Updated: Jan 10
In 2007, an interview with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Apple Inc co-founder Steve Jobs, which delved into the thoughts of two of the most influential people in modern history, was aired.
It had not only revealed the business thinking of these two entrepreneurs, but also looked into an important side that most people might not have seen.
While they were fierce competitors, visionaries and innovators — they were also friends, and most importantly humans that were subjected to the same physical and emotional challenges we all go through.
The question is — how do normal humans gain the strength and ability to do things that are considered impossible? The answer to that is the reason for the fast-paced technological innovation we have seen emerging throughout the modern era, and yet for many it is difficult to grasp how it can be possible.
Without over-quoting Jobs, I was attracted to his explanation on how he pushed himself to achieve. He said the very foundation of achieving goals was passion — those who were successful in the eyes of society loved what they did because they persevered when things get tough.
If you are doing something you do not love, you may instinctually give up as it is considered the “sane” thing to do.
However, the key point from the conversation between Gates and Jobs was their fearlessness in taking risks.
To get to the position that they were in, they took calculated risks and believed in their products so much that they knew these were worth the risks, and that as they went through adversities and challenged norms, they tweaked their strategies and adapted them to the environment to survive.
Most importantly, they did not implement their strategies based on the existing market alone, but also demand they expect in the near future.
This gave them a first mover advantage — despite them being risky, the rewards were immense, and when there were risks, they worked on mitigating them.
Taking the safe route is not wrong as it is human instinct to survive.
However, we must look at the opportunity loss and cost that govern our decisions as they impact our success over the long term.
I believe it is important that people start taking risks.
Great success comes to those who spend a lot of their time on research and analysis, as well as possess the desire to challenge societal norms to make a difference.
When the mobile phone was invented, not many saw that being bounded by wired communication was a problem. It took a smart idea and a risk-taking venture to say that communication limited to the length of the phone cord was a problem for humanity.
It took a breakthrough technology, collaborations with network operators, new manufacturing methods and tremendous advertising and promotional efforts to change the way we communicate with each other.
It was tough and risky, but at the end, change happened.
I would be insane to say that creating the largest company in the world did not require some luck.
However, not all things need it, and change can happen at different levels.
Even a small change can be considered an improvement, but the important thing is the culture of challenging tomorrow and dispelling complacency.
To move forward and to be the finest, we must be bold enough to act like the best. They are where they are because they refuse to act or think like everyone else. That is the essence of innovation.
German mathematician and physicist Albert Einstein once said: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”.
Let’s take some time to ponder this.
The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute