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The following is a conversation with Kimball Musk, a longtime entrepreneur and chef and author of a new cookbook called the Kitchen Cookbook Cooking for your community. You should check it out. It is, in fact the first cookbook I've ever owned. I've already made stuff from it and it's delicious. And now a quick few second mention of each sponsor. Check them out in the description. It is the best way to support this podcast. We got eight sleep for naps, expressVPN for security and privacy on the interwebs, netsuite for business, and betterhelp for mental health. Choose wisely, my friends. Also, if you want to work with our amazing team or just want to get in touch with me for a bunch of different reasons, please go to contact. Like the movie, except I'm not an alien. Allegedly. And now onto the full ad reads, as always, no ads in the middle. I try to make these interesting, but if you skip them, please still check out the sponsors. I enjoy their stuff. Maybe you will too. This episode is brought to you by power naps, the act of napping. The act of sleep. But the act of napping, fundamentally, is where all of life's joys come from.


Now, there's a lot of people disagreeing on this point. Anyway, it's eight sleep and they have a pot three cover that cools the bed down or heats it up. If you're an insane person, I love you too. Insane people are beautiful people. So we may disagree. Emacs versus vim, Messi versus Ronaldo. What else is there? I don't know. Those are the two big disagreements in my life. Although at this point, do you honestly disagree that Messi is the greatest of all time? Is there even a competition? I mean, you can appreciate the human, the genius of different players throughout the history of soccer, but Lionel Messi is just on another level. Anyway, at this very moment, I'm drifting downwards in terms of energy, and I just know that after this, I'll take a nap for maybe even ten minutes, maybe 15 minutes on the said eight sleep bed. It'll be cool, with a warm blanket, and when I get up, the birds will be chirping. There'll be butterflies in my mind. It'll just be all perfect. I'll sit down, maybe a little bit caffeine and just get back to work. Anyway, check it out and get special savings when you go to asleep slash lux.


This episode is also brought to you by ExpressVpn, a thing I've used for many years to bring me joy. Speaking of said butterflies, it just brings me joy. What is life about? Really? Surround yourself with cool people. Surround yourself with products that make your life easier and products that fill your life with joy. It's perhaps ridiculous to say, but ExpressVPN has been with me for so many years that it's just like one of the thing in the cyber world I exist in. I spend so much time behind the computer. It's just a reliable thing I have across all operating systems. I have it on Linux, I have it on Windows, I have it on Android, and I don't use other operating systems often, but I do have an iPhone and I have it on that as well. Anyway, you can go to Lexpod for an extra three months, free to check them out, to bring a little bit of joy into your life, but actually, more importantly, to have that basic layer of protection when you need it on the Internet and friends, you shall need it. This episode is also brought to you by Netsuite, an all in one cloud business management system.


The kids these days, the cool ones, call it an ERP system. ERP is the brain at the center of the machine. A company is a machine that runs the machine, and at the meta level, the capitalist system is a machine of machines. So there's a lot of machines in there. Anytime I say the word machine, I think about Burt Kresher, but I think he is probably not the kind of machine that would be efficient at running a large scale company. So he's a different kind of machine. He is indeed a machine, but a different kind. If you wanted a machine that's running your company and creating a sort of common language where the different modules of the company can communicate and just taking care of the messy stuff, the HR stuff, the managing financials, inventory, supply, ecommerce, all that kind of stuff, Netsuite is something you should check out. 37,000 companies have upgraded to Netsuite by Oracle, and they are turning 25 this year. Wish them a happy birthday. Send them a cake. Download Netsuite's popular KPI checklist for Lex that's lex for your own KPI checklist. This episode is brought to you by Betterhelp, spelt h e l p.


Help. They figure out what you need and match you with a licensed therapist. In under 48 hours. You can get therapy for an individual. You can get therapy for couples. I'm a big fan of using words to delve deep into the human mind. So talk therapy is great, and betterhelp is just a really easy way to start. It's discreet, affordable, available anywhere. More than 4.4 million people have gotten help. That's wild. They have over 34,000 licensed therapists, 350,000,000 messages, chat, phone calls, video sessions have been had. And just imagine the mass of the human exploration that goes on there. I encourage you to join this collective exploration of the jungian shadow. Check them Slash lex. And save in your first month. That's slash lex. This is the Lex Friedman podcast. To support it, please check out our sponsors in the description. And now, dear friends, here's Kimbo Musk. Growing up in South Africa, you said it was a violent place. What are some formative moments that you remember from that time?


South Africa was so I grew up in apartheid South Africa, but more specifically the fall of apartheid. So I was a teenager in the our community. Part of our social life, frankly, was the anti apartheid protests. And to go be with white people, black people, kind of mixing it all together. The most formative experience is, frankly, how much I appreciate a place like America where we have value for human life. So there was a country where human life was not valued. It's a weird thing to come from that, to hear where we take it so seriously. If someone dies in a war or something like that, and we just didn't take it seriously. In South Africa, people died. People were killed. I saw someone killed in front of me was getting off a train, and it's a very violent train, known for violence. We were stupid kids. We didn't really listen to our parents. We went on this train and the doors opened and I had people trying to get off the train. And in front of me, two black people, one black guy just stabbed this knife in the side of this other black guy's head.


You're like, what the fuck? And you just, I got to get off the train.


How old were you at this time?


Probably 16 or 17. And I got to get off the train, and everyone is trying to get me to get off because, you know, they're all behind me. So I step off and I step into the pool of blood. 1ft. And then I just walk for about 100 paces while the stickiness of the blood just kind of for my sneakers, just on 1ft leaves a footprint behind me. And you just walk on. You just walk on.


Did the others go to the concert as well?


Everyone walked on.


That's an interesting point you make underlying the violence is a kind of philosophy that human life is disposable. The individual life is disposable. I mean, that underlies many ideologies. I grew up in the Soviet Union. The value of human life was lower there than in the United States. The value of the individual in the United States is really high. It's probably an index you can put together.


Yeah, right, exactly.


Per nation. That's a really interesting way to put it, because violence is much easier on a mass scale. Suffering causing suffering on a mass scale is much easier when you don't value the human life.


I've heard this before, which I think I agree with, is when someone is killed, someone's taken from our lives, the vacuum that it creates, the social vacuum, is extraordinarily painful, and it truly is true. I mean, if someone in my community passes away, it's very sad for me. And when you go to a place where grow up in a place where that human life is not valued, there's something about the. There's a little bit less of the social vacuum created because everyone is kind of expecting everyone to potentially be taken out at any moment. But then there's also a beauty to it because there's a much more of a celebratory element. When my cousin Russ and I, again, we're stupid kids, we shouldn't be doing this. But we go into the townships where a lot of the violence would be happening, and we really didn't see most of the violence there. It was in these more protests and so forth. But there's a joy that also comes from lower value of human life. There's a real joy, like everyone is like, well, I mean, it's beautiful. We have dinner with black friends, friends with their family, and we were still pretty young, and there was just a real joy to it.


When you accept mortality, you can really enjoy life.


You can really enjoy life. I think there's actually quite a nice insight. I've never really put it that way, but I think that's right, actually, I think you just chill out a bit, take things a little less seriously, because.


Life does end for everybody.


It does, right?


And if you just head on, accept that fact, you can just enjoy every single moment and let go of this attachment and just enjoy the moment.


I do love that we all live longer and so forth, but we should live longer with the goal of joy and the goal of happiness and peace, not some form of misery that you choose to attach yourself to.


Maximize joy.


Maximize joy, that's right.


There's a story that Walter Isaacson writes.


About where Elon got beat up pretty.


Bad, and you were there, and then you also had to watch your dad yell at Elon for an hour, calling him worthless, all those kinds of things. You said it was the worst memory of your life. What do you make of such cruelty? What do you remember from that time?


I mean, it was horrible. I think coming back to the point of low value of human life, they tried to kill him. There was no holding back. I just watched someone. It wasn't just one, but there was a main person, and then there was a few others that piled in. They tried to kill them in front of me. And we were eating sandwiches on a staircase at. At the school in outdoor staircase. And I just had to. They were. They were not coming up to me, and I just had to watch, and I couldn't help. It was one of the saddest, most difficult experiences. It just was just awful.


Just like that. Life can end.




It could have been you.


Yeah. I've had a life near, near death experience where I almost died. I was in 2010, and I think that. And I broke my neck. And I can go to that story in a moment. But this was different. This comes back to the low value of human life part, where if someone had killed my brother, if that person had beat him to death, which. Which he was trying to do, life would have gone on. That's like an insane thought in an american. Maybe in some tough neighborhoods, but for the most part, it's another thing. Yeah.


The brutality of that. The mundaneness of that brutality.




It makes you think of all the places in the world that's happening.




And all the beautiful people that just disappear.


I always say to people who have an opinion about America that this is a really bad country or whatever, and I say, look, please go try another country before you say that. Not to say that America can't get better, but please go try another country, because not having that perspective or having a perspective that I don't know, that could chip on their shoulder about the country that they're in. Okay, go try another country. And then come back and tell me, pick any country. It doesn't have to be some very violent country. Go pick any country. And you just realize that actually the world doesn't think the same way that America thinks. And you're going to just learn a perspective that I think gives you a better way to critique where we live in America.


Yeah, it's humbling. You said that your dad was a roller coaster of affection and then verbal abuse. Walter Isaacson quotes Barack Obama, who said, someone once said that every man is trying to live up to his father's expectations or make up for his father's mistakes. And I suppose that may explain my particular malady. Is part of that ring true for you?


What I thought you were going to say was we thought you were going to end the sentence with live up to my father's expectations. That's what most people say. But then you said the second part, which is make up for his mistakes. And I think that's actually, that one rings true for me, is still a liability, but I'm not connected to him. But he taught me, the phrase I used to have was, he taught me what not to do. So I still actually learned a lot what kind of human not to be, what kind of actions not to take, and so that kind of closer to living up to his mistakes. But my father is such a train wreck that it's not really mistakes. It's like intentional actions of what not to do. Okay, don't do that.


But there's still the trauma of that. It has an effect on the human psychology and can permeate through time. So it has probably complex, indirect effects on who you are, the good and the bad.


There's a critique that my friends give me, which is when they're talking to me, I kind of just drift away. I'm still looking at them, still nodding, might even respond to them in their conversation, but I'm actually not there. I've realized that actually that grew up because my father would just. Verbal abuse is one way to say it is abuse, but it's more just verbal diarrhea for you for hours and constantly saying, do you understand? He wants to make sure that I'm paying attention. So I train myself to look like I'm paying attention, but I'm not to disappear to someplace. Disappear to someplace, wherever that is. Yeah. And I do that less and less over time.


But that path has been paved somewhere in your mind at childhood, so it could be easy to walk down it. You and Elon were close growing up. You're still close. What did you learn from each other? How did you compliment each other?


Yeah, I think we are a good compliment. I'll talk for myself first. My strength is definitely on the social side. I love the gathering place, and I love putting people together in person. And I love to have vibrant debates and conversations. I've been doing that forever, including Springfunt parties and stuff where I bring people together. And I really kind of want people to have fun but be vulnerable. Not just like silly partying, just. But actually, let's all connect. The definition for me of a good party is people laugh and cry. I want to have people have an emotional connection. Go to burning man every year. And that is. There's no question you will cry at some point during burning man.


No small talk.


No small talk. Yes, exactly. No small talk. You're totally right on. Like, most parties. Not parties, but most events you go to are like clubs, these sort of nightclubs, and I never go to those. And my joke is, why would I want to go to a place where I pay to shout small talk in the dark?


So it feels like the reason I enjoy those places is the full absurdity of exactly that.




What are we doing? What is this? What is this like?


My compliment for my brother was just bringing joy and social connection. And he's an engineering genius. I've worked with him forever and we do complement each other.


You just came out with a cookbook, by the way. Thank you for giving me my first cookbook. I feel legit. I love that. I'm going to keep it on the counter and it's going to give me legitimacy when anyone comes over. Hey, listen, I'm basically a chef now.


That's right. Exactly.


When did you first fall in love with cooking?


I started cooking when I was eleven years old. My mom is just. She's wonderful, but she's self admittedly a bad cook. But at the time, I think anyone with kids goes through this. Your kids just want like something that. Spaghetti bolognese or a burger or something. And my mom would do brown bread, plain yogurt and boiled squash, like the absolute most disgusting things that a child could imagine eating. And so I said, can I cook? And she said, yeah, if you want to cook, no problem. So I went to the grocery store and back in those days, a butcher separate to the grocery store. And I went to the butcher and I said, what can I cook? And he pulled out a chicken and he said, this is the easiest recipe for you. Just put it on a pan in an oven, a hot oven, because back then the ovens weren't necessarily like 400 degrees or 450 or whatever, and put it in a hot oven for 1 hour and enjoy. That was it. I went home and actually, I also brought some french fries, I'll tell you that as well. So I was like, I'm a kid, of course I want french fries.


So the roast chicken was french fries and the chicken came out and it was just fantastic. It was absolutely fantastic.


That's incredible.


By the way. Yeah.


You didn't screw it up the first time.


First of all, I think that also kicks off the magic. If you screw it up and you're like, oh, maybe this is not for me. So for me, it really did kick it off.


Started out on a high note.


Yeah, right, exactly. But I'll tell the french fries part, which was a disaster. So I cooked the french fries, but I didn't heat the oil first. So I just put the potatoes in the oil and I waited for to heat up, and I just was throwing up later that night. Your body can't ingest that much because it sucks the oils in. And so that was a disaster. But at the time, it tasted good. The real magic, which I also found was wonderful, was when I cooked my brother, my sister, my mom, all very busy, very intense people would sit down and we would have a meal together. And I was like, wow, this is a powerful, very powerful thing that I've now got. Where in no other way could I have that connection with my family. I mean, obviously we stay connected, we're very close, et cetera, but in no other way can we sit down and just talk about things or talk about whatever's on our mind or just to just not even talk, just to be at the table together. And I've done that now through my whole life, my kids still, for my family.


And we will do gratitudes at the beginning of our meal. And I think what kept me cooking, what made my love of cooking so great, was actually the fact that we would sit down together and be present with each other. And I'm also just also hard with that, too, so I also get to be present.


What is that about food that brings people together, and not just together, but really together where you're paying attention.




What is that? Why is it food? What else does that? Sometimes maybe alcohol can do that, which is a kind of food, I guess.


Yeah. But I think alcohol is different because you use these standing when you're doing alcohol. So you're socializing, but you're going to stay in more in the small talk zone. Whereas if you sit down, and I see this in my restaurant, in the kitchen in Boulder, where we have every viewpoint, or we go to Denver, every viewpoint, one in Chicago, every viewpoint and the physical presence of someone being right there is people are just, they're just very different, absolutely different to what they are online. I think we all know the difference between you send an email to someone and they misunderstand the email. If I just to talk to the person, it would have been fine. Well, this is now happening at know with all of, uh, what do you call trolling or. I have, I've sat at the bar and I've had hardcore Trump supporter. And I'm just curious, just like, tell me what? I'm not a Trump supporter, but tell me more. And it actually draws the conversation out because you're there for an hour or longer. There's no rush to get the answer. And I think that's a big difference. I've had one time where just a couple of months ago, I had someone, I was sitting at the community table.


We have a community table in the restaurant. And I didn't know him too well, but he asked me, did I know that 911 was a conspiracy and it didn't really happen.


It didn't happen. Yeah.


And I was like, so actually, I was at 911. I watched towers four. I was there physically there. So it's like, no, allegedly. There's no doubt in my mind. Okay. But I didn't want to interrupt what he had to say, so I let him talk for five minutes, six minutes, seven minutes. And again, you're there for a while, so you're not in a rush to jump in and argue. And then I shared that I was there. And I think because I had been willing to listen to him, he was willing to listen to me. And I don't know if he changed his mind. Certainly he doesn't change my mind, but it was actually a pretty cool conversation to kind of get into each other's mind.


Well, I think you connect on a different level, not on the level of the conspiracy, but on the level of basic humanity.




That's what you really connect on. And then it almost becomes interesting and fun that you can exchange ideas, even crazy ideas out there, ideas, and kind of play with them. We humans are good at that.


Yeah, exactly. I like the term play with them. Because what you're not trying to do is shut the conversation down. You're also not trying to talk down them. Yeah, exactly. Like, let me just be nice. While I totally disagree with this person. You can do that for a few minutes. You can't do that for 2 hours.


And there's something about food that completely, I don't know, it must be evolutionary that it makes us vulnerable in a way that even just standing there for a prolonged period of time doesn't. There's something about when the animals gather to the water or whatever, this kind of experience where you're just like, all right, let's just acknowledge together that we need sustenance. And somehow that kind of grounds us to, like, we're just a bunch of descendants of apes here. Just kind of like, grateful to be alive, frankly, and grateful to be consuming this thing which keeps us alive. And in that context, you can talk about all kinds of stuff. You can discuss flat earth and enjoy.


Absolutely. In fact, one of my favorite things to do is you do like a jeffersonian style dinner, let's say five or six people. Sometimes people will break off into individual conversations. That's actually when things break down. So that's when you kind of go back to small talk. Like, oh, I'm stuck next to this guy. I'm just going to do a little small talk. What you need to do to really create a great conversation is one conversation at the table, and that's where there'll be some simple questions that I'll say. I'll say, what's your middle name? And you'll be amazed at the stories you get from that. But it's about creating vulnerability. So they're like, oh, no one's ever asked me that before. So then they become vulnerable. And then it's something as simple as, what's the most fun thing you've done recently? And what is the most fun thing you're looking forward to? And I have gotten into, with those prompts. I've gotten into hours long discussions on, God, I've gotten into hours long discussions on love. I've gotten into hours long discussions on anger. It's actually amazing when people are just asked a question like, what's the most fun thing you've done lately?


Well, why would anger come up? Well, actually, they're in a vulnerable place, so it'll just kind of come out of them.


So you get to see this. You get to see this at the kitchen. Then you said Boulder, Denver, Chicago.


Yeah. And we're going to open in Austin.


In Austin. That's what I saw. When?


In October is the goal.


In October is the goal. Well, I mean, speaking of characters and human beings, Austin is fascinating. I forget how long ago. A couple of months ago, I was just sitting at a bar and the two people were talking and they were talking about Marxism. And it turns out that they're anarcho communists, which is a thing. And I got into this conversation.


Communist likes drugs.


That's a good question to ask.


I think I know some of those.


Anyway, they were beautiful people. I think they're local, from Austin. I don't know the depth of their personal experience of the different kinds of communist, like systems. But it was fascinating to listen to and then get to know them. And the humanity, the weirdness, like, the mean. I love it. One of the reasons I really love Austin, I decided to be here, is just the cliche thing of keep Austin weird. I mean, there's a lot of weird.


I love it. I think that I've talked to a lot of Austinites who've been here forever, and I'm like, man, you got to hold us accountable. We got to keep this place weird.


100%, which makes the restaurant seem great because you have all these characters come in. It's great. So I look forward to that. But you were saying, like, you get to see humans in real life interact. That's one of the beautiful things over food. In the book you write, Picasso once said, the meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away. Then you wrote that you believe food is a gift we give ourselves three times a day. Can you explain that, the gift?


Yeah, I think it's one of my most powerful life lessons. We have to eat, so it's not like you have a choice. You have to eat. And so what I choose to do is I choose to make it a gift to myself for each meal. And most of the time, the best gift is with friends, with family. So we'll have to cook some scrambled eggs in the morning with my daughter, or we'll have dinner with our family. To me, it's a gift we give ourselves three times a day at least. But for the most part, three times a day. Let's make it a good one.


What makes it a good one to you? What aspect makes it a good one?


Well, first, definitely eating with people, so that makes it a good one. So eating in a restaurant, or it doesn't have to be my restaurant, where you have the energy of people around you, energy of the town, people you don't know, creates a little bit of a vibe. You mentioned the watering hole analogy of animals, like, sipping at the water, but there's an energy to that because they're also, like, looking around, going, am I just about to be eaten? So they're all in it together, but we need to have water. But there's also a little bit of tension as well in the background, and I think that's what restaurants do. A very subtle version of that. You're in a room with strangers, and you're a little cluster. Okay, fine. You guys are connected, but you're in a room with strangers, and it's just something that adds that energy to the meal. Yeah.


You're a little bit wondering, what does everyone else think about our little cluster?


Right. Are we too loud? People are random, so something random could happen.


And also, depending on your personality, if you're an extrovert, maybe you want to show off to the other clusters.


Exactly. Yeah, absolutely. Totally. Right. Look at the cowboy hat. Actually, I'll take my hat off when I want to have a quiet meal, and I leave my hat on when I'm.


So you're aware of the lot?


I'm aware of the effect it has, yeah, absolutely.


Everyone turns, and then it's back to the watering hole. Because when you wear a cowboy hat, you just might actually not.


Yeah, they're going to get me first at noon.


I love it.


I got to tell the story. So just talk to the craziness of being in the restaurant world, where you're sitting at a table and anything can happen in the restaurant. So there's one time, like 15 years ago, this guy comes up to us and says, we'd like to propose to his wife, his girlfriend. And so we said, okay, cool. We've done this before. We'll make sure it's all set up. 06:00 p.m. Kind of reservation. So she shows up, and we give her a glass of champagne. And we obviously didn't want to spoil a surprise, so we're just doing everything we can, but then he doesn't arrive, and then we're like, oh, man, now we're like, don't leave. Can we get you another glass of champagne? We're doing everything we can. Because guy was obviously earnest earlier, but just, is he stuck in traffic or whatever? And out coming through the back door of the restaurant, which is you're not allowed to come through the back door of the restaurant. A marching band from the school university comes through the restaurant, full on brass band of the whole thing. And he gets down and he proposes, and it's beautiful, sure.


But it's also like, man, this is chaos. This is insane. And we would never have said yes to this if he'd actually told us what he was going to do.


Well, sometimes in life, you have to do it and apologize.


You do it and apologize. But that coast to that kind of, what's the crazy thing that could happen? It's subtle, but it's still there.


So in 2004, you opened the kitchen. It's an american bistro restaurant. What was it like? What's it like running a restaurant? The good, the bad, and ugly. What's the easy? What's the fun. And what's the hard.


I think the thing that I absolutely love about running the restaurant, not eating it a bit. Running the restaurant is the tangible reaction from people. And you also kind of know when you screwed it up, and you also know when you got it right. So even. It's kind of a weird way to say this, but even if the customer is unhappy, you know, whether you got it right or wrong, it's not just about the food you're making, but it's about the person's psychological state, and you'll do something that you'd know that was not done well. And their psychological state is they're just in a very happy place and they love it. And you're like, interesting. That's not how I would have reacted to that dish. And then the other way around, you'd like, and I got that right. And that person is just really unhappy today. Yeah.


And it's so hard to read humans.


Because if you got it right, that.


Can look a million different ways depending on the emotional roller coaster that human is living through. Like, I've been some very low points and I've gone to a restaurant alone. And just sitting there and be truly happy was just the zen aspect of it. And it was just a great steak or something like this. And maybe to other people around me would look like, I'm very unhappy just because I'm within myself with your day. Yeah, within myself. But I'm truly happy within that struggle. So, yeah, it's interesting, but you can kind of tell.


Yeah, you could tell. And you mentioned being at the bar, one of the most gift, the most gifted bartenders really understand that. What's also great about a restaurant, it goes beyond the one time experience that you walk in and you have that experience, is the good bartenders, they remember you. You were in a few months ago, and this is kind of your thing. You might need a little time, and other people will come in, they want a conversation, or other people come in and they're going through a divorce, and they just want to be sad for a moment, have a scotch. And it's amazing what you learn in the restaurant world to just be connected to humanity.


Yeah. What is that about bars? That's a different experience. You said the table, the communal.


The table is when you connect with people, learn about each other. Bars, you can sometimes do that. You can talk left and right, but you have the freedom to always break free. You can say, okay, great, I'm going to go back to my meal. It's a friend. You can turn on and off at any time because the bartender knows that they're trained. Like, if you want attention, I'm going to give it to you. If you don't, I'm going to stay away. If you want to be chatty, I'll be chatty. If you want to be completely in your head, I'll leave you in your head.


But there's also strangers kind of next to you that there's a feeling with a bar that you're kind of alone together.


Yeah. And you can reach out, you can add some conversation, or you can choose not to.


And you can exit quickly.


You can exit. Exactly. It's a really good exit. So bars are wonderful. And I love going to a bar by myself after work. Might have a scotch, might even. Not even have alcohol. Just have something and maybe have a snack or something before dinner because I'm going to go home and have dinner with the family. And that 20 minutes, it's just an amazing state change from daytime to nighttime. Whereas if I went straight home, I'm, like, still in my head and I'm just trying to. Trying to get grounded, and I'm not as pleasant of a person. So that's another powerful use of a bar. It's just like a transition time.


But, I mean, it would be remiss not to mention the other use of the bar, which is like when you're going through some shit in life and you just go, I mean, it's the cliche thing. I've been somewhere. Exactly. But the bar makes the melancholy somehow rich and beautiful. And you feel heard in the silence, you feel heard.


Like I said earlier, people going through a divorce, they don't know where else to go. These are mostly men. Sometimes women will do it, but mostly men will do this. And women have other ways of processing it, but they want a place to be sad and want a place where they could feel comfortable talking about it. They're certainly not going to go into too much detail, but they just want to say something and the bartender is there for them.


Yeah, you don't know where to go.


You don't know where to go. Exactly.


Yeah, you're right. For men especially, is a place to just go. I don't know what is that.


I still do it myself. Where, if I'm at home and I don't have a work thing that I got to deal with and I don't have kids, and I don't have my wife or my family around, I don't often cook for myself. I actually love going to a bar by myself. I have a glass of red wine and I have usually don't have starter appetizer. I just like a main meal and I just take in the energy of the space. It was my restaurant or someone else's restaurant. I just take in the energy. And it's so much better than being home and turning the tv on. No, I want to be out in the restaurant. I want to feel the energy of the town. The other thing that restaurants teach me is they're the front lines of the economy, or what's the better word for it? Front lines of the energy of how.


Things are going of a peoples in general. It doesn't necessarily mean this part of town, but it could be the entire society.


Exactly. So you can go into a restaurant and I'll use a simple example. And why is the restaurant empty? There's a football game going on, and there's such a large number of people want to watch that game that the restaurant is quiet or it might be like another World Series or something. And you're like, wow, that's so interesting. You can actually watch in America, of course, american humanity, you can watch them move in their patterns just by being in the.


Yeah, yeah.


And then another time you might be in a restaurant and it's just jamming. And it's a Monday night and you're like, what is the energy that created this on a Monday night? And maybe even on a cold February Monday night, what is it? And sometimes you can't find out, but you can feel it. And it's my front lines of humanity that I also just really love about the restaurants.


Yeah, it could be empty. It could be full. Empty bars. There's a magic to those, too.




You could still feel that energy. I don't know.


I actually prefer empty bars than full ones.


It's just you and the bartender. I mean, some of my greatest experience is just the quiet bar. It's just me and the bartender. And they're doing their thing and they've seen so many, I've almost like through osmosis somehow feel the stories that bartender has seen, has felt, has heard, and all that kind of stuff. Not to be sort of spiritual about it, but it seems like it's in the walls or something. The history is felt.


And some of these bars are actually very old, and it's wonderful. There are many in Europe like this, but there's a couple in New York City, a few hundred years old, and they're still operating nonstop for that long. And, man, you feel it. Yeah.


Let me ask you some questions about ingredients. What's your favorite ingredient to cook with?


For me, cooking is an art, right? So be like asking me, what's my favorite, favorite paint color to use? It's not that there isn't one. It's more like when there is one, it really is like there's peaches on the COVID of this cookbook. Those peaches, those were in August. Colorado peaches. It just doesn't get any better than that.


On that day, at that moment, that was the best.


But that only lasts for a week. And then they don't taste so great. Yeah, but damn, are they so good in that moment. And you just can't stop wanting to use that ingredient.


They look really good.


They're so good.


What's your favorite fruit? I love veggies and fruit. What's your favorite fruit?


I love a smoothie bowl. So I do sort of berries, raspberries, but I use fruit more in the form of a smoothie bowl than I eat fruit that often. I like an apple or a banana. But for most part, I prefer, like, the blended.


Not me. I love the way you casually set it like an apple.


A apple is pretty great for me.


It's a problem, I think, probably cherries number one. Probably.


What are they called?


Granny smooth apples number two.


Oh, yeah, those are great. But try it sometime. Come to Colorado in August. And when you try those peaches, it is like heaven has arrived in your mouth. It is so ridiculously good.


But just for a week and all.


Just for a week. You can't have it all year long.


What about veggies? You wrote that chef Hugo that you worked with, the co founder of the kitchen with, taught you the power of a good vegetable?




What's the power of a good vegetable?


So I've trained in New York, right, as a french chef. But it wasn't very much ingredients focused. It wasn't very much sourcing focused. He came from the river cafe in London, which was one of the Ogs for the farm to table and still going strong today. And he taught me the value of getting to know farmers and getting to know vegetables from that farm versus vegetables from that farm. And they're actually different. Soil is a little different, the way they grow it a little different. It's the opposite of the industrial machine, where everything needs to look exactly the same. And sometimes you'll get carrots that are kind of ugly and deformed, but they're much sweeter than the carrots you'd get for other purposes. So you'd make a carrot puree out of that, and then you'd take carrots that are more typical in shape and size. You might roast them for dinner. So it's the appreciation for vegetables in general. I probably would say carrots is my favorite just because that was an example of one where I've really had to learn how to use the different types of carrots that come from all of our farms.


And it's fun. It's a fun ingredient. If you just went to the whole foods or just went to a grocery store and you just got exactly the same carrot every time, less fun. But go to a farmer's market and see what you get, and you'll see they're quite different. Yeah.


Carrot for me is probably number one. I have rigorous, detailed rankings for fruit and veggies.


That's amazing.


We'll get into it. I am the kind of person that would have, like, a spreadsheet for that, but I'm also just making fun of myself. But I do love carrots. I wish they weren't so full of carbs.


I'm just not anticorbs. Yeah, I think they play a role. I have a great friend who's an amazing doctor, and he did some tests for me and everything, and turns out I have a gluten allergy. And I was like, okay, so what that means is I shouldn't eat gluten. He's like, yeah, it's like, okay, but I also have hay fever, and that means I should not go out into nature. So I was like, nah, I think I'm going to go out into nature. And maybe what I'll do on bread and pasta is like the true carbs. I'll just have it when it's really good. Because when it's really good, it's really good. And you don't want to miss that most of the time. Okay, fine, there's some crummy bread, whatever. I can skip that part. But I find all of these diets are like, none of this or super this, super that. I wonder if they're just like, people are just looking for something to hang on to. But these diets have been around forever, and if they work, then we would know that.


I think one of the biggest problems with diets is it adds stress when you do have that perfect bowl of pasta. If you have categorized yourself as a low carb eating person, you might be very stressed about enjoying this when you should just let go.


Let go. This is your cheat day or whatever.




And I've heard that and actually I have friends who do that their cheat day. And I say to them, I'm only going to hang out with you on your cheat day because that's when you're actually fun. Yeah.


I would say for me there's things that make me feel really good, but they're not rules. They're like go to favorites in terms of diet and so on. For example, I've mostly been eating once a day.


Oh, wow.


For the longest time.


But that's not a rule.


It's completely flexible. And I've mostly been eating very low carb.


But you must be eating a lot of food in that one meal.


Yeah, because it's usually a very sort of meat heavy. It's not like portions are not that big.


Your body needs food.


Yeah, body needs food. You're talking about like 2000 calories. What you find out is that dinner is like the most social time of the day.


Yeah. I mean, I have kids in the morning, so if you have kids, it's for sure a morning experience. But if you don't, then you're right.


Yeah. But like you said, I deviate. I'm more afraid of missing the perfect dessert, the perfect breakfast, the perfect bowl.


Of pasta, pizza, all that kind of stuff.


I don't think of it as a cheat day.


Well, if you're only eating one meal a day, you can eat whatever you like.


But I want to make clear that it's not one meal a day always. And I'm like this very strict thing. You always have to be open to the experience, to the new experience. Otherwise you do miss out. Just like you said, hay fever. I think if you want to be really safe, you should never leave your home.


Yes, we learned during COVID if you wrap yourself in Cottonwood in your basement. Yes. You're not going to die from COVID You might die from a lot of other things, of pure misery.


Yeah, well, you might live forever.


We don't know.


But it certainly doesn't maximize the joy of whatever makes life worth living. It doesn't maximize that.


Yeah, exactly.


You wrote in the book that Anthony Bourdain was one of your heroes. Can you speak to what inspired you about him?


Yeah, he wrote a book called Kitchen Confidential in the was in cooking school at the time. He romanticized the kitchen cooking in the restaurant. So. Well, his writing is great. So he kind of got me into like, oh, that's cool. I want to do that. It was cool. So I got into cooking school, got more engaged in it, and I had this fomo feeling of I wanted to experience what it's like to be in the back of us. When you're cooking school, you're in the back of us. They had a restaurant we would serve people, but it's not the same thing as actually being in a real restaurant. It's like you're in a submarine with your teammates and you got to win tonight. It's a real energy. And so that was a big inspiration. I followed him over there. So sad that he chose to end his life. But I also had met with him a few times. Not like one on one over dinner or anything, but just met with him. And I just felt his love for food and truly love for food.


He gave the advice of don't be afraid, get excited and cook with love.


Yeah, I've used that phrase. Especially the cook with love. One of the things about, we talked about this earlier where you get quick, tangible feedback from a customer when you're in the restaurant. I know when I didn't put love into that dish. I know when one of my line cooks did not put love into that part of the dish. I know when that export person did not put love into double checking the dish before putting it on the table. You just know. And cook with love is whether you do it for your family. Actually, especially when you do it for your family. The food doesn't have to be perfect, but you're cooking with love.


That's why you love scrambled eggs.


I do that.


That's in the book. Kimball. Scrambled eggs?




You promised to make me scramble eggs. I'm going to hold you to it.


That's great.


A cooking school. You mentioned the french culinary institute. I heard it was a bit of a rough experience in parts, I would call it.


It's not a rough experience in that.


In a beautiful way.


Yeah, it's exactly. It's not like I'm a victim of it. It's rough in that they intentionally make it rough. So the school costs the same price as Harvard to go to. You show up, it's an 18 month program. You are allowed to drop out at any time. You don't get your money back. 25 people started, six people graduated. And the people who graduated, I graduated. But, man, there were times where I'm like, I can't handle this. I would literally say to my friends, oh, I got to go to cooking school. I'm going to go get screamed at for the next six or 7 hours.




And I had this little french chef who was my nemesis.


Does he still live in your head somewhere?


Lives in my head. Exactly. He's only died. He's, like five foot two or something. And I remember him screaming so much at me that he's like, the short guy. I'm six five. The spittle would land on my face.




And I would just have to sit there or stand there and take it. It was a very humbling experience. I did learn, though, that it's intentionally rough, so I took a little bit of the edge off it one day when that same chef had come over to me and said, move over a little bit, and I moved over, and he took my carrots, whatever, and started just chopping everything perfectly. And then he said, okay, you guys can come back. And then he went over to someone else and started screaming at them, saying that, look, even Kimball can do this, and you can't do this. And I was like, this whole thing's like a psycho. Yeah. So it did take the edge off when I realized there was. The guy was intentionally trying to break you down. And they do this apparently in the army, and I've not been to the army, but they need to break you down. Everything you know is worthless. So that then we can teach you, and you can come out of it with what actually we want you to know.


Are there specific technical lessons you remember you learned from that? Sort of how to cut carrots or how to approach food, how to prepare food, how to think about food, how to carry yourself in the kitchen?


All of those things. I think that one of the most beautiful lessons was actually scrambled eggs. So there's different layers of chefs. So they're all master chefs. They're all very well known people and everything, but Alan Saltner was one of the chief main guys, and he just passed away. Master chef. And everything kind of stopped when he would show up in the kitchen, and he would teach very few things. And all of the other chefs who know the same ones that were screaming at us, just like, it was like the Red Sea partying. They have total respect for this human, and he can do whatever he wants. And one of the things he wanted to teach was, how do you make an omelet? A french omelet? And it's really fundamentally the same thing. It's a soft scrambled egg that you fold. And the love that he put into the time with us, and, of course, he's a legend. There were moments like that where I'm like, wow, okay. Just like the other chefs didn't have any concern, berating anyone, so he berated our master chefs. Nice saying. I don't trust these people to teach you how to make scrambled eggs.


So I'm going to do it instead.


Can you speak to that? Because a lot of people hearing this would be like scrambled eggs. Why do you need to be a master chef to really make?


Well, first of all, for me, it's a learning journey forever. I make scrambled eggs. I mean, I must made it 10,000 times or more or whatever.


So it's like, Jerome dreams of sushi, kimball dreams of scrambled eggs.


Pretty much. Okay. So I will wake up and be held accountable by my kids to make scrambled eggs. Happens every morning. And I know all the steps, muscle memory level kind of steps while I know it, and then I'll cook it. And it's very meditative for me because you have to focus. So most scrambled eggs, soft scrambled egg recipes are 1015 minutes to get them to that perfect softness. And the recipe that I got from chef Alan was something that you do in 90 seconds, but it requires total focus. Like, if you look up for a second, you're going to miss the perfect moment where you have to stop and get those eggs out of the pan, because once the eggs will keep cooking. And so it's this meditation. And sometimes you hit it perfectly, but most times could have been a little softer, could have been a little firmer, could have been a little bit more salt, could have been a little more pepper. And so what's really fun about the morning is my kids are kind of into it. So they're sort of like, we critique the eggs every morning.


Do they have a rating system? We're back to the.


And again, it's also come back to, how do people feel? Right. So my kids can be in a bad mood and they can be grumpy.


Or it's just like a Michelin star system.


No, it's more like, oh, yeah, I like my eggs a little more gooeyer or yesterday it was this way. A little bit more salt, a little less salt. Salt is usually the one that is because not all salts are equal. So if you are used to working with a certain kind of salt, and then you just are forced for some reason you ran out of salts, you use some other salt, you actually don't know how to use it. You really want to have the same salt all the time. Yeah.


You have a page on salt in the book. Totally fascinating.


Salt is you got to get to know your salt. You got to love your salt, and you got to use it over and over and over again. And it will teach you how to use that salt. Your own palate will tell you how salty you like things. But if you change it up and you mix up a whole bunch of salt, you've now multiplied your learning path. So for me, my favorite salt is kosher salt. And I like to use that all the time. And if I ever change it, I might sprinkle a little bit of molden salt. Just crunchy, sort of a flaky salt. But it's more for that when you're actually eating texture. It gives you texture as well as salt. Exactly. You wouldn't use it on scrambled eggs, but if you switch out your salts, it's a different weapon. Need to learn it.


I like how usually there's wine connoisseurs. You're saying you're going back to a sort of farm to table when you're talking about carrots in that same rigor and nuance, you have to consider the different farms involved for the carrots. In that same way, you have to consider the different salts.


And also, not even all kosher salts are the same. It's the particular salt that you like. Get to know it, get in a relationship with it. It's like, great. You will learn so much in terms.


Of the measurement, the proportion, the amount you put of salt you put in. Are you doing that exactly, or are you doing it by feel?


So it's by feel and that's where you get the relationship. So, in fact, in the cookbook, I have QR codes that people can scan. Because what I struggle with recipes is they don't teach technique. Right? They can describe the technique, but they don't teach the technique because it's a technique. It's not a recipe. And so one of the lessons is, how do you salt a steak? And the answer is not, here's a teaspoon, and you do it this way. The answer is, use kosher salt so you can see with your eyes, because they're little flakes, how much salt is on your steak. And then taste it and cook it and then taste it. Do you think you need more or you needed less? Okay, now next time, put a little more on because you can see it. And it's about learning the fact that you want to be able to see how much salt is on the steak so that you can then train yourself for the future of how much salt you want to your steak.


Yeah, but then the steak and the salt kind of dance together. It depends on where the steak came from.


That's true. And all the thickness of the steak, that'll make a difference. But for the most part, if you're able to see it versus table salt, for example. This just disappears. You just can't see what you're putting on your steak. You can't really learn as a result.


I think you talk about roast chicken is where your love of food began. What about steak?


I love a good steak. It's so great.


So in the french school, you add sauces and all this kind of stuff, and in boulders when you realize there's a beauty to the basic ingredient.


Yeah. Like a good New York strip. From a good rancher, there's a lot of discussion, controversy on how, how cattle should be raised. And we have a, we have a very different approach, which is we know how our cattle are raised. We go to the farm, we get to know the, the rancher. And sometimes you do want to have them be finished on. Like they'll be grass fed for the most part. But then there's some sort of cool recipe of food you're giving them that will then make them taste better. And sometimes it is actually pretty good to have 100% grass fed. I've had some amazing ranchers that show me that the flavor is all there for the average person that might go to whole foods or grocery store. I think the simplicity of a good steak, it is important to get good sourcing, but also it's just good.


What's your favorite cut of meat? It's New York strip, probably. New York strip for me.


Yeah. New York strip. Yeah. I like the fact that it's lean, but if you want the fat, you can dive into that little strip of fat, or you can leave it alone because you don't want it that night. And it's also a great steak for adding something. Like, if you want to, you could either do a pepper sauce or you could do a lot of ground pepper, which gives it a peppery. It's not sauce, but it's a peppery steak. It's a really good steak for a canvas, for other things.


But the basic ingredients you're playing with is salt and pepper.


Pretty much. Actually, I will say there's another one, garlic. This is my favorite recipe for a steak, is you season it both sides, salt and pepper. You saute it in a little olive oil, barely, barely anything. And you're getting a nice crisp, like a golden, dark, golden brown on both sides. The other trick with cooking a steak is don't touch it. You just put one side. When you're ready to turn it, turn it around, don't touch it any other time. But at the end, you take a dab of butter, and you crush a clove of garlic. You don't even chop it, you just crush the clove and you put the two of them in the pan and you just roll the steak around in the garlic butter. I think that's the.


You. Since you're in Austin quite a bit, opening a restaurant here, what do you think about barbecue? It's kind of the Texas way.


Well, I would say there's an Austin way, and actually, even Austin would say there's a suburb of Austin way. I think that actually the adventure of food is wonderful. I would absolutely say that Austin is one of the great food cities of America, and barbecue is one of its gifts that it gives the city. But you'll go to one and the other, and you'll have a different approach. And that's the part I love, is where is a real celebration of the artisan. So you might go to one, and they have a style that they love, and they've been doing it for years, and then you'll go to another, and they have a style that they love, and they've been doing it for years, and they're still barbecue, but they're actually different. And it's really beautiful to see that. And I think that's what food culture is. It just builds up over time by people who love this style of cooking.


Well, I especially love the communal, like, how they structure restaurants usually, or I don't even want to call it a restaurant because it doesn't feel like a restaurant. It feels like a tavern of some sort. Like Terry blacks is like that.


Yeah. They also have, like, paper towels. Get as messy as you like, and it's a whole roll of paper towels. They don't just give you a napkin. They know what you're getting into.


Yeah. And there's just wood everywhere. And it kind of has this feel like this place has been around forever. It's not changing. I know it's the 21st century with the Internet and all this kind of nonsense that you people are building, but really, this is all about the same. It's been the same for generations. We're doing it the same. That kind of feel. If you want to escape the world in that way and then truly connect.


With people, one of the other things that'll happen in a town like Austin is there'll be a barbecue joint that is just legendary. Right. And then out of that will come someone who wants to go do their own barbecue joint. And they'll take the learning from that barbecue joint. They'll open up a new one but it won't be the same as the other barbecue joint. Part of it is like, dude, don't just do the same thing, do something. What do you have to say? But also part of it is, if you're in the world of food as an art form and you want to go open up another barbecue joint, you kind of want to prove yourself. Like, I deserve to have a barbecue joint in this town. I know this is one of the holy grails of barbecue. And people will follow you like they were following a musician or they were following an artist, and they are excited to see what your version is and how well you can pull it off. That's what I mean by a city with a food culture. Austin has that.


There's also, like a legend to certain places. Certain places are more than just the food they create. That could be a burden. They have to live up to the legendary nature of the name.


Our restaurant in Boulder, the kitchen, is 20 years old. We're very well known, we're very well respected, and we do have to live up to the name. I think that our restaurant lives up to its name in not just the food. It's like you walk in and you feel the restaurant. And that is also something we've just done, naturally. The space is 120 year old building. Used to be a brothel, and it was bookstore like storied history. That's an interesting. Literally, this was a mining town, right? So back in 18 hundreds, this was built late 18 hundreds. That sort of Brussels river, that was a thing. And so there's an actual tunnel under. In the basement that goes to the local hotel that would be used for going back and forth between the hotel and the brothel without people knowing. And the tunnel is now concreted up, but you can go about 20, 30ft into the tunnel, but you go into the space and it's actually an old space, so you feel like it's been there forever.


Yeah. In 2010, you had a life threatening accident that changed the way you see life, the world, also the way you see food and cooking. Can you tell me the story of it?


Yeah. So, 2010, I was 37. I had opened the restaurant in 2004 and I had loved the restaurant world, loved it. But I didn't really want to grow a restaurant company. That wasn't my goal. And so I went back into technology and I had gone from something that I love to something that I like. For me, it was like chewing sawdust every day. I just couldn't believe that I had gone from that, had changed my life, had gone back into technology. And now I do work in technology, and I do love it, but I found a better relationship with it. But I was really unhappy. From the outside, I was a sort of CEO of a pot startup, but from the inside, I was just very unhappy. And I was in Jackson Hole, and I was doing these very aggressive snowboard runs. And I'm at the time, a pretty good aggressive snowboarder. And I remember saying to myself, look, I've got kids. I need to chill on this. Next day was Valentine's Day, tomorrow's Valentine's Day. I'm just going to have a nice day with the family and my wife at the time. And we went to a children's run to do the inner tube run.


And the tubes are small, but everyone uses the same tube. So I'm six foot five and my kids are four years old, and everyone uses the same size tube. That should have been a message to me not to get on this thing. But I went and got on it, and on the first run, and I went down and you're going super fast, 35 miles an hour. And a tube hit the braking mats and it stopped. The tube just stopped where it was. It just threw me. My head was facing downhill, so that created the wrong center of gravity, so instead of breaking, it just threw me. I landed on my head. My head went into my chest, like, compression into my chest down like that. I ruptured my spine at c six and c seven. And in, like, the blink of a second, I was paralyzed. I was like, what? Just impossible to comprehend. And they take me, put this. They put this big thing on my halo on my head, and they take me to the hospital, which was more of a medical clinic, and I'm just like, what is going on here?


Do you remember your thoughts from the moment it happened to the way to get to the hospital?


I remember being. So this is one of the things that actually the doctor said caused the most damage was I was thrown from the tube and I heard this big crunch sound in my body. And I knew that I was hurt, but I didn't feel any pain. Why wouldn't you feel pain? Because you don't have paralyzed, you don't feel pain. And I'm face down on the snow, and the snow is burning my face because you can't do that. You need something. And I found a way to turn myself around so that my face wouldn't be on the ground, but I knew I couldn't move. And that, they said, actually caused more damage than. Well, obviously the accident created the opening but once. Once you move your body, the blood goes into the spinal column at a faster rate. And that is what caused my paralysis. But I remember that, and I remember getting into the ambulance.


Did you think you were going to die at that, in those seconds? Minutes?


It was a different feeling of death. It was more of what is going on here. I can't make sense of what's going on. It was a moment where I got to the hospital and they did this MRI. And the doctor comes up to me and says, look, we've done this MRI. Now I'm in the hospital, and I'm like, I can't move. But I also don't feel any pain. So I'm like, it's very confusing. Your body looks like you can move it. Look, see how I'm moving my hands? It looks like you could do that. And then it just doesn't move. There's no feedback loop that it's not moving. Your brain even thinks it's moving, but it's not moving. It's like the worst, most terrifying thing. So the doctor says the way you broke your neck, really at a zero degree angle, that is so rare. But as a result, there is no twisting of the spine. We think that we can get the blood out of your spinal column, and you should get some or maybe all of your movement back. And I was like, oh, okay. I think I'm going to be fine. I guess I'm going to be fine.


And then I realized I had tears just streaming down the side of my face. And I was like, whoa, man. I have no idea what is going on.


So this kind of intense state of confusion, I wonder if it's a weird psychological defense mechanism of taking you away from the obvious possibility of death.


Yeah, it was. For sure. All of the defenses were up. I don't know how else to describe it, but there was denial. There was this curiosity of, like, why is there no pain? When they did actually repair me and fix me, there was three days later, the pain was indescribable, how much pain I was in, but there was no pain for three days.


The human body is fascinating, man. Wow.


Yeah. So they did the surgery, but I had this very clear voice in my head that I've kind of determined that it's God. I'm not religious, but I don't know how else to describe the voice. And this voice is very clear. You're going to work with kids and food. Okay. Where did that come from? I'm like, tax CEO. I have a restaurant. We were working with some kids in schools with know, helping a local nonprofit. And look, no, you're just going to work on kids and food. My good friend Antonio and her brother were in the hospital, and I was like, I'm going to work on kids and food. Because they're like, he's crazy. He lost his mind. But not that they weren't arguing. No one was arguing with me, but I was like, I'm just going to do that. I need to say it out loud. And I remember resigning from my job as the CEO from the hospital. And that was it. It was just clear. It was a clear voice. Wasn't for a moment, wasn't like a flash of light or anything. It was probably two weeks of clear voice.


Of clarity.


Clarity, exactly. Clarity. And no monkey brain. Nothing. No monkey brain. Just clarity.


So you're not a religious person, but you do call it the voice of God. Who is that? God, do you think? Who is that? Where did that come from?


Well, I've done ayahuasca, and I've spoken to what they call mother Aya, which is another version of God. It's a divine presence, maybe. I think it's a better way to say it. I've also had this debate in my head. Maybe it's just me. I'm talking to me, and it's my peaceful, more kinder, more less caught up in the emotion of the day version of me. Maybe it's me. Okay, maybe it is, but it's there.


But who are you? How deep does it go? What does you mean? You could be. First of all, the depth of what the human mind even is, is a gigantic mystery consciousness, all of it. Who are you? It's like, yeah, maybe it is you, but then maybe in order to build you, we need to build the universe. You are actually fundamentally a part of this whole human society. So the pieces of humans that you've interacted with are all within you. And then maybe the history of the humans that came before are also in there. And maybe the entirety of life on earth is also in there, and whatever brought life about on earth is in there somewhere.


So that's all you, which is really true evolution. It literally is true that we all are. Photons from the sun came in and we part fish. We all came from. We all came from that. I think there's. One of the things I do is meditate, and I've been meditating for many, many years. And what way I meditate is I sit and I listen to my thoughts, and I simply just do that for 15 to 20 minutes. And it just calms the nervous system. And I might breathe and just be breathe through because it's been a stressful day, and it's just a beautiful way to kind of do it around. Remember I said I used to do a scotch at the bar after work? Now I go meditate, for instance. It's a little bit better for my health. But meditation I was taught was Sam Harris actually taught me. This was not so much just about watching your thoughts, but realizing that you're a watcher. You're actually a watcher. You're not just like, who is the person watching that? That's you, actually. Your thoughts are floating through your mind, but you are the watcher. And I was like, oh, that's really interesting.


Okay, so I'm going to learn that. I'm going to be the watcher. And what I learned was I'm watching these thoughts go by, and there's a consistent other presence. And I'm like, what is that consistent other presence? That's not a thought. It's not something I can kind of let it float away. And it doesn't even want to float away. It's just a consistent other presence that I can watch and feel.


So you are the watcher, watching the feelings and thoughts, but there's also an other presence next to you almost.


Yes, that's how I feel. And it's a beautiful presence. It's not a presence that is trying to intervene. It's not a presence that is trying to tell you what to do. It's just a beautiful presence.


And that might be part of the thing you met when you took ayahuasca.


I learned about mother Aya, where you have this experience of talking to. Actually, I would say the closest thing to breaking my neck, that feeling was ayahuasca.


Can you go through that experience? Because I'm actually traveling to the Amazon jungle in a month and probably do ayahuasca for the first time. Okay, I need a preview. Unofficial instruction manual?


Yeah, sure. So first of all, I think many different ways to do it, right? And I've done many different ways. There's a very western medicine approach where you have doctors that look after you during the day, put an eye mask on, you're on a futon, and you really are in a western medicine setting. And it's, frankly, for me, has been the most powerful experience. I feel the most comfortable because I'm part of western medicine in my upbringing. The other extreme, but they're kind of in between. Would be very probably a peruvian ceremony is probably where we're going to go very much about. You do it in a community, you do it with others, and you feel people go through their pain and their processing. So I know the whole gamut. But the thing that I found most powerful about it and profoundly powerful, I would say, first of all, it's non recreational, so no one should do this for a good time. This is not a good time. This is a very.


Almost traumatic, but in, again, a beautiful.


Way, actually going to say that word, but it's not traumatic. It's profound. So it's more like you really leave who you were before behind, and then you become the person you will be afterwards.


And that's never an easy thing.


Yes, exactly. And sometimes what I recall was arguing with brother Aya and saying, no, I'm fine. What was he really talking about? Leave me alone. How does that work out?


But before 2010, the accident and the two transformational experiences you had, you were a very successful tech CEO. Maybe you go back to the early days with zip two. In 1994, you and Elon started Zip two. Tell me the story of that.


Yeah. So, 94, we actually did a road trip around the US to brainstorm about what we wanted to do after college.


What was the road trip like?


That was awesome. So we went from Silicon Valley to Philadelphia.




My brother's old. Like, really cool. It's one of those very old bmws, not ones from the 60s or 70s, but the car didn't work. It would break down all the time. But we had a blast. I remember going through needles on the border of California, Arizona. It's a town called needles. It's the hottest place in America. And the engine was not cooling, so we had to put the heat on. So we've had the heat blasting to cool the engine, keep the engine cool, and keep the windows down because we can't stand the heat in the car. But actually, the outside heat is hotter than the inside heat. So you're just in a furnace. You're driving through even. I can't imagine doing that.




In the day. Yeah, it was a wonderful. It took us a few weeks, I think three weeks, maybe.


First time across America?


First. Like a road trip like that. Yeah, for sure. But it was really not a road trip for tourist sites. We went to the weirdest places, and actually, I would say we didn't go to them. We broke down in the weirdest places because that's when we stopped.


Yeah. Do you meet any interesting people?


I remember we broke down in the badlands of South Dakota about an hour from Rapid City, and that road is empty. And so we actually slept in the car because there was just no one around. There were no cell phones in those days. And eventually a trucker picked us up. I was like, you guys are the dumbest kids on the planet. Like 21. He was maybe 22, but he was so nice to us and so kind to us and found us a mechanic in Rapid City and then found us a tow truck. And you find the most wonderful people when you're in a place of distress. People do want to take care of other people.


They help you.


Yeah, they want to help.


And especially when you're on a road trip, because I've taken a road trip across the United States, and there's a part of people where they really love that. I think part of them wants to do that, also wants to kind of escape. Whatever the local, the struggles, just whatever the mundaneness, the struggle of life are. A road trip is a kind of thing where you're like, you know what? I'm going to get away from it all, and I'm going to experience life in the full, the epic, sort of Jack Carwack way of seeing America in the people, not the tourist sites, just the human.


Yeah, exactly. This was not tourist related. We did, of course, when we stopped at Mount Rushmore at night, which you can see. Yeah, we thought that was hilarious. We couldn't see Mount Rushmore. That's great. It was like, well, we physically were here.


Photo of us in the dark. You could just say you went to the Grand Canyon, too at night and just visit different places when the car broke down. I love it. So, yes. You took the road trip before founding zip two.


Yeah. So I had an experience in college running a house painting business. That, for me, was my first experience with success. It was very, very hard. It was a franchise where they teach students how to paint houses. But I was good at it. I built a team of 30 people after about two years. And so I was like, I had a taste of, hey, I'm not unable to do this. In fact, my most vulnerable place I remember as an entrepreneur was I just loved the idea of Wall street. And finance was kind of allured by it. This is in late 80. I was in high school, and there was a lot of these books, liars, poker, and others that came out. I was like, oh, man, this is awesome. These people must be amazing. So I went to business school and I busted my ass to get, like, a kick ass summer job, and I got a job in one of the main banks and it was in Toronto, but it was like the version of Wall street. And I was so disappointed with the people that I was around. I was just like, whoa, I totally misunderstood what the banking world is.


It was very large bank. I'm sure if I'd gone to a more aggressive one, maybe I would have had a better experience. When I say aggressive, meaning someone was paying attention. Like, this was just people kind of showing up and not doing much, actually. It's funny. So this is great. So 19 91 92. So one of those summers, the summer job was literally, they print out the sales for all the brokerage houses, for the whole company, like, pile of papers that's maybe four or 5ft tall, and you have a pencil and you add things up using your pencil and a calculator. And I had known about Lotus one two three forever. Excel was coming out of, and I was like, hey, guys, you know that there's a different way to do this. And they're like, don't talk to us. This is just your job, go do it.


Use the pencil.


So I went to the head of the data. I just asked. Those days you had the Manila envelope where you just write the name of the person that you want this to go to and it'll go to them. It's like email, I guess, but there's no filter. There's no spam filter. So I wrote a nice letter to the database administrator who I didn't really know, and I said, would you be open to me saying hi, and maybe I can get access to the file rather than print the damn thing out and use a pencil? And she could respond right away. And we hit it off. I mean, she was great. And so she's like, of course you can have. I can't believe the guys are doing what they're doing. So for the first couple of weeks, for that summer, I wrote code in Lotus one two three. That would, it's going to sound crazy, but you type in the date range, you type in the geography, and you type in which part of the bank you care about. And it will literally just create a new spreadsheet and it will just, the macro would print it out.


It was like a magic trick for these guys.


And incredible.


No, it's a sounding that. I mean, for me, I were like, guys, this is so obvious. I got all that done. And this job was supposed to take three or four months because you're doing this with a pencil. And now I'd created this macro that you could not just not just do it, you could tweak it and say, oh, I want this area of the world or this area of this month or that month compared to that month. All the normal things you could do with the spreadsheet. And the software was on a floppy disk, and I was like, here's the software, and just put it into your computer. All right, now open one, two, three. And it just pops up with a little box that type in your dates and the whole little thing like that. And what I was astounded by was not so much that it was a magic trick. It was the lack of appreciation for innovation. They just looked at it, they were like, that's nice. And it's like, we're going to have someone spend hundreds of hours doing something, and now it's something you can do in a minute.




If that doesn't fuel you with excitement.


Yeah. If that doesn't move your needle, what the heck? And so I was really disappointed with the banking world anyway. But that was also fun.


I got such a good example, though. Yeah. And then also see the possibility of where that goes.


Then I got back to business school and I canceled all of my business classes. I possibly could, but I was actually in business school, so I couldn't cancel them all. All finance courses. I'm done with that industry. I'm not going back. So the vulnerable part for me was my whole family is full of entrepreneurs, and there was this franchise to do house painting. And I genuinely was afraid that I wouldn't be good at it. And I was like, wow, I really am afraid of failure. It's very easy to avoid entrepreneurship, but if your whole family is entrepreneurs and you go in and you aren't good, I was really afraid you're going to.


Have to face that failure every time you meet your family.


Yes, our family are wonderful and everything, but pretty much everyone's an entrepreneur. And of course, not everyone's perfect. Not everyone's doing it successfully all the time. But when you're young and you want to prove yourself, it really was putting my heart on my sleeve. I started the business in this part of Toronto, and for the first, paint the houses in the summer. But you do all your sales pre, before the summer and all the way till April. I was just not succeeding. And I was like, I'm like, oh, my God, I'm just going to fail. And I remember that my whole nervous system was like, I'm a failure. And I remember, had this general manager know, he was like, Kimberly, you seem like you know what you're doing. Why are you not making any sales. And so he actually went with me on a few sales calls, and I was like, oh, he was great. You're doing this wrong. You're doing that wrong. You're doing this wrong and change those three things. And it was like a watershed moment, just like, all of a sudden. And I just followed the instructions of what this guy told me all of a sudden, every single sale I would make, I was like, I can't believe that it was really my lack of humility to learn from someone else.


I was like, no, I'm going to prove that I can do this without your teachings. And I was going to fail.


So to you, that humility is essential for the entrepreneur, especially young, I would.


Say if we have an openness to learning, which does require humility, you course correct or you help get other people to help you course correct. But it. It does start with humility, because if you, if you try and pretend you have all the answers, you don't.


So you went from that to founding zip two. That was an interesting time in the history of tech.




What was it like? You mentioned the first people to look at a map, basically directions.


Yeah. So mapping had been on the Internet, but vector based mapping had not. So that's the ability to zoom in or zoom out, and it's really data versus an image that comes across. And we went to this company called Navtech, my brother and I, and we just asked for the data. And this is Silicon Valley. They wrote us a one page letter that we had to sign and said, here's all of our data. We own it. You don't own it, but you can use it on the Internet. And if you ever make any money on it, you have to call us. That was it. Yeah, we're like, okay, that sounds great. And so we put it up on the Internet, and back in those days, it might take 60 to 120 seconds to actually give you an answer back, but it was amazing. The door to door directions, the ability to take a map and zoom in and zoom out. We use these things ten times a day now. It was amazing. And we were the first two humans to see it on the Internet. This stuff didn't even exist to the world like the Navtech was building it for.


Never lost. For Hertz, never lost, which would come out a few years later. This was not something that people knew existed. This was something we discovered that it existed. And we're like, well, let's put it on the Internet and share it with the world.


What did the two of you feel like to see that magic. Did you know?


Amazing. It was like, what.


The amazing. Just that it's cool. But also that you could see the future, that this could transform.


I don't think people understand. Before this moment, you could not be told your directions. You just could not. Like today, we live in this world where we're told our directions all the time. Before this moment, you could not be told your directions. And all of a sudden you could. It wasn't like a little thing.


Yeah, there's a bunch of things that once we have, we take it for granted and that takes like a day for people transition.




Okay, cool.




And maybe when you're one of the first humans to see that thing, you're.


Like, holy shit, holy shit. This is going to be used by everyone all the time, forever.


So zip two was a success.


I would say it was a success, but it was also a very hard company to build. And I mean it, because the Internet in those days was a boom time. We were being funded, but you couldn't make any money. And so it was actually really hard. The constant outside criticism that we aren't for real, this is not going to survive, this is not going to. And it started to feel that way. We're like, wow, man, we are doing something that is great that people are using. And we were top 100 website. Most of our work was through folks like the New York Times. So we have even much busier than that. But there was just no money in it. And even today, go to Google Maps, there's no money in it. It's just local search that is needed for everyone. And it became an add on to search. But even remember in those days, you couldn't make money at search either. No one had figured out adwords or anything. They didn't realize how big of a business this was. But we all knew this was a thing and everyone was using it, but.


Didn'T quite know how to make money.


Couldn't make money. When we got acquired, it was a bittersweet moment because compact that owned Ulta Vista wanted to merge. So that's sort of regular search with the best search engine at the time, pre Google with zip two, which would be the best local search, and it would be a Yahoo killer. And the compact just wanted to make money by taking the company public. But they wouldn't give us any stock. They paid us cash, which turned out actually very well for us. But because the whole Internet bubble burst, we didn't know that at the time. And so it was bittersweet because they essentially wanted our company. And we were welcome to stay, but you don't have to.




And that feeling was pretty. That was pretty rough feeling.


But in retrospect, it opened the door.


To it set us up for an incredible platform to go do beautiful things.


You invested in that eventually merged with PayPAL. That's a fascinating story there. Also fascinating on many levels, including the fact that the current social media company, formerly known as Twitter, is now called a history has a rhyme to it. It's kind of all hilarious in a certain kind of way. You invested in and help sell a lot of the initial products for Tesla.


Yeah, I still sell on the board of Tesla. Tesla is 20 years now. That amazing years. Yeah.


From the roadster, the initial roadster, to.


I still have the first business plan. So I didn't join as a founder. I joined as a founding board member. And so I didn't write the business plan. I got to read it. And I still have that. I still have it as a part of history.


Did you see the future at that time, like the company that Tesla is todaY? Could you have possibly. Could you and Elon imagine?


I. I certainly didn't. What I saw in it was, for me personally, I was really upset that the general Motors had killed their EV car. There's even a movie called who killed the electric car? And I knew that the physics of electric is perfectly fine. I mean, there's no reason why you couldn't use an electric car to drive around. What resonated with me with the business plan was take an electric motor, which is really a high performance motor, and put it in a sports car and sell it at a high price as a way to enter into the market. Whereas what others had been doing, what these General Motors had done, is you put it into a really crummy car and you sell it as a commuter vehicle that doesn't really work that well and looks ugly as well. They really did everything they could to make that thing as ugly as sin. And then I was like, okay, I get it. We're going to take an appropriate technology and put it in an appropriate car so that when you have. Because electric motors, they have constant torque, you get incredible power. Put it in a car that looks like a sports car.


The idea was to put it in the Lotus Elise, redesign it a bit. And even at that point, I was like, this is theoretically good, so I'm going to join and help build it. But I was not convinced that it would work because General Motors had done such a terrible job of making everyone think that these things are terrible. But I was curious. And the time that I fell in love with the company and its mission was I was driving in what's called a mule, where we take a car and we take the engine out and we put in electric drivetrain, and I drove it. Even the dashboards, there's no dashboard. It's just like, you got a steering wheel, and it's just like, wires and everything around. And I remember there's a street we were on in the Bay area called Bing street. And I was just like, no traffic. So I'm just going to drive this from the floor it, see what happens. And it was a feeling I'd never experienced before. So it's not gasoline. Cars have an inertia to them. So you go, yeah, this is just like being shot out of a cannon.


Okay, this is going to be real.


It's a very spaceship like feeling.


Yeah, it's like, whoa. It's like the g force pulls you back. So I was liKe, okay, this is going to be great. This is going to be an interesting. We're going to create something interesting here. I think the real transformative thing for Tesla was the model three, when we were able to get the price down for the world.


And that was also one of the most challenging periods for TesLa.


And you were, duck. We were borderline bankrupt, like, two or three times that year, and everyone was hating on us about whether we'd get that done. The model three today is incredibly affordable car. Like a $300 a month kind of lease and $3,000 down. That's where you get the scale. That's where you get people who. And by the way, it's a great car. It's even a better model three now than it was five years ago. We don't function the way car companies function. Right. We function more like how an iPhone company, Apple, works. So our model three today is. This year is better than last year. It's like, it's way better. And we just keep getting better.


And the software is a fundamental part of the car, and the software keeps improving.


Exactly. And we can upload over the air.


Which was one of the things that people don't often acknowledge. It's the over the air updates. It's like a revolutionary thing. It's not just the autopilot to me. It's like the over the air updates is even bigger thing than autopilot in this moment of history. Because you basically turned a car into the iPhone.


Exactly. It's an iPhone with wheels. But actually, talking about autopilot like, right after this interview, I'm going to go test out the latest model three.


You're going to get driven around by a robot?


I'm going to get driven around by the car. I'm going to say, I want to go to this barbecue joint, take me there and park me there, and I'm going to see how it is. And this is the latest model three that we have out into production. Anyone can buy it, and it's super affordable, and it's like, okay, full self driving is a journey. It's not like there's a destination. It's a journey forever. So let's see where we are on the journey today.


And there's been a bit of a push and pull between you and Elon in terms of levels of optimism about deadlines and so on, timelines about when we'll arrive at the destination. I like that you said it's a journey.




For Elon, there's a destination.




And that destination is tomorrow or yesterday.


I think that's a really good insight. I actually live with this concept of a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset, and it's a philosophical term where fixed mindset is about the destination. Growth mindset is about learning on the journey. And I think that I'm a happier person because I take that learning on the journey approach, whereas it's really frustrating if you're always. It has to be about the destination every time.


The nice thing about destination, at least from my personal perspective, as, like, a programmer engineer, is like, it puts a little fire under you to get shit done. If there's that clear deadline of a destination, you feel, I would say that.


I still do that, but I call those forcing functions instead of destinations. Sure, because you're just forcing people to crank on some code or cookbook or whatever, because you have a date, and oftentimes there's a reason. I mean, it's 20th anniversary. We wanted to get the cookbook out. We have a reason. We didn't make this up out of thin air. And so that does push you. But just because we have the cookbook doesn't mean it's a destination. It means it was a forcing function to get it out there. Now we're on the journey.


Speaking of journeys, I have to ask you about SpaceX. I mean, the journey that all of.


Humanity is on, seriously, that is spoken about in a journey that is incredible.


It's an interesting moment in the history of humanity that perhaps, hopefully, will become a multiplanetary species. But SpaceX is also a company. You invested in SpaceX. You were side by side with Elon through the highs and the lows. Through the lows and the highs. So what were some memorable challenges? What were some low points?


Sure. From the history of SpaceX, one of the hardest times in SpaceX was we were in the mid Pacific in Kwajalan, and my brother had sold PayPal. He'd done well financially, but in the rocket world, that money goes away really quickly. And we were in this military base in Kwajalin. And I think it was the second rocket that blew up. I'm not sure, but we didn't have infinite resources. I certainly didn't have the resources. I mean, I'm there to support, brotherly support. Every rocket launch was do or die, and the first one had blown up. The second one, I think it was. The second one blew up, and it was so depressing. It was just like. And there's nowhere to go. There's no distraction. You're on this military base. You don't resocialize. It's just we were all together, and I had gotten to know, for me, I'm not part of the team. I'm just there for emotional support or whatever, because it's cool. And so I got to know this couple of people locally, and got to know this one guy who had a mobile home. Best view in the world, but it's just a mobile home with a patch of grass next to it.


And I was just desperate to find food that wasn't from the cafeteria because this is the worst food you can imagine. I met him and he showed me this little, tiny little grocery store, which had a few things, like canned tomatoes. And this is, again, in the middle of nowhere. So it's nothing fresh. And I made this dish that was kind of a version of an italian version of chili, just baked beans and sweating onions and then tomatoes. And it was a big pot of food because it's a group of people. We didn't even have a table, and we just put the big pot in the middle, and we had our little paper plates and took a scoop as we needed it. And it was really the gathering place of, like, food brings people together in the most difficult times. And it was one of my favorite memories because I was able to bring my gift to this group of incredible people that their hearts were broken. And to sit there and share a meal and feel the life kind of come back into us. And by the end of the night, we're actually having a good time.


What a fascinating contrast of rockets kind of representing the peak accomplishment of human beings as a society and then returning to the thing that is the foundation of human society, which is that communal.


Experience, communal vulnerable connection. Like we mentioned vulnerability earlier, the most vulnerable place, actually. That's when you have some of your most beautiful meals.


Yeah. The descendants of apes gathering around some baked beans after watching a rocket explode.




What gives you hope about the future of this whole thing we got going on? Humanity?


If you look at how things have changed over the past, say, 50 years, you can clearly say, oh, wow, poverty rates have gone down. Infant mortality has gone down dramatically. All these things have gone down a lot. So if you look at it on a daily basis, you can tell that life is very dramatic, whether it's something's blowing up on x or from the newspapers or whatever, and you can really get caught up into it. But if you look back over the past few decades, things are getting better. And I mean, at the fundamental level, like, are less people hungry? Are more people. There is war going on, of course, but are there less wars? Yes. And so I think if we all just step back a little bit, it's less about hope, it's more perspective and reflection. If I do see a problem, like in case of the obesity epidemic, I work really hard to help with that. I work out nonprofits called Big Green, and we work with 150 nonprofits around the country to help Americans grow food again, get connected to their food, because I really believe growing food changes your life.


And so, okay, let's go do that. I'll help out where I think we really can make a difference. But if you step back a little, things are actually getting better. It's just a bumpy ride. Yeah.


And for those of us watching all of this, I think I would love to see more celebrating of the people that are helping, the people that have found their way of helping, and just.


Celebrating those people, actually, that's a really nice point. I have learned that you really want to celebrate your successes, because even in the greater scheme of things, I've learned this. In the startup world where you're constantly facing death, why should you even exist? Do your customers want your product or whatever? And then something will happen where you're like, wow, we really nailed that. That's really great. Or we got a product released or got some good kudos from something. Right, everyone, we're going to go celebrate. And actually everyone's still like, no, we got all these other problems. No, we're going to go celebrate and then we'll go back to the problems. But if you don't do that, then it just starts building on this kind of you never really get to celebrate and be grateful.


Well, I think this is a good time to go celebrate the very fact that we're alive today. We get to live and enjoy this incredible life, the two of us, and have this great conversation. And we'll get to celebrate over some scrambled eggs.




I'm going to hold you to it.




Kimbo, thank you so much for talking today.


Thank you for having me.


Thanks for listening to this conversation with Kimbo Musk. To support this podcast, please check out our sponsors in the description. And now let me leave you with some words from Anthony Bourdain. Your body is not a temple. It's an amusement park. Enjoy the ride. Thank you for listening and hope to see you next time.