25 August 2021

On today’s show, Robert Leonard chats with Jason Harris about what it means to be an “influencer,” the four principles for being a master influencer, how personal character is more important than facts and arguments when it comes to persuasion, all the ways empathy plays into business, and much, much more! Jason Harris is the co-founder & CEO of the award-winning creative advertising agency Mekanism, co-founder of the Creative Alliance, and author of the national bestseller, The Soulful Art of Persuasion. 

Harris works closely with brands through a blend of creativity and performance, which is an approach they call, Soul + Science. Under his leadership, Mekanism was ranked by the Effie Index as a top 10 Most Effective Independent Agency in the United States. Mekanism has also been named to Ad Age’s Agency A-list and twice to their Best Places to Work. Harris has been named in the Top 10 Most Influential Social Impact Leaders, the 4A’s list of “100 People Who Make Advertising Great”, and most recently was named a Campaign US 40 Over 40 honoree for his noteworthy contributions to the advertising & marketing industry.

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  • What Jason means when he says “influencer”.
  • What Jason’s four principles for being a master influencer are and their breakdowns.
  • What “Persuasion isn’t about facts and arguments, rather it’s all about personal character.” means and why we can’t just convince someone with a fact-based argument.
  • What all the ways are that empathy plays into business and persuasion.
  • What the 11 habits of Jason are that can help people become authentically persuasive.
  • How Jason’s version of persuasion, The Soulful Art of Persuasion, differs from Dr. Robert Cialdini’s Psychology of Persuasion.
  • What habit or principle Jason follows in his life that has had a big impact on his success and what the most influential book is in his life.
  • What one action should listeners take after listening to this episode that can help improve their life, career, or business.
  • And much, much more!


Disclaimer: The transcript that follows has been generated using artificial intelligence. We strive to be as accurate as possible, but minor errors and slightly off timestamps may be present due to platform differences.

Jason Harris (00:02):

… and 11 habits. And the habits can be worked on and learned. Habits really are learned behaviors. They’re something that you practice enough over time and something you believe in that they become part of who you are. They become part of your subconsciousness, but that takes work and practice.

Robert Leonard (00:24):

On today’s show, I chat with Jason Harris about what it means to be an influencer, the four principles for being a master influencer. And when I say influencer, I don’t necessarily mean social media influencer. You’ll see what Jason means when he talks about “influencer”. We talk about how personal character is more important than facts and arguments when it comes to persuasion, all the ways empathy plays into business, and a bunch more. Jason Harris is the co-founder and CEO of the award-winning creative advertising agency, Mekanism, co-founder of the Creative Alliance, and author of the national bestseller, The Soulful Art of Persuasion.

Robert Leonard (01:03):

Harris works closely with brands through a blend of creativity and performance, which is an approach they call soul plus science. Under his leadership, Mekanism was ranked by the Effie Index as a top 10 most effective independent agency in the United States. Mekanism has also been named to AD Age’s Agency A-List, and twice to their Best Places to Work. Harris has been named in the top 10 most influential social impact leaders, the 4A’s list of 100 people who make advertising great, and most recently, was named a Campaign US 40 Over 40 honoree for his noteworthy contributions to the advertising and marketing industry.

Robert Leonard (01:44):

While this episode isn’t related specifically to stock investing or personal finance, I challenge you guys to think about these concepts and how you can apply them to investing your career, your side hustles, or your business. I hope you guys enjoy this conversation.

Intro (02:00):

You’re listening to Millennial Investing by The Investor’s Podcast Network, where your host, Robert Leonard, interviews successful entrepreneurs, business leaders, and investors to help educate and inspire the millennial generation.

Robert Leonard (02:22):

Hey, everyone! Welcome to the Millennial Investing Podcast. I’m your host, Robert Leonard. And with me today, I have Jason Harris. Jason, welcome to the show.

Jason Harris (02:30):

Thanks for having me. Great to be here, Robert.

Robert Leonard (02:33):

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got to where you are today.

Jason Harris (02:37):

Okay. I grew up as a small-town boy in Fairfax County, Virginia. And I was raised by two academics. Both my parents were teachers, and they were real heavy bookworms. And I have a sister who was sort of… Followed the same path. And I was always a bit of a black sheep in the family. I wanted to go out and explore and experience things. And I wasn’t the most… I’m an avid reader now, but at the time, I wasn’t. And so, I sort of always felt a little different than the way… The environment that I was raised in. And I always wanted to explore. And I got really into… When I was young, I run an advertising agency called Mekanism. And I knew at a pretty young age that I wanted to do something in the mythmaking branded world because I really loved music. And so for me, my passions were kind of music.

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Jason Harris (03:39):

And through music, I really learned the power of imagery and branding, and what that means. And so, I slowly, between that and watching a lot of commercials, I really… Pretty young age, like 13, 14, I realized that I was either going to pursue a path in performing in music, or go into the world of advertising because it felt like a business job that was semi-artistic. And so, I was very fortunate, because I think a lot of happiness in life is derived from what you spend a large majority of your time on and doing, and that fortunately, or unfortunately, happens to be your career, the career path you take. And so, I always knew that that’s why I was going to go one of those two ways.

Jason Harris (04:26):

And I was in a lot of bands when I was younger. And I realized pretty quickly that I was good, but not great. And my skills were not set up for a long-term musical career, and I switched. Ever since I got out of school, kind of worked my way through the advertising world. I always had an entrepreneurial sort of bug inside. And so this was my second company that I started in the advertising space and about 15 years into this one. So, yeah, that’s a little bit of my story.

Robert Leonard (04:59):

I want to dive for a second into what exactly a marketing agency does because I think that word of like, marketing agency or digital marketing agencies get thrown around a lot. But I’m not sure that people listening know exactly what a marketing agency does. I know I didn’t for a while. I’d love to hear from you. What exactly is a marketing agency? What do you guys do on a day-to-day basis?

Jason Harris (05:21):

If you look at the marketing industry, there’s a lot of… It’s really all-encompassing. Marketing can be working at a brand, like, I don’t know, Nike, or Ben and Jerry’s, or whatever brand you can think of. They’re going to have a marketing department, and that marketing department is responsible for the brand and all the work that they put out there. And then for the agencies that support, they get hired by brands. There are different parts of marketing. There are PR firms that are responsible for getting those brands in the press. There are experiential firms that are responsible for what happens out in the world. Whether it’s a Ben and Jerry’s event or concert, or a Nike soccer camp, they’re going to be responsible for working with the brand to bring the experiences out there into life. There are social media-specific agencies that just worry about how the brand appears on the social platforms. There are media that will do the media buying and planning.

Jason Harris (06:24):

There’s a lot of different types of companies in the space. What we do as an advertising agency is we really focus on working with the brand to create the strategy, what they’re going to stand for in the world. And then the creative ideas that the brand puts out there will help develop them and produce them, and then put them out. We’re sort of a mid-sized advertising agency. We have a lot of the marketing components underneath us. We have a social media-specific team, we have a production team, we do media buying and planning. But really what we’re known for is taking a brand and trying to create a three-year plan of what the soul, the brand is, why the brand exists, and then how it comes to life out in the world. So, creating actual ad commercials, digital content, but really creating the stuff that people see.

Robert Leonard (07:19):

Why does a company that has a marketing department need a marketing agency?

Jason Harris (07:25):

Well, they don’t necessarily need one. And some companies certainly do all of the things that I sort of covered in-house. So, under their roof. But what happens is, typically, a brand, like a brand that we work on, say, Peloton, they have a pretty big in-house team. There are so many functions to marketing, whether it’s customer retention, it’s running their profiles, it’s what the interface looks like when you ride a Peloton, the actual interaction, it’s how you get customers through their customer acquisition funnel. They’ll usually be with a really big-sized brand. There’ll be too much work for anyone group to handle.

Jason Harris (08:13):

And a brand like that might have several outside firms, plus their in-house department. They don’t necessarily need outside agencies, they could do it on their own. But what an outside agency brings is the perspective of the customer and the consumer. I always think brands need that outside perspective. They need that outside agency, who isn’t the inner workings of a company. They’re not worried about the politics, or who reports to who, or where the idea came from. They’re really just looking at the brand as if they were a consumer using that product or service. They have an outside perspective that’s very valuable for brands. Because as you know, if you’re working somewhere, you get really caught up in the inner workings, and you’re sort of in a bubble, and you need that outside perspective for some fresh thinking.

Robert Leonard (09:05):

That’s interesting because I’ve always wondered why big companies do that and hire marketing agencies. Peloton is a great example. I’ve seen Coca-Cola do it. I’ve always just wondered like, “These are some of the massive companies.” I just never understood why it was needed, but everything you just explained is great.

Jason Harris (09:23):

Yeah, it is. A lot of companies don’t. They don’t always need it, but I find it incredibly valuable. When I look at my own agency, we hired an outside firm to build our website, for example. And the reason why is they’ll interview stakeholders that might have different opinions, and they’ll sort of take that feedback and then propose ideas, and then we can evaluate those ideas, instead of us just building it in-house with our team. And so, even as an advertising agency that has those capabilities, we still use other firms to do some of our work.

Robert Leonard (10:01):

One of the things you’re personally passionate about teaching people is how to be a master influencer. In today’s day and age, when people hear the word influencer, they think of social media influencers. What do you mean when you say influencer?

Jason Harris (10:17):

The way I use it, a master influencer is somebody who is persuasive and influential in their sphere, whether that’s their work sphere, their personal sphere, but in their little life ecosystem, someone that holds a lot of weight, and can influence people. I’m using in the classical sense, not the creator sense of the word.

Robert Leonard (10:44):

You also have four principles for being a master influencer. Tell us what each of those is, and then break them down for us.

Jason Harris (10:54):

The book, The Soulful Art of Persuasion is really made up of four principles and 11 habits. And the habits can be worked on and learned. Habits really are learned behaviors. They’re something that you practice enough over time and something you believe in that they become part of who you are. They become part of your subconsciousness, but that takes work and practice. And those habits are built on four principles that I believe in, both for business success and for personal growth.

Jason Harris (11:26):

And principle number one is, to break them down at the base level, [which] is original. And that’s really the idea of being yourself because everyone else is already taken. It’s about putting your true self out there and showing the world who you are. And every place that you show up or that you appear, you bring that authentic self. It’s really about knowing yourself and being a true original.

Jason Harris (11:52):

Principle two is generous. And that’s really creating and cultivating a sense of gratitude, and recognizing that every interaction you have with someone can result in something great. And it’s about giving things away freely, whether it’s your time, your money, your connections, or resources, but it’s about giving things away in every interaction, which makes things come back to you with compound interest by having that belief.

Jason Harris (12:26):

The third is empathetic, which is pretty obvious, but it’s about understanding, developing a natural curiosity for other people, and really learning from other people, and trying to understand the other person on a deeper level.

Jason Harris (12:43):

And then soulfulness is this idea of becoming inspirational and striving to be inspirational by finding something you believe in and giving back to make the world a better place. And that makes you an inspirational person because you have this other element to you that isn’t just about your happiness, or your wealth, or your power, or your sphere of influence. And so putting those together, it’s really about being yourself, becoming a generous person, understanding other people, and then trying to be an inspiration by doing something greater than yourself. Those are four principles that I personally live by. That’s what the book is based on. And I think it leads to more influence, and it leads to success in business and in your personal world.

Robert Leonard (13:34):

You also say that persuasion isn’t about facts and arguments, rather that it’s all about personal character. What do you mean by this? And why can’t you just convince someone with a fact-based argument?

Jason Harris (13:47):

It’s a great question. I think often, people respond, not just to the information, but they respond to the person who’s providing that information. It’s about personal character, and I think, what persuades people. The substance of what’s being said is important, but the person saying it is even more important. When you exhibit these behaviors, you build trust with other people, you become more influential. Therefore, you become more persuasive.

Jason Harris (14:18):

And I think you’ve seen this, of course, in your own world, when somebody might ask you for a favor or something that you need. Based on all your experiences or interactions with that person, you understand that “Okay, I’m going to do this for this person, or I’m going to agree with this person because I know who they are, and I trust their personal character.”

Jason Harris (14:41):

On the flip side, someone who has exhibited behaviors that aren’t necessarily positive or productive, whatever their facts are, you’re not going to buy it, and you’re going to not say yes.

Robert Leonard (14:56):

It’s funny you mentioned it’s not just about what we say, because I remember growing up, my dad used to say that to me all the time. He said, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” And I probably was told that a million times as a kid, “It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it.” I didn’t think my dad realized that he was talking about this psychological concept of what you just explained.

Jason Harris (15:14):

Did that sink in with you?

Robert Leonard (15:18):

Yeah, I mean, it’s impacted me ever since I was a kid to today.

Jason Harris (15:22):

That’s awesome. Well, yeah, your dad knew what he was talking about.

Robert Leonard (15:26):

I don’t think he realized he knew, but he did.

Jason Harris (15:29):

It’s that famous idea of people don’t remember what you said, they remember how you made them feel, and that’s a big part of it. And you made them feel that way by exhibiting these characteristics.

Robert Leonard (15:41):

We talked about empathy as one of… Or being empathetic as one of your four principles, but empathy is a word that I think has been more popularized by Gary Vee lately, at least it seems. But when he first started talking about it, I personally thought I knew what he meant. And it ended up that I really actually didn’t have the right definition in my head. And I also really didn’t understand how it related to business. If you can talk to us about the ways that empathy plays a role in business and persuasion?

Jason Harris (16:10):

Sure. Let me ask you a question. What was your preconceived idea of empathy?

Robert Leonard (16:16):

I honestly don’t quite remember exactly what it was. I do remember listening to his podcast one day, and kind of a light bulb went off. And I was just like, “Wow, I was thinking about this wrong this whole time. This is actually what he means, versus what I was thinking at the time.”

Jason Harris (16:32):

Yeah, so empathy really is about… I mean, at a base level, it’s putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. That’s like, you’ve heard that before. But at the base level, that’s trying to understand someone else’s viewpoint and being able to put yourself and see the world through their eyes so that you have a better understanding of them. It’s not agreeing with someone, or just trying to help someone out or anything like that, it’s really learning and putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. And it develops a better understanding of the motivations behind that person, which allows you to make a deeper connection than just say, digging into your views and feeling like you’re… It’s an us versus them mentality.

Jason Harris (17:25):

And there are three ways that I talk about being more empathetic. And the first is to try to make it about the other person and really learning more about them than judging them, and really going from small talk into real conversations about who they are, and understanding the other person.

Jason Harris (17:46):

The second is seeking out collaborations. So, really joining forces with other people, both in your personal life and in your work life, but trying to understand how to work together and collaborate with people from a diverse set of backgrounds and different areas of expertise or different beliefs.

Jason Harris (18:07):

The third is seeing the world through commonalities and not differences and trying to find the common ground, and where you cross and where you share things, and really approaching each person that you encounter as an equal, and to really see everyone, no matter where they sit on the financial spectrum, or where they sit in the world view, but approaching everyone with the same lens and making everyone an equal.

Jason Harris (18:38):

And the thing that I always fall back on is this idea that humans all have 99.9% of the same DNA. If you think of how similar we all are in every part of the world, there’s that .1% that makes us all unique and different. Obviously, we all develop differently, but that shows you that the human condition is a shared one, and we all are way more alike than we are different, even though the world and the media try to point out all of our differences, which of course, there are differences. But at the heart of it, as humans, we’re all incredibly similar.

Robert Leonard (19:18):

When we were walking through your four principles, you mentioned that you also have 11 habits. And I want to walk through those and talk about how those 11 habits will help people become authentically persuasive. We can take them one by one, and talk through them, but let’s work our way down the list of all 11 of your habits.

Jason Harris (19:36):

All right, let’s do the deep dive.

Robert Leonard (19:39):

All right, go ahead. Kick it off.

Jason Harris (19:41):

All right. The first idea is to be yourself. And the way you work on being yourself is really by having a journal, and understanding your value system and what your set of beliefs are, and putting those down. And I think, we all kind of have a sense of it, but we never really write those down. And when you do that, it forces you to coherently express what your belief system is.

Jason Harris (20:14):

Having a belief system is sort of, number one, looking at role models in your life, whether they’re local role models, family role models, or famous role models, and understanding why you feel like they’re role models, what appeals to you about them, and understanding how that makes up who you are, and your uniqueness, and your characteristics, understanding the music you like, the books you love, the movies you like, and why, and what represents you in those things that you are drawn to. And so it’s really, at the base, understanding who you are. And once you understand who you are, you have the opportunity to be yourself, because you’re not trying to figure out who you are. You really have that core value system of who you are. That’s one.

Jason Harris (21:04):

The second is really learning to be a great storyteller. And I think when you want to be influential or persuasive, and you want to make a point of view to an audience, or to someone in your sphere or at work, you need to be able to connect with them emotionally and with something that’s sticky, something that’s memorable. Understanding how to tell stories is really important. And those can be familiar stories that everybody knows, those can be unique stories that have happened to you in your life, or those can be famous stories pulled from pop culture entertainment. But having a collection of stories to make your point, at any given time, that’s really important.

Jason Harris (21:44):

The second… Or the third one, rather, is this idea of letting go of short-term transactional thinking, but trying to build relationships by being yourself, and not putting pressure on relationships because you need something out of them, but playing the long game, and focusing on building your network, building long-term relationships over time. And so, this idea of never be closing, as we hear always be closing all the time. It’s switching your brain to be thinking that you’re never closing. No deal that goes sideways is ever over because you’ve developed a relationship with that client or that person. And so, it’s always thinking about long-term. Don’t let relationships drop to zero. You’re always expanding your network, and you’re always keeping in touch with people. That will benefit you in numerous ways throughout your career. And so that’s the basis of being original and being yourself.

Jason Harris (22:45):

The next one’s generous. There are three here that I just like to follow. Number one is trying to give something away in every interaction. Whenever you cross paths with someone, trying to leave them a little bit better off than they were before they met up with you and encountered you. And that could be giving away advice, time. It can even be a gift. But I always think about, when I’m interacting with people, “What value can I give this other person?” And I know that when I do that, it will come back to me. And you’re trying to not do it because you want something out of it, but you know that in the universe, by being generous in spirit and giving things away, you will be more successful over time. And it’s that personal character that we talked about in your dad’s expression of, it’s how you say it, it’s what you do, it’s how you make people feel. And that’s a good way to build a lot of goodwill.

Jason Harris (23:43):

The second under generous is practicing positivity. So, cultivating your idea of the good things in life and gratitude, and recognizing that every interaction can result in a new connection or something great down the road, but it’s having this optimistic spirit, which you can habitually train yourself to be a positive person, believe it or not.

Jason Harris (24:09):

The third is showing respect. There was this Harvard study on a survey of like 10,000 workers, and they asked the most important thing for them in their quality of life on the job. And it wasn’t money, or being promoted, or having a fancy title. It was that they were respected. And when you show other people respect by being as present as you can, admitting when you make a mistake, being sincere, you’re showing respect and you’re taking other people seriously. And that is another way of being a generous person, which is showing respect to other people. And in the book, I cover all these habits, and then there are certain ways you can work on these habits. A lot of it has to do with journaling and other things like that.

Jason Harris (25:06):

The third, I’ll keep rolling here, but the third is empathetic. And those three things are making it about the other person. We talked a bit about this, but having this natural curiosity about others, seeking out collaborations, and looking at the commonalities we all share.

Jason Harris (25:25):

The fourth principle is this idea of being an inspiration and being soulful. And there’s the idea of striving to do something more by really giving back and trying to make the world a better place. And these can be really hard things to do, or they can be really light lifts. But typically, you want to think about skills you have, because we all have skills, mine happens to be marketing and advertising. With whatever 10,000-hour rule, you’ve kind of mastered that. It might be a skill like that. I know how to play musical instruments from my background. It can be whatever skill you might have, and you might have three to five skills that you feel like you’re really strong in.

Jason Harris (26:11):

Think about that, and then think about something in the world that you want to fix, or that you care about, what causes you might care about, or in your local community. And you try to marry your skills with something you believe in, and then figure out a way to put that into the world. And by doing that, you become a soulful persuader and an inspiration. And people really admire that, and really what you get. It’s like boomerang-giving. You’re giving it to the world, but what you get for your soul is even greater. That’s the idea of these principles, and what to do out into the world.

Robert Leonard (26:54):

How does the law of attraction play into all of these different principles and habits that you just talked about?

Jason Harris (27:02):

That’s a great connection to make. But I think clearly being inspirational, and being positive, and knowing who you are play deeply into that idea of the law of attraction. How would you describe the law of attraction?

Robert Leonard (27:21):

I guess the most simple way that I define it for myself is putting something out into the universe. Basically, more or less, you’re putting something into the universe as your way of telling the universe that you want something. And that’s the simplest way that I think about it.

Jason Harris (27:42):

I think that’s right. I think it’s what you can imagine, you can achieve. And it’s very similar to the first idea of writing down your values. It’s understanding what you want, and then being able to be clear about it. You consciously and subconsciously take action on the plan that you have. The thing that you want, you end up going after it because you’re putting it out there.

Jason Harris (28:11):

And I think these principles really help you do that because when you understand yourself, and you’re always your full self, you’re going to understand what you want. And then by being persuasive and influential, you’re going to get there faster. I think it dovetails really well into whatever thing you’ve read about the laws of attraction. Some say there’s three, some say there’s seven, but I think this dovetails really nicely into that.

Robert Leonard (28:42):

I actually personally haven’t read anything about the law of attraction yet. I’ve only heard people talk about it. I’ve heard podcasts about it. Some of my favorite entrepreneurs have talked about it. There’s the book, Law of Attraction, that I actually really want to read. Unfortunately, I have a super long laundry list of books that I want to read, so I haven’t gotten to it yet. But yeah, it’s this idea that I found really interesting. And as you continue to work through your principles and your habits, I just kept feeling like there was this undertone of the law of attraction there. And so, I was curious to learn about that connection.

Jason Harris (29:10):

It really is about putting, understanding what you want, and going after it. But positivity plays a huge role in that idea of the law of attraction, and the idea that positive thoughts bring positive results, and negative thoughts bringing negative results. And you see that with people that you know. The constant Debbie Downer is always focused on the things that aren’t going right. And therefore, that begets more things that aren’t going right because that’s what the mind is focused on. When the mind is focused on gratitude and blessings and the things that you want to pursue, your mind and body follow what your thoughts are, and so that’s where you end up going, and that’s where you put your energy into.

Robert Leonard (29:53):

I was honored to have Dr. Robert Cialdini on the podcast.

Jason Harris (29:58):

No way. Dude, that’s awesome.

Robert Leonard (30:00):

Yeah, it was awesome, back on episode 91.

Jason Harris (30:03):

That’s amazing. What was that like?

Robert Leonard (30:05):

Yeah, it was great. He was awesome, told a lot of really good stories, walked us through his new book, Persuasion. It was really good. I’m curious to hear from you, from your perspective, how does your version of persuasion, the Soulful Art of Persuasion, how does it differ from Cialdini’s Psychology of Persuasion?

Jason Harris (30:23):

Well, I think his is much more focused on just that, psychology. My book is really a modern update on how to win friends and influence people. It’s really, to me, the modern… And I read a lot of those sort of “business improvement” or self-help books, that category. And I didn’t find a lot that followed my set of beliefs and how I became successful. And I wanted to put my sort of modern update on that classic, because a lot of that influence genre, there’s almost psychological tricks to them. First is this idea of being yourself, because that’s what people respond to. It’s much more about mirror and matching, or getting someone to talk about themselves more because they love talking about themselves because their name is the most beautiful word in the world.

Jason Harris (31:23):

And so that book was written in the ’20s. And I wanted to update that in 2020 to really show that influence today is a bit different, and it’s evolved. And so that was really my focus. And I think, Robert’s work is incredibly powerful, but it’s much more on the psychological, versus, this is about business principles.

Robert Leonard (31:46):

It’s funny you mentioned how to win friends and influence people, because I recorded two podcasts today, this one with you, and then right before this, I had another one. And the guy that I was speaking with said that How to Win Friends and Influence People was his favorite book.

Jason Harris (32:00):

No way.

Robert Leonard (32:02):

Yeah, but he just said he wishes that it had a different title. He said that he thinks Dale Carnegie would… If he was alive today, he would change the title to something more modern, but more or less, keep the principles and everything in the book the same, but just change the title to be a little bit more fitting to today’s world. And it sounds like your book might have done that.

Jason Harris (32:20):

I think it’s done that. Yeah, there’s a couple of reviews that actually made that correlation. But I have to get your previous guests a copy of my book, so when the question comes up, you can answer it.

Robert Leonard (32:32):

Yeah, absolutely. I want to get into our next part of the show. I call it the action plan. And I like to ask the guests three questions, or for three recommendations that can help create an action plan for listeners of the show for when they’re done with this episode. They can just be quick little answers, or you can go into as much depth as you want. But the first question is, what habit or principle do you follow in your life that has had a big impact on your success that not enough people do, but they should?

Jason Harris (33:03):

Yeah, I’m going to give you two, even though you asked for one. Sorry, Robert. But, because one’s sort of a bigger idea, and one’s a direct action you can do. But for me, the biggest game-changer was this idea of… This is the blueprint of my book, which is this idea of being original, and being yourself, and not being afraid to be vulnerable, show your personal idiosyncrasies, connect with other people by breaking down and being open, and talking about who you really are. That’s been the biggest game-changer for me.

Jason Harris (33:39):

And I used to almost have my out-of-work personality and my at-work personality. And it’s really hard to compartmentalize your life and manage that. And when you realize you need to show up as your authentic self in every situation, and be open, and let people in, that, to me, was the biggest game-changer, and sort of healthy way of living. For me, that has made me a much more positive, optimistic, and gracious person. That, to me, isn’t necessarily a tip or a skill, but it’s a way of thinking, and always showing up as yourself.

Jason Harris (34:18):

And then I would say the other way I would answer that is, I used to not be a generous person. When I started in business, I would sort of hoard my contacts, or keep information to myself because I thought business was this cutthroat game. And the biggest change for me in that aspect was this idea of generosity, which was the hardest skill for me to learn. It was the habit that I had to practice the most. And once I had this open, share my network, connect people with other people, put it out there, realize that we’re all after the same things, and giving things away, that turbocharged my business, because people were more apt to respond to me and return the favor and come to me, and I became a much more persuasive person. That’s the two, to me, that are the most important.

Robert Leonard (35:18):

Was there a turning point for you when you realized you had to be more generous? And the reason I asked that is because I felt the same way when I first got into business. And I’m still super young, but when I first started, I was the exact same way as you, very close-knit, closed off. But now, I’ve become a lot more generous. And for me, that turning point was learning this idea of being abundant or having an abundance mindset. And that was the turning point for me.

Jason Harris (35:40):

For me, it was when I started my first business, just to sort of prove how deep I was in the other direction. I started the business. Now, I have three partners. We co-founded a company together. We work together. We collaborate. I started my last business primarily by myself. I had a friend that I worked with also in Atlanta, but it was primarily on my shoulders, and I did every aspect of the business. And that was me trying to make it on my own, and not really be generous of spirit and share, and welcome people in. And after about 18 months, I fried myself, I was burned, I was broken, I was unhappy. And that, to me, was a point in time when I knew I had to change the way I thought and the way I worked. And that was the incident that really sparked me to be like, “Hey, I don’t think I’m doing this right, and I’m going to do it in a different way.”

Robert Leonard (36:41):

What has been the most influential book in your life? It doesn’t necessarily have to be your favorite. I like people to distinguish the difference between favorite and most influential because they’re not always the same. What has had the most impact on you?

Jason Harris (36:55):

There are just so many, but I come back to…I love Hemingway. And I don’t know if you’ve read any Hemingway, but I lived in Spain for a bit, and I started with The Sun Also Rises. And I really got into his simple staccato style of writing, then the rhythm of how he writes. Then there was… I read The Old Man and the Sea, which is… I mean, I’m not into fishing at all, really, but the way he wrote the story and the metaphor of that story about this fisherman who catches this big fish, this big marlin, and then the sharks take it down, and then his hunt to overcome those obstacles.

Jason Harris (37:36):

The allegory, for me, in that book, and because I love his writing, was pushing through obstacles. When the going gets rough, keep going through it and get to the end, and get to your goal. And that just always stuck with me, similar to like how your dad said something on repeat. That book stuck in my cranium. And I always think about it when things are hard, or there’s a challenge, or there’s an obstacle that you want to run from. And it makes me focus on getting through that obstacle. And the only way to pass it is through it. And that book has really influenced me.

Robert Leonard (38:15):

When this episode is over, before the listener quickly jumps to the next podcast episode cued up in their player, what is one action they should take that can really help improve their life, career, or business?

Jason Harris (38:29):

I think one action that can dramatically improve your listener’s quality of life that we have talked about is, find a way to do something to apply one of your skills to give back. And it could be small, and it could be an hour or a week, it could be massive, like starting a nonprofit. But whatever it is, find a way to apply. If you’re an excellent chess player, giving free chess lessons to inner-city kids. If you care about the homeless population, it’s spending half an hour to have a conversation with the homeless person, once a week. Whatever it might be, whatever thing in the world that you care about, spend a little bit of your energy on it. That will make the biggest sea change in your happiness, and your perspective, and your success.

Jason Harris (39:20):

And I didn’t realize that until I was 40 years old. And I had to take some of my advertising skills to do work to fight sexual assault on college campuses. And really, I was almost forced into this idea of doing social good. But that act, and when I started doing that, it really changed my entire perspective and my entire happiness in what I do and the skills that I have.

Robert Leonard (39:46):

Before we give a hand-off to where people can find you, I like to wrap up the show by turning the tables a bit and letting the guest ask me a question. What question, Jason, do you have for me?

Jason Harris (39:58):

What is the biggest breakthrough learning that you’ve had, Robert, by starting this podcast?

Robert Leonard (40:07):

Probably my ability to speak to people, and really, to realize that these ultra-successful people are no different than me. And that has probably been my biggest revelation. And that’s taken form in a couple of different ways, but there have been guests that are these super high-profile guys, like sharks on Shark Tank, and Cialdini, and Robert Kiyosaki, and some of these really well-known guys. And I’m not saying this happened with any of them specifically, but kids will run into the room during a recording, or their dog will jump on their lap, or I’ve had some ultra-successful guys that own NBA teams and stuff, and they’ll be in a sweatshirt and sweatpants. And all these different things really made me realize like, “These are just normal guys. They’re just normal people, and they’ve done extraordinary things, and they’re no different than me. They have all the same life challenges that I have. And if they can do it, then I can do it, too.” And so, that’s probably been the biggest thing that I’ve learned and taken away from hosting the podcast.

Jason Harris (41:10):

I love that. That’s awesome. You realize that we’re sort of all on the same playing field. We have all these similarities that we talked about. Yeah.

Robert Leonard (41:21):

Yeah, because when you’re not connected, a lot of times from the outside, it seems like there are these untouchable people. And when you get a chance to sit down and chat with them, you realize that that’s not necessarily the case. And it’s honestly inspiring in its own way. And it gives you… At least, it gives me a lot of motivation for what I’m building, because it actually seems attainable.

Jason Harris (41:39):

I love that. That’s awesome.

Robert Leonard (41:41):

Where can the audience go, Jason, to connect with you, find you on the internet, follow you on social media? Where’s the best place to connect with you?

Jason Harris (41:50):

Sure. I’m on all the channels, @jason_harris on Twitter and Instagram, LinkedIn. And then I have a website, thesoulfulart.com, where you can find out more about me and more about this project. And yeah, that’s it.

Robert Leonard (42:06):

Awesome. I’ll be sure to put a link to all those different resources, your book, all kinds of different things that we talked about in the show notes below for anybody that’s interested. Jason, thanks so much for joining me.

Jason Harris (42:16):

Thanks, Robert. This was awesome. I appreciate it.

Robert Leonard (42:19):

All right, guys, that’s all I had for this week’s episode of Millennial Investing. I’ll see you again next week.

Outro (42:25):

Thank you for listening to TIP. Make sure to subscribe to We Study Billionaires by The Investor’s Podcast Network. Every Wednesday, we teach you about Bitcoin. And every Saturday, we study billionaires and the financial markets. To access our show notes, transcripts, or courses, go to theinvestorspodcast.com. This show is for entertainment purposes only. Before making any decision, consult a professional. This show is copyrighted by The Investor’s Podcast Network. Written permission must be granted before syndication or rebroadcasting.


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