You have evidence that your 17-year-old girlfriend’s stepfather sent himself copies of her nude photos when he confiscated her phone. Knowing this, now she’s got to spend time alone with him when her mother goes out of town. What should she do? 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 Gabriel Mizrahi (@GabeMizrahi) banter and take your comments and questions for Feedback Friday right here every week! If you want us to answer your question, register your feedback, or tell your story on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Now let’s dive in!
On This Week’s Feedback Friday, We Discuss:
- Hey! Where the heck has David C. Smalley been?
- An underage girl discovered her stepfather sent himself copies of her nude photos when he confiscated her phone, and now she’s got to spend time alone with him when her mother goes out of town for a few weeks. What should she do?
- Marrying into a family and its business — which you’ve been told your spouse will eventually take over — has you wondering how to ensure your own financial security if it turns out other relatives want a piece of the business somewhere down the line.
- After suffering a traumatic brain injury in a terrible car accident, many aspects of your personality have changed — including a fresh perspective about how your dysfunctional family and the religious cult in which you were raised have been neglectful and abusive. How should the “new” you face the future?
- You’ve been waiting for nearly a decade to exit an unhappy marriage until your youngest kid turns 18, which will happen soon. Unfortunately, you and your spouse work in a full-time religious ministry, and divorce will mean dismissal, loss of income, disappointing the family and community, and surfacing of past transgressions you’d rather not revisit. What’s your least disastrous path forward?
- How do you effectively network without feeling like some kind of manipulative phony?
- Have any questions, comments, or stories you’d like to share with us? Drop us a line at email@example.com!
- Connect with Jordan on Twitter at @JordanHarbinger and Instagram at @jordanharbinger.
- Connect with Gabriel on Twitter at @GabeMizrahi and Instagram @gabrielmizrahi.
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Miss our conversation with ethical persuasion sensei Robert Cialdini? Get caught up with episode 507: Robert Cialdini | A New Look at the Science of Influence here!
Resources from This Episode:
- Adam Bornstein | The Real Skinny on the Weight Loss Industry | Jordan Harbinger
- David C. Smalley | Website
- What You Need to Know About Sending Nudes | Seventeen
- Password Manager for Families, Businesses, Teams | 1Password
- Sarah Edmondson & Nippy Ames | Surviving NXIVM Part One | Jordan Harbinger
- Sarah Edmondson & Nippy Ames | Surviving NXIVM Part Two | Jordan Harbinger
- Joe Navarro | How to Identify and Protect Yourself from Harmful People | Jordan Harbinger
- Gavin de Becker | The Gift of Fear Part One | Jordan Harbinger
- Gavin de Becker | The Gift of Fear Part Two | Jordan Harbinger
- 10 Tips for Going Into Business With Family | Ramsey
- Game of Thrones | HBO
- Succession | HBO
- Run Towards the Danger: Confrontations with a Body of Memory by Sarah Polley | Amazon
- Traumatic Brain Injury | Johns Hopkins Medicine
- Divorce for Christians: Can It Be an Act of Faith? | GBA
- Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam Grant | Amazon
- Adam Grant | Why Helping Others Drives Our Success | Jordan Harbinger
- The Big Mistake People Make About Networking | Jordan Harbinger
- David Burkus | How to Become a Networking Superconnector | Jordan Harbinger
- Why Networking Is the Best Insurance Policy | Jordan Harbinger
842: Sleazy Dude’s Stealing Stepdaughter’s Nudes | Feedback Friday
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to Feedback Friday. I'm your host, Jordan Harbinger. As always, I'm here with Feedback Friday producer, the unlicensed cat trapper himself, Gabriel Mizrahi. We get a lot of feedback, by the way, from people that were like, "Don't let cats roam freely. That person has their head in their ass. These are feral and they destroy local populations of voles or whatever." And I'm like, you know, I never thought about that, but they probably do.
[00:00:26] Gabriel Mizrahi: Very controversial topic apparently.
[00:00:28] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:00:28] Gabriel Mizrahi: The emails from that story were wild. Also, did you just say [fair-ile]?
[00:00:31] Jordan Harbinger: Probably [ferr-uhl] [fair-ile].
[00:00:34] Gabriel Mizrahi: I like [fair-ile].
[00:00:35] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:00:35] Gabriel Mizrahi: What is [fair-ile] cat?
[00:00:37] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm. Even worse than a feral cat.
[00:00:39] Gabriel Mizrahi: It's like a cat that's both feral and pariah.
[00:00:41] Jordan Harbinger: And pretentious in the way they pronounce things. I don't know how to end this thread.
[00:00:46] 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. And 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.
[00:01:09] If you are 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 Adam Bornstein, a little bit of a departure from our normal fair. I don't do diet, wellness, or exercise, but this episode was about how the wellness industry is basically just nonsense. Uses marketing and trickery to make us think that dieting, weight loss health is complicated when it's really frankly not. Interesting sort of semi-takedown of the wellness and especially dieting industry. Let me know what you think about that one. Again, not our usual fair here on the show.
[00:01:46] By the way, a bunch of you have been asking why David Smalley has not been on Skeptical Sundays recently. There are a few reasons. First off, David is really busy. He's got comedy dates, movie rolls, TV stuff. The dude is a machine Also, other co-hosts bring a fun and different flavor, in my opinion, and they bring new expertise. And some of these writers have covered the topics that we talk about on Skeptical Sunday in quite some depth, so working with them just makes sense for certain subjects. Also, we try to be as rigorous as possible on Skeptical Sunday and rigor takes a lot of time. David can maybe do an episode here and there, which actually was the original plan, but now we want Skeptical Sunday way more often. I'd love to do it every week, but we can't always do that. So we need a staple of folks to help create them because they got to research. A lot of you wrote back like, "Hey, this wasn't adequately fact-checked." It's not because David can't do it, it's because it takes freaking five extra hours to make sure that we're right about certain things and even then we're wrong about a lot of stuff. So we needed a staple of folks to really create this stuff, so far so good. I'm always looking for new experts, new topics. If you have any favorites, I'm all ears. So thanks for being open to different voices on these episodes. Thanks for sticking with us. Hopefully, our topics and my new co-hosts keep you feeling informed and skeptical in new and interesting ways.
[00:02:58] All right, Gabe, what's the first thing out of the mailbag?
[00:03:00] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey, Jordan and Gabe. My girlfriend and I are 17, and her parents recently confiscated her phone for about two weeks. During that time, I lent her one of my old phones so we could communicate via Snapchat. We'd exchanged nude photos in the past, but it wasn't a frequent occurrence. We had saved those photos in our Snapchat conversation. While her parents had her phone, her mother saw the nudes.
[00:03:23] Jordan Harbinger: Oof.
[00:03:23] Gabriel Mizrahi: She quickly looked away and ensured that her husband did not see them. They then stored the phone in a family safe with a code only known to them. My girlfriend eventually got her phone back, but her stepfather broke it during an argument. He apologized and promised to replace it. She got a new phone about four days later and went about her life. Fast forward to today, her stepfather asked my girlfriend to text him what she wanted for dinner, and when she scrolled up in their thread, she saw that the nudes from her old phone had been sent to him.
[00:03:54] Jordan Harbinger: Oh.
[00:03:56] Gabriel Mizrahi: The date and time of the texts correspond with the time when the phone was not in her possession.
[00:04:02] Jordan Harbinger: Phew.
[00:04:02] Gabriel Mizrahi: She also realized that her stepfather knew her most commonly used password, including for Snapchat, which would've allowed him to log into her account. Since Snapchat can only be active on one device at a time, logging in from one device causes you to be logged out of another, which is exactly what happened to my girlfriend when she was using that borrowed phone. She's currently alone with her stepfather for the next four days while her mother is away in a foreign country. What should she do? Signed, In a Mood Over This Skeezy Dude Stealing my Girlfriend's Nudes.
[00:04:35] Jordan Harbinger: Oh wow.
[00:04:36] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oh boy.
[00:04:36] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. This got way worse. I thought, at first I was like, "Oh, somebody's going to send my nudes out. Or like another person caught a glimpse or my mom saw them and then, it's like—
[00:04:44] Gabriel Mizrahi: Nope.
[00:04:45] Jordan Harbinger: Even if the stepdad saw them, that's weird. But the fact that he took them, oh my God. Okay. I think we have another Feedback Friday nightmare on our hands.
[00:04:51] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yep.
[00:04:52] Jordan Harbinger: I think so too. This 17-year-old girl's stepdad texted himself her nudes.
[00:04:58] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oh.
[00:04:59] Jordan Harbinger: Jesus Christ, dude.
[00:05:00] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. There's no coming back from this one, is it?
[00:05:02] Jordan Harbinger: No. No. I don't think so. Once you know your stepdad wants to see you naked and has your nudes, I just think it's, well, first of all, it's really hard to sit down with them at the dinner table and tuck into those mashed potatoes. What the hell? But let's back up for a second. I do need to get some details straight.
[00:05:18] Gabriel Mizrahi: Okay.
[00:05:19] Jordan Harbinger: While her parents had her phone, someone, either mom or stepdad, but let's be honest, it's got to be stepdad, right?
[00:05:25] Gabriel Mizrahi: I think so.
[00:05:26] Jordan Harbinger: Someone logged into her Snapchat.
[00:05:27] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes.
[00:05:28] Jordan Harbinger: Which in turn logged her out of her borrowed phone and she was like, that's weird. And then saved the nudes to the camera roll.
[00:05:35] Gabriel Mizrahi: That's right.
[00:05:35] Jordan Harbinger: Texted them to stepdad and the timestamps on the text confirmed that it was when the phone was in their possession, which is—
[00:05:42] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes.
[00:05:42] Jordan Harbinger: —like damning evidence. And it's the stepdad, right? The mom wouldn't do that. And even if the mom wanted to be like, "We need copies of these," which is not—
[00:05:49] Gabriel Mizrahi: That's a very weird copy to media. Document, document, document does not apply to your daughter's nudes, I don't think. Yeah.
[00:05:55] Jordan Harbinger: And why would you be like, "Let me just send this to my husband real quick," who's not her biological father?
[00:05:59] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. Let me CC Roger on these. I don't think so.
[00:06:01] Jordan Harbinger: Nah.
[00:06:02] Gabriel Mizrahi: I mean, there's a world where maybe the mom would, but it seems weird that the mom would text stepdad. Yeah, it's not, I don't think so, especially because it sounds like she was fairly respectful/mortified when she found her daughter's nudes.
[00:06:13] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:06:13] Gabriel Mizrahi: Like she went out of her way to make sure that he didn't see them, so I don't think so.
[00:06:18] Jordan Harbinger: Right. It's the stepdad, so it's got to be the stepdad. But why?
[00:06:21] Gabriel Mizrahi: Well, I have an idea.
[00:06:23] Jordan Harbinger: I know. I don't even want to think about that. Unfortunately, there's kind of only one reason you'd send yourself your stepdaughter's nudes. There's just like one reason.
[00:06:32] Gabriel Mizrahi: It's not for the family photo album, I'll tell you that much.
[00:06:34] Jordan Harbinger: Nah, he is not having those things framed down at Michael's.
[00:06:37] Gabriel Mizrahi: No, no. If anything, that's a self-frame job, literally, in this case, in both senses of the term, because I think this might be criminal.
[00:06:44] Jordan Harbinger: I see what you did there. That was actually incredibly reckless and stupid of him. It was obviously this guy does not understand technology at all.
[00:06:53] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hmm.
[00:06:53] Jordan Harbinger: Let's work our way back to that in a second, shall we? First of all, I got to say my first big reaction, and this is the first thing I thought of while you were reading the letter before we even got to the most disgusting part, is don't send nudes. I know I sound like the old fart millennial here. The generation below us is a very different lens on all this stuff, but I just don't see how this is worth the risk at all, anywhere, at any time. I mean, look, this girl can't even trust her own family with her nudes.
[00:07:22] Gabriel Mizrahi: That's a very weird sentence that you just said.
[00:07:24] Jordan Harbinger: Brand new sentence right there.
[00:07:26] Gabriel Mizrahi: I absolutely agree with what you just said.
[00:07:28] Jordan Harbinger: It's a weird sentence because it's a weird situation because nudes are involved.
[00:07:31] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:07:32] Jordan Harbinger: And because stepdad is a skeezy perv apparently, but also because these nudes were stored on an unsecured phone where she reuses passwords, which you should also not do. People get one password for God's sake. Use new passwords for everything. It's an unsecured platform. This is how people end up getting embarrassed or blackmailed or scammed. Believe you me, in 20 years, 10 years, we're going to see people running for office who have nudes from when they were a teenager in somehow, some way someone's going to get those things.
[00:08:00] Gabriel Mizrahi: A hundo P.
[00:08:01] Jordan Harbinger: And it's because everyone's too loosey-goosey with the dick pics and the booty shots.
[00:08:04] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:08:05] Jordan Harbinger: So I just got to go on record saying that for anyone listening, because I feel like it's my duty to put out that PSA, just don't send nudes. Or if you do, you got to treat them like a top-secret document in a freaking skiff. You need to use disappearing message apps. Send it to your spouse maybe only. There's just no good way to do this unless you're an IT specialist.
[00:08:25] Gabriel Mizrahi: You're not going to use that level of security for nudes though. You know you're not.
[00:08:28] Jordan Harbinger: That's a good point.
[00:08:29] Gabriel Mizrahi: No. If you're sending nudes, it's probably after 9:00 p.m. You're DM'ing someone you fancy from your bathroom or whatever. You're not setting up a secure server with end-to-end encryption. I'm just guessing. That's kind of the vibe, the news.
[00:08:41] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Right.
[00:08:42] Gabriel Mizrahi: Sending vibe.
[00:08:42] Jordan Harbinger: That's a good point. You're just sending out your junk willy-nilly trusting social media companies with your intimates, hoping for the best. It's a nightmare.
[00:08:49] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:08:49] Jordan Harbinger: Again, I'm not a prude Puritan about this. I have no moral qualms about sharing nudes per se. This is purely a practical concern, and this story is just bringing that to life for me in a big way. This is going to be one of those big rules with my kids as they grow up. No motorcycles, no hard drugs, no freaking nudes.
[00:09:08] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, and no essential oils.
[00:09:10] Jordan Harbinger: No essential oils. That's right. The four golden rules of the Harbinger household.
[00:09:13] Gabriel Mizrahi: So sound policy.
[00:09:15] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:09:15] Gabriel Mizrahi: Okay, so now she's alone with her stepfather while her mom's away, what does she do?
[00:09:20] Jordan Harbinger: Right, so this is a tough one. First of all, based on what we know, I don't get the sense that she's in immediate danger from this guy.
[00:09:27] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hmm.
[00:09:28] Jordan Harbinger: I don't even know. I hope I don't eat those words. Obviously, he's crossed a huge line and what he's done or probably done could land this guy a serious charge.
[00:09:36] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:09:36] Jordan Harbinger: Some version of possession and distribution of child sexual material, I imagine. But it doesn't sound like he's actively targeting or abusing her in real life, which is somewhat of a relief, I guess. But what if it's for lack of opportunity and now this is the opportunity? That's what scares me.
[00:09:50] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. It's a little worrisome, but I agree. I don't get the sense that she's in imminent danger except for this thing about her stepdad breaking her phone during an argument that kind of made my ears prick up a little bit.
[00:10:00] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, it's a little worrisome. How bad was this fight that her phone got damaged? Did he throw it at the wall or something? What's going on? And the other thing is, and call me a conspiracy theorist right now, did he break the phone thinking, ha, now she'll never know that I texted those nudes to myself because the phone's broken and there's no way to look at the thread anymore, just not knowing about iCloud.
[00:10:20] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oh wow. I didn't even think about that.
[00:10:23] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:10:23] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hmm. I don't know. But I do know that that fight with the phone had nothing to do with the nudes. I mean, this is a whole other fight.
[00:10:29] Jordan Harbinger: No, no, no. But he's probably like, "Ooh, I'm going to break the thing where she could possibly find the evidence."
[00:10:34] Gabriel Mizrahi: No, totally. Yeah. I mean, if that's his reason, then I guess that's another thing. But I'm just getting the sense that there's some strife in this house.
[00:10:40] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, you're probably right. And so maybe there is some cause for concern. For me, I'm a better safe than sorry kind of guy. Like if this is my daughter, I'm thinking, okay, get the hell out of there. Stepdad sounds rapey, just because he's willing to cross that boundary. But what I mean is based on what we know, he hasn't tried to get her alone or say weird stuff to her or touch her inappropriately. So she might be relatively safe for these four days. I just don't love my conclusion. Look, if she's not, then I would say spend as much time out of the house as possible. Go stay at a friend's, have your boyfriend over a bunch. Whatever you need to do to be okay. Obviously, tell your mom to not go anywhere if that's too late. I don't know. There's a bigger problem here. Somebody has to do something about it. In my view, the move is to encourage your girlfriend to tell her mom what happened. There's no getting around that. Show her the evidence. Tell her how this whole thing has made your girlfriend feel about herself, about her stepdad, that she's concerned about being around him now. That she needs her mom to delete those photos from his phone so she can breathe easier. The whole thing is so gross.
[00:11:39] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, I think it's mom's job to protect her here at this point.
[00:11:42] Jordan Harbinger: Hopefully, she'll step up and confront her husband directly about the texts. And if I were her, if I had evidence that my partner was hanging onto nudes of my child, I would leave them immediately. I can't think of a reason why I wouldn't. I would protect my child from that person forever. End of story.
[00:11:59] Now, if mom does not intervene in some way, which would be really sad, then the best advice I can offer is for your girlfriend to move out as soon as she can and keep her distance from this guy. She's going to be 18 soon. She might be able to make some moves. I hope she does, because to Gabe's point, the whole nude debacle aside, it sounds like there's other conflict between her and her stepdad. This just doesn't sound like a very harmonious house. And the healthiest move is probably to separate from her family a little bit.
[00:12:27] I'm worried. What is going to happen if Mom doesn't take this seriously though? Because what if she is in danger? The more I think about it, the creepier, this is.
[00:12:34] Gabriel Mizrahi: Uh, I shudder to think that would be quite a betrayal, but that kind of thing happens all the time, sadly. I mean, look, she always has the option of going to the police if she wants to. I imagine that they would take a report like this fairly seriously.
[00:12:46] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:12:47] Gabriel Mizrahi: But if your girlfriend does that, she's got to be prepared for what that means. They might take her phone for evidence, which means being without a phone again, having them go through that phone and who knows what's on that phone now based on their history.
[00:12:58] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Yeah. Look, the whole damn police department's going to be looking at her feet pics, but look, the cops are used to this kind of thing. You almost just have to deal with that.
[00:13:06] Gabriel Mizrahi: And if they do investigate, they'll probably question her stepdad and take his phone and he could be in a world of trouble for this.
[00:13:13] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:13:13] Gabriel Mizrahi: And I'm not saying he doesn't deserve it, but just know that it could tear your family apart and you and your mom have to be ready for that.
[00:13:19] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. That could get really ugly. But he did this to himself. I don't know—
[00:13:24] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:13:24] Jordan Harbinger: —how bad I feel for this guy. This is his doing. I can't think of a reason he would do this. That's not gross. And so she shouldn't feel guilty about him facing the consequences here. It's not like, "Yeah, I just can't think of a reason that he would do this. That's not gross, you know? Even if you're like, "I need to make damn sure that she understands the consequences of this and doesn't deny that this has happened. You need a copy of those photos." And he tells his wife, who's her mom, like to take that. I would not want anything from that, from my stepdaughter ever, under any circumstances.
[00:13:53] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. That's weird in its own way, what you just said.
[00:13:55] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:13:56] Gabriel Mizrahi: But it just occurred to me that, I guess there's a world where he texted himself the nudes, not because he was like getting off on them, but because it was some weird power game.
[00:14:04] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Like he wants leverage over her or something—
[00:14:07] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:14:07] Jordan Harbinger: —which is also really crappy and terrible.
[00:14:09] Gabriel Mizrahi: It is super weird. But the story begins with her parents confiscating her phone for two weeks and that's already kind of a, you know, "we're in charge, we're in control" kind of move. They put it in the safe. It's like all very efficacious. So maybe the stepdad just wanted her to know like, "Hey, I know what you did. I've still got the collateral," you know, like NXIVM style.
[00:14:28] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. That is some Keith Raniere-ish right there. But that is also abusive.
[00:14:33] Gabriel Mizrahi: For sure. Definitely not defending it. It's just a different thing from I want to see my stepdaughter naked.
[00:14:39] Jordan Harbinger: Okay. So you're saying there's a world where he's not an outright predator. He's just a highly controlling, manipulative, a-hole parent using whatever means at his disposal.
[00:14:48] Gabriel Mizrahi: Maybe it's possible he'd still be breaking the law. He's in possession of an underage person's nudes, but does that change the calculus on calling the cops? I wonder. It's just an interesting question.
[00:14:58] Jordan Harbinger: I don't know. I still think this should get reported, and that's just my gut here.
[00:15:02] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. I'm a little confused about how much his intention factors into this.
[00:15:08] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, me too. His behavior overall, and whether this nudes thing fits into a pattern—
[00:15:12] Gabriel Mizrahi: That matters too. Yeah.
[00:15:13] Jordan Harbinger: That matters too. Yeah. But at the end of the day, it sounds like he did a very creepy, very violating thing. And maybe that's all that matters. You know, when we talk to people like Joe Navarro or Gavin de Becker, all the predators and all the people who are murdery, rapey people, they all violate boundaries like this in the beginning.
[00:15:31] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:15:31] Jordan Harbinger: That's one of those major, major red flags. You know, they push, they don't accept no for an answer. They try to violate boundaries like this.
[00:15:38] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:15:38] Jordan Harbinger: And look, just to be a hundred percent fair to everyone involved, I highly encourage your girlfriend and her mom to do everything they can to verify that he really did send himself the photos. Again, I cannot think of any other plausible explanation. I'm afraid this is exactly what it sounds like. But I would just be very rigorous here before you destroy this guy's life. And I hope that gives you and your girlfriend a few ways forward. And I'm very sorry this happened. This is disturbing. It's absolutely not okay.
[00:16:07] A big takeaway from me here is you got to be really thoughtful about what you send and who you send it to. Your girlfriend does not deserve this. It's not her fault. But in a world where creepy stepdads and questionable moms and iCloud hackers, and God knows who else can get their hands on your boudoir pics, it really is on us to be really careful. And I hope your girlfriend stays safe. I hope she finds the protection she needs, and we're wishing you both the best.
[00:16:33] Oof, yikes. You know what else you won't want to share with your stepdad, Gabriel? The amazing products and services that support this show. We'll be right back.
[00:16:45] This episode is sponsored in part by TextExpander. I want to share a productivity secret that's been a game changer for me and my team. You've heard it on here before. TextExpander, if you're tired of typing the same phrases, sentences, or paragraphs over and over again, you're going to love this tool. It is not just keyboard shortcuts that you have on your frigging phone. I know those exist. TextExpander is an incredible app that helps you save a ton of time and be more efficient by creating custom keyboard shortcuts like entire emails for your most frequently used text snippets. Whether it's your email address, that alone is the price of admission. I have not typed my email in full for five years, and it saved me a zillion hours of typing. Dates, common phrases, whole paragraphs that I use all the time in correspondence. TextExpander got you covered. Imagine this, instead of typing out that lengthy customer service response to the same meeting agenda for the hundredth time, you type three keystrokes, a short abbreviation, and boom, text expander fills in the rest for you, it's like magic but better. One of my favorite features is the ability to share snippets with the team. So that means everyone can be on the same page using the same language, the same shortcuts, maintaining consistency across your entire organization. And guess what? TextExpander works on all your devices. You make a shortcut on the Mac, it ends up on your phone, works in Windows, works on the iPad, so no matter where you're working from, you can enjoy the benefits of increased productivity and efficiency.
[00:18:03] Jen Harbinger: Try TextExpander for free. And when you're ready to sign up, you can get 20 percent off your first year at textexpander.com/jordan. Go to textexpander.com/jordan to try TextExpander.
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[00:20:12] And now back to Feedback Friday. All right, next up.
[00:20:17] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey, Jordan and Gabe. I'm a 27-year-old woman marrying into a family business that my fiance's Uncle built from the ground up. My 28-year-old fiance, let's call him Steve, worked seasonally for them his whole life. He later left his full-time job with benefits to come on board full-time. For over six years, the family has told Steve that he will, quote-unquote, take over the business. As a skeptic though, I've been asking, what does this mean? Will we have to buy it from them? Do they just pass it down? How will they retire? Steve never has an answer and neither does his family. This is even more concerning because there are other relatives, including siblings and cousins who want their fair share even though they've not had the same level of involvement in the company. This concern is becoming more pressing now that we're getting married and thinking about starting a family in the next few years. I don't feel comfortable having a child with this financial uncertainty and the potential drama this could cause. As the in-law, I don't want to overstep, but the decisions that Steve's family makes will ultimately impact us. How do people navigate transitions in family businesses? What would you do legally to ensure financial security with our relatives? Signed, A Fiancée With Some Questions About This Murky Succession.
[00:21:35] Jordan Harbinger: Ooh, this is a good question. I definitely understand your concern here. I think you're being very responsible by trying to pin this down before you and your fiance start a family. You're also being very sensitive to the fact that this is not your family. You don't want to overstep here. You're right. This is definitely a conversation that Steve needs to drive on his own. So my take is this. Steve needs to talk to his family, starting with his Uncle about what the succession plan is, how the transition will work, what the legal status of the company will be, and all that stuff.
[00:22:08] And the way I'd approach that conversation is, "Look, Uncle Frank, Cousin Dale," whoever it is he's talking to, "I'm committed to this company. I love this company. I left a good job to come on board full-time here, and I'd like to help steward this company when you're ready to retire. But as I get married and I think about starting a family, I'd like to better understand what that'll actually look like because I need to start planning logistically and financially for my future. So let's talk about it. How do you see me fitting in here? How do you intend for the company to be run? And by who? What will the ownership structure be? What will the reporting lines look like? What are you thinking in terms of giving other family members a share in the company? Just help me understand so I can be a good partner to you in the transition."
[00:22:53] You got to say something like that. These are all super reasonable questions and they're very important ones too, because you're right, this almost guaranteed will get messy. It sounds like the family does not have a plan for the transition. It sounds like the uncle's burying his head in the sand on this and just hoping it'll sort itself out later. And I can almost guarantee that that line of thought is going to create chaos down the line. This is going to turn into a Game of Thrones style war that tears the family apart potentially, and just tanks the whole company. I've seen it happen more times than I can count. We've all heard of these types of situations. The more Steve can approach his family as a collaborative partner who wants to help them come up with a fair and sound solution as opposed to, you know, "Hey, I'm here to get what's mine," the better this is going to go.
[00:23:36] And after that, I would memorialize everything they talk about in an email to the family, get them to acknowledge it so he has some kind of record of what they agreed on. That might not be legally binding but it will be an important document and a great place to begin. And then, Steve should work with his family to do whatever legal work is necessary to cement that plan. Candidly, I don't know a lot about this. You know, I'm a lawyer, not your lawyer and all that, but I do know that there are fairly standard legal templates for these types of transitions. So if they haven't done this already, I would find a good attorney specializing in family business cases and let this attorney guide them through the process of setting up a company for clean, easy, fair transfer. It's not rocket science. It does need to be rock solid to avoid a catastrophe. They need to plan when this transition is going to happen approximately, ideally, before the current chief passes away so he can mediate and solve disputes if needed because someone's going to have to interpret this.
[00:24:37] The problem is going to be the guy who owns a business passes away and the kids are like, "Well, it's my dad, so I own half the business because, and my sister owns the other half. And you just work there." And then the guy's like, "Well, screw that. I'm not going to work for you two yutz who don't even know how to freaking unlock the front door. I'm out." Business tanks or they go, "No, it's okay. You can have a third and we'll take two-thirds." And they do absolutely jack sh*t. You do all the work and they want you to cut them a fricking check for 66 percent of the revenue and you can't run the business. I mean there's a million ways this can go wrong.
[00:25:07] Gabriel Mizrahi: That's right. And I think the woman writing in is worried about that exact scenario. I worry about Steve a little bit. It sounds like he's brought a lot of value to this company and he is been very loyal, but it's unclear where he fits into this whole plan. So I think this is very sound advice.
[00:25:20] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:25:21] Gabriel Mizrahi: This should be pretty straightforward if they can get it all squared away legally. That said, I do think Steve needs to put on his Shiv Roy from Succession hat here for a minute and like study these other family members. Start to figure out how this transition is going to shake out. I'm very curious about these siblings and these cousins who are angling for their fair share.
[00:25:40] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that jumped out at me too. Like I said, it's unclear what that even means. Do they want to buy out a payout? Do they want to sit on the board? Are they going to vy for c e O at some point?
[00:25:49] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right, right.
[00:25:50] Jordan Harbinger: Do they just need a royalty check? But is that check going to be too high for you to sustain over time? It's a mess.
[00:25:56] Gabriel Mizrahi: Are they going to oppose Steve if he takes over? That's the real question. I think he needs to play some chess here and figure out what these people want, what their personalities are like. You know, whether their interests are compatible with his interests, or if it's going to be total mayhem.
[00:26:09] Jordan Harbinger: I'm guessing those folks just want money. That's the vibe I'm getting from this three-paragraph letter. It's kind of funny to me that they want their fair share when they haven't been as involved. I don't even know if they're involved at all. It just sounds like they're entitled, which is not uncommon. They're like, it's my dad's business. It's going to be mine later. But it's like, well, why aren't you working your ass off in the business? Oh, because you don't feel like it and you have an Xbox that's burning a hole in your time, you know, come on.
[00:26:33] Gabriel Mizrahi: Exactly. Yeah. Fair share is a very relative term. It's like what is, what makes it fair and what is that share?
[00:26:39] Jordan Harbinger: You are getting your fair share, you're getting nothing because you don't do anything. How's that?
[00:26:43] Gabriel Mizrahi: Or if you know your Uncle started it, then perhaps you do have some claim to it, which is not fair, but it's just how the world works.
[00:26:48] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:26:49] Gabriel Mizrahi: But like I'm with you, rocky family dynamics ahead.
[00:26:52] Jordan Harbinger: For sure. There might actually be no way to negotiate this succession without major family drama, but getting the details squared away on paper and then getting buy-in from the whole family in advance, that'll really help.
[00:27:05] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right. You want the drama to happen now? Yes. When they have to negotiate with the lawyers while everyone is on the same page and they're willing to get it on paper. And then you don't worry about the drama when there's no paper.
[00:27:14] Jordan Harbinger: Right. And in 10 years when you're like, I have two kids with my wife and I was counting on this, and then the kids end up suing and it's a huge freaking mess, and you're like, "You know what? I'll just leave and start my career over," a decade later. Look, I hope the transition goes Steve's way. This conversation with his family might be his first act of real leadership, which is great training. Good luck.
[00:27:34] Gabe, I don't know, man. Best case scenario might still be kind of crappy because he might end up talking to the Uncle, getting everything papered. The kids might even be like, "Hey, okay, I guess that's fair." And then, Uncle dies, leaves the business to Steve, and the kids are like, "You know what? Screw that. I had no idea this thing was valued so highly because of Steve's hard work. Now, I'm going to sue. I'm going to challenge the paper." And even when they lose and the case gets thrown out because the papers rock solid, now your cousins hate you forever because you stole the business, even though that's not what happened at all.
[00:28:09] Gabriel Mizrahi: That's what I mean when I say he needs to look around and figure out how he fits in here.
[00:28:12] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:28:12] Gabriel Mizrahi: And whether they're going to take him seriously.
[00:28:14] Jordan Harbinger: Be ready for that. There's a scenario in which the Uncle literally has to write down what the kids get and that's it. And he has to explain to them 400 times over the next decade while he is still alive, why that's fair. They're not getting any more. And maybe that'll ease the pain of this, but I wouldn't hold my breath for having your cousins just love every portion of this transition, and then feel like you got away with a fair share, as did they. There's just like no way that's happening.
[00:28:40] All right. You can reach us firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep your emails concise. Use descriptive subject lines if there's something you're wrestling with, a big decision perhaps life, love, work. What to do if a crazy hoarder you went on two dates with retaliated for a breakup by tanking your reputation online? Whatever's got you staying up at night lately, hit us up email@example.com. We're here to help and we keep every email anonymous.
[00:29:05] Okay, next up.
[00:29:07] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey, Jordan and Gabe. Three years ago, my life was turned upside down when a driver blew a stop sign and crashed headlong into my vehicle, leaving me with severe whiplash and a traumatic brain injury. The symptoms from this injury are ongoing and make my daily life quite difficult. I went from being a high-performing entrepreneur with two businesses I built from scratch to not being able to read or write. I've spent the past three years learning everything I can about brain injuries, doing all the therapies available for recovery, and seeing over 20 medical professionals to help me figure out what is going on inside my head. Thankfully, I'm able to do basic things again, like shopping and driving, but it will be a while before I can work a job, let alone build another business. I'm now figuring out what my future looks like. I feel like a completely different person. As the brain injury changed so many aspects of my identity, including my personality, my natural talents, my abilities, even my likes and dislikes, which brings me to my family and the religious cult that I was raised in. I knew for some time that my family was dysfunctional, as I've suffered from PTSD, anxiety, and depression ever since I can remember. But now that I have a new brain, I'm seeing my past from an outside perspective. I'm shocked and horrified by all the abuse and neglect that I've suffered along with severe religious trauma. My father also committed suicide nine years ago after a lifelong battle with bipolar disorder in my family and the community at large, I was forced to take on the caretaker role and please everyone around me in order to survive. After my injury, though I was unable to fulfill all of those duties and expectations that this role required, I've received so much backlash for having my injury as my family doesn't acknowledge the severity of what I'm dealing with and refuses to accept this new version of who I am. I feel as though I'm being punished for something I have no control over. On top of all that, I'm still living with my mother in the middle of the cult community. I know I need a new environment to heal and grow. I'm in therapy, but there seem to be so many complex issues going on at once that it's challenging to make consistent progress. How do I come to grips with all I've been through in the past few years? Do I focus on processing these losses and traumas while also adjusting to life with a disability? Or should I put all my energy into charting my future and only unpack what I've been through when I feel safer and healthier? Signed, Bruised, Accused, and Feeling Confused.
[00:31:45] Jordan Harbinger: Wow, this is quite a story, man. There's so much going on in this letter. You've really been through the gauntlet here. First of all, I am so sorry to hear about this car accident and the brain injury. Holy smokes. This kind of thing just scares the crap out of me. You can go from running two companies you started to not be able to read or write because some a-h*le was what? Texting or just like, I don't know, had a bad day driving. Man, I just can't even imagine what that must be like. This isn't just, you know, ah, I had to learn how to walk around the block without getting a migraine. This is, I'm literally a different person now. And my whole life has changed and I can't work.
[00:32:20] Gabriel Mizrahi: So wild.
[00:32:22] Jordan Harbinger: I'm in shock here, Gabe.
[00:32:23] Gabriel Mizrahi: Me too.
[00:32:24] Jordan Harbinger: I'm not even sure I've heard a TBI described this way before. It's really intense stuff and it just sounds like a nightmare.
[00:32:31] Gabriel Mizrahi: Beyond intense. This woman, I have to say is incredibly impressive.
[00:32:35] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:32:35] Gabriel Mizrahi: And the way that she's handled this, oh man, it must be taking a lot of strength to get through it. I got to be honest, I don't know if I would be handling it as well as she is. If I were in her shoes.
[00:32:43] Jordan Harbinger: I don't think I would either. I'd be either super depressed and stuck in bed, or just totally giving up, or I'd be raging at the universe for ruining my life, especially the driver. I really, ugh, it's some next-level sort of cosmic life-ish here. Anyway, that's all to say you're a freaking hero. That's all I got to say about that. So this is fascinating. There's the TBI, which is a huge challenge in and of itself. Then there's this family stuff, the traumas in your past, which is a whole other layer, and just to be very direct with you, there's so much here that we can't possibly do it all justice in just a few minutes.
[00:33:18] Processing all this, your father's tragedy, the values of your community, the way you're responding to your injury now, ultimately that's your work to do and I'm just so glad to hear you're in therapy. That's exactly where you should be. That's terrific. But I'm having one big thought here, which is you've lost a lot since the accident, a lot, your faculties, your skills, your identity. But you've gained something so significant, which is a new lens on your life.
[00:33:46] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:33:47] Jordan Harbinger: And that can be kind of scary too. It can be disorienting. It's almost like you put on new glasses with a new prescription, and bam, the whole world snapped into focus. All these fuzzy shapes are now super vivid. You're freaked out by what you see. It's almost like those glasses, Gabe, where colorblind people can see color for the first time and they're like, "Oh my God."
[00:34:04] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oh yeah.
[00:34:04] Jordan Harbinger: Right?
[00:34:04] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:34:05] Jordan Harbinger: It's fascinating. And I'm not sure if the TBI itself did that, because we know these injuries can literally change the physical structure of the brain, or if the consequences of the TBI have done this.
[00:34:16] Gabriel Mizrahi: Uh, yeah. So you mean by making it harder for her to be the caretaker and now she's dependent on her family support and has changed her whole worldview?
[00:34:23] Jordan Harbinger: Exactly. It gave her new needs, new priorities, and made her move through the world in a new way by force. And suddenly she's like, "Oh, this is what my family is like in a crisis. This is news to me." Maybe there was a part of her that secretly believed that she was the caretaker this whole time, and if she ever needed them, they'd be the same way. And they're like, "Get over it. Take care of us."
[00:34:42] Gabriel Mizrahi: I think that's exactly what's happening. Yes.
[00:34:43] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:34:44] Gabriel Mizrahi: I would not be surprised if it's both of those things, but I love what you're seeing here. It's like this TBI is both the worst and possibly the best thing that ever happened to her.
[00:34:53] Jordan Harbinger: That's exactly what I'm getting at. Because look, this cult, we don't know what that means. It might be a literal cult. It sounds like it's some kind of religious community that might be a little bit kooky. It might even just be a family that's called E, but whatever it is, this environment has created a lot of objective trauma. She has PTSD, anxiety, depression. She had a father who wrestled with bipolar disorder and committed suicide, which is so sad. She says she was abused, she was forced to take care of everyone else, and it sounds like nobody was really looking out for her. And now she needs them and they're like, "Oh, you're being dramatic. Suck it up. I don't like this new person you're becoming." It's like, "Bitch, I got a brain injury." That's quite a response to somebody who is literally T-boned by a car and can't even read a freaking mac and cheese recipe or whatever.
[00:35:37] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right. Very hurtful. But it's also hard to know if that response from the family is rooted more in ignorance or in malice.
[00:35:45] Jordan Harbinger: Okay. Right. Maybe this family's just really clueless about how brain injuries work. Look, I understand that's possible. Maybe they're really not that educated and they don't care, but it also sounds to me like that fits into a larger template. Either way, this environment is not what she needs right now.
[00:36:02] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:36:02] Jordan Harbinger: It's causing her very real pain. So I don't mean to gloss over how complex this is, but you seeing your life clearly for the first time. I have a weird feeling that that might be the one, and I hate to sound like that guy, but this might be the one huge gift of this terrible injury. And in your case, it's the understanding of what you've been through. The realization that you need something very different now and it's time to chart a new path. Like I said, extremely scary and in another way, potentially very empowering.
[00:36:30] So just to be very direct here, you are on a journey right now. You have been on a journey, but the next step is starting to unfold, and I do think it's time to consider what kind of relationship you want to have with your family. I'm not saying you should cut them completely out or punish them for what they did. They're almost certainly dealing with their own trauma. They're caught up in this culty organization too. They probably just don't know better. But it does sound like this is not the ideal environment for somebody recovering from a brain injury, and definitely not for somebody who's ready to process these events and continue healing.
[00:37:08] So maybe that means spending more time apart from Mom. Maybe it means staying away from the larger community. Maybe it means getting a place of your own. I'll let you figure out the practicals, but I feel quite strongly that this new identity of yours, it's showing you something important. And I would listen to that voice and see what it's trying to tell you.
[00:37:27] Gabriel Mizrahi: I could not agree more, Jordan. It's so strange to say, but yeah, in a way, the t b I might have saved her life.
[00:37:33] Jordan Harbinger: It's wild. But that is very possible.
[00:37:36] Gabriel Mizrahi: Of course, it totally depends on how she manages this transition, how she works through this stuff. But if she had continued humming along and performing at the super high level that she was all these years, it's possible she might have missed the reality of her family and her life—
[00:37:50] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:37:50] Gabriel Mizrahi: —which is crazy to think about. So obviously keep going to therapy and I know it's a lot to work through. It's so tough to make consistent progress. You have a lot to bring into sessions. So to that, I would say have some patience. Stick with it. Trust the process. It's going to take a little while. Obviously, I would make sure you're working with a good therapist if you're not having the experience you want. If you don't think you're improving quickly enough or you're not getting anywhere, then totally fair to consider finding a new one. And hey, maybe start by asking your therapist for ways that you could get the most out of your sessions, or what kind of work you should be doing between sessions to make more progress, or what your therapist thinks your recovery should look like if there are milestones or certain things you should be measuring all of this by. It always helps to be an active partner with your therapist in your treatment. So I think that's absolutely something fair to bring into session.
[00:38:39] And yes, I do think that you can process these losses while you adjust to life with a disability and you are, but some days might be very difficult or you'll find that you're going to need to focus on one thing over the other thing, and that doesn't mean that you're failing. I think this is just so complex and I'm sure it's going to take time. So, no, I wouldn't hold off on unpacking all of this until you make a move and you feel safer. I think in all likelihood, you'll feel safer and you'll make the right move by unpacking all of this, because the more you get to explore it and work through it, the more that process will tell you, "Okay, here's where I need to go. Here's where I need to live. Here are the kinds of relationships I need to have. I really do believe that."
[00:39:20] I have one last recommendation for you. It's a book called Run Towards the Danger by Sarah Polley. It's a really remarkable book. Sarah's a writer and a director, and she's been through some truly insane stuff in her life, including a traumatic brain injury that derailed her life for several years. Maybe you've already heard about this book because you've been doing so much homework, but in case you haven't, she has some incredible insights about how to recover from an injury like this, and she has this whole passage in the book I remember about balancing self-care and being very gentle with yourself with being appropriately tough on yourself and working through pain and how to work with that threshold. I think it'll be super helpful for you right now just to hear about another person who's been through something like this. We're going to link to that in the show notes. And by the way, if it's still hard for you to read, don't worry, there's an audiobook version of the book, and that might be even better.
[00:40:10] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I was about to say, Gabe, way to be sensitive to somebody with a TBI. Like, oh, I, I can't even do anything. I can't focus on a paper. And it's like, here's a fun idea. Go read this super intense book about brain injuries that should make you feel better and totally not be impossible.
[00:40:25] Gabriel Mizrahi: And use our Amazon affiliate code.
[00:40:27] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Make sure you use our show links that you can't see on the website.
[00:40:30] Savage, Gabe, absolutely savage. We're going to have to talk about your empathy levels here on the show. Wouldn't kill you to be a little more sensitive to people.
[00:40:37] Gabriel Mizrahi: Fair.
[00:40:38] Jordan Harbinger: Geez. Anyway, speaking of empathy, eh? I'm sorry. You've been through this traumatic brain injury and you grew up in a cult. It really is more than one person should ever have to go through. But from another perspective, it's a remarkable opportunity to decide what matters to you, what you need in life, who you want to surround yourself with. I know it's painful, but I have a feeling this is putting you on a path that is much healthier and more supportive. So we're sending you a big hug. We're wishing you the best with your recovery.
[00:41:03] And watch out at those intersections, you all. I mean, no joke, really crazy how your life can change in an instant just because somebody wasn't paying attention, my goodness.
[00:41:12] You know what's better than a traumatic brain injury, Gabriel? The crazy good deals on the products and services that support this show. We'll be right back.
[00:41:24] This episode is sponsored in part by FlyKitt. Have you ever gone on an international trip and you've just been annihilated by jet lag either during or after the trip? Yeah, that's natural, but it always takes me like two weeks to recover from jet lag until I started using FlyKitt. They didn't pay me for this. My friend's company. I thought it was a bunch of BS, a solution to jet lag, whatever. Totally sounds fake. I first discovered FlyKitt on my Bhutan trip where the lead said, "Everybody's got to get this." And I was like, "I don't want this. It's just vitamins. It arrived in a really neat, small, organized packet with everything you need." I was again, pissed off because I was like, "I don't need vitamins. I can buy vitamins. I even demanded a refund before I started taking it. This is my friend, so he just can tell him we're great buddies, but he told me just, "Hey, follow the schedule, which comes in the FlyKitt app." You enter some basic info like when you arrive, what time you want to wake up, when you go to sleep. The schedule tells you when to eat, what to have, and when. I followed the schedule to Bhutan and back, and now it's like, shut up and take my money every trip. I'd never get jet lag. I buy it for every international trip with a big time zone difference. It's not just placebo. There's a lot of studies behind this lot of science. It's worked every single time. And of course, we always laugh about how much of an a-h*le I was in the beginning about this business. This is all based on research with Navy SEALs. Flying causes inflammation, which is brain fog, low energy, gut issues, all that stuff. And of course, your circadian rhythm. FlyKitt leverages cutting-edge AI, which of course it does to precisely time, light, proprietary supplementation, eating, sleep, a little bit of caffeine here and there to tune your physiology. I, again, almost don't even care why it works. It just works super freaking well and it's easy to do. So go to flykitt.com with two T's. That's F-L-Y-K-I-T-T.com to get a FlyKitt for 15 percent off with code JORDAN. Flykitt.com with two T's promo code JORDAN. A lot of you have ordered this saying it's a game changer. I'm not lying about this as a real endorsement. Again, I just think this is the bomb. Try it out on your next trip and let me know how it's working out for you. I guarantee you it's going to do well. Well, they guarantee it, but I also guarantee it. How's that?
[00:43:25] Guys, I want to give a shout-out to one of my favorite YouTube channels. It's called The China Show. It's run by two of my friends, Laowhy86 and SerpentZA. Imagine picking those names a bunch of years ago and being like, this will never be cringey, Winston and C-Milk, really good guys. I guess that's another name. C-Milk, there's a story there, I'm sure. These are great guys. They lived in China for 10 years, 14 years respectively. They are incredibly versed with Chinese news. They do a roundup of things going on in China like AI and why people are going bonkers over ice cream but also things like the Pentagon leak and what those documents have to do with Chinese policy. So it's not super nerd alert when it comes to in-the-weeds policies and politics, but it's really interesting. They try to keep it funny and light as well. I watch pretty much every one of their videos that they put out, all these guys, especially The China Show episodes. If you want to stay up to date on China, if you want to get an idea for the threat that the Chinese Communist Party has, or just get a really cool and funny look into Chinese culture itself, then I definitely recommend The China Show. One recent video they did was on the state of AI in China, and it just kind of devolves into this funny cultural critique. So definitely check out the link in the show notes. It's called The China Show. You can literally just search for The China Show on YouTube and you'll find it and let me know what you think, good guys, great show.
[00:44:42] Hey, listeners, we want you to know how important it is to us to make sure you're hearing about brands and products that matter to you. And the best way for us to do that is to get your opinion, and we like to reward our listeners, which is why we're offering a $10 gift card for the first 150 people who fill out a quick survey, and I mean that firstname.lastname@example.org. So please take a few minutes to visit podcastone.study and tell us what you think.
[00:45:04] If you like this episode of Feedback Friday and you found our advice valuable, I invite you to do what other smart and considerate listeners do, which is take a moment and support our amazing sponsors. All of the deals, discount codes, and ways to support the show are all in one place. jordanharbinger.com/deals. It's a searchable page. You can also search for any sponsor using the AI chatbot on the website as well. Thank you for supporting those who support the show.
[00:45:27] Now for the rest of Feedback Friday.
[00:45:31] Okay, what's next?
[00:45:33] Gabriel Mizrahi: Dear Jordan and Gabe, I'm in a marriage of 27 years that I no longer want to be in. My wife and I have completely grown apart in nearly every way imaginable, but I'm holding off on making a decision to divorce until our youngest of four kids turns 18, which is about 15 months away. I've been counting down the days in my head for seven years, which is an awfully long time to live with such unhappiness, but so much is on the line. What makes matters more complicated is that my wife and I are both in full-time religious ministry. Our jobs and income are tied to our spiritual lives, and getting a divorce would mean dismissal and no more income. This line of work is all I've known for half my life, so this is very scary to me. What weighs most heavily on me though, is that early in our marriage, I was physically abusive to my wife for five to seven years. I've completely turned from that horrible and unacceptable behavior, but it haunts me. I also no longer subscribe to the religious beliefs of the organization that we work for, and I've basically been a closeted atheist or agnostic for nine years. My wife doesn't know. In the heat of an argument, I brought up the idea of divorce and she said she is, "Not still married to me because she loves me, but because she made a commitment to God." Finally, I also have a fear of disappointing my parents. I'm afraid of bringing them great sadness if I announce a divorce and bring to light my shameful past abusive behavior, which my wife has threatened to tell everyone about if I ever tried to divorce her. I long for the freedom to begin a new life, but I'm fearful about how all of this could turn out in divorce proceedings. What would you do if you were in my shoes? Signed, The Conflicted Cleric.
[00:47:19] Jordan Harbinger: Ooh, boy. This is quite a conundrum.
[00:47:22] Gabriel Mizrahi: Conundra, I would say.
[00:47:23] Jordan Harbinger: Ooh, conundrum forsooth.
[00:47:24] Gabriel Mizrahi: Forsooth.
[00:47:25] Jordan Harbinger: Conundra, left and right. This guy's life. It's like one of those escape rooms that have multiple chambers and puzzles and you're just not sure if you're going to get out in time.
[00:47:32] Gabriel Mizrahi: Ugh, the stress this guy must feel, dude.
[00:47:34] Jordan Harbinger: I know.
[00:47:35] Gabriel Mizrahi: I'm stressed out. It's not even my life. He's kind of in a prison.
[00:47:38] Jordan Harbinger: That's exactly it. He's a prisoner. He's imprisoned by his line of work. He's imprisoned by his beliefs. He's imprisoned by this unhappy marriage. He's imprisoned by his past abusive behavior, by his fear of disappointing his parents. This is a man who is boxed in, and as long as the bars of those prisons remain, he is definitely stuck.
[00:47:57] So look, your life story right now is very complicated and I feel for you. But the key to beginning to resolve all of this is relatively simple. It's intense, but it's simple. And that key is looking inward, getting clearer on who you want to live for and which costs you can bear in this situation. And it sounds to me like you're spending a lot of time and energy living for other people. Look, your job, your community, your wife, your kids, your parents. I get that. I really do. I'm not saying you shouldn't care what other people think or compromise yourself and your family by throwing your entire career out the window or look for some way to hurt your parents. This is all coming from a good place, but I'm getting the sense that these people's opinions hold a lot of weight, and I'm sure they're also wrapped up in a lot of concepts you have about what makes you a, quote-unquote, "good man or a responsible man or a worthy man." And actually, it's those concepts that form the prison you find yourself in more than the circumstances of your life. It's the meaning you assign to these ideas that is keeping you stuck.
[00:48:58] So to oversimplify things dramatically, nothing is going to change until you open these ideas up and really look at them. If you can't reengage with the ministry or renew your beliefs, if you can't imagine starting a new career in a new field, you're going to remain a closeted atheist minister who doesn't get along with his wife. You know, if you can't accept your wife possibly telling people about the things you did in the past, which is I get it's a very scary prospect, then you'll remain in this unhappy marriage. If you aren't willing to risk disappointing your parents by making a decision that's actually right for you, then you are going to keep living a lie to protect them.
[00:49:35] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm. So, in other words, something's got to give.
[00:49:37] Jordan Harbinger: Something's got to give. He can't have it all here, and the things that he's willing to risk or give up, That's going to tell him what's truly meaningful in his life.
[00:49:46] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right. And yeah, it's hard because we can't tell him exactly what that is.
[00:49:49] Jordan Harbinger: No, no, we can't.
[00:49:50] Gabriel Mizrahi: No. He has to do it.
[00:49:50] Jordan Harbinger: That's for him to figure out for sure. But I think you can tell that Gabe and my bias is toward honesty, towards living a life of integrity and courage, as freaking terrifying as that is. Not because like that's the right thing to do, but because all this deception, in my view, it's so unsustainable. You can keep doing what you're doing, but it's going to take years off your life. I mean, I lost a day of my life hearing this letter, right? The stress levels are intense. It's going to make every year probably even more difficult than the year before it because you're going to be more and more jaded and tired of dealing with it.
[00:50:24] Gabriel Mizrahi: It's really no way to live.
[00:50:25] Jordan Harbinger: No.
[00:50:25] Gabriel Mizrahi: But he has to be willing to wander out into the wilderness for a while if things are going to change. And for a lot of people that's a non-starter. It's just too overwhelming. It is too daunting. About the abusive behavior in the past, we have to talk about that for a second.
[00:50:38] Jordan Harbinger: Yep.
[00:50:38] Gabriel Mizrahi: That's a very heavy thing to live with. And I can hear the shame that you feel, and I can hear your remorse. And honestly, the fact that you did so much work on that and that you're no longer hurting your wife, that does redeem you quite a bit in my eyes. I'm guessing there was some very serious pain driving that stuff. I wouldn't be surprised if that pain were wrapped up and everything else we're talking about. I commend you, I really do for putting an end to the abuse, but it happened, and now you have to accept that. And there might be a world where your wife does tell people what you did if you ever got a divorce, and you might have to accept that too. If she did tell people, your only option, I think, is to own it and say, "Yes, I did some awful things. I did them for this reason, for that reason. I got help. I did a lot of work on myself. Now, I understand why I did it. I never did it again. It haunts me to this day, and that's my cross to bear."
[00:51:30] And live with the consequences, which by the way, if the consequences of that are that your parents are going to be sad and you won't be able to do ministry work anymore, correct me if I'm wrong, but that would probably be happening anyway, right? Because you would be getting a divorce, which means that your parents would know, and your ministry work would come to an end anyway. So I'm not trying to minimize how difficult this is, it's very scary. But in this scenario that you're worried about the things that you're afraid of losing, you would already have lost.
[00:52:00] And to Jordan's point, if something's going to change, you're going to have to start thinking through what it is you're willing to lose and whether you're really losing something that's worth keeping. I also think there's a world where you could appeal to your wife's compassion and kindness maybe, hopefully, and ask her to keep those five to seven very dark years private. But I don't know if she'd be willing to do that based on what we know of her.
[00:52:21] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I don't think that's happening. I mean, I don't know if this woman, but his wife literally threatened to tell everyone about what he did if he ever tried to divorce her, which is a fricking weird ass blackmail thing going on here.
[00:52:31] Gabriel Mizrahi: It's a whole other weird angle to this story that I'm not, it's like that's a whole other thing, right?
[00:52:37] Jordan Harbinger: That is the product of a lifetime of coercive indoctrination. We know plenty of religious people, they wouldn't be like, "Well, you need to be miserable for the rest of your life. Sorry."
[00:52:47] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:52:47] Jordan Harbinger: They would never do that. They would be like, "Oh, okay." I mean, even like ultra-orthodox Hasidic Jews are often like, yeah, there's a time when you get divorced and it's when you can't stand each other and it's irreparable, and this one's like, "Nope. Just got to be miserable or you're going to go to hell," and he's like, "I'm already there. Already there, bitch."
[00:53:02] Gabriel Mizrahi: But if this marriage is so miserable, why is she clinging so hard to it? Because she made a commitment to God, she said, right?
[00:53:09] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, it's disturbing.
[00:53:10] Gabriel Mizrahi: This is kind of blackmail.
[00:53:12] Jordan Harbinger: Weird.
[00:53:13] Gabriel Mizrahi: She's in her own prison too, isn't she?
[00:53:15] Jordan Harbinger: For sure. For sure. The work they do, the ideas they subscribe to, they're already keeping them both stuck, and that's no shade. Again, on their religion per se. It's about how they reconcile their competing values. I want to be respectful here, but I really feel like these notions of obligation and commitment and keeping up appearances, how damaging is that? What is it like 1548? And the Catholic church doesn't allow anybody to do anything that's remotely different, just seems so antiquated. There's really no happy way forward unless they're willing to really investigate those beliefs, why they hold them, and who they're serving.
[00:53:49] Gabriel Mizrahi: I agree. I think one of the best things this guy could do right now though, is talk to some people, some trusted people, maybe other ministers, people in the community, people who are not going to just tell him, you know, keep your head down, renew your bond with God. Just do it. Just don't even think about it. These need to be people who can tolerate his crisis of faith, who can actually appreciate these legitimate conflicts that he finds himself in. And if he can't trust anyone in his community, which I would understand, given where he is, then I would look for a therapist or a mentor outside the community, somebody who can help him navigate this.
[00:54:21] And I would also be reading as much as possible. I mean, there are so many books by great religious writers who have wrestled with faith, who have tried to figure out what their relationships should look like and all of that. Those could be great guides, but I feel very strongly that this guy needs good counsel right now, as well as some real friendship and some real community because isolating himself and trying to deal with this on his own, and just keeping secret on top of secret. That's the prison, that's what's perpetuating this sense of being stuck in his own life.
[00:54:50] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, of course. Look, I agree with you. That's our invitation for you, by the way, to find the support you need and get clear on what matters most to you now. Like I said, there's pain no matter what you do here, including if you decide to stay right where you are. The question you need to ask yourself is, which pain can you bear the most? What is that pain revealing about who you are? Answer that, and I know you'll find a way forward. It's not going to be easy, but it will be meaningful and it'll be yours. So good luck.
[00:55:19] I do not envy the position this man is in, Gabriel. This is a lot of rocks and hard places all at once.
[00:55:25] Gabriel Mizrahi: Going to be a dark period, but I think it's necessary.
[00:55:27] Jordan Harbinger: Man, you got to rip off all those Band-Aids. Phew.
[00:55:29] All right. Okay. What's next?
[00:55:32] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey, Jordan. Whenever I attempt to network, I feel like I'm using people like I'm saying, "Hey, what's up with you?" But I don't really care. I just want to create a connection that's beneficial for me. What is wrong with my thinking here? What should be the true impetus behind making these connections, in your opinion? Signed, Trying to be Affable Without Being Transactional.
[00:55:55] Jordan Harbinger: Great question. This is something that most people wrestle with at various points, and it's totally fair. The answer is actually super simple, but it can be a little bit hard to grasp at first. So in my view, when it comes to true relationship building as opposed to the smarmy, transactional kind of networking that you read about a lot, you have to hold two opposing ideas in your mind at the same time. You have to take a genuine interest in other people knowing that those relationships will be your greatest asset, and you have to do that with zero expectation or attachment that they will immediately help you in return.
[00:56:31] And the idea being, yes, care about people, check in on people, help people and do that, knowing that you are investing in connections that could really help you one day, but aren't necessarily going to, but don't do it because you're trying to get something out of them now or next week or next month or next year and possibly ever. So you can acknowledge that there's a larger goal here, which is to be more connected, more equipped, but you have to take that goal out of the equation moment to moment, and that is how you network and build relationships without using people.
[00:57:03] But the other reason, you should have this lens is most of the opportunities you're hoping for are, I call it, way over the horizon. You can't see them immediately. You usually find them or create them by developing great relationships with people over time. So if you're only looking out for yourself, you're actually being really, really inefficient and ineffective with your networking because you're missing most of the opportunities that could result from those relationships because you're too shortsighted really, to ever discover them.
[00:57:36] Also, when people do this, they get labeled pretty quickly as takers. That term comes from Adam Grant. He wrote a book called Give and Take. Takers, you can smell them a mile away. People who are good at developing long-term relationships, and I put myself in that bucket, we cannot stand working with people like that. Talk about somebody who you know is never going to help you back. I mean, you're pissing into the wind helping these people most of the time because they won't help people that they don't need something from. So they only end up lowering their own value. And I'm going to clarify this a little bit. Somebody who will only help, somebody who can help them is actually not a valuable networking connection because not only will they not help me in this situation, I can't even introduce them to somebody else who needs their help because they don't care. So they're never going to offer value, not just to me, but to anybody in my whole network.
[00:58:26] But look, even if you're a sociopath who's purely out for himself, the best relationships are developed using the same exact strategy, it's still better. Let's say you're a robot, it is still better to play the long game, even if you secretly just want to use everyone for your own selfish purposes. Obviously, look, it's better to care because then helping others feels is amazing, and that's the only meaningful way to live life, in my opinion. But I'm just pointing that out. The other half of this mindset, the even more important half, is truly embracing this philosophy in your life and actually meaning it. You can't just tell yourself, "All right, I'm supposed to check in on this person because I supposedly care and I don't need anything. So let me just ping them and play it cool so I can slip them my resume." You really have to feel that, and you have to live that, and you have to genuinely care for other people and be genuinely excited and invested in them. A lot of people find that hard to do. I don't think that you will over time when you practice it, as you get older and more mature and realize you're not the center of the freaking universe, it gets easier. By the way, that also means choosing people who make you excited and who make you want to invest in them. That is also super important.
[00:59:34] So the true impetus behind making these connections should be a genuine desire to be close with people, a real curiosity and passion for other people's wins, the desire to build relationships that are inherently fulfilling. And that's it. It's so simple. It takes all the mental gymnastics out of networking because it keeps you focused on the only thing that matters, which is value, kindness, love, as corny as it sounds, all that fundamental stuff. So don't beat yourself up too much for these thoughts. They're normal. But once you understand how really great relationships operate, you can then use those thoughts to check back in with yourself, get clear on why you are reaching out to a certain person, make sure you're leading in the right spirit, and then you can use these limiting thoughts to become a better friend, a better peer, a better colleague, which by the way is exactly how I learned this stuff myself.
[01:00:25] Gabriel, it's funny, I do talk to people occasionally who are like, "I don't know, it feels corny," and what I happen to notice about those people because I sometimes will boomerang their email for like six months.
[01:00:35] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[01:00:35] Jordan Harbinger: They're always stuck. And this is correlation is not causation kind of thing.
[01:00:40] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[01:00:40] Jordan Harbinger: But I can't help but notice the person who never gets their business off the ground, that constantly runs into walls, that finds themselves always getting the short end of the stick. I'm like, "Well, you are the one who just complained to me in my email inbox about how when you try to use people, it works, but you don't bother with the rest of Six-Minute Networking because you only reach out when you need something and it feels disingenuous to give a sh*t about anyone else." And I'm like, "Surprise, surprise. You're not winning."
[01:01:06] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm.
[01:01:06] Jordan Harbinger: Because everybody can feel that. You actually just reach out to them when you need something. It would almost be better to be disingenuous and go through the motions while you get used to actually learning to care about other people besides yourself.
[01:01:19] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[01:01:19] Jordan Harbinger: But these people can't be bothered and it's an emotional maturity thing.
[01:01:23] Gabriel Mizrahi: So Interesting.
[01:01:24] Jordan Harbinger: I do know people who are for sure on the sociopath spectrum, they're actually really good at networking. They might not reach out to me all the time to keep in touch because they don't care and they're sharks, but like, they're so good at faking it.
[01:01:37] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[01:01:37] Jordan Harbinger: But these people are like, "I'm not going to fake it because I don't need to, and I don't care. I just can't." And then they say, "Oh, it's because I don't want to feel disingenuous." And it's like, "Oh my God, you're really, really bad at this." So I don't know. Look, you can get good at this if you try, and you should because it's changed my whole life. But if you don't bother and you're saying, "Oh, it doesn't feel authentic," I think that's an easy way out. I think you're just giving yourself a pass. And when you suffer the consequences on this, don't blame anybody but yourself. You're not immune to the consequences of ignoring this. You're just being ignorant of this secret game that's being played around you.
[01:02:10] So hope you all enjoyed that. I want to thank everybody who wrote in this week and everybody who listened. Thank you so much. Don't forget to check out the episode with Adam Bornstein if you haven't done so yet.
[01:02:19] And speaking of good relationship building, I'd be a terrible marketer if I didn't mention our Six-Minute Networking course, which is free over on the Thinkific platform at jordanharbinger.com/course. You can't make up for lost time when it comes to relationships, the number one mistake I see people make students, entrepreneurs, whoever it is, is kicking the can down the road, postponing it, not digging the well before they get thirsty, and not doing it, at least what somewhat amounts to a genuine fashion. Once you need relationships, you're too late to make them, period. It's not something you can do when you need it in the moment. Fart around and find out as the kids say. This is the stuff I wish I knew 20 years ago because it's changed my whole life. It's been crucial. It's not fluff. Again, it's free, jordanharbinger.com/course.
[01:03:02] A link to the show notes for the episode is at jordanharbinger.com. Transcripts are always in the show notes. Advertisers, deals, discounts, and ways to support the show. All at jordanharbinger.com/deals. Go try out our AI chatbot if you want a promo code or anything from any Feedback Friday question, any interview, jordanharbinger.com/ai. We're constantly iterating on that thing too. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on Twitter and Instagram. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn. And you can find Gabe on Instagram at @GabrielMizrahi or on Twitter at @GabeMizrahi.
[01:03:33] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Ian Baird, Millie Ocampo, 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. Remember, we rise by lifting others. Share the show with those you love. And if you found the episode useful, please share it with somebody else who can use the advice we gave here today. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
[01:04:04] You're about to hear a preview of The Jordan Harbinger Show with the godfather of influence, Robert Cialdini.
[01:04:10] Of course, as we know from being scammed over and over by everyone online or otherwise, all of these things can be engineered, and we've talked about that on the show. We've had conmen on the show who pull these levers, right?
[01:04:23] Robert Cialdini: They are levers of influence. They just flick a switch and we respond automatically. Liking is one of the universal principles of influence because it works so well and so broadly across all these situations. There is also something called a horns effect, just as there's a halo effect where everything around you, if you're good looking. If there's something negative about you, people then associate other negative things with you. So we have to be sure that our first encounters with people are very positive.
[01:05:00] When you go into a new situation, when you don't know very much about the people that you're dealing with, expect the best from them. That allows you to be generous. And the consequence of being generous hits on three of the principles. First of all, people like you more. Secondly, they reciprocate the generosity with generosity of their own. And when they've done that, when they've given to you, they've made a decision about making a commitment to your partnership. It's costless and the other thing it does, besides producing a gift that you've given to people and the obligation to give back, that goes with it, you've established yourself as an authority. And authority is another one of the universal principles of influence. Whatever your business is, you give first.
[01:05:59] Jordan Harbinger: For more on Robert Cialdini's universal principles of influence that will turn you into an unstoppable persuasion machine, check out episode 507 on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
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