Learn Faster

Original Spanish version published in El Comercio newspaper (Peru) on September 3, 2016

I spent last weekend at one of the best conferences of my life: the first Global Summit of Singularity University (SU), in San Francisco. SU seeks to train, inspire, and empower leaders in the application of exponential and disruptive technologies that can have a positive impact on the lives of millions, understanding such technologies as forces that make what is scarce abundant.

Whenever I mention SU –I attended the executive program in 2014–, peoole ask me what I have to do with nanotechnology, biotechnology, genomes, sensors, virtual and augmented realities, digital manufacturing, robotics, artificial intelligence, avatars, and so on. My answer is simple: I go there to expand my mind and my paradigms. The pace at which changes take place due to these new technological disruptions is increasing so rapidly that I feel I must keep up with it, all the more when the brightest minds in the world are focused on solving the major problems of mankind with increased speed. In energy, water, food, health, education, climate, housing, and other major issues, these technologies are transforming our lives and how we live them significantly.  And I don’t want to be left behind!

What did I learn those days? Many things that I am still digesting, but the most important message that has stayed with me is to learn faster. Yes, learn faster. This was repeated over and over again, like a mantra during those three days. The only thing we as business people, executives, and professionals can do to avoid dying of obsolescence in the face of such major challenges and opportunities brought about by these disruptive technologies is learn faster.

Seeing and hearing about the thousands of advancements of already successful companies –that sounded like science-fiction to me before I arrived there– has been an inspiration and has stimulated my imagination and changed many paradigms. It is amazing how we do not really improve unless we are challenged or pressured. Events such as these are eye-openers that lead us to push aside self-indulgence. I don’t want to be like those people with no curiosity or eagerness to learn, leave a legacy, or grow who are sleepwalking about their routines without thinking about where they are going, where they want to go, and, even less, what they have to do to get there. I do not want to be one of those people who do nothing to anticipate what will very soon affect their jobs and their lives, as comfortable as they are now, with thousands of excuses that keep them stuck to what is easy and known, because before they know it, it will be too late to react.

I will try to lean faster. I will try to stay alert and think ahead about the changes that these exponential technologies bring. I will make my best efforts to sharpen my mind and my ideas.  Let’s do it! Will you join me in the attempt to transform, redesign, and reinvent ourselves to build better versions of us and of our ways of working and learning?

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