Who should read this book: If you’re a leader, entrepreneur, or somebody looking for ideas to develop “moonshot, 100x thinking,” this book will give you direction, ideas, inspiration, and unleash the beast within. It’s a book for dreamers, in the most positive sense of the word.
Author and entrepreneur Peter Diamandis is the founder of the X Prize, which creates incentive competitions to entice the crowd to take action, and bring us closer to a world of Abundance. The solutions to the world’s problems won’t come from one person or one country or one industry. They’ve focused a lot on space and rockets in the past (FYI The Singularity University is kind of like the incubator/educational version of this).
Today some of their ongoing projects include the Global Learning prize which is a $15 million dollar prize to create mobile apps to improve reading, writing, and arithmetic in developing nations; the $10 million “ANA Avatar XPRIZE” is a competition focused on accelerating the integration of emerging and exponential technologies into a multipurpose avatar system that will seamlessly transport human skills and experience to the exact location where and when they are needed.
Diamandis create the X Prize to incentive the best minds to create solutions to the worlds problems. Our problems are global, time is of the essence, and the only way to get there is we if think big. No, scratch that. We have to think exponentially.
Six Ds of Exponentials: digitalization, deception, disruption, demonetization, dematerialization, and democratization. These Six Ds are a chain reaction of technological progression, a road map of rapid development that always leads to enormous upheaval and opportunity.
We can’t wait around — we have to disrupt ourselves.
We live in an exponential era. This kind of disruption is a constant. For anyone running a business—and this goes for both start-ups and legacy companies—the options are few: Either disrupt yourself or be disrupted by someone else.
Most great ideas sound crazy. We know this. But still, people remain skeptical.
“The day before something is truly a breakthrough, it’s a crazy idea.” Trying out crazy ideas means bucking expert opinion and taking big risks. It means not being afraid to fail. Because you will fail. The road to bold is paved with failure, and this means having a strategy in place to handle risk and learn from mistakes is critical.
Regardless of how far out it all sounds, the stakes are too high, and we have to at least try.
“Even if the probability for success is fairly low, if the objective is really important, it’s still worth doing. Conversely, if the objective is less important, then the probability needs to be much greater. How I decide which projects to take on depends on probability multiplied by the importance of the objective.” SpaceX and Tesla are great examples.
Lastly, he goes into a step by step plan to launch your own prize or kickstarter campaign, or basically any sort of fundraising, including lessons learned from his experience running X Prize.
My favorite quotes from the book:
Branching probability streams
The popular definition of insanity—doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result—that’s only true in a highly deterministic situation. If you have a probabilistic situation, which most situations are, then if you do the same thing twice, it can be quite reasonable to expect a different result.” This difference is key. Thinking in probabilities—this business has a 60 percent chance of success—rather than deterministically—if I do A and B, then C will definitely happen—doesn’t just guard against oversimplification; it further protects against the brain’s inherent laziness. The brain is an energy hog (it’s 2 percent of our mass yet uses 25 percent of our energy), so it’s always trying to conserve. As it’s way more energy efficient to think in black and white, we often do. But outcomes exist across a range. “The future is not certain,” continues Musk. “It’s really a set of branching probability streams.”
Larry Page on changing the world
In an impromptu speech given at the Singularity University founding conference, Larry stood up in front of an audience of some 150 attendees and said: “I have a very simple metric I use: Are you working on something that can change the world? Yes or no? The answer for 99.99999 percent of people is no. I think we need to be training people on how to change the world.”
On the origins of the X Prize
By the time I finished reading The Spirit of St. Louis, the concept of an incentive prize for the “demonstration of a suborbital, private, fully reusable spaceship” had formed in my mind. Not knowing who my “Orteig” would be, I wrote “ ‘X’ PRIZE” in the margin of the book. The letter X was a variable, a placeholder, to be replaced with the name of the person or company that put up the $10 million purse. How I decided on $10 million as the purse size, raised the money, and created the rules, I’ll get to shortly. My first step, after realizing that an incentive prize might help me fulfill my personal moonshot, was to learn everything I could about prizes, their history, and how and why they worked.
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos on what won’t change
This letter is often held up as the encapsulation of Bezos’s view on the subject, but personally, I think an answer he gave to an Amazon Web Services Live audience in 201227 was far more revealing: “What’s going to change in the next ten years?” And that is a very interesting question; it’s a very common one. I almost never get the question: “What’s not going to change in the next ten years?” And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two—because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time. . . . In our retail business, we know that customers want low prices, and I know that’s going to be true ten years from now. They want fast delivery; they want vast selection. It’s impossible to imagine a future ten years from now where a customer comes up and says, “Jeff, I love Amazon; I just wish the prices were a little higher” [or] “I love Amazon; I just wish you’d deliver a little more slowly.” Impossible.