A List Of Your 10 Favorite Problems

You have probably heard of Richard Feynman, a famous physicist and Nobel prize laureate. One of his often-cited beliefs is that if you fully understand a topic, you should be able to explain it in such simple terms a five-year-old can understand it. Learning by explaining.

But I like another idea of his better: "Your 10 favorite problems". Answering the question of how Feynman was able to contribute to so many fields, he answered, "You have to keep a dozen of your favorite problems constantly present in your mind."

For him, this used to be questions mostly related to physics: "What is the smallest working machine that can be constructed?", "How can I compute the emission of light from an excited atom?", or "How could the discoveries of nuclear physics be used to promote peace instead of war?". What a man.

Every time Feynman learned something new (for example, from a research paper), he would see if the learnings would let him advance on any of his favorite problems. Most of the time, that wasn't the case, but sometimes he could make progress.

I think that my entrepreneurial self can benefit from that approach.

In general, I understand that I should look for problems to solve; problems are opportunities in disguise. But my brain tends to look for services that can be "turned into businesses". It's a subtle yet profound difference. Businesses make money if they solve real-world problems, not just because they provide some service.

To put my brain on the right track, I'd like to be more aware of problems. Having a list of 10 favorite problems would do just that. Of course, the problems should still be experienced by the right markets (see my previous post), if I want to make money by solving them.

Once I've figured out my markets - I'm still in the midst - I will write a list of my favorite problems for these. I'll make another post once that's done.


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© Julian Domke, 2023 • jules@juleswritescode.com