How to Engineer a Breakthrough
Last week I watched an incredible interview with entrepreneur Peter Diamandis about his new book “Abundance – The Future Is Better Than You Think”. My best takeaway from the interview was the notion that every breakthrough was once a crazy idea that someone took a risk on. If it wasn’t a crazy idea, then it would have been an incremental improvement. That really got me thinking so this week I wanted to share my thoughts with you on how you can engineer a breakthrough yourself.
Before we begin, for those of you who haven’t heard of Peter Diamandis, he’s known as the father of the space travel industry through his creation of the X Prize Foundation that aims to create radical breakthroughs that benefit humanity. To achieve this they offer large cash incentives to inventors who solve grand scale challenges and problems.
The first X-Prize related to personal space flight travel and Peter issued the challenge in May 1996 to create the first non-government organisation to launch a reusable manned space craft into space twice within two weeks. The prize was $10 million.
Wouldn’t you love to win a prize like that?
Here’s where it gets really crazy. Even though the prize for wining the competition was $10 million, Peter didn’t have the $10 million dollars!!!
In case a few of you are thinking that he’s a fraud, a liar and a cheat – HOLD UP A SEC!
True entrepreneurs know that you don’t always have to have ALL of the resources at hand but you do need to be resourceful. If you don’t have money you need to know how to get it, and that’s exactly what Peter did.
Peter knew that he was onto something great and he also knew that the competition would attract a lot of eyes around the world. So the “X” in the X-Prize represented the unknown sponsor that would donate the money to this worthy cause and Peter was going to replace the “X” with the Sponsor’s name once they had come on board.
Talk about ballsy!
The gamble paid off and in May 2004 the prize was renamed The Ansari X Prize. Peter says in the interview that he kept the X in the prize name because for 8 years everyone knew the competition as the X Prize so best to leverage the existing reputation!
The prize was eventually won by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and Burt Rutan who invested more than $100 million into the technologies behind the creation of the space plane SpaceShipOne.
Offer Something That People Can Be A Part Of
Now you’re probably thinking, “hang on a sec, they invested 10 times the prize money in order to win the prize, that’s just insane!!!” and you’d be right but here’s the thing.
It’s not about the prize money at all. It’s about the pursuit of the goal and winning the challenge. Like Zig Ziglar says “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”
Can you imagine the flow on effects from the technology created for the plane? The technology doesn’t need to be utilised in the aviation industry it could be used to engineer breakthroughs in other industries. And don’t forget Paul and Burt weren’t the only ones to enter the competition. Collectively participants would have created some amazing technology!
Look at the Big Picture
You really have to look at the big picture in Peter’s X Prize story and it breaks down like this – Dream, Build, Inspire, Lead!
He had a great DREAM of solving a problem but didn’t have all the resources to do it. Instead of just waiting to get all the resources he chose to be resourceful and BUILT something amazing – The X Prize.
In launching the competition and the prize, he INSPIRED people all around the world to challenge themselves to have a higher expectation of themselves in the pursuit of a big, crazy goal.
And finally he became a LEADER by motivating people by securing the prize money.
A great example of the Dream, Build, Inspire, Lead! philosophy in action.
And the flow on effects of that are just phenomenal as now he has a proven model that works to inspire and motivate and perhaps even mobilise an entire planet into solving a big picture problem.
Embrace The World of Abundance
By now you’re getting a sense of what’s possible if we are truly passionate about something and leverage that passion to get other people excited. And that is essentially what Peter’s new book Abundance is all about.
In the interview Peter spoke about the world that we live in today. He says that most people out there have a pessimistic view of the world which is perpetuated by the media because doom and gloom sells. But he approaches it from an entirely different perspective by looking at the technology innovations, in particular the development of social technologies like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
This is where my hands went crazy taking notes because as most of you know that my company BLKMGK is now specialising in Social Media Strategy so I was really interested to hear how these social technologies are changing the world.
They’re changing the world because they are connecting people on such a grand scale that has never been done before in the history of humanity. In 2010 there were 2 billion people online and by 2020 there will be 5 billion people online. That represents an incredible opportunity for humanity to collaborate to solve some of the worlds largest problems.
According to Peter, abundance is entirely possible but only if we create it ourselves and given the way we are all connected through these new technologies there has never been a better time to be alive and contribute towards the development of humanity.
Now that’s exciting!
Now you know a bit about Peter’s story and his philosophy of abundance, this week I want to challenge you to answer this question.
“How can I leverage Social Media Technologies like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to help me, learn more, earn more and contribute more to society?”
So you might answer something like “I want to learn more about how to develop my goals so that I can earn more money to donate more to charity.” Or you could go crazy like Peter and answer “I’m going to create a competition to eradicate poverty in Africa and I’m going to use Social Media Technologies to help me spread the word.”
By the way, in case you’re wondering how I would answer that question, well you’re here with me today because I answered that question 5 years ago when I started Dream, Build, Inspire, Lead!. And I honestly believe the best is yet to come from all of us.
For those of you who want to know more about Peter and his adventures here are some links for you:
Until next week… Dream, Build, Inspire, Lead!