At some point all of us will likely experience a job loss or some other big life setback. While it can feel like your world is crashing down, there’s one asset you’ll hopefully have at your disposal which can help you weather the storm: your social circle.
My guest today experienced the buoying power of relationships firsthand when he lost a job he held for over ten years. His name is Jordan Harbinger and we’ve had him on the podcast before. For 11 years he was the host of the Art of Charm Podcast, but recently found himself out of the host chair and without a job. But thanks to the social connections he’s built up over the past decade, Jordan was able to quickly get back on his feet and now has a new show.
Today on the podcast, Jordan shares what it’s like to lose a job he held for a decade and what specific tactics he used to manage the roller coaster of emotions that come with that. We then dig into how his social circle was the key asset that helped him get back on his feet quickly and what you can do to start developing social capital today so it can buoy you up in a time of need.
Lots of actionable advice in this episode. You’ll want to take notes.
- How Jordan lost his job and business that he co-founded
- Why you aren’t quite starting from scratch when you lose a long-term job
- How Jordan catastrophized in the midst of starting a new venture, and how he gained proper perspective
- Practical advice Jordan got to help curb his anxiety about starting over
- What Jordan discovered about his friend group and network
- How to ask for help (“Always Be Giving”)
- Why asking for help is actually a sign of strength
- How Jordan recovered from the initial shock and awe phase of losing his job
- Ways to exercise control over your situation
- Discovering your “lay off lifelines”
- How valuable your network really is
- Maintaining your network and staying in touch with people
- Why you should offer specific help/tactics when someone asks or needs it
- Why to use “no response necessary” when communicating with people (especially high-level contacts)
- How Jordan has led his team through this big change
- How losing his job affected Jordan’s marriage
Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast
- My previous episode with Jordan about the art of charm
- Building Your Resilience: Quit Catastrophizing
- Be Proactive, Not Reactive
- 5 Tools for Thriving in Uncertainty
- Why You Should Go to Church (Even You Aren’t Sure of Your Beliefs)
- Building Your Resiliency
- Circles of Concern and Influence
- The Self-Driven Child by William Stixrud
- Matthew Kimberley
- How to Build Relationships That Don’t Scale
- Using Introductions to Strengthen Weak Tie and Boost Your Career
Connect With Jordan Harbinger
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Read the Transcript
Brett McKay: Welcome to another edition of The Art of Manliness podcast. At some point, all of us will likely to experience a job loss or some other big life setback. While it can feel like your world is crashing down, there’s one asset you’ll hopefully have at your disposal which can help you weather the storm: your social circle.
My guest today experienced the buoying power of relationships firsthand when he lost a job he held for over 10 years. His name is Jordan Harbinger. We’ve had him on the podcast before. For 11 years, he was the host of The Art of Charm podcast but recently found himself out of the host chair and without a job. But thanks to the social connections he’s built up over the past decade, Jordan was able to quickly get back on his feet and now has a new show.
Today on the podcast Jordan shares what it’s like to lose a job he held for a decade and what specific tactics he used to manage the roller coaster of emotions that come with that. We then dig into how his social circle was the key asset that helped him get back on his feet quickly and what you can do to start developing your social capital today so it can buoy you up in the time of need.
Lots of actionable advice in this episode. You’ll want to take notes after the show is over. Check out the show notes at aom.is/Harbinger. Jordan joins me now via clearcast.io.
Jordan Harbinger, welcome back to the show.
Harbinger: Thanks for having me on, man. This is always fun.
Brett McKay: Well, it’s been about I think a year since we’ve had you on, but you’ve gone through some big time changes in that year. What’s going on in the world of Jordan Harbinger?
Harbinger: Sure. I got married which was kind of a cool thing that I wished I’d done earlier after doing it. Before I was like, “Oh, gosh. This is such a to-do and it’s such a big thing.” I was just planning. Then when we did it, we’re like, “We should have done this a long time ago.” Totally worth it.
Then in the last few months, I’ve actually left my company that I’ve been with that I started The Art of Charm. I left that company in the last couple of months, and I left the show, and I started The Jordan Harbinger Show instead. As you might imagine, that wasn’t how I foresaw that split happening. It was not supposed to happen that way. We had negotiated something totally different and that ended up not going according to plan for various reasons, some of which are legal claims that are still outstanding, and so I’m like, “All right. I got to move forward.” Either I can make a choice about to be down about this for longer than I was because I did go through almost a period of mourning. Right? I’m leaving this and they’re getting this stuff. They’re taking this away and the back catalog with the old show is gone.
But now I’m more excited but it was quite a process and I’m still going through it. I’m still in the middle of it. The more I talk about it, the more I realize every guy and girl for that matter, but every guy especially has gone through this if they’ve just been on this planet long enough.
Brett McKay: Right. Yeah. You’re basically starting from square one. You spend 11 years doing something and then that’s gone. You said you went through this mourning period. When this initially happened, this transition happened, what were your biggest fears? What were the things that tied your stomach in knots and was keeping you up at night? Maybe they still are.
Harbinger: Yeah. It’s funny. I was literally being kept up at night by all of the what ifs and that was really scary for me because I’d spent so many years building up The Art of Charm that the idea of just starting The Jordan Harbinger Show and pretending everything was going to be okay just did not seem realistic at all. Of course when you build something, you think that’s how long it takes to build a thing like this, a podcast that has that much traction, that has that many listeners. It’s going to take me another 11 years to do it.
But what your brain or what my brain anyway didn’t realize was that, of course everybody else is telling me this but I wasn’t listening, was, no, you’re taking with you all of your skills that you’ve built over the years, all the relationships that you’ve built over the years and most of the team, around 85, 90% of the team from The Art of Charm ended up coming with me on the new venture any way. I wasn’t starting over from scratch by any measure. It was kind of like if you own a restaurant and then that restaurant burns down and you open another one. You’re not thinking, “Gee. Where do I buy food and how do I hire waitresses and servers, and how do I manage the accounting?” You’ve already done that. You just have to do it in a different location with different resources. But you’re not starting from scratch really. You’re not like you were when you first built or bought the restaurant. That was lost on me. I just discounted all of that, and instead, really was catastrophizing.
To touch on an article you wrote probably 10 years ago, I don’t know if you remember that four part series.
Brett McKay: Yeah.
Harbinger: I was catastrophizing a lot. I was indulging in that a lot. What if nobody … What if this happens and what if that happens and what if my network dumps me? What if the advertisers dump me? What if I can’t sell, and this and what if the website doesn’t work? There were what ifs that were so ridiculous now. Of course I don’t even remember most of them, but there are ones I look back on now and I’m like, “How did that cost me a night of sleep? That was the dumbest thing to worry about in the world.” But at the time, I was convinced.
I remember thinking, “I could be catastrophizing. Well, no. But probably this really bad thing is going to happen. Then I’m going to be homeless … ” The world implodes.
Brett McKay: Right. No, man. I’m a big time catastrophizer. Even when I know I’m doing it, I’m like, “No.” I somehow convince myself like, “No. This is going to happen. This is really going to happen this time.”
Harbinger: Yeah. Well, for other people I would say, “Don’t worry and you’re talented. You’re a hard worker. You’re lucky and you have all these skills and the team is coming with you. The bright side is you don’t have a health issue and you’re not going to lose your house. Your wife and you are happy. You have a great family.” I’m like, “But I lost my podcast.” Then now that I say it, it’s such a ridiculous thing. I mean, if you’re going to have a hurdle thrown in the middle of your life, can it please be that you left a company that you should have left a long time ago and started a new project? There’s a lot of people out there …
I was talking with a friend of mine who is just getting over cancer, and I felt so stupid telling her about my problems. She’s like, “Oh, really? Tell me more about how you lost a bunch of MP3 files.” She didn’t say that but that’s how I felt whining to my friend. She’s like, “No. Well, problems are problems no matter what. When you’re in the middle of it, that problem is the biggest problem in your universe.” But when you get some perspective, it’s really hard to sit there and feel sorry for yourself when she’s going in and having lymph nodes removed. I’m totally able bodied, totally fine and my biggest hiccup is I got to rebuild the foundations of a business and I already know how.
Brett McKay: Look, what’s interesting, you’re in this position where you’ve spent 11 years talking to experts from a wide variety of fields, business leaders, psychologists, you name it. I’m curious, were there any words of wisdom or advice or practical tactics that you’ve got from some of these people you’ve talked to to manage your anxiety or that feeling of uncertainty you’ve been going through since starting over?
Harbinger: Yeah. There are tons actually. The primary skillset that I used to get over it, I know people are thinking like, “Oh, meditation and this.” Yes, all that stuff came in handy. I would diffuse some of my stress through those types of things, but I’ll tell you most of what it was realizing, and maybe I learned some of this through osmosis and some of it was of course direct advice from the guest, but changes whether they’re big or small in your life is always inevitable and that sounds a little cliché. It’s like, oh, the only thing constant is change. Okay, car commercial from the ’90s. Thanks for the wisdom. But really the uncertainty that we have and that I have at any given point in my life, it’s really a part of the process.
We should be taking notes and learning from that, not trying to avoid it, not trying to give our brains perfect information as it were because our brains are addicted to having that perfect information. Your brain is an uncertainty machine. It’s trying to create stability, so any information that you don’t have is what you focus on. That’s why guys like you and I and other guys in other difficult situations who’ve maybe lost their job or are going through a divorce, we catastrophize because we don’t think, “All right. I have a stable job. I have a stable house. My car is in good shape. I have good health.” They think, “Oh, the outcome of this particular legal thing is outside my control, so that’s the thing I’m going to focus on.”
Uncertainty I found really was a function of how much information that I have versus how much information that I want because I want all of the information in my brain, but we can never have that. That uncertainty, that gap between the info you have and the info your brain wants, that really throws a magnifying glass on unpleasant events and makes them more unpleasant because you’re really only focusing on that.
I really had to find that the uncertainty was an opportunity for me to learn about how I can handle this particular situation, how I can focus on the right things, how I have to do that in order to stay sane or drive myself crazy. After enough sleepless nights, it really was a realization that I had to come to. Instability isn’t a thing that we need to deal with. Uncertain situations aren’t a thing that we need to deal with. That is your life. If you zoom out far enough, you don’t know what the hell is going to happen tomorrow. You have no clue.
It made me understand at a deeper level why some people … I’m not religious at all, but I totally get it now in some way why that is such a comforting thing to have because when this is happening I remember thinking, “Wow, if I was really religious right now, this would probably be an easier situation for me to get through.” That was an interesting realization for me, and I found a lot of gifts that also come out of this situation.
A lot of people said things like you’re going to find out who your friends are. I’ll tell you, whenever you hear an athlete say that or a musician on some behind the music thing, it’s never because, “Wow, I was surprised at how great my friends were.” It’s always because everybody left them when they were broke. That was the opposite of what I found. What I found was once I was forced to reach out to everybody in my network and ask for help in this very humble way, I didn’t have anybody say, “Oh, it sucks to be you,” or, “Call me when you’re back on top.” Nobody did that. You are right there like, “Hey, man. I feel for you. I don’t envy you but I feel for you. Let’s figure out how to help out.” Everybody has been really helpful with that.
There’s a lot of gifts that have come out of this and that is exactly the type of thing that a guest on The Jordan Harbinger Show would say, and I would nod and smile in agreement, but I never really … You didn’t really feel it at a visceral level until you’re in that situation. You go, “Ah. This is what people mean by resilience,” or, “This is what people mean by feel the fear and do it anyway. This is what people mean by reaching out and asking for help and being able to face potential rejection.” I never had to really do that, so I went from in many areas an academic understanding of some of the things the guests were saying on the show to really feeling it. I think that’s made me a better interviewer, a better host and probably a better person to be around because of this life experience that happened in the last couple of months has really given me a lot of perspective and reinforce some things that I just never paid attention to. Does that make sense?
Brett McKay: That makes perfect sense. You mentioned something there, that idea of having to humble yourself and ask for help. That’s hard for a lot of guys to do. Was it hard for you to like, “I have to ask for help.” Usually you’re in the position of, “I’m the one who gives help.” What was that like and how did you … If you did have that block, how did you overcome it?
Harbinger: Yeah. One of the principles that I always teach on the show is always be giving. Glengarry Glen Ross, do you remember that movie?
Brett McKay: Of course.
Harbinger: They’re like, “ABC, always be closing.”
Brett McKay: Coffee is for closers.
Harbinger: One of the principles that we teach on The Jordan Harbinger Show is ABG, always be giving or always be generous. What that really means is just give without the expectation of anything in return, and that’s a really easy concept to apply if you’re a good person and you like helping other people which most of us are, and so I was doing a lot of that, giving without the expectation of anything in return.
Now, the problem of course was that or I wouldn’t say the problem. The hitch on that was I was genuinely thinking I will never need anything in return. That was kind of a fun part of helping other people. There’s a Hollywood saying that when you get to the top, send the elevator back down. I thought that’s what I was doing, helping other people and I was really enjoying the process of helping other entrepreneurs and other podcasters and men get through situations in their life.
When I did have to ask for help, it wasn’t actually that … It wasn’t humiliating in the way that I think a lot of people expected it, and I didn’t really feel dumb or silly doing it, not because I’ve helped so many people, and I felt like it was time to cash in or anything like that, but because I just think when people ask me for help, I don’t think, “What a loser. Look at this guy asking me for help.” I just think, “This person is on the hustle. They’re on the grind. They need help.” I don’t really judge people for that. For maybe a minute I thought, “Oh, this is going to be embarrassing to ask people for this and tell them what happened.”
Now I realized, if you can’t be vulnerable, you’re not really a strong man or a strong person. If you can’t show weakness when you actually have it and if you can’t show vulnerability or ask help from your friends and acquaintances and colleagues when you need it, you’re not really a strong person. I thought if anybody says, “Look at this guy. He screwed up his business. What a yutz.” Is that more about me or is it more about them? I think it’s more about them.
I will tell you one way in which I thought that this was going to be trickier was the initial outreach. I thought I would face more rejection, so I made a list of maybe 10 or 20 people, yourself included, that I could reach out to first that I knew would be helpful, compassionate. Then I reached out to you all first and then I reached out to other folks because it gave me a little bit of a confidence boost. I thought, “Well, if I’ve got help from this group of dozen sort of key friends, then I won’t be as worried.”
Once all of you guys were super supportive, I thought, “Okay. Now, I can reach out to other people. If some of them say no or don’t respond, I’m not going to cry in my cereal.” I dipped my toes in the water of outreach and that boosted the confidence enough. I really didn’t feel like I had anything to worry about. Now, that said, I understand that if somebody feels ashamed or embarrassed about reaching out and asking for help, I don’t think that that is weird or abnormal. I think that it’s natural to worry that someone is going to reject you, especially when you’re vulnerable and you need something and you really need help.
It is natural to fear that other people will reject you or reject that help or maybe you don’t want to find out that all the people that you thought were your friends are not people you can rely on. But the way to figure that out is not to avoid situations in which you need to rely on them. It’s to lean on them when you really need them. Then if you find out that you can’t rely on them, then you’ve learned a cheap lesson no matter when you learn it really.
Brett McKay: I’m curious. When did you start putting the rubber to the road with this? Was it immediately after you knew this is … I got to move on. I got to move onto something else. Did you have a moment of wallowing for like a few days and then you got going? What was that like?
Harbinger: I actually did have that. It’s funny because I was telling a friend of mine who’s a counselor about how this went down. The first stage was something like, “No, this isn’t how this is going to happen. This is a bluff or this is a strange situation.” Then after that I felt really bad. I was like, “Oh, I can’t believe it. I spent so much time doing this. This doesn’t make any sense.”
Then I just tell my friend who’s a counselor. She goes, “These are the seven stages of grief, shock and denial, pain. After that comes anger and bargaining.” I said, “Oh, shoot. Am I going to become angry about this and start figuring out … Shouting at the sky, ‘Why me?'” Then after that is depression, reflection and loneliness. I just went, “Oh, this sound awful.” But what helped me get through after the shock, denial, pain and guilt or whatever stages is I decided in concert with my producer and the owner of my network which is PodcastOne, they said, “Just keep going. Just start another show.” I was like, “Oh, God. I can’t start over. It’s going to be too hard.” They go, “Okay. Well, here are your choices. Whine about it and we’re all going to get sick of hearing about it or let’s get back to work, rebuild. Everyone is excited but you. Put your big boy pants on and get back to work.”
My producer and the owner of the network literally said that to me. They were not sugarcoating it. They’re just like, “Look, if this is the worst thing that’s happened to you in your business, you’re doing well,” because the owner of the network is 75 years old and he’s been in the radio business for like 50 years. My producer said, “Hey, man. I’m not saying I’m losing respect for you, but I’m saying I will if you just keep whining everyday. Take the weekend, recover and get back to work.”
Keeping my head down or I should say putting my head back down and getting to work was the best therapy for me. I’m not recommending that for every single person because maybe some people do need to take a week off and go to a place like Hawaii and swim in the ocean and decompress and get clarity on what they want to do. But I was already really clear. I love interviewing people. I love podcasting and radio and producing really high quality interviews with the guests that we have on the show. I already knew what I wanted to do. I, in a very real sense, was just waiting for things to either get worst or magically fix themselves which has never happened in the course of history, a magical fix. Just starting again and moving forward was the absolute best, the most cathartic thing ever.
When I recorded those first few episodes of The Jordan Harbinger Show, I slept like a freaking baby those nights because I knew that I was moving forward and I didn’t realize what it was. I had the same experience when I get laid off from my law firm probably like 10 years ago now. The whole class got laid off because of the economic downturn. I was worried. Everybody was freaking out and then the one thing that made me feel better was just getting back to work immediately.
I don’t know if this is a cure all for everybody. It might just be related to my personality type as a entrepreneurial guy. But I needed to feel like I was moving forward because it wasn’t the uncertainty that was driving me crazy. I should say it wasn’t just the uncertainty that was driving me crazy. It was the stagnation that was driving me crazy. Everyday that goes by watching The Jordan Harbinger Show grow back to some level of where it was with The Art of Charm is really what’s keeping me feeling like I’m moving forward instead of driving me insane. I was driving myself literally crazy, man.
Brett McKay: No. That’s really an interesting point. It’s been 10 years you had me on your show to talk about resilience, and I’m reading a new book that reminded me of this conversation we had. It’s called The Self-Directed Child and it’s all about how to get your kid to take ownership of their life and basically direct themselves and become autonomous.
One of the points they hit hard on is that people, children, but people in general, they need a sense of control. That’s what keeps you going. That’s what makes you feel confident and so the way you feel in control is doing something. It sounds like what you were doing by just getting back to work. You were thrown into this chaos of uncertainty. You didn’t feel like you were in control, so you started doing something that gave you that feeling of control which helps you move forward.
Harbinger: Yeah, I would say that’s 100% accurate because instead of focusing on all of the things I couldn’t control, which is the what if game that was keeping me up from 1:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. three nights a week, that what if game was driving me crazy, but focusing on what I could control by doing the work, then it was, “Okay. The plan, I’m going to do this, this, this, this and this.”
My friend Matthew Kimberley who teaches sales and helps sort of early stage entrepreneurs generally, he said something brilliant. I’m going to paraphrase it because I’m not going to get it right. It was the gist of there’s no such thing as overwhelm, it’s just … In business he’s talking about of course. There’s just not knowing what to do next. I don’t know that this is a universally agreeable thing. There’s probably exceptions to this. But I found, in this case, he was right. I felt overwhelming. I’ve got to do social media from the beginning. I got to start my Twitter again. I got to start my Facebook page again. I got to start a new YouTube channel. I have to build up all these interviews with guests and get a back catalog. Then I’ve got to regrow the show. That was just chaos and that was just how am I going to get back to this? This is going to be impossible.
When I started focusing on, “Well, what’s the next step?” The next step is do a damn good interview with the next guest you have on The Jordan Harbinger Show. Stop worrying about your back catalog size and how it’s going to look in 18 months. That’s going to drive you crazy if you’re trying to handle 18 months worth of work in the next week or the next day. Just focus on the next steps. You have a plan. You have a strategy. You’ve done it before. Now you have help from your friends. Get a goodnight sleep and stop worrying about it.
You’re right. It was very helpful because my brain really did want control. I felt like I had lost control. Instead of trying to control everything all at once, I just focused on what I could actually do next that was going to move the ball forward and that was a magical … That was better than any doctor’s prescription that I could get for sleeping pills. It was better than any “Yeah, just go out and get some sun” suggestion. It was better than anything. It was better than any therapy, any sort of cure was do the work, get back to work. I find that that’s been true for me throughout life, I just didn’t notice it as a pattern.
I’m saying this as a prescription for guys and gals out there that find themselves really stuck. This may not be the cure all for you but just give it a shot because it sure beats getting addicted to Xanax.
Brett McKay: Right. Yeah. If a guy loses his job, that’s going to happen to I think most people at some point in their life. Instead of wallowing, the first thing you should do is, okay, I’m going to reach … Like what you did. You reached out to your network for some help. You can do that, too, if you lost your job like, “Hey, I’m looking for employment.” That’s the thing you do for the next few days is reaching out to those key people you know that could hopefully help you find another job.
Harbinger: I agree. In fact, if you don’t mind, I’ll give your audience, our listeners here a little bit of homework because I had spent 10 years building relationships and digging the well before I got thirsty and thank goodness that I did that because if I had been in the situation that I’m in now but I hadn’t been building and maintaining relationships because I wanted to procrastinate or I felt shy and I gave myself an excuse and I kept saying, “I’m an introvert. I don’t like doing this.” Then I would be really screwed right now, but I’m not because I managed to have a bunch of relationships.
Here’s a little thought exercise. Speaking of getting laid off or losing your job, if you get laid off from your job today, who are the 10 or maybe 20 people you’d contact to solicit their advice on what to do next? Sit down and make this list of, let’s say, 10 people that you would call and get advice from once you got laid off. Then once you’ve got that list, reach out to those people now before you need something because I think the reason people are hesitant to reach out for help when they need it is because every conversation starts with, “Hey, Brett. We haven’t talked in like four years. But I really need something right now.” They feel dumb because they know that they’re the person who’s coming out of the woodwork asking for a favor.
I didn’t have to worry about that with my outreach because I’ve been keeping in touch with a lot of these guys and gals for years or at least months pretty regularly. Even if it’s only been once every six months or so, it’s decently regular and I have systems for that so I didn’t feel like, “Oh, gosh. I haven’t talked to this person in forever and now I have to reach out and ask for something. How embarrassing.” I didn’t have that concern because I was digging the well before I got thirsty. I highly recommend this exercise which I call layoff lifelines. Make that list of people, reach out now, and if you do need something later, man, are you going to be glad that you reached out to these people four, five, six months ago, a year ago, whatever it was when you do need something because you won’t be embarrassed. You’ve already started the momentum in that relationship or regained momentum in that relationship.
Brett McKay: This concept of social capital that we talked about on our last episode with each other.
Harbinger: Yes, exactly. Although at that point, I was teaching it like, “Hey, this has worked really well for me to build a business. You should try it. It’s really useful.” Now I’m looking at it as this is the best insurance policy that I’ve ever had in my whole life as far as business goes because if you said, “Hey, Jordan, you can’t use your network anymore or any of your existing relationships, but I’m going to give you a million dollars in cash to float your business and help you move forward,” I would never take the money because the network that I have, the relationships that I have are worth far more than that. In fact, you could probably offer me five million. I’m still not sure I would take it because I know that with the relationships and the connections that I’ve made over the last several years that I can rebuild the business to be worth more than that, and it would not be worth starting that process over for that amount of money. It just wouldn’t.
Brett McKay: You mentioned you have a system in place and nurturing and tending this network of yours. What does that look like and what do those reach outs look like? I’ve seen people implement this. I’m going to stay in touch with people. I get the emails and it’s so weird. I don’t know. It feels weird and fake and phony.
Harbinger: Yes. Yeah.
Brett McKay: It’s annoying like, “Hey, what’s up, Brett? I was just thinking about you.” I haven’t heard from them in a year. What’s your tactic or your system that you have?
Harbinger: I realized that those do sound weird because usually it goes something like this. Hey, Brett. Just thinking about you. Wondering how you’re doing. Is your podcast going well? Cool. I’m releasing a book in April. You’re like, “Oh, I knew it.”
Brett McKay: Right. Yeah, exactly.
Harbinger: I knew it.
Brett McKay: Exactly. There you go.
Harbinger: Those people are doing it wrong because they’re buttering you up because they want something. That’s the opposite of ABG, help other people without the expectation of anything in return, and it’s very much a quid pro quo transaction and that’s what makes it feel gross. When I say I have systems to keep in touch with people, sometimes people go, “Oh, that’s weird.” But it’s not weird. It’s not weird to remember someone’s birthday by using Facebook. It’s just not.
I have two ways of going about this, sort of systematic network maintenance, if you will, and opportunistic are the two categories. Opportunistic is I log into Facebook. I see Brett had a baby. Instead of clicking “like” on the picture, instead of leaving a comment, I might write an email, call you on the phone or send a text and say, “Hey, congratulations. Big news. You’re a dad again. This is so great. I really hope things are going well. Talk to you soon. No need to respond. I’m sure you’re busy and you have a diaper in one hand and a bottle on the other. Looking forward to catching up at some point.”
I’m not asking you for anything. I’m not just clicking “like” on this photo. I’m responding to a big event in your life that did get shared, but I’m not doing it in a way that you shared it because in my opinion clicking “like” is less than a comment which is less than personal message which is less than an email which is less than a text which is less than a phone call which is less than seeing someone in person on the hierarchy of maintaining a relationship. If somebody has a big event, it’s great if you can see them in person. It’s better if you can call them … It’s not as good but better than everything else if you can call them on the phone and then you go down that hierarchy.
Use the opportunities that you see. You heard something through the grapevine of some good or bad news on somebody in your network, go reach out to them. You see someone in your newsfeed, use that as a reason to reach out to them and so that’s the opportunistic. It’s just something presents itself or you’re walking down the street and you see Brett McKay Barber Shop so I take a picture and text it to you. It’s like, “Hey, what’s going on, man? I haven’t seen you in a while.” “Where is this place?” “Oh, it’s Albuquerque. What are you doing down there?” That’s just spontaneous interaction.
Then the systematic way is I use a CRM I guess for a lack of a better word. It’s called Contactually. I input all my friends in there and it just keeps track of our email chains and every 90 days or so, whichever time period I choose, it will remind me and say, “Hey, you haven’t talked with this person.” I’ll go, “Oh, yeah. Shoot. I haven’t spoken with this person in a while.” I’ll look on social media, see what’s new with them and reach out. I’m never asking for anything during this type of outreach. I’m either offering some help for somebody else or I’m just checking in.
Some people might think, “Oh, it’s kind of inauthentic that somebody or something has to remind you.” But I don’t really agree with that. I think if you are in an industry like say you sell automobiles, how the heck are you going to remember the names and the birthdays of all your colleagues and all the people that you work with? It’s not cheating. It’s technology. It’s not like the computer program is sending out the check-ins automatically. That would be weird. That would be weird.
Brett McKay: There are apps that do that.
Harbinger: Yeah, that’s a little bit too strange. I don’t want something to reach out on my behalf because I’m too lazy. If I have something to say to somebody, then I’ll do it because of the reminder. If I don’t have anything else to say, I’ll look up what they’re doing. You’re right. There’s something really smarmy about getting an email that’s clearly from an automated thing, an automated system that says, “Hey, friend. How are you? Haven’t spoken in a few months. Hope all is well. Send me news when you get a chance.” It’s like, “Ugh. This is such a generic way of making me do all the work in our friendship. I hate you now.”
Brett McKay: Right.
Harbinger: Right? I don’t believe in those types of things, but I do believe in maybe a little nudge here and there just to make sure that I’m not forgetting somebody.
But mostly I use the opportunistic network maintenance which is somebody’s got big news, I don’t just click “like,” I reach out to them or if I heard somebody’s got something else going, then I might reach out and try to help them like, “Hey, I heard you’re launching a new software product. My friend runs AppSumo. Do you want an introduction? It’s a great place to sell software.” That’s the kind of outreach I’m looking for. I’m reaching out to try and help people or I’m reaching out to check in. I’m not just reaching out when I want something. That will not work for you because that is not digging the well before you’re thirsty. That is trying to put a spare tire in the trunk of your car after you’ve already got a flat on the highway.
Brett McKay: You have a good example of how to be helpful because I feel like also when people … People will hear this advice: always be giving. They’re going to go to their emails and their contact list and just like reach out to everybody. “Hey, it’s been a while. Anything I can do to help?” I get those quite a bit. I feel like it’s like more unhelpful because it’s like, “Do I need help? What do I need help with?” Your example, you gave a specific action like, “Hey, I saw you started a business. I know the guy at AppSumo. Would you like me to make an introduction?” I’m like, “Oh, yeah. That is actually really useful.” I’d be like, “I would definitely.” When you just say you just give the blanket, “Anything I can do to help?” You make the person try to figure out what you can … That’s not helpful.
Harbinger: Exactly. That’s a really good point. You need to give specific help. Reaching out and saying, “Is there anything I can do for you?” Is a way of putting the monkey on someone else’s back. A lot of times when somebody sends me an email about something, I’ll reply with whatever it is the answer and I’ll say, “Let me know if I can ever be of service.” That’s different than putting the monkey on someone else’s back by reaching out and saying, “Hey, Brett. Was just thinking about you. Let me know if I can help with anything.” Because the answer is unless I really need something specifically from you that I know you’re good at and I know you well enough to know what your competent and good at, it’s completely unhelpful. You’re right. I’m making you do the work which is completely and utterly annoying in some way.
It’s the equivalent of … People don’t realize this because they don’t see it happen to themselves or they don’t realize … They think they’re being really helpful and it is a good …
Brett McKay: It’s a good intention. It’s a good intention, I think.
Harbinger: Yeah, but it’s the equivalent of … You get this all the time I’m sure. I get this as well at The Jordan Harbinger Show. “I love your show. I love what you guys are doing. I want to intern and I’ll totally do unpaid work.” It sounds like a great offer, but then I’ve got to figure out what this 20, 21-year-old kid who’s still in college can do, what they want to do. Then I’ve got to manage them. Then I’ve got to follow up and make sure they’re doing it right. Then I’ve got to check their work. It’s a kind offer but really you’re just adding another job which is I’m now your manager. In return, I get to, I don’t know, mentor you or something. I don’t know what that means. There’s all these mismanaged expectations on both sides of those equations and people don’t realize it. They really do think they’re being helpful.
If you do outreach, offer specific help or just check in and say, “Hey, I noticed you went to Belize. That looked really awesome. I could use a break.” That kind of check-in, something that doesn’t require them to write you a letter back. You can even say, “No response necessary. Just admiring your photos. Hope you’re well.” That gives them permission to reach back out to you. Offering a blanket, “Let me know how I can help you.” No, you let me know how you can help me. You do that. Not the other way around.
Brett McKay: I like the when you check in to add the addendum sometimes, “No response necessary,” because completely takes the pressure off of the person. You’re like, “Oh, this was actually nice.”
Harbinger: It shows that you respect the other person’s time, especially if you’re reaching … I’ll put this in air quotes because I don’t love hierarchy stuff, but I put this in air quotes, especially when you’re reaching up right to an influencer. If you are thinking of reaching out to … If someone is thinking of reaching out to you, for example, if they end their email with no response necessary, what it shows is they understand that you got 700 emails that week. They understand that you don’t have time to go through all of them. I just wanted to say, hey, your show really changed my life. I really love the networking tips from that one guy. Jordan, that was really useful and just wanted to say I love the show. No response necessary. I usually still respond to those and say, “Thanks.” It just takes me a while but it shows me that that person gets it.
The opposite of that is the person that emails again three days later and was like, “Hey, just making sure you got this.” Yeah, you’re not the only person in my inbox and me replying to your email is not what I’m prioritizing. I’m thinking of the other 150,000 people who listen to the content that we’re creating.
Signals like no response necessary show that you respect the other person’s time and you understand that it’s not their job or duty or obligation to respond to you in a timely manner and that goes a long way with me especially. I love that.
Brett McKay: No, yeah. It’s what I do with anybody I reach out to. Here’s this thing. Understand if you can’t get back to me or you don’t want to or it’s not going to fit because that’s how I like to be treated. For me, man, when someone does it, it just takes the pressure off. I don’t know. I like to treat others how I like to be treated. That’s my approach.
Harbinger: The golden rule for sure. I think that does blend well into another point which is if you’re reaching out and helping other people, I want to be really clear that again the ABG, help other people without the expectation of anything in return. A lot of people say, “But I can’t help all the people that I know because I’ll run out of time to do things for myself.” I want to address that because when I’m saying help other people with something, it doesn’t mean that if you’re a graphic designer, you make a bunch of free graphics for all of your friends’ businesses and you go bankrupt and homeless because you don’t make any money. You’re helping everybody.
I recommend doing helping other people in a scalable way which means introducing people in your network to each other. If I know somebody who made a bunch of money in bitcoin, I might say, “Hey, I know tax time is coming up. You probably don’t want to go to federal prison. Do you want a connection to a CPA who knows how to handle cryptocurrency?” Because it’s hard to find somebody who understands what this stuff is and isn’t going to screw it up. I might make that introduction in my network. Now, I’ve gotten that CPA a client. I’ve gotten that friend of mine potentially a life altering connection in terms of making sure he doesn’t get screwed over in an IRS audit.
They both owe me one but I’m not keeping score. Not only am I helping multiple people, two people at the same time in my network in a scalable way because those introductions took like five minutes, I’m also not worried about whether or not I get something back because if you keep score, if you’re thinking that if I help this person or that person enough, they’ll owe me one, you’re always going to end up disappointed in your relationships, and worse, you’ll create a covert contract which is like one sided thing. It’s like, “Well, I picked up Brett from the airport five times.” Then, “Hey, Brett. Will you show my eBook on rabbit racing on The Art of Manliness podcast?” You’re like, “It’s not really a good fit.”
Now, if I have been keeping score and I’ve got a covert contract in my head, which is an agreement that I know about but you don’t because it’s a one sided agreement that I made up in my head because I thought if I helped you enough, you’d owe me., now I get mad at you and you’re like, “What the hell? I thought we were friends.” But in my head it’s, “If I pick you up from the airport enough times, you owe me this.” Since we didn’t really agree on that, I’ve poisoned the relationship now. I’ve kept score. I’ve created a covert contract. You didn’t fulfill your end of the bargain because you weren’t aware of it. Now, suddenly, I’m being passive aggressive to you and our friendship dissolves.
A lot of people will do that. They’ll keep score. They’ll do this in a way where they’ll give up on helping other people. I would say if you help a hundred people, you’re going to be lucky if 10 of them are even able to help you back in any way because not everyone is going to be able to do that. If you’re not giving without the expectation of something in return, you’re going to miss most of the opportunities because you can’t see how other people are going to be able to help you. I say the opportunities are over the horizon. I don’t necessarily know that connecting the cryptocurrency CPA with the bitcoin investor guy is going to then result in, “Hey, Jordan. I’m throwing a real estate conference in Hawaii. Will you come speak?”
Those two things were invisible until I made the connection six months or a year ago without thinking, “Hey, if I help out this bitcoin guy, he’ll invite me to his real estate conference.” I don’t know that these opportunities exist. Get used to getting the short end of the stick in that most people won’t want or be able to help you back, and if you keep score, you’re going to go crazy. If you don’t, you won’t even care. It won’t matter to you.
I highly recommend not keeping track of who you’ve helped and when you feel they owe you something because you’re always going to end up disappointed.
Brett McKay: That’s great. What a great advice there about building your social capital. As you said, you said it great was your social capital is the best insurance policy you can have for those big life changes that you’ll face in your life.
Harbinger: It is because, like I said, earlier, I think I said earlier, if I didn’t have the relationships that I have now and I had to start over, I’d be in deep trouble. Your network and your skills are the only things that really can’t be taken away from you in a court case or in a unexpected change of circumstances. You really aren’t going to lose all your relationships at once unless your reputation takes a nosedive. That’s a different story. But these are the things that you take with you. You can’t take your intellectual property or you can’t take certain assets or certain team members or your office or your fancy gadgets or whatever. But you can take your relationships and you can take your skills. I recommend focusing on those but you have to do both. You can’t just focus on being the most skilled because you’re leaving so much on the table if you don’t have those connections with other people.
Honestly I recommend picking … This is sort of another piece of homework. But I recommend picking one or two people in your network or in your circle who is a weaker tie, but who you want to have a stronger relationship with and make sure that you invest a little bit more time and energy into hanging out with that person, grabbing some dinner with him and his wife or whatever, going to see how their office runs. Just some sort of level of investment in that relationship and that will go a long way. Once you realized that you can manually strengthen relationships by focusing and investing on them a little bit, you’ll want to do more of it and it will make your network and your circle so strong that when you ever and if you ever need anything, you’re not going to feel ashamed reaching out. You’re not going to feel embarrassed that you had to put your ego aside and ask someone for something because now you’re just talking to your friends. You’re not talking with somebody who you’ve ignored for three years and then asking them to shill your book. It’s different.
Brett McKay: That’s great. This change hasn’t just affected you. It’s affected other people as well. You mentioned your team that has been with you for a while has been affected. What’s been your strategy in leading your team in this big transition? This is sort of like crisis management I guess you’d call it.
Harbinger: You know what’s funny? My wife and producer were saying, “Put on a brave face for the team. Make sure everybody is taken care of.” I was planning to do that of course. I’ll tell you I did that okay in the beginning. Then when I started to stumble and feel a little bit bad about how things are turning out or feel discouraged, I was pleasantly surprised at how the team actually rallied around me.
I rallied around them initially so that I called everyone, told them exactly what was going on, made sure that they felt secure financially as much as I could, made sure that they knew what was happening, that they weren’t going to suddenly end up being tossed out on their butt for no reason with no warning. I made sure of that. Then a few days or a few weeks later, the timeline is escaping me now, when I started to feel down or overwhelmed or lose a little bit of confidence, my producer, my associate producers, everybody around me and my team, they’re the ones who said, “Hey, man. We are all behind you. You did this before. We’re excited. You’re the last one who’s not onboard the exciting let’s move forward train. This is The Jordan Harbinger Show. You’re Jordan Harbinger. Why is everybody else more excited than you? Pull your pants up and get back to work.” That was very helpful.
I guess I led my team by putting on a brave face and making sure they knew what was happening and I led my team by making sure that they felt safe. But the team led me just as much as I led them through this particular challenge.
Brett McKay: You’re married, too. These big changes, I’m sure when a guy loses his job, that affects his personal life, his married life, his family life. What has that been like for you and your wife to go through this? It’s happened right after. How long have you been married? Is it a year or less than a year?
Harbinger: Not even. I got married in May and it’s like … We’re not even at a year yet and it brought us closer together. I know it sounds cliché but people were saying, “Don’t fight with your spouse. Don’t fight with your spouse. I know it’s going to be tempting because you’re going to be stressed. Don’t fight with your spouse.” We have not fought really at all, especially not about this. She’s had my back the whole way. I’ve been making sure that she’s taken care of with that not stressing, not worrying about a lot of stuff. We’ve really been pushed much closer. The whole team has but certainly my wife and I because not only am I married, I think it’s important to note, not only am I married, my wife works with me from home. We’re together 24/7 and she’s working on the business. She’s working on the The Jordan Harbinger Show stuff behind the scenes with me.
It’s not just she’s a housewife and keeping everything safe at home which is awesome and I think any guy that has that is super lucky and it’s not that she gets home from work and she’s emotionally supportive, she’s there with me every step of the way. She’s grinding just like I am. She’s hustling just like I am and that’s brought us closer together. I think anybody who has a supportive spouse, especially somebody who is keeping their house in order and I don’t mean that literally, I mean that metaphorically like making sure that you don’t have to worry about little things because you have to focus on the business. That’s just been such huge help. Having a partner, spouse or significant other that’s really emotionally supportive is great, but also having somebody who’s capable and picking up the slack for you when you really need them has been indispensable.
It’s helped our relationship a lot because, I’ll be honest, I used to have kind of a short of fuse and stress would get to me. Now that I’m facing real stress, I had to decide. Am I just going to blow a gasket every five minutes or am I going to get my self together and not rely on my emotions and anger to vent? Because people don’t want to be around that. It was either going to be a long time of me being a grump or it was going to be a long time of me figuring out how to manage that particular emotional BS and not do it anymore. I’m really glad to say that I have not had as much of a problem recently as I have in the past which is unusual. Little things in the past used to make me really annoyed and irritated and vocal about it. Now that I have real issues to deal with, I’m much more calm than I ever was and I’m not totally sure why that is.
Brett McKay: I think you had a blog post recently where you quote that movie with Tom Hanks about the Russian spies.
Harbinger: Right. Bridge of Spies.
Brett McKay: Bridge of Spies. Yeah.
Harbinger: Tom Hanks is the lawyer for this East German spy who’s got a death sentence and he goes, “Aren’t you worried?” He goes, “Would it help?” Of course the rhetorical answer there or the rhetorical question, the answer is, no, of course not. Worrying about what’s going to happen next is not going to help. Figuring out what you’re going to do, how you might react, what your next step is, that’s helpful. But once you’ve figured that out, get back to work. Stop figuring out what ifs that can drive you crazy because your brain has all kinds of experience figuring out how to make you unstable, insecure or uneasy. Don’t give it a room to do that. Getting back to work, not worrying as much as you can, that’s what’s going to keep your brain busy moving forward and that was the antidote for me, like I said.
Brett McKay: Jordan, this has been a great conversation. Where can people go to learn more about the new show?
Harbinger: Yeah. JordanHarbinger.com/podcast is the website. But really you’re listening to a podcast, find The Jordan Harbinger Show in your podcast player, iTunes, whatever you’re using to listen to this. I know we had a lot of former Art of Charm listers, and since I’m no longer there, I’d love it if people would come find me at The Jordan Harbinger Show. Similar quality. More open topics and I’d like to think an even better show now that we don’t have to worry about the baggage of the old brand. I’m looking forward to seeing what people think.
Brett McKay: All right, Jordan Harbinger. Thank you so much for your time. It’s been a pleasure.
Harbinger: Thanks, man.
Brett McKay: My guest today was Jordan Harbinger. He’s the host of The Jordan Harbinger Show. You find that on anywhere where podcasts are found. Search it for iTunes, Spotify. You name it, it’s there. Just look for The Jordan Harbinger Show. Also check out our show notes at aom.is/Harbinger where you can find links to resources where you can delve deeper into this topic.
Well, that wraps up another edition of The Art of Manliness podcast. For more manly tips and advice, make sure to check out The Art of Manliness website at artofmanliness.com. If you enjoy the podcast, have gotten something out of it since you’ve been listening to it, I’d appreciate if you take a minute to give us a review on iTunes or Stitcher. It helps us a lot. If you’ve done that already, thank you. Please share the show with a friend or family member who you think will get something out of it. As always, thank you for your continued support. Until next time. This is Brett McKay telling you to stay manly.