What I suddenly realized was almost everything that’s true of the Ethernet is also true of DNA and genes and chromosomes. It’s all digital data. It all obeys the same set of rules. It has the same conceptual elements. When you’re talking on your cell phone and you’re going down the expressway and there’s engine noise and there’s bridges and, and the signal was bouncing all over the place, there’s all this error correction so that the call doesn’t get dropped. Guess what? When cells copy and make other cells, all the same kinds of systems that ensure that your cell phone call doesn’t get dropped makes sure that the DNA strand gets copied correctly. That was huge. I was like, “I know this. I wrote it. I wrote an Ethernet book for crying out loud. I totally get this stuff.” All of a sudden, I knew where to start. That means, “Therefore it takes me to here, I need to learn about this, I need this. I got this whole list of things in the Ethernet book. I have to figure out what the biology equivalent is. I bet you I’m going to find this,” and I did. It was amazing to find all this stuff. I’m like, “None of this ever happens by accident ever. It’s impossible. It’s not just unlikely, it’s impossible.” I could have stopped there and most people have. I know lots of people, they got that far and they stopped and they said, “It’s all designed. God’s behind this. Evolution is not true. Now, I can go on.” I didn’t stop because I had seen a bunch of other reasons to strongly suspect that an evolutionary path was still valid. I said, “I think there’s still something missing and I haven’t found it yet.” I actually held these two things intention for about two years. It was like, “I know all this communication stuff. I wrote an Ethernet book, but none of this happens by accident. It looks very designed actually. On the other hand, it absolutely looks like whales evolved from a mammal that walked on the earth and had four legs because whales have these shrunken down legs in the back of their body. The bones are there. You can go see them in the museum. I’m like, “What is it that I’m missing?” Then came the second epiphany. This was about two years later. I’m proud of myself for just holding those intention because I so badly wanted to just shortcut to a quick answer and put this behind me.
You’re dealing with too big of a question. There’s no shortcut.
Everybody wants to shortcut it and you can’t. Even the stuff I know now or think I know now, there’s so much more. I’ve only scratched the surface and I know this. Somebody sent me a paper by the scientists from the University of Chicago and he was telling this story. I got to tell you this story because it’s just remarkable. This lady named Barbara McClintock was studying corn plants in the 1940s and this lady was really, really smart. She was incredibly sharp and she was hitting corn DNA with x-rays to break the DNA. She was trained to basically genetically hack the plant and see what would happen. She had this idea of what was going to happen. She said, “What if I try this?” She tried this and the plant just totally threw her a curve ball. She’s like, “What just happened?”
Just so everybody’s clear, what she’s doing in that experiment you’re describing in the book, she’s trying to create these genetic mutations?
Yes. Like Brent was talking about with the falcons.
Just random genetic mutations just to see what would happen.
The conception at the time was that this genetic material just randomly mixes around and occasionally creates an evolutionary event and this is how you get new species and everything. This is what they thought happened and this is what most people still think happens, but she actually figured out what happens. I’ll give you an analogy. What she did would be like if I took a 350-page novel and I ripped out page 186 and then I said, “Steve, here. I’m going to give you a week if you want, read this thing from cover-to-cover and reconstruct as best you can the missing page.” If you’re a really good writer, you could do that. Some would do better job than others, but a good writer could make that mistake go away. By taking other sentences, other paragraphs, other concepts from the book and sticking them together. This is what Barbara’s corn plant did. It actually went to other genes and other chromosomes and started copying. It’s like, “I’m going to take a little bit of this to get a little bit of this. I’m going to fill in my missing page of genetic material and let’s go.” The plant went from being unable to reproduce because of its damaged DNA to now once again able to reproduce and it’s done something completely new that’s never happened in the history of corn plants because that damage was completely unique in the history of corn plants. What she had done was she’d been the first person to observe an evolutionary event and then figure out genetically literally gene-by-gene what had happened. The plant had intelligently mutated.
If you really grasp what I’m saying here, it’s just mind-blowing. It’s like software that rewrites itself. Your computer software on your computer does not do that. If one of those files gets wiped out, it’s gone. Her colleagues thought she was crazy. That plant did not do what you just said it did. They wouldn’t accept it. She went underground with her research for twenty years, but she kept doing it. Nobody would listen to her. She won the Nobel prize in 1983. She has her picture on a US postage stamp now. In my opinion, she is probably one of the five greatest biologists who’s ever lived. One of the reasons I wrote Evolution 2.0 is because what Barbara discovered is really just the tip of the iceberg of how evolution actually works. It is an active process. It’s not just this passive accidental thing where crap happens and then better things just emerge. That’s the impression that the secular people always give you. No. Evolution is an active, intentional process.
In Evolution 2.0, I call it the Swiss Army Knife. There’s a whole series of tools that organisms use to adapt to their environment, to edit their DNA, to merge together, to form a merger, a cooperative, symbiotic relationships, merger acquisitions. It’s just amazing. What I find is that entrepreneurs and CEOs, even if they don’t have a science background, when they read my book, they relate to it because what the book is saying is every entrepreneur, every CEO, every business leader, every sales manager, every marketing manager, anybody who’s in a leadership position in a company, everybody knows gun to your head. You have to make it. It’s got to be better this year than it was last year or you’re dead. You’re on a death march. Make it better. The car has got to be faster, the electronics got to be smaller, the software has got to be more beautiful, the movie’s got to be better. The TV shows got to be better, the podcast got to be better. You don’t even know how to do it. You just know you have to. I already made it the best I know how. Make it better because if you don’t, somebody else will.
That competition is always going on. How do you evolve? You don’t evolve by accident. There might be serendipities and there might be lucky breaks, you are playing mind over matter all the time. Really, if you run a business, you understand evolution way better than you ever probably thought you did. Evolution 2.0is not really a business book, but if you’re a business person and you know that mindset, you will see business everywhere in that book. You’ll see it in how cells cooperate and merge and do these amazing things. Did you know that cell-for-cell, 90% of your body is symbiotic bacteria and only 10% of are stem cells. Your intestines are full of bacteria that help you digest your food and your skin is full of bacteria that protect you from hostile bacteria. If you kill them all with an antibiotic, somebody gets a yeast infection. That’s because you’ve killed your friendly bacteria. Termites can digest wood only because the bacteria in their intestines can digest wood, the termites can’t. It’s the symbiotic bacteria. In business, almost every quantum leap that you ever see in business is a symbiotic merger of two completely different things to make something new. Uber, if we’d take taxis and we mix it with cell phone app, which used to not have anything to do with each other, you create this completely new different business that never existed before, that completely transforms the world. All of the major steps in evolution are either symbiotic or hybrid mergers because evolution does take leaps.