FUTUREPROOF.

Our 50th Episode! Lifescaling with Brian Solis

December 04, 2019 Season 1 Episode 50
FUTUREPROOF.
Our 50th Episode! Lifescaling with Brian Solis
Chapters
FUTUREPROOF.
Our 50th Episode! Lifescaling with Brian Solis
Dec 04, 2019 Season 1 Episode 50
Jeremy Goldman
Jeremy sits down with futurist and author Brian Solis on how to overcome the digital distractions of today to build a better tomorrow.
Show Notes Transcript

We made it to our 50th episode! And to celebrate, we're talking with one of Jeremy's favorite sources, Brian Solis. He's a globally recognized independent digital analyst and anthropologist, an award-winning author, and world renowned keynote speaker. 

In his new book, Lifescale: How to live a more creative, productive and happy life, Brian tackles the struggles of living in a world rife with constant digital distractions - fascinating to me, since he's studied all things digital for some time now, and even Brian can admit he's susceptible to the downsides of digital. His model for “Lifescaling” helps readers overcome the unforeseen consequences of living a digital life to break away from diversions, focus on what’s important, spark newfound creativity and unlock new possibilities. To create a better future, what could be more crucial than mastering that?

Some highlights from what we discuss today:

  • What exactly is a futurist?
  • Neuroplasticity, and how social media is rewiring our brains
  • Whether or not multitasking works, and if technology is the problem or the solution

As always, we welcome your feedback. Please make sure to subscribe, rate, and review on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and Google Play.

Speaker 1:
0:00
What you do, what you share, who you surround yourself with is, is essentially engineered so that your attention can be engaged in more so monetized.
Speaker 2:
0:11
Hi, I'm Jeremy Goldman and this is future proof.
Speaker 2:
0:20
Okay. So I am really excited for this episode for a number of reasons. I'll tell you reason number one, this is our 50th episode. Uh, and I wanted to hold on to a really good conversation that I had recently with Brian Solis. So, um, I wouldn't really want to put Brian, uh, on the show first off cause he's a good guy. Um, but more importantly, cause he's an incredibly smart guy. Um, he has studied and influenced the effects of emerging tech on businesses and society for a few decades now and he has so many books, uh, enough so that if I tried to recall all of them by heart, I will probably forget one or two. But I know that I've reviewed a few of them and they highly recommend you to check out his work. I'll put some more on a bout him in the show notes.
Speaker 2:
1:08
And this is a conversation we had recently on his new book, a life scale, how to live a more creative, productive, and happy life. And I thought it was so interesting to me, uh, how, you know, in this book, Brian tackles the struggles of living in a world that has all these digital distractions because he's a digital expert. Uh, like basically everybody who I know, uh, looks up to Brian in one way, shape, or form. So I highly recommend not just checking out life scale, but, uh, his work in general. And he's a very interesting guy. A and also one of the people who frankly is the best at predicting and disseminating where we're going as a society. So I want to jump right into it. So without further ado, let's take it away. Oh, Brian, now welcome to future proof. Hey Jeremy. Well, thank you for inviting me. Absolutely. I wanted to kind of start off with how we start off most of these, uh, by, what's your name? Who the heck are you and what do you do on a day to day basis? I did rehearse this part. Well. Uh, it's Brian Solis. Uh, I'm a
Speaker 1:
2:15
digital analyst, principal analyst and futurist altimeter group. I'm also a digital anthropologist and author and speaker and spend most of my time studying disruptive technologies and their impact on markets and society.
Speaker 2:
2:31
Yeah. So I, and I wanted to ask you because I think that, so something I wanted to ask you a little bit later, but I think it's a really good one. I was just having a conversation with somebody else who, it was a little bit shy about the term futurist and I kind of almost a short term futurist for myself. I feel like you embrace it, which is a great thing. I mean, why do you think so many people shy? Oh, there's
Speaker 1:
2:55
know
Speaker 1:
2:56
I'll, I'll just be really honest. It's because [inaudible] there a movement in which people are sort of giving themselves that title. It's [inaudible] it's something that you study and it's something that you actually practice. I think those who talk about technology or attempt to maybe even quote unquote predictive future are now either calling themselves futurists or [inaudible] giving them that title as a F marketing a boost. So, for example, I was in an interview with somebody recently and they wanted to talk about the term futurist and they said, how did you get the, how'd you get the title? And they said it was, it's, I studied and practiced it. Uh, Eddie's, well, it's interesting because my speaker Bureau gave me the title future is because they felt it would help with my marketability. So I think that's where things are kind of struggling right now is that it's lost.
Speaker 1:
3:49
It's a, it's lost its true essence or meaning, but I think for those in the know those who are looking to hire true futures, uh, it, it's still a, it's still good by us. At the same time, you have businesses and organizations all around the world who are also exploring, uh, engagements with science fiction writers because in their own way they can pan out or play out certain future scenarios. And in both cases, whether it's a science fiction writer or a futurist, our work is meant to help decision makers play out certain scenarios so that they can make better decisions today about the future that they want to see. Yeah, and I think that that's really it interesting, uh, about the world that we live in now obviously, is that there's so much a digital distraction that people just want to call themselves something just to [inaudible] break free from the clutter.
Speaker 1:
4:40
But it's kind of like calling [inaudible] your startup and AI S big data, cloud-based startup, right? I mean, if you throw in terminology just because you think it's going to help you with your SEO, the end result is that it does water down the term for everybody else. Okay. Yeah. Yeah, it does. It does. And so all I can do is try to do the work that gives the titled meeting and hopefully my reputation, it's a boost for that as well. But at the same time, I'm, I'm really just here to do the work that I'm passionate about and also the work that people need the most helpful. Yeah. And I'm actually an, I feel like, uh, your last book, which I'm going to mention a little bit more on the intro, is really created helping people, you know, get ahead and anticipate how to succeed in the world. We're living in now in the world that's increasingly becoming very filled with the digital distraction. But of course, before we [inaudible] deal with anything, uh, relevant, uh, I and informative, we'd like to jump into our very quick lightning round of quick yes or no, uh, you know, two or three word answers if you're ready for that. Oh, okay. Never ready for stuff like this, but let's give it a shot. Yeah. Okay. These are, these are softballs. These are easy, even if they're a little bit the beaten path.
Speaker 2:
5:58
So you've met a good deal of influential people, uh, off the top of your head. Who were you most excited to meet or impressed by after meeting? Oh wow. I thought these are yes or no. Yes. Uh Hm. Ray Kurzwell. Uh, okay. I guess that's a pretty high one. Yeah. That's of a lot of really amazing people. There's one guy who is a, I consider him a mentor. His name is Peter Sims. He's the author of little bets. A lot of people haven't heard of him, but he is just an incredible thinker and incredible person. But I guess the list could be long. Oh yeah. If you did not hear your a name, uh, said by Brian right now. I'm DM me later. So I'll send you his address and you can send them the hate mail. Um, but, uh, so what's something about you, uh, that people who know you professionally would never necessarily guess about you?
Speaker 2:
6:54
Uh, that I ride Harley Davidson's, loved to drive classic cars and play the guitar. Nice. That's multiple things and nice and succinct. So you travel per speaking pretty often. What's your favorite city to travel to? Yeah, again, give the address for the hate mail from all of the ambassadors around the world. I think Paris, I have a special connection there. My family's from Spain, so of course Madrid, but Paris has always had a, a real special place in my heart. Yeah. [inaudible] I think that it's, it's really great if you, uh, have, uh, ideally elastic waist pants. Uh, whenever you go to Paris, it's great to take gain, uh, you know, eight pounds pretty easily. Um, and then, uh, the most random of all this was submitted by a listener. There's a zombie apocalypse and you're one of them, you survivors remaining, but you're bound to be eaten.
Speaker 2:
7:49
Who on earth do you want to eat you? Oh my gosh, that's honestly we have perverse people. That is the dirtiest question I have heard in the last, in the last hour. The last hour. Wow. Okay. Uh, boy, I don't know. I'm going to, I'm going to, I'm going to answer this by not answering it. You ever seen that cartoon where, uh, you, you, you see the zombie apocalypse and it's you and you're on top of a car and you're like shooting all the zombies and it says in our mind the zombie apocalypse and then the next panel is [inaudible] you being eaten, uh, in reality Sabi apocalypse. Okay. Yeah, I think that that's a definitely something where I'm kind of looking forward to, if it ever does happen, just to say that I lived through it and then yeah, hopefully I'll get some really good, uh, HD footage, I bet. At least, you know. Okay. How did you like what inspired you to write life scale? Cause I found it really interesting because you're kind of like known as this major, major technology guy. And then in some ways you're talking about, well wait a minute, there are some drawbacks, not 100%
Speaker 1:
8:57
positive all the time. There are actually some things you've kinda got to be mindful about. As someone who has helped advise many of these companies over the last decade and more, I was the last person I felt who would be effected by the technologies as I was going to write what would've been my eighth book. I was flirting with the possibility of maybe shopping it to not, not to publishers, but to, to new markets. Meaning that I was looking to sort of expand my horizons because technology w we live in a really interesting time where technology is actually at the root of a lot of, a lot of humanities problems and opportunities. And so what I wanted to do was sort of break out of just the Silicon Valley, uh, ecosystem that I've been part of for the last couple of decades, uh, too start to commercialize the, the promise of technology more so that people can want, embrace it and understand it and to do something more profound, uh, and promising with it.
Speaker 1:
10:04
Yeah. So as I was going through these big ideas with the book proposal, I just, I was stuck. I was making mistakes. I couldn't, I couldn't think through what I was trying to communicate. It wasn't coming across as, as simply as I had hoped, uh, the, the number of edits coming back from it or just okay. Out of, out of my, uh, out of my norm, you know, it just wasn't, yeah. Wasn't my usual cycle or process. I chalked it up to writer's block. Uh, but then I really started to reflect more and more because you know, this thing took months and months and months and never got completed and realize that there were patterns and every aspect of my work that we're mimicking the same thing. Mistakes [inaudible] [inaudible] depth of creativity wasn't like before. The passion wasn't necessarily there. The, the constant multitasking. I had found myself doing more and more and more of a, and I just found myself sort of waiting in the shallows as opposed to diving into depths.
Speaker 1:
11:04
So I started to, no, I, I mean, I still had to write [inaudible] book, but I couldn't, I couldn't get there. So I started to go through these exercises of trying to break what I thought was writer's block, trying to find that passion, try to reignite that creativity and it, yeah, I'd get some bursts go. But it wasn't anything that was lasting and realize that I had to do a little bit more soul searching, a little bit more reflection, deeper work. And in the process really started to uncover some uncomfortable truths about myself that aye did allow myself to multitask. It did allow myself to be distracted by pretty much every notification. I convince myself that I was on top of all of these things and I started to explore, well, if I'm feeling this way, there's got to be feeling this way. And what is the real impact of this?
Speaker 1:
11:54
It can't just, it can't just be my inability to write a book proposal. I wonder how deep this really goes. So I spent about a year researching all kinds of stuff and serendipitously I also engaged, I was engaged in a, uh, let's just call it a social anthropology research project. Okay. For a major global beauty brand that [inaudible] I wanted to understand the effects of Instagram and Snapchat on a woman's definition of beauty, on their self esteem, on their happiness, on their anxiety. Uh, and so that research tied with the research that I was already doing really literally blew my mind. Uh, and it was, it was devastating, uh, heartbreaking and also created this sense of urgency about getting to the heart of the matter of what technology was actually doing to our brains, our bodies or psyche or spirit. And then more so what to do about it.
Speaker 1:
12:49
And so that's the root of life scale. I didn't set out to write the book book. Uh, just to kind of wrap up on, on this thought here, I didn't set out to write life scout. I set out to write something else. Life scale became [inaudible] framework that I used. Yeah. Get back on track one day at a time to focus, to reignite creativity, but more so to actually [inaudible] reset my entire life. Like why did I succumb to these things? Why was I exchanging vanity and entitlement and real time validation for things [inaudible] know instead of deeper meaning a deeper connections, uh, deeper work. Uh, and so essentially once I wrote that, I realized, wow, you're all the things that don't work. Here are all the things that are helping me move along the way. It's not just about balancing technology. It's actually about realizing that we got let us stray and that we didn't sign up for a lot of this stuff that was happening to us.
Speaker 1:
13:50
And lastly, we could, we could use technology to get further in life than we ever imagined. So that, that was the framework for life scale. And at some point, once I kind of figured all of that out, I went to the publisher and said, Hey, what do you think about this being? Yeah. Which is cool because I think that that's something [inaudible] that so many people experience and you know, you could argue that maybe you're more likely to [inaudible] digital distraction given the work that you do, or maybe you're arguably less because you're more aware of, uh, all of this. And I mean, I want, I'm wondering is right, do you think we're ultimately better off or, or worse given all of today's digital distraction? Like was it all worth it? Like is it a case of two steps forward and one step back? Or is it really just one step forward and two steps back?
Speaker 1:
14:45
Okay. You know, I'll answer this with equip, which is, how do you sell a book about digital distractions when you don't realize you're distracted? That [inaudible] [inaudible] proved to be a challenge that I didn't for C right during the release of the book and still to this, to this moment, even though the book is still new, the challenge is, is that none of us really see that we're taking two steps back. We see the ability to multitask, for example, as a superpower. Ah, we see the reality of doing all of these things at the same time as [inaudible] being busy, wearing busy as a badge of honor. Uh, it's almost like the new norm has crept up on us so quickly, even though it's been slowly that we, it's like that boiling frog analogies. We didn't, we didn't see any of this coming, so it was just, it's just normal.
Speaker 1:
15:45
And then at the same time, yeah. [inaudible] the design techniques that go into a lot of the apps and devices that we use are there to encourage us to consume more, to share more without really our understanding of why or what's happening. It's just what we do. And then of course the social engineering that goes behind you sharing more and more and more so that you can get the engagement and the validation and grow your followers and all of those things. It kind of hit you with oxytocin and dopamine and all of the other chemicals that are swishing around in your body. Essentially what happens is over time we become addicts without realizing that we're addicts and that new normal is, has been engineered through what's called persuasive design. So even getting to that point, I say ignorance is bliss and awareness is awakening. Just getting to that point, yeah is incredibly difficult because like any addiction or any formidable distraction or any formidable foe, the acceptance of that challenge or that problem is the first step in getting to that is incredibly different.
Speaker 1:
16:44
And I always say that the best things to sell, you know, if you're a consumer brand, is you figure out things that are addictive but not really regulated and are totally illegal. And those are the things that are, they're probably going to be, uh, on the market for a while because it's hard for people to put those things down. Right? I mean, I think Starbucks is in a great position. I mean, it's become [inaudible] Vogue for people like you or I though to talk about digital distraction and how bad it is. You mentioned anecdotally [inaudible] why you know, that it, you know, why you know this to be true. Uh, but I know you're also a data and evidence kind of guy as well. So what evidence do people have if they're not fully persuaded about this point? Uh, that all of this digital Mmm content and all these platforms are on some level, uh, you know, providing a challenge for us that we have to get past.
Speaker 1:
17:41
Well, the, so there's a couple of ways to approach this. The psychology of getting people to see the problem and then recognize that there's a solution is it has been one of the areas where I've spent most of my time actually just to be honest, using persuasive design, uh, as a means to positively get people to back into the conversation. So I can't just tell someone, Hey, did you know X, Y and Z? Uh, it, it really only works with, with a few people. If you're, if you're talking like, so for example, a teenage, a teenage girl might spend on average six to 10 hours a day on social media. Okay. In the, that's six to 10 hours, even if it was three to five hours, whatever it is, you're, you're literally being rewired, right? Your brain is, it's called neuroplasticity. You're being rewired to expect distractions, notifications to expect those, those hits of, of the six different chemicals in your body that make you feel certain ways.
Speaker 1:
18:42
Your body's growing to be dependent upon them. So you're doing the things to kind of trigger those things and your, your body becomes this chemical cocktail that is different than where it was maybe 10 years ago, for example. Ah, as that's happening though, your prefrontal cortex is thinning out. You're learning how to, uh, it's called, uh, neurological incumbents where your right, you're essentially seeking those rewards, uh, constantly. And so your entire life sort of manifests itself around around this type of behavior. So what you do, what you share, who you surround yourself with is, is essentially engineered so that your attention can be engaged in more so monetized. Uh, the things though the science of it and the evidence about it, it's pretty profound. I spent about maybe one or two chapters though in the book talking about that because the rest of it is actually not about technology.
Speaker 1:
19:39
The rest of them is about re-centering yourself and the, in an era of distraction where everybody's becoming essentially rewired to be the same for the same behaviors. We also live in a future where AI and machine learning are really starting to essentially become more human than we are. So the book focuses on creativity, values, purpose, essentially human characteristics and traits. W where we can not just be Vango or Jimi Hendrix, but [inaudible] any kind of creative expression so that we can channel our own individuality and originality, originality, and really kind of define who we want to be and then use technology and everything else in our life. [inaudible] bring that to life now and over time. It's essentially a roadmap for a modern world. It's the thing that we were missing. Whether you're an adult who understands what an analog life was before or whether you're a true digital native, where [inaudible] I only know this as the normal and the disconnects between that analog and digital world.
Speaker 1:
20:44
The thing that we're all struggling with is that we're the five simultaneous generations living to have to deal with these distractions that we don't even realize are having an incredible [inaudible] and wellness and also intellectual and spiritual impacts on our lives. We're making horrible decisions today about where we're going to be five and 10 years from now because we're just living so profoundly in the moment now. I recognize that even the most basic conversational points, like what does success look like? What does happiness look like in this era? If our parents can't help us, if our teachers can't help us, if our medical professionals can't help us because they haven't realized what all of these things are doing to us today, then who's going to help us? And that's, and it's, I, you know, that's where I spent, I took a time out in my life to fix myself, uh, and explore and do all of the research to figure out what it was going to take to get my life back on track, get my relationships back on track, get my head and my body and my mind in the right space, my spirit in the right space.
Speaker 1:
21:49
Yeah. Because I was being pulled in so many directions. I wasn't in control, but I had the semblance of beating. So the data and the evidence, it's, it's all out there. There's a, in fact, I have a, I have a a S a site called life scaling.me, which is, it's the, it's [inaudible] site dedicated to the book, but it's also where we share a lot of the insights, a lot of the evidence. We're, we're also putting together a [inaudible] coaching programs, four coaches and teachers to take the life scale program and scale it beyond any, any means that I could, uh, because this is, this is something that it's only going to get worse before it gets better. And the only way it could get better is if we can embrace not just what it's doing to us and not just whatever, what the data and evidence. It's funny because CEO at the AA can't help but notice also, you know, you, we all feel a certain way at the end of the day based off of our interaction with technology and it's not always good. But do you ever get struck by the juxtaposition of the fact that you've written, you know, these amazing books on technology and disruption and then now you're writing something that is really talking about here's how to hack [inaudible] walls of that technology away to some extent. I mean I, there's an interesting juxtaposition there.
Speaker 1:
23:10
There is, I did study, uh, elements of persuasive design, uh, also mobile UX and UI and the juxtaposition for anybody who's followed my work has always had a human centered approach. So even though it's ironic that I'm talking about how to [inaudible] yeah, rewire cause we, we start with hacks cause we have to be able to get your attention in a place where you can learn. Cause right now it's, it's not there to get to the deep learning part. So the beginning of the book are smaller exercises to kind of get you over time into the right head space in the right. Right. Just the right space in general. Mmm. But anybody who's followed my work will, would see that I've always put us as human beings, the center of everything. So if you look at, if you look at what's the future business, especially if you look at the last, uh, the last book X, the experience when business meets design, it was all about humanity first and then looking for ways to see how humanity can benefit from engagement, where we could deliver value and then use technology as that enabler is that facilitator for bringing to life more human and valuable engagement.
Speaker 1:
24:19
So life scale in that regard isn't it? As much as it departures it might seem. The difference though is that one is my first personal loan. It, sorry, I was just going to say the tone too. It's very interesting. For those of you, you guys listening, I'm sure a lot of you have read at least a few of Brian's books and [inaudible] it feels very different than in a good way. It's refreshing because it feels like, like it's something that is much more personal. It's my first ever personal book. Mmm. But also in the, uh, I just think about it in the writing, whether it's in my previous books or in the articles that I've written over the years, I've really tried to connect with people, people's minds and people's hearts because these are really, really crazy times, but also really wonderful times. And that so much is happening that we can actually take control and shape the future that we want for ourselves and those around us, uh, and not have to be led by any, anyone company, anyone technology, any, anyone ideal, right?
Speaker 1:
25:21
If you think about the fact that we live life based on the standards of decades old, uh, foundations, right? So how are parents, their parents and their parents define happiness and success, how they live life and what normal should be. And these are all things that you are, are open to question and should be questioned. And so life scale is a personal adventure as a journey. Uh, and, and if you look at the book, you'll see that the first couple of pages are a visual map of the journey itself. The book itself was designed just like X and WTF or design to help encourage you to have a positive experience, not just [inaudible] a book and say, okay, here's what a book has been for the last several thousand years. We're going to read it from left to right. We're going to have some paragraphs and we're going to have chapters.
Speaker 1:
26:09
No, it's really about understanding how your brain has been rewired and how you feel and what is it, what it's going to take to resonate with you, what's going to make you turn the page and feel great turning the page? What's gonna, what's gonna help improve retention as you're going along and get [inaudible] get you the best experience possible. So even redesigning the concept of a book, not just how I wrote the book, to be more familiar and intuitive and inspiring today was, was awesome. I love that [inaudible] people are consuming information and also the fact that, you know, sometimes people who are trying to figure out the future. This is one thing that always talk about, uh, is that you, you have to understand psychology. You have to understand human physiology. You know, we have certain human needs, we having a version of loss, we, uh, we, we don't like friction in any type of consumer process.
Speaker 1:
27:00
You know, there are certain things that are naturally human and understanding the human is going to make you more successful at forecasting what's to come. And I know you have to leave, go in a minute. So I wanted to ask you one last question, um, if that's all right. That was the one thing that I really appreciate you and you, uh, about you and your work is that you have all these not 100% ah, entirely connected research interests, you know. So I'm just wondering, how does having a number of different future oriented topics that you really delve in into, how does having all of those actually help you see the whole picture a little bit better? That's a great question. I wish I had a simple answer to it. I'm [inaudible], I'm constantly, I'm constantly expanding, contracting what excites me, but also what I feel, even if it's not apparent what I feel connects the dots.
Speaker 1:
27:51
So, for example, these days I'm studying everything from digital transformation to innovation, to corporate culture, to employee experience, to customer experience, innovation at the center of all of these things. It doesn't necessarily have to refer to just new technology. Uh, it is also a mindset. It's a perspective. It's a way of thinking. It's a way of working. It's a way of living. Uh, so the human component sort of has been the center of this crazy Venn diagram of research, but then you add to it sort of the human impacts of say for example, yeah, earlier when we talked about Snapchat and Instagrams, uh, effects on our perception of beauty or self-esteem, et cetera. You know, if you know someone's feeling like that on a day to day basis, you can reverse engineer that into delivering better customer experiences are better employee experiences that are going to help center someone, help them feel much more validated, help them feel much more creative and productive.
Speaker 1:
28:50
So I think [inaudible] in its own, in its own crazy way. Uh, the human at the center of all of these things could allow for more effective culture designed to be more innovative, to lead more successful than human centered digital transformation and innovation across the board with the human at the center of this. But understanding how the human is different and changing at its most fundamental ways and also in, in just the bio biology of it too, uh, could lead to much more meaningful work. Know if I had more time I'd throw politics in there as well because it's [inaudible] it's essentially all the same social engineering that's taking place. That would touch the two or three our conversation Mark if we jumped into that. But uh, no you are, I don't have that much time but um, yeah Brian, thank you so much, is really insightful and I think people are going to get a lot out of this. Well Jeremy, thank you. It's always a pleasure and to those who are listening, thank you. And I hope that you might take a look@lifescaleandifyouneedanymoreinformationyoucouldgotolifescaling.me Brian, solos.com or I think I'm at Brian solace on all the platforms.
Speaker 2:
30:00
I think you virtually have every platform locked down. I'm envious that you've got a little bit more of a unique name than Jeremy Goldman from an SEO perspective up. So, uh, thanks a lot man. This is great. It's my pleasure. Thank you so much. Thanks again Brian for making the time to talk to me. It's always a lively conversation whenever I get a chance to chat with them virtually. Um, and make sure to pick up life skill. If you didn't pause this podcast halfway through, it's go pick it up just for a quick reminder. You can rate and review us on Apple podcast, Stitcher and wherever finer podcasts are sold. Thanks so much for all the support you guys. It's been a whirlwind. Having another 50 episodes with you guys will be a really great blast. And I'm looking forward to some of the guests that we've got coming down the pike in the near term. So, um, until next time I'm Jeremy Coleman and you've been listening to future proof.
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