What's your moonshot?

By Ray DePaul

I recently had the opportunity to hear Peter Diamandis, author of Abundance, speak to an enthralled group of 1200 Calgarians. His remarkable talk left me convinced that he's one of the most important thinkers and doers of our time. One of his calls to action for the business community was about pursuing moonshots. A moonshot targets making a 10x improvement rather than simply a 10% improvement. Google popularized the term and have embarked on a series of moonshots including the autonomous vehicle, balloons that will bring the Internet to the entire world, and contact lenses with an embedded glucose sensor for diabetes.

But it got me thinking. Can we apply this bold thinking to our personal and professional development? Is there a personal moonshot for each of us that results in a 5 or 10 times improvement on who we are? To be clear, there is nothing wrong with incremental improvement - one more class taken, one more book read, one more work experience. It's the way we all get better. But a moonshot is only possible if you approach your goals in a radically different fashion.

For example, if you are serious about being a successful musician, you can continue to practice, play in your basement and improve. But perhaps your moonshot is jumping in the van and playing 100 gigs in 4 months (it worked for the Beatles). If your goal is to be fluent in a second language, there are a lot of in-class and online instruction to improve you a little bit at a time. However, you might want to consider the moonshot of spending a summer in rural Quebec. I expect you will see your French improve 10-fold. If your goal is to build a career in business, by all means get a business degree, but you might also consider the moonshot of starting a company.

When I look at the transformation of the people involved in an entrepreneurial venture, I'm convinced it has resulted in a 10x improvement in so many different areas. Two young entrepreneurs, Derek and Stefan of TLink Golf, are a perfect example of this. The personal and professional experience they have gained over the last two years launching and growing their business will take most of their peers decades to learn - many will never learn what they've mastered. At the ripe age of 22, they have learned how to negotiate investments and partnerships, how to manage cash flow when it really counts, how to inspire others, how to handle profound disappointment and exhilarating success, how to build a team, how to engage with icons and not be intimidated, how to roll out new products to multiple countries, how to work with Chinese manufacturers, how to maximize time and energy, how to keep balance in their lives, how to be a good mentor, ... and the list goes on and on.

The experience of starting and running their business has not only made them exponentially better entrepreneurs, but I believe it has made them better individuals, regardless of where their career takes them.

So consider what your personal moonshot could be. What will create an audacious improvement in you? If succeeding in business is one of your goals, may I recommend the moonshot of starting your own company.