With digitization and the resultant Fourth Industrial Revolution merging physical, digital, and biological worlds, dozens of exponential technologies have emerged and accelerated to center stage. The power of thinking big is here. For example, artificial intelligence (AI) combined with other exponential technologies — like the internet of things (IoT), 3D printing, robotics, or genetic engineering-create a multiplying effect. As technology gets exponentially more powerful, humans will start to see the world completely reinvented.
Technologies are helping us meet our basic needs and will continue to drive down the cost of housing, food, clothing, security, transportation, and communication. Meanwhile, automation and robots will one day care for us in ways previously unimaginable. The rising connected, autonomous, sharing, and electric economies will make the world less expensive. Energy will be abundant, local, and nearly free as the Sun gives the Earth more power in a single hour than we need all year.(1) Inevitably, everybody could potentially wear contact lenses with layers of augmented or mixed reality, controlled by our bio-implanted brain-computer interface. The future will be unapologetically different, and technology will play a role in nearly every part of our lives. Although technology is starting to disappear into the background, access to it continues to be democratized, abundant, and more equitable.
As a result of this marriage between humans and exponential technology, life will improve for nearly everyone on the planet. People will have more time to spend with their children, families, and friends. We will work less, spending time on the pursuit of our purpose. Humans will spend more time on leisure and out- door activities, increase their exercise, eat better, and obesity rates will drop as behavioral economists nudge habits and technology improves access and education for everyone. Spirituality will likely rise as people have more time to pursue their desires and seek community, meaning, and faith. Suicide rates will likely plummet as we learn how to rewire our brains, balance our hearts, and take care of our guts. We will reimagine the future of health. As humans gets healthier, morality and consciousness will become more important. The glass is half full. With knowledge and hopefully wisdom, ignorance can be overcome.
In the next ten years, technology will drive down cost as we move towards technical abundance. Time will become the social currency, there will be an influx of volunteerism, giving back, and rallying together leveraging exponential theory to solve wicked problems. Through the Black Lives Matter movement, we’ve seen how humans organize and mobilize at scale. Now the world must take action against a system set up to exploit differences as we should be celebrating them. The ALS ice-bucket challenge raised over two hundred million dollars for research and awareness of the disease. Entire states and countries have banished plastic straws to help protect sea turtles. Movements around reducing, reusing, and recycling are starting to make a difference.
The power of thinking big has always been there. Fred Smith, the founder of FedEx, wrote a college term paper at Yale that got a “C.”(2) The idea was to create overnight delivery through a hub and spoke business model moving every piece of mail through Mem- phis in the middle of the night. In April 1973, this business was launched with 14 small aircraft from Memphis International Air- port, FedEx delivered 186 packages to 25 U.S. cities from Roch- ester, New York, to Miami, Florida that night. The rest is history. That’s the power of thinking big.
Similarly, in 1951, John Bogle wrote his senior thesis at Princeton that eventually led to the launch of Vanguard, offering no-load low-cost mutual funds and index funds that have democratized investing for small investors and created one of the world’s largest fund management companies with over $7 trillion in assets.(3) Each of these ideas relied on thinking big. Each idea had critics focused on the short-term, yet over time each of these companies have changed its respective industries.
Socially conscious companies are creating incredible move- ments to solve the world’s biggest issues. For example, companies like Plastic Bank, which created Social Plastic, a social currency of recycled ocean plastic that major companies buy and reuse for their products, have created a sustainable circular economy solu- tion.(4) These ideas will continue to scale and gain momentum as the world becomes more conscious about our usage of plastic. Then there is Source (formerly Zero Mass Water), which creates clean filtered drinking water from solar cells, pulling water out of thin air.(5) This idea has the potential to solve healthy drinking water everywhere in the world. With this technology, water becomes abundant.
Even larger companies like Patagonia have made a more conscious effort to go to 64% recycled materials and launch Worn Wear, recycling over 130,000 pieces of clothing. This in response to the clothing industry contributing 10% of the pollution driving climate change.(6) Pandora, the global jewelry retailer has chosen to stop selling mined diamonds due to prohibitive cost, human rights issues, and sustainability.(7) Finally, Tony’s Chocolonely is on a mission to eliminate slavery in the chocolate industry by providing slave-free chocolates and challenging the entire chocolate industry to do the same.(8) There will be many more companies like these making a huge impact on the future. These are just more examples of exponential theory as a small group of people are able to impact entire industries.
The speed of change will require lifelong learning as career and companies’ lifespan continue to shrink. Leaders will start to col- lectively work together to solve nearly every problem humankind faces. Advancements in education technology (EdTech) will have both kids and adults learning at a pace never seen before. EdTech startups are bringing new ways to learn, leveraging each student’s preferred modality, while also giving access to the best teachers in the world. New access to art technology will create another renaissance, like NFT‘s (non-fungible tokens) which have created a new form of digital art that verifies ownership on a blockchain. A relatively unknown artist @Beeple, sold a digital version of “Everyday’s — the first 5,000 days,” at Christie’s Auction for $69 million.(9) This is an example of how we still create scarcity in an abundant economy. Regardless, Maslow’s Hierarchy will be heavy at the top, as we shift from scarcity to abundance.
Because of digitization, leaders are on the cusp of some major breakthroughs. This book will guide us through these changes with a collection of stories about some of the most dominant companies and leaders on the planet. The ten ways of thinking big include: Embracing the VUCA World, Thinking Exponentially, Digitizing the Model, Becoming a Tech Company, Finding the Massive Transformative Purpose, Launching Disruption, Leveraging the Viral Loop, Playing the Long Game, Executing the MVP, and Accelerating Innovation. With the Great Reset and these powerful ideas, leaders can begin reimagining their purpose, impact, and future solutions to nearly everything that plagues us. Leaders will be able to reimagine the future. A future in which big thinkers will thrive.
Imagination — the human’s sixth sense — will empower leaders to envision a new future that will look nothing like our world does now. What we dream up, we will build. What we focus on, we will become. To think is to create, and what we resist persists. There is no time but now. Make sure to think big. Let’s get started.
- Rebecca Harrington, “This Incredible Fact Should Get You Psyched About Solar Power,” Business Insider (September 29, 2015) https:// www.businessinsider.com/this-is-the-potential-of-solar-power-2015-
- Entreprneur.com, “Fred Smith: An Overnight Success,” (October 9th, 2008) https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/197542
- Veronika Kero, “Investor Jack Bogle Founded his Legendary Company Based on his Princeton Senior Thesis,” CNBC.com, (January
17, 2019) https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/17/investor-jack-bogle-founded-company-based-on-princeton-senior-thesis.html
- “Our Impact” Plastic Bank. Accessed July 1, 2020. https://plas- ticbank.com/our-impact/
- “Meet the Technology” Zero Mass Water. Accessed July 1, 2020. https://www.zeromasswater.com/rexi/
- Patagonia, “Buy Less, Demand More,” Accessed April 5, 2021. https://www.patagonia.com/buy-less-demand-more/
- Hannah Denham, “Pandora Ditching Mined Diamonds for Lab- Gown Ones,” The Washington Post, (May 4, 2021)https://www.washington- post.com/business/2021/05/04/pandora-diamond-lab-mining/
- “Our Mission” Tony’s Chocolonely. Accessed July 1, 2020. https://tonyschocolonely.com/us/en/our-mission
- Scott Reyburn, “JPG File Sells for $69 Million, as ‘NFT Mania’ Gathers Pace,” New York Times, (March 11, 2021) https://www.nytimes. com/2021/03/11/arts/design/nft-auction-christies-beeple.html