James Dyson Interview: 5,127 Vacuum Prototypes, So It Would Suck in the Right Way

James Dyson Interview: 5,127 Vacuum Prototypes, So It Would Suck in the Right Way

Gregory Han
Jan 29, 2009

Dyson vacuums are one of those unique "things" that people either love or hate (let's just say we're more of a minimalist admirer of the Miele line). But there's no denying that James Dyson and his vacuums have made a huge imprint on the world of cleaning appliances, combining bold marketing with masculine industrial design to compliment centrifugal force designs that have endeared upright vacuums to the manliest of men (and even tougher women who adore them also)...

Reader's Digest has an interesting short article and interview with the 61 year old Dyson (wow, the man lives in a $35 million 18th-century mansion...certainly a good testing space for a vacuum cleaner considering its size):

Q: You say fear of failure is your main driver. How can you be creative? A: The fear of going bankrupt is a good motivator. It keeps the adrenaline running. I like living on the edge. Hope is really important too.

Q: What kept you going all those years—faith or madness?
A: Probably both. I had always assumed people succeeded only if they had the best of everything: the best idea, the best connections. But then I met Jeremy Fry, a British entrepreneur. If he thought it was a good idea, he pursued it. He didn't worry about what people thought. If that is what blind faith is, that is good.

Q: You've said that in business, entrepreneurs will be wrong 50 percent of the time. Is there any way to improve that percentage?
A: No. And it would be boring if you could. The whole thing is unpredictable, different from day to day. It is so important not to be put off by the fact that there are others who know more and who are more experienced. Experience doesn't really count for anything, because every day is day one. Which is why it's fun.

Q: Can anyone do what you did?
A: Everyone has ideas. They may be too busy or lack the confidence or technical ability to carry them out. But I want to carry them out. It is a matter of getting up and doing it.

Q: Do you ever get away from work?
A: I'm still a keen long-distance runner, having started in college. I spend as much time as I can with my three young grandchildren, and I still think one day I'll master the bassoon.

Read the rest at Reader's Digest.

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