“Constantly be updating your positions on as many things as possible. And if you don’t contradict yourself on a regular basis, then you’re not thinking.” — Malcolm Gladwell
“The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.” — William Gibson
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When I knew the future was really “here” is when I received an invite “For a weekend with those exploring”:
“…synthetic biology and advanced propulsion technology (nuclear, ion, and antimatter thrust) to machine learning, augmented reality, robotics, gaming, and cryptography.”
The future is always arriving — every day, all around the world. Sometimes it comes in the form of a thought in the mind of a lone inventor. Other times it comes as an idea for positive change at a startup or business. No matter who we are, thoughts that could become the future flash into our mind every day. It is our duty to filter the thoughts into those we don’t want and those we do, and cling to the thoughts that can make us (and others) mission-driven. If we’re brave enough, we should seek to turn those thoughts into things. This fountainhead of imagination is always standing by to help move us towards our mission.
In order to better understand and harness these thoughts, it’s important that we define the type we’re aspiring to have. For meaning and a better world for ourselves and others, there is one main type of thought we want to increase: thoughts that allow us to do more with less. These thoughts are loving and compassionate. If you can do more with less, you can spend more time with those you love, make their lives better, and inspire others to do the same.
The type of thoughts that lead us to our mission are a type of technology. Technology (in it’s classic definition) is defined as the ability to do more with less. When we guide and train our minds to produce these thoughts, we can’t help but create value in the world. When we create value in the world, we’ve done more with less, and we’re often rewarded with money, meaning, and a sense of mission. Every time we choose or cling to an imaginative idea or solution to do more with less in our own lives, we create technology.
The challenge is, it’s incredibly hard to do on our own. It becomes much easier to keep up this practice in environments, jobs, and workplaces where we’re surrounded by others who are immersed in a similar pursuit. Small businesses, startups, and any company that creates technology (products or services that do more with less) will have to have a workforce seeking these types of thoughts. So where are these organizations and how do we align ourselves with them?
Finding the Future
“During the past three decades, startups in the United States have created nearly 40 million American jobs, all the net job creation in the country over that period.” –Steve Case
Technology includes everything from semiconductors, computers, stoves, chairs, heuristics, mathematics, medicines, love letters written to a spouse, or a company culture that encourages meaning and growth. In order to create thoughts (and eventually things) which allow us to “do more with less,” we must have a mindset that is focused on progress, growth, and compassion.
Most people overlook how technology is created. It’s easy to get caught up in studying the end result of the latest multi-billion dollar technology acquisition. By becoming caught up in the end result, many people miss the chance to study the alchemy and process which created the end result. So how does new technology actually get created? Is it easy?
If creating technology and innovation were easy, massive companies would not have tens of billions of dollars parked on their balance sheets. Big companies try to innovate, but it’s often difficult for them to do so. This is why they acquire growing companies.
Creating new technology requires an incredibly positive (and mission-driven) environment for work. New technology can only be created in environments where participants are allowed to have new ideas and run low cost experiments to test the validity of those ideas. In order to find mission-driven environments, we must examine the types of work environments where meaning is encouraged, and where it is discouraged.
- Anti-technological (Bureaucracies, Government): Possessing general and vague skepticism towards “new” ideas, where sophistication is valued for sophistication’s sake. Credentials and letters after names are highly valued here, regardless of individual contribution to the organization. Think political correctness and suits. The tribe will also be sure to ostracize you for being wrong and for taking any risk (hence incentivizing inaction).
- Technological (Silicon Valley, startups, small businesses, and any company that is paid to make others lives better): Because many of these companies/environments are smaller, they must have mission-driven workplaces where employees are allowed to create technology. Without a mission flowing from the top of the company, these organizations can’t survive. These tribes will generally not ostracize you for being wrong, as long as you’re seeking to do more with less.
To join up or align ourselves with groups of people who are mission-driven, we must develop an entrepreneurial mindset. This type of mindset calls us to have strong opinions and ambition, but it requires we let them go when they’re proven wrong (or less useful) by evidence. This is the type of personal philosophy which increases the chances we’ll create new technology, do great works, or find meaning. As Emerson said,
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.
With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today. –‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’
–Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”
We must wholeheartedly trust ourselves, but be willing to find out tomorrow that we’re wrong. When we find evidence which displaces our beliefs, we then incorporate that information into our mindset, work, or whatever technology we’re creating. From that point, we set out again, and each time we get new information, we push it into an objective light. This is the type of philosophy which precedes new technology and a mission-driven mind. It guarantees you’ll always be growing, shedding old beliefs, and adopting new ones that allow you to do more with less.
The fundamentalist, on the other hand, has strongly held convictions and beliefs which cannot be questioned. The fundamentalist encounters information which contradicts his current positions, and responds with defensiveness, anxiety, anger, befuddlement, confusion, or aggression. The fundamentalist chooses to see himself and his work as concretely unified. Fundamentalists prefer show to substance. They prefer bright shiny objects and cultural indulgences to technology with a high utility. They seek more for the sake of hoarding, instead of strategically acquiring goods or capital in order to use it and create wealth for others. Once anyone’s thought process is mired in fundamentalism, it’s incredibly difficult to shake it loose.
Sometimes the difficult part is getting to a place where we’re allowed to tinker, create, and spread new technology. If we try to create technology among a bunch of fundamentalists, they’ll point out everything we’re doing that is wrong. They will smother creations before they can be birthed. This is why it’s incredibly important for us to go to places where it’s culturally acceptable to do more with less. These places are the startup ecosystems popping up in every major city around the U.S., along with the businesses who are being paid for an amazing product or service. These are cultures where personal growth is the norm, instead of taboo. These are ecosystems where those who attempt to create and take risks are revered.
These cultures offer the opportunity of a lifetime for those who embrace personal growth. Right now, as you read this, there are people knee deep in these areas of growth seeking to make things better for humanity on a massive scale. The blessing and curse of the 21st century is that we’re able to view how the work we do ties into our mission at a global scale. Is our work creating new technology? Or are we simply spreading old technology and ideas all around? The blessing of this phenomenon is that we’re allowed to join or align ourselves with industries creating technology.
As the Internet and technology continue to proliferate, we’ll have to watch these innovations happen — with or without our involvement. Let’s quickly cover some of industries which are creating technology.
Industries Poised to Explode
3D printing, robotics, drones, technology, same-day delivery for groceries, agriculture, books/learning materials, electronics, wearables, sensors, crypto-currencies, space travel and exploration (even asteroid mining and terraforming Mars), engineering, design, private equity, driverless cars, energy, software and hardware development, artists (creatives skilled at their jobs, including sales people), preventive medicine, and future-proof trades such as welding and plumbing. All of these fields offer huge opportunities for those who are entrepreneurial, positive, and ready to learn.
By entering these fields with the proper strategy, they all offer potential for uncapped upside (this simply means opportunity and wealth way beyond a traditional salary). That strategy and mindset includes recognizing that in our new economy, there are really only four types of skill sets.
The Four Categories of Skills These Industries Desperately Need
In order to get a firm grasp on our mission, we must find meaningful work. In that pursuit, here are the four types of cornerstone skills and professions in the new economy. These skills are in such high demand that we can often get an amazing job after only a few months of training. These categories of skills encompass just about every type of future-proof job.
Business Developers: Anyone in a service or care related job, sales, growth, strategy, analysis, marketing, social media content, full-stack marketing, general leadership, storytellers, authors, or artists. These are the people that ensure businesses continue, innovate, and grow.
Engineers: Mechanical engineers, machinists, tradesmen, developers, front-end, back-end, full-stack, and the whole makers movement. In short, these are the people that make things.
Designers: Artists who make and design things that are beautiful in our world, some of which include: UX/UI design, Photoshop gurus, social media content, book covers, project wireframes, sketching, rapid prototyping, and 3D printing. This also includes anyone who creates art. These are the people who make things appealing for us.
Scientists: Inventors who provide the raw material, technology, data, or the components of creation to the other three areas. This includes: data scientists, traditional scientists, statisticians, computer scientists, biologists, and medicinal researchers, to name a few. These professions require a mastery of manipulating, understanding, and making prescriptions based on huge sets of data.
How to Get There
These four main skill sets are professions ready to welcome any and everybody with the right skills. Specifically, they’re all looking for the new type of intelligence (grit + skills + imagination). Acquiring the specific skills to gain entry to these jobs is much easier than the traditional two to six-year college path. These positions can all be accessed via short-term (three to 12 months) bootcamps, apprenticeship programs, or intensive training programs for the skilled trades that are in high-demand such as technical manufacturing, plumbing, or welding. These are all accelerated entry points into true technology fields. The demand for the value these fields are creating warrants accelerated training times, high pay, and a high degree of learning on the job. If we remember the proper definition of technology we covered earlier (the ability to do more with less), fields that work with technology include everything from coding, manufacturing, welding, plumbing, or data science. All these fields do more with less and prove it to the prospective applicant by nature of their high salaries and straightforward training, allowing a newcomer to jump right in.
Some of these training bootcamps charge up-front, and some of these bootcamps only charge after the student has been placed at a great job. Reputable bootcamps have job placement rates for graduates of around 95%. The average starting salaries for graduates range from $60,000-$134,000, and in many cases come with incentives such as equity, stock options, and room for explosive growth. Not only are these salaries amazing, but now we’ve started to expose ourselves to high rates of learning and upside in the form of potential equity. Owning a few percentage points of a startup by joining as an early designer doesn’t sound like much, until the startup is acquired for a hundred million dollars.
The companies hiring employees which are coming out of bootcamps are on the cutting edge of innovation. When thinking about the bootcamps which provide amazing opportunities, feel free to interchange the term “bootcamp” with any program or training that offers the quickest entry point possible into high-demand fields.
It’s Not Easy
Amazing work is available, but only for people who have skills. There are no good ole’ boy networks or secret handshakes in these fields — just results. These fields are meritocracies, in businesses with increasingly flat hierarchical structures. This is a rare opportunity to find work which ties into huge, audacious goals like ensuring the future and survival of humanity.
All the previous generations of our ancestors fought to give us chances like this. Our country’s founding fathers took risks so we could do the same — not so we could kick back in comfort. The opportunities we have access to today are those which our grandparents couldn’t have dreamed about.
Although it might be a struggle to get into these fields at first, it will be even more of a struggle if we spend the next four to six years learning outdated material in the form of a Bachelors, Masters, or PhD.
While the U.S. GDP stands at around $17 trillion, it’s important to remember that the types of companies which create technology have access to the world market. Becoming competent and aligning ourselves with technology helps us access the global, $70 trillion dollar economy. This is an opportunity to help reimagine the world, and tap into huge amounts of wealth.
One of the hard truths about new technology is the fact that so much of what we do is easily accessible and recordable. Our actions go on record. How and what we use our actions to vote for across the span of our lives is now being recorded.
Our children will see everything we do or don’t do. They’ll see the principles we stood up for, what we gave our lives to — or perhaps they will wonder why we never took advantage of such tremendous opportunity.
A Final Word on Finding the Future
In philosophy, there is a type of belief called a doxastic commitment. A doxastic commitment is a class of beliefs so strong, it naturally causes the individual holding it to take actions based on their belief.
In the process of forming our doxastic commitments, we get to take advantage of massive upside, protect our downside, and be on the side of American history which owns the process of restoring our republic.
We are of a class of people who makes virtuous doxastic commitments. We back up our beliefs via action.
Four Central Professions and Minimizing Regrets
This strategy and action section contains some thoughts and questions to help align ourselves and our work at places where our mission is encouraged.
We see that the developing world is still looking to us for innovation. Many people in these countries are speaking English. The industries we covered, which are growing now, will only explode in growth as they begin to serve a developing world which is coming online and reaching the affluence levels where they can afford services from these American companies.
Where do we see our natural talents and skills in regard to the four central professions of the future? Maybe we want to stay at our current job because of the retirement or our kids, but how could we learn and layer some of the skills below onto our existing skill sets? Where do our natural abilities and interests already lie?
Of the four main skills below, where do we see ourselves already being a good fit? What do we feel pre-qualified to learn or layer on our existing skills?
- Business Developers
Every company which aims to survive is increasingly becoming oriented around creating technology. The fields above can provide us with meaningful career certainty, options, and the ability to start our own technology company after we’ve worked in several successful (or unsuccessful) ones. There’s a lot to be learned from going through what doesn’t work.
How Will Posterity Remember Us?
Write out how you think they’ll remember us. How, in detail, do we want our children to reference what we’ve created after we’re gone? How will they view our actions and achievements? Will they remember us as the generation who helped reimagine (and rebuilt) the world? Will we become the leaders and entrepreneurs who completely dominate these industries? Our chances at finding long-term meaning and satisfaction are much better if we look back at a life filled with meaningful work.
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Author: Chad Grills