There are many people in the world who give me inspiration. Some are bold people who kick ass at everything they touch. Some are people who are at the top of their industry. They not only inspire, but also motivate me. The list is not comprehensive. It’s food for thought. Some accel in a single industry (Bill Gates). Some have taken traditional industries and businesses to new heights (Sir Richard Branson). Some are working in many diverse areas that are cutting edge and way outside of the normal business lines. Segue to Naveen Jain.

Naveen Jain is possibly the most amazing person you’ve never heard of. He grew up in extreme poverty in New Delhi and in villages in Uttar Pradesh, India. In 1979 he earned an engineering degree from Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee. He moved to the United States the same year. He had several jobs that led to him being an early joiner of Microsoft. When he left there, he had amassed a small fortune. Jain started several tech-based companies as well as Moon Express. Moon Express had the goal of winning the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize, and of ultimately mining the moon for natural resources. Moon Express was unable to make a launch attempt to reach the moon by the March 31, 2018, the deadline for the prize. The company, nevertheless, plans to launch their lander with a commercial payload in 2020. (Reference Wikipedia: Naveen Jain). Jain also founded Viome. At Viome, they identify and quantify the living microorganisms in your gut microbiome, analyze what these organisms are producing, and provide you with personalized nutrition recommendations that help you optimize your gut microbiome. According to his website (www.naveenjain.com), “Naveen Jain is an entrepreneur and philanthropist driven to solve the world’s biggest challenges through innovation. A man who knows no limits, Naveen pushes big dreams into action, spurring massive cultural and technological change. His audacious vision and magnetic personality continually inspires others to follow what feels impossible. Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year, Silicon India’s ‘Most Admired Serial Entrepreneur’, and the receiver of ‘Albert Einstein Technology Medal’ for his pioneers in technology, he has been repeatedly honored for his entrepreneurial successes. Red Herring also recognized him as one of the ‘Top 20 Serial Entrepreneurs’ and with the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’. Naveen Jain’s next endeavor is to travel to the moon, using lunar resources for innovation here on earth. Whether it’s business or life, Naveen is guided by one firm belief – Our only limit is our imagination”. I believe he has a wonderful mind. And his book, “Moonshots, Creating a World of Abundance” is amazing. Jain’s mind seems to work like no other. If you tell him life on Mars is impossible to sustain because the problem of agriculture is insurmountable, he will turn this inside-out, and ask you why we need food. He will continue that we need food for energy and nutrition, and he will then frame the problem very differently so that it is no longer insurmountable.

Another great mind belongs to Peter Diamandis, who graduated from MIT with a B.S. in molecular genetics. He then entered Harvard Medical School to pursue his M.D. In 1986, Diamandis put his medical degree on hold and returned to MIT to pursue a master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics. After completing his M.S. at MIT, Diamandis returned to Harvard completing his M.D. (Reference Wikipedia: Peter Diamandis). He must have an amazing mind! Does he want to know everything? Diamandis is the founder and executive chairman of the XPRIZE Foundation, which leads the world in designing and operating large-scale incentive competitions. He’s also the executive founder of Singularity University, a graduate-level Silicon Valley institution that counsels the world’s leaders on exponentially growing technologies. Yikes! As an entrepreneur, Diamandis has started more than 20 companies in the areas of longevity, space, venture capital and education. He is also co-Founder BOLD Capital Partners, a venture fund with $250M investing in exponential technologies. (Reference https://www.diamandis.com/about). Fun fact: the first XPRIZE was inspired by the Orteig Prize, a $25,000 prize offered in 1919 by French hotelier Raymond Orteig for whoever could complete the first nonstop flight between New York City and Paris. In 1927, Charles Lindbergh won the prize in a single-engine aircraft called the Spirit of St. Louis. In total, nine teams spent $400,000 in pursuit of the Orteig Prize. In 1996, Diamandis offered a $10 million prize to the first privately financed team that could build and fly a three-passenger vehicle 100 kilometers into space twice within two weeks. The contest motivated 26 teams from seven nations to invest more than $100 million in pursuit of the $10 million purse. On October 4, 2004, that XPRIZE was won by Mojave Aerospace Ventures, who successfully completed the contest in their spacecraft SpaceShipOne. (Reference Wikipedia: X Prize Foundation). Here’s more fun parts: Mojave Aerospace Ventures is a company founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and aerospace engineer Burt Rutan. In 2004, it signed a deal with Virgin Galactic to develop the Virgin SpaceShip, a suborbital spacecraft, for space tourism. (Reference Wikipedia: Mojave Aerospace Ventures). How cool is that! Segue to Sir Richard Branson.

Sir Richard Branson is a business magnate, investor, author and philanthropist. He founded the Virgin Group in the 1970s, which controls more than 400 companies in numerous fields. Branson’s Virgin brand grew rapidly during the 1980s, as he started Virgin Atlantic airline and expanded the Virgin Records music label. In 2004, he founded spaceflight corporation Virgin Galactic, noted for the SpaceShipTwo suborbital spaceplane designed for space tourism. Branson also holds (or has attempted) several world records that involve air or water travel. In March 2000, Branson was knighted at Buckingham Palace for “services to entrepreneurship”. Branson has had many businesses fail. About those failures, Branson has written, “I suppose the secret to bouncing back is not only to be unafraid of failures but to use them as motivational and learning tools. … There’s nothing wrong with making mistakes as long as you don’t make the same ones over and over again.” How diversified are Branson’s businesses? Virgin Healthcare opened a chain of health care clinics that offers conventional medical care alongside homeopathic and complementary therapies. In 2010, the Virgin Group began Virgin Hotels. The Hard Rock Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas will soon be re-branded as a Virgin Hotel. (Reference Wikipedia: Richard Branson). Is there any line of business Branson won’t go into?


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