Course One: Welcome to the Future
Welcome to the future
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” -Steve Jobs
The exponential pace is wreaking havoc on the business landscape as we know it. Disruption has brought “too big to fail” companies to their knees in a matter of months, and it has made some industries obsolete. Any company or leader that doesn’t move at an exponential pace will be crushed by new, massively transformative exponential organizations.
Course Two: Exponential Theory: The Power of Thinking Big
Course Description: Welcome to the Future! The first course of the XMBA defines Exponential Theory and through the use of case studies and real world examples outlines 12 keys to success in the future. These are the 12 modules of this course:
What is Exponential Theory?
“Imagination is the most powerful force in the universe,” -Albert Einstein
In Exponential Theory, a variety of companies are seeking to solve big problems and have become more conscious than other companies focused on just profit.
In return, these companies have grown beyond comprehension.
Their leaders have their eyes on impacting a billion people and understand the importance of their role in the planet, in assisting in human rights, and in living up to a massive purpose that solves an equally big problem. When people work on projects that focus on impacting a billion people, they are forced to think about the system rather than just satisfying one group of customers.
At this level, entrepreneurs and innovators are starting to focus on universal problems and change the way the system works.
Therefore, these future Goliaths are starting to do the right thing, even when no one is looking.
Embracing the VUCA World
“It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.” -Charles Darwin
The United States Army and its leaders were troubled: in 1987, the Cold War imploded in Afghanistan into a theater of disillusionment.
The volatility in Afghanistan required military leaders to create a shared vision that extended beyond the immediate chaos into the future of what the country could be.
During times of uncertainty, leaders sought new levels of understanding of the Afghan people and their needs in order to properly assess the situation and move forward. This meant better listening, empathy, and accepting critical feedback from those most affected by the civil war.
The complexity of the war expanded leaders’ horizons by forcing them to rethink aspects they might previously have ignored, like the difficult combat terrain or the large number of civilians in between them and the enemy. Leaders needed to create clarity in the complexity.
Lastly, ambiguity forced military leaders to be agile and flexible, so that they could adapt to the unpredictable nature of the changing war. The four facets of VUCA guide military and exponential leaders alike by focusing on traits necessary for success in today’s world.
“The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.” -Albert Allen Bartlett
To better understand exponential growth, here’s a short story.
A little girl is negotiating her allowance with her parents. “Just pay me a penny and double my pay every week.”
Sounds easy enough. At first glance, this sounds like a great deal.
By week four, she’s only making eight cents a week. Her parents still feel like it’s a good deal.
After two months, she’s making $2.56 a week.
In six months, she’s making $335,544.32 a week, and after one year, her earnings are equal to the GDP of the United States of America.
Exponential growth is a game changer. This is why traditional companies are not able to compete with exponential companies.
Digitizing the Model
“Technology is exponential yet humans are linear.” -Gerd Leonhard
Kodak is an epic example of what happens on the ugly side of disruption.
Kodak was a camera and film photography giant. In the 1990s, they had $19 billion in sales and over 145,000 employees worldwide.
Then the film industry became digitized with the advent of the digital camera. In 2012, Kodak filed for bankruptcy.
Here’s the unfortunate part of that story: Kodak invented the digital camera.
Becoming a Tech Company
“Every company is now a technology company.” -Gary Shapiro
The Pizza and Coffee Wars
As disruption through digitization continues to spread, it provides companies with opportunities to capitalize on the digital habits of their customers.
The brands that can make the customer experience a digital one wields a major advantage over their competitors, regardless of industry.
Domino’s Pizza and Starbucks Coffee are two brands that effectively capitalized on changing customer habits, and as a result, are now titans in their respective food and beverage industries.
Finding the Massive Transformative Purpose
“10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.” -Definition of a Google, 10^100
The New Toothbrush
The internet is much simpler than we think.
Most people use the internet to do one of the following: search, browse, check email, and/or use social media(including posting photos or watching videos).
Apps used for accessing and sharing information across the internet have been dubbed “killer apps,” because of the massive disruption each one has caused.
For any app, being an industry leader is tremendously powerful.
Google leads in four of five major areas.
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently…While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do.” -Rob Siltanen
Timing is Everything
No other event in the brief history of the exponential world was as perfectly timed as Apple’s iPhone release in 2007.
This moment was so important that we argue that technology will be defined as pre-iPhone and post-iPhone.
The iPhone was a major catalyst for mass digitization and mobilization of technology.
This was not just another product launch; rather, Apple launched disruption that would forever change the world.
Leveraging the Viral Loop
“If you are on social media and you are not learning, not laughing, not being inspired, or not networking, then you are using it wrong.” -Germany Kent
The Social Network Wars
The stories of Facebook’s beginning are etched into pop culture lore.
A drunk undergrad, Mark Zuckerberg, created a crude hot-or-not game comparing Harvard coeds (dubbed FaceMash) that crashed the Harvard internetnetwork with its popularity in a few hours.
He then (allegedly) stole the idea for Facebook from fellow classmates and rowing Olympians, the Winklevoss twins, who sued Zuckerberg and won.
That only added to his legend, complete with his infamous drunk coding binges and all-night parties after he dropped out of Harvard and moved to Palo Alto.
He wore flip flops and hoodies to U.S. depositions.
There is a lot of myth in the creation of Facebook, but one thing is certain: Facebook has won the social network wars, for now.
Playing the Long Game
“If you double the number of experiments you do per year, you’re going to double your inventiveness.” -Jeff Bezos
Not Just Another Book Company
Exponential companies like Amazon begin in a shroud of deception.
When Amazon launched, did any of us think that an online book retailer would take turns with Google, Apple, and Microsoft as the wealthiest company in the world?
Executing the MVP
“When something is important enough you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.” -Elon Musk
The Exponential Leader
There’s a legendary story that after Elon Musk sold PayPal, he netted $180 million. He was rich beyond most people’s wildest dreams.
Immediately, Musk invested all the money he made into three of his companies—$100 million into SpaceX, $70 million into Tesla, and $10 million into SolarCity.
Only after his major investment did Musk realize he was short on rent.
How can someone be that crazy to take everything as he was set for life, and risk it all?
Elon Musk thinks differently. He is deeply rooted in exponential theory and the clearest example of big thinking in our lifetime.
“Because the world is changing, we can never assume that the way we have done things in the past is adequate for the future.”- Yvon Chouinard
Jumping to Hyperdrive
Somewhere in the Yucca Mountains of Nevada, near Groom Lake sits a top-secret US Air Force base.
Built in the 1950s, the base, shrouded in secrecy, has been the linchpin of dozens of conspiracy theories. It is a military test center in the desert that the CIA didn’t even publicly acknowledge existed until 2013.
Though we (still) don’t know anything specific about what they do at Area 51, the idea of setting up a top-secret lab outside of headquarters and day-to-day operations is a model we have seen repeated in many industries.
Apple, a company that continues to thrive on secrecy and launch unexpected ideas, has its own Area 51 called the Pirate Ship.
The Great Reset
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” -Marianne Williamson
A New Beginning
As the Earth took a deep breath in 2020, we got a glimpse into the much-needed reset.
The environment glaringly showed the benefit of a reset during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Small changes in human habits, such as orders to work from home, drastically improved many parts of biodiversity.
In March 2020, after only four days of quarantine, Los Angeles recorded the best air quality in 40 years.
Course Three: Implementing the Exponential Mindset
Course Four: Leadership; Creating a Shared Vision
Course Five: Creating Value & Negotiations with Big Thinking
Course Six: Design Thinking, Creativity, and Innovation
Course Seven: Business Model Strategy; Iterating on Customer Feedback
Course Eight: Project Execution; Manage Projects Not People
Course Nine: Growth Hacking; Growing Influence Through Persuasion
Course Ten: Capstone Personal & Professional Development Plan