This past Sunday, I marveled at one 60 Minutes television segment called The unlikely, eccentric inventor turning inedible plant life into fuel for many reasons:

  • Marshall Medoff, despite having no scientific background, set out to solve a scientific problem that has eluded scientists across the globe for a very long time.
  • He is driven by a situation he calls an emergency: global warming and the impact of carbon emissions on our planet.
  • Sugar-rich plant cellulose is the most abundant energy source on earth–Marshall wanted to figure out how to tap this in a clean and cost-effective way.
  • He says he felt that other scientists were looking for ways to overcome nature, not work with nature.
  • He has derived methods for creating a biofuel, biodegradable “plastics” that can be “programmed” to self-destruct in as little as 11 weeks, and a replacement for sugar that won’t negatively impact your dental health.
  • His biofuel could replace 30% of today’s petroleum-based fuels, reducing our carbon footprint. It can be used in existing vehicles with existing gas pump infrastructure.
  • He spent some 15 years locked away in a warehouse in Massachusetts 12 hours a day with no phone or connection to the outside world. “Alone in the garage, Medoff started churning out ideas and patenting them.” He created boxes and boxes of intellectual property in the form of patents.
  • This story is remarkable. I encourage you to watch the video and/or review the transcript at the link above.

Marshall Medoff did this in silence. He was singularly focused on solving one of our planet’s most daunting challenges. He eliminated the noise in his world to successfully create a solution.

What I was most struck by is the often heard (and ignored) admonition about “what are you going to give up to achieve something truly remarkable? Marshall Medoff did that with astonishing results. Do all achievements require 15 years? Of course not.

What could you achieve for yourself or your business if you were to focus like Marshall Medoff for a day, a week, a month, one year? What if you cut out social media, the news, television (except for 60 Minutes), the drama, the energy suckers, etc., to create something truly valuable?

Thought for the week:

“We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aid, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn.” – Henry David Thoreau


Dave Gardner

Dave Gardner is a management consultant, speaker, blogger and author based in Silicon Valley. He's been in the front row for the birth and evolution of Silicon Valley, the innovation capital of the world. Since 1992, Dave Gardner has focused on making the complex simple around people, process and technology. He can be reached through his website, www.DaveGardner.biz, or via phone at +1 408-475-7068.

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