Chapter 2. Personal Foresight - Becoming an Effective Self-Leader

Achievement Groups: Juntos, Masterminds, and Fusions

Another key life habit is to have an achievement group (our “A group”) that we meet with regularly to help us become and stay our best selves. Think of achievement groups as much like support groups, but rather than spending most of the time to help a person recover from a problem or addiction back to baseline performance, most of the effort is on helping people who are already at baseline to move well beyond it, into a place of higher achievement and mastery. Support and accountability are definitely part of an A group, but achievement is the highest goal.

I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in some excellent A groups for a couple of decades now, and I’d like to share some tips on starting or joining your own here. To challenge ourselves to our best, we all need to meet regularly with peers who are committed to improving each other’s personal and organizational foresight. In our busy modern, urban lives, it is easy to fall out of regularly attending such groups, or fail to ever find one. Yet being in a group of respected peers who are all working hard to better themselves, and sharing their advice, may turn out to be the single most important social activity of our lives.

A Classic Achievement Group for Personal Foresight & Action Ben Franklin’s Junto (Mutual Improvement Club)

A Classic Achievement Group for Personal Foresight & Action
Ben Franklin’s Junto (Mutual Improvement Club)

At the age of 21, Benjamin Franklin started a personal achievement and accountability group, a “mutual improvement club” of twelve members that met for dinner and discussion every Friday night, which he called the Junto. Over thirty years of meetings, Franklin attributed virtually all of his greatest business and professional successes to this fascinating group. You can find a brief account of the Junto in his words here. Franklin was a true Renaissance person (a “star-shaped” individual, in our personality parlance). He overcame early personal hardships to become a great entrepreneur, inventor, author, humorist, epicurean, scientist, philosopher, adventurer, public servant and statesman. He had flaws, like everyone, but in many ways he was an icon we can learn much from. His Junto is described mainly in his Autobiography (1793), reportedly the second most widely read book in America in the 19th century after the Bible.

In his personal development and self-improvement classic, Think and Grow Rich (1937/2005), Napoleon Hill described, as Step 9 of his 13 steps to success, a version of a Junto that he called the “Master Mind alliance,” a “friendly alliance with one or more persons who will encourage one to follow through with both plan and purpose.” These have come to be called mastermind groups. As mastermind facilitator Karyn Greenstreet explains, in such groups, friendliness and accountability are both prerequisites. Everyone individually is asked to report their challenges, plans, and results, and the group gives friendly and constructively critical feedback and advice. Trust and confidentiality are of course key. See also this brief set of rules of a good mastermind by Lisa Nirell, The Secret Weapon to Outpace Your Competitors, Fast Company, 10 Sep 2010.

Goals like socializing, networking, or business development are not the primary goals of A groups like Juntos or masterminds. Though they inevitably occur, they are treated as secondary purposes. The primary focus in an achievement group is achievement, personal development, performance, foresight, and accountability. Nevertheless, there are many groups and books today that use the phrase “mastermind” for networking or money making groups, more in the “Grow Rich” tradition of Hill than in the “mutual improvement” tradition of Franklin. See for example Jayson Gaignard’s Mastermind Dinners (2015), on networking dinners, and Tobe Brockner’s Mastermind Group Blueprint (2013). These can be helpful supplements, but if you must choose one group as your top commitment, I would not pick one of these as your primary group.

The kind of achievement group that we recommend you build first around you is much more in line with Franklin’s than Hill’s vision. It is a group that tries to help us get better in all the ways that we can control and that matter most in our lives, most of which have to do with relationships, goals, achievements, impact, and legacy, not money or fame. Jenny Capella’s Your Dream Team (2014) is a mastermind group book that gets closer to this goal, but is still not yet a perfect fit.

From my perspective, a great achievement group is concerned with your total development as person, your emotion as well as your cognition, your character as well as your goals, your results as well as your actions, and with all of the Eight Skills and their application to your personal and professional life.

A Modern Achievement Group for Personal Foresight & Action Fusion (Foresight University)

A Modern Achievement Group for Personal Foresight & Action
Fusion (Foresight U)

In 2001, I started an achievement group based on Franklin’s Junto, called Fusion, which my wife and I have had the privilege to run until 2013, when I took a brief pause to write this book. Fusion has both small-group (4-5 member) monthly meetings and large-group (24 member) annual meetings. At the large group meetings we break into small-groups several times over a weekend, always in some beautiful location for hiking and talking. You can see some of our large-group meetings here.

Fusions are a key feature of Foresight U, our strategic foresight and entrepreneurship learning and achievement community. I hope you’ll consider joining a Fusion yourself. Alternatively, you can use our free online startup guides for Small-Group and Large-Group Fusions and build your own achievement group, if what we have to offer isn’t the best fit for your needs. One way or another, we recommend you give the achievement group serious consideration as a foundational life habit. Life’s too short not to spend it with friendly, committed, high-integrity people, aiming to do great things.

Fusion is named after thermonuclear fusion, the chemistry of the sun, which humanity is attempting to harness here on Earth. Commercial fusion energy will be one of the greatest engineering feats of our species if we achieve it, an outcome we may see by mid-century. In fusion experiments, getting the right confinement system is the key. Figure out the right containment device, and you invariably get vastly more energy out of a fusion reaction than you put in. Achievement groups work the same way. Build the right containment device (the right group members, rules, and goals) and we each get vastly more out than we put in.

In our experience so far, the best Fusion groups consist of members who are all friendly, high-integrity and growth (foresight) oriented. Those who can’t be all of these three things should instead join support groups until they can achieve those three personal traits. In every achievement group, mechanisms need to exist to temporarily suspend membership of any individual that more than one other member finds abusive, unhelpful or uncommitted, either during the group event or via semi-confidential surveys after the event, and after appropriate warning and opportunity for behavior change is given.

Members should be personally committed to advancing their personal foresight, including self-knowledge, prioritization, strategic thinking, goalsetting, and feedback, and perhaps also the other domains of foresight as well (organizational, global, universal), per the group’s interest. Using the full Eight Skills framework is one way to ensure a comprehensive approach to the personal growth and foresight commitment.

Fusion group members ideally share key core values, but have have different and complementary thinking styles and skills, maximizing cognitive and skills diversity. Fusion groups can be general interest (eg, “futurists”, “entrepreneurs”) or specialty focused (entrepreneurs in a particular field, high-earning 30+ women in particular industry or profession, etc.). Both types of Fusions work well, and some find value in joining both general-purpose and specialty achievement groups.

Annually mixing up the composition of the large and small groups, using both bottom-up member preferences and top-down facilitator-chosen mixing rules is a great way to help you be your best self. Confidential personal profiles and brief personal reports are in your historical record with your A group, so your past achievements, goals, common issues and blocks become more easily known to new group members over time, and you get better quality advice every year.

Achievement groups can meet daily, weekly, monthly, semiannually, or annually. They can be virtual or physical. In our groupnet future in the 2020s we can look forward to many highly intimate and powerful achievement groups emerging. In the meantime, check us out and see it for yourself!

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Table of Contents


Chapter 2. Personal Foresight – Becoming an Effective Self-Leader

Chapter 2: Personal Foresight

Becoming an Effective Self-Leader

Chapter 4. Models – Foundations for Organizational Foresight

Chapter 4: Models

Foundations for Organizational Foresight

Chapter 7. Acceleration – Guiding Our Extraordinary Future

Chapter 7: Acceleration

Guiding Our Extraordinary Future (In Process)

II. Global Progress: 5 Goals, 10 Values, Many Trends

Innovation: Our Abundant Future
Intelligence: Our Augmented Future
Interdependence: Our Civil Future
Immunity: Our Protected Future
Sustainability: Our Rebalanced Future

III. Universal Accelerating Change

Great Race to Inner Space: Our Surprising Future
Entropy&Information: We’re Running Down & Up
The Puzzle of Meaning: We Have No Einstein Yet
Trees, Funnels & Landscapes: Intro to Evo Devo
Big Picture Change: Five Scales of Accelerating ED
Transcension Hypothesis: Where Acceleratn Ends?
IDABDAK: Social Response to Accel & Developmnt
We’re On a Runaway Train: Being Accelaware

IV. Evo Devo and Exponential Foresight

Seeing It All: Accel., Diverg, Adapt, Convrg, Decel.
Natural (I4S) Innovation: The Evolutionary Drive
Natural (I4S) Intelligence: The Human-AI Partnership
Natural (I4S) Morality: Why Empathy and Ethics Rule
Natural (I4S) Security: Strength from Disruption
Natural (I4S) Sustainability: The Developmental Drive
S-Curves: Managing the Four Constituencies
Pain to Gain: Traversing the Three Kuznets Phases
Hype to Reality: Beyond Hype Cycles to Reality Checks
Exponentials Database: Measuring Accelerations
TINA Trends: Societal Evolutionary Development
Managing Change: STEEPCOP Events, Probs, Ideas
A Great Shift: A Survival to a Sentient Economy

V. Evo Devo and Exponential Activism

Building Protopias: Five Goals of Social Progress
Normative Foresight: Ten Values of Society
Top & STEEPCOP Acceleratns: Positive & Negative
Dystopias, Risks, and Failure States
Three Levels of Activism: People, Tech & Universe
A Great Opportunity: Exponential Empowerment


Chapter 8. Your Digital Self – The Human Face of the Coming Singularity

Chapter 8: Your Digital Self

The Human Face of the Coming Singularity (In Process)

I. Your Personal AI (PAI): Your Digital Self

Digital Society: Data, Mediation, and Agents
Personal AIs: Advancing the Five Goals
PAI Innovation: Abundance and Diversity
PAI Intelligence: Bio-Inspired AI
PAI Morality: Selection and Groupnets
PAI Security: Safe Learning Agents
PAI Sustainability: Science and Balance
The Human Face of the Coming Singularity

II. PAI Protopias & Dystopias in 8 Domains

1. Personal Agents: News, Ent., Education
2. Social Agents: Relat. and Social Justice
3. Political Agents :  Activism & Represent.
4. Economic Agents:  Retail, Finance, Entrep
5. Builder Agents :  Work, Innov. & Science
6. Environ. Agents : Pop. and Sustainability
7. Health Agents :  Health, Wellness, Death
8. Security Agents :  Def., Crime, Corrections

III. PAI Activism & Exponential Empowerment

Next Government: PAIs, Groupnets, Democ.
Next Economy: Creat. Destr. & Basic Income
Next Society: PAI Ent., Mortality & Uploading
What Will Your PAI Contribution Be?

Chapter 10. Startup Ideas – Great Product & Service Challenges for Entrepreneurs

Chapter 10: Startup Ideas

Great Product and Service Challenges for Entrepreneurs (In Process)

I. 4U’s Idea Hub: Building Better Futures

Air Deliveries and Air Taxis: Finally Solving Urban Gridlock
Ballistic Shields and Gun Control: Protecting Us All from Lone Shooters
Bioinspiration Wiki: Biomimetics and Bio-Inspired Design
Brain Preservation Services: Memory and Mortality Redefined
Carcams: Document Thieves, Bad Driving, and Bad Behavior
Competition in Govt Services: Less Corruption, More Innovation
Computer Adaptive Education (CAE): Better Learning and Training
Conversational Deep Learning Devsuites: Millions of AI Coders
Digital Tables: Telepresence, Games, Entertainment & Education
Dynaships: Sustainable Low-Speed Cargo Shipping
Electromagnetic Suspension: Nausea-Free Working & Reading in Cars
Epigenetic Health Tests: Cellular Aging, Bad Diet, Body Abuse Feedback
Fireline Explosives and Ember Drones: Next-Gen Fire Control
Global English: Empowering the Next Generation of Global Youth
Greenbots: Drone Seeders and Robotic Waterers for Mass Regreening
High-Density Housing and Zoning: Making Our Cities Affordable Again
Highway Enclosures and Trail Networks: Green and Quiet Urban Space
Inflatable Packaging: Faster and Greener Shipping and Returns
Internet of Families: Connecting People Over Things
Kidcams: Next-Gen Security for Child Safety and Empowerment
Kidpods: Indoor & Outdoor Parent-Assistive Toyboxes
Microdesalination: Democratizing Sustainable Fresh Water Production
Noise Monitors: Documenting and Reducing Noise Pollution
Oceanside Baths: Sustainable Year Round Beach Enjoyment
Open Blood Scanners: DIY Citizen Health Care Sensor Tech
Open Streaming Radio: User-Centered Audio Creation and Rating
Open Streaming Video: User-Centered Video Creation and Rating
Open Values Filters: Social Rankers, Arg. Mappers, and Consensus Finders
Personal AIs: Your Private Advisor, Activist, and Interface to the World
Pet Empowerment: Next-Gen Rights and Abilities for Our Domestic Animals
Safe Closets: Fire-, Earthquake-, and Intruder-Proof Retreat Spaces
Safe Cars: Reducing Our Insane 1.3M Annual Auto Deaths Today
Safe Motorcycles: Lane Splitting in Gridlock Without Risk of Death
Shared Value Insurance: User-Centered Risk Reduction Services
Sleeperbuses and Microhotels: Demonetized Intercity Travel
Space-Based Solar Power: Stratellite Powering and Weather Management
Stratellites: Next-Gen Urban Broadband, Transparency, and Security
Touch DNA: Next-Gen Home Security and Crime Deterrence
View Towers: Improving Urban Walkability, Inspiration, and Community

Chapter 11. Evo Devo Foresight – Unpredictable and Predictable Futures

Chapter 11: Evo Devo Foresight

Unpredictable and Predictable Futures

Appendix 1. Peer Advice – Building a Successful Foresight Practice