It’s difficult to plan for a future with your long-term partner when their mother refuses to entertain the idea of getting to know you. In fact, you’ve never even met face-to-face because she doesn’t like your race. So how do you get your significant other to address the reality that their mom’s bigotry makes a romantic future together hard to see? We’ll try to get to the bottom of 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 email@example.com. Now let’s dive in!
On This Week’s Feedback Friday, We Discuss:
- You’ve never met your partner’s mother face-to-face because she doesn’t like your race. How do you address the reality that this bigotry makes a future together hard to see?
- How do you get over a lifelong reluctance to speak out and get help before your poor performance due to work-related stress takes away your dream career?
- You can openly support your Ukrainian coworkers as Putin’s aggression against them drags on, but how do you show your Russian colleagues who don’t support the war that you recognize their uncertainty and sadness during this difficult time without prompting them to say anything that could get them in trouble with their government?
- You were a childhood victim of sexual abuse, and now find yourself as an adult with an addiction to porn and massage parlors that fills you with shame and massive debt. How can you break free from this self-destructive pattern of behavior? [Thanks to clinical psychologist and addiction specialist Dr. Rubin Khoddam for helping us field this one!]
- You regret the generosity of offering your ne’er-do-well brother-in-law a job reference because you’ve come to realize that you can’t, in good conscience, vouch for his reliability. What do you do when being generous and making the right call don’t quite line up?
- Have any questions, comments, or stories you’d like to share with us? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!
- Connect with Jordan on Twitter at @JordanHarbinger and Instagram at @jordanharbinger.
- Connect with Gabriel on Twitter at @GabeMizrahi.
Like this show? Please leave us a review here — even one sentence helps! Consider leaving your Twitter handle so we can thank you personally!
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
Please note that some of the links on this page (books, movies, music, etc.) lead to affiliate programs for which The Jordan Harbinger Show receives compensation. It’s just one of the ways we keep the lights on around here. Thank you for your support!
See Jordan (with Ryan Holiday) Live in L.A. June 13th!: Go to jordanharbinger.com/tickets for more info
- Nissan: Find out more at nissanusa.com or your local Nissan dealer
- Plunge: Visit thecoldplunge.com and use code JORDAN for $150 off
- Credit Karma: Go to creditkarma.com/loanoffers to find out more
- Progressive: Get a free online quote at progressive.com
Miss our conversation with award-winning journalist Tom Wright? Catch up with episode 602: Tom Wright | Billion Dollar Whale here!
Resources from This Episode:
- Sam Cooper | How the West Was Infiltrated by Its Enemies | Jordan Harbinger
- Chris Voss | Hostage Negotiation Tactics for Everyday Life | Jordan Harbinger
- My Parents Are Awful Racists! What Can I Do? | GoodTherapy
- How Do First Responders Deal with Trauma? | Main Line Health Blog
- Emergency Responders: Tips for Taking Care of Yourself | CDC
- First Responder Support Network
- Steven Hassan | Combating Cult Mind Control Part One | Jordan Harbinger
- Steven Hassan | Combating Cult Mind Control Part Two | Jordan Harbinger
- How to Support Employees amid the Russia-Ukraine War | HRZone
- How Russians Opposed to the War in Ukraine Are Making Their Feelings Known | ITV News
- ‘Paranoid Dictator’: Russian Journalists Fill Pro-Kremlin Site with Anti-War Articles | The Guardian
- CIA Reaches Out to Russians Opposed to War in Ukraine | CBS News
- Her Spouse Raped You. Can Friendship Stay True? | Feedback Friday | Jordan Harbinger
- Support for the People of Ukraine | Jordan Harbinger
- Putin/Disinformation Starter Pack | Jordan Harbinger
- Dr. Rubin Khoddam | COPE Psychological Center
- Practical Steps for Breaking Pornography Addiction | Boundless
- 5 Easy Tools to Resist the Urge of Bad Habits | Psychology Today
- Self-Help Addiction Recovery Program | SMART Recovery Addiction Support Groups
- Jordan Harbinger’s Best Advice: ‘Always Be Giving’ | Success
- Uncommitting: How to Say No After You’ve Already Said Yes | Jordan Harbinger
679: Mom’s Bigotry Makes Romantic Future Hard to See | Feedback Friday
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: This episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show is brought to you by Nissan. Why wait for tomorrow? Today is made for thrill.
[00:00:08] Welcome to Feedback Friday. I'm your host Jordan Harbinger. As always, I'm here with Feedback Friday producer, the SPF50 sunscreen block in the harsh rays of this UV life advice, 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.
[00:00:45] If you're new to the show, on Fridays, we give advice. We 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, authors, thinkers, and performers. This week, we had Sam Cooper, an investigative journalist out of Vancouver who uncovered a massive, massive money-laundering operation that goes from China, the US, Canada. Drug money is involved. Triad gangs are involved — really interesting episode., and we had former FBI hostage negotiator, Chris Voss. He's been on the show before, always a really interesting take on negotiation. And of course, great stories about terrorists and sharpshooters and bank robbers and everything in between. So make sure you have a listen to everything that we created for you here this week.
[00:01:29] By the way, we're doing a live show in Los Angeles. It's going to be me interviewing Ryan Holiday. There's going to be hopefully some other surprises, sponsored by Hyundai. And that's going to be June 13th. You can get tickets, very reasonably priced tickets that include one of Ryan's books. He's going to be there signing some of the books as well. We've yet to iron that out. Again, that's on June 13th in Los Angeles. You can find out more and get tickets at jordanharbinger.com/tickets, jordanharbinger.com/tickets. We only have a few seats for this. Don't worry if you miss it, we're going to try and figure out how to get it streamed and other stuff like that, but we would love to see you live. Again, June 13th, jordanharbinger.com/tickets for me and Ryan Holiday live in LA. And if that goes well, maybe we'll do other ones in other cities. I don't know.
[00:02:17] All right, Gabe, what's the first thing out of the mailbag?
[00:02:19] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hi, Jordan and Gabe. I've been in a relationship for two and a half years with a man I love. We are both 41 with established lives. We have a great time together, but we're currently at a standstill I'm white and my boyfriend is black. His elderly mother doesn't approve of me because I'm white. She doesn't even want to meet me. And he's point-blank told me that she would likely verbally attack me if he ever did introduce us. This is hugely problematic because she lives with him. It was supposed to be short term, but because of COVID and other complications, it's turned into much longer. And there doesn't seem to be an end in sight for this living arrangement. I can't go to his house and it definitely puts stress on our relationship. We don't spend holidays together and we can't even entertain the idea of living together. I'm not sure how to approach the situation with my boyfriend. Part of me feels that he needs to limit her involvement in his life if she's going to refuse to accept me. But I also know that historically white people have not been kind to black people. She's older and has lived through things related to race that I can't imagine. It feels like there's no future with this man I love, but I keep holding onto hope. Do I push him to push her to be more accepting? Do I push him to change his living situation or do I just walk away? Signed, Coloring Outside the Lines.
[00:03:34] Jordan Harbinger: Ooh boy, this is a tough one. And I really feel for you and your boyfriend, this is just not an easy situation. It's sad. It's hurtful, it's confusing. And it's a major obstacle to a real long-term relationship with your boyfriend.
[00:03:50] You know, it's interesting, Gabe, the situation — okay. It's obviously about race, but it could just as easily be about any number of things, religion, sexual orientation, like we had a few weeks ago, gender class, the problem would just be the same. And that problem is the person I'm in love with is also close with a parent who flat out will not accept me, which also means that the person I'm in love with can't fully be himself or herself with his family, which means I'm kind of stuck on the periphery of his life. And in a way, I'm this big secret that he has to hide. And I really empathize with this woman. And I also appreciate that she's empathizing so much with her boyfriend's mom, keeping in mind that she has a complicated experience with white people. She's been through some objectively horrible stuff in her life apparently, and that's informing her opinion now. But at the same time, it just doesn't mean that her stance is fair to the woman writing in. And it definitely doesn't mean that it's not painful.
[00:04:49] So here's the reality. Just bottom line, your relationship with your boyfriend will be at a standstill until something shifts with his mother. I'm guessing that your boyfriend is avoiding this conversation, like the plague, because he knows it's going to be a sh*t show if he finally says, "Listen, mom, I have a girlfriend. And by the way, we're in love and she's white. And I know that's difficult for you to wrap your head around, but I want you to meet her. And I want you to give her a chance." That sounds great when I say it, right? But it's not going to go over well at dinner.
[00:05:19] Gabriel Mizrahi: That's a difficult conversation. No, that's—
[00:05:21] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. But as long as he keeps these two halves of his life separate, there's always going to be a limit to how close you guys can be. And the fact that she lives with him that makes this even harder. It's not like, "Oh, hey, you can't come over every third Friday when my mom comes to dinner or even every Friday," right? Let's get back to that detail in just a second. But that means you also can't sleep over. You can't spend holidays together. You can't move in together. Plus you guys have to do all this extra work to keep her from finding out, to keep mom from finding out. So not only is your relationship sort of stuck in a rut but so much of your energy is now being spent on managing the logistics of things. So that mom is in the dark and that's exhausting, besides being depressing and also hurtful.
[00:06:06] So what do you do? Well, if you want things to change, I think you're going to have to talk to your boyfriend. Tell him what all this has been like for you, how it's affecting the relationship from your perspective, help him work through this conflict with his mom, and get clear on what's more important to him — protecting mom's feelings or living a life that's authentic to him moving forward in his relationship with you.
[00:06:32] And I don't mean to minimize how tough that decision is. I think your boyfriend is in a lot of pain, too, just knowing how much is at stake here, but this really is his choice to make and not yours. You can support him, you can help him process. You can give him the courage and clarity he'll need to make the call you want him to make. But ultimately, he's the one who has to stand up to his mom and carve out a bigger place for you in his life.
[00:06:56] Now your boyfriend's not the one writing in. So I don't want to overstep here and tell him what to do. But if I had to have this conversation, I would take some time to really prepare, think through my main points, anticipate my mom's objections, and have a plan for how to respond to them. I would also come up with a way to ease mom into this new territory. For example, maybe your boyfriend says, "Listen, mom, I know this is hard for you and I accept that. I'm not asking you to automatically approve, but please just meet her, talk to her, get to know her, find out why this is the woman I'm in love with. I think you'll see that she's really a thoughtful, caring person. And I think you owe that to me as your son, to at least try to get to know my girlfriend as a person before you write her off completely." Then maybe you guys have tea together at her house or something fairly low stakes, rather than, I don't know, meeting her for the first time at Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas or something like that, which could just be a — that's just added pressure.
[00:07:54] This is his conversation. But maybe that'll give you some ideas to share with him. So you can come up with a plan together.
[00:08:01] Gabriel Mizrahi: I like that approach a lot, Jordan. I think a decent outcome here would be if he can get mom to accept his partner, without trying to change her entire view about white people in general. You know, given her background, it's very possible that there are deep wounds and old, old feelings here that she will never resolve. And fair enough, that's her business. I'm sure her life has been complex in its own way. And it's a tall order to try to rewrite his mother's entire experience. But if she can get to a place where she's like, "Yeah, white people, not crazy about them, but you know, Lydia is a good person. She makes my son happy. I've gotten to know her a little bit. She's nice to me. I can accept her. I like her." That might be as good as it gets here. And it might solve most of their problems, at least in terms of, "How do I integrate these two halves of my life?" but it's still possible that his mom will just refuse to even meet her. I really hope that's not the case, but it's possible.
[00:08:54] So I think another important thing to think through with your boyfriend is how he will respond. If he can't make any progress with his mom. In which case, what stance does he take? Does he choose you and distance himself from his mom? Does he bring you around? You know, insist on bringing you around, even if she won't acknowledge you. And if he does do that, could you feel comfortable with that? Could you be in a relationship where your mother-in-law just doesn't accept you? I'm not presupposing the answer to that. I think everybody has a different standard and a different tolerance for that sort of thing but that is something you'll have to get clear on for yourself.
[00:09:30] But the other big factor here like Jordan mentioned is the fact that his mom lives with him. And, you know, Jordan, I do wonder if her living with him and him keeping this relationship a secret from her if maybe those are two aspects of the same issue, which is that he's essentially prioritizing mom a lot here. Now, I get that there are practical concerns. He wanted to help his mom out. COVID dragged on. There were complications. I get it. He was just trying to help his mom out and it turned into this long-term thing. But the fact is here's an adult man living with his mother, possibly a little enmeshed with his mother.
[00:10:04] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:10:04] Gabriel Mizrahi: And essentially choosing her over his partner, even if it's just by avoiding this difficult conversation. And I'm not saying, you know, kick mom out tomorrow, she doesn't deserve her help. You know, you should only think about yourself or anything — not at all, but I do wonder if maybe your boyfriend doesn't realize the extent of his allegiance to mom at his own expense and also at yours. So that's another thing that I would help him look at, whether he's finding a way to take care of his mom appropriately and also carve out a life and identity of his own. Because of the problem with your relationship, that could just be one manifestation of a larger template that he has with his mother in general.
[00:10:41] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Great point, Gabe. What's so interesting about that if that's true, that's actually not about race at all. That's about a mother and a son and how they relate and how that relationship is probably informing his life in all kinds of ways. And I bet if we really dug, we might even find more like, "Oh, yeah, this whole racism thing, like sort of just cropped up recently when I started dating white women," and it's like, okay, it's just like, it's a red herring maybe. You know, who knows? We don't have enough info there, but I do hope that gives you a way forward here.
[00:11:10] I know that this is complicated. We don't mean to gloss over the complexities of race and discrimination and trauma and all that. I can appreciate in a way why his mom is the way that she is. You're up against a lot here, but it would be a shame if all those wounds got in the way of her son's happiness with you. So start talking, get clear on the game plan, and help your boyfriend have this conversation with his mom.
[00:11:34] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes, absolutely. But if he won't or if he does try to have that conversation and it just doesn't go anywhere and he won't make any real changes that help you guys move forward as a couple, then you'll have to ask yourself if you can be happy in that kind of relationship. Maybe you can be. And if so, great, then this ultimately comes down to your needs and your expectations. So there's some work for you to do here, too, about what you ultimately want. And also just how to process the feelings that come up when your partner's parent feels some type of way about you, which is also a very complicated thing. And that's an important piece of this puzzle, too.
[00:12:08] Jordan Harbinger: It really is such a painful situation, Gabe, but there could be a great outcome here, not just for the relationship, but for his life if he's willing to have some tough conversations. So I hope he gets to do that. We're wishing you the best and we're sending you both good thoughts.
[00:12:24] Gabe, this reminds me of something a long time — I'm on the fence about telling this because it's about my own family, but you know what? Let's be transparent here. So years ago, my uncle — and I'm just going to leave it right there — his wife, so my aunt calls my mom. We have the Christmas party at our house this year. And she says, "Well, we're not inviting my cousin because he wants to bring his girlfriend and she's black." And my mom's like, "What? Why would that be a problem?"
[00:12:49] Gabriel Mizrahi: And that's their son?
[00:12:50] Jordan Harbinger: It's their son.
[00:12:51] Gabriel Mizrahi: Okay.
[00:12:51] Jordan Harbinger: And they're like, "Yeah, we're not letting him come to the Christmas party," because he's dating a woman that he wants to bring and she's black.
[00:12:57] Gabriel Mizrahi: Ooh.
[00:12:57] Jordan Harbinger: And my mom was like, "Get over it." This is 20 — probably like 1998, whatever the year was. "I can't believe we're having this conversation. Shame on you," and like really let my aunt and uncle have it on the phone.
[00:13:12] Gabriel Mizrahi: Wow.
[00:13:13] Jordan Harbinger: Because my mom has worked in Detroit. Like some of her best friends are like all — whenever I used to go to work parties. Like, you know, they're very diverse. She worked in a suburb of Detroit. She worked in Detroit. She worked in Watts after the riots. My mom is very used to being around different kinds of people. And she was just appalled by this.
[00:13:31] Gabriel Mizrahi: Wow.
[00:13:32] Jordan Harbinger: I remember hearing the story and being like, "Are they kidding about this?" Like, I can't believe we're having this conversation—
[00:13:39] Gabriel Mizrahi: Fascinating.
[00:13:39] Jordan Harbinger: —at this juncture in 1998. Yeah. So I get that. There's just casual/actual racism and racist feelings among people that absolutely know better and should know better and just can't act right. So I see it from both sides. Like, I don't want to sort of gloss over how complicated this is. My mom actually called my cousin and personally invited him and his girlfriend to our Christmas party. And when he said, "My mom's going to get mad." She's like, "I'm going to kick them out if they make any sort of fuss about this sh*t at all." Like, my mom lost her mind.
[00:14:12] Gabriel Mizrahi: Wow. And did he end up coming?
[00:14:13] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, he came.
[00:14:14] Gabriel Mizrahi: Wonderful.
[00:14:14] Jordan Harbinger: And it was a non-issue because my mom was like, "If you say anything, I'm going to freaking hit you over the head with a frying pan," you know, to my uncle, my aunt. She didn't really say that, but I think the message was very clear. Like, "This is my house and they are welcome. And I don't give a crap what your stupid racist opinion is."
[00:14:30] Gabriel Mizrahi: Wow. Big ups to your mom for doing that. Maybe this woman needs a champion like that in the family.
[00:14:36] Jordan Harbinger: That was the point of this story. Yeah, like not just to be like, "My mom's great," she is, but I think the point is what if there's an aunt who's close to the mom, who's not crazy racist and can be like, "Okay, I'm going to meet her first." Tell your mom how great she is. And then your mom is going to have to kind of like, let that sink in for a week or two. And then when she meets her, it's like, "Well, my sister who I respect, who doesn't have as much baggage as me says that she's okay. So I'm going to give her a chance." Like you just get, maybe you can get an ally in the family that is going to vouch a little bit for this poor girl.
[00:15:10] Gabriel Mizrahi: That could be very helpful. Yeah, I like that idea.
[00:15:13] Jordan Harbinger: You know who won't care about the color of your skin as long as your money is green? The amazing sponsors that support this. We'll be right back.
[00:15:22] This episode is sponsored in part by Plunge. I was initially skeptical. I thought this was like one of those silly trends. And a lot of my athlete friends were all into it. I saw it on Shark Tank and a friend of mine swears by it. So I tried it and I was like, "This is pretty cool," right? Okay. So I get one of these things. And I've been doing a daily up to six-plus minutes now. It's really a nice reset. It boosts my mood every time. I'm way less sore after workouts. I know that's anecdotal, but it just feels amazing when it's super hot out after long walks, even after a workout. If you've been sort of dabbling in the idea that a Cold Plunge pool might be something that you should check out, I highly recommend the Plunge. It's easy to use. It's easy to set up. It's cold on demand. It's like jumping into — and I know a lot of people are like taking freezers and making their own. That sounds dangerous, first of all. I alternate between my ghetto fabulous inflatable hot tub and the Cold Plunge, and it is better than booze in terms of relaxing. It's also great, like I said, for recovery and muscle soreness and I'm becoming a huge fan. So check out thecoldplunge.com and use promo code JORDAN for 150 bucks off and get to chilling.
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[00:17:42] Now back to Feedback Friday.
[00:17:46] All right, next up.
[00:17:47] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hi, Jordan and Gabe. I work as a first responder and work-related stress has accumulated to the point where I found myself in a depressive rut. I've always struggled with learning disabilities and recurring depression. Growing up, my parents took me to countless therapists and psychiatrists who prescribed numerous medications, which never seemed to make anything better. Just as I used to when I was younger, I still feel completely uncomfortable sharing anything other than the most superficial thoughts or feeling with clinicians, friends, or even my wife. The irony of me reaching out to two strangers online isn't lost on me. As an adult, I've tried seeking professional help for my depression on several occasions, but I still can't bring myself to share anything, but the least amount of information possible until the appointment ends. I then end up walking away, feeling like a prisoner, holding onto crucial information during an interrogation. And generally feeling disappointed that I couldn't bring myself to be the least bit open. Several workers have noticed me struggling. And my peer support team has now referred me to an agency clinician who I have yet to see after three months. How do I get over this extreme reluctance to speak out and get help before my poor performance takes away a dream career I worked so hard to get? Signed, First on the Scene, But Last to Speak Up.
[00:19:06] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, man, I'm really sorry to hear you're struggling these days and that you've been struggling with this for so long. Being a first responder — I'm guessing you're a cop or an EMT or a firefighter or something like that — that is an intense job. And it has a way of magnifying a lot of existing issues and also creating a bunch of new ones. But I got to say the thing that really jumps out at me in your letter is just how badly you want to open up to someone. I don't think you'd be so clear about this obstacle if there weren't a part of you that knew deep down how important it is to unburden yourself.
[00:19:40] So look, it's hard to like therapize someone in a single podcast, but if I were you, I would start by trying to pinpoint what it is about opening up that is so difficult as in, what's the feeling that comes with asking for help with opening up. I know you said it makes you uncomfortable, but I think a lot of the time, what we call discomfort, that's just the tip of the iceberg. Sometimes that's the feeling we have when we're not in touch with the real feeling. So what is that, do you think? Is it fear about having to confront some difficult stuff? Is it shame about struggling to open up about not being able to handle this problem by yourself? Is it anger maybe about having to deal with this challenge at all?
[00:20:21] I'm willing to bet that there are a few things in the mix here and because they've been buried deep down for so long, probably since you were a child, they're probably contributing to the depression. Actually burying these things down in some ways, that is depression — depression, not just as a chemical thing, but as a defense. A defense against like a sort of bulwark against feelings in the first place. And when you work as a cop or a firefighter or whatever, a lot of times the culture reinforces that approach to managing emotions and that makes it even harder to reach out and try things a different way.
[00:20:57] Once you start to name some of those feelings, I think two things will happen first. You'll have a better grasp of what the hurdle is, and you can go into therapy or into a conversation with your wife and you'll be onto yourself a little more. It won't just be, "Uh, this is so uncomfortable. I don't want to say anything too revealing." It'll be, "Wow. I'm really freaked out that my therapist will know something personal about me. I'm kind of embarrassed that I have to tell my wife how down I am but okay, let me try to follow that feeling. Let me lean into it a little bit."
[00:21:28] That alone, that is a huge step forward. Because again, that I'm uncomfortable feeling. That's kind of hard to tackle. It's easy to justify ignoring. But, "I'm scared, I'm embarrassed, I'm angry," that's much more specific. It gives you something to dig into and it's also a little bit harder to run away from. The other thing that'll happen is you might feel more empowered to work on this with a professional. You can go to your first appointment, maybe with that therapist at your agency. And you can be like, "Here's the deal I'm freaking terrified of opening up. I'm pissed off that I even have to come in and see you. I don't want to deal with this crap at all, but I'm taking a leap because the other way is not working. And I'm sorry if I make things more difficult for us, but this is really hard for me."
[00:22:11] And just by laying it out like that, you're actually giving yourself a huge leg up. Because that might save you say five or 10 sessions of playing around with your therapist until they realize, "Oh, this guy's very defended. Let's dig into that." And I'm guessing that it's in those first five or 10 sessions that you lose hope that therapy will ever work. And that's why you give up. And then the cycle continues.
[00:22:35] So I would book the appointment now and promise yourself you're going to go. I really do believe that therapy could be great for you, but you have to be willing to tolerate those feelings we were just talking about. And also to trust that being uncomfortable, that's kind of the price of admission for growth. It's also a sign that you are 100 percent on the right track.
[00:22:56] Gabriel Mizrahi: So well said, Jordan, he's so close to cracking this. He just needs to be able to take the leap and stick with the process when it gets a little bit difficult. But I also think there's a relational piece to this too. Like what it's like for him to talk about himself in the context of a relationship. I thought it was so interesting when he said, "The irony of me reaching out to two strangers online isn't lost on me," because I actually don't think that that's ironic at all. It actually makes perfect sense. You know, maybe asking two guys on a podcast you don't really know and who don't really know you, maybe that feels safer.
[00:23:30] You get to ask for help without having to be in a real close, ongoing relationship with us, which is what you have to do with your friends and your wife and your colleagues, and definitely your therapist where the stakes of being vulnerable probably feel much higher. And so I wonder if that holds another key to why opening up is so hard. That the closeness of the relationship magnifies these difficult feelings, whereas chatting with a couple of dudes on the Internet for a few minutes or keeping your therapist at arm's length, that might spare you from having to feel so exposed.
[00:24:04] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I think you nailed it, Gabe, but that's exactly why he should be in therapy because it's not the feelings that are bringing them down, even if it feels that way. It's actually the avoidance of the feelings and you have some really great reasons to work on this, not just your marriage and your friendships, but keeping this dream job that you worked so hard to get. And if you're going to stick with this job for 20, 30-plus years, you're going to need a way to process these feelings so you can stay high functioning for the rest of your life.
[00:24:32] So get to talking, my friend, I know you can do it. Good luck.
[00:24:36] You can reach us email@example.com. Please keep your emails concise. Try to use a descriptive subject line. It does make our job a whole lot easier. If there's something you're going through, any big decision that you're wrestling with, or you want a new perspective on stuff — life, love, work. What to do if you're in-law refuses to meet you because of the color of your skin? Whatever's got you staying up at night lately, hit us up firstname.lastname@example.org. We're here to help and we keep every email anonymous.
[00:25:03] All right, next up.
[00:25:05] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey Jordan and Gabe. I work for a global manufacturer, which I love. We have coworkers in Ukraine and in Russia, and we're doing our best to continue to provide healthcare products and services to people who need them in many countries around the world. The thing is, I email with my Russian and Ukrainian colleagues regularly, and I feel their uncertainty and sadness during the war. We're all afraid to ask them, "How are you doing?" And we're all concerned about saying the wrong thing. I don't want to put our Russian colleagues in a position where they have to stress about how they answer because it might get them in trouble — you know, because who's watching? So we all do our best to maintain a positive attitude. And we, generally just don't mention anything outside of our job duties in our emails. The company is doing a lot of hard work behind the scenes to maintain supply chains in Russia and Ukraine and is also active in supporting Ukrainian refugees, which is heartening. Of course, I want to give support too, but instead, I feel that I have to pretend like nothing is wrong to protect our colleagues in Russia, which feels kind of sh*tty. I know I can't ask them about the war directly and I am committed to following our procedures regarding non-work-related communications. But is there any way I can show my support or do I just hope that my, "Have a great day and if you need anything, please reach out," is enough to let my Russian colleagues know that I care and I understand how difficult this all might be them? Signed, Counting My Keystrokes While Making My Keystrokes Count.
[00:26:28] Jordan Harbinger: Really interesting question. We've been talking a lot lately about how to communicate with people in Russia these days, how tricky it is to talk about the war given the new laws on the books there, but we haven't really heard about what it's like within multinational companies. That is definitely tricky.
[00:26:43] So right off the bat, I think you're absolutely right to be cautious. You don't want to put your Russian colleagues in any danger by drawing them into a political discussion. Is the Russian government reading their emails? Is the Kremlin snooping on their Slack? Who knows? Maybe yes, maybe no, probably no, but it's just not worth it in my view. If they ever did get in trouble for expressing concerns about the war over email, that would be awful. That would be horrible. And if they happen to support the war as many Russians still do, of course, because of the news environment that they're in, then you might accidentally bait them into a political discussion and that could go sideways and affect your working relationship and cause drama in the workplace, which would also be quite unfortunate. So either way, it's a risk.
[00:27:27] I actually like your approach — to offer general support. Keep the line of communication open without actually saying, you know, "So sorry that your country is illegally annexing its neighbor in a bid to assert its influence over Eastern Europe. Let me know if you ever need to talk." Even a Russian citizen who supports this war might be struggling right now. So you reaching out and checking on them. I think it's fair game. It's appropriate. And if you follow Dr. Steven Hassan's school of thought, that's actually the best way to help people who are caught up in disinformation or problematic philosophies. Keep the line of communication open, resist the urge to lecture or judge, prioritize the relationship over the truth.
[00:28:08] So I actually don't think you need to, like you said, pretend like nothing is wrong. You can acknowledge that something is happening. Just keep it general, make it more about your colleagues, not about the war itself. And if one of them wants to jump on Telegram or some encrypted video app to pound some vodka and chat with you after work, then, you know, maybe you can talk about the war more directly, but over your work servers, I would say, definitely not. I'm sure you just offering to talk, that'll go a long way.
[00:28:37] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, that does go a long way. I agree. But I also wonder if maybe it's okay to not talk about the war all the time. This guy sounds really thoughtful. He obviously cares about his colleagues. I think that's wonderful. But, you know, maybe his Russian colleagues just want to go to work and be employees for a few hours without thinking about what their country is doing, whether they agree with it or not. Maybe being asked about how they're doing all the time, I don't know, maybe that could get a little tiresome.
[00:28:59] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:29:00] Gabriel Mizrahi: So I don't know if I would feel a ton of pressure to make sure that your colleagues are okay. Every second of the day. Maybe part of taking care of them is just treating them like peers, like equals, just letting them be your teammates during work hours.
[00:29:13] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. That's a fair point. It's not his job to minister to all of his colleagues. Maybe some of them would actually rather not talk about it. But that's why I think the blanket "hope you're doing well here if you ever need to talk," line, I think that's the right one. Keep the door open, but don't insist that people walk through it.
[00:29:29] Gabriel Mizrahi: Exactly. I would also maybe talk to your senior executives about how they're supporting their employees right now because that's actually more their job than yours. Whether it's supporting refugees, like you said, or resolving any conflicts in the workplace or making certain allowances for Ukrainian employees if they need it, organizing a donation drive, whatever it is. You're clearly passionate about being there for your coworkers, so maybe one way to channel that empathy is to offer some of your time and some of your ideas to your managers. And if you need a few ideas on other ways, your company could help, we're going to link to a great article. We found about that exact topic in the show notes for you.
[00:30:07] Jordan Harbinger: Good idea, Gabe. The company is probably able to do more than one person is, anyway. Also, if you want more information on the Russian psychology these days — how to battle this information what's happening on the ground in Ukraine — I would also check out some of our other episodes starting with a Feedback Friday question we took recently from a guy who was struggling to communicate with his Russian parents these days. That was episode 659. I'd also check out our Putin/disinformation starter pack. You can find that at jordanharbinger.com/start. As always, if you want to learn about which organizations to support right now, go to jordanharbinger.com/ukraine. We'll link to all of those in the show notes, of course, as well.
[00:30:47] So good luck. Your colleagues are lucky to have you. I know it's a strange time. It's really sad that you can't just talk openly about what's happening but sometimes the nicest thing is just to know that your colleagues are there for you, period, politics aside.
[00:31:01] You know who won't create the false narrative that your homeland has been overtaken by fascists in order to justify a brutal invasion that could possibly kick off World War III? The amazing sponsors that support this show. We'll be right back.
[00:31:14] This episode is sponsored in part by Progressive insurance. Let's face it. Sometimes multitasking can be overwhelming. Like when your favorite podcast is playing, the person next to you is talking and your car fan is blasting, all while you're trying to find that perfect parking spot. But then again, sometimes multitasking is easy, like quoting with Progressive insurance. They do the hard work of comparing rates. So you can find a great rate that works for you, even if it's not with them. Give their comparison tool to try. And you might just find getting the rate and coverage you deserve is easy. All you need to do is go to Progressive's website and get a quote with all the coverages you want, like comprehensive and collision coverage or personal injury protection. Then you'll see Progressive's direct rate and their tool will provide options from other companies all lined up and ready to compare. So it's simple to choose the rate and coverage you like. Press play on comparing auto rates. Quote today at progressive.com to join the over 27 million drivers who trust Progressive.
[00:32:01] Jen Harbinger: Progressive Casualty Insurance Company and affiliates. Comparison rates not available in all states or situations. Prices vary based on how you buy.
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[00:32:26] Jen Harbinger: 2023 Ariya and Z, not yet available for purchase. Expected availability this spring for our 2023 Z and this fall for 2023 Ariya.
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[00:32:51] Now back to Feedback Friday.
[00:32:54] All right, next up.
[00:32:56] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hi, Jordan and Gabe. I'm a 29-year-old male and between the ages of eight and 10 years old, I was a victim of sexual abuse while living in the Middle East. I was molested numerous times by men and a couple of times by a woman. I immigrated to Canada with my family when I was 16 years old and have been here ever since. I'm currently struggling with porn addiction and going to sex and massage parlors. I've spent so much money on parlors and sex workers to the point that I got myself into credit card debt and other loans to the tune of almost $10,000. I now don't know how to get out of this addiction. I know what I'm doing is wrong, but I'm unable to stop. I feel depressed. I have confidence issues when it comes to dating and seeking a healthy relationship. Any advice on what I can do to break this addiction? Signed, Face Down, Trying to Look Up.
[00:33:43] Jordan Harbinger: Oh man, I am so sorry to hear you've been through so much in your life. That is really painful stuff. It's actually hard to wrap my head around that kind of abuse from so many people. And I can understand why it's led you to some complicated patterns and situations as an adult. We want it to run your question by an actual expert. So we reached out to Dr. Rubin Khoddam, a clinical psychologist specializing in addiction and trauma.
[00:34:09] And the first thing that Dr. Khoddam said was that any habit is hard to break. And of course, we've all experienced this, right? Whether it's smoking or whatever it is. But when you add the experiences you've had on top of that, it can make it incredibly difficult to change. Dr. Khoddam also had a different angle on your question. To use his words, he wouldn't say you're doing anything wrong, but that maybe you just haven't found the right support.
[00:34:33] So here's the thing. According to Dr. Khoddam, when it comes to addiction, we need both insight and skills in order to change — insight into the problem and the purpose of the addiction as well as skills to manage the urges or cravings. So to the first point, Dr. Khoddam would encourage you to ask yourself — what purpose is my porn usage serving? What function do sex and massage parlors have in my life? Is it helping manage your emotions? Is it making you feel good about yourself? Is it telling some baseline level of pain? Is it giving you glimmers of happiness in an otherwise dark time? Whatever the reason is it's valid. The question then becomes — how can I get what I'm getting out of porn/sex through other maybe healthier means? Maybe that means learning how to manage your mood better or having better self-esteem or seeing what's getting in the way of building greater self-esteem?
[00:35:25] Dr. Khoddam's view — and this won't be a surprise — is that this work is really best done with a professional. Somebody who can help you explore your personal blind spots, really get to the root of the addiction. But even if you don't get to the root of things or while you get there, you still need ways of managing those urges. And as Dr. Khoddam explained it to us, every addiction has three components, the trigger, the craving or the urge, and the behavior. Triggers come in the form of internal and external triggers. Internal triggers, being the thoughts, feelings, emotions. External triggers, being people, places, things. They're tightly intertwined. And they set off a chain reaction that can lead to strong urges to act on the addiction, whatever it is.
[00:36:10] So for example, cravings or urges are often felt physiologically, right? The heart races, blood pressure goes up, palms, sweat, stuff like that, but they also show up cognitively when thoughts start racing through your head. Ultimately, if you don't avoid those triggers or accept them and you don't manage the cravings, they can lead to negative behaviors, namely the addiction.
[00:36:34] So part of the work Dr. Khoddam said is being able to find more productive, healthy behaviors, and to help with that he often suggests an acronym called DEADS, D-E-A-D-S. So D - delay the behavior, E - escape the triggering situation, A - avoid and accept potential triggers, D - distract, and S - substitute, DEADS. And I know that's kind of theoretical to hear on a podcast, but I do think that's a helpful way to organize a better response to the feelings and behaviors that lead you down these rabbit holes of porn and into a massage parlor when you know deep down, you don't want to be there.
[00:37:13] Another resource Dr. Khoddam recommends check out SMART recovery meetings. SMART, S-M-A-R-T, is a CBT-based program. That's cognitive behavioral therapy for people in recovery. It caters to all types of recovery. They even offer mutual support meetings that are free and open to anyone. We're going to link to them in the show notes. They seem like a really great organization.
[00:37:34] So bottom line, in Dr. Khoddam's view, if you can use some of these skills and approaches when you experience a craving, you can create a new behavioral routine that gets you out of your addiction but it's not always easy. It takes time, practice, and usually the support of a professional to solidify the skills.
[00:37:53] By the way, one note, of course, you know, you're having trouble with relationships, you're harboring this dark secret. So not only is it a self-esteem thing potentially, and there's all these other issues going on, but if you did get close to somebody, I would be definitely afraid they would find out about this and that would be shameful and embarrassing. And so, of course, I would have a barrier up. I probably wouldn't even try to get into a relationship because I'd be so scared that somebody else would get a glimpse of this shameful thing that I was doing that I didn't feel good about. And so I would naturally just avoid relationships in general.
[00:38:22] Gabriel Mizrahi: It's isolating to keep a secret like that. And it's also even more isolating when you're engaging in behaviors that are designed to help you cope with the shameful thing that you're not talking about. All of which would make it very hard to be vulnerable and open and available to other people. I think you're absolutely right.
[00:38:36] Jordan Harbinger: So more than anything, I would seriously encourage you to find a therapist, probably a therapist, specializing in trauma and or addiction and start talking. Because there's a lot for you to know about what's going on underneath this addiction — where it started, how it's showing up now, and what function the addiction is serving, given the very challenging childhood that you had.
[00:38:58] And many thanks to Dr. Khoddam for helping us out with this one. This one was kind of a doozy. You can learn more about Dr. Khoddam and his practice at copepsychology.com. By the way, we've been getting a ton of questions lately about housing, landlord-tenant issues, nightmare roommate situations, navigating real estate decisions in general. And we could really use some experts to weigh in and consult for us from time to time. If you are a real estate attorney, a landlord-tenant attorney, a property consultant, anything in that world, and you'd be down to share some brief thoughts with us just every now and again, anonymously or not, we'd love to hear from you. Hit us up email@example.com. That would really up our game in this department because a lot of — you know, Google can only go so far here.
[00:39:42] All right, next up.
[00:39:43] Gabriel Mizrahi: Dear Jordan and Gabe, my brother-in-law recently lost his job and told me that he would like to apply for an open position at my company. My first reaction was to be helpful and generous something I actually learned from your show. So I offered to refer him. I asked him what the position is because I couldn't really tell from the job title. And he told me he wasn't sure. That was a red flag for me. It felt like he didn't read the job description properly before approaching me. I also don't think he's a good fit because he's exhibited some off-putting behaviors. For example, he often doesn't reply to text messages and only gets in touch when he needs something. He used my partner's Netflix account for years without sharing the cost. And several times use Netflix on more than one of his devices, which meant we couldn't use it. When we asked him to share the cost of the subscription, he refused. He also seems very disorganized, disoriented, and argumentative in general. If I had my own business and I were looking for an employee, I wouldn't hire him. I'm now regretting my first reaction to help. At the same time, I don't want to hurt someone's career because of my feelings. It is possible that I'm biased and he would turn out to be a great fit for the company. So what do I do now? Am I being selfish and petty? What do you do when being generous and making the right call don't line up? Signed, The Rightfully, Regretful Referer.
[00:41:00] Jordan Harbinger: Ah, this is a great question. This is tough. I love that your first impulse was to be kind and generous. That's almost always a good policy, but you're right. You also need to balance that generosity with a healthy judgment about other people. That's not being selfish and petty. It's having clear standards. It's being attuned. I'm sure your brother-in-law's a nice enough guy, but what you've described, not doing his homework, not being a good communicator, not being very thoughtful or conscientious about other people, being disorganized, disoriented, combative. I mean, these are definitely red flags.
[00:41:33] And if that weren't concerning enough, when you mentioned the Netflix thing using more than one device kicking you guys off, I was like, "Oh hell no!" The dude has crossed a line. What am I supposed to do? Watch Inventing Anna in some bootleg YouTube knockoff, because I can't get on Netflix. I don't think so.
[00:41:49] Gabriel Mizrahi: No way.
[00:41:50] Jordan Harbinger: Not a chance, but seriously, these are red flags, right? In my view, it doesn't make you a bad person for not wanting to refer him. Because you also have to consider what referring somebody who isn't ultimately a good candidate would mean for you. This is also your reputation on the line, your social capital. When you refer someone who botches the interview, cause he doesn't even know what the role is about, or you refer somebody who does get hired, but then goes AWOL and doesn't respond to emails and doesn't know how to be cool and collaborative with his coworkers. That also reflects on you. It's not petty to want to protect your reputation by championing the right candidates. It's actually pretty smart. That's part of your job.
[00:42:31] The challenge is you already said you'd refer him, which does put you in a bit of an awkward spot. So you have a few options here. Option one, you say, you passed his resume along, but you don't actually do it. The upside is you don't refer a bad candidate and risk your reputation. The downside is you're telling a lie. You're being a bit shady. I don't love it, but I understand if you felt this was your best move in this situation.
[00:42:56] Option two, you do refer him to your company, but you don't go extra hard in endorsing him. You don't put in a good word. You don't push too hard in getting him an interview. And if anyone at your company asks about him, you say something like, "Honestly, I'm helping out a family member who is interested, but the truth is, I don't know him very well. I've never worked with him, so I really can't speak to his credentials." The upside there is you made good on your offer. You avoid any drama with your brother-in-law. The downside is you might still give him an edge and he might still get hired.
[00:43:27] Option three, you go back to your brother-in-law and you say, "Listen, man, I love that you're going after this role. I want to help if I can, but I really want to make sure that we're giving you the best possible shot. When we talked, it seemed like you really didn't have a good grasp of what the job entailed. I'm actually not a hundred percent sure if you're the perfect candidate for this one. So I'll tell you what, do a little more research. Let me know what that role actually is because I don't fully understand. Tell me why you're excited about it, what you could bring to it. And let's go from there. If it ends up being a fit, that'll make it a lot easier for me to give you a leg up. If not, then maybe this isn't the right opportunity and I owe it to you, me, and the company, to make sure that I'm making the best referrals.
[00:44:11] You can guess which one of these three options is my favorite, right? So then it's on him to step up in a way you're creating a little test, right? Some hoops. And the way that he responds to that test, that's going to give you all the data you need on whether your brother-in-law deserves this referral, or just confirm that what you already think you know about him is true. Because if he's like, "Fair enough, give me a couple of days." And then he calls you or sends you an email laying out the responsibilities and where his skills match up and why he'd love to work there and all that, then he's showing you a new side of himself and you can be more confident that he'd show up to the job as that person.
[00:44:46] But if he's like, "What do you mean I got to do my research? Just tell your boss to call me for an interview. I'll crush it." Or he just ignores you and never follows up, that tells you all you need to know. And if he brings it up again, you can be like, "Honestly, that's not a very encouraging response. So I think it's best we leave it there. Feel free to apply and I hope it works out the way you want. I just can't put my weight behind it if I'm not totally clear on why this would be a great fit." And I know that that's a tough message to deliver. But I do think you're within your rights to say that because you're not just writing them off. You're not punishing him from the start — although again, after the Netflix thing, who could blame you. If somebody booted me from Nettie in the middle of watching Bridgerton Season Two, I'd cut someone, but that's just me.
[00:45:28] You're just asking him to show you that he'd honor your endorsement. And if he can't do that, then you shouldn't feel bad not endorsing him. It's as simple as that. And from now, so you don't end up in this situation again, I would make it a practice to take a beat before you offer to help someone. Give it an hour, a day, a week, whatever it is, check-in with yourself. Ask yourself if the person you want to help has actually shown that A, they deserve that help and B, would make good on it by rising to the occasion. And this isn't a quid pro quo thing. It's not like, "Has this person helped me? Would they help me the same way in the future?" It's not about that at all. It's about investing your social capital in the right people and in the right opportunities.
[00:46:10] If your brother-in-law was respectful, communicative, collaborative, friendly, you'd help them in a heartbeat. But you can't help people at the expense of your own values, your own reputation. And that's something important that sometimes gets lost in the always-be-giving mindset. Also, ABG, always be giving, that extends to everyone in the interaction. You're not really giving if you're stuffing your company with dead weight or somebody that they're going to waste time and resources on, not get along with, and eventually have to terminate. That's kind of the opposite of the ABG that we're talking about here.
[00:46:45] But, like I said, I love your attitude. You absolutely have the right mindset. And I know that it'll serve you well in life. So good on you.
[00:46:52] Hope you all enjoyed that. I want to thank everyone who wrote in this week and everyone who listened. Thank you so much. And don't forget to check out the episodes we did this week with Sam Cooper and Chris Voss.
[00:47:01] If you want to know how I book all these amazing folks for the show, how I manage my relationships, I've got software, I've got systems, I've got tiny habits. It takes like five minutes a day. It's just one of the best sets of habits I've ever had in my life. Check out our Six-Minute Networking course. That course is free. It's over on the Thinkific platform, jordanharbinger.com/course. And now don't postpone it. Wait until later. A lot of people say like, "Oh, I've got a lot of stuff to do. I'm starting a business. I don't have time for this." Once you need relationships, you are too late to make them dig the well before you get thirsty. That's the rule here. I wish I knew this stuff 20 years ago. It's been amazing for me as well in my business and personal life. Find it all for free at jordanharbinger.com/course.
[00:47:43] And, yeah, remember our live show with Ryan Holiday. It's going to be on June 13th. jordanharbinger.com/tickets is where you can find the info on tickets. They're going to be affordable and I'd love to see you there.
[00:47:54] A link to the show notes for the episode can be found at jordanharbinger.com. Transcripts are in the show notes. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on Twitter and Instagram or hit me on LinkedIn. You can find Gabe on Twitter at @GabeMizrahi or on Instagram at @GabrielMizrahi.
[00:48:09] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Ian Baird, Millie Ocampo, Josh Ballard, and of course, Gabriel Mizrahi. Our advice and opinions are our own, and I'm a lawyer, but I'm not your lawyer. Do your own research before implementing anything you hear on the show.
[00:48:26] Dr. Rubin Khoddam's input is general psychological information based on research and clinical experience. It's intended to be general and informational in nature. It does not represent or indicate an established clinical or professional relationship with those inquiring for guidance. It's in response to a written question and therefore there are likely other unknown considerations given the limited context. Also, just because you might hear something on the show, that sounds similar to what you're experiencing, be aware of self-diagnosis. Diagnosis is not required to find relief and you want to find a qualified professional to assess and explore diagnoses if that's important to you.
[00:48:58] 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 that 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.
[00:49:15] You're about to hear a preview of The Jordan Harbinger Show with an investigative journalist that uncovers have a fraudster siphoned off billions of dollars.
[00:49:24] Tom Wright: Jho Low was a kid from an island called Penang, just off the Northwest of Malaysia. Very, very, very skilled networker. He was sent by his father to Harrow in the UK, which is one of the most expensive boarding schools in England. And then he went to Wharton in America. It was almost like a family con that was going on here. From a very young age, they wanted their son to network. He's sort of overweight, not very good looking, not particularly charming actually. But what he did do is he changed people's lives overnight. You know, he would drop $50,000 checks on the floor drunk and other people could pick them up and cash them in. And that changes your life, you know?
[00:50:00] What he does is after he graduates from Wharton, his childhood friend is a son of this character called Najib Razak and Najib Razak becomes prime minister of Malaysia. Jho Low suedes Najib. He says, "Look, I can help transform your country by bringing all this Middle Eastern wealth end." And it sets him up as a sort of éminence grise or a Svengali-type figure behind the prime minister. It's incredible because he's only 27 at the time. He just took all the money out of a sovereign wealth fund overnight.
[00:50:27] You know, when he wanted to amp it up a bit more, he forged links with this Goldman. Goldman Sachs helped this fund, that Jho Low is running from behind the scenes to raise billions and billions of dollars. And Jho Low just steals half of it. You know, we think he stole at least six billion dollars, but Jho Low was an imposter. For all his billions, people still questioned, who was this guy? Where did he come from? Why is he splashing all this money around?
[00:50:50] Jordan Harbinger: To get a deep dive into the shadowy world of corruption, money laundering, and embezzling by the shadiest shysters among the elite, check out episode 602 of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
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