I typically don’t follow the news for what I think are obvious reasons. Just in case they are not, mainstream media is very negative and can bring me down within minutes. I have not owned cable TV in over 20 years and have always seemed to get the information I need through friends and now social media. Wanting to find out more about what is going on with ISIS in the Middle East; I broke my promise to myself and started following the news last week. I got consumed and it drug me down fast… The world is going to hell in a hand basket! World War III could break out! People everywhere do horrible things to one another!… It was those kinds of thoughts that trumped the simple bliss of my immediate surroundings.
I was searching for answers about what we can do as individuals to stop the violence and was feeling very helpless. Would me yelling and screaming about how everyone should get along really make a difference? Was there anything else I could do right now to make a positive impact on the world? I got my answer, as well as, some other great insight on trend forecasting after an hour long conversation with Eric Meyer, founder of Simple Shoes. Remember that unique shoe company based in Santa Barbara in the 1990’s and 2000’s that had the cool lifestyle vibe without the loud ego driven marketing? Well it was the brainchild of Eric Meyer.
Eric is a really interesting dude and has a great philosophy about keeping it simple and following some old ways of existence. Raised on the central coast by a modernist architect father and in some commune type environments with his mom who studied alternative religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism, Eric could see at a young age that all people battle with ego both on a spiritual or materialist level. “I have a different view on what is cool than many people. I don’t really care what kind of car you drive or how big your house is or what your job title is. At the same time I am tired of spiritual egotism as well… having been raised surrounded by people who thought they were cooler than everyone because they were vegans or raised their own food or meditated longer than anyone. This puts me in kind of a tight spot… riding the fence between environmental awareness and egotism. “
After college Eric had a very successful career designing clothing and shoes for Vision Street Wear a skateboard pioneer brand in the 1980’s. He explained that his mind works like a “ping pong ball inside a vacuum” and he loves trend forecasting and trying to figure out what’s going to happen in 20 years. He was very instrumental at Vision because he could see that skate brands adopted the day-glow look of surf wear at the time and skaters were searching for their own identity. His foresight heavily influenced the differentiating look we see between surfers and skaters today. After his time with Vision his mind bounced to the future of an “un-brand” where the company did not stereotype its wearer. Eric explained that Simple Shoes was probably created “before its time” which I would agree with after learning what I have about starting a clothing brand. There is a shift to a more soul-centric lifestyle versus an egocentric one; however, the later is still hanging on in my opinion. Eric sees it differently.
WM: You mentioned “old ways” of thinking. What do you mean by that?
“We don’t really need anything. If you look back not long ago where Indians spent limited calories earning a living by killing animals for food which took only a fraction of their day. The rest of their time they spent with families. Today we spend most of our time earning a living and expend so many calories to pay for stuff that there is not enough time left over to just be. Look at your life. Would you rather expend energy on growing business and stressing about war or would you rather spend time with your kids and be present in the moment? I think being there to help your kids with their homework is way more important.”
WM: I still see people mass consuming to try to make them happy. Where do you see that trend going?
“Your hanging out with dinosaurs. Go hang out with some seventeen year olds; the majority don’t give a shit what kind of car you drive. Ego based advertising is dead in the water and the companies holding on will fade. The idea of buying stuff too look cool or keep up with the Jones’ will be gone. The millennial generation is searching for community and things that are inclusive not exclusive.”
WM: What do you suggest I do about this recent war I have created inside my head from the news?
“You’re thinking too big and that level is too comprehensive for a person. Focus on positively impacting people within shouting range. If those people positively impacted others within their shouting range and so on and so forth a lot of good would come out of that. Do the best you can, stop trying so hard and focus on the positive.”
WM: What do you do when you get overwhelmed by the world?
“I try to stop thinking so much and go do something outside. Do what I love like working in my garden, play with the cat or go for a bike ride.”
WM: What one simple thing (no-pun intended) can people do to help make the world more peaceful?
“First off my opinion on this is no better than another’s. We all look through our own lens and don’t see things how they look through another’s lens. For example, if you ask George Bush a question he will give you an honest answer as to what he believes to be true. I may totally disagree, but it does not make him wrong. Everyone’s opinion is valid and where do we get off hating someone for not agreeing with us? Don’t tell people what to do, help them along their way. Make people happy on a moment by moment basis. Random interactions where both people walk away smiling and feeling goofy is very powerful. I believe we should leave people better off than we found them. It can be as simple as a compliment. Doing onto others as you wish them to do unto you is not good enough in my opinion. Leave them better off than you found them through your interaction.”
Eric has since sold Simple Shoes to the Deckers Outdoor Corporation; who owns many shoe brands such as Sanuk. Eric’s mindset was to build the best product you can from sustainable materials and not brag about it. Eco-friendly brands were pioneers in the early 1990’s when he started and today most companies have jumped on the bandwagon simply to boast about it and not because it is best for the planet. Deckers shut down Simple Shoes in 2011 and my assumption is that Eric’s original vision was lost and they shifted their focus to eco-bragging.
Eric is currently a Planning Commissioner in San Luis Obispo and is instrumental in working on their general plan which includes more bike paths. His plan is to get people spending a greater amount of time peddling than driving.
Thinking back to my absorption of the media and war last week, it really comes down to choice. I could choose to get inundated by the things I cannot change or choose to focus on the bliss of my immediate surroundings and positively impact the world by leaving everyone I come into contact with better than I found them. Thanks for the inspiration Eric! Inspiration truly is everywhere if one is looking for it…
About Charles Perry
Charles is a bit of a renaissance man, a citizen of the planet, a building inspector by trade, devoted father & husband and one of the funniest people he knows. He is deeply passionate about peace, social justice and respect and equality for all living creatures. Charles thought up the World Minded ideology several years ago and has made it his goal to inspire people around the world to care for themselves, others and the planet we share by exposing what’s right in the world. He resides in the Eastern Sierras and loves life in the mountains, but longs for the beach because of some ridiculous “grass is always greener” notion.