Of course, we owe so much to Steve Jobs and Nikola Tesla and all those well-known giants of the world as we know it today. But this post is not about them. At least, not about them entirely. It pays tribute to the people who went about their everyday lives and did things that literally changed the game. It serves as a reminder that we don’t have to be a Jobs and build an empire and divide the universe between Android and iPhone; it is enough to change the game in our own ways; indeed it is not only enough, it is possible!
1. Walter Hunt
You won’t hear of him every day. But you have no clue how much he holds your life together – quite literally. The inventor of the safety pin, Walter Hunt features at the top of the list of people who changed the game. Because… safety pins!
Some 500 years BCE, a brilliant man invented the zero. What we take to be a fact of life and denominator of our place in life when it comes to the number of zeros that appear on our pay cheques, in fact, the invention of this mathematician. Imagine what we would be without the zero. Where would all the zero v hero memes go? What would a teacher have written on an answer sheet that had all the answers wrong? What out of ten? And how could there have been a ten? No zero figure? No ten pointer? No hundred percent? Mind boggling!
3. Louis Reard
He was an automobile engineer. And, in 1946, this fine Frenchman invented the bikini. Never has a two-bit invention given more happiness to more men. Pun fully intended. The bikini didn’t simply change the game, it changed entire worlds. The bikini round (which has thankfully been made to exit the beauty contest scene) was invented because of it. The bikini body was invented because of it. And the Kingfisher calendar. Need we say more?
4. Edward Nairne
We all make mistakes. Thank goodness for our friend, Mr. Nairne, whose amazing invention allows us to erase them all – or at least reminds us to make mistakes in pencil so that they can be erased. The Rubber Eraser! What a game changer! Now it is not only possible to erase our errors, but also to create endless metaphors about paper, pencil, and erasers. Way to go!
5. Dr. Harry Coover
There was a time when, if something broke, you simply couldn’t fix it. Like poor old Humpty Dumpty. And then there is this whole Japanese art of fixing broken things and making the cracks appear like art in themselves. “Kintsugi”, they call it. None of this would have been necessary had Dr. Coover been around. Humpty Dumpty wouldn’t have needed all the King’s horses and all the King’s men, and there wouldn’t be so many broken vases showing off their cracks in gold if only they had Dr. Coover’s Super Glue! That one adhesive sure did change the game!
6. Joey Hudy
He invented the Extreme Marshmallow Cannon. When it comes to the sublimely ridiculous, our friend Joey Hudy from Phoenix takes the game to a whole new level. What was he doing showing off his invention to then President Barack Obama in the State Dining Room? We really don’t know. But he launched a marshmallow, and President Obama loved it!
7. Henry Ford
He makes it to the list in spite of him being ultra-famous and that too because of something that he said, not because of all the cars that he built and the world that he invented. Did he change the game? Perhaps more than most people. But here’s why he is on this list: he said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” And that’s the spirit of changing the game – from horses to cars. That’s what it takes. Well said, Mr. Ford! Touché!
8. Salman Khan
No, not he of the Prem fame or the Tiger travails. The Salman Khan we are speaking of has changed the way the world learns. Founder of the Khan Academy, a free, non-profit, online education platform, this Salman Khan aims to provide a world-class education for anyone, anywhere. Now that’s the way to change the game. More power to you!
9. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
The man we all love to hate. He invented calculus. And a new, everlasting method of torture for students across the world. Of course, it helped the few who cared about what happened to the ‘x’s and ‘y’s in the world. But for the rest of us, the mere mortals, he changed the game. And we don’t thank him for it. There. It had to be said. The revenge of the mere mortals is here!
Of course, we remember him for running around naked, exclaiming “Eureka, Eureka!” But this great mind calculated pi and invented the Archimedes’ screw that helped pull water out of wells. When something as fundamental as that is invented, it not only changes the game but also the future of a civilization. It seems like such a small thing but that’s the greatest part about game changers – the way they think changes history; their extraordinary becomes the new normal.
Here’s to channeling the spirit of these great game changers.
Together, let us #ChangeTheGame!