Early in my career I had a mentor who preached that our growth as human beings would be determined by two things in life: the people we meet and the books that we read. One could argue that this is an oversimplification, ignoring such important influences as movies, music, art, poetry and, of course, Seinfeld. But, overall, it turned out to be pretty sage advice.

That's why it is such a privilege to have the opportunity to cover this great industry.

It has provided me personally with the chance to meet many fascinating people — real thought leaders who have successfully identified and exploited trends, built and run great companies, and generally led truly interesting lives.

It has also given me the chance to be a fly on the wall for conferences like the NAFEM Annual Meeting and Management Workshop, which took place last month in San Antonio. While outside the weather was uncharacteristically bad, the conference content inside was remarkably good.

I feel very fortunate to have been in the audience to hear Dr. Peter Diamandis introduce his new book, co-authored by Steven Kolter, Abundance. I commend this book to you without having had the opportunity to read it just yet. The book release was scheduled for February, a few days after this letter was written, but before you will have a chance to read the March issue of FE&S.

I'm recommending it to you as much for the refreshingly optimistic worldview that the author proffers as for the intriguing subject matter of the book itself. Very briefly, in 1996, Dr. Diamandis famously offered a $10 million prize for the first small team able to build and fly a private spacecraft into space twice in two weeks. The prize was claimed in 2004 and the story behind the prize and the scientific breakthrough that it sparked is compelling.

Of even greater interest is Dr. Diamandis' passionate contention that as a result of the exponential growth in computing technology, combined with access to the Internet by three billion new minds in the coming years, science will be capable of solving literally any of the seemingly intractable problems that face humankind. Abundant food sources; fresh drinking water; cheap, clean energy; improvements in human longevity; and population control as a rational consequence of improved living conditions are among the issues he believes science will address. From his perspective, there is no human problem that doesn't have a potential solution within the reach of pending scientific discovery.

It is an incredible perspective and one that, even if it turns out to be only partially correct, promises to change everything that we know about life on our planet and makes this, undoubtedly, the most exciting time in history to be alive.