Hi there, and welcome to Caleon.
My name is Thomas Tarp, and I am the founder. This will be the first blog post in the history of Caleon. I am looking forward to setting sail on this journey that is about to begin — for Caleon, for me and hopefully for a lot of you out there.
In this blog post, the goal is to let you know who I am and how Caleon came to be. I will also explain what the current landscape looks like, what the plan for the future is, and what you can do to take part in the journey.
Who Is Thomas Tarp?
At this moment, I am the only person behind Caleon. Therefore, in order to provide a bit of backstory on Caleon, I have to explain who I am, and how I started Caleon because the two are inextricably intertwined. So, get ready for a taste of my own life story.
First of all, I consider myself a practical philosopher. I recently came up with that label because I find that it captures a central part of who I am.
I am insatiably curious, and I love exploring ideas as well as coming up with my own.
In particular, I like to explore the roots of ideas, which often leads me on the path to their philosophical underpinnings. For example, I wrote my master thesis on the philosophy behind narrative identity, which explores the question of what identity is in the first place. From this perspective, the answer is a narrative that provides a sense of coherence, but I might explore more of that in another blog post.
In essence, I love to learn and understand things, but what’s even more important to me is to build practical solutions from ideas, thereby turning them into reality.
I don’t think that knowledge has any value unless it leads to action, and therefore what I want to do with my life is to take powerful ideas and turn them into sustainable systems, such as businesses. By embodying and institutionalizing an idea, the knowledge behind it becomes effective, and by creating a sustainable system around it, you make lasting change. That is what I mean when I call myself a practical philosopher.
Embodying and turning ideas into reality is related to my personal drive. I am driven by impact and purpose. To me, that means to create value for people and make the world a better place.
At the time of this blog post, I am a 26-year old bloke from Denmark, and I recently graduated from Copenhagen Business School with a master’s degree in Strategy, Organization & Leadership. I realized that I wanted to be an entrepreneur at 18, but back then the motivation was very different from what it is now.
Crafting my mission
Essentially, I didn’t want to be told what to do. I wanted to live my passion and do something that excites me, and not least earn a ton of money. That was the vision I had for my life – I know… a teenager’s dream. Nonetheless, it got me started on my entrepreneurial path, and I have been involved in several startups since then, varying widely in scope.
However, at one point, I realized that this entrepreneurial dream doesn’t really matter if what I do isn’t meaningful to me. It will all get old if there isn’t a purpose that goes beyond myself, and which drives my actions and the direction of my life.
To me, a meaningful life is a life of contribution. Contributing to the world what I am uniquely able to. That is what gives me a sense of purpose. That is what Caleon is to me – my way of making the world a better place. It may sound a bit holy, but in fact, it is equally selfish. I just feel better when I can completely get behind what I do, and when what I do helps others, I get a feeling of gratification.
Caleon is my massive transformative purpose that I believe can significantly change the world for the better. This big dream is what inspires me to take action.
How Caleon Started
Caleon actually has a rather unusual origin, which I suppose a lot of ideas have. In the summer of 2016, I was sparring with an entrepreneur who wanted to create bio-urns. It was a beautiful idea in which, when you die, your bodily remains go through a process that turns them into bio-available nutrients for a tree that will be planted on top. In this way, your life becomes the foundation for new life. I think that is both an admirable narrative and a gracious exit, and hey… it’s environmentally friendly!
Anyway, it got me thinking about this whole field of death and the rituals that surround death and burial. The rituals are a bit morbid, very emotional, and most people are unprepared for it. Furthermore, burial is bound up in our religious traditions. I suspect for these reasons, I came to realize that the industry has hardly innovated since… well, ever.
Transforming cemeteries into libraries
One of the things I noticed was that our headstones are rather dull. We get to put our name, our date of birth, our date of death and perhaps a short message from our loved ones.
This does not give you much clue as to who this person really was. That is when I started thinking about how we can turn graveyards into biography libraries. A place where we can enter the worlds of those who are no longer here.
I thought it would be cool if you could implement RFID-tags in headstones. They would let us use our smartphones to read the life stories of the person before us. This is what led me on the path of exploring the realm of life stories.
I started thinking about what life stories are. What is the value of life stories? How do we currently create them? And how we could make the whole category exponentially better?
When I started this train of thought, I had no idea it would become my massive transformative purpose. I had no intention of actually following through on the idea, although I found it fascinating. I mean, I have always been more into technology and gadgets, and this life story idea seemed out of place.
Therefore, I kept my focus on my studies. This was the time when I moved from Aalborg to Copenhagen in order to start my master’s degree.
It was a big shift for me to move away from everyone I knew. It was also a transformative experience. I met a lot of new people who would become my tribe. I really discovered that proximity matters. Who you surround yourself with shapes your thoughts, your focus and who you are.
A dozen business models
All the while, the thought of life stories lingered, and I kept expanding on the project.
One day, I shared the idea with a friend of mine who was equally driven by purpose, and we decided to partner up and turn the idea into a business. For the next year, we spent our time exploring what life stories could be, and how we could make a sustainable business out of it.
In the end, we came up with a dozen or more business models. They varied a lot in scope, but were all tied to the notion of life stories. My friend is no longer part of the project. However, I am still as committed to the project as ever. The business models that we thought of have now become part of the vision of Caleon. They are the many ways in which Caleon will become the point of integration for life stories.
Life story journaling is the activity of reflecting upon and writing down empowering life stories that redefine who you are and who you are becoming.
Life story journaling
Nonetheless, the many business models were not practical for me to focus on all at once. I knew I had to narrow it down to a single business model that would be the start of Caleon.
I included several criteria for choosing which one to go with. These criteria were the value that could be created for customers in the short term, the practicality of starting the business by bootstrapping and the progression of life story creation.
This led me down the path of life story journaling, and that is where Caleon is currently at. I spend my time developing journals and the business at large. If you are unfamiliar with what life story journaling is, in short, it is the activity of reflecting upon and writing down empowering life stories that redefine who you are and who you are becoming. If you want to learn more, you can read about the concept and how to do it here.
What’s the Plan?
With the history in place, let’s explore what the future looks like, and how you can participate in the project.
As I said, my focus right now is on designing and developing journals that deliver the intended value of life story journaling. That is the main objective of this phase in Caleon’s strategy. There is no intention of massive scale for now, just a focus on creating great products.
Therefore, I spend my time researching what science has to say about the technique. I translate this research into the design of the journals and content for you guys to read.
However, I am also trying to test the concept to see what works and does not work in practice. The journals are still crude at this point in time. They will need some refinement, and I cannot do it all on my own. To account for this, I have conducted a pilot project. In short, the results are that the concept is promising whereas the actual design of the journals needs some iteration.
Since the first project, the journals have improved significantly, and I am now preparing for a second pilot project. This pilot project will be similar to the first journals that will be put in production, and therefore I intend for it to be the last pilot before going live. I am still looking for participants so if you are interested, feel free to get in touch.
Become Part of a Community
Participating in the pilot project plays into the larger strategy of community building. The first phase of Caleon is to make sure that the journals are on point and deliver more value than could ever be expected.
Therefore, I am building a community of people who are intrigued by the idea of life stories. If that applies to you, I urge you to join. I consider it a chance for you to become part of a community of like-minded people with whom you can connect, share experiences and learn from.
The community will be the core of Caleon’s customer base and the core of people for whom I actively cater to when creating the journals. For this reason, the community has significant influence over the design of the journals, and I truly value feedback.
Since I am currently researching the realm of life stories, you are also more than welcome to ask me questions. I will either answer them or investigate them until I can.
I believe this community is going to be at the forefront of an amazing journey. A journey that is truly about to make a positive change in the world. That excites me, and I hope it excites you.
Thanks for reading, and I hope to hear from you!