Nanotechnology has captured wide attention all over the world and excited the imagination of young and old alike. Interest in the subject has increased remarkably during the last few years because of potential technological applications, and commercial interest has skyrocketed. The promise of nanotechnology as an economic engine that can redefine the wellbeing of regions and nations is pervasive; yet the imprecise language, and overuse of the term nanotechnology, has made that term fuzzier, broader, and trendier than many imagined possible. This is especially evident in nanotechnology market projections, which rose dramatically over the past five years as more traditional “product families” were engulfed by the expanding use of the term. Government policy regarding nanotechnology has often resembled an embrace of imagination rather than a systematic use of what Sun Tzu and others have taught about strategic decision making. Further, if nanotechnology is truly the next wave of technology product paradigms, how will we provide an educated workforce to support it? Moreover, in company with these societal benefits come increased societal risks. This paper is intended to provide policy makers and strategists with observations that might limit actions such as those that led to the “over-hype” of nanotechnology and to the fear (or discounting) of societal risks. In the latter case we might learn from the experiences of policy makers connected with other emerging enabling-technology bases, such as nuclear energy and, to a lesser extent, the “dot-com” boom.