How do you know? episode #3: Be exceptionally focused

Sam Mallikarjunan is one of those people whose mental clarity shines through everything he does and says. This hour-long talk is worth the listen for the sheer value of Sam’s ideas and advice.

sam mallikarjunan how do you know podcast

Get the resources mentioned in the show.

The third episode I recorded for the podcast stars Sam Mallikarjunan, one of the people who has influenced me in a meaningful way over the past few years. He is Executive Strategist at HubSpot, PDP Instructor at Harvard University and Faculty Chair at the University of Florida, and you might be surprised to know that he achieved all this without ever getting his bachelor’s degree.

This is not the only surprising fact about Sam! He’s a big believer in adjusting to what’s around you rather than trying to make reality fit into your plans. This belief is part of Sam’s toolbox for dealing with the high-paced, unpredictable context we all live in while making a meaningful impact.

Sam started at HubSpot when it was still a startup, back in 2011, and he only considered leaving the company once. The decision had such meaningful consequences that he hired an economist to make the choice for him because he was too emotionally involved in it. In the podcast, Sam shares why this was the most difficult decision he has to make in his professional career so far.

Another reason conventional wisdom does not apply to Sam is that he doesn’t make long-term plans. That’s because he believes

the pace of change has made elastic flexibility a lot more important than process-oriented planning.

As a result, he focuses on short-term plans by applying the MSPOT method, a tool also used at HubSpot. He also focuses on omissions, the things he chooses not to do because of the path he chose.

Sam believes in disrupting yourself before anyone else does it. This entails being exceptionally focused, even if it doesn’t come naturally. (Hint: for most people, it’s a struggle, which is why it’s such a valuable skill.) That’s because, as he says: “you can do everything right and still lose”.

If you want to lead, you have to get good at focusing.

Sam also talked about small and big choices and how slow decision-making is much more valuable than having quick reactions. The story entails a kitchen fire with a happy ending. 🙂

We even talked about Sam’s biggest regret related to his career and life, which is not having been able to pursue a military career (yet).

There is a lot more to discover in this episode of How do you know? so give it a listen!

Get the resources mentioned in the show.

As always, I encourage you to “be as coldly rational as you can“, as Sam said, when you share your feedback about this episode and the others. The more context I have, the better and more helpful I can build this podcast.

Listen to it on:

iTunes | Overcast | Simplecast | Stitcher | Pocket Casts | Player.fm

Thank you for listening!

How do you know? episode #2: Go all in (and tell the full story)

How do you know? episode #4: Trust your process

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