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Chris Do & Mo Ismail

There are no shortcuts. The path is tough and you will struggle. There is no way around it.But the reward you get, is efficiency.

Round 5: Success leaves clues
Round 5: Success leaves clues

Round 5: Success leaves clues

Ep
154
Sep
17
With
Chris Do & Mo Ismail
Or Listen On:

There are no shortcuts.

In the final round, Mo and Chris discuss what success means and how you can reverse engineer someone else’s.

If you’re thinking, “but how do I effectively do that?” then you are asking the wrong question. There are no shortcuts. The path is tough and you will struggle. There is no way around it.

But the reward you get, is efficiency.

Hosted By
special guest
produced by
edited by
music by
Appearances

Episode Transcript

Chris Do:

We are in our final round, is that right?

Mo Ismail:

We are in our final round, but I feel like the last round I asked multiple questions, so I'm a little sweaty right now, so maybe we can keep it at that round. Maybe we can like ring the bell that you didn't K.O. Me, but we can keep it there.

Chris Do:

That's debatable. That's okay, Mo. Are you sure, because it's called Five Rounds. I have to deliver five rounds of action. The fighter has to get off the stool and muster up the courage to just show up and not get knocked out and that'll be a win, so... Fifth round. Let's begin.

Mo Ismail:

Okay. I do have one question, let's do it. You've said it, I've heard other quote-unquote experts in their field say that just success leaves clues, reverse-engineer it and do it and you'll figure it out. I think that's just such a wide brush stroke. How does one actually reverse-engineer something effectively? I feel like you do this so well, because you'll take a concept and you'll break it down and you'll teach or whatever you got to do, but how does one do it effectively? Are there steps to it, methodically? How does that look like when you reverse-engineer something?

Chris Do:

Okay. When I hear the word effective, it also sounds a lot like efficient, right? You want to make as few missteps and it can be easy to sit there and watch somebody do it and say, "Well, that seems like the ideal way to do it." But what we don't get to see is the many times in which I've struggled through trying to figure it out; the pain, the frustration. And the reward for that pain and the practice of trying it out many times and failing is efficiency. So when you're a young person or you're new to a field, do not make efficient or effective as part of the goal or the criteria for success. Again, this is how we're going to end it. Start with the acceptance and expectation. It's going to be tough, it's going to be hard, it's going to make you frustrated, and you're going to make many dumb, stupid moves, and it's going to be a waste of time and money. If you enter it into with that kind of mindset, it's going to be much easier.

Mo Ismail:

Everything is upside!

Chris Do:

You see what I'm saying?

Mo Ismail:

Yeah, yeah.

Chris Do:

Don't begin there. And you are not alone in presenting that perspective because we hear it in our community all the time.

Mo Ismail:

We do, yeah.

Chris Do:

Pro-people, creative community, all those kinds of things. They're almost going to always ask me a similar question. What's the best way to do this? How do we know that's going to work? So they're trying their best to avoid the dip. Like I said, they're standing at the edge of the incline, looking towards their goal, thinking that they do not want to step into the pit crocodiles and piranhas, and they're not ready to immerse or to throw themselves into the pain. Like I don't go to my gym and saying, "This is going to be a beautiful workout that this is going to be effortless." I go in there thinking my form is bad, it's going to be nasty, I'm going to be sore for days, and why haven't I done this more consistent. I go into it with that. As long as I don't hurt myself, I'm good.

Mo Ismail:

Okay, so let's say that I'm now newly christened as somebody who operates in the dip as the first order of execution. Walk me through effective reverse-engineering when you find somebody doing something in a successful way. What do you do? I already started in the dip, walk me through it.

Chris Do:

You're in the dip. You're prepared for the pain, you're prepared for the missteps, you're prepared to waste time and money because that's the price of innovation and to learning something new. So when you see something that you like, and success does leave clues, what you want to do is you want to isolate areas that you can identify. You've heard me say this before. If you and I were in a cooking competition where they would serve us a spoon of the most flavorful soup we've ever had, and we were to wager how many ingredients we could identify, with the winner being the person who was able to correctly identify the most ingredients, you would win. So in the beginning in a kind of an uneducated palette, you would take a bite of the soup or a swallow and you would say, "Mmm, it's salty. So I know there's salt in there."
And you can't go into the expectation as a new uneducated person in the culinary arts to say like, I can now identify this master chef who's been cooking all his life. That wouldn't be realistic. But unfortunately, that's the lens in which everybody looks at it. So for me, I'm going to take that spoonful of soup. And I'm like, okay, I think I can name at least 13 ingredients here. So in my mind, I'm looking for the things I can identify. And I'll have to figure it all out. I don't have to know how to make the entire soup or every ingredient or the secret ingredient, but I know if I get 13 of the ingredients right, I'm well on my way to figuring it out. And through trial and error, the dip...
So you've heard this expression, "trial and error." What does that really mean? Trial means trying things, multiple things, and testing those things and realizing error are the mistakes. Necessary for you to discover things is to try many things, and to make many mistakes so then you can slowly eliminate, okay, there was no cornstarch in there. I thought it was sugar, but it was sugar cane, it was a different ingredient and I'm starting to work through this, and then I can then reconstruct some semblance of what I had. And every time I do this, I'm going to get a little closer and I'm going to keep testing.

Mo Ismail:

Yo, that was fire.

Chris Do:

Time for a quick break, but we'll be right back.
Welcome back to our conversation.

Mo Ismail:

I've actually never heard you say that. I think the default is, "Oh my God, that's so amazing. How did they do all of it?" And then you just try to just do the whole thing and you end up just copying versus understanding the mechanics of what you're trying to learn. It's like the process of elimination. If you can identify things that are there, you're eliminating what you maybe already know, am I correct in that breakdown? And then you ask yourself, where am I making the errors? And let me try again there. Is that correct?

Chris Do:

Yeah, more or less. You begin with definition of success as: am I able to replicate this thing 100%. So the benchmark already from the jump is flawed. If your goal is to get to 100%, you will never get to 100%. It's not possible, okay? My goal is: what percentage can I add to my game? That's my win. So if I'm able to identify seven ingredients, if I'm able to get 35% of the way towards that goal, I'm 35% better and I'm seven ingredients richer.
And this goes for a lot of things. When we talk about people, people are flawed, they're imperfect. I'm imperfect, you are imperfect, we embrace that. That means that I might have a lot of things that you agree with. And I might have some things that you disagree with, or the way that I behave as a person, or my faith, or whatever it is that I'm doing you may disagree with. Some people aren't able to detach and to dissect those pieces apart. So they say you're really great at X, Y, and Z, but because you've had an affair, I'm not saying you or I have had an affair, but you've had an affair, so therefore you're a flawed human being, I'm not going to listen to anything that you say.

Mo Ismail:

Right, right, right.

Chris Do:

Right? Because I want to spite you, I want to say you're not a person worth following. Who does that ultimately hurt? That person has no idea who you are, whether you care or not, whether you're following it, whether you're successful, or whether you fail. It's almost all self-imposed. Whereas I'm going to look at it, say look, I don't have blinders on. I realize you're flawed, but I'm also a flawed human being. So I'm not going to reserve judgment, if I can. I want to give people grace and say look, different circumstances in life, I don't know their whole story, and until I do, it's probably best for me not to judge that person. But what I do see are four amazing things that will benefit and enrich my life. I'm going to grab those four things.
The really cool thing about learning from other people is it's abundant, it's infinite, and it doesn't hurt anybody. I can borrow your thinking, your way of solving problems. It doesn't take anything away from you, but only contributes to me and everybody else that can extract this from it. That's the other thing I want you to start to implant into your brain. We don't have to discard all or take all. We can be kind of like a curator of what we take and what we leave behind. So steal the good ideas, take the good ingredients, leave the rest alone.

Mo Ismail:

But the key is to isolate the areas that you can identify. I think that is the nugget for me. When I'm studying somebody, when I'm researching somebody, what can I already identify? Can I replicate it? If I can't, then that's where my error is, and that's where I need to grow. And then I can ask more nuanced questions. I can research better. And then I'm going down that rabbit hole to get myself out of the dip where I started. So ding ding ding! That's the drop for me. And now I'm sitting back in my chair, I need the hamster bottle and guzzling down some water so...

Chris Do:

Get some ice on this man!

Mo Ismail:

Get some ice on these hands and these quads!

Chris Do:

Okay, we're not saying that the corner threw in the towel, even though I saw a towel in the ring here, but that's totally cool, right?

Mo Ismail:

Chill out, I didn't throw in the towel.

Chris Do:

The corner, that's not you. Yeah.

Mo Ismail:

Oh okay, okay, okay.

Chris Do:

Okay, So Mo I thought that was really intense and wonderful and I'm mentally exhausted. You've really taxed me. So thank you for taking me all five rounds, I do appreciate this. Everybody that's listening to this, if you like this kind of content, let us know, so that we'll make more, these shorter, I guess micro-podcasts. On behalf of Mo and myself, thank you for tuning in, for giving us your time. I hope to see you in the next episode. He's Mo, and Mo how do you get in touch with you?

Mo Ismail:

You can follow me on Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, everywhere @Moismai. That's M-O-I-S-M-A-I. That's me.

Chris Do:

And that's it for Five Rounds. Now let's reflect back on it. If we're looking to judge a scorecard here, Mo. How do we manage? This was not a debate.

Mo Ismail:

No, it was not.

Chris Do:

This, it's a false pretext. It was really about Mo coming in with fireball questions so that he can have some definitive answers on things that he's been thinking about. And so, reflecting back on the format and whatever, the way it's structured, anything you want to respond to, what are your thoughts?

Mo Ismail:

I like that I have isolated time for one question with you and that doing my best to listen to the answers and then challenge you to give me grave detail on how to bring it to life. Because I think sometimes we say things in theory and that was my goal, to keep digging. How can you give me potentially the first step that I can do? And I like that it's isolate, and that you cut me off when the round was over. I think that was good, because it trained me, as the interviewer, so to speak, or the debater, to try to get really granular with what it is that I'm trying to get out of you. So I thought that was good.

Chris Do:

Yeah, okay, let me try...

Mo Ismail:

How about you? How are you feeling?

Chris Do:

I'm feeling really good. I feel exhausted, I'm not kidding about that. To be able to look at that timer and really compress my answers and try to be really clear, it is not easy, especially when you have multi-part questions. So maybe next time what we do is we have one at a time, that way I can focus a little bit easier. But I really enjoyed that fact that when I answered only one part of the question, you came back and said, "Well, what about that other part that you didn't talk about?" And so I thought that was really good. That required a sense of awareness and being present and really actually listening, because now I know you were listening versus just throwing hooks in the air and not connecting, right? You were there. You know?

Mo Ismail:

Yeah, I was present. To the best of my abilities I was present.

Chris Do:

Just body blows, maybe just a headbutt and a bite. But other than that, I mean, we're pretty good.

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 Futur Podcast is hosted by Chris Do and produced by me, Greg Gunn. Thank you to Anthony Barro for editing and mixing this episode, and thank you to Adam Sanborne 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 thefutur.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 thefutur.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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