Every legendary business started as a dumb idea, until it wasn’t.
In order to change the world, you have to reject the premise. You can’t just blindly accept the world the way it is. And it’s in your best interest to begin thinking about a new and different future as soon as possible.
Here’s how to reject the way it is to create the way it will be.
Thinking about “the past” is deeply rooted in the DNA of many entrepreneurs, investors, executives, academics, and strategists.
None of these are accurate (or effective) definitions of truly strategic thinking.
The core issue is that 100% of what we’ve been taught is based on the past and doesn’t reflect a future where many things might change. Every generation looks and laughs at prior generations and wonders, “How did those prior generations believe that? Look at what we didn’t know!”
Well, why would we assume future generations wouldn’t look at us the same way?
No legendary entrepreneur, inventor, business leader, creator, or artist started their journey by accepting the premise.
The vast majority of people take whatever is placed in front of them and say, “I accept the premise.”
They start with the way it is, and aim to make the way it is “better” or “incrementally different.” Something exists. Then this new thing came along. And we’re going to apply the new thing to the old thing, and call the old thing new. There is very little questioning about whether they are having the right conversation (context) to begin with. As a result, a company’s (or creator’s) POV is unconsciously established, and every product, document, and decision that unfolds from there follows that POV — resulting in a lifetime of comparison.
But if history has taught us anything, it’s that exponential outcomes are produced by strategic, future-oriented thinkers who never fall into The Better Trap.
It’s the process of considering “what could be true.”
In 2008, the idea of Airbnb made no sense when evaluated through old mental models.
As a result, nearly every venture capitalist said, “No way. You can’t rent out your extra bedroom. That’s insane. Probably illegal. What if someone gets killed in their sleep, or raped? And you really think people are going to want to share a toilet with someone they’ve never met before?”
Only a very small handful of investors (including the world-class firm, Sequoia Capital) had the courage and mental awareness to ask a different question — a “thinking” question:
“What would need to be true for this idea to work?”
They realized that the idea of Airbnb didn’t make sense when evaluated through previously established mental models, but it did make sense through the lens of a new model. In fact, it was likely a decade away from being completely acceptable — and thus, “worth the risk” (which helped Sequoia turn roughly $280 million invested over multiple rounds into more than $12 billion).
Every legendary business is a dumb idea — until it isn’t.
Companies, entrepreneurs, and investors who reject the premise, proactively facilitate unconstrained creative discussions about the future, and are willing to strategize and build what doesn’t exist yet are the ones who escape the rat race of competition and enter the promised land of creation.
Once you’ve glimpsed the future, you then need to plant your flag and tell people how it will be different with a unique Point Of View.