October 5, 2021

173: How to Engineer Success with Dr. Ron Friedman

Hard work, timing, talent, intuition…there are many ingredients that are often cited as critical to success. One often overlooked strategy is finding what works and replicating a winning process. When teams are able to use effective processes, they are able to succeed again and again, whether that be in how they lead meetings, develop new products, gain new clients, or anything else.

Today’s guest is Dr. Ron Friedman. Ron is an award-winning psychologist who has served on the faculty of the University of Rochester, and has consulted for political leaders, nonprofits, and many of the world’s most recognized brands. Popular accounts of his research have appeared in major newspapers, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the Globe and Mail, the Guardian, as well as magazines such as Harvard Business Review and Psychology Today. Ron is the author of Decoding Greatness: How the Best in the World Reverse Engineer Success

Ron and I talk about the principles from his book and how we can apply them to all kinds of activities, and how managers can incorporate the lessons into their teamwork.

Members of the Modern Manager community can get 1 of 5 copies of Ron’s book Decoding Greatness: How the Best in the World Reverse Engineer Success as a guest bonus. To get your copy, join the Modern Manager community at www.themodernmanager.com/join. If you work for a government or nonprofit agency, get 20% off any membership level.

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Read the related blog article: Teach Your Team To Reverse Engineer Success

Key Takeaways:

  • Reverse engineering is the third crucial element along with talent and practice to achieve success.
  • Reverse engineering is observing and analyzing what other successful people do and using that information to create your own product.
  • The steps to reverse engineering are Curate, Analyze, Templatize.
  • Curating is finding the best examples of success, such as great emails or meetings. Create digital “collections” to organize your findings.
  • Analyzing or “reverse outlining” is working backwards to figure out what ingredients made the product, experience or accomplishment a success.
  • Turn the information into a template to use as a structure for building your own product or experience.
  • Make sure that your final product is authentic to you. It’s inspired by others’ success, not copying their success.
  • Keep in mind that audience expectations shift over time, and once successful products may lose their charm.


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