In order to preserve your own sanity, you cut off all contact with your covert narcissist mom a few years ago. But now that she’s dying, you wonder if you should reconcile for the short time she has left — or regret not doing so once it’s too late. What’s the right thing to do here? We’ll tackle this and more here on Feedback Friday!
And in case you didn’t already know it, Jordan Harbinger (@JordanHarbinger) and Gabriel Mizrahi (@GabeMizrahi) banter and take your comments and questions for Feedback Friday right here every week! If you want us to answer your question, register your feedback, or tell your story on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Now let’s dive in!
On This Week’s Feedback Friday, We Discuss:
- In order to preserve your own sanity, you cut off all contact with your covert narcissist mom a few years ago. But now she’s dying and you wonder if you should reconcile for the short time she has left — or regret not doing so once it’s too late.
- You’ve become a perpetual shoulder to cry on for someone who never follows your advice no matter how much time you devote to trying to help them. How do you gently quit the job of being this person’s informal (and free) therapist?
- You’ve been at your current job for seven years with no advancement in your pay or position in spite of exceeding expectations and never receiving a negative performance review. Your boss promised a raise two and a half years ago, but it still hasn’t surfaced. What should you do?
- You’re 50 years old and have worked in the same industry for most of your adult life. You’re interested in transitioning to a different career, but you’re starting to wonder if your age is a help or a hindrance. When you show up to interviews with grey hair, does it communicate “experienced and reliable” or “old and obsolete?”
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In Business Wars (from Wondery), host David Brown gives you behind-the-scenes access into the boardrooms and offices of some of the biggest companies in America. You’ll hear about epic business battles like movie rental giant Blockbuster versus a little upstart called Netflix, the burger battle between McDonald’s and Burger King, and the two biggest names in beauty, Estée Lauder vs. L’Oréal. Subscribe to Business Wars here, on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you’re listening now!
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Miss the conversation we had with counterfeiting investigator Kris Buckner? Catch up with episode 308: Kris Buckner | Who Does Counterfeiting Really Hurt? here!
Resources from This Episode:
- Ramit Sethi | I Will Teach You to Find Your Dream Job | Jordan Harbinger
- Thomas Erikson | How to Protect Yourself from Psychopaths | Jordan Harbinger
- Wendy Behary | Disarming the Narcissist | Jordan Harbinger
- How to Break Free from Covert Narcissists | Feedback Friday
- How to Set Boundaries with Toxic People | Narcissist Abuse Support
- How to Deal With Being Passed Over for a Promotion | The Muse
- Changing Careers After 50: Advice and Things to Consider | Monster.com
- 6 Tips for Starting a New Career at 50 | FlexJobs
Transcript for How to Cope with a Dying, Narcissistic Parent | Feedback Friday (Episode 466)
Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to Feedback Friday. I'm your host Jordan Harbinger. Today, I'm here with Feedback Friday producer, my confrere in consultation, Gabriel Mizrahi. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating 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. Our mission is to help you become a better informed, more critical thinker. So you can get a much deeper understanding of how the world works and make sense of what's really happening, even inside your own mind.
[00:00:36] If you're new to the show on Fridays, we give advice to you and answer listener questions. The rest of the week, we have long-form interviews and conversations with a variety of amazing folks from spies to CEOs, athletes to authors, thinkers, and performers. And if you're joining us for the first time, or you're looking for a handy way to tell your friends about this show, we now have episodes starter packs. And these are collections of your favorite episodes organized by popular topics to help new listeners get a taste of everything we do here on the show. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start to get started.
[00:01:09] This week, we had my good friend Ramit Sethi back on the show, to discuss finding and cinching that offer for your dream job, how to get an offer, how to find the job that's going to be great for you, how to negotiate the offer. Very, very useful and practical episode if you are on the job hunt or will be soon or know someone who is. We also had Thomas Erickson, author of Surrounded by Psychopaths. This is a psychopath specific episode, how to spot the psychopaths in our lives. A little bit of psychopath self-defense, what to do when we find out who that person is, how do we defend ourselves, protect ourselves against their psychopathy and other craziness that they bring to our lives. So make sure you have a listen to everything we created for you here this week.
[00:01:46] You can reach us firstname.lastname@example.org. Please keep your emails to us concise. Try to include a descriptive subject line, not just like advice question. That makes our job a whole lot easier. If you're something you're going through, any big decision you're wrestling with, or you just need a perspective on stuff, life, love, work, what to do when your sister starts dating a financial scammer, whatever's got you staying up at night lately. Hit us up email@example.com. We're here to help. We keep every question anonymous.
[00:02:14] All right, Gabe, what's the first thing out of the mailbag?
[00:02:16] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey, Jordan and Gabe. A few years ago, in order to preserve my own sanity, I cut off all contact with my mom. She's the sort of covert narcissist that Wendy Behary described on your show.
[00:02:28] That's episode 246, by the way, if you want to check it out.
[00:02:30] She turns herself into a martyr as a way to get attention and sympathy. She resorts to name calling if someone calls her out on her behavior. She seems incapable of maintaining friendships or jobs for more than a year or two. And she never takes responsibility for her actions. To give you one example, I work in the field of criminal justice. When the neighbors call the cops for something that she's done, she drops my name in order to get out of it and has also threatened her immigrant neighbor by implying that I would look up his record. Ethics are extremely important to me. And when I confronted my mom about why this isn't acceptable behavior, she turned around and called me some nasty things and blamed me for being selfish and not standing up for her. Here's another example because my mom thinks she should always be taking care of someone. She feels that she is entitled to their medical information. When my grandma was in the hospital, sometime back, my mom used her phone to take a picture of my grandma's chart while the nurse had their back turned and then claimed it was a quote-unquote accident. She repeated the same accident twice more, even after the nurse informed my mom that doing so could result in the nurse being fired. She then proceeded to yell at any family members who called her out on that. And again, resorted to name calling and refusing to understand that she had no rights to anyone else's information or to jeopardizing the job of that nurse. Going no contact has been one of the best things I've ever done. My life has so much less stress now that I'm not always wondering what she's going to do next and not being called a heartless bitch every time I try to set a boundary. But now my mom is dying, she's got a progressive disease that will kill her sooner rather than later. My aunt who's also been no contact with my mom is encouraging me to reach out to her, forgive her, and reconcile so that I don't regret it once my mom is dead. My friends who have met my mom are all encouraging me to maintain no contact. And my very supportive partner will support me no matter what I decide. Honestly, I don't think I'll miss her or regret it if I don't reconcile. My abusive father died quite some time ago and beyond the initial shock of his sudden and unexpected death, I never had much grief about it. My aunt suggested reaching out to my mom with firm written boundaries and explicit consequences for breaking those boundaries such as going no contact again. I have no reason to believe my mom would respect those boundaries as she never has in the past. I also don't want to cause her more emotional hurt by showing up in her life and then disappearing again, after setting expectations that she's probably incapable of meeting. That seems more cruel than just staying away. And I'm pretty sure that opening myself up to her abuse again, is going to cause me more pain than her actual death. A couple more details, I'm her only child. She's got a brother and a few nieces and nephews, all of whom either don't talk to her or only talk to her once or twice a year. She had a traumatized childhood herself with two alcoholic parents. I'm not concerned about forfeiting any possibility for an inheritance. I know you always tell your listeners, you can't decide for them, which is one of the things I love about you. But if you were in a similar situation, how would you think through this decision? Signed, Brave the Foul Play or Just Stay Away.
[00:05:21] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. Quite a conundrum. I'm sorry that your mom is on her way out, even if you guys aren't close anymore. Losing a parent is always painful. I actually wouldn't know, but I think I can safely guess that without stepping on too many toes. It brings up a lot of stuff, feelings, memories, choices like the one you're facing now. I got to say it sounds to me like you're approaching this whole thing with a ton of clarity and self-awareness. You're doing an amazing job balancing your needs and her needs. You have a good grasp of your boundaries and bottom line, and you're even considering her experience in all this that is not easy to do, especially with a parent like this. I'm sorry you had to grow up with such difficult parents. I can only imagine how tough that must have been for you, for anyone.
[00:06:05] But man, you've really come a long way and I commend you for that. So look because you seem to have done a lot of the work on this relationship already, I think the choice really comes down to what you want to do here. Based on what you shared, I don't think your mom has earned a meaningful reconciliation between the two of you and you definitely don't sound like you want to mend your relationship in this last phase of her life or that you can. If you do visit her, it would be to perform an act of kindness to do your bare minimum basic duty as a daughter, to be the bigger person in this scenario, and end her life on the best note possible or whatever.
[00:06:39] It wouldn't be to forgive her for all the toxicity she's created to be her BFF in her final days, or to compromise all of the emotional growth you've done in the past few years. If she were a different kind of person, I might encourage you to see if that kind of reconciliation were possible, but with a truly narcissistic parent, like this, a person who's narcissism is malignant, someone who cannot consider your experience as separate from her own — yeah, you just can't have any expectations for that.
[00:07:07] Now on one hand, I know that's pretty depressing. You basically have to choose between hurting your mom by not seeing her and possibly hurting yourself. And maybe even her, if you do go see her, that's a shitty bind to be in. On the other hand, there's something freeing about this impossible choice that you're facing. Because if there's really no chance of changing your mom or magically repairing your relationship at the 11th hour, then if you do go see her, it would be for you more than for her. And I think that's actually the right lens to make this decision for yourself.
[00:07:40] So the real question is, do you want to see your mother before she dies? Would seeing her allow you to say any last words? Would it give you a sense of closure, even if your visit turns out to be a dumpster fire? Do you think you'll be left with any lingering guilt after she dies if you don't go see her? It sounds like you're pretty clear that you won't feel that guilt, but it's worth imagining that scenario. Just sit down and do it just to be sure. When she passes away, will you be happy you went to say goodbye, or will you feel like you've compromised yourself and caved into her narcissism one last time? I'm not presupposing any answers here to be clear. I just think these are some of the helpful questions that you might want to ask yourself.
[00:08:20] Now, Gabe, what do you think if she does go see her, maybe there's a way to do it and kind of still protect yourself and maybe go into it — I hate to say with a guard up, but almost like with a guard up, right?
[00:08:30] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, look for one thing, you know, you're under no obligation to spend every single day with her until she goes or to forgive her for everything she's done to you, just so she can feel okay about the two of you. You could go visit her once or twice and that's it. Or you could check in with her by phone, if that feels safer to you, or you could decide to only be there at the very end. Those are all options available to you. And when you are there with her, you can also decide how and how much to talk to her. You could come by and tell her all the things you never said if there are things that you feel have been left on said. You could keep it brief. You could keep it polite and just ask her how she's feeling. And if there's anything that she wants to talk about, or you could just sit there in silence and just kind of be there, even if it's awkward, even if it's a little disappointing for you or even maybe a little painful for you knowing that that's about all you can do with this person at this point.
[00:09:19] Now, if any of those options allows you to be there for your mom without reopening those old wounds. Great. I mean, I think that's all fair game. It's also important for you to remember that given the way she's treated you up until now, you are absolutely free to decide what kind of goodbye you want to give your mom and also give yourself. And I actually like your aunt's suggestion, to approach your mom with firm boundaries. Those boundaries that are absolutely crucial with the narcissist, as I think, you know, very well by now. And it sounds to me like you already have pretty strong boundaries with her right now. So this isn't really much of a reach. It's not something new for you. I don't know if you necessarily have to give those boundaries to your mom and writing in advance. Along with the consequences if she breaks them, like your aunt suggested. Maybe that would help, but do what feels right for you. I have a couple of friends who have done that with a parent like this, and it has been pretty effective, but I think it's a case by case thing.
[00:10:05] But like you said, you don't have any reason to believe that she would suddenly start respecting those boundaries now. So I think the more important thing is that you know those boundaries for yourself and hang on to them as you approach your mom. If you walk into that room, knowing what you will and won't put up with. If you are prepared to call her out or put her on notice, straight up leave, if that's necessary, if she starts up with her narcissistic shenanigans again. And confident that you'll be well-protected. You won't be opening yourself up to too much dysfunction or abuse if you go in there. So if you do decide to go see your mom, take some time to get very clear on what your boundaries will be, where you need to be more guarded or proactive now that you're agreeing to see her again.
[00:10:41] If you walk in and she goes, I don't know, "Well, well, well look who finally decided to get over it and visit our poor mother." You know, like she's Tony Soprano's mom or something. Maybe you tell her, "You know, mom, I can understand if you're angry, but I'm here because I wanted to see you and spend a little time together," and, you know, start to signal to her where that line is. And if she keeps going, if she launches into a woe-is-me story or guilt trips you for going no contact or any of those textbooks, narcissistic strategies.
[00:11:06] Jordan Harbinger: "I'm surprised you remember where I live." Yeah, that's—
[00:11:09] Gabriel Mizrahi: Exactly. "Did you have to look it up."
[00:11:12] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:11:12] Gabriel Mizrahi: Then maybe you can say something like, "Mom, I'd really like to spend some time with you without fighting. So if you're going to bring that stuff up, if you're going to make me feel bad, I'm going to have to leave. And I really don't want to have to do that." And if she still continues after that, then you can get up and leave at any time, knowing that you gave her plenty of fair warning. And if you feel like you need a little extra support here, I wonder if you could bring your partner with you. They sound great. Even if they're just sitting there quietly with you, they might give you some much needed grounding in what I imagine will be a highly emotional situation. And if your mom does act out, then they could also keep you anchored to give you the conviction you need to stand up to her.
[00:11:43] Whether your partner comes or not, though, I would definitely talk to them about all of this before you go in there. I think they could be a great resource for you to think through all of this and prepare in advance. But the real key in this conversation will be staying super calm, super centered, totally nonreactive, which is really hard to do with any parent, let alone a narcissistic one. But if you can stay connected to your own experience in that conversation without reacting or without escalating, then you'll be in really good shape to close this chapter with your mom without opening yourself up to more abuse.
[00:12:12] Jordan Harbinger: And that's what this decision is about at the end of the day, whether you can fulfill this last act of kindness to your mom, without compromising your sanity, your feelings, or your sense of self. So if you can, it might be worth the final visit. If you can't, then you can decide to stay away and know that you made the right call for yourself. You're not a bad person or anything like that. You did the right thing for yourself. And like I said, the fact that you are this clear about how you feel about your mom, what you want from her, what you don't want, what this whole experience means for you, that really clarifies things. It sounds like you've worked through a great deal of the trauma associated with your mom.
[00:12:50] And now the final piece is just to close this chapter with her, and that simplifies things in the sense that, you know what you're getting into here and you know what you'll probably get out of it. So use that clarity, use that data. Do what feels right for you. Know that your primary obligation is to yourself in this case, not to her and not to random people and what they will think or whatever. It's up to what you decide is valid if it's in service of your wellbeing. And also be prepared for this to be a bit painful, no matter what, right? If you go, it'll be painful. If you don't go, it'll be painful. The fact that it will be painful isn't a sign that you've made any kind of mistake. It's a sign that you're a human being going through a profound experience.
[00:13:31] The more you can acknowledge and process that pain in a healthy, productive way with yourself, with your partner through your work and your life, the more this whole experience with your mom will be meaningful. And that ultimately that's the end game here to find the right meaning for yourself. So good luck. And if you feel like it, let us know what you decide to do. I'm curious to know how this turns out. So we're sending you and your mom good thoughts over here.
[00:13:59] You're listening to Feedback Friday here on The Jordan Harbinger Show. We'll be right back.
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[00:15:13] This episode is also sponsored by Grammarly. If you find yourself writing a letter, maybe to your landlord, asking for that rent reduction, something to your boss for a big project or a long message to a friend, Grammarly can help you find not only spelling mistakes, but gives you real time feedback and insights to help you elevate your writing through tone, word, choice, clarity, and more. I use Grammarly every day. I have it on, it works in pretty much every app. It just kind of lays over my whole computer system here. I really enjoy it. I learned a lot of new words. I learn a lot of grammar and find points that I guess I just never knew. Even going to law school, we're so touchy about all those things. I mess these things up all the time, and it's great to have a real time reminder. It's not the same thing as you see in check in any particular word processor or it's completely different and much more advanced, clarity suggestions, vocabulary suggestions. You can get the tone of your writing. I really do use it all the time.
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[00:16:17] Jordan Harbinger: And now back to Feedback Friday on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:16:22] All right, what's next?
[00:16:24] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hi, Jordan and Gabe. In my senior year of high school, this girl had a crush on me. I enjoyed the feelings I had knowing that she liked me, but I didn't want a relationship with her. She and I were both very socially awkward and I tried to tell her no gently, but she never really picked up on my turndowns. Eventually her constant attention started to annoy me and I snapped telling her that I would never be interested in her and blocking her phone number. Fast forward a few years and she reached out to me over social media a few months ago, she was in a steady relationship at the time. I thought we'd make some light conversation and then stop as happens with most of my acquaintances. The thing is about a month after she reached out, her boyfriend broke up with her. She called me that night and was bawling her eyes out. Not wanting to be insensitive, I supported her, tried to answer her questions and gave her some advice, quoting The Jordan Harbinger Show a few times in that advice and yes, I cited my source.
[00:17:13] Jordan Harbinger: Great. Thanks for sending the crazies our way. That's not what I meant when I said share the show with people. No, I'm kidding. Thank you for sharing. She sounds like she needs it. So good on you for that.
[00:17:22] Gabriel Mizrahi: Since then, she has been reaching out more than three times a week, often for emotional advice to complain about our rebounds and sometimes to ask for phone sex. In my eyes, she is emotionally immature and has a lot of skewed views about how the world works. And she almost never takes my advice even after asking for it. I feel like she sees me as a perpetual shoulder to cry on, but I don't want that job. I'm busy with my own classes, my own life, and trying to build a relationship myself. Her late-night calls or texts, her requests, they're certainly causing extra stress in my life and have severely impacted my sleep schedule. How do I let this girl know that I don't want to be her informal therapist without blowing up at her? Again, I'd like to leave the door of acquaintanceship open, but that looks less and less plausible as the days go by. What would you do? Signed, Having the Upper Hand, But Still Under Her Thumb.
[00:18:11] Jordan Harbinger: Okay. My man, what's going on here? You're emotionally and romantically involved with a woman that you do not want to be involved with. A woman who carries a lot of dysfunction. Someone who's creating a ton of stress in your life, getting in the way of your health, getting in the way of your goals, getting in the way of your other relationships. It sounds to me like, you know, you need to end it, but you're afraid of how she's going to respond. Or to be more accurate, you're afraid of how you will respond when you try to end it. And I'm hearing a lot of anger in the letter. You said you don't want to blow up at her again. And I can definitely appreciate why you'd be angry at her for warming her way into your life. But I think you're also angry at yourself for letting her worm her way into your life. Because yeah, look, she's the one driving a lot of this. She's clearly going through some stuff right now of her own. She deserves a chance to work on it, but it definitely takes two to tango. I mean, you can't really blame — "How did this person become my friend and get into my psyche? Oh, wait, I returned their phone calls. Talk to them at two o'clock in the morning." I mean, come on, man.
[00:19:12] This is like hearing somebody who eats something that makes them barf every time, but they just keep eating it. And then someone's like, "Well, you like the taste, I guess?" And you're like, "No, I hate it." "Okay, well, why? It makes you feel good.
[00:19:24] Gabriel Mizrahi: Why are you still eating this?
[00:19:25] Jordan Harbinger: Why are you still eating this? What's going on here? You know, stop doing it. And I know it's not that easy, right? But that's kind of what I'm hearing here in the letter. So my question for you is what are you getting out of this relationship? Why did you let this person back into your life? You didn't have to stay on the phone the first night for freaking five hours or whatever, if he didn't want to. You don't have to pick up and be her security blanket when she calls three times a week. You don't have to play along when she wants to have phone sex although I get the temptation to do that as a teenage boy or a young 20 something guy — whoever's writing it in, right? But you do, even though, as you put it, you don't want that job, okay. And that conflict, that's meaningful. That tells me you have your own complicated feelings about this woman, about yourself, about your obligations and your relationships. There might be some scarcity stuff around, like, "Ooh, this might be the only girl that phone sex with me on a Tuesday night." I understand that again, but you've taken on a very unusual role here, emotional support, sexual partner, advice giver, therapist, caretaker.
[00:20:24] And if we talked it out, I wouldn't be surprised if you find yourself playing that role a lot, especially the caretaker thing, maybe with other people in your life too, honestly. And I got to say to be fair. I think your intentions here were partly good. You want it to help this person. It sounds like maybe you did help her sometimes. I don't mean to discount the kindness you showed her when she needed it. That's obviously nice of you, but you're also getting something else out of this relationship, which is basically a source of validation. Like you said you enjoyed the feelings you had, knowing that she liked you. That's very telling, right? This is back in high school. I get it. And even now, even when you know, you need to put an end to this, you still want to leave the door of acquaintanceship open.
[00:21:03] Why? Why do you want to leave the door open to a person you know you don't want to be with and that brings you nothing but trouble? Almost nothing but trouble, right? That tells me that you're getting the same gratification out of this relationship even now. And that you want to allow yourself more of that gratification in the future. On some level, you're probably pretty hungry for that validation. Maybe even that sense of being needed of being essential, even if it's from somebody that you can't stand. So I'll let you turn that over and decide if it fits. I don't mean to tell you how you feel or anything, I'm just connecting the dots you've shared in this letter. But I would urge you to explore all of your reasons for starting up this relationship again, why it's been so hard for you to end it, why being stuck in it is bringing up all this anger.
[00:21:49] Gabe, how does he get rid of the burden here? He's got to end it.
[00:21:52] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, I agree. He does have to end it. He knows he has to end it. I would pick up the phone or if that's a little too daunting, too difficult, write her an email. Email might actually be best in this case. So you can choose your words carefully and avoid blowing up at her as you put it and also save yourself another three hours of your life talking to somebody on the phone. I would start by telling her that you understand that she's been going through a very tough time lately, and that you were happy to lend an ear, help her out as a friend. You know, you were totally there for her in that moment when she needed it. But then I would explain, briefly and gently, that while it's been nice to reconnect, you just can't maintain this relationship with her any longer. You might want to mention that your phone calls have been getting in the way of your sleep and your work and that you need to prioritize your time now to focus on school. Just so she understands a little bit about why you're pulling away so suddenly.
[00:22:35] Don't blame her for dominating your time. Don't shame her for asking you for so much and keep an eye on that anger if it starts to bubble up, although by email, you have the added benefit of — you know, you can edit, you can tone it down. You can rework it a few times so you don't sound like you're yelling at her over Gmail or whatever. Just focus on the facts and draw the boundary that you need to draw here, whether that's only talking occasionally or keeping your friendship to email or ending your relationship entirely.
[00:23:00] I think you can tell that we feel there are some pretty good reasons for you to break things off completely. We're seeing some pretty real red flags here with this person, but we'll leave that to you. Wish her good luck, encourage her to find her own answers, her own support, and then end on a firm, but respectful note. And then respect whatever boundary that you decided to put in place and do not open the door to this dynamic again.
[00:23:20] Now, if she lashes out at you for this, or she drags you into yet another phone call until 3:00 a.m. to discuss the ins and outs of your relationship or whatever, then be prepared to draw that line even harder. After this conversation, you don't owe her any more explanations. If she presses you, you can just say, you know, kind of like we were talking about with the mom in previous question, right?
[00:23:37] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. This is like déjà vu, right?
[00:23:39] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, you can just return to the points. You can say, "Look, I've told you how I feel and I'm sorry, but I just don't think there's anything else to say." And if she won't let up, then you can just disengage completely. Your job at that point is done.
[00:23:50] Jordan Harbinger: That makes sense to me, man, after that, I encourage you to get very clear on what your true needs are and prioritize those, because it sounds to me like you need to be focusing on classes, on building meaningful relationships, with good friends and partners. Thinking about your career, thinking about your life, what kind of person you want to be. Having the freedom to take care of yourself as well. And with some distance, I would look at your experience with this girl and ask yourself what drew you to this relationship. It's always a good rabbit hole to go down and then ask yourself if that's the kind of relationship you really want in the future. And what you'll have to change in your personality, your patterns, the people you choose to surround yourself with what you'll have to change in order to avoid a situation like this, again, in the future.
[00:24:35] You've got to find the why behind this, the pattern. If you don't. You're going to fall into this again and again, and again, until you figure it out the hard way again and again and again. Right? So figure it out now when you're 20, whatever, before the stakes get higher and you've got a kid or whatever involved, or you're 40 and you're married to this person — like, figure it out now. The earlier the better. This is part of getting to know yourself. As you get older, don't beat yourself up for this, by the way. And look, you're super young. I know we're being pretty blunt with you here, but mistakes like these, they are just a totally normal part of being in your 20s. You're still learning. You're going to find yourself in dysfunctional relationships sometimes. This is how you learn. So don't beat yourself up about this, but I would definitely try and learn from this girl. So you can use this experience to build healthier relationships that are truly in line with your values in the future. Good luck, man.
[00:25:27] This is The Jordan Harbinger Show and this is Feedback Friday. We'll be right back.
[00:25:31] This episode is sponsored by Wondery's Business Wars. The business of beauty is valued at almost $50 billion globally. And with every level of the market saturated with new players, the field gets bigger and bigger every single day. A new social media-based beauty sensation here, a cutting edge, clean makeup brand there. This industry's growth shows no signs of stopping. So what does that mean for its most successful brands? Wondery's Business Wars puts on a full face for the mega rivalry of Estee Lauder and L'Oréal. Listen as they take you through the history of the two biggest names in beauty. Both companies have humble origins, but they've each forged very different paths to the top, but as their profiles increased, so did the competition and no companies hold on, the market is safe forever. I love Business Wars. They always get into the nitty gritty. They're great storytellers. I don't want to spoil this episode for you, but even if you're not into makeup and stuff or beauty per se, you're going to enjoy this episode of Business Wars as you would with any episode of Business Wars. So if you're ready for a makeover, subscribe to Business Wars, Estee Lauder versus L'Oréal. That's on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or you can listen ad-free by joining Wondery Plus in the Wondery app. Wondery, feel the story.
[00:26:39] This episode is also sponsored by Brother.
[00:26:41] Jen Harbinger: Imagine your home totally organized with the P-Touch Home personal label maker, practical and useful home organization templates and attractive durable labels. Make it fun and easy to turn every room into a personalized clutter-free haven. Coordinate your kitchen with a variety of fonts and frames. Label the perfect pantry. Add decorative labels to the laundry room. Tidy up your seasonal storage. And use fun symbols and emojis to finally organize the kids' toys, books, and games. Even the tiniest family members will benefit from an organized space and yes, the furriest family members too. Make the most of your time at home, have fun, and get organized with the P-Touch Home personal label maker only from Brother. For details, visit ptouchhomebybrother.com.
[00:27:23] Jordan Harbinger: Thanks for listening and supporting the show. Your support of our advertisers keeps us going. Who doesn't love some good products and/or services? You can always visit jordanharbinger.com/deals for all the details on everybody that helps support the show. And now for the conclusion of Feedback Friday.
[00:27:41] All right, next up.
[00:27:42] Gabriel Mizrahi: Dear Jordan and Gabe, I've been at my current job for almost seven years with no advancement in my position. During this time, I have regularly exceeded expectations and punched above my weight. I have never received a negative performance review. And I am often praised for my contribution to the company. I currently have several colleagues who are at the same level as me, title and salary wise, who have much less complex jobs and do not have to deal with the caliber of issues that I do. Two and a half years ago, I was told that my boss was going to get me a pay increase, and possibly a title change to reflect my level of work. Yes, you read that right? Two and a half years ago, and it still hasn't happened. I get periodic updates like, "Oh, HR is working on it." And I have brought it up several times this year without being threatening, but I always get the same answer. "Oh, I'm waiting on HR." I actually do believe that my immediate supervisor is trying to make it happen but is being stymied somewhere. I literally don't know what to do anymore. I have been looking for other jobs, but would prefer not to leave my company, but I also really need to advance my career. I feel like such a fool and I wonder what I'm missing. What would you advise? Signed, Feeling Like a Drag Down Clown Being Given the Runaround.
[00:28:47] Jordan Harbinger: Nice. Well, I'm sorry you've been given the runaround for this long. It's super frustrating and I'm sure it's pretty demoralizing, but honestly, your company is sending you a very strong signal here and it's time to listen to it. It's been two and a half years. If this went on for six months, I'd be telling you, "Yeah, you might want to start looking for another job just in case." Two and a half years — yeah, it's time to make a change. My short-term advice is to start interviewing and line up another offer. Then if you want to take it, take it. I'm sure you're sick of these clowns who’ve been stringing you along and could probably use a change, but if you really want to stay or you just want to find out what your current company is capable of, then go to your supervisor and/or HR, tell them you have another offer and ask them if they can match or beat it. Either they'll freak out and give you what you want, or they will let you go take the other offer, and you'll know for sure that that raise was never coming at all.
[00:29:41] Sadly, sometimes the threat of another offer is really the only language that companies speak. So don't be afraid to use it. You gave them plenty of chances to do the right thing. It's not going to end up being a personal issue between you and your manager. Now, it's time to look out for yourself. My more general advice though, is to learn from this experience and not make the mistake again. It sounds to me like you really trusted your supervisors, even when it was clear that they weren't doing right by you. Or maybe you were more interested in maintaining stability than rocking the boat and discounted your own needs. Probably, avoiding some conflict around this raise. And I can understand that as well. These conversations are not always pleasant, but they're absolutely essential to getting ahead and getting what you deserve.
[00:30:25] Also, it sounds like they were able to turn you into a supervisor or more advanced worker with better skills and never give you any sort of pay raise or title bump. Pretty good deal for them. Terrible for you. The lesson here is to never allow that to happen again. So I'd explore all that and figure out why it took you so long to come to this conclusion. No, no judgment here, okay. But like you said, you're wondering what you're missing here. And I think this conflict avoidance might be it. I would start working on that. Look for small ways to speak up when you need something and learn to get comfortable with the healthy conflict of everyday life.
[00:31:02] This won't be the last time you come up against a situation like this. So consider it an investment in your future. And whatever anger and disappointment you're feeling towards your company right now, use it as fuel to motivate you. Start reaching out to people, book some interviews, get excited about other possibilities. I know it's a letdown, but your company, they're kind of doing you a favor, maybe this was the final push out of the nest that you really needed. And there's an even better job waiting for you on the other side. I'd get curious about that. Go chase it and find out what's in store. Good luck. Okay, last but not least.
[00:31:36] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hello, Jordan and team. I'm 50 years old and have worked in the same industry for most of my adult life. I'm interested in transitioning to a career in IT, but I'm starting to wonder if my age is a help or a hindrance. I think my resume documents a lifestyle of continuous learning. I recently completed a master's degree and I have a growing list of IT certifications, but I also acknowledge that hiring decisions are not based on qualifications alone. My hair, including my neatly trimmed beard is silvery gray. If I walked into an HR office, would my appearance communicate experienced and reliable, or would it communicate old and obsolete? Would I improve my chances at a good first impression by shaving the beard and coloring the hair? What would you do? Signed, Silver Fox or a Silver Block.
[00:32:20] Jordan Harbinger: Interesting question. I get why you're asking it because we know both anecdotally and from the research, we know that age sadly does play a role in hiring decisions sometimes. And in many cases, it can work against candidates who are otherwise great. That said, I don't actually fully buy into the idea that age equals liability, that gray hair means out of touch. Sure, there are probably plenty of employers who think that way, especially in sort of techie or more youth-oriented industries. But there are also plenty of candidates who carry that belief themselves, and then they end up apologizing or somehow overcompensating for it, which only ends up highlighting that insecurity. So it kind of becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy in some cases where the more you stress about your age, the more of a problem your age actually becomes.
[00:33:08] At the same time, we all know that age is actually a huge asset in almost every single field. Our culture has created this really toxic cult of youth. We love stories like Mark Zuckerberg and Lena Dunham or whoever. Silicon Valley and Hollywood and the media, they're obsessed with young geniuses and wunderkinds. Meanwhile, the average age of entrepreneurs at the time they founded their companies 42 years old, according to Harvard Business Review and the average age of successful entrepreneurs, 45, according to MarketWatch, which by the way, they also concluded that founders in their 20s, they're the least likely, to build a top company. No surprise there, right? And that's just entrepreneurs. That's not even talking about the millions of people who are working as valuable employees in companies all over the world.
[00:33:56] So this whole obsession with youth in the corporate world — yeah, total BS, pretty harmful, completely overlooking the massive advantage that comes with age. Experience, it really does matter much more than whether you have some grays. So my advice to you is basically this. Own your age, don't work hard to hide it or apologize for it or compensate for it. Put the, just-for-men away, right? Use it to your advantage by pointing to your age as a sign that you have a ton of knowledge and experience. When your company's most critical app crashes or some hacker infiltrates your network, all else being equal, I'm going to want the guy with a gray beard who's seen that problem 10 times over the cocky 24-year-old, who did some UI design for a scooter startup in Oakland. Nothing against scooter startups. I know there are a super cool way to get around, but in a corporate setting, in an IT department, experience, maturity, leadership, that is what saves the day.
[00:34:51] So don't be afraid to highlight these qualities in your interviews. I wouldn't say, "Yeah, I'm 50. I know that's kind of old, but I promise I've seen a lot." I would go, "I've been working in technology for almost 30 years. I've seen a lot and I would love to bring that type of experience to your company," that sort of thing. Acknowledge your age as an asset, rather than apologizing for it as a liability or trying to sweep it under the rug. And that includes talking about your previous experience in that other industry. I bet there's a lot to draw in there.
[00:35:20] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, I totally agree with you, Jordan. His age is an asset. It's not a hindrance necessarily just because he's a little bit older. That said — and this is my only caveat to this — as you own your age, don't let yourself off the hook for staying sharp. Now, I don't think you are going to do that. It doesn't sound like you're the type of person who would do that. But I do think it's worth mentioning as we're talking about how age plays out in these interviews. Because I think that's what employers are actually responding to when they're responding to somebody his age. It's not usually the color of their hair or the fact that they have crow's feet or whatever it's whether the person they're interviewing has the energy or the knowledge or the awareness to be valuable to their company. That's not you, that's not the guy who was writing in, right? He got a master's he's just staying on top of his certifications.
[00:35:57] But some people, a lot of people, as they get older, they don't stay on top of their certs. They double down on their old skill sets or they stop engaging with pop culture, or they don't seek out younger people or people who are different from them so they can understand different points of view. Then they get into an interview and they struggle to connect with the hiring manager. And they think it's because they're older when really it's just because they seem a little bit older, but the easiest explanation for why they didn't get the job is, "You know, Oh, it's because I'm old." They think they're being judged on that rather than on their personality or their accomplishments.
[00:36:24] Jordan Harbinger: I agree. And I know that sucks. I know it takes work to stay relevant, but it's really all of our responsibilities to evolve like that over the course of our lives. And I include myself in that as a guy approaching middle age or firmly in middle age, depending on who you're asking, who works in a medium that skews young and is basically tech — I mean, this, this is something I think about all the time. I'm like, do I need to retire early and just try to make a bunch of money now? Or am I going to be one of those old guys? Just like, "Yeah, I'm on Snapchat." I don't want to be that. So I have to work to constantly make myself relevant and it's a scary proposition. I get it.
[00:36:57] Gabriel Mizrahi: No, I get it. I think about that too. And it's funny. It reminds me a lot of that. There's this woman. I know she used to do classes at the gym that I went through. This was pre-panty D obviously. She was probably, I don't know, mid 60s. She had gray hair from what I remember, like definitely wasn't trying to hide her age in any way. She was a graphic designer who did UI work for tech companies. And this woman, she went from freelance job, to freelance job, to freelance job, just working for startups all over LA. Literally, every few months when we chat before class started, she would be telling me about some new companies she was working for. That was started by some kids in their 20s. They loved her. Like she was just getting work constantly. She just had this awesome energy. She laughed about her age. She worked out every day. She was always taking a new class or trying a new hobby. You know, she was putting in the time to stay on top of like the latest design software, the latest UI trends. She used to geek out about that with me sometimes. It was amazing. And I think her age, it actually worked in her favor because here was this woman who probably protested the Vietnam War, who's like hanging out with 30-year-olds and dropping Instagram meme references and bringing a ton of experience to these jobs in addition to all of her talent.
[00:38:00] I think about her sometimes. And it makes me want to be like that as I get older too like you're saying, Jordan. So just know that that's possible and that if you stay relevant in the way that we were just describing which you are, I mean, you've been proactive about your education. You've been super on top of like staying current with all of the certs and the knowledge you need to have for this new job. If you do all of that, your age could actually help you by highlighting your best qualities.
[00:38:21] Jordan Harbinger: Agreed. So that's what we would do. Start thinking about your age as an asset, work on your story to highlight your experience, your work ethic, your passion. Don't apologize for your age, but don't let it exempt you from keeping up with the times, either both professionally and personally. And if you do that, I think it will be golden.
[00:38:37] Check out the guests from this week Ramit Sethi on Dream Jobs and Thomas Erickson on psychopaths. Both very useful, very practical episodes there. And if you want to know how I managed to book the folks for the show, it's all about the network. Everything in my life that's worked out really well for me, 20/20 hindsight, has been because of my healthy, vibrant network for personal business, whatever. I'm teaching you how to do that, same thing for free over in our Six-Minute Networking course, no credit card. None of that BS. It's over on the Thinkific platform. Just go to jordanharbinger.com/course. Dig the well before you get thirsty.
[00:39:10] A link to the show notes for this episode can be found at jordanharbinger.com. Transcripts are in the show notes. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram or hit me on LinkedIn. You can find Gabe on Twitter at @GabeMizrahi or on Instagram at @GabrielMizrahi.
[00:39:26] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My amazing team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Millie Ocampo, Josh Ballard, and of course, Gabriel Mizrahi. Keep sending in those questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. And remember, our advice and opinions and those of our guests are their own. I'm a lawyer. I'm not your lawyer though. So do your own research before implementing anything you hear on the show. And remember, we rise by lifting others, share the show with those you love. And if you found this episode useful, please share it with somebody else who can use the advice we gave here today. 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.
[00:40:07] Here's a preview of my conversation with an expert who spent more than two decades rooting out the counterfeit goods and services that fuel a trillion-dollar industry that only benefits petty crooks and organized crime networks. It's not just handbags or designer clothes, alcohol, makeup, even cancer medications are just the tip of the iceberg of what gets counterfeited. Here's a quick listen.
[00:40:30] Kris Buckner: Anything and everything is counterfeit from automobile parts, cancer medication, alcohol, kids' cough syrup. I mean, anything that somebody can fake to make money, they're going to do it. I mean, we found human feces, rat feces, and carcinogens in some of the counterfeit makeup. It's really, really scary. I mean, people can actually die or really get harmed over this stuff. The general public thinks, "Oh, it's poor people, just trying to get by, trying to make a living." But somewhere down the chain, a criminal organization is involved in that counterfeit item. The sales of counterfeit goods is actually listed in Al-Qaeda's training manual on a quick and easy way to raise revenue for operational purposes, because why? It's a crime that's completely worth doing for them, where they can make huge amounts of money. And then let's look at the human impact. Where are these goods made?
[00:41:15] Jordan Harbinger: Chinese kids in these factories in the middle of nowhere. There was an investigator online who said he was about to do a raid with the police and he heard children's music and he thought, "Oh wow, they have childcare for their workers." And then when they came in and they found a bunch of kids at sewing machines, handcuffed to the machines. And he said the smell was unbearable because they weren't allowed to go to the bathroom.
[00:41:35] Kris Buckner: The common perception. "Oh, it's poor people just trying to get by or trying to make a living." It's really not the case. I mean, this is tied to organized crime, criminal cartels. I mean, there's a whole big picture behind the stuff. You will see law enforcement do seizures where they're 0.3 million cash out of someone's house. And that's all the proceeds from coming to the goods. When you're buying that item, you are contributing to that child labor. You're contributing to that terrorist organization. That is where the money is going, undoubtedly.
[00:42:05] Jordan Harbinger: Even if you don't care that the Gucci bag you got for just 20 bucks, can't be spotted as a knockoff by the snootiest in your circle of friends, here why the trillion-dollar counterfeiting industry should concern you, check out episode 308 of The Jordan Harbinger Show with Kris Buckner.
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