All posts by Halcyon

“Let ‘Em Be a Hero (How to Not Win an Argument)”

When a conversation starts to shift into an argument or debate, everything falls apart. We dig into our stances and protect our opinions. We begin to establish that THEY are our OPPONENT. They need to understand some truth that we understand better. We may know that we are right and it may feel like we are being helpful, but to our conversation partner, we are simply the opponent. We think we are seeking a remedy, but we are actually seeking to win. We tell ourselves that we are listening, but I challenge you to look at yourself in those moments. Have you let go of the desire to change their opinion? Have you put your reality aside for a moment and made room for the teeny-tiny possibility that they may be correct? At the very least, that their truth may be valid – considering the experiences and information that they are working from?
It is hard to truly listen to ideas that you disagree with without feeling judgement or making mental notes of counter arguments.
This is true with massive political issues and insignificant domestic ones.
Whether we are talking about institutional racism or dirty dishes in the sink, the issues quickly become secondary once we fall into “battle mode.”
I don’t mean the issues are unimportant. But in the context of human interactions and relationships, the subject of the disagreement can be totally overshadowed by the style of communication.
It is easy to slip in overt or subtle insults. Directly or passively.
“Of course a racist would see it that way!”
“Your mom always cleaned up after you, so it makes sense that you wouldn’t know how to properly clean the kitchen.”
Once that happens, the claws are out and we defend ourselves against the attack…or go on the attack ourselves.
At this point, it is best to just walk away. No progress will happen. Neither side is going to say, “Hmmm, now that you mentioned my stupidity, I see your point. You’re right!”
Here are 2 techniques to avoid getting to the point of no return.
#1 “Tell me about the monster?”
Imagine that you are in a sci fi movie and your conversation partner just walked in and said, “there is a 6 headed monster outside and he turned the sky green!” Last time you checked there was blue sky outside and no monster. But, for the sake of argument (and just in case there is a bloodthirsty beast outside), why not try to understand what they are talking about?
Do so with compassion. The believe they have just seen a monster! Be a kind ear without falling into the temptation to respond or rebuke. “Wow. That sounds terrifying. If that is what is out there, we are in trouble.” Giving the person a voice allows you to be closer, even if you disagree with their premise. “Help me to understand what you are saying.” If they trust that you will listen, they may listen to you at a later time. But fight the urge to argue in the moment and give the impression that you were just waiting for your chance to talk.
(NOTE: this is not a technique to win an argument. It is a way to stay connected with people so you can continue to respect and value one another’s perspectives.)
#2: Let them be the hero.
When we start to fall onto different sides of an issue, you can look at it in a couple ways:
1) You are wrong / You are hurting me.
2) I believe this / I feel pain.
The first route instantly turns your partner into the bad guy*.
“Why can’t you just do the dishes!? I can’t believe you can live with such filth in the sink!”
Even if you use kind words and a calm demeanor, you have still cast them in the role of “offender.”
However, if you say, “I’m finding myself really bothered by the dishes in the sink. Could you help me keep the kitchen cleaner so I can let go of this anxiety I’m feeling?”
This route is casting yourself as the princess and allows them to be the hero. This isn’t “their” problem or their fault. It is simply *a* problem that they could alleviate and bring you joy. It feels shitty to have to prove that you are not a bad guy. It feels great to be a good guy.
These techniques are ideal when you are conversing with someone you care about. They can be used any time, but some venues (like anonymous internet conversations) make it more difficult to connect with your conversation partner.
I ain’t gonna lie. It is hard to pull back from the momentum that pulls us into arguments. But how many hours do we want to spend in debate that goes nowhere? Or more likely (and much worse) actually pushes us apart?
The “other side” are not racists, snowflakes, idiots, sheep, lazy, disrespectful, etc.. They are people dealing with the same basic fears and desires that you are. If you try to love that person instead of defeat them, you can transcend the war entirely, and pave the way to a harmonic future.
*I’m using the phrase “bad guy” and “good guy” to imply a 2 dimensional villain or hero. It does not designate gender. Like The Electric Company’s “Hey You Guys!” was a call to everyone. If this is insensitive, shoot me a note.

You Tube comment

“The Devil has got a firm hold of this dude, You have self mutilation, You have idol worship, you have lust and desire with a selfish motives in all things. Not to mention the harming and womanfying of other men to really spit in Gods face. They think they are winners because the surround themselves with material items and have no moral compass.  Then your get men dressed like women and women thinking they are men.  You got to get help the Jew has really screwed you up bro. Good luck,.”

10 things my face/image has been on (no lies)


  1. A billboard in San Francisco (Inspiration Campaign)
  2. Dildo packaging (Tantus Silicone)
  3. A tour bus (
  4. Keg Cups (
  5. Social Media campaign (in a wig, playing “Roadie Jack”)
  6. RAGE magazine “Gay Mothership” spread
  7. Book jacket back cover (Love more. Fear Less.)
  8. Documentary Teaser (HUMAN vol. 2)
  9. Makeover Episode of Daytime TV show (with Mario Lopez)
  10. Hair Dye Box (“Pink Fetish” Splat!)

Old Interview Answer

“I used to think of the Internet as this massive digital sledgehammer that I could use to attack the status quo…but I’ve mellowed.

Now I think of it more as a vibration amplification machine.   People doing good things get noticed, and their ideas spread.  Instead of outward actions,  I am more focused on acting from integrity, sharing  publicly, and then letting things happen.  Every action creates ripples in the pond and the Internet turns those ripples into massive waves through collective action.  What I have learned is that those waves cannot be created by  brute force or marketing dollars.   The momentum must come from Integrity and Truth.”

Freak Flag Activism


When I started going to Burning Man, almost 20 years ago, its place in culture was different.

It was underground. It was secret. It was taboo.

Now it is a part of cultural mainstream with frequent TV mentions and Buzzfeed lists of “Top Celebs at this year’s Burn”

20 years ago you could read everything publicly written about it in an hour and still have no idea what it was.

Now there are over 5 million Burning Man videos on YouTube.  (Of course, you could watch them all and still have no idea what it is.)

20 years ago digital photography was brand new and nobody had cell phones.  You could walk around naked and be confident nobody would see it in the default world.  

Now people post to Instagram all week long. Your corndog fellatio escapade could be a viral sensation before Burn Night.  Privacy is *not* one of the ten principles.

20 years ago, admitting to going to Burning Man was career suicide.

Now, so many respectable people have gone to (and praised) the event, that participating can be a badge of honor – if not a hiring requirement.

20 years later Burning Man plays a much different role in our culture. And I believe it has never been more important.

Radical Self Expression is no longer a decadence.  It is now critical activism.

We are the seed banks of culture – preserving diverse thinking and creativity.

As a cultural ice age takes its grip – we must persevere.  We must keep the fires going.

We must maintain our humanity by expressing our creativity.  It is our creative expression that makes us more than greedy, over-groomed monkeys.

I’m talking about true creative expression. Authentic expression.

That which may not be appreciated by the mainstream.

Because it is in these fringe nether regions where the transformational ideas take root. Outside-the-box thinking will only thrive when people are supported when they stray outside the status quo.  

And we may be entering an era when radical thought is ridiculed and persecuted.

But a bloodline and a culture both need to avoid inbreeding to stay healthy.  “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” said Albert Einstein.  So, without a healthy culture of non-traditional thought, we are doomed to stagnate in our woes.

Making art has never been so important. Living artistically has never been more courageous.

Now is when we step into our warrior roles.  

Fighting is more than throwing rocks and carrying signs.  It is staying weird, open-hearted and deviant – while the status quo is trying to crush you.  
Buckle-up Burners.  

Intro email to a coaching client

“Just to put it out there:  Personally, I often get the instinct to want to impress people, especially ones who impress me. But I want you to know that I love you profoundly, already. Your truth is perfect. Nothing you have ever done is a failure to me. No quirk is a weakness. Whatever you you are called to share is welcome.  If it is honest, it is impressive.
And I will work on remembering that for myself, as well.”

Authenticity. Create. Focus. Own. Honor.

(click to hear me tell this story out loud)

On New Year’s Day, I was soaking in a heated pool with friends.
Sharon suggested a game. “What single word would you choose to be your mantra for 2017?”

David said, “Authenticity.”
I couldn’t help but smile. I met him a year ago and have watched as his life has transformed. Witnessed his courage as he made tough life choices in the pursuit of his truth. Now in the middle of divorce and uncertainty, he has a childlike glow about him. “I feel like I just woke up from a 15 year coma,” he said with wide eyes. “I’m having the best life of my life,” he told me all night long.

Edward ’s word was, “Create.”
Earlier, Edward had shared with me his feelings going into 2017. He had a fire and excitement that was contagious. The landscape is ripe he told me. “There has never been a better time for courageous creative expression!” he stated fiercely. His sentiment was echoed by a number of people throughout the night. It was such a good perspective for me to hear. So much energy had been spent lamenting 2016 that it was hard to avoid an element of dread as we begin the new year. But there is great fertility in chaos. Rather than walk into 2017 timidly, we should charge boldly make our voices heard.

Sharon shared, “Focus.”
“With so much inspiration and so many ideas pulling my attention, I find myself struggling to finish projects,” she explained. Everyone in our circle smiled and nodded. She also shared insights from a recent TED talk about how social media can affect brain receptors in the same way that drugs do. The world of 2017 is bursting with bright shiny things, dark prickly things, and a billion avenues of wonder. Without restraint, discipline, and focus we can never develop our skills, projects, and ideas to their potential.

Madison said “Own.”
“I am taking on a lot in 2017, and I need to own it. When I get to a place of doubt, I will remember that I can do it. I am enough.” Among so many friends, it is easy to remember. But on the dark and lonely nights our selves can feel much smaller. It can be easy to question our paths. I have an ego voice that taunts me at times with, “Who are YOU to write that book? Who are YOU to think you have something worthy to share?” I have to remind myself that I am the best me there has ever been. If I am trying to be a pro bowler, then “who are you?!” is a valid question. But if I pursue my truth, it is impossible to fail. I am the perfect person. I am the only person who can. I am enough.

When the game was introduced, the word “Surrender” immediately popped in my head. It has been my “go to” mantra for some time. When in doubt, surrender. Trust the flow. Trust my heart. Trust the universe. “Float more, fear less.”
But as each person shared, I was inspired deeper. Was there a word that would better serve me for 2017, specifically?

All of their words resonated deeply with me. Authenticity. Create. Focus. Own.
Pursue my truth.
Express from that truth.
Be committed to that expression.
Know that I am the perfect vehicle for that expression.

After sitting with these words, I have changed my word for 2017. (Oh, “Surrender” is still my primary. My life partner and rock. But we have an open relationship. I am poly-syllabic.)

My word for 2017 is “Honor.”

I will honor myself. I will honor my talents. I will honor the gift of this life.
I will honor my potential enough to be disciplined.
I will honor the divine enough to fully express my truth.
I will honor the opportunities of my privilege for the greater good.
I will honor my body temple enough to embrace healthy practices.
I will honor the gifts of my open heart, kind eyes, thriving body, and truthful words to do what I am meant to do: Spread Love.


What is your word for 2017?

2016 Year in Review

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I like to look back each year and remember some of the major events. (Here is 2015’s, 2014’s and 2013’s lists) And here’s what happened to me in 2015:

Spoke at Lucidity, Burning Man, Trilogy, MOPS, Nephew Carter’s Classroom

Participated in LiB, YOUtopia, Symbiosis

Participated in my 1st International Regional Burn – Blazing Swan (Western Australia) 

Went to SF Decom and LA Decom.

Contributed more ‘Tips & Tricks” to the Burning Man Blog.

Attended Wisdom 2.0 (for 3rd year)

10th Aniversary of “The Pink Ride”

1st Saturdays – Celebrated our 6th year. Restarted 501c3 process.

1st Saturdays Antelope Valley started with gusto.

Spent  week at The Generator in Reno.

Attended Burning Man Philosophical Symposium 

Went out at did FREE HUGS for the 1st time.

Produced 23 Awesome News Network videos

Enjoyed a wonderful family reunion in Streamboat Springs, CO. (Went to my first rodeo!)

Started using outsourcing labor to improve my art/videos (transcribing and titles)

“Gift of Life” song came out from Blessed Beats / Dj Leif (with audio from Grandpa Caleb)


Appeared on Several podcasts of inspiring people

Consistently did the Hug Nation audio podcast. (on itunes & Soundcloud)

Beer Bottle Hunt went viral – (10 million views

HalcyonStyn YouTube channel broke 10K subscribers

Made a Morning Blessing MP3

Participated in Movember, raised a little $

Did the “Burning Man Regifting Project” experiment.  Raised $600 & spread dusty joy.

Had more hope, and more despair for the future than ever before. Most drastic year ever. Shared more tears online than ever before.

I’m so grateful to have shared this year with you. I love you.

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