You are currently browsing the monthly archive for April 2009.

One of the pioneers of innovation is Peter Diamondis, founder of the X-Prize  .  Peter turned innovation on its head.  He figured that the old school model based on a handful of scientists in a deep dark lab somewhere working on a corporate secret was outdated.  It missed the opportunity to unleash the billions of potential Edison´s out there.

He figured that if you put a substantial enough prize out there (in his case $10 million), you would attract the best and brightest talent regardless of where they were located or where they worked. 

I would like to see many more professionally at a world class level to attract our best and brightest.

Imagine if we built a pool of cash of say, $1 billion for our most pressing concerns, like clean, efficient, decentralized solar energy, with a bonus of equity participation in the royalties from that patent.  How many pioneering engineers, thinkers and doers would you ignite?  I suspect, millions if not a billion minds.


Dracula1931We deem anyone who sucks the life out of you as a vampire.  Whether you are shifting into a new level in your profession or forging a fresh venture, one thing is common, it takes a tremendous amount of energy, focus and enduring commitment to realize a vision.

One of the fatal flaws we see for people seeking to enter the Pioneer Mindset is the presence of energy sinks and more concerning, energy drains.  We call those energy drainers, vampires.

We meet countless people who work hard to get themselves prepared to pioneer.  They acquire the right skills, piece together enough resources, gather a team and support network and they build up their will power.

Yet, after some initial success they find themselves unable to gain serious traction.  They run into obstacles.  And then it happens, the energy vampires enter the scene.  They chip away at your confidence, distract you with their worries and drive you to diverge from your vision.  These are the vampires. They are feeding on you.

One of three ways:

  1. You Invited Them: When you build your team and support network, you will find many people get excited about new ideas, pursuits and adventures.  They encourage you, smile and cheer you on.  Yet, when times get tough, they run for shelter, get consumed with doubt and in the worst case they get into the blame game.  When you invited them on board you most likely focused on these attributes, yet skipped the part of inquiring about their tough times and most difficult life experiences.  It is in these moments that you understand more about people.  So think carefully and have a deep understanding of your core team and your inner circle of supporters.

  2. You  Did Not Fire Them: As a Pioneer, you must possess the gift of brutal honesty with yourself.  You must be able to be direct, authentic and transparent to yourself when evaluating your team.  You must be able to distinguish between start-up gitters which are normal from those energy draining fear mongers and naysayers.  You must also be able to differentiate that which is nervous noise and that which is sound advice and crucial feedback.  And if people fall into the negative and fear gripped camp, then you must disinvite them from the table.The trouble is, most people keep these people around for long periods, which eventually can derail and sabbotage the vision.  Courage builds slowly, panic spreads quickly.

  3. You are Playing Pioneer vs Being a Pioneer
    If you are serious about change and going into uncharted territory, then you must truly commit to the Pioneer Mindset, otherwise you are playing.  And that means that you are more interested in the enthusiasm, energy and new playmates that come with exploring a new area than doing anything substantial.  Yet the fatal flaw here is that you trick yourself later on when you see that your vision is faltering.  You will pick one of these energy drains or sinks to stick the blame on them.  That is unfair to them and to yourself.

The run of the mill vampire eventually becomes self evident.  They suck up your time with non-mission critical complaints or gossip, they sow the seeds of conflict within the team in an effort to grab more for themselves or they are simply honest people who are better off arriving after the pioneers have created the path.

Yet, there is one type above all others which is difficult to identify:  The Golden Vampire.
The golden vampire is friendly, encouraging and sincere.  They are often old friends, family members or loved ones. We appreciate them, respect their talents, like their stories and always give them the benefit of the doubt.

The problem is, they eat away at your time, effort and energy. Somehow they always arrive at your desk with an explanation versus a result.  And the explanation is always legitamite.  Yet, it means that you and the rest of the team need to pick up the slack.  Next you find yourself doing their work.  You know, just to help them out.

Eventually, you are rescuing them, all the meanwhile, you get totally off course from your original vision.  You are now working for them and switch out of being a Pioneer and into a meal for the Golden Vampire.

When facing a Golden Vampire, we strongly recommend that you have the conversation early as possible.  You help them understand that you are both better as friends than as partners.  And if they are supporters in your network, make a pact with yourself to be very focused with them, but as friends. Then manage that time carefully and with respect.

The most successful Pioneers do their best to banish vampires from their lives.  Without the constant negative noise, you will find yourself with abundant energy, fierce focus and a sound team to fulfill that which you know to be your authentic adventure in life.

It is astonishing when you ask somone a simple question: “What´s your story?”  

We either get the data dump filled with shining logos from prior firms, off the shelf packaged figures that showcase involvement, grumbles about bad experiences and  a list of educational organizations.  And then we repeat, “So what is your story?”

Again, a return to the information hurricane.  That is NOT your story, that is your news broadcast + history channel.

What we seek to understand is how aware of you are of your own narrative. You must understand that we are each actors in our own life story.  Yet, we are often living a borrowed storylines which feels out of focus with our inner vision or worst yet, you find yourself lost at sea without any sign of shoreline, being tossed about by neighboring forces.  

The Hollywood godfather of story telling  is Robert McKee. He has dedicated his life to helping others produce world class stories via his seminars ( ).  Here he helps creatives drill deep and shape their raw talent, their mess of facts and drive it into a vision that is focused and filled with purpose, punch and power.  

We think these principles can be directly applied to yourself as well.  

This is one of the most powerful decisions you can make, to take ownership of your story.  To stop being defined by others, tune out the noise and create the space to develop your own vision.  This is a crucial step towards defining any future path that you seek to pioneer.

Ricardo Semler is the author of Maverick,The Seven Day Weekend and chairman of the Brazilian company Semco.  He dared to unleash the potential of his workforce, turn top-down management on its head and empowered his people to participate in management.  He is one of the god fathers of the democratic company.  

Here is a solid interview of Ricardo

He set in motion an example which today is spreading all around the world.

And while Ricardo was a pioneer in this management field, there are others who are picking up the pace and applying it to all kinds of business ventures.  And there is one person who is out there helping set the standard for what it means to be a truly democratic company, that is one and only Traci Fenton.

She is the founder of World Blu ( She publishes an annual list with the top 40 companies worldwide which are leading examples of how to do it.  Traci outlines her mission:  

One of the keys to pioneering your path is the courage to decentralize.  There is always too much to do, too few resources and far too many unknowns to try to be all things to all people.  And when making the shift into the next level of living, you will most certainly need source A class talent and get them participating with that brain power. 

To learn more about how to decentralize effectively, reach out to us.