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Jordan Harbinger

Jordan Harbinger is the host of his own podcast, The Jordan Harbinger show. He’s released over 1,000 episodes and talked with some incredible people like Kobe Bryant, Mark Cuban, Malcom Gladwell and even the inspiration for Catch Me If You Can, Frank Abagnale.

The Business of Podcasting
The Business of Podcasting

The Business of Podcasting

Ep
92
Jul
20
With
Jordan Harbinger
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The Business of Podcasting

Jordan Harbinger is the host of his own podcast, The Jordan Harbinger show. He’s released over 1,000 episodes and has talked with some incredible people like Kobe Bryant, Mark Cuban, Malcom Gladwell and even the inspiration for Catch Me If You Can (2002), Frank Abagnale.

Things get kind of fiery in this conversation. He and Chris talk about the seedy world of contrepreneurs and how, with his legal background, he helps people combat all these fake gurus and multi-level marketing schemes that seem to just bombard us with ads.

They also discuss the business of podcasting and why the best thing you can do for your brand is to uphold your duty to your audience.

Jordan has spent over 14 years behind his microphone, picking the brains of some of the most influential (and interesting) people to learn their stories, secrets, and skills. His goal through each interview? Teach his audience something new.

It seems that podcasting really started to gain steam and popularity just a handful of years ago. There’s a podcast for almost any subject, industry, or story out there.

But it was back in 2006 that this new medium was just coming to light. That year, when Jordan published his very first episode, a stroke of luck placed his website in front of the ears of a fan all the way in South Africa. Before he knew it, Jordan had a new fan and subscriber.

A year later, he was face to face in a meeting with Gary Vaynerchuk.

Jordan was sitting on the cusp of a major shift in social media and content marketing. His timing couldn’t have been better, and the mistakes he made early on couldn’t have brought even better lessons.

With so much uncertainty in the early phases of content marketing, Jordan’s ability to stick it out is just one of the things that’s attributed to his success. Listen to the full episode for more.

Heads up! This is our last episode of season 3 for The Futur podcast. We'll be taking a short break from our regularly scheduled episodes to work on some fun, new ideas for the show. Keep an eye out for our return in the next couple of months.

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Episode Transcript

Jordan:
It's so important to be careful with your brand. You had to make sure that you're not selling out for something that's not good for your audience. You have a duty to your audience to treat them like you would treat people that you know or love and care about because if you don't, why should they care about you?

Greg:
Hi, I'm Greg Gunn. Welcome to the Futur Podcast. Now, before we get into this week spirited episode, we've got a couple of announcements to share. This is the last episode of season three. We'll be taking a short break from our regularly scheduled episodes to work on some fun new ideas for the show. While we do that, we'll have more deep dive episodes and other special things to keep your ears and minds occupied. So, look out for more new episodes with new guests in the next couple of months.
One last thing that we need your help with, if you like the show [inaudible 00:01:17] seconds, open up the description for this episode in your favorite podcasting app and click the link to the podcast survey. It's super short. Your response to it will help keep the show running. Okay. That's it for announcements. Let's dive in.
Today's guest is the host of his own podcast with over 1000 episodes under his belt. He's talked with some incredible people like Kobe Bryant, Mark Cuban, Malcolm Gladwell and even the inspiration for Catch Me If You Can, Frank Abagnale. Now, I have to warn you, things get kind of fiery in this conversation. He and Chris talked about the CD world of contrepreneurs and how, with his legal background, he helps people combat all these fake gurus that just seem to bombard us with ads.
I swear if I see one more teenager telling me how to make 30 grand in a day, I'm going to throw my phone out the window. They also discussed the business of podcasting and why the best thing you can do for your brand is to uphold your duty to your audience which is exactly why I think you are really going to love this episode. So, get comfortable, get ready, and please enjoy our lively conversation with Jordan Harbinger.

Jordan:
My name is Jordan Harbinger and the host of the Jordan Harbinger Show. I've been podcasting for about 14, almost 15 years.

Chris:
Wow. What do you talk about on your show?

Jordan:
Man, I interview amazing people, and I have them teach something to the audience generally. I also profile anybody who I think is amazing. I try to learn the stories, the secrets, the skills of the world's most brilliant/to me interesting people. So had Mark Cuban on earlier on the show. I've had Kobe Bryant, Malcolm Gladwell, Dennis Rodman, GI, Mike Rowe, founder of Instagram, Kevin Systrom, Tim Ferriss-

Chris:
The little people.

Jordan:
Some of the usual suspects with some of the very unusual suspects.

Chris:
I was a little confused, just full disclosure because I was like, "Okay. I'm going to talk to Jordan." Then in my email, it's just this Art Of Charm. I'm looking it up. I don't see you anywhere in there. I see this other person with a Harbinger name. Now, I'm really confused. This was something that you were part of a while back or no?

Jordan:
I started the Art of Charm, yeah, in 2006. I worked there. I got to be a little careful about what I say because there's a lot of whining and complaining about me talking about the company. I ended up suing them actually because, in part, there's a guy who's using my last name and isn't related to me.

Chris:
That's so weird.

Jordan:
I'll let you draw your own conclusion from that, but his name is Andrew Kasarowski and he calls himself AJ Harbinger. [crosstalk 00:03:53] That's a branding play. I guess, for him. It's weird. It's a weird scenario. Again, I'll let you draw your own conclusion from that, but if you worked with somebody and then you left the company and they took over the show and then the dude was using your last name, I mean it's just-

Chris:
That's so weird. Come on, man.

Jordan:
Yeah. I won't disagree with you.

Chris:
That is weird. Okay. First of all, you said you've been doing the podcasting game for 14 or 15 years. That to me is like a long time in the game. I don't know when podcasting started, but you must be right there like with the early pioneers, right?

Jordan:
Yeah. When I started podcasting in 2006, the reason I did it wasn't like, "Oh, I'm going to start a podcast, and it's going to be so fun, and we're going to have this podcast." It was literally like, "How do I stop burning CDs for people of my talks," because handing out CDs and burning CDs is getting tedious. I remember calling GoDaddy and places like that and be like, "How do I put an MP3 file on the internet?" They were like, "You could buy a server." I'm like, "How much is that?" I'm like, "We have shared servers for $97 a month, and if you prepay for a year, it's only $700, whatever it was." I bought a server like a virtual, I don't know, shared server, whatever it is from GoDaddy. I was uploading MP3s via FTP. I was like, "Okay. Next time somebody wants to know what's going on, you go to FTP://. You got to log in with this. You can get these files.
Finally, a friend of mine was like, "Hey, if you heard of podcasting, it's brand new." I was like, "No." He's like, "It's like a playlist of MP3 files and people who have iTunes on their computer can download the files to iTunes and put them on their iPod." I was like, "That's a great idea because at the University of Michigan, a lot of people are getting iPods, and iTunes was like the latest rage back in 2005, '96, whatever it was. Everybody had their music in there. I thought this is really cool.
Now, iTunes back then, there was no such thing as podcast artwork. You were a text entry in a directory. I got hooked because I really liked teaching body language nonverbal communication, persuasion, influence the things that I was teaching on my show and that I still, in some measures, teach on the Jordan Harbinger Show. I decided that I was going to just keep giving these talks. Then, I put these talks online, and people would send me questions about everything from dating and relationships to salary negotiation or job hunting.
I would start giving advice in these segments. I got to tell you, man, I got hooked right away because I installed this thing called Sitemeter which, I don’t know how techy you are, but back in the day, that was like the number of hits to your website. It was like this little counter that looks like the mileage counter on an old car and that was at the bottom of the site. I would log in everyday and be like, "24? Oh my god, 24 people came to our website today. This is amazing."
There was this map of where everybody had come from. And, sure, everybody was from Ann Arbor Michigan initially, but then it was like there were people that came from Canada. I was like, "Wow. Are these people hearing about it?" Then, it was New York and LA. Then, it was like South Africa. And I remember seeing the South Africa, Gauteng, South Africa where the person was from. I said, "Okay. Whoever is out there listening in South Africa, I see you on our little site meter here. Who are you? I'm so curious how you found us and everything like that." This guy replied pretty much right away and said, "I listen to everything you guys put out. It's so cool. I am a game park warden in South Africa., and I have a MP3 player. " It's a [Reo Diamond 00:07:40] or whatever those things were like the iPod competitors.

Chris:
I had one of them.

Jordan:
Yeah. So did I. He loaded it up with our show and music and other stuff. Then, he would drive out in his jeep. He'd be gone two days at a time or a whole day at a time making sure giraffes were still there or something. I don't know, a game park, make sure poachers weren’t doing stuff, I guess. He would just binge listen because there's no radio stations in the middle of South African game parks. If there are, maybe they get old fast. I don't know. He was a huge fan. I thought, "I immediately got the bug because not only was it cool that I was now officially a cool gag talk-show host on international radio."
But I saw the power of the medium because I was like, "Wait, wait, wait. I'm a law student at the University of Michigan. I gave a talk about networking persuasion influence, whatever the thing was. I gave some dating advice. I put this up on a $97 a year, whatever, GoDaddy server 30 bucks a month, whatever the hell it was, GoDaddy server." Some guy in South Africa just browsing iTunes finds us, subscribes, downloads, becomes a fan. I was like, "I got to do more of this."
Funnily enough, just not even a year later, I met Gary Vaynerchuk. We're talking 2007. And Gary Vaynerchuk was like, "Come over to my office. We do these wine things." He was like, "You and I are on the cusp of this massive social media podcast video boom." He's like, "Check out this website called Viddler. I put all my videos up there. Thousands of people watch them." I was like, "This is incredible." We started streaming on Ustream TV. Joe Rogan started a podcast about that time. Gary V. started posting. Then, Viddler went down, and YouTube came up. I decided video production was too much work and that I didn't need to do it. I wasn't showing line.
I just doubled down on podcasting. My one regret is that I didn't treat it like more of a business from the beginning, but I also am glad that I didn't treat it like a business from the beginning because early tech, you don't know if you're doing well or not unless you have something for sale. We didn't really have much for sale other than some BSE sort of like life coachy stuff for dating back in the day. We still did really well.
Now, I'm like, "Wow. I'm 40 years old." I started the show when I was 26." I get to read books all day, answer fan mail, interview super smart people with no freaking pants on in my house and make a bunch of [inaudible 00:10:15] and then go play with my 10-month-old son. It's an incredible opportunity, and I'm super thankful for it. I think I've answered your question and 10 other questions in this long [crosstalk 00:10:26].

Chris:
No. That was fantastic. There's so much there. There's a lot here for me to dive deeper into. I love that you say you get to talk to people and try to teach something or learn something from them We'll get into that. How many episodes into your podcast did this guy from South Africa reach out and say, "Hey, I'm listening to you or this is cool?"

Jordan:
Dude, I literally think it was probably eight episodes in.

Chris:
Oh wow.

Jordan:
My episodes are numbered differently because I started the show over again or a different show, not the show, I started a show over again in 2018. I'm on 364, but I left my old show at episode 700. I've got well over 1000 shows in the can. This guy reached out easily before episode 10. It was early. It was an early thing where I really got a taste of it. Look. Even if I'm wrong and it was episode 15, it still was so early that I remember sitting in this apartment that wasn't even mine that I only lived in for a few weeks. It had to be pretty early in the game.
That was good juice because now, you start something. It's like, "You've got to wait a long time to get traction." People give up. That was a hobby. I was a lawyer or I was becoming a lawyer. I was in law school. What was cool about it was there was no pressure. I think there's some beauty in that for an artist or a creator, but also, it would have been really easy to get discouraged except it wasn't because I didn't care. It was like, "I'm going to be a lawyer. I don't need this to succeed." There were no good podcast metrics.
So, so what if I couldn't check them" It didn't matter. It was just totally irrelevant.

Chris:
You bring up so many things there. People are listening to this. They're like, "Wait. What is the CD ROM? What are we talking about?"

Jordan:
Yeah. A lot of open notes.

Chris:
You're early on all this stuff, and it's interesting that it was kind of just a fill the need for you. You gave a talk. You're like, "How else can I do this because it's killing me to burn these CDs, and here's another thing." One thing leads you to another thing. Then, you're introduced to all these people who are kind of on the cusp of doing this. We've seen this happen before. The people were early in on tech, who stick it out, who like put in the work. They become the giants. Now, okay. People are going to listen to this. I'm like, "You're a very different kind of guest," and most of the guests that I have on, you have this energy. You have this... This is not an insult. Well, you have a radial voice. You're ready. You're bursting with energy. Was this always who you were or did you grow into becoming this person?

Jordan:
Oh yeah. No. I grew into this. It's easy for somebody in any profession to say, "Well, I always wanted to do X, Y, Z. When people who are less skilled interviewers than yourself, they say, "Oh, what do you want to be when you grow up?" I would say, "Oh, well, when I was really young eight, nine, 10, whatever, I wanted to be a DJ on the radio because I thought it would be cool to talk to everyone." They're like, "You achieved your dream." It's like, "Well, okay."
But what really happened was, "Yeah. I wanted to be a DJ on the radio along with probably everything else, and a policeman and an astronaut and an army man or whatever we called them back then, and a doctor and da-da-da." Then, I became a freaking finance attorney, talk about a dream killer. Then during law school, AKA the process to become said finance attorney which was never a dream job, it was what do you do when you can't get a job at best by selling freaking Britney Spears CDs. You go to law school because you've done well better.
I really focused a lot on just getting a job, but I did this as a hobby because I was really interested in it. If you listened to early stuff like I don't even know how early it gets, but there are things where people say, "Oh, man, your interview with so-and-so was so interesting." And I'll go and listen to it and say like, "Oh I don’t even remember that. Let me go listen to this interview of this person who maybe passed away or was so old, and are they worth having on the show again. I'll listen, and I'll go, "Yeah, not my best work." If I go back far enough, I'm sure it's cringe, but if I go back three, four years, it's not up to snuff. And even if I have a repeat guest like I had Jocko Willink on the show several times if you know who Jocko is.
I got another call from him. He's like, "Hey, you want to do another show?" I was like, "Great. Let me just dig out my old show prep notes, and I'll see what I covered and what I didn't cover. I'll improve on those. We'll do a reboot. I'll add to it. Well, I go back, and I'm looking back, and I go, "Huh. For a first interview, I guess I just didn't use notes." That's a weird strategy. That doesn't seem like a good strategy at all. Then, I go to my second interview with Jocko, and I go, "Oh, okay. Here are my notes, and I read them." I go, "Oh my god. These are not great." These are really, really basic. There's nothing that interesting in here. What was I thinking?
Then, I go to my third Jocko interview, and I look at the notes, and I go, "Okay. These are good, but there were a lot of missed opportunities." I can sort of chart my growth that way. It is funny because I can only imagine that something I did 10 years ago is just unlistenable.

Chris:
I'm glad you bring this up because a lot of people, they don't understand that this life that we live, it's a continual education, the self-development and a growth. You are doing that because maybe three years ago, you were the best version of you but today, even three years better than that and just keep looking forward into the future as you stick through this. A lot of the young people are like, "This didn’t work out for me, Chris. I tried it and I did everything you said." And I looked at... So, you posted 30 things, you made 2 videos. That's it. That's your effort?" [crosstalk 00:16:09] You've done over a thousand episodes if I assume my math's right, right?

Jordan:
Yeah.

Chris:
That's crazy, man.

Jordan:
Exactly. Look. I took voice lessons every single day, not every single day, five days a week, maybe four days a week depending on my teacher's availability. You don’t have to do that. For people who were like, "What? Oh my god, I can't do that," you don’t have to do that. I just started it a few months ago. It's no something I've been doing for a decade. It's not the reason my voice sounds the way it does. It's part of the reason, but it's not the entire reason. You don’t need a great voice to be in radio. If you don't believe me, go listen to This American Life and listen to Ira Glass talk into the microphone. He's a brilliant guy. He's got terrible voice. There's a lot of really popular talk show hosts that have awful... You don't need any particular talent.
If you do have talent, that's great. I hope that talented people get into the business. You don't really need it. I'm not a especially talented, I don’t think. A lot of what you hear is the results of a lot of work on presenting cadence, diction, note taking, reading faster, memorizing stuff. All the things you hear in the interviews in the Jordan Harbinger show are result of that, but you're right. To your point, I was in the New York times last year and the article was about podcasting and how it's getting played out and some successful podcasters do this and some unsuccessful podcasters do that.
In the head of the article, there was a girl who had started. She was younger. That's why I said girl instead of woman. I guess she's still technically an adult woman, so excuse me for that. She started a podcast, and she said, "Yeah. We originally thought we were going to be huge. We did six episodes and they were recording on an iPhone on a table in the library and they were awful, and we put the episode up and we got 13 downloads and then we quit because we weren’t hitting it big." Everyone sort of tortured her online and made fun of her and everything. It was really kind of awful for her, but it was the point of the article. There was me as the counterpoint where it was this guy's been doing this for 12 years or 13 years or however long it had been in the article, and he's got this home setup and he does all this work and he's doing this and he's getting, I think, at the time like three million, four million downloads a month, something like that.
That was the contrast. It's really easy for people to look at guys like who'd been doing this for so long and go, "Aha, all I have to do is be consistent, but I'll do it faster because I know what I'm doing with internet marketing. It's just not how it works," not with podcasting anyway.

Chris:
Well, I want to take a couple of steps back. This is brilliant. It's almost like you're feeding me this thing. You mentioned Ira Glass. Here's what I've noticed and I want to get your opinion on this because you've been doing this for way longer than we have that there are very famous popular podcast and they're very different. They're scripted. They're written. They're performed, rerecorded and dubbed over and sound effects and they sound really good until you hear them speak live. They're stuttering. They're stammering. They're finding the words. And sometimes, they're incoherent.
Then, there are the other kinds of podcast where it's conversational like what we're having right now, totally unscripted, and they're able to string together cohesive thoughts and make powerful statements without it ever being written. There is the distinction there, and there's a style for everybody out there if you're really good writer and you're not that confident and speaking spontaneously and off the cuff. There's one path, and then there's people like you. I'm just curious if you have an opinion or take on that.

Jordan:
Yeah. First of all, I have to say I just did a crappy imitation of Ira Glass's voice, and it's tongue and cheek. Obviously, he doesn’t sound like that. But what I mean by that is the dude's a genius so he can talk however he wants and make a great show and I want to highlight that for people because that show and many other shows like it have full-time staff of 13, 14, 28 people. You think I'm exaggerating. I'm not. They released once a week but they can only do 37 episodes a year because there's 100 hours of research. There's 50 hours of writing. There's 20 hours of rewriting. There's eight hours of recording or five hours or recording. There's 28 hours of editing. Then, there's another hour and a half of recording more pickups. Then, there's sound design and music is added. Then, there's a final spit polish. There's show notes. There's the art that someone draws and puts on the episode like there's all those things that go into that. That's a different product than a guy who sits down and reads 20 news articles.
This is in what my show is but I know there's shows like this, a guy who sits down, reads 20 tech news articles, puts them all in and then makes fun of them in a daily show and there's shows like that. I'm somewhere in the middle where my show is edited but if you were sitting in the room with me and then you heard the edited version, you would be missing a bathroom break, a couple of sneezes from the guest into my myself, maybe a flob or a conversation thread that just goes nowhere or sound stupid. And then, everything else is the exact same. Then, there's an intro and a show close put on the front and the end of the show and that's pretty much it and commercials are added. Advertising is added later in post.
I'm in the middle there. It's not heavily produced but it's also not recorded in somebody's car and then upload it directly to the hosting service. I don’t love those shows, I'll be honest. There's a lot of shows like that now where it's like two guys in a garage talking about Boston sports. That's cool if it's a hobby but I don’t really need to listen to that. I don’t want to produce that. I'm running a business and it has to be great for the listener. I really tried to keep that in mind with every show that I create. Even if I'm really interested and it's not just interesting for other folks, I don’t really want to do an episode like that.

Chris:
That's good that you make that distinction and there's probably a proliferation of those types of podcast and it's getting harder and harder to stand out, but people who were putting in the good work, who do the research, whatever style it is, I hope that they do rise to the top. Now, you mentioned a couple of times the business. Is podcasting your business and can you tell us a little bit more about this?

Jordan:
Yeah. Podcasting is my business. This is my full-time job. It's my full-time job. My wife works with me. I've got a couple of contractors, one that writes the show notes, another one that helps answer and collect the advice. Every Friday, we give advice based on questions we get in the inbox. I had somebody that goes to that inbox, helps me structure the answers, puts the questions in my answer notes and a document and then reads the questions for me on Friday. He helps with that. I've got, of course, somebody who maintains the website. He's also the guy that writes the show notes. My wife schedules the shows, books the guest, make sure that I am in the right place and the right time. And then, I've got an engineer who goes through every episode with a fine-toothed comb and gets rid of the siren that was in the background and the guest and the [inaudible 00:23:13] that happened at some point during the show and got rid of the fun noise in the background and does all the editing and the mastering of the audio. That's it, man. That's it.
There are other sort of periphery folks that work on the show with transcripts for every episode and they're done by machine but we have somebody who is a native or sorry non-native speaker of English. He's a professional transcriptionist and she goes through and make sure that everything is right because it's really easy for our machine to get something wrong. If she doesn't understand what it is, she highlights it and then my wife or someone else will go through and be like, "Ah, that's what that is."
We have that. We have those folks, but people who work on our animations for social media and things like that, these are all part-time folks. It actually ends up being pretty profitable over time, but there are a lot of part-timers that work here. I would say we have a crew of six, but again, only two of us are full-time. That's just me and my wife. And even that's debatable because we have a 10-month-old. She's mostly just doing work where she can and trying to outsource other things.

Chris:
Okay. How does one in your position make money doing podcasting. Can you let us into your little financial world about how you could sustain yourself doing this and supporting a part-time staff of six people? How do you make money off doing podcasting?

Jordan:
Yeah. Well, it's about the advertising. It's about the advertisements. I'm very careful of that just because I don't want to put a ton of ads in a show. I want to approve every sponsor. I want to make sure that the audience is getting a good experience, but yeah, the primary way that I make money and, of course, I do speaking gigs and occasionally I'll sell something like a speaking gig or an experience for my audience, we've recently all, not all, of course, many of us didn't go. We went to a prison and volunteered in the prison and taught the prisoners a few things and worked with them on resume building for when they were getting out. It was a volunteer program.
A lot of my audience came with me, but aside from those sort of one-off experiences that are mostly for charity, it's about advertising. So, every show has sponsors. I only take products and services that I believe in or that I think are good. You have to be careful because your brand is attached to that, and the advertisers come through my network which sells the sponsors and takes a cut of the proceeds. It's nice to have that because I don't really have to worry about selling ads, billing them, collecting the revenue like all that stuff is handled for me.

Chris:
When you sit through your network, is this another company that you own and manage or is this through a third party?

Jordan:
No, it's a third party. I network is podcast one. They have 300 shows on the network itself. They sell huge blocks of advertising. Those blocks of advertising go on, let's say, me, Adam Carolla, Shaquille O'Neal, Dr. Drew, Stone Cold, Steve Austin, Mike Tyson in a bunch of other shows. We'll all advertise, I don't know, whatever mattress that kind of thing. I'm a pain when it comes to this stuff because I'm very picky with the advertisers. I make them send me the product. I try the product. It's like you won't hear all the same ads in our show on the Jordan Harbinger Show as you do on a lot of other shows. Sure, there's some overlap, but I can't tell you how many times my network has just been like, "Why don't you do this?"
I'm like, "I don't like supplements that make big promises or something like that," or like, "I tried the mattress, and I thought it was uncomfortable, so I don't like that brand." Stuff like that, I think, it makes me a huge pain, but I got to tell you that it's so important to be careful with your brand, to make sure that you're not selling out for something that's not good for your audience. You have a duty to your audience to treat them like you would treat people that you know or love and care about because if you don't, why should they care about you? If you're just talking like, "Hey, by this penis pill that's going to make your, whatever, do things better." That's no good. It's no good.
They're like, "Oh, you're just going to shill like hey buy this hair loss shampoo." Its' like, "No. But this supplement that says it's going to make you taller." There's no evidence for it, but who cares? We're going to give you 20%. I won't do it. I won't do it. I'm playing the long game, I think, is what I'm trying to say here.

Chris:
It sounds like. I mean you have to have integrity. That's what it's going to come through because this is your show. It's a very intimate relationship you have with your audience that show for you to hear your insights and your questions and to see how you pull out information from your guests. If you sell something just to make a quick buck which I think a lot of people do get into that trap. Then, all the sudden, the power of their brand and people start to question like, "Do I trust this person now? What's going on here?" [crosstalk 00:28:24].

Jordan:
Exactly.

Chris:
... into that. You talk about ads. That's the primary way that you make money, right?

Jordan:
Yeah, it is. I used to do like training courses and blah, blah, blah, but what I found was that a lot of... I'm just going to put it out there bluntly. A lot of like scammy pieces of crap started putting out training courses, and it was like how to get rich or how to pick up chicks or whatever. And I was like, "Oh we're not like that." But the thing is you can't really... It's like saying, "I'm the good guy drug dealer. I only sell marijuana." You're still a freaking drug dealer. I don't necessarily agree with that sentiment, of course, but a lot of people will.
I got sick of being like, "Well, I teach people how to do this and online business that." And then there's like 8000 other people that teach it, but have never built a business. And I'm like, "No, no. I've actually built this. I've actually done this. It actually works." And then, I just got so sick of trying to defend that that I was like, "You know what? I don't love teaching this anymore. I don't love competing with scammers. I don't like being painted as such. I'm just going to go and do interviews with really smart cool people because that's what I like best about the business anyway."
That was hard to do because I turned down in a way 80% of my income, but it was like a 100% of my headache. Not only that. It was also 90% of my work. Yes, we're making less money as a company because we don't do that, but I don't have to have coaches and instructors and an office and a sales team and dah-dah-dah. So, I got rid of all of that dead weight and baggage, and I got rid of too totally bonehead business partners. And I was able to get rid of a lot of what I would say dead weight and baggage in my own life, and that was really good for me because now, we're more profitable than ever. We might only make 20% of the income that we did before but our profit went from 1% to 80% or 60%.
It really was a game changer. And it's funny because if you look at our revenue sheet, it's like, "Whoa, we made so much less money," and then it's like, "Oh, but we made so much more profit," like a hundred times the amount of profit or at least close to it in some years.
You really do have to look at profit first when you run a business. I hang out with a lot of really inspiring folks, and I should say very successful men and women. And one of the things I've noticed is there'll be some guy who's just killing it in the, let's say, auto sales, and he's, "Yeah. We did $16 million last year and dah-dah-dah." But then, you get like three or four whiskey's deep on a trip or something on his boat. You find out he's made no money for the past five years. He's got a ton of debt. He's got a company that's really, really doing well, but his balance sheet, he's been in the red, and he's got almost no hope for getting out trying to find investors to keep the lights on.
I'm like, "I'll take my profitable low maintenance business lifestyle business at any day over that.

Greg:
Time for a quick break. We'll be right back.

Ben  Burns:
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I know personally. I used to struggle with all of those. Now, fortunately for you though, we have a slew of courses and products designed specifically to help you run your business better. These are tools like the complete case study and the perfect proposal. These things are there to help you attract new clients and then wow them with a thorough and professional presentation.
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Greg:
Welcome back to our conversation with Jordan Harbinger.

Chris:
That's a really valuable business lesson because from afar, companies can look super healthy. I think some entrepreneurs send the wrong signal by driving fancy cars or having gigantic homes and showing you a very flashy lifestyle when, in fact, they've been in the red, and they were spending investor money foolishly and without a lot of ethics because they're burning other people's money. It's not so much about what you make. It's what you keep. You got rid of some people that weren't right for you and you got out of a business that I think we're just being flooded with these kind of... There's a term for it. People are calling them contrepreneurs where they're selling you something fast scheme. It brings a lot of people into that.

Jordan:
Yeah. I love that term. Mike Winnet came up with that, right? Contrepreneur?

Chris:
I think so.

Jordan:
He is an interesting guy. I like Mike. That's an interesting term. It's so true that. These contrepreneurs, these guys, it's like a fake guru scam. My buddy who goes by Coffeezilla on YouTube, you know him?

Chris:
I know him. Yup.

Jordan:
Yes. He makes these videos for those people who don't know. He makes these videos where he'll blow up somebody's scam and be like, "I did the legwork, and I found out this is a rented Lambo and a house that he doesn't own." There's no way that this works that way, and this is actually impossible and this other thing is illegal and blah-blah. It's funny to see this because the internet space really is full of just fraudulent scammers even more so than ever. You see these like 16-year-old kids that are like, "Yeah. I just closed a $30,000 sale." It's like, "No, you didn't. You're just lying, You're just a  artist."
For that reason and among the other reasons that I mentioned before, I'm just so glad that I don't sell anything other than advertising because people will complain about the advertising business model, but I'm telling you if people are willing to pay me with their attention because my interviews are really good, the stories that we get on the Jordan Harbinger Show are really good, then, they'll support our sponsors. I'm totally cool with that. I don't want to have to tell somebody... I don't want to have to hype up something in order to make a living, limited time only, start now, be in my super-secret inner circle mastermind.
That whole idea of doing that is just so exhausting that even thinking about it is exhausting. In addition to that, how do you sleep at night when you're the person that's ripping off like 18-year-old kids and 25-year olds and telling them they're going to make all this money online when you're not making that money online other than ripping people off, selling your class? I don't want anything to do with that space. I was never in that space obviously, but even the suspicion of being too standard derivatives away from that space was no good.

Chris:
Yeah. I think that that's the story if capitalism that as long as our people who are desperate who need to get out of whatever situation there is, there will be people who will take advantage of that, and they just don't really care. I imagine them sleeping really well at night because they're not bound by anymore or ethnic guidelines in their life. You talked about integrity. It's not there obviously because they know this is just smoke and mirrors.
If you dig deeper as Coffeezilla, it's all there. It's incredible. With just a little bit of due diligence, it all falls apart really, really fast.

Jordan:
Yeah. I know this, right? I look at this. I go, "Huh, how strange that you just do a little bit of diligence than this falls apart?" What that tells me is their core customer, your core customer, if you're a contrepreneur is somebody who is so inexperienced that they don't know how to do any sort of research and diligence. They're the kind of born yesterday kind of customer. Well, okay. There are plenty of adults that are probably like that, but here's the problem.
Most of your customers, if you are doing that, are going to be teenage kids. That makes it even more despicable because that means you're knowingly going after somebody who's young, can't afford to waste money on something. You're selling them a lies so that you can run around in a rented Lamborghini and go on vacation. It's really despicable. So me, Coffeezilla and a handful like Mike Winnet, a handful of these other folks, we do a lot of blowing up of these guys.
On the Jordan Harbinger Show, I recently released an episode where I debunk conspiracy theories, not quite the same thing. I debunked that stupid bullcrap Plandemic movie, that was another conspiracy garbage that I'd debunked, but I also speak pretty plainly when it comes to these kinds of contrepreneur folks because I look at my audience like extended family.
Again, I'm a former attorney. I'm still technically an attorney. I have what consider to be a fiduciary duty to the listener. This is somebody who trusts me. They expect me to have their best interest in mind. So, no. I'm not going to have a supplement scammer advertised in the show, but in addition, I'm going to say, "Hey, look out for this. This is happening out there. This is how the business model works." In fact, Coffeezilla was on the show recently. The episode is not out yet, but we did an interview about this exact thing because I'm like, "I need everybody to know how this business model works."
I also speak the truth about multi-level marketing and how those are not profitable except for, of course, the people at the top because those are just built on... You're preying on people who don't know any better. You're lying to them. You're trying to get them to stop thinking about the fact that they're losing money by getting them excited. Then, when they finally say, "Jesus, I can't do this," then MLMs scams of all kinds, the fallback is to blame the person for not working hard enough, not getting it, not going all in, not being a team player or whatever sort of pejorative bullcrap that they throw on you. It's no different than somebody selling you a diet that would never work and then saying,"Oh, you haven't lost any weight," it's because you're not working hard enough.
That person would be a despicable scammer and yet that's what we see from a lot of these multi-level marketing and other contrepreneur scams. I feel very strongly about that kind of thing. I spend a lot of time warning people about them, helping friends of mine who get threatened by them with light lifting legal work. They'll go, "Oh low my gosh, Jordan. I just got a cease and desist from such-and-such company or such-and-such contrepreneur."
I'll go, "Oh, well they're expecting you to be scared and full. Let's respond with something really sharp." Then, I'll write the letter, and I'll say, "You have to run this by your own lawyer because I'm not going to represent you in court. I'm a New York Attorney, and I'm not a litigator." And the lawyer will go, "Yeah, this looks good." And so, instead of paying $,2000 for the response letter, they pay their lawyer 50 bucks to take a quick look at it and mail it out. It's funny because you'd be surprised a lot of these contrepreneurs, they'll send a cease and desist letter which is basically exactly what it sounds like if people don't know.
It says, "You stopped saying that my client is a contrepreneur." Chris Doe, you take your podcast offline right now and you never do this." And then, we write back. We say, "We want to see evidence of this because if you keep sending this, this is going to be harassment." We're actually thinking about countersuing you if you decide to move this forward. Here's what our claims are going to be. We will not cease and desist. In fact, we assert furthermore that this is this and that and the other thing. And also, we're thinking about talking to the FTC, with the Federal Trade Commission, here in the United States. They go, "Oh, shoot. I wasn't expecting that. I thought this was some punk from YouTube." You never hear from them again.

Chris:
You have to suspect it's a boilerplate letter that is designed to scare off kids and people-

Jordan:
Absolutely.

Chris:
... who financial situation may be in jeopardy. That's going to scare away a lot of people, and people don't have friends like you who can fight back for them. So, they buckle, right?

Jordan:
Yeah, exactly. It's a shame, but I don't like bullies. I fight bullies whether it's the Chinese Communist Party and I do lots of episodes about that or a contrepreneur or freaking Vladimir Putin. I can't do a whole lot against the CCP or Vladimir Putin contrepreneur though, their worst enemy is a lawyer with a conscience and a platform for that matter. All I can do about Putin and the CCP is exposed some of their BS. I do that on the show as well, to some degree.

Chris:
A question I have for you is with you and a couple other people out there, who are getting the word out, is it making a difference because I look back in the 80s where there was like guys like [inaudible 00:41:53] and everybody selling. It's the same package over and over again. They're selling you. These are the tell-tale signals. If they are supposedly claiming to sell you a secret on how to do something that they never actually made money and that's your first sign. It's-

Jordan:
Such a red flag.

Chris:
If they tell you, you need no talent, no money down. This is the easy way and here's how you're going to make millions without doing any work. They're telling you a lie.

Jordan:
Yeah, oh absolutely. I mean think about this. The primary selling point on a lot of this contrepreneur stuff is you don't need any money. You don't need any talent. Okay, then. What exactly is the barrier to entry and why are you teaching me this system if any warm body can do it? Why don't you just pay somebody five bucks an hour that lives in another country to do this for you all day and all night and become a billionaire? Why are you selling a course for a thousand bucks to teach some schmo how to do it?
The answer is always, "I just really care about people." Cool. Then, then teach us for free. Oh, well. I can't do that because something, something, something. You get what you receive from the universe. They start to fall back on this metaphysical BS or, well, I've got to have my team compensated I'm like, "It's a digital product." This could be $4. You'd still be profiting 395 after you deliver all the pieces together and set up. It's just unbelievable at scale. It's garbage. It's absolute lies.
You're right. Whenever someone's like. "I'll teach you how to build an online business," if their online business is teaching other people how to build an online business, they've never actually built an online business other than the one that you're going to have to build which is teaching other people how to build an online business. You got to be really careful. If you're taking a program where the person is teaching you how to teach other people, you're in a pyramid scheme. You're in essentially a multi-level marketing scheme because you take a business course from somebody about selling people a business course and guess what? Your product's a business course.
Now, people buy that. Then, they what? Become coaches. You have a coach who coaches coaches, who coaches coaches and their coach is coach. Their people they coach are also coaches. Come on. You're running out of people on earth at this point after seven degrees of separation here. You're running out of people on planet earth to sell your crap to. That's why you see a lack of success just like you would with any other Ponzi scheme or multi-level marketing. You just run out of people at the bottom.

Chris:
Oh, okay. That was very fiery. Let's switch gears a little bit here.

Jordan:
Sure.

Chris:
Okay. Let's talk about relationships. I want to talk about you have guests on your show, some very famous powerful successful people. Outside of the podcast, what's your relationship with them in the real world? Is there one? How does that work?

Jordan:
Oh, with the guests on the show?

Chris:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jordan:
It really depends. Recently, we had Mark Cuban on. I know Mark a little bit. We don't hang out. You know what I mean? He's a billionaire guy from Shark Tank, but I can email him and he'll get back to me which is cool, always a good feeling. Mick West who I had on recently to debunk conspiracy theories, I know him. He's a great guy for critical thinking and clear thinking. Garry Kasparov, the chess champion who's also very much anti-Putin, these are guys that I get an email response from. It's a little tricky sometimes. These are very busy people in the international stage, but it really does vary.
I occasionally will have a friend of mine on. Robin Dreeke, episode 357, he was the head of the FBI behavioral analysis program. He came on the show. I've known him for years and years and taught a class with him a million years ago on social engineering, but it really depends. I've had Frank Abagnale, the inspiration for Catch Me If You Can, Kobe Bryant, Malcolm Gladwell, Dennis Rodman, those kinds of folks, like, "Look, are we tight?" Not really, but I can reach him if I need to, but other folks like TI, the rapper, TI Tip Harris. I can get a hold of him all the time. I talk to him all the time. Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs, I talk with him pretty regularly, him and his team.
It really varies, but a lot of podcasters think like after I do this interview with Malcolm Gladwell, we're going to go out to lunch every week. It's just not true. It's just not true. You'll be lucky if you can get them back on your show and they have another book out. People are busy. They have their own lives. You do make a lot of great relationships when you do have a podcast. That much is certain. However, are you BFF with everyone? Certainly not.

Chris:
Right. What I found was really interesting and an unexpected benefit to creating content is there's somebody that you admire that you look up to that you've read their books or watch their videos or attended a seminar or something like that. You have them on the show. Then, they get to know who you are, and relationship forms, not always, but sometimes. And some of the authors that I've admired from afar and how friends who text me, and it's like, "Oh h this is kind of wild." It's pretty cool to be able to do that.

Jordan:
Yeah. I think there's something incredible about developing any relationship whether it's with a fan or with a show guests. There's something really incredible about that bringing people together. I think that's one of the fun things about podcasting is like getting its access. It's always been access, but you have to be careful as an interviewer not to do things, episodes I should say, not to do episodes because you want access and you want to become best friends with the people that you have on the show because I'm trying to figure out how to phrase this in the right way.
What happens is you end up doing a bad interview if you're concerned about how you're perceived by the guests. Does this matter? Does this make sense? Not matter. It makes sense, I hope.

Chris:
Yes.

Jordan:
If I'm on with TI or Mark Cuban or Dennis Rodman, I don't want to be like, "Oh, remember that time that you did that awesome thing? That was so cool, man." They're like, "Yeah, thanks bro." Then I'm like, "Hey, are you hungry? Let's have lunch after this." I mean that's not good. You should be able to have someone and go, "Here's the thing I think I disagree with from your work blah, blah-blah-blah-blah. Defend this. Tell me why I'm wrong. That's not a great way to make friends. It doesn't mean your guests storms out of the interview, but it certainly doesn't and hopefully at the end, they respect you and they had a good time, but then having a good time and thinking, "Wow, that guy was really nice to me," is not my concern.
Again, going back to the fiduciary duty that I have to the listener and keeping the listener first in my mind here, that really is more important. If I have someone on like Dennis Rodman and I go, "What's with the crazy?" And he starts laughing and says, "Well, I did this and this and this and this." A lot of this is for attention. You don't ask that if you're trying to become best friends with the guy. You go like, "I just love everything you do," but I want the listener to come away with something.
I want to ask the questions that the listeners have. I want to find out what's going on in someone's head. I don't care if, at the end, they think I'm cool like real talk, we're not going to be best friends most likely afterwards. If I click with the show guest, that's great, but it has to be a side effect of the interview, not the reason I'm doing it in the first place.

Chris:
You're talking about a couple of different things, I think. One is do you have a hidden agenda? Are you trying to get something after this and so you're not really present to the conversation or if you come across as a super geeky fan, there's not going to be a lot of knowledge gained here?
You have to be able to push into places where there's going to be a little friction. Then, [crosstalk 00:49:41] that really interesting dialogue on conversation comes out. You're saying, "You have a responsibility to everybody that's tuning in. They've given you an hour of their time. Make it valuable for them." That's great advice, by the way, something that we don't hear a lot. I want to get into your show prep.

Jordan:
Sure.

Chris:
What do you do? How do you get ready for your shows? Get me into the nitty gritty.

Jordan:
The first thing that I do, I'll pick a real guest because it does vary. Let's say that I have Frank Abagnale on from Catch Me If You Can. Do you ever see that movie?

Chris:
Yeah, I loved it.

Jordan:
Frank was doing media and his thing was, "Oh, I've got this new podcast about scams or something." I said, "Great. Let's do an episode." What most journalists do is they google the person. They look at a couple interviews. They read the Wikipedia or something like that and then, they walk in and they hey do their 15-minute bit. What I do is I will look and see if they have a book. With Frank Abagnale, I read the whole book. It's called Catch Me If You Can.
I read the whole book. I rewatched the movie. I took notes on what matched and what didn't and asked any questions I had about that. I listened to the full season of his new podcast. I don't think I made it through the whole thing, but I listened to several episodes of the new season of his show which is about catching scammers. I looked at a bunch of his past interviews. I listened to a bunch of his past interviews on other podcasts. Then, I looked at his Wikipedia. I looked at any magazine features he had. I found people that knew him. I found those people via social media, LinkedIn mutual connections, whatever you want to call it.
From there, I gathered all my notes. I dumped them in a Google Doc. Usually, I mean candidly, I take the notes in the Google Doc as I go along. I don't have them anywhere else first most of the time. I dump them in that Google Doc. I take that Google Doc. Then, the day before the show, I go into that Google Doc. I spend an hour or so reorganizing all the notes into a converse... Well, first thing I do, actually, let me back up. The first thing I do is I go through all the notes. I look and read everything. I ask questions about my own notes, like, oh, "He did this. I wonder what that was like." All right. I'm going to do a little question there. Oh, this happened. Wait. What was the difference between this and the other thing? Oh, how do we do this specific process? What are the steps? Okay. Great.
Then, I go through the whole thing which is now four or five pages of notes generally for an hour-long interview. I go through that, and I rearrange the order that the notes and questions and ideas come in so that I think I have kind of a rough show flow. Then during the show, I go ahead and go down the list of ideas, but it's not a pre-scripted list of questions. The conversation goes where the conversation goes, but I'm so familiar with those four or five pages of notes that if something naturally leads into another point, I simply skip to that part in the notes.
I'm using my iPad generally. I highlight things in yellow when I'm done with them, and everything else is either not highlighted. It's highlighted in green if I think it's important. It's highlighted in gray or deep, what is it, unhighlighted, non-lighted, unlighted. It's in gray if I think, "oh, this isn't the greatest most interesting thing," but if I run out of ideas or it's naturally going to segue, I'll use this.
I'm constantly working out of this living document with the interview. And so, sometimes, I don't film all my interviews for YouTube, but occasionally, I do especially if it's a big name. I put one up with Cesar Millan, the dog whisperer. I got some comments that were like, "Jordan's being so rude to this guy. Look at him. Look at his iPad." It's like, "The reason the interview is good is because I'm able to look at my notes." It'll be funny because people say, "This is a great interview, but I just wish you would have not lifted your iPad so much." It's like, "The reason this isn't a crappy surface level interview is because I've got six, seven pages of notes here, and I'm able to go deep into someone's life and track the conversation." This is the reason.
I talked to journalists about this. I say, "Why doesn't every journalist do this?" They go, "Dude, I've got 13 interviews this week. Half of them are with pet store owners in the Miami Dade County area. What am I going to do for prep?" I'm like, "Oh, yeah. That's right." That's what happens when you get assigned stories you don't care about and you have a boatload of work for a journal or magazine because with podcasts, we can afford to spend a week preparing for one guest or 20 hours preparing for one guest. We can afford to do that because we own the media. When you're a writing of one page fluff piece for news magazines, you just got to get that thing out before lunch and move on with your life.

Chris:
Right. It's very different. I mean the amount that you just described to me, it was like, "Oh, my god." It makes sense that this is what you do, and you take what you do very seriously. Hats off to you. I bow to you on this one because that is an incredible amount of work. If you want to be able to do what Jordan has done and to be able to get to this level, it's going to require that level of preparation and work.
Now, I have thoughts on this because I have prepared for guests before, and I have not prepared at all. It's interesting how both go. Sometimes, they both go well. And sometimes, they both go horribly. I remember something. Larry King, Late Night show host for CNN, was famous or infamous for not preparing for his guests at all. At first, when I heard that, I'm like, "Larry, do your job. That's not professional." But here's the thing, and I learned this through doing conference calls with potential clients that sometimes in preparing too much, I get stuck in like, "I needed to ask question 14 and number two, and I'm not really even listening anymore or they'll say something incredible that's going to help me win the job." I just go on to question number seven like I'm going off checklist.
Once I did this enough, I started to get into this place where give me the high level stuff that I need to know and tell my team. Brief me on this, this and that. Okay. I'm ready. I'm just going to listen. If there are specific questions, John, you answer. Mary, you answer. And Tina, you do that part. But I'm just going to talk to the client. Then I just lose myself in the conversation, whatever they say. If it's interesting, I go with that way. If not, I just stop the conversation and move to different direction. I find that sometimes after you do it long enough that you start to learn how to be a great conversationalist. If you're meeting somebody for the very first time, you don’t have that ability and you're just like, "What's on your mind?" Then, if they're good, we have a great conversation.
That's the danger of not preparing or underpreparing. But it sounds like. You put a ton of work into this.

Jordan:
Yeah. I do put a ton of work into it. I put a lot of work into it. Here's the thing with Larry King. I like Larry, but it's very clear he doesn't prepare. I think that probably worked really well in the 80s and 90s because he was a good conversationalist. Let's be real. A lot of journalists were really not good conversationalist. They had their 10 questions. They were like, "Well I'm going to ask these," and they came across stilted, but now a lot of journalists and interviewers have great personality. They throw a lot of personality into the interviews.
I will say right now with Larry King and again nothing but respect to Larry King, he's given me a lot of great advice that was very effective in me building my brand in the Jordan Harbinger Show and coming up with my own style for interviewing, but I mean there are some famous Larry King kind of outtakes where... What's the famous one with Seinfeld? Yes, Jerry Seinfeld. Have you seen this Jerry Seinfeld goes on the show?

Chris:
I think I know what you're talking about. Yes.

Jordan:
Yeah. Jerry Seinfeld goes on the show and says, "Hey, Larry. Good to see you again." There, he goes, "You've had the top show on television." Seinfeld ran for eight years or whatever. He goes, "What was it like when it got canceled?" Jerry Seinfeld goes, "Do you even prepare for this?" Canceled? What are you talking about? It's the most popular show on television. It's not cancelled." Then, he just went off on him because it was like, "Did you even look up anything." He's kind of half joking, but he's actually not totally joking because he does think it's ridiculous that Larry King thought Seinfeld got cancelled. He's had those gaffes quite a few times in the course of his long-running show.
I feel bad because the show was live. You can't edit anything out really. You can't reel anything back in, but I asked Larry King about his prep process. He said, "Usually nothing," or he will receive a sheet of paper basically like a printout of one pager on who the person is and he'll read it in the car on the way to, well at the time, CNN. I said, "You're just reading whatever your assistant puts in an email." He's like, "Yeah." Then, I used curiosity to get the rest. And on its face, that sounds amazing, but then if you hear an interview with Larry King and then you hear an interview with the same guest that Larry King had with somebody who prepares like me, it's just not even close.
I'm starting from where Larry would have been in three hours. You know what I mean in terms of conversational depth.

Chris:
I know that exact moment that you're talking about. That's what I was referring to because that was Larry's not paying attention. It seems like what are we doing? It's just a ticket and you pull, and the next person sits on the chair and you just go through that part. I think there is a balance. You said something that I want to point out to our guests who are listening is this, is that you prep. Then, you have a way of staying in the conversation in the pocket and not being dictated by the questions because that's sometimes the over-preparation can do that to you. You get really stiff.

Jordan:
Yes, there is an element of practice. That is required to get this down smooth. You don't want to be locked into your notes and flow, but the way to do that is use your notes as much as you can, but not worry about whether you get to everything. Think about what your next question is going to be, but always let that question... be ready to let that question take a backseat to wherever the conversation is going as long as there's value in it for the audience. That's really the moral of the whole thing. It's always got to have value for your audience. That's what I try and do on every episode of the Jordan Harbinger Show.

Chris:
Great. Thanks so much, man.

Jordan:
Thank you. Hey, this is Jordan Harbinger, and you are listening to The Futur.

Greg:
Thanks so much for joining us in this episode. If you're new to The Futur and want to know more about our educational mission, visit the futur.com. You'll find more podcast episodes, hundreds of YouTube videos, and a growing collection of online courses and products covering design and business. Oh, and we spell the Futur with no E. The future podcasts is hosted by Christ Do and produced by me, Greg Gunn. This episode was mixed and edited by Anthony Barro with intro music by Adam Sanborn. If you enjoyed this episode, then do us a favor and rate and review us on iTunes. It's a tremendous help in getting our message out there. Let's just know what you like. Thanks again for listening, and we will see you next time.

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