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The Heretic is a free dispatch delivering insights into what it takes to lead into & in the unknown. For entrepreneurs, corporate irritants and change makers. Raw, unfiltered and opinionated.

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Dec 8th, 2023 Share: Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn

“Why” – The Key to Innovation and Startup Success

Welcome to another day in the life of a startup heretic, where we toss the conventional playbook out the window and thrive on the audacious. Today, let’s dive into a lesson from an unexpected source – a scene from the BBC show “SAS Rogue Heroes.”

Picture this: In the scorching heat of the desert, Paddy Mayne, a character known for his unconventional methods, challenges the Free French to build two 30-foot scaffolds with no plan, just raw materials. As they scramble, confused and unguided, Mayne throws a curveball – why are they doing this seemingly nonsensical task? The revelation is striking: understanding the ‘why’ behind actions is crucial, especially when plans go awry.

Let’s translate this to the startup world. In the relentless race of innovation, it’s easy to get lost in the ‘how’ and ‘what’ of things. We obsess over the perfect business plan, the most efficient workflow, or the latest tech stack. But here’s the kicker – the ‘why’ is what truly matters. It’s the north star that guides you through the stormy seas of startup life.

When you start a project, do you ask yourself why you’re doing it? Why this problem? Why this solution? If not, you’re just building scaffolds in the desert. Understanding your mission’s core purpose is like having a compass in the chaos. When things inevitably go south—and trust me, they will—knowing your ‘why’ helps you pivot, adapt, and find new paths to your goal. It’s your secret weapon against the relentless bullets of failure and frustration.

In the startup world, we praise agility and resilience, but these are just buzzwords unless rooted in a deep understanding of purpose. When your product hits a snag, when your market strategy doesn’t pan out, or when your pitch falls flat – it’s the ‘why’ that will pull you through. It’s what transforms a setback into a setup for a comeback.

Remember, innovation is not just about creating something new; it’s about making something meaningful. Your ‘why’ is the soul of your venture. It’s what resonates with your customers, what ignites passion in your team, and what gives you the grit to keep going when everything else says stop.

So, my fellow Heretics, as you embark on your next venture, take a leaf out of Paddy Mayne’s book. Don’t just build for the sake of building. Ask why. Dig deep into the purpose behind your actions. It might just be the difference between a fleeting idea and a lasting impact. Stay radical, stay curious, and never forget to ask the most important question of all – why?

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Nov 15th, 2023

Knowledge & Productivity: The Compounding Force

Imagine you’re planting a tree. Initially, the growth seems slow, almost imperceptible. But as time goes on, each new branch gives rise to more branches. This isn’t just growth; it’s exponential growth. This is the essence of how knowledge and productivity work - like compound interest.

Consider two people of similar ability. One works just 10% more than the other. It doesn’t seem like much at first glance, but this slight edge can result in the more diligent individual producing more than twice as much as their peer over time. Why? Because the more you know, the more you learn....

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Nov 2nd, 2023

Why Obsessing Over Details Makes All the Difference

We’ve all got our quirks, right? For me, it’s my video and audio equipment (which I mostly use for Zoom and the occasional video and podcast recording). I’ve fine-tuned the camera angles, obsessed over the perfect microphone and camera, dabbled with mic amplifiers, and don’t get me started on XLR interfaces or the backdrop and lighting in my room…

Now, some might chuckle and say, “Pascal, isn’t that a tad overboard?” Maybe. But here’s the thing: it gets noticed. And not just by tech aficionados or fellow podcasters, but in nearly every call I’m on.

A lot of my waking...

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Oct 24th, 2023

Focus On Your ROL

Ah, the intoxicating alphabet soup of business metrics: ROI, CLV, CPA, CR, NPS, EBITDA. Each an acronym, each a KPI (a YAA: Yet Another Acronym), each ultimately designed to measure the nuances of money flowing in and out of our ventures..

But here’s the kicker: we live in an era shaped by a growing sense of uncertainty. Just peek at the World Uncertainty Index, and you’ll see it climbing year after year for decades. Layer that with the dizzying speed of change as expressed by Ray Kurzweil’s Law of Accelerating Returns, and it’s clear that relying on just...

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Oct 12th, 2023

All Success Comes Out of Failures

Ah, the age-old adage of “embracing failure.” As I often find myself diving deep into these profound topics, a recent conversation with a budding entrepreneur brought this notion to the forefront yet again.

We sat over a cup of coffee, and she confided her fear of failing with her startup. It’s the kind of sentiment I hear all too often, but this time, it struck a different chord. Maybe it was the intensity in her eyes or perhaps the weight of her words. Either way, it got me thinking: Why do we even perceive failure as this monstrous beast lurking...

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Oct 5th, 2023

The Surprising Blueprint Behind Today’s Workplace Dysfunction

As World War II neared its end, America’s forerunner to the CIA, the OSS (Office of Strategic Services), crafted and circulated the Simple Sabotage Field Manual. This guide equipped defectors from the German Reich with strategies and hands-on advice to disrupt the German war effort through sabotage.

Beyond the expected sabotage methods like damaging equipment, the manual includes a section detailing covert workplace acts, specifically designed to cause frustration, delays, and inefficiencies.

Now declassified, this document offers more than historical insight; it paints a striking picture of tendencies we observe in numerous corporations today. Here’s your blueprint for fostering organizational...

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Sep 11th, 2023

Satisfactory Underperformance

Recently, I spoke with Professor David Beatty on the Disrupt Disruption podcast. David is a globally recognized authority on board governance. Simply put, he trains top-tier executives to become even more effective board members. During our chat, he humorously yet pointedly remarked that many executives eventually settle into a state of “satisfactory underperformance.”

“Satisfactory underperformance” describes a plateau where people aren’t necessarily failing but aren’t excelling either. The concept echoes the “Peter Principle,” a term coined in 1969 by Laurence J. Peter. It posits that people rise through an organization’s ranks based on their past performance until...

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Aug 31st, 2023

No Shortcuts to Mastery: Guy Kawasaki’s Raw Truth on Getting Great

One of my most treasured memories from my stint at Singularity University came from the day I invited former Apple evangelist, Guy Kawasaki, to the Graduate Studies Program back in 2015. As fate would have it, we managed to record his session, which you can still watch here.

That day, Guy captivated Singularity University’s students for a riveting hour and a half, unpacking the insights and frameworks from his bestselling book, The Art of the Start 2.0. He concluded his presentation with an unfiltered Q&A session. About 88 minutes in, he’s asked about the secret to his...

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Aug 24th, 2023

Marketing is Values, Not Noise

Marketing. The exciting world of pithy slogans, catchy jingles and flashy ads. But the hidden truth of it all is that it’s not about that – at all. It’s about values.

We live in a cacophonous age, filled with relentless chatter, in-your-face advertising, and a never-ending barrage of information. It’s like standing in the middle of Times Square during New Year’s Eve, every single day. This world is complicated and noisy, to say the least.

So, where does that leave you, especially those of you trying to get your message across?

You might be tempted to shout louder, make a bolder...

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Aug 17th, 2023

Always Run, Never Walk: Unleashing Creativity through Action

I’m sure you’ve been there: Staring at your screen, not knowing where to begin. In situations like this, I often tell myself that I should just grab a beverage and a snack to get the creative juices flowing. So, I get up, walk to the kitchen, open the fridge… and wait for inspiration to strike. Naturally, it usually doesn’t.

The other day, I read an article about the approach a renowned film director takes when he’s stuck on a scene. Instead of wrestling with how the scene should work in his head, perhaps whiteboarding it with his team, or—God forbid—brainstorming...

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