Bold - By Peter Diamandis

Date read: 
January 6, 2016
See My Collection of 50+ Book Notes

My Thoughts

Read the first 2/3rds, which are absolutely fantastic at helping you think bigger and setting more ambitious goals. The last third focuses on crowdsourcing, which felt really out of place. Required reading if you want to change the world.

Summary Notes

The Six Ds of Exponentials:

  • Digitalization: Anything that becomes digitized hops on Moore’s law, becoming capable of exponential growth
  • Deception: The exponential growth of small numbers often produces results so minuscule they are often mistaken for the plodder’s progress of linear growth.
  • Disruption: Either disrupt yourself or be disrupted by someone else.
  • Demonetization: More and more things are become free; Google’s giving away billions of dollars of value with their free Chrome browser but make a killing off the information they gather
  • Dematerialization: Product features will coalesce into a single product. Your smartphone is a calculator, camera, phone, rolodex, notebook, etc., all in one.
  • Democratization: The cost drops so that almost anyone can access the technology

The Gartner Hype Cycle:


The US’s first military jet was delivered to the Pentagon just 143 days later, a staggeringly short time frame that was, more incredibly, seven days ahead of schedule. In a typical military project, contractors can’t even get their paperwork signed in that window, forget about building anything.

The world’s grandest challenges contain the world’s biggest business opportunities. The best way to become a billionaire is to solve a billion-person problem.

The day before something is truly a breakthrough, it’s a crazy idea.

If you’re looking for a quick and dirty definition of the term rapid iteration, try the unofficial motto of Silicon Valley: “Fail early, fail often, fail forward." As most experiments fail, real progress requires trying out tons of ideas, decreasing the lag time between trials, and increasing the knowledge gained from results

LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman famously said, ‘If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.’ 

Often it’s literally easier to go bigger. If you choose to make something 10 percent better, you start from the status quo, with all its existing assumptions, locked into the tools, technologies, and processes that you’re going to try to slightly improve. It means you’re putting yourself and your people into a smartness contest with everyone else in the world. Statistically, no matter the resources available, you’re not going to win. But if you sign up for moonshot thinking, if you sign up to make something 10x better, there is no chance of doing that with existing assumptions. You’re going to have to throw out the rule book. You’re going to have to perspective-shift and supplant all that smartness and resources with bravery and creativity.

Google’s Eight Innovation Principles:

  1. Focus on the User.
  2. Share Everything. In a hyperconnected world with massive amounts of cognitive surplus, it’s critical to be open, allow the crowd to help you innovate, and build on each other’s ideas.
  3. Look for Ideas Everywhere.
  4. Think Big but Start Small. You can start a company on day one that affects a small group, but aim to positively impact a billion people within a decade.
  5. Never Fail to Fail. Fail frequently, fail fast, and fail forward.
  6. Spark with Imagination, Fuel with Data. The most successful start-ups today are data driven.
  7. Be a Platform.
  8. Have a Mission That Matters. Is the company you’re starting built upon a massively transformative purpose?

Clear goals tell us what we’re doing; immediate feedback tells us how to do it better. If we know how to improve performance in real time, the mind doesn’t go off in search of clues for betterment; we can keep ourselves fully present and fully focused and thus much more likely to be in flow.

You don’t spend your time being bothered that you can’t teleport from here to Japan, because there’s a part of you that thinks it’s impossible. Moonshot thinking is choosing to be bothered by that.

In each of our minds we have a line of credibility. When you first hear a new idea, you place it above or below this line. If you place it below, you dismiss it immediately, often as ridiculous. If you place it above, you’re willing to give it the benefit of the doubt, follow it over time, and continue to make serial judgments. But we also have a line of super-credibility. When a new idea is born above this line, you accept it immediately and say, “Wow, that’s fantastic! How can I get involved?” The idea is so convincing that your mind accepts it as fact and your focus shifts from probabilities to implications.

The very best people to help you with your next project are those who helped you or watched you succeed with your last. The folks most likely to invest in your success are those who have already watched you succeed. So if you’re lacking a track record, make one. Start your bold project with a much smaller effort aimed at letting others see you pull it off. Then tap that network for your next step.

Investors love ideas, but they fund execution.

Big goals only increase motivation when the person setting those goals is confident in their ability to achieve them. This means breaking big goals apart into achievable subgoals.

We broke down our moonshot into five executable steps:

  1. Hold a conference at MIT to study the idea of ISU.
  2. Borrow the campus of MIT to hold a nine-week ISU summer session and invite a hundred graduate students to participate.
  3. Repeat the same summer program in additional countries to prove out the concept and build a global community.
  4. Establish a permanent terrestrial campus.
  5. Establish an orbital space campus on the International Space Station.

You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. The same is true for ideas.

When someone says no, it’s often because they’re not empowered to say yes. In many organizations, the only person who can say yes is the one atop the food chain.

The best predictor of future success is past action. It doesn’t matter how small those actions. Doing something, doing anything, is always so much more important than just talking about doing it.

No one ever considers himself expert if he really knows his job. A man who knows a job sees so much more to be done than he has done, that he is always pressing forward and never gives an instant of thought to how good and how efficient he is.

Peter’s Laws™ - The Creed of the Persistent and Passionate Mind

  1. If anything can go wrong, fix it! (To hell with Murphy!)
  2. When given a choice—take both!
  3. Multiple projects lead to multiple successes.
  4. Start at the top, then work your way up.
  5. Do it by the book . . . but be the author!
  6. When forced to compromise, ask for more.
  7. If you can’t win, change the rules.
  8. If you can’t change the rules, then ignore them.
  9. Perfection is not optional.
  10. When faced without a challenge—make one.
  11. No simply means begin one level higher.
  12. Don’t walk when you can run.
  13. When in doubt: THINK!
  14. Patience is a virtue, but persistence to the point of success is a blessing.
  15. The squeaky wheel gets replaced.
  16. The faster you move, the slower time passes, the longer you live.
  17. The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself!
  18. The ratio of something to nothing is infinite.
  19. You get what you incentivize.
  20. If you think it is impossible, then it is for you.
  21. An expert is someone who can tell you exactly how something can’t be done.
  22. The day before something is a breakthrough, it’s a crazy idea.
  23. If it was easy, it would have been done already.
  24. Without a target you’ll miss it every time.Fail early, fail often, fail forward!
  25. If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.
  26. The world’s most precious resource is the persistent and passionate human mind.
  27. Bureaucracy is an obstacle to be conquered with persistence, confidence, and a bulldozer when necessary.

One of the first things one learns from Musk’s example—he is relentless in his pursuit of the bold and, the bigger point, totally unfazed by scale. When he couldn’t get a job, he started a company. When Internet commerce stalled, he reinvented banking. When he couldn’t find decent launch services for his Martian greenhouse, he went into the rocket business. And as a kicker, because he never lost interest in the problem of energy, he started both an electric car and a solar energy company.

"Even if the probability for success is fairly low, if the objective is really important, it’s still worth doing. Conversely, if the objective is less important, then the probability needs to be much greater. How I decide which projects to take on depends on probability multiplied by the importance of the objective."

He is quick to rapidly iterate his ideas, and quicker to shut down a failure. In total, while Richard Branson is known to have started some five hundred companies, he has also shut down the two hundred of them that didn’t work.

“I have a very simple metric I use: Are you working on something that can change the world? Yes or no? The answer for 99.99999 percent of people is no. I think we need to be training people on how to change the world.”

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

Don’t think outside the box. Go box shopping. Keep trying on one after another until you find the one that catalyzes your thinking. A good box is like a lane marker on the highway. It’s a constraint that liberates.

In a world without constraints, most people take their time on projects and assume far fewer risks, while spending as much money as you’ll give them. They try to reach their goals in comfortable and conservative ways—which, of course, leads nowhere new.

Related Notes

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