Being in a start-up, scaling a business, switching careers or starting a social venture all demand an incredible amount of focus, investment and time.   It always takes longer than anticipated and as success is acheived trade-offs start emerging in the personal life.

“If you don´t feel out of control, you are not driving fast enough,” said race car legend Mario Andretti.  

Mario is one of the most competitive and aggressive professionals to seek the role of apex hunter and champion.  He pushed his team, equipment and himself to the outer limits.  And if you strip away the showmanship and the cult of personality that emerged around him, you will see at the baseline, someone who was driven to realize a vision day in and day out.  

This culture is important in a hyper competitive world both commercially and in the social venture.  On the business front, it is a free market and clients are ever more demanding.  And on the social venture side, each non-for-profit is competing for scare donation dollars.  

Translation, work ethic, fierce focus and rapid response are key ingredients to acheiving expotential results.

Yet, there is a trade-off to this culture.  There is the danger of spill-over into your personal life.  If you are going to shift into overdrive to realize a venture or switch, then you must equally build a complete Pioneer Mindset, which includes slowing way down in the off hours. 

This means repair, maintenance and respect for yourself, family, inner friends and your broader tribe.  You must check that hyper competitive attitude at the door and cultivate a spirit of sanctuary.  For many, they fail to do this, logging in 80 hour work weeks month after month, till they are isolated, burned-out and wondering what happened.

As important as it is to sprint during the day, it is essential to create the space and time needed to rest and restore.  One place to find inspiration is in the Slow Food movement.  The Founder Carlo Petrini is a brilliant character with a witty outlook on life.  Here is a small excerpt translated from a conference:

The bottom line message.  Place a real value on health, family and your inner circle of friends.  You will need them all throughout your pioneering journey.  

You must learn how to hurry up and slow down if you are to build a sustainable and successful path.


Pioneers usually go through a volcanic period of reflection and introspection. And during this period there is a frothy sea of brainstorming, evaluation of options and the emergence of promises to do something about it.  Yet, there can be a gap.

People fail to commit to action.  It is in commitment that the grit, resolve and clarity emerges to implement an effective transition into your new path.

A professor from Yale created a fresh concept which puts it to people to commit to their goals.

The concept is simple, you put up cash into an accountability fund, invite friends to witness your commitments and then you have third party friends or associates who are fair and honest dealers verify you are sticking to your commitments.  If you fail, there are a variety of ways in which to allocate the funds to charitable endeavors.

And while this site has had traction in helping others quit smoking, hit weight targets; I think it is also applicable to people who make resolutions to engage in a serious change in their professional landscape.

The Pioneer Point:  Commitment Creates Clarity.

Pioneering your path takes serious endurance.  It takes nurturing a long-term view and persistence in the face of few resources, immense challenges and stark conditions.

Endurance means:

  1. Staying in the Game
  2. Consistent Fierce Focus on the Mission
  3. Emotional Courage 

Shackleton may have made many mistakes along the way, but he and his crew had an incredible spirit of endurance, even when their ship the Endurance was crushed by the ice and split open and fell partly into the frigid sea.

When you pioneer, you are a small tight knit tribe.  Survival, let alone success, means being loyal to one another, even in the face of serious challenges.  Loyalty provides the backbone to have candid, authentic and direct dialogues.  

When pioneers do succeed, it is important they remember who were the people who subscribed to the vision.  And should the vision fail to materialise, everyone from the lead pioneer to the crew must remain true to each other and do their best to help one another find alternative paths to safety.

Loyalty means:

  1. Deep Understanding + Shared Values
  2. Authentic Desire for Anothers Well Being
  3. Courage to Share in Good and Bad Time 

Shackleton was an old school explorer.  He saw the impossible, the frontier and it inspired him to commit to a vision wholeheartedly.  Today in a society driven to distraction, it is hard to see people commit to anything for any duration.  

Schackleton´s family committed to carry on in the spirit of exploration through a foundation: 

Commitment means:

  1. Open, Honest + Direct Dialogue
  2. Problem Solving Together
  3. Clarity in Crisis 

Military strategies apply here when thinking about launching a start-up venture or expanding into a new market outside of your hometown advantage.  The concept is simple:  small, tightknit, scrappy, underresourced groups driven by an almost maniacal focus gain their greatest number of victories in smaller villages and outlying provinces.

The speed and success they acheive in making their early wins in smaller neighboring towns emerges into a broad based and emergent voice that gains with each market battle secured.  People spread the word, join the team and become advocates of the mission.  Eventually, the big city will open its gates and invite in the oncoming group.

Trier:  Northern Hub of the Roman Empire

Trier: Northern Hub of the Roman Empire


Starting up on main street vs wall street might have less sex appeal.  Yet, it is here where you can afford to figure out what you are actually doing without drawing the attention of the T-Rex giants which dominate the cosmopolitan centers. 

This is particularly true in retail.  If you look at the bottom line of most retail chains, the bulk of their profit revenues come from the stores in 2nd and 3rd tier cities.  The flagships in prime locations are de facto counted under the marketing budget and are justified as brand awareness sites.

Once you overcome the mental barrier that you must launch your next great thing in a major cosmopolitan center, you can shift into winning victories in the places where the buildings are small, win a loyal auidence and build up a pool of capital and cultivate word of mouth champions.

Eventually, people will actually pull your product or service into their big city through inquiry versus you pushing, shoving and kicking the door down into the mosh pit of hyper competitiveness. 

Many urban pioneers feel they are out of the loop and in a castaway location when out of the megatropolis.  They fall into a funk.  This is more about the day to day social scene versus the reality of access to talent and know-how.  With high speed connectivity being relatively cheap and widely distributed, it is a matter of reshaping the mindset to accomdate for a decentralized way of life.  

Yes, there are major  trade-offs.  The opera, ballet, rock concerts, jet setter dinners and fancy shops are harder to find outside of the mega urban centers.  That is why it is important to select an environment that appeals to you visually and to your hobbies.

I for one, am almost always by the seaside, lake or mountains.  There is something powerful about those landscapes which energizes me.  One friend and former associate lives high in the mountains in Brazil in a village of 300 people, while he runs his company which employees 5000 that is spread across the country.  He and his family love the high-tech rural lifestyle. 

It is all a matter of figuring out what you want during those build up and frontier years.  Once you gain strength, you can take visits to the big city and then ultimately a proper return to the scene to participate in the market. 

Once your management muscles are developed and your scrappy team stronger in numbers, you can return to the big city and jump in the game.  The reality is, though, the landscape will be filled with well resourced players who seek to fend their client base.  This is when you must apply the know-how, skills and grit gained and focus on your strengths.  On the battle field, this is known as guerilla tactics or asymmetry.

You must find niches, subniches and innovations which win over the clients with your lean pockets.  And at heart, to stay strong in the game, always keep a spirit of asymmetry.

The world recently lost an amazing woman from Spain, the Granny Blogger.  At 95 she asked her grandson to explain what was the internet.  He said, it was a place where you could find the answer to anything and talk to everyone. She said she wanted to talk with people, so he set her up with a blog.

See an interview of her:

As María Amelia marched into her 96th year here on the planet she found typing painful due to hands knotted up with arthritis, so she shifted into video clips to tell her story.  She built up a worldwide audience of over 60,000, shared her daily wisdom from a long life and explored a fresh path.  The key was an adaptive spirit linked to a lively curiosity and passion for life.  

She is a shining example of an individual that stretched her mind, explored her frontier and demonstrated a quiet leadership of one.


  1. Get operational as fast as possible.
  2. Focus on cash generating, rapid break-even opportunities.
  3. Collaborate first, hire second.
  4. Manage growth. Focus on core offering till you are sustainable.
  5. Focus on cash.
  6. Factor in health activities to avoid burn-out.
  7. Educate and encourage family and friends to understand of your venture to ensure inner stability.


Rev up your brain, generate valuable concepts, plug in, jump in the crowd and most importantly, stand-out.  Better yet, generate a break through concept, open up a mini-market place and crowd source add-ons, potential team mates and potential markets.

Here is a quick visual tour of the Crowdsourcing Process.




Wikipedia does a great job summing up the history and different modelson crowdsourcing:

There are a number of apps out there which enable you to pursue crowd sourcing.  One example is Idea Scale

Crowd sourcing and decentralized collaboration is a mega trend whose first waves are hitting the society´s shoreline.

The American Idol franchise is the ultimate example of a mega market place of opinion.  In the most recent season over 650 million votes were registered in the pop star machine in the making of Chris Allen into the American Idol 2009.

Imagine awakening this same mainstreet, bringing out their best and brightest thinking and then plug them into a market places for solving our biggest challenges. 

MIT is an intense and dense center of learning.  Within the world of MIT, the minds are simmering cross fertilization and the know-how of collective collaborations. 

If you open up a market place for your firm or your lead concept. Keep 3 points in mind:

1.  Keep it Simple
Make it simple, clear and easy for others to contribute.

2.   Reward Them
Respect and reward those who contribute value.

3.  Rapid Response Team
Cultivate talent, experience and expertise within your network that can be assembled into a rapid response team to act on an innovation.

Here is a great clip that visualizes the entrepreneurial spark and spirit.

The TS Linden Take 

They say = I say

The Limit = The Frontier

Distraction = Exploration

Problem = Possibility

Risk = Reward

Day Dreamer = Visionary

Sophisticated = Savage

There are 5 key thresholds you must breakthrough to be a successful pioneer.

    The first threshold to overcome is the willingness to dream and think big.  Most people let their dream machine turn into a heap of rust from lack of use.  They give into the prevailing culture of fear which breeds risk aversion and ultimately shuts off the dream machine.  You must endure past the negative noise and rise above it and turn on the dream machine.  Ask yourself  “What if…”  
    Once you turn on your dream machine, keep it running, ALL OF THE TIME.  Finding your niche and expanding your territory takes the ability to survey your surroundings and find gaps in the market place.  Moreso, you must move from problem identification to generating possible solutions.  This is where you must build a powerful concept machine in your mind.   

    Pioneer Point: It is far better to be a lush forest fertile with concepts than to be stuck in the desert void of concepts. 

    As you generate breakthrough thinking, you will become disruptive to your inner tribe. Some will encourage you, others will project their fears onto you.  And in some cases, family members, close friends and associates will proactively dismantle your concept.  You must quell that mutiny with clarity of purpose and conviction of action.   

    Pioneer Point: You must realign yourself and expand your social network to include champions of your vision. 

    Pioneering is intense, difficult and filled with uncertainity.  Partners can flake-out on you, financial backers can pull-out, an initial client might go to a competitor and your prospects can seem to falter.  At this point, you must look inside and be brutally honest.  Is there truly a market, can you assemble the right elements to succeed and do you have the grit to keep driving ahead.  At this point, endurance will help you push past a false start and truly test the concept.  

    If you are still reading, it means you are poineering.  Now the question is, once you have secured backing, assembled a start-up team, launched a beta product and won the clients among your friends and family, do you have the endurance to venture into the real world, the open market place. 

    It is in the open waters, the uncharted territories and in the company of strangers that you must prove yourself as a pioneer.  You must create enduring value day in and day out, consistently and constantly to forge a path which meets a clients needs.  

Then the cycle starts all over again, when you launch a new product or service or seek to take on fresh responsibilities within an organization, you will face all overagain, the forces of social friction.  It is here again, where you must work through the 5 Endurance Thresholds to be a Pioneer.