Authors: Peter H. Diamandis
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I dedicate this book to my parents, Harry P. Diamandis, MD and Tula Diamandis, whose bold journey from the Greek island of Lesvos to the United States, and their success in medicine and family inspired me to go big, create wealth, and impact the world.
This one is for Jamie Wheal, my great friend and partner in the Flow Genome Project, without whom this journey would be a lot less interesting and make a lot less sense.
Go back some 66 million years, and life on Earth was a little different. These were the waning days of the Cretaceous Period, hot and humid, when much of the world's current land mass was still submerged under massive oceans. Back then, angiosperms, our technical name for flowering plants, were the latest innovation in the world of flora. Similarly, our first maples, oaks, and beeches were just starting to emerge. On the fauna side, the Earth was still dinosaur dominated, but this is not surprising. When it comes to staying power, the 100 million years that these megareptiles lorded over our planet's terra firma is the longest such stretch in historyâthe ultimate example of terrestrial dominance.
But their reign was not to last.
The Cretaceous Period ended with a very big bang.
An asteroid some ten kilometers in diameterâor slightly smaller than San Franciscoâsmashed into the YucatÃ¡n Peninsula in Mexico. The collision literally rocked the world, releasing 420 zettajoules of energy, or two million times more muscle than the largest nuclear bomb ever exploded. The resulting crater was 110 miles wide. The resulting impact was, as the saying goes, “a planetary killer.”
Megatsunamis, massive earthquakes, global firestorms, and a
deadly cascade of volcanic eruptions swallowed the Earth. The sun disappeared behind a huge dust cloudâand didn't emerge for a decade. The changes to the global environment were so rapid and so extreme that the dinosaursâthe uberdominant form of life at the timeâwere unable to adapt. Instead, they went extinct.
For our species, this was very good news. While the dinosaurs were large, lumbering, and inflexible, those early small, furry mammalsâour ancestorsâwere far more nimble and resilient. They took opportunistic advantage of the radical changes sweeping the globe, adapted to their new environment, and never looked back. Within an evolutionary eye blink, the dinosaurs were gone and mammals became kings of the world. And one thing is most certainâhistory has a funny way of repeating itself.
In fact, this tale of colossal impact, radical transformation, and spectacular rebirth has exceptional relevance todayâespecially for business. Right now, there is another asteroid striking our world, already extinguishing the large and lumbering, already clearing a giant path for the quick and nimble. Our name for this asteroid is “exponential technology,” and even if this name is unfamiliar, its impact is not.
We'll get into far greater detail later, but what's important here is that exponential technology refers to any technology accelerating on an exponential growth curveâthat is, doubling in power on a regular basis (semiannually, annually, etc.)âwith computing being the most familiar example. When a woman in Outer Mongolia answers her smartphone, she's using a device a million times cheaper and a thousand times more powerful than a supercomputer from the 1970s.
That's what exponential change looks like in the real world.
And today, this kind of change is everywhere we look. Exponential progress is now showing up in dozens of arenas: networks, sensors, robotics, artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, genomics, digital medicine, nanotechnologyâto name only a few.
And like our ten-kilometer asteroid, the awesome power of these technologies is reshaping life on Earth. But this same power is threatening a different breed
of dinosaurâthose large and innovation-resistant companies that have done it the same way for decades, and will continue to do it the same way, until, well, they are out of business.
Yet, in stark contrast, there is a new breed of small, furry mammal starting to emerge. These mammals are today's entrepreneursâthe ones using radically accelerating technology to transform products, services, and industries. These nimble and resilient innovators are learning how to wield exponential technologies; they are becoming
. And these exponential entrepreneurs are paving the way for a new world of abundance.
In 2012, I joined with Steven Kotler to write
Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think.
My inspiration for this book came from my work with both the XPRIZE Foundation and Singularity University. What I witnessed from the helm of those organizations was a world where the basic necessities of life were becoming cheaper and globally accessible. Steven brought to
his considerable expertise mapping the intersection of ultimate human performance and exponential technology. Both of us had come to believe the world was radically changing and that, for the first time in history, humanity had the potential to significantly and permanently raise global standards of living.
, Steven and I explored how four potent emerging forcesâexponential technologies, the DIY innovator, technophilanthropists, and the rising billionâgive us the ability to solve many of the world's grandest challenges over the next two to three decades. That is, we will soon have the power to meet and exceed the basic needs of every man, woman, and child on the planet.
When the book was released in February 2012, we had little idea how it would be received. I was lucky enough to open the TED conference with a talk on
âand even luckier to get a standing
ovation. The book rocketed onto the charts, spent almost three months on the
New York Times
bestseller list, won several “Best Book of 2012” awards,
and has been translated into more than twenty languages. For all of this, we are both incredibly grateful.
What's also been deeply gratifying is that concrete, well-documented evidence for abundance continues to mount. As a result, in the 2014 paperback edition of
, we proudly presented a new reference section that contains some sixty additional charts, in areas such as reduction of violence and increases in learning, health, and wealth. Taken together, the implications of this data are truly mind-blowing.
But we have also come to feel that painting a picture of our vibrant future is insufficient. While we truly believe that creating a world of abundance is possible, it is by no means guaranteed. And it is for that reason we wrote
Thousands of years ago, it was only kings, pharaohs, and emperors who had the ability to solve large-scale problems. Hundreds of years ago, this power expanded to the industrialists who built our transportation systems and financial institutions. But today, the ability to solve such problems has been thoroughly democratized. Right now, and for the first time ever, a passionate and committed individual has access to the technology, minds, and capital required to take on any challenge. Even better, that individual has good reason to take on such challenges. As we will soon see, the world's biggest problems are now the world's biggest business opportunities. This means, for exponential entrepreneurs, finding a significant challenge is a meaningful road to wealth. Ultimately, as I teach at Singularity University (much more on this later), the best way to become a billionaire is to solve a billion-person
, Steven and I offer a highly practical playbook for doing just that. This book arms today's entrepreneurs, activists, and leaders with the tools needed to positively impact the world while simultaneously making their biggest dreams come true. To make good on that promise,
unfolds in three parts: Part One focuses on the exponential technologies which are disrupting today's Fortune 500 and enabling upstart entrepreneurs to go from “I've got a new idea” to “I run a billion-dollar company” far faster than ever before. Part Two of the book focuses on the psychology of Boldâthe mental tool kit that allows the world's top innovators to raise their game by thinking at scaleâand includes detailed advice and lessons from technology gurus such as Larry Page, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and Jeff Bezos. Also in Part Two, Steven reveals the keys to ultimate human performance garnered from fifteen years of research with the Flow Genome Project, and I reveal my entrepreneurial secrets garnered from starting seventeen companies. Finally, Part Three closes the book with a look at the incredible power and essential best practices that allow anyone to leverage today's hyperconnected crowd like never before. Here you'll learn how to harness crowdsourcing solutions to massively increase the speed of your business, to design and use incentive competitions to find breakthrough solutions, to launch million-dollar crowdfunding campaigns to tap into tens of billions of dollars of available capital, and finally, to build exponential communitiesâarmies of exponentially enabled individuals willing and able to help today's entrepreneurs make their boldest dreams come true.
This book was written as both a manifesto and a manual for today's exponential entrepreneur, anyone interested in going big, creating wealth, and impacting the world. It is a go-to resource on accelerating technologies, thinking at scale, and utilizing crowd-powered tools. If you are an entrepreneur, in spirit or by experience, whether you live in
Silicon Valley or Shanghai, whether you are in college or an employee of a multinational corporation, this book is for you. It's about seriously leveling up your abilities and your ambition. It is about moonshot thinking and global impact.
If, on the other hand, you are a manager, executive, or owner of the large and lumbering, your competition is no longer some multinational from overseasâit's now the explosion of exponential entrepreneurs working out of their garages. Reading this book will give you insight into where this new competition is coming from and how they think and operate. Moreover, the same exponential opportunitiesâmeaning both the technologies themselves and the strategies for maximizing these technologies (both psychological and organizational)âexist for solo entrepreneurs and big companies. Finally, if you're an organizational leader and are interested in going even deeper into this subject, then I recommend reading Singularity University's first publication:
Exponential Organizations (ExO)
, written by Salim Ismail, SU's first executive director and current global ambassador.
is written for the leadership of those companies that prefer to sidestep extinction and join the exponential revolution.