A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing
I will begin each review of this kind the same way. Non-fiction audiobooks not read by their authors lack something. There I said it. Now onto the review.
If you don’t want to inspired and filled with a sense of hope for the future, then I wouldn’t listen to this book. If you don’t want to find out why human ingenuity, generosity and sheer force of will are redefining what it means to be a human being in the 21st century and beyond your certainly do want to listen to Abundance. If you don’t want to put the book down and go start thinking about ways to land a robot on the moon, take some photos, bounce around and receive a 30M cheque from Google… then you don’t want to read this book.
You should however, consider this book for many reasons. Too often books about the future paint a gloom and doom picture. I have always found it hard to believe that all futurists are staring into the same, tarnished and dirty crystal ball since the future always looks so bleak. The book does a great job at taking a lot of our intuitions about the future and turns them on its head. For example even though the media would like us to believe that we are going to hell in handbag, that simply isn’t the case. Science is catching up to diseases and people are dying of health related issues less than ever before. Crime has down. Violence is on the decline. Technology is getting faster and cheaper with no end in sight. People are still dying yes, and violence still exists but its getting better. This alone is worth the read.
The book looks at the future through the lens of the Abundance pyramid that is essentially a re-thinking of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. If there is a low point in the book, this is it. The pyramid is a little simple and pretty obvious but it serves as way to ground the concepts and move the story along.
Abundance focuses on many of the different industries that are leading the charge to create a better a future. Since you are going to read all about them, I will tell you my favourites. The chapter on energy and power was well… powerful! The idea that we could truly have renewable energy thanks to better solar technology by 2030 has profound consequences. Since most wars, struggles and conflicts are essentially fights over the potential of energy, energy equality has the chance to quell the thirst for war.
Finally, Abundance ends with an elaborate but entertaining sales pitch for Diamandis’s X-Prize. They talk about the power of competition and how it drives innovation that only startups and smaller companies can take advantage of. Interesting fact was the X-Prize for space flight was designed to keep players like Boeing and Lockheed Martin out, while letting Burt Rutan and his team of underdogs in.
Overall, Abundance is worth the listen. What I liked the most about it was the emotions and feelings it stirred up inside me while I was reading it. There were times (especially as I was cleaning my condo locker unit) where I wanted to stop what I was doing, go and learn more about solar energy and try and make a meaningful contribution to the effort. It is a very inspiring book that really drives home the fact that you can make a difference.
On the technical side, Arthur Morey does a great job reading this book and it never feels too heavy or boring even when the content gets pretty dense. Morey’s voice has a powerful and confident sound that makes him sound like an expert talking to a group of conference goers. Very well casted.
Abundance receives 8 pv cells out of 10. You can pick it up here, Abundance - The future is better than you think
I have to credit Ray Kurzweil for my career in computer science. I picked up The Age of Spiritual Machines in high school and never looked at technology the same way ever again.
While I only have Ray’s opinion and his critic’s counter points to go on, I can honestly say that I am a Singulartarian. What I mean by this is that I am optimistic about the future and the coming Singularity rather than being afraid of it. I am sure that when the time comes and it is made more personal, I as well as many others, will face very hard choices but I cannot help but think that the coming future will serve to amplify the best parts of our humanity.
One of my other interests in life is spirituality and world religions. Never being baptized I guess I have the benefit of being able to sample different parts of philosophy and the world’s religions to create my own personal way of living. I wouldn’t dare try to share or preach it but I guess you could say it’s 3 parts Buddhist, 2 parts Hindu and 2 parts Catholic.
I struggle with the concept of death and sometimes find myself agreeing with another one of my heros, Alan Watts, who talked about death being an intergal part of life since “you need to turn off every now and then, so that you can know you are on.”
However, I wonder what he would have thought about Ray and the Singularity. It’s a shame that we can’t ask him and I guess to Ray’s point, perhaps one day we will be able to ask a virtual Alan Watts what he thinks of his virtual body.
I think of things like meditation and wonder how technology will enhance it. Currently, a practitioner must practice for years and years before reaching peak states of theta and delta wave meditations. Could we one day simply turn on these kinds of heightened brain states? Could we simulate them? I imagine we could and will. What if technology will usher in a new age of spiritual enlightenment that will be integrated with technology and unlock even more secrets of biology and the universe.
I truly don’t know where all this will lead and that is why it is so fun and exciting to be along for the ride.
The future is ultimately what we want and make it to be so lets try and stay positive on this one.
Drobbox’s acquisition of Mailbox App doesn’t come as too much of a surprise given it’s quality and virility (I am still waiting to get in).
It’s now clear to me that Dropbox will create an email service to rival Google’s Gmail.
To be successful as email client you need three things.
1) Security / trust
2) Massive infrastructure / storage
3) Amazing software / integrations
Dropbox has all three.
No doubt Google is Dropbox’s biggest competitor and regardless of what Steve Jobs thought, Dropbox is far more than a feature. It’s a platform and will continue to make FTPs and yes email attachments obsolete.
This is why Dropbox needs an email client. File attachments are going the way of the cloud and Google wants you to use Drive to do it. My guess is that Dropbox will “re-invent” email with incredible attachments. support and features. Something akin to Instant Messaging and Mega.com.
I give it until Christmas and some of us are waiting in line for @dbox.com or @dmail.com
Love or hate @kentf
Deliberately create situations that will move you forward in life each day.
So often we wake up and let the day take us somewhere we didn’t really want to go. It wasn’t a bad day, not at all. We got some work done, we had some laughs we ate some decent food. It was good.
But good is the enemy of great.
To live deliberately means setting up your day to get something important done. Something that will move you forward in your life or your career or your relationship. Whatever is important to you.
You can do this by setting goals in the evening for the next day. You can set goals for the day in morning, or you can set goals for the morning, then the afternoon etc.
It doesn’t matter what you do. The method matters less than the practice of trying to do it.
What works for me is Zig Ziglar’s and Seth Godin’s Pick Four method.
1) Pick Four things you want to focus on for twelve weeks.
2) List the benefits of achieving each goal
3) List the obstacles
4) List the people who you can lean on for help
5) Create a plan
6) Each day, briefly report on how you did.
7) Ask yourself whether it was enough.
This doesn’t guarantee that you will achieve these four goals in twelve weeks, but having a target is better than nothing.
Start this tomorrow. If four is too many, than pick three, or two or one.
Decide now, who you want to be 24 hours from now. You will be amazed at how well the day goes.
I love asking this question in interviews because it always throws people off. What could I possibly be afraid of if things go right?
LOTS actually. Afraid might be too strong a word since it’s not the same fear as being killed or fired, or dumped or something that affects your sense of self but something more subtle. It’s the change that success brings that can be scary.
Imagine you are running a startup and things are going pretty well. You have a few customers and really love what you are doing, then someone comes along and makes you an offer to aqui-hire you and your company. That’s really exciting right? You are damn right it is but its also terrifying! In fact, it could be so scary that you are subconsciously repelling it from your experience.
Let me explain.
Your ego hates change! So much so that it will do many things to protect itself from the unknown. It might make you lazy, it might make you hungry, it might make you doubt yourself, it might put you into a depression and the list goes on. I firmly believe that many people who don’t make it don’t make it because they really didn’t want to. Or they let the part of them that didn’t want to win in the battle of DO / DON’T.
To escape from this you must simply ask yourself this question on a regular basis. What am I afraid will go right today. If there is any success anxiety this should surface. When it does, you can observe it, smile at it and then forget about it. It has lost its power over you. You took it out of the darkness and exposed it to the light, its over, you are free.
Fear not. There is nothing to be afraid of. You know this, but sometimes you forget.
In life, you want to put yourself into as many situations as you can to learn from other people. You want to find a job or calling where you can contribute but are not the smartest person in the room. Surround yourself with people that make you want to be better each day in your job, with your friends and your mate.
I come from the consulting world and as a consultant you are by definition the smartest person in the room. Companies don’t typically hire consultants that don’t bring unique expertise that they are lacking, therefore, you tend to say things that don’t get challenged or at least don’t get challenged in a meaningful way.
While this is a great feeling for your ego and for your bank account, it leaves much to be desired. After a while you long for something more. You long to be the dumbest person in the room.
This is precisely why I think every consultant out there that is running a one or two man shop should strongly consider going to work for a product company.
That is what I did and I couldn’t be happier.
I traded my free schedule for a commute and a job at one of Canada’s most exciting startups Top Hat Monocle and I can honestly tell you that I am not the smartest person in the room anymore.
I have learned more in six months about software, leadership, management, sales, automation and startups then I ever could have amassed myself if I was still consulting.
Do I miss not having a schedule? Or not having a boss? Or having unlimited vacation? Of course I do, but not enough to go back anytime soon. Life is about change and change is about flow. You need to flow from one situation to another and standing still simply isn’t an option. Going to work with people who are smarter than you doesn’t mean that you have given up or that you have lost ambition, in fact it’s the exact opposite. The experience that I will take away from Top Hat will be invaluable should I decide to go back to the consulting world one day or start something myself.
If your ideas are not met with genuine and hard hitting questions or debates on a semi regular basis then you have outgrown your box and need to be transplanted into a forrest.
Give it a go and tell me how it feels @kentf
I think it’s time for a swift orderly change.
So today this happened…
Celebrities, founders and visionaries took to the internet to promote coding. A lot of my friends shared this with me and I am thrilled they did. Maybe this will be the push that sends so many into such an amazing field.
I feel truly blessed that I was able to get into programming when I did. I was a late bloomer as programmers go, not starting until I was around 15 years old. I had always dabbled in computers and knew how to disassemble and reassemble it without a problem, but programming was when it “clicked”
I always wanted to be a doctor because I love helping people. In third year university studying Biomedical Computing I had a moment of satori or a Eureka moment. I realized that I could still help people and maybe many more people as a Computer Scientist than I could as a Doctor.
From that day on, I knew in my heart of hearts that programming and the path of computer science would be for me.
Thank you code, for making me a wizard.
Goals are targets. When you set a goal and try to achieve it you might fail and that’s okay. However, setting it and failing is far better than not having it there. People who say, Why bother setting a goal when I know I won’t achieve it are missing the point entirely
Setting goals and working towards them isn’t about what you will get when you achieve your goal, its about who you will become along the way.
So you didn’t achieve your goal. Who cares! I don’t. I am just happy that for a while you had a target. It’s time to re-evaluate and set a new goal.
One day you will get there, and you will be better for it.
I stand by my prediction that we will see a clamshell iPad / Air this year.
There are already others that are doing it and I feel like it will become a very common pattern in the near future.
I want to use my Macbook Air as a computer for 90% of the time, but when I want the iPad or a touch screen… let me flip it over and use it.
This is my least bold prediction of 2013 but I had to get it in writing.
I have a secret to tell you. That amazing project that you want to work on, that app you want to build, someone is already doing it or better yet someone just published it.
But that’s ok. In fact, that is amazing. That is the single most important reason why you need to make sure that you are doing something, that you are working on publishing. That you are shipping.
Not because there is limited supply and that “other” person or company beat you to it and now you need to make sure you beat the next guy. That’s old school thinking and its fading fast. You need to ship it because you can and because what you made has the ability to change people.
Apples don’t think much about their place in this universe at least none that I have ever talked to. Yet there they are, ready to fall, ready to be eaten ready to play their part. Apples are, thanks to apple trees. You can say that the apple trees apples and the result are delicious apples. Alan Watts said that the Earth, well the Earth peoples… thus here we are.
You. Yes you. You create things. Human beings, create things. Your creation doesn’t have to made of wood, stone, paint or even code. No, it can be a conversation, an interaction a smile to stranger, a deep human connection. Something from nothing. This is creation.
So go. Create something.
If I can give you once piece advice to live a more meaningful life it’s to be nice to people and treat them as the most important and interesting people in the world, because let’s face it… they are.
Everyone is unique and has a story to tell. Are you bold enough to ask them to tell you theirs?
When you meet someone you never know what will come of that meeting and if you are like me and have a deep intuitive feeling that destiny is real and that you can shape it, then each person you meet is a person that will affect you or will be affected by you. Or is it effected. I can never remember.
Ask about their life. Listen to their story. Ask more questions. If they mention something you don’t understand, don’t pretend to be smart, find out what it means. Ask more questions. Don’t speak. The less you speak the better. Ask more questions and listen.
Don’t do this to gain friends and influence people. Do it because its what it means to be human. It means connecting with someone. It means building a bridge.
So how was your weekend?
Walking into a Tim Horton’s bathroom yesterday I couldn’t help but notice the sign plastered on the door. It read something like:
We at Tim Horton’s value cleanliness and strive to keep our bathroom facilities clean
The first thought I had after reading that was What on earth happened for them to put up a sign like that?. Perhaps I am not giving them enough credit, perhaps there was no incident and this is merely a proactive way of telling customers that the room behind this door is going to be clean. But for some reason I don’t think thats the case.
Tim Hortons could also tell you that your coffee will be hot, that your donuts (especially the Boston Creams) will be delicious, but they don’t. They don’t because they don’t have to. There are certain unwritten agreements when it comes to donuts and coffee.
The bathroom was pretty clean by the way. Not so impressive that I wanted to take a picture of it, but better than your average coffee / fast food shop. I couldn’t help but wonder though if it had always been that way? Tim Hortons had a chance to show me they value this by taking the sign down and then showing the results when I opened the door. Instead they told me it would be clean.
Was there a time when the sign wasn’t there? Perhaps it started off squeaky clean, perhaps the staff kept it that way, until. Until the incident that changed everything. Until that guy slipped in hour old urine and hit his head on the sink. Then the sign went up. Then the process got instituted, then the person who used to keep that bathroom clean for their family, for their friends, for their company or for themselves now it does it because they have to.
Who is this guy you are thinking? He is writing, no complaining about an above average bathroom experience… but that’s not the point. The point is they shouldn’t need a sign to keep the bathroom clean. You shouldn’t have to tell me that the place where other people’s human waste is disposed of will be kept clean and tidy.
Sorry if that makes me a snob but that is what I expect from Tim Hortons or McDonalds or any restaurant where I exchange dollars for food.
Call me naive or dramatic but I will bet you that before the sign went up, the bathroom was much cleaner than it was yesterday.
Take down the sign. Don’t keep the bathroom clean because you have, do it because its the right thing to do.