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Weekly Research and Commentary on the Future of Business and Technology.

The Best Question And The Power of Retro Futurism.

Apr 18, 2022

Dear Friend,

Jane and I just came back from an incredible three-day-long wedding craziness on the Pacific coast of Mexico — our first time traveling for pleasure outside the US since the pandemic began. A wonderful reminder how beautiful the world out there is and how precious traveling is. With spring in full swing, we hope you get out there and savor the world!

Meanwhile, read on to discover the best question to stoke the flame of your curiosity, the power of retro futurism and the wondrous world of cats and dogs.

Disrupt Disruption

We talk a lot about curiosity (or its German translation “Neugier” — which literally translates into “being greedy for newness”) when it comes to one of the superpowers enabling innovation, disruption, and transformation. The sad truth for many of us is that we were all born with an abundance of curiosity (according to Harvard-based child psychologist Paul Harris, a child asks around 40,000 questions between the ages of two and five), but then gotten it beaten out of us in school. Guy Kawasaki, Apple’s first evangelist and bestselling book author, gifted me an incredible question to reawaken your curiosity daily: Every time you encounter something which feels odd, instead of waving it aside, pause for a second and ask yourself “Isn’t that interesting?” It’s a wonderful question which stops you in your tracks, pause, dig a little deeper, and reflect. Do this only once every day, and you will have 365 new (potentially deeply disruptive) insights after just one year of practice. (via Pascal)


The French have a concept they call “retro futurism” — looking forward as well as backwards at the same time. Retro futurism creates tension by depicting past imaginings of the future which have subsequently proved obsolete. In 1929 Franz Kruckenberg developed and built the Schienenzeppelin — a train powered by a propellor. A marvel of technology and futuristic design, it set the land speed record for a petrol-powered rail vehicle, which wasn’t broken for another 20 years. For numerous reasons only a single train was ever built and outside record-breaking journeys, the Schienenzeppelin was never used commercially. Looking at the Schienenzeppelin from today’s perspective, one can clearly see the influence it must have had on the designers of today’s high-speed rail trains such as the European ICE or the Japanese Shinkansen. Electronic music pioneer Kraftwerk used retro futurism extensively in their creative endeavors: “Certain things from a little way back look more towards the future than things that are pseudo-modern today.” (via Pascal)

What We Are Reading

👫 Persuading Your Team to Embrace Change “Active inertia” is the tendency for people and organizations to seek comfort in the old ways of doing things, even (or especially) when the world around them is changing dramatically. So, how do we as leaders persuade people to do things they would rather not do? JaneRead

🏈 Sports Are Great Because They’re Pointless If your relationships with friends and family are leaving you a little cold, you might be suffering from excessive usefulness in your activities. Maybe the solution is cultivating a taste for “impractical” things like birdwatching or classic cars. People bond in deep ways over these. MafeRead

🗺 We’ve Never Seen a Carbon-Removal Plan Like This Before Big tech companies are trying to kickstart a price-performance increasing learning curve in the carbon removal technology. JeffreyRead

💾 How Chief Technology Officers Are Investing Big in the Future While some trends remain largely unchanged, such as the spending on cloud computing, it is great to see a significant commitment to security. JulianRead

🔻 Unbiggen AI When Andrew Ng speaks, we listen. Here is Andrew’s call to make AI work with (much) smaller datasets and thus wean us off the rat race for bigger and bigger data training pools. PascalRead

Internet Finds

The debate about dogs versus cats is long-standing (including our very own jokes about the subject in the context of polarities — of which dogs versus cats isn’t one!). Adding fuel to the flame, we give you How Intelligent Are Cats? and Here’s what happens in your dog’s brain when you speak. 🐶😺

In Case You Missed It

🏴‍☠️ The Heretic: Persistence Is A Startups Superpower

⚠️ Disrupt Disruption: Listen in on our latest conversation with Bruce Smith, founder and CEO of connect rowing machine company hydrow.

Radically yours, take good care, friend!

— Pascal, Mafe and the three Js (Jane, Jeffrey, and Julian)