Peter H. Diamandis is the Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation, which leads the world in designing and launching large incentive prizes to drive radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. Best known for the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE for private spaceflight, the Foundation is now launching prizes in Exploration, Life Sciences, Energy, and Education. Diamandis is also the co-Founder & Executive Chairman of the Singularity University, a Silicon Valley based institution teaching graduates and executives about exponentially growing technologies and their potential to address humanity's grand challenges.
Along with fellow Big Think expert Steven Kotler, Diamandis is co-author of the New York Times best selling hardcover book Abundance—The Future Is Better Than You Think which was #2 on the NYTimes List and #1 on Amazon. Their latest book is titled Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World.
Diamandis has founded or co-founded many of the leading entrepreneurial companies in this sector including Zero Gravity Corporation, the Rocket Racing League and Space Adventures. He also counsels the world's top enterprises on how to utilize exponential technologies and incentivized innovation to dramatically accelerate their business objectives. Dr. Diamandis attended MIT where he received degrees in molecular genetics and aerospace engineering, as well as Harvard Medical School where he received his M.D. Diamandis' personal motto is: "The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself!"
Build your resources
Every CEO, every entrepreneur, every leader I know, ultimately spends a huge amount of their time going out there to raise capital. If it’s not capital, it’s raising the resources of people or organizations and so forth, but ultimately as the generator of the idea, as the leader, you’re responsibility is to build that team, build the capital, build the resources to go and implement your idea.
I’m going to go back to one example. I was an undergrad at MIT and I was running my first big organization. It was called SEDS, Students for Exploration and Development of Space. And what I needed to do was raise about $10,000 to print a newsletter and mail the newsletter to all the chapters. We had 100 chapters of SEDS around the world. And I remember going to Draper Labs, which is an affiliated organization with MIT, and meeting with the head of Draper and pitching my heart out about this vision, about what I wanted to do, and how I needed $10,000. And at the end of the presentation, the head of Draper said, “I love what you do. I really wish I could help you, but ultimately, we’re not an organization that in our charter can give you money for this.”
And so I said, thank you, and I was walking out the door and I stopped, and I turned around and I said, “Do you have printing facilities here?” and he says, “Yes, we do.” I said, "well, would you be able to print our newsletter for us and mail our newsletter for us?" And he said, “Absolutely.” And we ended up getting, probably $25,000 worth of printing and mailing. And it hit me in that moment that one of the most important lessons to me in fundraising is, whenever I have a meeting with somebody, I always extract value from them at that meeting, no matter what it is.
Always extract value
I will, at a minimum, ask this person who do you know that you could introduce me to that would like to support what I’m doing? Or at a minimum, give me critically and honestly, feedback on my idea that will help me pitch it better the next time. And sometimes, in kind-services is as good as cash. Never be afraid to ask and never take a meeting without extracting value from it.
We humans are those simple individual life forms that are beginning to bring technology into our bodies, whether it’s the cell phone or eventually brain/computer interface.