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Changing the world starts with changing your mind
First, we’ve forgotten how to dream big dreams—the really big dreams—the kinds of dreams that show that mankind can reach for, and actually touch, the stars. “Impossible” dreams that truly do come to pass when somebody dares to dream them.
Naveen Jain, Moonshots
We are conditioned to think incrementally. Linearly.
It’s hard to imagine exponential growth and order-of-magnitude improvements. We know too much to dream big anymore.
And so we limit our own ambitions by assuming only small improvements are possible. We settle for small improvements.
Just look at company growth targets. Their default is usually around 5%. 10%.
If your goal is to grow 5-10% a year, the playbook would be pretty straightforward. Usually, you just do what you’re already doing, with a bit more efficiency or effectiveness. But what if you had to achieve 500% growth? 1000% growth?
You can't just do more of the same anymore. You need to tear up your playbook and start over.
That's what 10x thinking is.
We aren't talking about making the glass a little thinner or the battery last a little longer. We're talking about eliminating the need for a battery altogether.
It requires us to accept that traditional techniques won’t work and to get radical.
We accept that the constraints of today will be the constraints of tomorrow.
But what if this wasn’t the case? What if we were able to create a world of abundance?
Moonshots start with your mindset
How do the world's biggest problems get solved?
It starts with someone dreaming. With someone questioning the status quo. It starts with someone making it their ambition to solve the problem. It sounds obvious, but let’s think about that for a moment.
The limit on global progress is the ambition of the most ambitious.
When I first saw this quote, I felt like I got it. I was nodding along. But it took me a while to internalize it.
The way the world progresses. Every idea. Every improvement. It starts with ambition.
We need people to set ambitious goals to drive the world forward.
Because if the most ambitious people in the world aren’t going to try to solve the problem, then who will?
If it's nobody's ambition to cure cancer, nobody is going to work toward it.
If it's nobody's ambition to eradicate world hunger, nobody is going to work toward it.
If it's nobody's ambition to inhabit another planet, nobody is going to work toward it.
If it's nobody's ambition to live forever, nobody is going to work toward it.
It doesn’t matter what it is. Achieving the impossible starts with making it your ambition.
And yet it feels like most ambition isn’t actually that ambitious. Too many of us are content with the world being 5% better.
Imagine if the COVID-19 vaccine was released 5% faster than the typical vaccine timeline. It would have taken up to 10-15 years. Maybe we could save half a year off that timeline with our 5% ambitions. Imagine we went a full decade without the COVID-19 vaccine. In most scenarios, that would have been expected.
Instead, we got the vaccine out in a YEAR.
Critics and skeptics didn’t think this was feasible. Multiple ambitious labs around the world thought differently. Why would we want to settle for the status quo when we have people willing to strive for more?
This is what moonshots are all about.
Shoot for 10x better.
Changing the world in four weeks
Over the next 4 weeks, students will be trying to come up with their own Moonshot. They are choosing a big problem they want to try to impact and getting creative to develop a solution that’s 10x better than what exists today. It’s going to take a deep understanding of what’s possible with all sorts of emerging technologies as well as clarity on some of the root causes of their problem. Now is the time to let ambition fly high.
Students have been training for this all year., some of the world’s biggest problems, and understanding what goes into a compelling presentation. They made one-pagers on quantum computing, a well-researched pitch deck for some of the world’s largest companies, did a handful of presentations, and have written thousands of words on their favourite topics.
It’s game time.
And it’s not just any game. For some things, game day is a test of your current abilities. But in others, like the moonshot, it’s a growth opportunity. It’s an intense, compressed learning experience that when done right, will lead to exponential growth.
Some thematic reading about working on harder problems and thinking bigger.
🦄 How to build an enduring, multi-billion dollar business - Sarah Tavel (Benchmark) writes about how to think about building an enduring billion-dollar business. In a nutshell? A 10x better product that’s cheaper. It’s not enough to just be one.
⚔️ Choose good quests - There are so many massive problems the world is facing that need more smart people working on them. I am not a second-time founder, but it reminds me of the impact I’m able to make in my position with the students who come through TKS.
🪐 A spicy take from Chris Power of Hadrian - In a similar vein, too many smart people or working on uninteresting problems. We’re at a critical point in history and great minds are distracted from making a huge impact.
And lastly, here are some companies shooting for the moon right now:
Persephone is working on gut microbiome engineering, creating probiotics to avoid future gut issues and potential allergies
BIOS is creating a “BIOS" for the body with neural-cardiac therapy to track neural biomarkers leading to personalized medicine and recommendations.
Yuri is researching drug manufacturing, plant growth, and more in microgravity
Varda is pursuing manufacturing in space to take advantage of microgravity
Moon Express is working on harvesting resources used in nuclear fusion from the moon
Aalo is trying to create small-scale nuclear fission reactors
Zero Acre is creating a lab-grown cooking oil that’s better for your health and the environment (reduced deforestation, carbon footprint, and water use)
Many go way deeper in their personal projects