How Google’s Driverless Car May Inspire Your Business

Below is the video that inspired this article. I found it during a random browsing session and it features a Stanford University Professor, Google, and driverless cars.

Press play or if you can’t view the video click here.

Sebastian Thrun, a professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, led the Stanford Racing Team in the 2005 DARPA Challenge (that’s the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).

As stated in the video, the challenge required a self driving car to successfully navigate a road course sans human driver.

Thrun’s team won (2 million dollar prize to boot).

Now, I don’t have an affiliate link to sell you a driverless car from Google. Sorry to disappoint. But what I do have is a few points about the related concepts that you can apply to your own business.

Driverless car concept – 3 points to ponder

1. Will you innovate?

Self driving cars are at the cutting edge of technology. Along with flying cars and hover boards, I find these vehicles fascinating. They’re straight out of Hollywood movies and have so many potential pros and cons we could go on for hours about them.

But mainly it’s all new thinking and it makes us ask ourselves: what innovation do we have coming down the line?

  • Do you plan (or care) to lead the way in some facet of your industry: this month, this year, in two years?
  • Are you going to strive to be an early adopter and future authority of a new strategy, service, or marketing channel?
  • Are you willing to make the investment and necessary sacrifices to take that step beyond the pack?

Ask yourself these questions. Maybe they matter to you, maybe they don’t. But the “big G” isn’t a technological powerhouse as a result of blending in. Google is a leader.

2. What will you automate?

A driverless car would be great. No worrying about steering, shifting, or paying so much attention to the other crazy drivers that your eyes cross and hair falls out from stress.

Plus, I’d love nothing more than to take a nap during a long ride into the city or out to the country when I go tent camping.

But how much (and what) will you automate or delegate in your business to free up your time? Aside from a time management perspective, what tasks will you outsource that someone else can do better than you?

Think about the processes you can place on auto-pilot to help you be more effective.

3. What’s your “why” or greater purpose?

Sebastian Thrun’s motivation to create these vehicles is to save lives. After losing a close friend at age 18 due to an automotive accident, he vowed to focus his life on saving people. He believes that by mechanical precision we can achieve an overall safer driving experience.

What is your greater purpose? Is it more than profit-driven?

Is your “why” for what you’re doing tied to an emotional quest that will continue to stoke your creative and entrepreneurial fire?

Without an enduring “why” it isn’t easy to commit to achieving your goals. Your pursuits need to be backed by a white-hot emotional desire or it’s too easy to abandon ship.

Your business

It’s your business. You make the final decision here but consider leading rather than joining.

Consider automating rather than agonizing.

Consider being profound over being profit-driven.

Now consider leaving a comment below with your thoughts ;)

Photo: blogismine

32 Responses to How Google’s Driverless Car May Inspire Your Business
  1. Jk Allen
    April 4, 2011 | 7:28 pm

    Hey Jon,

    Wow, that Video was a trip. The speaker had such passion for this project. I can completely understand his take, considering his experience. Me on the other hand, I appreciate technology to the max,but I never want to live in world dominated by artificial intelligence. (that was off topic…sorry).

    Consider being profound over being profit-driven.
    We don’t have to recreate the wheel – but we can. Just because we don’t have to doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try. Nothing on earth that is man made is perfect. So we have a open template to work with.

    I like how you tied this together Jon. Very inspirational and touched me.
    I thank you!

    • Jon
      April 4, 2011 | 8:31 pm

      Hi Jk – thanks as always for your thoughts. Thrun definitely pours his heart and soul into self driving cars; it’s magnetic when you see people going on about the things that excite them.

      You make a great point: nothing on earth that is man made is perfect. For sure! We certainly have a lot of material to work with, re-engineer, and add to for improvement.

    • Danny @ Firepole Marketing
      April 6, 2011 | 2:43 pm

      Consider being profound over being profit-driven – I agree with you, Jk. And the cool thing is that *being* profound actually does drive profits. :)

  2. Hector Avellaneda
    April 4, 2011 | 10:13 pm


    This video was awesome, man! Thank you so much for sharing it! I love the WHY factor that you mentioned above and this guy really was in sync with his WHY. He lost his best friend and knows that the leading death of young people are car accidents and he’s doing something about it to find a solution!

    He clearly knows his WHY and people that have had similar experiences will definitely resonate with his message. I resonate with his message because I love innovation and minds like his!

    It’s perfect for entrepreneurs and investors to invest in ideas like these and it jut makes sense for everyday people to be maybe one day be safer on the roads, have a cleaner planet and spend less time stuck in traffic!

    I love your points and how you wee able to really get a takeaway from the message of this video and apply it to peoples businesses.

    These are definitely questions that people need to ask! It’s great that we have the Internet as a platform for business but it should never hinder us from innovating!

    Awesome read, Jon!

    • Jon
      April 5, 2011 | 9:06 pm

      Hi Hector!

      It sounds like you’re a big fan of innovation; I’m glad you liked Thrun and this concept (well, not that Google or Thrun came up with this concept first).

      You make a good point about people that relate to Thrun’s experiences will appreciate his message and likely help spread the word about his work. The same holds true for us. We can’t write or produce different media for ALL audiences. We’ll connect strongly with a set demographic. Our own well-defined “tribe.” Those are the folks that will embrace what we innovate.

      Thank you!

  3. Janet @ The Natural Networker
    April 4, 2011 | 10:28 pm

    Jon, aloha. That was absolutely amazing. Thank you so much for sharing it. When that becomes available, you may have to step back into one of your former “careers” just to be able to sell it.

    Seriously, Jon, the clip has the wheels in my brain turning round and round. Your takeaway points to ponder are excellent.

    In terms of innovation, if we want to prosper, we must innovate. The world does not need more copycat or “me too” products/services. The speed of technological advances dictates changes in how we do businsss, make products and deliver service. Personally, I will ever improve so that I can continue to deliver more than expected and delight my clients/business partners.

    While the thought of letting the car drive me, “scares” me–and I don’t think that’s the lizard brain talking–I do agree we need to delegate or automate. Oftentimes, people get so caught up in busywork and thinking they have to do it all, that they miss producing their “art.” As entrepreneurs, we must stay focused on the big picture and let others paint the background.

    Knowing your Why, Jon, in my opinion, is the secret to success. In fact, this post and your comments have inspired me to expand this topic. Watch my blog for an upcoming post on this. Actually, Jon, I’ll let you know when I post it because I will be sharing the credit with you.

    This post is a fantastic way to start the week. Thx so much, Jon. Look forward to seeing you again soon. Until then, aloha. Janet

    • Jon
      April 5, 2011 | 8:58 pm


      I caught that “former careers” comment. Too funny! (mental note: be careful, Janet remembers stuff)

      Thank you for your highly encouraging words. I’m glad the video got your wheels turning round and round. We need that sometimes. I agree, the “me too” stuff is tough to peel away from but we have to try our best to stand out.

      Ah, “people get so caught up in busywork…the miss producing their ‘art’.” So true! I like the way you stated it.

      Knowing our “why” is very important and now I’m looking forward to reading your take in an upcoming post :)

  4. Emmanuel Olonade
    April 5, 2011 | 5:44 am

    Hey Jon,
    Thanks for the thought provoking questions. The question about innovation is really great. It is on longer enough to wake ur one morning and decide to create a successful blog,every other person wants the same. You have to put in some time to learning and trying to overcome challenges. That’s what breeds innovation.

    • Jon
      April 5, 2011 | 8:51 pm


      Great point here: “You have to put in some time to learning and trying to overcome challenges.” Absolutely. It’s important to challenge ourselves to make us grow and envision things from different perspectives. There are enough “me too” approaches out there so let’s be creative!

      Thank you for stopping by.

  5. Jane | Find All Answers
    April 5, 2011 | 8:14 am

    Oh Jon!

    This is a great post provoking some serious thought for all the business men and women out there. As to outsourcing, I pretty much agree with you and I do hesitate a bit with that.

    I know that outsourcing is part of any business since there can’t be a one-man show; that will be too boring and even unsuccessful. I am recently starting to seek out for outsourcing little stuff.


    • Jon
      April 5, 2011 | 8:49 pm


      Good for you, Jane! It’s challenging to find the right help but I know I’ve been pleased with the time delegating work has freed up for me to do things I’m better at or would rather do.

      We can’t be the best in every area but in the beginning I’m sure most folks are trying to save every penny they can. Doing 100% of the work at first is just part of the journey.

  6. Udegbunam Chukwudi
    April 5, 2011 | 8:20 am

    Outsourcing is something strange to me for now as I’m building a business from the bottom and looking to save as much cash as possible. Besides I’m yet to shed that mentality of mine that “Nobody can do my job better than me”

    • Jon
      April 5, 2011 | 8:44 pm

      Ha! Udegbunam, you aren’t alone. I still struggle with outsourcing as well and although I do it still requires me to convince myself to let go.

      Many of us are do-it-yourself types; that’s ok in the beginning. We may not have much choice for many reasons (finances included). But there will come a time when your attention to trivial detail and tasks will eat into your truly effective time and opportunity to exercise your talent. That’s when you’ll be faced with the choice and that’s all it is; a choice.

      Thank you, Udegbunam.

  7. Stacy
    April 5, 2011 | 3:47 pm

    Hi Jon,

    This part stuck out to me: “Consider being profound over being profit-driven.” It’s so true, when we focus on giving rather than getting (profits) those things will start to come to us.

    When I first started my blog I really wanted to be able to make some good money at it. I was expecting to make millions but I was hoping to be able to cut my current business to part time eventually.

    Then I got into the blogging, I got into helping others. I got into giving, learning and growing. Now I’m experiencing people contacting me about business and have more people purchasing affiliate products.

    It’s no accident that it happened in that order!

    Thanks for sharing this great post!

    • Stacy
      April 5, 2011 | 3:47 pm

      Typo: I *wasn’t* expecting to make millions!

      • Jon
        April 5, 2011 | 8:32 pm

        Busted! Yes you were. It’s ok.

    • Jon
      April 5, 2011 | 8:41 pm


      You’re a prime example of the rewards that come with putting relationships and your readers first. I’m genuinely happy for you; you’ve hung in there long enough to appreciate the non-financial angle and wound up (as I mentioned to Allie here) with the best of both worlds.

      I appreciate you reading and sharing your story.

  8. Allie
    April 5, 2011 | 7:56 pm

    I got to pondering the “why”.

    As I read so many blogs, it seems to me bloggers hide the true reason so many of them got into blogging- to make money. I did. And that was my drive at first.

    Then I realized that drive was taking me down the wrong path. I was writing and doing simply to try and trick readers into buying something.

    But then you stated “Your pursuits need to be backed by a white-hot emotional desire or it’s too easy to abandon ship.” And this hit me.

    I do hope to make money from blogging but it no longer is my guiding force. My readers are. The more readers I acquire the more I want to blog. It is a circle I am, frankly, at times scared to abandon. They rely on me to be there and I rely on them. Wait, that is a relationship!

    These are the people that give me the hope that I can give them something different or new they haven’t seen before. This is a hard goal for a blogger.

    I need them there so I can be a better blogger. Not unlike Sebastian who was striving to make better, safer car for the better good of everyone.

    • Jon
      April 5, 2011 | 8:39 pm


      This is a wonderful comment, thank you for sharing! Life is so full of surprises and I’m glad that you’ve embraced the evolution of your project and the new direction (and meaning) it has taken. You’ll find your balance of building relationships and making “the ask” when it’s appropriate. It IS okay to have the best of both worlds.

      Blogging by itself is not a business or great earner. It really is just the pivot point. I believe it’s okay to want to earn money online and replace or supplement our income. As long as we realize there are faster ways to get there then we won’t be so discouraged when blogging doesn’t seem to be speedy enough.

      Great to have your input here, Allie, thanks again :)

  9. [...] doing and try to spot a gap in the market that you can fill. So don’t go thinking you have to invent something the world has never [...]

  10. Devesh
    April 6, 2011 | 9:56 am

    Hi Jon,

    This is very powerful post man. Actually I’m a type of person who loves to learn new things instead of getting them outsourced but i always end up outsourcing my design work.

    I think fiverr & DigitalPoint are the best sites to get your work outsource at very reasonable price.

    Thanks for sharing this powerful post Jon. Great Job.


    • Jon
      April 6, 2011 | 10:01 pm

      Hi Devesh,

      Yes, the design work (depending on the scale) can become very time consuming and relying on our own skills will sometimes leave the finish product lacking that professional polish. There are many high-end jobs I refer to others.

      Fiverr and DigitalPoint are great for that, yes. I’ve had success finding people on Craigslist in the past (overseas) but the amount of legwork required to find the right match was the downside.

      Thank you, I hope to see you again soon.

  11. Adrienne
    April 6, 2011 | 12:07 pm

    Hey Jon, awesome post and one that definitely got people to thinking.

    I’ve seen that video and heard a lot about the new “driverless” car. Would I ever have one? I seriously doubt it. I know technology will come a long way but trusting my life to a machine is something I don’t believe I’ll ever do. The day I loose my faculties and can’t drive any longer then so be it!

    But I do love to learn and I am not afraid to move forward. Like most people, my purpose for getting online was to make money but I also know that my passion is helping people so that definitely took over quickly. I’ve now learned because that is my passion and what I enjoy the most, the rest is falling into place naturally. Wow, what a concept! :-)

    Thanks for this post, really enjoyed it and the example you used with Google’s new baby!

    Have a wonderful day my friend.


    • Jon
      April 6, 2011 | 10:05 pm


      I agree with you that I’m not going to be the first in line to buy a self-driving car. But it’ll still have some type of over-ride so as long as I feel that I can have the majority of the control (however many years down the road this is) then perhaps it’s okay.

      Your content and videos certainly help people out, Adrienne. You are finding your stride and it’s great to see you doing what you do. Thank you for your thoughtful comment and enjoy your evening. Thanks.

  12. [...] clip is another example which I came across the other day. My friend Jon Alford put this link under Jon’s name so it links to the post used it to illustrate a point he was [...]

  13. Danny @ Firepole Marketing
    April 6, 2011 | 2:46 pm

    Too bad there’s no affiliate link, Jon – the payout would have been huge, and I’m tempted to buy. ;)

    I liked your point about innovation, and recognizing that there are real associated costs. Google takes risks, and that has made them a leader – but that also created Wave, which didn’t pan out, right?

    So am I saying not to innovate? No, of course not – innovation is where it’s really at and happening. And if it was easy, everyone would do it. ;)

    • Jon
      April 6, 2011 | 10:15 pm

      Imagine that payout, right?!

      Such a great point, Danny. If it was easy everyone would do it. Well…you’d likely have some that would do it, others that would be outsourcing it, hordes of people asking us for a free way to do it or people just wouldn’t do it because they’d doubt its viability :)

  14. [...] this week we looked for inspiration in the self driving car and the deep rooted “why” that drives you and your [...]

  15. Joyce Oladipo
    April 11, 2011 | 4:25 am

    Innovation is key to success, now a day. Sometimes we might think that what we have to offer already exist but if we can create a new idea around it then we can succeed in anything we want to do.

    We need to create an awareness of what we want to offer then create a service that solves the problem.

    Thanks for sharing this article. Can’t wait to see the first self driving car being sold

    • Jon
      April 18, 2011 | 5:30 pm

      Wouldn’t that be neat to see?

      Yep, if you’re an innovator it may also require you to drum up some awareness, demand, and a sense of urgency to buy. That’s the part that’s unknown or a slight gamble. But, we’ve all seen how that can play out good and bad for the creators. Thank you, Joyce.

  16. [...] Driverless Car Inspires by Jon Alford [...]

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