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Vision, Values, and Ideas: The Case of Going After Big Challenges


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Alex Lightman tells entrepreneurs to cut the nonsense and go after big challenges. He argues that only the most ambitious, daring, and seemingly mammoth ideas are those who often claim victory at the day's end. He lays out a plan to sift through ideas and find the winners, and to create a vision for those great ideas. This ultimately results in success.

This content was produced for the 2015 Los Angeles semester of the Founder Institute by Founder Institute mentor Alex Lightman, author, entrepreneur, and futurist. Check out Alex's website to learn more:

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Vision, Values, and Ideas: The Case of Going After Big Challenges

  1. 1. Vision, Values, and Ideas: The Case for Going After Big Challenges Alex Lightman Founder Institute January 12, 2015
  2. 2. What do you want? • What is important to you? • Most people want you to ask this question. • “Everyone’s favorite radio station is WIIFM. What’s In It For Me?” • Part of the fun and challenge of being a great entrepreneurship is playing a game: • articulating what you want, and then attracting and enrolling other people to want that also, and getting them to pay you to get it.
  3. 3. What Do I Want? • A world in which anyone can buy, sell, borrow, loan, and swap with anyone else, and can meet, collaborate with, and accomplish projects, from anywhere on earth, online. • A world in which people can live their lives, eat, their food, travel, and work entirely fueled with clean renewable energy. • A world in which people can eat fresh, healthy food within hours of the food being picked.
  4. 4. How Do I Make This Happen? • Chairman of Witkit – collaboration software • Chairman of Everblaze – solar PV innovation • Advisory board and first outside investor in Natural Machines – 3D food printing • Chairman of Global Innovation Network for Entrepreneurship and Technology (GINET) – commercialization of university technology
  5. 5. Vision • Vision is highly focused and selective glimpse of a future world that is different because of you and what your company accomplished. • Vision is a guilty pleasure. • A great vision is a paradox. It’s egotistical and solipsistic – the world remade the way you want it to be remade. It’s also very benevolent and selfless – you are going to dedicate your life to changing the world.
  6. 6. Where Vision Fits In • Vision – how the future will change after you • Mission – Accomplishment your company is focused on relentlessly • Strategy – Your choice between low cost or high service/customization. • Tactics – Projects, partnerships, funding choices. Includes “Must-Win Battles”. • Operations – Plan your work and work your plan
  7. 7. Ways To Convey Your Vision • Videos (watch all the Sandwich videos) • TV (watch all the Natural Machines news) • Books (Brave New Unwired World, Reconciliation) • Models (get a 3D printer, check out evrTree) • Facebook group • Kickstarter (includes video plus prizes) • Fashion show • Conferences and summits • Placement in TV shows, movies, games…
  8. 8. Facebook Groups: Unfair Advantage • Bitcoin and the Internet of Money (read and copy the policies, if you wish) 5,428 members • Solar and the Internet of Energy • STEAMPuffs • ET3 • Everblaze • 3D Printing and the Internet of Things and Food
  9. 9. Where Good Ideas Come From • This is the title of a very good book, by Steven Johnson, subtitle, “A Natural History of Innovation.” • Good ideas come from having lots and lots of ideas and keeping track of them. • A great way to get lots of ideas is to make a daily habit of filling notebooks with mini- analyses every day: Observation. Diagnosis. Prognosis. Prescription.
  10. 10. Sifting Through Ideas • If you do the four step mini-analyses 1 to 6x a day of Observation, Diagnosis, Prognosis, and Prescription habitually, you will come up with thousands of new ideas. • There are three primary ways to try these out and see if there is merit are: • Get together with trusted friends and discuss…then do the same with adversaries. • Put the ideas out on social media in specialty groups. Delete after you test, if you wish. • Publish the ideas and/or speak, and be open.
  11. 11. But It’s NOT Just About Ideas! • The title of this section used to be “Vision, Values, and Leadership.” And it still should. • Values make a big difference, and are a great way to both generate ideas, and to filter them. • You can prove this to yourself by learning about or recalling great business rivalries and articulating the differences in values, and results.
  12. 12. Values Make A Difference - 1 • 3D food printing has three leading entrants. XYZ printers, ChefJet from 3D Systems and Foodini from Natural Machines • Spent hours with all three companies and their marketing managers. • XYZ and ChefJet examples were 100% candy, chocolate, cookies, and wedding cakes. 100%! • Natural Machines examples are 100% about “eating free healthy food” with fewer preservatives. • A world with XYZ and ChefJet is even more obese. • A world filled with Foodini is more healthy. • So I as of today I am one of the first three investors in NM.
  13. 13. 3DSystems ChefJet – Sugar Skulls
  14. 14. Natural Machines Foodini
  15. 15. Values Make A Difference - 2 • Solar photovoltaics is a big industry and growing 100% a year, with many companies installing PV and manufacturers copying the same designs. • Existing solar is roof-mounted and ground-mounted. Out of sight, out of mind. • Everblaze is a company that has already created six new innovative designs that will take solar into new places, including evrTrees, which will put solar in the middle of cities, where people can see, touch, recharge, get shade, and converse adjacent to solar, and use photons. • My value of wanting people to SEE solar and interact with it, led to the creation of the evrTree, through the team. My value of helping farmers led to the creation of the evrPivot.
  16. 16. evrTree – dream in progress
  17. 17. Values Make A Difference - 3 • I have invested thousands of hours into Facebook. If the hours invested by users into Facebook were paid at minimum wage, this would come to over $500,000,000,000. • FB is valued at over $200 billion because FB packages your information and sells you. • My values are PRIVACY, security, and collaboration, and the five freedoms from “The Science of Liberty”, which informs the approach of Witkit as the first encrypted collaboration SaaS platform.
  18. 18. Think “Resume”, “Wiki” and “Bio”. • Make sure that you have a great resume, a great Wikipedia entry, and a great bio. It’s better to live your life in such a way that other people write these about you; if only you know, then you are “pushing” vs. attracting. • Be part of organizations that are worth talks that TED, TEDx, BIL, and other groups want. • Seek to win awards.
  19. 19. Think “Crowdsourcing” • A successful funding, whether from friends and family, VCs, or crowd-funding, is a right of passage. • Be a credible expert and leader of a community. Create a focused community on Facebook or other social media. Have good admin policies. • Do a simple Kickstarter for $25,000 to $500,000 to build your mailing list, name recognition, and reputation for delivering by succeeding.
  20. 20. Go After Meaningful Hard Problems • Transition away from polluting fuels • Transition toward clean fuels • Reducing violence • Reducing obesity and overweight • Increasing peace, love, relationships • Increasing collaboration • Increasing safety, security, privacy
  21. 21. My contact information • Alex Lightman • • 310-717-7745 • Feel free to friend or follow me on Witkit. • If you’d like to know more about Witkit, Natural Machines, or Everblaze, let’s talk.