she notes that when the individuals flourish, so does the whole. This is so vital. Because when we talk about truth and all the things to compute about what's the truth and things like that, we don't individually really need to know everything. It's actually known that it's – and it's been proven that it's not even healthy for us to be overloaded with everything all the time. 

That's not really what we are made of. Or that's not our general makeup. Perhaps there's some wizards on this Earth and wonderful geniuses who are able to compute like a total AI for the planet. But for the most part, without speaking to the anomaly, that's not really how we're set up. We're set up very well to bring back to this very important point that happened at the end of Marianne Williamson's quote, which is to be here, and now and present. Not knowing where we come from does give us some challenges and knowing where exactly we are right now. 

Just to close that thread, a lot of times we feel like we have this greater responsibility to everything and everybody. But that's also, again, because our trust is broken. And so, some of us have this sort of superhero costume that we feel like we have to put on for the entire planet when it's like, "Well, how are we tending to home, and to self, and to the family that's here and to Earth right outside?" With our very basic choices each day.

[00:37:21] JS: Yeah, sure. Well, I think – this is getting me thinking of a couple things. A quote that I love actually is Bernie Roth, who is the founding faculty director at the Stanford He has this quote, "And its reasons are bullshit." And he'll have you explain why you did something and he'll say, "That's a good reason." 

And his point is that, okay, I'm late to class. I'm late to class because I hit traffic unexpectedly. You're also late to class because you didn't budget for the possibility that you – or you're late to class because you didn't prioritize this or  – you're late to class because you didn't get enough sleep last night. And there's an infinite number of stories that we can tell to interpret reality, right? 

And I think now to go back to some of our learnings from non-violent communication, we have a tendency to bring friction that we have to someone else in the context of stories. This layer of analysis often brings assessment and judgment and criticism. And in that space, what's relevant is not whatever particular story you want to confirm that has happened to ossify in your head. 

What's relevant is that this indisputable thing happened. People were sold. Families were ripped apart, beaten, raped. This happened, right? And this is how it made people feel. This is the harm that was done, right? 

And I think in that indisputable space where I can't deny the human experience as a consequence of events, let's just drop down from the layer of story and interpretation. That's the relevant truth to tell. 

[00:39:15] DZ: Yes. And part of the truth is information is stored in the body and passed on genetically. If you woke up today, whoever is listening, and you have some pain in your body that goes beyond the current experience of what's going on exactly maybe right now, and it brings up thoughts and reflections of things of this nature that feels so beyond this very moment, that is also to be embraced and acknowledged. 

And to your note, Jenny, you said something really beautifully. I mean, you said something very important too. Everything you said was important. And there was one piece – 

[00:39:53] JS: Everything I say is so important. Yeah. 

[00:39:58] DZ: Yeah. I mean, it is. And there was something that you said right now too where you started talking about the criticism, and the judgment and things of this nature yeah. And we know that these sorts of activities don't tend to lend themselves to more confidence, and comfort and trust, right? They make us extremely uncomfortable. And perhaps not even in a way where it's like, "Oh, discomfort is growth, growing pains." That might not be growing. It might actually be harmful. 

Well, I just wanted to make this note about the thing that happens when we suppress as opposed to allowing these truths to come to life. When we suppress, we are in a way – awe when we self-criticize and when we are doing this sort of thing, we're preventing ourselves from really being able to self-understand because we're self-policing. 

We go from policing to being all prescriptive. Like, "Oh, well, I need to do this. I gotta do this. I gotta do that." And the reality is feel what you're feeling right now. Give it more space to come to life so you can get to know it a bit more. And you can understand it. I mean, it's also difficult to have trust without an understanding. And it's difficult to have understanding without listening. 

[00:41:08] JS: This is so good. This is so good. Because this ties to the values. And I want to hop to them next. But yeah, I think I just want to make sure that we've made this point. I think we have. I'm just going to say it again, which is just we need to start with telling the truth and understanding the harms of the past, right? 

[00:41:23] DZ: Absolutely. 

[00:41:24] JS: And by having a container where that is collectively acknowledged. And this also came up in the atonement and reparations as we teased apart atonement and repair. And how do you do that? The first step was telling the truth. The truth and reconciliation committee, right? 

I just want to make sure that point is made very clearly in this conversation that restoring trust requires telling the truth and acknowledging the harm. 

[00:41:51] DZ: And listening to the truth when you will not be the one to tell it. And I'm making that note. Because a lot of times folks who are very important in this conversation won't approach it or want to. Because let's say, for instance, you've benefited from all of these harms that have been caused. Or even you benefited from it simply because of your identity in this world. 

Let's say, genetically, you didn't come from people who had slaves or anything like that but you still carry the identity of someone who's – it's more favorable in terms of this system. In terms of what's rewarded for being valid and getting paid and all that other stuff, right? And not being discriminated against unfairly. 

Let's say that that's your reality. But you don't want to be a part of this conversation because you feel like you might get judged immediately. And it makes you extremely uncomfortable because you're also like, "Well, what am I even going to do about it?" And we throw our hands in the air about it because it's like this visceral experience of like, "No, no, no. Yeah, let's just –" To be able to listen. To slow down and to notice that response in the body too and go, "Something here is bothering me well." 

[00:43:02] JS: Well, this is so good, right? Because again, if we go back to, "Okay, trust is about care." Right? And when harm has been done, there has been a lack of care. And the importance of – I mean, I've had this happen so much. Or just the importance of just someone seeing and acknowledging the harm. Listening. It's just essential to repair. And you can watch it in people's bodies when people say, "I see that you had that experience. I'm empathizing and sitting with you in the moment of witnessing your human experience." And their bodies relax because they feel safe. They feel safer, right? 

And one of the things that we talked about in the conversation with Danny on non-violent communication was that to get back to what are the fundamental building blocks of trust, is connecting in our humanness. Connecting in those moments of grief from someone showing up for that grief, right? 

Talking about the pain that one experienced and the harm that was caused and somebody showing up to witness and acknowledge that. Those being the building blocks of connection and trust.

[00:44:05] DZ: Yes. And I want to root these pieces that you're noting in some physics here, which that energy can't be created nor destroyed, right? And it materializes, this is a very important note, around dismiss, or suppression, or ignoring, or having feelings and not getting – it's not actually going anywhere. You didn’t get rid of it. You didn’t destroy it or delete it,

[00:44:28] JS: You just stuck it somewhere in your body.

[00:44:30] DZ: Yeah, exactly. And it's stored. And then it drives other decisions. The dangerous part about that is, an important piece why it can be violent, is that now it's operating at a subconscious and sometimes an unconscious level where we're not even aware of what we're doing to ourselves or how we're not caring for ourselves or one another. 

[00:44:53] JS: So good. 

[00:44:54] DZ: I just wanted to make that note and root that in some fun science. 

[00:44:57] JS: Well, yeah. And also, to your point earlier, the fact that this is not just stored in our bodies but passed on epigenetically to future generations. We're all sitting with generations of trauma. 

And really interestingly, actually, I was in a conversation about psychedelics and psychedelics addressing trauma. And some of the early evidence on the genetic effects of those treatments. As we talk about repair and restoring trust, there's actually something really interesting there about what's happening in the psychedelic space. I don't want to get into that. But I just wanted to make that point real quick. 

Well, we're getting close to time. This has been amazing. Really beautiful conversation. And I love the way it's tied back to some of the other things that we've touched on around non-violent communication and the Robert Gilman conversation. And it's so deep and foundational. 

I want to talk about the values. We touched on them a little bit. Awareness, compassion, accountability, integrity, awareness. Touch on this a little bit. Trust and self requires awareness of who we are. Connection to that inner compass. Speak more to that. 

[00:46:03] DZ: Thank you for that invitation. I want to note awareness and something that we outline too in the values of the trust papers around it being constant observation. Not judgment. Simply observation. Observation being what our capacities to observe, to listen, to watch. To really hear. To really see. And to allow ourselves to continue to engage with a spirit of inquiry in observation. To notice. Simply to notice and to expand our knowledge of ourselves and as fully as we can. 

And by ourselves, I'm saying for those listening, you take your hand and you place it over your heart and you go, "Me. Myself." Noticing how I'm feeling. Noticing my thoughts. Not being consumed by them either. Not something overwhelming. But simply noticing that this thought is passing through. This feeling is here. Just sort of this inner knowing. 

Awareness is a very key value. And then another piece of the values that you noted; awareness, compassion, accountability, integrity. And I would even add the other piece, which is transparency.

[00:47:16] JS: Transparency. Yeah. Notable actually, is that accountability and integrity are two of Denizen's values. 

[00:47:25] DZ: It's so vital. And I love that. I absolutely love that. Because we'll get to compassion actually. We don't have to necessarily go in order of them. But accountability cannot be had without awareness. The more aware we are, the more accountable we can actually – we, keyword, can be. Because accountability is a choice. To be responsible. In the world of finance, it's the accounts. What are the books? Do they add up? Does it make sense? 

And those that trust me trust the accounts makes sense when it comes to people's money. They don't play games about this in industry. It is so important. And so, do we treat our accounts when it comes to our truth? The same when it comes to how we interact with ourselves when it comes to how we interact with one another. 

Not to be, again, judgmental. But again, from the space of awareness. Are we observing it as it actually is so we can be responsible, caring for, intending to these actual records? 

Now, I'll go to integrity. And integrity is also the furthering of that accountability. And we like to call it that every integer is accounted for. To use sort of a math reference. To get into integers. And so, this is what helps us to truly be whole numbers, if you will, and to even account for all of the numbers present, is that every integer is accounted for. 

And there, we have integrity. But we don't have integrity without it all being there to actually acknowledge it, account for it, right? And so, we find ourselves out of balance when we're not accountable. 

And I love to use the word we to refer to it because it really is us. And that's where compassion is an important value here. Because a lot of times we even say things like inclusion. And I understand how we've lived here. Inclusion still implies some sort of dynamic, a lot of times. It's like I'm including you in this. 

And as though we're not already interconnected. It is important for us to do our best, to be as intentional as we can be in the energy that we're speaking and that we're acting with. And so, when I say, "Hey, we're inclusive. We're including you here." Versus, "This is important. I'm not just going to give out the word of inclusion and say, Oh, it's bad.” Except I'm not saying it's bad. It's just, "Well, what do we evolve to? What's the bridge for?" 

And we like to say compassion. Because passion, the root of it, is like pati, which is to endure or to suffer. And so, a lot of times when we say we're passionate about something, it's usually that we're willing to endure or go through something to see it. You're passionate about playing guitar and learning how to play that song. You're passionate about bringing this idea to life. You're passionate about loving someone. And so, you're willing to go through things for the sake of your passion. 

Now compassion is when it's shared. That shared endurance. And it invites patience and understanding for one another. Because now your struggle just went from yours when your father passed away, where it's not just your suffering. No. It is ours. And now we can gather around sharing that grief process with you. And we can send notes of love. We empathize. Because compassion has been like this sort of doorway that we've unlocked to say I care for you. 

An important piece I want to like close on this note of transparency. It's key. Because without you being transparent about that, it's difficult for that compassion to really come to life. That's why I think these are values that are sort of underlying establishing trust. And this works with ourselves. I want to really – even compassion can be turned on to self. You can be compassionate towards yourself to acknowledge you, you know? 

[00:51:31] JS: I mean, this gets to what you talked about, what we talked about, in nonviolent communication, is the inner critic. The way that we talk to ourselves. And self-compassion – I mean, I talked about this in the grief conversation. Self-compassion was one of the biggest lessons for me in that experience. Because the way that I spoke to myself the night my dad died, because I wasn't there, and I had to learn to be compassionate about what decisions I made that led to that. And it was a huge lesson. 

But I appreciate the point about transparency. And then you have information, right? Because there's awareness of self. And then there's the ability to communicate one's truth through transparency, through information flows that then has the gateway for compassion. 

[00:52:13] DZ: Yes, exactly. 

[00:52:14] JS: Likewise – and this is why we added accountability. I seek to be in integrity, right? But having transparency allows the system to be accountable to that objective. 

[00:52:28] DZ: And again, how can you repair something? Like you're not even really acknowledging it for what it is. So how can you repair it? We often try to repair it. We go to a tree and we go, "Oh, this mango is bad. Let me go ahead and spray stuff on top of it so that it doesn't happen on that level." 

But more deeply, we've forgotten that this grew out of a tree that grew out of soil where roots are. How are the roots doing? How is the soil doing? And so, we often skip that part. And that's why this is so vital to address these values that underlie because this is not necessarily the surface. But you can see the reflection of the values on the surface when you practice. 

And I do want to note that final piece of those values there, which is that wholeness is ultimately what we all seek in our lives, as ourselves. We want to feel whole. We want to feel like we can – going back to it, showing up as we are and validated for who we are as we are and feel that, right? And it's so hard to do that when we are constantly self-policing, self-criticizing, self-ignoring, self-dismissing, self-reducing. Or even allowing ourselves to be reduced, dismissed, police, ignored by those around us. It's so powerful. 

And I want to applaud everyone who has taken up this sort of work, the inner work, the community work to step into your truth, your power, yourself and embrace it. As difficult as it may be. As uncomfortable as it may be. Even if it's – whether you're a CEO of a company and you decided to go, "Goodness. This is totally skewed in terms of how we're valuing our employees or even my salary versus other people here." And who's valuable? And how we're valued? And pay? Or benefits even? And more deeply, how do we share ownership of this entity as a whole? It can be extremely difficult. 

I just want to applaud those who have taken up that sort of challenge and gone, "The truth is this is not balanced." And I want to do the same for the women who decided to step up and say, "This is not balanced." And for those of indigenous backgrounds, black folks, any group that has – and I mentioned that very intentionally when I started with the CEO example. Because I can be a white male who feels extremely uncomfortable with even approaching the topic of doing things that are socially just and share that there's this awareness there. Because it can be easier in a system that rewards you to ignore injustice to just carry on business as usual. 

But how courageous of you to actually choose to do something else, which is to acknowledge it as it is and to do our best to repair and to heal so that we can be whole is not lost on our generation, your company, your community, your family, yourself when you're taking these steps. Thank you to everyone who's intentionally engaging this journey to be aware. To be accountable for yourself. To be transparent in that walk and to ultimately embody these things so that we can establish trust together. The bridge forward is moving from transactional relationships and to – 

[00:56:05] JS: From transactional to relational.

[00:56:08] DZ: Transactional, to relational, to trust in that relationality. I like to say, transactional to trust, right? The bridges, "Hey, I'm not seeing you as an opportunity. I'm seeing you as someone to be in full relationship with." And when we do that, trust can occur because I'm not policing how it should go. I'm not trying to make it into something. Simply allowing it to be as it is and meeting it in that way. And it's such a joy. Just ask yourself, "Don't you like to be appreciated for as you are without having to do so many extra things?" 

[00:56:48] JS: I really appreciate that, from transactional to trust. We talk a lot about gift economies and how Denizen with this gift model is modeling a relational economy versus a transactional one. But there is at the basis of that trust. Because I'm trusting that if I just give freely and I make my needs known, I'm trusting that there will be reciprocity – I'm trusting that my needs will be met without having to have a transactional relationship. 

And there's so much vulnerability in that, right? To say these are my needs. And for those to be honored. I love how much this is tied back to NVC. I wasn't expecting that. But my last question is going to tie back to something we've been talking about in our corporate governance conversations. Particularly I think in the steward ownership conversation. Just really an interrogation of what ownership means. 

I think earlier in the 20th century, maybe sooner. But I think it's the 20th century. There was a debate about who owns the firm. Is it the investors that own the firm? Or is it the workers who own the firm? Fundamentally. And then we landed in this capital-weighted version where the owners are the shareholders. They put capital in. So they own it. Obviously, cooperative models define ownership differently. 

But steward ownership is really interesting because it really interrogates what ownership means.  It talks about economic rights versus control rights. And who makes decisions? And I think the notion of ownership, to tie back to some of the things that we talked about very early on when we looked at Merriam-Webster and trust to bring us full circle. It was just that even this language and these ideas around trust come from notions of mine. Going back to indigenous philosophies and mindsets that really understand the fundamental nature of our relationality to each other and to the Earth. 

But you talk about, and I love this so much, the old program for ownership. “I am in control of that which I own. I dominate or hold dominion over something.” Versus the new program. “I am an owner. I am responsible for that which I own” – and here, we go back to care – “I am caring for that which I own. I am a steward of that which I own.” Why don't you take us home with just some commentary on ownership? Because I think it's really beautiful and really important. 

[00:59:11] DZ: Yeah. Well, I'll actually transition a bit to the Hawaiian language here and say Mahalo, which is deepest and sincerest gratitude. It's a very humble receiving of that invitation to touch on responsibility and ownership. The reason why I transitioned to that Hawaiian context is because Hawaiians have this word called kuleana. Kuleana. It's spelled K-U-L-E-A-N-A. And it literally means, the translation at least for English, it would be responsibility. 

And you'll notice if you go to Hawaii, there's a lot of signs that'll say things like our kuleana is this. Our kuleana is that. And this concept that we have a responsibility. And that's this individual piece. And there's the shared piece. 

And there was actually a time – and I love that you said old and new too. Because then we have the ability to go even ancient, let's say. And even beyond ancient, now emergent. Maybe there's things that are just coming up like they haven't made themselves fully materialized so they're not even new yet because they haven't really come out but they're emerging. They're on the edge. And we're on the brink of this even in a conversation like this. 

There was an ancient way, if you will, of Hawaiian kingdoms which was there's something called ahupua'a, which essentially was like imagine that you draw a line from the top of a mountain to a shoreline and then you draw another line from the top of that mountain to a shore line. And within that is an ahupua'a, which is like a district. 

And within that district, everyone understood their kuleana. Their responsibility to the land and to one another. And within that, everything was shared. The ocean, the fruits, things of this nature. But each person just had their own unique responsibility to the land and to – maybe if they were a surfer, they cleaned the shoreline. 

And so, it wasn't just surfing for the sake of, "Oh, I'm this cool, sexy bod. Person is ripping it, shredding it in the water." Maybe even just getting good exercise. But I'm actually singing in the waters. I'm communing with the natural life in the water. And I'm also making sure that they don't get hung up on things that are on our shoreline, right? Because we have a lot of those issues we see today. But there was a period where people just knew responsibility. 

And so, you could see the love all throughout these communities. And this is what it was like prior to being colonized where things start to shift to like, "Oh, this part is mine. And this part is mine. And this part is mine." And not to say that people didn't have their own individualized spaces and homes. Because they did. It was just that there was an understanding that this is my responsibility. 

And then by doing my best with my responsibility, which is me in my space, I can share it and it's ours. And we share in it. Because when you step in, you care just as much about it as I do. Because you've already learned to do that by caring for yours. And when you get here, you see the care that I've put into this and we share that. 

And to your point about the gifting piece, the gifting economy and different structures of governance. Now reciprocity is occurring. Now symbiosis is occurring. It's not extraction. But there's a genuine exchange. And so, I'm mentioning that to touch more deeply on responsibility and ownership. Because at the end of the day – and actually, this is something I would like for us to go to for our future. I see this for us. And I think it's going to be really awesome. Is what we see as users and consumers from a business standpoint are co-creators and community members. Shareholders. These are shareholders. They do have a stake. The company, the machine does not function without the participation of all of its members. The body, again, does not work without its parts. 

And so, I look forward to more consent protocols being established for everyday people to be able to know, "Okay, my voice has a value. My choice makes a difference." And this thing doesn't go without me. And so, hopefully we can have more of these things built into our systems and our frameworks to where you are valid. You by being your genuine self. 

I even look forward to data centers where people are rewarded and paid simply because not because a company took their data from another company that scraped it or got it off of a certain buyer's perspective of you because they wanted to market to you or keep you on their platform and keep your attention. 

But simply, you're being paid for your data to share it as authentically as it is. And you're compensated and rewarded for being and sharing yourself. Imagine, literally, Jenny, today, getting checks or some form of value that's validating it and supporting your living. It's where you can be sustainable by simply sharing that you're having a hard day today. And this is actually what it's rooted in. 

We're not getting the data of “What did Jenny post on social media” Because there's a skew on that, right? There's this thing we've contorted a lot of times to benefit from an algorithm. But how can we build forward to support the benefit of your authenticity? Not the algorithm. But the algorithm is rooted in authenticity and rewarding you for that. I'll pause there. But that is what starts to happen when we really look at shared ownership. 

And by the way, again, where the individuals flourish so does the whole. It's not something to be scared of to think that, "Oh, because Jenny's doing good, I got to look out. I gotta watch out.”

[01:05:12] JS: Well, again, yeah. I mean, I think in this frame of relationality and collective care to go back to indigenous cultural context. There's a natural flexibility built into the system of care and resources flowing to where they're needed. I hold this question often, how much is enough? How do I assess an appropriate amount of compensation for me? For the work that I do in the world? 

And it's very much tied to not just my needs, right? How much money do I need to send my kids to school, and to pay the mortgage and yadi-yada-yada? But also, what are my needs relative to everyone else's? And if you really hold the seat of interconnectedness, and again these indigenous cultures, there was always a, "My consumption level might go up because there's abundance. And it can happen for everyone and my consumption level might go down just because of my needs relative to someone else's." And that baked in relationality and flexibility around flow to your point. We can't have flow if we don't have trust, right? Is a necessity in that paradigm of relationality.

[01:06:19] DZ: One thing I love about “There's not flow without the trust,”  is like every river, every body of water really embodies us in a very beautiful way where it's like there's flow. And so, there's life. Literally, ecosystems spring up around rivers. But the problem happens though when we dam these rivers. And we literally dam. Like I'm damming it. And I'm holding these resources for the sake of something. Usually personal gain, or benefit, or a group of people's personal gain or benefit and their goals. 

And so, I want to note that – let's not dam our flow as a call to action. Let's continue to encourage flow. Let's build more practices into our workspaces, and into our development approaches, and into our policies and ultimately into the terms that we agreed to. 

[01:07:09] JS: So good. So good. There's been so much here. This has been amazing. I love it. 

[01:07:14] DZ: Yes. Thank you. 

[01:07:15] JS: Thank you so much. 

[01:07:16] DZ: Thank you. Thank you. My heart is full. And I hope the same with you.

[01:07:22] JS: You know how I feel about you and how unbelievably wise and brilliant I think you are. And how elated I am to share with the community and audience the deep wisdom that you carry and how much Insight you have for all of us. So thank you so much.

[01:07:39] DZ: Thank you. Thank you. I love the word insight. And I hope that more of us trust the insight within ourselves. And hopefully this conversation is just one part of a healthy nudging for greater repair, and healing and restoring the sense of self. And really having that confidence in yourself. Because you're worth it. You are absolutely worth it.


[01:08:01] JS: Thank you so much for listening. And thanks to Scott Hansen, also known as Tycho, for our musical signature. In addition to this podcast, you can find resources for each episode on our website,, including transcripts and background materials. 

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