Eureka Moments – Here’s the formula for success

Sam McAfee – Eureka Moment – Yes! Magic does happen, here’s the formula for success in business.

For a long time, because it’s almost like poisonous advice, this idea, that famous thing that Steve Jobs said about Henry Ford and the car, people just knew they wanted to get their faster, they didn’t know they wanted a car.

It’s interesting, but it’s extremely rare.

There’s very few examples, I would hesitate to encourage people to expect that to be the way that it happens. It’s much more that you’re working on something and you spend a lot of time building expertise in a particular area, and then that eureka moment happens, but it’s the combination of all of this heavy research and thinking and tinkering that has come before. And at the last moment, everything clicks, and it’s like, a-ha! But it’s not like that emerged out of nowhere.

It’s like your brain has been processing this stuff for a long time and you’ve taken a walk in the park one day, and you’re just like, ah! I’ve got it. But that’s from that long culmination of all that thought.

Marzena Kmiecik: How often does that happen to you, in terms of ideas?

It happens on a small scale on a daily basis with just like coding problems and stuff. The concept of taking your mind off of things you’ve been thinking about and letting your brain just naturally solve the problem in the background, that’s a real occurrence. There’s science behind that. I solve a lot of problems in the half hour I wake up in the morning. Literally, still in bed with my eyes closed, my brain will start piecing things together, and I’ll sometimes wake up with an answer, because your brain actually process information that way.

For me, that happens a lot. I’ll be so frustrated with a programming problem, five o’clock, during the day, going home, and I’m mad because I can’t figure this thing out, I know it’s right in front of me. I just stop thinking about it. You go home, make dinner, play with the kids, you go to bed, wake up in the morning, and I’m like ah! It’s so obvious! I think it’s probably just because you think through the whole day and you’re tired at the end of the day. You lose your capacity to have innovative thoughts.

But in terms of the really big ideas, the large scale, I think it’s much rarer. I think that’s what interesting I was reading something about sort of a Venn diagram of what should my company be, and it’s really interesting because it’s this combination of – I can’t remember who came up with this concept. It’s this circle in the Venn diagram of things that you actually want to do, things that you’re actually good at, and things that people will pay for. You’ve got to get that circle together. There’s a lot of things that you want to do that you just don’t know how to, or take too long to learn. I could love to be  NASA physicist but I don’t have a PhD in physics.

There are things, also, that I like to do that I do have the skills for. I enjoy what I do and I’m in a lucky position where I enjoy writing, I’m good at it, and people will pay for it. I’ve managed to capture that. But I think for everyone, there isn’t any one option for any of those things, so you’ve got  to look at those different things that you have available, and the trickiest one is what people pay for. It’s relatively easy to figure out what you’re good at, and do you like doing it. But if you don’t like doing it, just stop right there, because there’s no point in building a company, even if you’re the best accountant in the world, if you don’t like crunching numbers, it’s probably not going to be the best idea, because people sense the lack of passion.

So, like, I think what makes really good companies is that passion is really evident. It comes through in the work. You really care about solving this problem.