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This Billionaire Knows His Idea Is Crazy, and It’s the Key to His Extreme Success

Naveen Jain, Bill Gates and other billionaires had big ideas that people initially thought were crazy. But that’s OK. Here’s how their “moonshots” became realities.

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BY Gene Hammett - 30 Jun 2018

This Billionaire Knows His Idea Is Crazy, and It's the Key to His Extreme Success

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

If you want to be a billionaire, you must have a 10-billion-dollar idea -- and make it change the lives of humanity. This idea becomes your mission. Most people are not willing to even consider ideas like this. There is something inside them that causes them to think smaller and put their focus on the first step instead of the big idea.

I will admit that I have lived this level of thinking for much of my life -- I am not a billionaire, just to be clear. I have always wanted to do something meaningful and be extremely successful. Yet, I still focused on only the next step of the journey. I have felt the need to create the tangible now instead of talking about the crazy idea that I really wanted to happen.

According to the billionaire, Naveen Jain, my thinking has been totally wrong. Jain created his wealth by thinking differently than others. It turns out this is a requirement for those who want to make billions.

Jain is a business executive, entrepreneur and the founder and former CEO of InfoSpace, which became one of the largest internet companies in the American Northwest, before the crash of the dot-com bubble in the early 2000s. He started with Microsoft soon after college and worked on Windows 95, MSN (Microsoft Networks) and other projects during his eight years with them. He established himself as someone who could make big ideas happen and has seen his share of challenges in growth, but still he wants to change the way humanity lives.

In 2010, Jain co-founded Moon Express to facilitate travel to the moon to mine essential resources. In 2016, he founded Viome to address the failing state of our health care where only, sick people make money for the doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies.

Big ideas are crazy.

Jain's belief about becoming a billionaire is all about focusing on the idea -- and not the money. His viewpoint on big ideas is similar to many billionaires in our world today. If you are not thinking big enough for others to call you crazy, you will struggle to get them to pay attention and be able to raise money.

"Will it change the way people live their lives? Will it help a billion people if you succeed?" Jain asks. "If the answer is 'No,' this idea is not worth doing. Your goal is to find something that will change the lives of a billion people."

Billionaires start with moonshots.

Big ideas are known as "Moonshots." It comes from the Apollo program in the 60s, where Americans had the crazy idea to land men on the moon and bring them back safely. Jain believes moonshots are the basis for creating something meaningful and extremely successful.

Take Jain's adventure with Viome. "Our mission is to make chronic diseases a matter of choice, not a matter of bad luck." This means those who suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure or other chronic diseases can change what they eat to eliminate these conditions. Changing the focus from drugs and surgery to eating the right foods for you is Jain's "crazy" moonshot.

Other billionaires had moonshots when they started too. In 1975, Bill Gates could see a time when computers would be owned by everyone, and during that era, it was a crazy idea given the cost and size of a computer in the early days. And Elon Musk saw a future where we no longer depended on fossil fuels -- an idea many believed to be crazy.

Billion-dollar ideas are all around us. You can find them by looking at the fundamental problems humanity is facing like energy, access to food and water, health, education, etc. If you want to be a billionaire, you have to define your moonshot.

Avoid this mistake.

To make your moonshot idea come alive, you must understand how you begin the journey. "What is the first mile of the journey?" Jain looks at it this way. "You must divide your moonshot into slices like a pizza." When you can divide your moonshot into eight slices, you start on the first slice to get traction.

Jain shared how he looked at Viome. He said, "the first thing we had to do was change the cost of a standard blood test and analysis from $5,000 to $300 to make it economically feasible for the masses."

However, the common mistake is to focus your mission on the "slice" of the moonshot instead of the moonshot itself. Jain shared with me how important it was to start with the big crazy idea when talking with investors, presentations, media, and customers. The big idea excites them. Once they think you are crazy, you can share the more believable first step in the journey.

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