About Mo Islam
“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.”
The following books came up in this conversation with Mo Islam:
- Engines That Move Markets: Technology Investing from Railroads to the Internet and Beyond by Alasdair G. M. Nairn
- Doing the Impossible: George E. Mueller and the Management of NASA’s Human Spaceflight Program (Springer Praxis Books) by Arthur L. Slotkin
- The Secret of Apollo: Systems Management in American and European Space Programs (New Series in NASA History) by Stephen B. Johnson
We covered a lot of ground in this interview. Here are links to the stories, articles, and ideas discussed:
- Phillipe Laffont | LinkedIn
- Hubris Kills Businesses. Humility Saves Them. | Entrepreneur
- Notes App | Take note of almost anything
- Ableton | Music production with Live and Push
- Logic | A complete professional recording studio on the Mac
- Apollo 11’s Transcendent Leadership Lessons | Forbes
- The Best Books About the Apollo Program and Landing on the Moon | Smithsonian Magazine
- American kids want to be famous on YouTube, and kids in China want to go to space: survey | Business Insider