Complice is presently a 2-person self-energizing startup, iterating on practices for working together. Here's the story of how that evolved:
2012-2015: Complice began as an experiment for Malcolm Ocean in creating a passive income business so that he could spend his time focusing on what's seemed most important to the world, without having to worry about money. He decided in 2013 to make his business be a complex-goal-tracking app based on a really meaningful experience in 2012 of setting & achieving a goal to record an album of original music. Upon then achieving his passive income goal with Complice in 2015, Malcolm dove deeper into the world of human culture & collaboration, while continuing to work on Complice on the side.
2016-2019: For the most part, Complice was a 1-person company prior to 2021, although Malcolm's long-time friend & fellow culture-naut Benjamin Carr joined the team for about 10 months in 2016-2017 and they worked on a few projects together, including launching the ongoing Goal-Crafting Intensive workshops. Benjamin has since left the Complice team, but remains a partner of the GCI project, which has grown in size as a business venture to be comparable to the Complice app, but is now somewhat independent teamwise.
2020-2021: In mid-2020, Malcolm and his friend George instantiated an experiment called the Complice Fellowship, which resembled a 10-12 week internship to explore the frontiers of fluid learning-oriented Game B employment. This was a profound experience for both of them of what's possible in organizations. In early 2021, George approached Malcolm and said "I want to join the Complice team" and it was obvious that that made a ton of sense, as a further more serious experiment.
2021-onwards: Since then, we’ve been exploring together the question of how Complice can be & become a working prototype of a perfect place to work for people who want their work to also be a place of not just growth but also healing and deep untangling. That’s not a simple task! There are many ways for it to go weird, and we’re taking a "slow is smooth, smooth is fast" attitude to it. As part of this prototyping process, we're also creating and connecting with other organizations seeking to operate in a similar self-energizing way, to form a kind of meta-team.
Thus: Complice has evolved from an project aimed at liberating one person to work however and on whatever he wants (by giving Malcolm passive income) to a project aimed at liberating many people to work in such self-energizing ways, together (by growing in revenue and by upgrading culture & perspective-taking capacity). The "together" part is hard, but so worth it. We've tasted the reality that human collaboration can be way more delightful, way more powerful, and way more playful than most people can imagine. There are no right answers for how to do that, just what works for whoever's involved, but there are some principles that can help us find what works and get out of traps.
Malcolm used to worry in high school that the productivity he'd get from reading self-help blogs and books would never pay itself back, but instead not only did it multiply his own capacity to do meaningful work but also evolved into creating systems for others, of which Complice is the biggest.
Malcolm also shares his techniques and models with others via 1-on-1 coaching and on his blog malcolmocean.com—this business context offers a chance to dig deeper into the "systems" and "design" components of his undergrad degree Systems Design Engineering, which had unfortunately been overfocused on the "engineering" piece.
Part of what Malcolm loves about working on/at/in Complice is getting to wear a lot of different hats, but in the process he's realized that while he's a generalist he does like wearing some hats more than others (plus some problems require specialists) so part of what he's excited about in relation to scaling Complice and the larger meta-team is that he'll be able to focus even more on what he loves doing: big-picture vision, metaphor design, subtle interaction design, and getting new ideas off the ground.
Follow Malcolm on Twitter for the latest thoughts off the top of his head, including culture stuff and Complice design ideation.
George loves the feeling of participating in the process of something becoming more beautiful or complete. It could be himself, someone else, a plant, a relationship, a conflict, an app, a song—the feeling is the same. This led George to major in Cognitive Science and Educational Studies at Swarthmore College, with a focus on student-driven learning and collaboration.
Joining the Complice Team has felt like participating in the becoming of a new, more honest, healthy, and whole, way of working that he'd also love to see become the baseline in educational contexts everywhere. He doesn't think ongoing stress, for anyone, is necessary for a world that works. He wants for there to be, increasingly, spaces where people feel and actually are safe to reveal their true present experience, which he sees as the ground from which all learning takes place.
Working on Complice right now feels like a great part of participating in the becoming of that world, because the team embodies that possibility, the app seeks to support it, George uses the app himself to cultivate and organize the other ways he's feeding into that possibility (one day starting a school pod that works this way…?!?), and because so many people using Complice want a world like that too!
Malcolm's active goals:
George's active goals: