Gabriel Mizrahi (@GabeMizrahi) joins us for this deep dive exploring how to ask for advice the wrong way, how to ask for advice the right way, and the difference it can make between ignorance and understanding, failure and success.
What We Discuss with Gabriel Mizrahi:
- Are you actually asking for advice, or are you just seeking permission and encouragement to do something that might just be a terrible idea?
- When you don’t get the advice (i.e., validation) you were hoping for, do you somehow hold it against the person you asked?
- When asking for advice, is your request overly vague, or is it specific, intentional, and explicit in detailing what you need?
- Are you asking for advice when you don’t know where to go, or are you asking for advice when you’ve gone as far as you can?
- Asking for advice the right way is half the battle. The other half is being willing to listen to it.
- And much more…
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Asking for advice the right way is one of the most important skills we can master. It’s an asset that sharpens our instincts, exposes us to guidance, and brings us closer to our goals, our abilities, and our purpose. Soliciting it the right way — and then processing and putting it to good use — is the difference between ignorance and understanding, failure and success. So it’s no surprise that top performers take this skill very seriously.
But asking for advice isn’t just a skill in and of itself. It’s also at the heart of so many other skills, habits, and mindsets that elevate our lives and careers. In this episode, we’re joined by Gabriel Mizrahi to explore the difference between asking for advice poorly and asking for it in a way that results in answers that are truly useful, and that someone else truly wants to give. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
To dive even deeper into what you can do to maximize your advice-seeking skills, make sure to read this episode’s companion article here: How to Ask for Advice (and Make the Most of It) by Jordan Harbinger.
Please Scroll down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
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THANKS, GABRIEL MIZRAHI!
If you enjoyed this session with Gabriel Mizrahi, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at email@example.com.
Resources from This Episode:
- How to Ask for Advice (and Make the Most of It) by Jordan Harbinger
- Let Me Google That
- Al Roker at Twitter
- Terry Gross, NPR
- Dan Harris at Twitter
Transcript for How to Ask for Advice | Deep Dive (Episode 321)
Jordan Harbinger: [00:00:03] Welcome to the show. I’m Jordan Harbinger. As always, I’m here with producer Jason DeFillippo. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world’s most brilliant and interesting 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. 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, public speaking, 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.[00:00:42] Today, a lot of people have asked me for advice in the past 13 years. And some do a better job than others at getting to the point, making a clear ask, and doing this all with enough finesse to get an answer that they can actually use. But why do some people seem so successful at reaching out and asking for advice, and others seem to either hit a dead end or get muddy, non-actionable advice, or they just never hear back at all? In today’s conversation, Gabriel Mizrahi and I break down the right way to ask for advice, what to do when you get it, and how to turn something as awkward as asking someone else for a favor into a fruitful relationship for both parties. This episode is highly actionable and is a toolbox for reaching out to others, seeking their wisdom or expertise, which is a skill set that can be used in any context, either in our personal lives, business, or career. And I look forward to hearing what you think of it. [00:01:34] Another skill set that I highly prize that I think is responsible for the majority, frankly, of my success in business and just personally, networking and relationship development — not the gross kind where you’re just throwing business cards in people’s faces. I’ve got a free course for you over at jordanharbinger.com/course. It just takes a few minutes per day. Again, it’s free. No upsell, no entering your credit card, just learning some badass networking skills. That’s how I book the guests for the show. It’s also how I get deals for it and opportunities for my business, and trust me, if you’ve been listening to the show for a while, you know that I seem to get lucky a lot, and it’s because of the network. So go grab that course, jordanharbinger.com/course. And by the way, most of the guests here on the show actually subscribe to the course and the newsletter. So come join us, and you’ll be in great company. Now let’s go with a deep dive on how to ask for advice. [00:02:26] So a few months ago, a random listener of the show, he hits me up on Instagram. A lot of people hit me up on Instagram and they ask for advice. And he said something like, “I need some guidance on following my dream,” which is always kind of a red flag, but look, people have dreams. I get it. And he wanted to start a clothing line. And I said, “All right, well, why?” And he said, “Well, I love the idea of designing things and a lot of wealthy people have clothing lines.” Not that they got wealthy that way usually, but he said, “Plus, where I’m working now, it sucks and I need to get out of there.” And I replied, “Of course, in my experience, to really succeed, you need to be pulled towards an idea, not just running away from something. So you start a business because you’re attracted to an idea or that business, not because you hate your boss.”
And I asked him if he worked in fashion now and he says, “No, no, no, no. I want to work in apparel. It’s my dream.” And I said, “Look, work in the industry for a while, get a job in the industry, learn how the apparel business operates, and then use that experience to decide if you really love it and then set yourself up to succeed.” And I said, “Then I would start in the supply chain” — if I were in his shoes — “because that’s the nuts and bolts and that’s where a lot of the problems arise in clothing lines, according to all my friends who’ve run apparel companies.” He was saying, “No, no, no, no, no, no. I want to design things.” So now I’m getting a little frustrated, but I understand he’s got goals. He’s got dreams. I said, “Great. I wouldn’t start there though. Operations is where the problems arise. That’s the real business. You’re not getting paid for designing the cool print on the t-shirt. You’re getting paid to get quality materials at a great price from China or wherever over to the United States or wherever your market is.”[00:03:53] And then I never get a reply to the last message, which is fine. Three months later I see a post from the guy, something like that, or I remembered his name. I can’t remember why. So I go and I DMed him and I say, “Hey, how’s it going with the line? How’s it going with the job?” He replies, “I don’t even freaking listen to you anymore.” I’m like, “Okay. Well, what happened?” “You told me to give up on my dream.” And now I’m just like — oh, what a turd — “Okay. When did that happen?” “You told me to get a job. I already have a freaking job. I want to do my dream, and you told me to give up on it.” And I just basically replied something along the lines of, “All right, no good deed goes unpunished. Best of luck with everything.”
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:04:27] Classic exit.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:28] Yeah. I mean —
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:04:29] Like what am I supposed to say at this point?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:30] What am I supposed to say? What I should have done is just not even bothered, but I always want to give people the option to maybe ask why I’m advising something after they ask me for advice.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:04:41] Yeah, he explicitly asked you for advice and then clearly not interested in actually hearing the advice.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:45] Not interested in hearing the advice at all.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:04:47] It’s a weird position he put you in because, on the one hand, it seemed like he approached you about something that really mattered to him, wanting to understand how to make it a reality.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:54] Right.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:04:54] And at the same time in the same breath, it was also like, “But don’t tell me anything that would disturb my sense of self or what my idealized version of how this will go down.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:02] Right, yeah.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:05:02] That’s interesting. It sounds to me like this guy didn’t really want advice, even though he’s said he wanted advice. What he wanted probably was encouragement and validation and maybe like even a little bit of permission to go about it the way he wanted to go about it, even though he was phrasing it as, help me navigate this decision.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:20] Right. And I didn’t really notice that at first. I got that insight that you just gave me by complaining to people like you — friends of mine — where I was like, I get a lot of reward from giving people advice. You know, I get a lot of kind emails and things like that, so I’m not going to stop anytime soon. I noticed this, especially with small platforms like Instagram, where they don’t type a whole email out. They’re just kind of pinging “influencers.” He’s probably got a whole list of like, stupid self-help shows that he listens to in addition to my stupid self-help show.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:05:48] Oh, then I wouldn’t worry. He’s probably getting good guidance somewhere.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:50] Yeah. He’s probably getting great upsold to masterminds by 17 other knuckleheads.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:05:56] Yeah. Don’t worry. You didn’t dissuade him from his dream.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:57] No. He is going to follow his dreams.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:05:59] But I know what you’re saying like once you talk it out with other people, you sort of realize that there’s something else going on beneath the requests. I imagine that you are probably at the front lines of advice asking on Instagram, given your show.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:11] Yeah.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:06:11] And given the fact that I know that you really love giving advice but you’re also more practical. You’re not going to indulge somebody’s fantasy to make them happy.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:19] Right
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:06:19] What they really want is good advice. You’re a down to earth and practical dude, so I can see why that would be frustrating. The thing about it is that to get good advice, somebody has to want good advice, but it’s not just enough to want the advice. They also have to know how to ask for that advice and to know what to do with it once they get it, and to be willing to really hear it.[00:06:38] And the thing about advice is that a lot of people don’t actually want it. It feels like the people who are asking explicitly for advice sometimes don’t want it at all, even if it’s phrased as advice asking. So it’s a tricky dynamic to navigate. And I think when we started to talk about it, we realized that even though it seems so simple, but there’s actually something very important and profound about the way you ask for advice.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:57] Yes.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:06:57] The way you ask for advice and process, it can make the difference between getting the advice you secretly want to hear and getting the advice you absolutely need.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:05] That’s a really good distinction because a lot of these questions are phrased as advice seeking, but they’re not actually advice-seeking questions.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:07:14] Yeah. Sometimes people want to hear another perspective because they know that they have to be open-minded, but they’re just checking the box or they want to find out if they’re completely off base or mostly on track. Sometimes, people just want to ask for advice because it puts them in touch with people they want to talk to.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:29] Sure.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:07:29] And it’s not actually the case that they want it and once they hear it, they reject it — either by dismissing it or refusing to incorporate it into their lives or are just failing to execute in the right way. So look, to be fair, I think we both made all of these mistakes when we were younger, and I think that’s why we’re both pretty passionate about this topic.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:47] Yes.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:07:48] I speak for myself, I’ve done all of the things we’ve just talked about and probably to some extent still do and it’s a constant process of coming back to — okay, what kind of person do I really want to be? What kind of advice do I really need to hear? How do I not get in my own way when somebody tries to tell me something that I absolutely need to hear?[00:08:04] The thing is that — as you pointed out to me a bunch of times — the costs of handling advice poorly now, today, have increased exponentially.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:11] Oh, yeah.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:08:12] I think the fact that you were engaging with this person on Instagram actually says a lot because if you asked for advice and didn’t handle it properly or acted a fool like 10, 15 years ago, it would just be like maybe one person would know. But now if you do it, people will tweet about it. They’ll talk to one another about it. The implications of not handling advice the right way in a public forum or where the public person can be a lot higher.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:32] Yeah. Obviously, I wouldn’t put this particular guy on blast. I basically just ignore his DMs now cause he’s continually pinging me for other questions and I’m like, “I’m not going to waste –”
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:08:41] He’s still texting you.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:42] Yeah. It’s like I’m not going to waste my time with somebody who’s probably pissed off every other influencer or he found out that every answer from them was to “Click here to buy my online course!” Or maybe he quit his job and realized, “Oh, crap, I am not making any money selling pre-printed t-shirts on cafepress.com, so I’m screwed now. ‘Hey Jordan, can you help me dig myself out of the hole that I dug by not following your earlier advice?'” and I don’t play that game. Unless we’re related or really close, if you ask me for advice and then you don’t follow it and then you run into trouble, I’m not going to help you solve that sort of secondary problem.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:09:14] So given all that, we wanted to talk about some of the best ways to ask for advice.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:09:18] Yes.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:09:19] And nothing we’ll talk about on this episode is particularly complicated or new. It’s been around for a long time, but it’s something that I think humans struggle to live up to because it can be hard in the moment to follow the kind of advice that will get you the best advice.[00:09:31] But the way you ask for advice determines the type of advice you get, and the type of advice you get will shape the way you receive it in the future. So to make the most of it, we really have to understand what those principles are. And I think the first one, which we’ve been already circling, is that you need to know what you need, and you need to be able to ask for it clearly. [00:09:46] So the guy who wrote you on Instagram was an excellent example of an inquiry that kind of begins with like, “I need help chasing my dream,” or like, “I need to start a new chapter. Can you help me?” Like these overly vague aspirational requests that — even if they feel very urgent and meaningful for the person — are not actually designed to get the best kind of advice. They’re just too broad and they’re just too connected to a vague idea of what they want their life to be as opposed to, “I’ve given this a lot of thought. Here are the things I need to know. What do you have to give me? Like, how would I go about this?”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:10:16] I think a lot of advice-givers — or I should say professional advice-givers, where I fall into that category, or common advice-givers — we see certain red flags where someone says, “I really want to go full time with X, Y, Z hobby that I have.” I usually hear, “I want to quit my job.” I don’t hear, “I’m really passionate about such and such.” If you’re really passionate about it, that’s fine. You can spend all of your waking hours other than working hours, doing this. No problem. But if it’s like, “I want to go full time,” I basically hear, “I’m running from something,” and that’s problematic too. It’s basically just, “I need help chasing my dream.” A lot of people will dive headlong down that because they’re, I don’t know, believing Instagram memes where they have to do what they love or, and then it’ll never feel like work. Something like that.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:10:56] You’re making an excellent point, like to get meaningful advice. You need to be specific and intentional about what you need. And that usually means zeroing in on very specific and practical questions. So you can see the difference between being like, “I want to be powerful and successful. So how do I do that in the business world?” The difference between that question and something like, “So I’m considering pursuing an MBA. Do you think I’d be in a better position to rise up in the fashion world or in the supply chain world with that degree? Or should I go apprentice for somebody and go get experience that way?” Like you can see vastly different questions with different intentions.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:28] Yes.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:11:29] You’re in podcasting. I bet a lot of the questions you get are about starting your own show. So the difference between being like, “I want to guide people and be inspirational and tell great stories; how do I even do that?” Or something like that. The difference between that question and something like, “Hey, so when you edited your podcast, was that time well spent, or do you think I should outsource that work so I can focus on the meat of the show?”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:49] Exactly.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:11:50] The thing about those questions is that you can’t actually arrive at those great questions without doing your own set of work — and we’re going to get into that in just a moment — but you can already see where this is going, which is that the questions that tend to not generate the best advice are usually born from a little bit of laziness and a little bit of sense of entitlement where it’s like, “If I just ask a broad enough question, someone will come along and give me the answer I need.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:10] Yeah, “Well, take my hand and run me through the process.”
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:12:12] Exactly, “And meet me in the phase of my goal or my dream,” which is aspirational and like, “I really want this to happen,” as opposed to, “I know that this is what I want. How do I actually do it?”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:23] Yeah, that’s a great point. Usually, a big red flag, for example, for me with podcasting is when people say, “How do we blow it up huge?” And I’m like. “Well, you have zero episodes done. You don’t know if you like doing it. You just want to do that instead of accounting. So I don’t know, spend 13 years doing it, maybe make some money after six, seven years doing it, that kind of thing.”
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:12:42] That’s a really good point also, which is sort of bigger than the question about advice, but like it is interesting how we tend to put the cart before the horse a lot of times when it comes to a goal or a dream. Like you can put the end state before the things that get you to the end state. And you forget that in order to be really successful at something, you have to actually enjoy it and become good at the craft before you worry about how do I crank the marketing up? How do we take our audience to 11 or whatever? It’s like, well, hang on. The question you’re asking about advice needs to prioritize the stuff that’ll get you there, not the place you want to be, which is impossible for anybody to achieve immediately.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:18] Exactly. Yeah. Like questions I’m asking now are: “How do I get exposure to certain people in a core demographic?” “How do I work on controlling guests better or booking certain types of caliber of people?” I’m not asking questions like, “How do I get celebrities on my show?” Like that’s not a useful question. That’s like an ego-feeding question that has nothing to do with the quality of the product. And so there are red flags when it comes to that sort of thing.[00:13:41] I see people making these mistakes and I actually see the danger in taking advice that’s too vague and running with it. It’s just not helpful. It’s actually quite harmful because you can say, “Oh, how you do it is first you invest in a bunch of digital ads, and then you build an email list, and then you’re emailing your list about your new podcast episodes. And then you need to get a celebrity or recognizable name on your podcast episodes so that the people who open the emails are interested in that. And then suddenly you have a really lame podcast that you’re beating your audience over the head with. So you need to consistently get a new audience who gets sick of you after three days, and then you’re chasing the dragon trying to get big and recognizable names so that you increase your profile as a podcaster, but yet nobody’s really listening to you because your product sucks.” [00:14:24] And I see big quote-unquote big shows doing that. They’re never going to go over the finish line of getting a great media platform. They’re just going to have to keep faking it because that’s literally what they’re trying to do. And I see people do this with clothing lines and influence and any kind of business that they want to run. But you see people doing it in offices too. Like, “Oh, I’ve got to be in charge of something because it makes me feel good. So now I’m gunning for a boss position. Well, great. And I’m the boss of a bunch of people that I don’t really want to lead and in an apartment that I don’t really want. But hey, I’m a mid-level manager at Chase Bank. Where’s the nearest bridge?” They don’t want to be there. So it’s not just not useful to do this. It’s actually bad for you. And of course, it doesn’t help the advice-giver at all.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:15:04] Yeah. It can actually work against you. Now, in some cases, I think people do know how to ask for meaningful advice and they want to be specific, but they might not know the exact question to ask and that’s okay. I think that’s fair. Sometimes it’s when we’re lost that we need advice the most. So when you’re in that situation, how do you handle that? And I think the key is actually really simple, which is that you can still be intentional in those situations, even when you’re a little bit lost and confused.[00:15:28] So let’s imagine the example of somebody who’s starting a show. They know better than to ask you, “Hey, I want to start a show. So do you have any advice for someone who wants to make it huge?” They’re not going to waste your time with that question, but consider how great the question would be if it were like, “Look, I want to start a show. I’ve been working on my hosting skills. I’m really passionate about broadcasting. The thing is I’m feeling a little bit lost about what I should be doing and what I should be asking people like you to make the right decision or to go about this the best way. So if you were me, what would you be asking somebody?” Like that’s a really smart way to rephrase the question, to make it intentional and specific, even though it’s still a little bit vague. It shows that the person is actually interested in asking the right question, even when they don’t know exactly which questions to ask because they’re trying to get better at just asking for advice. “So what options would you be exploring?” “What should I be doing?” “Where should I be spending my time?” These are excellent questions even if they’re not hyper-specific. [00:16:17] So whatever the particulars of the situation, whether it’s asking about podcasting or graduate school or startups or whatever it is, this kind of object-oriented question where it’s getting at something specific, even if the person asking it doesn’t know exactly what they’re trying to get at, will always generate more meaningful advice than the broad question. Of course, to ask a good question, you have to have done some work on your own, and that’s what we were just talking about. Right?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:16:39] Exactly.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:16:39] Most people seek advice when they don’t know where to go. The smartest people seek advice when they’ve gone as far as they can.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:16:46] Okay. Let’s open that up a little bit. This is important because I think a lot of folks will just go, “Huh? Well, I have this random thought, so I’m going to open up Instagram and/or whatever, my email, or pick up the phone and call this person and get advice on this thing that just popped into my head.” That’s okay. If you’re close friends with somebody or you’re kicking around an idea and it’s somebody that you know, but the problem is if you’re just reaching out to total strangers, you’re actually wasting an opportunity. People will say, “How do I start a podcast?” I’ll go, in my polite way of saying, “Well, I launched mine 13 years ago, so I’m not the best person to answer that.” However, the real answer is, “Are you kidding me? Google this. There are 8,000 YouTube videos.”
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:17:23] “Why are you asking me this question that you could have answered on your own?”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:17:26] Right. And I’m thinking to myself — like not to big myself up too much here — but if you’re going to ask me one question about podcasting, shouldn’t it be something that you can’t just simply Google and then get 8,000 Google results that will answer that exact question? What are you really asking me? Are you asking me how to start a podcast, or are you asking me how I run my show in a very specific way? Because if you’re asking me how to start a podcast, let me Google that for you.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:17:49] And in a world where this hypothetical person can ask you 13 questions, they can ask you one or two, then it would make sense to do as much work as they can on their own so that the question they do ask you is really meaningful and makes the most use of that opportunity. You happen to be more generous and more kind than most people in your position, I think. So you probably engage with more people than the average expert on podcasting, but that doesn’t mean that that opportunity should just be spent on like a broad, open question.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:18:13] Right.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:18:14] It can be really good. So just to be very practical for a moment, how do you go as far as you can on your own? You talked about Googling. Yes, like 100 percent. Google the question, the issue, the topic that you’re circling. Read every relevant article, every interview, every tutorial, and I’m not just talking about like the first page of Google.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:18:32] Right, I was going to say that.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:18:33] Go 10, 12, 20 pages deep. Like when I get into something, I will force myself to sit there and exhaust every possible result. You’d be surprised where you can find deep in Google search results. There are articles that might not make it to the top but will answer your question or we’ll put you onto a line of inquiry that you didn’t even know to ask. It’s incredible to me after all this time, but a lot of people just think like if they Google it at all, they’ll stop after like one page. But that is your job; your job is to be a student, and students are there to learn. So make use of all that before you decide to ask a question, because 90 percent of questions can and therefore should be answered in that way.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:19:11] You’re listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show. We’ll be right back.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:19:15] This episode is sponsored in part by DesignCrowd. Sure, building a business from the ground up might be second nature to some of you. Unfortunately, your company logo looks like it was scribbled in crayon on the side of a cereal box by a sugar-fueled kindergartener and not in a good way. But it’s okay. DesignCrowd is on the scene to save the day. Here’s what you do. You visit designcrowd.com/jordan, D-E-S-I-G-N-C-R-O-W-D.com/jordan and post a brief describing the design that you need. For example, you might submit something like, “I need a bold company logo, preferably including the silhouette of a rocket ship that would look impressive on the side of our skyline defining office building.” Next, DesignCrowd invites 750,000 designers to respond to your request. Within a few hours, you get your first design. Over the next week, a typical project will receive 60 to more than a hundred different designs from designers around the world. Finally, you pick the design you like best, approve payment to the winning designer, and proudly get to work updating your new logo wherever it appears from the company stationery to the side of the aforementioned office building. Or you don’t like the 60 to more than 100 designs, don’t be worried. DesignCrowd offers a complete money-back guarantee in case of this unlikely event. Whatever your purpose, just about any creative project can be crowdsourced on DesignCrowd — t-shirt, book jacket, menu for your gourmet lemonade stand. The possibilities are endless.
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Jordan Harbinger: [00:20:50] This episode is also sponsored by Better Help. Let’s be real for a sec. Life can be super hard, and sometimes the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling down is add the chore of finding a therapist. But fortunately, Better Help online counseling is here to make it easier for us. Better Help has a huge list of online licensed professionals who are trained to help with every type of issue. Like depression, stress, sleep disorders, relationships, self-esteem, grief, anger — literally anything a person can ever worry about and you can talk to a professional counselor in a safe, private, online environment. Just like therapy, anything you share is confidential and it doesn’t get more convenient than getting help in your own time, at your own pace from your own home. Here’s how better help works. Within 24 hours, you can either chat online, text, call, or have a private video session with a therapist. Plus if you’re not psyched about the counselor you chose, you can swap for another without any additional costs. What I especially love about Better Help is how accessible they are. Better Help is available in all 50 states and worldwide with over 3,000 therapists ready to handle whatever we throw at them. What was frustrating for me about therapy was finding someone I liked, but their office was just far away enough to make me dread going in there. With Better Help, you can find a counselor you love, talk to them from your freaking couch where you might’ve already been watching Friend reruns. Don’t hide from the truth and they’ll meet you exactly where you are. You guys know this about me. I hate putting things off. Why not just tell yourself you’re going to get some help today and kickstart the journey to a better path. Better Help is so affordable. They even offer financial aid for those who qualify. Jason.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:22:21] Our listeners get 10 percent off the first month with a discount code JORDAN. Go to betterhelp.com/jordan. Fill out a questionnaire to help them find the right counselor for you and get started right away. That’s betterhelp.com/jordan.[00:22:35] 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 Jordan harbinger.com/deals. Don’t forget we have a worksheet for today’s episode so you can make sure you solidify your understanding of the key takeaways. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast. If you’d like some tips on how to subscribe to the show, just go to jordanharbinger.com/subscribe. 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 the show.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:23:08] There are people that I go to for interview technique, like people that you see on television or hear on the radio and I don’t say, “how can I become a good interviewer?” Because they just go, “Oh, well, practice or make sure you’re reading (the person’s) book.” I say things like, “In this five-minute segment of the show — because I know you don’t have a ton of time to listen to it — do you think I missed opportunities by not going down this line of inquiry? Do you think that I did a good job by sticking with this line of inquiry? And how do you make those decisions in real-time when you’re interviewing somebody?”
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:23:38] Exactly. Like what your question to that person is getting at is like, “I have spent my own time analyzing my work and I’ve gone as far as I can to see myself. Now that I’m at this point, would you be able to give me another perspective?”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:23:49] Right. And it’s something that only they can answer. I think that’s kind of an important point too. I might be asking Al Roker or Terry Gross. “What choice do you think you would have made if you were in my shoes in this same moment?” And sometimes they go, “Yeah, I would’ve done the same thing you did.” Or they would’ve said, “Well, I would’ve then gone to the second line of inquiry and if it didn’t yield something interesting, I would have edited that out.” And then I go, “Okay, great. I’ve learned something about how Dan Harris from ABC News goes and does his interviews.” That’s important, and that’s a question that only he can answer. He’s not thinking, “Dude, this is on Quora within three results of search.” That makes them not want to answer it but, of course, getting a good question like that, they go, “Oh, wow, I’ve never even really thought about this. Here’s what I would have done.” It’s based on their instincts honed over decades as an interviewer. There’s something there that shows them, since I’ve done the work, they’re more willing to then invest in me because they know that it’s not just me being lazy.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:24:44] When you do your homework and you do as much work as you can on your own, it will transform the advice you receive because you’ll communicate that you’re not wasting the other person’s time asking questions that you could have answered on your own or that you could have asked anybody else besides —
Jordan Harbinger: [00:24:56] Anyone.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:24:57] You’ll come across as, you know, all the things you want to come across as proactive, responsible, well-informed, respectful. And by the way, I know it sounds as we list these qualities out that it’s like, “Oh, let me put on a show to sound like I’m these things.” That’s not what we’re saying. We’re saying when you do the work, when you put your nose to the grindstone and actually think thoughtfully about this, you automatically become those things. You come across as all those positive qualities just by doing your job in that moment.[00:25:20] And that’ll attract people who can offer the advice that you want to hear in the right spirit. And to your point, you’ll signal that you don’t have your head so far up your own butt that you won’t listen to the person’s advice. You come across as open and curious that you know your ego isn’t getting in the way of hearing stuff you might not want to hear or that you really want to know the answer to the question that you’re asking. Basically, you show that you’re someone who takes advice seriously. And somebody who takes advice seriously receives serious advice.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:44] Yeah. That’s worth highlighting. You show that you’re someone who takes advice seriously and therefore actually wants to hear the truth and is not just looking for, “Go get them, Jordan.”
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:25:53] Exactly. Also doing your homework will lead you to the right questions to ask, which kind of brings us to our next major thing, which is that part of getting really meaningful advice is formulating a great question. A great question, I think, is a skill in and of itself. And a lot of people don’t have it because it’s not something that we’re taught in school. It’s not like our parents sit us down and say, “Okay son, okay daughter, this is something you’re going to need to know how to do in life. Here are the components of a killer question.” It’s something that you sort of acquire accidentally, but if you work on it, this can be a game-changing skill. The great question embodies all of the work that we’re talking about. Then it builds on it by posing something that’s meaningful and specific and also open-ended but gets you closer to the advice you really need.[00:26:35] So think about the difference between these two questions, right? Let’s say that there’s a request for advice that goes something like, “Hey, Jordan, I need advice on launching a podcast. So how do you book good guests? Or how do you keep people coming back to listen to more?” That’s one type of question. Think about this version of the question. So, “Hey, Jordan, I spent the last two months learning everything I can about podcasting from marketing to engineering to interview prep. You know, like I’ve even recorded some pilot episodes and I’ve gotten feedback from my friends and my colleagues, and now I understand that I need to work on my interview questions and my outreach emails. So my question is — ” And then you go on to ask the questions. You can see that baked into that question is a ton of work, but also a willingness to hear the answer to very specific requests, but it all depends on the right formulation of the question. Those two versions of the request are like opposite ends of the advice-seeking spectrum. The first is a recipe for either bad advice or at worst, like a non-starter.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:28] Right.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:27:28] Because it’s like I can’t even answer your question because it’s not even like a good question. It’s not born of all the work that you should have done.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:34] “How do I get people coming back to listen to more?” “Well, do a really good show.” “Okay, great. Good. I’m going to write that down.” “Okay. What are you writing down?” “Don’t do this job.”
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:27:42] Exactly right. If you knew that already and if you didn’t, then we have bigger problems.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:45] Right, right, exactly.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:27:47] But the second version of the question is a launching pad. It’s a launching pad for our conversation that’ll answer the person’s questions, but it will also open up more territory, like new territory that maybe even the person didn’t know that they would get into. And that’s the key because it’s a bonus. It will generate a response to the advice that the person wants to get, but it will also create a meaningful relationship with the other person.[00:28:06] When you get a really good question from somebody who really wants to hear the answer, and we all know when we’re in the presence of somebody like that, then you automatically want to give more. Like you answer their question, you geek out on the answer with them, and then they might ask you a follow-up. Or you’re excited. You’re invested now, and so you start to share more. And before you know it, this one question, which was formulated the right way, is creating a conversation that is so much bigger than the initial request.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:30] So how do we formulate that question? Are there key elements to formulating good questions?
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:28:35] So that’s a great question. It’s not a perfect science and there’s no right way to do it, but there are a few elements that make a great question great. And one of them, which we’ve already touched on, is that it’s specific. It’s designed to elicit an answer that the person wants to hear. Even if they don’t know what that answer is, it’s designed to get there, which means that it often includes a brief summary or a nod to all of the homework the person has done up until that point. And connected to that, it’s goal-oriented. It’s productive. It’s about generating something that will help them move closer to the thing that they want to do, or the decision that they want to make, which means that it’s not just aspirational or overly broad or “I want to follow my dream” type of question, but practical and its purpose. But beyond that, it’s also usually open-ended. Now that doesn’t mean that it can’t be specific, like, “Should I invest in this platform or that platform?” That’s a yes-or-no thing, but it could be, “Which one should I do and why?” That’s an open-ended thing that will get you into new territory and beyond the immediate question,
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:33] I think with open-ended, also you can do this well — and by the way, we’re going to put all these in the worksheet for this episode, so don’t feel like, “Oh my God, I got to take notes on this.” As always, we have worksheets for the episode and this is going to be included in there.[00:29:43] One way to get these open-ended questions is to think about the question you would end up getting back from the person when you ask the question. So if I say, “Should I use WordPress or Squarespace?” The person will go, “Well, it depends. What are you actually using it for?” “Oh, well, I’m going to be installing podcast stuff on there.” “Okay, well, WordPress has a lot more flexibility for podcast-based plugins than Squarespace.” So instead of saying, which one of these should I use? You keep the question open-ended, maybe which platform do you think is better for running a podcast or something along those lines, or even deeper?
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:30:17] Yes. You’re connecting up a couple of dots that we’ve been talking about, which is if you can anticipate the answer that you’re going to get to your question, then you can formulate the best kind of question which would help you articulate it in the best way.
Jordan Harbinger: 00:30:27] Right.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:30:28] So you would say, “So I’ve done a lot of research on all the platforms that are out there. I know that this has this strength, that has that strength. I know that I need it for X, Y, Z. So given that, would you go with this or that?” You can already see how that question is going to get you closer to the answer.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:39] Right.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:30:40] So you’re absolutely right. Then there are qualities that seem obvious but are worth mentioning. A good question is also well-articulated in style and in the choice of words and obviously in your grammar and those things matter a lot, especially by email where you have to be concise, you have to be direct, you have to be super clear.[00:30:56] And also, I know, again, it sounds so obvious, but so many people miss this, including the guy who wrote you on Instagram. I would argue. That a good question is also kind and respectful of the person’s time and energy that they’re spending answering it. It’s open and it’s respectful and it’s confident and passionate also. That one is a little bit less common, but I do think that part of what makes a great question is great is when the person asking it is really excited about the answer, and you can feel that in the energy of the question itself. “Which one should I go with? WordPress or Squarespace?” Well, yes, that is a question that’s going to get you an answer, but it doesn’t really tell me how much you care about getting the answer. And I can tell you that without fail, people will always give you more advice and better advice if they feel that you’re really invested in the question.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:31:39] That is a really good point. If I think someone’s asking me something just to make conversation or they already maybe know the answer and I’m vote number 10,000 on whatever it is that they’re doing, or I think they’re not going to listen to me because they just spent 20 minutes talking about how they know everything about a certain thing, and now they’re asking me for my input basically as a platform to then pontificate. I already don’t care about the whole conversation, let alone the answer to that question.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:32:04] Yeah. And that’s not just in the initial question that you ask. It’s also in the follow-up. It’s also in the response. It’s the way that you say thank you to the person when they give you the advice and it’s the way that you follow up with the next question if that’s appropriate. You’re like, “Oh my God, that is an amazing piece of advice. Literally, no one has told me that. I feel so lucky to have heard that at this stage, but now you’re making me wonder, bibbidi bobbidi blah.” The energy of that request is so different from the one that’s just like, “Look, give me the answer and let me get out.” As opposed to like, “I really want to know the answer and I’m excited about it. Now, can we move through this territory together?” So if you articulate a question that hits all of those elements at the same time — which I think is our job, all of us, if we’re asking for advice — then you’ll maximize the chances of receiving advice when you need it the most and the odds that the advice that you get will be as meaningful as possible.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:32:51] Great. Perfect. And that leads us to something that I was going to bring up actually. Don’t freaking argue. Stop arguing, even if you have a really good point. And the reason I’m passionate about this one is not just because I get yeses on Instagram or wherever else doing this. It’s because I used to do this and I just realized it was the absolute dumbest possible thing that you can do. It basically says everything about you that you don’t want to say, “Hi. I never really wanted the answer. I can’t control my emotions and I don’t respect you and I don’t respect myself. Thanks for playing terribly.”[00:33:24] So I recently got one of these requests. Again, surprise, surprise on Instagram and, “Hey Jordan, I’m going around to different people trying to promote my idea for an interview talk show where people share their core values with other people. Do you know any marketers or editors? If you could help me, that would be great.” And I said, “Okay, cool. What’s your budget for editing?”
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:33:44] Sorry to interrupt you. Are we just going to ignore the fact that I don’t even know what the core values are?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:33:48] I didn’t even know —
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:33:49] Okay, okay, I just want to make sure. It’s already vague,
Jordan Harbinger: [00:33:51] Yeah. It’s already vague. Marketers — what are they going to market? Your thing that nobody —
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:33:55] Doesn’t exist yet.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:33:55] — understands. That doesn’t exist. So I was like, “Okay, what’s your budget for editing because — ?”
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:33:59] Right, you’re trying to get practical now.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:00] I’m trying to get as practical as possible and I can refer editors that can edit anything, whether it’s good or not. So at least I can help you there. I’m not going to sit here and try to hone your idea because you didn’t even ask me for that.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:34:11] Right, which is already amazing that you haven’t just ignored the request because it’s not something that you can actually answer. You’re actually trying to work with the person to get to a question that you can answer.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:19] That was my first mistake.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:34:21] That was your first. All right, go on.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:22] So he replies, “Great question. I’m not a rich man at all. I’m just trying to get some guidance and advice to start out.” So basically says, “Great question, aka I don’t know, I’m not a rich man at all.” I’m guessing that’s code for zero dollars.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:34:36] Which is like the least of the problems with this response.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:39] Right.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:34:39] Because that’s not a problem. Most people who start out with a new dream are not in a position to have a ton of resources. What I’m noticing in this is that the very specific question that you tried to steer him to immediately devolved into the vague, “Hey, bro, I need advice. Where do I turn?”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:53] Right. “I’m just trying to get advice and guidance to start out.” Okay. Then why did you ask me if I knew marketers or editors? Now you’re asking me a different, even more vague question.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:35:01] It was a Trojan horse kind of advice question.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:35:04] Yeah. This is a very specific question. Then immediately devolves. I ignore that I’m done at this point and there’s no salvaging this one, in my opinion, is actually working against me here so whatever. Moving on, and then he replies, “If you can direct me to anyone, you know, I can take any help I can get.” And then I said, “Well, what’s your budget for editing? What do you need?” Then he replies, “Can you help me?” And I said, “I’m trying. What are you looking for?” And he said, “You already asked me that. I’m not sure if this is a bot or a person.” Now at this point, I just think he’s a major idiot.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:35:32] I love this. At this point, the problem is now you.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:35:34] Right.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:35:35] That you don’t have enough humanity.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:35:36] Right. So I should have —
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:35:37] I also liked that he doubled down on the vague request. “Oh, you didn’t understand it. Let me just repeat it even more broadly.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:35:42] I know. “Can you help me? I’m asking for help.” I know in the worst way possible. I stupidly replied.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:35:48] This is your fatal flaw, Jordan. This is too much.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:35:49] I know I should’ve just muted this person, but I said, “I can assure you it’s not a bot. I’m getting the impression that you’re avoiding the question here. Maybe because you haven’t done the homework to know what you really need right now. Podcasting is tough but very fun. I hope you enjoy it.” That’s my polite GTFO,
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:36:05] By the way, if the person was in a position to really hear what you said, that’s actually the best possible advice you could give them.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:36:11] I think so, yeah.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:36:11] What did he say?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:36:12] He said, “Okay, but how do I get started? How do I get the right connections, the right target audience?” And I obviously ignored that.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:36:19] Okay, end of conversation.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:36:20] Yeah, end of conversation.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:36:21] You can imagine how differently that conversation would have gone if the person had actually reached out to you with a specific question.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:36:26] Of any kind, anything.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:36:27] Of anything.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:36:28] Throw your freaking bone here.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:36:29] That he actually meant and was willing to actually hear. But instead, he did something even worse than the fashion guy, which is that he asked a decent question at first. That was really just a Trojan horse for a worst question which won’t get them anywhere.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:36:41] Yeah. This guy wanted a hug or something like, oh, you’re going to be so great. Here’s all my show, booking contacts so that you can also just jump right in at the top level. What? I kind of want to talk to those people and like to put truth serum and be like, what did you think would be the result of this conversation? What is your ideal in your dreams when you had this conversation with somebody, how did it end up?
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:37:03] Exactly. Asking for advice the right way is half the battle, but the other half is being willing to actually listen to it. But the thing is that our egos and in some cases our lack of self-awareness — like with this person — often get in the way. Even when we ask for advice, even when we need it and we crave it, it can still be very intimidating. I can understand that I felt that way. It can be overwhelming. It can be confusing. Sometimes a really good piece of advice can destabilize your whole sense of self because it goes against everything you’ve been doing.[00:37:31] So it’s not what we want to hear all the time, but sometimes it’s exactly what we do need to hear, even if it’s difficult to accept. And that can make the best advice quite threatening to the ego. The ego is designed to push back on information that isn’t convenient or doesn’t fit with everything we want to believe in order to protect itself. The mind is pretty clever at pushing back without seeming like it’s pushing back and that’s where we get into a little bit of trouble. So I think it’s worth exploring how we can argue with advice and push back against advice even when it doesn’t look like we are because it’s not always as overt as the guy who wrote you. Sometimes it’s a lot subtler and neither party even realizes that it’s happening.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:38:12] You’re listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show. We’ll be right back after this.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:38:16] This episode is sponsored in part by Audible. Jason, you and I have been — well, you’ve been an Audible customer for how long?
Jason DeFillippo: [00:38:22] Since 2002 I’ve got about 800 books in my library right now.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:38:26] Geez. What did they send you a vinyl record to play your audiobook?
Jason DeFillippo: [00:38:30] It was one of the old cranks. It’s like, you know, the old wax cylinders or like the old Edison’s. Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:38:36] Yeah. Well, I’ve got a couple of hundred titles on Audible. I know you have close to a thousand. Not only don’t I have time to read paper, it’s so much easier to digest information audibly or audible. I do 10,000 steps a day whenever I can, and I can really get through a book and like two days. Walking outside and enjoying nature and just kind of reading or listening to a book, and I’m his beyond stokes when they came out with 1.75 X speed, so they had 1.5 and two X and I just needed something in between. So I got really, really excited about that. I plow through books, I use them to prepare for interviews for the show, or just breathe like a fiend. You can download titles, you can listen offline anytime, anywhere. The app is free, you can install it on your iPad, any smartphone. Listen across devices without losing your spot. So if you listen at home on your iPad because of the speakers, it will sync with the cloud and then you’ll find your spot on your phone. So I love that about Audible as well. And if you don’t know what you want to listen to, you can keep your credits for up to a year and then just use them to binge on stuff later on. If you’d like. Jason.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:00:00] Visit audible.com/harbinger or text harbinger to 500-500. That’s audible.com/harbinger or text harbinger to 500-500.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:39:50] This episode is also sponsored by Blue Moon. I have been drinking Blue Moon since I could afford to drink beer that wasn’t total garbage in college. I like Blue Moon, actually. I’ve been drinking it for a while. It’s the kind of beer that you can consciously drink, not the one that you hammer down. You know you can enjoy it. Throw a little orange slice on there if you want to be fancy. Good for a hot day. Carefully crafted unfiltered beers. So the reason it’s not see-through like a lot of other beers is it’s a Belgian wit, so it’s a little more full-flavored or flavorful a little coriander in there, Valencia orange peel. Not sure what Valencia orange peel is but it obviously adds a little bit of flavor to a beer like Blue Moon. Jason, I know that you also from time to time, enjoy a flavorful beer.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:40:35] I do partake of the beers every now and again and I do enjoy a blue moon. It’s very refreshing. And the Valencia orange is really nice if you actually put another orange slice in it, so it kind of gives that effect of double orange I guess. But it works really well and the coriander is very nice. The next time you’re out with friends or just enjoying a night in reach for a Blue Moon, it’s the beer you can enjoy every day.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:40:59] Responsibly.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:41:00] Hopefully. You can have Blue Moon delivered by going to get.bluemoonbeer.com and finding delivery options near you. Delivery beer. We live in the future. Blue Moon reached for the moon. Celebrate responsibly. Blue Moon Brewing Company, Golden Colorado ale.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:41:17] This episode is sponsored in part by HostGator. Have I ever told you how much I like your style? Well, I would if you had your own website. I tried to find you online, but there were 17 other people who share your name on Facebook, 14 on Twitter, 24 on Instagram. If your email was something like firstname.lastname@example.org for example, I could have followed it to your domain. But you’ve only ever written to me from your stupid Gmail address that says Gmail as your name. I’m beginning to feel like you don’t want me to find you online at all, but I won’t take it personally. You probably just don’t know that HostGator can set you up with your own personally or professionally branded website with a distinctive email address and the time it takes you to listen to this podcast, which you also should do, by the way, and you don’t have to have the faintest idea of technical know-how because HostGator will take care of all that for you. That’s why we recommend HostGator for creating and maintaining your best possible online presence. You don’t have to know the first thing about programming or design in order to custom craft your own mobile-friendly website. Thanks to HostGator’s simple drag and drop builder. Choose from hundreds of themes to effortlessly switch up your presentation as you see fit. Run it all on WordPress with one easy click if you must. And if you’ve got a tight budget, don’t worry. As long as you’re a new user, you get to try any HostGator package for up to 62 percent off, just for hearing the sweet mellifluous sound of my voice. And if you’re not completely satisfied with everything HostGator has to offer, you’ve got 45 days to cancel for a refund of every last digital penny. So check out hostgator.com. That’s hostgator.com/jordan right now to sign up, hostgator.com/jordan.[00:42:50] 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 jordanharbinger.com/deals. And don’t forget the worksheet for today’s episode. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast. If you’re listening to us on the overcast player, please click that little star next to the episode. We really appreciate it. And now back to the show.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:18] For me, in my days where I just wanted the same thing, I just wanted somebody to pat me on the back or reassure me that I had the right idea. I wasn’t thinking I have to be right here. That’s important to me. I was thinking, “Oh, well, now, this is harder than I wanted it to be and it is making me feel anxiety. So I’m going to reject it,” or some variation thereof.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:43:36] And one common way to chip away at advice is to pose questions like really good questions that subtly undermine the advice or one would go into the question. So let’s say you give somebody the piece of advice that they need to be a little bit more deliberate about their networking. They need to be building more relationships, and the other person says something like, “Yeah, yeah, I totally see where you’re coming from. I know you’re right, but do you really think I’m not getting ahead of work because I’m not building relationships? Like, isn’t it the quality of my work that should matter? Isn’t that more important than who I know.” Well, it’s not a bad question. It’s actually a really good question, but you can see how it could be used to subtly resist the advice that the person is receiving because it’s throwing into question whether it’s actually what they need to hear at this moment.[00:44:15] You see that type of resistance a lot with top performers, ironically, because a lot of top performers, smart people, ambitious people, they have great questions about the advice that they receive, but they end up using those questions to distance themselves from the feedback that I’m getting.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:29] Yeah.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:44:29] It looks like they’re trying to understand it better. What they’re actually doing is controlling the conversation and trying to subtly push back. So sometimes top performers argue with advice more than anybody even though they’re the ones who are in a position to get the best advice because they have a strong drive to protect themselves, to protect their reputations, to protect their sense of self. And that’s something that people who are performing at a higher level or who are very ambitious need to be on top of. It’s kind of like a double-edged sword. You want to ask good questions so you can make sure you understand the advice, but you don’t want to ask a question in a way that would resist it sometimes without you even realizing it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:45:00] I see this with the networking course because, of course, people will be like, “Well, I know I need to do this, but I don’t want to be the kind of person that gets promoted just on who they know. I mean, everyone hates those people. It’s all about who you know.” But then when they get an opportunity, because they know someone, of course, then they’ve earned it. They deserve it then. But when other people get opportunities because of who they know and they think that person doesn’t deserve it, “Well then, man, life is so unfair.” It’s all this nepotistic BS. “She’s a brown-noser. Of course, it’s all about who you know.” They throw some stank on it and it’s like, well, wait a minute. If somebody is getting an unfair advantage, shouldn’t you seek to replicate that unfair advantage? It’s not unethical. If you think something is only unethical when other people do it and now you’ve got a big problem. You’re using your rationalization skills to actually keep yourself safe instead of getting ahead.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:45:47] Yes, and sometimes those rationalizations are super subtle because they’re completely silent. And that comes up in another form of resistance, which is to argue with advice internally. So sometimes somebody won’t say anything, they won’t ask a clarifying question, they won’t push back out loud. But in their minds, they’re already resisting the advice. I will just own this right now. I catch myself doing this all the time. I think it’s something built into the human brain where if you get a piece of advice that is a little bit intimidating or it doesn’t fit with everything you believe to be true or maybe you will like to create more work for you and you don’t want to do that work, you will —
Jordan Harbinger: [00:46:18] That’s usually what it
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:46:19] is. That’s usually what it is.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:46:20] I don’t need that. That’s window dressing. It doesn’t do anything for the business. And then I’m like, just save 40 grand and six months of work.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:46:26] Exactly, and that often takes the form of mental chatter while the advice is actually being given.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:46:31] So what happened with me was I never read the books for my guests back in the day. And Jen was like, “How do you prepare?” And I’m like — this is like five, six, seven years ago now — like, “Oh, I don’t really even need to, I’m really getting good at thinking on my feet and holding a good conversation. So my natural curiosity just does that for me.” And she’s like, “Okay. Whatever. I mean, the show’s good. You have a lot of listeners. That’s good.” And then I was interviewing Robert Greene, the example I give a lot of the time. I read his whole book and he was like, “Oh, this is really good. Why did this take so long? You were so well prepared, dah, dah, dah.” And then I told Jen and I was like, “Oh yeah, Robert Greene, really enjoyed this and it’s because I read the whole book.” And she goes, “Yeah.” And then I thought, “Crap. I probably have to read the book for every guest that comes on the show so that I’m equally well prepared. That’s really going to make a difference in the show quality.” And Jen was like, “Yeah, I think so too.” And I really, for months and years and years actually did these mental gymnastics where I was like, maybe I can read like the first chapter and then the epilogue and then like a summary online. And then I finally realized, I’m just trying to avoid doing the work to get what I want which has to be the most well-prepared and in-depth detailed interviewer. And then I thought, “Why am I doing all this to avoid reading? Come on, Jordan, get your shit together.”
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:47:47] Yeah. That mental monologue protected you against the advice that turned out to be dead on and it was happening without you consciously realized until the evidence became so overwhelming and your self-awareness probably was enough, realize, “Oh, this is my job and this is going to make me better, so I’m going to do it.”[00:48:02] Another interesting form of resistance is when you discuss the advice you get with somebody else and you sort of recruit them into those mental gymnastics that you’re just talking about. So let’s just go with your example again. So Jen came along and said, “Hey, you should maybe read the books from all the guests.” I’m totally making this up now because I don’t think this happened, but maybe you call me on the phone later that night and you say like, “You know, Jen thinks I should read the books, but I think I got this on lock. Like I’m good. I have my own process and I’m asking good questions and I can think on my feet. I mean, that’s ridiculous, right? I mean, she’s telling me to do more work that I don’t actually have to do.” Then before you know it, you’re editorializing the advice that you received and sort of recruiting me in this hypothetical situation to agree with you in that moment. [00:48:39] And again, I just want to call this out. I catch myself doing this to this day, where you get something, you hear something that you don’t totally want to believe or you don’t fully agree with, and instead of taking the time to really look at it impartially, you discuss it under the guise of trying to understand it, but what you’re really doing is looking for confirmation.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:48:56] So you call your friend who’s like the person who would never do that. He would just read the four-hour workweek. So he doesn’t do anything and outsourced — “Oh, you should hire a virtual assistant to read the book for you and then give you a one-pager.” And I’ve seen podcasters do this and their shows suck because they’re reading a one-pager for an hour-long show. So, of course, their notes stink. Of course, the is no good, and it’s laziness, but they probably talk to somebody who is like, “You need to value your time more highly.” You know, that kind of crap.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:49:21] So what’s so hard about this is that every form of resistance we’re talking about is built-in to the human brain. It’s almost like part of the equipment, the bug that we can’t seem to really get out. So how do you overcome those forms of resistance so that you don’t miss out on great advice? The answer is that the only way to avoid that kind of resistance is to consciously commit to opening yourself up to advice. And I’m talking fully and genuinely not going through the motions, not nodding along, not pretending to take the advice, and then finding other ways to resist it down the line. It’s consciously committing to the practice of when someone gives me advice, I’m going to accept it completely in the moment. And accepting advice completely in the moment means this — it means cultivating the self-awareness and the openness and the curiosity to tolerate a new perspective on your life, your decisions, your career, whatever it is. And it means like creating a space where that perspective — whether you like it or not, whether it’s positive or negative, whether it’ll create more work or reduce your work — to allow all of that to exist without resistance or validation. It doesn’t mean that you have to agree with everything that you’re hearing or that you have to put the advice into practice right away. It just means that in the moment you’re receiving the advice, you’re allowing it to be without judgment. Later on, you can decide whether you agree with the advice or not. You can accept the parts that work for you. You can ignore the parts that don’t work for you. You can celebrate the advice that is dead on and you can reject the advice that is misguided. This is the mistake most people make, is that they collapse those two stages. They collapse the stage of listening with the stage of judging, and they judge while they listen, which usually means that they’re not listening at all.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:51] Their brain is busy going, “Ooh, I don’t like that. So, okay, let me think of a reason why I no longer have to go to the gym this morning. Let me think of a reason why I don’t have to read the book.” And you’re still talking and telling me why it’s important to do in-depth detailed prep. Your brain’s doing rationalization so that you don’t have to do the work. I know this because I do this all the time. “Oh, I don’t really have to work on mobility. I need strength for, so I’m just going to never stretch because I hate stretching. Not because I really believe that mobility comes later. It’s just because I don’t freaking feel like using a foam roller. It hurts and I’d rather watch TV on the couch instead of on the floor.” And that’s really what’s going on. So you have to sit there and listen and let it marinate. Our brains are so good at jumping around and doing these gymnastics. You have to put that on pause consciously so that you can let the advice seep through the filter
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:51:36] And listening in that way might sound really hard and an often is like, let’s be honest, I think it’s harder to really listen without judging than it is to immediately judge especially if the advice that you’re getting is difficult to accept. But if you do this, I think you’ll find what I’ve found, which is that it’s actually really liberating because it means that you don’t have to listen and assess the advice at the same time. It’s simpler. It just means that you take it in as an observer while it’s happening, and then later you can take it in as a judge, and when you do that, the advice that you get actually gets even more meaningful because you’re not trying to do all of that at once. It’s easier to act upon when you can separate out the phases of how you’re receiving the advice.[00:52:13] We should touch on this question, which is that this doesn’t mean that you have to agree with every piece of advice you received. Like taking something in without judgment does not mean that you automatically are onboard with the advice, and it also doesn’t mean that you can’t ask follow-up questions when you get the advice. It doesn’t mean that you have to be absolutely silent while somebody gives you their perspective. It just means that when you ask the questions that you’re asking and you’re going through the process of understanding the advice, you’re not doing it in a way that subtly undermines it. You’re doing it in a way that is seeking to understand. There’s a very subtle difference between those two, but it’s really important. [00:52:45] And to your point earlier, Jordan. Not arguing with advice isn’t just about making sure that you get the advice you need, it also is about signaling that you take that advice seriously. This all comes back to this idea that the better you are at processing and asking for advice, the better advice you’ll receive and the more advice you’ll receive. That’s why this is so important. [00:53:03] When somebody approaches you asking a question when they want advice, you can tell when the intention behind it is there when it’s clear that they really want to hear it. And so you can also usually pick up when they’re subtly resisting the advice or when they don’t want to hear it. And so when we separate out these two phases, we’re also signaling to all the people who can help us, that they should help us, and that they can continue to help us. [00:53:21] Which kind of brings us to our last major point, which is once you get all the advice, what do you do with it? And so the last stage is to really put the advice into practice. Because advice at the end of the day is just words until the person who’s seeking the advice finds a way to put it into practice. But if you don’t put in practice or apply it in some shape or form, you’ve missed something crucial. But here’s the thing, acting on advice means using that advice to decide the best course of action for yourself. It doesn’t necessarily mean following the advice to a tee or even following it at all. It just means considering the advice carefully and drawing your own conclusions from it, and then factoring those conclusions into your decision, whatever your decision ultimately is. [00:53:59] It took me years to realize this, but it was like one of the greatest realizations that you don’t have to follow even great advice to the letter or even at all to make the most of it. Some of the best advice I’ve ever received was advice that I totally disagreed with. The value of the advice in those cases was like to challenge my perspective or to force me to revisit my assumptions or to consider all the implications of my decision. What I’ve realized now is that the value of advice doesn’t lie on whether it’s right or wrong, but in the way that I process and act on it. So you can follow great advice into failure and you can also follow quote-unquote bad advice into success. It’s not so much about the advice, it’s about who’s acting on it and how they go about it. [00:54:36] So this is again, why it’s so important to separate out those two phases of listening and judging the advice. Because if you can just take it in, then you can decide for yourself which pieces work and which don’t, or if it works at all, or if it’s complete garbage. But you can do that later and then decide, “Oh, I heard the counsel that I wanted to seek out but now I’m going to go in this other direction and that’s the best choice for me, but I’m really glad that when it was coming my way, I didn’t try to judge it in the moment. I was just there to receive it.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:55:00] Yeah, that makes sense. Another way to fail to make the most of advice is to actually anticipate the outcome before you even try it. And I see this a lot, especially with Six-Minute Networking — our networking course which is free — a lot of folks will go like, “Oh, okay. This is a really good idea, but here’s the thing. I don’t want to do the Connect Four exercise where they text four people a week that have been sort of disengaged — and you can find that at jordanharbinger.com/course to one of the main exercises. They’ll go, “I don’t want to be texting people all day. And then I don’t want people to be like, ‘Oh, let’s meet for lunch.’ And then I’ve got like lunch dates five days a week.” And I go, “Look, look, look. Just wait. Half the people you text are going to respond at best, the rest aren’t going to engage. A lot of people are going to say, ‘Great to hear from you,’ and they’re going to go on with their day. Not everybody’s going to be like dying to go get coffee or lunch with you. You might end up with one or two of those every month and you can always say no, and that’s easy, so you’re going to throw away and not engage a bunch of people because of this imaginary, what-if scenario.” And I say, “Give it a shot for five days and see how many coffee dates you end up with, especially as you’re trying to avoid them.” And they’re like, “Oh yeah, you’re right. Only one person wanted to get coffee. And I told them that I was pretty busy the rest of the month and they were like, ‘Okay, cool. No problem.’ And that was not an issue at all.” So they basically were trying to figure out how to talk their way out of doing this exercise based on an imaginary scenario that never even happened.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:56:19] Again, it goes back to the fact that a lot of smart people are especially good at playing that what-if game.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:56:23] Right.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:56:23] Because they can think their way out of any situation and they have a tendency to spin up all kinds of implications or to assume the outcome before it even happens. Like, “Well, if I apply for this job right now, then they might realize that I’m not as experienced.” Or, you know, “If I launched this company on my own, then I’ll ruin my chances of attracting a business partner down the line.” Or, you know, whatever scenario they’re imagining those implications are endless. You can imagine all sorts of situations. They usually keep us paralyzed or let us off the hook for doing the work. And that’s why people tend to invest so much in them because they want to believe that the problems that they think will arise will arise. But deep down, they really just don’t want to go through it. They don’t want to do the work. So that’s why acting on advice is so important. Again, not following the advice to a tee, but acting on advice in your own way, because in some cases, it is important to consider all of the implications and to take a year or two years to decide what to do. But in other cases, like for example, taking your course or building a networking system or exploring a new job opportunity, you don’t need to anticipate every single angle. You just need to listen and act on the advice that’s right in front of you. And when you do act on it, what you usually find out is that the problems you think will exist don’t materialize at all.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:28] No. You get different problems.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:57:29] You get different problems. Exactly. Other problems crop up and they’re rarely the ones that you would have anticipated. So what good does overthinking the advice really do? When does overthinking advice go from responsible to just avoidant? I would say a lot of the time.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:42] In closing here, I think it’s important to highlight that asking for advice the right way is one of the most important skills that we can master. It sharpens our instincts. It exposes us to guidance. It brings us closer to our goals. It brings us better abilities. It brings us closer to our purpose, whatever you want to call it. Soliciting it the right way, making sure we ask for it the right way, processing it the right way, putting it to good use instead of overthinking it — this is the difference between ignorance and understanding failure and success.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [00:58:09] Yeah, and to your point, it’s not just a skill in and of itself. It is a skill to know how to ask for advice, but it’s also at the heart of so many other skills and mindsets that are crucial to like our lives overall in our careers. A lot of people write in to you asking, “Hey, you know, I’m at this new phase of my career and I really need a mentor, but I don’t even know where to begin.” Well, one of the best ways to find a mentor figure is to ask somebody for great advice and to follow that advice because it opens up a relationship. Or somebody might write in wanting to deepen their relationships with people at work and they don’t know-how. Well, a great way is just to ask for some guidance, ask for some advice. So we’re not just talking about, “Oh, ask a great question, get some good information.” It’s also about the substance of all of your relationships, and that plays out at work, at home, and your family, with new friends, when you’re out. In a way asking for good advice, it’s kind of at the heart of everything you do and every relationship that you have.[00:59:02] And also knowing how to ask for advice also makes you better at giving advice. And that’s really important too, because we’ve been focusing on one side of the equation in this episode, but the other side of the equation kind of grows out of this. If you understand what it’s like to be on the other side of that request, then you’ll be in a position to give even better advice to other people, which also builds the relationship and the other direction. So knowing how to ask for and listen to and process and put advice into good use is actually part of everything we do, which is why we need to build that muscle, I think over time. Again, even when it’s hard, even when our wiring tends to get in the way, it always comes down to committing to the practice saying, “Okay, I know that my brain is designed this way, or I know that advice can be a little bit overwhelming or intimidating, but I’m going to choose to listen to it when it comes along, and then I’m going to choose to process it at a different stage and then I’m going to choose to decide how to put it into practice.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:59:49] Gabriel, thank you so much. I know that we scratch the surface of our giant post on How to Ask for Advice on jordanharbinger.com and of course we’ll link to that in the show notes. If you want to do your own deep dive, you can go and read that post, but this has just been excellent. I think there’s a lot of value here for everyone, so thank you very much.
Gabriel Mizrahi: [01:00:04] Of course. My pleasure.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:00:08] Thanks again to Gabriel Mizrahi for joining me on this one. We forgot to mention during the show that once you take advice and once you get advice, close the loop with the person who gave it to you. So in other words, when you get advice from somebody, they tell you what to do, write them back and tell them when you applied it, how it worked out for you, et cetera because people love knowing how the advice was applied. It also shows that you were actually listening and not just sort of covert low-key asking for them to do it for you, et cetera. And it’s a good way to reach back and remind them of who you are and the fact that you’re actually listening and doing what they’ve said, so they didn’t waste their time.[01:00:43] Also want to thank the Andaz Hotel for lending us their premises to record this one. In the show notes, there are worksheets for each episode, including this one, so you can review here what you learned today. We also now have transcripts for each episode, and those can be found in the show notes as well. [01:00:57] I’m teaching you how to connect with great people and manage relationships using systems, using tiny habits so take my freaking advice and go get the Six-Minute Networking course which is free over at jordanharbinger.com/course. Don’t do it later. Do it now. You got to dig the well before you get thirsty. Once you need relationships, you’re probably too late to go right out and make them. These drills take just a few minutes per day. I wish I knew this stuff 20 years ago. It’s not fluff. It’s crucial and you can find it for free at jordanharbinger.com/course. By the way, most of the guests you hear on the show, they come by way of the course, they subscribe to the course. In fact, speaking of building relationships, you can always reach out and/or follow me on social. I’m @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram. [01:01:40] 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, and I’m your host Jordan Harbinger. Our advice and opinions, and those of our guests are their own. And yes, 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. So if you know somebody who has quote-unquote bad luck reaching out and getting advice or somebody who maybe doesn’t apply what they hear by way of advice, well send them this episode. Let them see the light. Hopefully, you find something of value in every episode, so please do share the show with those you love, and even those you don’t. 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.