The Optimist’s Telescope

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by Bina Venkataraman

A trailblazing exploration of how we can think more strategically and effectively about the future--our own, our family's, and our society's.

Many of us never learned--or have forgotten--how to make smart, long-term decisions, so we avoid making them. In a world where immediate satisfaction is the norm, it's easy to do. Whether it's decisions about our health (our chronic overuse of antibiotics has triggered a shocking rise in immunity to them), our finances (20% of us have nothing saved for retirement), or our jobs (we slash R and D to improve short-term balance sheets and then can't keep pace with competitors), we avoid mastering the skills to make smart choices about the future. Yet today more than ever, we need to understand how to make such choices--for ourselves, our families, and the world.

Bina Venkataraman understands this. As a former senior advisor in the Obama administration, she led efforts to build partnerships between government and business to combat climate change, and she learned firsthand that we have forgotten how to talk about thinking ahead. Drawing from her own experience and new research in biology, psychology, economics, and beyond, she identifies the most effective ways we can learn to think clearly about long-term decisions. She explains the crucial roles that biology, the environment, and culture play in our decision-making, and she highlights the surprisingly human and achievable changes we can implement in our lives to make smarter, more thoughtful choices.

The result is The Optimist's Telescope, a book brimming with useful ideas and insights into understanding how we can think about the future more clearly and make better decisions about it.

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— Bina Venkataraman, The Optimist’s Telescope