What do you read?

I was honored to teach a course in the Business School of Marquette University. The title of my course was:” How to think like a futurist.”

On the first day of the class, I asked the students to write down the publications they read and/or the stuff they saw on the Internet.

Not surprising for these students or other young folk of their age, the spectrum was narrow from these sources.

I listed my own reading in print and online: The Christian Science Monitor (probably the world’s most objective paper), The Economist, The New York Times, Science News, Popular Mechanics, the BBC and Al Jazeera.

I rarely watch TV or go to the movies, but I make it a practice to go to different libraries and read different trade and other publications.

It is amazing to see how a small clipping can lead to new insights. For example, the Christian Science Monitor ran a clip on a California education program for felons that reduced the recidivism rate to 1% from the state average of 43%. I took the clip and talked to my state representative about this as an idea that might appeal to the right and left.

Expose yourself to a wide range of ideas from many sources.

Let me give another example, decades ago Tootsie Roll announced a big price increase because the price of chocolate went up. I knew that if they only made the sales they had done the year before when there was a candy Halloween scare that they would double their earnings. I had read in a food publication about the price increase and knew, from reading their label, that there was no chocolate in Tootsie Roll. It tastes and looks like chocolate, but it is molasses and sugar.

You see my point.

Get out of your rut. Explore areas you may not be comfortable with. Question what you read with understanding. Then you are on the road to thinking like a futurist.


3 Responses

  1. You say you don’t go to the movies much. My family and I went to see the latest “Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning” which I hugely enjoyed in the theater while sitting in the reclining seat (which they have now) in the very front row because they only had those four seats available by the time we got our tickets. Tom Cruise produced this movie to be specifically seen at the movie theater. I definitely recommend taking your wife on a date to see it! Add it to your many sources and range of ideas 🤭

  2. I love this story and how you connect the dots from something you read in the news to something you saw on a candy wrapper. I will definitely be more observant after reading this!

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