What if You’re Afraid to Dream Big? My Dare Big Manifesto

I think most people live well below their potential, myself included. We’d all like to do bigger things, follow our passions, challenge ourselves and maybe even make a difference in the world, but, we’re afraid. Our fears allow us to justify many excuses for not doing something meaningful and worthwhile with our lives. I don’t want to be afraid any more. Life is too damn short and I’ve wasted too many good opportunities. Here is my Dare Big Manifesto.

Unconference for Social Good Chiang Mai

Unconference for Social Good Chiang Mai

I’ll Wait Till Someday

It’s easy to make excuses and procrastinate until some better perfect time in the future. “I’ll travel after university.” “I’ll start a business when I pay off my new car.” “I’ll join a gym after I get a promotion.” “I’ll start saving money after I get married.”

Substitute all the things you wish you could do, but aren’t and you’ll see that it’s pretty easy to put off everything important until it’s too late.

Waiting is not the answer. I want to accomplish big things, not make excuses.

Life’s Good, but it could be Better

My life is pretty good. I’ve been living abroad since 1997. I’ve started and sold businesses. I’ve been blogging for many years on various sites. I’m doing a lot of things I want to do with my life, but I still have fears and I’m not accomplishing as much as I’m capable of.

I’ve always thought that I need to become famous and popular online in order to do bigger and more exciting things. An example of this thinking is, “if only I can get 20,000 blog subscribers then I can publish a best selling book. Recently, my thinking has started to change. I believe that:

 You don’t have to be exceptional to do exceptional things. It is the doing of exceptional things that makes a person exceptional.

There is no need to wait for permission to create what you want out of life. You can start doing what you most want, now.

I’m giving myself the go ahead to pursue bigger, more challenging and audacious goals. It’s time to level up my life.

Amazing Times

We live in a time of amazing opportunities. The tools to make movies, record music, publish books, start businesses or anything else you can imagine, are essentially free. There are no barriers to entry, other than our own unwillingness to put in the hard work to create.

I don’t have a big audience. I don’t have lots of money. I’m not even particularly talented or smart. Yet, I still want to do big things in this world. Maybe you feel the same way? I’m sure that I’m not the only crazy one in the world.

I’m afraid of failure, ridicule and poverty but, life is short and I don’t want to play it safe all the time. I’d much rather try and fail, than end up on my death bed with countless regrets because I was too afraid to try.

It’s easy to make excuses. I can wait until I have more money, more time, more skills, more subscribers, or more something. Or, I can work towards my biggest most audacious goals now and see what happens. It’s foolish to wait for permission or acceptance from others, because it’s never going to come.

What does it Mean to do Big Things?

Many people equate success and achievement with acquiring possessions, having a big house and fancy cars. Others, might value climbing mountains, adventure sports, or getting stamps in their passports. I don’t consider those ‘big’ things. They are all just some form of consumption. I do or have done all of that stuff in the past to feed my ego and try to impress others, but that is not the ‘big’ I’m talking about here.

“Big” means doing things to make the world a better place. It’s about living on purpose. It’s about doing the right things, not doing things right. It’s about being creative and expressing myself. I don’t want to get good at doing destructive, socially useless businesses just to make money. I want to dedicate my life to striving to be a better human.

My wife and I don’t need much money anymore, our current income and savings are relatively sustainable. That means I have some freedom to focus on projects most important to me. I’m declaring to the world that I’m going big. I’m going to strive for crazy, difficult projects that can potentially make the world a better place.

How do you do BIG things?

And now the hard part. This is not some meaningless marketing hype. I need to follow through with what I’m saying. The purpose of this post, is to hold myself accountable and scream to the world that I’m choosing an unconventional path. I don’t know how it’s all going to work out, but I’m going to work my ass off to make it happen. Here’s how:

Choose the Right Things

A great idea, project or cause spreads. It has to, that’s the nature of an idea. If it’s good, everyone wants to talk about it. If it’s boring, stupid or self-serving, good luck. You need a lot of money to promote a lousy idea.

Design Counts

We live in a visual world. Good graphics and video are essential to communicating any message. In fact, this manifesto probably needs to be a well designed ebook, but I don’t want to procrastinate.

Quantity Trumps Quality

Most of what we create is going to fail or be largely ignored. This blog post here might be a great example of that. No one knows in advance what is going to be well received or not. You all might think I’m a total idiot, or maybe you’ll support me because I’m attempting something a little out of the ordinary. I have no idea.

The only certainty is that the more times you try, the harder you work and the more value you deliver, the more likely you’re going to gain attention and support.


Uncompleted projects are useless. Only finished and shipped projects count. That means focus and action. Choose one or two things at a time and deliver, before moving on to the next. One completed project is infinitely better than a hundred partial attempts.

Take Risks

Exceptional results don’t come from doing what everyone else is doing. If you want to be noticed, you have to do something worth noticing. That means risking ridicule, criticism and humiliation. It is inevitable that online trolls that will try to sap your enthusiasm with negativity and personal attacks. That is all life. The more you start to achieve the more people will find reasons to dislike you. That’s part of the process. We all need to expect that going in. I can’t wait to see all the criticisms in the comments below. 🙂

Mr. Pareto

By now, we’ve all heard of the variations on Alfredo Pareto’s ideas of the 80/20 rule. That is, 20% of our efforts, generate 80% of our returns. Basically, that means if we can identify that 20% and put a little more effort into those activities, we can achieve massive productivity gains. Can you identify your 20%? Can you cut back on the 80%?


Creating systematized processes to outsource repetitive tasks can help you achieve a lot more. Outsourcing doesn’t always have to be to low cost overseas workers either. Sometimes just spending the money to hire a talented professional generates much better results and gives you more time to focus on what your best at.

I’ve been outsourcing all over the world for close to a decade. It’s definitely not easy to find and manage virtual contractors, but I consider it essential for anyone trying to build a business.

Leveraging your network

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. A large network of connected and influential people can skyrocket any business or idea. What would you rather have; $100,000 or friendships with a couple of high profile venture capitalists?

Your social capital is infinitely more valuable than a little bit of money now. Every single day should be spent genuinely reaching out and helping someone.

On sites like Kickstarter.com, there are countless examples of people who are raising $100,000 or more to fund a business that hasn’t even started making anything yet. How would you like to completely fund your business idea, in a month or so, on the strength of your network?


Everyone talks about creativity but it’s usually in very generic terms. There are short cuts to disproportionate results, if you are creative enough, but what does creativity mean?

Often creativity, is a product of everything mentioned above. Taking risks, completing more projects, outsourcing, focusing on high leverage activities, networking all lead to more creativity. Ultimately creativity comes from an open, inquisitive mind and lots of output. When you see a problem, do you spend time thinking about how it can be fixed? Do you read information from diverse sources for inspiration? Most importantly, do you bring lots of new projects into the world?

Dare Big, Act Bold

Here it comes.

My very first public declaration that I was going to change countries and careers within one year, gave me the courage to actually make it happen. That was four years ago now.

I’m going to do it again here. This is the stuff I’m working on now. Are you interested in coming along?


I’ve been organizing a private group of people that want to do bigger things in the world. This means challenging ourselves to learn more and taking action on high leverage projects.

I want to scale this up. I would like to have teams of people that work together on causes, projects or businesses that bring more value to the world. Some of these will be not-for-profit, some might be real businesses. The focus is action over planning. We learn and improve by creating new things, not by studying.

I’m looking for the right group of people to expand the idea. Email me and tell me why you are interested if you want to be part of this.

What you will get out of it is:

  • A chance to work with talented and motivated people. I want to recreate the excitement and energy of university for the rest of my life. Work shouldn’t be a solitary or boring activity.
  • Opportunities to gain new skills and knowledge.
  • Recognition for doing creative projects
  • A chance to really make a difference in the world.
  • A network to turn to for advice and inspiration.
  • Internship, work and business opportunities, with a focus on social good.
  • A chance to work on projects that inspire, bring out your creativity and focus on what it means to be human.

The first project to come out of the ActionMBA is the:

Unconference for Social Good

I just put on my second Unconference for Social Good, last week in Thailand. The first was in Calgary.

I believe that connecting people to discuss how to make the world a better place and making concrete plans to take action, is one of the best uses of our time. I want this idea to spread.

We’re working on a platform so that Unconferences for Social Good can be held in other cities all around the world. I will personally do more Unconferences, but I also want others to host their own events. This is an idea that will make the world a better place.

English Language Training for Children

For underprivileged children around the world, strong English skills are the best opportunity for higher paid work and will connect them to the global economy. I’ve invested a lot of money into developing teaching materials, online games, animations and a learning platform to teach children English, but have let the business stagnate in recent years just because of the time and investment required to improve it. I want to revitalize the sites and offer free English lessons and resources for teachers in the developing world. Please let me know if any of you are interested in helping out. I need game developers and English teachers for content and materials development.

The Future is Unlimited

I have a couple more ideas in the works, and I hope to have some announcements soon. I have been spreading myself thin over too many projects for a long time, now I’m starting to bring together a team to push everything forward. I hope that this new excitement will be reflected in my writing on this site.

Please let me know what you think in the comments.

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My name is John Bardos. My wife and I gave up our business, house and possessions in Japan to search for more meaning and fulfillment in our lives. We've discovered that a satisfying life is about rich experiences, quality relationships and meaningful contribution, NOT consumption.

17 Responses to What if You’re Afraid to Dream Big? My Dare Big Manifesto

  1. Marcelo Chinellato says:

    Great post! The Best thing is that I know you actually mean every word you wrote and how much you are willing to work to make this a reality.

    I think this will be a great opportunity for anyone who wants to join the Action MBA and wants to accomplish bigger things.

    I am looking forward to seeing the outcomes!

  2. “Big” means doing things to make the world a better place. It’s about living on purpose. It’s about doing the right things, not doing things right. It’s about being creative and expressing myself. I don’t want to get good at doing destructive, socially useless businesses just to make money. I want to dedicate my life to striving to be a better human.”

    Word. Excellent post, John.

    I’ve been thinking about similar things, such as teaching computer skills to poor children. A skill that can open the door to so many other options and career choices.

    Spreading the word about this 🙂


  3. Daniel Boyle says:

    A great post. We can all do so much, but if we hesitate for too long, it will then be too late.

    • John says:

      Great words Daniel. “We can all do so much, but if we hesitate for too long, it will then be too late.”

      Too many of us spend our whole lives hesitating.

  4. Shawn Bryan says:

    Nice concept. Well written. I am interested in joining the ActionMBA Group. I am a communications specialist with 5 years at McKinsey and Company, and 8 years as an entrepreneur in the green pesticide, organic fertilizer, and algae as renewable clean energy field so. I can assist you with your presentations and all written communications. I also have two friends with University degrees in English who have both made a career of teaching ESL in various locales around the world. One is currently in Dubai the other is in Columbia. I will forward your message to them.

    My “BIG” project is to start a drum and bugle corps in my home town and win a world title in 5 years. Drum corps provide a place for many youth who don’t fit into other places. If you aren’t book smart, aren’t athletic, aren’t creative, and haven’t found your talent, where do you go to fit in? Marching bands and drum corps have historically been a haven for lost, neglected, and abused youth. It is also a HUGE undertaking requiring stupid amounts of money for staffing, gear, and transportation, and is generally a daunting task. I don’t have a degree in not-for-profit. I’ve never raised money. I don’t know where I’ll be living two years from now and don’t want to start what I can’t finish. What if I can’t draw quality instructors? It’s going to take two years of prep just to pull the trigger. What if I do all that and no kids show up?????

    These are just some of my internal hurdles.

    However, time is also ticking. If im going to do this i need to get started. I need support AND a kick in the ass. Perhaps we can help each other. Looking forward to hearing from you.

    • John says:

      Greetings Shawn,

      Thanks for the great comment. I love the fact that you want to tackle something that you know is insanely difficult going in. 🙂

      Let’s do it.

  5. Krista says:

    I LOVE this post. It touched my heart, made my eyes moist and gave me goosebumps! I thought of this quote while reading it. “The purpose of life is to discover your gift, the meaning of life is to give it away.” I would feel privileged to help in anyway I can.

    Go John!

  6. Barry says:

    I love the ActionMBA idea. Please tell more about how you see it working and how I can help.

    I would also like to find out more the English language site. Are you looking for people to help with specific tasks or something else?

    My big idea is called impact48.org. It is about weekend challenges where studet and professionals attempt to use their skills to have a real, positive impact on a charity.

    Its fun, challenging, exciting and scary all at the same time! Reading your post has helped to inspire me. Thanks.

    • John says:

      Thanks Barry!

      I love the impact48 idea. It is similar to an idea I’ve been discussing with others as well.

      I’ll email you shortly. I’ve been travelling a lot recently but will settle down again for a few months next week.

      Talk to you soon.

  7. Dave says:

    “I believe that connecting people to discuss how to make the world a better place and making concrete plans to take action, is one of the best uses of our time” – Exactly this!

    and who better than a team of digital nomads, with so much freedom, creative minds and such knowledge of the world!

  8. JRH says:

    Hey I’ve been working a normal office job but I feel that music is my true career path. I just obtained my bachelor’s degree last year but I don’t know if I should continue working normal office jobs for the rest of my life or pursue a career in beatmaking and producing music. This post certainly gave me some encouragement because I don’t think anyone I know would ever believe that I could make it.

    • John says:

      Thanks for the comment.
      We only have one life, so it’s important to spend our time on valuable activities.

      Having a passion for music is great, but it doesn’t mean you have to give up your job either. Spend all your free time on your music. If you can turn it into an occupation, fantastic!. Quit your job and go into music full-time. If you can’t earn enough money from it, that okay too. You don’t have to give up your love of music just because it’s not a career.

      I love playing guitar, so I play everyday.

  9. […] first wrote about the ActionMBA in my Dare Big Manifesto post a long time ago. At least it seems like a long time ago. Since then I had another Unconference […]

  10. christine says:

    Hello. I just stumbled upon you blog/ website.
    Cant wait to read more into it.
    My family and I just returned from a trip around the world. 2 adults, 2 kids and we traveled to 17 countries while taking the year off work and school (home schooled along the way)THE BEST THING we ever did.
    I agree…dream big, set goals, and just go. My 12 year old daughter kept her own blog. http://www.travelwithriley.com
    She set the goal to learn to do that and she kept up with it. So proud of her.

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