Clifford “Chip” Windsor, the serial entrepreneur turned Fortune 100 CEO, had realized it was “human will” that really mattered. What he needed was a brain-chip to give him the edge to sort out the complexity, and get him closer to the best possible decision, and he was committed to taking it from there. You see, way back in 2011 he’d just sold his first Silicon Valley start-up, a social networking app “C3 – Clip Cliff’s Coupons” which had turned to gold before his eyes. Google and Apple got into a bidding war and he won with a multi-billion dollar merger.
Waiting for his next new thing to take to the next level, he enrolled in one of Collins’ classes at Stanford Executive Business School. Professor Collins decided to come out of retirement and teach a special set of classes to only seasoned executives and entrepreneurs, as he got bored. The speaking circuit although profitable, just wasn’t what he loved to do, and quite frankly he was just tired of signing books. You see, he loved to teach and loved the energy of his students, it kept him young, mentally strong, and it became one with his inner being.
Clifford, while trying to decide what to do his mid-term research paper on had read an article in a rival university’s magazine, HBR Harvard Business Review, it was the cover story which read “Embracing Complexity – You Can’t Avoid it But Your Business Can Profit From It,” published September of 2011. As he paged through the magazine he read an article titled; “Learning to Live with Complexity – How to Make Sense of the Unpredictable,” by Gokce Sargut and Rita Gunther McGrath.
He smiled because indeed, he was the expert (self-proclaimed) in pattern recognition, and it was something that came natural with his 145 IQ, ideashackers as he could see things in the data that most people could never comprehend. In essence, he could have been the inspiration for the main character in the Hollywood Movie “Limitless” only without the pharmaceutical influences. He was that good and he knew it, making him a formidable competitor in the marketplace, and his adversaries in the industry definitely knew him as such.
He came from an incredibly accomplished family, and yet, he was the only one without a PhD next to his name, no matter now, as he was worth 100s of times as much as all of his family put together, and still quite young. But he was looking for a new adventure this time, and he could have easily paid someone to do his research paper for him, and take off on his new yacht or chase the darkness to the other side of the planet for the upcoming Meteor Shower viewing in his private jet, but he was young, restless, driven, and in a way as limitless as they come, even by Silicon Valley’s billionaire club standards.
As he read that Harvard Business Review article he noted an interesting quotation that made him think; “Human beings’ cognitive limits, meaning no manager can understand all aspects of the business – but many refuse to acknowledge those limits.” The article went on to state that CEOs as good as they are often over estimating their own abilities in comprehending complexity.
He thought to himself – “oh baloney, I know my business and all its idiosyncrasies better than anyone else on this pale blue dot,” and certainly better than the SAP or Oracle Enterprise Software did. And, yet, in saying that to himself in his mind, he realized that the article was speaking not only to him, but about him. After all, he was not really limitless, perhaps just lucky, shrewd, and resourceful, maybe even in a Machiavellian sort of way. No he wasn’t God or even Larry Ellison, but he wasn’t anyone’s side-kick either.
Was he really that good he thought, or was he just second guessing himself now and merely experiencing the Imposter Phenomena, one of his favorite theories from his freshman year in just another class he’d aced along the way; Psyche 103. Well, enough he thought, now it was time to pick a topic for the project in Professor Collins’ class, as his group-think collaborators and class partners in the project were coming over in the next hour to hear his plans for the project, which he hadn’t even decided himself yet, he’d put it off, but was considering some 10-12 potential topics, now was crunch time, and he had 60-minutes to come up with a winner.
No problem, he worked better under pressure, it reminded him of his entrepreneurial “Gladiator” days, which is where he felt most at home, except when racing his GSR 1000 through the canyons to the coast and back, “I am lucky to have a driver’s license still, but if it gets revoked again, I’ll just buy a private fighter plane instead to get me thrills,” he thought to himself. As his fellow students confirmed one-by-one they were in route via Blackberry, iPhone, and Android he finally decided on a theme to pitch them for the group term paper.
The concept was simple really, it was basically taking the “Digital Nervous System” of a corporation first outlined by Bill Gates in “The Road Ahead” and summarily refined by SAP and Oracle, a marketplace war that Ellison was obviously winning at the time. Chip wanted to take the current enterprise software to a whole new level, hooking it up to an Artificial Intelligent Computer like IBMs “Watson” which recently debuted on Jeopardy, all the while realizing the Moore’s Law would have the computing system hardware down to the size of a nice inverted doomed shape desktop device within the next decade.
Then he wanted to take the new Intel Chip which rumors had it was being developed to use with a human-computer social-networking “thought swapping” mobile communication device, similar to the concept Arthur C. Clarke had come up with in his famous “3001” novel – only this device would be the size of an old car fuse, implanted under the human skull. If the rumors were right, and “screw it if they weren’t” he thought to himself – he could then interface that human implant chip with the Super Computer to run the corporation. He was so intense on his vision, he’d even volunteer to be the Guinea Pig.
“What a brainstorm,” he thought, and then wondered if he wasn’t sending thought back in time to himself, he realized this was going to be his new future, and that this would be his perpetual light-bulb as he worked out the details with his study team. Luckily, in the group was a laid off researcher from Genentech, who just happened to be a neuro-researcher, but really was more interested these days in the future of artificial intelligence, and just got onto the board of the Singularity Summit. But then he worried if this study group was going to be what he needed.
You see, he didn’t want to put this level of thought and time into anything, without the potential to bring it to fruition, again perhaps the reason he quit school to run his business in the first place. The group hit it off, and loved the idea, he knew they would, after all, when he was on a roll, he was so compelling and convincing that people would change their life plans just on his evangelical-like enthusiasm. Chip figured that he could easily hire what he needed, as things progressed. Although he was also very weary of how “loose lips sink ships” in Silicon Valley.
In fact, he kept thinking back to some words of wisdom that Steve Manning, an early pioneer in semiconductor circuit boards had spoken to him about intellectual property. Steve had just come out with a new book at that time in 2010 titled; “Economic Espionage – Checkmate,” by Steve Manning, Sneakaboard Press, Arizona, (2010), 224 pages, ISBN-13: 978-0-9844662-3-8. Chip had just read that book, he was a voracious reader, and so all that information was on his mind. And of course, who could forget Andy Grove’s famous words “only the paranoid survive!”
His study group was taken aback when he asked each one of them to sign a non-disclosure agreement as they walked in the door, but he didn’t care, and Chip decided if they didn’t want to sign it, he’d ask Professor Collins to be switch them to a different study group. In fact, Clifford, was in full-combat start-up mode again, a place he excelled and few could keep up or follow. He just hoped this group was ready to go for it, he knew he was, it was time to go a second round in the Valley, perhaps even to prove to himself that his first billion was not an accident, nor was it luck.