from the world's big
Eyes on the prize: Why optimists make superb leaders
Recognizing the opportunity the future holds can help you better manage the challenges to come.
MICHIO KAKU: Leadership is understanding the challenges of the future, to working on scenarios of the future.
Now, President Eisenhower, when he was a general, he was asked about his attitude toward victory, toward fights, and toward war. And he basically said that pessimists never win wars. Only optimists win wars. And optimists, what separates them from the pessimists?
You see, the optimists see the future, the bright side of the future, the future that has opportunities, not the pessimist, who simply says, ah, can't do it, not possible, end of story. That's it, folks. So you have to have not just optimism, but you have to have one eye on the future.
Now, I'm a physicist. For me seeing the future is-- a large chunk of it is understanding the laws of science. When I was a kid, when I was a child, I had two role models. First was Einstein. I read that he couldn't finish his greatest work. And as a child, I said to myself, I'm going to help finish it. I'm going to help finish it, because it's the fundamentals of physics.
But the other role model I had was, well, I used to watch Flash Gordon on TV every Saturday morning. And he blew my mind away-- ray guns, cities in the sky, invisibility shields, monsters from outer space. And then I began to realize that the two loves of my life were actually the same thing, that if you want to understand the future, you have to understand science. You've got to pay your dues.
That's where leadership will take you, because you can see the future. That's what Eisenhower could do. He could see the future of a war, because he understood the mechanics of the war and how the war would progress. Seeing the future is the key to success in life. I think it's the key to intelligence. And it's also the key to leadership, as well.
Now, you may say to yourself, now, wait a minute. I thought IQs were a good predictor of the future. Wrong. If you take a look at people with high IQs, yes, some of them do win the Nobel Prize. But a lot of them wind up as marginal people, petty criminals, people that are failures. And then you wonder, why? Why is it that some people with high IQs never get anywhere?
Well, the Air Force had this problem. You see, the Air Force devised a test. What happens if your airplane is shot down over enemy territory in Vietnam, and you're captured by the Vietnamese? Do something. What are you going to do? It turns out that the people with high IQs got paralyzed, flummoxed. They didn't know what to do. They were paralyzed. What? You're captured behind enemy lines? What are you going to do? Give up?
The people who came up with the most imaginative, the most creative ideas, they were the ones who did not score so high on the IQ exam, but they were creative. They saw the future. They came up with all sorts of schemes in which to escape.
Now, I like to think of it this way. Let's say you've got a bunch of people, kids, and you ask them to rob a bank. That's your job, rob a bank. How would you do it? I think the people with high IQs would get all embarrassed, flummoxed. They wouldn't know what to do. Even people who want to become policemen of the future, they would get all flummoxed. But criminals, they are constantly thinking about the future-- master criminals now, not the ones who are petty and just steal things off the grocery shelf.
But the master criminals are the ones who constantly simulate the future. How do you rob this bank? How do you nail down the police? How do you get away? Where's your getaway car? These are the ones who have high intelligence. These are, quote, the "future leaders."
- Effective leadership comes from, in part, an understanding of the challenges the future might hold.
- Because optimists are able to focus the opportunities the future presents — instead of the impossibilities — they make great leaders.
- An understanding of science plays a part in more clearly seeing the future, which contributes to better decision-making as a leader.
The Future of Humanity: Our Destiny in the Universe
- What makes a good leader: strength or smarts? - Big Think ›
- What Machiavelli Can Teach You About Leadership - Big Think ›
Innovation in manufacturing has crawled since the 1950s. That's about to speed up.
Pandemic-inspired housing innovation will collide with techno-acceleration.
Is CRISPR the solution?
Even as the COVID-19 pandemic cripples the economy and kills hundreds of people each day, there is another epidemic that continues to kill tens of thousands of people each year through opioid drug overdose.
Here's why you might eat greenhouse gases in the future.
- The company's protein powder, "Solein," is similar in form and taste to wheat flour.
- Based on a concept developed by NASA, the product has wide potential as a carbon-neutral source of protein.
- The man-made "meat" industry just got even more interesting.
Seriously sustainable<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTk0MDIzNS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMjM4NTMzMX0.BCEfYnn6C3z1zUHIS38xOWjXktgamNBi5iyqklSMYK8/img.png?width=980" id="ea524" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="50533380eeb18eb5833b6b6aa3abec38" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Solar Foods<p>Solar Foods makes Solein by extracting CO₂ from air using <a href="https://www.fastcompany.com/90356326/we-have-the-tech-to-suck-co2-from-the-air-but-can-it-suck-enough-to-make-a-difference" target="_blank">carbon-capture technology</a>, and then combines it with water, nutrients and vitamins, using 100 percent renewable solar energy from partner <a href="https://www.fortum.com" target="_blank">Fortum</a> to promote a natural fermentation process similar to the one that produces yeast and lactic acid bacteria.</p><p>When the company claims its single-celled protein is "free from agricultural limitations," they're not kidding. Being produced indoors means Solar Foods is not dependent on arable land, water (i.e., rain), or favorable weather.</p><p>The company is already working with the European Space Agency to develop foods for off-planet production and consumption. (The idea for Solein actually began at NASA.) They also see potential in bringing protein production to areas whose climate or ground conditions make conventional agriculture impossible.</p><p>And let's not forget all those <a href="https://www.bk.com/menu-item/impossible-whopper" target="_blank">beef-free burgers</a> based on pea and soy proteins currently gaining popularity. The environmental challenge of scaling up the supply of those plants to meet their high demand may provide an opening for the completely renewable Solein — the company could provide companies that produce animal-free "meats," such as <a href="https://www.beyondmeat.com/products/" target="_blank">Beyond Meat</a> and <a href="https://impossiblefoods.com" target="_blank">Impossible Foods</a>, a way to further reduce their environmental impact.</p>
The larger promise<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTk0MDI0MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NjU4MTg2OX0.7dZZYT5WEV_EupBuLVFwHynarTiz8RYR9aJtC6Ts2C4/img.jpg?width=980" id="3415d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2e6eebe06d795f844752f9e9d30040d7" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Solar Foods<p>The impact of the beef — and for that matter, poultry, pork, and fish — industries on our planet is widely recognized as one of the main drivers behind climate change, pollution, habitat loss, and antibiotic-resistant illness. From the cutting down of rainforests for cattle-grazing land, to runoff from factory farming of livestock and plants, to the disruption of the marine food chain, to the overuse of antibiotics in food animals, it's been disastrous.</p><p>The advent of a promising source of protein derived from two of the most renewable things we have, CO₂ and sunlight, <a href="https://solarfoods.fi/environmental-impact/" target="_blank">gets us out of the planet-destruction business</a> at the same time as it offers the promise of a stable, long-term solution to one of the world's most fundamental nutritional needs.</p>
Solar Foods' timetable<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTk0MTEzMS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTU5OTU1OTMwMn0.wnXh56iO_77x2XKV2uIPf78BKw4AJLUpmiyq_JBVGvo/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=172%2C146%2C62%2C135&height=700" id="0297c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="125c9a98ec818f5c241fa28ef1423e67" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Lubsan / Shutterstock / Big Think<p>While company plans are always moderated by unforeseen events — including the availability of sufficient funding — Solar Foods plans a global commercial rollout for Solein in 2021 and to be producing two million meals annually, with a revenue of $800 million to $1.2 billion by 2023. By 2050, they hope to be providing sustenance to 9 billion people as part of a $500 billion protein market.</p><p>The project began in 2018, and this year, they anticipate achieving three things: Launching Solein (check), beginning the approval process certifying its safety as a Novel Food in the EU, and publishing plans for a 1,000-metric ton-per-year factory capable of producing 500 million meals annually.</p>
The protein powder Solein. Image source: SOLAR FOODS
Join Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and best-selling author Charles Duhigg as he interviews Victoria Montgomery Brown, co-founder and CEO of Big Think.
Women today are founding more businesses than ever. In 2018, they made up 40% of new entrepreneurs, yet in that same year, they received just 2.2% of all venture capital investment. The playing field is off-balance. So what can women do?