3 Things: How To Do Things That Can’t Be Done

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Today on the podcast: a fascinating conversation with inventor, humanitarian, and entrepreneur Mick Ebeling.

Mick founded Not Impossible Labs – an award-winning technology incubator dedicated to “doing things that can’t be done.” His team looks for unsolvable problems in the world, commits to solving them, and then crowd-sources creative ways to drive real change.

This is 3 Things.

Listen here:

In this episode:

“If not now, when? If not me, who?” (1:00-8:30)

  • The Not Impossible team is all about seeing things in the world that are “absurd.” For example, it’s absurd that people are going hungry but we have plenty of food. It’s absurd that people who are deaf can’t experience music the same way as people who hear. It’s absurd that an artist who is paralyzed can never create again.
  • They identify absurdities and commit to take immediate action – hoping that if nothing else, their failed attempts could inspire others to try something, too.
  • Mick’s first project – The Eyewriter – has helped ALS patients communicate and create art.
  • His second project, Project Daniel, resulted in what is likely the world’s first 3D-printing prosthetic lab and training facility.
  • Both projects helped many – and importantly – both projects inspired many, many more.

“Who is your One?” (8:45-14:30)

  • Mick believes that the world’s most unsolvable problems – even things like Alzheimers and dementia – can start to become solvable when you begin by helping one person. The story of one has the ability to inspire others, and that’s when solutions scale.
  • On the other side of that, every single person on the planet has the ability within them to make a real difference. A movement starts with one person who has an idea, and one follower who’s willing to take that first step.

Hacking our senses (14:30-17:30)

  • Another example of an absurdity: people who are deaf can not experience music the same way as those who can hear.
  • Mick and the Not Impossible team have built groundbreaking technologies designed to change that – with significant ripple effects and applications to neuroscience.

“We’ll never reach the pinnacle.” (17:55-22:30)

  • Mick shares a powerful and hilarious reminder that humility is key to progressing as a human being. “Don’t forget to enjoy the process, and to see the gifts that others have to offer you.”

3 Things I Learned

1) Many beautiful things in life are accidental. Mick started as a movie producer, but a series of random events ultimately led him to his true passion. His life mantra demands a bias to action: “Commit, then figure it out.”

2) Good should not be defined by a tax code. Not Impossible Labs is a for-profit business – by design. They believe that every business should see itself as a movement, and that we all should use our platforms to become forces for good.

3) Beware of “recorders.” We all should be “doers.” If you notice a problem that seems absurd, don’t wait for someone else to take action. Everyone has the power to move the dial. Start small: if you can change one person’s life, you can change the world. Who is your one?

About 3 Things

Ric Elias learned 3 things from surviving the Miracle on the Hudson. Now he’s sharing conversations with remarkable people, and 3 things we all can take away from each.


Hear more from Ric by following him on Twitter and on Instagram.

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About the Author:

Ric Elias | Co-Founder & CEO

Ric Elias is CEO and co-founder of Red Ventures, a portfolio of digital companies headquartered in Charlotte, NC. In 2009, Elias survived Flight 1549, the "Miracle on the Hudson,” which led to his viral TED Talk, "3 Things I Learned While My Plane Crashed." In 2011, Ric was named Ernst & Young National Entrepreneur of the Year, and in 2016 he was inducted into the Carolinas Entrepreneur Hall of Fame. Ric has founded several social impact initiatives including Road to Hire, a 501(c)(3) that connects young adults with on-ramps to professional development and high-earning careers. A native of Puerto Rico, Ric attended Boston College and Harvard Business School.

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