This picture hangs in my home office. It reminds me every day that when there is commitment to a clear vision and a strong team to execute the mission, nothing is impossible. I watched the moon landing on television when I was a young boy and grew up to work for NASA for a decade and in the aerospace business for 13 years. I was fortunate to be involved in the early days of the Shuttle missions and the design and development phase of the International Space Station program.
I have been involved in several investment decisions with technology companies where the technology was considered to be too early in the development stage and therefore, too great a risk of failure. Consider the technical unknowns and the state of key technologies when President Kennedy announced that the United States “… should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”
- No rocket had ever reached deep space and the technology to do so was unproven
- No human had ever been launched into space, orbited the earth, or performed a space walk
- The effect of space on humans was unknown
- We knew little about the atmosphere & terrain of the moon
- There was no precedent for managing a government/contractor organization of this size to perform such a technically complex mission on such a short timeline
- Computing technology was in its infancy – Univac, IBM and CDC were developing the first supercomputers
- The internet was in early development
- Cell phones, email, teleconferencing and video conferencing had not been invented
- The Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) had less computing power than a modern toaster – 64Kbyte of memory, operating at 0.043MHz
Other than that, it was a piece of cake.
THE TAKEAWAY – DREAM BIG, young entrepreneurs. Commit to the vision. Compel others to see it as well and want to be part of it. Allow the mission to be bigger than your ego, and surround yourself with the right people to execute successfully.