How to become a Type-A maniacal entrepreneur 

by Peter Shallard

How to become a type A maniacal entrepreneur

Ever hung out with a true maniacal genius of an entrepreneur?

I’m talking about the type of person who seems to have an inhuman ability to focus.

They have shitty work/life balance. They’ve never heard of lifestyle design. They sometimes forget to eat while working. They’re so weird, they tend to alienate everyone around them.

And yet, they’ve attained incredible levels of success. Something about their almost-Asperger level of weirdness has made this person into a home-run-hitting machine. 

If you’re honest, meeting a person like this makes you think: “If this is what it takes to be successful…. I’m not sure I’ve got what it takes.”

And that’s a real concern, because you know you’re fundamentally different.

You value balance. You’re good at relationships. If you work like crazy on your business, you get a little burnt out and have to take a break. You want success, but you want freedom and fun too.

And yet, you’re frustrated that your business isn’t more successful. You often feel like you’re spinning your wheels without really moving forward.

Are you nodding? If so, you need to embody some of the qualities of the Type-A manically focused entrepreneurs who do nothing but win. The good news is, it’s a learnable skill you can switch on and off as needed.

Here’s how to do it: 

Think of life (and especially work) as a series of sprints

The first key to maniacal focus is a fundamental shift in the way you look at your life, your work and your calendar.

A lot of entrepreneurs who value “balance” tend to get caught up in a microscopic struggle where each day of life is a quest to optimize between work, health, friends, family and whatever else is on your priority list. You’ll split up the hours in a day between these competing priorities in an effort to try to do it all.

The maniacal type-A entrepreneur sees life from a totally different, eagle-eyed perspective. They look at months or even YEARS as the chunks of time to be balanced.

They’ll commit to a three month maniacal sprint on a new product idea, grinding it out and burning the midnight oil.

In that time, the type A entrepreneur will drop off the map socially and lose touch with friends. They’ll neglect their health and family. Life will appear – day to day – to be utterly unsustainable.

Then, the type-A entrepreneur will emerge from this sprint with something of real value. Their new startup will get funded, or their product will start pulling in passive income or whatever. They’ll have won. 

They’ll come back to the world and start hanging out with friends and family – or exercising – with the same maniacal focus. They’ll make up for all the neglect.

This cycle will weird people out. It’ll strain friendships. It’s probably not good for the entrepreneur’s health. However, it builds phenomenal businesses and skyrockets these people into the highest levels of success.

I’ve seen entrepreneurs sacrifice everything in their life for sprints that last YEARS… but those sprints create businesses worth hundreds of millions of dollars or more. Would you be willing to singularly focus for months to get to seven figures?

These maniacal geniuses know what’s up. They are playing the long-term game. They know they’re setting themselves up for retirement by 30 or 40. They know they’ll enjoy years of nothing but maniacal wind surfing or whatever.

Rather than looking at the perfectly balanced day, week or month… truly maniacal type-A entrepreneurs are balancing their lives over decades. This gives them freedom to focus. And that’s what builds the world’s biggest, most successful businesses.

Be insanely competitive about everything

Ever wonder where these insane entrepreneurs get their never-ending mojo and focus?

It’s simple: They’re competitive to an almost sociopathic degree. This enables them to experience what you and I might call “hard work and struggle” as, basically, “play”.

There’s significant science behind this idea. Dr Stuart Brown has crunched research on Play from animal behaviorists, neuroscientists and psychologists and has shown that ultra successful people tend to perceive their work as playful, fun times. This gives them a serious advantage.

Valuing competitive play – specifically – is a remarkable mental hack that maniacal entrepreneurs use to get ahead. 

The Type A maniacal entrepreneur measures life and business nonstop. They can’t play a game of beach volley ball without keeping score. Otherwise, what’s the point? How will anyone know who has won? How will anyone know if they’re IMPROVING?

This ceaseless measurement gets applied to business too, turning what others see as drudgery into a sort of video-game-esque challenge waiting to be won.

The inner child of Type A entrepreneurs gets consumed with micro challenges – like tweaking a landing page to improve conversion rate – and simply cannot leave them alone. It’s not a question of motivation, it’s obsession.

If you want to carried away by an obsession to win in business… you need to cultivate that mental muscle in all areas of your life. The trick is to simply become a super competitive person and compulsively measure EVERYTHING.

To get started, look for ways to compete with yourself and others in every day life. For most regular people, social competition is a feature of childhood that vanishes in adult life. We grow out of being competitive and try not to find ways to crush our friends in sports, games or conversations.

However, it’s precisely this drive to be a winner in all things that pushes entrepreneurs into a state of maniacal focus in their businesses.

You have to play to win. You have to keep score to know you’re winning. And business is the ultimate game. 

Put these two principles together and you’ll live a life where you pursue precisely defined (measurable) business challenges in powerful, focused sprints.

You’ll definitely pay a price for doing this. The side effects of maniacal entrepreneurship to other areas of your life can be severe.

BUT by reserving some “sprints” for unwinding, connecting with friends and family and getting healthy… and perhaps creating a personal happiness index you can track and improve upon too… you can have maniacal success and a little bit of humanity too!

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicolas Pineault March 30, 2016 at 2:15 pm

I’ve been a Type-A maniac for years, and this is the most accurate description I’ve ever seen.

The problem I experienced because of this mindset is that instead of making sacrifices by conscious choice, I was making them because of fear of failure.

It took me years of burning the candle by both ends before finally asking myself what I really want out of life, and realize that I had put everything I care for on “hold” while building the business — and it definitely led to big regrets.

Great article as always Peter!



Fernanda Paronetto March 30, 2016 at 3:28 pm

Hey Peter! On point!
Thank you for this accurate and great article! There’s definitely a big price for success, but I believe it’s definitely worth the “journey”, right!? I’m enjoying mine, for sure!
We need these people with obsessive mentality to run the world, after all, what would it be of us without amazingly crazy minded people like Jobs?! I’m a HUGE fan of his, by the way!
Thanks again and keep up with your posts!
Fernanda Paronetto
(Founder & CEO of Behind the Scenes NYC)


Francis Wade March 30, 2016 at 5:54 pm

I recently wrote an article on the topic of Type A Productivity that you may find interesting… Why You Need to Understand and Accept Your Productive Type A Tendencies


Green T March 30, 2016 at 11:47 pm

I’d love to have a Type-A maniac as a mentor. Any thoughts on how I can go about finding someone like this to ask the occasional question and learn from?

In my opinion the ultimate Type-A maniac is Elon Musk. There’s nothing more inspiring than seeing what he has done in his life. Conversely, there is nothing that makes me feel more inadequate than this either!


Derrick Duplessy June 22, 2016 at 5:15 pm

Love the idea of focused sprints. Being maniacal simply means taking so much action and paying so much attention that it is extremely difficult to fail.

Peter, thanks so much for writing this piece.


Kevin June 26, 2016 at 7:22 pm

Love this article. I don’t know too many people like this but the one or two people that come to mind are definitely the most competitive people I’ve ever met, going right along with what you wrote. They also refuse to lose arguments lol.


Design Studio July 6, 2016 at 9:27 am

Love this article. I know plenty of people like this and feel I may be one myself as I’ve often missed lunch numerous times because I’ve been too involved in my work and not noticed until my stomach is audibly growling at 5pm. I think you’re description is pretty spot on.


ekalyan July 10, 2016 at 9:29 am

Super, After reading the article i have getting more information thanking you so-much keep posting


Steven October 27, 2016 at 8:43 am

I love challenging competitors, there is lot of fun doing work in this stage. Without competition you will not put efforts… So always love to do where competition exists.


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