YAPClassic: Jason Feifer on Embracing Change
YAPClassic: Jason Feifer on Embracing Change
Hey everyone. It's ha from young and profiting podcast, I'm here with the editor in chief of entrepreneur magazine. Jason Pfeiffer. Welcome. Hello to the show. Oh, Hey, thanks for having me. I appreciate it. So I am very excited for this interview. So Jason, for those who don't know anything about you, mm-hmm you do a lot of cool things.
Could you just let us know who Jason Pfeifer is and how do you spend your days? Yeah. So thanks so much for having me. I am the editor in chief of entrepreneur magazine. I also host three podcasts. They're called pessimist archive, problem solvers and hush money. I do did, I don't know how to say it in the world of, in which we're all still semi lockdown.
I did a lot of public speaking and we'll hopefully continue to do that. Uh, I'm a novelist and, uh, working on another book now and, you know, generally I think of myself as someone who. Likes to. Inspire people to feel good about doing hard things. You know, the entrepreneurs and people who have adopted that mindset of entrepreneurship are setting out on a journey that they know is going to be difficult.
Mm-hmm . And yet, even though they know it's going to be difficult, as you get down the path, you feel lonely and crazy and you look around and you're like, did I do the right thing? And I wanna be there to say yes, like not only did you do the right thing, but the thing that you are feeling is something.
Everybody else who has taken this journey is feeling too, like, you may feel alone, but you are not, you are actually having a very shared experience. And so I see my role as being something of a guide for that and helping people through it and also helping people to embrace the change that is necessary to get through it.
Cool. And so tell us about your profession. Like, what is your, I know you have a day job and then you have lots of side hustles. Yeah. Well, I mean, I, my background is in media, so I started as a community newspaper reporter, uh, that, which means that I was, you know, a reporter for a very small paper. It was the gardener news.
And Gardner Massachusetts circulation is 6,000, like covering nothing, like nothing was happening in this town. And I. Quit after a year because I had this realization and the realization was that nobody was reading the Gardner news at a place that I wanted to work at, or like I, I imagined working at the New York times or the Washington post, I wanted to do big things and like reach big audiences and write about important stuff.
And, and I, I realized not a single person at the New York times. Ever going to read this piece about like local diner that I wrote in the gardener news. And so I needed to stop sitting around and thinking that they would come to me and I needed to go to them. And so I quit that job and I sat in my bedroom for nine months.
Uh, I was living in an apartment next to a graveyard and hold in Massachusetts. So I would like sit there, looking out, you know, like a paw in the graveyard feeling like it was my career. And then I would just cold pitch. And, uh, and I just, I just reached out to editors and. I just sat and came up with ideas and hustled, and that's how I got into the Washington post and the Boston globe and associated press in New York times.
That taught me something as I then eventually kind of went back into the normal workforce, which was, I always needed to be going to people. I always needed to be thinking about what I could do to get in front of people, to constantly build myself. Cuz if I just sat around and waited for people to come and like recognize my genius, it was never going to happen.
So that's how I. Continue to build my career. I mean, that's the reason why I run a national magazine, but I'm doing all these other things on the side. The entire point of it is to be aware. No matter how good I am at doing the thing. I'm already doing the other stuff, the stuff that I'm just digging up, that I'm exploring that I'm trying, that I'm expanding, that stuff is, is ultimately more valuable.
And I always wanna be pushing myself. That's very cool. Yeah. I've listened to so many of your interviews and I know it's, it's really important for you to be in a learning environment and I'd like to kind of mm-hmm, stick on that point. So. It wasn't your end goal to actually be editor-in-chief of some national magazine that, that wasn't really your goal.
Talk to us about how you had the grit and kind of worked your way up to landing that role and the mentality that you had while you were going on your career journey. Because everybody always tells us, like, you know, have your end goal in mind and then work backwards from that, or, or look at somebody who has that role that you want and see what career they had.
What did you do to get, to have such a prestigious role? So I, you know, I think that that's fine advice to a point that you should identify your end goal and then work backwards from that, or find people who are doing the kinds of things that that's fine, but I would encourage you to, at the same time as you're doing that, Be completely okay.
Abandoning that just, just mm-hmm like straight up abandon it. And the reason for that is because you have no idea what it is that you will learn along the journey and you will, I guarantee discover things that are exciting, that might fit you better as you get a. Better understanding of what you love to do and what your real skillset is.
And also you may have an idea of where it is that you wanna go, but there's a chance I like, I wanna prepare you for the, the real chance that if you got there, it wouldn't be what you thought it was. It would be terrible. I I'll give you an example, which is a friend of. Well, not name by name, but a friend of mine, his dream, his entire career was to work at GQ magazine.
Hmm. And then he got there. I mean, he got to GQ magazine and he was elated. And then he realized it is kind of terrible. Like it was terrible working there. The, the working environment was kind of terrible working under the editor in chief at the time, who was a very smart guy, but was very hard to work with.
And there was no joy. And he was stuck there because he had had this one idea of what he was going to be when he, when he achieved. And that was to be an editor at GQ. And then he got there and he was stuck. Yeah. So here's how I've thought about my, my path. I always thought, okay. I, I thought, you know, this is, this is, it kind of builds off of something that I said a minute ago, but I, I wanna like dive into it because I think it's, it, it just sort of gives you a picture of it.
I have this. That I call work your next job mm-hmm and work. Your next job means this in front of you in front of you in front of me in front of everybody watching this, everybody listening to this, uh, there, right now, there are two sets of opportunities, opportunity set a are the opportunities that, that are, are the things that are being asked of you.
By your job by other people, the way that you're being evaluated, what, what is your KPI? Your key performance indicate, right? Like anything that you're being judged on that's opportunity set a go to work. These are the things that are being asked of you. That's opportunity set a opportunity. Set B is everything that's available to you that nobody's asking you to do.
And that can be stuff at your work. And that can be stuff that is not at your work. That is just, you know, if you freed up some time at home, you could get into it. You could learn how to podcast, you could learn anything. I always think, and I've always felt my entire career. That opportunity set B was more important that I would.
Go to a job, I would take the job. And I, the reason I would take it was because I had a sense of what I would learn from it. I worked at men's health. I do not care about fitness tips. I do not care about weight loss tips. What I cared about was learning how to do a specific kind of editing called packaging, that magazines that men's health does really well.
And I wanted to do it at a national level. That was my first national magazine job I knew I would come in. I would learn that skill at the same time as I was doing that, I would. Other things that I wasn't hired to do that I could learn and grow and build, and then I would get out of there and I would do it all over again.
And the reason that I have been able to build my career in the way that I have and end up in this really awesome role that I could not have possibly anticipated was because I focus on. Those skills and just building those skills. And I focused on working my next job, constantly developing new things that nobody was asking me to do that would put me in a position to succeed in a way that I couldn't imagine.
And, and that path has ping ponged me around the world of media and, uh, has forced me to redefine myself over and over again, but has been so much more satisfying than if I tried to follow some straight. Yeah, I love that. I think you just brought out so many great gems. The thing that resonated with me is that you were more concerned about the skills you were gonna learn rather than like the brand name that you were gonna work for.
And I think that's really important. Sometimes you take a job to learn new skills and you might not really resonate with the brand's mission, but you actually gain new skills. Yeah. And then you can transfer those skills to another job where you. Align better with those missions. It's kind of like something we talk about on the show a lot is skill stacking.
So, you know, you take one skill from one experience and then you use it in a different way and another experience. And you just keep layering on these skills until you're really desirable in the marketplace in your field. So that's right. You know what. Ken, and I love the phrase skill, skill stacking. I'm just gonna add another one to it.
I was talking a while ago to a guy named Greg he's the C O O I don't know, he's one. He's one of the co-founders of a company called food stirs. They make like baking mixes and stuff. And, uh, Sarah, Michelle Galler, uh, famous as being Buffy, Buffy the vampire. So she's one of the co-founders anyway, he said this thing to me, which, uh, really stuck with me, which was.
When he's looking for, co-founders looking for partners, looking for people to work with to build something he's been through this many times. He's always looking for what he calls situational awareness, which is to say he wants people who are aware of what they're good at and aware of what they're not good at, and that they can, are able to focus on their strengths and then partner with people who are really good at the things that they're not.
And that's really value. It's valuable for you to always have situational awareness, to be very, very open about the things that you need to learn. I mean, that. That's how I carved my path. I mean, I went from Boston magazine to men's health, to fast company, to max, to entrepreneur. Right? Like that doesn't make any sense unless you know, that I was constantly aware of what I didn't know.
So I, you know, why did I go from men's health to fast company? Cuz I knew that I had no real idea how to write and edit like long 3000 word. And I needed to know how to do that. And so I didn't care what magazine would let me do it. I wanted that. Why did I go to Maxim? Maxim's a disgusting magazine. I have no interest in working at Maxim, but the reason I did it was because there was an opening for a deputy editor job, which would've put me into a management role.
And I knew that I really didn't know how to manage people and I needed an opportunity to do that. So I would walk into this disgusting magazine and I would learn how to manage and then I would get out of there. And that's fine. That's great. Because what matters most is skills because those are transferable the rest of your.
Far more than like whatever random thing you happen to be doing at the job that day. Yeah, totally. I totally agree. And I, I can definitely, really, I used to work at Hewlett Packard and I was in marketing and I kept getting promoted. I got promoted five times and I was really rising up the ranks, but Hewlett Packard is kind of an old fashioned company.
And I knew that if I stayed there, I wouldn't have advanced my skills. Now I work at Disney streaming and I'm. The cutting edge of marketing and technology, where previously it was kind of old school. And it turns out when I started at Disney, I was so overwhelmed because I was like, oh my God, I was the most technical person at HP.
And now I'm just like everyone else, if not a little bit behind the curve. And I've gotta learn all these things, but now I've learned so much and it's, it's been totally worth it. And pain is growth. So it was challenging. It was hard, but it worked out so that's awesome. And I love so it's so interesting.
That you said, you know, you were, you were like the most technical person, uh, in, in, in your department at HP because had you stayed there, you would've never been challenged to be more tech, to be smarter, to be better. Right. And, and the, the people who I've worked with throughout my career, who I would say were the worst, or like, like when I, when I think back to a previous magazine I worked at and I, um, the, you know, one of the very senior people who I worked with, I considered to be the single worst person I ever worked with just, oh, unbelievably rude.
No, Opening in this guy's head for how to think differently or how you could reimagine what, what you do in this. He was so stuck in his ways and he was so mean about it. And it should not surprise you at all. That, that guy had spent his entire career at that magazine. He started as an intern and he worked his way up and he'd been there for like 15 years.
Nobody ever. Challenged him. He never had to go into new environments and learn new things and discover that, oh, maybe I was pretty good at that over there, but I actually suck at it over here and I need to rethink what I do. Right. Like he never had to do that. And that's why he was so terrible. Yeah, it definitely could stunt your growth if you don't go out there and get more opportunities and you can be like a big fish in a small pond, very easily.
Mm-hmm and, and not be able to expand your skills. So totally agree there. So, Jason, I wanted to understand if. Your personal brand happened first, or if your job at entrepreneur magazine actually happened first because I have a full-time job, like I just mentioned, and I have this podcast on the side and sometimes it's difficult to navigate having a personal brand while representing a corporation.
And I wanted to understand your perspective on that, how you balance that. And you know, what came first did being the ch uh, editor in chief of entrepreneur magazine, kind of push you to the limelight, or were you doing that already? I think a lot, a lot about my relationship, uh, like as a personal brand with my relationship with my employer.
So, um, this is a great subject. I mean, the very quick answer, and then I'll give you the long answer. The very quick answer is that for this version of my personal brand entrepreneur came, the job came first. Mm-hmm so here's what happened. I had throughout my career been. Very interested in stepping out and being more forward facing as a, as a person and speaking in my own voice.
And, and I, but I have to be honest for most of my career. I had no idea what my voice was. I was developing a writer's voice, but I didn't know what, like I meant to people or I hadn't thought through that. And I had really been given no opportunity to do it. I mean, you know, occasionally I'd. Be on TV for this or that interview or whatever, but I just, you know, and, and I had created a couple like random viral things that, that, uh, got me some attention, but I didn't know what it was.
And then. I got this job as editor in chief of entrepreneur magazine. Uh, I was originally executive editor, which is the number two at a magazine. And then the, the editor in chief left and I made a play for the, for the top spot and I, and I got it. And at first, honestly, I thought of it as a magazine job.
Right. I thought of it as a, as a media job, the way that every other job of mine was, I was like, I'm going to. Scrap this magazine, white sheet, the whole thing we're gonna rethink what this is. We're gonna rethink how we communicate as a brand. You know, the editor in chief of a magazine is basically the, the face of, of a, of a brand.
And also the, the person who is, is in control of all the editorial, everything that we put out. So I wanted to think about what entrepreneur could be now in this new world, in which the word entrepreneur is not like obscure. It's now a mindset and an identity and it's. So I spent about a year doing that and then.
After I felt like I got it into a good place. I started accepting interview requests and I would go on these shows or on these podcasts and people would inter they'd introduce me as a thought leader in entrepreneurship, Jay fiver, we got Jason fiver here is a thought leader in entrepreneurship. And I, my instinct was to.
What? No, not. So I'm not a thought leader. I I'm actually, I'm a journalist or cuz you're train. If you're a journalist you're trained, you're not the story you're just reporting. And so, uh, I was like, I, you know, I, what I do and I'm not even, I don't even have a business background. I, I really have like a generalist and I tell people it was like falling down the stairs.
Right. Like, it was, it was terrible. And you could hear the ho the hosts would then try to like reel it back in, because I was ruining the reason that I was on their show. Right. They were like, well, we didn't think of you as a thought leader. And so I was telling my wife about this and she said, she gave me the greatest advice that I've gotten for this FA this phase of my career.
And that was if they want you to be a thought leader, Then be a thought leader mm-hmm and I realized that the only difference between someone who's a thought leader and someone who's not a thought leader is that the thought leader is willing to say, they're a thought leader. Like that's literally, it mm-hmm , it's the only difference.
And so I spent a long time thinking about what. I am. How can I be relevant to this audience that I'm like, what overlap is there between my passions and my personal experiences and the things that people are looking for. And I came up with this philosophy for personal brands in case anyone's interested in being in sort of personal branding, which is that you are not, you know, I think people think, well, personal brand is like, oh, you just put yourself out there.
And people no, be a charact. You are a character. You are very simple version of yourself, a version of yourself that is constantly delivering at the same time, predictability and surprise because that's what people want from a brand. That's what they want from media, right? I mean, if you, uh, turn on a TV show, There's a predictability to it.
The predictability is, you know what the show is, you know, you like the show, you like the characters you like where it's going, the surprises that you don't know what's happening next. Right. But you, but it's all in part of the same thing. So, you know, but if you, if you picked up entrepreneur magazine and it was 17 magazine, bad surprise, right?
Like you need the predictability, a personal brand is the same thing. People have to know why they're tuning into you. What do you offer to them? What kind of, what is, what is the way that you fit into their lives? And the way that you do that is that you simplify yourself down into this. Predictable surprise package that people know what they're getting.
And so I started to realize that the thing that I, you know, I said in the very beginning, when you asked me to define myself, I realized that the thing that I, that I was doing, the thing that I was able to offer was this kind of combination of like motivation and perspective all around. Change all around how you have to change in your journey.
You have to change the things that you work on. You have to change inside of yourself. I had gone through that personally. And so I could speak to it, even though let's be honest and I'll be totally transparent. I haven't built a company I'm running entrepreneur magazine. The only company that I've built is like my own personal brand and my podcast.
This is not the same. Yeah. But the journey, the emotional experience of it is very similar. And so I've been able to speak to. I flattened myself out. I came up with the voice that I speak in. I came up with the attitude I came up with with, with some ethos, like some so, right. So like I thought, okay. One of the things that I always am is accessible.
That's a word in my personal brand accessible. What does that mean? It means that I will respond to. Everybody. If you DM me, you will get a response. Uh, it means that I do things in a, in a kind of raw way so that it feels a little imperfect and it feels like more real, like you're, you're just there with me.
Right? I mean, like, I don't have a background here. I'm just like in a living room. So that's all intentional. That's all thinking about the personal brand and now I'm always constantly evolving it. I'm I'm putting things out. I'm experimenting. I'm seeing how people. Respond to it, but I'm always thinking of myself as a character.
You right now are not talking to Jason Pfeiffer. You're not you're because if you were talking to Jason Fier, I got all other things I could bore you with talks of my, about my kids and you know, like boring things. You're talking to me because of a very small slice of my experience, which is the slice that's relevant to your audience.
And I'm aware of that and I'm constantly, constantly drilling into it. Yeah. That's what I mean. You are a character, you're a personal brand. So. They're related. I think that my personal brand helps entrepreneur. And I think that entrepreneur helps my personal brand, but I do see them as, as distinct entities, because of course, you know, you have to remember unless you work at a company that you own, that relationship is not forever.
Uh, that relationship is also uncontrollable. I don't own entrepreneur. I do own my personal brand. And so I, I wanna be a building, both, but aware of how they're. . Yeah, I love that. I think you, you talked about so many great things. It reminds me of something. I had Eric Edy's on the show. He's like a, a popular public speaker.
He works with like mind valley and he talked about something called a story journal and he inspired me to create a story journal. And basically what I did is that there's like, Basically chapters of your story journal. So for me, like overcoming rejection is a big topic that I like to talk about. Skills stacking is another big topic that I like to talk about and just like so on different categories.
And then you start to like fill in like, what are the different stories that I have in these categories? And you start to have like a journal of all your stories. So before you go onto a podcast, Yeah, you can think about what is relevant to this audience. And you can basically like pick the stories that you're gonna keep in mind for that episode.
And then you end up being a lot more. It's like a lot easier. It's not reading the story word for word. It's just like trying to remember your experiences and memories. So I think that's great advice. I have the same thing. I had just used a different term for it. I call it interlocking parts. There there's a menu of interlocking parts that I have in my head that I'm I'm every time, uh, some new thing happens.
So I talk to somebody interesting. I'll test it out on a podcast. I'll test it out on stage. I'll test it out in conversation. If people like it feels like it works, like it adds some value, then I'll kind of refine it. And, uh, and I have it in my head. You're like you said, it's not a scripted thing. It's never been written down, but they're.
Bitty interlocking parts, things that I can just, as you're asking me a question right now, I'm rifling. Anytime you're doing that, I'm rifling through my head to the interlocking part that I know is going to fit because I know it works and I've done it a bunch of times, and I know how to say it. And I know what the point is, and I know what the beats are.
And I think that you nailed it. I mean like anybody who wants to do this, you need to be constantly every second of your day alert to what can be your interlocking part or part of your story journal or whatever you wanna. Yeah. So we do a lot of research here on young and profiting podcasts, as I mentioned to you.
And so I was looking through all your YouTube videos and doing my typical research and I saw your speaking real, and it turns out you call yourself and you mentioned it before a champion of change. Yeah. So tell us why you feel that you are a champion of change and, and what credibility do you have. So funny.
Um, you know, speaking of personal branding, I I've been experimenting with language to describe myself and champion of change is something I, I honestly, I mean, you know, like I said, a totally open book on these things. I came up with that two, three months ago and just kind of started throwing it out there to see what would happen.
You're you're the second person to have asked me about it. So, uh, it's like not, I dunno, uh, you know, I don't know how well it's working. Uh, you tell me if you think it's any good. Here's the reason that I, I put that out there. So I'm, I came to this realization, which is that well, okay. A couple things.
Number one, I was trying to understand at the very beginning of my kind of personal brand journey, how. I am most useful to people and I realized something. And that was that. If you listen to the questions that people ask you, that you will get a sense of what they think that your value is because right.
They they're, they're coming with some assumption about how you can be useful. So I, the question that I got a lot. Was what are the qualities that I am seeing in successful entrepreneurs? Because I am constantly talking to entrepreneurs, like the greatest thing that, uh, I have the greatest asset that I have right now at my job is that I have access.
I have access to everybody, right. Big and small, um, entrepreneurs you've never heard of. And. Just before lockdown. I was sitting down and talking to Dwayne, the rock Johnson and, and his business partner, Danny Garcia, like I, I get the full range. And so I'm able to see these patterns of how people are, are, are, are succeeding.
And the things that they're doing that are, are allowing them to thrive. And so I started looking for the patterns because that's what people were asking me for. And the thing that I realized was that the people who succeed are the ones that embrace change. Are able to not just understand. That they themselves need to change that their businesses need to change that their industries are going to change and that they have to be proactive about it.
They can't be reactive to it. They can't be changing when they're forced to, when it's too late, they have to do it first. They have to do it sometimes when it's very painful. And so that was a really useful piece of information because I said, okay, people think that my value to them is that I'm seeing the patterns.
So let me identify the patterns. And the big pattern is change. At the same time, I was also working on a, um, ongoing, I think of it as a research project, which is this podcast that I do, which is called pessimist archive. So pessimist archive is a show about why people resist new things and then how they come to embrace them.
Because the crazy. Is that everything in your life right now, everything in our world, things that you do not even think about that you totally take for granted, those things were once scary and. And what does that mean? I'm talking literally everything I'm talking, Teddy bears, I'm talking novels, I'm talking chess, I'm talking bicycles.
And it's, it's really fascinating when you look back and you see how people were afraid of these things. Uh, you know, one, one of my favorite ones, uh, the bicycle, when the bicycle came out late 1800, the bicycle is a brand new. And merchants were totally freaked out about it because it was changing people's behaviors.
So bar owners were very upset about the bicycle because people weren't coming in and drinking in the middle of the day anymore, drinking beer, because they were now drinking water. They were riding in the bicycle. Cobbler were very upset. There was a, um, there's a great 1898 newspaper article that I found in which a, a guy who sells fancy felt hats said that he wanted Congress to pass a law.
Mandating that every cyclist buy two fancy felt hats a year to compensate him for the loss of sales cuz cyclists weren't buying these hats anymore. They were biting cycling caps. And as I look back on this, I realize that I am able to see the patterns in the same way that I was able to see the patterns in how entrepreneurs are embracing change.
I was able to see the patterns historically in why people. Afraid of change and then how great change makers, people who invented the elevator, people who invented the car, how they're able to get people to come along for the ride, so to speak. And so. I put those two things together. And I realize that what I have is actually a really fantastic window into the history of am the, um, the embracing of change.
I have come to understand change in a way that I don't know that anybody else is doing. And so that's why I came up with that phrase champion of change, because I feel like that's where my, my role. I'm just gonna tell you a quick story. Uh, one story that I love of an entrepreneur who really embraced change and embodies, not just that you need to change, but that you need to be ahead of it that you need to proactively change.
And here's what it is. Okay. So maybe some of you are familiar with. Beer called Dogfish Dogfish head is a brewery in Delaware, very popular. And many years ago, there was a guy named Sam. Sam is the founder of Dogfish. Many years ago, Sam had created this beer called 90 minute IPA. It's a 9% alcohol by volume beer, which is very strong and knock I'm knocking on the floor.
And so he was being told by people who liked the beer, you know, listen, this is great. Can you create a version of this, that like I can drink standing up. So he, he created a 60 minute IPA, 6% alcohol by volume, easier beer to drink. You can have a few of them. You won't go on the floor. And this thing takes.
Just absolutely crazy takes off and it takes off so much. People love this beer. They want this beer, they need this beer restaurants, bars. Amtrak is calling. Everybody wants this beer and this beer very quickly starts rising in sales. Such that it could become, it was on track to becoming 80% of all sales of Dogfish, which is to say that this company, which makes a lot of beers, 80% of what they were selling was gonna be this one, beer, this one, beer 60 minute IPA.
Now you might think amazing. Love this such a great, like, wow, I'm an entrepreneur. I got a hip product. I'm gonna sell this beer. I'm gotta sell this beer and I'm gonna make as much money as I can on this moment. This is my moment. But that is not what Sam thought. Sam thought something else. Sam thought change is coming.
He realized that he was right now going to be selling one style of beer, which meant that everybody was going to know him for one style of beer. Every time you went into a bar, 60 minute IPA, every time you went into a restaurant, 60 minute IPA, every time that you went into, uh, you know, always took an am, track 60 minute IPA.
So he says, if everybody just experiences Dogfish through this one beer. If everybody just knows me as the IPA brand. Well, one day people are not gonna like IPAs the way that they do now. One day the market is gonna change. And when that happens, when people are no longer interested in IPAs, the way they are now, then I am not a hit brand anymore.
I'm an old brand. And so Sam decided to do something that sounds crazy. Now, remember I said, this beer was on sale on track to become 80% of everything that he sold. He decided to cap sales of his best selling product at 50%, which meant that a lot of restaurants were calling him and saying they want 60 minute IPA.
And he had to say, no, Bars were calling him and he said, no, people were furious. They were screaming at him on the street. I have walked around Delaware with Sam. He is like a celebrity there. They were screaming at him. And yet Sam understood that this short term pain was necessary for long term stability.
He understood that when people called and yelled at him, that he had an opportunity not to cower, not to apologize, but to say. I understand. I'm really sorry. We make this beer very fresh and that's the reason why I can't give it to you. In the meantime, we would love you to try one of our other beers and eventually the anger disappeared.
Eventually people. Discovered that they liked the other beers that he made. And eventually Sam became known not as a brand that made one kind of beer, but as an innovative brand, and last year, Sam sold that company for 300 million and that would not have happened if he had been afraid to say, you know what?
This needs to change if he had just seen this hit product and decided to run with it and just become the moment, just, just sink in to the thing that was presented to him instead of taking action and saying change is going to come. So I have to change first. If he hadn't done that he would not have a long standing business, but he did.
And he sold it for $300 million. And that's why I believe that change is. I think that's a great point. It's so important. You say that like entrepreneurs played the long game, even when it hurts. I love that's right. I love that. Do your research. I do. So you already gave a real life example, so I don't need to ask you that question anymore.
Mm-hmm let's talk about your podcast, the pessimist archive. Yeah, sure. Such a cool concept for a show. Thank. Like it's something that I would definitely listen to. It reminds me of Freakonomics a little bit. Yeah. Um, which was like one of my favorite podcasts before I even started one. So tell us about that show, how you got the idea for it, and maybe give us a few examples of how historically people have been resistant to new technology.
Yeah, sure. So thanks. So pessimist archive is it's a show. And like I said, it's about why people resist new things. The reason that I started it honestly goes right back to what I said earlier about work, your next job. I had a fascination with this, with the history of people saying that things that today we know of as commonplace and.
Scary were scary, right? You go back in time and you, and you find that Teddy bears were accused of harming young girls. The argument was that girls will stop playing with dolls and start and start playing with bears. And therefore they will not learn how to be mothers. That was, that was the argument novels.
People worried that novels were going to become too engrossing, too distracting, basically everything that people say about screens right now about, um, you know, like get that kid off a TikTok or whatever. I always sound like an old person, but you know, like everything that people say they were saying about the novel coffee throughout history throughout.
Hundreds of years governments have banned coffee. The, the governor of Mecca banned coffee, uh, um, in the 16 hundreds, the king of England banned coffee because they thought that coffee made people revolutionary. And, uh, you know, I, I could go on for kind of ever, but the point of it is that it was, it's so interesting to see how, when things are new, we treat them as if they are scary and.
We identify the loss without being able to see the gain. We, we, we see, oh, this thing is coming in. It's going to replace something that I already know, and therefore I'm going to lose something and they never think through what the possible gain could be. Yeah. How we could learn, how we could, how we could build a, a new, a new culture, a new society.
The elevator is a fascinating one. So lemme give you like, sort of like walk through a, a good example with the elevator. So, um, the elevator. There's a long and fascinating history of it. Basically. You know, if you live in a city, you can thank the elevator for that. Because prior to the elevator, they didn't build buildings more than like six, eight stories tall because it was just too much of a schlep.
And also the way that people thought about height was totally different. So before the elevator, poor people lived at the top of buildings and rich people lived at the bottom. Uh, because of course it was easier. Get into your home if you were in the bottom. Uh, and then of when the elevator came along, people were able to build tall buildings that totally shifted.
And now the rich people wanted to be on top and they shoved all the poor people down to the bottom. But the thing, the, the moment that I find most fascinating about the elevator was the moment that the elevator became automatic. Just think about it before that, you know, we all just walk into an elevator right now.
It just takes us where we want to go. Maybe we press a button. Maybe we don't even, because they, it just knows before that there was a human being in there now at the very beginning that human being literally physically moved the elevator up and down, like by a rope, they would GRA like pull a rope and it would move it up and down.
And then eventually, uh, that wasn't necessary anymore. And then the El elevator operator was in there to press the button and make sure nothing went wrong. And then technology improved enough. And now we're talking about like the 1950s technology improved enough. That the elevator could go up and down by itself.
And people were terrified by this absolutely terrified by this they're terrified for a lot of reasons. They were thinking about how the elevator must have a mind of its own. Now, there are newspaper stories about how, what does the elevator. Think, um, there were also concerns about how, uh, you know, if there's an automatic elevator, well then there's nobody in the elevator, which means that the elevator could be very dangerous.
Uh, rather dangerous people could come onto the elevator and the elevator industry had a problem, which is that nobody was getting into this elevator, even though, uh, the automatic elevator could be, could be very good. Could in fact be. Considerably better because here's another fun thing about, uh, elevators.
When they had operators, operators don't work 24 hours a day, which means much like the train you had to catch the last elevator . So if you were on the high, high part of the building and you didn't catch the last elevator, you had to take the stairs. It was just crazy, right. It was a different world. And so here's what they did.
They realized, and this is so important for anybody who wants to create change, anybody who's inventing anybody who's innovating. They realize that just creating something and just knowing that it's good is not enough. Mm-hmm , people don't know the thing, the way that you know it, people don't see the value, the way that you see it.
You have to build a bridge of familiarity. You have to bring them along with. And that often means giving them something that is already familiar so that this new thing doesn't feel like a radical new thing. It just feels like a new version of the old thing. Mm. And this is why when you walk into elevators, I mean, they don't drill it that much anymore because we don't need it so much anymore, but decades ago, and you can still see it.
If you walked into an elevator, you would hear a soothing female voice that would say going. Going down floor one floor two. That's the reason for that, because that was what gave people the comfort that when they walked into this thing, there was a human presence. They were used to a human presence and we need those things.
We, if you're an innovator, if you are gonna go out there and create change, you have to remember that you have to bring people along with you. It is your job, not just to create something great, but to also. Show people the way, show people how it fits into their lives. Show people that this is something that is additive to their world and not scary and subtractive or replacing something in their world.
And if you do that, then you can bring people. So that's why I do the show because I'm. Totally fascinated by that. And, and the, and, and the world is full of it. It's such a fascinating topic. I would definitely recommend you guys to go listen to pessimist archive. I'll link to it in my show notes. So is there a modern example of people resisting technology and maybe how an entrepreneur bridged that gap in terms of the old and the news?
So people weren't so scared about it anymore. Ah, yeah, it's great. It's a great question. I mean, we are going through quite a lot of it right now and the pandemic, I think has. Shifted quite a lot of our pre pandemic techno fear thinking mm-hmm . So for example, remember how everybody was scared about screen time.
Kids are getting too much screen time, so much screen time. Nobody's worried about that anymore. Right? Nobody's worried about that. Also, uh, social media, you know, there used to be so much talk about how social media is gonna is making kids depressed and social media makes us antisocial. That was all based on completely faulty research.
It's really interesting. Or like, let's just take you, um, you, you may have seen it or there's tons of headlines go to Google and type in like Facebook, depression you'll find. So, um, so the, the thinking was when they did surveys, they would find that there was a, a high percentage of teenagers with depression who used Facebook.
And so the original research hypothesized that Facebook was creating the. But that's not true as it turns out now that we have a few more years of research to, to look at, and some of those old studies have been reviewed. What we're seeing now is that it's actually, it wasn't a causation. It wasn't that Facebook was causing.
The depression mm-hmm it was a correlation. It was that there was a higher likelihood that if, uh, if somebody was suffering from depression, that they would use Facebook. Now that's a different thing. And it's really important to know that because the solution then is different because if it was true that Facebook causes depression.
Well, then one of the things that you might wanna do to help people is get them off of. But if it turns out that in fact they, they have the depression and that's why they're using Facebook because they're finding a community and it's some kind of help for them. Well then if you took them off of Facebook, you're making the problem worse.
Mm-hmm and this is what we do when we jump to conclusions. When we see something that's changing and we say, ah, that's scary. We have to stop it. You create the wrong solutions. Mm-hmm and that is so. Dangerous. So, yeah, there are really interesting shifts happening right now in which things that people were afraid of, things that people resisted, they were forced into using.
And they're discovering that the sky didn't fall another is remote work right now. Right? Of course. Right. We all, there were studies before the pandemic. There were plenty of studies showing that remote work actually improved employee happiness, improved, improved employee retention. And also improved productivity, great things.
Why didn't companies do it because they were so stuck in their old ways. And they, and, and, and the managers, managers only understood how to manage people who were in an office and the managers didn't wanna feel outmoded. So we kept everybody in the office, even though it was totally against the purpose of the company, which is to create great things and to do it efficiently and to make people happy.
Yeah. And now here we are, we're all distributed. It turns out it's fine. And that's going to change the way that we now. So those were exceptional examples. One thing that I want you to drive home is that you say that technologies don't replace everything all the time they integrate mm-hmm could you, could you explain that point a little bit?
Yeah. Yeah, no, thanks. Thanks for picking up on that. I love the research that you've done for this episode. So, right. This is, this is a really key thing to remember, which is that we often fear new technologies and new things because we think that they are total replacements to old things. And, and so I, I mean, I think that that drives a lot of the concerns that you may have seen about social media, because people saw the way that young people were interacting on social media and they.
Oh, no. This is going to replace every other way that young people used to communicate, right. There were, if young people only communicate online, well, then they'll never have any idea how to talk to each other. In person there's a woman named Sherry Turkel who writes books about this whole books about this, about how we've lost the art of conversation.
And nobody knows how to talk to each other. This is all based. Faulty understanding of how new things enter into our worlds. New things do not wholesale replace old things they integrate. So here's another great example. You know, both of us are wearing headphones of, of some sort or another your earbuds right now.
Right. So if you go back to the 1980s, what you'll see is you'll see all of these. Fascinating and really funny news stories about how awful the Walkman was because the Walkman was the first real portable music device. It was the first time in which you could create your own environment. And so people were saying, this thing is antisocial.
This is the digital snobbery was a, was a line that was used on CBS news. And they, the, the fear was that people are going. Always walking around constantly without any desire or need to interact with other. Now what has actually happened now that we've had a couple decades on it? Well, what actually happened is that people interact with each other just fine, but they also take time for themselves.
What the Walkman did is it gave us another option. It gave us a way to. Give ourselves some privacy when we wanted it and then take it off when we didn't and we can share things. I've seen people on the subway sharing headphones. It's an opportunity. Everything that we're given is just an opportunity.
And you know what? We also, this is an important thing to remember where we're talking about replacing is that we often will romanticize. Falsely romanticized the past. So when people were talking about, oh, well, people are walking around with their headphones. And that means that they're not talking that imagines a world that didn't exist in which everybody was having deep, meaningful conversations with everybody that they came across.
Could you imagine that world, that world sounds tedious and it also sounds imaginary. I mean, I, I ride when I, when I, during normal times I'm on the subway multiple times a day, New York. And, you know, people are largely quiet, although some people are talking and if, if you REW 50 years and you walked onto that same subway, you didn't see a bunch of philosophers, like having powwows.
What you saw was people quietly reading the newspaper reading magazines. So it's not like we were exiting some world in which we were all communicating and we were entering some world in which we're all isolated forever. All we were doing was giving ourselves one more option. And, and, and if you believe, if you believe that people are fundamentally to their core social creatures, who are also interested in learning and growing, which we are, well, then, you know, some.
Piece of technology that we created is not going to alter the fundamentals of who we are. It's absolutely nuts to think that we are so fragile that somebody could invent the Walkman and it would literally destroy the entire way that we evolve to be social people. It's not how it works. So I get worked up as you can see about this whole thing, but the point is, and I, and I'm glad that you asked it the point is that when you see something new, you shouldn't say.
Oh, no, this is going to completely replace everything that I love and know, and I'm comfortable with. And instead you should say, this is a great new or possible. Great. Not everything is great, but this is a possible great new addition to my world. And let's see if it fits in. Mm, I love that you have so much energy.
You're so wonderful. I think you brought up some great points, both about how we can kind of bridge the gap in terms of, if we're an entrepreneur we're coming out with a new product, what's the best way to put it in the market. And then you also gave us some great advice in terms of how we can accept change by knowing that it's just getting integrated into our lives.
And it's not gonna necessarily. Anything, so that's amazing. So today is June 19th. Mm-hmm it's um, a holiday called Juneteenth it's over 150 years old. It marks the day when slaves were truly released in Texas, the last slaves were freed, um, two years after the emancipation proclamation. So I thought a great way to end the show would be to ask you if you have any inspiring stories from black entrepreneurs that you've interviewed in the.
Yeah, thank you so much. I lo I love that question a great way to end on this important day. So, um, you know, I mean, I've talked to so many people, I I'll tell you one, uh, who I just very recently talked to. Uh, so his name is Mustafa neuro. He's actually a Somali refugee who came over here after his father was killed by terrorists and Somalia.
And he started a, a company called bridge. In Lancaster, Pennsylvania. And the idea of it is to create cross-cultural events. So for example, a local Syrian refugee family will host locals, right? Just, you know, locals from Pennsylvania in their home for dinner. Um, and they'll also, they do lots of other events and the idea is to get immigrants, refugees, locals, together talking because once you see.
Similar somebody is to you. It's a lot harder to be afraid of them. It's really valuable work. And the reason I was talking to him was because I wondered what had happened to his business. Once you weren't allowed to have people in your homes anymore, you know, I mean, his whole idea was get people together and suddenly you couldn't get people together anymore.
Yeah. And he, at first, when lockdowns began. He was really scared because he wasn't sure how to continue his work. And then he realized that he actually had an opportunity here, which is that young, healthy immigrants and refugees could become lifelines for local elderly people or people with compromised immune systems who weren't able to go out.
And so now you've got in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, you've got. Syrian refugees who are delivering groceries to, uh, to, to an elderly woman who just before the lockdown was having dinner in their home. Mm. Um, and I should just note like an elderly white woman, right? Who, who has very little, otherwise experience with Syrian refugees and they're calling these people.
So the Syrian refugees are calling this woman every day. It's 6:00 PM just to check in because she lives alone and you somebody's gotta make sure that she's okay every day. And they've built these new ways in which these different groups of people. Interact and can be valuable to each other. And I asked him what this has made him think about as he's looked at how the connections that he's built and the way that he originally thought he was gonna build connections has evolved mm-hmm
And he said, and I, I, I really loved the way that he, you know, he put, he said, he said he looks at it and he says, this is how life should always. Right. Like what he's built is something that should just always be there that, that communities, no matter how different they are from each other should be connecting, should not just be connecting, but should be useful to each other, should be understanding how they are additive to each other.
And so the thing that he, I think is going to do, which so many other entrepreneurs are gonna do in, in their own lines of business, which is that they're gonna take. Thing this new way that they found to be valuable to people and to interact in this time in which the way that they could do something before is just not available to them anymore.
And they're gonna continue to do. They're gonna use it. It's gonna become a new way that they can connect. There will be a time in the future where Mustafa neuros bridge will go back to hosting dinners in people's homes. But maybe also we'll go, will continue to deliver groceries and do errand runs and do check-in calls.
These are all new things that we can do. And, and I think that there's just the power of him being very conscious about bringing people together is something that we should all be thinking about. Yeah, what an inspiring story. Thanks for sharing. And where can our listeners go to learn more about you and everything that you do?
Yeah. Thanks. So, uh, a couple ways that you can check me out. Um, one, uh, you know, we talked about pessimist archive as a podcast, you know, I'd love for you to check that out. If you wanna reach out to me, uh, Instagram, I'm very. Devon at, Hey Fier, H E Y E I F E R. And, uh, like I said earlier in the, in the episode I'm super accessible.
I respond to every DM test me. I will respond. uh, so, uh, so you can check that out. And then also, if you wanna go to Jason fier.com, you can, um, you'll get prompted to sign up for my newsletter. It's once a month. And it's five inspirational insights that I had in entrepreneurship that month that, you know, I hope will, uh, Push people forward.
Thank you so much for coming on the show. Jason, you were so energetic, you provided so much value around how you developed your personal brand and how we can all better embrace change. It was such a pleasure to have you on bye. Thank you so much.
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