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Visions of the future, by futurist concept artist Ersan Seer

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Book Review: Communicating with the Future, by Thomas Frey

Communicating with the Future, by Futurist Thomas Frey

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with futurist Thomas Frey for one hour. It was a casual chat but also life-changing for me as a futurist. If your organization or company needs an inspirational boost, a little forward-thinking, I suggest you enlist him as a keynote speaker. He has a way of putting abstract ideas into words anyone can understand. See what I mean: TEDxUChicago 2011 – Thomas Frey – Communicating with the Future.

Thomas Frey is intimidatingly intelligent and accomplished. He spent 15 years at IBM as an engineer and designer, where he received over 270 awards. The Denver Post and Seattle Post Intelligence have referred to him as the “Dean of Futurists”.

But up close, he has a calming presence. Even if you’re not a futurist, you’ll enjoy speaking with him. Your mind will soar. And if you can’t speak with him? The next best thing is to read his book, Communicating with the Future.

Abandon Bias, All Ye Determinists Who Enter Here

This book, in short, is a strategy for altering the future.

These are the chapters:

  1. Looking Forward into the Future
  2. Step 1: Build Your Vision
  3. Step 2: Create an Attractor
  4. Step 3: Unleash Your Vision
  5. Step 4: Review Your Results
  6. Step 5: Incentivize Your Vision
  7. Embrace the Future of Business
  8. Communicate with Your Future

Throughout the book, Thomas creates little nuggets of useful concepts. He brands each concept with a memorable label, and — voila — you have a new toolbox with which you can alter your future.

He explains abstract concepts with easy-to-understand anecdotes about the present and past. For instance, he explains how roman numerals, once widely the norm, severely limited the technological development of the Romans:

“Roman society was so immersed in their numbering system that they had no clue that it was preventing them from doing even rudimentary math such as adding a column of numbers or simple multiplication or division — a feat handled by the abacus. It also prevented them from creating sophisticated banking and accounting systems and restricted academia from moving forward in areas of science, astronomy and medicine.

“Roman society,” to put it shortly, “was being held hostage by its own systems.”

How would Roman society have turned out if they figured out the superior numbering system we use today? What would we have become, building off all the advances made by the Romans?

Thomas really gets you thinking.

…And then Thomas blows your socks off.

He asks a simple question: “So what systems do we employ today that are the equivalent of Roman numerals that are preventing us from doing great things?”

You mean we have systems which hinder our progress, our greatness? How can this be? We’re already great! (Uh-huh. Tell that to your great grandchildren.)

The truth is, we are hindered by so many systems that it’s astonishing. Some of the more apparent hindrances include:

  • a half-implemented metric system
  • the Chinese Alphabet
  • two thousand dialects of the Indian language
  • a 64,000 page tax code that would make any paperweight shiver in its skivvies.

So how do we confront and deal with these massive, inefficient, stagnant systems; these blindspots of society? How do we move forward? Thomas Frey has an answer: “By building your vision.”

And how do you do that?

Well, to start, read Thomas Frey’s incredible book — thank me later.

Also, suggest any good books you think I should read in the comments. :) Thanks!
 
 

Ersan Seer

"Beautiful and fearsome technologies are arriving. Imagine with me." Ersan Seer is a futurist & concept artist, whose calling in life is to excite other people about the future.

2 Responses to Book Review: Communicating with the Future, by Thomas Frey

  1. Cheri Hoffer says:

    You can rub elbows with Thomas Frey at the DaVinci Institute in Louisville, Colorado, east of Boulder. He’s totally down to earth and approachable.

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