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World Changing Ideas

Date: 12-20-08
Host: Ian Punnett
Guests: Guy Kawasaki, Richie Kohler

Author and venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki discussed world changing ideas, how they are born and why some succeed and others fail. At the root of a great idea, he said, "it has to enable you to do things you've always wanted to do. Or, even better, it should enable you to do things that you did not know you wanted to do."

Kawasaki explained the origins for many revolutionary ideas, saying that they begin by asking "wouldn't it be neat if?" While this may sound like a simple genesis, he emphasized that following through with the concept is critical to any idea's success. "Many people ask the question ... but not that many try it," he observed. Based on his prolific career, Kawasaki said that his opinion has changed about the difficulties of actualizing a winning idea. He summed up this change of heart by noting, "I used to think that the idea is the key and, once you get a good idea, implementation is easy, now that I'm at the end of my career, I think the exact opposite."

One surprising element to profitable ideas, that Kawasaki cited, was the importance of having a story behind the concept, whether the tale is true or not. To demonstrate this, he recounted the popular story that Ebay was created so the founder's wife could sell Pez dispensers online. "Not too many people know that that is a story they made up after the fact," he revealed, "it had nothing to do with Pez dispensers." Extending the power of storytelling beyond that, he noted that "storytellers are also very good entrepreneurs," because they can inspire others to envision their "what if" scenario.

Exploring the U-869

Appearing during the first hour, professional diver Richie Kohler talked about his role in exploring the U-869, a previously undiscovered sunken German WWII U-Boat. He detailed some of the harrowing difficulties faced while researching the downed ship. Such treacherous conditions included a mere twenty minute window of opportunity for exploring the inside of the vessel, while also maneuvering around the many bodies of deceased German sailors. "Quite literally, history is waiting for us off our beaches ... and scuba is a way to visit that history and, in some ways, correct it," he mused.

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