Each week, the London Strategy Unit's Matt Boffey reads one of the most influential books from the world of innovation, marketing or creativity so you don't have to. In today's digest, he tells us what we can learn from How to Go Big, Create Wealth, and Impact the World by Peter H Diamandis and Steven Kotler.
Why have we chosen this book?
Because in a world of blistering technological change and extreme connectedness, we often struggle to see the big picture. Bold looks at super-entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, Larry Page, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson and argues that they’re all ‘ten times’ thinkers - they envisage transformational change and make it their end goal.
What’s the original thought or argument?
Moore’s Law has taken us to a place where world-changing ideas are matched by the technical capability to make them them happen. Because of this, Diamandis and Kotler argue that the future belongs to entrepreneurs who pursue ‘moonshots’ - huge ideas that could change the world. Elon Musk, having pioneered in online payments, solar energy, automotives and space travel is, for the authors, the embodiment of a bold thinker.
If you want to look smart, just read
Chapter Nine, where Diamandis and Kotler explore how communities turn these ‘moonshots’ into reality. Crowdsourcing platforms like Kickstarter and Tongal are great platforms for gaining momentum and attracting talent early on, but getting your community to do the work for you is even better. Luis von Ahn harnessed the power of crowds through reCAPTCHA where, by verifying that they weren’t bots, users digitised parts of books that computers couldn’t recognise.
You might want to skip
Chapter Ten, which is a guide to incentivising these communities with prizes. The authors argue that one way to achieve a massive transformation is by opening up the challenge to the public and offering a reward. The Google Lunar XPRIZE, for example, offers $30million to any privately-funded team that lands a robot on the surface of the moon. For a work that’s all about sense of purpose and transformative change, concluding that cash is the ultimate incentivise contradicts much of the book’s wisdom.
Why trust these authors?
Diamandis and Kotler are prime examples of bold entrepreneurs themselves. Diamandis co-founded and now chairs the Singularity University, the Silicon Valley think-tank and incubator accommodating start-ups that aim to ‘change the lives of a billion people’. Kotler is a bestselling non-fiction author and co-founded the Flow Genome Project which aims to map the genes that enable human hyperfocus.
Once you’ve read this you don’t need to read
Walter Isaacson’s The Innovators which meanders through innovators from Ida Lovelace (who wrote the first computer algorithm in 1842) to Larry Page. It’s interesting in its historical scope, but devoid of insight into what really makes these people tick.
Why should this stay on your bookshelf?
Diamandis and Kotler’s optimism about individual’s ability to create the future is infectious. Having this on your bookshelf is an affirming reminder that, though governments have dropped the baton in several areas of innovation - especially space travel - progress is being pushed forward by plenty of exceptional entrepreneurs.
What’s the one thing you should do differently after reading this book?
As the first step to making your big idea happen, think: ‘How am I going to create a community that shares my vision?’ Creating this community will give your project a momentum all of its own. If you do it right - and Chapter Ten will help - it’ll bring in all kinds of skills from people you wouldn’t have otherwise had access to.
Best quote in the whole book?
‘Creating a company with autonomy, mastery, and purpose as key values means creating a company built for speed. And this is no longer optional. Yet, unlike big companies, bold entrepreneurs can get ahead of the game and bake these into their culture rather than bolting them on later.’
Matt Boffey is the founder of London Strategy Unit, which you can follow on Twitter @LSUsocial