[Interview] Personal Growth and Imagining Bigger (with Phillip Jo)

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Ralston Medouze

Ralston Medouze

Ralston is a teacher and entrepreneur. He's passionate about achieving goals and has a wide variety of interests. Some of his goals include traveling the world and learning 5+ foreign languages.
Ralston Medouze

Phillip Jo of Macro Conscious

Photo by Ien Chi

I met Phillip roughly six years ago while we were in college together. Phillip is one of those people whose aura and words make you want to absorb everything he has to say. He’s an incredibly fun guy to be around because he radiates positive energy. Recently, he’s stepped into the entrepreneur pond, building the company Macro Conscious with his co-founder Andrew Erickson. Every time I speak with Phillip, I have an amazing conversation and leave with marvelous insights. I’m excited to share our conversation with you.


Me: What do you do? How long have you been doing it?

Phillip: I co-founded a Data Analytics and Communication company called Macro Conscious.  

We generate more data every two days – we generate data up to 2003 (and that statistic is from 2010).

In light of a rapidly growing information-based world, we “humanize data”- transform data into actionable insights that empower people’s dreams and goals.

 

Me: How long have you been an entrepreneur?

Phillip: About 5 months now.

 

Me: Why did you decide to run a business?

Phillip:

Freedom: Waking up every morning and knowing whatever you create is God’s and yours. I am the driver of my destiny. I own the failures and successes.

Strategy:  Many of us are in the tactical realm. We are given deliverables and check them off our list. Although tactics get stuff done, strategy is implementing the processes that move you closer to your vision as a company. All the complexities that come with making sure you are “playing” in the right industry and setting the company and your team up for success electrify me.

Experience and Learning: I probably learned more in the past 3 months than I have in college and work combined. Of course, my technical, business, relational, and strategic skills have all gone up; however, it’s really [about] learning more about who you are and how you can continually grow, especially since how you act, speak, and interact with others creates the foundation of the culture your company is going to have. In this realm, I can literally feel my consciousness, mind, and empathy expand and refine.

The People and Culture: I am not talking about any particular start-up culture and I dislike idolizing entrepreneurship. We make as many – if not more mistakes – than anyone else; however, as a company, you get to choose who you associate with and the cultures you participate in. I look for communities that have a strong foundation in integrity, innovation, accountability, and transparency. For people, I surround myself with those who imagine immensely, live bravely, and never give up. To me, the greatest joy in life is building a network of people committed to a vision and surrounding yourself with people that energize you on a daily basis is heaven.

 

Me: What were you doing before?

Phillip: I was working as a product manager in software.

 

Me: What are some important decisions and events that have brought you to where you are now?

Phillip:

I was running from who I was. Sorry for being existential, but I think we get swept up in this narrative; although, the trend is drastically changing. The millennial generation was told to go to college, get good grades, and work in a corporation or a profession. Almost everything senior year of college is to get a job and there were courses in resume writing (“sell yourself and buff up your resume”), interview classes, and so on and so forth. This path is as beautiful as any other, but it was not for me. I did not fit well into corporate culture and struggled. I wanted to innovate and change things for the better, but it’s hard to do so in big corporations.

I want to lead, to create, to inspire, to expand the consciousness of humanity, and to be on the edge of innovation on my own terms.

So, when I resigned from my last job in Silicon Valley, I had a choice: find another job or start a company with an amazing friend. The choice was obvious and I have not looked back since. Now, instead of I (riddled in this response), it turned to we. What can we (Macro Conscious) do as a team to help humanity become better? Why are systems the way they are and how can we change them? How do we inspire positive social growth? How do we make data humanistic and accessible?

 

Me: What’s your greatest strength?

Phillip: Imaginative storytelling and strategic/critical thinking.

I like to call myself an “idea engineer” and a “data storyteller.” I see a vision as clear as the laptop in front of me and the possible paths it takes to get there. Then, I transform this data into a story that resonates, empowers, and inspires positive growth and action. Of course, strategic and critical thinking is a pre-requisite part of this process.

 

Me: What’s your greatest weakness?

Phillip: I have a lot. One is needing to be the smartest in the room. I believe much of college (remembering, it’s been two years since I left) is crafting yourself to be the person with all the answers or the subject matter expert. This approach is literally “stupid” since all you are doing is giving away a lot of information but receiving very little.

It’s much more important to have a strong sense of who you are and surround yourself with people who are much smarter and wiser than you. Instead of being the person with all the answers it is far more important to be the person with all the right the questions. Then, find and give the people who can create the best answer all the right resources they need.

 

Me: What’s one of the greatest challenges you’ve ever encountered? How did you overcome it?

Phillip: Expanding my ability to identify the core questions and critically think through them. This skill set is continually growing in all of us. There is no limit and hence no mastery. Personally, I grew up in what I call the “Google It” culture. When faced with a question you cannot answer in 15 seconds on your own, you Google it. If it’s not there, you Google something else. Although the information age has put data at our fingertips, it has also vastly limited our ability to own and think through the problem-solving process.

In order to overcome this, I think more and Google less. If faced with a challenging question, depending on [my] schedule,  I give myself at least an hour to work through the problem on my own. Then, I talk it through with an accountability- or thought-partner who operates with a different set of assumptions and data. After that, it’s looking at metadata. Of course in some cases, the opposite is true. I am not going to spend 2 hours figuring out how to code a line of javascript if my goal is not development.

Believe it or not, everyone has their own unique perspective and by just instantly using someone else’s you rob yourself of the novelty you can provide in a conversation. A lot of our company’s innovation, strategy, and growth was a result of this process.

 

Me: What’s one accomplishment you’re most proud of? Why?

Phillip: Starting and getting this company sustainable. All of it goes to the amazing team and co-founder, so in no ways can I call it mine. All I can say is I am happy to be a part of Macro Conscious and our amazing vision to “Humanize Data.” We want to make data accessible for all people to easily access and use to improve their organization and lives.  

Thanks to Macro Conscious and its people, I live every day with purpose and a vision.

 

Me: What do you hope to accomplish in the future?

Phillip: I believe in a vision where data is a seamless part of our decision-making process: an executive on an airplane can see real-time reporting of his or her business on their phone, a mother can speak a list of symptoms and instantly get three possibilities for her sick child, or a hospital with a simple report see the top three ways to improve their response rates.

There are a lot of dependencies and things that we have to figure out. For instance, what is the future of the future? How do we navigate the growth of AI and why do we even want it? Can we have self-coding software that can troubleshoot itself? When will the screen disappear altogether? How do we ensure the integrity of the findings we get from our data? What are the ethics and compliance rules?

As we critically think through these problems, Macro Conscious will be at the forefront of this trend as a global leader that empowers people by transforming data into actionable insights and helping them navigate a continuity information based world.

 

Me: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Phillip: I don’t believe in a single piece of advice that has changed my life. There is a big difference between hearing or reading something great and actually putting it to practice. All the best advice I have ever received and have only just started to live [center] around four themes:

 

Empathy:

When you start loving others as yourself, if not more, doors naturally open in life and business. That is why I value empathy and EQ so highly.

  • “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these” Mark 12: 30-31

 

Imagination:

I believe you cannot become without first imagining yourself becoming as a person or organization. It all starts here. When my mentor told me to think bigger, I started a company. I can’t wait what for what I’ll imagine next!

  • Think bigger! Whatever you’re envisioning, it’s probably not big enough.
  • “Greater than the tread of mighty armies is an idea whose time has come.” Victor Hugo
  • “You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” Mark Twain
  • “Everything you can imagine is real.” Picasso

 

Failure and Growth:

Failure and growth is a part of life. It is important to consciously develop the awareness that lets you transform failure into launch pads. With some good advice to change and be conscious of thoughts, my relationships, and thus my business, grew stronger because persistent failure is usually a cycle we invented for ourselves.

  • “We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we create the world.” Buddha
  • “Start by doing what is necessary; then start doing what is possible, and suddenly, you are doing the impossible.” Saint Francis
  • “Don’t fake it until you make it. Fake it until you become it.” Amy Cuddy.
  • “Failure is not fatal. But failure to change might be.” John Wooden

 

Business:

All of the above is really how to conduct business. However, one of the worst mistakes I found is having money become the purpose instead of the tool and fear. A wise friend told me fear should never be the primary motive behind anything.

  • “Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its trouble, it empties today of its strength.” Corrie Ten Boone
  • “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” Alan Kay
  • “A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.” Henry Ford
  • If I had six hours to chop a tree, I would spend four sharpening an ax.” Abe Lincoln

 

Me: How do you define success?

Phillip: Leaving the world a better place than I found it and empowering humanity to imagine bigger.

Personally, I want to be known as a dream maker. At my funeral, I want people to say “because I met Philip, I became stronger in faith, a better mother, a better father, a better friend, and an overall better human being.”

 

Me: What do you think are the most important attributes of successful people? How do you

rate yourself in those areas?

Phillip: You have to become a leader among leaders so:

  • Vision/Imagination
  • Courage
  • Humility
  • Integrity/Honesty
  • Love/Empathy
  • A purpose greater than themselves
  • High self-worth

I don’t rate myself. There is never a 10 or a 10000 for any of these. The beauty of humanity to me is that we can grow until our last breath. I will keep growing in all these areas.

 

Me: If you could choose one person to get advice from, who would it be and why?

Phillip: Dead or alive?

Dead – Albert Einstein. He understood that what he accomplished was not all his. It was an accumulation of all the great scientists that came before him and his day. He imagined immensely, had equal amounts of courage, and even more humility. Being able to absorb and learn from that type of character would be an honor.

Alive – The people of my company, Macro Conscious, my parents, and the employees of Elon Musk. The question here is how much do we really know? When is the last time you sat down with your parents and asked about their life? Your partners? Your siblings? Everyone has something to give and their own “mantra” or way of life based on their experiences. I would learn to love them.

[I would like to learn from] Elon Musk’s employees because it is one thing to have the imagination and ability to bring people together and another to be the teams that make them a reality. The “bigger” someone is, the more people they had helping them, often times people who are much smarter and brilliant than the person who takes the credit.

 

Me: What do you do in the morning to help you have a productive day?

Phillip: I wake up, meditate, read relevant updates in my industry, and go straight to work.

 

Me: What excites you the most right now?

Phillip: The present of building Macro Conscious. The future of what Macro Conscious will be and the lives the company will make better. The pivotal age of the data revolution that is and will be. The timing is perfect; it is time to seize the opportunity.

 

Me: What’s important to you right now?

Phillip: Macro Conscious and our vision of “humanizing data.” My family, friends, and the people who have, are, and will help me build Macro Conscious into a global company. Of course, continuing to learn and grow to become a better leader.

 

Me: What’s a book you would recommend? Why?

Phillip: The Bible, Quran, Mahayana Sutra, and other religious texts.

I love learning about different faiths and worldviews. The principles and parables of love, empathy, accountability, and integrity are all cores of the business that I want to create. Beyond expanding my consciousness, it has also helped me empathize with a wide range of people and beliefs.  

Also, faith in any form (religious, personal, or business) is a pivotal part of company and self-growth. If you need data, one of the enduring properties of great companies (see next list) is having unwavering faith your company will grow and see through the uncertainty of its current crises or tumultuous time.

Good to Great by Jim Collins. It is old now but a great foundational study on what makes the companies we admire what they are.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck teaches you to expand your awareness as a human being and to catch yourself when you are in a “fixed” mindset (one not ready for growth”).

Anything Murakami and The Kitchen by Yoshimoto.

These are great books that speak to our generation. For example, Color or Kafka on the Shore address the pains and struggles we all share and grow through as human beings.

To be a great leader, you have to become an amazing human being. The themes of enduring suffering, healing, and self-growth are food for the hungry soul and a hug for the weary heart.

 


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