Rising to the Top: Growth Hacking Your Career With Dirigible Architecture

Part One in Our 4 Part Series – An Introduction to Dirigible Architecture

If you think about the standard approach to elevating your position; the good ole hard work corporate ladder model, it completely relies on years of effort and energy with little to no certainty. You basically build your way to the top, one project, one floor, one rung at a time for years. If you think about it in terms of energy and resources, it’s a crazy high risk strategy.

This idea hinges on the other side of the equation playing fairly and holding up their end of the bargain. The perils include fighting bureaucracy, politics, others taking credit for your work, your work going unnoticed, as well as the benefit of keeping an optimal performing cog right where it is in the machine. There are multiple factors actively working against your rise in every institution.

This is true even in non profit organizations designed to elevate you professionally, or “build community”, or some other awesome social cause. These are the market conditions.

Everyone benefits from having a plan, a strategy, or at the very least, an insight designed to specifically help them get where they’re going. But often you’re given a generic prescription that doesn’t serve you.

If your career growth path is solely focused on hard work & long hours, you’re using the most commonly exploited business “checkers” strategy. This is less of a plan and more of a mindless hope or dream.  This is a great mindset for drones and worker bees, but those who aspire to and rise to the top have a more sophisticated approach.  They are exploiting your formula to get you to work harder for them, and like me, you probably want to reverse that equation.

Would you rather spend ten years floating to that top spot or two? How long should it really take? Your goal is to get to the top as fast as possible right? What if there were a better way? 

Just how do you go about growth-hacking your career advancement?

Enter the disruptive world of Dirigible Architecture.

dirigible construction


It’s a simple strategy plucked from the Heroik Business Playbook. Here’s how it works.

The basic idea stems from a conceptual insight. If your goal is to touch the sky, why build a skyscraper when you can build a blimp?

Which takes longer to build on your own? Which calls attention to the individual? Which has more risk for the individual?

The answers may not be so obvious to you. You can build a leaner, temporary success/growth vehicle for yourself and others, that is adjacent yet outside of your target model (the skyscraper), and swiftly float to the top and step off at the penthouse suite.

In order to do this, there are 4 simple requirements:

  • It’s big, bold & light – You want to build or be a part of a vehicle (growth engine of sorts) that elevates you by providing big brand visibility (image, reputation, capabilities & character) for pennies on the dollar. Boldness, ambition hype & a bit of hot air can help here – if done wrong, they can also blow things up – more on that later.
  • It’s lean and runs on fumes – It is designed to succeed using extremely limited resources & TEAM (Time, Energy, Attention & Money).
  • Expands your capabilities and allows you appropriate levels autonomy to shine; to be seen and known for what you do best.
  • Is thought of as temporary and/or expendable (a means to an end) as to not pull your focus away from your ultimate goal.

I said simple not easy. Basically you need the appearance of big brand, bold & brilliant on a lean, lighter than air idea, runs on fumes, and starts off just outside of your target, to give you lift and allow you to rise to the top. That is the essence of Dirigible Architecture.

This strategy, like any other, does not replace the necessity for hard work, critical thought and focused execution. However, at least by taking a dirigible approach, your efforts are put to work for you in a system that can truly elevate you vs. merely take more from your efforts.

Bearing this all in mind, you can begin to realize two important things. 

1. Success inside the traditional system/strategy is riskier in terms of time and resources. The likelihood that your ten-year career bet will payout, hinges on too many things beyond your control and influence.

2. Growth hacking your rise to the top, adjacently from the outside in; with something right next to your target, but just beyond the system’s control, is less riskier in terms of time and resources.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Picture This – If you stood outside Rockefeller plaza, would you be able to see anyone hustling inside to make it to the top floor? Would you notice the GoodYear blimp do the same? You bet your bacon!

dirigible architecture


Practically speaking, the strategic concept of Dirigible Architecture involves creating and using an outside vehicle to build a brand for yourself or that you’re strongly associated with and get recognized for, and use to take you places.

5 Tips to Help You Use This Approach Right Now

1. Take a leadership position in a lean association, group, project, adjacent to your target, that’s going places.

Hint: by definition the local Chamber of Commerce doesn’t count – though it could be a stepping stone to get you into something that might. Find an up and coming group of go-getters and get in at the ground floor where the early victories are easy, plentiful, or big. Hint: victories and success are often the result in telling, positioning and framing stories. It’s all a matter of perspective.

2. The vehicle of your success ought to be adjacent to the area you wish to succeed.

This means becoming famous for underwater basket weaving when you hope to be EVP of a tech company isn’t going to work. You need to choose or create a project that is near your target. Precision counts. Hit near the target you’re aiming at. This may take multiple steps, but it shouldn’t take long. Spend 6 months on a nonprofit board, declare and finish 2-3 specific projects max, and make the leap to something on path to your target. (Yeah I said it!).

3. You may have to start your own group, project, website, brand, event, what have you.

Holy shit Batman! You might actually have to build something! Who knew right?! But don’t let this be your darling idea, this is a means to an end. This is about elevating your position, not building a mother ship.

4. Focus on 3 things success,recognition, and the ultimate goal (getting off the ride at the top).

I know plenty of talented people who focus on delivering success only to have the spotlight stolen and the credit taken by someone else. Don’t let this happen to you. Don’t let others push you to the back and take credit for your work and give you all the blame for failures. There’s no room on your dirigible for this shit. Fire those that do, or fire yourself and find something better.

5. Remember, this is a means to an end.

You also don’t want to get lost in the vehicle or entity, or stay on too long. You want to be mindful to put just enough energy and resources to float to the top and make the leap. So don’t get too personally attached to your dirigible ride. If you do, you may stay on too long, lose lift and find yourself back where you started.

But Wait There’s More!

Off the California coast lies the sunken wreckage of the U.S. Navy's last flying aircraft carrier -- USS Macon (ZRS-5). The Macon served as a launch and takeoff platform for biplanes. FILE -- Flying over New York Harbor, circa Summer 1933. The southern end of Manhattan Island is visible in the lower left center. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Dirigible Architecture – A Heroik Methodology


Obviously, there’s a heck of a lot more to it than that. The Heroik team has pioneered this concept and seen many nuances and opportunities in different scenarios and circumstances. This is but a basic introduction. For more specific advice, reach out, send us an email. We help people and teams make these kinds of epic shifts everyday. Float on my friends!

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