Let's Stop Killing Ourselves and Take Some Risks
Taking risks doesn’t mean being stupid. It really involves taking measured risks and really understanding how to mitigate those risks in one way or another.
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!"
I love talking about risk. Because ultimately, the day before something is truly a breakthrough, it’s a crazy idea. If it wasn’t a crazy idea the day before, it wouldn’t be a real breakthrough. It would be an incremental improvement. So the question I ask people in their companies, in their organizations is, where are you taking big risks? Because if you’re not taking big risks then you’re destined to not changing anything or making small incremental improvements. But if you’re playing a big game in the world, then you have to take risks.
I look at the United States, for example, I think we’re killing ourselves on how risk adverse we’ve become. Large government agencies have stopped taking big risks because they’re worried about Congressional investigations. Large corporations stopped taking big risks because they’re worried about stock prices plummeting. And really, the entrepreneurial sector ends up being a place where people are willing to risk it all. You risk you reputation, you risk the capital you raised. But ultimately, you’re going to be potentially changing the world.
So, I think about risk a lot. And I think about encouraging smart risk taking. Now, taking risks doesn’t mean being stupid. It really involves taking measured risks and really understanding how to mitigate those risks in one way or another. So when we announced the Ansari X Prize, I took a huge risk in announcing it without having the $10 million in place. and ultimately it paid off. It might not have, we might not be having this conversation to day if we never raised the money, but I thought that, you know, ultimately this was a solid enough idea that there would be somebody who would be willing to put up the funds. It took me five years, far longer than I expected. But ultimately in taking that risk, it actually forced me to never give up because I had placed so much on the table in terms of my reputation, the reputation of my friends and colleagues that I couldn’t give up.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock