Building for Tomorrow with Jason Feifer | Summary and Q&A

January 12, 2023
The a16z Podcast
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Building for Tomorrow with Jason Feifer


In this podcast episode, Jason Pfeiffer discusses six frameworks for understanding and adapting to change, from historical examples to current innovations. He emphasizes the importance of adaptability, understanding the purpose of new technologies, and the complexity of problem-solving in a rapidly changing world.

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Key Insights

  • 💱 Change is inevitable, and adaptability is crucial for success in a rapidly changing world.
  • 👶 Understanding the purpose and potential of new technologies is essential to embrace and leverage their true value.
  • 🎚️ Oversimplifying problems and focusing on surface-level issues inhibit effective problem-solving and innovation.
  • 🥺 Mapping new technologies to existing concerns and anxieties leads to misunderstandings and resistance.
  • 🤩 Progress is a never-ending process, and seeking better problems rather than perfect solutions is key to continuous improvement and growth.
  • 😄 Building a bridge of familiarity helps ease the transition to new technologies by connecting them to existing comforts and understandings.
  • ❓ Misconceptions and misperceptions hinder progress and hinder the development of meaningful solutions.


we really are the products of change and we forget that we we're actually the argument for change because the things that we grew up with were the things that people had previously opposed welcome back to the a16z podcast and welcome to 2023. it's hard to believe we're here but if the last few years have been any indication we are in for a lot of c... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: Why are people uncomfortable with change?

People often resist change because they fail to believe in their own adaptability and focus on the losses rather than the gains. They fear the unknown and are resistant to letting go of familiar ways of doing things.

Q: How can innovators overcome resistance to their new technologies?

Innovators should build a bridge of familiarity, connecting the new technology to something people are already comfortable and familiar with. This helps to alleviate fears and makes the new technology more relatable and acceptable.

Q: How can misperceptions and oversimplification hinder problem-solving?

Oversimplifying problems leads to ineffective solutions as it fails to address the underlying complexities. It is important to understand the multiple dimensions of a problem and consider various factors before developing meaningful and comprehensive solutions.

Q: Why do people map new technologies to existing anxieties and concerns?

People tend to imbue new innovations with their own cultural or personal anxieties. They fear that these new technologies will disrupt their familiar ways of life and challenge their relevance or established structures, leading them to view them as inherently negative or harmful.


In this podcast episode, Jason Pfeiffer shares six frameworks on how people understand and adapt to change. He explores the reasons why people are often uncomfortable with new innovations and how to overcome these challenges. Pfeiffer emphasizes the importance of adaptability, understanding the purpose of new technologies, building familiarity, and distinguishing between minor and major problems.

Questions & Answers

Q: Who is Jason Pfeiffer and what is his background?

Jason Pfeiffer is the editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur magazine, a podcast host, and the author of "Build for Tomorrow." He has extensive experience in media and specializes in innovation and adaptability.

Q: Why did Pfeiffer choose to focus on adaptability?

Pfeiffer realized the importance of adaptability when asked about the qualities of successful entrepreneurs. He concluded that adaptability is a key factor in success because it allows individuals to persevere through failures and continually evolve their ideas.

Q: How does Pfeiffer define adaptability?

Adaptability is the ability to not only revise products or strategies but also to rethink personal identity, respond to the needs of customers, and overcome emotional challenges that come with failure.

Q: How does adaptability apply to historical and present-day changes?

Pfeiffer suggests that historical examples of change can provide valuable insights into how people respond to and adapt to new technologies. Understanding patterns and learning from past experiences can help individuals navigate current and future changes.

Q: What is the first framework Pfeiffer discusses?

The first framework is the belief that people fundamentally doubt their own adaptability. When faced with new technologies, individuals often see it as a loss of something familiar, leading to resistance and fear of change. However, history has shown that humans are highly adaptable and can find new opportunities within change.

Q: How does Pfeiffer support the first framework?

Pfeiffer shares a historical example of people resisting the invention of the phonograph. Musicians were against recorded music because they believed it would replace live performances. However, the introduction of recorded music opened up new avenues for musicians to reach larger audiences and scale their careers.

Q: What is the second framework Pfeiffer discusses?

The second framework is the misconception of the purpose of new technologies. People often misunderstand or underestimate what new innovations are meant for, leading to negative perceptions or disregard for their potential value. By understanding the true purpose of new technologies, individuals can harness their benefits and create new opportunities.

Q: How does Pfeiffer explain the second framework?

Pfeiffer uses examples like Red Bull's content strategy and the concept of protein chips to demonstrate how reframing the purpose of a product can lead to better adoption. Red Bull shifted their focus from selling energy drinks to building relationships through content, while protein chips changed their name to resonate with existing consumer familiarity.

Q: What is the third framework Pfeiffer discusses?

The third framework is the failure of innovators to build a bridge between the unfamiliar and the familiar. Innovators often focus solely on the value of their new creation without considering how it connects to people's current understanding and needs. Building a bridge of familiarity helps individuals embrace and adopt new technologies.

Q: How does Pfeiffer illustrate the third framework?

Pfeiffer shares the historical example of the car industry trying to convince people to give up their horses for cars. Initially, people resisted because they valued their horses and the emotional connection they had. However, when the car industry reframed cars as better horses instead of replacements, people felt more comfortable and willing to accept the new mode of transportation.

Q: What is the fourth framework Pfeiffer discusses?

The fourth framework is the tendency to mistake small issues or inconveniences for significant problems. People often focus on minor drawbacks of new technologies and overlook the broader positive impact or potential solutions to the problems at hand.

Q: How does Pfeiffer support the fourth framework?

Pfeiffer presents the historical example of the waltz, which was initially criticized by society for being scandalous and physically harmful. Doctors claimed that dancing the waltz would shorten people's lives. However, history has proven that the waltz was merely a minor issue that society blew out of proportion, failing to recognize the bigger benefits and societal changes it brought.

Q: What is the fifth framework Pfeiffer discusses?

The fifth framework is the inherent skepticism and resistance towards innovation. Pfeiffer highlights how people tend to doubt new technologies and innovations, often focusing on the negatives or the potential risks, which can hinder adoption and progress.

Q: How does Pfeiffer explain the fifth framework?

Pfeiffer cites examples such as the introduction of the first printing press and the initial resistance towards telephones to illustrate how people often react with skepticism and resistance to new technologies. However, these technologies ultimately revolutionized communication and information sharing, highlighting the importance of embracing innovation.

Q: What is the sixth framework Pfeiffer discusses?

The sixth framework is the tendency to attribute problems to new technologies when they are, in fact, deeper cultural or societal issues that predate the introduction of these technologies. People often blame innovations for problems that already exist, exacerbating fears and resistance.

Q: How does Pfeiffer support the sixth framework?

Pfeiffer uses examples like social media's impact on mental health and the fear of AI taking jobs to illustrate how new technologies are often scapegoated for problems that have deeper causes. It is essential to differentiate between the impact of technology and the underlying issues that are amplified by these innovations.


Pfeiffer's frameworks provide valuable insights into the challenges of embracing change and innovation. Understanding the human response to new technologies allows for better adaptation and adoption. Building familiarity, reframing purposes, debunking misconceptions, and differentiating between major and minor issues can lead to successful implementation and progress. It is crucial to recognize that humans have always adapted to change throughout history, and innovations ultimately shape and improve society.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Jason Pfeiffer explores how people understand and adapt to change through six frameworks, drawing from historical and present-day examples.

  • People often resist change because they fail to believe in their own adaptability and focus on the losses rather than the gains.

  • Misunderstanding the purpose of new technologies, oversimplifying problems, and mapping new technologies to existing anxieties inhibit effective solutions and innovation.

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