Mick Ebeling: CEO of Not Impossible Labs – Ep. 93

About Mick Ebeling & Not Impossible Labs:

Today my guest is Mick Ebeling, a man who’s been named one of Fortune’s 50 greatest leaders, and his organization is the only one ever honored twice by TIME Magazine for the top invention of the year.

Mick’s incubator is called Not Impossible, and through it, he tackles enormous problems that affect us all, like food insecurity. 50 million people are food insecure in the US, and through Mick’s work, he’s been able to distribute hundreds of thousands of meals with his innovative technology-based solutions.

We’ll learn how Mick transformed his career from film and film production into making a meaningful impact around the world. Here’s Mick Ebeling, founder and CEO of Not Impossible Labs and Bento.

Full Unedited Audio Conversation:

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1:21 – “For us at Not Impossible, most of the things that we tackle are humanitarian issues, social issues, the issues that deal with access that people have to mobility or communication. One thing is common that typically whenever we embark on solving these things that we call ‘absurdities,’ we don’t have a clue what we’re doing…But we see these things and we just say, ‘that’s not right. The world shouldn’t work that way.’ And then we jump on it…It’s about the why this has to happen, not the how.”

4:08 – “Every single thing that surrounds us today that’s possible, at one point was impossible. Everything. Every single thing. So for us, when you reflect on that…this has been the way that our species, our entire world, has existed. That must be also the indication of how the world will continue to unfold, which means that everything that is impossible today is on that same trajectory of going from impossible to possible…So while we’re here, this little amount of time that we’re here on this planet, it’s our job to do everything we can to make that transition.” 

8:02 – “The planet’s going to be just fine. If we keep on the path that we’re on…we’re the ones that are going to have a hard time. The planet’s going to be just fine. The Earth will swallow us back up. We’ll wait a couple thousand million years and it’ll spit something back out again and it’ll keep going on.” 

8:46 – “How good do you feel when you do something good for someone else? How good do you feel when you actually are making someone else’s life a little bit better? Pretty good. Great. So why don’t you act in your own enlightened self-interest? Go ahead and just keep feeling good. Keep feeling good, making other people’s lives better, making other people’s worlds a little bit nicer. A little bit easier. That’s where that optimism goes for us. At least that’s how we manifest it.” 

11:04 – “At Not Impossible, we tackle absurdities, we tackle different things that we see and we become obsessed on. And then we drill down and figure out how we can prototype a solution and then try to scale it to as many people as possible…We’ve done that for ocular recognition technology, we’ve done it for 3D printed prosthetics, we’ve explored ways for vaccine distribution to the developing world, we’ve looked at ways to abate Parkinson’s. We’ve done all kinds of different things.” 

12:20 – “The definition of food insecurity, as I learned, is the fact that of 21 meals a week, maybe you’ve got 15 of them, 14 of them. So you’ve got enough to stay alive, but not enough to thrive as a human, not enough to be healthy, not enough to also constantly be stressed about where your next meal is coming from…Imagine if that was your existence. It’s a whole different way of thinking. You can’t think about very pragmatic, what you and I would consider to be very simple, things like I’m going to go get a job so I can make some money…I need to find a place to live. I need to get some clothes. All you’re focused around is that one thing.”

13:26 – “There’s 50 million people in this country, in the US, who are food insecure. Like, one in five kids are food insecure. The number of veterans…it was just all these statistics, and we’re like, ‘Wow, hang on a sec, we got to do something.’”

14:52 – “We looked at the statistics and 97% of the people in this country have a cell phone, whether you sleep on a street or sleep in a mansion in Beverly Hills. So we said, ‘what if we were to use that?’…We always talk about this concept of frictionless innovation….how do you provoke the…most amount of impact with the least amount of behavior change. And so we said, ‘Well, what if we went through a cell phone but we didn’t go through things that required big data plans? What if we did it through text because text was ubiquitous?’ So punch line is, that’s what we did.”

16:01 – “Everybody who was enrolled was able to text the word ‘order’…and it would pop up restaurants that were geo proximate to them…they get to choose a restaurant…they get to choose a menu item from that restaurant…And here’s the key thing. When they go in and pick it up, they walk in…and say, ‘Hi, my name is Mick.’ And they say, ‘Oh, here you go, here’s your food.’ And you grab the food and you walk out. So the person’s not identified as food insecure. They’re not identified as someone who can’t afford to feed their family…They get to walk in and walk out with their dignity and with a meal.”

17:58 – “Last year… Fortune nominated us as a Fortune Impact 20 company, and then we received our second. And now, Not Impossible as an incubator, is the only company to have ever received it twice. But we got our second Time magazine top invention of the year. And that was all for Bento, which was really exciting.” 

23:16 – “I’m in love with the human condition and just this human process that some days are really dark, some days are really bright, and majority of the days are just…we’re all just trying to figure it all out. And when you realize that everyone else is scared of the same shit that you’re scared of and has the same fears, the same concerns, the same desires…then all of a sudden you realize that we’re really not that different.” 

30:16 – “I think that we spend a good majority of our lives just figuring out how to overcomplicate things. And it’s just not that hard. It’s not that complicated. So if we go back to that whole commitment to figure it out thing, we’re going to get so much further if we just go for it and jump than if we spend so much time trying to figure stuff out and make sure that it’s the perfect move, the perfect step.”

33:00 – “A lot of what we look to at Not Impossible is about what we call enlightened self-interest or…enlightened capitalism…All this food goes to waste and it shouldn’t…what is the business interest for the private sector?…If we can capitalize on the thing that actually may incentivize that business…to do it, and we get a chance to feed people with food that was about to go for waste, that’s the point to search for. Because now you’ve created motivations of why people want to do it beyond just ‘be a good person.’ Being a good person, it’s easy to walk away from and you don’t think twice about it, doing something that can actually benefit you, your job, your company – now you’re actually incentivized to do something. So we’re always looking at it from those angles.” 

35:33 – “If you want to see what we’re up to you can go to: www.notimpossible.com. A call to action would be honestly just go help one person. I would love if you’re listening to this right now to go help one person and then to hit us up…and just tell us what you did. Because if other people see that maybe one act of kindness that you do or did can inspire someone else to do that. And we talked earlier about kind of the feeling that you get when you flip open your news feed and you see all the stuff that’s going on in the world. Imagine what would happen if you flipped it open and all of a sudden you see that there’s tens and then hundreds and thousands of people who just did one single act of kindness – think about how that would affect the world.” 

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