S: You know the expression you have to be interested to be interesting? Well, today’s guest in this episode number 139 is amazing at both. In fact, I would say he’s downright fascinating. He’s an incredible interviewer and he’s a master of influence and social engineering. Today’s guest is Jordan Harbinger. After hosting the Art of Charm podcast for 11 years, regularly in the iTunes’ top 50 and downloaded over 4 million times a month, the critically-acclaimed Jordan Harbinger begins his new adventure, The Jordan Harbinger Show already in iTunes top 100 after just a few weeks. The Jordan Harbinger Show gets deep into the untapped wisdom of the world’s top performers from legendary musicians to intelligence operatives, a kind of classic writers to visionary change-makers. Throughout his career as a host, Jordan has interviewed the likes of Neil deGrasse Tyson, Russell Branch, Shaquille O’Neal, Simon Sinek, Tony Hawk, Larry King, Micro, and others. A former Wall Street attorney, Jordan speaks five languages and spent several years abroad, in Europe and the developing world, including South America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. He also has worked for various governments and NGOs overseas, travelled to war zones, and been kidnapped–twice. He’ll tell you the only reason he’s still alive and kicking is because of his ability to talk his way into and out of just about any type of situation. Jordan, it’s great to have you on the show.
J: Hey, thanks for having me on here, man. I appreciate it and thank you for the book when we last met. It’s quite intimidating but it so far got some pretty useful stuff in there. It’s clear you know what you’re talking about when it comes to your subject matter, I’ll put it that way.
S: Thank you so much. Did you take my advice and start with Chapter 7 on Content Marketing?
J: I did and it was a while ago and I remember thinking, “If you want us to start with Chapter 7, why isn’t it in Chapter 1?” But you probably have different people start in different places now that I think about it.
S: Yup. That’s very good, very good. That’s a great segue–content marketing–let’s talk about social influence and actually social engineering because you are masterful at that, you actually have quite an impressive background in that. I’m sure we can find interesting and novel ways to apply that to marketing. First, tell us a little bit about your background in those two areas, social engineering and social influence.
J: Sure. When I was a kid, I actually started by wiretapping phones when I was younger and listening to conversation. As an only child I was really bored, I had no malicious intent, I was just really, really, really bored. I remember getting calls from the FBI as a kid and then turning it into something. Actually I started getting in trouble–after the wiretapping stuff, I started cloning cell phones and then I was like, “Hey, these things are untraceable because they’re linked to other people.” My mistake wasn’t the limits of the technology and things like that, my mistake was telling my dumb friends what I was doing and they couldn’t keep their mouths shut. I got in trouble for things like that. I remember the police coming in and trying to figure out how all of this stuff was working and how I could have possibly have gotten–I ordered pizza for the whole school. How did I do that? Credit cards weren’t verified in real time in 1993-94. If they did that thing where they would put the card on the little–I don’t even know what you call it–and then they would slide the top part over it and it would print the card image on a piece of carbon paper, you know what I’m talking about?
S: I do. I remember that.
J: Then I don’t know how they worked it but I would imagine at some point somebody from a merchant company–or maybe they mail them in–I really don’t know and they would run the cards and deposit the stuff. Now of course that’s all done in real time using the internet or those point of sale machines. But back then, you could just make up a card number and call it in on the phone and nobody’s going, “Hmm. That doesn’t pass the check zone.” Nobody’s doing that. They’re just writing it down on a form and then a day or two or a week later they mail the form in and it doesn’t work and it comes back as something else. Credit card fraud back then was so easy but I didn’t think of it as credit card fraud, I just thought, “This is gonna be really funny. I want to make up a credit card number and get pizza for the whole school.” I did that.
S: That’s pretty funny.
J: It was funny and it was great. Everybody knew about it so it made me kind of popular which was pretty cool. But what it also did was it got the police involved because they were like, “Whose card is this? Is it your parents’?” I was like, “No.” They said, “Whose is it?” I said, “It’s nobody’s.” Then they were like, “No, it belongs to this woman in Florida.” I was like, “Guys, you don’t understand. I made the name up.” They’re like, “No, it’s a real person.” I’m like, “I’m sure it is but it’s not a real person in Florida that I know that owns this Visa card that I made up in my garage. This is a fake card.” The police just could not wrap their minds around this. I’m not saying they’re dumb or anything I’m just saying it was the 90s and police had no idea how any of this worked. Even the FBI didn’t have a cyber crime division in the Detroit Office, they had to call Washington DC when they got involved because the local police, they just went, “I don’t understand, I don’t get it.” They called the FBI because they thought it was in interstate crime, financial crime. Then they were like, “Look, we’re gonna try to keep you from getting in real trouble because you’re really young.” I was 13 or 14 years old at that time. The FBI office kind of went, “We’re not that interested in the kid’s crime but we are interested in how he got the card number.” I started talking with them and I was like, “You guys don’t get it. I made up the number.” “But it matches this woman’s name.” “I’m sure it does. You could say John Smith and there’s a million of those so just because I made up some other woman’s name it doesn’t mean that it’s a real person.” They just would not believe me. I started showing them the things that I was doing online and they were just kind of shocked and horrified and they decided, “We can’t really just watch this kid until he does criminal activity, he’s just bored.” Then I realized that I had been also inadvertently talking with a lot of other people that were into real crime and they were kind of interested in that. Rather than rat on my friends who taught me all this cool stuff like cloning cell phones and all that stuff, I decided that I was gonna get them a real criminal. What I did is I started–and I’m using the term very loosely–hacking because it really was just like taking advantage of the most menial security exploits in chat software, I found some chat rooms where they were like legitimate pedophiles and I started handing those guys over to the FBI and they quickly lost interest in fake credit card numbers used by kids to order pizza as harmless-ish pranks because I did have to reimburse Papa Romano’s which made the worst pizza in Michigan and I hope they went out of business because they were awful. I had to reimburse them for that and the FBI didn’t care about that anymore, they were more interested in these pedophiles that I’d found online. I started handing these chat transcripts over to the FBI and that is how I found out that they didn’t have a cyber crime specialist or office in Detroit but they had to refer everything over to DC. That was kind of my beginning in a lot of this because the DC Office was incredibly interested that there were so much criminal activity online, they were wondering if it was made up and as soon as I verified of course that it wasn’t because I could get a lot of these chat transcripts in short order, there’s no way I could have created all of them. I showed them exactly where I was online and how I got in there, they were really interested in this. I started helping them lure these pedophiles over the state line. I grew up in Michigan and Toledo, Ohio is really close.
S: That’s where I’m from.
J: Is it really?
J: Okay. Toledo, Ohio, we would lure these guys across to Toledo, to a motel, and I’m saying “we”, I was not there waiting for them with handcuffs, I would hear about it later. We’d lure them across the state lines so that way the FBI could get them. The local police were just like, “Wait a minute, so you use your modem to call somebody in one city and then that guy is in another city calling him with his modem and then he’s got it…” They just couldn’t get it together because they’re like, “How are we gonna coordinate this Michigan township where the kid is to the police where the internet service provider is? Is it where the modem center is in Detroit or is it in Virginia where America online is located, who’s got jurisdiction and then the guy lives over here?” It just became impossible so the FBI said, “Here’s what we’re gonna do. Lure him to Toledo and then it’s us and you guys don’t have to worry about who’s belt is longer. We’ll just handle it.” That was what we did. We just started saying, “Great. Meet us at…” I don’t know, whatever it was Motel 6 in Toledo, it’s where my family’s gonna be on vacation and these guys would show up or they wouldn’t and then they would get arrested and they’d say, “What? I’m just here on vacation.” They’d say, “Great. Here’s your chat transcript with a bunch of people that you think are small children and are actually FBI agents handed over by a not-so-small child–which is me at age 14, 15 and I think 16.” I did it for a few years.
S: Wow. That’s quite a story. That’s amazing and I love it. That led you to do what then? Create a company to social engineer and find exploits to help companies harden their security or what was the next step for you?
J: Yeah. It really wasn’t like, “Okay, I should start an entity and become a consultant. It was more like, “I worked for this security company that was doing physical security.” I mean like the guys were bouncers and stuff that or working residential apartment buildings in Detroit. I would make a website for them, create ways for them to communicate using the internet, things like that so they could check in and made a nice looking professional website for the company, that kind of stuff. They would pay me in this really cool kind of Martial Arts training and stuff like that. Then as I got older and I was able to drive–I was actually the only white guy at work–I was driving a lot because actually–I used to think of it as a funny story, now it’s a little bit more tragic 20/20 hindsight, I used to have to drive everywhere, one because I had a car that wasn’t all dented up and looked professional, but two, because being the only white guy, I never got pulled over, I never got pulled over. But everybody else would be driving and they would always get pulled over especially at night, especially if we’re working in a nice neighborhood. I just drove everywhere and I never got in trouble. It was always like the windows were tinted on my car so they could see me but they couldn’t see everybody in the back. Actually, it was kind of interesting being the only white guy in a workplace at that age because I got an early experience there. But that company would often find other companies that needed help with certain things and I would get calls like, “Hey, we’re actually looking for somebody to evaluate our security system. Do you do that?” They’d say, “Let me see if we have someone here.” Then they would ask me, “Hey, do you think you could figure out this, that, and the other thing?” I had a lot of cool experiences like going to places and trying to figure out how to trick their alarm systems and, “Oh, we have this motion detector at our warehouse.” It’s like, “Okay, cool.” I would go and try to trigger the motion detector or I try to trick automated door from to open from the inside. One thing I remember doing that was also funny and it wasn’t the only fun I had at this job but one of it was I remember we were trying to get this door to open from the inside because it had a motion detector on the inside and we kept waving things under the door. It wasn’t working, wasn’t working. I thought, “There’s gotta be a way to get this stupid door to unlock.” What we did is we basically went to like a porn shop and we bought an inflatable rubber or plastic doll and we shoved it under the door, under the weather stripping and as much as we could without ripping it and then we inflated it and it opened the door from the inside because you know it inflated into like a small woman essentially. There is video tape of it and I don’t have it because this wasn’t the day and age that we could just copy a digital file and keep it. These were actual tapes. I remember the security tapes and we were dying along with their security and their executives because there’s this tape of like the door’s moving a little and then this little like bunch of plastic slides under the door and then slowly but surely–because I’m inflating it manually so I’m not using like a compressor or something–this slowly, slowly, this rubber-sex doll thing inflates in the door motion thing unlocks from the inside and then there we are on the tape walking in laughing. That sort of made the rounds at this company. I’m sure it didn’t make the security company that installed the motion lock any happier because they probably had to figure out how to fix all of their units because they were so easily defeated. I don’t know what they did, I think they probably took the weather stripping out and actually put like a hard seal on the bottom of the door. Things like that, man. You could probably break weather stripping on a door right now, it opens with the motion lock, at a warehouse or some sort of industrial facilities, shove a rubber doll under there, inflate it, you’ll probably get in. I did stuff like that. Most of it was boring but that was a pretty interesting one.
S: Where does the social engineering come in because hackers use that all the time to pretend to be people they’re not, some get passwords reset, and all that sort of stuff. You did some social engineering?
J: Yeah. I did a lot of that stuff too. There was a lot of things that I did to gain access to phone systems and stuff like that. I remember at one point, I was so interested in phone systems hacking but I didn’t wanna get in trouble again especially. Friends of mine–and I put this the same types of friends that you have when you’re online, the bad guys–I remember we’re still dealing with Iraq at the time. It was kind of like the Gulf War I wanna say was over but there was still ongoing tension. I remember, we figured out that Iraq’s telephone system was administered and installed by MCI–I don’t think they exist anymore. I haven’t heard about them in 20 years but MCI was a solid phone company. They had built the switches or the infrastructure for the country of Iraq. I called MCI a zillion times and I got manuals for all their old systems that they had installed in Iraq. I got all kinds of information on how things work. I would call linemen or I guess technicians, I don’t know if they had linemen because I don’t think they own the infrastructure. But I would call the technicians and get information from that. I remember talking with the linemen and pretending like I didn’t really know exactly what they were doing and asking questions. I remember sometimes I would screw it up because I would go be talking to some guy working on the phone thing–and remember I’m like 15 years old at this point maybe even younger–and I’d say, “Oh, when you connect the alligator clips to that line pairs on the inside of the green box, you can hear the phone conversations.” He’s like, “That’s right.” I can test to make sure that the phone line is properly installed and if there’s static on the line, I can hear it using this orange handset that I have right here.” I was like, “Oh, that’s really interesting. Is this digital or analog?” He’d be like, “Oh, I’m surprised you know these words.” We’d be talking about these different types of systems. I remember once saying like, “Is this ESS 5?” He’d go, “How do you know the version of the type of system that we’ve installed here?” Imagine this, you’re like this 35 year old lineman and you’re operating on something outside with tools and specialized equipment and some 15 year old kid knows essentially the–I don’t even know how you call it–the model number or the firmware version or whatever it is that they were working on at that time transitioning the systems from analog to digital. I remember this guy is just like, “How do you know what that is?” I just remember thinking like, “Oh, the jig is up and kind of wandering away.”
S: Gotta go, bye.
J: Yeah. “Gotta go. Oh, yeah nevermind, a lucky guess, I suppose.” I figured out and learned as much as I could about these systems. Then I would call MCI, sort of their Technical HQ and report problems that didn’t exist and be like, “Hey, I’m looking at this switch and this type of switch and this thing is broken. I need a reset. Do you know how to reset these things?” They would walk me through the process. I’d say, “Look, I’m only a couple months on the job, I actually forget how this is resetting.” They’d say, “Hold on.” Then some sort of senior tech would come in and go, “Yeah. Okay. You gotta do this, this, this, this, this, and this.”
J: They would just walk me through it. Look, I’m a random young-ish sounding person but I’m asking very specific questions that nobody else would know, there’s no internet, remember. If you knew about the type of switch they had, you obviously worked there, nobody else would know what kind of software they’re running on the switch, nobody else would know what kind of hardware they’re running, nobody else would be using the same technical terms that just didn’t make any sense. They didn’t for one second think, “This is somebody trying to gain access to a switch in Iraq who speaks English.” They’re just like, “Oh, yeah. He’s over in Iraq trying to fix something.” They would walk me through it and I was doing the social engineering and some of the phone stuff, we called it phreaking at that time. The hacker guys would go in with the knowledge that I got and some of the passwords that I would get and things like that and they would login and we shut down a lot of the phone systems in Iraq. We did that because we thought we’re gonna help out somehow with this war effort if whatever happens again. I remember hearing about some of the things that Saddam Hussein was doing and we would just take it upon ourselves to shut down Iraqi phone systems in Baghdad, I don’t think they even had anything outside of Baghdad, really. We would go and shut them down because I think MCI had run it. We just figure out everything from home and then work on it from there. There was a lot of mischief that I got into that was kind of like that. We just looked at it as like, “We’re doing our part and also it’s fun.” It was like being in a militia except you’re not shooting at anyone or getting shot at, you’re just kind of farting around from the safety of your own home. To be honest, now that I explained this kind of thing with the stories haven’t told years and years and years, this is really like cyber warfare alpha stage before anybody was doing anything like this and nobody thought about it and critical systems weren’t even online in the first place aside from telecoms, they had backups and things like that anyways.
J: But that was the beginning of it. I remember learning things like the MCI telecom system in Iraq uses microwaves. Man, yeah looking back, that the top secret weapon that we had used, I think in the Gulf War was AWACS which are these big planes that have huge antennas on the top–for lack of a better word. They could disrupt electronic communications including microwaves. The military ended up doing, I think maybe the first or the second Gulf confrontation, I can’t remember exactly which one, they destroyed a lot of the underground switching equipment using precision strikes, smart bombs, whatever and then they use the AWACS to monitor and/or disrupt the microwave system which was the backup system. That was one of the ones we are messing with was these microwave transmission systems. That was what we were doing back when I was a kid.
S: That reminds me of like a Stuxnet or whatever that was called, they infiltrated the Iran nuclear facilities with malware.
J: Yeah. That was an interesting one because–what I was originally thinking was how in the heck did they get it into that facility where everything’s air gapped and high security. The answer is basically every freaking computer in the world had Stuxnet on it. It just didn’t matter because it didn’t do anything unless you were running 1998 Siemens Hardware Controllers for Plutonium [centro fusions [00:22:50] or a certain kind of setup. Really a kind of it was a very specific target but it was kind of like a disease that everyone had. Then suddenly you go find this new population and they all get sick and dying and like, “What’s going on?” Like the smallpox epidemic when people came to the new world. That’s kind of what stocks net was in a way except instead of all of the native population dying it is just the nuclear reactor. Every computer everywhere had stocks on it. The reason that it got on there was because a thing proliferated for so long that everybody had it and so by the time some one or two guys broke the rules and plugged their dumb flash drive or laptop or whatever in at the nuclear facility, it was all over, it was on every computer that you could find.
S: That’s so cool.
J: Yeah, it is cool.
S: Alright. Let’s bring this back to marketing now.
J: Oh, is it marketing podcast? Sorry about that everybody.
S: I’m sure everybody’s been wrapped listening to these crazy stories. How do you apply social influence to your marketing, especially your online marketing?
J: Yeah. A lot of the influence that got me the things that I wanted to get when I was a kid, I mean social engineering stuff and whatever, it started off as obvious manipulation, it was bad, it was not nice. I was a mischievous kid, it was my version of spray painting a dumb tag on a building or something like that or subway train. As I got older I thought, “Okay, I don’t wanna do this anymore, it doesn’t make me feel good, it’s not nice and tricking people those people are nice, they’re just trying to help me out, it’s not cool, it’s not the person I wanna be. Then when I got older, I realized, “Wait a minute.” I was kind of torn because the things I was doing was working really well and had I been some kind of sociopath or something I would have just kept doing it but I didn’t wanna not get results, I didn’t wanna not have people like me or wanna help me or something like that so I had to juggle, “Do I wanna keep doing the social influence thing and having it work and then feeling bad about it later or do I want to have lower or lesser results in my life in terms of making friends, influencing people, and things like that?” What I realized you can actually, surprise, you can actually have both, the thing is you have to use the social influence for the good of everyone and you don’t have to feel guilty about it. You can use persuasion and influence to get people what you want them to do as long as what you want them to do is also good for them, you just have to be careful about trash rationalizing the things that you want are also good for everyone else. That’s where I started to think about when I started to apply these different types of concepts to marketing and things like that. Now on the Jordan Harbinger Show where I teach people things all the time and running through social influence and things like that, persuasion, I really teach people a code of ethics in a way, leave everything better than you found it is kind of like this, I guess you would say like an adage that we say on the show the time. But also it’s really not that hard because once you elicit what people want, you can essentially just give that to them. People wanna help you. If you help people get with they want to help you get what you want and things like that. These old sort of Zig Ziglar, Dale Carnegie principles; if you wanna be interesting, be interested in other people. Those really work well for social engineering but they also work great for sales which is the corporate social engineering and they also work really great for developing online influence. A lot of people go try and cram something down your throat in terms of like, “You gotta buy this and if you don’t buy this, you’re never gonna be successful and you’re gonna be loser and your competition’s gonna get it, then they’re gonna beat you, like that sort of fear based. But what I like to do on the Jordan Harbinger Show is be like, “Hey, look this is gonna make you better and if you teach it to a bunch of your friends, they’re gonna be better and then you’re gonna be around all these great people on you’re gonna have all this limitless opportunity because if everybody’s great connecting with other people and everybody’s really great in making other people feel good for having work with them, you’re gonna have this circle of people around you that always make you to just feel better, help each other out in business and in personal life that are constantly reconnecting and connecting with other people outside the circle and introducing you to them sort of limitless possibility. That to me was kind of a cool superpower to have that was also infectious rather than just the sort of zero sum, “Haha, I tricked the operator into giving me the password for this switch and now I can do something mean with it.” The potential of the social engineering soon became limited and I realized not only did I wanna be a good guy but that being a good guy was actually more powerful than being somebody who just went out and got what they wanted and then laughed because somebody was so dumb they fell for you being nice which is kind of like a psycho thought process. You don’t think about that stuff when you’re a kid. If you don’t grow out of it, it’s a problem. Fortunately, I grew out of it early. I bring a lot of those skills to the Jordan Harbinger Show and the things I do as in adult, I just do it so that everyone is made better as result, not just I get what I want and screw everyone else.
S: Give me an example where you’re applying your skills at persuasion in a sales and marketing context that massively improves your reach or your objectives for the Jordan Harbinger Show.
J: Sure. Let’s say that I’m running an event and I want people to sign up for the event. I’m gonna use this sales skill set for that, I’m gonna use a persuasion skill set for that. But the event is also going to teach those people how of reach out, connect with people, create opportunity for themselves, and the way that I teach is always about creating opportunity for themselves and for other people in their circle. The example that I always often give is you have to help other people without the expectation or attachment of anything in return. What that does is if you help enough people, which you will if you’re following those types of rules, then eventually opportunity start to come back into your network and you can usually hand those off to other people because if you do this right, you’re gonna have more opportunity than you know what to do with because you’re helping so many people, you can help 100 people a week if you want to, and then eventually opportunity’s gonna pop back to you which you’re not gonna have the ability to take advantage of yourself so you start spreading it around your network. By using my sales and persuasion skill sets, I get people to fill up my events or I go to a company and teach this stuff. Then the benefits that those people reap and build around them start flow back to me in a way because they’re out making connections and they find, “Oh, great. Here’s an opportunity to throw something to Jordan who taught me this skill set in the first place.” That point, I’m kind of getting paid to create little mini networks everywhere that I go that eventually funnel opportunity back to me and everyone involved in the process is happy.
S: That’s very cool. Yeah. I believe wholeheartedly in business karma and just in karma in general but business karma that you give without the expectation and receiving and return it’s not a tit for tat, it’s not a horse trading. The universe will deliver for you, it will make sure that you’re taken care of. Let’s move on to–speaking of the Jordan Harbinger Show, what are some of the challenges that you’re facing and some of the ways you’re dealing with those challenges because you’re essentially starting over, you had top 50 iTunes podcast for over a decade, 4 million downloads a month at its peak. Now you’re on a new show, that’s your show alone and you have to kind of reinvent yourself and reinvent your followers and fan base and all that.
J: Yeah. I had to reinvent my followers and fan base because I basically left The Art of Charm, I got fired actually, so did everyone, it was sort of a coup. Those contractors that didn’t get paid by the company and stuff, there are of course legal consequences for that kind of thing. When I left, I took pretty much entire team with me which is great and I’ll let people draw their own conclusion from that kind of thing, I feel like that speaks for itself. I was able to take all of that talent with me, all of the skills I built with me, and I have the relationships that I built over the last 11 ½ years of running that show. Now I run the Jordan Harbinger Show. What’s happened is my audience is migrating en masse over to the new show which has been great. Now I have to rebuild but it’s also kind of like I get to rebuild. I never liked The Art Of Charm brand or at least in the last few years, I didn’t, I thought it was cheesy and wasn’t doing me any favors and doesn’t really represent what I like to do which is interview some of the greatest people I can find; high performers, deconstruct what they do, and teach what they do to the listening audience essentially giving their super powers, teaching their super powers to the listener. I book guests like Larry King to talk about conversational skills, CIA agents to talk about how they read people and get information and teach those same skills to the listening audience not exactly what you would expect when you hear the brand name The Art of Charm. I was wanting to leave for years but I didn’t really have the guts to make that decision. Leaving, having that decision made for me and being able to take the whole team with me was such a massive, massive opportunity. It’s just the the way it happened really stuck, if that makes sense.
S: Yeah, yeah. What are you doing to migrate those fans and listeners over to your show? I’m presuming there’s still an Art of Charm podcast that they could be listening to but somebody else is hosting that.
J: Yeah. The fortunate part is, since having to lose the social media accounts, lose the email list, lose the website, all that stuff, at first I was horrified, I was like, “Oh, my gosh, this is gonna be impossible.” But what I realized was not only was there a disruption since there is no show running on The Art of Charm podcast for a while, actually the guys who were left actually did me a huge favor by coming back and trying to do the show themselves because I’d been doing the show for 11 years with my team. I’m a Professional Talk Show Host, these guys had not ever done the show themselves and so it became really obvious to people, “Where’s Jordan? What happened?” Immediately upon them releasing their first episode, you see this huge downgrade in the traffic, the rank of that podcast as people searched for what I’m doing and I can look at my own numbers and I can see huge spikes in a few days after they released that episode which were people looking for what happened to Jordan and there I was because I didn’t miss a beat, I just kept going with the Jordan Harbinger Show right away. What I started doing was reaching out to my network and saying, “Hey, this is what happened.” I didn’t have any pride behind it. I wasn’t like, “Oh, I left the company and I’m doing my own venture.” I was like, “I got screwed. it wasn’t fair but it is what it is. I’m gonna rebuild, I wanna make things better than before but I need help.” That was actually a really, really important move because I think a lot of people, they will let’s say have something like that like getting fired and then like, “I don’t wanna tell anyone, I wanna preserve my pride.” I realized early on that I had a choice. I could either preserve my pride, people will find out anyway, I’ll have a five-year long recovery period. It’s gonna be weird and awkward, I’m gonna have to explain myself, etc. or I can reach out to everyone and say, “I got screwed, my team came with me, we need help rebuilding.” That’s what I did. I booked lots of shows, I had lots of people in my network send mail to their list. In the first month of doing the Jordan Harbinger Show we got 1.3 million downloads as a result of some of that outreach. I’m gonna be on the grind for the next 18 months or more actually, I’d spent 11 ½ years building The Art of Charm, that actually wasn’t what I was doing, it was what I thought I was doing. But what I was really doing was building my own personal brand. I get letters every single day, “Hey, I just found that you left. I’m a couple months behind on the show or couple of weeks behind on the show.” Or, “My friend told me you left, I can’t wait to hear your new stuff.” There’s a lot of excitement about the new stuff because I didn’t realize this at the time but people were there listening because of me, they weren’t their listening because of the brand that I had created, they were there listening because of the content that I’d created. People are coming with me which I think is amazing. It wasn’t just my team, they all came with me as well, I just wasn’t really thinking that the audience would do that too but it has happened that way which is great. It wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t followed my own rules for networking, dig the well before you’re thirsty, create those relationships before you need them, give without the attachment getting anything in return, don’t keep score with people when you help them, don’t think, “Okay, this person owes me one.” Just do you and if you need help, reach out later. Swallowing your pride, if you need help, ask for it, don’t try to pretend like you never need help and other people do. That kind of thing. I was doing that all along because I thought it was good to practice what I preach and also because it made me feel good and it was a nice way to live, not because I thought, “One day I’m gonna end up getting totally effed.” That was in the back of my head, you think, “Oh, I’m giving without the expectation of anything in return. I’m digging the well before I’m thirsty.” I wasn’t thinking one day I’m gonna be so thirsty that I’m gonna be death door. I was just thinking, “Oh, I’m practicing what I preach. This is great.” Then one day I wake up and I’m like, “Oh, my God, I need all of these relationships, thank God I actually built them.”
S: Yeah, yeah. What’s been one of the most amazing turn of events, let’s say an email or something that somebody sent on your behalf to their list or something along those lines where you’re like, “Wow, I couldn’t even possibly ask for that. I’m just so blessed to have gotten that kind of a gift.”
J: Yeah. I first reached out to 20 or so people that I kind of “knew” would say yes and that was important because I was worried that people say, “You’re gonna find out who your friends are.” When people say that, they don’t mean you’re gonna be pleasantly surprised by all your friends.
J: They’re telling you, “Get ready for some hard rejection that you are not gonna like.” I was like, “Oh, crap. That’s gonna be really tough because I’m already in a tough spot, I don’t feel good about it.” I reached out to a couple of friends, I mean like a dozen, where I knew they would say yes and they’d be sympathetic, etc. When I reached out to them and they said yes, that really built my confidence to reach out to other people. But what happened after that was really amazing which was people that I barely knew or didn’t even know were like, “Oh yeah, I reached out to you four years ago and you helped me with something. I’m gonna make 10 introductions for you. I’m gonna get you on 10 shows. I’m gonna reach out to 10 people or I’m gonna send out to my email list for you.” I thought wow, there’s a lot of really generous people in the mix here, people who don’t owe me anything that if they’d said, “Sorry, I can’t help you,” I wouldn’t even have been mad because we met once at a conference three years ago, you don’t owe me anything. These types of things happen over and over and over and over again and I just went wow, people are pretty damn nice and I just didn’t expect it. Not because I’m not nice, why would other people be nice? I’d like to think that I am but I just didn’t expect the generosity of spirit and a lot of people to be helping me out in certain ways. What was really interesting was a lot of people at the top of the game were really generous and other people at the top of the game were not. But everybody in the middle and towards the “bottom”, newbie podcasters and things like that, those people have all been super helpful. I thought that was pretty ironic because, you think the people who have the least to give at the bottom might be the people who are like, “Look, I can’t really help you.” Or, “I gotta look out for my own.” I found that those people were in fact the most generous. Then the people at the very top were also the most generous. There were people in the middle who were kind of like maybe a little more jaded, they were the least helpful as a group. I thought that was interesting.
S: I think it makes sense because the people who are really successful realize that this isn’t a zero sum game. People who are just starting are just grateful to have the opportunity, I think.
S: People who we’re kind of in the middle, yeah, jaded, stingy, whatever word you wanna use, I think they haven’t figured out that it’s not a zero sum game yet.
J: Yeah. I think you’re right or they feel like I’ve been screwed over a couple of times, now I gotta be more careful about who I help. I think there’s an element of that. There are some people out there that have a scarcity mindset that think, “If I introduce you to this person, that costs me something.” But it doesn’t. If you’re making a good introduction for somebody, everybody wins.
S: It helps everybody.
J: But I think if you’re thinking zero sum and you’re thinking, “Ooh, I’m the only person who can interview this person, I’m never gonna introduce them to anybody else.” Really that comes back poorly for you later. You might be even looking at these people and going, “Wow, this person is such a great personal brand, look how many YouTube subscribers they have. Wow, everyone knows them.” But when you get towards the other people in that same echelon, you start to hear these murmurers over whiskey that are like, “Oh, yeah. I did an event with him, I happen this really bad thing, I will never work with him again.” “Oh, yeah. I did a product with him five years ago.” “Oh, I didn’t know that.” “Yeah. I’ll never work with him again.” I’m like, “How did this person get there?” Then you realize, “Oh, they kind of got there on the backs of a few people. It’s not really a good look.” Then you go they’re doing really well, they might throw out the best-selling book here and there and stuff like that. But at some point, I wouldn’t say critical mass but there’s certainly a certain number of people that have a certain size when added together that are kind of secretly or not so secretly rooting for them to fail. That’s bad. Overtime, that is not good.
J: You see the results of that and I hate to use this example but it’s very timely right now, you see the example of that with some of the people getting taken down for harassment and things like that in Hollywood because you really realize, “If this person did this like one time, that’s really bad.” But they did it so many times that there became an critical massive people that were like, “You know what? Screw this guy, I’m taking him down.” Or he harassed a couple of people and everyone hated him. Nobody stood up for him when it mattered. That’s fine especially if some of these guys are guilty of sexual assault, nobody should be sticking out for them. But you see that a lot or you see that these sort of mighty people that you think, “Wow, everyone knows them but then there’s enough whisperers around these certain circles that people don’t wanna help them after a while.” If you burn enough bridges, your star will start to fade. You have to continually burn your connections in order to stay ahead, that’s not a good way to build a brand or relationship with your audience.
S: Kind of like in SEO where you’re burning through domains because you’re doing black hat stuff, it’s not sustainable.
J: Exactly, exactly. You see a lot of this in business where somebody, they’re like, “Oh, man this person is so successful.” But then when you talk to a lot of the other people that are successful and they’re all seated at a table and they’re all friends with each other, and then it’s like, “Oh, yeah. But did you see this?” “Yeah, that was crappy.” “Did you see that?” “Oh, yeah. That happened to me too.” You just find out like there’s 10 people at one table and they’ve all got one or two little negative anecdotes about this other person. That person might seem really popular with his audience because he’s constantly burning that audience and then replacing it and burning it, replacing it. For example in podcasts, I see these podcasts that are marketed so well and I mean millions of dollars in marketing going behind the shows and the YouTube and stuff over time and then I see I might get a glimpse of their downloads or I might find somebody who works on the backend and I go, “How many downloads per episode is this getting?” It’s like one third of what time getting at the Jordan Harbinger Show or the same of what I’m getting at the Jordan Harbinger Show after like six weeks they’re getting after like four years, and I go, “How is that possible?” The reason is because their audience isn’t staying with them, they’re constantly selling to them or trying to get them to buy crap or they’re using the same formula for all of their episodes. They have this sort of churn problem where they keep losing people after a few months. The reason they look so popular is because everyone knows who they are but it doesn’t mean everybody likes what they’re doing.
J: There’s a huge difference in that in business that people don’t measure, you go, “Oh, my God, everybody knows this one guy.” That might be true but how many people think that he’s a terrible businessman or a joker or a scammer? That’s the stuff that people don’t say, they might say, “Hey, have you heard of so and so?” “Yeah.” What they’re not saying is, “Have you heard of so and so?” “Yeah. But he’s a total joke and I would never buy anything from him.” Because people are polite, they don’t do that.
S: Right. It’s like calling in to get a reference check him before you hire somebody and the silence is deafening. “What can you say positive about this person?”
J: Yeah. Exactly, exactly. “What can you say that’s positive about this person?” “You’d have to ask somebody else. I don’t really wanna say anything about that.” That says it all.
J: That’s not good for you. A lot of people have this problem because what they’re doing is they’re looking at sort of a short sighted business model where they’re like, “I could do the right thing and make a little bit less money.” Or, “I could do the wrong thing, I could make the sale now but if this ever get back to me, I’m screwed. And then they think, “Ah, what are the odds of that?” If you play a numbers game, if you roll the dice enough times, you’re gonna roll snake eyes. That happens if you’re constantly selling out your friends to make a buck, eventually you get found out and then the rumors start to fly because people understand, “Oh, that could happen to me if I stay friends with this person.” That’s bad. Your reputation, you really just can’t fix. It’s like impossible.
S: Jay Abraham has this concept of pre-eminence where even if you’re going to lose the sale, and it’s better, it’s in their best interest to work with somebody else, you should refer them to that other person.
S: Yeah. I wholeheartedly agree. Kind of circle back to the question of where you got some surprising thing of an email campaign went out or something and speaking of Jay Abraham, what I couldn’t believe is after I interviewed him on the show, he sent an email just about the episode to his entire list.
S: What a gift that was and I had no inkling that that was gonna happen. That has completely caught me off guard. I was very surprised. That doubled my subscriber base.
S: Yeah, yeah. That was cool. That was back a couple years ago now, 2016. Another example of how you can just give and not have any expectations and return and then the universe hooks you up, I wrote an article about Byron Katie for the Huffington Post after I attended a keynote that she gave at Omega NYC. It was just such a powerful presentation, I wrote this article Byron Katie Wants You To Be Happy. To this day—it has been like four years now—it’s still on her homepage, that link to that article. A couple of years ago when I reached out to her and her team asking if she’d be on my other podcast, on The Optimized Geek, I just casually mentioned, “By the way, I noticed that the article I wrote about Katie is on the homepage of your site.” “Oh, my God, of course we know. We would love to have you interview Katie…” That was pretty awesome. I’m a huge fan of Katie and she’s changed so many millions of lives, it’s just really incredible. We had a very powerful interview that I think is one of the highlights, if not the highlight of my two and a half years of podcasting at The Optimized Geek. That wouldn’t happen if I hadn’t just seen this is giving opportunity to write an article and spread the love so that she’d get more followers and more people reading her books and more people getting their lives changed.
J: Look, if you’re playing the game right, so to speak, you will win both short term and definitely long term, it just might not always look that way. You my think like, “Oh, I really could take the easy way.” I’m a former Lawyer, Wall Street Lawyer, and one of things they always taught us in law school was anything you write, assume it might end up on the front page of the New York Times. I take that tact and I’m thinking, “Okay, everything I do, what if everyone I know could see this? Would I be proud of this action or would I be like, ‘Oh, God. I didn’t think anyone is gonna find out about that.’” If you have a choice between doing the right thing and nobody knowing about it or doing the wrong thing and maybe you get a bonus so you get ahead somehow, you just gotta be careful because if something bites you in the butt, it’s never worth it. Building a reputation that allows you to sleep at night and has people say, “This person does the right thing.” Even when they think no one will find out, that’s huge.
S: Yup. Yeah. Who’s been your biggest guest so far since you’ve done the new show.
J: The new show, I had Simon Sinek on recently.
S: I like him a lot.
J: Yeah. You do know him. Okay, cool. I don’t have to explain it. Yeah.
S: Maybe you should explain for our listeners.
J: Yes. Start with why, find your why. He’s just a massive, massive TED Talk and speaker. I also had Gretchen Rubin on who is also a best selling author and writer. Her new book is called The Four Tendencies where she takes personality archetypes of different types of people and allows you to show–basically you could read other people in a very useful way and you can read yourself in a very useful way to find out what makes you tick, what motivates you, things like that. I also had Jocko Willink on, he’s a former Commander of a SEAL Unit that was the most decorated in Ramadi in Iraq. I’ve had quite a few legitimately big guests on the show, Dan Heath, Chip and Dan Heath.
J: Those guys write business books all day. They publish these best-sellers. I’ve had some really great guests so far actually in the short six-week run of the show since leaving The Art of Charm for the Jordan Harbinger Show. I’ve even got some sort of off topic, if you will guess, I had Bill Browder, William Browder, who is on Vladimir Putin’s kill list. He was one of the first investors in Russia and the former Soviet Union and he’s one of the guys responsible for sanctions against specific oligarchs and Mafioso folks in Russia. I’ve had a really eclectic group of just fantastic guests that are really, really knocking it out of the park.
S: Wow, that’s great. Who’s on your hit list now–maybe hit list isn’t the right word. Who’s on your wish list, a huge name for this year?
J: I’ve got Larry King coming on in the next couple of months sort of depending on scheduling. He actually asked me if he can come on my show, that was pretty damn flattering. I’ll throw that out there. We’re having breakfast last week and he said, “When are you gonna have me on your show?” I said, “Yeah, just say the word. No problem. One of the most famous talk show hosts in the world, do you wanna come on my show? Yeah. Let’s do it.” I’ve also got some pretty cool, I guess they’re not surprise guests, I’ve got some really cool guests coming up that I’m quite excited about. I just interviewed David Eagleman who also got a great Ted Talk, he’s a Neuroscientist and he invented a vest that allows deaf people to hear with sound that translates to vibrations in the vest. I’ve also got some just really fantastic, I’ve got Barbara Boxer, former Senator Barbara Boxer coming on the show as well. I’m excited about this. I’m looking through my guestlist now, I’m just thinking, “Holy cow. I’ve got so many great people coming on.” Phil Hellmuth, World Series of Poker Champion, I’m going to be recording that one at his house. I’ve got Dr. Drew and Adam Carolla coming on the show to, if you know who they are.
J: Got a really good set of guests in the pipeline and there’s some other people that I don’t wanna mention because they haven’t confirmed just yet or scheduled just yet and that’s always like, “Oh, when’s Shaq coming back?” “Oh, yeah. I shouldn’t have said that.” I’ve got folks like that coming on too. I’m excited for that. There’s just really some great people coming on the Jordan Harbinger Show.
S: Neil Strauss for example.
J: Good friend of mine right there.
S: Okay, yup.
J: Yes. You were in that? Did ever see me speak? I spoke a ton at those events.
S: Did I see you speak? I don’t remember.
J: I guess not. You would remember. I would assume because we’re so close.
S: Who knows. I’ve attended most of them. They were only like four or five, maybe five or so that I missed out of the entire history. In fact, the very second one was….
J: Happened to be the one that I spoke at, obviously. I would imagine.
S: Maybe. Which ones did you speak at?
J: Oh my gosh. They were early on when he first started.
S: I did most of those.
J: I was at his house a lot at those events. There was another one–your audience doesn’t care about this at all, I’m sure–but most of the ones that we’re at his house and then some of the ones that we’re on that hotel, on your Hollywood Boulevard. I spoke at a bunch of those. One I was on with Joe Navarro, the FBI Agent who was teaching about reading body language.
S: I was there. I was at that one.
J: Who knows? Maybe you were out of the room. Maybe you weren’t just interested in what I had to say and look now. Now I’m on your podcast. How things come full circle.
S: That’s funny. Small, small world. Yeah. Neil has had a big impact on me. It started with reading The Game and then learning from his video training, the Annihilation Method. I ended up speaking at the second ever society intensive, I wasn’t even a member, I just spoke and then I ended up joining, I’ve been there ever since. Pretty cool. Let’s wrap this up, I know you have to go. What would be one piece of advice that you want to make sure that our listeners get in terms of something marketing related that will change their business that you haven’t already shared?
J: Sure. This is called the doorway drill. This is about nonverbal communication. Why nonverbal communication? Because your first impression is not made when you open your mouth, a lot of people go what do I say? What do I say to start conversations? How do I start conversations with people I don’t know? Doesn’t matter because your first impression is made nonverbally. If you don’t believe me, go walk down the street, go to a mall, something like that and your brain’s gonna go, Tall person, fat person, attractive person, cute person. Oh, this person’s small. Look at that cute child. Your brain’s doing that, we’re evolved to do that. It’s basically a sub conscience thing that keeps us safe and healthy overtime. We know that our first impression is made when we become a blip on their radar, not when we decide to make an impression. What we need to do is make sure that our first impression is something that inspires confidence. Right now, unless you’re driving, stand up straight, shoulders back, chest up, chin up, smile on your face, you don’t have to exaggerate this, you’ll look really dumb if you do it on like Superman thing. But if you just stand up straight, chin up, chest up, shoulders back, smile on your face, this is open, confident, positive body language. Now you’re gonna forget how to do that immediately. If you walk into a networking event or something like that or some sort of sales meeting, if you try to focus on that, you’re not gonna be able to stay present in your conversations. We have to delegate that to the subconscious mind. The way that we do that is through practice. Everytime you walk through a doorway, stand up straight, chest up, shoulders back, chin up, smile on your face. You’re gonna forget that in five seconds after this because we walk through doorways all day, we don’t do anything special. Go get a pack of post-it-notes, the tiny ones, the green bright colored ones, stick them up at eye level in the doorway of your house, your office, your room, your studio, whatever it is–doorways you go through a lot–your bathroom. Nobody’s even gonna care. It’s just a post-it-note and it’s in an office or it’s a post-it-note at home. What this does is everytime you walk through the doorway, you’re gonna see this post-it-note at eye level and go, “What the heck is that? Oh, right.” Straighten up, open positive confident body language. When we do that–and we’re used to doing that every time we walk through our doorway–then we don’t have to think about it anymore. When we walk into Starbucks, we walk into a sales meeting, we walk into a conference room, we automatically reset our body language to open positive confident body language. What that does is it creates a positive opening confident nonverbal first impression on everyone that we see and meet because of course, when do they see us? When we walk in the room. That causes those people to treat us differently. When they treat us differently, we use the way people treat us to really make decisions about who we are as a person. That’s why kids who were bullied have low self-esteem, for example, because they’re treated in the certain way so they act as if. When people start to see, “Oh, this is an open, positive, confident, friendly guy or gal…” They treat you as such. When they treat you as such, you actually start to behave in a way that is consistent with that. Then you don’t have to think about this stuff anymore, you’re actually an open, positive, confident person because that’s the way people are treating you. You can have this core level, this identity level shift in who you believe you are using a pack of post-it-notes.
S: That is a powerful hack. I love it. I’m gonna try it.
J: Do it.
S: I’m gonna do more than try it, I’m gonna do it.
J: There you go.
S: When you try then you tell your brain to not do it.
J: Yes. I agree with that.
S: If folks wanted to work with you on a coaching basis or take any of your programs, how would they get in touch?
J: You’re already listening to a podcast, I would say I’m not trying to sell anything to you right now, I would love it if people came and listen to the Jordan Harbinger Show because every episode comes with worksheets with things like the doorway drill, you can learn and master those things on your own with my help via the podcast. Otherwise products, coaching programs, services, all the stuff is at jordanharbinger.com. Frankly, right now we’re rebuilding a lot of that. I’m just happy if people come and listen to the show because there’s a ton of value there and it doesn’t require me to cram a product or service down your throat. I just want people to find what we’re doing and go, “Holy crap, this is the best podcast ever.” It’s right behind Stephan Spencer’s podcast, Marketing Speak, in terms of value. I wanna make sure people go there and check that stuff out and then if they really wanna learn more from me, they’ll be able to find me through that show, that’s for sure.
S: That’s awesome. Thank you so much, Jordan, for sharing your stories, your brilliance, being vulnerable and open with us, and yeah, sharing all that wisdom. Listeners, this is great stuff that you now need to apply in your life to that doorway drill and some of the other takeaways from this episode are gonna be in a checklist on marketingspeak.com. Go ahead and download that as well as the show notes and transcript and all that. It’s all available at marketingspeak.com. This is Stephan Spencer, your host, signing off. We’ll catch you on the next episode of Marketing Speak.