StartUp Founders: The 1%’ers Embrace Ikigai

December 03, 2023 4 mins read
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Concentrating on one thing at a time may be the single most important factor in achieving flow.

Hector Garcia Puigcerver

Dear Reader,

As a StartUp Founder, how do you sustain the fire when the adrenaline wears off? In the relentless grind from nothing to something, chasing the next peak, you HAVE to love (or learn to love) the journey, the game of growth, more than the perceived destination. (𝕏 Tweet This)

Welcome to Ikigai. Where passion, purpose, and progress collide. Founders that find it, move into the 1% and you can see it in their eyes, hear it in their voice, feel it in their velocity and sense it in their aura. These are the StartUp pirates and romantics.


StartUp Founders: Always Sweat The Small Stuff – overlooking the small stuff is self sabotage; a blueprint for failure, it exposes your hand. These ‘insignificant’ details are the canary in the coal mine.


Fact: Happy, passionate, and engaged individuals consistently outperform, outinnovate, and outscale in their work. That’s the core of Ikigai: finding the sweet spot of “what you love, what you are good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for.”


Neglect thinking about this, and at some point, you’ll find yourself going through the motions, being an average founder who eventually blames the world when the ship sinks. That’s not you. Don’t let that be your story.

This is a 7-10 year game, with most of the first 4 being pretty awful. How do you persevere, post the initial adrenaline rush? It’s about having that core driver in place, the one that keeps you innovating, pushing, doing that extra 15%.

Without it, you’ll delegate routine tasks, yet fail to fill the freed-up time with meaningful, productive work. You’ll be tired, bored and let the company run on autopilot. It’s a common ending.

Passion and purpose are in all layers of entrepreneurship, from world-changing ambitions to impactful, everyday solutions. The CleanTech startups, driven by a want to make the world better and the opportunity for lucrative returns, to the practical like streamlining car leasing. The latter didn’t stem from a profound passion, but from a skilled response to market gaps and customer friction. A product manager’s calling begins with frustration over an inefficient process, leading to a journey of relentless improvement.

A signal that lets you know you might have found it is cold flow. Headphones on, Carl Cox on repeat, banging away at the task at hand, so engaged that you lose track of time – you need to remember those moments, something inside of you triggered. Kobe called it being in the zone.

This isn’t about a radical career change, asking you to follow your dreams and become a pastry chef (you should). It’s about crafting a journey that keeps the spark alive, making your work seem less like sacrifice and more like a meaningful pursuit. It’s where love for what you do turns hard work into a rewarding experience.

What’s the risk of ignoring Ikigai as some bullshit nothing? It’s entrepreneurial malpractice. It isn’t just detrimental, it’s negligence. Without it, you risk leading a StartUp that becomes hollow, leading to burnout and lack of fulfillment – you become the blocker of your own business, because fumes only hold up a company for so long.

Your Ikigai can evolve. It’s not always about the product or industry or function; sometimes, it’s the thrill of founding, growing, and scaling a venture that ignites your passion – the process of bringing a concept to life or making a real-world impact. For others, it might be the outcome it generates, the product you bring to market, or the joy of teaching or helping others.

Sometimes, your true passion isn’t waiting to be discovered – it needs to be ignited and nurtured. What started as just a job out of college, taking that “recruiter gig” for the decent pay, accidentally evolves into a deeply passionate career with a market that sees value in your excellence.

So with that…. how do you (re)find your Ikigai as a founder, you have to (re)learn how to love the journey, that’s the only way. It will redefine not just your business, but your entire entrepreneurial ethos.

Read the book.

Need helping finding your Ikigai? Seph & Hugo from Positive Psychology put together this tool to help.

Let’s morph into the role and functions you are great at and passionate about and that people need… driving your StartUp forward, by choice, not legal responsibility.

Did this hit a little close to home? You are welcome to book some time with me.

Here is to being brave enough to be brave.

— James

(LinkedIn | Twitter | Tiktok)

StartUp Founders: Always Sweat The Small Stuff Next: StartUp Founders: Your Unfair Share of the Upswing
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