How World Icons Got their Ideas and Inspiration [Infographic]

Hi everyone! Today I want to share this great infographic on aha moments — how today’s world icons got their ideas and inspiration:

The Aha Moments: How People Realize What to Do in Life [Infographic]

Click image for larger version (Infographic by Funders and Founders)

This infographic highlights the leaders behind today’s modern society (think the founders of Whatsapp, Pinterest, Apple, Microsoft, IKEA, instant noodles, GAP,and AirBNB) and how they embarked on their paths. If you notice, their trigger points came when they were faced with a problem — some of which are daily trivialities like Caresse Crosby (inventor of bra)’s inability to fit her bust into a corset and others more somber, like when Samuel Morse (telegraph inventor) found his wife dead because her letter reached him too late. :/


Some of the stories that struck me:

  • AirBNB: Those of us who travel frequently would know AirBNB — pretty much the largest vacation rental site in the world with over half a million listings worldwide. Turns out that its founders, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, got their AHA for AirBNB when they earned cash from turning their living room into a bed and breakfast, because both of them couldn’t afford rent for their loft. They realized the potential for alternative lodging and subsequently started AirBNB.
  • IKEA: IKEA was my favorite playground when Ken and I were busy hunting down the perfect furniture for our new home. Ingvar Kamprad, the 88-year-old IKEA founder, stumbled upon the idea of selling flat-pack furniture when an employee (not Kamprad as mentioned in the infographic) had to take the legs off a table to squeeze it into a customer’s car. Kamprad resigned from IKEA in 2013 and was replaced by his youngest son, but continues to be a part of the IKEA family.
  • WhatsApp: To be honest I dislike Whatsapp because I find it invasive (anyone can message you without authorization as long as they have your number), and in fact stopped using it since months ago.

    However, one has to admit that Whatsapp is THE prevalent form of mobile communication today, from being the common tool to organize social outings to being the platform for catching up between close friends. Founder Jan Koum was inspired to create Whatsapp in 2009, having lived on welfare when young and been through days when his mom and him couldn’t afford to call his dad in Ukraine. Read his rags-to-riches story here. Koum is now worth $6.8 billion thanks to his company.

  • Instant Noodles: In a world where we’re constantly busy, instant noodles have become our go-to food. Momofuku Ando, inventor of instant noodles and founder of Nissin Foods, got the idea of instant noodles in 1948, when Japan was plagued by post-war poverty:

    In “The Story of the Invention of Instant Ramen,” an autobiography published in 2002, Mr. Ando told of walking through the rubble-strewn streets of Osaka.“I happened to pass this area and saw a line 20, 30 meters long in front of a dimly lit stall from which clouds of steam were steadily rising,” he wrote. “People dressed in shabby clothes shivered in the cold while waiting for their turn. The person who was with me said they were lined up for a bowl of ramen.”

    “I realized that people were willing to wait patiently just for a bowl of ramen,” he said.

    (Source: Momofuku Ando, 96, Dies; Invented Instant Ramen from The New York Times.)

    Fast forward 10 years. After turning bankrupt from a previous venture gone wrong, Ando then started experimented with ways to create instant noodle from this earlier AHA. The rest is history.

    Inspirational story aside though, instant noodles have been repeatedly proven to be unhealthy and can lead to serious long-term health risks, so best cut down or remove it from your diet if possible.

What this infographic tells us is that contrary to popular belief, some of most amazing inventions and successful ventures today were borne out of a simple idea, a simple idea created to solve a simple problem. Which means that while we may sometimes get overwhelmed by the little problems in our daily lives, how about a mindset shift where we recognize these problems are in fact assets waiting for us to harvest them?

Meaning, the next time you face a frustrating problem…


  1. Think about the lesson(s) you get to learn from it.
  2. Be grateful for this learning opportunity, as you would not have gotten it if not for this problem.
  3. Brainstorm permanent solutions for this problem.
  4. If you’re facing this problem, chances are at least ten thousands of people out there are facing it too. And if you’ve found a way to solve it, why not share the solution with others, add value to others’ lives, and possibly receive value in return for it too? Think about how you can spread this solution to the world. For example: Create an information product sharing your lessons? Create a product or a software that carries the solution? Offer a service that addresses this issue?

Which stories in this infographic inspired you? What can you take away for yourself?

Check out: More infographics here | PE manifestos here

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