A Man of Insight

About five years ago, I met an extraordinary man named Daniel Burrus. Dan is considered one of the world’s leading technology forecasters and business strategists. He flies all over the world consulting to Fortune 100 firms, governments, school systems and associations. I don’t know anyone who travels more — or is as influential. He is also an incredibly generous and delightful individual. Soon after he met, he told me this story, which appears very near the end of our new book, Flash Foresight: If you picked up this book hoping to find some answers, I hope by now you have found something of greater value: some better questions. One day I was out in the yard and a boy from my neighborhood came walking toward me, crying. “What’s wrong, Tommy?” I asked. He told me that his dog had died. He looked up at me through his tears and said: ‘Mr. Burrus, do you think there are dogs in heaven?’ What should I say? I could have given him some religious or theological answer, and it would have meant nothing to him. I could have simply said, ‘Absolutely! Of course!’ but would that reassure him or make him feel any better? I doubted it. Because what did it really matter what I thought? The real question was, what did he think? I looked into his eyes and said: ‘Tommy, would heaven be heaven without dogs?’ He thought for a moment, nodded slowly, and gave a heartbreaking smile. ‘Thanks, Mr. Burrus.’ Sometimes the best answer is a...

Baby’s First Cry

I just finished writing a book. Just this moment put the period on the final sentence. Just now. (Yes, it’s that same one I mentioned last month, here and here. I did manage to conquer the getting-started part!) It’s only a first draft, so there is much revision and work ahead — but if books were babies, this would be the moment where we would hear that first bleating cry. Oddly, as I walk around the room contemplating the act of completion, it seems to have untethered me from time. (Something like Vonnegut’s Billy Pilgrim, I suppose, but in very different circumstances.) Which is bringing out reflections on the truth about time, something I think about more and more. In my youth, everything had an urgency to it. Of course, as babies that urgency is amplified to the point of hilarity—giggle, cry, scream, sleep, all in the span of ten minutes. As teenagers, it is hardly less strong (or, at least at times, less hilarious). As we grow older, things gradually seem to feel less urgent. The tyranny of must-have-right-now eases off. Memory’s event horizon stretches out and out, and the illusion of time begins to hold less sway. I am coming to realize — not just to know intellectually, as insights from Einstein and Heisenberg and the other guys, but actually to perceive — that the passage of time is a trick of perspective, an illusion. Time is not a string strung between two tin cans, a mountain ridge across which we perilously creep. In actuality, we do not move away from point A and toward point B....