Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a motivational speaker who can cover the magic of thinking BIGGER at your next business event. Contact us to check availability. The full transcript of the above video is included below.
Full Video Transcript:
In 2009, Brian Acton applied for a job at Facebook and they turned him down. But he’s a pretty gracious guy – he wrote a tweet about it at the time. He said, “Facebook turned me down. It was a great opportunity to connect with some fantastic people. Looking forward to life’s next adventure.”
And what might that be? Well, he got together with a friend of his and started WhatsApp, which he grew over the course of five years and sold to none other than…Facebook, for a cool $19 billion. Some poetic justice there, right? I’m bitter, I admit it.
But of course the pundits came out in force because this was an unbelievable transaction and there’s a bunch of different ways that you can look at a transaction like this. One way is that at the time of the sale WhatsApp had 55 employees, so by that measure Facebook paid $345 million per employee. Another way to look at it is that at the time of the sale WhatsApp had $450 million active monthly users, so by that measure Facebook paid $42 per user. But it doesn’t matter how you look at it, this is a lot of money. This is a lot of money.
Maybe the most interesting way to look at a transaction like this though is that over the course of just five years, 55 employees managed to engage 450 million active monthly users. I mean, seriously, think about this. There’s way more than 55 people in this room. So in five years, just 55 people engage over a half a billion people. It’s incredible.
And it speaks to the leverage that’s in our economy today. There’s more and more leverage all the time. And many people, this is a revolution that’s happening right in front of us and most people don’t even notice it, but every year that goes by, every decade that goes by, there’s more and more leverage in the system. There’s more and more leverage that we can take advantage of.
So just a few examples, software is leverage. You can leverage software. You can leverage the cloud. The cloud is a form of leverage. You can leverage mobile technology. You can leverage virtual reality. You can leverage autonomous vehicles. You can leverage robotics. These are all technologies that people can leverage.
And the reality is that there are a few people and a few businesses that are leveraging these trends and doing extraordinarily well, but at the same time the vast majority of people, sadly, are being leveraged by these same trends and it’s harder and harder for them to succeed. So how do we stay on the right side of the line? How do we stay on the side where we’re leveraging the trends and not being leveraged by them?
And a lot of it starts right up here. It starts with our mindset as individuals, right? And one of the keys is to think bigger, to think way bigger about what’s possible because we live in exponential times. We don’t live in linear times anymore. And as human beings, we are hardwired to think in linear terms, but the fact is that technology progresses along an exponential curve. So we need to think way bigger about what’s possible.
And there are some really well-documented and scientifically studied impacts on thinking bigger. One of them proves that you end up inspiring everyone around you, including your customers. When you think way bigger, you inspire your customers. You inspire your employees. You inspire your competitors when you embrace huge goals.
And the other thing is, the second thing is that when you think bigger—and guys, I’m not talking about thinking a little bit bigger. I’m talking about way bigger. Way bigger. Quite often, you have almost no competition at all, because no one else has the audacity to chase such audacious goals. They’re too busy chasing realistic goals. Forget realistic goals.
Don’t forget realistic goals—we all need them—but add some big ones to the mix, right? Do something big. Add something bigger to what you’re doing because the impact can be huge, right? And all of a sudden, people come out of the woodwork and they want to be part of something exciting. They want to be part of what you’re doing and they rally behind you and increase the odds that you succeed. The wind is at your back when you think bigger.
And of course there are people—and we all know these names—there are people all around us that are kind of poster children for thinking bigger, like Richard Branson, right? Richard Branson’s a great example. He started Virgin Galactic, and how much bigger are you going to get than that, right? Any competition? No?
What about Elon Musk? That’s a great example. And if you guys don’t know—anyone not know Elon Musk? He’s the guy who started SpaceX. They’re sending rockets with—he’s the private company sending cargo to the International Space Station, and then they’re bringing the rockets back down and landing them like a pencil so they can reuse the hardware and save money. Any competition?
He’s the same guy who started Tesla. Any competition there? No? No one thought to produce a high-performance electric car. They wanted to produce slow, ugly electric cars, right? But Elon Musk said, “No, we’re going to give the customer what the customer wants.” Eventually, the customer always gets what they want. Eventually. Who’s going to do it? Who’s going to give the customer what they want? Elon Musk said, “We’ll do it.”
And then, they just introduced the Powerwall. Have you guys heard about that? The Powerwall is a battery. It’s about this big. It’s basically an attractive battery. It looks like a piece of art. And you put it on your wall and it taps you to the solar panels that’s on the roof of your house so the battery can charge during the day, you can use it at night and disconnect from the power grid entirely. Any competition? Isn’t it funny how that works?
Steve Jobs? Everything he did he was the first one to the market, because he was the one to think bigger. He was the one who said, “I’ll do it the big way. I’ll give the customer what they want.”
So my challenge for you, and indeed, for myself—we’re all leaders in our communities, we’re leaders in business—is to think bigger and take those audacious goals. And it’s about leadership, it’s about taking advantage with the leverage that’s in our system today, and it’s about thinking way bigger about what’s possible. Thank you so much.
Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a keynote speaker who has spoken at business conferences in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.