Startup Iceland 2020 is on May 27th. The theme for this year is Optimism and the Challenges of the Future. We will start announcing the speakers and the program shortly. This will be the 9th year that we are hosting Startup Iceland and a lot has changed and some things have not. Startup Iceland will always be an event that will serve as a platform for Founders and Entrepreneurs. The theme for this year is obvious for those of us who spend all our days building the future, however we need to remind ourselves and everyone, that we need to address the Challenges of the Future with Optimism.

Optimism requires courage, it also requires faith, confidence, energy, mindfulness, concentration and wisdom. All of these attributes are not new, however in order for one to commit to a journey of struggle, all of these are traits that are a must have. Founders and Entrepreneurs I meet every day remind me of these traits. It inspires me to see the individual trembling inside but acting with confidence that they are on a path to change something that is not working in the world. Founders and entrepreneurs get a lot of skepticism and nay-Sayers even those who are aligned with the success of the founders for some reason don’t demonstrate the above traits. I don’t think I will ever understand that human attribute where some of us think skepticism or cynicism is a sign of intelligence, IMHO it is far from it. Genius is rare but courage is much more harder to see in our world. It take courage to be a contrarian. In today’s world the most contrarian thing is to be an Optimist.

A lot of our world is built by conforming to norms and rules that have worked in the past, that is why our present looks a lot like our past. Look at all the building that we have been investing in downtown Reykjavik if you don’t believe me. When I refer to optimism, I am not talking about blind optimism, I am talking about intelligent optimism. The rare quality of being able to see around the corner and working to manage that challenge.

The Challenges of the Future are in constant change as the world we live in is in constant change. If there is one thing that we can be certain of is that Nothing is Permanent and everything is subject to change. The irony of the previous statement is that most of us dislike change, because change is work, requires energy, effort and resources. Reallocating energy, effort and resources is considered a burden but that is precisely what the world expects of us.

There are a number of challenges that sound daunting to downright impossible to solve depending on who you listen to. I think we can solve almost all of the challenges facing us because I believe we have super powers. The super power that I am talking about is the Hidden Human Potential! It is not just in some of us, it is in all of us. The Human potential embodies all of the above attributes. It is the human potential of courage that made Buddha say these words when he was still a trying to figure out the path to end suffering

Let only my skin, sinews and bones remain. Let my flesh and blood in the body dry up, I shall not permit the course of my efforts to stop until I win that which maybe won by human ability, human effort and human exertions – Bodisattva

Bodisattva is any person who is on a path to Buddhahood. These words were spoken by the first Bodisattva, Siddhārtha Gautama

It is that human potential that empowered Archimedes to experiment and learn about leverage and gave him the confidence to say the famous quote

Give me a place to stand, and a lever long enough and I will move the world

– Archimedes

There are a number of things in the world that we don’t understand that well. During Startup Iceland, we will explore some of these challenges and learn from each other.