Naveen Jain is a man on a mission to solve some of the world's biggest problems. Instead of just treating the symptoms of a problem, however, Jain gets right to the root of it.
Jain is an entrepreneur and philanthropist who has committed his life to give back to those who gave to him by paying it forward. He’s also the founder of several companies including Viome Life Sciences, Blue Dot, Moon Express, and InfoSpace.
Jain’s most recent book is called Moonshots: Creating a World of Abundance. Moonshots encourage entrepreneurs to cultivate change that will help solve big real-life problems for people on a massive scale through innovation and technology.
In this article, Jain and Jay Shetty break down how to problem solve to find solutions to the world’s biggest problems.
Get to the Root of the Problem
Have you ever been told to think outside the box? Often, this is a great way to solve a problem . . . but sometimes we’re not even starting in the right box. According to Jain, one of the biggest problems the world faces is the survival of the human species, yet people get caught up in worrying about the planet surviving.
“Don't worry about this planet,” Jain says to Jay Shetty. “This planet is going to be just fine. Worry about the human species that may not survive if you think about it. When all of the dinosaurs died, this planet thrived. The planet was totally fine, and it created the human species. If we keep doing what we're doing, the human species may not be around to enjoy it.”
Jain is working to solve the problem of how to make humans a multiplanetary society. Almost eight billion people are living on earth. If the earth becomes damaged or unable to sustain life, then life as we know it will cease to exist. Planet earth is more likely to survive than the human species.
Jay Shetty questions if humans are so irresponsible that we waste the resources we are given. According to Jain, it’s just the opposite.
“Giving and philanthropy and taking care of others is built into our DNA,” Jain emphasizes to Jay Shetty. “We have a built-in tribe mentality. If you look at when humans lived in small tribes, they realized they could not survive without their tribe, so they took care of others. They gave of what they had to help others survive. The same applies in the same way today. We don't tell the guy next to us to stop breathing our air because we believe it is abundant and can sustain us. We are sharing a resource we all need.”
So why do people still fight over land, water, and energy? Jay Shetty wonders. Jain believes it’s because we see those resources as scarce. But Jain believes we can solve these issues by harnessing solar power.
“Every 90 minutes, more solar energy falls on planet earth than we use in the whole year,” Jain tells Jay Shetty. “It's just simply a matter of conversion, and that will happen. The electrolysis of the solar power will make it so easy, so cheap, that electricity or energy will become abundant like air, and it will be freely available to everyone.”
“If you have free and abundant energy, you'll be able to get abundant, fresh, clean water, even in the dirtiest places in Africa,” Jain continues. “Imagine the same thing can happen with agriculture and food. What if everything that we value today, everything that we fight over today became abundant?”
Jain believes we can stop greed by solving the problem that leads to greediness. Getting to the root of the problem and figuring out where we need to start is how Jain believes we can solve the world's most significant issues. Take the most complex situation and begin to break it down into simple concepts.
“I think one of the reasons people believe things can't be done is because in their mind, it is impossible,” explains Jain to Jay Shetty. “The minute people believe something is impossible, it becomes impossible just for them.”
Master Your Mindset
Problem-solving begins with an “I can” mindset, but that’s easier said than done. The human mind will find flaws with everything, giving us reasons why we can't do something. Depression and anxiety throw up barriers we must overcome. The imperfect human mind is a problem Jay Shetty strives to solve.
“I think no matter what planet we end up on, if our mindset and our mental health is not taken care of, no matter what facilities are provided to us, the human mind will find flaws,” Jay Shetty explains.
Instead of thinking about what someone can do for you, switch to asking yourself what you can do for someone else. How can you improve their life? The number in your bank account does not define success. According to Jay Shetty, success is determined by the number of lives you have touched and improved while you are here on earth.
Jain came from humble beginnings. His family was poor, and they lived in a remote village in India. There was no school, little food, and no permanent place to live. But although he started with nothing, he didn’t let that stop him from reaching for his dreams.
He came to the United States 35 years ago with nothing but five dollars and a dream. He credits God with giving him opportunities to get him where he is today.
“God has given us everything we could have possibly asked for,” Jain shares with Jay Shetty. “The only way I can pay the debt back to the society for what I have received is to go back and do things that can help improve the lives of billions of people in the society. I know the people who helped me don't need my help. The only way to pay back is to pay forward. I hope that by the time I die, I will have paid my debt back to society.”
If you can imagine it, you can create it. The problem is, we become too focused on what the world is focused on instead of on what we want the world to look like.
“We believe the job of the teacher or job of the parent is to take the horse to the water and make them drink,” shares Jain with Jay Shetty. “The mental problem is we are not creating the thirst. If you can make someone thirsty, you never have to take them to water or make them drink. They will find their own water, and they will drink all their life. That is what I call intellectual curiosity. Give them a chance to think, ‘What if everything I want is possible?’ If you can imagine it, you can create it.”
Naveen Jain lives by this phrase. Viome, Jain’s medical company, was started with the mission of making illness optional.
“It is my job to empower you with information and actionable things you can do to make illness optional,” Jain tells Jay Shetty. “That means you have a choice, and ultimately it's your decision.”
When you give people the tools they need, they become the change without relying on anyone else to do it for them. Most people think the education and health systems are broken. Jain disagrees. He thinks they’re doing what they were designed to do but have not evolved to keep up with a changing world.
“Our education system was designed to teach us skills in the industrial era,” Jain tells Jay Shetty. “In the world of exponential technologies, it doesn't matter what skill you learn. Even by the time you graduate, the skill you learn has become obsolete, and most problems tend to be multidisciplinary rather than unit disciplinary. That means you have to learn multiple disciplines rather than become an expert in one discipline. Learning to learn is needed. So it's not that our education system is broken; it just wasn't designed for our current society.”
According to Jain, the healthcare system falls into the same boat.
“The hardest part for me is it is the only industry that we know of that only makes money when the customer doesn't actually get better. In the healthcare industry, everyone makes money when you are sick and no one makes money when you are healthy,” Jain tells Jay Shetty. [In] what other industry can you get away with that? They don't want to understand what is causing that chronic disease. All they want to do is suppress the symptom so you become dependent on their drugs for the rest of your life.”
But Jain believes anyone can be empowered to think for themselves. When they do this, they become less dependent on others and a world of possibilities opens up.
Provide Proper Tools
Jain tells Jay Shetty his greatest accomplishment in life is his children. He always strived to instill the core values he and his wife built their lives on. He didn’t want them to know they had all the resources they would ever need in life. He wanted them to be curious, earn things in life, and give back to others to make the world the best it can be.
He recalls when his 10-year-old son told him he would make more money than him.
“I could have simply put my arms around him and said, ‘Good luck, son,’” says Jain. “Instead, that was a teachable moment. I sat him down and said, ‘I'm surprised you think of success in making money. You will never be successful by simply counting the money. Your success will be based on how many lives you've been able to improve. And if one day you're able to improve more people's lives than I did, I'll be so proud of you.”
At age 17, one of Jain’s sons hatched the idea of starting a club to provide mentors to other students so they could gain knowledge and wisdom and pass it along to the world. He remembered the lesson his dad taught him at 10 years old.
Jain’s 16-year-old daughter gave him a run for his money when she professed she didn't want anything to do with science or technology. She had already found her passion and wanted to pursue it.
“Most dads at that time would have said, ‘Sweetie, I'm so glad you found your passion. I want to help you pursue that passion,’” Jain tells Jay Shetty. “That was not how I taught. I said, ‘I want you to learn about nanotechnology, neuroscience, genetics, computer science, and artificial intelligence. And then come back and tell me your true passion and then you can pursue it. As long as you go with an open mind, wanting to learn, you have my word that you can pursue what you want to.’”
When she returned from Singularity University, she realized she had a passion for helping women. To do that, she needed to understand how women’s brains work and how to improve their lives. Science and technology were the keys she needed to learn about genetics.
“She realized science and technology were the tools she needed in her tool chest to learn what she wanted,” Jain tells Jay Shetty. “She graduated, and now she's working in AI to remove the gender bias in hiring. She did exactly what she wanted to do but used the technology to solve that problem.”
The key is finding something you are passionate about and then arming yourself with the tools you need to do the job. As psychologist Abraham Maslow once said, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” But if you have a wrench and a screwdriver, you can solve multiple problems.
Break your big problems into smaller, manageable tasks and use your tools to solve the minor problems that make up the more significant issue.
We're living in a decade of fantastic innovation. Don't wait for someone else to tell you how to do something. Take the initiative to use your passion for a purpose.
More From Jay Shetty
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode with Naveen Jain and Jay Shetty ON “How To Break Down Your Biggest Problems” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.[social_warfare]