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Lions Roar : January 2015
he’s a self-descriBed GeeK, a non-stop cre- ative, and a serial entrepreneur. He’s made two award- winning films (93 Million Miles and Ultraviolet). His company, KidRobot, put the “designer toy” craze on the map, and some of his own such creations have found permanent homes in the MoMA. And in 2011, he launched Budnitz Bicycles, dedicated to building beau- tifully crafted, amazingly light and strong bikes. Now, at forty-seven, he’s busier than ever, having launched Ello.co, a social network whose manifesto positions it as the anti-Facebook: “Not a tool to deceive, coerce, and manipulate—but a place to con- nect, create, and celebrate life.” But even as Ello grows and speculation about its chances for success swirl around him, Paul Budnitz usually makes time to prac- tice Zen meditation, as he’s done for years. Just after the much-chattered-about fall launch of Ello, he spoke to me about what keeps his gears turning. — rod Meade sperry When did you realize that you loved to create, and that it could make for a good living, too? I believe that beautiful things change the world and that belief was a motivator. As a kid, I always liked making stuff and I had a problem with authority, so I figured that if I ran my own businesses, I wouldn’t ever have to ask permission from anyone for anything and I’d get to make beautiful things. I’ve matured a bit since then, but creating is what I do and what I know how to do. As complex as some of your ventures have been, simplicity runs through them. For example, Budnitz Bicycles are a high-tech rendering of a classic, low- tech device. How do you balance being active in our increasingly high-tech world with giving your- self the time and mental space to create? Creating, for me, doesn’t take any time. Whether it’s a new idea or a new inspiration, I don’t really need to give myself time to think. Some of that is a side effect of having a sitting practice for so long. I’m aware of Nuts, Bolts, and Zazen SHAMBHALA SUN jANUAry 2015 17