5 mental models to help you become a strong leader

Matt Mochary has coached @naval, the founders of Reddit, Coinbase, Notion, OpenAI, and leaders at Sequoia, Y Combinator, Benchmark, and many others.

Here are his 5 mental models that will help you become a strong leader:

1/ Find your Zone of Genius

There are 4 zones:

a. Zone of Incompetence

These are things others do better than you (eg: car repair). Outsource them.

b. Zone of competence

The things you do just fine, but others are as good as you or better (eg: cooking). Outsource them.

c. Zone of Excellence

The things you’re better at than most, but don’t love doing. Outsource them, too.

d. Zone of Genius (ZOG)

The things you’re excellent at and enjoy doing. Ensure you spend the most time doing them.

You’ll add 10X value to your life and team.

Here’s how to find your ZOG:

Message this to a group of people you interact with regularly:

“I want to know what I’m good at. It’s difficult for me to understand that, but you can help. Can you take 10 minutes to answer these questions? If yes, thank you! If not, no problem.

• What do I do that’s “world-class”?

• What do I do where I appear experiencing fun, peace, or joy (if different from above)?

• What do I do that I’m good at but don’t appear to enjoy?

• What do I do that’s not better than others?

• What do I do worse than others?”

2/ Receive honest feedback

Want unfiltered feedback? Follow the 5 A’s:

a. Ask for it

• Take out 10-15 mins to ask for feedback.

• Assure your employees you won’t shame/punish them for negative feedback by not doing so.

• Convince them it’ll not hurt you.

b. Acknowledge it

Confirm you heard by summarizing the person’s thoughts & reciprocating the emotions.

c. Appreciate it

Avoid excuses and thank them.

d. Accept it (or not)

If you disagree, explain why with context and reasoning.
If you agree, then

e. Act on it

Discuss the solution with the feedback giver. Set
a deadline, do it, & let them know.

It will build trust & assure them it’s worthy & safe to provide feedback.

3/ Follow the RAPID (Input, recommend, agree, decide, and perform) model to make fast and quality decisions

In this process:

Here’s a helpful 2*2 matrix to decide who should be the decision maker:
4/ Improve creativity

Matt advises “finding ways to get bored” to pump your creative muscle. It will restore/relax your mental state and trigger creative thoughts.

Here’s how to do it:

• Shut off distractions (meetings, social media, keep your phone in another room) and sit alone (where no one can disturb you)

• Initially, it’ll be unbearable, but you’ll soon experience clarity and think creatively.

• Start doing this for 15 mins/day, then 30 mins/day

5/ Magic questions

To motivate your teams, ask these 5 questions, and act on their answers.

(After each question, follow up with, “What will get it to the next level?”)

• How are you feeling about your life at work?

You’ll know what would increase their job satisfaction and so can provide the necessary help.

• What is it like to work with me?

You’ll know how to improve your relationship with the team.

• How are we performing as a company?

You’ll know how to improve the company’s performance and match their outlook (Who doesn’t like to work in a growing company?)

• How are you feeling about your remote setup?

You’ll know what resources will increase their productivity.

• What is it like to work with the rest of the team?

Everyone wishes to work with supportive and talented colleagues.

The answer to this question will help you address problems and find solutions to increase team communication and collaboration.

This thread is based on this excellent source, where you’ll find @mattmochary other CEO/leader templates.


I’ve learned about Matt from his amazing interview with @lennysan. Check it out:

@mattmochary @lennysan That’s a wrap!

If you enjoyed this thread:

1. Follow me @volodarik for more of these (I also share everything on the way to growing to $100m / year)
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