Ambitious Optimists

We need a new era of ambitious optimism.


Idea: Convince more ambitious optimists to solve the World’s Biggest Problems.

  • Creators are the ultimate embodiment of ambitious optimists:
  • Unambitious Cynics = Nihilists
  • Unambitious Optimists = Dreamers
  • Ambitious Cynics = Cronies
  • Ambitious Optimists = Creators

Problem: Too many people now think it’s “cool” to be cynical.

Solution: Organize the world’s ambitious optimists!

  • Let’s revive the ambitious optimism of the Civil Rights Movement (’54-’68) and Space Race (’55-’69)!

Why: Ambitious optimism is self-fulfilling.

  • The coordinated pursuit of these moonshots turns dreams into reality.

Mission: Make Life Utopic For All!

  • We need to celebrate ambitious optimists who are making our future more utopic!


Kennedy’s “We choose to go to the Moon” speech began an ambitious optimist era in America.

  • From this speech on September 12, 1962 to Neil Armstrong walking on the moon July 20, 1969.
  • From the March on Washington on August 28th, 1963 to MLK’s assassination on April 4, 1968.

“We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills…”

— John F. Kennedy, 1962 Address at Rice University on the Nation’s Space Effort

This ambitious optimism was reflected in our entertainment too.

  • The first episode of The Jetsons aired just 11 days after this speech.
  • Star Trek premiered less than four years later.
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963 was a high-water mark in American optimism. Photo by Robert Joyce.

America lost a lot of its optimism on April 4, 1968 when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

  • The Civil Rights Act of 1968 was enacted just seven days later.
    • These two events marked the end of the official American Civil Rights Movement.

On July 20, 1969, the Moonshot was over.

  • Neil Armstrong had fulfilled Kennedy’s promise to reach the moon within the decade.
  • America’s focus shifted to soldiers and bombs in Vietnam, not astronauts and rockets in Space.

Without these leaders and these goals, our ambitious optimism faded.


How can we bring back the ambitious optimism of the Civil Rights Movement and Space Race?

We need a new Moonshot.

  • Mars is not the next Moon.
    • The race to Mars has already started and it hasn’t captured our collective imagination.
      • Mars isn’t strategic for national defense, so it doesn’t capture government budgets.

We need to organize the best of our energies and skills towards saving Earth.

  • Let’s pick a goal that will improve life for everyone on Earth.
    • Mission: Make Life Utopic For All.

We can be the generation that saves our planet.

  • We can end scarcity and enter the singularity.
  • Let’s make it cool to want to make the world a better place!

This world needs superheroes. Will you answer the call?

  • Do you want to make the world a better place?
  • Are you willing to do what others think is impossible until you accomplish it?
  • Share your dreams. Speak your truth. And make it a reality.

Ambitious Optimists are one of my solutions to The World’s Biggest Problems.

  • This idea is a work-in-progress. If you’d like to riff on it, hit me up @neilthanedar on Twitter.

Published by Neil Thanedar

Neil Thanedar is an entrepreneur, investor, scientist, altruist, and author. He is the founder & GP of Utopic, a pre-seed biotech VC fund investing in the future of science. He is also the founder & chairman of Air to All, a 501(c)3 nonprofit medical device startup, and Labdoor, a consumer watchdog with $7M+ in funding and 20M+ users. He previously co-founded Avomeen Analytical Services, a product development and testing lab acquired for $30M+ in 2016. He has also served as Executive Director of The Detroit Partnership and Senior Advisor to his father Shri Thanedar in his campaigns for Governor, State Representative, and US Congress in Michigan.