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Virtual Professional Women's Leadership Luncheon Series- Long-Term Thinking Amid Crisis: Insights from The Optimist's Telescope

Virtual Professional Women's Leadership Luncheon Series- Long-Term Thinking Amid Crisis: Insights from The Optimist's Telescope
Virtual Professional Women's Leadership Luncheon Series- Long-Term Thinking Amid Crisis: Insights from The Optimist's Telescope
Virtual Professional Women's Leadership Luncheon Series- Long-Term Thinking Amid Crisis: Insights from The Optimist's Telescope

On Wednesday October 21st the Hampton Roads Chamber hosted the Virtual Professional Women’s Leadership Luncheon.  Bina Venkataran, author of The Optimist’s Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Reckless Age, spoke on how we can reframe our thinking to be more optimistic during a time of crisis.

“It might seem strange to you that while we are in the middle of a crisis, we are thinking long-term, but long-term thinking can actually be a form of relief and an escape from the anxiety about what will happen in the immediate future,” opened Venkataran.

She went on to speak on how businesses and leaders can change their standards of measurement to focus more on long-term longevity and innovation, rather than getting stuck focusing on monthly and quarterly growth.  Venkataran also shared the three tools to help us gear our thinking towards long-term.

  1. Mind What We Measure
  • Focus on setting long-term goals and find the best ways to measure success.
  1. Pick up the Tools to Think Ahead
  • Perspective Hindsight – Imagine scenarios you want to avoid AND scenarios you want to happen, and take mental notes of what made it successful or unsuccessful and form blueprints from there.
  1. Commit to a Shared Heirloom
  • People tend to frame the future around future family members/generations, but thing about how we can leave heirlooms within industries, communities, neighborhoods, etc. What do we want to pass down?

“We’re unique as humans because we can conjure an idea of the future in our minds, but we can’t use our senses to touch it, smell it, etc. It can be hard for people and businesses to think of potential risks, but if we only focus on what’s here right now, we end up later on down the road in serious trouble,” explained Venkataran.

Priscilla Monti, Senior Vice President of Programs and Communications, then opened the floor for a discussion. She asked Venkataran, “How has COVID changed your thoughts in terms of what you wrote in your book? How can we reframe ourselves to be optimistic and think of the future when COVID-19 shuts us down and brings uncertainty that is out of our control?”

Venkataran answered, “I am the kind of optimist who believes there is a choice. I believe the future is not written and we can engage to shape it to be better. When people feel that the future looks bleak, they can have the tendency to live in the immediate, what we need to do is emphasize the areas where people have the agency to control what is happening in their lives”.

Bina Venkataraman, editorial page editor of The Boston Globe and former senior advisor for climate change in the Obama Administration, explores this conundrum and the way out of it in her book, The Optimist’s Telescope: Think Ahead in a Reckless Age.

Special thank you to Pearl for creating and facilitating the Professional Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series. Thank you to our sponsors, COX, Old Point National Bank, Atlantic Union Bank, and Tidewater Home Funding for making this event possible.

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