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32 Things to be Optimistic About Right Now April 18, 2009

Posted by randydeutsch in BIM, collaboration, creativity, optimism.













Challenges = Opportunities. The economy has turned all of us into marketers and marketers like to refer to challenges as “opportunities,” and I don’t see the economic times any differently so in that sense plenty of opportunities exist out there. Upheaval and change expose opportunities that may have gone unnoticed at other times.

The Year of Collaboration. When times get tough, people pull together to get through it. For evidence of this look no further than the North Dakota floods to witness how far we’ve come since Katrina.  Everything is becoming more collaboration, and that doesn’t have to mean losing control or identity. I am a huge believer that EVERYTHING is made better by the well-intentioned, purposeful input of others. Whether that’s working more closely with clients to generate ideas, or bringing together synergistic strategic partners to create a more complete solution.

Change. Change. Change. Admit it. Deep down, where it counts, you weren’t really happy doing what you were doing, or where you were doing it, anyway.  Life has given you a little push – it’s up to you to see that it is in the right direction.

Control. You may not have control over everything (think destiny, think workload) but you still control your focus, attitude, IQ, interests, beliefs and values, profile and brand, image, credibility, education and weight. On this last one – and it works – try this.

Prices are lower. Gas is lower, costs less to travel, hotel stays cost less, more retailers willing to haggle. In fact, there has been of late a 29% increase in number of Americans who reported haggling for goods.

More Presidential wisdom than you could possibly read in a lifetime. Average number of books about Abraham Lincoln released every week since 2007? One. (Harper’s Index, May 2009)

Social Media Hits the Mainstream. Facebook has been called a perpetual, ongoing high school reunion attended by only the people you like and who like you. Through Twitter you can mingle with people from all over and find yourself appearing in the most beneficial places. Blog and you’ll discover at faraway conferences people that come up to you to say how much they enjoy reading you. Traveling soon? Through social media applications  you can find what 19 people in your network will be at the same conference or live in the city you’ll be visiting – who’ll be at the same place at the same time.   

TV Has Become Ubiquitous. And free. Online Video Consumption: remember viewing stop-and-go online video not too long ago? Consumers can turn to their PCs to watch their favorite television broadcasts along with unique content. Heck, there’s Architect TV. And the critically acclaimed Architecture School.

Our New Mobility. New applications for interactive phones like the iPhone, Blackberry Storm, and the promise of Google’s Android make expensive gadgets – virtual readers and GPS systems within reach of all. My son just finished reading Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea on his iPod, for free.

Wisdom of Crowds. Like collaboration, all of us is better than one or some of us. Again, no need to worry about anonymity – life’s too short. Participate and we all win. Where to start? Some titles to consider: Here Comes Everybody, Wikinomics and of course The Wisdom of Crowds     

Finally, a President Who Gets It. Need I say more?

The Blogosphere. Today, there’s a blog for nearly everything – in fact there are probably ten blogs for everything. Which is a good thing for you even if not for journalists and newspapers. Better yet, if so inclined – if you haven’t already – make it a goal this year to start a blog of your own. You will be surprised at what you learn about yourself, the many facets you may not have known you have, when writing on command on a regular basis for instant consumption. Get started with www.wordpress.com or read a good guide such as this from the Huffington Post.

You have the capacity to learn. Despite all you have going on in your life – work, family, friends, health, obligations, hobbies – you always have the chance to learn something new. To listen to books on tape in your car or on your iPod on your way into work. To learn a new language or take-on a new piece of software. To attend a seminar, a lecture on an intriguing topic or take an exam you’ve been putting off. A great place to start is by reading this inspirational story by a former world class chess master.

World changing. Want to change the world? You’re not alone – in fact, far from it. There are many more like you out there and linking-up has never been easier. There has been no better time in history to for you to feel empowered to do so. Twenty years ago you could join Greenpeace or celebrate Earth Day – today, there are as many organizations, causes and opportunities as there are stars. Where to begin? You can do a lot worse than start here  http://www.worldchanging.com/ a not-for-profit media organization that comprises a global network of independent journalists, designers and thinkers covering the world’s most intelligent solutions to today’s problems, inspiring readers around the world with stories of the most important and innovative new tools, models and ideas for building a bright green future. Worldchanging will help link you to your first steps in changing the world.

Books. Did you think you were going to get through this list without my mentioning books? Evidence of intelligent life out there? You bet. What to read right now? Go back a couple years. Fiction? Don DeLillo’s White_Noise  Already read it or want something lighter? The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Poetry? Try Mark Doty’s Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems or something more uplifting? Elizabeth Bishop’s Complete Poems

Economic Downturn. Say that again? You heard it. This downturn has been a blessing to many in that it has given them a chance to stop and reevaluate their aims and priorities. When things were crazy busy we found ourselves doing a great deal without thinking, acting on autopilot, navigating our way through presentations on instinct. Remember 1999 and 2005? You were running around like those proverbial chickens. You were lucky that you got away with it. Now, no more of that. Now’s the time to take stock and consider where we’ve been and figure out where we want to go. A slowdown – correction to some – is an apt time to make amends with our past ways and look forward to a more certain and deliberate future.

You were not born Schopenhauer. The 19th century brilliant philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer made a long career out of pessimism. He began his book Studies in Pessimism with the following words: “Unless suffering is the direct and immediate object of life, our existence must entirely fail of its aim.” Chapter two of his book goes on: “Human life must be some kind of mistake.” The subject of chapter three is suicide. He was so dour and depressing that his own mother forbid him from attending her dinner parties. If your mother still invites you to dinner parties you have a reason to be optimistic.

Creativity. It’s always right there – where you are. All it takes is you, a blank sheet and a pen. What’s stopping you? Need someplace to begin? Thy this site for a kick-start library of techniques.

Lists. There is an infinite variety of lists available online and in print on nearly every subject inclusing optimism. Need 20 reasons to feel optimistic in this economy? Look no further than Forbes and Fox News. Need reasons to feel optimistic about architecture in Chicago? There’s even “Ten Reasons to be Hopeful
About the Future of Architecture” and last but not least, the website www.43things.com and book it inspired “Dream It. List It. Do It!: How to Live a Bigger & Bolder Life, from the Life List Experts at 43Things.com” where for under $9 you can find handy pocket-sized lists of every topic under the sun.

Literary Theory is officially dead. Remember Post-Structuralism? Me neither. You never understood it – now you don’t have to. Be grateful you waited as long as you did. It’s over and soon no one will remember it ever existed. Your procrastination, ignorance or impatience paid off. Good work!

Free training. Online Webinars available free of charge on almost every subject. You tube tutorials in abundance yours at a moment’s notice in the privacy of your own home. Seminars, software test runs, lectures by the dozens. Since 80% of success is showing up – all you need to do is show up. The remaining 20%? Take notes…

Information. Everything, all-the-time, right at your fingertips. Enjoy it now – for just around the corner all you’ll have to do is to think it.

Curiosity. Is free. Question. Ask. Interview. Let them do most of the talking. It’s still that easy to get others interested in you.

Reality Check. The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition. By Guy Kawasaki. It’s nearly impossible to pick up this book and not feel optimistic about your present and future.

It’s no longer who you know. What better time than right now to turn your existing social networks into a clearinghouse whose sole purpose is to connect others. That’s right – not yourself, but to match people who ought to know one another, who should work together, partner. Go on – broker deals for others. Heck, match-make. We live in a favor economy – what goes around comes around. The more in need you are the more you need to give a way – or better yet – bring together. Pour yourself a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, open LinkedIn or Facebook and mettle. You will be amazed at what chemistry you might inspire. Only you can unleash the inner workings from your particular vantage.

It’s who you know. But wait, you just said… Other people can serve as a short cut and we live in a favor economy (I rub your back and…) If you do want to know someone, has there ever been a better time than now to be in touch with Pulitzer prize winners, New York Times reporters, CEOs of major corporations, Bestselling authors and designer rock-stars? On LinkedIn – has it ever occurred to you that in lieu of connecting with the weak and feeble automated “You appear to be someone I trust…” line to write three short but personal sentences. It may mean that you have to invest 3 minutes in learning a bit about the future contact’s background, interests, body of work – but the return is inestimable.  This is true for Facebook as well. Want to friend a famous person? As easy as writing a sincere, personal note – and voila! You’re now friends!

www.reasonsforoptimism.com Yup, a full-time, constantly updated, around-the-clock blog on the very subject. What else will they think of?

The Age of Memoir. Intimate details about every facet of everybody’s life. Readily available in the privacy of your own home. At all hours.

We didn’t need all that stuff anyway. Not to be good, anyway. Not to be happy. Not to be thoughtful and kind. Not to be good citizens and neighbors.

BIM. For the uninitiated that’s Building Information Modeling. Remember when Jack Nicholson said to Helen Hunt “You make me want to be a better man” in As Good as it Gets? BIM is the Helen Hunt of technology. BIM makes you want to be a better architect. Not yet using BIM? What’s stopping you? This is the best time – when things are at a standstill to take the plunge. (Not an architect? Certainly you are some type of architect…) Not so long ago, architects based their decisions on subjective criteria. Now decisions can be based on technology, precision, evidence-based design, metrics and other measurable means. BIM helps architects be honest. And relevant.

This Time of Non-fiction. Just the facts lady. Admit it – you never cared much for fiction. I still read it – but it’s pretty lonely out there. You want facts, and you want them now. You want quick and easily accessible answers to your questions – How to duck tape a window? How to play like Yo Yo Ma? The top songs of Radiohead? – You live at a time when Microsoft Windows spell-check includes “Radiohead” in it’s vocabulary. [And informs you that the proper word choice is “its” not “it’s” in the previous sentence.]

The All-time Best Grateful Dead live concerts available on iTunes. May 8,1977 Barton Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY vs. February 13/14, 1970 Fillmore East, New York, NY… Want to debate which concert is the all-time best? Coming to an amicable agreement – that I’m more pessimistic about.



1. Kevin Pierce - April 19, 2009


I think you might enjoy this Firefox plugin in light of the topic of this post:


2. 62 Reasons to be Optimistic (and 18 to still be Pessimistic) « Architects 2Zebras - September 15, 2010

[…] Kundig Architects, Donald Trump, The Apprentice, NBC trackback Not since my post from last year 32 Things to be Optimistic About Right Now have I tackled this subject […]

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