You finally landed an interview with a high-end Italian furniture company for a position that falls in line with your career aspirations. You’re super qualified except for one thing: the job posting listed “fluent in Italian” as a requirement, and you’re definitely not. Should you be up front with them and let them know immediately that you don’t speak Italian but say you’re willing to learn it, or should you accept the interview and tell them you’re not fluent when you meet with them in person? We’ll try to find answers to this and more here on Feedback Friday!

And in case you didn’t already know it, Jordan Harbinger (@JordanHarbinger) and Jason DeFillippo (@jpdef) 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 friday@jordanharbinger.com. Now let’s dive in!

On This Week’s Feedback Friday, We Discuss:

  • Is it ever worth it to mislead a potential employer to get a foot in the door with the intention of making things right later?
  • Your parents had an acrimonious divorce and your mother holds it against you that you still talk to your father. How do you draw the line in communicating with your mom?
  • When it comes to taking classes online, you’ve become an expert at gaming the system in ways that might be considered cheating. But isn’t this just being resourceful?
  • You’ve disappointed a mentor by taking time out from your studies for self-care. How can you salvage the professional relationship while not putting your mental health at risk?
  • What’s it like to bust counterfeiters for fun and profit? Here’s a perspective you might enjoy if you dug the recent episode with Kris Buckner.
  • Life Pro Tip: Forget to take your vitamins every day? Put a small Post-it style calendar next to them, which will give you an at-a-glance reminder.
  • Recommendation of the Week: Narcos Mexico Season 2
  • A quick shout out to Tomas Conefrey!
  • Have any questions, comments, or stories you’d like to share with us? Drop us a line at friday@jordanharbinger.com!
  • Connect with Jordan on Twitter at @JordanHarbinger and Instagram at @jordanharbinger.
  • Connect with Jason on Twitter at @jpdef and Instagram at @JPD, join his podcasting club, and check out his other show: Grumpy Old Geeks.

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

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The Lineup with Dave Prodan breaks things down with influential figures from all across the surf landscape. Hear their behind-the-scenes stories and unfiltered opinions to get a deeper sense of who they are and how they’ve influenced the sport and culture of surfing!

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Resources from This Episode:

Transcript for Mislead an Employer for a Foot in the Door? | Feedback Friday (Episode 322)

Jordan Harbinger: [00:00:03] Welcome to Feedback Friday. I’m your host Jordan Harbinger and 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. 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, to thinkers and performers.

[00:00:32] This week we had Dennis Carroll. Dennis was the USAID US Agency for International Developments, Pandemic Influenza and Emerging Threats Unit Head, so he really knows his stuff when it comes to the flu, and we discussed how the flu — influenza for sure, almost for sure — will be the next global pandemic. This isn’t fearmongering. It’s actually quite science-based. There’s a lot we can do about that.

[00:00:54] We also have a Deep Dive into how to ask for advice and do it the right way. Frankly, a lot of people ask me for advice in the wrong way — a lot of you do it right, most of you do it right, and I appreciate that. Obviously, you listen to the show. And I wrote a whole article about this, but I know some of you don’t get a chance to read that stuff, and many of you want to hear a more in-depth discussion on the subject. So we did a Deep Dive on how to ask for advice and how to implement it, how to do it in the right way so that the people you ask. Well, they don’t resent you for doing it, which happens all the time. And we’re going to field one of those questions here this week on Feedback Friday as well.

[00:01:27] Of course, our primary mission here on The Jordan Harbinger Show is to pass along our guests and our own insights and experience to you. So we want to have conversations directly with you. That’s what we’re going to do today and every Friday here on Feedback Friday. I want to place one brick in the structure that makes up your life. That’s really what the whole show is about, and you can reach us at friday@jordanharbinger.com. 

[00:01:48] I just got back from the best birthday that I’ve ever had in my entire life, at least that I can remember my 40th birthday. That’s right. I’m officially old now. I woke up that morning and I had to pee really bad and my back hurt and I thought, “Oh, this is probably how it’s going to be forever.”

Jason DeFillippo: [00:02:03] Oh yes, it is. Happy birthday, by the way. I wish I could have been there. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:07] Then after that, we went to the maximum-security prison with a bunch of amazing people, show fans. That just turned out to be the coolest group of people. Unfortunately on the bus, you know, I was preoccupied, like making sure that everything was going to work logistically and I got a chance to talk to a bunch of folks. But during the prison experience, after the prison experience at my birthday party, at a brewery, we just took over this place. It’s just amazing how awesome everyone is who came to this event. It really is hopefully a good representation of the type of person that listens to the show from people with amazing careers, to people that have gotten out of harrowing and crazy situations, to people just living their lives and being awesome people. A lot of people brought me great gifts, but the best gift of all was just meeting people whose lives had been changed by the show. And I try not to be like, “We change lives here at The Jordan Harbinger Show,” just cause it seems a little self-important to do that. But hearing people’s stories really does prove that we’re on the right track with what we do here. The mission of the show is being accomplished every day by putting out great stuff or stuff we think is pretty darn good anyway. And being able to see the results of that in terms of the people that listen and love the show, and that flew from other countries, other continents, other States, just to go to prison with us for a day and then have a drink or two after. That was the best gift of all. 

[00:03:27] And I just want to thank everyone that came out. I want to thank everyone that was there that made the event amazing, that made my birthday amazing. And even the people that couldn’t make it but sent their wishes. I really am thankful for that. And now I feel like, geez, I should have some kind of cool event every year or every other year. I just don’t know how to top this one. We’ll see. But again, thank you. We do the show for you, and it was the best birthday that I’ve ever had in my life because of the people that showed up and made it amazing. So if you came to the prison event, or even if you just kind of thought about coming to the prison event, I’ll count it. I’ll count it. Thank you very much for doing that. You made the day just absolutely amazing.

[00:04:04] Jason, what’s the first thing out of the mailbag? 

Jason DeFillippo: [00:04:06] Hey, Jordan. After spending several years as a retail manager, my wife has finally landed an interview with a high-end Italian furniture company for a position that falls in line with her career aspirations. Jobs like that haven’t been easy to find. She super qualified except, for one thing, the job posting listed fluent in Italian as a requirement being from the Northeast and now living in the South. Neither of us ever bothered to learn a second language, but I urged her to apply anyway as I think it’s a low-risk, high-reward move, and she can learn Italian if they chose to hire her. They contacted her very quickly, about two hours later to schedule an interview on Monday. I don’t think Italian speakers are abundant where we live, but she isn’t sure how to proceed since we were viewing this job as a long shot. So my question is, should she be upfront with them and let them know immediately she doesn’t speak Italian but say she’s willing to learn it? Or should she accept the interview and tell them she’s not fluent when she meets them in person? She’s a hard worker and I know they will like her once they meet her. So I don’t like the first option because it could eliminate her, but I’m also worried that if fluency in Italian is crucial to them and she waits until the interview to tell them they might get upset for wasting their time when not speaking Italian may have eliminated her as a candidate earlier on. If there’s any chance you can give me some advice on this, I’d be eternally grateful. Love the show. Signed, What’s Italian for Full Disclosure. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:21] The answer to this one depends on some information that we don’t really have yet. Namely, did she represent in any way, even throw a mission or lack of clarity that she might speak Italian, because it sounds like since the job requires fluent Italian, they just assumed that she speaks Italian or she wouldn’t have applied? But if she said anything like, “Oh, this sounds great, I’d love to do it.” And did not say, “But I don’t speak Italian.” You’re kind of treading on thin ice here. So the thing is, yes, she could tell them upfront and it could cost her the job interview. If she gets there and she doesn’t speak Italian and they say, “What the heck are you doing here?” And it’s a deal-breaker, then fine. She’s not in the industry. She can apologize. She should apologize and say, “Oh, you guys were really clear on that. I’m really sorry. I thought maybe I could come in and try it anyway.” They can chalk it up to a misunderstanding and just go to lunch earlier or take a coffee break, smoke some unfiltered cigarettes, or whatever Italians do at work in the furniture business. I don’t know. She’s not going to ruin their whole day.

[00:06:17] She should be aware that if a job requires fluent Italian, she’s not going to learn fluent Italian anytime soon. I speak a few languages myself. I’m not any kind of gifted and talented person with the languages that I speak, but I would say having learned five languages, including English, so for second, whatever third, fourth, and fifth languages. It’s going to be really, really hard to speak anything remotely close to fluent Italian. Even if you all moved to Italy right now and stayed there for a year, she’d have to take lessons every single day, go out and use it every single day and that’s if you live in Italy. Look, if you bust out Rosetta Stone or LiveLingua or something, you’ve got half a decade. Unless you are just absolutely crushing the studying every day and you happen to be good with languages.

[00:07:03] She needs to be aware here. She’s a furniture buyer, so I’m guessing they’re going to want her to go to Italy all the time and be on the phone speaking Italian all day and look up things in papers and on the Internet and find furniture dealers and walk-in and negotiate. She can’t just know how to order sangria and read some articles in a newspaper or something. This sounds like they were requiring fluent business Italian.  They want native proficiency or near-native proficiency. They don’t want somebody who’s studied even a few years in college up to casual or conversational fluency. This person has to know business Italian. I don’t want to be discouraging, but this isn’t like better sign up for the Learning Annex and get some Italian under my belt. This is a real commitment to spending as much time as humanly possible learning Italian for months every year, and even at that point, she may not even qualify for the job unless she can do business in Italian.

[00:07:57] When I went to high school in the former East Germany, I spoke German all day. I went to school in German all day every day. I looked up a ton of words and I was doing okay right after 10 months of 24/7 German, not speaking English at all, barely ever using English at all, and that was really, really hard. And I ended up winning an award or getting recognized, I should say, for having the best German of all the exchange students at the end of that year. I’m not saying that to brag, I’m saying that after 10 months I was able to complete a level of fluency. There’s no chance in hell I would’ve been able to get a job at a German company and make phone calls for that company. There’s just no way I would have needed at least another year most likely in that environment to even get close to up to snuff. There are people that live here in the United States that come from countries like Taiwan. I’m related to a few of them. Their English is just not that good. And these people had jobs here in the United States. They worked for companies where they weren’t speaking English all day. They worked with other people who spoke fluent Mandarin. So that’s kind of the issue.

[00:08:58] It sounds to me like you need to clarify what level of Italian they need. If they just need you to be able to look at forms that come in that are written in Italian, you can learn that stuff in a few months. You just need some very basic vocabulary. So you can read words like quantity and total and currency and things like that. But if they need you to be making phone calls, it’s even harder than talking in person because you don’t have non-verbal communication while you’re on the phone. It’s really, really difficult. All you have is voice tonality, vocal tonality, and the actual words, the vocabulary. So it’s going to be really, really tough.

[00:09:29] I applaud the go-getter attitude, but you’ve got to be very clear on what your capabilities are and they have to be very clear on what they actually require. So her best bet, be honest with them, make sure they know what and who they are getting when she takes the job. I wouldn’t hold my breath for this one, but there’s no harm in giving it a shot as long as you place all your cards on the table so that the company doesn’t feel burned and like you’ve wasted their time. All right. What’s next? 

Jason DeFillippo: [00:09:55] Hi, Jordan, Jason, and Jen. After 40-plus years of marriage, my parents unexpectedly divorced. It was messy, to say the least. My dad initiated the whole process. My mom found out he’d been spending a lot of time on the phone with a former high school girlfriend and keeping it from her and things just got spiraled out of control from there. On top of that, I found out that my mom had cheated on my dad when they were newly married. I had a wonderful childhood and always thought their marriage was picturesque. He said he was willing to work on the marriage, but ended up not giving it a lot of effort. My mom is incredibly overbearing and I’m realizing as an adult. That she’s also very controlling, exaggerates a lot, and is pretty much never willing to be wrong. After stepping back, I can see how their marriage ended the way it did. I wish my dad would’ve spoken up about his unhappiness and it not been emotionally unfaithful to my mom, but I also wish my mom had been more considerate of his feelings. My mom and I used to have an exceptionally close mother-daughter relationship but since my parents’ divorce, it’s suffered tremendously. I used to tell her everything, but now conversations with her seem awkward. She either wants to bash my dad even though it’s been a year since they’ve separated or talk about herself or just scroll through her phone when we’re together. It hurts because I have two young boys who I wish she would take a bigger interest in, or at least be inquisitive about how my life, career, and happiness are. She’s pretty much lost all her motherly characteristics. She only reaches out to me when she wants to tell me something about my dad. Like when she found out he started dating, but she frequently says things like, “He left you and your sister too,” or, “He did this to you too,” or, “He doesn’t care about how you feel.” I’ve maintained a civil and supportive relationship with my dad, mainly because he doesn’t talk much about the divorce or the circumstances leading up to it, but my mom feels betrayed by the fact that I even still communicate with my father. How do I draw the line with communicating with my mom? I don’t want to talk badly about my dad. I want to support her since she’s alone, but I feel emotionally exhausted by this all. I also struggle with how much time I should devote to her sadness and anger at the expense of my own family. I suffer from anxiety and it’s taken me a lot to get over the turmoil that this has caused my family but she frequently wants to take me back to that place. I know she’s hurting and suffering, but I feel it’s unfair for her to constantly try to dredge everything back up. Am I being selfish? Sincerely, Caught in the Middle. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:06] It’s really unfair of your mother to take sides here. That’s my initial opinion. I understand why she’s doing it. She feels wronged. She feels abandoned. She was abandoned. But wanting you to gang up on your father is really not good. It does nothing for her, and it only serves to harm your relationship with her. She’s actually trying to harm your relationship with your dad, which by the way is also selfish, but she’s going to end up — well, she is already — harming your relationship with her and she’s probably pushing almost everyone away. If you were a little kid and she did this, it wouldn’t be fair at all. And it’s not fair to do this as adults either. You are adults, so your father did not leave or abandon you. If he’s still talking with you, he didn’t leave her, abandon you. You’re not seven years old. He’s not out of your life. If you were small kids and he left the family to be with some younger woman, it would be a little different. Again, I understand how she’s rationalizing this, but she’s way off.

[00:12:57] As for where you draw the line, I think you’ve got a great idea here. You said it yourself. “I don’t want to talk badly about my dad. I want to support her since she’s alone, but I feel emotionally exhausted by all of this.” This is not your job to deal with. If she wants to vent about this, she should get a therapist. She should talk to her friends. She should not add to your pain and your discomfort by placing you in the position of shoulder to cry on or therapist. You are her kids. You are not her therapist. You’ve also got your own family and you are by no means required to donate more emotional resources to somebody who isn’t using them properly. Do you need to be there for your mom? Sure. But being there doesn’t require you to be someone’s emotional punching bag or their sewer system. So no, you’re not being selfish. You’re taking care of yourself. You’re taking care of your family. And I do get why you might feel like you’re letting your mother down, but we don’t get mad at the cat because she didn’t take out the recycling bin. That job is better suited for somebody else in the house. We don’t get mad at our pets for not doing certain things. I’m not saying you’re a pet, but look, I’m saying that we need to each have our role in the family, and yours is not the other person that your mom gets to dump on about your dad. It’s just not a good position to be in. It does nothing for the family. It actually harms your relationship with her, so it’s counterproductive even if she thinks that she’s getting somewhere with it.

[00:14:12] So thanks for listening to the show and definitely set a boundary and stick to it. That’s what’s best for your family. It’s what’s best for your mom frankly, and it’s also what’s best for yourself. Jason, what do you think? 

Jason DeFillippo: [00:14:22] I have a little bit of experience with crazy mothers like this. She’s only been through one divorce. My mom has been through five and I saw the same exact behavior. It plays out over and over again, and that happens in her general life too. And I think that this is her mom’s, you know, her basic characteristics. So what she needs to do, in my opinion, is just pull back and take care of yourself. And when her mom realizes that there’s nobody there for her to talk to, she’ll mellow out a bit and maybe come around. But it’s not your job in any way, shape, or form, especially if you’re an adult with children. Ain’t nobody got time for that. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:57] Yeah, that makes sense to me.

Jason DeFillippo: [00:15:01] This is Feedback Friday. We’ll be right back after this. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:15:04] This episode is sponsored in part by BiOptimizers. As many of you probably know, I travel a lot actually. Being in and out of airports, airplanes, public restrooms, restaurants can be a little worrisome when trying to avoid flus and illness of any kind. There’s a lot I already do to boost my immune system so I can keep up with my schedule without getting sick. But I do have some secret weapons I keep on me at all times. It’s a product you may have heard me talk about before. A probiotic called P3-OM. It uses just one proven probiotic strain that’s so effective. It’s been patented. What it does better than any other strain is to fight the bad guys. Bugs like parasites, viruses, other pathogens in your gut. And beating bad bacteria is the biggest reason you want to take a probiotic in the first place. Three times stronger at helping speed up your metabolism. P3-OM is really good at what it does. In fact, you can watch it break down some food. Jason, where can they find that?  

Jason DeFillippo: [00:15:54] They can find that at p3om.com/jordan. Just be sure to enter coupon code JORDAN20 to receive 20 percent off at p3om.com/jordan. That’s P3-the letter O and M-forward slash-JORDAN and get 20 percent off your first order. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:16:09] This episode is also sponsored by ButcherBox. Great quality meat can be kind of tough to find. There’s more to it than just texture and taste. And there are some hidden costs with low-quality meat. The flavor’s a little off. There are high environmental costs. High quality, humanely raised meat is important because it’s better for you, it’s better for the animal, it’s better for the environment. So if you like steak, you got a little — what is it — heritage pork, stuff like I do the little bit of the sous vide steak That stuff is delicious. You got to find a hundred percent grass-fed and finished beef, free-range organic chicken, heritage-breed pork, wild-caught salmon. Good luck finding that at the grocery store. ButcherBox is where it’s at. Everyone deserves high quality, humanely sourced meat. When you order a ButcherBox, it shows up to your door. Jason, didn’t you say you were living on this for like the last two weeks? 

Jason DeFillippo: [00:16:57] I am. I got my ButcherBox and my roommate and I, we cooked for the week on the weekends and we fired up the barbecue. They gave me three packs of wings. I had two steaks — and the bacon is incredible — and a bunch of pork chops. We just cooked it all in one day and I have been eating that for the last two weeks and it is fantastic. Their chicken is beyond reproach. It is some of the best chicken I’ve ever had. And right now, ButcherBox is offering new members ground beef for life. You heard that right. Ground beef for life. That’s two pounds of ground beef in every box for the life of your subscription plus $20 off your first box. Just go to butcherbox.com/jordan or enter promo code JORDAN at checkout. That’s butcherbox.com/jordan or promo code Jordan at checkout.

[00:17:42] Thanks for listening and supporting the show. To learn more about our sponsors and get links to all the great discounts you just heard, visit jordanharbinger.com/deals. And if you’d be so kind, please drop us a nice rating and review on iTunes or your podcast player of choice. It really helps us out and helps build the show family. If you want some tips on how to do that, head on over to jordanharbinger.com/subscribe. Now let’s hear some more of your questions here on Feedback Friday. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:18:08] All right, what’s next?

Jason DeFillippo: [00:18:09] Jordan and Jason, I’m a sophomore in college working towards a degree in HR management. I’ve taken probably 70 percent of my classes online thus far. This is the first year in which my school started using online proctoring to monitor exams to prevent cheating. It goes without saying that in the past I used everything possible to ace every test, but now things are more difficult. Regardless, I still have sneaky ways of fooling the proctoring system and saving lots of time, not studying for science classes that will have nothing to do with my professional future. I don’t feel bad about being resourceful here, but please ridicule me as you see fit. I’ve found that I’m very swift and resourceful at what would be considered cheating. I am very tempted to cheat in my in-class classes as well as I’m continually seeing opportunities for myself to take advantage of the system. I’m very torn whether I should reject what is right in front of me or not. What do you guys think? Shoot me down if this mode of thinking will destroy me or help me to see how my crafty resourceful mind can be of use. Thanks. Cheater, Cheater, Pumpkin Eater. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:19:05] Well, I’ll withhold a little bit of my judgment here for now. But whenever you consider cheating, you have to consider what you’re cheating and who. So right now, if you’re trying to do something for your major doesn’t really behoove you to cheat. You’re not going to learn this stuff as well. You’re going to rely on cheating. So it’s kind of a mindset thing, right? If you think, “Oh, screw it, I can just cheat.” You’ll learn things less well than you could if you didn’t have that option. So it does affect your studying and I know you think you can mitigate that or control for that, but you really can’t. If you think you’re going to cheat, you’re going to work on that instead of working on making sure you have a quick recall of the things you need. 

[00:19:41] Also, if you are cheating in the class is curved, you’re actually really screwing over other classmates who are not cheating. That’s one of the problems with grading on a curve is cheating is disproportionately advantageous. So if you cheat and the grading is not on a curve, meaning the teacher just gives whatever points you get and you get an A, B, or C, then you’re only cheating yourself. But if you cheat in the classes on a curve, and there’s, let’s say one A, five B’s, and everybody else gets a C or whatever it is in the class, and there are plenty of professors that do this. Then if you cheat and you get one of the B’s because you cheated, then somebody who studied really hard but has a 10th of a percent less than you, they’re going to end up with a lower grade, which really sucks for them. So it actually encourages cheating. But in the end, if you’re the only one doing it, it’s kind of a prisoner’s dilemma. You get ahead. But then if everyone does it that everyone’s just cheating and it screws over everyone, it does nothing for you, but then it also screws over somebody else who’s being honest.

[00:20:29] Now if you’re cheating in a class that’s for your major and then you’re not learning anything while you’re cheating. And I kind of mentioned that before, you’re cheating yourself, but you’re really setting yourself up for some failure down the line as well. And if you get caught, your department heads going to find out about it, which is going to screw over your entire path of study. So you got to be really careful there.

[00:20:48] Classes that don’t matter as much, but you can still get into serious trouble. Like, look, if you’re studying skull shapes of pre-humans and you’re going into human resources or something like that, then I get it. I understand it. It’s still annoying to deal with because it’s either on a curve or you’re sort of risking getting caught frankly. That’s a real problem. If you cheat on the most meaningless college exam and you get caught, you can end up one, you can get expelled, but you can end up on academic probation or you can just fail the class, which really screws up your GPA, much worse than getting a C-plus in anthropology 102 or whatever it is.

[00:21:23] I wonder how online proctoring works. I’m not sure what that even is. Jason, have you heard of that? Or we’re just too old? 

Jason DeFillippo: [00:21:28] I think we’re too old and yeah, way after my time. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:21:31] Yeah. I mean, I remember some online proctoring for law school, but it was basically just a really crappy word processor that doesn’t allow cutting and pasting and so you couldn’t just pre-format and answer and then paste it in. 

Jason DeFillippo: [00:21:43] When I was in college, online teaching was me playing around with gopher because that was the state of the art. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:21:48] Yeah, yeah, yeah. I hear you there. Yeah, it kind of snuck up fast. It was like one year everybody took notes in notebooks in the next year, literally, everyone in the class save for five people had a laptop. And then the year after that, it was like the only people that didn’t have laptops couldn’t afford laptops. And then the year after that, there was financial aid for everyone to get a laptop. It became required. And then everybody who had to write on paper was disadvantaged, which is actually true. Although at the end of the day, they were super advantage because they were the only ones that weren’t playing like online BS or using instant messenger the entire time. So they were the only ones paying attention. 

Jason DeFillippo: [00:22:20] Yeah. They were on Minesweeper or Aim.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:22:22] So many people in law school got really damn good at Minesweeper. I mean, there were people that were playing the huge board that were just crushing it, and I thought, that’s unbelievable. That’s really, really unbelievable. I never got good at that. I didn’t have the patience. 

[00:22:34] But you got to balance cheating with the consequences. At the end of the day, I’m not a fan of cheating, but I will admit that I’ve done it before in classes I just needed to get through. You know this is 20 years ago. I feel like I’d be such a BS’er if I just said I never did it. I’ve done it in classes I needed to get through it. Things I didn’t understand that I was way above my head that I was having a hard time doing, and I just thought, I need to get through this. This is a paper that I don’t really understand. I’m just going to grab some notes from somebody else and take their ideas with their permission and write a similar paper. I’m just lucky I didn’t get caught because that would have been really horrible. I look back on it now and I just think, “Wow, that was — ” I should’ve just gotten a good night’s sleep or something like that and written the damn paper, but I didn’t do that because I was a dumb ass.

[00:23:15] The system is broken though. I’m not sure why you need to learn about. Unrelated things like skull shapes of pre-humans when you’re going to be staring at spreadsheets and taking meetings all day, but don’t even get me started on the scam. That is the for-profit and higher education system as it currently stands. So just be careful. I would say err on the side of not cheating. Yes, it’s a waste of time to study. It’s not as much of a waste of time studying and getting a C-plus on an unrelated class than it is to maybe fail a course. And also just think of it as something you need to get through. There’s plenty of things in life that you need to do that you’re not going to want to do, like your taxes, for example. So just tough it out, get through it, and do whatever you can to minimize classes that are a waste of your time. 

[00:23:57] One thing I did in college to minimize this because I was — they stick you with all kinds of unrelated BS. I don’t know if you remember this, Jason, but they’ll make you take all kinds of unrelated stuff with the idea that you’re going to become well-rounded, but it’s really just — I think it’s them trying to get more money out of you because otherwise, you could get the degree in two years just by taking the required courses or less. Candidly, I think they want you to take more credits and then they can sort of squeeze more tuition out of you. However, what I did is I crafted my own degree and it was a huge pain because I had to apply or appeal to the academic standards board with the help of my, I think they’re called guidance counselors or career counselors, and I said, “Look, I want to make my own degree and it’s going to have a bunch of economics and a bunch of this and a bunch of that, and here’s why I’m justifying each of the courses that goes into the degree, and then they approved it, but only something like five people per year do this. And I was at the University of Michigan and I think it has like 30,000 or 40,000 students. So think about a single-digit number of people doing this every year at that time and the amount of work that went into crafting. Now the good news is once it got approved, all I had to do was go to my guidance counselor and I could tell him which classes I wanted to take and why they were important. And he basically said yes to pretty much everything. So what I did is I just made an economics languages, political science hybrid degree, and I avoided like, Oh, you need to take this super hard pre-business course where everyone gets a C-minus because it’s all on a curve and it’s designed to weed people out who want to go to business school. Or like, here, you have to take calculus two, which is going to be a nightmare on wheels for me for an entire year. And I just said, “I don’t need those,” and he was like, “Okay, fine.” So rather than having to cheat or go through the hell that would have been dealing with those courses, I actually crafted a degree based on things that were useful and interesting for me. And the result is I’m still pretty crappy at math, but I don’t think taking calc two would have fixed that honestly. I think I had some sort of math phobia that I still have. 

[00:25:53] And so I would recommend trying to figure out how to go within this system and use the system against itself instead of blatantly cheating. One, you can’t get caught doing something crappy and pay consequences. Two, you learn how to quote-unquote hack a system in a real way, not just sort of take advantage. So think about it like this. Let’s say you figure out a way to get a bunch of free stuff from your favorite store by delivering value for the story. You develop a photography account on Instagram. That is all really cool leather jackets because you love leather jackets. Now you can go to the store and you say, “Look, I got 38,000 fans of leather jackets. Can I get a free one? In exchange, I’ll do a post, take a bunch of photos of it, put it up on Instagram with the link to the store so they can order it.” The store is like, “Great, that’s a good deal for us. Here’s $1,000 leather jacket.” Or you can walk into that store and rip off the security tag and run out the front door. You’re breaking the system, or you’re hacking the system in both ways, but one is really crude results in a zero-sum game where it’s a net loss for them. And if you get caught, you’re in trouble, and the other way is win-win and there’s nothing to worry about and you can feel good about it at the end of the day. I would always choose that win-win route. It’s a little bit harder, but it’s better for you in the long run. It’s better for everyone else. Does that make sense, Jason, or is that just a completely weird analogy? 

Jason DeFillippo: [00:27:09] No, it makes sense. What bothers me here about Mister Pumpkin Eater is that he thinks he’s clever by cheating. I got that tone from his email. He wants you to give him permission to do it is how I really took this, which I don’t think is a good idea because you know, what do we use to say? How you do anything is how you do everything. And he could become an institutionalized cheater for the rest of his life and always look for the easy way out and never learn anything. And like you said, steal the leather jacket instead of doing it the right way. And that’s what worries me about Mister Pumpkin Eater here is that he’s going to get too used to this. He already said he’s very tempted to cheat in his in-class classes as well. So where do you draw the line? I was in school. I never cheated. I was in photography though, so it was really hard to cheat in photography. You can’t take somebody else’s work. It was never an option for me, so I never got into that kind of thing. But I think now that he has these options and he thinks he’s really clever. I mean, Hey man, if you want to be a cheater and hack the systems, go into cybersecurity, skip HR. It’s probably better for you.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:05] You’re right. It can be a slippery slope because then you go, “Well, screw it. I’m just going to cheat in everything and focus on my applications for jobs.” Because that’s easier than studying. “You know, they’ll train me on the job.” You start to rationalize those things. That’s how, in fact, I do the work in prisons occasionally here, and I see how people rationalize things, and it is exactly that kind of slippery slope. Like, look, I’m not saying you’re going to cheat on a test in college and end up in a maximum-security facility, but I am saying that a lot of people I know that started off shoplifting for fun or attention or to get candy ended up going to jail because they just kept doing it because they weren’t getting caught. And then one day they did and it was a big, big problem. It’s better to arrange the system to serve you than to try and cheat the system itself. 

[00:28:47] And I want to note here that I regret that one time in college that I did cheat and took that person’s ideas. I got their permission. They sent me the paper, I told them I was having a problem in the class. They said, “Go ahead. Just be careful because I don’t want you to get caught.” They actually were worried about me. I did a really good job crafting a new paper. 20/20 hindsight, I was really tired. I didn’t focus enough on creating new ideas, and I spent probably the same amount of time and energy trying to do a good copy of that idea and that paper than I would have if I had just come up with my own damn idea, and I still remember it, that it’s been 20 years, so don’t do that to yourself.

Jason DeFillippo: [00:29:24] We’ll be right back with more Feedback Friday right after this. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:27] This episode is sponsored in part by Oura Ring. I’ve talked about this before. I’m a huge fan. This is a ring that is also a sleep and fitness tracker. Now everybody’s got a billion different fitness trackers. The Oura Ring is my favorite. One because you don’t have some weird thing that you got to take off all the time. I mean, you can lift weights with this thing, but it’s been by far the most accurate sleep tracker that I’ve ever used. I’ve made tons of actual adjustments to my sleep, my diet, and eating patterns based on things that the ring has told me. Like, “Hey, did you have a beer at 5:00 p.m. because your sleep was crap last night.” I’m like, wow, these weird little things can actually affect sleep. Things I thought would never affect sleep and I found a perfect bedtime for me. A perfect wake up time for me, all based on app feedback from Oura Ring. Your pulse is a lot stronger on your finger. All the biometrics directly from where your pulse is, it’s a hundred times stronger on the finger, not the back of the wrist, like if you’re using a watch. The insights have been great and it’s just a great device all around. Jason.

Jason DeFillippo: [00:30:25] if you want to positively impact your life and the lives of those around you, head to ouraring.com/jordan. That’s O-U-R-A-ring.com/jordan and get $30 off your new Oura Ring for a limited time. That’s ouraring.com/jordan.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:41] This episode is also sponsored by The Lineup with Dave Prodan. Surfing isn’t just a sport, it is a lifestyle. Everybody I know who does it is obsessed with it. This podcast is brought to you by the world surf league, The Lineup with Dave Prodan and takes you on a deep dive into the world of surfing as Dave talks to everyone in the field on a level that both surfers and non-surfers alike can appreciate. Whether you’re an avid surfer or you’ve never surfed at all, the philosophy of surfing applies to everyday life. If you’ve ever surfed or been curious about surfing and wanted to know more, that new podcast is called The Lineup with Dave Prodan. The conversations they’ve on The Lineup won’t just give you insight into the sport but will help you understand the basic universal principles of surfing so you can apply them whatever your passion might be.

[00:31:22] My brother-in-law, he surfs, he’s so into it. He will wake up at the crack of dawn, drive 30 minutes to a beach, go back home, shower up, and then head to the office. And anything that’s going to get somebody up before they have to actually go to work — you know, at the crack of dawn, before the sun even rises — obviously there’s something to it. Jason, tell them where they can find that show.

Jason DeFillippo: [00:31:41] That’s World Surf League, the Lineup. Check it out on the Himalaya app or wherever you get your podcasts. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:31:47] This episode is also sponsored in part by HostGator. When a recent guest in real-life Indiana Jones Steve Elkins went hunting for a rumored city in the Honduran Rainforest, he found a place that had been lost even to locals for 500 years, but it shouldn’t take Steve Elkins to find you and your personal or professional presence online. That was a really corny transition, but I’m going to use it. Unfortunately, if you don’t own your own website, you can expect to remain undiscovered for the next half-century as potential connections and clients flock to your more visible competition. Don’t get lost in a metaphorical South American underbrush when HostGator can guide the civilized world your way. Not savvy to the tech details required to establish your own unique presence on the web that goes worldwide, not a problem. HostGator takes care of all that for you so you can keep on doing whatever it is you do best. This is why we’ve been recommending HostGator for as long as we’ve had this freaking podcast. It’s the company we trust to keep you online through any hazards the Internet might throw your way. I can’t protect you against those snakes though, those things are just nasty. 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. You can switch it up as you see fit or run it all on WordPress if that’s what you want to do. If you’ve got a tight budget, don’t worry. As long as you’re a new user, go try any HostGator package for up to 62 percent off, just for hearing this sweet, sweet sound of my voice. And if you’re not completely satisfied with everything HostGator has to offer, you’ve got 45 days to cancel it for a refund of every last penny. Now go check out hostgator.com/jordan right now to sign up. That’s hostgator.com/jordan. Support the show, support your business and your online presence. 

Jason DeFillippo: [00:33:25] Thank you for 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, visit Jordan harbinger.com/deals. Now back to the show for the conclusion of Feedback Friday.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:33:40] Alright, next step. 

Jason DeFillippo: [00:33:41] Hello. I’m a 22-year-old chemistry student getting ready to graduate with my BS. My grades are slightly above average, but nothing to make me stand out too much. However, about three years ago, I started working in a research group on campus. I worked for this professor who I really considered a mentor in the field. They gave me independent projects, let me take the lead on a lot of things and even took me traveling to all sorts of conferences around the country. The plan was for me to apply to graduate school and go straight into working towards my PhD. But last semester I started counseling and realized a lot of my anxiety and burnout had to do with putting too much pressure on myself. I felt like if I can just push through, get my degrees, then that would be free. But with the guidance of counseling, I realized I needed to rest and maybe get some work experience first. So I finished out the semester and let her know that I was planning to not do research in my last semester. Since then, my quote-unquote mentor has done a complete 180. The hardest part is that I need to take one of her classes to graduate. I want to stop caring so much of what she thinks of me. I’ll graduate regardless. But when I get ready to go to graduate school, I’ll need a recommendation letter from her as I think it would be very sketchy to not have one from my boss of three years. Now, I’m just suffering. I hate going to class as she’s petty and makes me feel less than. I just want to be done and leave but this is my first and only source of contact into the chemistry world. How do I salvage the professional relationship that will not put my mental health at risk? Any input on this would be greatly appreciated. Also, I’m a female and it’s already hard enough to navigate the science world in this male dominant discipline. It just hurts to a new level. Getting all this negativity from a woman chemist I’ve looked up to for so long and considered to be close with. Thanks for any advice. Signed, Stuck with Professor Petty. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:35:21] This is a sticky one I think cause it sounds like she’s offended about you leaving. I’m not sure here. I would ask for an appointment and discuss this openly. Put everything on the table. Does she know why you are taking a break? Does she know it’s for stress and mental health reasons? It’s not really any of her business. Why you aren’t moving forward with research here, I think it’s none of her business at all, but maybe she feels like she’s invested in you and she feels burned. Like she invested in you and then you quit and she’s thinking, “You don’t even know what I did for you. I invested a lot of resources in you.” Right now, you kind of have nothing to lose here as it stands. If you tell her what you’re telling me here, she might understand and you might be able to repair the relationship. Don’t do it in a freaking hallway. Don’t do it while she’s on the way to doing something else. Ask for a private office hours chat. She may resist. She may say, “Oh, email me,” but you can underline the importance and she’ll probably be curious enough to sit down with you and listen, hopefully, anyway. If not graduate and don’t worry about it. Life goes on. If someone’s going to be petty for no reason and not let you explain yourself, then you’re better off without them even if they seem like a valuable connection or reference in the short term. If someone’s going to be that much of a pain or impossible to work with or take everything personally, you’re better off just distancing yourself from them and not dealing with them at all if you can avoid it.

[00:36:40] As for the recommendation letter, I think you can get a recommendation hopefully from someone else, or you can write a cover letter or another letter explaining why you didn’t get a letter of recommendation from her. Because the problem is recommendation letters, the valid ones, they’re usually sealed, so you don’t know what she’s actually going to write, which is a massive problem. So if you’re not sure you’re going to get a positive letter of recommendation, you should not ask for one. And with her, it sounds like a wild card. What if she’s, again, super petty and decides, “I’m going to torpedo your career now.” You know a negative letter is much, much worse than no letter, and you can say, “Actually I worked for her for three years and I took a break because I was massively stressed out and had some mental health issues that I wanted to deal with.” I wouldn’t say mental health, honestly. I would say stress and family stuff or something like that, although you don’t want people to think that you have mental health issues that are untreated. And you can explain that you left and that that resulted in her becoming really upset with you. And you just have to be honest, and that’s not great but getting a negative letter is worse. And having no letter is something that leaves things up in the air. It’ll look sketchy, but when you explain yourself, they can take a chance on you if they want to. And that’s the way these things usually work. Then you have to prove yourself. Oh, well that’s how it is with every job.

[00:37:55] All right. Last but not least, so this is not a question, but an interesting note here from a listener who heard our counterfeit episode with Kris Buckner. This stuff’s pretty interesting. Jason, you want to give it a go? 

Jason DeFillippo: [00:38:07] Hey, Jordan. Back in 2003 when my ex-wife switched careers and went back to school, I picked up a couple of part-time jobs in addition to my career to help maintain our lifestyle. One of these jobs was working for a security company who was contracted by a law firm to execute civil seizure warrants. Their clients — usually prominent entities in the fashion industry — hired us to get the counterfeit goods branded with their logos off the street. We also worked with the NYPD on certain cases when either we needed some stronger backup or they needed our expertise or simply didn’t want to do the administrative work. From what I understand, counterfeiting is fully 10 percent of the world’s economy. I’ve personally seen a lot of the stuff Kris Buckner talked about in the recent episode. The company I worked for mostly hired firefighters and retired cops on a part-time basis. We already possessed the legal training and level of professionalism to handle the touchy situations we would encounter. 

[00:38:57] Our typical raid day started like this. In the morning, they had people — usually college kids — dress up in disguises and go down to the areas we were targeting. These kids called spotters were actually trained pretty well in surveillance techniques and they were good at what they were doing. They would do things like go into stores, get around to asking about this stuff we were after, observe everything that was going on, make mental notes of descriptions, see where stuff was being hidden and report back to the office. They would also follow people, stake-out vehicles, et cetera. Once the spotters had enough information to give us a busy day, we would pile into a couple of rented vans with all of our gear. We would cruise down to the first target on our list. Then we jump out of these vans, 20 of us, and overrun the place immediately going for the areas where the spotter said we would most likely find what we were looking for. In retrospect, it seems a little comical, a big group of mostly white guys running into a little store all at once in the middle of the day on Canal Street. This was all part of business for the people who sold this stuff. When this happened, the workers in the store would either run, try to further hide their stuff, or just hang out and watch us do what we needed to do. We would regularly find secret panels behind displays, drawers with false bottoms, hidden doors that led to hidden rooms, stairs, all kinds of places.

[00:40:05] New York City’s Chinatown has been inhabited since the 17th century. Some of these buildings have basements in their basements and these areas — sometimes two or three stories below ground were often connected to the basements of other buildings. These places were absolute underground railroads of fake stuff. We would also find stuff in vacant apartments, office suites, parked cars, and sometimes people’s homes. We found sweatshops where they stuck labels on the previously unmarked handbags. We even intercepted a few tractor-trailers in my time there. 

[00:40:33] When we would find this stuff we were hired to take, we would count it all, put it in bags in the back of a truck hand, the responsible party, their copy of the paperwork and instructions on how to go to court to get it back. Then we’d go onto the next place. Of course, they all alerted each other to our presence in the area, so picking got slimmer as the day went on. At the end of the day, we’d bring all this stuff to a storage unit where it would stay for about six months until the legal procedure was complete. No one ever went to court to get their stuff back. It was the cost of doing business. When time was up, we would take the merchandise to a garbage processing facility on Long Island where we would watch it get dumped into huge incinerators. 

[00:41:08] We also saw a dark side of society. The worst were the scores of young school-aged children who act as mules, transporting merchandise from one location to another. These kids don’t go to school. They walk around Chinatown all day with huge backpacks full of counterfeit goods. It’s a sad thing to see, knowing how they’re exploited and how slim of a chance they have at a good life. 

[00:41:27] Another very common thing would be to force entry to a hidden room or basement and find a bunch of frightened tourists. They would be shopping for counterfeit stuff, having a good time thinking they were being all cloak and dagger, and they would get locked in wherever they were when the store employees heard we were coming. They would just lock the door and run. It was kind of funny. They were usually more terrified of us thinking we were going to arrest them or something.

[00:41:47] I also get to see the backs and insides of a whole bunch of restaurants and supermarkets. Listen to my advice when I tell you, do not eat in a restaurant in New York City’s Chinatown. Don’t even buy unwrapped food down there. When we weren’t swarming stores on Canal Street, we are chasing people with briefcases full of sunglasses and watches through Battery Park in the streets of Chelsea. This almost always led to punches being thrown. All they had to do is drop this stuff, but no, they ran with this stuff and we chased them running like idiots through the park and into the subway. Eventually, someone would stop and try to fight. Of course, they were vastly outnumbered, but they would take a swing anyway, aside from the guys in the park who always wanted to fight, we never had a problem.

[00:42:25] All of these store owners and salespeople knew that when we came, we were only going to take what we were contracted to take. There could be a roll of hundred dollar bills on the table and there often was and it would be there when we left, untouched. It was this level of integrity and professionalism that kept us from getting shot.

[00:42:40] Another thing we did for a while was try to stop people from filming movies in theaters and putting them onto DVDs. We would hang out in a movie theater all day, sitting in the back somewhere for the first half-hour of each showing of whichever movie it was. We’d be on the lookout for things like the screen glow of camcorders and other recording devices. This was in the early 2000s. There were no smartphones yet. This part of the job was so boring. They would pay us extra for it. I sat through the first half-hour of several movies like a dozen times. Tyler Perry is not funny the first time, forget about the 10th. We didn’t catch a single bootlegger this way, but then again, no seize to bootleg DVDs were ever filmed in the theaters we were prowling. They have codes embedded in the film that are specific to the theater. It’s being shown in. If you slow the video down enough, the code flashes on the screen.

[00:43:24] Aside from this particular job, I’ve also run across counterfeiting operations as a firefighter. More than once during building inspections and fire prevention duties, we discovered sweatshops making fake Adidas tracksuits and stuff like that. One time we got a call for a possible cardiac arrest, and when we arrived, no one answered the door. We forced it in. The place was empty except for a whole bunch of machines set up for making credit cards, driver’s licenses, work IDs, and stuff like that. Obviously, someone in the neighborhood dropped a dime on them. This stuff is absolutely everywhere, and when you shut down one operation, two more take its place.

[00:43:56] Anyway, that’s about it. Even though this was a part-time job that I only did for a few years, I had a blast. I made good money, made some really good friends. I learned new skills such as picking locks and using fiber-optic cameras. We also got to hone our firefighting skills as some of the forcible entry tools we used were identical to what we used in the fire department. I also know how to spot fake Oakley’s on eBay. That’s pretty much my expertise with all this world in a nutshell. It really is interesting stuff. Signed, Ted. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:23] Pro tip of the week. Jason, what do you got for us? 

Jason DeFillippo: [00:44:26] So I’m big into daily routines now. And there’s one thing that happens when you get into daily routines for a long enough time. The days kind of blend together and you think you did something but you didn’t do it, and it just comes back to bite you in the ass. And I just had this problem with vitamins because my vitamins, I always have to take after food. And sometimes you walk the dog, you forget to have breakfast. So I’m sitting there one day thinking, how can I fix this? So what I did was I went out and bought one of those little calendars that you usually put on your desk and you peel off a day every day. So I put that next to my vitamin. So every day when I go in, I can just take a quick glance and see if I’ve taken off the day for what day it is. I got this little science trivia facts, so they’re at least good to read. So I’m not just picking them off and throwing them away. And I haven’t missed a day of my vitamins since I got my calendar. It just worked out to be a nice little hack for about five bucks. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:45:14] Nice. I’m almost positive I saw that in your bathroom when I was there.

Jason DeFillippo: [00:45:18] You did? Yeah. A little science calendar right next to all that big stack of vitamins. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:45:22] Yeah. Not bad. I thought you were going to say you sprinkle your vitamins on your cereal in the morning or something like that. Sounds disgusting. 

Jason DeFillippo: [00:45:28] My vitamins taste very bad. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:45:30] Yeah, no recommendation of the week. We’ve been bingeing, Narcos: Mexico. So, you know, do with that what you will. I hope you all enjoyed that. I want to thank everyone that wrote in this week. Link to the show notes for this episode can be found at jordanharbinger.com. Quick shout out to Tomas Conefrey. He listens over there in Ireland. He is really active on Twitter, so I appreciate that. Thank you for writing in and thank you for being a valued listener, Tomas.

[00:45:55] Go back and check out the guests, Dennis Carroll and our Deep Dive on how to ask for advice if you haven’t heard that yet. And if you want to know how we managed to book all these amazing folks on the show, it’s all about the network, and I’m not teaching you about guestbook, I’m teaching you about how to develop a network for yourself. You cannot make up for lost time when it comes to relationships and networking. The number one mistake I see students, business owners — anyone for that matter — making is postponing this kind of thing. Kicking the can down the road and not digging the well before you get thirsty. Once you need relationships, you’re too late to leverage and make them. So do these drills, they take five freaking minutes a day. It’s not fluff, find it all. It’s free jordanharbinger.com/course. I’m on Instagram and Twitter at @JordanHarbinger. It’s a great way to engage with the show. Videos of our interviews are at Jordan harbinger.com/youtube. Jason.

Jason DeFillippo: [00:46:44] you can check out my tech podcast, Grumpy Old Geeks. We discuss what went wrong on the Internet and who’s to blame along with cybersecurity apps, gadgets, books, and more. And we do that twice a week. That’s Grumpy Old Geeks. 

Jordan Harbinger: [00:46:54] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. This episode was produced by Jen Harbinger, edited by Jase Sanderson, show notes for the episode by Robert Fogarty, music by Evan Viola. Keep sending in those questions to friday@jordanharbinger.com. Our advice and opinions, and those of our guests are their own. And yes, I’m a lawyer, but not your lawyer. So do your own research before implementing anything that you hear on the show. And remember, we rise by lifting others. Share the show with those you love, and even those you don’t. If you found this episode useful, please share it with someone else who can use the advice we gave here today. We’ve got lots more in store for 2020 and we’re excited to bring it to you. 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.

Jason DeFillippo: [00:47:39] From the creators of Cold Case Files and PD Stories comes to the next great true-crime podcast, I Survived. Every week, I Survived presents chilling first-person accounts from people who overcame deadly situations, allowing the survivors to describe the events as they unfolded and how they made it out alive. If you love true crime, you’re going to love, I Survived. Be sure to subscribe on Spotify, podcastone.com, Apple Podcasts, and many other podcast apps so you can get new episodes every week.


in Feedback Friday, Podcast Episodes