In 2018, I completed my executive education at Stanford University. During my time on campus, I was fortunate to connect and engage with an incredible community, including my course peers and the world-class faculty.

Earlier today, the Stanford team released an interview (56 mins) with Jensen Huang, Founder and CEO of NVIDIA. With the current mainstream media hype regarding the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), it is fascinating to hear NVIDIA’s journey, as well as Jensen’s insights into strategy and leadership.

NVIDIA has seen incredible success, driven by its tenacious attitude towards continuous innovation (identifying and solving big problems).

Outlined below are a few of my notes taken from the interview.

Core Beliefs: Establish, embed and maintain core beliefs, targeting a purpose that is meaningful with a clear/unique impact statement. Within that purpose, identify interesting problems that have the potential to become interesting markets. Solving these problems will unlock value and business growth.

Early Indicators of Future Success: Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are difficult to define and understand, and commonly confused with actual results (e.g., Gross Margin is a result, not a KPI). Instead, businesses should identify Early Indicators of Future Success (EIoFS), which help provide finite milestones on an infinite journey, providing early evidence that the problem statement is solvable, leading towards a market opportunity.

First Principles: When looking to solve a problem, always go back to first principles (foundational understanding), accepting that the previously understood preconceptions may no longer be valid, superseded by new understanding and/or new technology.

Leadership: The role of a leader is to serve their team, and create the conditions by which others can do their best work. Trust is critical, respecting that each individual can accept and process complex information (good or bad). When successful, individuals will choose to work, without the need for exaggerated incentives.

Culture: In a traditional business, knowledge is power, which promotes a culture of secrecy. True power should be derived from an individual’s ability to reason complicated topics and empower others, leading them to greatness. Promote curiosity, collaboration and constructive reasoning. No task is beneath anyone, regardless of title and/or level.

Organisational Structure: Everyone within a business should look to maximise their personal value contribution, acknowledging that regardless of the title and/or level, everyone has a key role to play. Ignore other organisational structures, and focus on “Core Beliefs” and “First Principles” to define a structure that supports the unique business circumstance (NVIDIA is a very flat organisation and Jenson has fifty direct reports).

Innovation: Worry less about the past, always look towards the future and work backwards. Leverage “Early Indicators of Future Success” to measure progress and establish the required confidence to remain committed.

In conclusion, Jenson expressed the importance of having a clear purpose, with the goal of making a unique contribution.

This sentiment resonates strongly with me, an area that I have reflected upon over the years and recently written about in the article “Purpose and Fulfilment”.