“You must start by looking at your end objective” with Brian Mac Mahon

You must start by looking at your end objective and deciding what your milestones are to achieve that end objective. Anything that helps you reach that end objective is a good habit. Anything that takes away from that end objective is a bad habit. If you look at this from a purely quantitative perspective, it […]

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You must start by looking at your end objective and deciding what your milestones are to achieve that end objective. Anything that helps you reach that end objective is a good habit. Anything that takes away from that end objective is a bad habit. If you look at this from a purely quantitative perspective, it makes it much easier.

As a part of our series about “Optimal Performance Before High Pressure Moments”, I had the pleasure of interviewingBrian Mac Mahon.

Brian Mac Mahon is a serial entrepreneur as well as the most active startup investor in Southern California who has owned companies in over 35 countries. He is also the owner of Expert DOJO , an international early-stage startup accelerator in Santa Monica. He specializes in helping entrepreneurs to become more successful in their businesses by using all the tools available to him as owner of a large peer to peer peak performance academy.

Brian is committed to investing in founders from all backgrounds and industries based on the merit of the execution of their value proposition only. In 2018 & 2019, he brought 400 companies through his startup accelerator program and made a total of 79 investments. During the Covid-19 crisis and after, he intends to make more startup investments and help entrepreneurs from all over the world push forward and succeed.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I was born in Dublin Ireland to a middle-class family. My father was an entrepreneur; he was an accountant. However, I took no real interest in entrepreneurship until later on in life because of the conservative background that I came from which is very similar to most other middle-class families. The focus was on finding a job and making sure that you stay in that job for a long period of time.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career as an entrepreneur or business leader? We’d love to hear the story.

My father inspired me to want to travel from an early age and I left Ireland at the age of 18. From that moment I spent the next 25 years living and traveling in over 50 countries all over the world. That initial inspiration to travel led to a natural curiosity and a desire to create. And that natural desire to create made me then want to start my first company. My first endeavor into entrepreneurship was a property development company which I started in the United Kingdom with no knowledge whatsoever of property. However, as with many people in entrepreneurship, as I bought and sold more properties, I became more and more experienced in the skills required to be successful in that trade.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

I met many great mentors throughout my journey as both prior to being an entrepreneur and after I became an entrepreneur. Most likely the largest influence that I have had on my entrepreneurial journey so far is with my current partner, Richard Nathan. Richard and I became partners 4 years ago and his belief in doing things in a much larger level has enabled Expert DOJO to become not only the fastest-growing accelerator in Southern California, but the largest accelerator by deal number anywhere in the Southern half of America. Those same ambitions will enable us to change the way entrepreneurships success is sees by Americans in the future.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

Sometimes being a business development specialist can be the worst thing to wish for. As I am an extremely forward thinking person in how I aggressively look to grow and in particularly in the industry I am in, I can also be under the mistake and belief that I am an expert in way more areas than I actually am. One of the first technology companies that I built, I had the mistake and belief that I was a phenomenal technology person who had the ability to create incredible user experience for my customers. I was of course absolutely incorrect in that assessment and managed to build one of the truly most terrible platforms on the planet until I partnered up with a technology person who showed me the path to success. That mistake and subsequent lesson taught me that we need to stay in our lane of where our highest level of expertise is but we also need to make sure we skill gap with the greatest people in the other areas where expertise is also required.

The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?

The number one piece of advice I would give, is to start early and to make lots of mistakes while you are still living with your parents. It is much easier to survive as an entrepreneur when somebody else is filling your fridge on a daily basis. Another thing that is required, is a persistence and a dedication to your craft and trade. This means that you do not wake up at 10 o’clock in the morning if there are more things that you can get done. You don’t wake up at 9 o’clock in the morning if there are more things you can get done. If you need to, you wake up at 4 o’clock in the morning and you do the most important things that will drive your business success first. After that, you follow-up with all of the logistics. But again, my best bit of advice: start as young as you possibly can.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Simon Sinek’s book “Start with Why” about branding and the importance of the word why as opposed to how. It was an incredibly impactful book not just on myself, but also on Expert DOJO. This book helps entrepreneurs understand the psyche of the consumer and why you cannot launch a product without fully understanding that. Truly a great author who understands human centric experience like nobody else.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

There is beautiful quote by Oscar Wilde that say “we are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the starts”. This is a beautiful quote because for much of your journey through entrepreneurship you will live in the gutter. Living in a difficult environment for a long period of time can drain you unless you have the optimism and the fortitude to break through.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

We invest in approximately one company per week at the moment and the companies we are investing in come from all over the world and covering some of the biggest problems in the world with everything from the measurement of molecules through eradication of diseases across the planet. The technologies that we are working on can change humankind forever and each and every one of them is exciting and has the potential to do incredible things.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. As a business leader, you likely often face high stakes situations that involve a lot of pressure. Most of us tend to wither in the face of such pressure and stress. Can you share with our readers 3 or 4 strategies that you use to cope with the burden of stress?

  1. I go to bed at 10 o’clock most evenings so that I get good sleep. It’s impossible to make strong strategic decisions if you are tired.
  2. I clear my inbox and phone messages before I start every single day. This allows me to make decisions with clarity.
  3. I accept the fact that I will make bad decisions. However, I must learn from the outcomes of those decisions to make sure that my future bad decisions are based on new criteria.
  4. Finally, I surround myself with extremely strong people who are able to help make better decision-making.

Aside from being able to deal with the burden of stress, can you share with our readers 3 or 4 strategies that you use to optimize your mind for peak performance before high pressure, high stress situations?

If I am faced with an extremely high stress situation I will try and do exercise if possible. My preferred choice of exercise to go for is a run. However, I also make sure that I am facing the situations at the time when my mind is at its fittest.

Do you use any special or particular breathing techniques, meditations or visualizations to help optimize yourself? If you do, we’d love to hear about it.

There is an excellent technique which I use which is to put myself into the third party and watch both sides of the conversation or negotiation. I find that stepping from my own body and into a third party actually allows me to be far more objective about what the outcome should be.

Do you have a special technique to develop a strong focus, and clear away distractions?

I save my biggest decisions until times when there is nobody else about and I can do this in a place where nobody else is present. Unless I require the input of other people.

We all know the importance of good habits. How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?

I go to bed early, stay fit, eat well and keep strong social relationships around me. My habits at work are to wake up early in the morning and to make sure I clear my to-dos and my objectives as soon as possible so I can focus on actually getting ahead of the day.

What is the best way to develop great habits for optimal performance? How can one stop bad habits?

You must start by looking at your end objective and deciding what your milestones are to achieve that end objective. Anything that helps you reach that end objective is a good habit. Anything that takes away from that end objective is a bad habit. If you look at this from a purely quantitative perspective, it makes it much easier.

As a business leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?

The only real solution for achieving a state of flow is to do something which you love and make sure that you are exceptional at doing it. If you do that and then take away all of the clutter that actually stops you from doing the things that you are exceptional at then you don’t need to find tactics. It happens naturally all day every day.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

The objective of Expert DOJO as an accelerator is to make hundreds of millions of dollars so we can focus on our real objective and that is to make entrepreneurship and success within entrepreneurship accessible to all the people on this planet irrespective of riches, race, religion, color, gender or anything else. That for us will be the greatest gift that we can give to the planet and we intend to start very soon.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

I would love to have a breakfast or lunch with every single head of government all over the world and ask them why they are not encouraging early-stage entrepreneurship in a way that is going to make their country stronger. It is truly the greatest travesty that faces the world today that a failure rate of 98% in entrepreneurship is allowed. Anything that we can do to stop this is an imperative.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

The readers can follow my work online by watching my TEDx talk: The Kidnapping of the American Dream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6f7lFy0oW0&t=59s

Listen to my podcast “The Art of Startup War”: https://expertdojo.com/podcasts/

And connect with me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brianmacmahon2/

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

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