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Divided States of Media: Dan Granger interviews Jordan Harbinger

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A transcript reproduced with permission from Oxford Road Presents: Divided States of Media. This show aired September 2 2020

Oxford Road Presents: Divided States of Media Conversation between Jordan Harbinger, ‘The Jordan Harbinger Show’ Host and Dan Granger, Founder and CEO of Oxford Road

Dan Granger: “I fear we are witnessing the end of American democracy,” that’s the headline of a recent New York Times article. Wall Street Journal says, “Our polarized politics is stressing the constitutional system.” New York Magazine says, “The RNC has made a compelling case for America’s imminent collapse.”

As we record this, America’s entering into a second wave of civil unrest, following the news of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin, who was shot seven times by a police officer in the back, in front of his children.

Shortly thereafter, a 17-year-old vigilante was arrested, after a shooting left two dead and one injured during the unrest. Now the justice department has deployed federal agents to be sent in, including the FBI, ATF and US Marshals.

Are we on the brink of civil war? We’re just coming out of convention season, where both parties made it clear that they are the good guys and the other side is the bad guys.

Oh, and that the fate of our nation hangs in the balance if the bad guys win the next election. Let me ask all of you marketing and media folks, did you bake the collapse of American democracy in year 2021 forecast?

Radical polarization, the success of your business and your duty as a business or brand, to look out for the interest of your community and your stakeholders, are much more closely linked than what is being advertised. Welcome to Oxford Road Presents, The Divided States of Media. I’m Dan Granger.

This is a program where we’re taking a journey through the increasingly complex landscape, where brands are tasked with the competing responsibilities of making allies of the masses, while being expected to take a public stand on controversial issues in a country that seems to be bitterly divided along party lines.

We’re walking this tightrope together to find a way to do well in our work, while also doing some good in society, without deepening the divides that could lead to the unraveling of our nation. Today’s guest is no stranger to these topics. We welcome to the show Jordan Harbinger.

Jordan is a Wall Street Lawyer, turned podcast interviewer. His approachable style and knack for securing high profile guests like the late Kobe Bryant, Ray Dalio, Chelsea Handler, Mark Cuban and many, many others have led some to call him the Larry King of podcasting.

His show, The Jordan Harbinger Show is heard in 190 countries, and was voted Apple’s best of 2018 among podcasts. My favorite thing about Jordan, he’s also a Michigan guy. Welcome, Jordan. It’s good to have you.

Jordan Harbinger: Thanks for having me on. As you read that, I realize it’s totally pointless to list how many countries your podcast that’s on the internet is available in. I’m probably going to go ahead and nix that on the website, wherever that might be.

Dan Granger: In the spirit of frank discussion, I was thinking that exact thing as I was reading it, so-

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.

Dan Granger: … I completely agree.

Jordan Harbinger: Just going to go ahead and make a quick note right now.

Dan Granger: Any other places you see us messing up in our intro, by all means.

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.

Dan Granger: Listen, Jordan, tell us about… first and foremost, so let’s just set the stage a little bit here. Tell us about The Jordan Harbinger Show, and how it came to be and what you’re doing with that platform.

Jordan Harbinger: I initially was teaching a class on networking and relationship development for the lawyers, which sounds really exciting I’m sure. That was done, as I was at the University of Michigan Law School. Surprisingly, no one cared about that class. I wasn’t a professor or anything. I was a student.

I realized through my summer internship… which is like a junior level associate position at a law firm, that none of us knew how to network and yet all the partners were like, “Networking is how you get to the top. It’s how you develop business,” and all of these things.

I decided to ask how this was done, and nobody had any advice. I spent the next few years learning, networking and relationship development. Taught a little bit of an intro class on it. As I mentioned, nobody was that interested. I started teaching the class at a bar, because there was only four or five people that would show up.

As we started doing this at the bar, I started to deconstruct non-verbal communication mostly. Like body language of people that were there together, and that became Jordan deconstructs people that are on dates basically, the good dates and bad dates.

That started to contain… it started to really catch fire. I would say, because it contained a lot of actionable takeaways. I used to have huge amounts of mostly female law students coming to these semi-weekly courses at this bar. That attracted of course, all the male law students that were wondering what was going on.

That quickly became me teaching the same thing over and over and over again, with a rotating cast of classmates. I decided to burn those lectures, which were not lectures, but just discussions to CD and carry them around with me. When somebody new would show up, I would hand them a CD.

They would have to go listen to it and come back. What I found was that, people were taking the CDs and giving them away and keeping them. They would want one for their brother, so I started charging. Then people would say, “Oh, you’re charging 20 bucks? Great, I want eight of these.”

Quickly realizing I was not going to get rich burning CDs, I wanted to look for a place to put an MP3 file on the internet. There was none. This is 2006. Soon we met a friend for drinks, and his friend who was with him worked at Apple.

He said, “We have this new thing called podcasting. You should put your MP3 files in iTunes. Yeah, I’ll show you how to do that.” We did it. That was how the beginning of The Jordan Harbinger Show was born. We didn’t think it was a podcast that was going to be a show. We thought, “This is an easy way to distribute a sound file.”

Of course, within the first couple of weeks, we were getting downloads from Canada and South Africa, instead of just Ann Arbor, Michigan. That was what really showed me the power of the medium.

It was like, “Wait a minute, People can find this anywhere? Anybody with iTunes can get it, not just law students in my class who show up late?” That was when I knew I just kind of… the 2020 hindsight, I probably could have just quit my law career right then.

It was all I thought about, all I did and I wanted to work on from there. As I left for New York to work on Wall Street, I had guest spots on radio. I ended up taking the show that was the podcast at the time to Sirius XM. I ended up with a radio show on Sirius XM.

It was the first podcast that later became a radio show. It’s the first time anybody had done that. Kept doing the podcast, and 13.5, whatever years later, here we are with The Jordan Harbinger Show and its current incarnation.

Dan Granger: Love it, and at what point were you able to make it a full-time gig that could sustain the bills?

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, good question. This is kind of an unfair answer, but it happened within the first year. What initially had happened, was I went to Wall Street. I was working. I was doing the show and I was doing the radio show, Moonlighting and I was selling phone coaching essentially.

People could call and ask for that customized advice of the type I was giving on the podcast, and that started making a lot of money. Then people would say, "Can I give you five grand if I just like sleep on your couch for a week? You show me everything that you’re talking about.

I can go around with you and be your friend for a couple of weeks." I thought, “Great.” Then I started having crowds of guys doing this, and then I hired other instructors and teachers and salespeople. It turned into a business pretty much right away.

Now, granted it was probably like a $24,000 a year type salary in Manhattan type of business, so it wasn’t really going to do the work. Within the first year, it was a business. The economy tanked, and I ended up leaving law and turning that into a multi-seven-figure company, probably over the next 24 months.

Dan Granger: Yeah. The obvious question is, how much does it cost to sleep on your couch for a week now?

Jordan Harbinger: Now?

Dan Granger: Yeah.

Jordan Harbinger: I don’t know, that’s a good question.

Dan Granger: What do you think?

Jordan Harbinger: Now, I do have a really comfortable sofa.

Dan Granger: [crosstalk 00:09:27], yeah.

Jordan Harbinger: I would say market rate’s… I’m going to go with a grand a day. If we’re talking to Airbnb and there’s going to be a cleaning fee involved, so I’d really have to think about it. I got to price the market.

Dan Granger: This is actually a good business opportunity. Airbnb for Experts, where you rent the house, but they don’t leave.

Jordan Harbinger: It’s not a bad idea. It’s usually called consulting, but this is so much more in depth and invasive, actually I think is the right word that we’re looking for.

Dan Granger: It’s Cameo meets Airbnb. It’s perfect.

Jordan Harbinger: Cameo meets Airbnb, meets like big brother, right.

Dan Granger: Yeah, exactly. Okay, back on topic. Tell us what it’s been like since the world changed in March, doing the show. How has that affected you and your ecosystem?

Jordan Harbinger: Everyone had a 10% to 15% dip. Spotify was a major dip, because that’s more streams. That was affected instantly, versus the people who download, who still download and we don’t even know if they listen. That’s how podcasting works in 2020. Since I already had a one-year-old baby, or almost one-year-old baby-

Dan Granger: Congratulations.

Jordan Harbinger: Thank you, and I’m building a house next to where I live now. I live with my brother-in-law. When this all happened, I was like, "Oh, I’m going to be more cooped up?

Jordan Harbinger: What does that even mean with a one-year-old baby and a house under construction? It was a great excuse to get a lot of work done, get a lot of projects done. There’s also some bottlenecks that happened. Hold on, there is a baby screaming.

Dan Granger: Right.

Jordan Harbinger: I need to tell people to move the baby away.

Dan Granger: It’s okay. You can bring the baby into the show if you want. We can-

Jordan Harbinger: I’m going-

Dan Granger: … do a panel discussion.

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Now he’s like… I can hear the loud screaming. I’m going to have them sort of do something about that. He has the whole house to run free, but he’s right outside the door. I wondered… where did I leave off? Wondered whether there is such a thing as more cooped up.

Dan Granger: Yeah. Right, exactly.

Jordan Harbinger: It is a good excuse to get a lot more work done and get a lot of projects done, that are kind of the someday maybe projects, because other things are on hold. There is a bottleneck, if you have to film something. It’s just not going to happen. I started to knock those things off the list.

The other thing that I was able to do, is get a lot more talent that normally is not available. If you ask Pitbull to be on your podcast, you’ll never even get through the first layer of gatekeeping. Now Pitbull is pitching our podcast, because he can’t do any shows. He’s starting a show.

You have a lot more access to people, that you normally would never be able to get on a podcast. It’s funny, because 2020 we’re saying this. I think in 2025 or 2030, people are going to go, “Who doesn’t do podcasts?”

Dan Granger: Right.

Jordan Harbinger: “That’s the place for everyone to go do stuff.” In 2020, believe it or not, not everybody looks at podcasting the same way that they eventually will. Which is the main piece of media that you can do, that’s actually relevant and gets consumed.

Dan Granger: Talk a little bit about the evolution of the show, and the type of content that you do. It feels like it’s evolved from this extension of your consultations, to more of like a parsing of habits of successful people and things like that. Can you talk a little bit about what you cover?

Jordan Harbinger: Sure. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, essentially what I’m trying to do, is instead of me giving advice all the time… which I still do on Fridays, which people write in and I give advice on Fridays.

Dan Granger: Yeah.

Jordan Harbinger: I decided, “Look, I’ve got a great way and a great access to people that most of us don’t have access to, Ray Dalio, Mark Cuban, Chelsea Handler, Howie Mandel, Pitbull coming soon,” right?

Dan Granger: Yes.

Jordan Harbinger: These are people that you can’t just ask for advice whenever you want. You can’t just tweet at them. They’re not going to answer you. They’re overwhelmed. I get to sit down with them for an hour, and really deconstruct what they do, how they do it, some of the habits that make them successful.

Some of their stories that just don’t get told elsewhere. Most interviews are 5, 15 minutes on some radio station somewhere, and they can’t go in depth about their battles with mental illness. They can’t go in depth about all the uncertainty they’ve faced in their career.

They can’t go in depth about how China is affecting the global economy, or whatever subject at hand. I love to do these long-form discussions that are conversational, and that have a practical takeaway for the person who is listening to the show.

A lot of podcasts, and a lot of radio and a lot of media, it’s just interesting or it’s just entertaining. I know that the highest performing people usually don’t just want to be entertained.

They want to leave and go. “That was a good use of my time, because now I have a tool that I can use or a mindset that I can use, or a takeaway that I can use.” Entertainment is just not enough for a lot of overachievers.

I’m sort of speaking to that market, without turning into, “Here is a bunch of homework that makes you feel bad about yourself, now that you have to go.” It’s like edutainment, as much as that word makes me want to puke.

Dan Granger: Right, so as you’re talking to all these successful people, are you seeing a change in their tone or a common denominator in their perspectives, since the world has become so much more chaotic this year?

Jordan Harbinger: Yes, I have actually. I probably shouldn’t name names, because it’d be unfair. They’re not here to either comment or defend themselves.

Dan Granger: Right.

Jordan Harbinger: I just did an interview with somebody who has a very large presence in radio. I noticed that a lot of the things that he was saying were like, “Yes, we have to do this and that and the other thing.” It was like very woke. I’m saying that, not in any sort of disparaging way-

Dan Granger: Right.

Jordan Harbinger: … but in a way that I really noticed it. I thought, a year ago, they would have not mentioned that at all. Or maybe they would have mentioned it, but it would have been given kind of short shrift. Six months ago, it would not have at all been like, "Well, this is the conversation nationally, but I don’t want to discount these people.

Also, we would need to make sure these people don’t get mad, so I’m going to qualify it with this. Then I also have to qualify it with that, because there’s this other thing you got to be thinking of right now." I remember it just being so conspicuous. This is earlier today.

Dan Granger: Right.

Jordan Harbinger: I don’t have to try too hard to remember it, but it was so conspicuously like, “Hey, I don’t want to make this group of people mad or this group of people mad, but also I don’t want to make these group of people mad. Also, here’s kind of like…” and I’m not saying this in a disparaging way. I want to make that clear.

A lot of virtue signaling. I know that’s a term thrown around, especially by people on the right, that is pejorative. Virtue signaling is not in itself bad in my opinion. I mean, it shows others what groups you’re in. A lot of-

Dan Granger: When you define it from your perspective-

Jordan Harbinger: Gosh-

Dan Granger: … how do you think about it?

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Virtue signaling, God, you know what? Can I look this up? There’s going to be a better definition than what I’m going to say here.

Dan Granger: Right.

Jordan Harbinger: I’ll translate it through what I mean here. It’s essentially-

Dan Granger: One of those terms that I’m pretty sure I get it, but I don’t use it, because I’m scared of screwing up the way that I say it. Which may be a metaphor for how you’re talking about how people are talking about everything.

Jordan Harbinger: Yes, that is exactly my point. I appreciate you saying that.

Dan Granger: Yeah.

Jordan Harbinger: Virtue signaling according to Google, “The action…” or a dictionary. “The action or practice of publicly expressing opinions or sentiments, intended to demonstrate one’s good character or the moral correctness of one’s position on a particular issue.”

That’s a good definition, because the way that this is pejoratively, is you’ll say something like, “Yeah, I have an electric car and I really love it.” People are, “[inaudible 00:17:54] it’s a virtue signal. You snobby, left bastard,” or whatever it is. “You tree hugger, you virtue signaler.”

That doesn’t really matter. It’s okay to signal what group you’re in. “Yes, I am signaling that I care about the environment. If you have a problem with that, fine, you’re kind of an a-hole and I don’t care.” There is a lot of virtual signaling that is more conspicuous.

Again, not that there is anything wrong with it. It’s just so much more obvious. Now we don’t say, “Yeah, America has a lot of entrepreneurs. There are fewer entrepreneurs now than there used to be. I’m glad to see that there’s a lot more people starting businesses.”

Now you don’t say that you say, “Yeah, there is a lot more people starting businesses. It’s important to note, that a lot of America was built on the backs of people that were brought here without their consent.”

That is true, but it’s just kind of almost like a non-sequitur thing to throw in an interview that’s just about business. That’s the type of virtue signaling that I’m seeing now. Again, it doesn’t bother me, but it is something that is totally new as of the last 6 to 12 months-

Dan Granger: Right.

Jordan Harbinger: … that is happening in a conversation. It’s changing a lot of the ways that I can even ask questions on the show. I’ll ask a question, and sometimes people will say, “Yeah, I don’t know.”

They’ll kind of like do this sort of involuntary cringe, because the answer is something that is going to maybe put them in the crosshairs of something they don’t like. You try to interview somebody who’s at the New York Times, like I did recently, and you’ll get a private email back that’s like, "Hey, you have to ask this person.

I need permission to do interviews now. Also, they’re going to say no, but just know that it’s not me. They just don’t want me to do other media, because…" insert all these reasons about why the journalists who work at big newspapers, aren’t even allowed to say what they actually feel.

They have to be kind of part of what looks to be like the Woke Olympics. It’s just kind of an unhealthy addition to the conversation, a detraction from the conversation.

Dan Granger: Let me ask you, in your communication with people, are you finding that it’s impacting the way you make decisions about how you communicate? Like catching the-

Jordan Harbinger: Yes.

Dan Granger: Yeah.

Jordan Harbinger: Yes, but in a way that I really don’t like. Look, I know that a lot of people go, “Well, if they’re going to say something racist, you should be uncomfortable.” I totally agree with that by the way.

Dan Granger: Right.

Jordan Harbinger: A lot of times the line gets moved so much, that people say things that are completely taken out of context and it becomes unfair. Then people in positions like you or I, we see that and we go, “Oh my gosh, you can get canceled for something that you literally did not even do.”

Somebody stitches together five non-consecutive minutes of five different conversations, and makes it sound like you’re saying something that you’re not. That’s bad. That’s as bad as creating a deepfake with someone’s face on it.

Dan Granger: Right.

Jordan Harbinger: Or it’s just not accurate. It’s unfair, because turned into like… look, I’m a freedom of speech guy, but not one of those who sits around and talks about the constitution.

I’m a freedom of speech guy, in that journalist should be able to write about things as long as they’re… and talk about things, as long as they’re being intellectually honest.

You can nowadays, have your intellectual honesty, totally negated by somebody who’s not interested in intellectual honesty, but is like, “I’m going to do X, Y, Z and get my agenda handled by any means necessary.” That’s exactly the framers we’re kind of talking about, when they said that we can’t be doing that crap, right?

Dan Granger: Right.

Jordan Harbinger: That why we have the fifth state with journalism, is because we do need to check on that. In a way, people who try and take down journalists and people who do podcasts… because I don’t think those necessarily have 100% overlap in other media figures.

They’re really chipping away at one of the few institutions that’s there to protect us against things like fascism and authoritarianism. They’re doing it to be like, “Haha, I got this person canceled, who I disagree with.”

Each one of those chips, is chipping away at the base of the foundation of our ability to talk about things that we don’t like. It becomes a real problem. You think when you do that, that you’re chipping away at the people that are against you.

You’re chipping away at our ability to actually speak out against things we don’t like in the country and in the world. That’s bad, because if you take out three table legs, you’re in trouble. Even if the three other table legs had different opinions than you, you’re screwed.

That’s not going to be a very useful piece of furniture. That’s exactly what’s happening to journalism and it happens in podcasting. Yes, the answer to your question is, I do think about things that I say.

I’ll run things by my team now and they’ll go, “Oh, but what if somebody does this and then does this, and then does this and then does this, and then does this? You’re going to look bad.”

I have to go, "Are you kidding me? That’s what I have to think about? Now I have to play chess with somebody taking a tweet, that’s a response to another tweet? What if they delete that tweet, and then they retweet your tweet?

Then they put it as a response to someone else’s tweet, it’s going to sound racist. Are you kidding?" That is unhealthy. We should not have to think about things like that.

Dan Granger: We’re all getting a little neurotic, it seems.

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.

Dan Granger: My question to you is-

Jordan Harbinger: I was already neurotic, but fine.

Dan Granger: Yeah. No, I feel you. No, it’s now almost required. We are all overthinking kind of everything and trying to do well, but then also trying to be protective of what people are going to think our intentions are, instead of just worrying about our intentions, right?

Jordan Harbinger: Exactly.

Dan Granger: That’s why things get a little messed up. How did we get here?

Jordan Harbinger: Well, there is a couple answers to that, that I have ready-made and there’s others that I’m not going to think of.

Dan Granger: Okay.

Jordan Harbinger: One of the ways that we got here is that, it became very profitable to become a kook online and on the radio. You see like the Rush Limbaugh types, who just say, “COVID is the common cold.” He knows that that’s not true. Doesn’t care, speaks to an audience.

You have the Alex Jones type people as well, who just… I mean, it’s like professional wrestling, except instead of going, “Hey kid, it’s fake. I didn’t really jump on his stomach, see he’s okay. We’re acting.”

It’s professional wrestling, except that they go, “No, it’s totally real. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you, including your parents and real journalists.” It’s like, “Whoa, no. You don’t do that. We don’t tolerate that kind of thing in any other format.” Except now you have people abusing those rights and privileges.

You have that. You have that sort of like performance element becoming really profitable. You also have interference in media, from places like the Soviet Union and now Russia, which has been going on for decades. It is not new. Election interference is not new.

Russia and the United States have been doing it for… before you and I were born. Probably even when our parents were the age we are now or younger. We have it now happening on social media.

We have media being hijacked by people with other agendas. Which actually is probably the other side of that same coin, where those people who are hijacking media for their own agenda… except now the agenda isn’t just profit, the agenda is political change. The agenda is getting a certain message across, for power and not just money.

I think the other reason that this has happened, is just pure irresponsibility due to… irresponsibility, yes. Also, probably a massive hole in our education system. I mean, I did a video about this garbage fake documentary called Plandemic. Have you heard of this thing?

Dan Granger: No.

Jordan Harbinger: It’s stupid. There’s this fake documentary. It’s just a garbage anti-vax piece of crap called Plandemic. It has this disgraced, fake scientist on there and this other knucklehead who is an activist. People believe the stuff that’s in there.

Then I’ll do a video, or I’ll do a podcast and I’ll be like, “Look, here’s all these scientific journals. This is why this is wrong.” People will respond with like, "Oh yeah, that’s big pharma.

You’re being a shill." Or they’re like, “You can’t trust those things.” I’m thinking, “Oh my gosh, my science teacher would roll over…” he’s still alive. He would roll over-

Dan Granger: Yeah, in his bed.

Jordan Harbinger: … on his desk. In his bed.

Dan Granger: Yes.

Jordan Harbinger: He’d roll over in his bed, sleeping in late on a Friday, working from home. This was stuff that we were taught a long time ago, but I went to a decent school, a public school. Then I took science classes in college and they were like, “You can’t just say things without backing them up, and the sources have to be good.”

I realize now, there’s just huge numbers of people who never understood that. Never understood that, were never taught that, were never having that reinforced. Now you have these people who online, through these microphones of social media and otherwise.

Have their opinions reinforced by other people with bigger microphones, that are being irresponsible or profit motivated. They’re just not sure what’s true. Instead of not being sure and saying, “I’m going to take in all the information.”

They’re being taught that anybody with a different opinion, has it out for them and is doing it on purpose, because they have an agenda of their own. It’s like kind of the ultimate form of crazy. That’s all being amplified online by active measures from Russia, from other countries and by stupidity.

I’m on the fence, as to whether it’s 60% active measures and fake news, and false information and misinformation and disinformation. Or if it’s 90% stupidity, and the active measure stuff just kind of like flicked the glass and it fell over. I don’t know.

Dan Granger: Yes, so how much of it do you think is the fact that, a million plus podcasts and we’re just getting started, right?

Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dan Granger: Facebook, Twitter, everybody now has… you mentioned Rush Limbaugh, but now everybody is Rush Limbaugh in their own way, right?

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.

Dan Granger: How much of it is that the flood gates got opened? The public square now invades your life, your living room. You have to hear from the village idiot who gets to have a voice almost anywhere that you go, when you’re just trying to check your phone.

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. That is causing some of it for sure, but I also don’t hear from village idiots and go, “Maybe there’s some truth to that.” I see village idiots and I go, “Well, my background in education… my education, my critical thinking background says that this is garbage and it can be discarded.”

A lot of people don’t have that. There are many countries around the world that have better education systems. They have just as much internet as we do, but they don’t have as many people that have their head firmly planted in their rectum, because they were educated better.

When they see somebody say, “Hey, vaccines are going to have microchips in them, so that Bill Gates can depopulate the world.” They’re saying it on the phone, that they keep in their pocket, that actually has chips in it.

You kind of go, “Wow, this person has literally not thought for five seconds, about the claims that they’re making.” That is an education system fault. You don’t see as many of these people in Europe for example, where they have better education. You see a lot more of them in Africa, where they have worse education. You just do.

Dan Granger: Is it really correlated with education though? I see a lot of people throwing bombs back and forth, who are highly educated on social media. I follow really smart people on both sides of the aisle on Twitter. They’re saying really aggressive statements, negative statements, trashing people left and right.

Just increasing the hostility and polarization. I don’t see a correlation with education. I mean, let me float something by you, to see if you agree. I have a theory that the reason why Disney kids melt down when they become adults, is because they got too fast. They got money too fast.

They got too much before they could really mature into learning to handle it. It’s like people that win the lottery, and then they blow all their money in a year, right?

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.

Dan Granger: You didn’t graduate in, so you didn’t really have a way to deal with it in a healthy way. You never learned to process it. The world is kind of like, we’ve been the recipients of all this information. We’re just like, flood gates open. Now we have access to anything, can say anything, do anything.

Somebody will say, “You’re right.” Somebody will say, “You’re an idiot, no matter what you say.” It’s hard for people to tell the difference, so they just fall into these tribes, that is just at war with all the other tribes. What do you think about that?

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I mean, that’s true. There are a lot of educated people online, spouting BS. That’s why you might question, “Is it correlated with education?” I’m not necessarily going to say it absolutely does or doesn’t.

I will say that a lot of the people that you see spouting BS online, they’re doing it regardless of whether they believe it or not. They’re doing it, because it helps them gain money and power.

I guarantee you that a lot of the pundits on both sides left and right, they don’t believe and they don’t care at all, whether or not what they’re saying is unequivocally true. They just know that their base is going to like it. It’s going to result in them getting more internet points, aka likes, shares, whatever.

They don’t care. Like I said, I guarantee you… and this is just me personally. I guarantee you that when Rush Limbaugh said, “Corona virus is the common cold.” He wasn’t like, “I believe this.” He was just like, "I’m going to say this, because I’ve read it on internet forums.

This is what people who are in denial want to hear. I’m in a position to confirm their preexisting bias, and it’s going to make them like me. That’s how I get advertisers and keep them. I’m just going to say that." I guarantee you, he just doesn’t care. He doesn’t care.

Dan Granger: When you use Rush as an example, I mean, he’s the most identifiable with conservatism on radio, right?

Jordan Harbinger: Right.

Dan Granger: Do you feel that the left has an equal part in this?

Jordan Harbinger: Yes.

Dan Granger: Do you feel like it really is…? You mentioned the farthest on the right, and then like off the grid right with Alex Jones. What do you think the left contribution is?

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I want to be clear here, the reason I didn’t give a lefty kind of Rush Limbaugh example, is solely because I can’t think of one right now. I’m sure if you named a few, I’d be like, “Oh, right that.”

Dan Granger: Yeah.

Jordan Harbinger: I just can’t think of any right now off the top of my head. The Rush Limbaugh thing happens to be top of mind, because I just saw somebody play that clip, because it aged like milk as you would expect.

Dan Granger: Yeah.

Jordan Harbinger: We knew then it wasn’t the common cold, but now it’s like so obviously not. There is equal fault on both sides for sure. Well, you know what? I’m not entirely sure. Can I apportion more fault on the right than the left? I’m not really sure. To me, it looks like there’s more on the right, but that doesn’t mean that there is.

It just means that my cognitive bias is weighing that more heavily, and/or I’ve seen more of it in the media that I consume, being mocked. I’m going to go ahead and say, it’s probably equal on both sides. The reason for that, is because both sides have the exact same incentive structures.

Dan Granger: Right.

Jordan Harbinger: If I’m on the left or the right, I stand to gain money and power by saying stupid crap as loudly as possible, and getting a tribe and then selling them mattresses. Or whatever advertiser that I have.

In fact, I think if you’re on the left and you are more vitriolic, you probably have an easier time getting advertisers than you do if you do the same thing on the right. Just looking at podcasting, and networks and stuff… and again, I won’t name any shows or networks.

Dan Granger: Yeah, you don’t have to. I know exactly what you’re saying, because I’m working with both sides, right?

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.

Dan Granger: [crosstalk 00:33:37] seeing ads on both sides. I think what you’re saying is definitely true. I just mean-

Jordan Harbinger: Right.

Dan Granger: I think one side is right and one side’s wrong. I think both sides are wrong to be honest, but no [crosstalk 00:33:49].

Jordan Harbinger: One side can sell mattresses while being wrong, and the other side can’t. That’s the thing.

Dan Granger: Correct, exactly. Right, so you’re like a legit journalist. You’re not like me and the other 999,000 people that do this. You participate in it. I know you’ve been a leader of a group in San Francisco. I don’t remember what it was officially. How is this new wave in culture impacting journalists, and how are they reacting to that?

Jordan Harbinger: I’m less tuned into the journalism thing, as I probably should be. I do see… and they call it the fifth estate, which is a cool pretentious way of talking about journalism. I really enjoy it.

Dan Granger: It’s an awesome way to say it. It’s great branding, yeah.

Jordan Harbinger: It is. It’s great branding. The problem that we’re seeing is… and I’ll just give one example that crossed my desk this morning, aka my kitchen table, because that’s where desks are now.

Dan Granger: Right.

Jordan Harbinger: The New York Times… I wish I could remember the name. I’m sure you saw this. They ran some op-ed a while back. A lot of people got everything up in a twist about it. Then they fired the op-ed editor.

Dan Granger: Right.

Jordan Harbinger: … that let it happen. Now everyone at the New York Times is so shriveled up and clenched up, that they can’t say or do anything. I brought that example up earlier in the show, and I’m just shocked by that. You’d think, who is not…? These organizations are fighting inside amongst themselves about this stuff.

Dan Granger: Right.

Jordan Harbinger: Of course, it’s going to have a chilling effect. You don’t even need to have the government, or the population create that chilling effect. You just have it by self-censoring. Again, trying to be like either the most woke or the most controversial, or whatever it is that any sort of outlet is trying to do.

We have to really be careful as journalists, not to eat ourselves alive. As soon as we start doing that… which of course, that process has already started, then you have a lot of folks that are more than willing to take advantage of that.

If the New York Times is going to self-censor, you know who’s not going to do that? Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones, the same sort of classic examples. I don’t want to keep labeling or bringing up specific types of examples, because I think it’s unfair. Also, they’re not here to defend themselves, so it is kind of crappy.

I don’t think people like Alex Jones care or Rush Limbaugh cares. You find that as soon as you start at self-censoring, you find that the other side is going to be fully able and willing to take advantage of that. It doesn’t mean you should use the same tactics as them, but it means that you have to be really careful.

If you start to tear down everybody that sort of disagrees with you by five degrees, it’s that same problem that we have when everybody… it’s like, “Oh, that’s cultural appropriation. Therefore, you’re racist. Therefore, you are a Nazi.”

Dan Granger: Right.

Jordan Harbinger: It’s like, “Wow, what words are you going to use for people who are actually racists?”

Dan Granger: Right.

Jordan Harbinger: “What are you going to do? You’ve exhausted the vocabulary. You have to be very careful about that.” When somebody says something that is off color or off pudding, you’ve got to resist labeling them in a certain way, or something that you disagree with. You have to really resist that.

It’s tempting, because again, the people that are motivated by profit or a political agenda, they’re going to immediately jump to that. They have to discredit you, because they’re playing a zero sum game. Every listener or viewer that you have that they don’t, is dollars out of their pocket or power out of their ballot box.

If we’re doing that to ourselves, we’re totally, totally screwed. We’re going to end up not wanting to do anything, because of the zero-sum game, which means we just have no chips to play with at that point.

Dan Granger: Jordan, you said something earlier that I want to go back to. Which is, you’re talking about the incentive structure, to be polarizing. The more extreme you are… nobody wants to hear from the middle.

For example, a movie just came out, Stars and Strife. I’m going to keep talking about, and it’s about how polarized our country is. Nobody is talking about it. Nobody is paying attention. [crosstalk 00:37:48].

Jordan Harbinger: I’ve never even heard of it.

Dan Granger: Of course, I mean, they’ve got people from both sides. You’ve got Rahm Emmanuel. You have a leader from Black Lives Matter. You have former secretaries, you have James Baker. I mean, big people. They’re from both sides, talking about kind of like, “Can’t we all just get along?” Kind of a thing.

Nobody wants to hear that. Have you seen, heard or thought of anything, any effort in the world that attempts to put this back in the box and bring some discipline to the reward cycle, so that you’re not monetarily incentivized to be a flamethrower?

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that’s the trick. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, what I’ve done, instead of… people will go, “You have to endorse a presidential candidate. You have to talk about this. You have to talk about that. You have to interview this person and not that person.”

Dan Granger: Right.

Jordan Harbinger: What I’ve done is sort of take a step back and gone, "All right, what kind of episodes can I have on The Jordan Harbinger Show, that are going to make people think better?

Process ideas, process argument better, be able to defend themselves against disinformation or misinformation. Parse information, be better critical thinkers, be more informed." If I start saying, “You know what? You should agree with me. Here are these points that are sort of on the right, or sort of on the left.”

People on the other side are going to go, “No.” They’re going to tune out. They’re going to switch the channel, whatever it is. My job now, I view it as, I have to persuade, but I have to persuade people to think better. Rational, logical conclusions, they end up being in the middle, more so than on any extreme.

Extremes are by definition, black and white thinking most of the time. I’m trying to think of an exception and I can’t, which is also kind of black and white thinking now that I think about it. They’re mostly black and white thinking.

If you say, “Oh, well, illegal immigration is always bad or immigrants are bad. Or people of a certain skin color are bad.” That’s obviously… no pun intended, black and white thinking and it doesn’t make any sense. When you start teaching people how to think, we go back to the problem I mentioned earlier about education.

When it’s like, “Oh, the reason we don’t have this, is because big pharma and science have all colluded with big academia and all of the media, to tell you that vaccines are good, when really they’re bad. Here’s why.” Here’s two people that are insane, talking about it.

Here’s another person that has a felony and can’t work anymore, selling a book now about why it’s bad. I can’t say, “Don’t trust her. She is a disgraced scientist, who’s trying to grift money, because she can’t work anywhere, because she is a thief.”

If you say that, they dig in. If I go, “Huh, let me teach you how to evaluate sources of information.” Then they go, “Oh, that’s a good idea. That’s good. I’m going to use that to a lot of things.” Then I go, “Cool, evaluate the source of this thing you just showed me.”

They go, "Huh, okay. Well, if I back out this way and I do this, and I go through that pipeline that Jordan’s guest just talked about on The Jordan Harbinger Show, maybe this Plandemic movie also has an agenda.

Maybe that agenda is financial and/or political. Oh, yeah. No, you’re right. That’s a bunch of crap and I can’t believe I believed it." I do that with multi-level marketing schemes. I do it with pyramid schemes. I do it with anti-vax nonsense. I do it with a lot of things like that.

I do specific take-downs of those topics. The rest of the episodes of the show, are just about thinking better. Then mixed in with stories that people are entertained by and educated by.

At the end of the day, you come away and you go, “Huh, okay. Now when information comes in, it has to go through a filter that makes sense of what it is. Then it goes into your brain.” You don’t just get programmed by whatever crap you’re hearing on YouTube anymore.

You actually get to think about stuff in a critical way. That’s what people need to do. That’s what happens when people land in the middle. Or I should say, when that happens, people land more in the middle, because they can see the merits to both sides of an argument.

Talk to anybody on the extreme left or the extreme right, they don’t even have a clue what the other side actually wants or thinks. They have no freaking idea. They’ve never given it any modicum of thought.

They’re just angry about something, and they picked a random side. That’s why often enough, you see a lot of these people who are extreme left or extreme right. They will suddenly flip to the other side, because it’s convenient. You go, “How did you travel all the way across the spectrum?” The answer is, they totally didn’t.

They just picked one extreme view, and then they picked another one. They never made the journey across the middle of the spectrum. It has nothing to do with thinking about things in a different way. It’s just about picking a team.

Dan Granger: I’ve heard about studies that look at both sides of the spectrum. The most extreme people on the right and the most extreme people on the left, actually start using the same language. I’ve heard that they get-

Jordan Harbinger: Totally.

Dan Granger: You know what I mean?

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.

Dan Granger: It’s always us versus them. It always comes down to that. This is really good… go ahead.

Jordan Harbinger: You know how many people in 2016 told me they wanted to overthrow the United States government? I mean, peacefully. Everybody on the extreme right, “Donald Trump is the only way we’re going to peacefully overthrow the United States government.” Extreme left, "We have to do this and take this down.

This is the only way we’re going to overthrow the United States government, as it currently exists." I’m thinking, "If you all were in the same room together, you wouldn’t even know for the first hour that you guys were about to throw Molotov cocktails at each other’s businesses, restaurants and bikes or whatever it is.

You’d be slapping each other on the back, drinking beer. Only until you’ve finally figured out that one of you is going to vote one way, and one of you is going to vote the other, only at that point I should say, would you have figured out that you guys don’t agree on that at all." It’s the exact same thing.

It’s the exact same thing. It’s like, it shocks me how much those people actually have in common, which kind of makes it take the spectrum of like left and right, which is this line. If you bend it around into a circle-

Dan Granger: Right.

Jordan Harbinger: … you find the extremes right next to each other. They think they’re all the way over here, but they’re really just sitting next to each other and there is a partition that they can’t seem to see.

Dan Granger: Yeah, I 100% agree. Let’s pivot a little bit. Let’s talk business.

Jordan Harbinger: Sure thing.

Dan Granger: Did you pay attention to Business Roundtable, and the shift from shareholder capitalism to stakeholder capitalism? You’ve been paying any attention to that?

Jordan Harbinger: That’s the thing in the email that you sent me before the show, where I was like, “You’re going to have to explain this when we jump out.”

Dan Granger: Yeah, no worries. [inaudible 00:44:15], but it’s like 181 of the top companies in the US. Basically, the CEOs all signed this document going like, “Hey, we’ve been operating under the assumption that it was the primacy of shareholder value. It’s everything you do. It’s in service of shareholder value.”

They basically came out a year ago and said, “No, it is stakeholder value. Which means that our business… yeah, we care about shareholders, but we care about employees. We care about vendors. We care about the community at large.”

I think what you’ve seen… there’s a bit of a chicken or egg issue there, which is like, “What came first? Were they reacting to the movement in society, or has that actually propelled society forward?” Who knows? Clearly, brands, corporations are talking about things that we never look to corporations to talk about before.

I’m not sure that we used to invite them to these conversations. Now it’s like, if you don’t, there’s something wrong with you. I mean, I can’t tell you this year how many companies that we work with, that were pressured either internally or externally, to make certain statements on social media.

Then they go, “All right. Well, we better say that on social media.” Then they do. Then you have one side hitting them with a hammer going, “You didn’t say enough, you said that wrong.”

The other side says, “Why would you say that at all? You’re totally missing it.” I think there is a lot of pressure right now, on leaders at companies and companies themselves to be more political. To make statements that are polarizing, which is a real challenge.

Unless you are the type of company that serves only one side of the country, you’re going to be wading into waters that are outside of your expertise. I don’t know if you’ve been experiencing that on your side.

Jordan Harbinger: Sure.

Dan Granger: I want to know what you think about it, where you see it. What about that is healthy and what’s not? Let me just ask [inaudible 00:46:24].

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I mean, I see it all the time. Of course, I’m no stranger to that. I had it happen in my own business, where people were saying, “Hey, you need to do this. You needed to say something about that, and you need to say something about this.” Then as soon as I dipped my toes… and I was afraid this would happen.

As soon as I dipped my toes into those waters, it was the same thing. “You didn’t say enough. This is lip service,” et cetera. I was like, "This is why I wasn’t going to get in here.

I was going to do other things that were actions that were better, instead of just these… like posting the black box or whatever, the empty box on that one day, that you had to post on Instagram or whatever it was."

It’s just like, this is called slacktivism, where you’re just not doing anything, but you’re kind of paying lip service to it. I understand why companies want to do it. I think it’s appropriate in certain instances.

You do have to realize that you’re going to isolate some people. You either have to decide that that’s okay, or you have to decide that you don’t want to get into it. You can’t really take half measures.

Look, if you’re isolating people, and the people that you’re isolating or making feel isolated, or making feel alienated are saying things that are racist or prejudiced or something like that, your company should at some level be okay with that.

You can form a tribe around a belief, and it can’t… like Nike can say, “Hey, we don’t like racism.” If people go, “Oh, yeah. Well, I am going to burn this pair of Nike’s.” “It’s bad for the environment, but go ahead and do it. Burn those shoes.”

No one cares, because the belief that Nike is saying, “Hey, we shouldn’t be murdering people in the streets with reckless abandon.” If that is offensive to you and you think they should stay in their lane, I would love to hear what you think when Nike does something that you agree with.

What I’ve found is that, a lot of these people who complain about companies doing this, they never complain when it’s something that they agree with. They only complain when it’s something that they disagree with, and that’s obvious. It’s so convenient.

People think like, “Oh, well, companies should mind their own business and just make my stock value go up. Then it’s like, ”Oh, wait. Why didn’t you say something about this cause that I care about? Where is your patriotism?" You have to be aware as a company, that you’re going to run a file of that.

I think you literally have to just realize that, the people that you are alienating often, it just doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t matter. You’re going to take a small hit from them, but you’re going to receive more business and loyalty from people that realize you’re doing the right thing. Whatever that right thing might be for you.

I do feel for these executives that have to make these choices, because it’s a risk every time. Marketing has always been about trying to make a tribe. Well, not always, recently has been about trying to make a tribe out of something.

You can’t really go and make a tribe that’s all about, "Hey, we’re making sport clothes. We’re making stuff for athletes, and look at all these cool female athletes that we have clothes for now, when we used to only make stuff mostly for guys.

We have female athletes making shoes. We have people of color on our advertising now, instead of just a bunch of white dudes in track shorts." You can’t then stop and go, “Oh, we don’t want to dive into this other thing.”

You’ve already made a choice. You already have made a tribe out of your users. Why are you now going to stop trying to speak the language of that tribe? You’re afraid you’re going to lose sales? I understand it, but I just think it’s garbage.

If you’re going to pick a side and that’s how you’re marketing your stuff, then lean into it. You’re not really taking a risk. You’re taking a risk, not doing it right. I get that, but you’re taking a risk, not doing it at all. That’s for sure.

Dan Granger: Yeah. I think where this gets really complex is that, we all want these things to be black and white. As you know, the world’s not doing nuance very well-

Jordan Harbinger: No.

Dan Granger: … at least not in this country. One of my concerns is like, well, where were you yesterday? As a business owner, I think about, “Okay, I want to walk very slowly towards the public stance that I take. I don’t want to react to something that just happened too aggressively.” That feels like easy come, easy go, right?

Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dan Granger: I hope that people will be thoughtful and going like, "All right, let’s figure out where we can really make an impact, that is in concert with the values of our business and focus on that.

I think so much of what I see going on is very reactionary. Like you said, it’s like the Woke Olympics a lot of times. I don’t know if that sticks. I question the authenticity of that sometimes.

When it’s just [inaudible 00:51:11] come lately to these issues, I’d just rather see more measured approaches and make sure that… and I don’t want to reduce this just to race, because it’s not just the Black Lives Matter issue.

Jordan Harbinger: No.

Dan Granger: You’ve got the manufacturer standing up, endorsing Trump. Then [inaudible 00:51:29], right?

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.

Dan Granger: It’s like, it could be anything. It’s like, is that really what you need to know from the people that you buy things to stock your cabinets with?

How important is that, and when is that appropriate? Is it a free for all? It just feels like we’re all being so extreme right now. I don’t know that this is in a good place, and I’m starting-

Jordan Harbinger: No, I agree.

Dan Granger: All the polarity doesn’t. Listen, in a minute, we’re going to play the unsolicited advice game.

Jordan Harbinger: Okay.

Dan Granger: Before that, I need to ask our audience for some help on something that we do take a stand about, although it’s not very controversial. It’s the issue of isolation, which I think many of us have been dealing with since COVID.

Somewhere that this has been happening for a long time and will continue to happen, when we’re no longer talking about it every day is, in children’s hospitals across America, you have children that are in bed, alone with nobody to support them. Most parents cannot be there to help them around the clock, and to care for these kids.

World-class medical staffs don’t do the job, because they have to attend to the medical needs of children. You have young children that are alone, with no one to comfort them. We know how important being held is, when children are young. As you know, Jordan as a father.

We experienced this when our youngest daughter was born. She was in children’s hospital for six months, and it was heartbreaking to look around and see single parents, working parents. People that just couldn’t be there, and there’s nobody to comfort the kid.

What we found out was, there are a lot of people that want to volunteer and want to help to go and comfort the children who are alone in hospitals. There’s usually no funding to see staff them, train them, manage them, deal with the scheduling.

At my wife’s initiative, we’ve started something called the Koala Corps, which sets out to solve that problem. By hiring people to run those programs inside of children’s hospitals, starting with the children’s hospital, Los Angeles.

You can learn about this, if you go to koalacorps.com and give what you can, because it’s a very important issue. We’re getting very, very close to hitting our goal, and getting full-time staff managing this here in LA and we’d like to go further than that, so visit Koala Corps.

If you like what we’re doing here, please subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you get your shows. Also, visit oxfordroad.com, subscribe to our newsletter, The Influencer, which gives you weekly industry updates and thought leadership.

Okay, now let’s get back to our conversation with Jordan. This is where we’re going to play the unsolicited advice game. What we’ve done is, we’re going to give you 20 seconds to give a tweet-sized piece of advice, to seven different individuals or groups within this country.

The only rule is that your advice helps bring us closer together as people and find common ground, so that we can start to work against so much of the polarity that we’re experiencing. Okay, so are you ready for this?

Jordan Harbinger: No.

Dan Granger: Huh, should we do it anyway?

Jordan Harbinger: Sure.

Dan Granger: Okay.

Jordan Harbinger: I don’t have a choice, I’m pretty sure.

Dan Granger: All right.

Jordan Harbinger: No, let’s do it.

Dan Granger: Well, and you can tap out. You can tap out any time, but-

Jordan Harbinger: Okay.

Dan Granger: We’re not going to cut it out if you tap it out, so you’re going to have to do that publicly.

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, now I get it.

Dan Granger: Okay, here we go. First one, Donald Trump. Ready, set, go.

Jordan Harbinger: Being persuasive doesn’t make you right. Is that advice? No. Being persuasive doesn’t make you right. You stand a better chance at winning, if you can at least win some of us over to your side. Not just by tearing the other side down. He’s not going to listen to my advice. This is just an exercise in futility in Twitter.

Dan Granger: I don’t know, I hear that the president listens to this podcast quite often. I wouldn’t be surprised.

Jordan Harbinger: Okay.

Dan Granger: We run in some good circles. Okay, so Joe Biden.

Jordan Harbinger: Don’t play the same game as Trump. It’s really tempting, but it’s not going to end the way you think it’s going to end.

Dan Granger: Love it, okay. Now you’re getting efficient.

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.

Dan Granger: All right, let’s talk to the media broadly.

Jordan Harbinger: Play the long game. Your short-term profit motive is hurting your long-term profit.

Dan Granger: So succinct. By the way, Jordan, I just want to tell you, I wanted to compliment you on that earlier, because that’s exactly what you’re doing with your show. You’re not taking the low-hanging fruit. You’re doing the hard work that’s actually going to help people.

Jordan Harbinger: I appreciate that. Thank you.

Dan Granger: Yeah. No, you’re taking your own advice. I love it. Okay, next one is marketers.

Jordan Harbinger: Oh gosh. Every time my trust erodes in you, I’m less likely to buy from you in the future.

Dan Granger: Very good.

Jordan Harbinger: I think that’s probably it, yeah.

Dan Granger: That’s great. Okay, Republicans.

Jordan Harbinger: Remember back when you cared about everyone else, except for yourself… or remember back when you cared about other people, except for yourself… this is not going to go over well. Let me try that again. Let’s see.

Your party wants to value America and put America first, ask yourself if you are really doing that, or if you’re doing something else that looks like that, under the justification that it’ll all work out later.

Dan Granger: Wonderful. Okay, Democrats.

Jordan Harbinger: Your platform should not entirely be to rip Republicans down. You need to stand for something, other than the destruction of the other side. That goes for Republicans too frankly. I think I could have given the same advice to both sides.

Dan Granger: Well, like you talked about, the line meets in the middle, right?

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, absolutely.

Dan Granger: Okay, America.

Jordan Harbinger: Educate yourself. Don’t believe everything you hear, but also don’t believe people that say not to believe everything you hear. Always do your homework.

Dan Granger: All right. I got a bonus question for you, which is, if you could write in anybody alive today in this country, and they’d be the next president, who would it be?

Jordan Harbinger: Mike Rowe. Do you know who that is, from Dirty Jobs?

Dan Granger: I know the name, okay.

Jordan Harbinger: The guy from Dirty Jobs, the host of Dirty Jobs. His whole thing is, “Hey, college is kind of expensive and most of you probably don’t really need it. Also, a lot of you should just go to trade schools, because we don’t have enough skilled laborers and those jobs actually exist.”

He seems extremely honest. I know him personally, so I think he is. He genuinely wants to help people. He’s generous. He’s charismatic. He’s funny. I think everybody would love him, so I would do that. I don’t know if he’s up for it, but it’s okay. I’m writing him in.

Dan Granger: I was saying, we should all just write in Denzel and be done with it.

Jordan Harbinger: Oh, not bad.

Dan Granger: I think we can all agree. Then I saw this list come out on Axios that said, “What celebrities do Americans wish that could be the president?” Denzel was number two. Tom Hanks is number three. Number one, guess who.

Jordan Harbinger: Who?

Dan Granger: Oh, Morgan Freeman.

Jordan Harbinger: Oh, I can see that. I can see that, yeah.

Dan Granger: [crosstalk 00:59:18]. He usually takes more of the deity gigs.

Jordan Harbinger: He does.

Dan Granger: I guess he’s president sometimes.

Jordan Harbinger: Big pot smoker though. We’d have to get over that.

Dan Granger: Yeah.

Jordan Harbinger: We’d have to get over that.

Dan Granger: He might have a little more baggage, but I think we could agree on Denzel.

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.

Dan Granger: Okay, so we talked a little bit about cancel culture earlier. Do you think that it is a good thing, a bad thing, somewhere in the middle? How do you summarize it?

Jordan Harbinger: No, it’s unequivocally a bad thing. You can still punish people, without having cancel culture be the prevailing culture of the day. You can still punish people, like Louis CK for example, definitely should have taken some heat for what he did. Definitely should have been punished for what he did.

Did we have to take down and ruin the career of that person? I don’t think so. I think it’s counter-productive, because now all you’re doing is, causing people to not admit things that might have been bad in the past. To lie about things that might have happened in the past. The consequences are disproportionate.

Now, you’re making it so that nobody can actually have… there is a reason that in places like South Africa and Rwanda, they have these truth tribunals, where people just go and talk about what happened.

It’s not under the guise of ruining or punishing, it’s to just get everything out in the open, so the country can move forward and heal. We need to do that with a lot of these things. We see people taking photographs or saying things that are negative, you can still punish that person.

If everyone knows that their life is going to get ruined, the second that a comment gets taken out of context, you’re just going to end up with deception. You’re going to end up with a lot more people being dishonest in what they do and say, and not saying what they really mean.

Cancel culture, all it is, is making sure that the best liars and the best deceivers are the ones that survive at the end of the day and everybody else gets canceled. That’s all it means.

Dan Granger: Do you pay any attention to the third-party groups that will actually follow media channels and media figures, simply to spin out quotes, and then pressure advertisers to drop sponsorship of the programming? Have you seen [crosstalk 01:01:32]?

Jordan Harbinger: No, that’s insane. I’m sure that exists.

Dan Granger: Well, you’ve never heard of Sleeping Giants, Media Matters? I mean, there are some pretty-

Jordan Harbinger: I mean, I’ve heard of it, but I don’t follow it, yeah.

Dan Granger: Yeah, okay. Let’s do this, because you’ve given us a lot of time. Let’s go back to media for a little bit. You’re clearly a pretty balanced guy. Tell us about your media consumption diet. What do you feed yourself?

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, it’s a little ridiculous. I consume a lot of stuff that is patently not balanced, but then I fact check it. I think that’s the step that most people don’t take. I’ll read an article that’s on the extreme left or the extreme right.

Not like the ridiculous. I’m not watching Alex Jones yell and spit into a microphone. I will read an article and I’ll go, “Huh. Okay, interesting. How would I argue against that?” I have a law background. I was an attorney.

Dan Granger: Right.

Jordan Harbinger: I’m like, “okay, I want to hear the other side’s argument. Great, let me take that and disassemble it.” I’ll post something or look for that article in the news. Then I’ll look at Reddit, because Reddit will have every perspective.

The good ones that are well thought and well articulated, will bubble to the top, depending on what subreddit you’re in of course. If you read a piece of news, and then you look at a subreddit that’s a little bit more left and a little bit more right, then another one that’s like rational skepticism.

You’ll see a lot of different arguments about that. Then you can parse those news sources. As you do that over and over, you start to get a really good feel for how people are arguing, what people are writing. You start to find writers that are a little bit more balanced.

Kind of spoiler alert, they’re not writing for an extreme left or an extreme right side. Nobody who says, “This is accurate, and this other thing is not accurate. Then this party is right about this, but they’re not right about that.” Those people don’t get to write for the kind of prevailing team blue or team red journals.

Dan Granger: Right.

Jordan Harbinger: They don’t get to. Those sides just want their biases and beliefs confirmed. They don’t actually want the truth on either side.

Dan Granger: Well, so do you have media brands that like wake up every day and you read these publications, or do you even watch cable news?

Jordan Harbinger: No.

Dan Granger: What do you listen to? What do you read on a regular basis?

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I typically read books, because since they’re playing the long game, there’s no… with the exception of like the latest book by so-and-so, trying to spill on the president or spill on the last president, or spill on this and the other thing. With the exception of those, books… they’re not playing the short game.

They’re playing the long game. They have to have relevant information, four years, five years from now, if they want to sell more of these things. They’re not obsessed… and also the publication cycle is so long. They can’t take something from last week and spin it into a ridiculous hot mess, and then put it out on a page.

They got 18 months before whatever they write, or 10 months even shows up. Books are typically more well-reasoned. They have a little bit more of a shelf life literally, than a lot of the other crap that’s out there. You read books, you learn how to think.

You read blogs, you get told what to think that morning and then your opinion changes the next day. I’m very careful about that. Podcasts also, by great creators. I occasionally watch PBS NewsHour, because it’s more or less non-partisan. Their news cycle is not 24 hours. It’s real news.

They don’t need hype to get you to watch it, because it’s just geeks like me and old people that don’t have cable or something, that watch PBS. They just put real news in there and that’s it. I’ll watch foreign news sources, just because the local news tends to cover things in a little bit more in depth than national news.

Also, national news wants to grab the flashiest crap and then blast it everywhere. Whereas more local sources, they need to play up their local issues, but they don’t have to just make stuff up most of the time, because they’re not trying to impress.

They’re not writing from a cubicle in Manhattan, and trying to get the attention of somebody in Arizona. They’re just not doing that. They’re writing for their own community.

Dan Granger: All right, so I think where you and I align… it seems like we align on a lot of this stuff. It seems like you accept the premise that we have gotten increasingly polarized, and it’s venomous and destructive.

I guess the question I have for you is like, where does this go? What is in jeopardy, if we don’t start walking back some of the extreme negative thinking that we have?

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. We’re going to erode our only check on power, our only real check on power, which is journalism and media. You’re going to end up with people that are so tribalized, that they literally… and that’s why there’s sort of narrative like, “Mainstream media is this, that and the other thing.”

Media contributes to that negativity and that’s bad. Then also, you get people who go, “The only media source I can trust is…” and then they list some blog that has a single writer or two writers in a basement, somewhere in Macedonia writing for United States.

People in certain parts of the United States that really want some kind of… I don’t know, they want to have… to rocket launchers, as a part of their second amendment rights or something like that. You end up with people that just only get their information from certain places that already agree with them.

Then program those people what to believe. That is exactly what the Soviet Union, Russia and other countries that have active measures are trying to do. They’re trying to tribalized us, so that we can’t function and it’s working. It’s really, really sad.

Dan Granger: Yeah. Well, and I was telling you about Stars and Strife earlier. One of the points it starts out with is that like, a nation, an empire has about a 250 year run and then that’s about it, right?

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.

Dan Granger: I’m wondering, do you think that it just gets increasingly chaotic, but it holds? Or do you think we’re pressure testing the system, and do you think we’re at risk of this whole thing not staying together?

Jordan Harbinger: I definitely think we’re at risk. I mean, I hate to be a pessimist and I’m not a pessimist, but I think we are at risk. We’re going to end up with an authoritarian leader, or we’re going to end up with some kind of upheaval.

It’s going to backfire on the whole world, because a lot of people are kind of chuckling like… I see these folks in Europe that are like, “Oh, America is finally getting their due.”

I’m like, "Guess what? That power vacuum is going to be filled by China. Make sure you got your Mandarin ready. Don’t think for a second that your email privacy that you are so proud of, and all these laws that you made are going to stand up, Mr. Brexit.

You’re in trouble. A post-America world is not one you really want to live in. You might want to start rooting for our side and not the other side." We have a lot of flaws here in the United States, but you sure as hell do not want the Chinese Communist Party deciding what you can say on the internet.

That will happen if you don’t take this seriously. That’s kind of my message to a lot of our international folks. You need only look as far as people in countries like Australia, where they’re really feeling the pressure from China.

They’re like, “Hey, is anybody else noticing that our real estate market’s being taken? There is a lot of pressure on our media and our government.” That will increase. That is part of the plan for the CCP, the Chinese Communist Party.

They are watching us go up in flames like this. Russia, isn’t doing this, so that they can put their own new kind of world order. They’re doing it, because we’re a check on Putin. They don’t care about people. There’s not some other sort of competing model.

This isn’t like, “Oh, we’re going to have a communist revolution. Everyone’s going to unite.” It’s, “No, we’re going to end up with authoritarian, dictatorship and rulers in other countries.”

The reason they’re trying to confuse us and get us knocked down a couple of pegs, is because we threatened their ability to rob their own populations blind and do dastardly things. You have to pay attention to this. You can’t just move to Canada and get away from it. You can’t move anywhere and get away from it.

Dan Granger: Where does it start? Is it grassroots, voters just making different decisions? Is it the education system? [crosstalk 01:09:44].

Jordan Harbinger: It’s education man. It’s education, it’s education system and it’s educating yourself. Look, I’m already out of school. Everybody who’s listening to this is probably already out of school. You need to figure out how to think and parse information.

The smartest people get taken in by misinformation and disinformation. If you don’t learn how to protect yourself from that, you’re going to end up just believing whatever comes your way or whatever crap that you think of yourself. That’s not a suitable replacement for reality, or for critical thinking. It’s just not.

Yes, you’ll make different decisions as voters, but I’m not here to tell you what to vote for. I’m here to teach you how to think for yourself. Then you will know what you should be choosing, because you will be able to think for yourself.

Dan Granger: Well, with that, we’re going to close. I just want to say to you, Jordan, you are not only an excellent podcaster and journalist, you are an excellent educator. I feel like you have the ability-

Jordan Harbinger: Thank you.

Dan Granger: … to take very complex, thorny topics that most of us don’t fully understand and deconstructed in a way that we can understand. I really appreciate that. I think a lot of the people listening to this are going to appreciate it too. I’m really [crosstalk 01:10:55].

Jordan Harbinger: Thank you for the kind words.

Dan Granger: Of course, [crosstalk 01:10:57].

Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, this was fun. I really appreciate the opportunity.

Dan Granger: Thank you. This show is dedicated to the notion of E Pluribus Unum, out of the many one. We believe that we can work through our differences, without deepening divides and we value welcoming perspectives that are different from our own.

Thank you for joining us, as we embark on the long road to national recovery and sustainable discourse. As always, if you found this show helpful, please subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you like to listen.

Visit Oxford Road and subscribe to The Influencer, which is our weekly newsletter. Of course, thank you to Bianca, Kyle, Jennifer and the team at WIT Strategy for making this happen. We have a republic, let’s try to keep it. We’re okay?-

Jordan Harbinger: Okay. This is a hell of a lot of… no, let me try that again. This is a lot of fun. Thank you for having me on. I really appreciate the in-depth questioning. This is stuff I never really get to think about or talk about, so I appreciate the opportunity.

Dan Granger: Thank you.

Jordan Harbinger: Bam.

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