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The ‘Shamanification’ of the Tech CEO

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Why switch from a dependable gray suit to glamour?in his book Looking for a business savior, Khurana pointed to the ownership issue. Beginning in the 1970s, institutional investors such as mutual funds and insurance companies began to acquire most companies. At the same time, stock trading has become the new American pastime. These two changes mean that outsiders start to care who is running the company — and those outsiders want flash memory.

“When CEOs are less visible in society, they can afford to be prosaic,” Khurana writes. But as the public owns their companies and monitors their leaders, prosaic is no longer an option.

Glamour performance is becoming more and more important in tech. “As a CEO, your job is to sell products to all kinds of people,” says one Boston-based founder and CEO. “First, you need to convince people to join the company and embrace the mission. You also need to sell products to customers.”

Especially important are investors. Many tech companies have relied on invested capital for years to make ends meet, making investor perception critical. “To do this role well, you have to build a role,” said a founder and CEO in San Francisco. “Investors are often attracted to founders who have some kind of charisma or personality—special, I think, is the word they would use. “

Although neither of them do restrictive diets, these founders understand the social pressures that force this performance.

Adding to the need for specificity is the uncertainty and billions of potential returns. Founders must convince investors that, with time and money, their companies will morph into fat, pearly unicorns. But there’s very little about them that sets them apart, especially early on. “No revenue. No profit. There’s an idea that I don’t want to discount,” Khurana said. “But that leaves you with little to assess, other than what school the person went to, who they knew, where they worked.” Like wizards at the time, founders relied on personal qualities to convince investors they could do something Something close to a miracle.

Although the CEO Twitter, Jack Dorsey talks intermittent fasting on podcast, Twitter post, and in an online Q&A hosted by WIRED. “Not intuitive,” he tweet“But I’ve found that I have more energy and focus, feel healthier and happier, and I’m sleeping more deeply.”

Maybe. But if the scientific literature is any indication, his self-denial isn’t all laser focus and cozy nights. Intermittent fasting seems promising for people with obesity or diabetes, but studies testing the short-term effects of fasting on sleep and cognitive function have generally shown no changes or deficits.

So are the CEO shamans performing? People all over the world intuitively believe that self-denial and other shamanic practices develop strength. As humans, tech executives presumably draw the same inferences. Part of their decision to pursue shamanism, then, may have been a sincere desire to be different.

But humans are also skilled performers. We pay close attention to which identities are respected and then craft ourselves to fit the bill. We are guided by automatic, often selfish, mental processes and then deceive ourselves with lofty reasons. “The whole world is certainly not a stage,” writes the sociologist Erving Goffman, “but its key ways are not easily specified.” If CEOs are like the rest of us, their roles (including shamanistic elements) are adjusted for accolades and then rationalized.

Regardless of the motivation, the result is the same.Look at buzzwords from the past, like biohacking and transhumanism Many tech executives look a lot like the trance dancers and witch doctors of past societies. As long as people are looking for miracles, others will race to become miracle workers, resurrecting ancient and tried-and-true technologies forever. Shamanism is neither dementia nor superstition. Rather, it is a reflection of human nature, a fascinating tradition that has grown everywhere as humans turn toward each other to create the extraordinary.





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