Dream Big

Educator
In this Big Think Edge preview, Khan Academy founder Salman Khan explains how always dreaming big and setting audacious goals got him to where he is today. Ambition gets other people excited in your ideas. That's why it's vital to always keep reaching for the stars.
  • Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

Set audacious goals

Salman Khan: In the early stages of Khan Academy, the passion and the ability to just execute directly were super important. Because my background was in software I didn't have to kind of get other people or get funding to start building prototypes. And sometimes I get obsessed with things and it allowed me to create just a ton of content and give it a critical scale so that it could be useful. It has a critical breath.

As Khan Academy then grew and became — more people knew about it, I think it was important — and I attribute a lot to just reading science fiction books and thinking on larger scales in the next four years or 10 years or even my lifetime — is, what could this be? If we're really allowed to dream, what could this be? It feels like we're at an inflection point in history. And when you're at these inflection points, there's new opportunities and there's new problems, but it's often the case that you can take advantage of the new opportunities, the technological opportunities, to solve the new problems.

And I had this lens of, well, maybe this Khan Academy thing instead of it just being a one-off collection of videos or a one-off software app that I tried to do as a venture-backed business, maybe this could be the next Stanford, the next Harvard, this new type of institution that people haven't visualized quite yet, but it could help empower millions or billions of students for the next 500 years. And as soon as you start thinking on those scales, you go after a bigger problem and you phrase things differently and, frankly, you inspire more people. More amazing people are going to want to be part of that audacious goal.  

And I think because Khan Academy didn't aspire to just to be a business, so to speak, we have been able to attract some of the very best talent around the planet for this mission. And so I think that's kind of the — you know, execute, build something, make it real, articulate a big bold vision, but one that people can believe that is possible because of the traction that you've just had, and then leverage those pieces to get just the best people around you that you can. And I think if you're able to pull that off, then you're off to the races. 

 

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Big Think Edge helps organizations get smarter, faster by catalyzing conversation around the topics most critical to 21st century business success. Led by the world’s foremost experts, our dynamic learning programs are short-form, mobile, and immediately actionable.