This is the follow up to my last blog post where I wrote about the dangers of being a visionary without having the means to make those visions reality. I think that people who should be visioneering the future are the ones that have already made gobs and gobs of cash and can hire the brightest minds to work for them, who can then spend gobs of cash on research and development.
Sergei Brin and Larry Page were students at Stanford University when they came up with the idea of solving a problem of how to search through what was at that time tens of thousands of web pages. They didn’t even know how they were going to make money. AdWords didn’t exist then. There was no big massive vision here. Yet they turned it into a big massive company that is now using their billions to vision such things as self-driving cars and Google Glasses.
If they make a mistake they have more money and more resources to throw at it until they get it right. You and I don’t! Not yet!
Many other companies and billionaires are also innovating on a huge scale. From developing the first private spacecraft to solving world health problems, these wealthy innovating entrepreneurs are attracting the best minds to innovate and change the world.
I often get asked to comment on what I think would be the next great technology that will change the world. And it was a recent question from a friend that inspired me to write this Blog post and the next 2..
I could describe myself as a visionary, however, I prefer to leave the visioneering up to others while I try to fix real world problems of today and here’s why.
I have spent way too much time and money chasing visions that other people thought were unrealistic. All the things that I tried to get funded came to pass, just not through me. So living on the bleeding edge is great if you want fame and are willing to be broke for a long time. However, if you want to truly change the world then bleeding is not a good idea.
In fact I have a quote I came up with many years ago that says “If you want to create Change, then make Change” and that is make ‘change’ as in money change. With money you can truly affect change. You can lead investor rounds. You can fund your own ventures. You can actually innovate because you are not starving and not worried about bills not being paid and the utilities being cut off and being homeless.
So what kinds of things did I dream about and try to get funded that eventually happened?
In 1979 I envisioned small TV screens in the headrests of airplane seats. I had figured out an actual working model and approached my mentors and investors who all thought I was nuts. It took more than 20 years for us to see that technology come to pass. Admittedly the technology 20 years later was way more appropriate to make something like this happen.
In 1999 I wanted to create a way to track my kids with GPS devices and be able to view where they were on the Internet. My business plan called for these same devices to be used to track vehicles and trucking fleets. However, investors were not buying it. Again the technology was not what it was 5 years later. GPS devices were too cumbersome. 5 years in technology and the Internet is a very long time. Today we have GPS tracking technology for kids in cell phones and trucking fleets and warehousing companies use these devices to track their assets. You can even track your friends with the iPhone app Find My Friends.
In 2000 I envisioned a way for all of us to find a dentist or a doctor or just about any other professional and book an appointment with them online 24/7/365. This time I raised some money to do this but the medical establishment thought I was nuts. “What about privacy” they cried even though we assured them that no one would ever be able to see who else had booked an appointment with a doctor. 10 years later a company called ZocDoc is doing it fairly successfully and have raised $95 Million dollars with a $700 Million dollar valuation.
This is why I now choose to innovate in the present moment. Find a problem people are having right now and then develop the most innovative solution I can. And from that point on innovate continuously.
So who should envision the future? That will be the topic of my next blog post.
I have written many blogs over the years so I am going to keep this one as my way of keeping in touch with my friends.
The Secret Killer
Find out what it is before it kills you and your loved ones and what you can do about it.