The making of a hyper-achieving entrepreneur

In my 20 years in business I’ve met countless other entrepreneurs, but I don’t think I’ve ever met a force of nature like Maranda Pleasant. She does more in a day than most people do in a week, maybe a month. She makes me feel like I’ve been sleeping at my desk. Pleasant isn’t an overachiever, she’s a hyper-achiever. So hyper, in fact, that I had to write about her.

Before I sing more of her praises, I must disclose that I have a business connection with Maranda; my newest startup advertises in one of her magazines. And it was through doing business with her that I became fascinated by the seemingly impossible amount she accomplishes, and wanted to learn more.

In 2011, Pleasant left a successful career as an artist (a hard enough thing at which to succeed) to combine her passions for yoga, culture, music, art and what has come to be known as "conscious living" by launching Origin magazine. Every two months, she and her impossibly small staff put together this high-gloss, coffee-table quality publication of some 200-plus pages, creating an enormous amount of content, securing advertisers, and getting national/international distribution. It's quickly become a best-seller at Whole Foods, made it to the shelves of Barnes and Noble and has generally gone “hockey stick.”

In the short time since the first issue hit the stands, Pleasant has interviewed and befriended a list of luminaries from the arts, yoga, culture, sports, politics and business that would give Oprah a run for her money. Her tenacity and sheer chutzpah have landed her on Richard Branson’s private island, made her a partner/member of the Clinton Global Initiative and had her nearly jumping into Robert Plant’s car to get an interview (she got it). Her social media outlets have amassed an audience of more than 500,000 people. In her spare time she’s throwing parties and sponsoring events for her business and her causes, and there’s even a TV show and film series in the works. If I went through the rest of her resume, you’d honestly stop believing it.

Oh, and last year – in the midst of the explosive, all-consuming growth of her new business – Pleasant launched a second high-end magazine called Mantra. Because why have just one magazine when you can have two?

She did all of this in about two years, or less time than it takes some big, deep-pocketed companies (or governments, for that matter) to launch and debug a website. And with all of this, Pleasant still manages to answer most of her emails the same day (think about that if you're one of those "too busy" types). In fact, when I asked Maranda to email me some thoughts about what has been key to her success, she replied an hour later, describing the top five traits that have served her so well:

-  The need to make a difference: “For me it’s a marriage of deep-rooted insecurity with strong desire to impact the world. Without this very real need to do something of real value, I wouldn’t last a day doing what I do the way I do it.”

-  A willingness and ability to make major sacrifices: “I was prepared to go without just about anything to be successful: sleep, showering, a personal life, any life – I went 24 days without leaving my house when I started the magazine. Everything took a back seat, and many things still do.”

-  Not caring about what other people think: “This is a tough one for most people – you have to let go of the need to have others like you, understand you or approve of you. This completely freed me to follow my vision and mission and stopped draining my energy focusing on sucker punches, wasted time, gossip and other noise.”

-  A limitless capacity for hard work: “You’ve got to bust your ass. When I was a full-time artist/painter, I worked 16-hour days. When I was a journalist I worked longer. I think some people are just happiest when they're productive, creating, building something bigger than themselves. You have to be willing to put in the hours and not stop until it's done.”

-  Trusting your gut (and knowing you’re a little crazy): “Your instincts will not lead you astray, even at 4 a.m. We're not normal. We see the unseen and what's possible. There has to be a little insanity. There's always a little bit more. With every goal fulfilled, there's some new vision, some new frontier, a new idea that will keep you awake at night.”

Of course, this is just Pleasant’s recipe – she is one of the most extreme and intense entrepreneurs I’ve encountered, and your mileage may vary. I'm pretty hyper myself (perhaps defined differently), but I don't think I could live at her pace. Yet even if her small business story is a bit over-the-top compared to most, some version of at least some of the qualities she describes usually factors into the chemistry of startup entrepreneurship. And perhaps it will serve as some inspiration -- if not fascination -- for some of 2014's entrepreneurs to-be.

Last month Pleasant announced the launch of her third magazine, appropriately named Thrive. Because why have only two magazines when you can have three?