Social Studies Podcast is a talk show produced by TINT about marketing, social media, and technology through the lens of the industry’s most innovative minds. Hosted by Nathan Zaru (@YES). In this episode we welcome Jordan Harbinger, cofounder of The Art of Charm, a top-10 podcast on iTunes. You can find them on twitter at @theartofcharm and tweet us with comments and requests @TINT.
Nathan Zaru: I guess we started. Welcome everyone to the Social Studies Podcast.
Jordan Harbinger: We haven’t started yet. Hold on.
Nathan Zaru: We haven’t started yet. Jordan Harbinger. You’re welcome.
Jordan Harbinger: There we go. No.
Nathan Zaru: It’s just … Okay.
Jordan Harbinger: Now that I’ve flipped my beer, I think we can start.
Nathan Zaru: This is going to be a good episode, Jordan.
Jordan Harbinger: I hope so because I’ve been here for a long time drinking. I didn’t come here and drink for no reason.
Nathan Zaru: You didn’t come here … Podcast has been settled. Thank you Jordan for joining. Welcome to Social Studies Podcast. We have Jordan Harbinger here today, Jordan Harbinger from the Art of Charm Podcast. If you know anything about podcasting, you know anything about iTunes, he needs no introduction.
Jordan Harbinger: But if you don’t like most of you who don’t …
Nathan Zaru: Let’s just do it real quick.
Jordan Harbinger: Let’s do an intro.
Nathan Zaru: Let’s do it real quick. Let’s play it safe. Jordan Harbinger is the co-founder of the Art of Charm. He’s going to be talking to us about growing a trustworthy brand. He’s at top 50 podcaster in all of iTunes up there with NPR and what’s his name?
Jordan Harbinger: Tim Ferriss.
Nathan Zaru: Tim Ferriss, WTF Podcast Marc Maron.
Jordan Harbinger: Right. Dave Ramsey.
Nathan Zaru: Dave Ramsey, he’s number one in management and marketing category. He should be doing my job right now.
Jordan Harbinger: Kicking HubSpot’s ass.
Nathan Zaru: Kicking HubSpot’s …
Jordan Harbinger: Can I say that?
Nathan Zaru: I actually haven’t challenged them officially yet.
Jordan Harbinger: Okay, sorry. You will be.
Nathan Zaru: I’m going to have to pop a beer, man.
Jordan Harbinger: All right, yeah. Have a drink, man. Relax.
Nathan Zaru: Social Studies Podcast with Jordan Harbinger. That was a nice, well introduction, Jordan.
Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. You’re welcome. I like the title, Social Studies, because everybody had that class and this is completely different. It has nothing to do with it but it’s still … I see what you did there.
Nathan Zaru: What I did there was everyone is a fan of nostalgia. Everyone needs a little bit nostalgia in their life.
Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, unless they had a miserable childhood.
Nathan Zaru: Unless they had a miserable childhood which actually predicts the emergence, re-emergence of ‘90s pop and dance music and electronic music right now.
Jordan Harbinger: I think you just lost me on that one. Wait. Pop is … All right, no. What is pop?
Nathan Zaru: ‘90s music coming back in the form of electronic right now.
Jordan Harbinger: No, I got you. Nostalgia’s popular.
Nathan Zaru: Nostalgia’s popular.
Jordan Harbinger: You get mixed emotions. You get the new emotion for the new music and the old nostalgic stuff but anyway …
Nathan Zaru: Anyway, you’re a marketer. You’re an entrepreneur. You’ve created one of the biggest podcasts, one of the biggest shows on iTunes.
Jordan Harbinger: Correct.
Nathan Zaru: We’re going to talk about a lot of stuff today but where do we begin? Tell me about a little bit of Jordan Harbinger for those who don’t know you.
Jordan Harbinger: It’s funny because I never thought of myself as a marketer until what, half an hour ago, when we sat down.
Nathan Zaru: Right, when I told you you’re a marketer.
Jordan Harbinger: I was like, “I’m not a marketer. I just do a show and sell services and products using that show,” which now sounds obvious but before, I’m just a broadcaster. I’m just a talk show host. When I think of marketers, I think of people that do some miscellaneous skill on a business like you guys do but I don’t understand fully or like a social media marketer or like an internet marketer that writes sales letters and collects e-mail addresses which I don’t do. My business does that but our “marketers” do that, right? I just do interviews but you’re right. I’m a marketer whether I want to/know it/understand that or not.
Nathan Zaru: I brought you on your … Obviously, you’re a famous podcaster but actually represent something what is I believe to be the future of marketing which is in marketing, especially in B2B marketing which we’re going to attempt, marketers have a problem bridging the gap, crossing the chasm between marketing and “selling” and making media. How can you make media without selling is their question but you represent the new way of marketing which is to say brands as publishers. Branding can be published to make through on media, build an audience and then build a qualified audience. You know what, they’re going to convert from you from time to time.
Jordan Harbinger: Right, which sounds like a terrible plan but it’s worked out for me really well.
Nathan Zaru: It has worked out for you really well.
Jordan Harbinger: Right. Also, I love that you use the term famous podcaster. It’s like saying … I’m trying to think of a PC example of it. It’s like same tall midget. I’m pretty sure that’s not PC. I don’t care.
Nathan Zaru: That’s the Social Studies Podcast, man. That’s just how it works.
Jordan Harbinger: Here’s the thing. When I started the Art of Charm, it was just a personal journal with me and my business partner/co-host and it was just like, “Hey, my dating life is miserable but I’m learning this networking stuff for business.” My co-host was like, “I don’t need networking for business because I don’t know it that well but man, I’m really good with chicks.” That’s where he was. I was like, “Oh, why don’t we record you teaching me how to meet girls?” He was like, “Cool.” “Then, I’ll talk a little bit about the networking stuff.” The show was born as a result of that. That’s what actually started the show.
Nathan Zaru: What came first, the show or the company?
Jordan Harbinger: The show came first. It was a hobby. We never expected to monetize it. That gave us some massive advantage against other people who’d start things to monetize them because what happens is they start doing this weird short play where they’re like … This is the difference between especially at that time, especially in the dating industry which is what we thought we were in. It turns out we weren’t.
Dating guys would write a sales letter and they would be like, “You’re never going to reproduce unless you buy my 19.97 dollar e-book.” We were like, “Yeah, I’ve read that e-book. There’s nothing cool in it. You don’t need it. Here’s the gist, body language, eye contact,” like whatever. We would explain it for free because we’re thinking we don’t have to hide the ball because we’re not going to sell anything. We just talked about all the stuff and gave away all the stuff for free. People would listen and be like, “Oh my God, this is the only place on the internet for this for free.”
It’s entertaining because we were drinking and stuff or having a good time doing it. That really set us apart because we were publishing all those free stuff as a hobby. Then, once the company came into play where we started selling training and things like that, we still didn’t sell information product. We sold training. We could still give away all the information for free and just offer the training. People still bought a lot of it. I mean it’s a multi seven figure company.
Nathan Zaru: I thought I’d stop in real quick and tell people what the Art of Charm is. I’m going to set it up. I want you to correct me when I’m wrong, dude. It will be a lot.
Jordan Harbinger: Okay, sure.
Nathan Zaru: The Art of Charm was something that is very different from what it is right now.
Jordan Harbinger: Right.
Nathan Zaru: You co-founded the Art of Charm. It taught dudes how to meet chicks.
Jordan Harbinger: That’s what we were five years ago, absolutely.
Nathan Zaru: Five years ago, right. That was when you started out.
Jordan Harbinger: We’re eight years old. Up until five years ago, it was about how to meet girls. Our angle … We were in our 20s. Forgive us. I’m 35 now but our angle was, “Hey, all these guys teaching other guys how to meet girls are such tools.”
Nathan Zaru: They are tools, absolutely.
Jordan Harbinger: They’re like lying and make up stories. We were thinking, why don’t you just become a better guy, work on yourself and then you don’t have to worry about meeting women because it’s not a series of tactics. It’s about being a better man. That was revolutionary especially at that time when everybody was like, “No, we’re a pink feather boa.”
Nathan Zaru: Magic tricks.
Jordan Harbinger: Go around with a magic set of cards.
Nathan Zaru: Thank you, the game industry.
Jordan Harbinger: Right, and impress chicks and then dumb ones will sleep with you or something. We were like, hey, most of our guys want to get married. They want to have kids. Normally, you won’t be starting a long term serious relationship based on that. We had to teach real skills for becoming a better guy. That’s what we’d focused on. A lot of the dating guys at that time and even now, they still think, “Oh, man. Look at these yutzes. They don’t get it because they don’t have the latest tips and tricks for Tinder, whatever.”
Nathan Zaru: Absolutely.
Jordan Harbinger: What we do is much more wholesome which gives us some massive audience compared to those.
Nathan Zaru: I think that’s a good point, wholesome and you know what, when I was in my early 20s, I was susceptible to this industry and I will say it was not legitimate. It was a kind of a sorted affair. Jordan, I know you from cold reaching out years ago whenever it was, it was a sorted industry. He and the Art of Charm really stood apart when it came to just making yourself a better man. You did a good job there but not just that. You didn’t stop there. You’ve taken it much further to become the number one in management and marketing in iTunes. Clearly, you’ve gone from meeting girls to a better man to management and marketing. You want to walk us through that, even the show, right?
Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. It’s interesting. It wasn’t interesting to me until you mentioned it an hour ago. What happened was for me, we got really sick of picking up girls, not just the act thereof but the branding associated with it. When you sell training and you get clients, you basically get to pick your clients based on the way that you market. A lot of these pickup guys, now they’ll write us and be like, “How can I have so many crap clients, crazy people, et cetera?”
Nathan Zaru: I wonder why.
Jordan Harbinger: I’m like, “Because you marketed yourself as get models in bed.” One, you’re not even doing that, dude. You’re like and or like me and everybody else so stop lying. Two, the guys who buy into that are not guys that … The guys who come to Art of Charm, we have Special Forces guys, intelligence agents, sales guys, regular Joes who work at marketing companies, whatever.
Nathan Zaru: One of the stories I like is optimizing happiness or something like that recently.
Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
Nathan Zaru: It was brilliant.
Jordan Harbinger: It talks about how to create habits that will make you happier and less stress.
Nathan Zaru: Totally. That was the one.
Jordan Harbinger: That’s cool, right? General cool, smart, conscious people will come to the Art of Charm. I don’t mean conscious as the San Francisco way where you do yoga every day. I mean conscious as in like, “Oh, I should probably be learning always.” The pickup guys, the dating guys, they get these weird damaged guys who are like, “Well, I wasn’t popular in high school and I blame women for that because mommy issues … Teach me how to manipulate girls.”
I’m like, “I don’t want any part of that. I don’t want to be branded as that. I don’t want those guys in my school at the Art of Charm in LA either so we need to change the brand.” That happened slower than I thought because we weren’t sure where to go with it because we were afraid to turn into the brand we wanted to be because we were like, “What if people don’t like us anymore?” Then, eventually I said to myself and AJ said to himself, “If people don’t like us anymore when we switch, it’s because we need to be doing something else.”
We changed the name. We changed the branding. We opened up the platform. We opened up the topic. We’re still very specific in the field of psychology, personal growth and very practical things. We don’t take pseudoscience and baloney but we also don’t talk about how to “pick up chicks” and meet girls or anything like that, very rarely and only in the broad sense of making friends or do we have her adjust to the topic? That’s great because younger guys who are hungry for one thing can go listen to ancient the Art of Charm Podcast episodes.
Nathan Zaru: It’s there.
Jordan Harbinger: It’s there. People who are interested in more wholesome, more generally applicable stuff that’s still really powerful can listen to the newer stuff. That’s where we are now. The other thing is, and this is something that I think probably companies have to deal with less or maybe at a different level is if your brand is based on something that you outgrew, it’s really going to be tough to sell. If I’m married and I have three kids … I’m not married or have any kids yet, at least none that I know of. If you’re married and you have three kids, it’s going to be really tough to be, dating guru sales letter to address problems of these guys. That’s really tough. How the hell are you going to know what those people want and need?
For me, people who do marketing stuff, they interview me on the topic and they’re like, “How do you decide how to drive the Art of Charm brand?” I’m like, “I just talk about stuff that I’m interested in.” I’m a polarizing guy in some ways but I’m also a normal guy in most ways. I think if this is something that interest me a lot, whatever that topic might be, there’s going to be a 10% of just guys or 1% of guys or humanity in general that’s going to be like, “Wow, that’s also really interesting.”
That’s my audience. My audience is not the guys who want vanilla ice cream and the girls who want vanilla ice cream. My audience is the guys and girls that want the peppermint one that also has the cracked pepper and butterscotch and it’s weird and you only get it at BuyRight. You know what I mean? It’s very specific. Everybody else can say, “I don’t like it. I don’t get it. Adios.” I don’t care about them.
That makes the brand really easy to drive because I just have to pick things that I think are interesting and are just remotely on topic or not. You heard the ones where I went to North Korea and I just travel logged it. That has nothing to do with any other episode on the show but it was interesting to the majority of people. I got a ton of downloads.
Nathan Zaru: Just let’s add some more context here. You’ve gone from a brand which even in the industry it was in, those sort of industry, you were a north star. You were a guiding light but it’s still a niche industry. Now, you represent everything that has to do with making yourself a better person in business, in social and in relationships, right? That’s a big change.
Jordan Harbinger: It’s a huge change. It’s a smaller change when you zoom out and you look at relationships and it’s just relationships and psychology but when you zoom in and you look at, “Meet gurus, bro,” to, “Improve yourself, man and lady,” that’s a big shift for a lot of people.
Nathan Zaru: Interesting.
Jordan Harbinger: People go, “Oh, man. You lost so many listeners. You’re losing fans because you’re not specific enough.” You’re right but here’s the best part. The people we lost are the people we never would want to buy our products or services because we would have to deal with them and it’s not the type of person we want to serve.
Nathan Zaru: Absolutely.
Jordan Harbinger: We may have cut out this weird 25% but we gained ten to a hundred times that of people that we were anxious to serve. Now, was there a dip? Yes, but that’s okay. It’s ripping off the Band-Aid at that point.
Nathan Zaru: Dips are okay as long as you rip off the Band-Aid. Let’s talk about the logistics. You’ve gone through 300 episodes, 400 episodes?
Jordan Harbinger: 400. 402 is coming out tonight.
Nathan Zaru: 402. I want you marketers and content creators to think about that. If you haven’t started a podcast, or a blog yet or a video series or even a Vine account … 400, right?
Jordan Harbinger: Right. They’re an hour long.
Nathan Zaru: They’re an hour long. This is high quality stuff. Go listen to his stuff from the past year. You will have no idea it has anything to do with pickup because it doesn’t have anything to do with pickup.
Jordan Harbinger: Right. No, it doesn’t. Don’t listen to anything that’s older than that. You’d hate us.
Nathan Zaru: It might be [crosstalk 00:14:58].
Jordan Harbinger: No, it’s not for you. Some people would be like, “Oh my God, that’s the best stuff.” Most of the people listening are going to say, “Oh, you just interviewed Gretchen Rubin and Tim Ferriss and you’ve got Mark Cuban coming on. That’s really interesting. How did that …” Those are more interesting and more general but I also take a different approach to interviews. I don’t do softball type crap and I dig really deep. That comes from the experience of creating content in the first place and having a psychology angle. You’re right. It’s 400 hours and that doesn’t count the bonus episodes which I don’t number because they fall in a weird place on the editorial calendar. I bet you it’s roundabout 450 hours of content that I created.
Nathan Zaru: I actually don’t like these questions when I hear them ask other interviews and blog posts, the execution but how do you make time for it? How do you schedule this content …
Jordan Harbinger: It’s my job so it’s really easy. My assistant schedules the pre-interviews which is what I use to make sure the guest doesn’t suck and actually has value to offer. I used to not do that but you have a couple bum guests and you go, “Man, I could have sized this guy or girl up in three minutes.” I have that conversation and I take people to task. If somebody goes, “Oh, well, I talk about making passive income,” I’m like, “Well, cool. How do you do it? How are you going to teach other people to do it?” “Oh, well, a lot of what I have is from luck. I also sell real estate investing book.” “Nope, next.”
Nathan Zaru: Next, interesting.
Jordan Harbinger: I’m over it. However, if it’s like, “Oh, I teach people how to create habits that make them less stressed out which allow them to focus more which make them more productive and my clients are Tiger Woods and Richard Branson,” I’m like, “Awesome. Teach me some of that stuff in the pre-interview. Say the rest for the show and then we’d record an hour long piece of content.”
Then, it’s all scheduled using things like ScheduleOnce and my assistant who’s brilliant and helps me put all that down so that by the time show time runs around, and I think every content creator should do this and I hate making broad recommendations like that but you do need to focus on what you’re doing. I’ve noticed a lot of people who are … I know a lot of really good writers that are bestselling authors and stuff and they have this crazy superstition based writing procedures who are like the internet is off and they have to take three showers or whatever. They do these things so that they get in the zone.
The problem is amateur people go, “Oh, I’m going to crank out this article on this thing.” It’s not as good. It’s not because they don’t have the talent to be a good writer. It’s because by the time they get to writing, they’re getting phone calls and they’ve made 58 mundane decisions throughout the day and they have decision critique. My days when I record, I get up. The tea is made by my tea maker or my assistant. I get up. I get showered and dressed. I shave so I’m totally focused. I’m dressed like I’m going to go do something. I go into my studio and I don’t leave. I just do show … I do warm up and then I do a show or and then I go to lunch and I do another show and I do another show. Then, I’m done.
I don’t try to do like, “Oh, I’m going to check my e-mail. Oh, I’ve got to get on the call. Oh, it’s time to record a show.” Every time I do that, I’m like, “I don’t freaking want to do this right now.” You have to have your game face on because if you don’t, you’re not … This is the most important thing you’ll do all day. If you’re sitting there thinking about writing an article or you’ve got to be funny or something in your social media, you can’t just drop in and drop out. It doesn’t work well. I’ve seen a lot of really bad content creators and their process is largely lacking as well. I make time for it because it’s the most important thing I’ll do all week. It’s not like, “Oh, man. I’ve been doing a lot of random crap. I guess I should record a podcast.”
Nathan Zaru: Let’s see. We’re running out of time but I think we can talk about this all day long.
Jordan Harbinger: Obviously, I can because I haven’t shut up for 18 minutes.
Nathan Zaru: You’re a podcaster and a lot of our audience on, not making podcast but they’re creating content. They’re content marketers, creating blogs, creating videos or creating webinars or creating tutorials and how-to guides. How do you figure out how to make a message?
Jordan Harbinger: Again, I’m not totally sure because I’m not a great “marketer.” I just think of myself that way about an hour ago. The message for me is essentially … Depending on the show. Are you talking about broadly for your company or per piece?
Nathan Zaru: You make great content every time you hit the mic, at least everything that you produce.
Jordan Harbinger: Right, everything that’s released to the public.
Nathan Zaru: Right. You focus in on that. How do you focus in on that?
Jordan Harbinger: There’s a couple of things. I focus on what the listener is thinking. I only know that from just getting a crap load of feedback from the listener base. What I’ve noticed is a lot of people who write articles and stuff like that especially on these big media sites, there’s no way to write the author or there’s 18 million authors. That’s why they have to test a billion things and find out what works and then just keep guessing.
That’s a problem because for me, I know what my audience likes because I have eight years of e-mail. I know what people are going to dig. I can craft the message according to what they’re going to be thinking. The questions I ask, I’m the only representative of the audience. Whether you’re writing or interviewing, you have to be thinking what’s the person at home thinking, what would they want to know, what’s useful for them.
I notice a lot of people especially podcasters, somebody who’s maybe a bigger marketing personality will go, “Yeah, just put yourself out there,” or something. Let’s say we’re talking about dating or social relationships. “Oh, just put yourself out there.” Then, the host goes, “Okay, just put yourself out there.” I’m like, what the hell does that mean? It doesn’t mean anything.
If somebody comes on my show … This is the thing that I don’t allow, I had my friend Christine. She came on. She goes, “Well, you know, everything is energy, right?” I was like, “No. If that’s true, show me what you mean by that because otherwise, it sounds like, “Well, I don’t really know what this is so yoga or something.”” That’s what the end I’m like, “No.” If people can’t listen to something and understand what it means at the fundamental level and then turn around and use it, I don’t want it on my show. I will go, “Wait a minute. What do you mean everything is energy?” “You know, like a …” If they can’t craft it, it doesn’t work.
Take, for example, the piece of advice put yourself out there. I’ll say, “Okay, what does that mean?” “Well, you got to go out and talk to people.” “What if I’m afraid to do that?” “Well, then you just need to be more confident.” “Well, how do I do that?” I will find a guest doesn’t know what they mean. I have a lot of guests in years past before I started the pre-interview process for example that would un-sell their own product on the show because they would just show that they have no in depth understanding of how this works.
I think that if you start thinking for your audience, you’re going to find like, “Oh my gosh, I have to really bring my game up because I have to raise my game because if the audience doesn’t get what I’m saying and is unable to put it into action, this has been a circle jerk. It’s completely useless. However, if I give them one good actionable tip that improves their life, they’re going to be a loyal fan for a long time.” I focus only on that stuff. I don’t allow any freaking, what do you call them, platitudes. I don’t allow that crap anywhere.
I notice that a lot of pieces of writing and videos and things like that are really focused on platitudes because they don’t really dig enough and they don’t think like the listener. If you think like a student … If you’re telling a class full of law students a concept, you’re going to get questions until it’s damn clear. You won’t have that luxury if you’re broadcasting or writing. You just don’t. You have to do it for your listener. If you don’t, you will fail. I think that goes for any sort of content creation.
Nathan Zaru: Thinking for your audience, Jordan Harbinger, thank you so much.
Jordan Harbinger: That’s it.
Nathan Zaru: That’s it.
Jordan Harbinger: Cut him off.
Nathan Zaru: Get out of here.
Jordan Harbinger: The cane is coming out to drag me on stage right now.
Nathan Zaru: Yep, going on stage.
Jordan Harbinger: All right, thank you for the opportunity, man.
Nathan Zaru: I appreciate it, man.