Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World – by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler

How strongly I recommend it: 9/10
See my lists of books for more.

Go to the Amazon page for details.
Terrific book on new technologies and how to enter into a market today. Every marketer should read this book to have a notion on how to market products today.

Highlights

The world’s biggest problems are now the world’s biggest business opportunities. This means, for exponential entrepreneurs, finding a significant challenge is a meaningful road to wealth.

PART ONE: BOLD TECHNOLOGY

The 6 Ds of Exponentials: Digitalization, Deception, Disruption, Demonetization, Dematerialization, and Democratization

Source: Peter H. Diamandis, www.abundancehub.com

Digitalization. Innovation occurs as humans share and exchange ideas. I build on your idea; you build on mine.

Deception. What follows digitalization is deception, a period during which exponential growth goes mostly unnoticed. This happens because the doubling of small numbers often produces results so minuscule they are often mistaken for the plodder’s progress of linear growth.

Disruption. A disruptive technology is any innovation that creates a new market and disrupts an existing one. Unfortunately, as disruption always follows deception, the original technological threat often seems laughably insignificant.

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.

Demonetization. In one sense, this transformation is the downstream version of what former Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson meant in his book Free. In Free, Anderson argues that in today’s economy one of the easiest ways to make money is to give stuff away.

Dematerialization. While demonetization describes the vanishing of the money once paid for goods and services, dematerialization is about the vanishing of the goods and services themselves.

Democratization. [This] is what happens when physical objects are turned into bits and then hosted on a digital platform in such high volume that their price approaches zero.

A Question of Scale

Exponential technology is not just putting linear companies out of business, it’s also putting linear industries out of business.

Linear organizations are at dire risk from the Six Ds, but exponential entrepreneurs have never had it so good.

In times of dramatic change, the large and slow cannot compete with the small and nimble.

Exponential Technology

The Democratization of the Power to Change the World

Recognizing when a technology is exiting the trough of disillusionment and beginning to rise up the slope of enlightenment is critical for entrepreneurs.

The most important telltale factor is the development of a simple and elegant user interface—a gateway of effortless interaction that plucks a technology from the hands of the geeks and deposits it with the entrepreneurs. In fact, it was exactly this kind of interface that transformed the Internet.

Mosaic unlocked the Internet. By adding in graphics and replacing Unix with Windows—the operating system that was then running nearly 80 percent of the computers in the world—Andreessen mainstreamed a technology developed for scientists, engineers, and the military.

The creation of a simple and elegant user interface gives entrepreneurs the ability to harness this new tool to solve problems, start businesses, and most importantly, experiment.

The impact made by 3-D printing is going to stretch far further than just consumer goods and transportation and medical devices. Every aspect of the $10 trillion manufacturing sector has the potential to be transformed. That’s $10 trillion worth of opportunity.

Five to Change the World

As Arduino hacker Charalampos Doukas says, as sensor prices crash downward, “The only limit is your imagination.”

Most researchers feel that there are two critical categories worth exploring: information and automation.

when Google paid $1 billion to acquire Waze, an Israeli-based company that generates maps and traffic information, not via electronic sensors, but instead via crowdsourced user reports—i.e., human sensors, generating maps by using GPS to track the movements of some 50 million users, then generating traffic-flow data as those users voluntarily share information about slowdowns, speed traps, and road closures in real time.

Infinite Computing: The Beauty of Brute Force

Yet the goal here isn’t to become Rackspace (or Amazon or Microsoft), it’s to build your big idea atop their infrastructure.

Infinite computing demonetizes error-making, thus democratizing experimentation.

Biotechnology isn’t just accelerating at the speed of Moore’s law, it’s accelerating at five times the speed of Moore’s law—doubling in power and halving in price every four months!

What all this means is that bioengineering, once an incredibly exclusive field limited to those with PhDs in large government and university labs, is starting to become an entrepreneurial playground.

Perhaps the biggest news is that synthetic biology is on the verge of developing the ultimate enabling technology and leveler of the playing field—a set of user-friendly interfaces.

The goal here is to make programming with biological parts as intuitive as Facebook.

And because this software lives in the cloud, not only can anyone use it to run experiments, anyone can sell the results on Autodesk’s soon-to-be-established Project Cyborg marketplace, meaning synthetic biology is about to get access to that fantastic accelerator of entrepreneurial possibility: its first app store.

PART TWO: BOLD MINDSET

Climbing Mount Bold

When people asked [Steve Jobs] why they needed this new facility, Jobs liked to say: “It is better to be a pirate than join the Navy.”

Goal setting is one of the easiest ways to increase motivation and enhance performance.

Big goals significantly outperform small goals, medium-sized goals, and vague goals. It comes down to attention and persistence—which are two of the most important factors in determining performance. Big goals help focus attention, and they make us more persistent. The result is we’re much more effective when we work, and much more willing to get up and try again when we fail.

Big goals work best when there’s an alignment between an individual’s values and the desired outcome of the goal.

As Burt Rutan, winner of the Ansari XPRIZE, once taught me: “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.

In a talk given at re:Invent 2012, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos7 explains it like this: “Many people misperceive what good entrepreneurs do. Good entrepreneurs don’t like risk. They seek to reduce risk. Starting a company is already risky . . . [so] you systematically eliminate risk in those early days.”

As most experiments fail, real progress requires trying out tons of ideas, decreasing the lag time between trials, and increasing the knowledge gained from results. This is rapid iteration.

That’s why LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman famously said, ‘If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.’ ”

Daniel Kahneman recently discovered, when you plot happiness and life satisfaction alongside income, they overlap until $70,000—i.e., the point at which money stops being a major issue—then wildly diverge.12 Once we pay people enough so that meeting basic needs is no longer a constant cause for concern, extrinsic rewards lose their effectiveness, while intrinsic rewards—meaning internal, emotional satisfactions—become far more critical.
Three in particular stand out: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

Creating a company with autonomy, mastery, and purpose as key values means creating a company built for speed. And this is no longer optional. In a world of increasing rapid change, tapping our third drive is an absolute fundamental for any exponential entrepreneur. Yet, unlike big companies, which often have to go skunk to tap this drive, bold entrepreneurs can get ahead of the game, baking autonomy, mastery, and purpose into their corporate culture from the get-go, rather than bolting them on later.

“In any organization,” says [Edward] Teller, “the bulk of your people will be climbing the hill they’re standing on. That’s what you want them to do. That’s their job. A skunk works does a totally different job. It’s a group of people looking for a better hill to climb. This is threatening to the rest of the organization. It just makes good sense to separate these two groups.”

It also makes sense to encourage skunk workers to take risks. “If you’re telling people to find a new mountain to climb,” says Teller, “it’s pretty stupid to tell them to play it safe. Moonshots are risky. If you’re interested in tackling these challenges, you’re going to have to embrace some serious risk.”

While a 10x improvement is gargantuan, Teller has very specific reasons for aiming exactly that high. “You assume that going 10x bigger is going to be ten times harder,” he continues, “but often it’s literally easier to go bigger. Why should that be? It doesn’t feel intuitively right. But if you choose to make something 10 percent better, you are almost by definition signing up for the status quo—and trying to make it a little bit better. […] But if you sign up for moonshot thinking, if you sign up to make something 10x better, there is no chance of doing that with existing assumptions. You’re going to have to throw out the rule book. You’re going to have to perspective-shift and supplant all that smartness and resources with bravery and creativity.”

This perspective shift is key. It encourages risk taking and enhances creativity while simultaneously guarding against the inevitable decline. Teller explains: “Even if you think you’re going to go ten times bigger, reality will eat into your 10x. It always does. There will be things that will be more expensive, some that are slower; others that you didn’t think were competitive will become competitive. If you shoot for 10x, you might only be at 2x by the time you’re done. But 2x is still amazing. On the other hand, if you only shoot for 2x [i.e., 200 percent], you’re only going to get 5 percent and it’s going to cost you the perspective shift that comes from aiming bigger.”

“People think that bold projects don’t get funding because of their audacity. That’s not the case. They don’t get funded because of a lack of measurability. Nobody wants to make a large up-front investment and wait ten years for any sign of life. But more often than not, if you can show progress along the way, smart investors will come on some pretty crazy rides.”

Google’s Eight Innovation Principles

These rules are core to your success as an exponential entrepreneur. My suggestion is that you write them on your wall, use them as a filter for your next start-up idea, but above all, don’t ignore them.

  1. Focus on the User.
  2. Share Everything.
  3. Look for Ideas Everywhere.
  4. Think Big but Start Small.
  5. Never Fail to Fail. The importance of rapid iteration: Fail frequently, fail fast, and fail forward.
  6. Spark with Imagination, Fuel with Data.
  7. Be a Platform.
  8. Have a Mission That Matters.

Flow

Flow follows focus, and consequences always catch our attention. As big goals have big consequences, they too serve this function. And value-aligned big goals work even better. When alignment exists, passion results.

By creating an environment packed with flow triggers, skunk works create a high-flow environment.

Flow’s Environmental Triggers

Environmental triggers are qualities in the environment that drive people deeper into flow.

High consequences: When there’s danger lurking in the environment, we don’t need to concentrate extra hard to drive focus; the elevated risk levels do the job for us.

Rich environment: Novelty means both danger and opportunity. How to employ this trigger on the job? Simply increase the amount of novelty, complexity, and unpredictability in the environment. This is exactly what Astro Teller did by throwing out existing assumptions and demanding a 10x improvement. But it’s also what Steve Jobs did when he designed Pixar. By building a large atrium at the building’s center, then locating the mailboxes, cafeteria, meeting rooms, and most famously, the bathrooms, beside the atrium, he forced employees from all walks of the company to randomly bump into one another, massively increasing the amount of novelty, complexity, and unpredictability in their daily life.

Deep embodiment is a kind of total physical awareness. It means paying attention with multiple sensory streams at once. Take Montessori education. By working with your hands alongside your brain, you’re engaging multiple sensory systems at once, grabbing hold of the attention system and forcing focus into the now.

Flow’s Psychological Triggers

Clear goals. [Break] tasks into bite-size chunks and setting goals accordingly. A writer, for example, is better off trying to pen three great paragraphs at a time, rather than attempting one great chapter. Think challenging yet manageable—just enough stimulation to shortcut attention into the now, not enough stress to pull you back out again.

Immediate feedback. Implementing this in business is fairly straightforward: Tighten feedback loops. Practice agile design. Put mechanisms in place so attention doesn’t have to wander. Ask for more input. How much input? Well, forget quarterly reviews.

The challenge/skills ratio. Attention is most engaged when there’s a very specific relationship between the difficulty of a task and our ability to perform that task. If the challenge is too great, fear swamps the system. If the challenge is too easy, we stop paying attention. Flow appears near the emotional midpoint between boredom and anxiety, in what scientists call the flow channel—the spot where the task is hard enough to make us stretch; not hard enough to make us snap.

Uncertainty is our rocket ride into the now.

Flow’s Social Triggers

When egos have been blended, no one’s hogging the spotlight and everyone’s thoroughly involved.

Always say “yes, and . . . ,”:

“Hey, there’s a blue elephant in the bathroom,” and you respond with “No, there’s not,” the scene goes nowhere. Your denial kills the flow. But instead, if your response is of the “yes, and . . .” variety—“Yeah, sorry, I had no idea where to put him, did he leave the toilet seat up again?”—then the story goes someplace interesting.

Flow’s Creative Trigger

Go out of your way to stretch your imagination. Massively up the amount of novelty in your life; the research shows that new environments and experiences are often the jumping-off point for new ideas (more opportunity for pattern recognition).

The Secrets of Going Big

Born Above the Line of Super-Credibility