Talent hits a target which no one else can hit. Genius hits a target which others can’t see- Schopenhauer
Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky were two twenty-something graduates of Rhode Island School of design based in San Francisco. They wanted to attend the Industrial Designers Society of America conference in San Fransico. When they checked the conference website, a message on it hit them: “Sorry, the hotels are sold out. There are no rooms in San Franciso”. An idea struck them. What if we can rent out the spare room in our apartment by fitting in an inflated bed? With the help of a geek friend they created a programme, reached out and the first customers walked in few days later. The idea was spun out into a business which is now valued at $25billion. The company is Airbnb (air bed n breakfast) and is valued higher than Hyatt.
Google, Facebook, Whatsapp, Pinterest, Uber, Under Armour, Theranos and other similar new brigade of multi-billion valued companies are changing the way we live, commute, think and share. What is it that drives these men and women (yes!) into doing things which conventional wisdom says no? Is there a secret formula which escapes the many but enriches the few among us?
David McClelland’s Human Motivation Theory states that there three things that 3 needs that drive humans – need for achievement(nAch), need for power(n-Pow) and need for affiliation (nAffil). nAch (Need for Achievement) better describes these makers of the new world. nAch people avoid both low and high risk approaches – low risk bores them, high risk is matter of chance and luck, hence not their choice. They seek a 50% probability environments. If they don’t get one, they create one.
What is that one element that sets them apart from other entrepreneurs and common man? Money.
In the summer of 2006, Yahoo offered to buy Facebook for $1billion. Famously Mark Zuckerberg walked into the board meeting called to discuss this offer and said, “this should not take more than few minutes. We are not selling”. (Then)22 year old Mark Zuckerberg didn’t want $1billion? Nah. Did he know that Facebook will be worth $250billion in 2015? Nah. He wanted to achieve and build something new, different and of his own. nAch the spirit!
Their businesses do not follow any theory or models taught in business schools. Today their business models have become the theory in business schools. No wonder many of them are drop-outs of niche colleges as there is no college for a genius (caution: not all college drop-outs are geniuses!). They are driven by what I would like to call BumbleBee Syndrome.
Scientists have established that the size and capacity of the wings of a bumble bee are disproportionate to its body weight and technically the bumble bee should not fly. But it does. Why? Because the bumble bee does not know that its wings and body are mismatched. Similarly these new makers and shakers of the world do not know about the conventional wisdom and hence go out to make a new world out of sheer curiosity and passion. That’s the secret formula of their success. Failure is just a milestone.
We always ask our children “what do you want to be when you grow up?” The answers lead them up the traditional paths. Instead ask “what problem you want to solve?” They will create their own path and make the world a different or a better place.
It’s a time to reflect upon ourselves. It’s time to step out of the comfort zones and cocoons of safety hidebound by traditions, theories and formulas. What our minds are capable of we are not aware. We are bumble bees, unfortunately educated to fit but not to create.
What’s your idea?
The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.- George Bernard Shaw