#113 Mo Islam: On Learning from the Apollo Era, Killing Them with Kindness, and How Humility Saves Startups | Co-Founder of Payload

In Episode #113, we’re joined by Mo Islam, Payload’s Co-Founder. We cover lessons we can learn from the Apollo space era, why killing them with kindness is the best option, and why founders should stay focused on what they love.
Last updated
August 17, 2022
Min Read
Before co-founding Payload, Mo started his career as an investment banker at JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank.
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About Mo Islam

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“Hubris kills startups and humility saves them. No matter what your success level is or may not be, it's really important to always be humble about what you're building and what you're doing because it can change at the drop of a hat.” – Mo Islam

Mo Islam is co-founder of Payload, which is building a media empire dedicated to covering the business and policy of space, as in outer space. We discovered Payload and immediately subscribed to their daily newsletter after it was recommended by Delian Asparouhov, co-founder of Varda Space Industries, in Episode 71. We asked Delian what newsletters and websites he used to stay on top of everything going on in space, and he had only one answer: Payload Space.

Mo Islam has a fascinating background in finance, having worked at J.P. Morgan and Deutsche Bank before co-founding Payload. In this episode, Mo shares why hubris kills startups and humility saves them, what he's learned from incredible investors like Philippe Laffont at Coatue, and why he loves the book Engines That Move Markets, which we had never heard of but immediately ordered after recording this episode with him.

For more, explore the transcript of this episode.


In this episode, we deconstruct Mo Islam’s peak performance playbook—from their favorite book to the tiny habit that's had the biggest impact on their life. In it we cover:

  • 00:00:00 – Introduction
  • 00:01:40 – Clearing up misconceptions about space
  • 00:03:06 – Kill them with kindness, embrace the boredom
  • 00:05:30 – Learning from Phillippe Laffont and Engines That Move Markets
  • 00:07:33 – Hubris kills startups; humility saves them
  • 00:09:18 – Focus on what you love
  • 00:12:02 – Learning from the Apollo era
  • 00:13:15 – Relying on to-do lists and the Notes app
  • 00:15:53 – Do what matters, change people’s lives for the better

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Castbox, Pocket Casts, Player FM, Podcast Addict, iHeartRadio, or on your favorite podcast platform. You can watch the interview on YouTube here.

An Idea Worth Trying

Mo relies on Apple’s Notes app for his daily to-do lists and notes. Having one spot to keep ideas and tasks helps him ensure nothing falls through the cracks as a founder.

Our Favorite Quotes

Here are a few ideas we'll be thinking about weeks and months from now:

  • “Build a playbook. It can be boring. It could be nothing. There could be not much unique about it. But if you can relentlessly execute on it, then you can build a really big business. Don't be distracted by the fancy stuff. Just execute and the money will come.”
  • “Embracing the boredom is something that I experience and really want to highlight, because I think a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs think running a business is exciting, and there's always something new. To an extent it is, but the other side of the coin is really executing on the playbook. Once you build the playbook, every day you just focus on executing and not deviating.”

Books Mentioned

The following books came up in this conversation with Mo Islam:

Selected Links

We covered a lot of ground in this interview. Here are links to the stories, articles, and ideas discussed:

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