What I love about going to a futurist conference, or sitting down with other Futurists and innovators is, you will never hear them say your nuts, that’s crazy, or it will never work! There is nothing more energizing than an open mind, a willingness to be taken far from the comfort zone, where would we be if there were no Futurists or innovators?

I can only speak for myself but, have you ever shared an out of the box idea with someone, and they just stare at you with a blank expression? It happens all the time in my community, and I’m older than most of the people I share with in most cases. I mean you would think at 53 years of age I would never talk about the extinction of paper money, the end of the cash register as we know it, that giving your product or service away for free will make you more money than charging for it, or sharing Ray Kurzweil’s singularity vision. It amazes me the masses don’t know what’s happening to them through all these advancements in Technology. If they did pay attention, I’m not convinced technology would advance as quickly as it is. We are far too eager to accept new technologies without seriously considering what the consequences might be.

Now, if you are a futurist or innovator, you have probably felt or thought the same thing at some point in your studies. My focus is on The Future of Business, or commerce. Much of what we know today is leaving us far more quickly than anticipated, but we are struggling to let go of the past. The Gen C kids, under 20 demographic, and the generations to follow, will re-write the rules and laws of business to the point most of us won’t recognize it. I’m convinced they’ll shake their heads when they hear us talk about the future, chuckling under their breath, waiting for us to move on.

Imagine what we would learn if we could get inside their heads, how they view the world, and how they would organize work after we are dead and gone. We would tell them they were nuts, crazy and it will never work, I certain of it.

I would rather we put some future thought into or day-to-day lives, I don’t mean planning your 2 week vacation, we already give that too much attention. I’m talking about how we will learn, how we will work, how we will consume, and how we will provide goods and services. Start spending time around the Gen C demographic and ask them what they see, get around those who are Futurists and Innovators, you will find you have to unlearn much of what you know.

I challenge you to never say the words, your nuts, your crazy, and it will never work. If you are someone who does, you are holding back our future, you are part of the problem and not part of the solution. We have much to do from an energy perspective, the coming water shortage, and possibly a food shortage. In the next 20 – 30 years, we may find ourselves killing others for what we throw away today.

I challenge you to open your mind, to think possibility thinking, creating the impossible, and above all, value the innovators and futurists of today, as they the looking glass of your future.

Which one are you? A possibility thinker, or a person who says it will never fly, it will never work.

About Owen Greaves

I'm a Futurist, I write, speak, and teach the open & free business model, the future of business. Create. Differentiate. Deliver.  


  1. michaelfast on February 22, 2011 at 10:45 PM

    Owen, great post. I come from a non-business perspective but one where the phrase “it will never work” still comes into play — the church. There is a growing feeling among many that the way churches traditionally do things is not going to cut it for too much longer. Not that things are being done wrong, but just that in the changing landscape of culture different forms are required for the church to function in the ways it is supposed to. Seems to me that listening to those who will next hold the reins for the church also need to be heard from so that we can be a part of shaping something new and meaningful for the next generation. And, hey, maybe it will help us also along the way.

    • owegre on February 23, 2011 at 6:32 AM

      Hi Michael, What a treat to find you here. I had this very conversation a few years ago and again this past weekend with Abe Funk. I don’t think it’s a wrong or right question, it’s more about how we think, how the younger generations behind us think. It’s different, not wrong, not right. I would love to be able to connect with you when you are here, there is much to discuss.

      I have been working on a series related to the church, a faith & technology track that is culled from the youth perspective, it’s a long hall but the kids have alot to say. Abe suggested I get my presentation in front of congregations so they can see another perspective. My feeling is, I’ll get stoned : )

      The Gen C kids (under 20) don’t value what you and I value, or what thier parents value, so the paradigm is almost upside down. This group does not value ownership of home or car, they don’t even believe there is a future in some cases.

      Anyway, great to hear from you, I hope you and family are well and wish you well on your trip home so to speak : )

      Many Blessings my friend.

  2. SuzzMatthews on March 1, 2011 at 1:16 PM

    “I would never talk about the extinction of paper money, the end of the cash register as we know it” I had a discussion about this a few weekends ago when my mother in law (in her mid-60’s) stopped by for a visit. She related to us going to the Apple Store with my sister-in law and being in awe of the fact that there was no cash register. She was pretty confused by that fact -“What if you want to pay cash?” She tracked down an employee and asked – they showed her the tucked away cash drawer. Now, my Husband who is in his 30’s is always on my case about not carrying cash. I am in my 20’s – I don’t carry cash. Why ? 99% of the time I don’t need it.

    I guess I would have to consider myself a futurist as well – because for every way that we have doing any one thing/task there is always going to be a better way, or the possibility of a better way. I am a futurist that works in field that is not so motivated to move forward (law) at least not at my firm- I have tried and tried to get employers to go paperless with no sucess.

    As for your statement “In the next 20 – 30 years, we may find ourselves killing others for what we throw away today.”
    I truly hope that on the whole we will all be globally more proactive- and this won’t happen.

    • owegre on March 1, 2011 at 5:32 PM

      Hi There,
      The reality is, we will move away from paper and coin money, everything will be done via some chip technology, it will happen.

      Being a futurist has it’s down sides too, I see dead businesses, the Industrial Age is dead, business owners don’t want to hear it. Being too forward thinking can alienate yourself so be careful what you share and with whom.


  3. JonHearty on March 1, 2011 at 1:45 PM

    Great post, Owen. Being open-minded is good for business and good for society. Change and creation are happening at an incredible pace, and more and more people will be left behind if they are not able to adapt to the new environment. For anyone interested in the acceleration of creation, I would recommend looking into the Mayan calendar and the period of co-creation, which began February 10, 2011 and will end October 28, 2011. It describes the acceleration of creation and change, and with the technological advances we see on a daily basis, it is hard to deny the change of pace we are experiencing.

    • owegre on March 1, 2011 at 5:33 PM

      Thanks Jon,
      My goal in all that I do is spur creativity, or in simple terms, to make you think.


  4. brianlmerritt on March 13, 2011 at 6:50 AM

    The one superpower futurists are endowed with is the ability to make seemingly random connections.

    I’m sure it’s a very annoying habit – a friend tells you about waiting in a line for their Starbucks and you are thinking of a mobile app that pre-orders your drink, pays for it, and also reserves that little table next to the window.

    Then your mind skips to sustainable coffee farming, and you recall that eco-farm cum tourist attraction initiative in Venezuela.

    From there it’s a short hop to the energy crisis, and fossil fuel replacement .

    Hmmm – do you buy an electric / hybrid car now, or is it better to focus on your new neighbourhood car share scheme?

    What’s going to happen to the auto industry if your share-a-car startup succeeds? You need to consider that!

    What’s going to happen to the world if it doesn’t? What alternatives are there? Who can help??

    You need help, and your fellow futurists are there – maybe at the next convention, and for sure online and they are blogging and networking and presenting and following their one 1000 and 1 schemes to build a better future.

    “Hey, Tony, I’d like to talk to you about my new…”

    —-Interruption from Tony—-

    “Wow, Tony, that’s amazing! Good luck. By the way I’m… Never mind – I can see your mind is on something else”


    The point of this rather overlong comment? We need to keep and open and FOCUSSED mind, and work together to achieve a sustainable future.

    The Open and Free Business Model is a key component of this, and with critical mass may just be lever we need to engage and move the rest of the world.