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Chris Do

When you run a business, you earn the right to make any decision you want with it. But how do you know if you are making the right decision?

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Trust your gut (Part 1)

When you run a business, you earn the right to make any decision you want with it. You also accept the responsibility and outcome—good, bad, or otherwise. The choice is truly yours.

But how do you know if you are making the right decision?

Welcome to part one of our conversation about decision making in business. In this two part series, Chris Do talks with Mo Ismail and Nidhi Tewari about how to make objective decisions and when to trust your gut.

They talk about pattern recognition, quick-thinking versus slow-thinking, and how to decipher the quality of the data you base a decision on.

Dec 14

Trust your gut (Part 1)

How to know if you’re making the right decision

When you run a business, you earn the right to make any decision you want with it. You also accept the responsibility and outcome—good, bad, or otherwise. The choice is truly yours.

But how do you know if you are making the right decision?

Welcome to part one of our conversation about decision making in business. In this two part series, Chris Do talks with Mo Ismail and Nidhi Tewari about how to make objective decisions and when to trust your gut.

They talk about pattern recognition, quick-thinking versus slow-thinking, and how to decipher the quality of the data you base a decision on.

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How to know if you’re making the right decision

Episode Transcript

Chris:

So what's up all you cool cats and kittens? Let's get this thing going. We're going to be talking about when to trust your gut in business. How do we know we're making the right decision and when do we know we've earned that right to make that call?

You heard me say to Mo and others don't change lanes, stick to your lane, grind it out, and then you see them kind of raising an eyebrow looking back over to me and saying, "Wait a minute, didn't you just tell us you changed lanes? Is there some hypocrisy here? Is there some contradictions going on? We're going to address that. We're going to address that as soon as I hand it over to Mo. Without further ado, Mo.

Mo:

Well, let's get into it. As Chris mentioned a little bit, after our ... I think it was our second business fundamentals call, I had came to him with a dilemma that I was in regarding the direction that I was taking my business. Just to keep it short between services, which is doing work for clients, and then a program that I built, which is more of a passive income model, teaching and coaching. The biggest takeaways from that call was, "Mo, you need to stay in it, not pivot too much in your business, but rather work through those difficult times and do the damn work." The second thing that was a big takeaway for me was the power of focus. Focus on one thing and then your attention becomes directed towards that and you're able to think of solutions and problem solves and expand versus diverting your attention elsewhere.

Another thing was not changing the goal. Sometimes if we make a goal and we kind of hit it, we accept that, but instead of changing the goal, we can change the plan and hit that goal without exception while staying the course. Now, all of that was very powerful, but the last one was the most powerful and this is where we're going to take this conversation. He said, "Make decisions based on evidence. Don't make decisions based on aspirations or you'll make an ass out of yourself." That was for me specifically. The conclusion that he tells me is, "Certain entrepreneurs like you just fundamentally don't know how to make decisions because you have not earned the right through doing that consistent persistent work to make those decisions." I was personally puzzled and I kind of brought it up over the last two calls that we had where we weren't really in the pocket like we usually are.

My ego gut reaction was like, "Why do you get to make these decisions? You don't have a coach that's right behind you when you have these innovative ideas, when you're about to risk it all. You've always, and I've heard you tell me this, you trust your instinct, you trust your gut, you trust your ability to make those decisions even when there's naysayers around you." There's a part of me that's like, "Chris, I genuinely feel this, but when am I allowed to listen to my instinct? Is there something that I'm missing? When am I allowed to trust my gut? When is it I've earned the right to trust my gut?" That's why we're here today because I really want to unpack the differences and I want to crystallize it for myself to be able to really harness this ability for future decisions and as I navigate in my business and grow as an entrepreneur. Chris, back over to you.

Chris:

All right. Before I tackle that, Nidhi, you've been here witnessing all these conversations between Mo, myself, Andrigo and calls you and I have done. Before we get into all this, just because we didn't do this, we didn't do any introductions, do you want to introduce yourself and perhaps kind of frame some of the things that Mo was saying?

Nidhi:

Sure, I'm happy to. My name is Nidhi Towari. I am a professional speaker and mental health therapist and I help leaders to retain their employees by optimizing wellbeing, which increases the bottom line. I'm a big heart centered person, as we know, Chris. You described me as marshmallows and hot chocolate, which I appreciate that. I think that intuition has been ... I think it's something that I've seen a lot of the people I work with really struggle with because when you've had experiences in your past where you learn to not trust yourself, it can be confusing to know when you need to trust your gut and even what your gut instinct is telling you about something.

I think that there's a lot to unpack there and I do think that there are often other experiences that maybe impede our ability to really know when it's appropriate versus inappropriate to lean in on intuition, because I think intuition can definitely get you in trouble if it's not based on experiences that support the decision that you're making. If you've had enough negative experiences, it can be really easy to be misguided by your gut instincts. I'm looking forward to being able to contribute as the conversation continues.

Chris:

While I have you here, Nidhi, I'm just curious, as a mental health therapist, I'm sure you encounter individuals that have had to go through some pretty trying times, emotionally wounded by people they trust. At this point, especially if you've been hurt by a lover, somebody in your life where they betrayed you in ways and you're just emotionally all messed up and you say, "Well, how can I trust myself now?", which is the opposite of what Mo is talking about where he's like, "Shouldn't I learn to listen to my gut and my instinct?" where now it's like, "Hey, you got to stop me from going out with the same person, same type of person, because I keep getting right back here." How do you navigate those waters, Nidhi?

Nidhi:

Well, I often am looking at where this originated from and it is rooted in those past experiences where we learn certain patterns in our lives and then we recreate those patterns. I find that a lot of them go back to even to childhood for a lot of the people I work with where they couldn't rely on their caregiver to necessarily meet their needs, and so you come away feeling like I can't trust others and therefore I can't trust myself as a result. I think that this happens even outside of romantic relationships. There's a lot of people that choose a business partner for example, and maybe miss some red flags or some of the signs that would be cues to you that maybe they're not a great fit and then they come away from that experience feeling betrayed and as though they can't trust themselves now going forward or can't trust other people as well.

I think my approach to this is always identifying what the past-present connection is because I'm a firm believer that the things that are occurring in our present day are deeply rooted in other experiences, and until we really reflect on what those are that are driving the decision-making subconsciously, I don't think that we're really getting ... we're not really getting at the problem. I hope that makes sense.

Chris:

That does, thank you very much. All right. Now to Mo's question he set up teeing me up for this thing. I want to say a couple things. One is when you're making a decision, you're making a guess. Really that's what you're doing. We all would like a guarantee, but we don't have guarantees in life. So we're making a guess. What you're trying to do with every guess is you're trying to use as much if your intellect and your intelligence mixed in with your gut instinct, your intuition, your feelings I suppose, and you're trying to make the best decision that has the highest possible outcome for you while minimizing the risk. I think we can generally agree to that. Some people are a lot more adventurous and they want to go for things that are high risk and low reward. They're a little bit crazy to me, but to each their own, no problem there.

So when we say, "Look, we're trying to use our intellect and our intelligence," what does that even mean? What is intelligence? Well, here's one way to look at intelligence. Intelligence is pattern recognition. An IQ test is showing you things and you're trying to figure out which one belongs and which one doesn't belong. The quicker you can spot those patterns and the more accurately you can see those things, the higher the IQ that you have. That seems to make a lot of sense. In order for us to recognize patterns, we have to have repeated exposure to the same problem over and over and over again. This is why a mechanic in his or her 50s and 60s can have you just describe to them the problem with a car over the phone and they'll kind of have an idea and they're usually right about what the problem might be.

As opposed to someone who is fixing their first car when they're 15 or 16 years old, they have no idea how the car even works. When you have repeated exposure to the same problem, you can have a higher chance or higher probability of noticing those problems. Now you can match those patterns up and you might have a conclusion. I think that makes sense. Now, I want you also to imagine a spectrum. The spectrum, draw line in your mind from left to right. On the far left, but a dot there. Let's just call that pure instinct, pure intuition where you have no data and you have to act quickly. Where is this beneficial? Because there is a benefit to each and every one of these moments or this kind of thinking. Well, when your life's in danger and when the reward for acting quickly and being decisive is actually critical to your survival and the survival of your loved ones.

Imagine that there's a creek and there's a fallen tree and there's a kind of pretty strong current and you and your young children are crossing it and one of them is going to fall in the water. As that child slips into the water who might not be able to swim in these kind of currents, you have to make a decision. "Do I care enough about little Jimmy? Am I going to jump in and am I creating more danger for everyone else or what's the deal here?" You have to make the decision quickly. If you think about it too long, that child could get swept away. I'm exaggerating here, of course. In certain instances we need to think really quickly and in some instances we need to think a lot more slowly.

Now let's take ourselves all the way to the far right of the spectrum. At the very end put another dot there. Let's try to visualize this one. In this one we have absolute confidence because 99% of the data seems to indicate this must be the way to go. Even a child could look at the data set and say that's the way to go. Some of us are in this space too and in some things like should we operate on a person where the probability of surviving the operation is very low? We want to be sure. This is why you get a second, third, fourth opinion when there's a critical operation to your body. You want to get those multiple opinions because you want to make sure that this is the right choice. Now, I'm not telling you to live on one end of the spectrum or the other, but to find a sweet spot that works for you. What works for me is somewhere towards the right where I have enough data, but there's still a lot of fuzziness as to what that data's saying.

The way I look at intuition, it's not the feeling part, it's actually looking at the data set that you have. The more data, the more complete the picture, the higher the fidelity. But there are gaps in that. I then use my pattern recognition, intellect intelligence to say, "Well, this is in complete set of data but is enough for me to make a decision, I'm going to go for it." When Mo asks the question, when does a person earn the right to trust their gut? I don't want to use those words earn. It's too powerful, it's too charged. I just want to say it like this. When do you have enough data where you can make an educated guess as what to do next? Each person has a different data set. Most specifically and I think we already moved beyond this, but just to restate it, for people who weren't here for those two other calls. His business is doing well, he's been in it for really a year and a half and he's grossing more than he's ever grossed. He's growing his small nascent company.

The data seems to indicate keep doing this because this is working, yet he pulls data from a very small sample, a second business idea, and he says, "Based on that, both these sets of data, running a service business and creating a course hybrid coaching program, they have equal chances of succeeding." He literally said that they both can succeed and he was equally confident. That's when I fired back, that's when I was called a total savage. I said, "Not based on that dataset, friend. Where are you getting your data from?" That's when Mo said it was aspirational. When we talk about earning the right, you have the right. The minute you start your business, you take on all that risk. You have the right on day one to make whatever calls you want to make. Let me be clear about that. You earned that. Just by saying, "I'm going to start shop for myself." That was a big move on my own. Fantastic. But when should you make decisions and trust this gut feeling? Well, when you have enough data. Back over to you too, Mo.

Mo:

My question goes back to a little bit of that conversation that we had. Everything you said makes a lot of sense and I agree with it wholeheartedly and it's a muscle that I'm going to continue to make stronger, which is look at the real data in front of me and make the decision based on that. However, there's a part of entrepreneurship that I would argue is all gut and I've heard you before share stories about people that have made "risky decisions" from the outside, maybe from us looking in and it was total upside and winning. If you're willing to share those stories, I'd love for you to do that. But then there's also these other stories that you've shared where the person has made a decision and to them it feels right. It's in line with their fulfillment, their passions, their desires for who they want to be in this world, who they want to be in the marketplace, and it just bombs.

I guess what I'm struggling with, and bear with me, I know I'm saying a lot here, when I compare the people that take the risk and it bombs and then someone like yourself where it doesn't, and there are moments where you're a little cocky with me when we're talking, it's like is there a reason? Is it the day-to-day data reading for you and why is that discounted for another person even if they do fail? Because I feel like this particular element of what we're talking about strips that part of being an entrepreneur, taking a risk, trying things. Sometimes when we're talking it's like, "No, no, no, don't do that. Nope, stop," and then you get to go and play and do your thing. I hope I'm making sense there, but that's where my head's at hearing what you said.

Chris:

You said so many different things, Mo, let's get into a dialogue about this. Let's isolate it into one thing. What's the first thing we need to tackle?

Mo:

There's a part of me when I hear this, even still now, everything you just laid out is perfectly clear, but there's a part of me that's like, "Isn't that the whole goal of entering entrepreneurship, to try to take the risk to see what works? Don't I have that right to do so even if the evidence isn't so astronomical? Don't I have that right to take it even if you or someone who's a naysayer for it?"

Chris:

Yeah, absolutely. I think we're clear about this. Any kind of risk you want to take as a business owner, you get to decide because you get to live with the decisions and the consequences both positive and negative of your actions. You make a positive decision. For example, there's famine in the neighborhood, you said, "This is it, we got to go," and you pack your bags and you leave the safety of the group and you venture forth and you find new lands that have rich and fertile soil and you're like, "You know what? We can start a new life here." That was a big risk and you did it and your family benefits from it. Conversely, you get lost in the snow, you guys freeze and starve to death. That's a risk that you took and those are your choices. This is really important. I need everybody to understand this part.

I think the problem is for a lot of us, we were raised by parents who really wanted the best for us and in ways they tried to protect us from making bad decisions. I think the term is helicopter parenting. Everything is like they're hovering around, you're like, "Don't do that. Oh no, no, no. Pick that up. You don't want to do that." All your life you've not made a decision. This is detrimental to your personal development into adulthood. They helped you get into college, they're making sure you did your homework. They're just checking in on you way too much. I think it looks like love, it is love, but it inhibits you from learning to make decisions while small and inconsequential so when you get older it's like, "Should I take this job? Am I being abused in this relationship? I don't know. I don't have someone to tell me."

So absolutely, as an entrepreneur I will say this until I'm blue in the face, you have the right, you've earned the right by just starting your own business to make the decisions necessary for you to survive and thrive, hopefully. I'm not talking about that. The real issue here is how do you know how to make a good decision from a bad decision? What kind of tools can we use? How can we be more objective so we're not clouded by our emotional state? How do we not get weigh down by our attachment to what we thought it was going to be? How do we also realize that the decision to do something is actually a really bad decision now and we're just being too heroic, too courageous, too stubborn, too strong willed to quit something where we know it's not working? This is just about decision-making.

Let's zoom in and zoom out a little bit here. So oftentimes you'll see and hear a story about an entrepreneur and the entrepreneur made bold moves. They zigged when everyone zagged or they zagged when everyone zigged. They did something bold, innovative and they break through and they smashed things. Steve Jobs, for example. It's like Steve Jobs reinvented multiple industries in his lifetime. Here's the thing, we look at them, we're like, "What an innovative mind. So risk tolerant to look at this person." I think what happens there is we don't have what Steve has. He probably has a bunch of reports. He's talking to people that none of us ever get to talk to. Chip manufacturers, supply chain people, and he's doing what I would like to see myself doing, which is he surfs the culture, he's a little bit above what everyone's doing so he can see. How does he do that? Well, he has to have a lot of discretionary time. He can walk in the museum and people watch.

One of the things that Gary Vaynerchuck says whenever he is at the airport, he does something that seems really creepy. He watches what 12 and 13 year old girls do because they predict more reliably, more accurately what's going to be next. He's people watching, he's people surfing, he's surfing the trends in the culture, he's looking at what's going on because he has that viewpoint. It's like us at the belly of the boat as we're rowing the boat and the captain's calling the shots from the crow's nest up in the ship and saying, "Steer to the left." We're like, "How does he know these things? Captain's a genius. Every time he says go to the left, we avoid catastrophe."

Well, because they're a different perspective. They have different data sets. I think it was with Nidhi and we were talking about this, a person like Elon Musk getting into solar, getting into building rocket ships and missions to Mars and building an electric car company when everyone's like, "This can't be done," is now the wealthiest person in the world. Well, it seems like from us super innovative or you could just be a genius physicists. You can have a ton of data. You can also have the data of running a successful company before and having sold and you have the blueprint for success.

Mo, you and I have talked about billionaires who go on a TV reality show where they're stripped of their identity, stripped of their contacts, and within hours or days they're able to rebuild a sizable chunk of wealth. Well, it's not that they don't have anything and to us the audience watching it, they're like magicians, how do they do this? Well, because they already have a blueprint. They've gone through so many times, they have that muscle memory. It's not magic when you can see the trick. Mo, how does that sound to you?

Mo:

No, that sounds excellent. My memory is being ignited. You're taking me back exactly what we covered. I guess for me now the question is how do we decipher when the decision is a bad one versus when it's the right decision to make in that moment? My goal is how can I recreate the abundant amount of data so I can decipher between, "Ah, this is delusion", as you've called it before when talking to me, versus, "This is more to the right of that spectrum that you mentioned earlier."

Chris:

Can you restate that please?

Mo:

How can one become better at deciphering if the decision is a good one versus one that's taking them off the path? What do they need to do to create that rich data set for themselves to become part of these people that are doing the big risk decisions?

Chris:

Well, are you talking about how you can evaluate if the decision was good after you've made it or before you've made it?

Mo:

No, I'm talking more about equipping myself with the ability to distinguish in the moment, "Mo this decision right here is too much instinct, it's too much on intuition. Pause." I want to get better at that distinction in the moment like you've mentioned between you and other people that are really good at it.

Chris:

Easy. Ask yourself, "What data do I have that is informing me of the decision that I'm about to make?" Let's look at the real world example. Let's not speak in abstract. I think I remember the numbers from last time. In 2021, I think you made 170 grand, right? You grossed $170,000, right?

Mo:

Mm-hmm.

Chris:

30,000 of which was from course creation, 140,000 was from the service business. Then when I asked you, "What do you want to do this year?" You say, "$500,000." Great, you want to make a half a million dollars this year, fantastic. Of these two courses of action, which is more likely to get you to the $500,000? You said both, which at that point I wanted to shoot somebody, figuratively. One number is almost five times bigger than the other number. One number has had a year and a half's worth of work put into it, built upon the two or three previous years of just acquiring the skills necessary to be able to do this work.

We're talking about, probably conservatively, five years of your personal investment into one thing and then this new thing comes along and you're like, "You know what? That looks pretty good to me." I'm not sure how a rational person who's looking at the data could say that's the way to go. When I presented to you data sets, it looked even more daunting, but despite presenting that information to you, you still said, you insisted, "I still have a chance of doing this." Yeah, you have a chance. Is it impossible? No. Is it probable? Probably not. This is where you're clouded. Clear as night and day. You're not looking at the data, you're looking at something else. If you're visionary, if you are seeing something that I cannot see, if you have a data set that I'm not privy to, if you know something, you have an insider tip, please let's talk about that because then you have a reason to do this. Most oftentimes we do not.

What are we basing the decision on? We're basing on, I think, some fluttering of our heart. "I want this, let's go for it." It's almost like the devil telling you, "Let's do this.'

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Chris:

Welcome back to our conversation.

Nidhi:

I think one data set, and Mo, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think one data set that might have been missing when Mo had made that statement was you provided kind of a comparison, right Chris? You're somebody who's prolific who does content creation and course creation as the bread and butter or one of the pieces of bread and butter in your business. I think something that have been missing when Mo was making that statement was part of the aspiration was not knowing the realities and that I think you had shared that the top launch that you ever had, was it 140,000 or 240,000 or something like that, Chris?

Chris:

250, yes.

Nidhi:

250? Then I wonder, Mo, and you let me know if I'm off here, but I wonder if that kind of helped to course correct because then the aspiration was grounded in reality and you could see, "Oh man, Chris who is mentoring me pulled a 250," which is solid by the way, Chris, I'm not poo-pooing that, but I'm just saying that's somebody who's been doing it for a really long time and so the likelihood and the probability then goes down that that's going to be matched for you and your business. Right, Mo? I just wanted to add that in there, that that additional dataset. I wonder if that helped in some regard for you.

Mo:

Oh, I think it definitely did in the moment, particularly not just the dataset of that, but the dataset that proceeded getting there, right? It grounded even more evidence for the overwhelming aspiration behind the decision. My curiosity, though, around this, still the inability to distinguish in the moment, as you've called it, with the rose colored glasses. You called it clouded and you've shared with me examples before about people that have done this. I can tell you what I saw in the moment and how in my mind it was evidence and how even when I told it to you that day, you were like, "But that's not real evidence." But don't we as business owners, forecast and make business decisions off of forecasting? Don't we make hiring decisions off of forecasting? Am I just still too novice of a business owner and the things that I'm saying are wrong?

Let me pause there real quick and give the data and please feel free to shut it down. I'm hoping that someone listening is like, "I'm in the same situation," really. That 30 grand was made in a month's time while building the product, no continuous sales effort, no continuous marketing effort. It was a very heavy thing at the end of the year. Now in my mind, I'm forecasting that this could become something that is of consistent income to validate that projection, but that's not data that I have in front of me. So my question is, what is it that points me to look at that data and neglect the other data that you've so clearly pointed out is the way I should be making the decision?

Chris:

Nidhi, go ahead.

Nidhi:

I was going to say that ... there's some psychology behind this. It's confirmation bias, Mo. When we see certain data that confirms what we want, we believe in it even further. Then it's really difficult for us to take in the other data that may be counter to what we really may intuitively want for ourselves. I do think that might have been coming into play here as well. The data that you got at the end of the year was confirming what you wanted, but what Chris was saying in terms of what the projections were when he crunched the numbers was not in alignment with that. I hope that that makes sense, but I do think it might have been a little bit of that confirmation bias.

Mo:

I think this is beautiful and I'm going to add to this, how do you float above the confirmation bias? That's the question, because if the data's there and I'm unable to see it, and clearly I'm making a decision based on the confirmation bias. I want to hear the expansion around that.

Chris:

Sometimes you look at the data and then you come up with the conclusion and sometimes you look at the conclusion and you look at the data to support the conclusion you already have. I think you already know which one you want to be versus the one that you are. The sample size, the data set that you had, three or four months of kind of an effort and [inaudible 00:32:25] spike a results, you can't extrapolate from that and say, "This is where this is going to go." Now, granted, if you do some kind of unicorn lunch, because you have this massive social following and you've built up a ton of expertise and authority in a specific area and you launch this monster seven figure course, I will be the happiest person for you. I hope someday in the near future, in the next year or two, I'm able to launch a course that grosses half a million dollars.

We're usually celebrating when a course launches and it gets six figures. Now, I know there are a couple of course creators out there who are probably part of that 1% of course creators who are just absolutely destroying it, but look into the history, look into what they've done. This is the other part that we don't like to do. What we see is the tip of the iceberg of success. We're like, "Wow, in one year they launch and they only run the course once and they do a million, they do six million, they do $10 million in sales. Incredible." Then they sell us this dream that we can do this too. They're not selling that hard because we're buying it. They had us at hello and then you could look into like, "Oh my god, they were at this company, they did this and they were grinding it out for three and a half years when you couldn't even give this course away, and eventually they figured it out."

All we do is look at the success and we think, "Oh I'm exceptional. I could do this too." Maybe you are, I don't know, I don't know this about you, but the data is just so small. You said yourself, "I barely started this. It was at the end of the year. There's a million reasons, and so therefore, what if I put a hundred percent effort into it?" Here's the thing, and I'd asked you this question and the answer to this question scared you a little bit, which was why even do service work? Get rid of all your clients, sell them off to someone else and focus 100% on the course creation. Because the course creation, if you could pull this off and hit your half million dollars in revenue this year, it is the better of the two businesses, no doubt about it.

Higher upside potential, far higher, building IP. You've now created business can be bought and sold and traded. Service business, very difficult to do that. This business is highly scalable. You could do this. But when I presented you with that option, you said, "I don't want to give up this other business." It sounds to me like you're hedging. That's a sign that you yourself inside your heart aren't willing to give up on this other thing that you've built. I think what's what I'm hearing really underneath all this and Nidhi, slap me on the wrist if I'm wrong, heavy amounts of attachment to both things. Being a good business leader, given the size of your operation, given the resources that you have, given the responsibilities that you carry on your back, you need to be clear and decisive more than anything else.

Mo:

This is unpacking maybe a different direction because I personally have closure around this. But before we end it, are you seeing anything maybe that we didn't bring up in the now around this that needs to be brought up? Because what you just said is where I want to go.

Chris:

Okay. I don't have anything else I want to add, but I know there's another course creator up here on stage with us. His name is Alex. Alex, you might have a question or a comment. Feel free to do either.

Alex:

Oh, mostly comment. I'd like to share my short story. I've been doing design for 12 years, UX, UI design, product design. I've been designing websites, mobile apps and entertainment systems, all this kind of stuff. Two years ago I was a product design lead. I had a team, everything was great. I had six figure salary at that point. Then I've been doing a couple of freelance projects and then I decided that I really, really love teaching and this is where I started my journey in creating courses for UX UI designers mostly. I was in the position ... this is two more. I was in the position where I had to work at my work, so basically designing websites, mobile apps and all this stuff, and learning how to create courses. Then I started launching them to collect this data to understand if it's for me or not, because I couldn't leave my job just to do courses because I haven't started making money yet on that stuff.

Then last year I made six figures with courses, which is absolutely amazing for me, so basically I reached the same amount of money by doing what I love. I love teaching, but at the same time I love design. But last year it was ... no, no, no. Two years ago it was a year of transition between these two things, so I had to do both, do design and at the same time I was learning how to launch courses and I launched courses. You can't even imagine how many burnouts I had. I had my first panic attack in my life and if I had a goal to reach a specific amount of money, even $200,000, I would say I wouldn't be able to do that with courses. Maybe I would be able if I just hyper focus only on courses, but in reality I assume that I wouldn't be able to do that.

Only this year I realized that no, I don't want to do design anymore, at least for clients, and I switched completely to courses. I started making money. Just recently, I had a private coaching session with Chris and he helped me to hyper focus on what I actually have to do. I switched to that, I'm now hyper hyper focused and I know that I will reach my goal this year. I'm 100% sure in that. The thing is, your question was how to collect this data if you haven't tried yet. In my life I realized that there will be a transition point where you will struggle a lot and especially as far as I know you have a family and you have two kids, that it'll be really hard to do both at the same time. We have to choose and if you have a goal to reach these half a million, I really don't know.

To collect data, you need years probably. This is just my experience I'm sharing with you. Maybe it'll be helpful for you or maybe someone who is sitting here and that's it. That's all I wanted to say here.

Chris:

All right, thanks, Alex. You know what I did in that meantime, when Alex was talking? I looked up what intuition means. There's a lot of different definitions, but there's two that I want to point out to you from Wikipedia. The inner insight to unconscious pattern recognition. Sound a little bit familiar there? Pattern recognition. You have to be able to see things first in order for your unconscious mind to put them together, even though your conscious mind hasn't figured it out. The colloquial usage of this is intuition as a gut feeling based on experience has found to be useful for business leaders, for making judgment about people, culture and strategy. There's that word again, experience. When we don't have enough experience, then it is really just a hunch, it's a guess. It's okay for you to make guesses. The amount of risk you take with each guess is up to you.

Mo could say, "You know what? I'm a visionary, screw it. I know I only did it for three months and I know I haven't spent a lot of time working on how to figure this thing out, but I believe in this so much in my heart, body, soul, mind and spirit that I'm going to do this and no one can stop me." I said, "Well fine, let's do it. Let's rock and roll." But it's not what you were saying to me either, Mo. You're not ready to be a hundred percent committed. There's this book, it's called The One Thing, and it said that somewhere along the way in the last couple of decades, we said, "What are your priorities?" with an S. There's no such thing. There's just your priority, which is one thing. You and I have talked about doing your one thing and here you are inventing other things to get in the way of you achieving your goal.

Mo:

Alex, you're another data set, a real one, one that is free of any ego, one that is free of any salesmanship. It was just real and raw and I appreciate your connection and you do know me because I do have a family with two children. Just setting the reality of it, which is what I want to piggyback into my next question. You said a few things, Chris, and they struck me. Look deep into the history of the examples we're referencing. Then you said, "We have a hard time doing this," and this was after we talked about confirmation bias. Then you followed up with, "Being a good business leader," and then you talked about everything that I have in my life with all the responsibilities, I must be clear and decisive.

At this point, knowing that I need to surface above the confirmation bias, be sure that I go deep in the data when I'm going to make a decision, particularly data that I may not have, so that might be through council, my question is how to filter through the quality of the data when making these decisions, especially if you're in a position where you may still be heavily influenced by confirmation bias?

Chris:

That question is so complicated, Mo, because you're asking me to look at data I don't have and that you have quality data to begin with. I'm going to just say I don't think so. I don't think-

Mo:

No, no, no, no. I'm saying how do I decipher the quality of the data to make sure that I don't take data that isn't of quality?

Chris:

Okay, not that hard to do. You can see this very clearly when it's not you. I promise you, you could see this so clearly. It's transparent. You and I are standing there, somebody's like, "This has never worked before," and we both look at each other, smile. "How many times have you tried?" "A lot." "What is a lot?" "Three times." The next most successful person has tried how many times? 642. It's self evident. If you don't look at it through those lens that I want this result to equal this conclusion ... I don't know about you, but I love these murder mystery shows when they have this genius detective that arrives on the scene and what they do is they just go through and look at the data. Everyone else is jumping to conclusions. It's the butlers the maid, it's the disenfranchised son-in-law. They're just looking at the data.

The data will tell you the story, not always, but more often than not, it'll tell you the story. We've heard this over and over again. My wife will burst into the room. She's like, "This has never happened." I'm like, "Where'd you get that opinion from?" She smiles, kind of caught, "Nowhere." "Cite your source please." "I have none. My gut feeling." I'm like, "Exactly." We don't want to become that way. Now look, you could be a really lucky person, you really can, and you could also be just part of that Zeitgeist. You have that special something. Again, I remember when Matthew was leaving the company, he's like, "I'm going to do my YouTube channel." I'm like, "Great, fantastic. It's the right time." But you have to remember, Matthew's been working with us for years, first of all making commercials and then years helping us build our YouTube channel.

He's like, "I'm going to hit 10,000 subs by of the year." I remember thinking to myself, "Oh my god, that is a big freaking goal." I didn't say anything to him because it took us two years to get to 10,000. He's like, "Bust by the end of the year, all by myself, I'm going to do it." I'm like, "Dang it, that's good." He got to 100,000 subs in two months. Everything is possible. If you believe in yourself, if you have the talent, if you have the experience and you've studied the thing, the game, you can make those kind of predictions and just go for it. He went for it, he did it and he put in the work. I leave room for people who are exceptional, who have some kind of crazy horseshoe on their backside or have this vision that no one else can see.

Of course, there are exceptions. There are exceptions. If you're that kind of person, you're like, "I believe in it, I'm going to go for it," let me know. I'll support you. I'll support each and every one of you because I don't want to be that guy who's up here saying, "Well, it's not going to work." I don't want to be that person. If you believe in it so much, I'll support you. But if you want to make a rational business decision based on data, just look at the amount of data you have. This happens all the time, Mo. Happens all the time. I think I shared it last time, but again, I'll bring it up. Ben Burns and I were talking. We're looking at our numbers because we always look at our numbers to inform us what we think is possibly working and what kind of changes we need to make and we look at them pretty regularly.

Year end is an important one for us because we're forecasting, that's a word you used before, forecasting. In order to forecast, Mo, you have to have data. Without data and enough data and enough is relative, how can you forecast? You're just guessing. You can call it guessing. That's fine too. Now, we're looking at the data and Ben says to me some kind of crazy conclusion. He goes, "Based on this data, we're running a really efficient company, Chris. The amount of revenue we're bringing in relative to the number of bodies doing this, we're being really efficient." Now, on the surface, that looks like really good conclusion to this thing, but why would Ben say this? Well, Ben is our chief operating officer. I love him. He's a great guy. He's running the company for me and he wants to come to this conclusion why?

Well, who's responsible for optimizing the company? Who's responsible for managing the staff and what they're supposed to be doing? That would be Ben. Of course he's going to look at the data and the data supports it. That's one way to look at the data. Four and a half million dollars in revenue. I think we have 16 or 17 people working for us. The numbers look really good. I said, "Ben, do you think each and every single person here is contributing equally to this revenue?" He goes, "Oh, no. If we were to look at the highest grossing efforts that we make and look at the team directly responsible for that, would we come to the same conclusion that you're coming up with? Which is we run a really efficient company, everybody's contributing, and the answer is no." You see, when we look at the data set, we have to be careful not to lead with the conclusion and find the data lines up. This is critical. I'm going to throw this over to Henry. Henry, what's up?

Henry:

There's a couple things I wanted to talk about and I agree. I'm listening and I really understand the power of data for sure. I was listening to Bob Iger recently, and I think he's the former CEO of Disney. I don't think he's the CEO anymore, but he had said something about data that kind of popped my ears up and my eyebrows went up. He said, "I'm all about data, but there's only so much data that you can actually take in." He made this reference, he said something along the lines of, "I could study ... I say I want to open up a Disney in India. I could study the data all day long, but until my feet touch ground in India and I actually feel the people, see the people, smell the people, enjoy the people, that data's only going to take me so far."

That really struck me. Not everybody here is going to create a business like Disney, but I wanted to kind of focus in on Mo for a second and I would say this, and again, getting to the point of trusting your gut. Chris, you had said something to me last year on one of our last sessions together, and you had said something to me along the lines of, "If it's not bringing you joy, then don't do it." When Mo asked the question before, "How do I know I'm making the right decision?", I immediately thought to myself, "What brings you the most joy, Mo? Is it the service side of things? Is it the more automated course based work? What brings you the most joy and why aren't you doing more of that?" Chris, that really helped me last year get really clear on what I wanted to focus my efforts in on.

That was, again, the service side of things of what I do. I guess getting back to the business is I look for signs, and this sounds really woo-woo, guys and some of you guys will get this, some of you guys won't, but I look for signs that the universe gives me. I'm not super religious, but I'm very spiritual and I will tell you this, I got a sign last year that brought me to tears and I really wasn't happy doing what I was doing at the current moment that I got this sign and I was having a miserable day and the universe sent me a Christmas card from a client that I hadn't talked to in two years. I opened up the card and I didn't want to open it up. My wife actually opened it and brought it up to my room and she said, "I think you should read this. This is going to make you feel better."

I said, "I don't want it. I'll read it tomorrow," and she said, "No, I want you to read it." I opened it up and I won't get into it because it brings me to tears every time I think about it. That letter was a sign from the universe that told me your work at Unique Designs is not over and that you need to get back on this horse and continue your life's work helping people create or helping people become great communicators. And that was it. Mo, I guess my advice to you, my friend, is follow the signs. You're a very intuitive guy. I know you a long time now and you're very self-aware. I would say look for the signs that the universe gives you and follow those signs because that's going to bring you the most joy.

Mo:

I miss talking to you, Henry. I love you, man. Thank you for sharing that.

Chris:

You answer his question, Mo?

Mo:

He didn't ask a question, he shared advice.

Chris:

No, he did ask a question. Maybe he asked it in the rhetorical sense, but he asked the question, "What gives you joy? What do you want to do?" I know we're opening a can right now.

Mo:

Yeah. I'm like, "Why are we-"

Chris:

Get ready. Everybody get your can openers out. I'm having a fire sale, two for one.

Mo:

Oh my goodness. Listen, what gives me joy, I got to be honest. It's a mixture of both. My struggle around all this was more a lack of focus and a previous history of jumping when things got difficult. Right now, for lack of a better word, my gut says what brings me joy is doing the program model. But after counsel and my effort to suppress as much ego as I can, there's a part of me that is telling me, and I think that's the reason why I'm attached to service and why this has been five conversations now, is that that may be me trying to jump in disguise, which is not what I have to do as the business owner, the growing entrepreneur. That's why he said can of worms. It's a complicated answer. For me, I know what I must do to grow, particularly around this, is pick and then focus.

When I say focus now, it's not doing the work while my attention is on this other thing, but it's continuing to do the work that may be challenging at first and breathing through it and beginning to love it through the challenge because I haven't allowed myself to do that enough. I think that's where I'm at right now. So although a strong question, it does make things a little can of worm-y. It's not the time right now. The time is to do the work for what I'm going to be doing. That's my very long answer around that.

Nidhi:

Well, Mo, would you humor me on something?

Mo:

Always. That's why we're here.

Nidhi:

Okay, cool. I just want you to close your eyes real quick and to really check in, first of all, where in your body are you feeling the tension of this decision? Okay, so really notice. Is it in your gut? Is it in your chest? Do you feel it in your back? Where is your body signaling, "Oh my gosh, this push pull that's happening." Then as you're noticing where that's located in your body, lean in and really try to connect with what it's telling you. Because I have a feeling if you leaned in and just based off of the previous conversations where you weren't wanting to let one side go, I have a feeling that discomfort that you may experience, it has the answer, which is, "I don't feel like I can hedge all my bets on this one thing that I don't have enough data to support just yet."

Now, this story, Mo, may change. You may have a different gut feeling a year from now. If you did continue occasionally putting out a course and you had more data sets to show you, "Wow, every time I put out a course, I'm noticing I get 40,000, $50,000, $60,000." Now you have more information on which to base the gut instinct. But I just really wanted you to connect with what's happening in your body because I think so often we don't lean in to what it's telling you. I think that there's a lot of wisdom in really paying attention to that discomfort that comes up when you think about letting one thing go to fully focus on the other, and the reality being that this has been a pattern. So really making sure that when you're touching base with that body part that is holding that, okay, what is that telling you about the avoidance as well? Is it that this is getting scary right now? It's getting hard? I think that that might be something that's helpful going forward just in terms of literally checking in with your gut and seeing what's actually there.

Greg Gunn:

Thanks for joining us this time. If you haven't already, subscribe to our show on your favorite podcasting app and get a new insightful episode from us every week. The Future Podcast is hosted by Christ Do and produced by me, Greg Gunn. Thank you to Anthony Barrow for editing and mixing this episode and thank you to Adam Sanborn for our intro music.

If you enjoyed this episode, then do us a favor by rating and reviewing our show on Apple Podcasts. It'll help us grow the show and make future episodes that much better. Have a question for Chris or me? Head over to the future.com/heychris and ask away. We read every submission and we just might answer yours in a later episode. If you'd like to support the show and invest in yourself while you're at it, visit thefuture.com. You'll find video courses, digital products, and a bunch of helpful resources about design and creative business. Thanks again for listening, and we'll see you next time.

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