I have the great honour this week of interviewing a podcasting legend, Jordan Harbinger.
On The Jordan Harbinger Show, Jordan deconstructs the playbooks of the most successful people on earth and shares their strategies, perspectives, and practical insights with the rest of us. He has hosted a Top 50 iTunes podcast for over 14 years and receives over eleven million downloads per month, making The Jordan Harbinger Show one of the most popular podcasts in the world.
Huge thanks to Jen Harbinger for helping to schedule this in across very different timezones!
We talk about why his show has worksheets and how unexpectedly popular they are, why it's important to cover the difficult and gross topics that are happening in the world, Jordan's strong belief in exposing cults and scams and how you can support friends and family who are trapped in them. We also spend time discussing his Feedback Friday episodes and the amount of research that goes into the responses and how vital that is in order to help people with very niche problems. Lastly we talk about how hard it can be to restart in business from scratch and how looking at those around you who support you and realising what you have done so far can help you to dive back in and start again.
The Jordan Harbinger Show
David Kilgour - The Heartless Art of Forced Organ Harvesting
Frank Bourassa - The World's Greatest Counterfeiter Part One
Rutger Bregman - Humankind: A Hopeful History
Jordan Harbinger Interview Shelf Healing Work & Life
Rebecca: [00:00:00] We have a very special Work & Life episode this week where my guest is the one and only Jordan Harbinger. Once referred to as the Larry King of podcasting, Jordan is a Wall Street lawyer turned to talk show host, social dynamics, expert, and entrepreneur. On the Jordan Harbinger show, Jordan deconstructs the playbooks of the most successful people on earth and shares their strategies, perspectives, and practical insights with the rest of us. He has hosted a top 50 iTunes podcast over 14 years and received over 11 million downloads per month, making the Jordan Harbinger show one of the most popular podcasts in the world.
Thank you very much for agreeing to come onto the podcast,
Jordan: [00:00:45] For sure.
Rebecca: [00:00:46] We'll kickoff straight in, I think with chatting about the majority of your wonderful interviews, long form interviews, they have worksheets with takeaways, practical exercises available for listeners to go through in their own time.
This obviously, helps people put into practice key ideas from all of your lovely guests, which helps them improve themselves, improve their lives. What drew you to the idea of offering that kind of valuable extra
Jordan: [00:01:13] Well the worksheets for me, I actually wasn't sure I was going to do, and I, you know, I'm not even sure what the genesis of the idea was, but I decided that the more we were able to help people get the information from the podcast. It was probably a listener idea, honestly, because we get a lot of fan ideas that we put into place. Um, the more I can help people get the takeaways, the more likely they would be to keep listening, because I think a lot of people are like, oh, I, you know, we get feedback like, oh, I feel like I have to take notes.
So we would do shownotes and they'd go, oh, okay. But if I can just read the show notes, then I don't really want to listen to the show. And I was like, well, then this isn't a real, not a real podcast fan. On the other hand, it was great to do something where we could get people's email and maybe mail them later, which we, we collect the emails, but we don't really send them much of anything, uh, and have a site where people could use the worksheets if they were really interested in the topic.
And so we've actually had quite a bit of success with that. It's been a good lead magnet for collecting emails and it's good to see and have a list of our so-called super fans, all in one place. But the worksheets themselves, um, I still teter back and forth as to like, okay, how useful are these?
Should we stop doing them? And every time I toy with the idea of stopping people are like, no, no, no, no. I love them. And we look and sure enough, there's like thousands of people that log in every month and, and use them. So for me, it's been kind of surprising, cause it's something that I myself probably would not use.
And yet thousands of people, tens of thousands of people do use them and find them really valuable. So I'm, I'm glad to be of service there, uh, but it's something that I thought I keep thinking one day, I'll stop doing it and then I just look at the stats and it's like now more and more people.
Rebecca: [00:02:55] It's interesting isn't it? That people listen, and then some people do really well reading and then some people do really well doing. And I think the way you framed it, you've got podcasts for the listening and then the worksheets for the reading and then the practical exercises for the people that learn by doing you've covered everyone.
Jordan: [00:03:13] Are doers, yeah, exactly. And like some topics will speak more. Some people will, will feel more attracted to certain topics. You know, they'll go, oh, I really need this because I am in a relationship with a difficult person, or I need this because I am dealing with a difficult boss so they'll, do a deeper dive and get the worksheets for that episode.
Whereas, if I have another episode where there's somebody who counterfeited $250 million, like we did a few weeks ago, some people might go in and go, wow. That was really interesting. And other people go, yeah, that was a good story, but I don't know if I need to like, do a deep dive on the, on the topic with that guy, you know?
So it allows you to sort of dig deeper without doing, without just heading straight to Google.
Rebecca: [00:03:53] Yeah, that was a really great episode. I really enjoyed that one. What a wild story that was.
Jordan: [00:04:00] Yeah, that guy he's, probably should be still in prison, but you know, I like him. I'm glad he's not in prison, but I'm surprised that he's not.
Rebecca: [00:04:09] Yeah. You have some really incredible guests that come on, obviously through your very epic network, but, there's sort of a, a strange balance between finding these amazing guests and then some of the topics that get covered. Cause some of them are really difficult, like the recent one with the organ harvesting with David Kilgore, which again was amazing.
That was horrific. But so good. Yeah. Do you find it difficult sometimes if there's a really hard topic to, to go and do that, or, or is it kind of for the greater good takes over?
Jordan: [00:04:49] Yeah, I would say it is kind of one of those for the greater good type scenarios. I mean, the episode you're referring to about forced organ harvesting in China is really disgusting because it's exactly what it sounds like for those who are listening and haven't heard it. I mean, it's just like you know, you're talking about people who are being put in prison because of religious beliefs or otherwise, and then ended up getting like, sold for parts basically. And I do episodes like that because it's stories that most people can't cover because they don't know about it, won't cover because it's not really good for prime time news. Like people kind of freak out a little and they don't love it. Um, and there's also a factor of like, yeah, if we don't ever really talk about the gross stuff, then people who do the gross stuff are going to claim that it never happened.
They're also going to say, oh, come on, that's ridiculous, you know, but if you give things a lot of exposure from a credible source, it gets people interested in doing more research and they start to go, wait a minute, you know, maybe I don't want to do business with this organization or maybe, you know, I should be suspicious when this happens.
And so that's why I do things from forced organ, or cover topics from forced organ harvesting all the way to like multilevel marketing schemes or scams or, you know, things like that because, at some point, not that I expect a lot of people to be victims of forced organ harvesting, but certainly a lot of people are on the front of a multilevel marketing scheme or a scam directed them.
I mean, that that's going to happen to almost everyone at some point in their life.
Rebecca: [00:06:16] Yeah. And I think it's worth noting and you do a lot on cults and do programming from cults as well, that the way that you come at it is very wellbeing focused, it's very much understanding those people and trying to work with them to not fall into a cult or to not fall into an MLM, you know, it's you do it very nicely that I think is a very unusual and very effective way of, of covering those difficult topics.
Jordan: [00:06:42] Yeah. Somebody even today was like, our friend is going to join an MLM, you know, and it's, it's, it's sad because you can't really get people who are about to fall into a cult or whoever I should say already have fallen under the spell of a cult out easily, but you can send people to resources if they go, Hey, this, my friend keeps pitching me this, like, there's gotta be a catch.
And then you send them like, the piece on MLMs or scams or cults or all three. And they're like, oh, this is exactly what's happening to me right now. You know, this is, this is not good. I should definitely be aware of this and get it but getting people allowed is always tricky. So I got a note today from somebody, if that's like, our friend is joining this multi-level marketing scheme, what can we do?
And I was like, well, one don't enable the scheme by buying in and two, be there when he's ready to get out, because over the next year he's going to lose a bunch of money. And he's also going to piss off a bunch of his friends, because he's going to ask everybody to join this scam. And at the end of it, he might not have any friends.
So you guys kind of need to be there for him when he realizes it has been a scam. Because he's going to feel alone. And the, one of the reasons and the ways that cults keep people looped in is they realize that when they forced their members to alienate themselves from family and friends, either through pitching them their stupid business ideas, or if there are religious cults by causing them to disconnect.
That the person will stay in the cult just because they crave human connection. So it's really devious, um, you know, and it's all about abusing someone psychologically or financially. And so I feel like these topics are just super important because multilevel marketing scams called they ruined people's lives deliberately for personal and financial gain or power.
And that's like one of the more evil things that I could think of, frankly.
Rebecca: [00:08:33] Yeah. And I think it's, I don't know whether you do this on purpose or not, but I think the way the podcast comes out, cause it's two interviews a week plus a Feedback Friday, which we'll talk about in a bit, but you kind of the difficult ones, the sort of distressing topics, the gross topics, you kind of spread them out neatly between really lovely uplifting topics.
Like the finding hope one, which was, I love that one. That was great.
Jordan: [00:08:59] Yeah. Yeah. I try to do that because it's a little bit heavy to hear about forced organ trafficking and then hear about drug cartels and then hear about, of multi-level marketing schemes. You know, that would be like people would be going like, man, this show is just way too depressing.
But also I do have plenty of episodes with productivity experts or people who work with athletes or performers or something like that. And, and I'm thinking like, okay, it would be cool to have these people back in between each of these episodes. So you can kind of get inspired again and then you hear something that's like really intense and you're like, oh, geez.
I don't know if I want to, yeah, this is a little rough and then the next time it's really inspiring. And then yeah, on Fridays, there's of course the, uh, people who have questions that make you both feel like, wow, they've got a really intense, horrible, possibly situation going on, but then you also get to say, I'm really glad that that's not me.
Right? And I'm glad that Jordan's telling me what I should do if I do find myself in that situation. So Feedback Friday is about helping other people, because listeners do write in with all kinds of crazy life events and happenings and want advice. But it's, it's also just as much for people to go. You know, I'm stuck in traffic and it's not so bad because I'm not being chased by a, an Eastern European mafia gangster, or I'm not being routinely abused by my boss who won't give me ownership of my intellectual property or whatever the problem is that week. You know, there's a lot of, there's a lot to be said for giving advice and also not needing the advice yourself, you know?
Rebecca: [00:10:46] Yeah. This is sort of a therapeutic cathartic nature, there thatif it's not you, the wellbeing of yourself like my life's actually pretty good.
Jordan: [00:10:54] Exactly yeah.
Rebecca: [00:10:55] But it must be, it must be hard to go through some of that correspondence to come up with really thoughtful and helpful feedback because your Feedback Fridays are all thoughtful and helpful feedback you and gave do an amazing job on that because there's lots of feedback things that are all a bit vague, you know. You really go in, is it, is it difficult to do that? Are there some questions that you just don't want to go near or?
Jordan: [00:11:18] Yeah. Yeah, there are, there are like there, the company slack has a lot of, Hey, should we handle this? And I go, well, this person's asking for financial advice and really shouldn't give that because that's, you know, overstepping our bounds or.
But you'd be surprised. Like a lot of the questions that we don't handle on the Feedback Friday are things where I think, oh, they could Google this, like there's one right answer. It's not that complicated. The ones that we do tackle tend to be pretty juicy as you know, like, this psychopath who murdered her mother is now after our son and the police don't believe us or whatever.
Like there's no Googleable answer for that. So we really do go to subject matter experts and focus on what we can do to help that person, because we might be kind of like their only resource that they can talk to besides their own attorney, because the police, you know, the problem in that situation, which is a real question for, for those wondering that the problem in that situation was the police really were not clear on how severe the situation really was. You know, it really was something something's serious.
Rebecca: [00:12:22] those that don't follow Jordan, that was an actual Feedback Friday question.
Jordan: [00:12:25] Right.
Rebecca: [00:12:25] He just mentioned that that wasn't a made up crazy thing. That was an actual feedback Friday.
Jordan: [00:12:30] Exactly.
Rebecca: [00:12:31] Just out of interest because I've got you here, how long does it take you to do those Feedback Friday episodes?
Jordan: [00:12:38] The Feedback Friday episodes probably take, I would imagine for me, they take about two, three hours, uh, three, three hours or so, but Gabriel does a lot more of the research as well. And so he's doing a lot of deep diving, reaching out, doing Google, phone calls, whatever it is to get subject matter experts on the line, reading up on subjects, digesting information.
So, yeah, I would imagine he probably spends upwards of five hours. So I would say it's, it's like a full day of work for the team. Oh, and then that doesn't count editing and things like that. So it's at least a couple of days solid work for the whole team, uh, so it's, it's not easy, you know, people go, oh, it's an hour long show.
It's like, we're not winging it, you know, like we're not winging it. We're not just seeing those questions for the first time. Like, they're very, very planned -the the questions aren't planned, those are from listeners, but the answers are planned well in advance because we want to make sure that we're not giving off the cuff advice that's going to do more harm than good. Of course.
Rebecca: [00:13:45] Yeah. And I think, again, that, that really shows if you, if you listened to the Feedback Fridays, well, sometimes it is a bit funny, some of the questions that come up it's the advice is, is very well thought through very genuine. And I think, as someone that listens, you know, the, well, I get boosted wellbeing from going they've really, they really put thought into this and that's really going to help that person. And those people I imagine are absolutely delighted with the fantastic sort of, oh my God, they did my question. And then also actually really good, solid advice that I can use, which again is unusual with, with feedback type things.
Jordan: [00:14:21] No, I appreciate that. Thanks for noticing that.
Rebecca: [00:14:24] It's been a few years now, but you transitioned to starting your own business, The Jordan Harbinger Show after, putting it very nicely, leaving the previous company. How difficult was it to find yourself suddenly almost having to start from scratch? And now obviously The Jordan Harbinger Show is hugely successful, but it must have been so daunting at the time.
Jordan: [00:14:45] Yeah. So I did my previous show for 11 years, and then I realized that at that point I was like, my business partners are not doing any work on the show. The show is carrying the whole company. I need to leave, you know, there's, they're not letting me execute any of my plans. I'm starting to stagnate.
Like, I'm really just not feeling it. And we came up with a whole plan to separate everything, equitably and evenly, and then they decided, you know what, we're just going to not let this happen. And, you know, sue us if you want to good luck, buddy. And I was like, you know what? I need to just start over.
Because I think I can start again, but it was very daunting. I mean, you think, oh my gosh, it took me 11 years. Can it be done again? Is it possible? Um, it's such a big brand. Everyone recognizes it, you know, is this something I want to do? And I realized pretty quickly, that not only do I have a great network of people that are willing to help me out, but I also had a lot of experience.
Of course, you know, that 11 years I thought it would take me maybe five years to do it again, based on everything, the experience, the plan, knowing what I'm doing and ended up taking like eight months to build back to where I was before. And now of course we're much, much. The Jordan Harbinger Show is much, much larger than the previous show was.
And so that's quite nice. Actually, there's something to be said for that. Yeah. It's very, very nice to be in a situation where the current show is actually fully eclipsed and by a multiple, the previous show, because that was something I thought like, oh my gosh, I might have to take a huge pay cut, but you know what?
Okay. Like I can live with it, and now I realize that I not only didn't have to do that, but I can be free of all the stress that I had in my life running that old company and carrying a lot of dead weight, you know, carrying people that like didn't want to work. And that that's a great feeling. So yes, it was daunting and it was horrible and I didn't sleep for like weeks.
And then when I finally buckled back in, uh, the, the results came much quicker than I thought.
Rebecca: [00:16:50] Was there a moment where it was kind of almost terrifying to actually start having kind of broken away and kind of spiraled a bit? Was there a moment where you kind of, it was, you had to have push maybe, or, or kicked yourself into gear to actually put the first ball into motion.
Jordan: [00:17:08] Definitely. Yeah, it was kind of like, this is never going to work. I can't believe it. It's impossible. Why even try, this is horrible. But then, you know, my team was like, Hey man, you gotta get back on it. You know, you've got to make it happen. We're all counting on you. And it was kind of like, do I give up now or do I really move forward and make it happen?
And so it's kinda, you kind of have no choice. A lot of people are relying on you. I, I often wonder if it was me alone, would I have done it again and it's hard to answer, you know, I think I would have, but it was much easier when everybody was like, dude, get after it. You've got to do this. We're all in trouble.
If you don't, you know, what's the big deal. Uh, not what's the big deal, but kind of like you can't make it a big deal. That was helpful. You know, having a lot of people looking at you and being like, what are you going to do? You have to lead us through this. That was, no, that was, that was important.
Rebecca: [00:18:06] Yeah. It's nice having that support structure as well, where people are like, you can do it. Why aren't you doing it already to kind of keep you going?
Jordan: [00:18:12] Yeah, exactly. Yeah. That, that was mandatory.
Rebecca: [00:18:16] a sudden moment where you realized how successful it was so much quicker than you thought it would be? Or was it sort of a gradual realization?
Jordan: [00:18:25] It was gradual, yeah, cause at first it was like slow and then we got a couple of big bumps from people helping us out. And then I got a couple more and we got a couple more and I was like, Hey, we're almost to where we were previously, you know? Great, and then it started to become like, oh, we're kind of a little bit ahead.
Maybe it's going to start to taper off. And then it didn't. And then I was like, well, I can keep investing in growth and making continually making it go up and up and up and up and that's what I've been doing and I'm like, okay, there's really kind of like no ceiling here to be found. And I realized before that, since I was so stressed out doing all of the work, my well, not me personally, but my team was doing all of the work.
Um, and we were carrying all this dead weight and like I had these partners that wouldn't let me execute on anything. I realized like, oh my gosh, now that I have all these strategies that I've thought of, that I can test, that I wasn't able to do before, I can really start to pour gasoline on the fire.
And that's why I've now realized that. Right, it's like, if you are, if you're swimming and you realize that you've been swimming with, with, with a weight belt on, and then you get to take the weight belts off you, of course you're swimming faster, but you also just realize how much stronger you are because you've been swimming with that weight belt on.
So now when you take the belt off, it's like, oh my gosh, I can really swim quickly, you knew it, but you didn't know it because you'd never experienced it, you just had a hunch. So it was like for years, I thought, you know, if I didn't have to deal with these guys not knowing what they were doing and dragging me down all the time, I could probably move a lot quicker, but you don't know that as fact.
And there's a part of you that goes, is that just my ego talking? You know, am I just, am I just, is that an excuse for why I'm not further ahead? Is that self comfort, but then when I was thrust into the position of having to restart, I was like, oh no, no, no, no. This is actually real like my, I am able to do so much better.
And now seeing that that starts to spread even further because you go, oh, well, if I was able to rebuild that quickly, how much further can I go with the same amount of work that I was doing before? And then you go, well, what, now that I'm so excited about this, maybe I'll do even more, more work than I was doing before because the rewards are now all mine and my team, I don't have to give two thirds of the money away to people who are like complaining all the time and not doing anything. So now I'm like, man, I should've split earlier with these folks, even if I did have to leave everything behind, which is kind of what I ended up doing. I w it was like th th th it was so much, it's so much better now that I should have done it before.
And the other thing I will say is that when you have to face something, that's like a nightmare. You and you come out on top. Like I always thought, oh my gosh, if I have to start, people would go, what if you have to do it? What if you, what would you do if you had to start over? And I'm like, oh my God, that's daunting.
I don't even want to think about it. It would be so terrible. And then when you have to finally face that that's no longer the thing that keeps you up at night or wakes you up in a cold sweat, because you go, well, I did it before, so I know how it's done so I can do it again. And so now the, the, conquering a demon like that or killing it, slaying a dragon like that is really, really powerful, you know? It's it's it shows you. Wow. The thing I thought was like the one thing that could stop me, didn't stop me, so can anything, yeah, stop me, right, that's that's what you start to think, and, and it's good.
You know, I wouldn't test that and think like, I'm going to keep screwing up my life and seeing if I can recover. I wouldn't recommend that course of action, but, and I know some people do do that, but for me, that was extremely empowering till it'd be like thrown into the fire and rise up again. All right I can do that. So now things like the economy takes a dip and we hit a recession. It's like, I've seen worse, you know, I've been completely out and had to start from zero. What happens if you lose this key staff member? What happens if this happens in the marketplace? And it's like, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter.
It doesn't matter. I can do this. I know how to do this. You know, I know how to recover. Yeah.
Rebecca: [00:22:33] And knowing how to recover, knowing you can and believing that you can, I think is, is such a vital thing for everyone, you know, and work in life. And just generally being a human there's, there's so many people that doubt themselves to an unreal extent.
I think it comes up a lot on your podcast, in people in general, you know, the whole imposter syndrome feeling that people are much better at things than they think. And being able to see that in action yourself must be very satisfying and a lovely thing.
Jordan: [00:23:04] Totally. Yeah, it really is. I kind of, I've never experienced this myself, but I would imagine it's kind of like those people that are told it's a milder version of those people that are told like, oh, you're never going to be able to run cause we had to amputate your right foot below the knee. And then they get that little prosthetic leg and they're like waddling around and it's really tough and they're falling over and that eventually you see them like skiing, you know? And I think that's of course much harder than restarting a business, but I think it's kind of a similar feeling where you go, oh my God, how am I ever going to recover from this?
You know, I'm never going to be the athlete I was, again, I don't have my foot, you know, how is this possible? So the bigger the challenge kind of the greater the reward on the other side. And, uh, but again, not that I recommend, you know, throwing yourself into these situations willingly. It's just that sometimes that that's what life throws at you, but it is kind of a reward when you it's a challenge that when you finally overcome it, you're like you can really brush your shoulders off and pat yourself on the back because it's something that most people never are able to.
Rebecca: [00:24:09] Yeah. That's fabulous. We've run out of time. I always run out of time when I interview. There's so many good fun questions. Thank you very much.
Jordan: [00:24:19] Thanks for having me. Yeah. This really has been fun. I appreciate the chance to talk about these kinds of things.
Rebecca: [00:24:26] Oh, I absolutely loved that interview with Jordan.
I am thrilled that I was able to bring you such, such an inspiring and thoughtful guest. If you haven't listened to Jordan's podcast, The Jordan Harbinger Show, I highly recommend it. It is excellent. All the interviews with people from various disciplines, professions, skill sets, really, really brilliant interviews.
Jordan's a wonderful interviewer, it was really lovely to interview him, he was a wonderful guest. I'm sorry we only had half an hour of his, of his time. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you found it really helpful and interesting. I loved the thought that Jordan had about how restarting from scratch gives you a boost in your abilities and reminds you that you can do it. You've already done this before and you can do it again. I will pop a link to some of the Feedback Friday episodes that we mentioned, and some of the interviews that we mentioned, they are well worth the listen.
Please, if you, if you enjoyed this, share it with someone who you think might love it too. Give us a review. Give us a rating,it really, really helps us out. If you could do that for us.
As always, we're on Twitter at Shelf _Healing, give us a follow so you don't miss anything. Subscribe on your podcast player of choice. Thanks as always to Nicholas Patrick for our music. I'll leave you with one of my favorite podcast outros from Jordan's show itself, which is to live what you listen.