There are many stories about accidental discovery. Chocolate chip cookies, velcro, pacemakers, X-rays, and artificial sweeteners are only a few examples of innovations that made people billionaires very suddenly. Some companies spend millions to try to grab lightning in their hands. In this post I will address how to find the potential accidental genius moment and how to maximize the money you could make from it.
Focus And Determination Makes The Discovery
I have gone to graduate school and was surrounded by PhD students and doctors. When I started, I thought I would be surrounded by the most intelligent people. I was, but intelligence is not enough to make the doctor, in fact, chances are you are just as intelligent as anyone going for a PhD. Intelligence alone does not make the discovery. Focus and determination are as important, if not even more important. The key to coming across great ideas is to keep working at it at the right angles.
Anyone can work hard at something, but just looking at a single subject at a single angle will limit what you can uncover. Instead of looking for answers at a single angle, you must look for different angles. However, you will not know the correct angle to find your accidental discovery moment. It will come to you from an angle you do not expect.
Every accidental invention you have heard of was discovered by accident, not stumbled upon. Scientists discovered artificial sweeteners when they were working on coal tar. Radiologists discovered microwaves by developing a new vacuum tube. These discoveries were accidentally discovered because people made the right observation at the right time. There is no map nor calendar that says where to look nor at what time so you must be open minded an vigilant.
How To Work Towards Your Accidental Discovery Moment
Chances are you are putting effort into something. I have mentioned that even if you are just sitting down you are putting effort towards something, even if that something is nothing. The reason I say that it is still effort is because your body does not just shut down because you are resting. Your heart is still pumping and your senses are still active. You are still being observant. As previously mentioned, accidental discovery is a product of the right observation in the right place plus focused effort. You probably observed something to solve. If you do solve it you have a potential accidental genius moment. It’s that simple. Now for the hard part, making money.
Making Money Off Your Accidental Discovery
One of my interviews at the University of Pittsburgh was for a postdoctoral position for research in curing color-blindness. The research would have been based off the genes for the three color cones in people’s eyes. Gene therapy in this area may cure color-blindness. That is why millions is being spent for curing color-blindness. In the mean time, a company named EnChroma has developed eye glasses that allow people to see colors. The way their founder, Don McPherson discovered these was when he was developing glasses to protect doctors during laser surgery. His friend wore the glasses and was able to see orange for the first time in his life.
This may sound like a multi-million dollar idea, but EnChroma had issues selling their glasses. The reason why is because it is hard to tell color-blind people how they are missing out by not seeing the color blue. You would have a better time trying to explain how something tastes blue. So what EnChroma added balloons to the boxes and asked people to film the users’ responses to seeing color for the first time ever. Since then their success has grown and EnChroma is still talked about.
Inventing And Selling An Idea Are Two Different Things
Color blind glasses may have been a great idea, but can you sell someone something they do not know they want for around $300? Coming up with great ideas is not the same as selling them. One requires mental and creative intelligence while the other requires emotional and social intelligence. And let’s face it, if you have mental and creative intelligence to create an idea you probably lack emotional and social intelligence to sell it.
Ultimately, making money off your idea requires someone with emotional and social intelligence. If that’s not the case why does the inventor of the iPhone Jonathan Ive need a cited source while Steve Jobs, the face that sold the iPhone, needs no introduction? People have different skills and harnessing accidental genius is a rare skill, selling ideas is another rare skill.
Accidental discovery is a phenomenon that is common, but rarely harnessed well. The main reason this phenomenon is hard to make money with is because good ideas are numerous. Good salespeople are not as numerous. You need to learn how to sell or find a good salesperson for your idea.
While you are stuck inside, be it for a lack of work or a crisis, you could work towards an accidental discovery.