[quote style=”boxed”]Activity breeds activity. Without action, all we have are words that vanish into the ether, or that are brought to life by someone else with more hustle.[/quote]
Jordan Harbinger has always had an affinity for social influence, interpersonal dynamics and social engineering, helping private companies test the security of their communications systems and working with law enforcement agencies before he was even old enough to drive.
Formerly a financial attorney on Wall Street, Harbinger spent several years abroad in Europe and the developing world, including South America, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, and speaks several languages, including English, German, Spanish, Serbo-Croatian and Mandarin Chinese.
He has also worked for and consults with various governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) both overseas and domestically, has traveled through war zones and been kidnapped (twice). He’ll tell you that the only reason he’s still alive and kicking is because of his ability to talk his way into (and out of), just about any type of situation. At The Art of Charm, Jordan shares those experiences, and the system that was born as a result, with students and clients.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I’m working on producing high-quality audio and video media to help men become more confident in both their business and personal/social lives. The Art of Charm runs weekly residential programs (‘boot camps’) where men from all over the world come to learn from some of the best coaches in the world.
Where did the idea for The Art of Charm come from?
The Art of Charm began as a simple podcast during my graduate student years at the University of Michigan. The show itself became very popular and was picked up by SiriusXM satellite radio, and listeners started hiring us out of nowhere to coach them in the skills we discussed on the radio show and podcast. The ideas and media came first, and the business was born as a result of demand.
What does your typical day look like?
I really don’t have a typical day, but I’m sure you hear that from everyone all the time. Last week, I had days where I spent a few hours on the phone with students of The Art of Charm from four separate continents, filmed a television appearance, recorded an audio talk show with a guest expert and then wrapped the day writing an article for a magazine.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Honestly, the key to bringing anything “to life” is action. A running theme I’ve seen for my entire life are ideas, many of them great, being thrown around by a lot of talented, intelligent people. Unfortunately, most people never take action and make a move, and so nothing ever gets off the ground. The Art of Charm turned out to be a fantastic idea, and we came about it completely by accident while taking action on another idea (the podcast). Activity breeds activity. Without action, all we have are words that vanish into the ether, or that are brought to life by someone else with more hustle.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Self-help and personal growth is finally starting to become “in” and “cool.” The whole niche used to be relegated to “woo-woo” weirdos and metaphysical types, with the occasional figure of substance trying to pierce the laughter curtain. Now, a lot of younger people are finding this stuff early and making big moves to improve their lives, which is huge. No longer do you have to be 50 years old and forced by your boss at work to attend a seminar. Now, you can find tons of free information (such as our show) created by amazing people all over the world, and download it right on to your iPod. It’s really amazing, and it’s changing peoples’ lives en masse.
What was the worst job you ever had, and what did you learn from it?
I used to work at a movie theater in a really snobby part of town. I noticed that the old wisdom about “working hard” and getting job security and your just rewards was a fallacy, and by speaking to some of the wealthy people who came into the theater, I realized that getting ahead was largely about hustle and networking. Maybe not big news for many people reading this, but that was a massive revelation for a 16-year-old kid, and I took it to heart right away.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
If I had to start again, I’d have learned sales and marketing earlier in my career, and I’d have leveraged the show more and earlier to build a larger audience. In the end, though, I’ve learned so much from our mistakes, I don’t know what I’d change that’d be that significant.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I sell. I don’t mean cold-calling or giving pitches to captive audiences; I mean every aspect of everything I do as a brand ambassador is to represent The Art of Charm in a positive way, with an eye on getting people interested in what we do. Previously, we tried to outsource sales, and it proved impossible. Even having a great sales team, at the end of the day, everyone in the company needs to be able to believe in, and convey, the ideas behind what you do and why it’s important.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
As entrepreneurs, our team has encountered a ton of barriers, but one of the biggest issues we’ve found is stress management. You can’t produce/create/deliver if you’re waking up every morning freaking out about your level of success or lack thereof. Stress management takes on many forms, from attacking problems and deadlines head-on to making sure you know how to hire a great team around your ideas. It might also mean giving yourself permission to stop worrying about things beyond your control, especially during your time off.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Whenever you meet people, figure out what it is they really want or need, even at a basic level. For example, if someone is talking about setting up a website but doesn’t know how, connect them (email is fine) with a kid who can get them started on the cheap. Even if you had no use for basic web design services from the kid, and you weren’t able to provide them yourself to your new friend, now you’ve made synergy between two people, and they’re both thankful to you for it. This is how you build an enormous network of people that can’t wait to help you get ahead.
It’s all about value-delivery, even if all you’re doing is plugging two people from your Rolodex in to one another. We’ve done this so many times here at The Art of Charm that whenever we need anything, we have a veritable army ready to help us figure out how to overcome any challenges we’re facing.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I would get rid of ego and insecurity. These things serve virtually no purpose and are a stumbling block for millions of people with untold amounts of untapped potential, all because they’re worried about imaginary consequences.
Tell us a secret.
I judge people way too much. It’s actually served me pretty well, but is also a pretty big source of shame for me, and often it’s unfair. I know I certainly hate it when people do it to me, yet I still do it to others way too often.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources, and what do you love about them?
1. Facebook – Helps me connect with fans of the show, and I can interact with them personally, which I love doing.
2. Line2 – Lets me keep my business and personal life separate, while giving me everything at my fingertips at the same time.
3. Odesk – Helps you find people to do small tasks who live a world away, so they can do them on the cheap. Lets us experiment with different strategies without investing a ton of our own time and money.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. This is the classic that started it all, and the advice in there is just as applicable today as it was 100 years ago when the book was written. There’s still almost nothing like it anywhere, and if you apply what’s inside, you can’t help but see measurable improvement in just about every area of your life.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
1. Robin Dreeke – Head of the FBI Behavior Analysis Program and author of It’s Not All About Me. He doesn’t post that often, but when he does it’s usually an article or idea that you can learn something actionable from and implement right away.
2. Jordan Harbinger – That’s me. I post things of value every single day, from free stuff to content to fun items that will brighten you up or at least make you smile.
3. Ramit Sethi -Blogger and author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich. Again, actionable, value-laden posts that will get you taking steps in the right direction financially and in your business.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
Today. My friend and fellow dating coach Kim Seltzer was discussing a bad date she had the other night, and I realized how important the skills we teach here at The Art of Charm can be and how ridiculously clueless some people are about interacting with one another.
Who is your hero?
Besides my dad (amazing work ethic and integrity), I’d say Will Smith. Again, amazing work ethic, stays relevant and looks good doing it.
What are the top mistakes you see other entrepreneurs (or would-be entrepreneurs) making?
1. Spending a ton of time on “the idea” and “the brand” instead of actually executing.
2. Not investing in their network.
3. Treating their customers as a commodity instead of individuals who can make or break you.
How do you stay focused and positive all the time?
I don’t. I allow plenty of time for me to goof off, focus on myself and vent or de-stress with friends or on an activity. I don’t beat myself up for not being perfect all the time, even if other people expect me to be.
Jordan Harbinger on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jordanharbinger
The Art of Charm on Twitter: @theartofcharm
The Art of Charm on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/theartofcharm
Jordan Harbinger’s Email: jordanh [at] theartofcharm [dot] com