Last night was one of those rare nights when I get to lie down on my sofa with the remote control browsing through Netflix.
As I browsed through different movies on Netflix, I started to struggle to choose a new movie to watch. I spent most of my time scrolling through films and watching trailers.
Towards the end, I didn’t managed to watch any movie and I ended up going to bed because it was too late.
As I lied down on my bed, I started to reflect. Isn’t this life?
Paradox of Choice
Sometimes, we are given too many options. And we fall into the paradox of choice. Due to the “grass is always greener” mindset, it’s so hard to choose and commit because we are afraid that we will make the wrong choices.
As what Barry Schwartz once said, “Learning to choose is hard. Learning to choose well is harder. And learning to choose well in a world of unlimited possibilities is harder still, perhaps too hard.”
The Inconvenient Truth
Our ancestors didn’t have this problem in the past. Because back then, they were limited with choices. And because of the “Do-Or-Die” mindset and High-Level Commitment attitude, they have no choice but to make things work.
Think about it… The divorce cases in the past were much lower. Because very often in the past, most people believe not in the option of divorce. So, they do their best to make a relationship work.
Failures in businesses were much lower in the past. Because very often in the past, most entrepreneurs can’t afford to fail. That’s why they hustle through the toughest of times to make that one business work. When they had no more funds in the bank and no parents (or uncle and aunty) to rely upon, they had to fight for their dreams till that business becomes a huge success.
They did not have the abundance of choices like what we have in Netflix and Youtube in the past. They had only 1 TV and probably 3 channels! And they made the best out of their TV sessions despite that 3 channels.
It’s interesting what I’ve learnt through a night of browsing through movies on Netflix… because I’ve just spent a night browsing through movies. I didn’t finished any movie.
Sometimes you make the right decision and pick a good movie. Sometimes you don’t get a good movie. And it’s your job to make the best out of it to make that wrong decision right.
At the end of the day, for things to happen, you got to stop being “just interested” and start being “extremely committed”.
As I continued to study about exponential technologies, I became a little worried. Because it seems like if your job involves just following instructions, you’ll be replaced.
So what do you do?
Recently I’ve read a book titled “Linchpin” by Seth Godin. And I would like to share the diamonds I have learnt with you.
So, what are linchpins?
Linchpins are indispensable, so they get the best jobs
You need not be a CEO to be a linchpin. Linchpins are like artists: they pour all their energy, heart and soul into their work.
Consider the extra-friendly barista, whose great service makes you a regular customer, even though the coffee shop isn’t the closest or cheapest one.
That barista is a Linchpin!
Because the coffee shop can’t easily find someone with similar passion for service to replace him.
The inconvenient truth is… Today you can no longer succeed by being unremarkable and just following instructions. Instead, no matter how scary it seems, you must choose to be outstanding.
Be a linchpin. See your work as a platform for your art and pour your emotional labour into it every day!
As I sit by the beach here in Lombok, Indonesia, for my short getaway on my birthday. I begin my annual ritual where I’ll have my alone-time to review and reflect on what a year it has been as I add another year to my spiritual time here on this physical Earth.
Year 2018 has been the year I’ve traveled the most in my entire life. If there is 3 words to summarize my year, it has been learning, traveling and working.
Between January to July alone, I’ve traveled from Kuala Lumpur to New Delhi, Siam Reap, Phnom Penh, Singapore, Suwon, Seoul, Washington DC, Dubai, Jakarta, Beijing, Bangkok. Some of these cities were regular monthly travels and I’ve not included my local travels in states like Penang, Ipoh, Johor Bahru, Kota Kinabalu and Malacca.
As I hardly get to sleep on the plane, that gave me lots of time to read, think, and Netflix. I’ve read tons of books from business to futurism, from blockchain to personal development, from relationships to spirituality. So this year has been quite inspirational and transformational for myself as I continue soak myself up with new ideas to challenge my existing reality of business and life.
So, these are the 3 lessons as I turn 33:
1) The ROI of the New Economy
I believe that we are living in a transition period just like the time when the Internet was introduced to the world. Internet changed the way we communicate and it made this connected world a lot ‘closer and nearer’. An hour call from Malaysia to China would have cost a fortune 10 years ago. But today, it’s practically free!
It also means that while I’m having my holidays here in Lombok, I’ll still be able to have meetings over Zoom calls, anytime my team needs me.
Just like how the Internet has changed the way human’s communicate, exponential technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum computing will change the way we live.
Most of these exponential technologies are still at the ‘distraction’ stage, just like where the Internet was in the 1990s, when there were so many Dot Com companies that were created but only very few that lasted till today. However, I do believe that these technologies are bound to disrupt our businesses, the way we work and the way we live.
While the ROI in the old economy is Return of Investment. I believe that the ROI of this new economy is Return on Imagination.
Ideas, Information, Inspiration and Implementation will be the 4 major currencies of the new economy.
In order to gain ideas, information and inspiration, you’ve got to travel, read and meet the relevant people. Who you’ll be in 10 years to come will be determined today by the books that you read, places that you have visited, and the people that you meet.
2) My Best Practice In 2018
I was having a discussion with a friend when I shared that I was able to achieve more focus in Year 2018. This is probably due to the extra time I had during my flights to read, review and reflect.
He then shared with me his secrets of success. He said, “Do you know why most people rarely achieve their goals?”
That’s because they look at their goals once a year. By then, they would probably be setting the same goals, all over again.
As for himself, he spends the first 30 minutes every day sitting on his own, reviewing his goals, journaling his experiences and aligning himself towards his goals.
I was so impressed and I started journaling almost every single morning since then.
Today, I spend my morning by myself at my balcony asking myself these 5 questions:
1) What Am I Grateful For Today?
2) What Have I Done Right Yesterday?
3) What Should I Be Doing Today to Improve Towards My Goals?
4) What Is The 20% Goal that I Must Achieve Today To Bring 80% of Results?
5) What Are My Top 3 To Do List?
6) What Is That 1 Thing That I Must Ignore Today?
Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and father when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you achieve happiness and peak performance when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals and values are constantly in a balance. As a leader, you’ve 3 major responsibilities. Craft a vision. Create alignment. Champion execution.
3) True Wealth In Any Economy
While technology create new jobs, it also replace current jobs. Think about it… In the past, 85% of people are farmers. Today only 3% of the world are in agriculture business. But they alone can feed the entire world.
Technology do replaces jobs. But it also frees humanity into finding our greater purpose and live our passion. Thanks to the advancement of technology, you no longer need to be a farmer or hunter to crave your hunger, but you can be out there fulfilling your purpose and passion.
As we move into this transition period, I am extremely excited as we will be living in an exceptional time where all mundane, routine and boring jobs will be replaced. Individuals will empowered to do what they truly love to do.
While the thought of robots and AI taking over our jobs sounds scary, you’ll be very blessed to know that robots and AI cannot replace 2 tasks; creativity and love.
I may not drive Ferrari or Lambo. I may not wear an AP and Hublot. But I am truly happy with the birthday week as I celebrated my birthday with my friends and family. It’s these deep friendships and relationships that brings true happiness.
One thing good about growing older is you tend to know what you want and what you don’t want. You become clearer with what you can do and what you won’t or cannot do. Your network of friends will become bigger but your circle of close friends get smaller.
As you grow older, you’ll begin to realize that the wealth that brings true happiness is not more dollar, gold or bitcoins. True happiness comes when you start becoming rich in relationships.
One of the prayers I’ve made over the year was to be able to spend my birthday with someone whom I love. And I’m very blessed that this year, my Lord above has decided to answer my prayer and gave me one of my biggest blessing of 2018.
This weekend, I was fortunate to be invited by Roger James Hamilton and his team to speak at the Global Entrepreneur Summit in Bangkok with a group of changemakers of Thailand.
During that 2 days, Roger shared about the very latest top 10 waves to surf in the digital revolution, from crowdfunding to cryptocurrency, to global expansion, and steps that every entrepreneurs can apply straightaway.
Personally, I found it very exciting to be seeing another speaker who speaks in the same business language. As I’ve personally been going ALL-IN into crowdfunding, cryptocurrency, blockchain and recently, my latest obsession has been Artificial Intelligence.
I believe that the technology revolution is like a tsunami. When the wave hits, it’s either you sink or you swim!
You can’t change the direction of the wave. It’s either you equip yourself today with swimming skills. Or you’ll sink when the wave hits!
A third option is to build something entirely new that gives you an unfair advantage in this complete different environment.
So instead of sinking or swimming, you can surf through the waves!
We are living in one of the greatest times to be an entrepreneur and investor. Because if you ride through the wave, you’ll definite have a great time surfing through this tsunami!
I’ve been investing in the stock market since I was a second-year university student pursuing Computer Science. Since then, I’ve been involved with investing in several other types of financial instruments. Throughout my years of investing, I’ve experienced and seen numerous promises and perils in the financial world.
Every season, there seems to a ‘Hype’ happening and new gurus will be created. Remember the days of forex, options trading and value investing? Today, the latest hype is blockchain and cryptocurrency.
Personally, I was lucky to have invested in gold and silver during the financial crash of 2008 and experienced a boom in my investment portfolio. I started blogging about my learnings and soon it turned into an accidental business. Being a naïve young entrepreneur, I was told to write books, give talks and give interviews to the media. Guess what? I did all of that as per my mentor’s instructions and it worked!
Overnight, I was seen as the leading authority in precious metals and I was invited to speak in the largest conferences in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Korea. There were times when I was travelling to speak in 4 countries in 4 days. And I wondered to myself, “How did I get myself into Expert status?”
However, as I got busy travelling to speak, I could no longer keep up with the markets and I was turning more into an entrepreneur in the commodities trading business rather than a specialist in the subject matter.
I still recall a time when my closest and trusted circle of friends were warning me of one financial product that I was promoting. It was related to crude oil. At a time when I was riding high in my business and career, I ignored their warnings.
And soon… It taught me the biggest lesson of my life, business and career.
In 2015, I was hit with the biggest crisis in my life when a particular portfolio that I was involved in turned out to be a scam. The principal used the crude oil price crash of 2015 as an excuse for the scheme to fail. Fortunately, after 2 years, some of the largest investors of this scheme managed to dig trails of the principal’s fraudulent activities and now we are going through a lawsuit with the masterminds of this scam.
3 years since the crash of this crude oil scam, I must admit that it has been the most challenging yet life-changing experience for myself.
I used to be a guy who believed in doing what you do best and outsource the rest. However, since the crash, I had to endure the difficulty of studying 2 subjects that I’ve been avoiding all this while: law and accounting.
I had to find out how did I fall into that terrible oil crash. Isn’t it?
So, I started engaging with a number of lawyers and accountants to learn what went wrong. Today, I live with this understanding that you’ve got to engage a good lawyer at any point of your business. It’s either you invest in a good one while you’re starting out or you’ll end up paying more later on.
The crude oil crisis has also affected my ability to trust others. And hence, the reason why I am now even more selective when working with partners.
Nevertheless, I am thankful to a buddy who taught me this. He pointed out to me that the problem with me in the past is that I totally ignored the understanding of law and accounting and I expect the ‘experts’ to take care of everything.
If I was to continue my journey in this industry, these are 2 areas that I can never ignore. And when one has truly understood these 2 important subjects, you’ll realize that you’ll be able to sniff BS and learn when to walk away.
I’ve learnt to trust again. Because of this one important principle, this friend has ingrained in me. He said, “JON ALWAYS REMEMBER. TRUST IS GOOD. BUT CONTROL IS BETTER.
I started exploring the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry last year. Excited by all the hype, I started flying around the world to understand what the hell was going on.
During that several months of flying around attending conferences, I must admit that I was first very excited about the hype that “blockchain is the best thing that has happened since the internet”!
The excitement got heated up as Bitcoin prices jumped 20 folds to $20K. Friends around me became multi-millionaires overnight just because they bought some Ethereum during its presale days.
Then came the world of ICOs!
Basically, there was a point in time in 2017 where as long as you list a coin or bought a pre-listing coin, you’re guaranteed to make money. And I was excited with how fast the world has changed over the past 1 year. There’s an abundance of capital looking for the next “Alibaba or Google of Blockchain”.
However, as I started to dive deeper into this industry, I started to sniff more BS in these blockchain and cryptocurrency conferences, expo and summits. I’m not saying that all of them are crap. Unfortunately, the majority of them are. My guesstimation? More than 90% of these ‘Crypto Experts’ are crap!
It’s a bunch of people going on stage marketing the hype of blockchain without any business perspective. The product that they were selling? Token sale.
These are tokens with no utility but disguised in whitepaper as the next revolutionary bitcoin or ethereum with super technical words that they probably have no idea what they were talking about.
What makes it worst is seeing branding and marketing gurus calling themselves ‘leading blockchain authorities and investment strategists’ when they probably have not even bought a single bitcoin or Ethereum in the first place, let alone understand the difference between a crypto wallet or crypto exchange.
Marketing in the crypto space continues to grow faster without real solid blockchain projects coming alive. At this rate this is going, the blockchain industry is bound to be derailed by people who operate with the mindset of ‘fake it till you make it’.
Nevertheless, just like every industry, there are angels and there are devils. Throughout my travels, I’ve also had the opportunity to meet and learn from the minority. The minority 10% whom I believe have the power to create a change in the world through the distributed ledger technology.
These are the minority who truly believe that blockchain has the ability to solve the world’s grandest problems and that if you want to be a billionaire, create a solution to help a billion people.
And today, I invest most of my time surrounding myself with these geniuses and learn from them. These are the guys who avoid fame, media and publicity. All they do every single day is to quietly build, learn and measure as the blockchain industry continues to evolve at an exponential rate.
My Conclusion in the Crypto World
After attending close to a year of conferences and summits, meeting numerous types of people in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space, this is my takeaway about this industry.
Blockchain and cryptocurrency are like teenage sex.
Everyone talks about it.
Nobody really knows how to do it.
Everyone thinks that everyone else is doing it.
When everyone claims that they are doing it, you believe it.
And those who are really doing it, they are pretty quiet about it.
I don’t believe that blockchain is what’s gonna change the world. It’s the dreamers who utilizes blockchain to create a new shift that’s gonna change the world!
And there’s more technologies that’s truly exciting and they are accelerating at an exponential growth at the moment. Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, Internet of Things!
At the end of the day, I believe that the world will reward entrepreneurs and investors who are passionate to help elevate humanity to create a better world.
To the crypto community, I wish that you’ll be the change you wish your next generation to see!
Over the years, I’ve noticed that there are 2 types of people. Either you’re a person with a fixed mindset. Or are you a person with a growth mindset.
So. What’s the difference?
People with fixed mindset believe that in life, there are only winners or losers.
On the other hand, people with growth mindset believe that in life, there are winners or learners.
People with a fixed mindset believe that talent is king. They believe they are born naturally gifted at doing some things but utterly incapable of others. In their view, a person is, by nature, either intelligent and talented or stupid and incompetent, and will stay that way.
The people in this group continue growing throughout their lives, acquiring new skills without reservation and actively engaging in their relationships. For them, the only constant in life is change.
People with a growth mindset relish any opportunity to learn tricks from the crème de la crème in a field. They reconsider and discard strategies used in the past, and are always thinking about how they can eradicate their faults and weaknesses.
Growth and development are possible in the growth mindset.
People with a fixed mindset obstruct their own development through their belief in innate talent and their fear of failure. On the contrary, people with a growth mindset work hard and train hard to ultimately realize their potential to the fullest. By confronting our own attitudes and ideas, we can develop a growth mindset
In business and in life, the only thing that’s constant is change. And it’s even more important for every entrepreneur to adopt the growth mindset for your business.
Tony Hsieh once said, “A great company is a story that never stops unfolding.” And that means that is important to continuously evolve and experiment. Bill Gates takes this insight a step further, “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”
The Japanese have long followed the practice of Kaizen: constant improvement as a fundamental process management technique.
The most important message of Lean Startup is to “fail fast and fail often, while eliminating waste.”
Be The Change
In today’s fast changing world, the biggest risk is not taking any risk at all. Constant experimentation are now the only ways to reduce risk. Our mindset shapes whether we believe we can learn and change and grow – or not. And I firmly believe, in today’s exponentially changing world, you got to be brave to change what needs to be change.
Because its either you change, or its a matter of time that you’ll be changed.
Technology has changed so fast in the past 10 years that it has surpassed the past 1,000 years combined. Thanks to the rapid pace of technological evolution, it brought a huge change to the way we live and the way businesses are being conducted.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur or an aspiring entrepreneur, you need to read this and pay attention to the business trends that’s fast changing especially in the past 10 years.
With this, you’ll have a mindset shift that will positively impact your ability to achieving your business, career and financial goals in the very near future.
1) The Trend from OLD, SLOW AND STEADY to NEW, FAST AND SWIFT
Scenario: Today, we are seeing university students with video production and acting capabilities winning major contracts from major firms, beating the traditional, old, big creative agencies. Why? Because their ideas are fresh, new and relevant with the existing world where most eyes are now glued to Youtube and Facebook.
What Does It Means For You?
We are living in one of the greatest times to be alive. Thanks to technology advancement, we are living in a time where for the very first time in history, you can advertise and promote your skills and knowledge on facebook, instagram, or youtube for free!
The power of social media gives anyone the flexibility to quickly ramp up your brand name through promoting your work and delivering value online.
If you’re a skilled worker like writer, designer, actor, marketer, web developer, or singer, you no longer need to clock into a traditional job every day to enjoy your craft. You can be in control over your schedule and continue to pursue your passion and your dreams.
2) The Trend from CENTRALISED AND CONTROLLED to COMMUNITY AND NETWORKED DRIVEN
Scenario: The boom of bitcoin shows just how deeply distrustful people are towards the centralised monetary system. Bitcoin was created to solve the problem of a centralised fiat currency system through the creation of a peer-to-peer electronic cash system. That’s why some experts call bitcoin the ‘people’s money’.
And bitcoin is not alone. In the early 1990s, Microsoft saw the way the world was going and knew that PC will have tremendous potential for multimedia and access to information at homes. Microsoft then invested millions into a product known as Microsoft Encarta, an online encyclopaedia. Which was later killed by the power of crowd. Through Wikipedia. Want to know more about Encarta? Go check them out on Wikipedia.
What Does It Means For You?
Wikipedia is a classic example of an organisation that uses the power of crowd and community to kill off a centralised and controlled organisation. But what matters most is it has also triggered a dramatic shift in the way work is organised, talent is employed, research is conducted, and products are made and marketed.
As an entrepreneur, you can now look to our existing customer base for solution. By creating a robust forum to receive their feedbacks, you can deliver a fantastic experience while instilling a strong sense of loyalty.
You can also turn to your customer base in search for funding and get them to own a part of your business.
I know I’m repetitive when I say this. We are living in one of the most exciting times in human history. Never before have entrepreneurs been able to leverage technology, their customers and each other so effectively to accomplish so much with so little. The wisdom of the crowd has the potential to dramatically change the way small businesses and startup operate worldwide, level the playing field and competing with larger counterparts more aggressively than ever before.
Imagine always having access to a new, clean car, without worrying about car maintenance, insurance, parking or paying taxes for it. Doesn’t sound bad right?
In our modern, networked world, this is the reality for an increasing number of people who simply want access to a product, rather than ownership of it. The result is that more and more companies are changing their business model from a customer-based to a membership oriented-one.
Transition from a Customer to a Member mindset
Welcome to the world of the membership economy!
The advantage of the membership economy is that it allows us to bypass all the responsibilities and costs associated with ownership. But it’s a big shift. Because the traditional economy is built around the principle of ownership; when customers buy things under the standard system, they can do whatever they want with them.
Just think of car ownership. You can paint the car with an outrageous color or change the body kit. However, if the car breaks down, you have to fix it. You also have to pay taxes and secure a parking spot.
But what if you only need the car once or twice a week? Or even once or twice a day? Short term rent might be the best solution. That way, you will have access to a car when necessary, but not have to bear the responsibility to pay the cost of ownership.
The Rules of Business Have Changed
Fortunately, the internet makes this kind of access easier than ever before. And over the past few years, new web-powered companies have emerged, giving their customers convenient alternatives to ownership in almost every sector.
For instance, Malaysia’s very own unicorn, Grab, give us access to a fleet of cars with drivers whenever we need it. All we need to do is to book on it’s app and Grab pairs drivers with those who need a ride.
How Membership Economy Works
The membership-oriented business creates an ongoing relationship between the company, the users of the network; the customers and the providers.
Imagine the old ways of getting a driver. You engage a driver because you need to attend a major event. After the service is rendered and after you paid for it, the relationship is over.
The membership economy is different. When customers commit to a company, they get all the benefits and responsibilities of your ongoing relationship with the membership network.
I’m going to use Grab as a case study on the 5 major categories that creates a membership economy
1) Digital Subscription: It cost nothing to set up an account with Grab. But online businesses like Netflix ask members to pay a recurring fee to access content, features or services.
2) Online Communities: Grab create networks around shared goal – ride sharing. With this in mind, drivers and riders are allowed to review and rate each other. There is also a membership tier moving from normal member to silver to gold and platinum.
3) Loyalty Programs: GrabRewards track and reward loyalty, by creating different tiers of benefits for frequent users.
4) Referral Programs: Grab allows you to “Invite Friends” and reward you when you start referring your friends to be a part of the membership network.
5) Complementary Services: As Grab track members spending and behavior, they start offering additional services like GrabDaily, GrabPay, and what I believe will be more to come.
The Membership-Oriented Business World
The membership economy is at the heart of the most valuable companies built in the last quarter century. Think Uber, Airbnb, Netflix, LinkedIn, Facebook, Amazon Prime, Dropbox, any many more.
However, as the network in the membership economy continues to grow, it moves towards a natural monopoly, allowing the owner of this membership network the pricing power to charge higher fees – understanding that even if members are unhappy and frustrated, they have few alternatives.
Think of how Grab acquired Uber in South East Asia and prices started to increase!
So yeah, at first, a membership-oriented business is highly beneficial to customers. But over time, not so much!
Up until now, most of the membership-oriented businesses are owned by private or public listed companies. However, as blockchain technology continues to mature, I believe that a well-designed decentralized tokenized membership network can change the game.
Blockchain is about to transform the nature of the businesses built around them.
Token Economy: Membership Economy on Blockchain
So imagine instead of the centralized company Grab, we create a distributed application – call it BlockGrab – a cooperative owned by it’s token holders. Let’s call it “BlockGrab token”.
Everyone who participates in the activity of the network, using and accruing tokens in the process, is effectively a network “owner”.
When someone wants a ride, BlockGrab software scans it’s blockchain for all the listing and filters the riders that meet his criteria. Without a centralized intermediary.
BlockGrab can also create it’s very own Token Economy.
1) Payment: Instead of using the Malaysian Ringgit, you can use to BlockGrab Tokens to make payment.
2) Reviews & Ratings: If you’re given a good review or rating, you’ll be rewarded with more BlockGrab Tokens.
3) Membership: As you continue to hold more BlockGrab Tokens, your membership tier gets upgraded with more benefits.
4) Referral Programs: As you continue to “Invite Friends”, the network grows bigger and rewards you with more BlockGrab Tokens for every friends you invite.
5) Complementary Services: As additional services like BlockGrabDaily being offered, the usage of the BlockGrab Tokens increase and valuation of the tokens increases due to demand, indirectly making the BlockGrab token holders richer!
Ideation to Incubation
As I’m writing this article right now, the idea of “BlockGrab” is being executed by several blockchain startups. All hailing themselves either the future of transportation or the future of ride sharing.
1) Bit Cab – https://bitcab.io
2) Arcade City – https://arcade.city
3) LaZooz – http://lazooz.org
4) Dacsee – https://dacsee.com/
Why Token Economy is the Next Revolution of the Membership Economy!
When a membership network is owned by a private, centralized company. The value flows away from network members to the hands of a group of shareholders who hold equity of the company.
In a token economy, membership economy built on blockchain, the relationship between the customer and company changes. Members of the token have a stake in the entire membership network. Because there is no division between owners and participants, it’s easier to align incentives in the token economy.
This is revolutionary. A token economy is able to provide all the benefits of the membership economy without increasing costs to members that are unavoidable under private, centralized network ownership. More importantly, these cost savings can be more than financial. They can also come in the form of increased privacy, ownership of data, and more favorable network policies.
So, instead of putting taxi drivers out of job, a blockchain-based membership-oriented business puts companies like Uber and Grab out of job and let’s the driver work with their customers directly. Because everyone owns a part of this ecosystem.
When I got to know that Singularity University was organizing their first ever summit in South East Asia, I immediately bought myself a ticket because I’ve been a huge fan since I first got to know about Singularity from a tech geek friend of mine.
For the benefit of those who have never heard of Singularity University, this is a Silicon Valley think tank that focuses on scientific progress and “exponential” technologies. It was founded in 2008 by Peter Diamandis and Ray Kurzweil at the NASA Research Park with corporate founding partners such as Google, Autodesk, LinkedIn, XPrize, etc.
This 2 days summit expanded my mind with an “exponential” mindset, understanding of emerging technologies, and ideas for innovating my business and my life into the future.
In this article, I’ll share my top 4 key takeaways from what I’ve learnt in SingularityU Summit Thailand 2018.
1) The Rules of Economics Have Changed
We have moved from a world of the old economy to a world of the new economy. A revolution in economic affairs thanks to the launch of fundamental enabling technologies, that is creating sustainable exponential growth.
Think about it?
In 1956, the data storage for a 5 Mbytes in an IBM 350 will cost anyone easily USD$120,000.
Today, the cost of a 32 Gigabytes pendrive cost you less than USD99.
It’s not only the prices of hard drive storage capacity that is dropping at an exponential path. This includes the prices of semiconductors, DNA sequencing and synthesis costs, data transmission rates which drives the number of broadband Internet subscribers growing at exponential curves.
The rules of economics have changed. Thanks to the exponential growth of technology.
At the rate that we are moving, the 4 key technologies that are taking off at an exponential paths will be; Quantum Computing, Distributed Ledger Technologies (Blockchain), Solar Power, and Artificial Intelligence
Personally, I’m convinced that the economy of the 21st century will be an Exponential Economy driven by the combination of distributed ledger technology (accountability), artificial intelligence (automation) and quantum computing (optimization).
And when the day these technologies mature, we will head towards a new revolution in the economy.
2) The Rules of Professional Jobs Have Changed
We are living in time when we are holding what’s been called ‘supercomputers’ by our ancestors in our palms every single day.
The technology that was created in the last 10 years is greater than the last 1,000 years combined. With this pace of change, this means that we are just few years away from a world where humans and machines live together. Yes! You’re right. We are moving towards an unimaginable future!
Is there a possibility where humans will work for machines in future? Possible!
CASE STUDY: Lawyer vs Robots
In 2018, LawGeex pitted 20 experienced attorneys against a 3 year old Artificial Intelligence trained to evaluate contracts. As you can imagine, the computer won.
The LawGeex’s neural network achieved an average 94% accuracy rate compared to the lawyers’ average of 85%. Close call.
But what truly matters is this… The human lawyers took anywhere from 51 minutes to more than 2.5 hours to complete all 5 NDAs.
Guess how long the AI engine took?
Whether you’re an employee, a professional or a specialist, your next biggest competitor will no longer be your peers. But machines, artificial intelligence and androids!
I still recall when I was in school in 1997, the news that an IBM Computer Deep Blue won a chess match against Garry Kasparov. It was the first time a machine defeated the world chess champion under tournament conditions.
In 2011, another IBM computer Watson took part in a television quiz show against former winners and won. Watson had to listen to questions and give answers in natural human language and he wasn’t even connected to the Internet.
In March 2016, AlphaGo played the board game Go and beat the World Champion.
Being a computer science student myself, I thought that I’ll have an upper hand in this new world of tech geeks. But guess what?
Artificial Intelligence can now write codes better than computer programmers and software developers!
In this video, Elon Must was interviewed on his opinions towards Artificial Intelligence.
And guess what? He is worried of what will happen when the machines becomes smarter than the humans.
“Even in the benign scenario, if AI is much starter than a person, what do we do? What job do we have?” – Elon Musk
There is no doubt that besides lawyers, accountants, doctors things are looking bleak for even computer scientists!
So for parents, do think about it when you want your kids to be professionals like lawyers, doctors and accountants.
Are these jobs still relevant in years to come?
3) The Rules of Business Have Changed
In 1975, a 24 year old engineer named Steven Sasson invented digital photography while working at Kodak by creating the world’s first digital camera. Kodak wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about the industry-changing breakthrough. Sasson showed the new technology to a number of Kodak executives, but they couldn’t see the potential of what digital photography could become. This was their reason, as told by Sasson to the New York Times:
“They were convinced that no one would ever want to look at their pictures on a television set. Print had been with us for over 100 years, no one was complaining about prints, they were very inexpensive, and so.”
In 1998, Kodak was still going strong with a market capitalization of $26 billion and 140,000 employees.
By 2012, Kodak was bankrupt with 17,000 employees. It was disrupted by the very same idea created by it’s 24 year old engineer 37 years ago! What a bummer.
And guess what?
On the very same year, another photography company achieved it’s $1 billion unicorn status.
Guess who? Instagram!
Instagram’s number of employees? 13!
Over the past 150,000 years, human development around the world has been local and linear. However, in the past 10 years, human development has moved from local to global, and from linear to exponential.
As an entrepreneur, you have to be reminded that what’s affecting you is no longer your next door competitor. Very often, it’s created right across the globe.
So, make sure that you UBER-ize yourself before you get KODAK-ed.
4) The Rules of Life Have Changed
According to Professor Richard Foster from Yale University, “The average lifespan of a company listed in the S&P 500 index of leading US companies has decreased by more than 50 years in the last century, from 67 years in the 1920s to just 15 years today.”
Today’s rate of change “is at a faster pace than ever!”
The saying “For an understanding of the future, look to the past” is no longer relevant. In today’s business world, the past doesn’t equate the future. Because it’s a different world.
Remember the time when Internet was created and talks shows were discussing about what is “Internet” and what is the usage of “@” in a “.COM” and what is “Email”And guess what the internet has done to the world?
And guess what the internet has done to the world?
We are living in a time from when an aspiring entrepreneur says “I’ve got an idea” to this entrepreneur successfully says “I run a Billion Dollar company” is getting shorter and shorter.
First, thanks to the faster and cheaper computing power that is creating a strong connection among people. And second, thanks to the new disruptive business models based on the sharing economy.
Think about it?
Aren’t we now living in a time when we are all confused with words like synthetic biology, quantum computing, 3D printing, augmented reality, artificial intelligence and blockchain?
So, can you imagine how the world is going to become when all these becomes a part of our daily lives?
With the exponential fast changing pace today, what’s exciting is you don’t have to be IBM or Amazon to make an impact. Whether you’re working for someone or if you’re an entrepreneur, we are living in the greatest time to be alive. Because of the collaborative nature of the business world, we can all make a difference if we all work together!
Hope you enjoyed my sharing here on my 4 key takeaways in SingularityU Thailand Summit 2018!