Show notes

Do you have what it takes to solve some of our world’s biggest challenges? Naveen Jain is a billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist dedicated to solving problems through innovation.  As a society, we tend to assign value to things based on their scarcity, but imagine how different the world would be if we could deal with resource shortages by generating unlimited energy through solar power or desalinating large quantities of water? As Naveen Jain states during the interview: “We have to start dreaming about what the world can be. Don’t think about what is impossible. Think about how to take the problem that seemingly looks impossible and say what technologies need to be developed to make that possible”

Learning how to tackle problems with innovative solutions can help improve the lives of millions of people around the world. In this episode, Hala Taha and our guest Naveen discuss how to target the root cause of a problem and share examples of creative solutions.

For more on Naveen Jain follow him on Instagram @naveenjainceo, on Twitter @Naveen_Jain_CEO and subscribe to the newsletter on his website,

Dream big, dream so big that people think you are absolutely crazy. Never be afraid to feel because you only feel when you give up.


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What we are yapping about in this episode:

  • Naveen Jain’s personal story [02:56]
  • Understanding the concept of value and scarcity  [06:39]
  • Exploring the idea of a multiplanetary society  [12:03]
  • Using creativity and imagination to solve complex problems [46:46]
Read Full Transcript

Hala Taha: 00:00 Hey Naveen, welcome to young and profiting podcast.
Naveen Jain: 00:02 Thank you very much for inviting me and I'm looking forward to it.
Naveen Jain: 00:05 Yeah, it's such an honor to speak with you today, so I appreciate you taking out the time.
Naveen Jain: 00:10 Well, thank you.
Hala Taha: 00:11 Okay, so let's get started. You are a widely successful entrepreneur, a visionary, the recipient of numerous philanthropic awards and basically a walking example of success and limitless ambition. But you really came from humble beginnings. So let's start back then. Tell us what it was like growing up in India for you.
Naveen Jain: 00:32 Well, Hala. I want to focus more on the audience as opposed to me, but just to give you a brief idea. You know, the, I grew up in India. We didn't have food to eat, we didn't have a place to stay. I came to the United States with $5 in my pocket and didn't speak the language. And God has been very, very kind to us. And we have in fact received from the society more than I could have ever imagined. And at this phase in my life, I am dedicated my life to figuring out how do I lead my dad to the society. And I know the people who helped me become who I am today don't need my help. So I found that the only way I can pay back is to really be forward. And I do my part to making sure that can we start companies that could help a billion people live better lives.
Naveen Jain: 01:22 I started thinking about what can I do to educate and inspire the next generation to go out and be extremely successful. And when they become successful, they will find exactly the same way to give back to the society. And we can clear this movement and in this movement you're going to have and we'll millions of people who are going to come together and want to make sure everyone around us lifts a better life. That means we can go out and focus on what can each one of us do that will change the way people live their life. And there has never been a time in the human history that individuals, any small group of people are capable of doing things that used to require the large companies or even nation states to do. And that's a fundamental shift that exponential technologies is allowing for any person, anywhere in the world to have access to the same resources, access to the same set of technologies, and to be able to do things that was unimaginable just five years ago. And that to me is what's going to allow any young person to go out and completely reinvent any industry that they dream about.
Hala Taha: 02:33 Wow, that's very powerful and inspiring. And I can't wait to dive deeper into all the things that you said, but for those listeners who really aren't familiar with you, I just want them to understand how successful you are, who you are as a person. So can you talk to us about some of the key milestones that you've taken over your life to kind of become the successful billionaire entrepreneur that you are today?
Naveen Jain: 02:56 So I think Hala for you and I going to have a discussion after this thing that, because I'm not going to talk about myself at this point, but I'm going to do it actually gives you a better than that to me. Of all the things that I have done, the biggest thing that I am most proud of is our three children and to me it was easy for me to come from nothing and have that hunger in my stomach to go out and do things. Our children grew up in an amazingly a fluent home, but watching them grow up and become an extremely productive citizens of society and going out and doing things that actually can change the way people live their life is really what's most satisfying. So our oldest is Ankur Jain. He's 29 years old. He graduated from Wharton. If when he was 17 year old he started something called Kairos and k I r o s and that is now world's largest college entrepreneurship thing.
Naveen Jain: 03:52 After he graduated, he started a company, he sold our company and now he's 100% focus at this young age. Trying to find a way to create affordable housing, affordable childcare, affordable senior care, and working with millions of young entrepreneurs, so he has these Kairos chapters around the world and 140 different colleges. We're all these college entrepreneurs come together and he brings them the right set of mentors to help them grow and succeed. Our daughter graduated from Stanford and she is a Stanford stem fellow, Stanford Mayfield fellow, and she the youth ambassador for the United Nations and she wanted to focus on helping girls and women around the world. What does she do? She's not working at an AI company to remove gender bias by completely essentially removing the resume the idea of who this person is and using that artificial intelligence technologies that companies that she's working with have increased the women employment by 300% our youngest one is graduating from Stanford this year and he is not a Schwarzman scholar and he's going to be going to Chippewa University in Beijing to really go out and seeing how not only we can start to work with the entrepreneurs around the world, but as China is growing a great entrepreneurial power and realizing that unlike political divide, the entrepreneurs have no geographical boundaries.
Naveen Jain: 05:18 Entrepreneurs work with other entrepreneurs around the world and in fact even the capital is not patriotic. Capital goes where the opportunities are and my hope is that him as a Schwarzman scholar and really understanding the culture in China to be able to bridge that divide. We're great entrepreneurs from China and the great entrepreneurs from around the world are able to work together and solve the problem that's facing humanity. Whether it is a climate change, whether it is creating abundance of energy, abundance of food, abundance of water, and really xen venting education system, reinventing healthcare. And that is really something we all can be proud of. So there you have my accomplishments and our three children
Hala Taha: 05:58 Okay, fair enough. Fair enough. Okay, so that's wonderful. And it seems like you've raised children who are really accomplishing moonshot projects. And speaking of that, I read your audio book on Moonshots and it was so inspiring, so entertaining. And I think in order for my listeners to really understand what you're about and your vision for the future, it's important to understand your theory on scarcity and how it's the root of all problems and how it holds humans back. So let's start there. Can you just talk a little bit about scarcity and how we as humans to unlock our potential need to shift to a mindset of abundance to solve some of our world's biggest challenges?
Naveen Jain: 06:42 The reason we think there is value to something and the only way we as humans create value for something is because we believe these things are somehow scarce, is scarcity, is what creates value. What if you start to believe the things that you value today can be in abundance. Suddenly not only they can be democratized, they can be completely demonetized. And you know, this is where most people think that humans are so greedy. It doesn't matter how much we have, we will always want more. And that's why we'll always have a value of scarcity until you start to think about that. We as humans actually have generosity built into our DNA because we realized during evolution that when our tribe died, they all died because we only could live when we were all healthy and happy and lived as a tribe together to be able to deal with the harsh environment that we were living in.
Naveen Jain: 07:35 And that is part of our generosity that built into our DNA. But more importantly, we all as humans can enjoy a sport. We could be sitting and 70,000 people arena and we can all be enjoying the game and all and never fighting over air or oxygen. Why is that? Because we inherently believe that air is abundant. The oxygen in that atmosphere is abundant. So we don't slap the guy right next to us and say, hey, he stopped breathing. You're taking my oxygen is because once something is in abundance and we believe it is an abundance, guess what? It has no value. We don't pay for the air. We don't pay for that oxygen. Right? And now imagine if the energy was the next air. What if we have enough energy on this planet that there is no cost to energy? And what I mean by that is today every 90 minutes more solar energy, falls on planet earth than we use in the whole year.
Naveen Jain: 08:34 It's simply the matter of converting that solar energy into a useful form of energy. That is a problem that will get solved, iis already on that exponential curve down that today the cost of solar is coming down to at a distribution level, at par with other forms of energy within the next five, 10 years, the solar energy will have a marginal cost of close to zero. And once that happens, imagine it's going to be the next air. And once we have abundance of energy, you can have abundance of clean water because you can desalinize it. You can take the dirtiest water in Africa and you can distill it. So my point is you as, you start to think about how to solve these problems. And I'm going to give you many examples of how do you think about a problem and what are the right set of questions to ask.
Naveen Jain: 09:24 And then are you actually solving the root cause or you simply solving the symptom. And as we start to dig into this concept, we'll discuss a little bit more and more specific examples. The last point I want to make on this particular subject is that most people when they go out and want to solve a problem, they always somehow are stopped by the own mind power because they believed they know nothing about this subject. So how are they going to go out and make impact on something they know nothing about? And that is the second thing that I learned is that if you are an expert in a field, you become useless in that field. And what I mean by that is once we are an expert, you, the best you can do is to make an incremental improvement and you can make a 10% improvement. You can make it 15% improvement, but you will never be able to go out and change it then 10X or hundred x. Because as an expert, you have to take the foundation of that thing for granted. And unless you're willing to challenge the foundation, you can never make it make it disruptive improvement in anything, you'll always be stuck with incremental improvement.
Hala Taha: 10:36 Got It. So let's hone in on the scarcity piece of it. I love everything that you're talking about. We're going to touch on all of that later on in the interview. I'm going to pry into some of those things that you had mentioned, but let's stick on scarcity for a second. So can you explain why sustainability doesn't work? Because sustainability is such a big theme with corporations, with organizations, everybody is rallying behind sustainability, but you fundamentally think that sustainability doesn't work. So can you just elaborate on that a bit?
Naveen Jain: 11:06 Yeah. So I think the sustainability really has become, a synonym for conservation. So essentially when people see we need to be sustainable, what they're really saying is we need to stop using resources and start really conserving the resources and use less. And we all know me. It's like someone is telling you that the best way to get rich is to not spend. The best way to get rich is to earn more, not to spend less. And to me, the only way we can make something sustainable because of the, let's assume the air is scarce and we start telling people, hey, we need to be sustainable. Stop using air. That means you stop. You essentially stop breathing every five minutes. You stop breathing for 30 seconds. Oh my God. Now there are more people. You have to stop breathing for 45 seconds. Oh my God. Now we have more people on the planet.
Naveen Jain: 12:03 Now we have to stop breathing one minute every five minutes. Now you to start breathing two minutes. And at the end of the day, people, that's just unsustainable because people can't stop breathing. And the fact is, the only way we can live, whether it's 7 billion or 10 billion or 20 billion, is to create enough of those resources that does 20 billion people will need. Now the question will become down to say, how can we constantly keep creating without destroying? And the answer is because we always thinking the limitations that we are dealing with. So we believe somehow that humanity can only live on the planet earth. And we forget that our planet earth is nothing but a tiny pale blue dot our own solar system, our solar system is nothing but a tiny dot in our own galaxy. Our galaxy is nothing but a tiny dot in our universe, in a universe, maybe a tiny dot in this multi verse.
Naveen Jain: 12:58 So we're is that scarcity of places people can live on. And that to me is that mindset. Once you start thinking about that, that varies, that resource limitation that we keep talking about. How do we get enough resources? And you know, we can talk about, you know, how do we go out and make every one of these things possible? How do we get people to start thinking that living on the planet earth can be same as living on the moon or somewhere else. It's just a matter of what technologies we need to develop.
Hala Taha: 13:25 So this is a good point for you to maybe explain how moon express aims to help solve some of these resource problems on earth.
Naveen Jain: 13:33 So first of all, is it talking about myself and the company for years? But I'm going to talk about the concept of going to the moon.
Naveen Jain: 13:44 Why go to the moon or why do this space exploration when there are so many problems on planet earth? What people don't realize is these are not mutually exclusive. First of all, any time you have a choice of going to the space or solving a problem on planet earth, that two eyes should be to do both. We can explore the space and we can solve the planet on art. And by the way, we can explore the space to solve the problem on planet earth. Let's take an example of energy. Today. We believe that energy can only be produced by the resources that we have on planet earth. What if we can bring helium three which is an isotope of helium. What if we can bring the helium three from moon or other places on space to planet earth and it can be used as it completely non radioactive active clean energy source for fusion energy and I know some of the people who just heard the word fusion thinking this guy is nut so it doesn't he know that we don't have a fusion energy.
Naveen Jain: 14:53 Right, and I'm saying is we don't have helium three either, right? The point is you have to be where the puck is going to be, not where the puck is. Right. We know in the next five to 10 years we will have the fusion energy and we'll be able to develop the fusion reactors and then someone is going to ask and say, does someone have helium three and you want to be that guy and said, Yup. Got One point is we have to start thinking about what resources that are available outside planet earth that will allow us to create abundance of clean energy should we should use the resources that are already here such as solar, such as air, but imagine even with a solar, the biggest problem with a solar is unfortunately we have times where we don't have the sun shining and that means we have to store the energy.
Naveen Jain: 15:42 That means we now have to develop the storage, technologies such as battery and stuff, but what if we can put the solar panels above the earth atmosphere? What if those solar panels can always have access to Sun? In that case, we can essentially have the solar energy 24 seven around the year and we can microwave the energy down to all over the world simply from the solar panels in the space. Idea really is that we have to think about not what the world is. start dreaming about what the world can be. Don't think about what is impossible. Think about how to take the problem that seemingly looks impossible and say what technologies need to be developed to make that possible. And I can give an example of what I think we'll probably bring this point home. We talk about living away from the planet earth.
Naveen Jain: 16:40 How can you possibly live on the moon? It is impossible. And instead of saying that, what if the questions you were to ask is see what technologies we will have to develop to be able to live on the moon. Now you are in a solution mode and the first thing people say, well of course you can't live on the moon because there is tremendous amount of radiation without realizing that nature has already solved that problem. We see the bacterial organisms growing in radio active nuclear waste. That means nature has already figured out how to protect its DNA from very, very high radiation and use the radiation as a source of energy. So what if we can take these genes from these bacteria, modify the human genes using CRISPR to essentially make us completely radiation resistant? Now. Of course the Crispr is not perfect today, but CRISPR is going to be perfect in three to five years from now.
Naveen Jain: 17:42 By the time we decide we want to live on the moon, that means there is nothing that needs to be done other than the technology to continue to get matured, which is going to happen anyway, so that means that's not a problem that we need to solve for us to be able to live on the moon. That is the problem that's being solved for other reasons. Second question, people said, okay, fine. I give it to you that you can live on radiation by making the human beings radiation resistant. That how are we going to grow the food on the moon? And I think that's really the wrong question to ask the question we need to be asking in studies, why do we eat food? Because once you ask that question, you say, Oh, you need to really eat food because we need energy and we need nutrients.
Naveen Jain: 18:25 Now we say, okay, if you need energy, just like the plants can get energy from photosynthesis, bacteria gets energy from radiation, can be used, either one of them to essentially provide the energy that our human body needs. And in terms of nutrients, what kind of nutrients we might need. Wow, we need hydrogen, we need oxygen, we need nitrogen. And you said, okay, so what if we know there is water on the moon? Can't we just split the water into its ingredients? That's hydrogen and oxygen. We got that song. Now the nitrogen part is interesting. We don't know the enough nitrogen on the moon or not. So let's just shelf that and say, okay, to live on the moon. We need to figure out how to take enough nitrogen to the moon and that is the problem we need to solve. And suddenly you start to realize the living and the moon is simply about either finding the nitrogen on the moon or taking enough nitrogen to the moon. And that is a solvable problem. So you took something that seemed impossible and broke it down into something that's easy to solve or at least easier to put your arms around.
Hala Taha: 19:29 Wow, that's really incredible how you just broke that down. And it's a great example of a moonshot project, something that's really hard to achieve, more than 10% incremental progress. Can you give some color around what you define a moonshot project to be and how it really differs from other projects and also how we can use science fiction as a way to kind of get a vision of what the future could be and how science fiction is actually a precursor of what reality is.
Naveen Jain: 19:59 So I think to some extent the reality is shaped by our imagination and the science fiction provides us with that imagination. So this really is the only limit to what we can achieve is really our imagination. So even my mom, she loved me so much. She will say, you can go do anything you want. Sky is the limit without realizing there is no sky. In fact, this sky is nothing but a figment of our imagination. But to our eyes that looks like a barrier that cannot be crossed. And imagine when you go from here to the moon, you don't call mom and say, hey mom, I just passed this guy, right? there is no, sky, sky is something your limit we create and there are skies in our life we create. And these are the barriers that look so physical that we think we can't cross until we get close to them.
Naveen Jain: 20:55 And they look like that was simply a mirage. There was nothing there that seemed like a hurdle. Right? And that's really the way of starting to solve. So to me, a moonshot is something that's audacious enough that to most people it will start to look impossible. And it's only the people who start to see the vision and the imagination of what is possible. So when people would say they're Steve jobs has this distorted field of reality, what actually he had was a very clear imagination. He could see the world that needed to be an other people have what I would call the discarded feel of reality that they can't see that, right? That is distorted. It's not distorted started to be able to see clearly where the world needs to be and it's just a matter off thinking about how the world can be changed. And I'm going to give another concrete example of how do we look at a problem.
Naveen Jain: 21:50 And when you're looking at a problem, are you really looking at the symptom of that problem or you're looking at the root cause. So now let's take an example of everyone knows that lack of fresh water in many parts of the world is really one of the biggest problem that we need to solve. And many entrepreneurs say, you know what, if the lack of fresh water is a problem, I'm going to start working on set of technologies that can take the fresh water from the air. And I'm going to start building the nanotechnology that can able to take the desalinize the water at achieve costs using solar energy until you start to think about it and saying, why do we actually have shortage of fresh water? And then you realize that majority of the fresh water is actually used in agriculture. And if that's using agriculture, then we see, oh maybe I can modify the way we do agriculture and maybe we can use aeroponic and maybe we can use aquaponic and maybe we can start to build a way for agriculture so that we can maybe use the lightly salted water.
Naveen Jain: 22:53 And now you feel really good that you actually have become a solving the root cause until you realize that what is it that so much agriculture that we need and we realize the reason we have so much of the culture is because majority of the agriculture is being used to feed the cattles and you say, oh, I need to now sell the cattle problem. So what if instead of raising capital's, what if we can actually create beef just by using a stem cell from a cow? Just like what nature does takes a one cell divides. Instead of creating all types of tissues, whether its eyes and the ears that we don't need to eat, then let's just clear the muscle tissues and now suddenly you realize that the problem of fresh water really is a synthetic biologic problem of creating the beef or meat that we need directly using bio factories is synthetic biology problem is what's going to solve the fresh water problem is going to solve the agriculture problem. And if you don't need all that agriculture now suddenly we can feed twice as many people. So when people say when you get from 8 billion to 10 billion, how are you going to feed them by getting from 8 billion to 16 billion by just simply solving the problem of cattle's.
Hala Taha: 24:08 That's very, very eye opening. It just goes to show how really what you think might be the root of the problem is not in fact the rid of the problem. And you have to dig a little deeper to find out. So let's talk about why moonshot projects are more achievable today than ever. We've got an influx of entrepreneurs, growth of technology is going from linear to exponential. Can you just give some color to why now is a good time to try to achieve these out of this world projects?
Naveen Jain: 24:38 Yeah. So first of all, there are two reasons why the moonshot projects are easier now than ever. And secondly, the moonshot projects have always been easier than a smaller project because when you are going out and doing something that has a potential to fundamentally change the trajectory of how humanity's going to live, you are attracting the best and the brightest around the world who want to work on something that is meaningful. Something when successful can fundamentally change the way people live their life. So for example, when I started my healthcare company, I said the moon shot to see what if we can clear a world where illness was truly optional. What of being sick was a matter of choice, not a matter of bad luck. And with that Moonshot I was able to find the people who said, look, I am the expert in artificial intelligence and I have done everything in my life that I wanted to do.
Naveen Jain: 25:40 I want to join you to solve this problem because this problem is what solving. I got the best people who are understanding the human body at the genetic expression level to see, I'm going to quit my job and come and join you to help you solve this problem because this problem is worth solving. We found the best scientist who were working on some of the best biodefense technology to see, we have the underlying technology to be able to understand the human body that we have been working for the defense. Now we can apply that technology to keep people healthy. That would've never been possible if I had a smaller goal and saying, you know what? I'm going to go out and build an APP. There's going to find you, your roommate. People are going to say, good luck. Have Fun. They didn't want to come and say, I'm going to quit my job and help you solve this problem because that's how the humanity is going to change the way people live.
Naveen Jain: 26:31 And that is what allows the moonshots to be possible. Because these big ideas are so big when successful changes the humanity. And that's why the best and the brightest come and join. And the second thing is for the first time, all the things we need to do, these amazing things are becoming possible because the cost of the sensors, the cost of the technology to do these things are coming down so fast. That means we can now sequence every gene in the human body at an cost off under a hundred dollars. It no longer requires $1 billion dollar human genome sequencing. It no longer requires multi, super computers to go out and analyze that data. You can put that on Amazon Web Service and fire that 20 cores and you can analyze that data. So not only the artificial intelligence is becoming powerful enough, our sensors are becoming a smaller, cheaper and faster for us to be able to get that data that we need to be able to solve that problem.
Naveen Jain: 27:38 And amazing thing is this healthcare company called Viome that I started, that is exactly what we did and in two years now we starting to see that thousands and thousands of people whose life has fundamentally changed. We never understood what would his dig, but we never stop from learning. And today we get email everyday people who are telling us, look, the auto immune disease there from childhood is disappearing. They are no longer have cancer or the able to fight the things that they bothered as the obesity and diabetes and Alzheimer's and depression and anxiety. These were simply the symptoms because of things were going wrong in their body. So as opposed to attacking the symptoms, we attack the root cause, which was really what was inside their body that was causing inflammation. Because the chronic diseases is start with the chronic inflammation and we were able to understand the root cause of chronic inflammation was how your gut, the microbes, the 40 trillion microbes in your gut, what have they were interacting with the human body.
Naveen Jain: 28:41 But that for some other day just wants to give me an example of how something so audacious where we have trillions dollars we spending in healthcare alone or in the United States, someone like me who knew nothing about health care. I'm not a scientist, I am not a shy person. I don't even have a degree in computer science. Someone who knew nothing about it took on that this problem can be solved and should be solved. And that means there was nothing special then why me other than why not me? Right. And that was a simple thing, that determination to be able to do that. Not because I was the expert or I knew something more than other people did.
Hala Taha: 29:22 So interesting. And you brought up Viaom and just as a background for my listeners, basically what this is, it's a testing service that you use AI and machine learning. Where you provide a sample to Viome and they let you know what types of food you should eat based on your gut health. So very cool stuff. Let's on the area of health, you've got one of the biggest imaginations in the world, so what do you think the future of health looks like?
Naveen Jain: 29:48 Sure. The future of health is actually going to be very different from what we see today. Today we, you and I and billions of us, we are actually relying on these experts in the health care system to tell us when we are sick, what to do, and our health care system, as you and I both know is designed for them to make money when we are sick that means no one in the health care system makes money when we are healthy and everyone makes money when we are sick. So what do you think is their incentive? Now imagine when you have a chronic disease, the pharmaceutical companies consider you a subscriber because their job is not to solve or understand what is causing the chronic disease.
Naveen Jain: 30:37 Their job is to simply suppress the symptom. Because once they suppress a symptom, you have to take their drug for rest of the life knowing not only you have to take it for rest of the life. Every drug you take is going to cause three more symptoms and they have drug for those three and those three drugs are going to cost nine more symptoms and the now you're going to have drug for all those nine and by the time you get old you're popping more pills than blueberries. And the problem with that, right? And that to me is the future of health is going to be, we're individuals are empowered to take control of their own health. That means every individual becomes a CEO of their own health and the technology's going to be available to them for them to be able to understand what is going on inside their body.
Naveen Jain: 31:24 And AI is going to tell them exactly what to do. That needs is going to be actionable. Don't eat apple, don't eat is Spanish. Even though the popoye, I told you spinach was healthy, it's actually harming you. And we tell you, by the way, not only that don't eat spinach, you would tell you why. Like for me it says don't eat apple is because I have an apple virus in my gut that's causing inflammation. It tells me not to eat banana because the chitens is in banana is causing inflammation. My Body, it tells me to not eat lentils. I'm a vegetarian. I used to eat lentil all the time is because the protein in that is not being digested in turn is being converted in sulfide and ammonia that's causing inflammation. Right? So point was that simple thing we're individuals now can take control in. Suddenly I don't need to go to your doctor.
Naveen Jain: 32:17 My blood pressure came down, my cholesterol level is better. I lost weight and my doctor is wondering all the drugs that I was taking, why am I not taking them because I don't need them anymore. But that is the unbelievable was I was taking these drugs next cm and all those things that was making me sicker than I was and doctor sees, you know what? I'm so glad I increased the drug for you. So that now you're healthier, taller that haven't taken the first year. So my point is the future of health is going to be personalized, is going to be each individual becoming the CEO of their own health. And I really believe the future of health is going to be not only preventing the diseases and if ever we happen to have a disease to be able to use a food as a drug to be able to reverse it. It sounds so futuristic until you go back and realize that 2,500 years ago it Greek doctor named Hippocrates, he said, all diseases begin in the gut. And he knew these new healthy food. He said one man's food is another man's poison. And then he says, let the food be thy medicine. Let thy medicine be the food. I may have the just called Viome Hippocrates because that's exactly what we are doing.
Hala Taha: 33:35 That's amazing. And what about artificial intelligence? How do you think it will interface with AI in the future?
Naveen Jain: 33:41 Well, I think we will not be interfacing with AI because AI will be part of everything that we interface with. So it's not going to be a separate thing called AI today. Imagine we put the dishes in the dishwasher. We don't think of a dishwasher as a robot and AI, right? We interfacing with everyday when we are flying in the plane, do we ever save we are interfacing with the Ai? Because most planes are autonomous flight. They fly autonomously, right? And suddenly we are essentially in a robot that's being flown with AI, but we not interfacing with AI. Our cars are becoming smarter everyday and it's using AI. So whether it is, you know, giving you a warning when you're changing the lane, it is doing the helping you with the braking and soon it tells you when you're too close to a car, what is all that? That's all AI. But we never think of an AI. The beauty of the AI, once it becomes part of our AI is no longer that mythical mystical AI. It just becomes dark. MOVE THIS PART
Hala Taha: 34:39 And do you think that AI will be embedded in our brains? In your book, you mentioned something called connectomes, I think they're called , where they're doing a lot of work around embedding AI. In our brains.
Naveen Jain: 34:52 So the connectome is really in name for how our neurons are actually snapped, typically connected inside the human brain, right? So the connectome is to understand the connection, the noodle network, and how our neurons connect with each other to create the memories and the experiences that we have having. The interesting thing is now with underlying technology from many, many different ways, we are able to understand how the neurons in our brain are connected. In fact, what we're finding is that our gut and brain are tightly connected to this vagus nerve, and in fact now they're able to find that through the Vagus nerve. Nine signals go from gut to the brain and one goes from brain to the gut. That means there's nine times more traffic going up than the traffic coming down. And that means to large extent, it's not. The brain may not be the control center, it may be a gut.
Naveen Jain: 35:49 There's a control center. In fact, most people used to think that gut is our secondary brain. What people don't realize is that as we evolved, the digestive system evolved before we even had a brain. So if you look at some of the animals and mammals and original sea animals, they don't have the brain, they actually have the neurons in the gut just like we do. So pointed, I'm trying to make here is that we find that a synaptic connections are there actually may be possible across our body and I wouldn't be surprised if we realize that brain just may have a higher concentration of these neurons, but our whole bodies actually a one big network in every time you disrupt one network, it changes everything else. So this whole idea of our health care system where we look at our body as a subsystem.
Naveen Jain: 36:37 So we have a kidney doctor, we have a heart doctor, we have a GI doctor and we haven't brain doctors and they don't realize that all these things are really connected. You can't just change one thing when you change one thing, it changes everything else. So I really believe that the idea of this connectome, which is starting out as the connections in the brain is going to actually become the connectome of the human body. That how our human bodies really is super organism in that not only it is connected internally to us, it also connects the 40 trillion organisms in our gut to our humans. That means all of these are one single network and when you take antibiotics, so you take the food that are actually changing these organisms, it fundamentally change connectome. And that's why we start to see the health and our disease are all connected together. I mean if you look at the disease is really your word at body, not being at ease when the something is not at ease, it's called dis ease and we call the disease.
Hala Taha: 37:42 Yeah, that totally makes sense. I can't wait to see like how far you go with Viome and how much that catches on. It sounds like such an innovative idea and you're really just trying to improve the health of the world. So everything you're doing is so noble, it is clear that you have, uh, out of this world imagination, you're able to see the future. You're able to look beyond just what's in front of you and reality. So how can we as individuals become more imaginative like you?
Naveen Jain: 38:11 Well actually it's not just imaginative like me. You need to be the best version of yourself and the best way to really start thinking about is what is it that you care about enough? What is your true obsession? Almost everyone will tell you to be a successful entrepreneur, you have to have a passion and I really believe the passion is for losers. The winners have obsession. They don't have passion. Passion is a hobby. When you start to get that obsession that you can't sleep, you cannot, when you wake up in the morning, you cannot think of anything else. And when you find that that is what you start to solve and when you start to do that, then you start to find all the possible is possible ways of solving that problem.
Hala Taha: 39:00 Earlier you were touching on the fact that you've spent your life in a whole range of industry and so that's telecomm, tech, health space and most entrepreneurs really focused on one industry and they'd take a vertical approach. Wait, you really take a lateral approach. You take knowledge from industry to industry and you apply it and innovate that way. So can you kind of walk through a scenario of whether it's yourself or someone else who has taken knowledge from one industry to disrupt another?
Naveen Jain: 39:27 I mean, almost everyone, I mean if you look at the successful entrepreneurs, they go across industries because being in novice or non-expert is what allows them to rethink that new industry. So look at Elon Musk. What is he doing? He's doing a digging. The boring company. There's digging tunnel or hyperloop, looking at the space exploration, building the cars. I mean, what is the common between them? Right? It is really three different industries and he's attacking them by understanding the fundamental principles of block and tackling as an entrepreneur. You look at Jeff bezos doing this space exploration, doing ecommerce, looking at fundamentally now in the healthcare.
Naveen Jain: 40:12 So these people are going out and attacking the different problems, understanding that almost all of the problems you need to start thinking about what is possible and how do you take those imagination and start to break down into smaller chunks of pieces that you can start executing and completely disrupt. That means you take a very large problem and he started to take slices of them, start to solve them and suddenly, you know, you saw the whole pie.
Hala Taha: 40:40 Can you elaborate on why it's better to be a novice as opposed to an expert?
Naveen Jain: 40:45 Well and as we're describing is that once you become an expert, by definition that means you now have a lot of fundamental knowledge about their subject and that becomes the anchor and that becomes your baggage. And when you are a non expert, we are going to able to challenge that foundation.
Naveen Jain: 41:02 So for example, if I was a doctor, I would have, by the time I graduated from the medical school, I would have been taught the only way to solve the disease. There is a pill for every ill and I would have become the salesperson for a pharmaceutical company. That means all I do is prescribe and essentially sell the pharmaceutical drug because as an MD, I'm never taught about nutrition. I'm not talking about holistic health. I'm simply taught about I graduate, I know how to prescribe a drug, and then I become an expert and all I know is a lot about that kidney. And I know maybe I'm a diabetic doctors, that means all I care about is reducing your glucose. I don't really care what else happens in your body. So for example, if I am a diabetic doctor, all I care is you're not building enough of glucose in your body.
Naveen Jain: 41:55 There is no glycemic response. I can tell you only eat butter. If you eat a bucket of butter every day, you will have no glycemic response and you will be totally fine with diabetes. Now, it's pretty likely you're going to die from heart disease, but that's your heart doctor to figure it out. Not my problem. And that to me is really the problem we face is that as an expert I would have never thought why can't the food be personalized medicine? We talked about personalized medicine. What if the personalized medicine is something we take everyday? We just need to know which of these drugs I need to take. Is there a Spinach my I drug or is it apple, my ride drug or it's really that maybe the tomato is my ride truck. What is it that the right drug for me and if I did that can be done.
Naveen Jain: 42:43 That would have never come from somebody who's a doctor. It will just never, because they're not taught beyond what they are expert at, which is how do I prescribe the right drug to this person. Got It. And so you can either take that example, same thing in space. Every space company, if you go back and look at what did they do to go to the moon or beyond the build, a massive biggest possible rocket they can because they knew that's the only way they knew how to do it. When we came into the space industry, you look at it Elon. It mean if you look at Elon, why is it NASA has burned through hundreds of billions of dollars, never thought about reusing the rocket. They never thought they can save the face. One, bring it back and reuse it. They rebuild the whole thing. So think about, it's like flying a plane and throwing that when getting a new plane again, that is something only the entrepreneurs or innovators do because Elon did not come from the aerospace industry.
Naveen Jain: 43:41 When we started moon express, we didn't build a build rocket. We said, what if we can take the smallest, cheapest rocket that can take us to the low earth orbit? And what if our lender itself has a small rocket? Now that we've gotten out of most of the earth atmosphere, can we just take our own small rocket and go to the moon? That simple change brought the cost down from $1 billion to go to the moon to under $10 million and that would have never been possible if I was a rocket scientist thinking about how to solve that problem. I was thinking more like a software person thinking why can't we build multiple modules that actually build on top of each other and they call, each other's expertise rather than one big monolithic code that everybody in the software hates.
Hala Taha: 44:25 Another good example you talked about in your book was about the oil spill with the tattoo artists and mechanic and the dentist. Can you give us that example?
Naveen Jain: 44:33 Yes, it does actually came out of the x prize in also when the oil spill happen and you know here is a British petroleum spending billions of dollars trying to clean up that oil and they were using exactly the same technology that axon use it when the Exxon Valdez oil spill happened in Alaska and at Xprize, I'm on the board of Xprize. We taught this got to be a better way of doing it. So we put a one point $4 million prize, Wendy Schmidt put that money and seeing can, someone develop a technology that will be twice as good as something we are using today and some of the finalists. What people who have never really thought about this problem. And the example you're talking about is one of the finalists was actually a team that consisted of a tattoo artist, a mechanic and a dentist. And it sounds like it started a really bad joke, but this is literally what happened in mechanic is getting a tattoo on his arm and it tells it that to artists is asking you, so you know, you heard of this one point $4 million prize, you want a mechanic, why can't you build something that will collect this oil alerts to be twice as good?
Naveen Jain: 45:39 And the mechanics is, you know what? I think the oil spill happens when people are drilling a lot of wild. My dentist does a lot of grilling. I got to ask him, they came together and build this thing. There was four times better, obviously didn't win because somebody built that was eight times bladder. But imagine this, three people who knew nothing about and built a device that costs less than a million dollars and they were able to make it four times better. Worse is British Petroleum that spend billions of dollars to solve this problem. They could do themselves because they were expert in that field.
Hala Taha: 46:15 It's almost like when you're an expert, you have tunnel vision and you can't see the easy solutions that might solve a problem or you just can't see out of the box. Yep. Okay. So let's go back to your childhood a bit. We won't talk specifically about, your child had said, don't worry, you grew up in a caste system and you were told that you couldn't achieve your dreams. So I remember that your father actually told you that you wouldn't amount to anything better than an accountant. You obviously didn't listen to that. So why is being an independent thinker or a rebel something important to consider as a young adult?
Naveen Jain: 46:46 So I think you know, in this country is really amazing. If you have imagination and you're constantly re, you know, reinventing or reimagining what is possible. We are diagnosed with Adhd in every one of our children that I've mentioned. When they were young, they were told, the teacher will say, I think you kids have ADHD. They cannot focus. They're constantly being distracted by everything else that could be done. And they wanted to put them on a drug. And I said, listen, they are just more creative and more imaginative than the average person and I'm not going to put them on any drug. And those three kids are now changing. The people are going to live their life. Right? So my point is when we, the innovation and the changes happen on the edges, it is those crazy people as a Steve jobs sees who believe it can be done are the ones who get it done. If you are part of the bell curve and right in the middle, you always going to be that average person. So be the rebel that you always wanted to be. And that rebellious person is going to be the next innovator. It's got the next Steve Jobs, the next Jeff Bezos, the next Elon Musk. It happens because you believe something that no one else believe is possible. Yeah.
Hala Taha: 48:08 Got It. And if you had one piece of advice to give a millennial today, what would it be?
Naveen Jain: 48:13 I think I will tell them, dream big, dream so big that people think you are absolutely crazy. Never be afraid to fail because you only feel when you give up. Every idea that works or does not work is simply a stepping stone to a different idea and a bigger idea in life of an entrepreneur. Just remember it is always going to be ups and downs. So I always explain to every young entrepreneur that think of being an entrepreneur as your heartbeat. It is always going to be up and down when it is smoothe, you're already dead. You don't want a smooth heartline. You want the ups and downs. When you are down, all you have to do is hunker down and know the next beauty is going to be up. But the most importantly when you are on the top of the beat, never get too cocky.
Naveen Jain: 49:09 Keep your friends close and just remember the winter is coming, right? And that to me is you lead the way to think about it. When you are successful and a leader, always remember that your success will never be measured by how much money you have in the bank. It will always be measured by how many people's life you have changed. You will only know you're successful when you have become humble. If you don't have humility and you still have arrogance, that means you still trying to prove something to someone else or yourself. So be humble, dream big, never be afraid to feel and just know they're going to be ups and downs. And my last advice really would be that when you are a leader, don't get people to start thinking like you allowed them to bring their own imagination and those imagination are the ones that are going to help you propel your ideas forward.
Hala Taha: 50:06 Awesome. Well thank you. That was such great advice. I'm honestly going to have to listen to this interview three times to absorb all the different insights that you gave us. So thank you so much. Where can our listeners go to find more about you and everything that you do?
Naveen Jain: 50:19 Actually of course you can find me on social media, on Instagram and Twitter, linkedin and Facebook. And you can also email it to me. Email is my first name, Naveen N a a v e N. Dot. My last name, So feel free to send me an email or find me on social network and hope to continue our conversation.
Hala Taha: 50:39 Awesome. Thanks so much. Naveen was so nice to talk to you.
Naveen Jain: 50:42 Thank you. Hala.

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