It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of partnerships to effectively build businesses without investors. I’ve done it successfully over a half-dozen times.
It’s also no secret that I had a very public falling out with a partner back in 2010. While it was no fun at the time, it led to my amazing partnership with Brian Gardner that brought StudioPress into the Copyblogger family.
Jordan Harbinger is now picking up the pieces from his own partnership meltdown. You know him as the former voice of the mega-successful podcast The Art of Charm, a multimillion dollar business of which he is also an owner.
Jordan has continued on with the Jordan Harbinger show, and things are going amazingly well despite the drama. Find out what made the difference when this all-too-common scenario happens, and how you can put yourself in the same position.
The Show Notes
Picking Up the Pieces When a Partnership Implodes, with Jordan Harbinger
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Brian Clark: It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of partnerships to effectively build businesses without investors. I’ve done it successfully over a half dozen times.
It’s also no secret that I had a very public falling out with a partner back in 2010. While it was no fun at the time, it led to my amazing partnership with Brian Gardner that brought StudioPress into the Copyblogger family.
Jordan Harbinger is now picking up the pieces from his own partnership meltdown. You know him as the former voice of the mega successful podcast The Art of Charm, a multimillion dollar business of which he is also an owner. Jordan has continued on with the Jordan Harbinger Show, and things are going amazingly well despite the drama.
Find out what made the difference when this all too common scenario happens and how you can put yourself in the same position.
This episode of Unemployable is brought to you by the all new FreshBooks. Easy accounting software for people just like you. You’ve simply got to try it for yourself with this special, unrestricted 30-day free trial. Just head over to Freshbooks.com/unemployable, and tell them you heard about it on Unemployable in the “How Did You Hear About Us?” section.
Jordan, my friend, how are you?
Jordan Harbinger: I’m good, man. I’m better than I was when we spoke in person a few months ago. How’s that?
Brian Clark: I know. That was San Diego and actually you were upbeat, but you were going through some tough stuff, and I’m going to bring that all back to you today.
Jordan Harbinger: Yes, rip open all of those scabs.
Brian Clark: I think we both have this in common, where we had very lucrative businesses that went sideways, and we both walked away and started a new thing and everything was great because of that. But I think it’s counterintuitive and I think a lot of people out there could really learn from your example.
I think the script that we’re given when a business partnership goes the wrong way is usually involving litigation and ugliness and fighting. Both of us are former attorneys and both of us took a different path than that, which is interesting because I think we know better. We know what litigation is like. It sucks.
Brian Clark: Anyway, let’s not be cryptic here. Let’s talk a little bit about (what we can about) what happened. Obviously, your former business and podcast was the incredibly popular Art of Charm, a very early and groundbreaking podcast that you had, in my mind, just so much to do with its success. Then when I found out that you weren’t associated with it anymore, I was just like, “What?” So, tell us what happened, well, to the extent you can.
Jordan Harbinger: Sure. I was thinking about splitting from the Art of Charm for a really, really long time, but I did what a lot of business owners do, and I went, “Well, I can’t start over. It’s going to be so hard. Look, this isn’t so bad. When we fix this problem or that problem, everything will be fine,” because you just don’t even want to think about the idea that maybe you’re going down the wrong path. It’s called Sunk Cost Fallacy. Really that’s what it’s called.
I was a victim of that. And by victim, I mean I made myself do that, because we’re all responsible for that. Logical fallacies and biases are tough. You can even know about them, you can teach them professionally, you can talk about them on your podcast for a decade and change, and it doesn’t mean that you’re not going to fall prey to them. Science has shown that even scientists who study bias have bias. Judges, whose entire job is to be unbiased, have tons of bias that they can’t even see. I was doing that same thing to myself.
I negotiated an amicable split with the Art of Charm in December. Things didn’t work out that way for various reasons. I ended up finding myself on the outside of the company, and I took most of the team with me at that point. I started the Jordan Harbinger Show and started Advanced Human Dynamics as essentially doing what I would consider to be an evolution on what I was doing before at the Art of Charm. The show, new and improved, the live events and products and things like that that I’m running, new and improved.
What was great about it was, I was working with a lot of the same people on the team. And that was extremely helpful. Because I’ll tell you, if you ever find yourself starting over, you’re left to your own devices, largely with your talent, with your skills and with your network. If you’re relying on your talent, well, you probably weren’t that successful to begin with. If you’re relying on your talent and your skills, you better be prepared to do every little thing yourself, because that’s all you can do. But if you’ve got your network around you and your people and your team around you, you are in a much better position.
I’m not going to pat myself on the back here, Brian, because the reason I had such a great network and a bunch of relationships, that’s because I was practicing what I had preached over the last 11 years and change. But it wasn’t because I was thinking, “I’m so smart, I’m practicing what I preach. Look how authentic I am.” It wasn’t anything like that. It was kind of like, “All right, well, I guess I do really need to do the networking thing, because I do teach it and it would be pretty disingenuous if I didn’t. Also, I like helping people and I like meeting people and I’ve really trained myself to work hard at that and I don’t want to lose those skills.”
Dig the Well Before You’re Thirsty
Jordan Harbinger: The principal I’m talking about is digging the well before you’re thirsty. Here’s the thing though, Brian, you never think, “One day I’m going to be thirsty.” What we all think is, “This is never going to happen to me.” So, when it does, either you go, “Oh crap, I really should have focused on these skills more. I really should have built more relationships.” Or you say, in my position, “Thank God I did that, because it’s saving my ass right now.”
It really is. It’s saving my butt. If you told me right now, “Look, Jordan, I’ll give you 7 million bucks, but you can’t contact anybody that you know. You have to make an all new network, all new relationships.” I wouldn’t take the money, because I’m rebuilding faster than I could possibly hope to purchase a rebuild through my relationships. That should be a strong statement. I’ll let that sink in.
There is no single digit million amount that I would take in order to rebuild my business, because I know that money at that level is less effective than the relationships that I create. I’ll tell you, I also thought, “Oh well, what if …” Somebody asked me this question, “What if it was like $20 million?” And I thought, “Maybe then in my current scenario,” but you’ll never have a hypothetical where you see somebody who’s got hundreds of millions of dollars and doesn’t value their relationships at all. Those people’s relationships are worth even more to them because of the leverage and the scale at which they operate.
If you look at a guy like Elon Musk or something like that, tons of brilliance and money and connections and things like that, I guarantee you that he values the relationships more than the capital itself. Because relationships get you capital, they get you investment, they get you to where you want to go, the deals you need and the content that you need to create. Those all come through your relationships much faster than you could possibly ever hope to buy them.
Brian Clark: Yeah. It’s absolutely the truth. I mean, I think there is a number that I would take, because…
Jordan Harbinger: A retirement number.
Brian Clark: Yeah, it’d have to be the retirement number. And then I’d be like, “I didn’t want to talk to any of you all anymore, anyway.”
Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, “Sorry babe. We’re getting a divorce, but it’s worth it, for me anyway.”
Brian Clark: It’s so interesting that you bring that up, because it’s been eight years now. Some people who listen to the show may not even remember this. You know us as Copyblogger and StudioPress and Rainmaker. But it wasn’t StudioPress before 2010.
I was the co-founder of a company called DIYthemes that launched the first design framework for WordPress. It was called Thesis and I had a partner and we got along well for a while. I wasn’t in your situation where I was thinking of leaving. I was trying to fix it all the time. It’s like a bad marriage.
Jordan Harbinger: I was too, and then I gave up and went, “I’m never getting out of here.” Like you said, like a bad marriage.
Brian Clark: Yeah, that’s what it was. Then it just fell apart and my partner was somehow led to believe that this massive audience I had with Copyblogger that took Thesis from 10 grand a month to 10 grand a day wasn’t the reason why it was successful. Then he locked me out of the business and I’m just like, “Oh my God, I can’t believe this.”
Yeah, I walked away and called Brian Gardner who was part of my network. We had an existing relationship. I actually liked the Genesis framework better than my own product at that point, because we were going in the wrong direction, but I was the marketer. I wasn’t the coder, I wasn’t the developer. And it was like instant, “Yes, let’s do a deal. Let’s work together.”
Then Genesis within six months became the biggest design framework for WordPress. There was no vindictiveness about it. It was just a natural occurrence, and the flip side of that is that Thesis basically became inconsequential. You don’t have to be ugly or mean or litigious.
I know you’re not going to opine on this, but I think your show is going to be bigger than Art of Charm if it isn’t already, because you, right? And because the audience is going to follow you. That’s what happened with me.
Even beyond just the network of that, you and I are friends. You reached out after this happened. I’m like, “What can I do to help?” I’m sure everyone you know said that, right?
Jordan Harbinger: Well, the first thing you said was, “How the hell did you let this happen? Let’s go have a beer.” To be fair.
Brian Clark: Well, you always want to hear the story.
Jordan Harbinger: Of course, I don’t fault you for that. I would have said the same thing. I still laugh about it, because people go, “Oh, has anybody blown you off?” I said, “No.” They’re like, “Oh, so everybody’s been pretty warm?” And I said, “Yeah.” And they said, “So really, you haven’t had one negative reaction?” I was like, “Well, there’s always Brian Clark.”
Brian Clark: It wasn’t negative. It’s just…
Jordan Harbinger: No, I’m just kidding.
Brian Clark: …commiserating, because I’m like, “God, I thought this was…it happened to me.” Again, we’re both attorneys.
Jordan Harbinger: I know.
How Did This Happen?
Brian Clark: That’s the part that always, I think, freaks people out going, “Well, if you couldn’t protect yourself from this, then who can?” That’s the thing though. When you’re dealing with human beings, things happen. People lose their minds, they take drugs, they blow all their money, they make bad decisions. I’m not talking about anything in specific here. I’m just saying, these things happen when you deal with human beings.
And I’m such an advocate for partnering. I’ve got all these partnerships that to this day are stellar. I had one that flamed out spectacularly. It’s like, “What are you going to do?”
Jordan Harbinger: I think it’s an interesting point worth discussing. We’re both attorneys or former attorneys, how did this happen? The truth of the matter is, it doesn’t matter what documents you have in place. I still own a huge chunk of my former company. It doesn’t matter. You can go to court for a six-figure sum and you can get what’s rightfully yours.
Like if you had gone into litigation with your old partner, you may very well could have won something.
Brian Clark: Oh yeah. I guarantee you I would’ve won. But I would have lost at the same time.
Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, you would have lost 18 months of your life. You would have spent a ton of your money doing it. You would have won something that you would have then gone, “Ah, this isn’t really as good as the other thing that I built.” You would have sunset it and you would have been lucky, and I mean damn lucky, to make up the cost of the litigation. You’d never, of course, get the time back and all of the lost sleep that then aged you five extra years, would not have been worth it at all.
And people go, “But they owe you millions of dollars.” It doesn’t matter. At a certain level, it’s easier to remake the money and rebuild.
If you’re the person that doesn’t have the ability to do that for some reason, because you didn’t form relationships, you didn’t work on your skill sets, then you’re probably in trouble. Then, yeah, maybe litigating is worth it.
But if you have the chops and you’ve got the network, you are the winner already. Going to court is just a time and financial drain. We, as lawyers, I think maybe spotted that. Whereas somebody who’s not an attorney might go, “Sue the bastards.” And as lawyers, we’re like, “Wait a minute. I don’t think that means what you think it means. This isn’t going to be as easy as you think.”
Brian Clark: I’ve had family members who went the litigation route, and it ruined their life for two years.
The Cost of Friction
Brian Clark: Here’s an interesting thing, I want to throw this at you, because I don’t think anyone would accuse either of us of being the shy and retiring type. We both have pretty bold personalities and the legal background in anything. But you know the truth? I actually hate confrontation.
Jordan Harbinger: Really?
Brian Clark: Yeah, I do it all the time. I’m one of these people who cannot not object or stand up for myself or someone else. But I get uncomfortable once I’m doing it, and it’s not fun.
When you give me the prospect of spending two years of my life or 18 months, whatever, in constant confrontation and anger and battle, compared with “Let’s go create something new. Let’s go make something else. Elevate that in the minds of the marketplace.” To me, that’s fun. Look at the choice there. Do I want to have fun or do I want to be miserable?
So, I don’t know about you. I mean, when it comes to confrontation, I bet you don’t back down, but it depends on your level of comfort with it. Some people thrive off of it.
Jordan Harbinger: I don’t back down, but I also don’t seek it out, because I think it’s largely a waste of time.
Thinking about it, what you’re really talking about is friction. If you’re thinking about any sort of friction, immediately — to do a science nerd thing on it — you’re losing a ton of energy when you have friction. If you’re literally looking at rubber meeting the road, you’re looking at a lot of energy being lost to heat. It’s damaging both surfaces in theory. To do that, it creates waste. Things move slower, they require more force, more energy.
Why do you want to run your business like that? It’s easier to run the other way and create Genesis like you did, than it is to go, “You know what? I’m going to steam roll this SOB,” and then create all of that friction in your life. And this isn’t something you can compartmentalize. People always say, “Let the lawyers handle that.” Those are people that have never been in a litigation before. “Let the lawyers handle that.”
Great. Your deposition is tomorrow and the next four days from 9:00 AM to whenever we’re done. It’s all day long, and that it’s going to cost you about 30 grand, and then we’re going to take all of the things you said during your deposition, which is like an interrogation or interview. We’re going to take everything out of context and make you defend it at a later date while you could be doing a bunch of other stuff, and it’s going to cost you money to do that too.
No, thanks. I’d rather run in the other direction and create something new. And that’s exactly what you did and what I’m doing with the Jordan Harbinger Show. It’s what you did with Genesis. You didn’t have to go, “I’m going to destroy this guy.” Your better business, your better software product, I guess you would just say better business in general is what destroyed that. You let the other person bury themselves. In the meantime, you focused on creating better, stronger, more powerful systems and products. That’s how you win.
Brian Clark: Yeah, it’s so important. I hope people are listening and taking this to heart. This is the truth. This is not just great business advice. This is advice from people who have seen the inside of litigation. I got out of the practice of law, because I didn’t want to spend my whole life fighting over stupid shit with people. You know what I’m saying?
How Was It to Realize You Were Locked Out of the Business?
Brian Clark: Anyway, okay, I want to take you back (this will be fun), the day you realize effectively you’re locked out of the business. That’s a scary feeling. Same thing happened to me — locked out of the accounts, no more payments. Locked out of the website. What’s going through your head at that moment?
Jordan Harbinger: I had a little bit of advanced warning. Mine didn’t happen exactly that way. I had a little bit of advanced warning. In my case, and I’ve got to be a little bit careful about what I say here. So, give me a little second here to pause on this.
The way that this happened for us was a bunch of other people had been terminated before me, and it didn’t make any sense. So the fact that those people were terminated, I’m talking about dozens, I went, “What’s going on here?” I had a little bit of advanced warning from there, and I thought, “This is very strange.” I really started to go through, in part, and maybe slightly out of order, have you ever heard of the seven stages of grief? I feel like it’s a cliché by now. So you must have, right?
Brian Clark: Yeah, of course.
Jordan Harbinger: The first thing is shock and denial where you go, “Wait a minute, wait a minute. Okay, this doesn’t make any sense. Hold on, hold on, hold on. I want to see the document that says you guys got fired. Hold on. Wait, let me read this.” And then you go, “Is this really happening?” That’s only like a few minutes in my case, and I thought, “Oh well.”
This stage, this first stage, shock and denial, you tumble around in it for a little bit, because you think, “Oh, we’re going to work this out or something like that. This doesn’t make any sense.”
After that, you’ve got pain and guilt. Now, for me, I kind of jumped ahead, because I didn’t feel guilty. I was really bummed about it and I went sort of straight to the depression. I don’t want to overstate this. I wasn’t like, “I can’t get out of bed.” I was just like, “Man, I spent 11 years, 11 and a half, working on this business.”
Then I really spent a lot of time, instead of feeling bad, instead of getting angry, instead of feeling hurt, what I did is I reached out to people like you and I said, “Hey man, this is happening to me.” That was the best thing that I did. Not because everybody’s like, “Come on my podcast and I can help you regrow.” That’s great. Don’t get me wrong. That’s amazing.
But what really helped was having literally every single other business owner say, “Oh yeah, eight years ago I got fired by my now ex-wife, and she took the business and my kids.” And I’m like, “Okay, you win.” Or like other people saying things like, “Yeah, when I ran X company…” and I’m not even saying the company’s name here, because it was like $180 million national or international company that had just crazy amounts of revenue. It’s a company you’ve all heard of.
They go, “Yeah, my best friend and I ran that, and then he fired me after 11 years.” And you’re just going, “Oh my goodness, that’s much worse,” because you’re not going to rebuild anything like that by yourself ever. You’re just not. You wouldn’t want to.
That kind of stuff was not only worse and so that made me feel better, but those same people said, “Look, I know you don’t believe me, but this is the best thing that’s ever happened to you probably besides meeting your wife.” And I was like, “When’s that going to happen? Because right now it sucks.” And they’re like, “No, no. Trust me, it’s going to take a year or two, but in 18 months to 3 years, you’re going to look back and you’re going to want to send these guys an effing gift basket.”
This is exactly what a former CEO told me, or COO. He goes, “You’re going to want to send these guys a freaking fruit basket, because no matter where they are, which is not going to be likely where they even were when they let you go,” because this person knows how much I worked in the business and what we brought to the table along with the other 30 people that were let go. He goes, “You’re going to have something that you like a lot better. You’re going to look back on this and it won’t be some philosophical, ‘Gee, it all happened for a reason.’ It’s going to be, ‘Oh my gosh, thank God that happened.’”
I’m only three months into the Jordan Harbinger Show. We’ve got 1.3 or 1.4 million downloads of the first month. I think we have two and a half or three million or something overall. I already feel better, and this is after not even 90 days. So, I can only imagine what it’s going to feel like after a couple of years.
The reason is because I never would have had the guts to rip the band aid off myself and leave and start my own thing. Because of sunk cost, because of everything that we had done before, I never really would have had the guts to take the plunge. The decision was made for me, and that actually turned out to be a really good thing.
Brian Clark: Yeah, I agree. A lot of people, again, listening don’t remember the period 2006 to 2010 with us. It all started in 2010, which means it started right after I left that business. We merged all the companies together, and that was really the run we went on the last eight years.
I have no regrets. In fact, I think you’re right. It was the best that could have happened. Did it suck at the time? Sure it did. But I remember my resolve and how motivated I was going forward, because it was positive and not about fighting, about sunk cost and all that. It really was a great time in my life, like when I felt alive, because I had adversity but also had opportunity and I just focused 100% on the opportunity and went forward.
How Long Did It Take You to Discover Your Go Forward Plan?
Brian Clark: Let’s spin this. Okay, you go through your seven stages of grief and you’re like, “Screw this. I’m Jordan Harbinger, we’re going to go do something new.” Did you know what it was right away? Or did it take you some time to say, “Okay, here’s the go forward plan?”
Jordan Harbinger: Actually, I knew right away. Well, actually let me rephrase that. I didn’t necessarily know right away, but what happened was the following: I started my outreach right away to other entrepreneurs.
First of all, I had to tell people that were invested in what I was doing that I had been terminated and what was going on with the business. I had to call sponsors and things like that and say, “Hey FYI, I’m no longer with the Art of Charm.” Everyone said, “What are you going to do now?” And I said, “Well, I’m not totally sure.” They said, “Well, reach out and let us know what you’re doing.” I was like, “Oh, I’ve got to be careful. I can’t solicit old sponsors or employees or anything.” And they said, “No, just keep us updated on what you’re doing.” I said, “Fine.”
I also had to call my network PodcastOne and tell them what happened, because the agreement was affected by this whole split. So I called and one of the guys there who owns the network, Norm Pattiz, he’s been in radio for, I don’t know, 50 years, one of the top business guys in LA. I mean, he’s one of the wealthiest guys in California for that matter.
He said, “Well, you know what you’ve got to do, right? You’ve got to keep going. Don’t even miss a beat, keep your show going.” I was like, “Well, you want me to keep the show going?” And he said, “Yeah, I’m going to have a new contract for you tomorrow.” So he started making calls. He’s like, “Get Gary on this.” He said, “You should not skip a beat, because what you’re doing is the right thing for you. You’re a radio guy or a podcast guy, a broadcaster, you’re a content creator.” He goes, “There’s no reason for you to take a pause in what you’re doing unless you don’t want to do it anymore.”
I said, “Well, I definitely still want to do it.” He goes, “Well, good. You’re too good at this to fail. You need to get off your butt and do it. Let us know how we can help.” I said, “Great. I need new equipment, I need guests, I need commercials all across the network. I need a new deal, I need some branding, I need some social.” And he went, “Okay, great.”
He rallied everybody in that company who is going to help me with this, and he said, “We’re doing a new show. We’re going to launch it big. We’re going to keep it going.” He took the advertisers that were on other shows, and he said, “These are your new sponsors.” And he sold the ad deals into the show that didn’t even exist yet.
That sort of was why I kept going, because he’s seen people go, “Well, my show got canceled, or HBO canceled our comedy thing and I’m going to take the next six months and figure out what I’m going to do.” And they’re never heard from again. Your star fades, your brand fades, or you just get rusty or you decide, “Oh, I don’t know if I can do this anymore.”
I launch episodes of the Jordan Harbinger Show every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. When my old show ended on a Thursday, I had another episode ready the following Tuesday that I’d recorded that previous Saturday. That’s how quickly we got this thing going. I didn’t miss one single release date. Not one.
Brian Clark: So fantastic and such a testament to be nice to everyone. People who are jerks, I don’t get them. What’s going to happen when you find yourself in trouble? Do you think everyone’s going to be warm and gracious when you’re in trouble? When you were kind of like, “Yeah, I’m riding high now. So, whatever.” You’ve never been that way. You’ve always been gracious and funny and just a good guy.
Jordan Harbinger: I appreciate that.
Brian Clark: But everyone also knows that you’re a talent and you’ve got play. I think that the combination of being a good person and a marketable commodity, let’s put it that way, goes a long way.
The Importance of Relationships
Brian Clark: You talk about relationships. It’s not necessarily a huge secret, at least not in my mind. Try to do the right thing for other people without expecting something in return. And then when you need it, you’re going to be like, “Oh my God, I’m so overwhelmed with the support I’m getting.”
Jordan Harbinger: I agree with that wholeheartedly. A lot of people said things like, “Hey, you’re going to find out who your friends are, so be ready for that.” And what they did not mean is, “You’re going to be so pleasantly surprised with all of your friends.”
When you hear athletes and things say that, you’re watching ESPN, it’s like 30 and 30 or whatever those things are called. You watch those and you see this washed up athlete or you’re watching behind the music with MC Hammer and they say like, “You find out who your friends are.” They’re not talking about the safety net that was there when they fell. They’re talking about the fact that they looked around and everybody who had been hanging out with them for five years or 10 years while they were riding high vaporized. I was terrified of that. And I thought that that might happen and it didn’t.
I’ll tell you, in preparation for that, I did the following: I made a list of about 12 to 20 people that I knew were actually real close friends that weren’t going to be like, “Oh sorry, you’re dead to me.” I made a list of those people and I reached out to them first. What I told myself was, “As long as about half or three quarters of these people say that they’re going to help me and they’re all going to be reassuring, I’m pretty sure then I’ll be okay even if everyone else tells me to go fly a kite.”
I reached out to those people first. What I found was immediate yeses, immediate show bookings on large shows. Immediate, “Yeah, I’ll mail this out tomorrow,” kind of things for people who had lists of all these crazy influential folks. And I got on a lot of phone calls. Like I said, my friend who is the COO of this nine-figure company, he called me at 9:30 PM my time, I think it was probably midnight his time. He said, “Look, I want you to calm down and listen to this story.” And he told me all about how he had gone through this whole thing.
I realized, “I am actually going to be okay, because not only do I have these people’s help, these people would not lie to me, because they don’t really have the incentive to do so. And they’ve been through the same situation themselves.”
I recommend that if anybody finds themselves out in the cold like this or they perceive themselves as out in the cold, what they really should look at doing is making that list — not look at doing, what they should do is make that list. You don’t have to have 20 people. Pick half a dozen. People you know will help you, people you know will say yes, people you know will be there for you, and that will help build your confidence to reach out to the rest of your network.
You’ll realize quickly, as I did in my case, that even though everyone says, “You’re going to find out who your friends are,” the truth of the matter is you’re going to find out that you probably have a lot more friends than you thought. I know that it seems like it’s going to be the other way around, but it’s really not. That’s not my experience at all.
It’s actually been amazing to see people who I don’t even know say, “Hey, look, I’ve got five introductions for you if you want them.” They’ll introduce me to five other people. And then those people say, “Hey, look, I used to listen to your old thing,” or “You’re a nice guy, how can I help you?” Or “I feel bad for you, what can I do for you?” You will find that there are people that are strangers that will still help you. And that’s more true if you’ve done the networking and you’ve dug the well before you’re thirsty. But there are still people out there that will help you even if you’ve never spoken to them in your entire life.
I think that’s important to realize, because it’s very easy to sit here and go, “I’m screwed, I can’t do it. I’m going to bury my head in the sand and go move to Guatemala and volunteer on a farm.” Which is fine. If you need to do that, go ahead and do that.
But I’m telling you, months ago I thought I could never start this over again. “If this fails or if something goes wrong, I’m just going to jump into the ocean or something like that.” I remember saying and thinking things like that. And then as soon as I had to find the strength, there it was. As soon as I had to say, “All right, I’ve got to sit down and plan my phoenix from the flames moment here, it’s not going to be easy.” I sat down and I planned it with friends and other experts that were able to help me out. Honestly, it’s been exciting. It hasn’t been this giant drag where I’m crying myself to sleep every day and taking Xanax. It hasn’t been that. I really thought it was going to be like that, and it wasn’t.
Brian Clark: I remember when you reached out to me, I was prepared to do anything to help you, and you were back on your feet before I could do anything. And I was like, “Is this a good thing or a bad thing?” No, it’s a good thing for you. But that’s just a testament I think to how people think about you. I was just like, “What do you need, man? I’ll do it.” You’re like, “Okay, things are pretty good. I’d love to come on the show. I can do that in about two months.” I’m like, “Okay, you’re not desperate. That’s for sure.”
Jordan Harbinger: Well, that’s what I thought. It was like, “Look, I’d love to come on the show.” And then, yeah, my wife went, “Good, you’re free in May.” I was like, “How is that even possible?” She goes, “I don’t know, Brian took three days to reply and you got a bunch of other stuff in the meantime.” And I went like, “Oh crap, who knew?”
I think you were on vacation, you were like in Costa Rica on vacation.
Brian Clark: Yeah, I was in Costa Rica.
Jordan Harbinger: I went, “Oh no rush, get back to me when you can.” By the time you’d come back up to “civilization,” although I would argue that Costa Rica is much more civilized than where we are now.
Brian Clark: More civilized.
The Worst Thing Might Also Be the Best Thing
Jordan Harbinger: I had already booked a bunch of other stuff. Look, I’m thankful for every opportunity. I don’t want it to seem like, “Oh yeah, too little, too late, sucker.” The truth is, I didn’t expect this kind of positive reaction. I want other people to know that they’re probably going to experience something very similar when they go through a hard time. They’re going to feel really alone. They’re going to feel really down. They’re going to feel like, “How screwed am I? This isn’t going to work. I can’t believe it.” And if they take my advice here, they’re going to start reaching out.
Hopefully, they’ve dug the well before they’re thirsty and they’ve reached out before, but if they didn’t, they’re going to start reaching out to people that they’re friends with, that they’ve met, that they’ve helped and even those that they haven’t. They’re going to find, “Oh, okay, I can do this. I’m not some sort of pariah.” You’ll find that other people think more highly of you than you probably think of yourself, especially in that moment where you feel like it’s one of your darkest hours. Other people still know you as this badass who’s created whatever it is that you’ve created and gotten you to where you are.
I was talking with former Senator Barbara Boxer, and she wanted to quit in the beginning of her first big election, because she didn’t stand a chance. She was getting her butt kicked. She would do a media interview and they would go, “Do you really think you have a chance at winning? Your opponent has raised 17 times the amount of money that you have, how do you think you’re going to compete with that?” And she went home, she called her husband and said, “Look, I’m going to quit. There’s no point in this. It’s a waste of time. Everybody’s wasting their time.”
This is Barbara Boxer. She’s known for being a fiery badass. Her husband says, “Okay, we’ll talk about it when you get home.” She walked into her house, her daughters and husband were on the couch and they went, “Sorry, Mom, you’re not allowed to quit.” It wasn’t just like, “You can do it!” They went, “No, no, no, no. You don’t understand. If you quit, you’re letting down everybody here, there and everywhere else. You don’t have to win, but you have to try, and we’re all going to help you.”
It was like her, her friends, all her neighbors, her whole campaign, they rallied and she won.
Brian Clark: Wow, that’s a great story.
Jordan Harbinger: There was no Internet when she did this. This is I think the early ‘80’s or possibly even the late ‘70’s. You didn’t have, “Oh, I’m just going to reach out to all my LinkedIn contacts in one day and do this.” This wass sending telegrams probably back then and knocking on peoples’ doors and making long distance phone calls all day, and trying to leave messages with receptionists, if they even had that.
This is much harder back then than it is now where you can blast somebody else. You can blast a list of 20 of your friends and they can blast their email lists that totals 300,000 people or 13,000. And those people will want to help you. It’s so much more scalable now to reboot and start over. You don’t have to rebuild your brick and mortar shop and order inventory or craft things. You can create products and systems in a matter of days. You’re limited really by the amount of sleep you need at this point.
With you creating Genesis, I don’t know how many developers you had or how long it took, but you had so much experience at that point that you probably skipped over years of mistakes that you had made with Thesis.
Brian Clark: Yeah. The lesson here is the worst thing that ever happens to you could be the best thing that ever happens to you. The fact that so many of us share this as a common experience, it’s important to pay attention to. Because when you’re in it, it sucks. You’re just like, “Oh God, how did this happen?” Anyway, enough, negativity. Let’s end on a positive note.
Jordan Harbinger: Was that negative? I thought it had a positive.
Brian Clark: Well, it is positive, but it’s kind of like, “I’m going to stab you in the arm, but it’s going to be really good for you.”
Jordan Harbinger: It’s going to be good. Bloodletting.
Tell Us About the New Show
Brian Clark: Tell us about the new show. What’s different than the Art of Charm? What’s the same? And where are you going with it?
Jordan Harbinger: The show in many ways is new and improved in that my team is happier and I have a wider array of topics that I’m able to discuss on the show. For example, whereas before I had to focus a lot on dating and things like that — of course, I still do body language, nonverbal communication — but I did an episode on how to spot a psychopath and I did that episode with a psychopath. So, that was kind of interesting.
Brian Clark: Wait, who was the psychopath?
Jordan Harbinger: James Fallon is his name and he’s a brain scientist. This is crazy, dude.
This guy James Fallon, not to be confused with Jimmy Fallon (although I’ve made that lame joke that he’s heard a thousand times on the interview), he’s a brain scientist and he was studying brains one day and he needed a control group. So he got his family and friends together and he said, “Scan their brains,” and he got their brains together. Then they do whatever they do. They shuffle all the cards so they can see, “Hey, how does this compare to the control?” And he goes, “Oh, hey, look,” one of his subjects got mixed in with the control. His assistant said, “No, that actually is part of the control. Someone in your friends or family circle must be a psychopath, judging by this brain scan.”
He goes, “Are you guys messing with me?” They said, “No.” And he goes, “Look, we normally don’t do this, but we’ve got to de-anonymize this person, because this is a family or friend and I’m not friends or family with anybody who’s a psychopath. We’ve got to figure this out, because this is their health at stake. I’m going to ditch the study, the double-blind and do this.”
They said, “Fine.” So they de-anonymized it. And guess what? He was the psychopath.
Brian Clark: Oh, man!
Jordan Harbinger: He was like, “Hold on.” He goes home and he tells his wife and she says, “It doesn’t surprise me. It makes a lot of sense.” And so he goes on this journey of discovering, basically, the whole book that I’d read in preparation for that interview was him looking at his life and going, “Now it all makes sense,” because all of these things he did throughout his whole life were psychopathic.
He also went down the rabbit hole of studying, “Well, wait a minute, I’m a psychopath, but I’m a college professor. I’m a world renowned scientist. Why am I not pulling a Dexter here?” So he started to discover the difference between psychopathy, sociopathy, what makes people malignant and what makes people a benefit to society. And we talk about that a lot, as well as how to recognize a psychopath in that interview.
In the episode before that, I talked with David Eagleman, who is a neuroscientist who’s creating electronics and technology so that deaf people can hear by using a vest that actually creates senses of touch that translates sounds into touch. We talked about having super human senses in the future, because it’s actually quite possible to do with technology.
Then the episode before that was about money laundering, and why you should care — arms trafficking, human trafficking.
I have a much wider, more diverse set of topics that I can cover, because I’m not trying to shoehorn, “Oh well, this also has to harken back to picking up girls or meeting women and stuff like that.” I had to do that when I worked on the old show, and I feel like I can really spread my wings as an interviewer. I can really bring a lot more value to the audience. That’s as far as the podcast is different.
Then as far as the company itself Advanced Human Dynamics is the new company, and we’re teaching corporate classes and personal classes. We already have taught and are teaching with the military. We teach networking, relationship development, verbal and nonverbal communication. We already have clients for Advanced Human Dynamics, and the website isn’t even freaking up yet. I’m pretty happy about that.
That is a more grown-up version of a lot of the things I taught in the past. I’m quite happy about this. I really get a chance to sort of turn into the 38, soon to be 40-year-old Jordan Harbinger that’s teaching skills to unisex groups of grown-ups that are professionals, instead of teaching guys in their early 20’s how to meet women and stuff like that. I feel like I’ve fully outgrown that, and I had for a while, but I wasn’t able to make that pivot, because that was where my old company made their money. Having that decision made for me actually was very freeing in that respect.
Brian Clark: Yeah, it’s an interesting way to put it, because I look back at again 2006 to 2010, and then 2010 forward as the grown-up phase. You use the same terminology.
Jordan Harbinger: How old were you then, if you don’t mind me asking?
Brian Clark: I’m 50 now, so I think I started Copyblogger when I was 37, 38, something like that.
Jordan Harbinger: Got you.
What Is Your Criteria for Guests?
Brian Clark: But grown-up in the sense that we were doing wildly ambitious things, not just trying to make money. It’s similar I think to what you’re saying. The new show, to me, is fascinating because it’s not necessarily about any one thing as long as it’s fascinating. Is that your criteria for guests?
Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, every episode teaches something to the listener, and we have worksheets for every episode. Everything that you listen to, it’s never going to be like, “Oh, that was kind of cool and entertaining.” It’s always going to be, “I have a takeaway.” Even the money laundering episode, it’s like, “Oh, okay, things I can be aware of, things I can learn to spot.” Because the guy I interviewed was a cop and military intelligence and a financial investigator.
I was like, “Look, this guy’s got some practical knowledge even if I’ve got to drag it out of him.” That for me was something that I thought, “Okay, I’m going to focus on stuff that’s practical and applicable, so that everybody can actually learn and apply things for themselves.” That to me is important, man. That’s important, because otherwise, you’re just entertaining people. It might be really entertaining, but I really want people to get better every time they listen to something. And it’s a lofty goal. It’s tough.
Every person in the world has a learnable, teachable skill, whether it’s a soft skill like negotiation or whether they’re going to teach or something technical. That’s why every episode of the Jordan Harbinger Show has those worksheets so that the listening audience can actually use something right out of the box. That’s really the criteria.
If someone’s like, “I’m really funny.” I’m like, “Okay, well, unless you’re going to teach us how to be funnier,” next.
Brian Clark: Yeah. Jordan, thank you so much for coming on the show, man. It’s so good to see you not just surviving this event, but just really kicking ass. I mean, that’s what’s cool. I wish no ill will on your former business partner, but these things have a way of working themselves out that way.
Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, history will play it out. That’s why whenever people are like, “You should do this thing where you write a website and you tell the truth.” I’m like, “You know what? I don’t care enough to do that.” Yes, it’s tempting to be like, “I’m going to do this.”
History has a way of playing these things out, man. I’ve had business partners in my 20’s, they’re not doing anything. I’ve had people steal from me in the past, they’re not doing anything. “Good. Take it. I will recover, I will be better for it.”
It’s different. Every minute you spend trying to chop the other guy down is a minute you don’t spend on moving yourself forward. I know that sounds like a cliché, and I’m totally down with venting anger. But I don’t think you should invest in it. Does that distinction make sense? It’s cool to vent to your wife, to your friends, go to the kickboxing gym and pretend it’s your business partner. It doesn’t matter. But don’t sit there and create systems to try to screw over somebody else. It will actually be even nicer when they implode on their own with no help from you.
Brian Clark: Trust me, back in the day, there was a lot of venting. There were a lot of awful jokes at someone’s expense, just none of it was in public. There is nothing wrong with being pissed off, but don’t go public with it. And so many people do that.
Jordan Harbinger: They do.
Brian Clark: They get attention for it, blah, blah, blah. But it’s not the right kind of attention. You know what the attention you want is? “Here’s my new thing, here’s why it’s better.” And then seeing it succeed at a level that surpasses anything you’ve done before. What’s the old saying? “The best revenge is living well,” right? Yes, that’s it.
Jordan Harbinger: So, yes, about revenge.
Brian Clark: Yes, about revenge. Not a dish served cold, but anyway…
Jordan Harbinger: The other one.
Brian Clark: Yeah, the other one.
Jordan Harbinger: The other good one.
Brian Clark: All right, everyone. I hope you got some stuff out of this, because it’s so important and it is counterintuitive. I don’t want to scare you away from partnering, collaborating, because some of the best decisions I’ve made in my career involve that.
But occasionally, things go wrong. People go crazy. Their ego gets the best of them. They lose their minds. I don’t know. It just happens. It’s not about you, but how you handle it is about you. The world, as Jordan said, and history will look kindly upon you for how you handle that and how you are positive about going forward and making it into a good thing.
So, take that to heart. Thanks for listening, and keep going.