The Future Isn't What It Used to Be

Magazine Contributor
Former Editor in Chief
3 min read

This story appears in the January 2015 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Men at some time are masters of their fates: The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars But in ourselves, that we are underlings. —William Shakespeare

If December is a month for congratulations, toasts and presents, January is a little more real, reflective and guided by resolution. January represents the future. It’s where the next steps become concrete. Like it or not, we are charged with being a part of what the future is or is not going to be. It’s the time for what I like to call entrepreneurial optimism (EO).

What happens in the future is a large part of what you are creating right now, in this moment. What we all are creating, really. Through our decisions and actions, our economics, politics, rebellion and innovation, we are part of something very exciting—this thing, this future. It is perhaps our greatest adventure and our greatest creation because it is unwritten, but we are writing it. 

Not everyone embraces the promise of the future, because, dammit, it’s different from the present. It’s scary. Market forces shift, and (breathe) there’s change and new problems. But there’s also opportunity. Things move; progress is made. Ways of thinking evolve, and new philosophies emerge. 

None of this is visible in a crystal ball, a research report, an executive summary or the words of a single pundit. History, though, can be a powerful teacher. The innovations of the past have laid the foundation for where we are going. Fire, the wheel, the Gutenberg press, the steam engine, poodle skirts, social media and yogurt in a tube—imagine how these have changed our world, our economy and our ability to get our children to school on time with breakfast in hand. Things that couldn’t be imagined get imagined and created. And then accepted.

This issue celebrates the future and EO, with a giant nod to the great innovators shaping the direction we will go as humans and businesspeople. 

Our “Women to watch” feature examines the brilliant minds who are challenging how we approach everything from energy storage to robotics to the fight against hunger and disease. That they are women matters less than the change they are creating. 

And in “20/20 visions,” senior writer Jason Ankeny spends some time with the heavy thinkers whose job it is to imagine the future. Our hope is that their predictions of the business climate over the next five years will help make the unknown a little less scary, a little more intriguing and ripe with possibility.

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