"I’ve never talked to anyone about this" (Part I)
Lessons from 80+ onboarding calls.
Hey there 👋 I’m Mathilde. Every (other) week I explore the intersection of consumerism, myth, satisfaction, desire, joy and pride. Not specifically in that order. To brag at your next dinner, Objet is the french word for 'object' and should be pronounced 'OB-JEH'.
If you’re new here, welcome !
Our tribe of three has been seeking our own quiet x cool (i.e. fresh) place to spend the summer. This has led Max to hibernate (there should be a word for its summer counterpart?!1) in his fully A/C equipped family house south of Paris, while Kev and I flew (back) to Lisbon, where both kids are taken care of, going (back) to creche. This year is our first time experimenting what two months of school holidays means for parents. If you’re not there yet, E N J 🙃 Y (can’t say it loud enough). If you are, our thoughts are with you. Anyhow, we’re now onto a good mix of parenting x getting shit done.
Lessons learnt. Part I.
You’ve been following our adventures for quite some time already, and we’re seeing no reason why we would not share with you the fascinating pieces of insights we’re getting from talking with humans.
As you might recall, to get your hands on the app, you’re first doing a call with Kev. No shortcut yet. The call is a 30-minute deep dive into your relationship with buying, and your objects in general. Open-ended questions on you recent purchases, your most-loved objects of all times, or your dream ones, among other things.
On our side, it is been both intimidating and fascinating to make someone you have never spoken to before open up on such an intimate topic, after just a couple minutes.
Without further ado, let's dive in!
Disclaimer: the following patterns come from 80+ calls with urban, connected millennials, gender agnostic, worldwide.
1️⃣ The kingdom of the phone.
Phone, as an object, comes in most discussion. It is top of our minds at all times. Omnipresent.
Phones are where our lives are stored. They are our backup brain, an extension of ourselves. Whether we’re running out of home for a quick grocery fix, or because of an emergency, they are the first thing we think about grabbing. Before our ID. Hopefully after our kids.
There is not so much that one phone alone can’t perform. From contact-less payment to critical information storage, from listening to our favorite music to logging a running session, from reaching out to the world to booking a private transportation.
We hate having this relationship with this piece of electronics. Yet we admit we can’t stand being without it. The first iPhone was launched fifteen years ago, prior to that we did not have a need for it ; that need was built over time. Now, we grab it from our pockets at any given occasion. No later than last week, my average screen time was 1h 49m (!)… a day.
I dug a bit into that topic, to find out that according to a study, millennials spend on average 3h 42m on their phones every day, which makes up to a beautiful 51 days a year. Over a month and a half. Gen X and Boomers are not that far behind.
We are highly dependent of an object that’s paradoxically the gate to a lot of independence and freedom. Uh? 🙈
2️⃣ The backup folks. And the rest of us.
It is intriguing to hear how much or how little people are prepared to the contingency of an emergency. Have you ever thought about the few items you would save from your house should a fire start burning everything? Well, we’ve discussed that with you.
80% of us would be driven by very rational thoughts. “Papers, phone, computer”. Which says a lot about how much we ARE NOT prepared to lose them all. A handful of us only are disciplined with backups. Or else we would certainly not run after these totally replaceable items. Imagine how light we could feel if we had been prepared to this contingency. I am telling this to myself, as I’ve had in my Todoist for about 16 weeks now “do computer backup today” 🙄
Less than 20% of us would prioritize emotional, irreplaceable items, whether handmade or with a unique story and a strong emotion. The engraved watch from our father, a personal diary, the guest book from our wedding or some old pictures from a time .jpg didn’t yet exist. People with a good backup discipline would fall into this category. Or in the following.
Finally, a very tiny % of us are already prepared for this emergency ; some, because they’ve had to cope with it once, duh. A bag is ready with their most valuable objects (doesn’t mean expensive but rather sentimental) and… papers (the most painful thing to recover, as we were told).
A bit of research shows us that one in five people are at risk of losing all their data, should they have a computer or systems failure. When asked “How often do you back up all the data on your computer?”, here is what surveyed people answered :
In the end, maybe we could all go from the unprepared group to the ‘anything-can-happen-to-me’ group with just a tiny bit of ‘backup’ work? 👉🤓 Note to myself.
3️⃣ Closet’s where our minds wander - and capitulate
In our discussions, it’s quite striking. Fashion is all over the place. 90% of our most recent purchases were objects that ended up in our closet. And nearly 100% of the next purchases we are currently thinking about fall in this category.
With the exception of people in the process of moving in or out (a time when you abnormally obsess with furniture and home stuff), or collectors of a particular type of objects (vinyls, video games), we, indistinctly of gender, fall for clothes or accessories.
It’s so easy. So anecdotal. A tiny bit of fabric won’t take much space but will change the course of your day. Temptations are all over the place. Read an article and you’ll be pushed a ‘must-have’ dress, wait for the bus and you’ll want that ‘limited-edition’ pair of sneakers.
When you think about it, it somehow makes sense. Your closet is your introduction to the world. While only a close circle of people will have the honor to see the inside of your home, what you wear every day is generously ‘offered’ to anyone crossing your path. I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes me feel ‘great’ or ‘shitty’ wearing this or that particular item from my closet. None of them are objectively great or shitty. But hey, stories! ✨ Get a compliment from someone you look up to and suddenly this coat ramps up from random to favorite. The opposite works too. My conclusion is that we should not underestimate the power of the stories behind the things we are wearing.
To prevent impulse buying and its ripple effects on our well-being, Max, Kev and I recently designed, over a lunch, an exercise where we would, one after the other, say out loud to each other what our own ‘perfect closet’ would look like (item x quantity). A mix of needs and desires, no judgement. Rather the fateful question of “I’d be satisfied with…”. We decided to make our next purchases based on this list. Craving for a 4th jumpsuit while I said that 3 was my ideal number? Close that tempting tab. Get back to
work writing (happening now).
4️⃣ The duality of a sticky myth
Let’s be dangerously honest. When time comes to express the thing you’ve always dreamed about buying, a 🔥🚘 c a r 🚘🔥 is insanely represented, even among urban millennials who don’t own one. I say dual, because alongside this deeply rooted desire comes, almost immediately, the embarrassment of having this dream in the first place.
I could see the excitement in their eyes as they described the exact model and color, the road they pictured themselves driving on and all the fantasies that would magically come along. It’s what we have been sold for a lifetime.
I enjoyed watching, for some: puzzled eyebrows and seconds of silence, while others: a sparking, vivid memory, when I asked them to recall where this desire was coming from.
With most of them, I could see the embarrassment to admit this desire was not really compatible with the person they ought to be. “Yeah but well, this was before, I don’t think I will ever do that”. “I would feel dumb to actually do it”. - Kev
The people we admire keep brandishing these objects of desire that we’ve seen our grand-parents and parents dream about. They are deeply rooted, collectively. Good job Edward Bernays (and a century of PR and advertising), for understanding that early on.
Through the car, we’ve been sold freedom. F r e e d . .? Gulp. 👀
Is that possible to collectively deconstruct a myth, without simultaneously building a new one as -if not more- desirable? What would this one be?
5️⃣ 👀 “Damn. I’ve never talked to anyone about this.”
Max, Kev and I are obsessed about one thing. Making you aware. Waking up your intentional side and empower it.
I doubt any single day passes by without you talking about objects. Any objects. They surround us. Yet, digging into desires and training the act of being in control feels weird, even gross for some people.
Anyhow, we ended up the call asking you how you felt. This is what we heard. 🎙
“I feel naked”
“Wow, this feels… great”
“What an unexpected connection”
“Emotional. Having talked about all this.”
“I feel shaken just now, it’s a funny feeling”
”Our lives are more meaningful than we thought”
“It makes me pause and think, this is so enjoyable”
“I really appreciate this meaningful, intellectual work”
“Now it makes me think about who it is I truly aspire to be”
“It’s the first time I can talk about this without feeling judged”
“I feel I am reconnecting to myself, taking the time to dig into this”
“Damn. I’ve never talked to anyone about this. Not even my partner”
“I feel more connected to you in 30 minutes than to most of my acquaintances”
If you’re on a path to become more intentional about your possessions AND are curious to live this moment, you can grab 30 min of Kev’s time right here.
If you’re unsure and want to know us a bit before, here you go.
We’ll continue to share these insights as they come, get ready for Part II 👀
We are on a mission to help people buy dramatically better, surround themselves with things they love, learn how to be more intentional.
We believe in the power of stories. We want to help you master your relationships with possessions and make better, smarter, happier, more intentional decisions in the future. ❤️✌️
Til next time,
“estivate” is the one, Max just told me 😎 First time hearing about it.