By Spencer Yarnell Head of Spreading the Herd Word
We had a strange conversation in the office over our regular Thursday IBBQ (potluck). It was about the invention of foods.
It started with the question: Way back in time, who was the first guy ever to look at a deer and think “That looks delicious!”? How did he even comprehend what meat might be, or what it could taste like? Now obviously we may have evolved to be omnivores so to some degree it may have been in our DNA (If you want to argue about evolution just go fight it on a message board somewhere else.) but the question still remained for us, who was the first to think it was a good idea?
Then more questions came about food: Who first decided to drink from a cow’s utter? Who thought turning cat pooh beans into coffee beans would be a good idea? (I really can’t make this stuff up, there is cat pooh coffee beans and it is some of the world’s most expensive coffee. Wikipedia, the god of sources, backs me up.) Who ever thought “If I grind up wheat and mix it with water and cook it I can make bread!”?
It boggles my mind to think of how people came to think these things were good ideas. Then we talked about why people might. Maybe it was a dare (I can’t shake the image of Caveman frat boys daring each other to drink cow milk), maybe it was desperation (Someone really needed coffee) maybe someone was really determined (This crop of wheat will be useful damn it!).
What struck me about this conversation is that the reasons and results of innovation haven’t really changed. People still innovate because they’re desperate or because they were dared or because they are too stubborn to give up on a dream. And innovations are still risky. Innovating with food can get you a good deal of food poisoning, and likewise if you put in the fund to truly innovate with your company that innovation can turn into a black hole of money.
My conclusion is not groundbreaking, big risks can equal big rewards. I think its just good sometimes to see the real history of these things. So like the first innovators, innovation can kill your company. Or you could be the guy who invented hunting.