We find inspiration in the oddest of places, but who would have thought that a science fiction book from the 1970's could inspire the leading business innovators of today?
Elon Musk talks a lot about asking better questions, and it seems this was inspired by the same bit of insightful absurdity that started me on the same path.
In Douglas Adams's wonderful Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, an enormous computer called Deep Thought was built to answer the 'ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything'. After much deliberation, the answer turned out to be '42'.
The problem being, that we never really knew what the question was.
This points to something I believe is massively important in 2 ways:
1 - You've got to ask a better question to get a more meaningful answer.
2 - There's no point in asking the universe what the meaning is. It doesn't care about you, and it won't answer.
For the question to mean anything, it has to be asked of you first: what's the meaning of your life, your universe, your everything?
Stop shouting into the void of the internet about what you do, and start asking questions about how you can help.
That can set you off on a journey to anywhere. It's up to you.
Clearly, Elon Musk's questions led him in a different direction to me. Mine did not lead to starting Paypal, or Space-X, or Tesla Motors.
But today, as a result of that same question, I'm proud to be part of a growing team that helps businesses to encourage better questions, and provide better answers, so that they can grow faster and help more people.
What question could you ask better that would help you grow your business?
The book supplies that lesson in the form of a particularly absurd supercomputer called Deep Thought, which was built to figure out the Answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. How long did the calculations take? Just 7.5 million years. And the answer, after all that waiting? The number 42. An unsatisfying answer, but one that's illuminating in its own way.