In February, I asked 100 PEI Young Exec- utives in Nashville to discuss bitcoin and
how their companies might bene;t from
using digital currencies.
Three of the 21- to 45-year-olds leapt to
explain cryptocurrency and blockchain.
Approximately 93 people sat completely
silent. And four outspoken dissenters said,
“Why are we even talking about this?” “This
doesn’t apply to our industry.” “This is a waste
of time.” “Let’s talk about regulations.”
My question bombed, and it burst my
bubble. Otherwise, the Young Executives
Winter Conference had been perfect.
The day after the conference, I tried not to
think about it. I rode my husband’s coattails
and joined him for a YPO ( Young Presidents’
Organization) construction conference at
Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Peter Diamandis, the founder of the
XPrize, delivered the keynote at the National
Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian
Institution. He’s brilliant, with degrees in mo-
lecular genetics and aerospace engineering
from MIT and a medical degree from Harvard.
Forbes named him one of “The World’s 50
Greatest Leaders.” As he spoke, I gazed at the
aircraft hanging from the ceiling: The Spirit of
St. Louis that Charles Lindbergh ;ew solo from
New York to Paris in 1927; the Apollo Lunar
Module from which U.S. astronauts stepped
onto the moon; and SpaceShipOne, the ;rst
private spacecraft and winner of the $10 million XPrize in 2004. All are techy told-you-sos
that evolved from crazy talk.
Diamandis explained the power and implications of exponential change — including a
shift in robotics and transportation. About half
of the audience shook their heads. Some at
my table even got up and left.
Meanwhile, Diamandis played the 1994
video of “Today Show” anchors discussing a
weird, new technology called the Internet.
Their disbelief and naivete is funny now because the Internet runs our world.
Will the petroleum equipment industry
laugh in 2042 because only three in 100
young executives in 2018 could fathom the
potential of cryptocurrencies? Will former
stakeholders regret not incorporating EV
infrastructure when there was a chance to
hedge? I don’t know what technologies will
win, but Diamandis got me thinking maybe
my bitcoin question didn’t bomb. To think
outside a bubble, the bubble must be burst.
Editor in Chief
My husband, David, at left, XPrize founder Peter
Diamandis and I stand in front of the Apollo Lunar
Module at the National Air and Space Museum.