In this episode of On Purpose, Jay Shetty welcomes Naveen Jain, a serial entrepreneur renowned for his diverse and successful business ventures and unique approach to problem-solving and goal-setting.
He discusses his recent book, Moonshots: Creating a World of Abundance. Naveen Jain aims to make illness optional through his company, Viome. Viome takes a novel approach to understanding and enhancing human health.
Understanding the Human Body
Jain tells Jay Shetty that how you frame a question is fundamental in defining the problem you aim to solve. He was driven to challenge conventional understandings of human health and wellness by posing the right questions. Rather than tackling individual diseases, he proposes a more comprehensive understanding of the human body at a molecular level.
Jain explains to Jay Shetty that the rising prevalence of chronic diseases over the last 50-100 years cannot be attributed to changes in human genetics alone. As genetics has remained relatively stable, he concluded that other factors must be at play.
Therefore, Jain focused on gene expression (RNA) rather than the unchanging DNA to comprehend human health. He describes our DNA as a static blueprint. In contrast, our RNA, influenced by environmental factors, provides real-time information on our body’s response to its environment.
Jain’s study led him to the ‘microbiome,’ a term used to describe the vast ecosystem of microorganisms (including bacteria, viruses, and fungi) that live on and inside the human body. His curiosity was piqued by the observation that nearly every disease has been linked to changes in the microbiome in some way.
Instead of identifying each organism within the microbiome, as previous researchers had done, Jain focused on understanding what the organisms were doing – i.e., their role and impact on our health. He told Jay Shetty that depending on the environment they find themselves in, the same organism can behave differently and have varying effects on our health.
Jain’s company, Viome, uses technology initially developed for bioterrorism defense to conduct RNA testing and provides personalized health recommendations. Through this innovative approach, Jain and his team hope to empower individuals with the knowledge and tools they need to make informed choices about their health, thus making illness optional.
The Ability to Change Genes
Naveen Jain shares with Jay Shetty that “genes are not your destiny.” He challenged the widely held belief that our genetic code determines our health and life path, emphasizing that our gene expression matters most.
“By changing your environment, your environment controls your gene expression,” Jain told Jay Shetty. This sentiment is a significant shift from blaming our issues on genetic predispositions. Even when we are born with genes potentially linked to diseases like Alzheimer’s, the manifestation of the disease isn’t guaranteed. It is often tied to specific triggers, which can be mitigated or removed, giving us control over our health.
The People You Surround Yourself With
Jain also highlighted the importance of the company we keep. He told Jay Shetty, “Every day, the people you surround yourself with change the way you think.” He says the best strategy is finding individuals who uplift, believe, and inspire you to improve. These people can positively influence your life by challenging you to improve intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.
“The most important thing you can do is to find the people who uplift you, people who believe in you, people who inspire you to be better, not simply tell you, ‘you’re good,'” Naveen explained to Jay Shetty. He emphasizes the importance of daily growth and challenges us to question: “Am I better intellectually today than I was yesterday? Am I emotionally better than I was yesterday? Am I spiritually better than today than I was yesterday, and grow every day?”
Challenging Limiting Beliefs
Jain described to Jay Shetty how our imaginations can set us free or confine us, depending on how we perceive our potential and capabilities. He reflected on his youth, describing how people tried to limit his dreams by saying, “You are born in a poor family; your destinies pre-written. You can, at the most, become an accountant and go find a government job that will actually be there for the rest of your life.”
But Jain’s mother’s unwavering belief in him and her saying that the sky’s the limit resonated profoundly with him. He later realized that the sky is a figment of our imagination. He interpreted his mother’s words as “Your imagination is the only thing that limits what you can do.”
Challenging these limiting beliefs has a powerful impact on our lives. Jain concluded that we create imaginary boundaries for ourselves. Yet they are, too, the product of our mind.
Whether it’s about redefining our understanding of genes, surrounding ourselves with inspiring individuals, or challenging our self-imposed limits, Jain encourages the listeners to assume active control over their lives and rewrite our stories, shaping themselves into better versions each day.
The Art of Staying Curious
Naveen Jain shared his belief in the importance of curiosity. He proposes a fresh perspective on filtering the deluge of information and influences we encounter daily. Jain suggests a guiding question to navigate this influx, “How is what I’m going to do going to improve someone else’s life? Would it improve a billion people’s lives? Because if the answer is no, then why are you wasting your time?” This mindset emphasizes the value of staying curious, seeing it as a lifelong commitment to learning and self-improvement.
“The biggest thing to learn in life is curiosity,” Jain explained to Jay Shetty. It indicates that fostering this trait, especially in children, opens the door to continuous learning. He describes it as a thirst for knowledge that, once instilled, keeps children constantly searching and quenching their intellectual curiosity.
Creating a Better Future for Children
While Jain’s children grew up in affluence, he emphasized the difference between unconditional love and approval. He explained his parenting philosophy to Jay Shetty: “We told them that our love for you is unconditional. But our approval is not. That means I’ll always tell you I love you. But I will never tell you, I’m proud of you. To be proud of you, you have to do things that make us proud of you.”
His children’s accomplishments reflect this principle, as their success is measured by their positive impact on people’s lives rather than their material wealth. The values imparted by their father – self-worth comes from what they create, not what they own – served as the underpinning philosophy behind their entrepreneurial ventures.
Entrepreneurship: Taking on Audacious Challenges
Jain’s children have exemplified the principle of positively impacting others through their entrepreneurial pursuits. He shared with Jay Shetty about his son’s entrepreneurial ventures. He has developed a revolutionary solution to make renting and home ownership more attainable.
Similarly, his daughter, Priyanka, chose to tackle gender bias in healthcare, a critical issue that hadn’t been addressed until now. She is making strides in women’s health with her company, Evvy, which has been recognized as the fastest and most disruptive company.
Jain’s children have embodied their father’s values and principles by embarking on their entrepreneurial journeys. In doing so, they show that a better world is not just about leaving it in a better state for future generations but also about preparing those generations to continue improving it. They prove that audacious challenges can be tackled and lasting, positive change can be made.
Becoming Creative in a World Full of Distractions
In pursuing purpose, we need to realize the beauty in the process instead of focusing too much on the end product. Billion-dollar companies are lauded, and everyone seems eager to build one. But it’s a race that distracts us from the essence of entrepreneurship. As Naveen Jain told Jay Shetty, our main drive should be about problem-solving, not accumulating wealth.
His plea is a call to action, particularly to the female population, to support purpose-driven companies like his daughter’s, Evvy. It’s an initiative to improve women’s health using the vaginal microbiome, a previously untouched field. According to Jain, this generation holds the potential to solve problems that ours failed to solve. The change-makers of today are the problem-solvers of tomorrow.
Jay Shetty observed that much of our society has become numb to curiosity and imagination. We are all engrossed in our screens, watching the creations of imaginative and creative minds without realizing that we are also capable of such feats. We’ve allowed ourselves to become passive consumers, and in doing so, we have stifled our curiosity and creativity. He notes, “The majority of media makes us less creative, less curious, even though the people that made it are curious and creative.”
Fight or Flight Mode
Many people remain stuck in jobs they don’t enjoy, leading to a life of stress and dissatisfaction. After a long day of work, people switch off their minds and let the hours pass in front of the TV. However, Jay Shetty encourages us to turn this situation around and use our time to be more curious and creative because, in his opinion, that’s the pathway to a better world.
Jain explains that we should never settle for anything less than a calling, something we are genuinely passionate about and are willing to die for and live for. He further explains that life has its highs and lows, but that doesn’t mean we should give up when facing challenges. Instead, we should appreciate these challenges as signs that we are alive.
Jay Shetty reflects on his own past experiences. Even in jobs that didn’t align with his ultimate purpose, he extracted skills that served him later in life. You can turn an unpleasant situation into a learning experience; you can learn to love something about a job, even if you don’t entirely love it. This positive outlook and a relentless pursuit of purpose can help you combat the constant stress and live a more fulfilled life.
Do What You Love
Discovering our genuine passion and finding joy in our work is life-changing. The key is not to view your job as a chore but as a pathway to fulfillment. “Even the job that you’re doing, find something about that job that you fall in love with,” Jain recommends.
When teaching children about success, Jain shares a personal anecdote about his son’s desire for a $200 pair of shoes. His son’s claim that “money matters” led to Jain explaining, “It only matters when you believe it matters. Most of the time, you don’t need much for it to matter. After the basic needs are met, it doesn’t matter.”
In navigating his children’s journey toward success, Jain focused on imparting skills and encouraging his children to learn rather than chase material desires. His philosophy is that it’s always about learning and acquiring skills for life rather than the transient satisfaction of material possessions.
When his daughter expressed her disinterest in science and technology, Jain was adamant. He told her, “You’re too young to have a passion. Dad hasn’t done his job of exposing you to everything. You don’t even know the things you don’t know. How can you tell me you don’t like them?” This led her to explore various fields at Singularity University, eventually sparking an interest in genetics and neuroscience, her tools for pursuing her passion for women’s health.
Exposing Children to Variety
Jay Shetty emphasizes the importance of broadening our horizons. He didn’t find specific scientific topics, such as plant biology, fascinating at school. However, he later discovered a fascination for behavioral science and neuroscience, proving that it’s all about perspective and exposure to various topics.
Furthermore, Jay Shetty dives into his personal experiences with discomfort. He recalls, “My parents encouraged me to do so many things that were uncomfortable for me that turned out to be superpowers.” His childhood experiences led him to develop skills that would later become crucial in his life. One particular example that stands out is his foray into public speaking, which was initially an uncomfortable experience. Yet, it ultimately became his career and passion.
Moreover, Jay Shetty and Naveen Jain advocate for a diverse circle of acquaintances. Jay recalls a study at MIT that found people to be more creative, innovative, and productive when they worked with people who didn’t know each other.1 Exposure to different thoughts and perspectives sparks innovation and creativity.
Naveen Jain also sheds light on parents’ unconditional love and concern for their children’s happiness and well-being. He stresses the importance of parents encouraging their children to find their path rather than becoming a “mini-me” version of their parents. He told Jay Shetty, “Our job is to expose them to as many different things as possible, give them as many dots as possible. So someday, they can connect these dots and create their canvas.”
More From Jay Shetty
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1Carmody, D., Mazzarello, M., Santi, P. et al. The effect of co-location on human communication networks. Nat Comput Sci 2, 494–503 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43588-022-00296-z