Wednesday, November 24, 2010

That Image on the Cover

Yes. The one on the front of It’s YOUR Future… Make it a Good One! If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out at the Amazon or Barnes and Noble web sites or at

Several people have asked about the “compass” hanging above the globe. Actually, the designer used a “compass rose’, the outer design that shows the four directions, but the center is another instrument that is found in airplanes of all types and sizes. It is an “attitude indicator,” also called an “artificial horizon.” It shows the pilot the position of the airplane relative to the horizon: banking left or right, climbing or descending. A very useful device, especially in bad weather. A pilot who is not aware of his or her plane’s attitude can get into trouble very quickly.

I was surprised when I first saw this cover design, but quickly decided the designer had the right idea, because that is what this book is about, understanding where you are in life and in the world around you. The exercises with the personal domains help you recognize where you’ve been and where you are now in each domain. Studying the forces in the world around you also help you recognize your position in the larger world. There’s a reason why futurists use the term “horizon scanning.”

Just one more note about the book, I had a very short video made, a book trailer. If you’d like to see it on YouTube, here’s the link: If you would like to read the first chapter of It’s YOUR Future… Make it a Good One! you’ll find the download at .

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Practicing What I Preach

I realize that events going on in my life are far more important to me than they are to you, so I hope you’ll indulge me as I go on about achieving my own aspirational future. It may offer some guideposts as you think about your future.

When I was in graduate school at the University of Houston Clear Lake, it was the late nineties. In fact, I was awarded my Master’s degree in Studies of the Future in 2000. In my keystone class in the last semester, an important assignment for the class was to create a personal strategic plan. After two years of learning about futures methods and how to use them, I was ready! I thought.

This was not a cakewalk for me, because it was at this point that I realized that futures methods and techniques I had learned were designed for large organizations. Those methods worked very well in that setting, but there was some trouble scaling down to one person’s future—mine. Fortunately, I went on to create a personal strategic plan that has served me very well over the past ten years, because I have followed it very closely.

My vision included retirement from my business (exporting paper and other commodities) and writing a book. For me, writing a book was my aspiration. So I started reducing the size of my business and finally retired the company. At the same time, I enrolled in a PhD. program to do research with futurist Graham May at Leeds Metropolitan University in the UK. This was the aspirational part of my vision. I would conduct research to prove the scalabilty of futures methods while developing a system that individuals could use to learn about and plan for their own futures. I called the system Personal Futures.

My dissertation was titled Personal Futures: Foresight and Futures Studies for Individuals. It’s offered as a free download on my web site (, and I’m amazed how many people actually download it.

The research led to the Personal Futures Workbook, which I have used in workshops and presentations about Personal Futures. Since 2008, the workbook has also been available as a free PDF download. Recently, the workbook has been joined by a Spanish translation and a German translation, also free downloads. I’ve been updating the workbook this year, adding a little color and a few more worksheets. It will parallel the book I’ve been writing; It’s YOUR Future… Make it a Good One!

The book is at the printer and should be available by September 1. I’m told that an advance shipment will be on the way to me this week. This very symbolic for me, because writing this book was the aspirational part of my plan.

So my strategic plan worked. In the process of achieving my vision and plan (and this book), I’ve been able to help thousands of people all over the world who downloaded the workbook. I’m hoping to reach more people with this book, which will provide a lot more explanation and detail (and over 100 diagrams and tables) than the workbook can.

Now I’ve achieved my plan, just like I tell people they can, and I did it just like I describe the system in the book and the workbook. The Personal Futures system works, and now I’m working on my own personal strategic plan for the next ten years. Part of that plan will be involved with getting this book to people around the world and starting on the next book. If you want more details, I’ve started another web site, This site is mostly about my writing, with most of the emphasis on It’s YOUR Future…Make it a Good One!

In my last post, I mentioned an article I had written for the World Future Society, “Strategies for Living a Long Life.” Thanks to the generosity of WFS, a PDF file of that article is posted as a free download at There is also a link to WFS, where you can order the whole conference volume if you wish.

Finally, I’ve joined the twenty-first century and can now be found on Twitter @urfuturist. I hope you will follow me into the future!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

After a Little Time Off!

This blog has been neglected recently, and for that I apologize.

So I’ll try to explain (justify!?) my absence and offer an update.

In short, I’ve been writing a book, and it has consumed my time. The working title of the book is It’s YOUR Future…Make it a good one! The book will be a step-by-step guide to the futuring process.

I’ve finally sent the manuscript off to my editors, and now I’m polishing all the illustrations, tables, charts, examples, etc. that help explain how to explore and prepare for the future. If all goes smoothly, the book should be in print by August or September and will be offered immediately on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders and other on-line stores. Getting into brick and mortar stores will take a little longer.

At the same time that I’m finishing It’s YOUR Future…, I’m updating the Personal Futures Workbook (a free download at The updating of the Workbook will add several new worksheets, and the steps in the Workbook will follow the same sequence as the book. That will make it easy to use the book and the workbook together. (Note: The Personal Futures Workbook will continue to be available as a free download).

I have no illusions about selling enough books to change my life style, but I think this is a book that needed to be written. My workshops have demonstrated that personal futures concepts can change people’s lives at all ages, and I get emails from people at every age level who have used the Workbook, nearly all of them saying “Thank you!” and telling me that the workbook has helped them.

When I start marketing the book, I will try in particular to reach young people, who are making such big decisions that will affect the rest of their lives. I hope to speak about Personal Futures at colleges and universities, possibly to students taking “college success” classes. I’ll also focus on people who are thinking about retirement, because they also are also making big decisions that will change their lives.

It’s YOUR Future… is intended to be more than a guide to preparing for your personal future. The book is intended to teach people how to think differently. How to think long term. Something that I feel is missing in business and executive education.

In short, I think that a lot of people will benefit from Personal Futures in different ways and over time.

Despite neglecting this space, I have continued to write articles while working on It’s YOUR future… One article was for the Journal of Futures Studies, titled the “Next Wave,” due to be published in May. The subject is the apparent growing interest in the future by individuals. There is also an article in the Conference Volume for the World Future Society meetings in July titled “Strategies for Living a Long Life.”

That about catches me up for the moment! If you haven’t been to the web site lately, updating is just starting there:

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Workshops, etc.

My initial Personal Futures workshop was not a roaring success, at first.

The local Chamber of Commerce helped set up and promote the workshop, but only six people showed up. Half were Chamber staff. It was actually a good workshop. Everyone got involved, asked questions and participated. They learned about their futures, and I learned quite a bit about conducting workshops.

The real payoff came about two weeks later. One of the participants from the workshop came up to me after a local meeting and made the whole workshop experience worthwhile when she said, “Your workshop has changed my life!”

My next workshop was for a World Future Society meeting in Toronto. This time there were a dozen participants, all paid! Not financially exciting for WFS, but exciting for me. Again, everyone who attended became involved in the discussions, and along the way I gained some experience in dealing with people who wanted to take the session in different directions, but I was able to keep the group on track. I still get emails from people in that group.

One lady came from Turkey to attend that workshop, then flew home the next day. Didn’t stay for the WFS conference. Within months, she started a business to teach Personal Futures to high school and college age students. She translated and adapted my workbook to Turkish culture and wrote a book of her own. Another year late, she organized Turkey’s first international conference “Futuristler Zervesi.” I was invited as one of the main speakers.

I could see that my workshops were in fact changing lives. Quite a responsibility. Very rewarding.

At that conference in Istanbul, I spoke about Personal Futures, explaining futures concepts and methods. All of this was translated to most of the audience, although I learned later that there were a large number of English speakers in attendance. The PowerPoint slides were displayed on two screens, one in English and one in Turkish. I spoke a little bit more slowly and paused for the interpreter at each slide, There was very little lag and the audience was quite responsive.

I learned early with my workshops and lectures that right after a presentation, everyone is enthusiastic and congratulatory, which is gratifying for the speaker, but brief. What surprised me in Istanbul was the number of people, largely English speaking students, who sought me out in the hallways during the breaks and at the end of the conference. They had clearly understood my message, and asked questions. Good questions.

Since then, I have been working on a book, It’s YOUR Future…Make It a Good One! which will be published during 2010. Although the book is for all age groups, I had young people in mind as I wrote. Partly because this is an age group that is making big decisions about their lives, and partly because of the enthusiasm of the university students I met in Istanbul.

Once the publishing details for my book are sorted out, I plan to return to speaking and conducting workshops. I expect to make a specific effort to contact Community Colleges and Universities and offer to speak to students and faculties about the future and, of course, about their personal futures.

If you know someone who is looking for a speaker to talk about the future, anywhere, I hope you will keep me in mind. I can be reached at