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Exponential Thinking with Naveen Jain

Naveen Jain is an entrepreneur and philanthropist driven to solve the world’s biggest challenges through big thinking and innovation. He’s a long-time friend of the Kwik Brain podcast.

Regularly honored for his entrepreneurial efforts—he’s been listed as Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year and been the recipient of ‘Albert Einstein Technology Medal’ as just two examples. Naveen is the founder of the groundbreaking companies Moon Express, World Innovation Institute, iNome, TalentWise, Intelius, and Infospace. Moon Express is the only company in the world to have been given permission to leave Earth’s orbit and land on the moon.

Naveen has built his career on thinking big, smashing boundaries, and disrupting entire industries. He’s guided by his belief that our only limit is our imagination. Naveen’s next big endeavor is to achieve moon travel and learn how to use lunar resources to enable further innovation here on earth.

*** Please note, this episode is educational only and not intended to diagnose or treat medical conditions. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.

"It’s not about thinking outside the box, it’s thinking in a completely different box."

Naveen Jain

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  • The human brain is designed to think linearly: using straight-line extrapolations and simple predictions to get from A to B.
  • Definition of the exponential: increasing at a rapid rate, doubling each year.
  • Example: If asked to take 30 steps, how far would you go? Most of us would travel approximately the same distance.
  • Same example, but with exponential thinking: If asked to take 30 exponential steps, how far would you go? [1 steps, 2 steps, 4, 8, 16 and keep doubling…] Most people think this option would only add another one or two miles, but really, the distance ends up being 13 loops around the Earth.
  • The human mind has never had to deal with exponential thinking before — we were living locally and didn’t have to deal with exponential technologies


  • Technologies and Artificial Intelligence are advancing all the time without people realizing.
  • For example, Alexa is now able to have a conversation, in a couple of years it might be able to notice your patterns of living and differences in your thinking.
  • Exponential thinking is seeing things from a different mindset. It’s not about thinking outside the box, it’s thinking in a completely different box.
  • Imagine if we could use radiation as a future source of energy.


  • Try thinking about the root cause of the problem rather than the problem itself.
  • E.g. problem of access to fresh water — most people think we should just produce more fresh water, but what if we thought bigger and used stem cell technologies to disrupt agriculture in order to produce an abundance of agriculture and fresh water?


  • The mindset of scarcity holds us back from doing things.
  • Abundance: if something is in abundance it loses value.
  • Humans can be greedy, we always want more of everything — we fight over energy, water, and land because we believe they’re scarce, but we don’t fight over the air because we believe in its abundance.
  • Imagine if we could make energy free? Every 90 minutes more solar energy falls on earth than the whole planet uses in an entire year.
  • Aluminum used to be most precious mineral before technology made it abundant, now we throw it away daily.


  • Education was designed to teach us skills, but those skills are becoming obsolete every 5 years due to automation and exponential technology.
  • Current-day superpowers: advanced critical thinking, creativity, imagination, problem-solving and applying knowledge.
  • Learning how to learn and remain updated with information should be the new education system.


  • Book mentioned: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn.
  • “All innovation comes from somebody on the outside.” -Thomas Kuhn
  • Innovation often takes someone from the outside looking in — they don’t have the limitations & learned helplessness learned from being inside an industry.
  • Ask questions other people don’t ask, challenge the foundations, keep asking why it can’t be done.


  • Healthcare: the more money spent, the sicker we’re getting.
  • Exponential thinking can be used to solve million dollar problems.
  • Doing good and doing well are not mutually exclusive.
  • First time in human history individuals are capable of solving these problems.
  • The big question: what if you could stop people getting sick in the first place?


  • Check out Singularity University to learn about exponential technologies.
  • Watch videos about exponential thinking, watch TED Talks, read books.
  • Experts mentioned: Peter Diamandis | Neil Jacobstein | Daniel Kraft
  • Naveen spends at least 3 hours each day just learning: reading research papers, watching talks.
  • The more you read and learn, the more you’re able to connect the dots, and the more dots you have to enable better decision-making.


  • Asked the big question: what if the illness was a matter of choice? What if it was optional? Created healthcare company Viome.
  • Investigated causes of chronic disease and found link to chronic inflammation.
  • Learn more about Naveen’s company Viome and assess your own microbiome.


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