2024 Goal: Change the World (Just a Little Bit)

Welcome to a new year!

We enter 2024 with significant uncertainty in the world. The new year begins with two wars of global significance in Gaza and Ukraine.

Assuming you do not live in a cave on a deserted island, somehow isolated from the saturation media coverage, you are aware that we have a presidential election in the United States this year that seems poised to end in conflict and division regardless of the outcome.

This new year brings massive technological uncertainty as well. The progress and impact of AI, already head-spinning, can only accelerate from here.

Is This Normal?

These events and others demand our attention. This year, their number and magnitude seem unusual, and perhaps it is, but the uncertainty itself is not. Every new year—every new day, in truth—holds such unknowns. Sometimes we are aware of them, other times not.

We spend less time worrying about the ones we don't know about, so it is hard to gauge whether this year brings more or less volatility. Either way, this is the nature of our existence.

Consider just a few events from our fairly recent history:

  • As I entered my senior year in high school in 1989, the cold war between the United States and the Soviet Union and fear of the spread of communism was fundamental to my understanding of the world. It was simply the way things were. All that changed on November 9 with the fall of the Berlin Wall. I remember watching it happen on TV. Celebrating the new year in 1989 we didn’t see it coming, but everything changed overnight, mostly for the better.
  • On New Year’s Day in 2001, we were completely unaware that the world would be transformed just nine months later by the September 11 terrorist attacks. World-altering events instantly unfolded. Post-9/11 life was immediately different for almost everyone.
  • Celebrating the new year in 2020, some might have been loosely aware of troubling news in Wuhan, China, but no one was prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic that instantly became the top concern of essentially every human on the planet just weeks later. By April, little else that was predicted for 2020 mattered.
  • On November 30, 2022, a company called OpenAI, unknown to most outside the industry, released a product called ChatGPT. It’s hard to comprehend that just thirteen months ago most of us had never heard of it. Today it seems clear that artificial intelligence like ChatGPT will alter our world more fundamentally and more rapidly than anyone saw coming. Whether the changes AI brings are more positive or negative on balance remains to be seen. I am optimistic about the possibilities, yet I also believe caution and concern are warranted.

Black Swan Events

Nassim Taleb famously named these Black Swan Events. He pointed out that the most impactful changes in the world are almost always unforeseen.

Importantly, Black Swan events are not always bad.

Martha and I found this idea so compelling that we named our first company after it. The business that would become Retexo was called BlackSwan7. The “seven” denoted the year of its founding, 2007. It was a year that transformed our lives in many ways we definitely didn’t see coming, almost all of them for the better.

In short, we do not know what 2024 will bring. 

Embracing the inherent uncertainty of the world is essential to effective leadership. It is also important to notice that all the events listed above have something else in common: there’s not much any one of us can do about them.

What Can We Do?

Of course we should pay attention and be well-informed. And yes, we can advocate, we can communicate, and we can vote, but in reality our individual ability to alter the headline events of this new year is limited. Yet, we should not feel helpless. Helplessness is not helpful.

We should be mindful that obsessing over things we cannot control not only induces fear and anxiety, it distracts us from the very real things we can do, right now.

When asking what you can do, it is worth noting that nations and armies do not act, and neither do companies. People do.

It is only individual human beings who can act.

Here’s the good news: you are one of them! There are many things that each of us can do, with each individual act bending the arc of history ever-so-slightly toward a positive future.

What we can do is work on ourselves.

We can work at becoming more self-aware. We can work at becoming kinder and more compassionate. We can work at better managing our own stress and anxiety so that we can become more peaceful and grounded, even in the face of difficult events. We can learn to understand and better regulate our own emotions.

When we do these things for ourselves, we make it easier for those around us to do them, too.

We can work to better communicate with others to locally reduce the misunderstandings that, collectively, lead to global conflict. We can deepen our understanding of our own behaviors, tendencies, strengths, weaknesses, and biases. We can grow our own complexity, so that we can better manage the nuance so essential to resolving our biggest problems.

We can create companies, departments, and teams that work better together.

We can learn about the fascinating and complex world of group dynamics. We can grow our ability to collaborate effectively and develop high-performing teams.

We can embrace the responsibility and the opportunity of leadership to improve the well-being of everyone who works for us, not only by offering them a way to earn a living, but by creating an environment in which they can find purpose, connection, community, and belonging.

We can increase prosperity and financial freedom for ourselves and others by building stable, profitable businesses. We can put ourselves in a position to give back.

We can make the world better by making ourselves better. It is the ultimate win-win.

We Can Help

There is so much each of us can do to make ourselves, our organizations, and our world better.

Every product and service that Retexo offers is designed to support you in these efforts.

That is not a coincidence. It is what matters to us. It is really all that matters to us, so let’s get started. Contact us here to learn how.

Happy New Year,


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