June 12, 2021

Ron Friedman on Finding Success By Learning to Reverse Engineer Greatness

Ron Friedman on Finding Success By Learning to Reverse Engineer Greatness

Ron Friedman shares the principles of Decoding Greatness and reveals why the stories we are told about success are wrong. Learn how to reverse engineer greatness in any field by becoming a collector, how to create a scoreboard that leads to success,...

Ron Friedman shares the principles of Decoding Greatness and reveals why the stories we are told about success are wrong. Learn how to reverse engineer greatness in any field by becoming a collector, how to create a scoreboard that leads to success, and a simple technique for hacking your habits and guaranteeing that you improve your skills over time.


Mo asks Ron Friedman: How can the audience get better at growing their book of business, their relationships, and their career?

  • The big idea behind Decoding Greatness is that the stories we were told about success were wrong. We were told that either people are born with special talents or that greatness comes from years of practice. The third story that most people don’t know is that those at the top of a profession have most often mastered the skill of reverse engineering.
  • Reverse engineering is simply taking the best examples within your field and working backward to see how it was achieved and what can be applied to what you’re working on. Methods vary depending on the field you are in.
  • Regardless of what field you are in, having the reverse engineering mindset of looking to decode how something is created is the key to getting better.
  • Become a collector. Most of the great people in the world started off as collectors before they were creators. Finding greatness requires seeing greatness in others. If you see something that you want to achieve, collect examples of those things and you will begin to identify the patterns that are different from other things. Finding the differences is the first step to figuring out what makes someone or something unique.
  • Asking great questions is another method of discovering the differences when you have the opportunity to speak to your model directly. A mindset of naive curiosity is one of the fastest ways to allow people to open up when they are with you.
  • Contrast this reverse engineering method with the idea of practice makes perfect. Improvement through isolation is a failing strategy. You can’t practice an idea you’ve never considered. The real path to greatness is having a systematic approach to learning from the best and applying it to your work.
  • Simply copying someone else’s formula will probably not work for you. Their value proposition may not apply to your industry or the audience expectations may have shifted. The key is to evolve what you are modeling to make it unique to you and novel to the people viewing it.
  • One way of doing that is by combining two or three examples of greatness and taking the elements that resonate with you to create the best possible version.


Mo asks Ron Friedman: How can we create and close more big opportunities and business?

  • We know from the research that anything you want to improve on you need to keep score of. In other words, you need to track your numbers.
  • Simply relying on closed deals is not enough. There are way more metrics that you can track that are better indicators of progressive improvement. You have to identify the metrics that indicate you are doing a good job in your field and track them over time.
  • When you track those numbers the metrics become motivating. You tend to be more mindful of what you decide to do and it exposes wasteful effort.
  • We are sensitive to numbers evolutionarily speaking. Numbers give us crucial information that we need to succeed in many different areas of life.
  • Only tracking the lagging indicators like deals closed is only half the picture and they aren’t directly in your control. You need to track leading indicators that are in your control as well.
  • Your scoreboard needs a balance between short-term and long-term goals. This applies to the overall success of your career, but extends into your personal life and relationships as well. We want to avoid over-optimization of a single metric to the detriment of everything else. Metrics can be a mix of both quantity and quality.
  • In terms of metrics that you should focus on, you need to work backward from your target audience. Not all prospects are created equal. We would all be wiser to think about the one person that you want to work with the most and how to replicate them.
  • Subjective metrics can still be beneficial, but even within those metrics there are things to drill down on to identify what makes the metric important. In the case of meaningful conversations, did both parties speak equally? Was there self-disclosure from both sides? When you compare the ordinary to the extraordinary you will be able to identify some objective metrics that you can aim for that will enable you to be more successful.


Mo asks Ron Friedman: What can we do to deepen our relationships using all of the knowledge in Decoding Greatness?

  • Use your relationships as test markets. Test markets are often used by successful entrepreneurs to fine-tune their ideas before they go to market. This enables you to take a lot more risk and test more things before going big.
  • When it comes to deepening your relationships with potential clients, ask for advice on a potential approach you’ve been considering. Avoid asking for feedback because requesting advice primes them to think about the potential ways you could improve, and you get great feedback at the same time.
  • People love to feel like they can contribute and their opinion is valued. Ask for advice.
  • In relationships, people want to be valued, respected, and appreciated, and what better way to honor someone than asking for their input on something that you can improve.
  • Positioning yourself as better than your clients will work up to a point, but if you want to deepen your relationship and get them invested in your success, asking for advice is the way to do that.
  • There is also the advantage of getting the perspective of someone that you can’t see on your own specifically because of your level of expertise. Advice can open up your mind to ideas that you haven’t considered and can lead the other person to suggest people that would be interested in that offering.
  • Start a collection of people who communicate well and deepen relationships effectively. We all have people in our lives that we can emulate and create a collection that will allow you to decode and discover meaningful patterns.
  • When communicating, start with what’s important to the other person and not what’s important to you. If you have established a scoreboard, you can also create a checklist to measure your communications against.


Mo asks Ron Friedman: How do we hack our own habits to be successful?

  • When most of us think about improving our skills we tend to think about a practice that’s narrowly defined in the present. If we look at those who are at the top of their field, their definition includes the past, present, and future.
  • Looking to past experiences by keeping a five-year journal is how you get an extra perspective. Reviewing our previous day alongside that same day one year before will give you additional insights, and the five-year journal automates the practice.
  • Additional benefits of the journal are that it improves your memory and helps you recognize how often your fears are overblown in the moment, and this gives you more confidence to handle challenges going forward.
  • Research shows that if all you do is write down what you learned today, your performance will improve by up to 25% on the following try.
  • Reflective practice is a method that will generate improvement over time.
  • Practicing in the future is exemplified by imagery. Athletes imagine their performance in advance using all five senses. Experts that use this technique improve faster and extend to all professions.
  • One of the best uses of imagery is imagining that you stumble and how you recover. This teaches you that whatever comes up you can get better. This technique helps you front-load decisions and allows you to simply execute in the moment.
  • If you write down what can go wrong in a meeting and how you would handle it, your confidence will go through the roof and it will allow you to be more present in the conversation.


Mo shares his insights from the habits of Ron Friedman.

  • Decoding is extremely powerful. Mo has had great success taking models that worked for another company and decoding it and then applying it in his own way, and has noticed that without a concrete vision or model to emulate, the odds of success go way down.
  • If you want to decode greatness, start by becoming a collector. Having only one model can be restrictive. Combining the elements that work across models can create a synthesis of the best examples and lead to a better end result.
  • Track your behaviors because there is no way to be successful and feel great about it without tracking something of your own.
  • We love numbers and are intrinsically drawn to them as they indicate success in life at a very fundamental level.
  • If all you are looking at is lagging indicators, you won’t feel motivated in the short-term and it can lead to feeling defeated. We need to pull the metrics back to things that we can control instead of focusing on the outcome. What can you do today to be just a little bit better at what you do?
  • The cumulative effect of your leading indicators is long-term success. If you don’t track the metrics that matter most you can end up making missteps for months without even realizing it.
  • When it comes to business development, think about your performance all the time. One of the benefits of the pandemic is the ability to record your Zoom calls with potential clients and review the conversation. You can look at the number of questions you asked, when the other person leaned in or checked out, and more. Practice in the past and review your past performance on a regular basis.
  • Practice in the present and write down what you’ve accomplished today. Having a meeting with yourself to review your progress is incredibly valuable.
  • Practice in the future. Focus on the imagery of the elements that are important to business development meetings. Anticipate what might happen, what questions you might receive, and what might go wrong and this will give you the confidence to deliver effectively.



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