Senator Bob Bennett held his 4th annual Rural Business Conference yesterday, this year in Price, Utah. Attendance was strong. Keynote speeches were given by Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr., the Entrepreneur’s Governor, and Dr. Patrick Byrne, CEO of Overstock.com, founder of Worldstock.com, and all-around brilliant human being. I’ll post my notes later.
Breakout session speakers included Shawn Nelson of LoveSac (and Rebel Billionaire fame), and Jonathan Coons, founder of 1-800-Contacts, the largest retailer of contact lenses in the world, whose business started 13 years ago in a room at Wymount Terrace, BYU’s married student housing. They did $200 million in sales last year. What a story!
My lecture was attended by about 160 people. The powerpoint can be found at www.infobaseventures.com/price.ppt. I must say that the powerpoint is rather lame compared to the live demos that I gave of sites like Google Maps, Local Search and Froogle. I asked the audience to imagine 3 billion cell phone users by 2010 who have access to the mobile internet, including Google Maps, and then I talked about how Google could (or will soon, I should say) overlay Froogle data about products on top of its Google Maps and Local Search. Any significant database could be overlaid onto Google Maps, giving mobile internet users the most interesting way in the world’s history to find people, events, products–anything really.
The world will change more in the next 10 years because of the mobile internet than it did in the past 10 years because of the internet. And the next 20-50 years will bring even more changes as nanotechnology starts to change all of the physical materials that are used in our present world. The connection between the physical world and the information world will be bridged by RFID and GPS systems. It’s going to be wild, in both good and bad ways.
Now is the time for entrepreneurs to step forward, figure out where the puck is going (Wayne Gretzky), skate there, and take a swing. Remember, 100% of the shots you don’t take don’t go in. (Wayne Gretzky). Gretzky was quoted a few times in the conference. I think taking risks and having an entrepreneurial attitude and figuring out what your customers will want in the future and delivering that — that was the theme of Governor Huntsman’s talk.
Speaking of knowing the future…I’m a religious man with a Christian view of the world and a literal belief in the Biblical prophecies about the future. I belong to a Church led by a prophet and twelve apostles. You’ve probably heard of it. (See www.lds.org)
As a technologist and entrepreneur at the turn of the Millennium (how fortunate can I be!!!) it’s been amazing for me in my lifetime to study the prophecies of both ancient and modern prophets and to watch events take place that are in definite harmony with them.
Jesus said his gospel would be preached in all nations before the end would come. In the last two decades dozens of previously closed societies have become open, and Christian missionaries are taking Jesus’ message to millions. Bibles are being printed everywhere. More than 120 million copioes of the Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ, have been published and distributed. And this is all just the tip of the iceberg as far as giving the entire world an opportunity to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. Electronic media will enable the gospel tidings to reach additional billions.
Okay, so whether you believe any of what I have just written or not, I do have one very interesting statement from David O. McKay, given in 1935, that I think was prescient, and it deals with technology.
David O. McKay was one of the Twelve Apostles of the Church when he made this statement. The context was a speech about how to bring about a spiritual society (called Zion) where people would dwell in love and peace. In the speech he gave his opinions about what the physical aspects of Zion would be, but his emphasis was really on the spiritual.
If we have in mind the physical Zion, then we must strive for more fertile acres; bring from the mountains gold and silver in abundance; found factories to furnish more employment; extend in length and width our concrete public high-ways; build banks to protect, or to dissipate, as has been the case recently, the wealth we accumulate; transform our vast coal fields into electricity that will furnish light, heat and power to every family; improve the means of communication until with radio in our pockets we may communicate with friends and loved ones from any point at any given moment. (David O. McKay, 1935)
In October 1926, Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, also an apostle made this statement:
I remember sitting in a meeting some thirty or more years ago when that meeting was being addressed by one of the members of the Council of Twelve Apostles, who has long since departed this life. In the course of his remarks he made a statement that impressed me and which has stayed with me since that time. It was to the effect that the time would come when men would communicate from city to city, conversing without the aid of the telephone or intervening wires. As I pondered over it I thought: Of course, that time will come, but it cannot come until after Christ comes again, and his truth shall have been acknowledged over the earth during the Millennium. Then such great power will be exercised, but even then it will be granted to those who are in the Church and to no others. I have lived, however, to see the fulfilment of that prediction …
Many other Church leaders have commented on technology and modern inventions and how they can be used for good and evil. But their teachings primarily center on witnessing of Jesus Christ and his teachings–and how men and women should choose good over evil and have hearts that are full of love and forgiveness, even towards their enemies.
Here is my final, long quote from David O. McKay, about the need for a spiritual awakening to match the amazing scientific progress that the world has seen in recent centuries:
Changes and advancement in scientific discovery and invention have been much more marked and rapid than in the political realm.
For example, “people among whom Jesus lived never dreamed of a railroad, of a steamboat, of an automobile; could not have pictured by the wildest stretch of imagination the airplane or the radio. People in that day never saw a factory, a drill or a sulky plow. The only combined harvester that garnered wheat then was a man and a sickle.”
It is said that in “the democracy of ancient Greece, the Stentor had a voice “as powerful as fifty voices of other men” but in our modern democracy, the candidate for high office whose voice is amplified and broadcast by mechanical means, can pour his promises or persuasion into the ears of millions without troubling them to rise from their easy chairs.” The printing press, the railway, the steamship, the airplane, the telegraph, the telephone, the radio, and now the atomic bomb have put a power in the hands of man more potent for his progress or for his destruction than imagination can conceive. This vast increase of physical power becomes sinister and evil when put in the hands of men actuated by low ideals and evil motives.
Notwithstanding all our achievements, social unrest was never more pronounced than it is today. The difficult problems that arise between capital and labor are still unsolved. The evils of the slum and of the brothel are still with us.
The burden of taxes and the proper distribution of wealth are questions perplexing the wisest minds. Truly, we are living in an age of shifting opinions, of swiftly changing human relations. Man’s wisdom is baffled. Obviously, there never was a greater need for anchorage to fixed principles, and never-changing truths.
Men are in need of a safe pilot to serve as a guide over the troubled and turbulent waters through which we are now sailing.
If we would have a better world, it is evident that men must change their motives. Hatred and jealousy, envy, and selfishness must be replaced by wholesome, kindly thoughts and emotions. “Right thoughts and feelings if persistently kept in the forefront inevitably lead to right actions.”
Ideals are stimulants to progress. Without them man would degenerate, and civilization would “cream and mantle like a standing pool.” Through hope, ideals, and aspirations, God inspires men to move upward and onward toward the higher and better life.
The world needs fundamentals, eternal verities that never change. It needs to adopt the teachings of the man into whose hands the soldiers drove the iron spikes, “the only world-conqueror who came with clean hands,” from whom down through the centuries have come these assuring words: “I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
In the words of J. William Hudson, Professor of Philosophy, University of Missouri, “If there is to be social and political regeneration in the republic and in the rest of the world, it must be by tremendous regeneration of moral ideals.”
One of the fundamental conditions contributive to a person’s right thinking and acting is a reverence for God. A growing disbelief among the masses of mankind in a Supreme Being is a principal source of crime.
When God becomes the center of our being, “we become conscious of a new aim in life.” To nourish and delight the body, as all animals do, is no longer a chief end of mortal existence. Spiritual attainment, not physical possessions, becomes the chief goal. God is not viewed from the standpoint of what we may get from him, but what we may give to him. Man serves God best by serving his children.
In an address delivered to the medical graduates of the Edinburgh University, Sir Alexander Ralph Simpson, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, said:
I do not know in what mood of pessimism I might have stood before you today had it not been that ere the dew of youth had dried from off me, I made friends with the sinless Son of Man who is the world head and the stream that vitalizes all advance in civilization and who claims to be the first and the last and is the life forever more and has the keys of death and the unseen. My experience compels me to own that claim for to me he has established a vivid and vivifying correspondence with our supersensuous environment. He has made us see that at the heart of things there is a Father’s heart. He has made us know that in the complex play of circumstances, the reins of progress are in the hands of a circumstant who makes all things work together for our good.
Recently I made the remark that never before in the history of the world has there been such need as today of spiritual awakening. Not that man is more depraved, not that he is less religious, but that he has in his grasp such seemingly unlimited mechanized power. If you put bombs into the hands of an inexperienced child, he is likely to blow himself to pieces. To a degree, that is just what we are witnessing today in the world. In the hands of undeveloped, spiritually unresponsive people has been placed the power of explosives, the radio, the airplane, the submarine, all the concentrated power of electricity, and now the breaking up of the atom. Unless there is a spiritual awakening, civilization is threatened. The carnal-minded in the world are causing heartaches and threatening the extinction of the race.
A spiritual awakening in the hearts of millions of men and women would bring about a changed world. I am hopeful that the dawning of that day is not far distant. My faith in the ultimate triumph of the Gospel of Jesus Christ assures me that a spiritual awakening must come. To bring this about is the responsibility of the youth of the Church in whom I have confidence and place my hope.