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ORGY OF OPTIONS
This is 2010 and if you are reading this blog, you are of a privileged generation with an extraordinary access to know how and know who.  The formula is simple:

Computers + Connectivity+ Education + Social networks = Orgy of Options.

THE CHALLENGE:  MANY TARGETS
Choice then becomes the key challenge.  There is an itch to pursue many paths at once.  At the root of it is the question: do you want to be living a life in a state of peak performance  or perpetual wandering.  Both are valid and worthy life paths.  One is the journey of the master and potentially a virtuoso.  The other is that of the dabbler, amateur and bon vivant.

THE PATH = MINDFULNESS + PASSIONATE PURSUIT
Many people cough up a short list of makeshift new year´s resolutions.  The usual suspects are to trim back on the waistline, do better at work and make amends with family.   There is a buzz in the air and people feel moved to talk about it, perhaps even draft up a to do list.

Yet, the ink drys fast and the commitment levels to these objectives fades and wobbles under old habits and the hustle and bustle of daily life.

What is required to hit these targets is  a deep mindfulness of commitment.  It means knowing what are the objectives, evaluating them and understanding the trade-offs.  Then, once these trade-offs are understood, there is the call for a passionate pursuit.  These two energies twine together into a powerful tap root, the first step in cultivating a vibrant triangle of talent, skill and experience which blossoms into the ability to hit the target, even at the longest of ranges.

THE FANTASTIC FEW
Now, to get into that zone where passion and mindfulness meld together into an indefatigable force, you must choose your fantastic few.  You want to flourish and generate serious results.  And this means cleaning out all the noise, dumping distractions and being self aware enough to know when you are musing on something, which is essential to innovation and other great advances and when you are chasing your tail.

Here at the Pioneer Mindset, we encourage you to consider:

1 Professional Target + 1 Social Mission  + 1 Personal Vision = The Fantastic Few

OPEN OCEANS VIEW
The open ocean is vast, daunting and competition can be fierce when people are hunting in the same territory.  Here is where it pays to understand who you are today and to gain an understanding of the different styles of hunting. As you can see here, in tight, dense markets, all the players show up seeking to stake their claim, from the big to the small:

We will review some of the apex players shopping for sardines and how to understand them in the context of building your team and selecting investors.

SHARKSOSFLD-00003183-001-FB
Sharks are overrated as partners and investors. People envision the great white shark, king of the open seas, blazing the path for their start-up or venture. Certainly a fearsome creature, formidable competitor and a world class icon of the A class apex hunter ruling the ocean, sharks are serious players.  The challenge is, though, building a team of sharks results in a chronic tenuous situation for everyone involved, unless you are the alpha in the group.  The first bite rules apply.  And this is particularly so when inviting a shark into the investor pool.30_david3_large

In some cases, if you are a beta at heart and need an alpha to lead, then by all means invite the lead hunter into your waters.  That said, if you are small but want to grow into an alpha, be mindful of the impact it has when you bring them on board too early in the game. And in the end, regardless of stage, track record, your skills and know-who, they will maneuver, fight for and seek the pole position:  51% control, final say and first bite rights when the bounty is at hand.  It is their nature.  What is sad to see is when the entrepeneur goes into the waters thinking that the dorsel fin he or she sees in the water is a dolphin, but in fact what he wakes up to is a serious chomp by a ferocious set of teeth.84-oceanics-elphinstone

And if you insist that it is with the sharks you wish to swim, understand 90% of the time, you will be the pilot fish along side that great hunter.  And if you are up for keeping pace, working hard to stay out of the jaws of the alpha and at peace with eating the scraps, then by all means navigate those waters.

SHARK RULES:
RULE 1:  SHARKS HAVE FIRST BITE RIGHTS
RULE 2:  SHARKS CONTROL THE PACE OF THE HUNT
RULE 3:  SHARKS USE SPEED + STEALTH
RULE 4:  SHARK´S APPETITES DEMAND CONSTANT FEEDING

If you doubt these rules, sit back and watch the ABC show Shark Tank:
http://beta.abc.go.com/shows/shark-tank/

DOLPHINS
Dolphins are strong, coordinated and fast.  They understand team work.  And in the video above, if you look carefully, it is their coordination which keeps the sardines3406129176_70b1e0f2c6rising to the surface. They build a net of bubbles which drive the school of fish to the surface and keeps corrals them into an accessible point of attack. Now, if you can implement the pod mindset into your firm and into the culture of you are building it is fantastic.  And make sure to be able to distinguish the dorsel fin early on, so that you bring on board dolphins versus a shark.

The filp side is to carefully consider the dolphins as investors.  These often come in the form of a venture caplitalist in a suit. natu-650And perhaps you have a few of them interested in taking a stake in your firm.  And like the shark, dolphins are alpha oriented and coordinated. As venture capitalists tend towards the same set of metrics, they again will be naturally driven to squeeze out any management risk, stake their first right to the bountry and are compelled to drive the entrepreneur to the surface and in a single direction, the one set by them and their investors. So be mindful, while the dolphins appear friendly, they too must follow their nature.

DOLPHIN RULES
RULE 1: DOLPHINS COMMUNICATE
RULE 2: DOLPHINS COORDINATE ATTACK AND PLAY IN TEAMS
RULE 3: DOLPHINS HAVE STRONG WORK ETHIC AND FAMILY COMMITMENT
RULE 4: DOLPHINS  USE INTELLIGENCE AND STRENGTH

FISH
Perhaps you will emerge or morph into either a dolphin or shark, yet the fact is, most ventures start out as little fish.  And to that extent, it makes great sense to builddc819ffa9a synergies, a niche hunting strategy and a fine tuned awarness of threats and opportunities closer to the reef.  Often people see it as less sexy.  I mean, who likes to say, I am swimming with the fish.  Do see what those apex hunters are doing to those sardines, you exclaim!  Yes, being in the mighty mass of sardines, makes you the target of everyone. That is why you set out to be an entrepreneur.

Yet, there are different ecologies and different dynamics all together in the smaller ranges and geographies of the ocean. And we say, go into the shallow sea, build your skills and find your niche. This is the reef, vibrant, dense and thick with niche opportunities.

Here it is a colorful scene of different players with a wide variety of options and many synergies to be had an collborations. Scope for keeping a low profile and room for growth.  Then, as you build, build, build and you want to venture out to the wider seas, you can evolve and determine which player you want to be, where you want to hunt and you will have the strength, skill and mindset needed to make a proper run of it.  Note, though, entpreneurialism on that scale demands courage, constant refinement of your skills and the ability to throughly understand yourself and will to keep in the game, day in and day out.

FISH RULES:
RULE 1:  FISH FIND MICRO NICHES
RULE 2:  FISH CAN BE SOLOISTS OR IN SCHOOLS
RULE 3:  REEFS ARE THICK WITH SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIPS
RULE 4:  SMALL FISH CAN GROW BIG


LIFE IN BALANCE
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.

HURRY UP
“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.

SLOW DOWN
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.