How To View the Future Objectively
Once you have an opinion about what’s going to happen, you can no longer find things that are true, you only look for things that track your own opinion.
Edie Weiner is president of Weiner, Edrich, Brown, Inc., a leading futurist consulting group. Formed in 1977, WEB has served over 400 clients (corporate, academic, government) in identifying opportunities in the areas of marketing, product development, strategic planning, investments, human resources and public affairs. Clients have ranged from the U.S. Congress to many of the Fortune 500. She is acknowledged as one of the most influential practitioners of social, technological, political and economic intelligence-gathering.
At 29, Ms. Weiner was the youngest outside woman ever elected to a corporate board. She has been a guest lecturer at Wharton, Harvard, The U.S. Army War College, and a number of other universities. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications, including The Harvard Business Review, The Futurist, and The Wall Street Journal. She has co-authored four books with her partner Arnold Brown: Supermanaging (McGraw-Hill 1984), Office Biology (MasterMedia 1993), Insider’s Guide to the Future (Bottom Line, 1997), and FutureThink (Prentice Hall, 2006). She has keynoted over 300 conferences.
Throughout the 1990s, she founded and chaired the Esteem Teams, an innovative program in which dozens of inner city, at risk girls were mentored by executive women.
She serves on numerous Boards and Advisory Boards, including the US Comptroller General’s Advisory Board, Women’s Leadership Exchange, and The SyFy Channel. In the past, she has been on the Board or Advisory Board of the José Limón Dance Foundation (Chair), UNUM Corporation, First Unum Corp., CompUSA, the Fashion Group International, ThinkQuest New York City (Chair), Boardroom Inc., Independent Agents & Brokers of New York, and the Women’s Forum. Ms. Weiner is a member of the Women’s Forum, a co-founder of the Belizean Grove, the first recipient of the Fashion Group International’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award (1998), NOW New York’s 2011 Woman of Power and Influence Award, and The World Future Society’s 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award.
When I think about what helped me find success, what intrinsic qualities I had to have to do what I do -- which is study the future -- I know that one of the most important things I can bring to that is objectivity. Because once you have an opinion about what’s going to happen, you can no longer find things that are true, you only look for things that track your own opinion.
So how objectivity came to me, I think, was probably because I was raised in foster homes and when you go as a child from home to home you realize very quickly that what this family says is the absolute reality and truth is contradicted by the next home you live in, like "this is the way you make spaghetti." "No, no, no, this is the way you make spaghetti!" "This is the way you observe this holiday." "No, this is the way you observe this holiday."
You realize that everybody has their own reality and if people have their own reality in the same borough of New York in the same religion during the same era, then what must be true of people who live 50 miles away, 1000 miles away, halfway around the world, 100 years ago or 100 years from now? Those realities are all very different, and so once you come to grips with the fact that so many things are based on what you’ve been taught or what you think is so, you get a little bit further toward objectivity, and the future then becomes a little clearer as you study the things that are going on that take you there.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.
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