Asking “what if” questions has led to some of the greatest business innovations in the world. Asking questions about how to solve global problems or societal issues is the first step to bringing resolve. Almost everything good “Doers” do in life has started with a question. Most of the doers I interact with are inquisitive, they ask questions, assess problems and solve for them. If you where to start your “doing” today, what questions would you ask?
I think one of the most important characteristics of Doers is their seemingly endless desire to learn. They have an inquisitive nature, they are constantly seeking knowledge. They are curious about everything. They are lightening fast in finding any factoid you can imagine, and just as quick when asking another series of questions about that fact.
The love of knowledge is a characteristic I always admire. For myself, I believe I have the curiosity gene, but because I always try to do to much I think I sometimes skip over critical and important facts. I usually end up having to go back a step and dig into things a bit deeper.
One of my favorite stories to tell (over and over, so excuse me if you’ve heard me talk about it before) is about “Doers” Tim and Bimla Starzl. Tim, an American entrepreneur, met his wife Bimla in a small village in Northern India and brought her back to the States. Her family was not happy about it, but 25 years later Tim would more than make up for it.
Tim thought he would go back to those villages in Northern India and ask what they felt was their greatest medical need, then bring back western medical technologies to resolve. He and Bimla went village to village, asking the villagers what was their biggest health problem that needed to be solved. As Tim explains it, it was like an Indiana Jones adventure.
The answer they found in each of those villages was amazingly the same. It was a disease that kills many children under 5––greater even than the number of childhood deaths caused by Aids, Measles and Malaria combined, and exceeded only by pneumonia. Do any of you know what it is? Diarrhea. Yes, infectious diarrhea. In fact, something so easily treatable here in the U.S. actually kills 2200 children per day in the developing world.
Tim and Bimla where somewhat baffled by the answer and starting looking at western medicine for the solve. But there wasn’t an apparent solve at all. In fact Tim was perplexed and kept going to village after village to see if he was missing something. Then one day, it occurred to him that none of the children got diarrhea until they where older than 6 months. This fact kept Tim asking questions and digging in and his curiosity led to the conclusion that in these Indian villages, is was common practice to breast feed for 6 months.
That was his “Ah-ha!” moment.
Then Tim pursued to determine what could be in the breast milk that was making the children immune to infectious diarrhea. He studied other animals and their breast milk immune effect. It has taken almost 6 years, but the product that will solve this problem is perfected, clinically proven and shipping to those very villages in Northern India. The product made by Tim’s company, Pantheryx (the “Doing” part) is called DiaResQ. Tim has created a product that is now solving for infant deaths caused by infectious diarrhea.
It is an amazing story about an individual who wanted to give back, and it all started by asking questions––questions to the very people he wanted to help.
How curious are you? Do you ask the follow-up questions? Are you naturally challenged by everything you hear and see? Do you continue to pursue knowledge relentlessly?
If not, begin now asking questions, then follow-up questions. Almost every “doing” we encounter, whether tech-orientated or a physical product like DiaResQ, started with a question.