The term was coined in 2013 by venture capitalist Aileen Lee, choosing the mythical animal to represent the statistical rarity of such successful ventures.” New entrepreneurs dream of becoming a unicorn. But data suggests it is very improbable that a new startup becomes a unicorn: “In 2018, 16 US companies became unicorns, resulting in 119 private companies worldwide valued at $1 billion or more.”
Unicorns are, relatively, a type of modern phenomenon. They are a fashionable subject typical of the new millennium. And, without a doubt, they are closely related to the explosion of new information technologies such as the Internet, mobile phones and electronic commerce. According to experts, the peculiar characteristic of a unicorn is the strategy of emergence. Unicorns are usually new companies with an ambition of exponential growth, that get access to a high level of financing in an easier and faster way. They are not financed in the traditional way. They conduct IPOs or are funded by venture capitals. They also achieve, thanks to technology and new business models, a reduction in their operating costs which brings them an advantage in market share. With their power they usually crush rival competitors very quickly.
Unicorns are frequent in the world of digital business. Names like Google, Amazon and Apple are examples that everyone knows. Modern miracles are made possible thanks to the development of Engineering and Computational Science. Recently, particularly during the last two or three years, new giants have emerged as no longer centralized companies, but as decentralized organizations that are distributed all over the world: businesses on top of the Blockchain. The unicorns of Crypto are the most recent. They are unicorn babies that are just born. However, some have already had an impact on the market. By the beginning of this year 2019, the Total Global Market Capitalization of well known cryptocurrencies is of more than 120 unicorns of value. This index reached 1 unicorn of value just in 2013, 5 years ago.
In the following lines, we will summarize and explore the mysteries of the psychological disposition that is observed in the geniuses who have successfully created a unicorn. For this exploration not only personalities like Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos of the centralized world are taken into account. Rather, emphasis is placed on individuals such as “Satoshi Nakamoto” (pseudonym of the creator of Bitcoin) and such as groups like Vitalik Buterin’s team or Charlie Lee’s team. These new geniuses have created projects whose value is much greater than 1 unicorn per project. How have they done it? How do their brains and their emotions work? What is the secret of these unicorn fathers and mothers? An observation of their personalities and strategies allow us to create some steps and advice for anyone who wants to try to conceive his or her own unicorn.
FIRST: You are your worst obstacle and your worst enemy
One of the most important lessons inherited from Satoshi Nakamoto’s attitude, from his (or her or their) Whitepaper and from his quotes, is the lesson that “You are the only limit to yourself”. Nakamoto started from zero and his dreams were truly big. The dimension of his creation does not depict him as feeling himself tiny or powerless when designing a global financial system that would revolutionize the industry of printing money. Think that Bitcoin was probably programmed at first with a computer with 256 MB of Ram memory.
The same can be said by successors of his innovation like Buterin and Lee. Buterin did not have a university degree. He was practically a teenager. Lee didn’t even understand how money worked. But, their attitude was filled with determination, self-confidence and no second plans. The vision one learns from them is that the only barriers that exists between you and your dream are inside yourself. You are the one that creates your own frontiers. Start by winning the battle against yourself and daring to see the zone of impossibility as a zone of opportunities.
Do not be afraid of undertaking that path that nobody takes. Do not be too afraid to choose that project that everybody sees as out of logic, nonsense and weird. Naturally, be careful with your reasoning. This does not mean you can choose any crazy idea. Your idea must be good. Not only good. It must be extraordinary. It has to be revolutionary!
By observing the Crypto-Psychology of those people who are creating, even now, big projects on top of the Blockchains, one sees that basic emotions dictate that one of scariest paths to choose, for humans, is the path of being disruptive. Producing innovative stuff is not sweet like a chocolate cake. Sometimes you’ll feel like your brain is about to implode. But don’t give up. Never give up. And, among the many options, choose one of with enough probability of achievement for your self, one that promised a big reward and one that others just don’t see.
Do not choose the easy option. Do not choose one option just because it does not include pain, confusion or anxiety. Do not listen too much to those who will try to bring you back to common sense and to take you aways from schizophrenic madness. We all have been there. We all have been reasonable and down to earth many times. In many aspects of life, it is important to be reasonable and traditional. However, common sense is the part of ourselves that tends to chose the safe and logic options. Many people go for safe and logic options. If you want your unicorn, you will have to build a big possible vision that will tend to betray common sense. “Think big”. And prepare to suffer. Do not be afraid of suffering. “No pain, no gain”.
SECOND: Go for the moon or mars! Don’t stay in Earth!
Bitcoin’s Whitepaper starts setting the goal almost out of human reach, above the power of all governments and institutions: “A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution. Digital signatures provide part of the solution, but the main benefits are lost if a trusted third party is still required to prevent double-spending.” The underlying message is resounding: we plan to dismantle the world as we know it. We are a new era.
If you plan to disrupt the world that surrounds you, then, prepare to listen to your mom, your dad, your spouse and kids, your friends and all your acquaintances telling you that you are totally and unforgivably insane. And make it clear for yourself and the rest that your objective is out of this planet. Like Elon Musk. You simply cannot accept to stay inside the atmosphere of the blue planet for your project. Your vision implies to go beyond.
Establish a new way to do things. Invent new ways and new solutions that have never existed before if it is necessary. Or, use the existing tools in a way nobody has imagined during human history. In order to achieve this, take your body and your mind away from your physical and psychological comfort zone. Run away from your comfort zone. Inside of that zone, you’re just part of the security of common sense.
Your emotional comfort zone and your cognitive comfort zone are the last place in earth where you wanna be. While you stay in your comfort zone, your mind will always rely on some safe ways to solve problems. Your comfort zone protects you. Inside that place of stagnation, your mind will hold on tight to the belief that the world has one way to be and one order, and that some determined rules are to be respected.
THIRD: Build a family —not just a team— and impose your own language
Do not tie your self to the logic of your own mind when creating novelty. Go beyond the logic of your mind. Be disruptive inside of you in order to be able to be disruptively creative in your new business. When you have conquered you own body and mind, soon start living according to your new self and partner with people that love the new you.
Do not let your self attach emotionally to people who represent a minus in your enterprise, if it is not necessary. Always keep a wise ear ready for good advice. Never put yourself in a degree of danger that could represent a risk for your life, or for the life of others. No reward is worth this level of risk. But, always keep in mind that you do not need to make other people happy. The happiness of the rest of humans depends on them. You have your vision to create a better world for you and for many people. You have your own way to pursue happiness. They should have theirs.
Be a good citizen. Be a kind person. Be a loyal friend. Be a nice brother or sister. Be a good son or a good daughter. Be a loving husband or wife. Love your people and remember that your most important dream should be to protect them. Going to the moon is always in second place. Then, for your project, find people that share these values. Find crazy people like you that believe it is worth living for those you love, and that also are capable of envisioning the trip to the moon. Build a team. But not just a team. Build a team of dreamers that respect and appreciate each other like if you all were real family. And be sure each member of the new family have different skills and personalities. Not all equal to you.
Then, you and your new family, do not rush. Do not fall in the usual mistake of thinking that good stuff must happen immediately. Do not let your worst enemy, your own emotional self, play tricks on you. You and your new family will need time to build connections and to be in sync. Also you will need time for iterations. Yes, “iterations”. Your new family will need to think together and to re-think one million times the types of solutions you can build, until you all will magically know that you have found your unique solution. Enjoy your new family. Enjoy your time. Enjoy the stress and the suffering you’ll experiment together. In the future, this time together will be your treasure.
Your family now is a new elite. You are inventing a future and you will share with thousands or even millions of other people. Do not hesitate then to create all what is needed, from zero. You guys will need to organize a tiny little private world for your selves. You will create your symbols, your colors, your values and your own culture. However, above all this, there is one thing you and your family must articulate: your own language. Language is the first thing conquerors build. Impose your language to the world. People like to learn from brave conquerors. If you use words like “Bitcoin”, “Mining” and “Smart Contract”, it’s because some entrepreneurs invented this language for you in the past. Now, you are the conqueror. It’s your turn to invent the language of the future.
FOURTH: Find the uniqueness of your product, service or business-model
Make your mind work. Fantasize with one thousand types of solutions associated with you vision. Work in each solution as if you were going to build it. Love each solution you consider, but do not get too attached to it. Getting too attached is a common mistake. Some times you invest months in a solution that is only one step in your learning curve. Maybe you will have to abandon it. Do not fall in love with with each solution too much.
Bring to life some of those solutions, if you can. Test them. But, be smart to understand when the ONE comes. The ONE is your big hack, your big invention. Or, it maybe two or a set of three. These will compose the core of your big project. This is the most exciting moment for many creators: the Eureka moment. This is the moment when your hack sees the light. From now on, your life and your new family’s life will not be the same. A direction has been set.
From now on, then, do not save too much energy and time when developing your “big-hack”. You have here your growth hack. You must have the emotional maturity to recognize it in the right moment. From the very moment when you know well what your growth hack is, your energy and your focus must be concentrated on this. No sacrifice would be too much! This is the part where your highest degree of discipline and where the strength of your spirit and your resilience will be tested.
Invest time in this! Mornings, noons, nights will not be enough. 24 hours per day will not be enough. No physical pain or emotional pain should discourage you during the long way that developing your vision will require. Repeat to your self once and one million times: “No pain, no gain”. Every single day of your life must become like training at a Gym to compete for a world cup. It must hurt. You must give your best. This emotional disposition is what will make the uniqueness of your solution come true.
FIFTH: Always prepare to grown even more
Don’t let hard-earned lessons go waste. Never betray your values. Never stop learning. Never stop growing. After having given birth to your Unicorn and after tasting your new position as a conqueror, you mind will tend to change. You might not notice it. Pay attention to your mind. After making one, Unicorns will start looking and feeling, to your brain, more like recipes. You will feel that you have mastered a recipe. You will not feel like you are lucky or like you won the lottery, as you may think now. Builders usually behave like cooks. Not like gamblers.
Now you are in the top of the pyramid of empowerment. Here, you do not need to create a new comfort zone in your first Unicorn. Your new powerful self will not even feel comfortable inside of any kind of comfort zones. You are psychologically a superior warrior. Your body and your psyche is ready and willing for more. Use your formula and all your potential to build more and more: it’s time for your Unicorn to reproduce.