The Long Now Foundation – Perspective

Wednesday, September 19th, 2018

The philosopher Voltaire said,



Every so often you come across someone, [or a group of people], who are asking particularly pertinent questions.

That’s exactly what attracted me to The Long Now Foundation, [which literally does what it says on the tin].

Let me try and explain:

As a society here and now once meant this time, this decade, this era.

Today here and now implies this particular moment.

The challenge is if we’re all so busy living in the instant, when exactly do we consider the long-term and the long-term consequences of our actions?

That’s why Stewart Brand [Yes, he’s most definitely a maverick,] and a few friends decided to challenge our thinking by creating The Long Now Foundation.  Its mission – to foster long-term thinking and responsibility.

The Foundation recognizes that many problems of a global magnitude can be traced back to a lack of long-term perspective.  The purpose is to be an antithesis to today’s “faster and cheaper” mindset.  To offer the lens of “slower and better,” which can help us as a society generate ideas and insights that will benefit society, not just now or tomorrow, but potentially in the next 10,000 years.  A goal most definitely worth striving for.

In their words: The Long Now Foundation was “established in 01996* to develop the Clock and Library projects, as well as to become the seed of a very long-term cultural institution. We hope to foster responsibility in the framework of the next 10,000 years.”

It’s kind of like what Maximus Desimus Meridius from The Gladiator said,



[For a better and more concise explanation explore The Long Now Foundation and in particular Michael Chabon’s article].


One of the ways The Long Now offers to help us to see the world through a different lens is through their Seminars.

In July, the theme was Perspective and the guest George P. Schultz.


[Images with kind courtesy of Gary Wilson.]

Secretary Shultz was a US Marine Captain in World War II. After becoming an economics professor at MIT and the University of Chicago he served the Nixon administration as Secretary of Labor, then director of the Office of Management and Budget, then Secretary of the Treasury. Back in private life by 1974, he led Bechtel Group as Executive Vice President and President. He was appointed by President Reagan as Secretary of State in 1982, where he helped finesse Reagan’s relationship with Gorbachev that wound down the Cold War.

Still active in public policy after leaving government in 1989, Shultz has been an advocate for legalizing recreational drugs, for ending the Cuban embargo, for a world totally free of nuclear weapons, and for a revenue-neutral carbon tax.

I figured, at 97 George Schutz might have a few things to teach me, and boy did he.

So no context, just what hit home to me:


1. “Hang tough.”

Applicable to life and work whenever we experience challenges.


2. “Prove yourself by competence.”

Let your work and actions speak for you.


3. “Create an agenda that meets both party’s needs and work your way through it.”

Begin by understanding each other’s needs and strive to fulfill them.


4. “Learn how to manage diversity, as there’s great diversity in the world….A challenge to governance is diversity.  Diversity adds to our creativity.”

Our diversities are the gifts we bring to the table, we need to be open to diversity if we want a different contribution.  Don’t just see the differences, value them.  Diversity is exactly what helps us to think differently as a society.


5. “Creation of a new federal government.  We’re San Francisco, these are the problems, let’s solve them.”

One size does not fit all.  The solution needs to address the challenge; sometimes geographically.


6. “What we should do is perfectly obvious!”

Often the solution is simple, yet simple can require more courage to do, listen to your heart.


7. “3D printing will lead to deglobalization as we can get stuff locally.”

An instant carbon footprint reduction, resultant from the innovations that result from human creativity.


8. We’re part of the world, whether we like it or not.  So we have to make a constructive effort to put it back together.”

Don’t put your head in the sand.  Recognise YOUR responsibilities and do your part.


9. “Trade = we’re both better off.”

Good business is one where both and/or all sides benefit [win-win-win].


10. “Experience is a great teacher.”

Hindsight is great, this only works if we are open and reflective of the lessons our experiences teach us.


11. “Never point your gun at anybody unless you’re prepared to pull the trigger.  No idle threats.”

Integrity – say what you mean and mean what you say.  Be the person who’s handshake still stands for something.


12. “Have a good mission.”

Hardly strange because those on a mission consistently outperform those without one, quite simply, their why is stronger.


13. “Equip people to win.” 

Failing is part of equipping them to win, just don’t set people up to fail.


14. “Don’t be interested in a deal. Be interested in a good deal.”  

Win – Win -Win.  Good for all concerned.


15. “Get to know people. It’s about building relationships.” 

Relationship-centered care was the way we worked on the paediatric units I worked on.  How are you going to have good relationships without getting to know people?  In everything we do in life relationship building is fundamental and essential.  It’s why emotional intelligence is a powerful ally to IQ.


16. “Greatest achievement – helping another human being.”  

This made me think of the words of Viktor E. Frankl [Man’s Search for Meaning],



Because we’re all here to serve other human beings in some capacity, aren’t we?


George Schultz’ insights were powerful and made me think, reflect, connect and more importantly, apply them to my life and business.  Thank You, George.

If you would like, you can listen and watch George Schultz’ Seminar.

And well my next question is, what resonates with you and why?


Billie Carn,

Humble and Proud [yes you can be both,] Steel Member 9452 The Long Now Foundation