In spite of not being financially affected by the pandemic, you know an employee of yours and his wife have been gaming the system and taking unemployment benefits and PPP loans from the government to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. While you’re deeply bothered by their gleeful boasting about these fraudulent actions, you also don’t like meddling in other people’s business. Should you file a complaint to the proper authorities anyway, or just hope that karma will come around someday? We’ll tackle this and more here on Feedback Friday!
And in case you didn’t already know it, Jordan Harbinger (@JordanHarbinger) and Gabriel Mizrahi (@GabeMizrahi) banter and take your comments and questions for Feedback Friday right here every week! If you want us to answer your question, register your feedback, or tell your story on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at email@example.com. Now let’s dive in!
On This Week’s Feedback Friday, We Discuss:
- Your well-paid employee boasts about fraudulently receiving COVID relief from the government to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. Should you report this or hope karma intervenes? Another ponderable: if he’s regularly and remorselessly stealing from Uncle Sam, what’s he been stealing from your company?
- Your irresponsible sister parties and spends beyond her means while neglecting her daughter. You want to be supportive of your niece’s well-being, but you also don’t want to take her off your sister’s hands and enable more bad behavior. How do you find a decent middle ground without also neglecting your own family?
- As a Westerner teaching English in Japan, how do you get past the point of being a tall, freakish curiosity to the locals in order to build deeper relationships with new friends?
- Would getting a text message from a person you spent a total of eight hours with over a year ago mean anything? Or would it just be a weird, semi-unnecessary gesture?
- 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.
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Resources from This Episode:
- Bruce Sackman | A Glimpse Behind the Murder Curtain | Jordan Harbinger
- Steven Hassan | The #iGotOut Guide to Quitting QAnon | Jordan Harbinger
- Amanda Knox | The Truth About True Crime | Jordan Harbinger
- The Eyes Don’t Have It: Lie Detection and Neuro-Linguistic Programming | PLOS One
- Joe Navarro | How to Identify and Protect Yourself from Harmful People | Jordan Harbinger
- PPP Fraud Is Ripe for Enforcement in 2021. Can Self-Disclosure & Cooperation Create a Path to Leniency? | JDSupra
- Tourists Breaking COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Are Facing Punishment | CNN Travel
- Florida Man Uses $7.2M from PPP to Buy Mansion, Maserati, and More, Feds Say | Local10.com
- Report Fraud, Waste, and Abuse | Small Business Association
- Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) Wireless Headphones, Noise Cancelling | Amazon
- Is ‘Gaijin’ a Bad Word? (Japanese Street Interview) | That Japanese Man Yuta
- White Guy Speaks Fluent Japanese to Old People | TkyoSam
- Six-Minute Networking
Transcript for When Your Employee Defrauds the Government | Feedback Friday (Episode 472)
Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to Feedback Friday. I'm your host Jordan Harbinger. As always, I'm here with Feedback Friday producer, 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 deeper understanding of how the world works and make sense of what's really happening even inside your own mind.
[00:00:35] If you're new to the show on Fridays, we give advice to you, 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, performers. If you're joining us here for the first time or you're looking for a handy way to tell your friends about the show, we now have episode starter packs. These are collections of your favorite episodes, organized by popular topics to help new listeners get a taste of everything we do here on the show. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start to get started.
[00:01:07] This week, we had Bruce Sackman, this guy — man, this guy was interesting. So what he did, Bruce was the office of the inspector general for the VA. Now, I know that it sounds like, okay, so he was an inspector in the medical system. He uncovered multiple medical serial killers. So this episode that we recorded with Bruce Sackman, it's like a true crime meets detective story meets psychology. I mean, it's just absolutely — well it's nightmare fuel, but it's also very, very interesting and he does a great job of explaining and telling the stories. And he's got a great, really charming sort of New York accent that I think you'll really enjoy.
[00:01:43] We also had my friend, Dr. Steven Hassan. You might recognize the name because he was just Steven Hassan last time he was on the show. Earlier, he did a deep dive on cults. This week, we did a deep dive on QAnon, which is a cult and Q. And if you're wondering why grandma and your Uncle Frank are staying up until 2:00 a.m. watching YouTube videos about lizard people and underground tunnels full of children that are being harvested for adrenochrome so that Hillary Clinton can stay young and other associated insanity, this is going to be a good explainer for you. And we get into the psychology of cults and of QAnon and just what the heck this dumpster fire really is. So make sure you've had a look and to listen to everything we created for you here this week.
[00:02:21] You can reach us for Feedback Friday at email@example.com. Please keep your emails as concise as you can. Try to include a descriptive subject line. That makes our job a whole lot easier. If there's something you're going through, it's maybe a big decision. You need a new perspective, love life, work, whatever it is, whether to get back with the love of your life that you cheated on, whatever's gotten you as staying up at night lately. Hit us up firstname.lastname@example.org. We're here to help. We keep every email anonymous.
[00:02:48] Now, I wanted to start off Gabe, speaking of why people believe things that are not real. I keep seeing this BS in YouTube comments or in emails about people like Amanda Knox. I've had people try and use it on me. They'll say something like, "He looked to the left." Eye accessing cues are not real. Eye accessing cues are when people say, "She looks down when she talks. She's lying," or like, "He's looking up into the right. He's accessing the creative part of his brain. That means the stories are made up." This is science fiction. It is not real.
[00:03:22] A lot of these YouTubers and like people write fancy books about hypnosis or some other thing, usually pseudoscience peddlers, they write about this as if it's real. It is not real. There is no science behind this at all. You cannot tell which part of someone's brain is being accessed, or if they're lying or not, by the direction that they are looking. That is pseudoscience bullshit. And even if you could tell whether or not somebody was anxious or nervous by their eye movements, and often you are wrong, you can't tell if somebody is lying by their non-verbal communication, unless you know that person really, really well and/or you have a really good baseline with them.
[00:04:01] If you don't believe me, go listen to the Joe Navarroepisode. One of them is 135. We've had them on a couple of times. He is the originator of the FBI behavioral analysis program. He was the first person in law enforcement, and now military and training and all that to try and decode nonverbal communication for lie detection and other things. He straight up says in his books, on the show, the most experienced police officers and investigators are no better than a coin flip when it comes to lie detection. So you think you can do it cause you watched five YouTube videos on this subject, please you can't. It's fake.
[00:04:39] I just want to debunk that because I get this comment a lot on the Amanda Knox video. I've seen people say it about me. They're like, "Oh, he looked up into the right. He's plotting something." It makes you sound dumb and you're playing yourself. You're saying, "Oh, my kid's lying. My wife's lying. This person's lying." You don't know. You have no idea. You're literally worse than just a coin flip because you think you know. That's worse. You're not even just deciding to believe heads or tails. You actually think you have a reason that is even more dangerous than just being random and rolling the dice.
[00:05:10] Gabe, what's the first thing out of the mailbag?
[00:05:12] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey, Jordan and Gabe. An employee of mine and his wife have been taking advantage of the financial lifelines that the government is offering during COVID. My employee, who's a manager and makes a good salary close to the median household income of our state has not been impacted financially due to the pandemic. During the initial phases of COVID, his wife who runs her own business and is the sole employee was in need of unemployment to get by, but that was only for a few weeks. Then once the world's settled into these new times, she found that she was back to doing her typical amount of work if not more. Shortly after things got back to normal, she found a way to back claim unemployment and received a direct payment of nearly $8,000. This of course was not money she was owed. Yet, my employee gleefully boasted about his wife, getting it and urged others to do the same. Just a week or two later, he came into work glowing stating they received a hefty $25,000 PPP loan that they were going to be taking full advantage of. They ended up putting a $7,000 deck on their home, took vacations, bought new professional cameras and more. Summer passed and she continued to receive the full amount of unemployment and federal aid and they continued to spend heavily. As unemployment wither down, she was fortunate to inherit a substantial increase in business from another firm. And according to my employees, she is now clearing six figures. He brags about this every day and says how proud of her he is, which I'm sure she works hard for, but I know for a fact that she's still receiving unemployment benefits. The cherry on top, she just posted on social media, in a public forum that she needed help to sign up for the new round of PPP loans and was all but asking for how to get automatically approved. It seems they are planning to repeat the process all over again. I'm deeply bothered by their gleeful boasting about these fraudulent actions. But I'm torn, on one hand, I feel it's kind of none of my business. But on the other hand, I know so many others who could actually use the money to keep their businesses afloat. Should I file a complaint to the proper authorities or should I hope that karma just comes around someday? Signed, Just Stay Bitter or Report These Grifters.
[00:07:14] Jordan Harbinger: Okay. These people are the worst. There's just a full body sigh, right? I hate this. Not only are they blatantly defrauding the government, which is absolutely a prosecutable crime, they're taking such gleeful pleasure in doing so. This guy, your employee, he sounds incredibly stupid, frankly, if you were even a little bit smart, he'd keep quiet about all this if only to avoid looking like a total a-hole and arousing or suspicion. Your boss, his boss, right? You're his boss. Why would he think it's a — we'll get there. He had to show up at work and brag about how well he and his wife are grifting from the government's goodie bag to the guy who signs his paychecks top shelf douche.
[00:07:55] It's also just depressing, honestly, because these funds they're for people who actually need help, as you mentioned, and it's extra annoying because we all get to pay for this, right? This is tax money. You and me, the taxpayers, we just paid for Craig's new deck and his tacky ass vacation to Las Vegas or Maui or whatever. Not that the places are tacky, but you know, those people, those people are tacky. I'm getting worked up here. There's no good reason for it.
[00:08:18] Let's talk about you. You're asking a really good question here. And I got to say, I'm not sure there's a clear-cut answer. Should you file a complaint or should you just look the other way and hope karma does its thing? Let's talk about options. You certainly could report this guy and/or his wife, and you would not be the first person to report somebody who's misusing PPP funds, but it's important to know what would happen if you do. For the PPP shenanigans specifically, according to the small business administration, and I'm quoting them here, "If you use PPP funds for unauthorized purposes, the small business administration will direct you to repay those amounts. That's why it's called a loan. It's not a gift. It's a loan that gets forgiven if you don't misuse it. If you knowingly use the funds — this is quoting them again — "If you knowingly use the funds for unauthorized purposes, you will be subject to additional liabilities, such as charges for fraud. If one of your shareholders members or partners uses PPP funds for unauthorized purposes, SBA will have recourse against the shareholder, member, or partner for the unauthorized use." And I'm assuming something similar is true of general unemployment fraud. Although that probably varies from state to state.
[00:09:27] Now, I don't know how aggressive the SBA would be in pursuing your report. My understanding is that PPP fraud is rampant, fairly rampant here. The examples I've read about in the news are pretty brazen. Your boy, Craig, he might just not be bad enough for the government to go after they may have bigger fish to fry. Like those people who claim dozens of Phantom employees and then bought themselves Maserati's and Ferrari's and Lamborghini's and stuff. You've seen these guys they're in prison, I think. But if you do report him, I would assume that the SBA and other law enforcement will come after him at some point. It might take like four years. You have to be okay with that. Personally, I would be okay with that. At a minimum, they'll compel him to return those funds. That's probably what's going to happen, funds with interest. At a maximum, they could go after him, possibly his wife criminally although I doubt it. If you do report it, I got to say this guy brought it on himself by blabbing about it to everyone. And also he's a criminal.
[00:10:19] But if you're concerned about it, getting back to you, you should know that there is an option to report anonymously. We'll link to the site for reporting fraud, waste, and abuse to the SBAs office of inspector general in the show notes. Save you a few minutes there. Gabe, who should he report? My vote, both of them. They're both scumbags, him and the wife.
[00:10:37] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. That's who do you report? Employee, wife, both of them. That's an interesting question as well. They're both obviously, remorseless, freeloading sponges. But my gut is telling me that your responsibility here, if you decide that you do have a responsibility that probably only extends to your employee, I think we can disagree about this, me and Jordan feel a little bit differently. I really do see both sides. But here's the thing, as infuriating as his wife is as shady as she's been, I do think she's just outside this guy's orbit. The guy who wrote in, he's not the PPP police, he's not the COVID assistance authority or whatever. Like his job is not to root out fraud wherever, and whenever he finds it, right? He's just a guy who oversees an employee who is doing a bad thing.
[00:11:16] So, if he does, if you do decide to file a report, I would probably just report your employee and let the chips fall where they may. I don't know if you need to really go so far out of your way to implicate his wife for another fraud, that is from another program that you might not have known about if you didn't employ this guy. But I don't know, I kind of see that the lines are a little bit blurry there. So I think it really depends on what you personally feel responsible for knowing both of these individuals.
[00:11:41] Jordan Harbinger: So I understand if people prefer to look the other way and let karma take its course. Not that that's what I would do, but you probably feel like a narc for reporting someone like this. You might feel bad if he gets in trouble, although you shouldn't, in my opinion. And I'm sure you have way better things to do than sit on the phone with the SBA for an hour or so you can tell him some goon, you know, used as PPP loan to buy a bunch of Canon DSLRs. I've been around a few years. I've seen enough now to know that people like this, they eventually bury themselves somehow. Their bullshit always comes back to bite them, either because it creates unintended effects or just because they're gross people who create additional problems. Or because they're so focused on pulling one over on everybody that they fail to invest in things that actually matter, like relationships and generosity and reputation.
[00:12:25] And you know, I'm not trying to get all woo woo on you here, you know me, but bad people get away with bad things all the time. The universe is pretty indifferent, often pretty unfair, but I do believe that people who pull stuff like this, it rarely works out the way that they hope. And that usually often is its own punishment.
[00:12:42] You know, one of the things, Gabe, in this letter where they said they got a PPP loan and they went on vacations and bought cameras and got a new deck.
[00:12:50] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:12:50] Jordan Harbinger: If you get a cash infusion during a pandemic, do you go on a freaking vacation and buy a deck and cameras? First of all, you're not going on a vacation anyway, unless you're a dummy because COVID-19 right now. And why are you traveling all over the place? So that's not a great idea, especially leisure travel, I should say. Secondly, if you get a cash infusion during a pandemic and you know, you kind of fudge the PPP thing and you put it in the bank to make sure you don't lose your house, I get you, okay. If you get it and you spend it as fast as you freaking can because you're a moron, well, I guess you're a moron, right? So these are not people who are really savvy with money. They're spending money. They're probably up to their eyeballs in credit card debt because of the way that they spent this money.
[00:13:38] Gabriel Mizrahi: Good point.
[00:13:38] Jordan Harbinger: You know, call me crazy — I used PPP loan to pay for our employees and our team and to cover some of the business expenses. Call me crazy. Guess, I should have gone to Disneyland. But anyway, so if you don't report this guy, I wouldn't, I feel like you failed morally or participated in their crime or whatever. You're just letting them hang themselves with their own rope, whether it's in two years or 20. That said, me personally, I'd snitch on this POS, just because personally, I can't really let it go. I really couldn't let it go. And maybe talk to a lawyer if you know somebody who's in your state. They might say, "Yeah, the best way to do this is this." And maybe just to make sure that you're not going to become accessory after the fact to some PPP fraud, not that you would, but something to put your mind at ease. And also a lawyer might say, "Oh yeah, you know, I used to work with so-and-so in the SBA, or the best way to do this as a signed affidavit. Let me help you with that." I think a lot of lawyers would be interested in doing this kind of thing. I just, for me, I could not let this go.
[00:14:34] So those are your two options. The decision comes down to whether you feel an ethical obligation as a decent citizen to report this guy. Or whether his bullshit is his business and it's not your job to rectify the situation. Maybe I'm a nosy busy body. I would report his ass in a New York minute. That's just me. So it's a tricky one. Gabe, I mean, look, if this employee, I don't know, assaulted someone, murdered someone, we'd probably be like, "Report him!"
[00:14:56] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:14:57] Jordan Harbinger: So why should a financial crime be any different?
[00:14:59] Gabriel Mizrahi: Good point.
[00:14:59] Jordan Harbinger: On the other hand, I think we can agree that fraud is in a different category as victims of the government and the taxpayer. It's not life or death. But this guy stole from you. He stole from all of us so that he could waste it on stupid crap. He's an idiot. He deserves to be punished
[00:15:14] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, I'm with you. I do see both sides. I'm starting to lean toward yours now. I think he has decent reasons for doing both. Although the more I think about it, the more I want this guy to get nailed because he went about it in such a cavalier and sleazy way. It just grinds my gears. But the real concern here for me beyond the pure fraud, my real concern here is what this all says about him, this guy, this employee, right? He's a manager at this company. He is managing people. He's probably in control to some degree I imagine of resources of money, of the direction of your company. You know, for a fact that he's openly defrauding the government.
[00:15:48] Jordan Harbinger: And bragging about it. Yep, exactly.
[00:15:51] Gabriel Mizrahi: Exactly. So how would he treat your company's resources, right? How would he conduct himself in a sensitive situation at work? Should your other employees really be taking cues from someone like that?
[00:16:01] Jordan Harbinger: That's where my mind goes. This guy waltzed in and announced to your face that he's a brazen criminal with a shitty character and zero remorse, massive red flag. I wouldn't want anybody like that in my organization. And I would argue that that affects you more directly than whether he took money from Uncle Sam to do some home renovation.
[00:16:17] Gabriel Mizrahi: Exactly. So here's an idea, what if you took this guy aside and had a really direct chat with him? You could tell him that you're deeply opposed to what he's doing. That you are disturbed, that he's openly bragging about it at the office. That it's both super unprofessional and incredibly stupid of him. Tell him that if you were him, you'd be a lot more judicious about all of this and that he's creating a ton of liability for himself and his wife by bragging about it so brazenly. You could tell him that it makes you concerned about what kind of manager he is, what kind of employee he is at your company and that the fraud that he's committing, it's making you seriously question whether you can trust him. And then I would tell him that you think he should give the money back and seriously think about why he thought this was a good idea in the first place. The way that he responds to this conversation, I think that will be very telling because if he hangs his head and starts apologizing profusely, and you can tell that he instantly realizes he's been a total POS, then he might, might deserve a second chance.
[00:17:10] But if he gets super defensive and turns it over round on you, like, "Well, thanks for the advice boss, but that's none of your goddamn business. I paid taxes. I'm entitled to my cash just like everyone else." If he responds like that, then you know that he's truly remorseless. And then I would decide what to do based on that. Maybe you let them go if that's legal/appropriate, maybe you report him as you kind of wanted to do. Maybe you do both. That's up to you. It's a personal choice. But then at that point you'll really have all the data you need to make the right call. Plus you'll have a chance to tell him how you really feel to his face, which might give you some personal satisfaction that you're looking for.
[00:17:43] Jordan Harbinger: I would definitely enjoy doing something like that. I mean, I would hate to have to tell somebody on my team that, but I would never miss the chance if I had to. Let me tell you that. I love that idea. As long as you don't think he's going to punch your teeth in or anything, maybe you can talk some sense into him. I hope this helps. It's a tricky sitch. And it's really interesting to think about how much responsibility do we have for other people's bad behavior. I can't imagine doing anything like this. I wouldn't be able to sleep at night. And the fact that there are people out there doing it and boasting about it, these people are not just poor character, they are absolute morons. And the question is now, do you feel like it's your job to get justice here? And maybe more importantly, can you continue to trust and compensate a guy who would do something like this, twice? Ask yourself those two questions. I think you'll arrive at the right answer. Keep us posted, man. Good luck.
[00:18:34] This is The Jordan Harbinger Show and this is Feedback Friday. We'll be right back.
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[00:20:52] And now back to Feedback Friday on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:20:57] All right, what's next?
[00:20:58] Gabriel Mizrahi: Dear Jordan and Gabe, I am 41 and I have a 31-year-old sister who's single with an eight-year-old daughter. My sister, she's a compulsive liar. She's into heavy partying and spending. I was even contacted recently by two different banks that were looking for her regarding pending debts. She lives in my mom's house, which is right next to mine while my mom lives in the countryside. About two years ago, my sister left the house pissed because I told my mom how irresponsible she was being with her daughter. She would allow parties with lots of alcohol and drugs to happen while her daughter was in the house. And she would even go party and leave the girl to be babysat by one of her male friends. I finally said I was done being one of her enablers, sweeping all her shitty behavior under the rug, just to avoid conflict. Historically, this has been an issue in my family. My parents are separated and my dad is very traditional and sexist and my mom depends on a monthly allowance from him. She has always been afraid that if he found out about problems with my sister, he would assume my mom wasn't doing quote-unquote her job and would stop the allowance. My dad also resents that I'm not my sister's quote-unquote friend. About a year ago, my mom allowed my sister to come back under very strict conditions, such as no partying in the house. Unsurprisingly, she didn't change her behavior and even during the pandemic, people show up at the house and hang out and drink. With her friends, she's all laughs and attention. With her daughter, she's impatient, always yelling, just generally a bitch of a mom. My mom feels super guilty for the girl and has suggested that I keep an eye on her. I have strongly refused since I was a young and single mom, myself and I dedicated my whole life to be a kind and present mom to my child. I graduated from law school. I worked my way up. I sacrificed a lot to provide my daughter with private education and beautiful experiences. I just refuse to accept that my niece is my responsibility, just because my parents didn't do their job in educating my sister. I've now gotten to the point where I despise everything about her, her millions of tattoos, her rainbow-colored hair, her being overweight, her smoking and drinking. Her posts on social media, being the fat and sexy gal. She takes semi naked pictures and videos of her dancing, stuff like that, her friends, the things they talk about, the things they laugh about. I know she needs to seek help, but she's such a liar that I know she would say she's going to therapy and just not do it. So I have two questions for you. How much of all this is simply personal life choices that I should respect? Just because I'm into nature, reading, meditation and overall healthy lifestyle being fit, try to do good, I know it doesn't mean I'm right and that she should be the same. So should I just follow my path and let her follow her own? My other question is this. How much of my niece's wellbeing is my responsibility? I know it's technically not and I hate the idea of stepping in to relieve my sister and enable her behavior. But on the other hand, the most important person in this equation is my niece. Should I step in and have her spend more time with me and even babysit her while her mom goes out partying? Thanks so much for your help in this difficult situation. Signed, A Sister Suppressing Her Side-eye.
[00:23:46] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. This is a pretty tragic story. And I'm really sorry that you find yourself in the middle of it. Your sister is obviously wrestling with some serious demons, but she's a real piece of work. It sounds to me like she's probably an addict, possibly have more than one substance. She's an absentee parent. She's an ingrate and she's basically a freaking dumpster fire. You, on the other hand, sound like a really remarkable person. You've built a very different life from your sister. You've worked your ass off. You've been a great parent. You take care of business without falling into the trap of taking care of everyone around you, which is super hard to do. You sound incredibly thoughtful and self-aware, and I really admire that you should be proud. Sibling relationships, these are so complicated. They're incredibly fraught, very chaotic, very destabilizing. And the dynamic with your mom and her dynamic with your dad, yeah, there's a lot going on there. I think it would take a few years to fully unpack, but since we only have a few minutes, I'll try to get to the point here.
[00:24:42] You're asking a really good question. How much of your sister's stuff is personal life choices that you should respect? Should you just follow your own path and let her follow her own? Gabe, I'm going to let you start here.
[00:24:52] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes. I would say yes. Your sister, she's making her own choices. They're grossly irresponsible choices, but she is allowed to make them, she has allowed to screw up her life. The problem here is that it's not really possible for you to make a clean break from your sister because A, she lives right next door to you. And B, her daughter, she's collateral damage and you're related to her and you feel for her. So this is really very complicated and I don't blame you for being confused. It's messy, right? It's very, it's not a conventional situation. But within those constraints, yes, absolutely. I think you need to let her act a fool if that's what she wants to do, and you should keep focusing on you, your mental health, your priorities, your goals, your great life that you've built over the years.
[00:25:30] This is an example of a situation where inner boundaries are crucial because the outer boundaries are so difficult to enforce. Right? You can't build a literal barrier between you and the music and the shouting and the partying. You can't decide to never see your sister again, because you can move away or screen or phone calls or whatever. So you're going to have to build an inner barrier that protects you from getting all worked up when that happens. So when she comes at you with her insanity and her dysfunction, you have to learn how to interact with her without either caving in or lashing out. And you have to learn how to tell her what you will and won't put up with, from her as it relates to you. Not because you're trying to change her because she obviously doesn't want to change and probably can't change until she decides to. But because you can only control yourself.
[00:26:10] After that, maybe, I mean, the only other thing I can think of is buy yourself some nice noise-canceling headphones for when the parties literally get too loud, some Bose headphones. Those would be a great investment. Trust me and somebody lives next to a pretty loud neighbor. They've been a game changer, but that's kind of a superficial thing. The deeper thing, of course, is just making sure that your sister doesn't get to you every time she does something like this.
[00:26:30] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, you need Bose noise-canceling headphones for your soul to really get through this one. Look, I do think you have a couple of options here. Here's what I would do. I'm assuming you've already had several direct interventions with your sister or probably over the last 20 years, right? about this kind of thing. Her leaving the house two years ago. That was probably after the last big one. And the fact that she bounced tells me that she didn't like being told what to do and probably isn't going to change now. But also the fact that your mom allowed her to come back with zero consequences for the partying that tells me your mom is letting your sister get away with this stuff and she knows it. And this has probably been happening your whole life. You know, the parents generally don't randomly change. People don't randomly change overnight. This has probably been a pattern with that sister for forever. Obviously, something happened to your sister in the past, or probably happened to your sister in the past that no, one's talking about.
[00:27:20] A family, that's got a traditional dad and a mom that's doing whatever and a sister with this much, something may just not be being talked about in the family. That's neither here nor there, but if you haven't done this already, I would have a very honest conversation with your mother about what to do about your sister. I would lay out all of your concerns about her, about your niece who's your mom's granddaughter too, about the health risks, all of it. Tell them how it's affecting you and your life. Then I would get very clear on what you want to see change here. How you would want your mom to help bring about that change?
[00:27:51] In fact, I would maybe focus on the little girl as well, right? Like, I don't want my sister to stop partying because I can't take the noise at 1:00 a.m. I want her to stop partying because she's a crappy ass parent. Do you want her to stop partying at the house? Okay. Note that. Do you want her to keep the noise down? Fine. Do you want her to start being a better parent? Probably all of the above, but you're not going to have much luck when it comes to making her a better person or a better parent possibly. Your best bet is focusing on the practical things, the noise, the partying, the drug use COVID risks. Those are the things that you and your mom could enforce if you presented a united front to your sister.
[00:28:26] And I don't know if your sister is paying rent or not, but either way, this living situation is enabling her in several ways. If she's not paying rent, it's not unreasonable for your mom to say, "Look, if you're going to live in my house, there's a few rules." And even if she is paying rent, she should still have to be a respectful tenant. You might want to help your mom see that her desire to keep up appearances for your dad so that he'll continue to support her — by the way, super dysfunctional scenario. It's absolutely enabling your sister and leaving you to take the hit. And I don't know if she's going to be super willing to hear that she might even have a strong reaction to being called out like that, but it is absolutely fair to bring it up. And if your father should be part of this conversation, you can include him too. But it sounds almost like he's out of the loop other than financially. And maybe you'd get more traction if you talked about it to your mom alone, so I would start there.
[00:29:15] If you and your mom can present your sister with an ultimatum, then you might force her to clean up her act a little, at least as long as she's living in the house. But if your mom is not willing to stand up to her or she does it first and then relaxes again in six months. I don't see this situation changing unfortunately. At that point, you're just going to have to decide. Honestly, if you want to keep living next to your sister, I know that's a tough thing to think about. I know it's probably infuriating to think about moving away when she is the one who should change and is living for free your mom's house. It makes me upset just thinking about it. If your sanity is really at risk here it's definitely the one solution worth considering. If it's me, I'm laying it down for them. And if not, I'm moving away. Period. The concern really is the little girl. Gabe, can you speak to that?
[00:30:01] Gabriel Mizrahi: I agree. Mom is definitely enabling sister, even if she doesn't mean to be. And if the two of you can sync up on your stance here, you'll have a much better shot at getting your sister to change. As for your other question, how much of my niece's wellbeing is my responsibility? This is the really tough one. And I'm not sure that I have an easy answer here. This is one of those situations in life where either outcome is pretty shitty. On one hand, you are 100 percent, right. Your niece is your sister's responsibility. It's not up to you to raise someone else's child and doing that would be very unfair to you. On the other hand, here's an innocent eight-year-old kid who's being neglected by her mother, who's being verbally abused, who's being put at risk because of her mother's lifestyle. Jordan, I'm thinking about that random guy at one of her week-long benders babysitting her, I don't know. It's incredibly sad. I really hope the worst-case scenario never happens there. I don't know. We don't know what's going on. I'm hoping nothing's happening there.
[00:30:49] But that girl, she is related to you. She lives next door to you. So it's like, how do you not feel some responsibility for her? How do you not want to take her under your wing and protect her from all of this? I don't know. I'm getting a little worked up just thinking about it. I'm not even related to her, so I can only imagine how difficult that must be for you to have to watch. Plus you have your own daughter and your own full life to manage. So what do you do? Like I said, there's no perfect outcome here. All I know is that you cannot raise somebody else just because her mom is MIA, that said you are family and people have different ideas about what family means, but I think you do have some very basic responsibility here. Not so much as a sister to your sister, but as an aunt to your niece. So if I were you. I would do my best to keep an eye on your niece from afar. Check in on her regularly. Make sure she's not being put in harm's way. Be a good friend to her. Be a good confidant to her. As she grows up, she's going to need an adult in her life, who's responsible, who's loving, who's present. And it sounds like the only person who's close to her right now, who can do that is you.
[00:31:44] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. She really does need someone around who she can trust and who doesn't have their head up their ass and put her straight up in danger because that's what's happening right now.
[00:31:53] Gabriel Mizrahi: Exactly. And you know you won't be able to give her the mother's she deserves or protect her from all the bad stuff, all the bad stuff, taking place in that house. But you can be a source of love and guidance to her, especially since you're right next door. And I would start building that relationship now. By spending some time with her, when you can, going for walks, having her over for dinner, playing games with her, inviting her to run errands with you, whatever it is. Because if you wait until she's 15 to start being her friend, it'll be too late. I think you need to let her know that you're there when she needs you starting now and build that foundation early.
[00:32:21] Jordan Harbinger: I'm picturing a future where a preteen/teenage girl sleeps on the couch most nights, because mom is wasted or the creepy guys are still there at 1:00 a.m. trying to get into a room on a freaking school night. That's my fear.
[00:32:34] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, exactly. And if things ever do get that bad at our house. Like if you find out that your sister is seriously abusing her, or one of her shady friends is giving her drugs or the house is becoming unlivable in some way, then you should be prepared to take more drastic action. You might have to lean on your mother to kick her out for good. You might have to allow your niece to stay with you for a few months if you feel that you can take that on. You might have to report your sister to the police or to the department of child and family services if things get really bad. I definitely don't want to get dramatic here. Honestly, the last thing I'd want to see is for the state to intervene and take your niece away when she has you right next door.
[00:33:07] But your sister, she's really putting you guys in a tough spot here and honestly, facing a serious crisis like that like getting a door knocked by the cops or being forced into recovery or facing the possibility of losing her daughter, that could be the wakeup call that she needs. It sucks that she's this far gone, but with addiction and other mental health problems that are at play here, sadly, sometimes that is what it takes.
[00:33:28] Jordan Harbinger: Totally agree. It might have to get a little ugly for it to get better. So the key here is basically this. Be there for your niece as much as you can, as much as you feel is doable and fair to you, knowing that you can't totally rescue her. I'm really happy to hear that you have such clear and healthy boundaries. This is a situation where they become absolutely essential. The lines of responsibility really are so blurred here. A big part of those boundaries is knowing inside of yourself, how much responsibility you can actually take on. It means bearing the sadness of watching your niece grow up this way and not taking on too much guilt or regret on your sister's behalf. And it also means knowing that you can only do so much. You're going to have to be an awesome aunt to your niece, and then watch her walk right back across the lawn to this broken home. And you're going to have to remember that that's because your parents dropped the ball and your sister is a hot mess and life is unfair. And it is not your job to be everybody's parent.
[00:34:26] It sucks. It profoundly sucks, but that's the way it is. And one day your niece will have to do her own work to rewrite her difficult childhood. And my hope is that she'll be better equipped to do that because of your presence in her life. I'm so sorry you have this sister. I really am. As you know, you don't choose your own family, but you do get to choose how close you want to be with them. You have this awesome life that you have created for yourself apart from your mom and sister. And as much as you can, I would work hard to protect it mentally, financially, physically. You deserve that. And it is possible to have all of that at once even if it gets bumpy from time to time. I'm proud of you for doing that work and I wish you the best. I really do. Thank you for writing in, and update us from time to time.
[00:35:12] You're listening to Feedback Friday here on The Jordan Harbinger Show. We'll be right back.
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[00:38:23] And now for the conclusion have Feedback Friday.
[00:38:27] All right, what's next?
[00:38:29] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey, Jordan. I recently moved to Tokyo for university and plan on teaching English part-time while I'm here. Even through the pandemic, I've had some opportunities to meet some great local folks who speak decent English and it's also a good opportunity to practice my Japanese. But here's the issue I keep running into, I keep noticing that whenever I'm introduced by Japanese friends, to other Japanese people, they keep treating me like I'm some sort of curiosities saying things like, "Oh, I've heard a lot about you." When I've only known the original person for less than a month, I'm worried that these relationships will never get past the, "Wow. Look, at this foreigner, he looks so different," stage and that it will be difficult to make strong lasting friendships with the people here. How do I get past the whole, "Yeah, I look different from everyone else here," stage, in order to build deeper relationships with the people? Signed, Tetomo Segatakai Gaijin.
[00:39:15] I hope I didn't butcher that too much. I guess that translates to very tall foreigner. Shout out to the guy who wrote in for coming up with that one.
[00:39:22] Jordan Harbinger: Well, let me start out by saying I'm super jealous of your adventures in Japan. I bummed around and taught English abroad when I was in my 20s, early 20s, super fun. Not well-paying whatsoever, kind of ridiculous. Definitely a great time. I think one gig paid 150 bucks a month or something like that a month. It's also really cool that you're learning Japanese. Definitely keep that up when you come home. Being able to speak a language is going to be a great asset for you.
[00:39:45] So this is an interesting question because on the one hand, I get it. I'd be kind of annoyed. If every time I grabbed tea with my friends, or should be out, they were like, "How'd you get so tall? Why are your eyes so around? On the other hand, you are a stranger in this country. You obviously do look different. And look — first of all, Japanese people, they just can't help themselves somehow. I don't know what it is. I've gotten approached by Japanese people, not in Japan. And they're like, "Can we take a picture with you?" I'm just not sure what's going on there. On some level, you're always going to be something of a curiosity. I don't think it's a malicious thing. I think it's just part of being a foreigner in Japan or Asia.
[00:40:21] I mean, if one of your buddies kept talking about some guy named Haruki, he just met from Japan and then brought him to drinks one night. He'd probably be like, "Oh, you're Haruki I've heard a lot about you. Your English is really good." You wouldn't mean anything by that. You'd just be responding to the fact that you don't meet someone from Japan very often. Your situation is a shade different. I get that.
[00:40:38] My recommendation, try to enjoy that outsider status as much as you can. I know it's kind of superficial. I know it gets old fast. It's also kind of fun. You're the foreign guy in Tokyo learning Japanese. You're really tall, nothing wrong with that. You stand out. If anything, it probably makes people want to get to know you more, which is not a bad thing at all. But Gabe, what about his fear when it comes to creating real relationships? This could become a real issue.
[00:41:02] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, that I can understand, because it sounds to me like he really wants to have meaningful relationships. He wants to be seen as an actual person and not just some very tall foreigner who's just passing through. So my advice to you is this, be that person. Take an interest in the people you meet, ask them questions, be curious, listen, open up to them. Build meaningful relationships. Once you settle in there, make plans with your new friends on your own. Don't just tag along to plans that other people have made for you all the time.
[00:41:26] Start taking your relationships in Japan, as seriously as you do your relationships back home. Because if you do that, your new friends, I think they'll start to see you as a three-dimensional person and not just the token foreign guy tagging along to the bathhouse after work. You know what I mean? Because if you wait for them to start seeing you as more than that, it might not happen or it'll just take a very long time. So I would just be that guy from the jump and that might take a little extra effort on your part for a while to make them see you that way. But pretty quickly, I think they'll start to relate to you in the way that you're hoping.
[00:41:55] Jordan Harbinger: And if you ever find yourself struggling to really connect with people, you can say something like, "Man, I wish my Japanese were better. So I could really express what I'm trying to say." Or if you ever feel frustrated about being the token foreigner, you can be like, "I feel like the random guy who showed up here, so you guys can make fun of my accent. Ha-ha, have a laugh about it." Just by calling that out, you're showing that you're aware of your situation. You're letting the other person in on your experience. And you're also subtly encouraging them to see past the superficial cultural difference.
[00:42:24] Gabriel Mizrahi: Totally. And by the way, a huge part of this will be constantly improving your Japanese. So you can really communicate with people in a meaningful way. Not just like, "Hi, I'm Christopher. I come from Europe. I liked Japanese culture very much." But actual deeper, two-way conversations. My advice, Jordan, I talk about this a lot on the show, learning languages, getting good at them. Quickly start watching Japanese television news, soap, operas, all that stuff. I would spend 15, 20 minutes a day reading the newspaper in the morning. Start doing flashcards if you're not doing them already. Jordan, what do you like? You like Pleco? Is that the one?
[00:42:53] Jordan Harbinger: Pleco is a dictionary for Chinese. Yeah, I use a SRS program called Anki. Also, you're learning Japanese. You can use Skritter for that. That's really the best SRS app for Japanese and Chinese.
[00:43:06] Gabriel Mizrahi: So you have a bunch of words at your fingertips that way. And I would also eavesdrop on conversations when you're out and about, start picking up on Japanese idioms, phrases, subtle ways that people in Tokyo communicate with one another. Because being able to really understand and connect with people, that's what's going to set you apart from all the other foreigners who come for six months and then go home. Otherwise, you might end up sitting there quietly at dinner while your friends are bantering back and forth, and you'll feel like the odd man out. And you'll struggle to find the words to express how you really feel. I think that's when people start to focus on how tall you are, as opposed to, you know, how cool and interesting you are as a person. I think it's so much of it is how you master the language.
[00:43:42] Jordan Harbinger: So that's our two cents, really put in the time to get great at the language. That's going to be the payoff. Make a conscious effort to build meaningful relationships and seek out people who are also interested in having deeper relationships with you. That's a filtering process. It may take some time, but you will find your tribe and you'll set yourself apart from all the other foreigners who are just passing through. Also, activities help. You know, playing a sport, if you play the sports. That's a good way to get interaction with people where you're not just awkwardly talking, right? Where you're awkwardly interacting and that's the activity. If you're doing pretty much, anything else cycling or playing ping pong or playing volleyball, whatever it is, you might be good at volleyball basketball — that's going to create a more, more of a tribe team environment that will help you thrive. Good luck. Last but not least.
[00:44:30] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey Jordan and Gabe, I'm new to your Six-Minute Networking course and I'm about three days into the first mission. I've had a great response rate so far, but the next person to reach out to in my text messages is a famous entrepreneur and YouTube where I met when I was auditioning to be in one of his videos. I followed his channel and looked up to him for years and the experience was a dream come true. I spent about eight hours with him the day we filmed and I left feeling like we had made a pretty good connection. This opportunity came at a time when I was completely broke after moving to a new city. I went from working three jobs to having no job for four months. At the end of the day, we filmed. He handed me a few hundred bucks just to thank me for coming out. He had no idea that he had just given me rent for that month and the biggest sigh of relief I'd had in a while. This all happened just over a year ago and I would love to reach back out to him if for no other reason than to simply tell him, thank you again and explain just how much he helped me. Since then I landed a dream job and have completely turned things around for myself. I'm just not sure that I could offer him anything as far as my own work or my connections as your course suggests. It feels like I need a really good reason to reach out. Otherwise, I just feel like a pesky fan that he'll regret having given his number to. So from your perspective as an entrepreneur, would getting a text message from a person you spent a total of eight hours with over a year ago mean anything? Or would it just be a weird semi unnecessary gesture? Signed, Networking Fluent or Total Nuisance.
[00:45:51] Jordan Harbinger: Well, this is actually a really nice story. This YouTube guy sounds pretty cool. He was friendly. He compensated you generously. He gave you his phone number. He seems like a good dude who was open to a friendship with you, at least at some level. And it sounds like you did a great job for him, which is doubly impressive, considering that you were really struggling at the time. So good for you.
[00:46:09] And I'm thrilled to hear that you turn things around since then, although I am not surprised. You sound like a real go-getter and you listen to the show, so you know what's good for you. I totally get your question. And it's a question I get from a lot of people who want to connect with people who are more quote-unquote successful or important or famous, whatever you want to call it. I talk about leading with generosity a lot, sharing your value, investing in other people. But if you're young or you're just starting out in your career or you're not as established as the other person, what are you really supposed to offer? How can you really add value to somebody who already has a ton of value? There are connections. There are intros you can make. I usually talk about that.
[00:46:45] But in your case, you actually do have something to offer this guy, and that's your gratitude, your genuine gratitude here. Not to be corny, but it does mean something. The story you told us. It's touching. The guy did you a huge solid over a year ago and it meant a lot to you. And I'm sure it would mean something to him to hear that from you. So if I were you, yeah, I would absolutely text him. You can start by saying, "Hey, I know this message is incredibly random, but this is so-and-so. I wanted to thank you for the awesome shoot we did together last year." I would briefly tell him the story, tell him how much that paycheck meant to you at a time when you really needed it. How far you've come since then? Partly through his help. Keep it concise, keep it respectful, but definitely let him know how much you appreciate what he did.
[00:47:29] I can pretty much promise you that if he gets it, it'll be the most meaningful thing he hears all day. And I say that as somebody who loves getting messages from random people I interacted with years ago or show fans I've never even met telling me how much the show has helped them. These stories, those relationships, they're honestly more meaningful to me than our revenue or our following on social or any of that stuff. Since this guy's a YouTuber and he sounds like a friendly person, I'm guessing he'll have a similar response. Gabe, what else?
[00:47:57] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, I totally agree with you, Jordan. My only other advice is to think about what else you can maybe offer this guy down the road. Because if he responds to your message, I would be ready to develop the relationship if that's something that you want to do. If he's someone you want to work with again, you could say something like, "Well, listen, man, you did me a huge solid way back when it was a total joy to work with you. So if there's anything I can ever do to repay the favor, if you need an extra hand on set or another person in the video or anything like that, you know, don't hesitate to ask me, I'm a text message away," something like that.
[00:48:23] That's one example of how you can share your value with someone who's quote-unquote ahead of you because yeah, you might not be a YouTube star or whatever, but you still have time to offer. You still have valuable experience. You still have a general willingness to help. Those are big assets that most people either don't think they have don't have, or just don't think to offer to other people. And if he ever does take you up on that, then doing a great job for him again, would be the best way to keep building your capital, keep deepening the relationship. And who knows, maybe I'll end up working for this guy down the road. You never know it happens all the time. So yeah, I totally agree with Jordan. I say, go for it. You really can't go wrong thanking people for something they did for you, especially when they didn't even realize that they did it.
[00:49:02] Everybody likes to be acknowledged, right? Everybody likes to be connected and a really great thank you letter that can be more impactful than an introduction or making someone more money if it comes from the heart, basically because it has no agenda, it's pure. It recognizes the relationship that already exists between the two of you. So definitely send that text, stay connected to that generosity mindset. I'm curious to hear if he responds. You should let us know. Good luck.
[00:49:24] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I love when people reach out to me. Just don't freaking text me. You creep. No. Look, if you have my number, go for it. For everyone else, email, slide in the DMs, yo.
[00:49:34] Hope you all enjoyed that. I want to thank everyone that wrote in this week. Don't forget the episodes with Bruce Sackman on medical serial killers and Dr. Steven Hassan on QAnon and that whole dumpster fire. Make sure you have a listen to that if you haven't yet.
[00:49:47] And if you want to know how we managed to book all these amazing folks, it's about our network, the relationship systems, tiny habits that I use every day. I'm teaching you that in the Six-Minute Networking course, which is free. That's over on the Thinkific platform at jordanharbinger.com/course. Dig the well, before you get thirsty people. This stuff does work and it just takes a few minutes a day. I wish I knew this stuff 20 years ago. It's been crucial for me. Jordanharbinger.com/course.
[00:50:14] A link to the show notes for the episode can be found at jordanharbinger.com. Transcripts in the show notes. Video, we'll be going up on the YouTube channel. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram, or hit me on LinkedIn. You can find Gabe on Twitter at @GabeMizrahi or on Instagram at @GabrielMizrahi.
[00:50:31] 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. Keep sending in those questions to email@example.com. Our advice and opinions, and those of our guests are their own. I'm a lawyer. I'm not your lawyer. Do your own research before implementing anything you hear on this show. And remember, we rise by lifting others, share the show with those you love. And if you found this episode useful, please share it with someone else who can use the advice we gave here today. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
[00:51:10] Here's a preview of my conversation with a former Homeland Security agent who reluctantly got involved in chasing down global child trafficking. Did you know that there are more people enslaved right now than there ever were before in history? Here's a quick listen.
[00:51:25] 30 million slaves in the world. Is that correct? I mean, that's—
[00:51:29] Tim Ballard: Insane and is correct. 10 million of those are children who are either in slave labor, organ harvesting, or sex trafficking. The traffickers are trying to get these kids into our country and into our black sex market because that's where you can make the most money. Again, we are the demand. We drive this. It's $150 billion a year by most estimates. The amount of money made every year, selling children with that money, you could buy every single Starbucks franchise in the world, every single NBA franchise, every team, and still have enough money left over to send every child in America to college for four years. That's per year selling human beings. We you go line in the dark net, and honestly, Jordan, it was about 10 times worse than my mind could have conceived. The things that people do to children. I could not comprehend.
[00:52:19] We helped the rest of your little girl who was smuggled in from Mexico, taken to New York City, between the ages of 12 and 17 years old. In New York City, she was raped over 60,000 times. They bring them in and they just have these clients lined up and they drive her to this house, this hotel, this bar, and she's raped. I mean, easily 15 to 20 times within a 24-hour period. I mean, and this is the life of thousands, tens of thousands of children in the United States right now. Just like in the 18th, 19th century, no one's really talking about it. It's too hard. People look away, they don't want to engage. And that's where I get frustrated. Like, look, what's happening right now.
[00:52:59] Like I'm not going to get into the argument, the whole debate with the riot. I'm just using it as an example, but governments are shifting now. People are getting so loud, we're going to see changes, but I would love to see some day that happened for child rape victims. I'd like to see something so loud in every country that we have riots and people screaming because the children don't have a voice. You know, they can't protest, they can't rally. And they're the most precious in the world. And yet they're being exploited, trafficked, kidnapped, raped by the millions.
[00:53:28] Jordan Harbinger: For more, including how Tim Ballard became involved with busting child traffickers and rescuing their victims, check out episode 369 of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
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