|“The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it” – Flannery O’Connor|
In Part #2, we are going to dive into first principles and unpack why they are so important to the success of your business and why conventional thinking is holding you back.
As always, I value your attention and will work to make part 2 incredibly valuable for you.
A first principle is a foundational proposition or assumption that stands alone.
We cannot deduce first principles from any other proposition or assumption.
Aristotle, writing on first principles, said: …
“Reasoning by first principles removes the impurity of assumptions and conventions.”
First-principles thinking is one of the best ways to reverse-engineer complicated problems and unleash creative possibility.
Sometimes called “reasoning from first principles,” the idea is to break down complicated problems into basic elements and then reassemble them from the ground up.
It’s one of the best ways to learn to think for yourself, unlock your creative potential, and move from linear to non-linear results.
This approach is used by Elon Musk and Charlie Munger.
It allows them to cut through the fog of shoddy reasoning and inadequate analogies to see opportunities that others miss.
So how do you teach yourself to do that?
Children instinctively think in first principles.
Just like us, they want to understand what’s happening in the world. To do so, they intuitively break through the fog with a game some parents have come to hate.
It can be annoying but it really expresses a wish to find out more about the world and how it works.
You may have a stock answer like “Because I said so..”
A better one would be to ask the questioner to go find the answer him or herself. Google can provide any answer you want, you just have to learn how to ask the right question.
And that’s the point.
To learn how to come up with the first principle, you have to learn to think differently. Challenge assumptions. Look for evidence. Be prepared to think things through NOT look for quick answers.
The best modern day example of a man who thinks differently is Elon Musk. The most interesting thing about him is not what he thinks but HOW he thinks.
I think people’s thinking process is too bound by convention or analogy to prior experiences. It’s rare that people try to think of something on a first principles basis.
They’ll say, “We’ll do that because it’s always been done that way.” Or they’ll not do it because “Well, nobody’s ever done that, so it must not be good. But that’s just a ridiculous way to think.
You have to build up the reasoning from the ground up—“from the first principles” is the phrase that’s used in physics.
You look at the fundamentals and construct your reasoning from that, and then you see if you have a conclusion that works or doesn’t work, and it may or may not be different from what people have done in the past
He starts with what is true not with intuition.
He starts with his ultimate goal… to send people to Mars. To do that, you need cheaper rockets. Rockets are expensive so the next question was… what are rockets made of? And how much does that material cost?
Turns out that they add up to about 2% of the cost of a traditional rocket.
So why are rockets so expensive?
The answer is because the people making them were stuck in their way of thinking. When Musk proposed reusable rockets, no one believed it possible.
He, of course, proved them wrong and now the cost of a SpaceX rocket launch is $62m. whereas an Ariane 5 launch costs $165m.
That’s an exponential improvement.
In a briefing earlier this year, SpaceX director of vehicle integration Christopher Couluris said the company can “bring launches down to below $30 million per launch”.
And has relaunched one rocket 5 times out of a possible 100!
Asking and then answering difficult questions is what Elon Musk is all about.
Conventional thinking is not his thing.
Which is why I challenge you to question the conventional marketing speak, you see everywhere on social media and go back to first principles.
For instance, I contend that…
The most important asset in your business is your audience.
Marketing is not about tools and tactics. It’s about knowing your people better than anyone else then communicating with them effectively.
And how do you do that?
Stories have been around since the dawn of time.
Because they attract, engage, motivate and inspire people to achieve things they never dreamed were possible.
Which is how Elon Musk put a team of engineers and scientists together at SpaceX who believed in the same goal as he did… to build cheaper rockets and eventually land people on Mars.
That’s a fact.
Stories change the chemistry of our bodies.
The Significant Object Study proved beyond doubt that stories increase the perceived value of simple thrift store objects. 200 objects bought for $129 were sold on ebay each with stories attached for close to $8000.
That’s more than a 6200% uplift.
Stories mean business…