Elon Musk has done some amazing things – Paypal, Tesla, SpaceX. But last night on Jimmy Fallon he proposed a new transportation technology – the hyperloop – that he hopes to detail in coming months – a technology that would have properties including faster than a jet, impossible to crash, leaves when you want, and costs half the price of current options. Look forward to hearing what that could be. Watch the video interview at Jimmy Fallon. It can’t be imbedded here.
Last week the Ten Conference drew quite the multidisciplinary crowd to the beautiful Sleeping Lady Resort in Leavenworth. Given the innovative and futuristic nature of Ten, all types of people attend- from artists, scientists, and entrepreneurs to publicly traded people.
That’s right, Mike Merrill is the world’s only publicly traded person. From profession to obsession, you can skillfully orchestrate almost every part of this man’s life by purchasing stock in him here. Peter McGraw runs HURL, the Humor Research Lab that focuses on what makes things funny. Beth Kolko uses her company Shift Labs to design innovative health technologies for low resource communities. Shift Labs opts for a more forward-thinking approach to research, encouraging anyone with any background to send in their inventive ideas and solutions to fuel the search for solutions to global issues.
In fact, this cross-discipline collaboration mentality is a major theme throughout TEN. New York’s renowned DIY bio lab, Gen Space, is dedicated to promoting citizen science and access to biotechnology. Anyone with an interest in biotech can show up to learn and play. Actually the entire conference is separated into 10 categories with engaging titles like Hackademia and Makerspace that playfully urge you to have fun with science and technology. If you’re interested in learning more, check out the One to the World broadcast of TEN (coming soon) and be sure to show up next year!
This is a guest blog by Brenda Cooper.
As long as I’ve been alive, humanity has obsessed over its demise – at its own hands. In second grade, stern teachers sent me crawling under desks to avoid nuclear war (talk about a culture of fear – today has nothing on the sixties). Now we are convinced that climate change will do us all in. Both, by the way, remain real threats. It’s important to guard against evil. Think of that as the yang of futuring, whether done over the dinner table, around the water cooler, or from the dais. But I think we’re missing the yin: we’re failing to notice the good all around us.
Back in the crawling under desks part of my life, people who lived in other countries were unreachable to me, and had I wanted to talk to one, it would have cost a lot of money. Today, I have a phone that’s also a camera and a link to a world of information and entertainment – and to people all over the globe. There’s a good chance I can avoid or find a cure for most diseases that could directly affect me. We’re finally developing a real space industry (sorry – I’m a geek – but whatever it is you love, there is almost undoubtedly progress).
Take the climate change problem. It feels intractable. Old entrenched industries are fighting tooth and nail to hang on to things we KNOW are bad for us (remember the tobacco industry). But people all over the world are working on it. American car companies are coming out with good electric cars, China is building green cities, and here at home, in the city where I work, we have a green building program and a green business program. For all that it feels too slow (may be too slow), we’re changing fast on this one as a society. When I drive from here to Oregon, I go through a forest of futuristic new white windmills. I think in almost every pain point where technology changes make a difference (travel, carbon, medicine, communication) we’re changing faster than ever before, and our intent is good. We are a capable species.
Yet I hear more fear of the future than excitement, more worry about what we’re doing than celebration of it. We could do with a little balance. I am not suggesting we relax our vigilance about climate change or terrorism or even nuclear war. But we could pay attention to the good as well. I hope we all work on that for 2011.
It was my favorite keynote speech of the year, and one we’ll leave up here for the holiday break, with Happy Holiday wishes to everyone.
The event was FINOV 2010, an annual event of the SONAE company at which they honor individuals and teams for the innovations of the past year. This year the conference took place in a centuries old former monastery in Porto, Portugal, a spectacular setting.
I was not familiar with Sonae when they first contacted me, but soon learned that they are the largest employer in Portugal with nearly 50,000 employees and with an expanding international presence. The company began in 1959 manufacturing wood panels. From that modest beginning the company has grown into a diverse conglomerate. They continue to manufacture panels, but that has become a small part of the business. Now Sonae is known as a retailer and developer, as they build and operate “hypermarkets” and shopping centers in Portugal and elsewhere in the world. From that they have branched into specialty stores including mobile phones and networks with some 15 brands. They own hotel and resort properties as well.
While in Porto I was escorted on an extensive visit of the new Gold Level LEED Certified headquarters for Sonae Capital, as well as distribution centers, stores and a shopping center. What is evident is that Sonae has a real commitment to innovation, sustainability, and quality. They have a very deliberate strategy to encourage innovation throughout the company, and the FINOV conference is the annual culmination of that.
In my program I was asked to address both the longer-term megatrends, and specific trends and expectations in manufacturing and building supplies, mobile communications and IT, consumers and retail, tourism, and more.
Glen with CEO Paulo Azevedo on his right, Chairman Belmiro de Azevedo on his left, and Cathy O’Dowd, Mt. Everest climber and another speaker on the end.
The take-away for me was that Sonae is a company to pay attention to as a model of sustainability, and of building a culture of innovation.
This is a guest blog by Jean Brittingham.
I’ve been a little behind on blogging because we are working feverishly on our book—The SmartGirls’ Way. It’s very exciting to see it coming together. In the book we discuss the characteristics, strengths and success stories of women entrepreneurs and the critical role that women will play in the Next Economy. Today I thought I’d share my thoughts about this new economy as I see it evolving.
The real recovery from the “great recession” will come with some major changes that portend good things for entrepreneurs. First, there is near-consensus that the recovery cannot be built on consumption as it has reigned in the last 50 or so years. Resources are too limited, the planet is too fragile and large corporations that supported this consumption too easily become institutions unto themselves that care only for their own future and their own profits and fail in a huge and costly manner.
Instead we should begin to envision and shape the next economy—one that is focused on creating a new solid economic base, is powered by a low-or no carbon energy source, is driven by innovation, transparency and collaborative business models and creates opportunity across the entire spectrum of social-economic reality.
There are many thoughts and ideas out there about what will drive and create this new economy. I believe it will be driven by the following four trends:
- A resource-constrained environment on a health-challenged planet
- The creation of “mega-intelligence” through collaborations that create in-depth knowledge and insights in the fields of science and technology
- A massive amplification of creativity that feeds innovation
- The rise of entrepreneurial collaboratives
Let’s first look at the issues related to a resource-constrained planet. This is not a hypothesis but rather our reality. Peak oil is around the corner. Coal, while abundant, is a major contributor to unhealthy air and global warming. Increasingly, we will have to learn how to reuse what we have already used and treat the planet as the amazing life support system that it is. This one truth has to be embraced—the planet does not exist for the benefit of the economy. It just exists. If we foul it forever, we are truly lost.
But an economy that benefits humankind, supports the development of peaceful society on earth, and sustains our life-support planet infinitely is not only possible but we can actually begin to see how we will get there.
Mega-intelligence as I am talking about it here is not a new field of study of the so-called super class of genius. I don’t mean to be dismissive, but if brilliant individuals could save the world, we would certainly be in a different spot right now. More appropriately, this term refers to the combined or collective intelligence that can be put to a problem through the connectivity and transparency afforded by increasing ubiquitous technology. Our digital connections have taken us well beyond any boundary condition previously thought of around the internet (for those who like to think about limitations) to a place where individuals of different cultures and language are collaborating on projects ranging from nuclear energy to music in the “cloud” and we are lending our personal computing ability to work 24/7 on the worlds most pressing problems—at least those that can be approached through 0s and 1s.
We are at the edge of knowing how to harness and focus this intelligence and the success of recent movements ranging from politics to science assures us that we will solve many more problems together than we have even dared to dream of by ourselves.
Creativity is fuel. It generates momentum and optimism. A wonderful/horrible truth of human nature is that when pushed to the limit, we get very creative. Our survival instinct is strong and often kicks it into high gear to help us out of a tight spot.
The current economic reset represents just such a tight spot. Even if you don’t understand or care much about economics, it’s clear that something dramatically different is afoot. Not only is a rebound to the old consumptive habits unlikely—most of us don’t seem to want it. But we aren’t excited about a future that is less interesting or comfortable either. So things are getting creative. Creative ways of working and living, of finding value propositions and new business models and creative about collaboration and wealth creation. Creativity and urgency have energized some amazing collaboratives and innovations.
And finally, whether as a result or a response, the willingness to exercise our entrepreneurial spirit has never been higher. Whether in the clean-energy economy, social enterprises focused on creating breakthroughs in traditionally underserved communities or as spin-offs and internal “tanks” in the big dog corporations, the fall of the old economy has seen the rise of entrepreneurs.
Polar opposites come together to pave the way to a future that is more vibrant, resilient and flexible. A world where entrepreneurial spirit and self-reliance is augmented and magnified by a connected creativity supported by technology that builds communities that learn, grow and make a living together.
You can see why I think the entrepreneurial future is one where women will thrive.
Success in the future will likely be measured more by the quality of your experiences than the 0s after your income bracket. Your net contribution to life will matter more than your net worth. And the inheritances your grandkids will care about are great communities, interesting work and a healthy planet.