Gavin de Becker (@gdbaprotects) is the author of The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence and the security pioneer who designed the MOSAIC Threat Assessment Systems used at the top levels of government. This is part one of a two-part episode. Make sure to catch part two here!

What We Discuss with Gavin de Becker:

  • Violence is a reality — if you’re not prepared for its possibility, you’ll be caught off guard by its eventuality.
  • Learn how to hone your sixth sense for danger.
  • Discover how to spot the red flags that signify someone as a likely abuser, con artist, or predator.
  • How can technology paired with human intuition protect us from people who mean us harm?
  • How literal is the term gut feeling?
  • And much more…

Like this show? Please leave us a review here — even one sentence helps! Consider including your Twitter handle so we can thank you personally!

(Download Episode Here)
(Subscribe to the Podcast Here)
Worksheet for this Episode

Violence is built into the human mind. Try to imagine the most grisly way of being violated by another human being; since you’re able to contemplate it in the first place, it’s likely been done to someone — or maybe even many people — in the past. It’s part of human nature.

The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence author and MOSAIC Threat Assessment Systems developer Gavin de Becker joins the show to discuss his decades of experience in protecting people at every level — from the top levels of government to victims of spousal abuse.

Listen to this episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show in its entirety to learn more about why we should consider the unsolicited promise a red flag, the difference between worry and fear, how predators work with the word “no” as part of their psychological strategy, how “no” is perceived differently depending on who’s saying it, how intellect can work against us in the heat of the moment, how we can calibrate our intuition with the easy Rule of Opposites exercise, the most important thing we can do to cut potentially threatening people out of our lives, the intimidation versus threats distinction, why threat is not the same thing as risk, and lots more. This is part one of a two-part episode. Make sure to catch part two here! Listen, learn, and enjoy!

Please Scroll down for Featured Resources and Transcript!

Sign up for Six-Minute Networking — our free networking and relationship development mini course — at!

Staring at digital screens hurts your eyes. Felix Gray‘s blue light glasses help! Find out how this designer eyewear filters out blue light and keeps your eyes healthier. Try Felix Gray glasses risk-free for 30 days by going to!

Oura Ring is a sleep and activity tracker that measures the physiological signals of your body, understands your lifestyle, and guides you to make your own optimal daily choices. Find out more by going to and get $30 off your new Oura Ring for a limited time!

Does your business have an Internet presence? Save up to a whopping 62% on new webhosting packages with HostGator at!

Fiverr has a mission to change how the world works together by connecting businesses with freelancers offering digital services in 250+ categories. Whether you’re looking for new copy and a design for your website or a voicemail message in an exotic accent from a faraway land, Fiverr can deliver at a price you can afford. Go to and use code JORDAN at checkout to get 10% off!

Are you trying to hire the right person for your business, but the best candidates keep slipping away? Let ZipRecruiter — the fastest way to hire great people — help you screen only the best at!

The James Altucher Show brings you into the lives of peak-performers: billionaires, best-selling authors, rappers, astronauts, athletes, comedians, actors, and world champions! Check it out here! (Or wherever you prefer listening to podcasts in your ear-holes!)


If you enjoyed this session with Gavin de Becker, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:

Click here to thank Gavin de Becker at Twitter!

Click here to let Jordan know about your number one takeaway from this episode!

And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at

Resources from This Episode:

Worksheet for this Episode

Transcript for Gavin de Becker | The Gift of Fear Part One (Episode 329)

Jordan Harbinger: [00:00:03] Welcome to the show. I’m Jordan Harbinger. As always, I’m here with my producer Jason DeFillippo. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world’s most brilliant people, and turn their wisdom into practical advice that you can use to impact your own life and those around you. We want to help you see the Matrix when it comes to how these amazing people think and behave, and we want you to become a better thinker if you’re new to the show. We’ve got episodes with spies and CEOs, athletes and authors, thinkers and performers, as well as toolboxes for skills like negotiation, body language, persuasion, and more. So if you’re smart and you like to learn and improve, then you’ll be right at home here with us.

[00:00:41] Today on the show, another one from the vault, my friend Gavin de Becker is back on the show. Gavin has been the head of security for folks like Oprah and Jeff Bezos. He’s one of the most respected people in the security industry globally. Gavin is also the author of The Gift of Fear, which is simply amazing and extremely popular book for the past few decades on the subject of fear — why fear exists and how we can use it as a tool instead of, well, just being afraid of it or avoiding it. We’ll rediscover our intuition and how it developed and evolved and how it can help keep us alive if we actually listened to it. We’ll learn how to hone our sixth sense for danger. Something I didn’t think was possible, and we’ll discover and observe the warning signs of abusers, con man, and other predators so we can avoid them and help our friends and loved ones do so as well. This show accidentally morphed into a toolbox for safety here on The Jordan Harbinger Show, especially for our show family sisters out there. So make sure you share this with everyone you love and help keep them safe. This is a fascinating episode and could potentially save your life or the life of someone you love. 

[00:01:49] If you want to know how I managed to book all these great folks, my network is massive. I keep in touch with hundreds — probably thousands of people — using systems and tiny habits, so it doesn’t take hours every week. Check out our Six-Minute Networking course, which is free over at Now that we’re all dug in for COVID-19, now is the best time to be doing these drills because they don’t require going out and seeing people. They can all be done from your phone in a few minutes a day, And by the way, most of the guests on the show actually subscribed to the course and the newsletter. So come join us and you’ll be in great company. Now, here’s Gavin de Becker. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:31] You’ve designed a training system for the government to predict violence. And I was curious about why and how that works. I mean, obviously, people need to be able to predict violence, but is it body language? Is it nonverbal communication? This is something that seems like you’re one of the pioneers in this field, so it’s one of the reasons we’re excited to talk to you here.

Gavin de Becker: [00:02:50] Well, I designed a system called MOSAIC, which is a computer-based threat assessment system that is basically a method for how you approach making threat assessments. Just like a word program, it doesn’t write your book for you, but it does facilitate you to write the book or computer-aided engineering does not design a jet, but it facilitates the design of the jet. The MOSAIC system helps people to know what questions to ask about a situation, and it gives them a range of possible answers.

[00:03:17] I’ll give you a fast example. There’s a MOSAIC system for assessing which spousal abusers will escalate to homicide, and there’s one for assessing which school threateners will actually carry out threats. So if you ask a question like, “Does the person have a gun?” Old strategies had people saying, “Yes-No”, kind of a yes-no checklist. It’s either present or it’s not present. But our MOSAIC system provides a range of optional answers because there is a range in human behavior. So for example, you might have someone who owns a gun for defensive purposes in their house. That’s a lot different from somebody who just bought a gun yesterday and that’s a lot different from somebody who has 30 guns. And so what MOSAIC does is give you this range and when dealing with human behavior, including just you and I doing assessments of people we know. It’s not practical to say, “Describe this movie that you saw last night,” by saying, “It’s either the best movie I ever saw or the worst I ever saw.” That’s not a sufficient range. And so old threat assessment systems that just were a checklist of whether certain features were present or not present are not really what MOSAIC is, and that is artificial intuition. It’s a method that brings the evaluator’s intuition to the table and organizes it in a way that can be replicated over and over again. And when you do that with a thousand cases, you begin to see patterns of human behavior. Spousal homicide cases, for example, are not that different one to the next and public figure attack cases are not that different one to the next when you have enough of them to absorb information from, 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:48] This makes a lot of sense. Well, first of all, you end up with no system, or you have the old system which is binary, which then results in so many false positives that it becomes useless at some point. You’ve got to have the shades of nuance. If you’re getting false negatives, that’s terrible, but getting false positives just causes you to ignore actual positives.

Gavin de Becker: [00:05:06] It’s very true. And if you think about how we do any assessment of anything, you require a foundation of knowledge. For example, you could say to me, “Gavin, there’s a great restaurant. I know you’ll love it,” and recommend the restaurant to me, but you can’t know I love it unless you answer a few basic questions. Do I like a live band in a restaurant or do I hate it? Happens to be hate. Do I like to sit near it or far away from it? Do I like quiet? Do I like options on the menu? Do I like fresh food or cooked food? There are so many things you would have to know, but if you learned all of those things you interviewed me in effect about restaurants now you could make a recommendation to me that would be valid because you would have jumped through those various hoops. And predictions of violent behavior are not substantively different from predictions of any other kind of behavior. You need a base of knowledge about the ways that people behave and what factors are in their life. I gave you the example of a gun. Just owning a gun — when you recognize that hundreds of millions of people do — that’s not enough to put you over or under with regard to a safety evaluation. There are so many other factors that are more unique. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:09] You mentioned that the MOSAIC system brings in the evaluator’s intuition. That almost presupposes that we’re currently ignoring our own intuition. Is that accurate? I mean, reading the book, The Gift of Fear, it seems like we’ve deprogrammed ourselves when it comes to listening to our intuition entirely, and that’s what leads us into a lot of trouble. 

Gavin de Becker: [00:06:29] It’s true. And I think systems in general — you know, systems are not human. So systems of government are not human. They are a reflection of human choices made at some time in the past. They don’t evolve organically and they don’t change organically. And so if you think of a bureaucracy setting up standards for how human behavior will be assessed, it’s missing a key feature, which is human intuition. And what MOSAIC has tried to do is create in fact artificial intuition, much like there’s artificial intelligence and to do so by weighing thousands of cases where we know the outcome — meaning we know whether it escalated to violence or it didn’t, and then making that information available to the person doing the assessment. And indeed, we want that person’s intuition to be part of the assessment. And we also want to inform that person’s intuition by teaching a few things.

[00:07:20] So for example, I could say to you that people who make threats to public figures rarely act on those threats — meaning the people who attack public figures are not the same people who threaten public figures. Just knowing that which could feel counterintuitive would change your assessment because you would now say, if the guy says, “I’m going to kill you on Tuesday,” written to the governor of some state, that that actually reduces the likelihood of that person acting out in a threatening manner. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:46] Really, that’s interesting. And yeah, like you said, counterintuitive. I noticed in the book, there’s a little factoid here that I thought was fascinating. Dogs are really great at reading us, and every dog owner knows this, but they don’t have better intuition that reads other people. They’re just really good at reading us. We’re just really, really bad at reading ourselves.

Gavin de Becker: [00:08:04] Yes, that’s true. A dear friend of mine told me the story about firing her general contractor on a project. She was doing a renovation at her house and she did it because the dog didn’t like the general contractor, and I clarified for her that the dog is reacting to her reactions to the general contractor and she doesn’t need the middleman or the middle dog in that case. She can go direct to her own intuition and not have to lay it off onto an animal, which is not particularly well-informed about whether a contractor should charge you 15 percent or 20 percent on top of his costs, or whether it should be tied-in material or how the contract should be written. That’s for human beings to work at, but we do tend to invest in other people and other beings like dogs, a greater intuition. Now, there is something the dog has that’s enormously valuable and that is the dog has less than we do. It is not bothered by the way it could be or should be or ought to be or used to be. The dog doesn’t evaluate any of that. The dog just sees what is right in front of him. And if we could do that, more people would be a lot safer. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:09:09] Right. So essentially they have less cognitive bias and things like that that they’re subject to because they’re not thinking, “It would be really impolite for me to bark at this guy for seemingly no reason,” or, “It could be mistaken as a racist for barking at this type of person,” or something like that. They don’t do that. They just react. 

Gavin de Becker: [00:09:25] That’s true. The whole business of thought is much different from the business of intuiting or perceiving. When you perceive something accurately, there’s not a lot of thought involved. You walk outside, it’s cold. You know it. You know it in yourselves. When you think about it being cold then begins, the mental chatter then begins, “Well, it’s not as cold as it was in London.” “Well, I should have brought another coat.” “Well, I wonder if it’s going to get colder or warmer.” “Well, I shouldn’t be reacting to the cold this way if I’m going to live in New York City.” All this should come into the thought process. And that’s very far removed from the basic perception of cold. And what I’m trying to encourage people to do is get back to their basic perceptions and intuitions and less in the process of horizontal thinking. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:10:07] Right, so it’s almost like the thought process gets in the way of the intuition process, or maybe just screams a lot louder than the intuition can. 

Gavin de Becker: [00:10:17] Well, it’s true that it gets in the way, and it really depends — you know, you can think of it as the volume adjustment on a radio in which — do you turn up more or less the radio or yourself? And what I’m encouraging people to do is turn up their own perceptions and intuitions so that the other voices in our head, which are the cultural voices and PC — political correctness — voices which I despise, which are kind of productive to safety and to a general free life. So if you turn up the voice on your own intuition and honor yourself first before you honor the predator who’s trying to trick you into something, before you honor the advertiser who’s trying to sell you something, before you honor the politician who’s trying to get a vote, you honor your own direct, immediate intuitive process first. Oh man, we would all be happier. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:02] Yeah. And safer of course as well. You say in the book that the intuition process works, it just doesn’t work as well as the denial process, which I assume the denial process is some combination of what you just mentioned, PC, rational thought, manners, social programming and things like that.

Gavin de Becker: [00:11:19] Yes. And the big element of denial is that you can try to make it the way you wish it could be or the way you think it should be. Interestingly, in that whole book, The Gift of Fear, I think the word should appear only twice. In both times, it is in a sentence with somebody else saying it. I don’t use the word at all in any prescriptive way such as, “You should do this,” or “People should do that.” The word should always invites the question according to whom. I try to remove that word from my thinking and encourage other people to remove it from there because it doesn’t really matter how things should be. It only matters how it is and how it is in terms of reality, in this moment. I’m now talking about safety. And reality is the highest ground you can get to. That’s the place where you can see what’s coming. If you modify reality by changing it to, “Well, it shouldn’t be this way.” “I don’t like it to be this way. I want it to be another way.” You’re basically not seeing what is 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:15] Right. So we then end up ignoring danger because we’re programming/building ourselves to see what we want to see instead of what is.

Gavin de Becker: [00:12:24] That’s true. I interviewed a woman who was coming out of her apartment, and as she turned to lock the door, put the key in to lock the door, and she felt some hand on her shoulders. She whipped around in a hurry and she saw a man wearing a ski mask and it was a hot day, and the first thought that she had was, “I guess he’s going skiing somewhere.”

Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:43] Oh man. 

Gavin de Becker: [00:12:44] Fortunately, the thought didn’t matter because she had already. Pushed herself backwards and pushed this man over the second-story railing of her apartment building down into the courtyard below. And the point being that this is clearly a predator. There’s no good reason to be wearing a ski mask when you approach somebody and shock them by being very close by in them. But the first thought was a failed thought. It didn’t help her safety. Thankfully, she had already acted, and that’s what intuition can do if we encourage it and let it happen, it’ll just act.

Jason DeFillippo: [00:13:18] You’re listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Gavin de Becker. We’ll be right back. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:22] This episode is sponsored in part by Felix Gray. We’re all looking at a lot of blue light these days. We always do, but now that we’re stuck inside for a lot of us — much more phones, tablets, computers, TVs — all that has a blue light that strains your eyes. I’ve been wearing glasses/goggles to block blue light for a while. Bright screens in a dark room, watching TV, working on a computer in bed at night, checking out at Zara. There’s all these huge led displays. Blue light can give you headaches. It can give you blurry, dry eyes, trouble sleeping. It definitely screws with deep sleep. If you are watching your phone screen, Netflix, whatever, late at night, it can lower the production of melatonin, which is a hormone that regulates sleep. So go and grab you some Felix Gray glasses. These things filter out 90 percent of blue light in the most damaging range. Eliminate 99 percent glare through their magic-powered lenses. They’ve got great high-quality glasses. They look good. They don’t look well. I was going to use an adjective here that’s not very flattering. They look good. I’ll leave it at that. You can get prescription versions and non-prescription versions readers. You can order them online. They’re shipped to you directly with a hard case and a lens cloth. Try them for 30 days, Risk-free. Felix Gray glasses are like sunscreen for your eyes. Jason. 

Jason DeFillippo: [00:14:38] Go to for the absolute best quality blue light filtering glasses on the market. That’s Do what Jordan did and start taking care of your eyes. Feel better and work smarter. Shipping and returns are totally free at Felix Gray,

Jordan Harbinger: [00:15:01] This episode is also sponsored by Oura Ring. I love this thing. It’s a fitness and sleep tracker, but it’s a ring and it just looks like a regular freaking ring. It’s not a giant beast. It’s so much more accurate than the things you wear on your wrist. You know, like watches. If you want to increase productivity, stay energized, strengthen your relationships, it’s the key, man. It really is — having that good REM sleep, having that good deep sleep. Oura Ring changes the game on sleep. It attracts the key signals from your body while you sleep. Delivering some critical insights. I’ve changed a lot of my sleep patterns. It’s better on your finger because your pulse is a hundred times stronger than it is on the back of your wrist and Oura Ring tells you when to move. It tells you how you slept. It tells you what kind of activity you’re going to be good for that day based on how you’ve recovered, rested, slept, et cetera. I love this thing. It’s been a game-changer. Jen got one. Jason, I know you’ve got one. Tell them where to get a discount on the ordering. 

Jason DeFillippo: [00:15:55] If you want to positively impact your life and hack your body head to That’s and get $30 off your new Oura Ring for a limited time. That’s

[00:16:12] Thanks for listening and supporting the show and to learn more and get links to all the great discounts you just heard from our amazing sponsors, visit And don’t forget, we have a worksheet for today’s episode so you can make sure you solidify your understanding of the key takeaways from Gavin de Becker. That link is in the show notes at If you’d like some tips on how to subscribe to the show, just go to Subscribing to the show is absolutely free. It just means that you get all of the latest episodes downloaded automatically to your podcast player so you don’t miss a single thing. And now back to our show with Gavin de Becker. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:16:51] Does everyone have intuition? This might sound like a stupid question, but are we all actually born with a sense of intuition and is everybody equally intuitive? 

Gavin de Becker: [00:17:00] Well, putting the side, you know, autism and various things that affect mental processing. Everybody with a normal functioning mind and body system does have intuition. And what we have in varying degrees is our willingness to honor it and listen to it and learn about it. But otherwise, yes, we all have it and we all have it in great measure. It’s our most extraordinary mental and physical process. And I say mental and physical because the stomach lining, as an example, has 100 million neurons. 100 million thought cells, that’s more neurons than there are in a dog’s brain. We have it in just our stomach lining. And so when you hear the word, our gut, you know, I had a gut feeling, it’s a very accurate description of what’s going on. And these two brains in the gut and in the skull communicate with each other through the body. So the whole mind-body system delivers intuition to you, which is knowing without knowing why. Knowing without having to stop all the letters from A to Z on the way, just getting from A to Z automatically. So I think everybody has it. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:18:03] I got to tell you, one of the reasons that I was really keen on having you come on the show is — and my listeners have heard this story in pieces at various points in time — 16 years ago when I was 20. I got into a taxi cab in Mexico City. It was 2000 I was 20 years old and it turned out to be a fake taxi and the guy was driving me further and further away from my destination further and further away, and my brain went through this process, which you’re very familiar with here. It said, “No, it’s probably going to be fine. I know he said he was going to ask for directions, but he’s a cabbie. He should know that. No, no. There’s got to be some other rational explanation for why we’re driving further away from a really popular destination, the presidential palace in the middle of town, so it is kind of like a cabbie not knowing where the White House is in D.C. No, no, no, no, no, no. But I mean, I’ve never been kidnapped before, so that can’t be what’s happening.” And then I remembered some guy on Oprah in 1994 or something like that when I was a kid sitting there with my mom who said never go to the secondary location. And I only realized a decade and a half later when reading the book, The Gift of Fear that that was you.

Gavin de Becker: [00:19:08] Well, Jordan, I’m so glad to hear that story and that makes my day. That means a lot to me, particularly as I’m about to hear, I hope, how well you prevailed because I know we’re here having the conversation so you did well. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:19:19] Exactly. I’m sitting in this cab — you know when you pick the plastic part off of a lock on an old car or the metal part, it falls below the flush threshold of where the window is, so you can’t grab it. It’s impossible. Both of his rear doors had that, and so I just thought, “This is a really weird set up for a cab too. Well, it’s an old car.” And I kept going through that and then I’ve thought to myself, “Am I making excuses that are going to get me in trouble?” And then I realized, “Well, I have no time to think about this,” because my resolution at that point was, “Well, I’ll just wait and see because wherever we go then I can decide what to do.” And I remembered never to go to the secondary location. So what ended up happening was we stopped outside of what probably was the secondary location, and I put my arm between him and the door and I slid behind the driver’s seat and he reached over towards the glovebox and I grabbed him and threw him back to his seat because I figured he had a knife or a gun in there or something. And that’s when he made a fast one for the door, not knowing that my arm was right there and I ended up having to choke him, smother him. And throw him out of his own car, crawl through the front seat, push him out of the car. I couldn’t drive a stick shift, especially not one from 1968 with a tricky clutch and shifter. I took the keys out through him and ran what seemed like 10 miles and probably was really two or three miles. And so I ended up essentially at the secondary location, but not chained in a basement and definitely a lot safer having done that. I mean, there were a couple of possible outcomes. The easiest one, which is a couple of guys are going to get in the car and run me around to ATM until my card stops working and the worst-case scenario, which is a slow, painful death in the middle of nowhere outside Mexico City. 

Gavin de Becker: [00:20:52] Well, it’s a great story, and certainly though you might’ve ended up at that location, you did not end up under someone’s malevolent control. You clearly established by your behavior that you just described to me, the most important message that a target can ever express to a predator is I am not your victim. And so by not being an easy target and by getting out of the car and by distancing yourself and all the things that you did — congratulations because I know you’ve prevailed and I never deconstruct these things later and say to people, you should have done this or that. It sounds like all the moves you made are right and the only takeaway that you have is that in the future you’ll short circuit the time that’s used up for the internal conversation.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:21:34] Right, now it’s a much quicker conversation and I’ve definitely had similar conversations with myself where I find myself going, “Well, it’s probably fine because,” and then I go, wait a minute, “I’m just making an excuse to keep myself short-term inside my comfort zone,” because taking drastic action like rolling out of a speeding car is not comfortable. So you kind of want to be damn sure. But the problem is in waiting to be sure you end up waiting 20 minutes longer. Looking back on it, I knew what was going down miles ago when I was in that car. I just waited and waited and waited because it was easier short term to bury my head in the sand and not listen to my intuition, which said, “Red alert, this is really, really bad.” It was easier short term to go, “Oh, come on. What are the odds that this is going to happen?” Especially given, and this occurred to me years and years later. You’re only really basing your actions on your previous experience. So if you’ve never been kidnapped, chopped up and murdered, you think, “Well, the odds are pretty slim. It’s never happened to me before and I’ve been on this planet for 20 years.” You don’t have a frame of reference. And when you talk to guys, military personnel and things like that that have been snatched up, they have a completely different response to this because they’ve already had that close call. And it’s a similar response to what I would have now, which is much quicker — I would like to think than it was 16 years ago. 

Gavin de Becker: [00:22:48] It’s all true, and you had the benefit as well of some message in your head from that Oprah Show, for example. It gave you a different way of looking at the situation. I don’t agree that we base our behavior only on that, which we’ve experienced before. We base our denial on that for sure, but we, human beings, unlike virtually every other animal in nature, we have the resource of being able to learn from other people’s mistakes.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:23:13] Right. That does make sense. I think it really was just — well, it’s never happened to me before, so I can feel safer ignoring this because I don’t have an experience that says anything contrary to it. However, there was a point at which my brain said, “Remember that guy on Oprah? Oh yeah. That’s what’s happening right now. Knucklehead. Get with the program.” And that’s exactly what got me over that edge. But it took a while. I mean, I don’t have an exact timeline, but it was probably good 10 to 15 minutes where I just could no longer ignore it. Thank goodness.

[00:23:41] Tell us about your childhood. I mean, this is something that you witnessed a lot of violence as a kid. Is that what got you into this particular field of study? 

Gavin de Becker: [00:23:50] Probably so. I mean, I obviously was in the field of study as a kid and not just me. Millions of kids who’ve had experiences with parents and others who have been violent are learning to assess human behavior with a few more variations than kids who haven’t had experiences with violence. And I was doing at 10 years old, much the same as what I do today in terms of putting together the features and the characteristics that I considered to be pre-incident indicators, the indicators that violence was coming. And I say not just me because you can imagine millions of kids whose fathers, for example, are violent when they drink, who see coming home from work and popping that beer can and can predict it’s going to be one of those days or it’s going to be one of those nights. Kids become experts in predicting the behavior of the adults around them. 

[00:24:38] I was no different. And we had a particularly challenging time. My mother was a heroin addict. We were on welfare. We had a lot of bad folks around that you wouldn’t normally choose to have around your kids. The kids learned a lot about predicting human behavior and learned about the stakes of being wrong and absolutely, my childhood contributed enormously to what I grew up to do. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:24:59] How can we then, without having our own horrific childhood or anything like that, of course, how can the average Jane and the average Joe sharpen our intuition? Or is that something that doesn’t happen? Is it a matter of uncovering it rather than honing it. 

Gavin de Becker: [00:25:12] Really a matter of uncovering it rather than honing, and that’s a good way of putting it. There’s a story of Michelangelo who was asked by somebody, “How can you sculpt David?” And he says, “You get a piece of marble and you remove everything that isn’t David.” So the same thing here, you have the intuition, the resources there, and it’s a matter of learning and being open to learn, that it has value and works and is effective in a culture that is trying to sell you services and ideas. Governments are trying to sell you the idea that only they can keep you safe. Police department is the same thing. Corporation is the same thing. You need what they have to sell. You need what they offer. It’s a rare message that says you have everything you need already when it comes to your own safety. No politician is going to be present with you in that underground parking lot or that corridor leading to your apartment. No policeman is going to be present with you. You’ll be there and you have everything you need if you’ll listen to it.

Jason DeFillippo: [00:26:12] You’re listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Gavin de Becker. We’ll be right back after this. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:17] This episode is sponsored in part by HostGator. Let me guess. You’ve been wanting to build a website for a while, but you’ve been putting it off because it’s hard, tedious, and makes you feel dumb when you’re trying to figure it out. I totally get that. I’ve spent hours on the phone with my smart friends yelling, “What is semantic markup at 3:00 a.m.?” More times than I would like to admit until, of course, I discovered HostGator. HostGator is an unbelievably easy and convenient website building service. It offers drag-and-drop features, one-click WordPress installs, and an easy to use control panel. It’s basically the layman’s technological paradise. And not only do they make website building accessible and simple, HostGator offers a ton of awesome perks — unlimited email addresses, unlimited bandwidth, and disc space along with free SSL certificates, advertising credit, and WordPress blog tools. That’s like the digital version of an awesome swag bag. Plus, if you’re anything like me and you need someone to walk you through this stuff over the phone, HostGator offers customer support to make sure you get the exact website that you want 24/7 365 — even my own family is not available that often. And if it’s still not quite what you had in mind, you get a 45-day money-back guarantee, no questions asked. Just go to to get up to 62 percent off hosting plans.

[00:27:30] This episode is also sponsored by Fiverr. I love this website. This is really easy to use. It’s hard to explain in some ways, but it’s kind of a one-off, “Hey, I need somebody to do this task.” I don’t want to hire an employee to do it. I also don’t want to screen a virtual assistant overseas just to do some simple stuff, graphic design, any sort of freelancing mini-tasks like, “Can somebody please tell me how to set up this website?” “Can somebody please tell me how to set up this software?” Jason, you use Fiverr. 

Jason DeFillippo: [00:27:57] Yes, I do. I actually have about 2000 TIFF files that I need to upload to Google photos but they don’t take TIFF files. So I called somebody on Fiverr and said, “Hey, can you convert all of these to high-res JPEGs for me and rename them the way I want them?” And they’re like, “Sure. Here’s my quote.” And I send them a hard drive and I got all my files back and all done. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:18] That’s really cool. So lots of these little one-off things that you didn’t think you could probably outsource, but you totally can. Copywriting, graphic design, converting 2000 — how many thousand TIFF files?

Jason DeFillippo: [00:28:29] Several thousand, yeah. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:31] Film editing, video editing, and you search by service deadline, price, reviews, 24/7 customer service. What I like is since you’re searching for the discrete task, you don’t get a surprise invoice three weeks later like, “Oh, well, you asked me to do this other thing.” It’s like, “No, no, no.” You pay upfront, done and done. So tell them where they can get a discount on Fiverr and check out what they can outsource here. 

Jason DeFillippo: [00:28:51] Take five and check out and you’ll get 10 percent off your first order by using our code JORDAN. It’s very, very easy. Don’t waste any more time and get the service you deserve by going to and use code JORDAN. Fiverr, it starts here and don’t forget that extra R.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:12] This episode is also sponsored in part by ZipRecruiter. Hiring is challenging. I think we all know this. There’s one place where you can go where hiring is simple, fast and smart, and that places ZipRecruiter sends your job to over a hundred of the web’s leading job sites. It uses powerful matching technology to scan thousands of resumes to find the right people with the right experience and invite them to apply to your job. And you can add screening questions now to your job listing so you can filter candidates and focus on the best ones. ZipRecruiter is so effective — four out of five employers who post on ZipRecruiter get a quality candidate within the first day. Jason. 

Jason DeFillippo: [00:29:47] And right now to try ZipRecruiter for free, our listers can go to That’s, ZipRecruiter, the smartest way to hire.

[00:30:03] Thank you for listening and supporting the show. Your support of our advertisers keeps us on the air. To learn more and get links to all the great discounts you just heard so you can check out those amazing sponsors, visit and don’t forget the worksheet for today’s episode. That link is in the show notes at If you’re listening to us in the Overcast player, please click that little star next to the episode. We really appreciate it. And now for the conclusion of our episode with Gavin de Becker. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:33] Now did we get intuition from evolution precisely so that we can figure this type of thing out? It’s self-preservation. I mean, you right in The Gift of Fear that we do a lot of modeling or we have the ability to model other human beings for reasons of safety and the ability to predict their behavior. Can you flush that out a little bit? I thought that was pretty fascinating.

Gavin de Becker: [00:30:52] Well, a couple of thoughts come to mind. One is that the word itself, intuition, the root of it is in tueri and it means to guard and to protect. So think about that. Here’s a word we’ve all used all our lives, and you come to learn that the word actually means to guard and to protect, and that’s what it can do for us if we listened to it. And did it come from evolution? Certainly. It’s a far higher thought process than the thought process of logic, for example, which gets a lot more favorable attention in Western society. It is a process of the mind and body and it is there to serve us if we’re interested, and it has various messengers that it sends out to get our attention.

[00:31:33] So one messenger might be curiosity, and I’d say, “Hey Jordan, I’m curious, have you ever been in the Middle East?” And you might say, “Yes,” or, “No.” Have you been, by the way? 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:31:41] I have, yes. 

Gavin de Becker: [00:31:43] Okay, so that was curiosity, something curiosity — something inclined me to ask that question with the assumption that it would be, yes.

[00:31:50] Then there’s suspicion and suspicion has a very bad rap, meaning it’s bad if I’m suspicious of somebody. People think it’s harming them in some way, but suspicion, the root of that word, suspicere means simply to watch. It is curiosity with the added instruction to watch. That’s all it means. So that’s another intuitive signal. We’ve talked now about curiosity and suspicion. 

[00:32:13] Another one and the one nobody can ignore is fear. That’s the one that really gets your attention and it calls you very loudly because it’s highly uncomfortable to almost intolerable to experience fear and not respond to it because it’s such an overpowering feeling. I’m not talking about anxiety or worry, but real fear that you’re in the presence of danger. That’s a very strong signal that you get from intuition. So all these ways in which it communicates with you, those are ways that we want to learn so you can react far earlier than fear. You can react when it’s just curiosity like you and the taxi cab in Mexico City is like, “Hey, is this the way to go? Is this the right route? Geez, it seems like we’re getting farther from population areas.” That’s curiosity at first. Then comes suspicion. This guy’s removed the lock operators on the doors and then quite a bit down the road comes fear. All of them are resources, but the big one, the one that’s a gift that every animal in nature lives by –notice I said lives by and not dies by his fear. Because fear is there, a signal in the presence of danger. There’s nobody who wouldn’t want it. If you have a reason to feel fear, please send me the signal. Don’t leave me to be the only guy who doesn’t know what’s going on. And even though there’s nobody who doesn’t want it, people seek to talk themselves out of it.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:33:25] Let’s start applying these concepts. I’d love to learn how some of us can tell maybe some initial signs, maybe some of that initial curiosity or suspicion of controlling people of violent people that we might come across, especially in relationships. A lot of female listeners of the show write in with kind of crazy stories that are a lot scarier than the ones guys have. Guys have similar stories too, but they tend to be the exception. A lot of female fans have at least one kind of scary or really scary story. I’d love to talk about how we might be able to read people a little bit based on their behavior. 

Gavin de Becker: [00:33:58] Well, the first thing I want to share is that behavior is one half of the equation and situation is the other half. In other words, where is this behavior happening and do I have vulnerability here? I don’t like political correctness at all. I don’t like anything which seeks to control speech and discourage authenticity and speech, whatever one’s feelings are. So I’ve rebranded those two letters — PC and I call them privacy and control. And if somebody has you in an environment that’s private, your apartment, your car, and they have control over you, either by virtue of persuasion or by virtue of force or size or strength, which also persuades you to believe that you have to listen to what someone says. If you’re in a situation where there’s PC privacy and control, that by itself is a reason to simply check and confirm that it’s all right.

[00:34:47] Example, you’re driving with your kind, loving boyfriend. He has a situation that affords privacy and control. He’s operating the vehicle. He’s bigger than you are, but it’s a non-issue. Because when you ask yourself the question, “Is this okay?” The answer is yes. This is okay. You’re driving with your driving instructor who you’ve known and you’ve been driving with a whole bunch. You feel okay about it. You’re driving with a taxi driver who’s giving you no reason to feel otherwise. You feel okay about it. But if you ask yourself before you ask about the behaviors that indicate violence may be likely that you asked first about the situation you’re in, and that’s where this privacy and control equation comes in.

[00:35:23] Now talking about the behaviors, certainly the number one behavior to concern female targets, and that’s just about every woman will be targeted at some time. Not every woman will be a victim, but every woman will be targeted at some time. The number one pre-incident indicator is that someone tries to control you. They try to control where you are, how you are, what you think, how you view the situation, and they try to persuade you that the situation is okay, so as to turn off fear and turn off the other intuitive resources that you have. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:35:53] You mentioned as well in the book, a lot of people become controlling because they need to predict human behavior often because they grew up in a place where that was impossible and inconsistent. So a lot of the people that seek to control are doing so because they had crazy unpredictable childhoods, which as we all know, it’s a cliche that parental issues end up imprinting on us and those people can be abused and turned to become the abuser. 

Gavin de Becker: [00:36:17] Yes, all of that is true and certainly, when you don’t believe that good things will come to you on their own, then the effort to control outcome becomes far more important.

[00:36:26] I want to talk for a moment about two kinds of predators. These are the two broad categories of predators when it comes to human beings. The first is the persuasion predator, and the second is the power predator. The persuasion predator persuades a woman to participate, to be in this environment, to trust him, to go where he wants to go, to do what he wants to do. She is persuaded by him. Now, in fact, she’s persuaded by herself. He just changes the events that are in front of her. The things he says, the things he does, but we tend to persuade ourselves. We go through that internal mental dialogue and we come through it either more comfortable or less comfortable.

[00:37:03] The second kind of predator and far more rare is the power predator. This is someone who just charges that you like a bear and does an actual physical attack. The reason I say he’s far more rare is that the power predator needs an environment in which. You won’t be able to call for help and there aren’t other people around. And so that’s quite a rare kind of person. And the persuasion predator, on the other hand, gets a target to go to a location or remain in a location or stay in someone’s environment when she otherwise wouldn’t want to. So the number one pre-incident indicator of a violent situation is that someone is seeking to persuade you of something or control you, and you don’t want to. Intuitively, you know, you don’t want to, in the moment you do, you start to talk yourself into it.

[00:37:50] For example, there’s a woman that I interviewed recently and she said, whenever she hears herself say, “Well, it’s probably nothing.” That is her indicator that it’s probably something. How bad is it to remove yourself from an environment? It’s not bad. You’re not hurting anybody. You’re not doing anything to anyone. You’re just retreating from the environment that you’re in or getting away from a person that you don’t want to be with at that moment. And there isn’t an animal in nature that would even second guess that for a moment. An animal in nature that says, “Get away from this lion does not say afterwards, well, this is probably a nice lion. Just get away from the lion.” These are the primary pre-incident indicators of which by far the most important one is the feeling, but someone’s trying to make you do something you don’t want to do or be president where you don’t want to be or engage when you don’t want to engage. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:38:34] What is forced teaming? That was one that was in there where I thought, “Oh, I’m writing that down right now. And in fact, it is one of the few that I wrote down from that enormous pre-incident indicator list, which I would love to flush out a little bit. The forced teaming — what is that and why is this something that’s so important to note?

Gavin de Becker: [00:38:49] Forced teaming is a strategy used by predators and other kinds of people in other situations that makes us both feel like we’re in the same situation. For example, we both just missed the bus. So forced teaming is to say, “Hey, we both just missed the bus. Let’s hail down a cab and use it together.” Now, in a bus situation, you actually have both experienced something together. So there actually is a bit of shared experience, but that doesn’t make you a team. And forced teaming is the effort to compel a person to feel like they are a member of a team because we both experienced something at the same time. For example, “I’m late and you’re late. Let’s do something together.” Or, “We’re both going up to the fourth floor. Let’s do it together as a team. Let’s be forced into a situation where you feel that we share this experience commonly.” Now, there are real teams and the key factor of real teams is that everybody chose to be on it. And forced teaming, the key factor is that you didn’t choose to be on it. Somebody who’s trying to make me feel like I’m a team with someone when I didn’t choose to be.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:39:55] Big thank you to Gavin. The book title is The Gift of Fear. Links to everything he does will be on our website in the show notes. By the way, if you buy books, please use our website links if you buy books, it does help support the show. Also in the show notes, there are worksheets for each and every episode, so you can review what you’ve learned here today from Gavin. We also now have transcripts for each episode, and those can be found in the show notes as well.

[00:40:19] I’m teaching you how to connect with great people and manage relationships using systems and tiny habits so it doesn’t feel like a lot of work. It doesn’t take up a lot of time. That’s at our Six-Minute Networking course, which is free over at The problem with kicking the can down the road is that we are not able to make up for lost time when it comes to relationships and networking. The number one mistake I see people make is — well, aside from people who think they know this already — people don’t dig the well before they get thirsty. You have to build your network before you need it, even if it means starting from scratch. Don’t procrastinate and stagnate. Just get this going. The drills take a few minutes a day. I wish I knew this stuff 20 years ago. It’s pretty much been crucial for everything that I’ve done being successful so far here. You can find it all for free at And by the way, most of the guests on the show actually subscribe to the course and the newsletter. So come join us, you’ll be in a smart company. Speaking of building relationships, you can always reach out and/or follow me on social. I’m at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram.

[00:41:22] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. This episode was produced by Jen Harbinger and Jason DeFillippo, engineered by Jase Sanderson, show notes and worksheets by Robert Fogarty, music by Evan Viola. I’m your host Jordan Harbinger. Our advice and opinions, and those of our guests are their own. And yeah, I’m a lawyer, but I’m not your lawyer. I’m sure as heck, not a doctor or a therapist. So do your own research before implementing anything you hear on the show. And remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for this show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting, and this is a great episode to help keep friends and family safe — hopefully, you find that of value and hopefully, you find something interesting in every episode. So please do share the show with those you love. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we’ll see you next time.

[00:42:13] A lot of people ask me which podcasts I listened to, and one of the shows that I find myself listening to regularly is The James Altucher Show. I’ve actually got James here right now. 

James Altucher: [00:42:22] Thanks Jordan. I’m so happy to be here once again on your show. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:42:25] Well, tell me about David Sinclair. This is anti-aging, which is kind of a field riddled with a little bit of BS a lot of the time, a lot of BS all the time, maybe.

James Altucher: [00:42:34] A lot of BS. I’ve had quite a few anti-aging researchers over the past six years on the podcast and David Sinclair, a Harvard researcher, author of Lifespan, founder of a whole bunch of companies is definitely the best source of information. He told me so much about basically his routine and what the latest research is on viewing aging as a disease as opposed to an inevitability. And he recommends so many different things, and he pointed me to so much research. It’s one of the favorite episodes I’ve done, and I’ve done lots with health experts and a lot of peak performance experts and David Sinclair, that episode on aging was really fun to do.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:11] That’s Episode 492 on The James Altucher Show. Thanks, James.

in Podcast Episodes