Peter Diamandis on Disrupting the Education System, The Evolution of Healthcare, and Building a Billion-Dollar Business (#90)

QnA with Peter Diamandis on the Tim Ferriss Show
Peter Diamandis (Photo credit: Sebastiaan ter Burg)

“I think of problems as goldmines.”

– Peter Diamandis

Dr. Peter Diamandis (@PeterDiamandis) has been named one of “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders” by Fortune magazine. His accomplishments are far too many to list, but here are a few:

Peter is Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation. He is also the Co-Founder (along with Craig Venter and Bob Hariri) of Human Longevity, Inc. (HLI); and the Co-Founder of Planetary Resources, a company designing spacecrafts to mine asteroids for precious materials (seriously). His latest book, Bold, has endorsements from Bill Clinton, Eric Schmidt, and Ray Kurzweil.

Peter knows how to think and play big, and he can show you how to do the same.

This episode features the top-10 most popular questions you wanted Peter to answer, including:

  • How do we disrupt the education system?
  • What does the future of healthcare look like?
  • When should you start building your billion-dollar business?
  • Will technology destroy all the jobs?
#90: Peter Diamandis on Disrupting the Education System, The Evolution of Healthcare, and Building a Billion-Dollar Business

Want to learn more about exponential technologies? — Listen to my conversation with Peter Diamandis in which we discuss how to think like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos (stream below or right-click here to download):

Ep 56: How to Think Like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos

Want even more? — Listen to my conversation with Peter Diamandis and Tony Robbins where we discuss the magic of thinking big (stream below or right-click here to download):

Ep 35: Tony Robbins and Peter Diamandis (XPRIZE) on the Magic of Thinking BIG

This podcast is brought to you by LegalZoom. Matt Mullenweg (CEO of Automattic – now worth more than a billion dollars) first incorporated his company on LegalZoom. LegalZoom, which I’ve used myself, can help you with almost anything legal, including setting up a will, doing a proper trademark search, forming an LLC, starting a non-profit, or finding simple cease-and-desist letter templates. LegalZoom is not a law firm, but they do have a network of independent attorneys available in most states. They can provide contract review and help you run your business. Use the code “Tim” at checkout to get $10 off your next order. Take a gander at everything you can get for a fraction of what you’d expect —

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What other past guests would you like to have back for a Q&A session? What questions would you want them to answer? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…


Selected Links from the Episode | Google Loon | One WebSpaceX Satelite Dev Facility

Show Notes

  • How do we disrupt the education system? [4:25]
  • What do your first 10 minutes of the morning look like? Do you have a morning routine? [8:00}
  • What are some unrealistic goals you think entire nations could aspire to? [10:00]
  • What are the most exciting changes happening in healthcare, and what are the timetables for them to affect the general population? [13:20]
  • A problem well defined is a problem half solved. How do you go about defining a problem? Or how do you ask better questions? [18:40]
  • What is the most important thing for a 16-year-old to do over his summer vacation to keep moving forward and be prepared? [20:45]
  • Whenever the question of ending hunger in Africa arises, someone always says, “There’s no sufficient distribution system.” Why couldn’t we feed African countries with a mere billion dollars, food, and a small army of powerful delivery drones? [24:00]
  • Have you considered crowdfunding XPRIZE? [28:30]
  • Will technology increase unemployment and will robots replace many jobs as the media is reporting? [30:20]
  • Will Google, Facebook, or Elon Musk win the race to provide global internet? Will the FCC allow it? [33:35]
  • How will Human Longevity differentiate itself from other biotech companies? [35:35]
  • If you were 20 and had no experience whatsoever, what would you do to get into Singularity U and then create change in the world? [37:50]

People Mentioned

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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40 Replies to “Peter Diamandis on Disrupting the Education System, The Evolution of Healthcare, and Building a Billion-Dollar Business (#90)”

  1. Keep up the great work. 男前! Any chance of Tara Brach or Don Wildman appearing on future episodes? 楽しみにだな。

  2. Another great Q&A episode. Peter Diamandis always reminds me to have a BIG vision behind everything I do.

    Question of the Day:

    I’d love to hear a Q&A with Kevin Kelly. I’m fascinated by just about everything he says and writes. I’d love to hear about any new tools he’s come across lately and any new musings he has about the future.

  3. Question of the day:

    I’d love to hear Josh Waitzkin’s thoughts on disrupting the education system. Given his book The Art of Learning and his own personal emphasis on that final 1% of mastery I wonder how that would compare to Peter Diamandis approach given in this episode.

    As far as future guests I would be interested to hear from K Anders Ericsson who is considered to be one of the leading experts on expertise. He is widely credited with the 10,000 hour rule that Malcolm Gladwell cites. Especially given the overall nature of looking at experts and high level performers it would be interesting to hear from someone whose job is to study expertise at across a variety of levels to see how that compares to isolated domains of expertise.

  4. Definitely a solid interview. I love every interview I listened to in your series. My colleague is very excited about Peter’s book “BOLD.” All the conveniences and accessibility sounds great. I’m all for innovation and while closely being aware of the long-term intention. Artificial Intelligence and Robotics in balance should great while I hope that we will keep focus of the importance of using our brain muscle through our natural recall and memory. How many people don’t know people’s phone numbers now that we have smart phones? Our phones are smart but does that mean we become “dumb” in the process of convenience?

    I love the idea of the best education and health available to everyone. Data mining for everyone in your family and personal health, genetic and biological records? A digital health document for everyone? Who would this info be available to? Digital money ONLY? Sensors under the skin? New World Order? Global surveillance? Yikes…makes me very uncomfortable. GMO beef…using the cow cells to create the best protein meat “products.” Too much playing God for me. It all sounds great if there is a holistic beneficial ecologically and spiritually sound long-term mission…something about all of this makes me feel uncomfortable. Is this the “mark of the Beast” clothed in convenience and accessibility? LOL. I’d like to take a peek at the underbelly intention of all of this.

    1. “How many people don’t know people’s phone numbers now that we have smart phones? Our phones are smart but does that mean we become “dumb” in the process of convenience?”

      This is a great question. Einstein has a great quote that addresses this – “Never memorize something that you can look up.” [Moderator: link removed]

      What are our brains meant to be used for? Memorization & storage? Or thinking?

    2. If I had to sum up the “intention” of all these progressive ideas, I would say it is to become less reactionary as a global community, and be more anticipatory and proactive.

  5. Even better than the first. Although I do like hearing your 2 cents Tim, Peter is a great speaker. He could be the poster boy for the “Magic of Thinking Big”. Very inspiring. Thanks for letting us call the shots on the topics.

  6. Tim, thank you for these podcasts. Just a big ol warm fuzzy hug at you. So much information for me to try and drink in! Cheers Dude!

  7. Tim/Peter–here in Denver, we’re in the incredibly unique position of actually building the statewide policy infrastructure for this approach to education in partnership with the Donnell-Kay Foundation’s ReSchool initiative. The purpose of DKF’s ReSchool is to create an alternate/separate statewide education system that is capable of accrediting these ad hoc-type programs and provide state-legitimized credentialing for this kind of thing. The foundation halfway through the policy cycle already, and we are in mid-stage pilots to develop structures and models for the ad hoc education “providers” that will operate within it.

    In addition to the technology piece, one of the obstacles that ed innovators everywhere keep running up against is a lack of the policy structures (i.e., the preconditions) to support this mode of educating–it’s the force multiplier that no one else has truly attempted. But we’re in the very unique position of being able to simultaneously design an entirely new statewide school system while also designing the programs/new organizational models that can operate within it.

    We’re split testing multiple pilots this year involving student problem-solving (within grand challenge categories) for actual/specific people using 3D design and printing.

    Tim–been following since 2008. Keep up the good work with the podcast. Your interviewing skills have improved dramatically (though I do enjoy the early episodes), and it’s clear you’ve put the right kind of thought into it. Not too late for to rename it TimTimTalkTalk!

  8. Agreed! Our traditional education system is broken and there is so much opportunity for education entrepreneurs to innovate here. I like to think we have some early stage AI in our WordPress learning management system plugin LifterLMS. That’s what we built our engagement functionality around and how we differentiate in the elearning space.

    Absolutely true that learning is so different from socialization. Thanks for shining the light on that.

    I am passionate about disrupting education too. I’ve got a 5 and 3 year old daughter and want to enable the environment for modern learning.

  9. Good show as always

    I want a Q&A with: Ryan Holiday, Anthony Robbins, Arnold Achwarzenegger & Triple H.

    I want new for both things (Regular show and later Q&A or integrated both in just one podcast): Barbara Corcoran, Marc Cuban, Kevin O’Reilly, Robert Kiyosaki, Richard Dawkins, Bill Gates, Neil DeGrase Tyson, Piers Morgan, Elon Musk, Jared Diamond, Nina Hartley & Dwayne Johnson.

    Short but effective workout you use when you have no time?

    What book you gift as a first time book reader?

    What are techniques or habits you used before you have success that are still effective today?

    What would you react if we find humans beings in other planets?

    If you wake up tomorrow as the opposite sex, what’s the first thing you would do?

    In a world without Google: What you were searching for?

    What historical figure you dislike the most?

    What is the most important question you ask yourself everyday?

    With all the misleading information on this era, what are the best/most reliable resources?

    What would you want back from your non-famous life?

    Favorite destination you recommend?

    When you to enter into a new industry, what are the steps you take to demystify the mental obstacles and deconstruct the terminologies from that industry to get top to top with the leaders of that industry?

    As a copyright author, how piracy helped you?

    From these what are more unreal to happen in this century, debt cancellation, the name of the owners of the federal reserve, flight at the speed of light, financial education in the school system or winning the lottery twice?

    Why economics is so disconnected from nature?

    What illegal thing helped you indirectly?

    Why the media shows us thinking we like other people’s tragedies? That’s their view on keeping us informed? Don’t you think the media is so “Schadenfreude” friendly?

    Is the information era helping more people to become less religious, is religion the next to fall?

  10. Excellent podcast and speaker. After listening to the follow-up Q and A this morning I am motivated to pursue his concept of large “structural gardens” to localize produce. I will be looking into this and putting together a potential business plan to make it a reality. [Moderator: Email address removed]

  11. Tim, I’m truly greatful for your podcast and this was another great one!

    I’m most curious to learn how you started your book club and the inner workings of Tim Ferris publishing (how you contacted authors, figured out who owned the rights to the book, working out the legal stuff, and how you got them recorded and published to Amazon). There’s some many great books out there that need to be brought to audio! Maybe it would be a good “in-between” guest podcast. Regardless, looking forward to the next podcast!

  12. Great show Tim! Thanks for all you do! I would love to see you do an interview with Michael Morell. Mr. Morell was the acting CIA director twice, and has recently written a new book. I believe your style of questioning would make for a wonderful conversation. Thanks!

  13. I like the podcasts where we get to hear two sides of a conversation – one of Tim’s strong suits. For this episode there were some interesting bits. But I don’t agree with making 16 year old’s feel inadequate if they haven’t “discovered their passion” That will come with time.

  14. I love how Peter breaks down thinking big, picking a passion. He makes it all feel: “huh, its not that hard”. OK – now time to go do something tiny to flap the butterfly wing of a bigger future!

  15. I see having AI helping the learning process something like the 5th step. What needs to happen first is to have a strong method to determine early in life the main talents/passions of individuals.

    Very few people have a strong indication of their passion and follow it, the rest follow a recipe imposed by parents and teachers, in many cases this is done with best intentions but the result is the same.

    From my experience, in our early thirties we became seriously interested in who we really are and what we really like and it is very hard to change course and be true to ourselves after having already spent 15 years on a wrong course.

    This is the main step to a fulfilled life and a decent living that doesn’t necessarily need to be making millions.

    Such an assessment should be the basis of any education decision and later, career decision, versus the current – obsolete, disconnected, factory like model to grow individuals.

  16. Tim seems to be really good as asking the right questions, not just on podcasts but to help make better decisions generally.

    I would love to know what questions you ask yourself to improve your thinking and outcomes?

    One I like: If you could only get one task done for the rest of the week what would it be? Or Tim’s one about the lead domino or force multipliers.

    What about a five question friday

  17. I’m all for innovation, but Peter Diamandis’ vision for the future is frankly horrifying. Kids attending schools taught by robots; mandates for free health care, free income, free education (and direct democracy? No thanks); lab-grown edible flesh; swallowing/wearing sensors that report personal health data into a massive database that’s mined for actionable intel? I hope he envisions an “opt out” option.

    I did enjoy his comments on “technological unemployment,” and how young people should start actually doing something. But overall just because an idea is “big” and “bold” doesn’t automatically make it great.

    1. I came here to comment the same thing. I have been a fan of Diamandis but no longer after hearing this podcast. I completely disagree with every answer that he gave when asked what nations should do with technology. It sounds like he wants a brave new world type scenario. Centralized state socialism doesn’t work because of economics (individual incentives) not because they don’t yet have the technology to force everyone into the system correctly. I hope that we have enough Peter Thiels out there to stop these monumentally destructive ideas.

      1. I also came here to make a similar comment. I like the idea of thinking big and making sure your ladder is leaning against the right wall before you start climbing. But the details of much of what Diamandis suggests are horrifying to me. Just a couple examples.

        1. Human beings being who they are Diamandis’ vision of the future would allow for a type of social control beyond the wildest imaginings of even Stalin or Hitler. How could one possibly guarantee ones personal health information would never fall into the wrong hands? Answer: it’s not possible.

        2. As for education, what’s wrong with our education system has little to do with increasing or fine tuning the information children receive. As Yeats put it, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” Robots can’t inspire people (forget the scifi movies to the contrary). Children need real (imperfect) human beings teaching them.

        3. Checking your body’s metrics in real time seems like a dead end to me. Americans are already incredibly hypochondriac and fearful. Sensors reporting on our status constantly will only exacerbate that. Is that happiness?

        Diamandis’ vision is like Brave New World meets 1984, to the power of 100. Yow!!

    2. Totally agree. As Akua says above, it all leaves one with a skin-crawling sense of terror and a deep sadness for the loss of touch with what’s natural. I’m a doctor in South Africa with a particular interest in biochemistry and genomics and I’m properly disturbed by a lot of these ideas. In my late-twenties, I realised that my purpose is to use my skills and aptitudes to serve and to attempt to minimise suffering for all beings.

      In my opinion, using stem cell research to improve the quality of [human] life is great, but to increase the quantity of life so that we’re all living to 104?! That would do nothing but increase the suffering as our populations swell, levels of education, unemployment and hunger increase, and more natural land is cleared to house and feed us. Yes, there are ideas for vertical farming and in vitro nutrient creation, but these are reactive solutions. To truly minimise/prevent these problems from growing, we need to attack the source, which is over-population, leading to unsustainable demands on the planet’s resources. Why is there hunger in Africa? Because of over-population, Climate Change, and corruption. What are the solutions? Education, family-planning, (NOT LIVING TO BE 104), moving to renewable energy and reviewing our definition of the word “need” – do I really “need” another handbag just so it matches this outfit? Do I really “need” the latest and greatest beast of a truck just because it has a couple of new features and makes me feel powerful? Does my child really “need” a plastic toy, when she seems to have more fun, for longer, playing with the packaging it came in? We need to consume less and give back more.

      On to sequencing all these genomes. I’m all for progress, and maybe one day, this will be helpful, but right now we don’t have the bioinformatic power to mine all this data. Also, the sequence of our genomes is just the tip of the ice-berg. It is now believed that epigenetic changes dictate how our genes behave. You may have the same protective sequence as the guy next to you, but your epigenetics are different, so you still get cancer while he doesn’t. Sequencing doesn’t give us these answers. Epigenetic changes can happen in our own lifetimes, but are also hereditary, and they are not picked up by sequencing. For the time being, it’s all well and good to have the genomes to mine, but how much power is it taking to store all that data? Each person’s genome, if printed so small that you can’t read it, would still fill an entire bookshelf. The cloud is not innocuous. It’s powered using mostly non-renewable energy sources. So we’re spending all this to have a whole bunch of information that we don’t really understand and is really not that useful if we don’t also have the information about the epigenetic regulators of those genes. I’m not saying genomics is not, and has not been useful, but I feel it’s power is misrepresented here.

      Hope this doesn’t come off as offensive. It’s not meant to be. I’s just my opinion.

  18. Ideas for interviews:

    1. Do a poll for who to re invite, with specific focus on PRACTICAL queries specifically. You could poll for the questions too. This has benefit of being something the guests could do remotely. I vote Sammy Kamkar and Kevin Kelly!

    2.Someone with a severe disability who is still a high performer that can teach us about gratitude, humility, and achieving extraordinary things despite really extreme challenges many of us can’t fathom.

    3. Someone like a monk, or hermit, who has been deeply committed to a disciplined austere path for a long time

    4. Someone who’s been up against the system, like a renegade or outlaw. Not a criminal ethically but a ‘criminal’ as far as they’ve been against injustice and stood up for it, to their own peril. Robin hood style., or nelson mandela during prison years.

    All three examples are people attempting big things whilst under extreme pressure/disadvantage/sacrifice/hardship. I think we can learn more from such people than more conventional success stories


  19. Apology for wrong area but I dont have twitter and won’t sign up just to comment on 5 bullet Friday. I can say – thank you I love it! But my main question is, what was the independence day you referred to in your first one? You said something like ‘ don’t worry about working, go and have fun, it is independence day after all’. I noted it was Saturday so were you referring to Cheat day for the Slow Carb diet? Is this a new term you use – independence day – or perhaps you borrowed this phrase from another guest or influence? A day to step outside the approropriate and correct funtioning of the rest of the week? Thanks TIm xoxox

  20. 1. The psychedelic interview your question was ‘whats your favourite drug free high approach’ or something like that. Well, bringing in Stanislav Grof the founder of Holotropic Breathwork would be the perfect counter balance to that interview. He started with psychedelics in therapy then realised he could achieve the same things using the breath

    2. As a new guest: many people don’t appreciate or realise the extraordinary physicality of ballet dancers. Their strength, agility, focus, discipline. If you want a work out – go to a beginners ballet class!! The real-world whole body balance and strength of a ballet dancer will put a free weights gym whore to absolute shame. what I find interesting about practising ballet is how ESSENTIAL it is to involve your mind – or, not involve it. Bit contradictory but the mind HAS to be in the correct place otherwise your body will not function how it is meant to 😉 I say this to contrast other physical training where your mind can wander or whatever and you can still perform adequately. (I’m not talking about Arnolds “my mind is fully inside my bicep when I pump” extreme)

    So either a ballet dancer or

    As an alternative, a professional contemporary dancer : whom is accessing a more free flowing creative expression energy in their art compared to ballet. They would have the same level of discipline and focus but there’d be a creative wild energy more overt and explosive, characterising their day and their practice as an Artist, more experimental

  21. Hi Tim… Peter Diamandis is an amazing, accomplished strategic thinker. I enjoyed his book Bold… discovered through your first Diamandis interview. Thanks for capturing a few of his ideas here as food for thought. Your Chris Sacca was fun…I just got back from an epic TRT Tahoe Rim Trail hike with my daughter and immediately connected w/ his move to Truckee. I think Marcus Lemonis would make an interesting interview… different than your usual SF internet crowd. Thanks for doing these interviews… I hope they continue to be fun for you because they’re a lot of fun for me!

  22. interesting question about the independence day, I too had no idea what that was. i generally assume Tim you are writing for an international audience. in the spirit of loving supportive friendly feedback, i can say there are the odd places you use what appear to be very demographic specific or pop culture specific references, and many places through the 4HB for instance. sometimes i can figure them out, other times no. i always thought your reference to Nor Cal in 4HB sounded like a military industry complex until you suggested to Kevin Kelly you’d meet there. so it’s obviously something else. i know who trent reznor and henry rollins are- many would not- i’m not sure where or what a dakotafanning is (all 4HB). I’m just observing that your countrys great Mark Twain is still fresh and witty and accessible now – and to non-north americans, without using extremely specific references no one could understand in ten years. your works should be relevant forever 🙂 they deserve to be.

  23. I would be interested to hear Mark Cuban on the podcast for a Q&A, particularly responding to Peter’s idea of spending time following your passion.

    From what I’ve read, Mark directly opposes that advice, and I think it would be interesting to hear a different perspective. (

    I’m not sure how people in highly technical jobs (e.g. financial instrument engineering) could discover a passion about it using Peter’s 2 questions suggested in this episode.

    However, there are still a good number of people in that career that seem to have happy lives, so there must be some validity to another perspective on the topic of following your passion.

  24. Hi Tim,

    Thanks so much for all your work, it’s great on so many levels. In your discussion with Peter, you said that Climate change scares you. It scares the hell out of me for sure. My fears have recently been allayed a little by looking at Permaculture and the work of Bill Mollison and Geoff Lawton. If you want to feel that we can have a positive impact on the world, not just be sustainable but also regenerative, then have a look into Permaculture. Also, get chatting with Geoff Lawton and perhaps lend some support to an important issue that we can all help out with in ways large and small.

    Keep up the good work!

  25. Hi Tim,

    I’m a big fan of your work. I wanted to share two books on “disrupting education” that I think might interest you. The first is Parenting Without Borders by Christine Gross-loh. She does research on how other cultures parent and educate. She spends about 5 years in Japan with her family. The other is The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. His book is mostly a catalog of great children’s books, but his first chapter discusses his research about the benefits of reading to kids. It’s pretty fantastic.

    Just thought I would share.


  26. You are a huge distraction with all these awesome posts, making it hard to concentrate on my own startup:) But keep em coming love who you are and what you do!

  27. I am seriously surprised at the amount of nonsense in the podcast. For such a successful and apparently intelligent man, Mr. Diamandis demonstrates a surprising range of lack of knowledge on topics he does not hesitate to speak on, and with a tone that brooks no questioning. It would behoove him at the very least to be more hesitant and make more caveats. Ideally he would not reply to questions upon topics he so obviously is not familiar with.

  28. Tim,

    I watched an old TED talk you gave when you mentioned your interest in changing public education in America. I looked through your blog to try to read your ideas about this. I haven’t really found anything. I have been in education for over 20 years, and what I am seeing today is horrible. It is horrible on all sides, the teachers, the students, the parents, the administration, the leaders of school systems and government.

    I was reading an excerpt from your recent book, and was interested in what you said about strengths and weaknesses, that each of us, usually have one or two strengths, and that it would be best to exploit these. This makes sense. I wonder if our education system, and pedagogy does everything to diminish strengths.

    Please let me know where I might be able to read some of your ideas on education. Thanks.


    Stephen Schrader

  29. Of all your podcasts Tim this one strikes me as one of the best in wrestling with the issue of how best to spend your time, and the importance of going for “moonshots.” I took about 30 minutes of voice notes and was constantly pausing the podcast to chew on Peter’s (and your) commentary. I used to rank my favorites as Jamie Foxx, Derek Sivers and Seth Godin, but I am adding your interview with Peter to the top. Thank you again for the goodness.