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The Impossible Dream



One of the biggest problems with industrial society is that all of the hard problems have already been solved (i.e., adequate nutrition and food safety, keeping warm, getting around).

This sounds like a pretty good thing, except that if all the hard problems are solved, then that leaves only (a) the easy, and (b) the impossible. 

Founders should set out with an intention to enact the impossible. Knowing that they will certainly fail, and fail again, but trying anyway, because eventually they may succeed. If they can keep diligently chasing the impossible for long enough, then they have a good chance of actually achieving it. 

Find something truly worth doing, because the world needs it, and because of the positive externalities that doing it could bring. It being impossible doesn't really matter; Gather and inspire the best people that you can to come and do it with you. Keep locked on reaching the summit of that ultimate goal (the why), but be prepared to pivot like hell in the path to be taken (the how).

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.
— John F. Kennedy - Rice University, September 12, 1962

There will be many false starts, and a lot of backtracking. It's inescapable, such is the nature of moonshots. But a journey to the impossible, endured with utmost diligence, transcends the destination. 

The antithesis, is to do the Easy. Hence 'artisanal' - take something benign and prosaic and attempt to jazz it up somehow with dripping pretense. Artisanal Toast, Pickles, and all of its ugly ilk.

I used to attend little get-togethers for local businesses, to get to know my fellow 'entrepreneurs' (heavily weighted towards females typically). Almost 90% of them invariably turned out to be running one of the following businesses:

  • Cupcakes catering

  • LifeCoaching

When I explained what my own company was striving to achieve, they looked at me like I had two heads.

This needs to change. We need to set our sights higher, we need to dare harder, to aspire to snatch away the possible from a surly shroud of nothingness.

More than goddamned cupcakes.

Or toast.

So, be you hipster, or hacker/hustler and Founder? Will you settle for pretense, or will you live the impossible dream?

I gave a talk on a tangentially-related topic for the Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship.