Why a Lack of Expertise is a Superpower to Create a $Billion Business
I knew almost immediately I never wanted to be an Architect so why did I spend 6 years studying towards a masters degree I’d never use?
Ironically, it prepared me for what I wanted to do more than anything else ever would have. As a broad generalist degree, you’re required to understand everything from the business of architecture, to the structural integrity of buildings, while reinterpreting historical precedent and utilising the technology available today to create something new. You understand the fundamental characteristics of things just by looking at them, able to instantly pattern match and understand why certain things work and other’s done.
Those are the most important skills in business today — design thinking. At the time, I didn’t understand the universal applicability of what I was studying. How could I — I was too focussed on the minutiae detail of construction to appreciate the broader spectrum implications. With time, understanding the way that the Parthenon stood throughout the ages helped me project how businesses would evolve with the advent of modern tech.
The obvious route is typically the wrong one. The road less traveled endows you with a unique set of skills and perspective those in the industry you hope to ascend don’t have. You are free from the dogma of conventional wisdom that holds them back. There are no expectations which prevent you from asking the stupidest questions which let people learn the most. You are free to explore what you don’t know instead of accepting as fact the things you are taught to be fixed. That was the key. Architecture gave me the skills necessary to understand the structural, historical and strategic elements of any decision and breaking those skills free from the shackles of buildings endowed me with a unique perspective of the world helping me understand how everything fits together.
The greatest advances in history are often made by those too naive to know better than wasting their time on things people assume are fixed. Experts become too focused on what they know, with criticism used as a weapon to prevent waste. Don’t be an idiot, we do it this way prevents serendipitous exploration leading to inconceivable innovation. That is how the future is built, not by niche professions focussed increasingly on smaller more specific problems.
That’s your greatest asset.
My route to finance and economics was driven by my appreciation of how buildings work within the fabric of society. From there my obsession to understand the implications of dominoes falling pulled me into a rabbit hole I never imagined. I looked at the same things everyone else had but my new eyes and alternative perspectives enabled me to see different connections and possibilities. Instead of accepting everything that existed because it was the way things had always been, I was forced to consider how things could be different if we forced innovation upon the existing model. Small tweaks fundamentally change what exists and when one considers the possibilities for mass consumer benefit instead of monopolistic exploitation by utilities, the model can become a force for good. Internally, people weren’t pursuing those agendas because it was too profitable not to.
That’s just me.
What do you do that enables you to understand alternative industries. How do you see the world better than experts who are blinded by their knowledge unable to appreciate how their industry must be disrupted to survive.
That can be your contribution to the world. Critically, everything that exists was created by someone no smarter than you. Look at all the things you use, they were imagined by people just like us. Our strength as a species is in being able to reimagine a better future for everyone while possessing the capability to implement and integrate it into the real world.
If Henry Ford asked customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse. The onus is entrepreneurs to create things orders of magnitude better than what currently exists at the same time changing the world.
Customers don’t know what their bank can do for them.
They can’t imagine a world where their choice is a force for good, which expands their wealth, because they can’t see the power and influence you could harness if a bank becomes a platform instead of just a utility.
That’s my challenge.