This is Be Like Animal, Be Like Plant


I’m Rob Laing. In the work world I am a startup founder of (the first global human translation platform) and Farm.One (the first vertical farm for chefs). My work and life experience is from the US, UK, Australia, Japan, Belgium, Hong Kong. I’m a maker of things.

As of January 2024, I’m leaving a happy Farm.One after 8 years and moving into a new phase - helping folks do ambitious things at

And I’m writing this.

A new weekly newsletter about how to make work better for everyone around you.


You want to be human at work.

You want to do ambitious, meaningful things. 

You want to nurture an empathic, creative, happy group around you.

You believe healing global work culture is part of healing global crisis.


Over the past 8 years I’ve devoted my life to a human-centered approach to urban agriculture, resulting in moments of supreme delight — and deep despair 🤯. Farm.One is in a good place now (with brewery!) so it’s time for me to move on, and to zoom out.

My US and Japanese startups rolled with the madness of global tech culture, and being part of an AgTech industry that has imploded over the past three years has been a sobering experience. But I persistently hold the belief that well-directed ambitious work is valuable, and more essential than ever.

I believe the deep questions of how we all see work and how we do work are vital for the future. So I am devoting my next phase (and this newsletter) to work itself. Let me explain.

Our dominant culture is in a suite of crises, running the gamut from disillusionment with work to decimation of entire species. I am not advocating spiraling into depression about the climate emergency, our destruction of habitats and erasure of indigenous lands, our avoidable famines and wars. We can celebrate joy and optimistically create. But we must also transition to a world that stops perpetuating these crises, and I want to be part of that.

Our crises have roots in our dominant worldview. I believe that the challenges we face are interconnected, stemming from the fundamental ways we perceive and interact with the world. One core destructive worldview is the resource-extractor settler mindset, which is centered around hierarchy within our human species, atop of a pyramid above nonhuman beings and ‘nature’. It destroys how we think and work.

I’ve felt the sharp blade of this worldview watching too-cheap-to-recycle plastic burn in a waste-picker site in Jakarta, flying from Tokyo to London and back in a 24-hour mad rush to raise millions of dollars, visiting 80,000 square foot plant factories that will never make a dime, watching friends laid off with over twelve thousand other Google workers, eating fish and chips with a con-man in a megamall in Dubai. The industries I have inhabited are both central to our crisis: Agriculture is a troubled, ancient part of our settler worldview, and startup culture is in some ways the modern nucleus, a Silicon Valley machine originally borne of defense spending that captures the output of smart, privileged people, and hyper-accelerates growth with an eye only to the future.

I am concerned that the things we discuss to solve our climate crisis and meaning crisis are 'just ‘more of the same’. Electric cars and more photovoltaic panels and lifestyle alteration do not solve the fundamental issues.

We can escape. We do not need to be stuck here and watch the world heat. But we need to go further than these slight adjustments, and actively and deliberately transform our worldviews, our strategies and our daily work.

Most importantly, the decisions we make are key. I want to take a detour in this first post to talk about why worldview and insight are so important to make good decisions, and one specific way we might improve them.


I believe all of us have power to make change, but by definition the most powerful in our society have more leverage than the rest of us.

As a sometime leader of organizations, and a collaborator with CXOs, it’s clear to me that the decisions corporate leaders make that exacerbate our global problems are not normally ‘dumb’ or intentionally destructive.

However, most decisions are made within a restricted worldview that is not attuned to the interconnectedness of our world, and in a mindset of fear and scarcity. This worldview causes short-term decisions that add up over time to a climate crisis, destruction of land, etc.

Worldview → Decisions → Actions → Consequences —> Worldviews

Broadly, folks within settler/colonial mindsets (this is most of us in the modern industrial world) tend to start with organizing/dividing and competitive modes of thinking rather than connectedness, which is found more deeply in indigenous societies, such as the Lenape on whose land I am thankful to write this post.

Conversely, the stronger a leader’s sense of connectedness, the easier it is for them to make decisions that take into account more stakeholders and longer term thinking. But it is very hard or impossible for leaders to adopt a connectedness mindset without a strong perspective change. There is probably no stronger daily reinforcer of industrial worldview than being a CEO.

Apart from being raised in, and living a non-industrial way of life, some of the interventions that often offer a connectedness worldview are:

  1. Extreme life events, such as near-death experience or terminal illness

  2. Years + years of dedicated meditation, especially non-dual practice

  3. Intentionally-guided psychedelic experience

Extreme life events are unplannable, and while the meditation path is well-established, it is extremely difficult. The psychedelic route is not free of problems, and on that note I personally am not advising anyone to do … anything. But it is far more accessible to most folks than other routes.

The prospect of making connectedness insights increasingly available to to leaders is compelling, and under examination. A research study on this topic is actively recruiting participants, led by Dr. Rachelle Sampson and Dr. Bennet Zelner, faculty at the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business. For more info, visit their website.

Many who have a strong-dose psychedelic experience categorize it as one of the most important things to happen to them in their entire life. Sounds compelling - why isn’t everyone doing it? But there is a fundamental challenge when talking about insights borne of experience, in that words do not convey the power by which they shape your mind’s movements and tendencies, and their multi-step nature.

Most insights are non-accessible without some kind of alteration of experience

As a metaphor, imagine the scenario above where you see a single door in front of you, Door 1. Door 1 is closed, and you have no idea what is behind it.

It is only when you open Door 1 (a momentary change in perspective, an insight that might be driven by psychedelics or long-term meditation or something else) that you see there are, for example, actually three more doors - Doors 2, 3 and 4, which contain further insights.

Imagine Door 4 reveals a perspective that leads to you feeling and understanding connection at a fundamental level - for instance in the way that you just know the feeling of wearing a hat, or the voice of your partner.

Once you have gone through this door, the framework for all your future decision-making allows you to easily and fluently include this insight, making you more likely to consider connectedness at every step. But you did not even know it existed before Door 1, which may not be accessible during your normal mode of experience.

Connectedness is of course just one of an infinite number of possible insights and effects on worldview that may help us make better decisions. And feeling connectedness is by no means a guaranteed effect of taking any drug. But these powerful tendencies are certainly interesting, and how insight and worldview relate to our work in general is probably the most fascinating topic for me at the moment, along with how to communicate these topics.

Recent books that have affected my worldview in other ways include An Immense World by Ed Yong, Planta Sapiens by Natalie Lawrence and Paco Calvo, Restoring the Kinship Worldview by Wahinkpe Topa and Darcia Narvaez, Saving Time by Jenny Odell, Seeing that Frees by Rob Burbea and of COURSE Sand Talk by Tyson Yunkaporta

I will return to the topic of insights and worldview in future posts.


Going back to the bigger picture, for us to make a dedicated progression towards a sustainable long-term society is ambitious and creative work.

Crucially, we spend much of our time and do much of our doing at work. And we do much of our societal being via consumption of the output of work.

So alongside the life-sustaining work of caring for other beings, caring for planet, and caring for self, I think healing our worldview and how we work is key to us fixing our crisis - and this is where I focus.


In this newsletter, I hope I can share new worldviews with you, help you create detailed future positive plans for how we evolve to a truly sustainable global society, help you create the conditions for creativity and connection within and outside of your companies, teams and social groups, and inspire and motivate you to build to teach in everything you do at work.

Because even the smallest action matters and will be passed on. How you show up in the morning each day. How you prioritize what to work on. The practices and rituals you perform with your team.How you decide who to work for. What you decide to work on, of course. How you choose to operate when you have leverage, and when you do not have leverage. How you connect with others. How you choose what to write. How you advise others. How you invest your money. How you create goals. How you create contracts. How you work.

BTW, being mindful and deliberate in how you do things can be FUN. 😛 


This newsletter is called Be Like Animal, Be Like Plant as a reminder that worldview is the pivotal determinant of our impact on the planet. As humans we have the unique privilege to experience and live in different worldviews, and the responsibility to do so wisely. To move forward and collectively heal our crises, we can learn from others, from nonhuman beings, from plants, fungi and creatures far dissimilar to us. And be, not just do.


Next week I am posting about creativity, which means writing about causes versus conditions, and the conditions for creativity. I will share stories about creative training, about how makers think, about problem-solving in difficult situations, about how powerful unexpected connections can be.

15 years of running weird ambitious startups, working on sustainability with megabrands, living in six different cities… has been wild. All of this has informed my worldview and my practices at work. I will share some stories, including the most tragic, disgusting way to lose AirPods while emptying a farm / Everything tasting better because of bugs / Total work and the passage of years and thousands of miles / Getting forced to remove my Reddit post by Aerofarms management / John Starks, an oversized check at Madison Square Garden and getting rid of a leased car in New York / Being forced to make a Japanese public apology / (related/unrelated) Trauma at work and how we sustain it / Cartwheels on a 2005 company day out on the Isle of Wight gone sour / Exponential growth is bullshit / The vascular system of companies / Meaning in companies, and its appearance via contact with reality / Ativan and time and space and airline travel / Cultural expectations of quality / Why small is big, and ambition is always worth it


Currently, this newsletter is free. The most important thing is for you to share it with other folks who want to do ambitious, meaningful things.


If you would like to support this newsletter and its focus on worldview, including examining the role of insight practices like psychedelics and meditation at work: connectedness-focus, decision-making, performance, teamwork, flow, creativity and other interactions, this is the place to do it.

Become a paid subscriber to support what I am doing (and you get to post comments!). I hope you do this — it helps me devote more time and energy to creating cool things. Soon, I will create additional content for paid members.

For those who can't afford the full subscription price, I offer partial and full student subscriptions, just email me.


I am in a rare position of having complete freedom to explore a range of work-related topics that may have the chance of a positive impact on our society, and so I would like to support free discussion here in the comments section.

Specifically regarding today’s post, if you are interested in exploring the intersection of work and psychedelics, please share your perspective, any current work, upcoming events, or questions for others in the comments section.

See you next week.


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