One of my favorite sayings is that true innovation happens close to the iron. By that I mean that people like myself tend to move the world in one of two ways:
- incrementally, or
The reason that is true is that I am not close to the iron. I am a suit. People close to the iron can realize much more dramatic change.
I was asked to give an example of this the other day and I used Alex in my example. The example goes something like this:
I have a great idea for a new start-up: We are going to build teleportation devices. Huge market opportunity. I am going to have a market cap bigger than all the car companies, all the airlines, and Fedex… combined. Awesome idea.
Should you join my company? No. I am an insane person. You would dismiss me out of hand.
If Alex called me and said, “Hey Brent, I think I figured out a way to build a machine that teleports matter,” I would quit my job the next day to help him realize it. Because when a guy like Alex tells you that he has ideas that sound crazy, he has figured out how to make them work.
Look at his current company, Connectify. He was playing around with Windows 7 and thought, “I bet I can turn these computers into routers quickly and easily”. Lo and behold, now every Windows 7 box can be a wifi station for free. If I told you, “hey, lets turn every Windows 7 computer into a wifi hot spot and build a mesh network”, I sound crazy. Alex already did it.
I am a suit. My ideas relate to markets and needs that customers have that become more or less apparent to people studying the market. People close to the code see things you can do with the code that no one imagines to be reasonable.
Those are innovations that change the world.