Jordan (@JordanHarbinger) and Gabe (@GabeMizrahi) take a deep dive into what you should do if you’re looking for a new job or relationship and you want to know how to get your foot in the door — while avoiding the mistakes that are liable to get that door slammed in your face.
What We Discuss:
- How to make sure you’re aligning the job you want to do with the employer who needs you to do it — without wasting everyone’s time in the process.
- Why you should use Ramit Sethi’s Briefcase Technique to anticipate what someone needs before you meet, and up the stakes when it comes time to negotiate terms.
- The best resources to use and questions to ask yourself when you’re doing research on someone in anticipation of a meeting.
- A cold email script you can adapt for your purposes to maximize the chance of landing that crucial meeting.
- How to create a relationship that will generate business for years to come even if your pitch doesn’t close at the first meeting.
- And much more…
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Understanding the value you can provide to a potential employer, client, or partner isn’t enough to create a great role for yourself. You have to understand what the other person needs first. But how do you even start figuring out what those needs entail and how they intersect with your own skill set and interests? Fret not, friend! Jordan and Gabe are going to give you the essentials in this deep dive for getting your foot in the door efficiently and effectively.
In this episode, Jordan and Gabe discuss how you can align the job you want to do with someone who needs you to do it (without wasting anybody’s time in the process), how to use I Will Teach You to Be Rich author Ramit Sethi’s tried and true Briefcase Technique to anticipate what someone needs before meeting with them (and up the stakes with it’s time to negotiate terms), resources to use and questions to ask that will help you pinpoint these needs in anticipation of a meeting (and a cold email script you can use to maximize your chances of landing that meeting), and how to create a relationship with someone even if the meeting doesn’t land as intended so you’ll be the first one they think of when your services are a better fit for their needs. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
To solidify your understanding of these game-changing principles and practicals, make sure to read this episode’s companion article here: How to Get Your Foot in the Door.
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
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Miss our interview with entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and Kernel founder and CEO Bryan Johnson? Catch up with episode 223: Bryan Johnson | A Plan for the Future of the Human Race here!
Miss the show we did with Adam Carolla — best-selling author, comedian, actor, and host of The Adam Carolla Show? Catch up with episode 69: Adam Carolla | Why You Should Stop Trading Time for Money!
Resources from This Episode:
- How to Be Generous When You’re Just Starting Out | Jordan Harbinger
- If You’re “Too Busy” To Respond, You’re Doing Something Wrong | Jordan Harbinger
- The Big Mistake People Make About Networking | Jordan Harbinger
- How to Sell Yourself (Using the Briefcase Technique) | Ramit Sethi
- I Will Teach You to Be Rich: No Guilt. No Excuses. No BS. Just a 6-Week Program That Works by Ramit Sethi | Amazon
- Ramit Sethi | I Will Teach You to Find Your Dream Job | Jordan Harbinger
- Six-Minute Networking
- The Right Way to Listen (And How It Changes Everything) | Jordan Harbinger
629: Getting Your Foot in the Door | Deep Dive
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people. We have in-depth conversations with people at the top of their game, astronauts, entrepreneurs, spies, and psychologists, even the occasional national security advisor, money laundering experts, or economic hitman. And each episode turns our guests' wisdom into practical advice that you can use to build a deeper understanding of how the world works and become a better critical thinker.
[00:00:32] If you're new to the show, or you want to tell your friends about it, we've got episode starter packs. Those are collections of top episodes, organized by topic to help new listeners get a taste of everything we do here on the show. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start to get started or to help somebody else get started.
[00:00:50] Today, instead of an interview, we're doing a deep dive. I'm here with Gabriel Mizrahi. We're talking about how to get your foot in the door, whether we're talking about getting a career started or working with a creator, especially, I'm going to be talking about this from my perspective. And Gabe, I know you get this too but every week, I get at least a couple of emails from strangers asking me for some form of a job, whether it's an actual job or an internship. They want me to be their mentor, whatever that might mean. Usually, they will offer to run my social media, write a guest post for the blog, or my favorite, "Help out with whatever you need, bro." That's my favorite vague, value proposition.
[00:01:30] Gabriel Mizrahi: That's the common one.
[00:01:31] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. There's one time a 23-year-old dude offered to respond to all my hate mail as if I have it all saved neatly in a folder.
[00:01:37] Gabriel Mizrahi: That is a big job, to be fair.
[00:01:39] Jordan Harbinger: Look, that's not a one-man job, first of all.
[00:01:41] Gabriel Mizrahi: Huge stuff.
[00:01:41] Jordan Harbinger: But I told them I didn't need any help with that. Well, I don't want to say it's kind of fun because nobody likes getting a bad letter, but if I get a nasty one, I usually will just archive it. I'm not sitting there, like how do I craft a good response to this? You don't want to feed the trolls. And look on some level, I actually respect these emails, not the hate mails to be clear, but the people asking me for work. I never even had the guts when I was younger to write to a stranger and ask for a job. I just didn't even think about doing it. And if I did think about doing it, I wouldn't have the guts to do it. So I do love that people are willing to create a role for themselves. And I appreciate that people are even trying to be generous when they're first starting out, instead of rolling out of college and being like, "Where my six-figure at?" like half the people in my class, especially from law school.
[00:02:24] But I'm in year 15 of hosting this show and I haven't taken more than I would say, just a tiny handful of people up on this offer and zero of them in the last half decade or more. Not because they weren't nice Gabriel, not because they didn't have useful skills. I'm sure many of them did.
[00:02:42] Gabriel Mizrahi: Sure.
[00:02:42] Jordan Harbinger: And not even because I was too busy to respond or manage them. You know, I didn't hire them because what they were offering was not something I actually needed or they didn't even know what they were offering other than like a warm body with a pulse that could type. And in almost every case, when I tried to tell them what I actually did need, they didn't variably respond with some version of, "Cool. I get that you need someone to help with backend support right now, but you know, I'm really more interested in building your Instagram following." Or I don't even know what I want, that I'm going to trust to somebody that I'm going to hire out of the blue, right? A lot of stuff that I want to outsource, it's like, "I need you to help manage things that I would never trust a stranger with." The only person I trust to do a lot of this stuff around here is somebody that's been with me for half a decade. And even then, like, you know, Gabe, I love you, but y'all, don't have financial logins for the company.
[00:03:32] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yet.
[00:03:33] Jordan Harbinger: Not yet. You're working on it. I know, right, if I click run on the spyware you email me, that looks like a chain letter.
[00:03:39] Gabriel Mizrahi: My ten-year plan is unfolding beautifully.
[00:03:41] Jordan Harbinger: So far so good. I understand that people want to run my Instagram following, but what I might have needed is backend support. Don't write me and ask to do backend support. We don't need any right now. Anyway, it's just an example. But then they'll come back with something like, "Well, that's not really what I'm aiming at." And it's like, "Okay, so you just want me to hire for some crap that you want to do. That's it."
[00:04:00] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right. They're thinking about themselves.
[00:04:01] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:04:01] Gabriel Mizrahi: They're not trying to figure out what you actually feel is a priority.
[00:04:05] Jordan Harbinger: A hundred percent. And this is why they fail to get their foot in the door because these creative job seekers, they've got it all backwards. As you said, focused on what they want to do. It's all about their own interests. It's less about my need and when it is about my need, it's so dang vague that I have to do so much management and heavy lifting that I might as well just do it myself. So instead of getting curious about what somebody else really needs and seeing where that might line up with their interests, it's just, "I've got a preconceived notion of what I want to do. I'm going to do it for you for free, take it or leave it punk." And I'm like, I don't respond to that. Okay.
[00:04:37] So Gabe, let's talk about value and needs. It's really easy for people to stand up there and be like, "Give value." And me, and Ramit Sethi, we talk about this. Because all these like Internet guru guys were like, "Be valuable," and it's like, "Cool. What does that mean?" And they're like, "Catch you on the next edition of my paid training seminar." And it's like, "Okay, that was not helpful at all."
[00:04:57] When a candidate applies to a traditional job posting, you know, like the ones on LinkedIn or monster.com, if that even still exists. When a company lays out exactly what it needs and what the job entails, let's say it's on ziprecruiter.com/jordan, for example, they're applying for a role that explicitly requires their skills. Obviously, it speaks to their interests, okay. And the employer puts out a job description that explains what they need, and the candidate explains why those needs line up with what they can offer. That's how you apply to a normal job. You don't have to rewind that even if you missed it because you know how to apply to a normal stinking job if you're an adult.
[00:05:29] You wouldn't apply to an IT position and be like, "I'm willing to write press releases." You wouldn't insist on doing a Salesforce implementation for a cement company that needs drivers.
[00:05:41] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:05:41] Jordan Harbinger: So the exchange of value is very clear and obvious with traditional jobs. A company needs X, candidate can provide X. They're a good match. If I need a bookkeeper, it's not going to be hard for me to find something. I literally look for bookkeepers. They all do the same thing, give or take, various levels of. But for some reason — and I'm starting to just wrap my head around this a decade and a half in, so you're rolling with me here — but for some reason, when people try to create a role for themselves, they often tend to forget this basic exchange. They look at what they want to do, which makes sense, you're creative, you're a creator. And then they try and push those services on anybody who will freaking reply to an email, which again, like I said, not the worst idea in the world, as long as there's somebody who actually needs those services. Sometimes that approach does work. Sometimes people really do want to grow their Instagram. But usually, because the service in question is so broad like I said, everyone needs a bookkeeper at some point, it's not crazy to pitch your accounting skills to every company you like, every company needs accounting, pretty much.
[00:06:39] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:06:40] Jordan Harbinger: But more often than not, I meet these really awesome go-getter hustler kids or young adults who basically say, "This is what I do. Do you want it?" And that's why in the creative sphere, those people rarely succeed. They want to get that foot in the door, but they don't take the time to study what would actually open the freaking door in the first place or how the door works, which way it swings open, which feet it wants to let through in the first place, right? The velvet rope, if you will. Knowing the value you can provide, it's just not enough to create a great role for yourself. You really have to understand what the other person needs, and that comes first.
[00:07:17] This is the simple thing that a lot of creative job seekers don't get. They've got the ambition. They don't have the job-related EQ to consider what the employer actually wants/needs. And they don't understand that they have to make it about the other person before they can make it about themselves and saying, "I want to grow your Instagram following," is making it about yourself, even though you're using the word you, that's why I think a lot of people get confused. Like, "But I'm talking about your Instagram," No, no, no. It's still all about you and what you want to do.
[00:07:44] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oh, man, that is such a good point. And what's really interesting about what you were saying is that I know you're not just speaking practically here. I mean, look, obviously, it does help to know what an employer needs before you pitch yourself.
[00:07:55] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:07:55] Gabriel Mizrahi: Because yeah, avoid wasting everybody's time, right? You don't want to offer Instagram services to a company that is a mom-and-pop bakery.
[00:08:02] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:08:02] Gabriel Mizrahi: That doesn't need an Instagram presence. But there's something else important about figuring the other person out first, because when you take the time to understand what somebody actually needs before you try to pitch them on what you want, you're also signaling a lot of other stuff, a lot of other valuable qualities, right?
[00:08:18] For example, that you're curious about other people that you're attuned to them, that you're respectful in the first place, right? That you take them seriously. Also that you're approaching this relationship from a position of how can I help, how can I be of service, rather than it from a position of, "I thought a lot about what I want and I'm just trying to figure out somebody will hand me cash so I can do more of that." Really what you're saying is, "I want to treat this as a relationship. I really care."
[00:08:42] All of those qualities, make it way more likely that an employer is going to respond to you and trust you and ultimately be willing to hand you that money in exchange for your services. But that usually doesn't happen for people who only care about their own interests. But the big irony, of course, is that candidates would be serving their own interests much better if they just stopped focusing on them exclusively.
[00:09:04] Jordan Harbinger: Exactly. Yes, that is why it's so important to invest in other people with no immediate expectation of return or no attachment to getting something in return. I talk about that way too much on the show. It's in Six-Minute Networking, but this is why. If your goal is to build strong relationships, you have to be willing to find out what the other person needs, even if that is far different from what you hoped.
[00:09:27] You know, Gabe, this reminds me. Ryan Holiday, who y'all know I'm friends with, told me this story a long time. Initially, he got mentored, if you will, by Robert Greene. They're still really close friends. I know Robert, I think, through Ryan or vice versa—
[00:09:40] Gabriel Mizrahi: Robert Greene, the author of 48 Laws of Power and Art of Seduction, and all those great books.
[00:09:45] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Mastery, Laws of Human Nature. Yeah, he's been on the show a bunch of times. One of the reasons that Ryan was able to work with Robert was not because Ryan emailed and said, "I'm really talented and young, and I want you to mentor me." I mean, I'm sure that's what was in his head, but it turned out that Robert Greene was being — I think his Wikipedia page was being vandalized or something and he couldn't figure out how to fix that. And Ryan was like, "I'm going to figure this out for you." So he went in, kind of did like a tutorial, which is not that easy on Wikipedia, especially, I don't know, 15 years ago Wikipedia. And he managed to fix a bunch of the issues. And then Robert started to become available to Ryan Holiday. I don't have specifics of how they worked together after that, but I think Ryan got his attention and said, "Look, I'm not like a stain on the bottom of your shoe, like a lot of the other people that email, I solved this problem for you that you needed a fix. And didn't sit there and argue about, 'Yeah, I'll do that but first read 300 pages of my writing and critique it.'"
[00:10:37] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:10:38] Jordan Harbinger: You know, like he really did figure out what the problem was and the problem had nothing to do with Ryan. It was, "Why is my Wikipedia page being vandalized by nothing morons online." And the answer is because that's how Wikipedia works. But that's really the idea. Sometimes you have to do something that is different from what you hoped and you may never get really what you wanted exactly, but you will still learn from that person. And it's far more important to be able to get access to somebody than it is to get the job that you think you want at that time.
[00:11:06] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes, that is such — I love that story. That's an amazing story. And actually, the other really funny thing about that story is that knowing how to manage the Wikipedia craziness is probably a really helpful skill for somebody like Ryan Holiday now—
[00:11:17] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:11:18] Gabriel Mizrahi: —but he'd probably didn't know that it would become so handy when he was 20 years old, trying to get a mentor.
[00:11:22] Jordan Harbinger: No, of course.
[00:11:23] Gabriel Mizrahi: It's a really good story. Taking the time to figure out what somebody else needs first, that isn't just about being efficient. It isn't just about being respectful. At the end of the day, it's also about being effective, right? The person who can create that kind of value. That Ryan Holiday story you just told is the person who creates a great relationship. And usually, the relationship generates way more opportunities down the line than your limited, narrow expectation of what you want out of that interaction. But to do that, again, you have to locate your own value within someone else's need. Not try to bend somebody else to your value.
[00:11:55] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that's a really great way to put it, Gabe. I know we keep coming back to that point, but it is so crucial. Like it's so crucial that I think a lot of people, including me when I was younger and less aware of this stuff, most people I would say just overlook it. You almost have to consciously remind yourself of it over and over again. Your side of the equation is right in front of you.
[00:12:13] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:12:13] Jordan Harbinger: Their side of the equation requires you to actually put yourself in their shoes in ways that you don't necessarily have the experience to do so. It's a lot of work.
[00:12:21] You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show. This is our deep dive on getting your foot in the door. We'll be right back.
[00:12:28] This episode is sponsored in part by Squarespace. Why don't you have a website for your personal or professional projects? Are you worried? It might be too distracting from doing the things you do best and you hate the thought of wasting precious time building and maintaining something, that's frankly, not even in your wheelhouse. Don't be a disgrace, try Squarespace. You don't have to know the first thing about tech or the intricacies of web design, because Squarespace covers all of that. So you can focus on the things that are important to you. Like selling, Squarespace has all the tools you need to get your online business off the ground. You can even generate revenue through gated members-only content, manage members, send email communication, leverage audience insights, all in one easy-to-use platform. You can also add online booking and scheduling for classes or sessions to your Squarespace website. These examples don't even scratch the surface of what you can do on Squarespace.
[00:13:13] Jen Harbinger: Give it a try for free at squarespace.com/jordan. Go to squarespace.com/jordan and use code JORDAN to save 10 percent off your first purchase of a website or domain.
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[00:15:08] Now, back to our deep dive on getting your foot in the door.
[00:15:12] So the next time you meet with a prospective employer or a client or a partner to discuss an opportunity, hit pause, and switch your lens. So instead of asking yourself, how can I get this person to give me what I want, ask yourself, how can I find out what they really need? So then, and only then should you pitch your services and that's if you know that they're actually useful and relevant and you've built a foundation of trust. Now, you don't need the keys to their summer home or whatever, but they should know you more than like a guy who just DMed them five minutes ago.
[00:15:45] Alright. All that said, I want to talk about how to actually put this principle into action. So this isn't some abstract self-help quiz you hear on a podcast one time and you forget five minutes later, which brings us to the briefcase technique. And before I go on, I have to give full credit for this technique to Ramit Sethi, a good friend of mine. Ramit, if you don't know, he's a best-selling author. He's the founder of I Will Teach You To Be Rich, which is the title of his book as well. He's been on the show a bunch of times. Brilliant dude. If you're interested in learning more from him, I recommend checking out our interviews, jordanharbinger.com/199, and jordanharbinger.com/464. Really good stuff from him.
[00:16:24] So here's the crux of this approach. Asking an employer what they need is a far more effective strategy than blindly pitching your services. But an even more powerful strategy is to anticipate those needs before you even meet. People who identify what somebody needs before they even talk to them, tend to close deals if you will, or jobs at a much higher rate. They make it about the other person in advance, which automatically puts them farther down the field. This applies to job candidates, vendors, freelancers, artists, temp workers, anyone looking to carve out a role or pitch themselves.
[00:17:02] So here's how the briefcase technique works in a nutshell. Let's imagine that you book a meeting with a prospective employer or a client, and that person has expressed interest in working with you. The nature of your role isn't clear yet, but you know that they want to get to know you and your work better. Great. Before you go to the meeting, you do your homework on the company, the team, the executive you're meeting with. You get a handle on their strengths and goals. This used to be so much harder before the Internet was really a thing. Like researching, somebody at a company was next to impossible. You had to make calls. Now, there's no excuse. So you're getting a handle on their strengths and their goals. You do your due diligence on their weaknesses and challenges, and nobody expects you to have an inside view of the company. Okay. You're just doing your best. Most importantly, you identify the gaps in their capabilities and resources.
[00:17:47] That way, by the time you're sitting across from them, you have a really solid grasp of their challenges, a clear point of view on how to solve them. When the conversation turns to your salary or your rate, you literally pause and go, "Actually, before we get to that, let me show you something I put together." Then you reach into your briefcase, which you probably don't have because it's 2022, but you reach in your messenger bag or your man purse or your laptop case or whatever, sort of non-80's equivalent of briefcase that you prefer, and on Zoom and you literally pull out a brief proposal, probably a PowerPoint.
[00:18:23] This document/pptx is not about your qualifications or your rate, which is what a lot of proposals tend to be, by the way. It looks like an invoice with three sentences about what's going to happen. It's about the challenges you've found in this person's business and specifically how you would solve them. And these solutions they should be laid out as a set of projects and tasks that you would take on. Like testing the company's website conversion, conducting interviews with customers, training staff on new technology, writing and testing new ad copy. Whatever services you can offer that meet their needs and how long it would take you to finish those projects.
[00:19:01] Somebody actually recently gave me a gift of email autoresponders that I should be using in Six-Minute Networking. I didn't end up using them because they were a little too salesy, but it's okay. It wasn't their fault. This person was literally trying to get a job as a copywriter and email sales funnel person for me. So if I were looking to do that, which I totally am, they would've probably crushed it, but they did get right that I didn't have that in place. They just didn't know why and the reason is I don't want it. Not, I just couldn't figure out how to do it. So it was actually probably a good exercise and worth their time, especially if they were getting reps in writing sales copy. So that was like 80 percent there, right?
[00:19:40] But Ramit puts it this way. This document you're busting out, it should be the most compelling menu this person has ever freaking looked at, okay. A list of the problems they know about, and maybe even, ideally, even a few they don't, and a clear plan for how you will solve those problems. And at that point, you invite the other person to let you know which of your services they want the most. And when this is done right — okay, the last time this was done right to me, we were at a restaurant and I walked into the bathroom with my business partner at the time. And he stands next to me, we're going to the bathroom and I go, "I don't think we can afford to not hire this guy." And he goes, "That's exactly what I was thinking."
[00:20:20] Gabriel Mizrahi: Wow.
[00:20:21] Jordan Harbinger: And that's the reaction you want. And we hired this guy and he did a bang-up job. We came in going, "We can't afford to hire him, but he's just pushing for the meeting. We're going to another meeting in his area. Let's just let him get it off his chest. Then we don't have to do this meeting again because he keeps bugging us." Then we just found money to hire him because we were so compelled. That is the reaction that you want.
[00:20:42] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, that is so smart. I mean, what you're basically saying as a candidate is, "I've already taken the time to figure out what you need to get done and the person to do it is me, but not just because of what I'm offering, but because I'm offering it in this amazing way."
[00:20:55] Jordan Harbinger: Exactly.
[00:20:56] Gabriel Mizrahi: It's sort of an example of like the medium is the message a little bit, like you're not just saying, "Here's what I can do. Here's why it's so valuable," but the fact that you're presenting it in such a thoughtful way and being so straightforward and helpful about it is already part of the pitch.
[00:21:10] Jordan Harbinger: This guy was also doing like, this is years and years ago, but it was like old school webinar leads to opt-ins leads to dah, dah, dah sales. He didn't just tell us that, where we would have gone, "Yeah, we'll do that one day." He busted out flowcharts. I remember these among other things and he's like, "Here's a couple of sample emails," I'd probably use, "And you know, we'll tailor them to fit your needs. We'll tailor them to your voice." So this guy comes in with flow charts, the software he's going to use to manage the emails and sample emails. He's half done, more than half done.
[00:21:38] Gabriel Mizrahi: Wow.
[00:21:39] Jordan Harbinger: So that was what blew us away. And it's kind of eerie how well this works, right? That's why I love this technique. I've used it myself when pitching partners, sponsors. I've seen vendors and freelancers use it when pitching me. And I'm always surprised that people don't use it more often since it works so well. But I think the real reason is because it takes a lot of work.
[00:21:58] One of the reasons that the briefcase technique works so well, is that it does embody the principle we've been talking about this whole episode, which is to make it about the other person first, but it also pushes that idea a step further. It doesn't just consider the person's needs, the other person's needs. It actually anticipates those needs, which as long as you're anticipating correctly, that's music to any busy person's ears. Plus it finds a way to fulfill those needs before you even set foot in the room or jump on the phone or Zoom or whatever format you're using. You're basically saying, "I've taken the time. I've put in the effort to really understand where you're coming from because that's the kind of vendor or intern or partner that I am. Now, let me meet you there in a way that also benefits me so we can create even more value and develop a great relationship." And that is exactly the message you want to send when you're trying to get your foot in the door.
[00:22:52] All right. So now that you have the keys to the castle, let's talk about how to put them into practice. And what we're going to talk about next is how you bring the briefcase technique to life and actually create a job for yourself.
[00:23:04] Gabe, where do we even start with these?
[00:23:07] Gabriel Mizrahi: Well, the first step will not be much of a surprise. We've already been talking about it for a lot of this episode. It all starts with doing your homework. So as soon as you identify somebody you want to meet, whether it's for a job or a consulting contract or a partnership, or maybe just a general meeting to get to know somebody, build a relationship. The information you uncover when you do your homework, that's your calling card. It's your reason for reaching out in the first place. It's really your case for making the connection. And at this stage, I definitely recommend using every tool at your disposal. Like Jordan pointed out a moment ago, this was so much harder to do 10, 15, 20 years ago. Now, it's like ridiculously easy. There's really no excuse. In addition to the obvious resources, Google, LinkedIn, sites, like that.
[00:23:49] I recommend getting a little creative, a little scrappy. I'm about to show you how borderline creepy I get when I try to meet somebody I really want to connect with, but I would definitely dig through the fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth pages of search results. Look for hidden gems in the person's life story. You know, like that weird article they published a decade ago about, I don't know, competitive ultimate Frisbee. I feel like that's a real example. I came across one day. I don't know where that came from. People who publish blog posts about volunteer trips to interesting countries or people who have wedding announcements and a local newspaper. All of these things really add a lot of colors. They tell you about a person, what their life situation is, stuff you could talk about, but it also might be stuff you don't talk about. It's just good for you to know.
[00:24:28] Jordan Harbinger: Here's a photo of you sleeping last night.
[00:24:30] Gabriel Mizrahi: I mean that's — I would leave with that personally, walking into a meeting, but you know—
[00:24:34] Jordan Harbinger: blown up to as big as you can fit in the briefcase.
[00:24:36] Gabriel Mizrahi: That's actually my briefcase technique. They asked me what I can do and I just slapped down a photo taken in their bedroom of them.
[00:24:41] Jordan Harbinger: I think he's going to hurt us. Pay him.
[00:24:44] Gabriel Mizrahi: The point is, do not settle for that surface-level information that you get on the first page of search results or social media results, you know, college, hometown work history. Fine. Great. But drill down to the specifics, right? The robotics prize that they won during undergrad. People are weirdly obsessed about robotics prizes for like years after winning them. The interesting neighborhood they come from. The transcript of the talk they gave at that interesting conference, whatever it is. These aren't just topics to bond over in the meeting. They're insights into somebody's personality. And that is super useful to know when you're going to pitch somebody on something you want them to buy.
[00:25:18] So go down the rabbit hole, go down the rabbit hole of their personality, go down the rabbit hole of their industry. Get a good grasp of the trends in their space, the challenges in their space. But another really great thing to do is also to study with their counterparts at other companies are doing. You know, people who have similar titles or in similar functions, check out their LinkedIn profiles, look at what they're posting about what their initiatives are. You can learn a lot about the person you want to meet by studying their equivalent at other places.
[00:25:44] All of that is so valuable. Do that in advance.
[00:25:48] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. And look for — this is probably like networking one-on-one, okay, but look for mutual connections on social media and consider reaching out to them to get more intel on the person you're meeting. I'm connected to a lot of show fans on LinkedIn — you might be one of them out there — and a lot of times I'll get a message like, "Oh Jordan, do you know so-and-so? I'm really interested in this job at their company." And I'll say, "Oh, I'm sorry. I don't know them." And then I'll check my message history. And it turns out they're also a fan of the show. So I'll write back, "Look, I'd have never met them in my life, but they listened to the podcast. So you could use the show as a commonality." Like, "Hey, I saw that, you know Jordan Harbinger. Do you listen to his podcast?" "Yeah." "Oh, what's your favorite episode?" People have done this before—
[00:26:27] Gabriel Mizrahi: Wow.
[00:26:27] Jordan Harbinger: —to small talk their way in which is great, because I would like to think that listening to this podcast signals a great deal of intelligence.
[00:26:35] So I think it's a pretty good luck, but for real easy commonalities, most of the time, you're not going to have a mutual connection to some random podcaster. Those mutual connections do work if you have a great relationship with any of the folks who reach out to. You might even ask them to put in a good word ahead of time. A lot of times it's like, "Oh, that's my college roommate. And I didn't know you were going to apply there."
[00:26:55] If you've never met the person you're writing to a little bit tough to get vouched for, but if you've known that person for a few months, this can put you at the top of the pile. Trust me, I do this all the time. Just one more benefit of having a great network. Sometimes doing this legwork is even an excuse to make a new connection.
[00:27:11] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oh, yeah, totally. I mean, that is a game changer, right? To have a warm introduction before you walk in a room, it can change the entire interaction. But if you can do that and prepare for this meeting, as if you're a student of the person you're going to meet, like you're treating them like the most fascinating subject in the world, then you will probably knock the meeting out of the park.
[00:27:28] And if you want to do that really well, then ask yourself a few questions. And these are questions that Jordan and I have asked ourselves before we try to meet with people. Questions like when this person wakes up in the morning, what are they thinking about? What is exciting them and what is stressing them out? What would make this person's day? Ideally, it's something that you're about to provide. Or what would ruin this person's day? Hopefully, that's something you can offer as a solution. What should this person be thinking about today to plan ahead for, let's say, the next two years, the next three years? Do I know anybody who would be useful for this person to meet? Have I learned anything in my homework that would be really helpful to share?
[00:28:02] These are the questions you want to be asking yourself. And if you answer those questions in depth and I mean, even take a few minutes to write down a few notes for every question, before you go in there, you'll basically be writing your pitch as you go. You will have your notes. You will have your proposal in advance just by going through this exercise. And this is really the substance of the briefcase technique.
[00:28:22] Jordan Harbinger: Yes, but I do want to point out that even if you do all this prep, you still need to approach the person with curiosity and respect. And of course, most people will do this. But the last thing I want is some 22-year-old self-taught controversy marketer telling me that I need to be on Clubhouse every night without figuring out why I am not on Clubhouse already or what benefit that would even have for my business. So many people did that, Gabriel. I'm picking on Clubhouse for a reason. They're like, "It's disrupting podcasting. The rate this is growing. No one's going to even be listening to podcasts and like a year or two." Meanwhile, Clubhouse is down 98 percent. NBD, called it from the jump.
[00:29:00] This is The Jordan Harbinger Show. This is a deep dive on getting your foot in the door. We'll be right back.
[00:29:05] This episode is sponsored in part by Better Help online therapy. A lot of you have written to me and said you're so glad you made the decision to seek a therapist. I know I talked about my story with this. I put mine off for a long time. I had a bunch of excuses. I eventually dove right in because my best friend recommended a great therapist. It had helped me tremendously. Better Help makes it so easy from the privacy and convenience of your home. You can make appointments, do text, phone, video, all easily within the Better Help app. If you're not the type that can verbalize your thoughts and feelings easily, there's also a virtual journal in the app. You can add notes to it and then share those sections with your therapist if you want to. And if you don't like your therapist, and that happens, you can quickly get matched with a new one until you match with a therapist that works for you. Take the first step by signing up and see why over two million people have used Better Help online therapy.
[00:29:49] Jen Harbinger: Our listeners get 10 percent off your first month at betterhelp.come/jordan. That's B-E-T-T-E-R-H-E-L-P.com/jordan.
[00:29:58] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by Progressive. Progressive helps you get a great rate on car insurance, even if it's not with them. They have a comparison tool that puts rates side-by-side, so you choose the rate and coverage that works for you. So let's say you're interested in lowering your rate on your car insurance, visit progressive.com. Get a quote with all the coverage you want. You'll see Progressive's rate and then their tool will provide options from other companies all lined up and easy to compare. So all you have to do is choose the rate and coverages you like. Progressive gives you options so you can make the best choice for you. You can be looking forward to saving money in the very near future. More money for a pair of noise-canceling headphones, maybe an Instapot, or more puzzles, whatever brings you joy. Get a quote today at progressive.com. It's one small step you can do today that could make a big impact on your budget tomorrow.
[00:30:40] Jen Harbinger: Progressive Casualty Insurance Company and affiliates. Comparison rates not available in all states or situations. Prices vary based on how you buy.
[00:30:47] Jordan Harbinger: By the way, you can now rate the show if you're listening on Spotify. This is a huge help. It makes the show more visible on Spotify. Just go to jordanharbinger.com/spotify or search for us in your Spotify app, click the dots on the right to make it happen.
[00:31:01] And now for the rest of the deep dive on getting your foot in the door.
[00:31:05] If you can deliver all of this intel to somebody with sensitivity, humility, self-awareness, yeah, you've almost certainly hit the right note. The next step, obviously, is to reach out and book the meeting.
[00:31:17] Once you've done your homework, then you're well positioned to reach. Most people do the opposite. They book the meeting first. Then, they frantically try to do their homework if they even bothered to do it at all. But remember, we're approaching this whole exchange from the other person's point of view first. The beauty of doing all your homework is that it also maximizes your chances of booking the meeting in the first place.
[00:31:38] I know the temptation is to wait until they've said yes. So you're like, "I'm not wasting my time researching somebody. Who's not even going to meet with me." I get that. But doing your homework, a cold email that's well-researched or even a warm intro that's well-researched that clearly articulates why you want to speak with this person, that will generate a much stronger response. It will also set the ideal tone for the meeting when it does happen.
[00:32:02] And if you want an example of a killer cold email template that uses this approach, I highly recommend checking out the article that we wrote on this topic. I actually adapted that template from cold emails that I've sent or received that worked well in the past. So you're literally getting a battle-tested piece of copy. We'll link to that in the show notes for the email@example.com.
[00:32:24] Anyway, once the person you want to meet engages, then you've gotten a foot in the door. And after that, it's about taking the meeting and tailoring your pitch. Once you're actually in the meeting, your job is to build on the interest and rapport that you've created so far. You're basically trying to dig deeper into what the other person needs, so you can better tailor your proposals to them. This is where the briefcase technique will be your best friend. The best strategy at this point is to ask specific open-ended questions that elicit meaningful response. Listen to what the other person is saying, locate the need or problem within their response, and incorporate it into your picture proposal.
[00:33:01] Now, the listen thing seems really obvious, but I will tell you, you can't locate a need or a problem within someone's response if you're just like, "No, I've got my pitch ready." You have to incorporate these things into your pitch or your proposal essentially in real-time, right? And then make sure that you're really appreciating what's most important for them before you talk about what's most useful for you. Staying focused on the other person's needs also means being flexible about your approach as you might imagine. Don't be too rigid about the briefcase technique. It's really just a starting point.
[00:33:31] You might walk into a meeting with an executive expecting to make a slam dunk pitch to develop their sustainability program, but then you find out that what they need most is a community manager. And at that point, the last thing you want to do is then insist on running their environmental initiative. Instead, keep listening process what you're hearing and adjust your pitch as needed. So honestly, you might even tweak your proposal on the fly to better reflect their needs. Don't treat what you've come up with previously as gospel. Use the document that you created as a jumping off point, it's a tool. Use it to guide the conversation.
[00:34:05] I would literally scribble on it while you're having the meeting to show that you're not only really listening, but building what you're learning into, what you are offering in the moment. That's harder to do over Zoom, right? But if you're screen sharing, you could be typing notes on the PowerPoint with text. I would do that. And if you're doing this in person, use a pen and write on the proposal. Don't take notes on your phone. It's not—
[00:34:30] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oh, that is the worst.
[00:34:32] Jordan Harbinger: Am I just a Boomer here?
[00:34:33] Gabriel Mizrahi: No.
[00:34:33] Jordan Harbinger: It looks like you're farting around. It never looks like you're taking notes.
[00:34:36] Gabriel Mizrahi: It's not a good look. Actually, it's so funny you said that because I just remembered. You know that I worked at a circus, right? For like a year.
[00:34:43] Jordan Harbinger: Yes, literally.
[00:34:44] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, literally.
[00:34:44] Jordan Harbinger: Can we say which circus? Is there more than one?
[00:34:47] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, I think we can say it now. I mean, it was like kind of a secret project, but now it's not. I worked at Cirque du Soleil for a year after I left my management consulting job.
[00:34:54] Jordan Harbinger: Gabe is a contortionist.
[00:34:55] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. Did I not make that clear? I'm a total clown, obviously.
[00:34:58] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:34:59] Gabriel Mizrahi: I worked at Cirque du Soleil in Montreal, and I was working with the CEO on basically coming up with their three-year strategic plan. And there was another guy who was hired by the company as sort of a, I don't know, it was a little vague. He was either a consultant or an interim executive or a kind of a come-and-go manager of some project. We were in a meeting and he takes out his Blackberry, which is also quite funny because Blackberry was it's like last gasp of being a thing. He was just committed to it.
[00:35:25] Jordan Harbinger: Bust out his Motorola Razr—
[00:35:26] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, yeah, totally.
[00:35:27] Jordan Harbinger: —to text.
[00:35:28] Gabriel Mizrahi: Loved Blackberry, this guy. I don't know why, but that's neither here nor there. And he just was taking notes about the meeting on his phone. But you could tell from everybody's looks in the meeting that they were like, "Why is this guy texting during our super important meeting?" And then afterwards I was like, "I just want to know. Like, is that where you take notes?" He's like, "Yeah, I was taking great notes. I'll send them around to the team." And I was like, "Pretty sure they all think you're on Facebook for an hour, because that was not a good look." It's just funny that you brought that up because every time I see people do it, it just kind of grates on me. Yeah, don't use your phone, write it down.
[00:35:56] Jordan Harbinger: I'm on level 999 on Break Breaker.
[00:35:58] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:35:58] Jordan Harbinger: So this is going to have to wait. You remember that game on Blackberry?
[00:36:02] Gabriel Mizrahi: Of course. I do, what a classic, yeah.
[00:36:03] Jordan Harbinger: There were Wall Streett guys that would be like betting, "I bet I can beat your score, you know, 10 grand.
[00:36:10] Gabriel Mizrahi: Why—?
[00:36:10] Jordan Harbinger: That was real Brickbreaker money going around.
[00:36:12] Gabriel Mizrahi: I don't know why Brickbreaker was such a thing on Wall Street. That was like a huge banker game.
[00:36:17] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Bankers would play it. And investment bankers making like six, $700,000 a year or whatever in 2007. They would just go back and forth and pay thousands of dollars because you do a lot of waiting, I think, and lawyers do anyway. They do a crap ton of waiting. Bankers also do a crap ton. Junior guys, they go to these places where they print out hundreds of pages of documents, and there's like an Xbox in the room for them to kill three hours. And they're just billing the client. But they'll play Brickbreaker on their Blackberry while they're sitting somewhere, and it just got out of hand.
[00:36:48] Gabriel Mizrahi: Brickbreaker when you don't want to do the mental gymnastics or Farmville.
[00:36:52] Jordan Harbinger: That's right. So again, take notes on paper. If you can take notes on the screen so other people can see it, you don't want them to think that you're farting around texting to an email. This is music to busy people's ears when you are taking what you are learning and putting it into what you're offering in the moment. That is just golden. Or if it turns out that what the person needs isn't quite what you were offering. Maybe you decided to hold off entirely on pitching them further, tell them you want to think about what you talked about and how you can be the most useful, and then do more homework before you talk again.
[00:37:22] You know, there's a line at which your tweaked proposal just turns into complete BS and you don't want to cross that line because then it's, "Oh, he just wants to tell us whatever we want to hear, because he needs a job." "Oh, you are going to build a following on Instagram, but we're really looking more for TikTok. So you've just tweaked the strategy to meet a different platform." As opposed to, "So you were going to do our bookkeeping and now you're doing an entirely different thing that makes no sense based on what you've researched. And clearly, you're just guessing now." That's not good. Does that make sense, Gabe, that distinction?
[00:37:55] Gabriel Mizrahi: Totally, plus you're compromising on what you actually can offer and what you actually want to do.
[00:37:59] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:37:59] Gabriel Mizrahi: That's important still to. Yeah, you don't want to move too far away from what you can actually provide value, right?
[00:38:05] Jordan Harbinger: Right. So taking a few days to think about things and retweet things, if there really needs to be a remix of everything, that's not backing out, it's not wasting their time. It's actually the opposite. It's respectful.
[00:38:16] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, such a good point, Jordan, but I do have a question because I think this does come up a lot. In fact, I think we've gotten emails about this on Feedback Friday. What happens if what you're pitching actually doesn't turn out to be with the other person's needs, like, at all. Or it does, but the person you're trying to meet with, isn't willing to pay you, or they're not willing to pull the trigger for some reason. I feel like we hear this story a lot. People ask, "You know, I tried to do all this. It worked out really well, but I'm not getting the job. So do I give up? Do I keep pushing? Did I fail? Like what's the next move?"
[00:38:46] Jordan Harbinger: That's a great question. It's everyone should know the answer to, because this isn't, you're going to succeed a hundred percent of the time. Sometimes it's just not going to work. But my philosophy on this, anytime you get rejected. Like this is basically stay close and stay useful. Not, "Hey, how's everybody doing?" every month. I have those people too. It's not that interesting for me. The only thing better than closing a piece of business immediately is creating a great relationship and a great relationship will generate business for years to come. This happens all the time, but only to people who are willing to be patient, thoughtful, and generous. Remember, we're giving without the expectation or attachment to getting anything in return. That's in Six-Minute Networking. That's the ABG, always be generous principle in action.
[00:39:30] So, if you don't close a deal or your pitch doesn't work immediately, I wouldn't think of it as an automatic failure. Zoom out on the timeline, create some perspective. These setbacks are rarely a total loss, unless you've just fully embarrassed yourself. And they're like, never call me again, which I don't even know when that would ever happen. If you felt some rapport with the person you met with, stay in touch, send them useful articles, ideas, observations, as long as they're valuable, don't be the person who sends me a self-help quote every week. Those are so late. Check in periodically and ask them how things are going. Make great introductions. That is my go-to. And of course, keep listening to what they need. One day they might actually have a problem that you can solve and you'll be in the pole position to be hired given your existing relationship, or you might invest a few months into expanding your skillset and come back to them when you can meet their needs more clearly. So there are so many ways for a connection like this to pay off if you keep doing the work.
[00:40:29] So there you have it. No matter where you are in this process of carving out a role for yourself, the basic principle is always the same. Make it about the other person first. In fact, that's just good life advice in general, not just for carving out a job for yourself, but also for making new friends, going on first dates, interviewing your own job candidates. If you embrace that idea wherever you go, you honestly cannot go wrong. You'll be amazed at how this approach improves your relationships, your interactions, your revenue. It's just one of the fascinating paradoxes of doing well in life. The more you focus on other people, the more you ultimately help yourself.
[00:41:06] And I'll say that again because it's so important, but also counterintuitive. The more you focus on other people, the more you ultimately help yourself. And Gabriel, I feel like we're in cheesy. Like OG Zig Ziglar from the 1960s where he's like, "Help other people get what they want if you want to get what you want, right? It's one of those kinds of—
[00:41:23] Gabriel Mizrahi: It is.
[00:41:24] Jordan Harbinger: —self-helpy maxim that gets a little icky.
[00:41:26] Gabriel Mizrahi: It is self-helpy but it is true. I think there's a reason that it has stuck around.
[00:41:31] Jordan Harbinger: It is true. That one's true. I'll give him that one.
[00:41:33] Gabriel Mizrahi: I'm with you.
[00:41:34] Jordan Harbinger: You know, but I'll leave, a lot of the other self-help stuff. The fireworks, I'm good on that. The Zig was known for that. So keep that in mind the next time you pitch yourself. In a world full of people who are usually focused on what they want, focusing on the other person — and I mean, genuinely focusing on them — that really is the key to getting your foot in the door.
[00:41:57] If you're looking for another episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show to sink your teeth into here's a trailer for another episode that I think you might enjoy.
[00:42:04] You believe human intelligence and AI will essentially be symbiotic in the future.
[00:42:09] Bryan Johnson: We haven't had the tools that actually allow us to be experiencing how these new tools and machine learning can help us in ways we care about the very most. And so these new tools of machine learning and brain interfaces will open up this new era of human improvement that we've never had before.
[00:42:28] Jordan Harbinger: You'd mentioned that the ability to co-evolve with AI is important. If humanity were to identify a singular thing to work on the thing that would demand the greatest minds of our generation, it's human intelligence. That's a big statement.
[00:42:40] Bryan Johnson: The way we are going to survive ourselves and create a thriving future, we have to increase the rate in which we adapt. Specifically, the fastest way to do that is our minds. Our brain tricks us into thinking that the reality we occupy right now is the only reality that exists. However, I think that could be a false assumption and we need to look back.
[00:43:04] Like, for example, Homo erectus two million years ago that had very rudimentary language, didn't have abstract concepts like math or other, physics. Homo erectus did not have the imaginative capacity to imagine the stock exchange. And so we need to realize we are in the exact condition. We have no reason to believe we've reached this apex of reality construction. And to imagine that our reality could be entirely unrecognizable to us in 30, 40, 50 years, breaks our brains.
[00:43:32] We could, we may want to head in this evolutionary direction. The question is, can we replicate two million years of evolutionary advance with technology. And I don't know why we couldn't.
[00:43:46] Jordan Harbinger: To learn more about how our brains will eventually be able to interface with computers and other machines and about how we may quite literally become cyborgs, check out episode 223 of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:43:58] Big thank you to Gabriel Mizrahi. Thank you, Gabriel, for being a part of this deep dive. Links to all the resources we mentioned will be in the show notes on the website at jordanharbinger.com. Please use our website links if you buy books from the guests you hear on the show. It helps support us. Transcripts are in the show notes. Videos of most interviews on the YouTube channel at jordanharbinger.com/youtube. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on Twitter and Instagram. And you can also connect with me on LinkedIn.
[00:44:25] I'm teaching you how to connect with great people and manage relationships, similar to what we discussed today, the Six-Minute Networking course is all free. It's at jordanharbinger.com/course. I'm teaching you how to dig the well before you get thirsty, ABG and a few of the other principles you heard here today.
[00:44:41] The show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Millie Ocampo, Ian Baird, Josh Ballard, and Gabriel Mizrahi. 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. If you know somebody who needs to get their foot in the door, maybe somebody who's young, new, or switching to a new career, know anyone like that, please do share this episode with them. Hopefully, you find something great in every episode of this show. The greatest compliment you can give us is to share the show with those you care about. 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.
[00:45:21] Are you ready for a podcast that doesn't hold back? Check out The Adam Carolla Show, the number one daily downloaded podcast in the world, five days a week, and completely uncensored. Join Adam as he shares his thoughts on current events, relationships, politics, and so much more. Adam welcomes a wide range of special guests to join him in studio for in-depth interviews and a front-row seat to his freewheeling point of view. Download, subscribe, and tune in to The Adam Carolla Show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon, or wherever you get your podcast.
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