Most people go through their lives being sensible, practical, and realistic. But we never forget the dreams we had as children. Life forces us to bury them, but the longing persists. Deep down, we still yearn for the daring and the dreams.

So, when we see a goal so ambitious that it defies belief, a  vision that challenges the status quo, or a larger-than-life character, it calls to the inner child within us. We're drawn to it like bees to honey.

This is the power of realized dreams. But you won't harness that power unless you take action and live your dreams.

I've valued over 4,000 businesses. I've seen founders turn their startups into Fortune 1000 companies. And I've seen others end up with nothing more than a pile of broken dreams. They might be perfect on paper. They're eager to put in work and grind to the top. But they're missing one key element, and without it, nothing else matters.

It's what I call the secret et cetera. The ETC.

E: The lure of the extraordinary.
T: The importance of finding your tribe.
C: The unstoppable power of consistency.

These three little letters are the secret of taking a startup from zero to a billion-dollar business.

The power of ETC really hit me when I moved to San Francisco and discovered one of the most bizarre and unbelievable stories in American history.

It began with a promissory note -- a 19th century artifact lettered with a peculiar phrase. The note promises the bearer a sum of $10, "by the Imperial Government of Norton the First, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico."

You're probably thinking that, unless you were asleep in history class, America never had an emperor. But Emperor Norton, shockingly, was very real.

In the 1850s, Joshua Abraham Norton was just another successful businessman who lost everything on a bad deal. But on September 17, 1859, an article in the San Francisco Chronicle described the extraordinary event of a proud man in his finest attire striding into the offices of the paper to declare himself the Emperor of the United States.

People must have thought it was a joke, at first. But Emperor Norton didn't see himself as a joke. Dressed in regal finery, he roamed the streets to hear grievances and fight on behalf of his subjects at City Hall. On one occasion, he single-handedly defended a group of immigrants against an angry, racist mob.

Some thought Norton was simply a village idiot, but those he connected with and helped, the often-overlooked denizens of San Francisco, loved and celebrated him. They were his tribe.

Day after day, Norton served with unwavering consistency. Over the years, laughter became admiration. His presence was considered an honor. His royal currency was accepted graciously throughout the city. People started to wonder if he really was the secret brother of Napoleon the Third, or the long-lost son of a great European empire....  

When Joshua Abraham Norton died in 1880, after a 21-year reign, 10,000 people attended his funeral in a procession over a mile long. Quite befitting an emperor, wouldn't you say?

When you aim for the extraordinary, there will always be people who will dismiss you, doubt you, even laugh at you. But there will also be people who are inspired by you. They are the ones that matter. The tribe you attract believes in you and your extraordinary vision because they see you consistently putting in the work to create your reality. In a world full of people who will pressure you to conform, finding your tribe could be the difference between the life and death of your dreams.

I have seen first-hand how extraordinary conviction can outweigh facts and figures when it comes to investing in an entrepreneur's vision.

I've watched companies wither or flourish based on the communities they build around themselves. Those you surround yourself with -- your customers, your neighbors, or your mentors -- are like the soil your vision needs in order to blossom.

I've worked with founders in Silicon Valley whose ideas can seem as wild as Emperor Norton marching through San Francisco in his royal getup. But when I see a founder consistently improving her bottom line, consistently crusading for her product, and consistently acting with integrity and responsibility, I know I'm witnessing a billionaire in the making.

You don't have to take up a royal mantle to apply the principles of ETC to your life. Start by asking yourself: If you dared to believe that you couldn't fail, what's one extraordinary thing you want to achieve? Next, start building your tribe: Share that dream with someone who will have your back and push you to take action. Then, figure out what you can start doing today to inch closer to making that vision a reality. And then, do it. Do it again tomorrow. And again the day after.

And who knows? Maybe when I'm called in to evaluate your company, I'll conclude that investing in your business is the stuff that dreams are made of.

For more, see my recent TEDxMithibaiCollege talk: