Discover more from America 2.0 (by Gary Sheng)
Leaving Montenegro with a Full Heart: My Top Lessons from Zuzalu
My two months in a little known but mighty country with leaders of crypto and longevity changed my life. Here’s what I learned.
I’m writing this from an airport on the way out of Montenegro, reflecting the incredible experience that was Zuzalu.
Last night, we had a barbecue on the beach, where everyone was able to say there final goodbyes in person.
Of course, I'm sad to leave Montenegro, where Zuzalu was hosted for an amazing two months.
But just about every resident and visitor got so much out of the experience, and the goal was not to stay forever in the bubble we created. The goal was to connect and build trust across siloes so we can go on to work together all around the world to build useful things that serve humanity. And I know that will happen as we depart from this magical experience.
Because only a few hundred people were able to join this in-person experience, I wanted to share some of my top learnings I'm taking away from Zuzalu with all of you.
Understanding Energetic Boundaries
My first lesson is easily the most important one: the beauty of respecting people's energetic boundaries.
Everyone has different needs. Everyone requires different things to keep their internal fire alive. Some people need a ton of alone time. They can only socialize for, say, 15 or 30 minutes a day. The rest of the time they need to be working alone or quietly with others.
Others, like myself, can spend 10+ hours a day around people, chit-chatting, whiteboarding, and all that fun stuff. However, we all need to be mindful of doing whatever is necessary to recharge. For me, it's sleep.
Whether we're more extroverted and comfortable in public, or prefer quiet chit-chatting, we all need to be surrounded by people whose energies we appreciate and who allow us to be our authentic selves.
We can't handle people who cross our energetic boundaries, people who want us to be somewhere or do something that we don't consent to, who invade our personal space, or who disrespect us when we're trying to rest.
This gathering was full of some of the most unique people I had ever met, and I'm grateful for that. It's taught me so much about the need to create spaces where everyone can choose their own adventure for how to experience life.
Learning to Love Life
Another thing I learned was about love. It was one of the most beautiful, energizing experiences to be around people that were full of love and life.
Every person was authentically themselves, passionately pursuing their interests on their own terms, traveling wherever in the world they wanted to.
The Zuzalu residents and visitors have inspired me to deepen my appreciation of diverse music, foods, energies, people, landscapes, and cultures.
The energy and pure intentions of the community also reconnected me with an appreciation of spirituality and God.
Zuzalu reconnected me with the sacredness of life.
Falling for Afrobeats
Something that I was aware of, but hadn't given much thought to, was the music genre of Afrobeats.
Spending more time with the fine people from Afropolitan including my friend Eric, made me fall in love with Afrobeats.
I genuinely believe that this sound could unite humanity and be a soundtrack for a more flourishing, peaceful, and joyful future.
Music and dancing are critical to people realizing that we are all one people and that we need to get along.
Discovering the Magic of Montenegro
Next, I fell in love with Montenegro. I love everything about it: its location, its proximity to the rest of Europe, Africa, and Asia, and its soulful, spiritual, grounded people.
I love the food, the music, the mountains, the animals (especially the cats), the oceans, and the vibe.
I love the fact that the government leaders are so interested in making it a global hub for innovation and culture.
It is currently the top place I would consider living in long-term outside of the U.S.
The future is bright for Montenegro.
Witnessing The Power of Diversity
I was blown away by the diversity at Zuzalu.
We had people from all over the world, bringing their cultures and foods to the table, hosting nights of hot pots and spicy noodles, Mexican food, Spanish food, pierogis from Poland, and more. We had nights filled with Afrobeats, Reggaeton, and even the most hardcore EDM.
I've never experienced so much neurodiversity in a single location in my life and I absolutely loved it.
Zuzalu inspires me to create environments where all kinds of superheroes can flourish.
Appreciating The Productivity of Parties
Another beautiful thing to experience was the power of intentional gatherings. You might think that parties aren't very productive, but I beg to differ.
Parties are incredibly productive; having fun is productive. Breaking bread together and learning to trust each other on a deeper human level, rather than just through thoughts and business projects, is vital for those projects to succeed.
Everything meaningful moves at the speed of trust.
The final realization I had at Zuzalu concerns what I want to do for the rest of my life: bring people together, inspire them to break out of their silos, and build things that generate flourishing around the world.
Zuzalu did all these things. And witnessing this happen was one of the most magnificent and unexpected experiences of my life.
I want to continue supporting Zuzalu’s ability to make this co-creative magic happen. I also want to put on large music festivals that serve as innovator convenings, inspiring global innovators to build useful things that help people.
I want to do this in Montenegro, Africa, places like Atlanta, and parts of Asia.
Leaving Zuzalu, I am leaving with a full heart.
I have fallen much more deeply in love with the world and humanity, and I feel more optimistic than ever that we are close to unleashing a Golden Age for all.