The Art Of Building Relationships with Jordan Harbinger
My guest is a business expert who started his professional life as a lawyer, but quickly realized it was not his calling. After just one year, he began producing podcast content full-time of eventually leading to cofounding his signature show, The Art of Charm, which he grew into millions of listeners until one day when he discovered he was fired from his very successful show. Without missing a beat, Jordan started The Jordan Harbinger Show, which went on to become one of Apple’s most downloaded new podcasts of 2018. He’s going to tell us all about that. Jordan, you’re a legend in podcasting and so many people listen to your show. I would love to find out a little bit more about how you and your partner created that very first show, The Art of Charm. Can we start there?
I started that show eleven years ago, even longer than that. It was the result of me wanting to learn all I could about networking. I was working as a Wall Street attorney and all my life I was able to figure things out on the fly in high school. Then I got to college and I was like, “Everyone’s smart but they’re all drinking and partying a lot. If I outwork them, I’ll be able to get ahead.” Then I got to Wall Street and I realized, “Everyone’s smart. Everyone’s a hard worker. I don’t have a competitive advantage anymore.” I decided to learn about networking and relationship development in hopes that I would eventually be able to bring in business for the firm.
I started focusing a lot on networking and relationship development, body language and nonverbal communication. I took a bunch of classes on the subject, a lot of different things like that and that became a passion of mine and I eventually left Wall Street and focused on creating the show, which then evolved into a business. I was working with partners at that time. Those guys have since lost interest in the show entirely and focused on other elements of the business. I was doing the show myself for eight or nine years, maybe longer.
You implied that you wanted to be a rainmaker for your law firm and that’s why you’re out there learning all these incredible skills. Did you think at that point that the best solution might be to go interview somebody who is doing well and bringing in business, and take that route?
I definitely thought about that and I also thought that I could probably get free coaching as a result of this. That worked well. There weren’t a lot of people interviewing anybody back then. Journalists were doing it, but there was podcasting in 2006. Nobody was doing that stuff.
I’m talking from a peer-to-peer perspective. In other words, when I got started in sales many years ago, the first thing I did was seek out the absolute top sales guy in my area, my profession. I bought them lunch and sat there loving everything I was hearing because it was wisdom. Did that work for you? Back then, were lawyers too competitive to want to share that information?You can't just uproot everything without breaking stuff in a company that's old. Click To Tweet
I don’t even know if I had that much access. I was able to ask partners some questions, but they didn’t know how to explain things, “How are you generating business for the firm?” “Just put yourself out there.” No, that’s not helpful or like, “It’s fine. Go to the club, play some golf, get your buddies together. Hang out with some bankers.” The best bit of advice that I got was calling your law school buddies who are investment bankers and keep in touch with them because they can give you business later. I thought, “Yes, in eight years, ten years if they’re still in the industry.” I need to work on this stuff, I was a little impatient. That was good advice. It’s just that it wasn’t keeping in touch with people. That’s a whole art, making sure that they like you enough to send you business. You can be in touch with somebody for ten years, but it doesn’t mean you’re going to send them a million-dollar law deal.
There are all the dynamics around that as well. You decided to take a completely different approach, which is to become skilled at understanding how to connect socially in groups. Tell us how that came about for you. Did you decide that this was a good idea or did you know of somebody else doing it and you wanted to pick up their great habits and go to school for learning how? When you decided to dive deep into the education of connection, did you have an inspiration for that? Did someone else you know have that skill and found out how they got it? Was this something you decided you would do on your own?
There was a partner who was doing a great job with this. He was a young partner. He was interested in getting business for the firm. He was cool. Everyone thought he was a good guy. He was supposed to be my mentor and he didn’t do that. He was too busy. He was never in the office. I started asking him questions about this and he’s like, “One of the reasons I’m a partner is because I bring in a lot of the business for the firm.” I thought, “I’ve got to figure out how to do that.” He was the one who gave me the advice, “Make sure that you are keeping in touch with folks. Hang out with people as much as you can.” I felt like this is not an advice. It was like someone says, “My love life’s not working out.” You go, “Just be yourself.” They’re like, “Yes, that’s the problem. It’s not working for me.”
I get so frustrated when I find myself in a situation and I’m seeking information just like you were, and then nothing of it. It’s either dumb information or it’s an unconscious competence that people don’t understand that about themselves. They just go about and do it. We’re going to get into how you do this. I’d like to find out more about how you go about this. I’d like you to answer the big question, which is what happened where you found yourself fired from your own company? How did that all take place?
The stuff that I can say about this being in the middle of ongoing legal stuff here with it is that there was a different vision on where the business should go and where to invest the money. I’m more of a save-reinvest in the business. My partners had a different idea about where things should go. I wanted to interview neuroscientists and high performers, amazing thinkers, thought leaders and authors. The business partners I had were like, “No, let’s double down on selling our dating stuff and our products.” I thought, “No, I’m going to stab my eyeballs out if I have to keep doing those shows.” There was a lot of internal disagreement about a lot of different things, that being one of them. I decided, “Let’s split the company,” and it wasn’t even my idea. We decided on an amicable split, we negotiated that. We got it all set up, and then our emotions may or may not have taken over. I don’t want to get into too many details there, but that didn’t work out as we had agreed.
Suddenly, me and the entire team found ourselves on the outside of the business. I was able to, fortunately, regroup with pretty much every single person that I’d worked with directly at the old company and formed a new one. It ended up being probably, in retrospect, the best thing that ever happened to me. I’m able to rebuild own what I do and recreate what I want. I don’t have kids. I do have a house, a mortgage, and responsibilities. I’m married but you never have less responsibility as time goes on. You only have more.
For me, this was good. Going through this was stressful. It would have been a lot worse with two small kids or if I bought another house for my family, or if there was a health thing going on, which there isn’t. It’s great that it happened now and frankly, I wouldn’t have had the guts to leave the company on my own, most likely. The amicable split was going, but there are other reasons why looking at that particular solution could have even ended up being worse. We would have been entangled, if you will, for years and years and years with these two different visions. You can’t just uproot everything without breaking stuff in a company that’s eleven years old.
It was rough. I got ejected hardcore. I was shot out of a fighter jet. The pilot seat jack, their spine compacts two inches. I feel like that, a little dazed and confused. The Jordan Harbinger Show is rapidly growing. It is big as my old show. The business is what I want it to be. I’m working with all the great people that I was before. I didn’t lose the team and all of these platforms and relationships that I thought I might not have because of where things were going with the show, having to start over with the new show, all my friends, all my relationships that I built over eleven years all came through, which is a miracle and also a testament to how great these relationships can be if you do them right. If you dig the well before you’re thirsty, you build and maintain relationships in the way that you’re supposed to. That stuff is huge and is saving my bacon.
That’s the big lesson here. The lesson is to make sure that you create the relationship in place of a quick fix or a quick hit. You did such a good job of that. The rock stars that you’ve had on your show over the years, the list is huge. For those of us who are doing podcasting and for those of us who are always looking for great people to have on shows, what advice would you give podcasters on getting in touch with and interviewing some of these amazing people?
For me, getting in touch with amazing guests was always tough and still is. I always go through warm introductions to get them. A long-standing relationship with a publisher, a longstanding relationship with a publicist, longstanding relationship with a friend whose show-booker that they pay $140,000 a year finally got this neuroscientist or this astrophysicist on the show. I say, “Can you do me a solid and introduced me to their people?” They go, “Yes.” I’ve done a lot to help that show and that person. It’s always a tree that bears fruit. There’s not a whole lot of, “I emailed Bill Gates and he said, ‘Sure, why not?’” It’s always a function of relationships. Whether that’s a reputation that your show has or whether it’s a reputation that you personally have or if it’s a friend’s reputation that you’re piggybacking off of. Tom Bilyeu have Impact Theory. I say to a good friend of mine, “I noticed you had this awesome person on. Can you introduce me to them?” He says, “Sure,” because I do the same for him all the time. It’s strength in numbers situation. You’ve got to have those relationships around you. You’ve got to build them, you’ve got to dig the well before you’re thirsty and then you’ve got to maintain them over time. Most people are too lazy to do that frankly.If you dig the well before you're thirsty, you build and maintain relationships in the way that you're supposed to. Click To Tweet
Even you being on this show came from the mechanism you described. I know Steve Gordon, he’s a good friend. I love his show and he invited you to his show. I asked him, “Can you hook me up with Jordan? I’d love to chat with them on air.” He said, “Sure.” That introduction happened and here we are. It’s exactly as you described and it’s the best advice I could give anybody is to simply follow that path of warm leads to building relationships. That will serve you at the highest level. Let’s get into a little bit more about the things that you’re doing in your new company. You’re interviewing great people again, but there’s more to it. Why don’t you tell us a little bit more about what you’re doing?
I run live events where I train people on networking, branding and relationship development. It’s not just for business or people either. This is for personal and professional development. It’s hard to explain the nonverbal and verbal communication training that we do at Six-Minute Networking. Imagine this, you’re in the military. You’re in a personal, a business, you’re in an individual capacity. You come in, you learn a lot about verbal and nonverbal communication, persuasion, influence. Then we do an exercise where you learn how to connect and guide conversations in a way that’s more useful than just, “Hi, where are you from? What do you do?” We’ll go through those exercises. Also, we do some surprise drills and exercises where maybe you think you’re doing an activity that’s for team building, but maybe we’re videotaping the whole thing and breaking down your verbal and nonverbal communication with you later on while watching the tape.
Your body can’t lie. If you’re in the middle of what might look like a somewhat stressful or competitive situation, do you rally? Do you become a leader? Do you check out? Do you get aggressive with other people? Do you demean other people? Do you demean yourself? Do you beat yourself up? Do you take credit for what other people have done? Do you not take enough credit for what you’ve done? We go through all of those and it gives people a real insight into how they think, their mindset, what they do and how they live and work. That’s the advanced part because it’s not just looking people in the eye and having a firm handshake. It’s not that. It’s not just making and closing the sale. It’s how are you showing up to other people in your marriage, in your business, to your team, to your teammates, to your kids.
We get pretty deep.
These are the skills that you’ve been honing and developing over the course of the last decade. I’m sure it’s part of what you decided to become an expert at when you set out to find more clients for your law firm and it led to this. Is that right?Your body can't lie. Click To Tweet
That’s exactly what happened. I’ve started off to think, “I’m going to find more clients for the law firm.” I didn’t think I was going to generate business as a second-year associate. I thought I need to learn these skills over the next three to five years so that when I’m a mid and senior level associate, I’m starting to bring in the value and the partners take notice of that. That was important to me. I wasn’t thinking I’m going to be a rainmaker my second year and, in the game, that’s unrealistic. I knew that if I worked on these skills, then by the time my colleagues realize that networking and relationships were important, I would have a huge time advantage.
That’s important because if you can’t make yourself smarter, you cannot outwork everyone because you’re all working six days a week and everybody’s smart. What you can do is get better at the soft skills, relationship development, persuasion, and influence. That still takes time. If you’re working with and against other very smart people, you don’t want to be working on it at the same time as them because they’ll go all in a whole hog, pedal to the metal. I knew that if I went pedal to the metal, even part time with it and I had a five-year time advantage, nobody would ever be able to catch up to me.
What I’d love to do is love to pivot here and have you help our audience better understand what they don’t know about building a relationship. If you think about it, most of us either develop these skills unconsciously or never even try. Here you are teaching something so vital, which is the ability to communicate with another human being and control those communications. Where would we start if we were to take lesson number one? We’re here to help some audience understand what you do and how to be better at what they do. What’s the starting point?
I mentioned this before that networking is a skill that’s highly-prized, relatively rare, and that my competitive advantages melted away over the years. You can’t ever replace time. That’s why it’s important to Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty. This is a Harvey Mackay book title. It’s a million years old. Most people will procrastinate on the networking angle. That’s a huge mistake. You’ve got to learn this. They’ll say, “First, I’ve got to have my website. I’ve got on my prototype done. I’ve got to get my team together.” This is a foundational skill set. This is not some add-on or bonus. If you don’t do this, if you’re not building and maintaining relationships, you are not immune to the consequences. You’re being willfully ignorant of the secret game that’s being played around you.
That’s a huge realization. A lot of people think, “I’ll do this later. I don’t want to do that.” It’s all about who you know. I don’t like to operate like that. My work stands on its own. All these are myths. You might have a great work, but you know who else has great work? Somebody else who’s building relationships. You know who has almost as good of work but not quite? Somebody who’s better at building relationships than you. That’s why they’re more visible.
The entrepreneurial and business landscape is absolutely littered with people that do the work and create great stuff that never gets as popular as it should be. People who didn’t get that opportunity, you think, “Why isn’t that person giving this keynote?” Because nobody knows who they are or because somebody else did a better job of maintaining and creating that relationship. That sounds like a bummer. It’s easy to go, “That’s their loss. It shouldn’t happen like this.” You can complain about that all you want, but it doesn’t matter. People should be saying, “It is all about who you know.” They should be saying that about you. You shouldn’t be saying that about other people.
That’s one of those excuses where you say that because you haven’t done what you need to do to get it done. It lets you off the hook to say, “This guy, he’s just a networker.” “Cool, good for him.” Not, “Shame on him. He knows how to make connections.” Don’t confuse brown-nosing or schmoozing or butt kissing with creating and maintaining high-quality relationships. Those are two very different things. People need to wrap their mind around that.
I don’t even know of another person or another company that teaches what you teach. Most people assume that this is a somewhat natural skill that you either have the gift of gab as they say, or you’re just a social person and it’s much more than that. You decided to take this skill base and knowledge and break it down into a way of teaching people. Some of these lessons about how to pay attention to what’s going around us as we’re in an event, how would you describe what to do in a networking event? I want to become more connected to the people in the room. What would be some of the steps I could take?
What I would do, I need to learn how to stop starting every sentence with so. That’s such a bad verbal tick habit. They happen day-to-day, that’s a little bit outside of your question. Everybody, no matter how advanced you get into anything, there’s always something that you can shave off and become aware of it is the first part. This starts before you get into a room. Our first impressions are made non-verbally. What that means is that people judge us not by the first thing that comes out of our mouth, but by the first impression that’s made with our body.
This is important because a lot of people go, “I don’t know how to start conversations.” It doesn’t matter, you’re too late. If you’re wondering what to say to start a conversation, it doesn’t matter because that person has already made an impression of you based on the way that you’ve approached them and the things that they’ve seen from you while walking around the events. If you’re at a mixer or a bar, that’s already been decided. That’s problematic. If you don’t believe me, next time you’re walking down the street or you’re at the mall or something like that, pay attention to the little inner voice when you walk past people that say tall, athletic, strong, scary, fat, attractive, cute, or colorful. That happens. Those judgments are being made and your subconscious is doing even more of that. It’s stuff you don’t even know about where you don’t even say it because it’s so subconscious.
You’ll walk past somebody and you might pat your phone pocket. Why did you do that? You might pat your wallet. Why? Did that person remind you of somebody that looks like somebody that might do something to your wallet? You don’t even notice this happening. This is so low-level because essentially, our survival mechanisms have been outsourced. This is a whole can of worms, but you can see inherent bias in people that are not racist or prejudiced in any way.
This is a controversial example. I have a friend who’s married to an African-American woman and they are very happy and they have kids together and they’re the cutest thing ever. He is obviously not somebody who has any problem with African-American people. He’s got a huge African-American family. This is a classic success story of racial diversity and yet I noticed that when we were walking around in another place, and I’m giving no details because I don’t want people to know who we’re talking about here, he didn’t say or do anything that would have said, “What? You have this prejudice.” What happened was he had gone to a specific person to have him get help with something and I said, “That’s strange.” He walked past three black dudes to get help with his MacBook. That doesn’t mean anything. Then I brought it up later and I was like, “You walk past three black dudes to get help with your MacBook from that Asian guy.”
He’s like, “I didn’t even notice.” I was like, “It’s okay.” It’s an inherent thing or it could have been random. Then later on, he was going to the restroom and he had his phone on the table at the restaurant. He put his phone down and he looked around and he saw who is around us. He picked his phone up and put it in his pocket and I was like, “I wonder if he would have put his phone in his pocket if he had looked around and it was a bunch of white blonde-haired women around instead of who was around, which are a bunch of tough looking neck tattoo type of people.” It could have been the tough looking, it could have been the tattoos, or this can be an inherent bias program that runs in every single person.Follow that path of warm leads to building relationships. Click To Tweet
The science shows that that’s the case. Let me tell you how to work with this a little bit. This is called the doorway drill. Since we know that our first impressions are made non-verbally, what we know is that we have to create a good nonverbal first impression when people see us, not when we decide to open our mouths. What I say is grab a pack of Post-It notes. The small kind works fine, those bright pink ones that you never use for anything else. Unless you’re driving or something like that, stand up tall, chest up, shoulders back, chin up, a smile on your face, arms uncrossed. Shoulders back, chest forward, chin up, a smile on your face.
You don’t have to exaggerate this, you’ll look silly. Just basic, upright, open, positive, confident body language. This is probably not your natural posture. Your natural posture is probably something completely different, hunched over your computer or your phone. That’s normal, that’s everyone these days. What I want you to do is every time you walk through a doorway to your office at home, to the bathroom, wherever it is, that you straighten up and reset to this open, positive and confident body language.
That’s easier said than done because we walked through doors all day, so you’re not going to remember this. That’s why I say take the Post-It notes and stick one up at eye level in the door frame of the doors that you use most of the time during the day. Maybe if you work from home, it’s your home office, the restroom. If it’s your office, it will be your office. Even your cubicle you can use if you’re a cubicle guy or gal. What this does is you notice it when you’re walking around and you go, “What’s that Post-It note? I’ve got to do the doorway drill.” It’s a pattern interrupt. It interrupts our autopilot and says, “What’s going on here?” If you need to switch it up, you can draw something weird on the Post-it note. You can put a letter, you can put an upward arrow, you can switch up the colors.
Over time, you will start to associate straight, open, upright, positive and confident body language with the doorway and with the Post-it note, but ideally also with the doorway. What this does is it constantly resets your body language. It constantly resets your nonverbal communication. Most importantly, it resets your nonverbal communication right when you walk through a door, which is how you enter a room 99% of the time. When you went to the room, you’re straightening yourself up, open, upright, positive, confident body language, that’s when your nonverbal first impression is made for most people. Your first impression is that you’re an upright, open, positive, confident, friendly guy or gal. That’s hugely important. Most of us walk in a room, we’re checking our phone or looking around like a deer in the headlights. We’re nervous, we’re anxious. That starts kicking in because we know it’s time to be social.
That’s how we can reframe and make this a strong point and get other people to see us in a certain way. What this does when people see us in a certain way, they start to treat us in a certain way and when they start to treat us in a certain way, we start to act accordingly because our behavior is informed by the way that other people treat us. This is a self-reinforcing prophecy here. People start to treat us as friendly, outgoing and confident. We start to act that way slowly over time and then it becomes who we are. You can see this identity level shift using Post-It notes over the course of a few months.If you can't make yourself smarter, you cannot outwork everyone. Click To Tweet
Watch others as they walk into the room too, to add to what Jordan is saying. Start observing what you see when someone else enters the room. Are they standing upright? Are they feeling confident? Can you tell that by their body language? It’s like the exercise you gave us about going to the mall and having those words pop into our mind. I’m extending it to literally being aware of every person who walks into the room while you’re in that room. See if you could pick these things up and then doing the exercise will be even more meaningful and possibly easier.
Also looking at other people and deciding to treat them as if they have created an open, positive, upright, confident, nonverbal first impression can help re-frame the way that they act. If you want to elicit the best in others, don’t treat them how they’re feeling. Maybe treat them as you know that they would like to be. If you sense someone is shy, don’t be like, “They’re shy, I’m going to treat them with kid gloves.” Treat them in a way where you go, “It’s one of those days for them. I’m going to treat them like I would want to be treated myself, which is friendly, energetic.” That stuff can change and modify the way other people act around you.
They’re going, “Every time I get around Jordan, I feel like he’s so fun.” They feel more energized by this. That’s a nice way to be greeted. You’re tired, you had a long day, you’ve been checking email and someone says, “How are you? Great to see you.” This isn’t necessarily some fake glad-handing thing. It is based on their nonverbal communication. I want to re-frame them and reprogram them a little bit. I don’t think people mind being manipulated in that way.
What I love so much about what you’re saying is that this is good for salespeople. I’m a salesperson by nature. I’ve sold many things throughout my life. These are some of the core lessons that I was taught in the 1970’s at the Dale Carnegie course. We drilled this stuff many years ago. I had forgotten about that until we started talking. This is priceless and I would say foundational information about how to make a good first impression on people.
Here’s part of the inspiration for this. I’ve taken pretty everything Dale Carnegie has to offer, the courses. The man, himself, was not around when I started with this, but I found that it was lacking quite a bit. It’s great if you’re afraid to stand and these courses have probably changed a lot over the last 50 years. The ones that I took five, ten years ago, however long it’s been, they’ve been completely different. They’re almost, “Are you afraid to stand up in front of a room and introduce yourself and talk about your job? Join our class.” A lot of what is mentioned in How to Win Friends and Influence People, he probably had created drills and exercises for that are no longer taught. My first stop when I wanted to learn how to be more charismatic, outgoing, open, friendly, positive, whatever you want to call it was Dale Carnegie. It was okay, but I realized if somebody doesn’t like you and they’re not giving you a million-dollar law deal for your firm, it’s not because you don’t have a firm handshake or you broke eye contact two seconds too early. It’s because of some nuanced thing that a guy in a sweater vest at the YMCA is not going to be able to tell you.
What I will say in defense of Dale Carnegie, when I took the course, it was a very intensive course. We took it seriously. We did all the drills. We stood up in front of the room. We were judged on our posture, appearance, and our presentation. Coming from not having sold anything up until the point I took that course, for me, it was a revolution. It set my world on fire. I’ll always be appreciative of that happening back in the ’70s for me. You’re right, compared to what’s available compared to your own training, it’s nothing like it could be or should be. What’s level two? Where do we go after we’ve fixed our posture and we’re looking friendly and open and we’re in this networking room? What’s the next step?
It doesn’t matter entirely what you say when you want to start conversations. You don’t want to say, “I like turtles,” or something like that. Starting off as simple as possible and then throwing the ball to the other person you’re speaking with is huge. This is classic Dale Carnegie, but you have to have the table set with your nonverbal communication. I’ll often say I use what we call the six-word intro that my friend, Clay Hebert, has created and sometimes we call it the Tornado Technique. What this is, is a lot of people will do this they’ll go, “I do a financial risk management for multinational institutions.” That doesn’t mean anything. What we should do is tell a 21-year-old kid or a young person or even somebody who has no clue what that is.
Maybe your friend’s wife who works at an accounting firm or maybe that’s even too corporate. Maybe they work at the Apple Store, something totally unrelated. Tell them what you do and then you say, “What do you think I do?” I guarantee they’ll have no idea. What we want to do is create something that is very much jargon-free and very much a layman’s term introduction. Instead of, “I do financial risk management or risk management for multinational institutions,” what you might say is, “I work with US companies to make sure that they are insured in case one of their subsidiaries or sister companies does something illegal in the United States.” People go, “Okay.” You can even simplify it beyond that. A lot of people understand what insurance is, I would hope. A lot of people understand that companies need that if somebody overseas or one of their other companies does something illegal in the United States but is legal in their country.
Privacy laws, anti-money laundering stuff, they all have to be compliant even if you’re in another country. There’s insurance for that. That’s called risk management. If you tell me that’s what you do and then I turn around and tell someone else that in two days, am I going to get it? No, I’m going to say, “He does something multinational. I can’t remember.” That’s what I might take from that. If I think, “He handles insurance for companies so that if their company does something overseas, they’re covered.” That’s so much simpler. You have to do that what this should do, this tornado technique or the six-word intro, you have to make sure that your job description can survive a game of telephone.
Remember that game as kids? This is important because say that I’m a recruiter for Fortune 500 companies and I place HR executives at Fortune 500 companies. Do I want to say, “I do C-Suite recruiting and management primarily in the human resources space?” “Okay, cool.” Do I want to be able to say, “I hire HR managers at the top of Fortune 500 companies?” That’s good because what if my cousin’s friends buddy is that person? That should be able to travel to them at a party, a barbecue, and not have to have them come directly to you and say, “I heard you do something that I might be interested in.” Nobody’s going to do that. If word travels around, if I say, “I’m a digital media influencer,” people go, “What?” If I say, “I interview people for a downloadable radio show called the podcast.” I don’t have to define podcasts, but I used to. Then people go, “That’s so cool. Who do you interview?”
Why am I going to try to complicate things? Because it makes me look and feel good, but it doesn’t help me get anywhere towards my goals. It doesn’t help me get anywhere with finding people to recruit and place in Fortune 500 companies. It doesn’t help me get guests for the Jordan Harbinger Show. It doesn’t help you sell your product, “What do you sell?” “I sell at SaaS software or CRM.” “I don’t know what that is.” “I sell software that is like a giant Rolodex for sales teams to put their customers in.” “I know some sales guys, maybe they need this.” That’s a totally different strategy. You need to have that unlock forget the jargon. Your mission is to get people to understand what you do, not impress the people in your industry.Our first impressions are made non-verbally. Click To Tweet
I’d like to take that a little bit further because I’ve been using a technique for many years taught to me by a guy on Jay Abraham stage named Barney Zick. He created what he called the Seven-Word Formula and it’s very effective and it’s very simple. The formula is this, “You know how, what I do is.” In my case, I used to have a software company and so when people say to me, “What do you do?” I say, “You know how lawyers have a difficult time keeping track of all their administrative work in billing? What I do is I’ve created a product that does all that for them and mixed dear life easier.” Then the follow-up question is, “Do you know any lawyers?” That, to me, has made explaining what I do relatable to the person I’m talking to. It’s a little bit different than what you said, but it has the same outcome.
We do combine this with what we call the reverse tornado. If I’m looking to meet certain types of people, instead of saying, “Yes, I’m looking for HR management professionals that are open to relocation,” even that’s pretty good, but it gets worse than that. The jargon gets crazy. I might say, “I’m looking to place HR professionals in big companies.” “My aunt does HR.” “I’d love to be introduced. What company does she work for?” “It’s Apple or something.” “That counts, that qualifies.” That’s what you want. We want to jargon-free request.
In your example, you said, “I’m looking for people that securitized mortgage-backed securities in the legal space.” It’s like, “What?” “I’m looking for lawyers.” People make things more complicated because it sounds impressive. Especially in Silicon Valley, the startup world is full of all made up titles. If you go to any bank, “I’m the Vice President of Customer Satisfaction.” “Didn’t you start yesterday?” “Vice presidents are the lowest level you come.” It’s like, “What are you talking about?” “After training, you’re a vice president now, and it’s on your free Vistaprint business cards.” Stop doing that stuff and stop naming things, chief fun officer. That doesn’t tell me anything about what you do. It just sounds dumb. It’s very trendy to do that, but I don’t know how to help you if you’re the chief fun officer.
If you recruit great people to work for a company, tell me that and tell me what they do. If you’re the chief fun officer but your job consists of making sure that there are cool new gadgets and food products and trials of different types of supplements and the startup office, tell me that. Don’t make stuff up to make yourself sound cool and interesting because you’ll be interesting for a whole second and then it dies on the vine, the game of telephone.
It’s a great way to approach anything, which is to make sure that you’re simplifying what you’re saying to the point that the person listening not only understands that but can relate to it. I have a question for you and this is a question I ask all my guests. It’s one of my favorites because it gives us a peek into who our guests are and what they’re about. Who, in all of space and time, would you like to have one hour to enjoy a walk in the park, a quick lunch or an intense conversation with?
Rather than give a cliché answer, I’m going to give a weird answer. Vladimir Putin. He’s not a good person. I do not admire him just to be clear, but he is an interesting character. You can’t deny that. Does he have to tell me the truth during our walk?
It would probably be better if he did, but he doesn’t have to.
He’s going to lie. If he’s stuck with me during a meal, that would be very interesting. That or someone like Kim Jong-un because I’m like, “What are you doing? What is your plan? What’s going on here?” If I had to choose somebody that I want to learn from and get better by, it would probably be somebody who I admire deeply like Will Smith. There are so many. What is Abraham Lincoln thinking? Because people go, “He freed the slaves.” I’m like, “Was that tactical?” There are all kinds of questions that are unsolved in history by great people that I would love to hear the answer straight out of the horse’s mouth. For example, what are the original Supreme Court justices think of the constitutional crises we’re in now? What do the framers of the constitution think of all this crazy stuff, second amendment stuff? I could go on and on. There are so many.
Vladimir Putin, what a great choice. That’s a first. I’ve done over 100 of these interviews and no one’s ever said, Vladimir. If I could set that up for you, I would like to go with you if that’s okay. If you can set that up for me, I’ll pack now. Meanwhile, there’s the next thing and that’s the grand finale, the change the world question. What is it that you were doing or would like to do that truly has the potential to literally change the world?
I would love to get the ideas of networking and relationships, the basics, the fundamentals into as many hands as possible. A lot of people are hard workers and a lot of people are smart. This area of soft skills is both amazing when you’re first starting off in your career and your life as a young person because it’s the only thing that sets you apart. Everybody’s equally useless their first year out of college. Sorry, everybody. You’re pretty much there, but also when you’re about to go into the C-Suite or when you’re getting close to that upper middle management area, this is what sets people apart there too. People go, “I don’t understand why this person got promoted over me.”
It’s the soft skills, “I don’t understand why I didn’t get staffed on this project. I’ve been here longer.” Whether you’re at the top or the bottom of your industry or career, these are the things that make all the difference. Usually, people find out about it too late. Usually, it’s because they’re going, “I’ve been here for a decade. The guy I hired four years ago is my boss. What gives?” If you’re lucky, the person who’s above you or your boss’ boss will finally tell you the truth and then what? You’ve got to spend years fixing this problem. The earlier you get to this, the better.
I understand that you have something that would help our audience take the first step in learning some of these techniques.
I certainly appreciate the fact that you have made this available for free. I know that our audience is going to be very excited to access this material. Thank you so much for your time, Jordan. Thank you for your gift and I look forward to the next time we talk.
Resources Mentioned in This Episode:
- The Jordan Harbinger Show
- Six-Minute Networking
- Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty
- How to Win Friends and Influence People
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