Let’s keep the breakthroughs coming!
In a minute, I want to share something I read about Elon Musk, and 10X innovation — in digging holes, of all places. But first, a little context.
Yesterday, I wrote about how you are what you consume — including, maybe especially, the information you consume.
I talked about it in the context of developing an enhancing your perspective, and widening your reality tunnels.
But there’s a more daily use for this knowledge as well.
Namely, what you consume is always and forever impacting the perspective you have on your life and the opportunities available to you. And, it has a HUGE impact on your state of mind.
And since these things have a HUGE impact, in turn, on the work you do in the world…
What you consume on a daily basis can play a gigantic role in whether you spend your life doing awesome things, or doing nothing at all.
If you want to spend your life doing awesome, incredible things, it’s necessary for you to consume information on a regular and consistent basis that keeps you in a productive, action-oriented, positive state, and gives you a productive view of the world.
If you think about that for a minute, you should know you’re in the right place.
Since every daily issue of Breakthrough Marketing Secrets is written with the intention of helping you grow and experience greater success, you’re already consuming a very important and helpful piece of information every day.
Along with these essays, though, consider the other media you consume. Articles and essays from others. As well as TV and radio, podcasts, online video, and more.
How are they enriching your life (or not!)? How are they impacting your perspective on the world and your life? How are they impacting your state of mind — for better or worse?
I’m not always perfect about this, and in following all news, I invariably read some that I consider to be bad news — some of it quite bad.
Yet I like to also make sure I regularly get inspired by folks who are actively creating a bigger, brighter future.
Peter Diamandis wrote about this, with Steven Kotler, in their book Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think. I was also listening to the Cracked podcast last night, the most recent episode titled The Enormous Lie About Modern Life (You Likely Believe).
Long story short, even in my warning about the rise of AI and the end the work as we know it, I’m being a fear-monger on this. Modern tech has created an extraordinary rise in the standard of living for everyone around the world. And short of us totally destroying ourselves (or nature doing it for us), we’re likely to only continue to enjoy more and more wealth and abundance.
This really blew my mind: in 1820, about 94% of human beings lived on the modern equivalent of less than $2 per day. That’s AFTER inflation-adjusting. In short, unless you were in that top 6% of humans on the planet, you lived in what today we would call “extreme poverty.”
What do you think that number is today? 40%? 30%? Maybe the really optimistic, if they watch the news, would think we have that down under 25%.
In reality, it’s less than 10% of human beings today who live on less than $2 per day.
Yes, that’s still too many. But the trend is definitively downward. 200 years ago, almost 19 out of every 20 humans lived on nothing. Today, it’s 1 in 10.
Technology has increased our productivity as a species to extreme levels. Every time a piece of tech takes away 10 jobs, that can feel very painful in the short run. But in the long run, it creates these massive shifts in the resources we have available and our measurable standard of living. And even though it can feel like the fruits of that are overwhelmingly harvested by the ultra-rich… It’s clear if you look at the trend that everybody benefits. And what has happened is that over time, employment shifts from market to market to market, with jobs lost today being replaced by jobs we can’t even imagine today.
Elon Musk is a great example of this — and is creating huge innovation in almost everything he touches…
I won’t go into a full biography, but Elon Musk is a very interesting character. If I recall right, was actually inspired by the Tony Stark character in Iron Man. No, you didn’t read that wrong, nor did I write it wrong. He has been inspired to follow the fictional character, the fictional character was not inspired by him.
One of Musk’s earliest successes was a company called X.com. In 1999, Musk believed online banking would change the world in a huge way. At the same time, another company founded by Peter Thiel, launched a payment platform for customers, called PayPal. The companies were sympatico, and merged a year later — doubling down on the now-ubiquitous PayPal platform. It completely changed the way we interact with, send, and receive money online.
In 2001, Musk decided he wanted to put people on Mars. More than a 10X breakthrough in space travel. By 2002, when eBay bought PayPal, Musk created SpaceX, which is currently slated to launch its first Mars mission within 5 years. Oh yeah, and he says that for a Mars colony to work (his long term goal), all-electric transportation will be required. Which brings us to…
Tesla. The company was founded in 2003, but Musk became an investor in 2004, and created the vision that’s led to the media darling electric car manufacturer we know today. Electric cars existed before Tesla. But they’ve grown the market well beyond 10X, by creating a vision of something much bigger. But what’s far more impressive is how they’ve moved self-driving cars leaps and bounds forward — a significant percentage of Tesla miles driven TODAY (literally, today) will be driven with computer-assisted driving.
Along with those innovations, Musk has taken on the role of energy titan. But not in the traditional fossil fuels energy industry. Rather, batteries (required for Tesla electric cars) and solar, now via SolarCity. SolarCity is in the process of making a rooftop solar market breakthrough at least as powerful as the auto breakthroughs we’ve seen from Tesla. Just in the last few years, they’ve dropped the cost-per-watt of residential solar almost by half, and within the next decade, this trend could make solar cheaper than just about any fossil fuel for most electrical generation.
Next? A 10X innovation in digging technology…
The story that inspired today’s article came out last week, but has been about 3 1/2 years in the making.
In August 2013, Musk unveiled yet another big, bold idea.
For this, think of those tubes at the drive-through lanes at the bank. You put your money, checks, or whatever you need to get to the teller into a canister. You load the canister into its spot, and close the door. They push a button, and it uses a vacuum to suck the canister from its spot by your car to the teller at rapid speed.
Musk proposed the same idea, but for mass transit. He suggested that if you put a tube between LA and San Francisco, you could make the journey in 35 minutes. At 350 miles or so, that means your average speed is around 600 MPH.
He called it Hyperloop.
He had a team put together the initial specs on it, then released it into the world, free. Not having the bandwidth to do this innovation justice, he asked the world to work on it for him. And not only are academic teams now competing for recognition as having the best Hyperloop vehicle design, there are also now multiple companies trying to commercialize the innovation.
But something else happened. Musk got interested in digging tunnels. He figured at least some of the tunnels required for hyperloop would have to go underground (in fact, they’d be safer there). And so he started to research digging tunnels.
At the same time, Musk was annoyed with a much smaller problem, but a big problem in his life. Namely, the traffic on Crenshaw Boulevard, in front of the SpaceX headquarters. He wanted employees to be able to cross the street safely and quickly, so he decided to dig a hole underneath.
This, to Musk, was an inspiring challenge. Quoting an article from GeekWire…
“We started digging a hole,” Musk said. “So on Crenshaw [Boulevard], which is in front of SpaceX headquarters, there’s a giant hole. I find holes in the ground exciting, I was discussing this with my girlfriend. She didn’t find it that exciting, but I thought it was really great. It’s right there, you can check it out.”
That part is funny, but what comes next is the really important part…
“That’s going to be the start, a hole for the tunnel boring machine. We’re going to just try to figure out what it takes to improve tunneling speed by … somewhere between 500 and 1,000 percent is, I think, possible, if you apply a limit-of-physics approach. We’ll see how far we can get. We’re just sort of muddling along. We have no idea what we’re doing, let’s be clear about that.”
A 500% (5X) to 1,000% (10X) improvement in tunneling speed.
He doesn’t just say “Who can dig this tunnel cheap, and get the construction permit approved?”
He wants to dig a hole, and so he tries to figure out how to create a machine that will dig holes 10X as fast.
And, he comes at it by first throwing all assumptions about what’s possible out the window.
It makes him sound like a total novice when he says, “We have no idea what we’re doing.” But the Buddhist concept of Beginner’s Mind is, I think, far more relevant here. What he’s saying is partly right. But he’s also coming in with a sharp-as-a-tack engineering mind that has willingly dropped all preconceptions about how holes are supposed to be dug, with the intention of making a 5X to 10X improvement.
Musk wasn’t in banking when he played his role in the founding of PayPal. He wasn’t an astronaut when he started SpaceX. He wasn’t a car company executive when he took over at Tesla. He wasn’t in the energy business before Solar City. And he wasn’t doing mass transit before inventing Hyperloop.
Yes, he is one of the best and brightest minds on the planet. He has spent his entire life training his mind to solve big problems with 10X innovations.
But that all started because he decided that’s the way he’d approach them — NOT to do things as well as or marginally better than everybody, but to completely change the way the world thinks about any industry he touches.
My question to you: what problem exists in the market right now that you could provide a 10X solution for?
What could you do today to get 10X the result, instead of 10% more or even 2X?
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
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