Good morning, friends.
I’ve been a fan of Jordan Harbinger’s podcast for several years, so I asked him to share the biggest lessons he’s learned from interviewing some of the world’s most interesting people. I think you’ll enjoy this one, and don’t forget to share on Twitter here.
What I’ve Learned From Interviewing a Thousand Successful People by Jordan Harbinger
I’ve spent the last 15 years interviewing nearly 1,000 top performers—from artists to athletes, authors to entrepreneurs, intelligence operatives to academics—about the mindsets, techniques and experiences that have driven their success.
I’ve talked to legendary author Robert Greene about envy and emotional baggage, learned about suffering and hustle from singer-songwriter Mike Posner, and come to understand the world as a dog whisperer with world-renowned animal trainer Cesar Millan, just to name a few.
On The Jordan Harbinger Show, I explore the playbooks, life stories and principles of top performers. In this piece, I’ll be sharing the most important lessons I’ve learned from my most successful guests, so that you can put them into practice, too.
Control for cognitive bias.
Top performers operate with the same basic hardware that we do. One advantage they do have, however, is a grasp of their own weaknesses. They cultivate that advantage by identifying their cognitive biases—those mental quirks that lead them astray from rational thought.
The most common cognitive bias I’ve discussed with top performers is the fundamental attribution error. This common bias leads us to explain other people’s behavior in terms of their character or intent, rather than external or circumstantial factors. It’s the quirk in our brains that labels people as “bad” or “malicious” when they do something to wrong us, as opposed to appreciating any number of other variables at play.
Mitigating the fundamental attribution error helps top performers cultivate greater empathy and arrive at better judgments. It also allows them to master another superpower I’ve noticed in successful people: the ability to not take things personally.
Focus and go deep.
Cal Newport famously preaches the power of focus and the destructiveness of distraction. His simple wisdom shows up in every conversation I have with top performers, who all confirm that immersing themselves fully in one activity at a time is the secret to high-quality work.
If you’re reading, read to engage, to understand, to question, and to absorb. Resist the urge to speed-read—no matter what productivity hackers tell you—or to multitask as you learn. This simple principle is the secret to maximizing value from every opportunity, every interaction.
Mine your own life for value.
Successful people in every field understand that their most valuable assets are deeply personal, highly idiosyncratic, and sometimes uncomfortable to share with the world. Mike Posner, for example, sees his mission as sharing his suffering with the world through his music. By sharing it, he creates art that is truly meaningful to his audience, songs that come from a place of honesty and authenticity. In the process, he also resolves his own conflicts, transmuting pain into meaning, insight and joy.
This often means digging into personal material that seems unacceptable, shameful, or straight-up “ugly.” Mining your own life for material doesn’t just apply to making art. It’s the key to inspiring leadership, deep relationships and true vulnerability—qualities of every top performer.
Consciously choose what you talk and think about.
I’ve noticed over the years that successful people spend a lot of time talking about ideas, systems, and experiences. They tend to debate current models, invent new approaches and reflect on key decisions. I’ve also realized that successful people don’t talk about certain things.
For example, they tend not to talk very much about other people. They don’t indulge in gossip or speculation. They tend to avoid the impulse to complain or blame.
👉 If you liked reading this column by Jordan, click here to tweet so others can enjoy it too.
LET’S MEET: The Profile has become a close community of smart and curious people with whom I’ve had some of the best conversations. So — I’d love to have another event & meet in person to exchange ideas.
This time, I’m partnering with a non-profit close to my heart called Children of Bulgaria. If you’re interested in helping co-sponsor a casual drinks meetup in NYC in mid-May, reply to this email & I’ll connect you with the organizers. :)
On to the profiles of the week:
— The celebrity whisperer [**HIGHLY RECOMMEND**]
— America’s First Daughter
— The most powerful woman at Amazon
— Baseball’s recovering villain
— The NBA player confronting his own privilege
— The teen bride trying to grow up
— The millennial making Burger King cool
PEOPLE TO KNOW.
The celebrity whisperer: Justin Bieber. Ariana Grande. Gangnam Style. Scooter Braun is the hitmaker behind all your favorite artists & catchy singles you can’t get out of your head. He’s like a puppet master who uses a “formula” to manufacture a shy 12-year-old Canadian nobody into … Justin Bieber. When dealing with agents & their celebrity clients, one thing’s for sure: The line between influence & manipulation can be real thin. And Braun has no qualms about crossing it.
“The devil works hard but Scooter Braun works harder.”
America’s First Daughter: In the White House, Ivanka Trump has projected herself as a cosmopolitan peacemaker, dedicating her efforts largely to issues such as women’s economic empowerment, workforce development, and the fight against human trafficking. She is not a conservative, she says. She is a “pragmatist.” This profile delves into Ivanka’s early life and how her parents’ public divorce forced her to realize that some things were outside of her control, but it did affirm one thing she could control — her image.
“There are very few things we can control in life, but how we project ourselves is one of them.”
The most powerful woman at Amazon: Amazon’s HR chief Beth Galetti is hiring hundreds of people a day. As the company’s workforce swells, so do her challenges. In her six years at Amazon, Galetti is the highest-ranking woman at the company & she’s quietly become one of its most influential figures. Her job is far from just hiring new employees. She’s been dealing with Amazon’s workplace practices — from investigations into its warehouse workers’ ability to take bathroom breaks to strikes at unionized facilities in Europe. Here’s a day in the life at what I imagine to be the busiest, most chaotic place on Earth.
“Beth is not short on guts, but she is a calculated risk-taker.”
Baseball’s recovering villain: Alex Rodriguez has managed to pull off a comeback for the ages. It wasn’t all that long ago that the former Yankee was one of professional sports’ biggest villains often dubbed “A-Hole” and “A-Rat.” But three years after his last game, Rodriguez is a respected baseball broadcaster, a warm presence on social media, and a deferential businessman. “I tried to build a certain image while I was playing,” Rodriguez says, “and that plan failed miserably.” Now, he explains, “I have more clarity.”
“I would have booed me, too. I felt that being the tough guy who had all the answers and being robotic was the right thing to do. I was wrong.”
The NBA player confronting his own privilege: When Kyle Korver’s Atlanta Hawks’ teammate Thabo Sefolosha was wrongfully arrested & assaulted by police in front of 1 Oak, Korver’s first reaction to the news was to blame Thabo: What was Thabo doing out at a club? “It was pure reflex — the first thing to pop into my head,” Korver writes. This led him to examine his own privilege and to consider race, humanity, and responsibility. It’s a good one.
“When it comes to racism in America, I think that guilt and responsibility tend to be seen as more or less the same thing. But I’m beginning to understand how there’s a real difference.”
The teen bride trying to grow up: You might only have a vague memory of why you recognize Courtney Stodden’s name. Here’s a reminder: In 2011, when she was just 16 years old, she married The Green Mile actor Doug Hutchison, who was 51 at the time. Whether you think she was just a young girl seduced by the chance to be famous and sold out by parents who wanted to be adjacent to that fame, or an abuse victim with no agency, or the knowing architect of her own creepy narrative, Stodden was mocked for years by a public waiting for her 15 minutes to be up. This profile is just as bizarre as it is sad.
“I knew it was controversial. I knew it would be hard to get people to accept it. But I had no reason to be prepared for what happened.”
COMPANIES TO WATCH.
The millennial making Burger King cool: How do you make a 60-year-old hamburger chain into something cool? It was a challenge that Daniel Schwartz undertook six years ago after 3G Capital took over Burger King and named Schwartz chief executive. He was 32. Per the 3G model, Schwartz slashed overhead costs, streamlined operations, and shrank the payroll — and it worked. This profile takes you inside the unbelievable turnaround effort at Burger King.
“I worked hard and proved that I really cared. More so than anything else, I put the business and the firm ahead of myself.”