Why You Don’t Have to Be a Fortune-Teller to See the Future

Marc Mertens Chief Executive Officer

Last month, I was invited to speak at Berlin’s Tech Open Air. The annual festival brings together change-makers from tech, art, and science to share how we see the world evolving through panels, workshops, art installations, and more. I had the opportunity to share my thoughts on the business case for purpose, something we’re constantly reflecting upon at A Hundred Years.

Today, leaders experience a tremendous pressure, managing a reality shaped by capital markets addicted to short-term results that are often at odds with the growing challenges facing humanity and our need for disruptive change. At A Hundred Years, we use the 100-year-lens as a tool to accelerate transformation. While this perspective has been core to our approach, this talk helped me crystalize two ideas that I believe will shape so much of our work going forward as we collaborate with change-makers across a spectrum of industries.

First, we need more positive visions of the future. On the heels of the last election season, I wrote about how in a culture that has spawned a great deal of pessimism, optimism could save us. Today, I still identify as an optimist, but I also think we need to see something to believe it. That’s why we host events like the recent One Night to Save the World and workshops at TED and the House of Beautiful Business. We’ve had enough doom and gloom entertainment to last a lifetime. Let’s write a new story. Once we can see an exciting future, it’s human nature to want to create it. This commitment to a positive and optimistic future is something our business was founded to create.

Secondly, we like to start with the end in mind. I took this message from Stephen Covey to heart when I was reimagining our company to become what it is today. I always ask people, what do you want to be remembered for? When you step back and think about what really matters, reflecting on what you want to be remembered for—your legacy—is the most heart-centered way I’ve found to achieve the human desire to have a meaningful impact on other peoples’ lives. More than anything, this process of inquiring helps us connect with our own sense of humanity and brings us closer to our personal purpose—something we can’t dig into with reason alone.

So if you’re wondering today or tomorrow how you can shake things up, take a little time to think about what the future looks like to you. And if you’re looking for a sherpa to guide your organization towards an optimistic future, give us a call.