BiggerPockets Business Podcast

BiggerPockets Business Podcast 69: Accomplishing It All With Editor-In-Chief of Entrepreneur Magazine Jason Feifer

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Were you simply born with a never-ending desire to do more and more? In spite of this, do you sometimes get in your own way, questioning your ability to make a real impact and get things done? Ever think, “Everyone else has this all figured out, why don’t I?,” overanalyzing and second-guessing yourself when presented with a new challenge?

NEWSFLASH: You’re Not Alone!

For years, Jason Feifer — Editor-in-Chief of Entrepreneur Magazine, has been an influencer with leading entrepreneurs crushing it in their respective industries. And Jason is clearly crushing it himself as well. Programmed with nonstop motivation and ambition to move forward, make progress, and teach others, Jason also hosts THREE leading podcasts, writes for prominent media outlets, and inspires individuals, business owners and companies as a highly sought-after international keynote speaker.

In this episode, Jason talks about the power of solving unexpected problems, the  importance of focus, dealing with “Imposter Syndrome,” and tells us the single best podcast (besides this one, of course!) that we should all be listening to in order to motivate us and jump-start our entrepreneurial dreams.

Make sure you listen to the end, where Jason reveals his unique take on when and how to create a personal brand.

Check him out, and subscribe to the BiggerPockets Business Podcast so you won’t miss our next show!

Click here to listen on Apple Podcast.

Listen to the Podcast Here

Read the Transcript Here

J:
Welcome to the BiggerPockets Business Podcast show number 69.

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Jason:
Because you don’t want to be operating something just because you built it yesterday and just because it worked yesterday, it has to be built for right now. And if it’s not, then you got yourself a problem. So look around. Right now, there are all sorts of needs.

J:
Welcome to a real world MBA from the school of hard knocks, where entrepreneurs reveal what it really takes to make it. Whether you’re already in business or you’re on your way there, this show is for you, this is BiggerPockets Business. How’s it going everybody. I am J Scott. I am your cohost for the BiggerPockets Business Podcast on this lovely… well, rainy here where I am, but otherwise probably lovely day. And I am here with my lovely cohost, Mrs. Carol Scott. How’s it going today, Carol?

Carol:
So well. And I’ve got to tell you, I just continue to be so over the top, impressed with all of these guests, all of the different people that we know across the country and around the world that are working so hard on their businesses, making so much progress, doing so many great and new and awesome things. Despite all the challenges that are happening right now, it seems to have energized so many people and it’s just absolutely awesome. And I’ve got to tell you, I’m very envious because I’m just tired. So I don’t know, everybody’s getting all this energy, but major kudos to all of you for doing such incredible things. I’m very envious.

J:
Yeah. It’s been a tough couple months, but so many people are working so hard, the ups and downs during COVID has been difficult. But if you’re working towards your goals, please don’t stop working. We have a great guest. Let’s transition into today’s show. We have a great guest today. His name is Jason Feifer. And I don’t know how to describe him anymore than just reading some of his resume highlights. He is the editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur magazine. He’s the host of three podcasts, including Pessimists Archive, Problem Solvers and Hush Money. He is a well-known keynote speaker. He is a former editor at Maxim magazine, Men’s Health magazine and Fast Company magazine. He’s a novelist. He’s an author of countless articles on everything from business to technology to humor. Jason has done it all. And overall, he is just a very, very, very smart business guy and entrepreneur.
So today, we talk about all sorts of different things. We delve into his knowledge from being editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur magazine to the people he’s talked to on his podcast. We talk about everything from embracing change as an entrepreneur, starting a business during COVID. We talk about imposter syndrome and what that is. And this is a very relevant discussion for a lot of us in the business world. We talk about building a personal brand. We talk about business trends that we should be on the lookout for. We talk about all sorts of different things. At the end of this, Jason goes into some of his best tips for what we should be doing as entrepreneurs to get started in business. And then he throws out his best recommendation for podcasts that you should be listening to besides obviously the BiggerPockets Podcast and all of Jason’s podcast.
If you’re a business owner or you’re getting ready to start a business, there’s this one podcast that he recommends, I haven’t thought about in a while. That’s the absolute best podcast I’ve ever heard and Jason agrees. And so listen for the name of that podcast and go listen to it. Now, if you want to find out more about anything we talk about on the show, if you want to find out more about Jason or his podcasts or any of his writings, check out our show notes at biggerpockets.com/bizshow69. Again, that’s biggerpockets.com/bizshow69. Okay. Now, without any further ado, let’s welcome Jason Feifer to the show. Jason, welcome to the show.

Jason:
Hey, thanks for having me.

Carol:
Jason, we are so looking forward to our chat today. So like J said, thank you for being here. We have so many great things we want to dig into. But before we dig into all of those things, I want to set the stage right. So I’m curious, you’ve worked so hard to gain influence on so many prominent platforms. So you’re clearly editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur magazine, you’re a keynote speaker, you’re an author who’s written for some of the world’s largest publications, you host three podcasts, you’re a guest on several other podcasts, and you get interviewed so frequently. You’ve mentioned that it leads to the same questions often, which naturally lend themselves to stock answers that aren’t necessarily that interesting.
But you’ve also mentioned there’s one question in particular that you don’t necessarily have a stock answer for. And that question is how is it that you just do so much? What is your motivation? And you’ve said, “I can’t necessarily answer that because I’m just this way. I’m just very driven, I’m programmed this way.” But the way we look at it is we talk to so many entrepreneurs, Jason. We talk to so many people on this show who tell us the key to success is just focus, focus, focus. So I’m wondering how do you reconcile this idea of doing so many different things when there’s that common refrain of focus as the key to success?

Jason:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). This is a great question. And thanks for all the research that you’ve done clearly built into that question. So, listen, I don’t think that anybody because they do what they do means that their actions are right for everyone. And I agree that focus is really important. And I think that I have focused, but I will admit that my focus definitely drifts. I have a feeling of a need for constant expansion. And I have talked to people, people who are very accomplished, people who are in the business of making accomplished people more accomplished, people like big Hollywood agents and so on. I have a lot of conversations with a lot of people and some of them definitely say to me, “Why do you do the number of things that you do? You’re going in too many directions. You’re not making it easy for people to understand exactly what it is that you do.”
And so I’m trying to resolve that thing that they’re telling me while at the same time being true to what is honestly just my own gravity. And that is that I am drawn to figuring new things out. I like to get somewhere, feel competent in it, feel successful in it, and then look around and say, “What other doors does this open?” And I realized that there’s a world in which I stuck with absolutely one thing and just did that and maybe accomplished better or different things than I did now. But I don’t know, that’s not me. So I’m just going to go with me.

J:
I have a question and this is purely a selfish question because I'm a lot like you in that I'm kind of all over the place, businesses, real estate, books. When somebody at a party says to you, "So what do you do?" What's your answer?

Jason:
Yeah, it’s funny. I’ve gone back and forth on that throughout my career. And I have landed on saying very little and letting people dig in if they want to because I find… And I don’t know if this is true for people outside of media creation. But I always feel like if I tell somebody about my podcast, that it feels like I’m trying to convince them to listen to my podcast, or like the second I say, “I have a podcast,” in somebody’s brain, they’re like, “Oh, now I have to take out my phone and find the podcast. Otherwise, this guy’s not going to think that I can…” And I don’t want to put people in that position. So when people ask what I do, I generally say I’m a writer. And then if they ask, “Oh, what do you write about,” then I say, “Well, I do a couple of things. I write a business magazine and I make some podcasts.”
And then sometimes they’re like, “Oh, that’s interesting. What about that?” And then other times they are done. They’ve had enough because they don’t care about those things and we’ll move on to something else. And that’s been fine to me because I prefer that over the flip of that, which is that I let it all out and then people don’t know what to do with it and then I feel like I’ve just like shoved my resume in somebody’s face. And I don’t want that.

Carol:
That’s reasonable. Very reasonable. Interestingly, we’ve resigned. Sometimes we just tell people, “Oh, we’re in witness protection.” And it just shuts the whole conversation down because otherwise it’s just too much. Right?

Jason:
Yeah.

Carol:
So throughout so many of your materials, throughout your shows, throughout your writings and so on, you talk so much about embracing change. In fact, you refer to yourself often as a champion of change. And conceptually, we get that. But what really does that mean from a tactical standpoint.

Jason:
It’s a good question. And it’s funny, I’ll tell you. I like to do things and at the same time tell people that I’m doing them because the journey is more important to anybody than I think like whatever the final product is. So, yeah, you identify I think champion of change. I came up with that like six months ago and started putting it in my social media bios. I don’t know how I feel about it to be honest with you, but it’s there for right now. But I’ll tell you what I mean by change and what I think is a really tangible way to think about change. And it’s to think like this. You… And I’m addressing you guys I’m talking to right now, but also listeners to the show. You come from the future. We know we’re very afraid of change. We’re afraid of the future. We don’t know what it’s going to bring. It’s very easy to see the loss when something changes, it’s a lot harder to see the gain.
But one of the major problems that we have is that when something changes, we feel like it might not be replaced with something better. And we might not know what to do with it, and we might not have a place there. And we’re more comfortable with the things that we do know. We know what we have a place and we know how to operate the thing that we already do. And I want to encourage people to remember that we all come from the future, by which I mean that everything that we do, every piece of technology that we use, our jobs, our interests, the way that we dress, the music that we like, every single thing about us was scary to the previous generation.
We were the future and it was terrifying to people and people try to stop it. And they tried to stop the technology that we use, and they tried to stop the music that we listen to, they tried to stop every part of it. I can go on and on with historical examples of this. They’re hilarious. But the thing is that we know. Because we grew up with these new things, we know that those things actually were good, that we are good, that we’re created from good. And so when the change comes to us and this thing that we are comfortable with that a prior generation was not comfortable with, when the things that we’re comfortable with are getting changed and we look to the future and something else is going to happen instead, we have to remember we are the evidence that change is good because we are the products of change. And once you can wrap your head around that, I think that you can open yourself up to being a lot more optimistic and embracing of what’s coming next.

J:
So are you saying that we should be embracing change and accepting change, or should we as entrepreneurs, as business people, as motivated individuals should we be pushing change? Should we be looking for change or should we just be open to it?

Jason:
I think it’s all one and the same. As entrepreneurs, we are creators of change, but we also at some point become protectors of the change that already was. We create something and it’s new and fresh. We build Kodak and it’s a great change maker for a while and suddenly it’s old and it’s not a change maker and now we don’t know how to adapt to digital cameras. So at some point, even the entrepreneurs who are the creators of change will have to change by themselves. And the thing that I think is most powerful and the stories that I am always most impressed by are the entrepreneurs who are willing to make the change long before they’re forced to because they’re going to be forced to. Absolutely, everybody’s going to be forced to change in some way. It is not an option. The future is not optional.
And so you either do it now when you see that it’s coming, or you do it when you’re in pain and you’re reactionary and you’re scrambling around. And I think it’s a lot better to do it now. The second that you see where you need to be moving, the second that you have some understanding that the thing that you’re doing is going to stop working, it is time to change. And in a way, going back to those original questions that you asked me, in a way that’s what I’m up to here. I know that the things that I do and the way that I do them are going to get outmoded. And so I’m not really interested in investing my entire career in one thing knowing that it’s going to end. I don’t want to just know how to make a magazine because there may be a time where there are no magazines to make. And so I better know how to do all these other things too.

Carol:
Excellent.

J:
So we’re talking about embracing change. I know you have a podcast that is all about change and entrepreneurship. Can you tell us a little bit about your podcast, where the concept came from and what the, I guess, the overriding concept of the podcast is and how that relates to change and entrepreneurship?

Jason:
Yeah. So it’s called Pessimists Archive. Sounds like a bummer, but it’s not. Pessimists Archive is a show about why the pessimists of the past were wrong and how to be optimistic about the future. And that thing that I just told you about you come from the future, that is an observation that I got directly out of the research that I do for Pessimists Archive. Pessimists Archive is about looking back into the past to understand why people were afraid of the innovations that created the world today. And so I have all of these hilarious stories. The show is it’s highly produced, it’s like an audio documentary, which I interview a lot of historians and experts in different areas to understand, for example, why did the entire country have a massive freakout and enact bands over the teddy bear in the early 1900s? Why did the greatest musicians of the pre-radio era resist… Not only just resist, but actively campaign against recorded music and radio? Why do people say that the novel was going to make us crazy? Why were there congressional hearings over comic books?
These are all going back to the same thing, which is that when people see change, they get very, very scared and they forget that they themselves are the product of change. And when you look back in time, what you see is that we make the same mistakes and we create the same arguments over and over and over and over again. And I think it’s really valuable to understand how that happens and how change ultimately does overcome this resistance because that’s what really is going to move us forward. Once we’re able to open our eyes and understand that this stuff is okay, not okay, it’s actually better, it’s creating the world that we knew and know and are going to know.

Carol:
And I love also that you mentioned earlier in regards to all this change that you, Jason, have your own personal thoughts and plans and motivations around making sure you’re not outmoded about being ready… not even ready about preempting change and changing before it becomes a pain point, before it’s necessary. With all of these different entrepreneurs that you talk with in so many different industries across all of your shows, are there one or two stories that really stand out to you about different entrepreneurs that have really had the foresight to change before it was an absolute necessity?

Jason:
Totally. Well, one of my absolute favorites is about the founder of Dogfish brewing. You guys know Dogfish brewing?

J:
Yes.

Carol:
Absolutely.

Jason:
Yeah. So for those who don’t, Dogfish brewing a great brewery, beer maker in Delaware run by a guy named Sam. And I have visited and hung out in Delaware with Sam. I’ve walked around and he is treated like a celebrity out there. He’s got a motel, Dogfish motel. It’s a great place. Anyway, so when Sam was in the early days of building Dogfish, he created this beer called a ni… He called it 90 minute IPA. That’s literally the name of the beer, 90 minute IPA, 9% alcohol by volume beer, which of course is really strong. That’ll put you on the floor. And so some people are saying to him, “Listen, this is a great beer, love this beer, but can you make a version of we can drink standing up?”
And so he creates 60 minute IPA, which is 6% alcohol by volume beer, and it’s delicious and people love it. And then the thing takes off like crazy where sales of this beer start rocketing so high that unchecked it is going to become, it is on path to become like about 80% of all sales of Dogfish. 80% of everything that this brewery sells is going to be this beer. And that means that bars and restaurants and Amtrak are calling for this beer. If you were most entrepreneurs, I think you would be really excited by this. You would say, “I got a hit product. I am so thrilled by this. I’m going to sell this beer, I’m going to make this money. This is what I was built for.”
But Sam is thinking differently. Sam says, “No, the problem here is that change is going to come. And if I let an IPA, which is a specific type of beer, if I let an IPA define this brand so that every time you walk into a restaurant, every time you walk into a bar, every time you get on Amtrak, the only thing that you see from Dogfish is 60 minute IPA, well, then for a while, people are going to love it because IPA is hot. But then at some point, IPA is not going to be as hot. Something else is going to come along to replace IPA. And at that point, I’m not a hot brand, I’m an old brand and I don’t want to be an old brand. So he makes this change way before he has to. And that is that he kept sales of his best selling beer at 50% of all sales of Dogfish.
So it could have been 80% of everything he sells is 60 minute IPA. Instead, he kept it at 50%, which means that people are yelling at him. I just told you that he’s a celebrity in Delaware. People are coming up onto the street and yelling at him because they run liquor stores of beer stores or restaurants and they cannot get this beer and they’re pissed. And he is unwavering. He is not concerned by this at all. Instead, what he does is he takes it as an opportunity to say, “We make our beer really fresh. There’s a lot of demand for this beer. We’ll get it to you as best we can. But in the meantime, I would love you to try our sour beer, our Saison, or whatever.”
And this is how Sam goes on to not be known as an IPA brand, but to be known as an innovative brand, that … because you’re an innovative brand, he just sold for $300 million last year. And Sam is the primary owner of this company. So he really did very well by taking some short-term pain at some point and traded it for very long-term gain. And that’s the kind of story that I love because it’s… First of all, everyone understands beer. But also I think everyone can appreciate how hard that decision had to be. But at the same time, how absolutely correct it was. You have to play the long game, especially when it hurts.

J:
That’s interesting. And clearly, Sam read the book, The innovator’s dilemma by Clayton Christensen because that’s essentially what that book is about. Don’t get so big in one category. That’s where you’re most vulnerable to your competition. And so absolutely love that. Okay. I want to pivot a little bit… Well, forgive the pun. So we’re talking about embracing change, we’re talking about entrepreneurship. Here we are 2020, this is recorded in mid August of 2020. And we’re still well in the throes of coronavirus and lots of businesses suffering.
And likely when federal stimulus runs out, a lot of businesses likely to be suffering even more. Talks of the restaurant industry, independent restaurants up to 60% could go away, retail’s getting crushed. Who knows what it’s going to be like in a few months when the stimulus runs out? You as editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur magazine and everything else you do clearly have your finger on the pulse of entrepreneurship. Is now a good time for those who want jump into business or double down on business, is now a good time for them to be doing so, or is now the right time to be sitting back and say, “I’m going to wait and see”?

Jason:
No, I think that was actually a great time as long as you're building something for right now. If you're operating off of business models from February of 2020, then you're going to die. But if you are thinking about what do people need right now, well, then I would say there's actually massive opportunity. Because what coronavirus has done is it hasn't eliminated need, it hasn't eliminated desire or interest, it's actually just created new ones. And it's also shifted what people are looking for. And so I think there's massive opportunity right now. Listen, every entrepreneur at all times should be looking at their business and saying, "If I started today, what would I be doing?" Because you don't want to be operating something just because you built it yesterday and just because it worked yesterday. It has to be built for right now. And if it's not, then you got yourself a problem.
So look around. Right now, there are all sorts of needs. You mentioned a number of industries that are going to be hurting, that are hurting, that could be hurting more. Are there ways to help them? Are there ways to serve them? So a great example I love, you mentioned restaurants. Restaurants are hurting. Absolutely so. There’s a guy who I talked to named Aziz who started something called Franklin Junction. And the idea is that you could match… almost like Tinder for restaurants. You’re matching restaurants so that you have a brand in one place who would like to sell their food in another place, but they don’t want to actually and they don’t have the money right now to build another restaurant in somewhere else.
So let’s say you got a brand in California who wants to sell in Florida. Well, what could they do aside from actually build a restaurant in Florida? Well, here’s what they could do. They could partner with a restaurant that already exists in Florida that has excess capacity in their kitchen and they could sell their own brand out of that other brand’s kit. So you’re the captain’s boil and you can start selling out a Ruby Tuesday’s kitchens. Why not? If somebody orders online, they don’t know that it came from Ruby Tuesday’s. Why would they know or care? And so he built this thing originally for his own business because he owns like the hundreds of franchises. And so he was just building a system so that he could maximize the capacity at his own restaurants. But once COVID came, he said, “I’m going to open this up to the restaurant industry writ large and see what happens.” And what happens is a massive, massive amount of interest in this.
And I asked him, I said, “Aziz, this is a really radical idea. And in fact, challenges some of the basic understandings of what a restaurant is. Do you think that people are more open to this because of the pandemic?” And he said, Absolutely, absolutely. This is pushing people to consider things that they would have not considered for. But it’s also I think moving towards the future faster. We probably would have gotten here. It would have just taken 5 to 10 years, and instead now it only took a couple months.” So this is a opportunity to look around, see what people need and start to create solutions. Don’t sit this out. If you feel called, if you feel pushed, if you feel like you’ve got something to contribute, then don’t sit it out, get in there.

Carol:
That’s great. And so it really sounds like there are entrepreneurs that are falling into, “I’m going to venture to, say, two different camps throughout COVID.” There are the people who are really looking for the opportunity, seizing the opportunity, seeing how they can solve problems, add value, create something new. I suspect though there are also still a lot of entrepreneurs because of so much uncertainty, because of so many moving targets, because of so much ongoing change right now. They’re lacking the confidence, they’re lacking the, I guess, the wherewithal to really know where to begin. And I guess where this is leading me is to you’ve talked a lot in so many different realms about imposter syndrome and not thinking, just questioning yourself as an entrepreneur, people in entrepreneurs in general doing that, wondering if they’re good enough, if they’re smart enough, if they can really do all of those things. For our listeners, can you talk more about what imposter syndrome is and especially during COVID how we can rise past it?

Jason:
Yeah, sure. That’s a great question. And it is something absolutely… Take it for me, a guy who is talking to the most accomplished people in entrepreneurship all the time. I hear it from everyone. I hear from everybody. Just the other day I was interviewing somebody very, very accomplished, you know his name, famous guy. And we had a really nice on-the-record interview and then we just started chatting off the record afterwards. And this is when he said this to me, which is why I’m not attaching his name to it. But anyway, he said he feels like a total failure, like a complete failure. And he’s unsure of everything that he does. And I’ve heard that from so many people. The crazy thing is that there’s no finish line where you reach it and then suddenly all your doubts go away. And you’re like, “Oh, well, now I guess I am an amazing person.” There’s no gold medal. There’s no balloons and confetti. It just doesn’t exist.
And so the best thing that you can do is if you can put that out of your head, then fantastic, I’d encourage you to do it. But if you can’t, then most people can’t. Then I think the next best thing is just understand that literally everybody else is thinking the same thing. It’s just the cost of doing business. It’s the mental cost of doing business. And you can prove and you should continue to try to prove to yourself that whatever negative things you’re telling yourself are incorrect. But you’re going to have to start measuring yourself differently.
It can’t be that at one point you’re going to do something and the clouds are going to lift and suddenly you realize that you are God’s gift to man. Instead, what you have to do is just recognize that you have to be measured by your own progress. And if you set out to do something and you can look back and say, “I moved forward, I learned something, I got better, I produced something good, and I’m going to continue to work towards that,” that is about as good as anybody is ever going to get. And that includes that person who I just told you who was I can’t stress it enough at the very top of his game. And he is thinking the same thing. And so are you whatever level you’re at and that’s the reality of it. And the only thing that we can do is be open about it.

J:
Yeah, I absolutely love that. I like it a lot to being an adult in general. We grew up and we realized our parents had no idea what they were doing. We as parents have no idea what we’re doing, we’re all faking it and trying to do our best.

Jason:
Nobody has any idea what they’re doing. Every industry that you ever enter you’re going to hear people be like, “Here’s the thing, here’s the secret. Nobody here knows what they’re doing.” But that’s literally every industry. I’ve started to have a lot of conversations with people in the television industry right now and I hear that on like every call. Everyone’s like, “Nobody knows what they’re talking about.” That’s everybody.

J:
And as soon as you accept that, your life gets so much easier because you no longer feel like I don’t meet some standards, some level of success that everybody else in the industry meets because nobody really does. Nobody has any idea. Some people are just better at embracing what they don’t know.

Jason:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, that’s absolutely right.

J:
So, okay. I’m going to take another little turn here. So you’ve done a great job and it’s partially because you’ve done so many things with your writing, with your podcast, with the magazine. You’ve built a personal brand. So let’s talk about that because I know a lot of our listeners are in the real estate space. And in the real estate space, there’s this whole idea of there are lots of gurus out there, the big names that everybody looks up to. And I’m sure in every industry, there are these people that have these big personal brands. What is your opinion on building a personal brand, whether that’s valuable. Has it been valuable to you? Should it be considered valuable to a lot of people as entrepreneurs? And if so, what should we be doing to round out and build our personal brands?

Jason:
Yeah. I think that it’s really valuable if you think it’s valuable. Not everyone is going to be good at it because not everyone wants to do it. And I wouldn’t say that everybody has to do it to be good at business. And that if you hate putting yourself out there that you should go through this process because it’s a lot and it’s constant, and I got to sit in bed at 10:00 PM before going to bed and come up with an Instagram story, it’s a lot. But can it be valuable? Yeah, it can be… I’m sorry, it can be super valuable. And the reason for that is because people connect with people a lot more than they connect with brands. And also you have to understand the mediums in which people are communicating.
The thing is that we think about social media and we think about these things as these places where people are showcasing their lives and whatever… But no, no, no, no. It’s not for that. Social media is not a large enough venue to stick your entire life into. Everybody in one way or another is projecting something on social media and they’re projecting something to an audience. And what do audiences do? They come back for a mixture of predictability and surprise. That’s literally everything. Every episode that you make of this podcast should have a mixture of predictability and surprise. The predictability is that you understand the sensibilities of you guys as hosts and who you’re serving and the way that you’re going to be talking and the kinds of people that you’re going to be bringing on and the general payoff that you’re going to get for listening to the show.
The surprise is that you don’t know who the next guest is going to be or exactly what they’re going to say. Well, that’s what we want. Every time we turn on the television, every time we pick up a magazine, every time we read a book, we’re looking for a mixture of predictability and surprise and it has to be the right balance. If somebody picks up Entrepreneur magazine and opens the cover and actually it’s Seventeen magazine, that’s a bad surprise. But a good surprise is that I just ran a great interview with the CEO of Netflix and he said something that was surprising. That’s what you want. So you want to do that with your own personal brand. That’s what it is. It’s a mixture of predictability and surprise. Know what people are coming for, know what kind of thing you represent to them. What value do you deliver? And then put that on repeat, don’t stray from it, but also deliver constant surprises, new information within that world, new insights, new value.
If you can do that, what you’re really doing is you’re simplifying yourself down into… Think about almost like a character, a character version of yourself. And this character version of yourself is like 5% of who you really are I guess. And yet it is the 5% that is most valuable to other people. And so you’re going to put that on repeat, and you’re going to find new and surprising and engaging ways to produce it. And if you can do that, then yeah, what you accomplish is a couple of things. You have an audience, you have an audience of people who come back for more, who trust you, who like you, who see value from you. And then as your numbers rise, you start to succeed in this completely stupid game of followers and influence and people who pay attention to you.
And frankly, that just opens up more opportunities. I mean, I do this and it helps me get speaking gigs and it helps me get a request to be interviewed on podcasts and it helps me do all sorts of stuff. And I have to think about holistically, “What is the actual purpose here?” To me, the purpose is not a bunch of followers. To me, the purpose is that it’s giving me an opportunity to hone a message that I think is really valuable and then articulate it to the most number of people possible and have the most amount of influence as possible in the world. And that to me drives me.
But if you’re in real estate and what you’re doing is trying to provide great value to people who need your services and be a great member of your community and whatever, well, then attracting influence and audience and people who trust you is going to go a long way towards that. It’s a trust builder. I mean, we all at some point need to earn people’s trust often at the very, very beginning of whenever we engage with them. And having a body of work out there, that’s value-driven, is certainly one way to earn it very fast.

J:
Love it. So shifting gears one more time. As editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur magazine, as somebody who gets to talk to a lot of big name business people, what are some major trends you see over the next few months, few years? What should we be following? What should we be thinking about as entrepreneurs and budding entrepreneurs, business trends, and industry trends and entrepreneurial type trends? What are you seeing coming down the pipe?

Jason:
Well, so I’ve seen a lot of talk about something that I said before, which is just the acceleration into the future. I think that people are talking about how industries are going to evolve, not in some kind of crazy way, but really like what direction were they going in anyway? I was talking to David Chang recently, a Momofuku and he has a Netflix show. And he was talking about how his industry, the restaurant industry, is really suffering. But at the same time, the restaurant industry was very unhealthy to begin with. The foundations of that industry were very shaky to begin with. Kitchens aren’t at full capacity, they’re not paying people properly. There’s a lot of environmental problems. There are business fundamental problems. Restaurants tend to open and close pretty fast. It’s not a healthy industry.
And so maybe, just maybe this pandemic though it has caused terrible things to restaurants and to great entrepreneurs and restaurant tourists, maybe what it will also do is force everybody to reckon with the business model here and find something that’s just simply more sustainable. And you know what? That’s good. It’s painful now. And I’m not here to dance all over it, but I do think that you could look back 10, 20 years from now and say, “Well, the pandemic finally helped the struggling restaurant industry right the ship.” So I think that we’re going to see a lot of that really hard and important conversations and a focus on what it means for these industries to fast forward into the future.
And then one other thing that I’m hearing a lot about is the recognition now that business models that weren’t built on fundamentals and weren’t built on sustainability of a business that those need to go away, that the Silicon Valley idea of pour a bunch of money, or like let’s say… Let’s not even just say Silicon, let’s say SoftBank, like the SoftBank vision of pouring tons of money into growth with really no consideration on when this company is going to start turning a profit. That started to seep out into the real world, where people are going on Shark Tank and giving away 50% of their company for $10,000.
That has to go, that has to go. And what it will be replaced with is a real focus on sustainable, slower growth, more boring companies. And I think that that’s good. I like boring companies. Boring companies are companies that are built for the long haul. And that’s what I’m here for. I’m not here for flash. So I think that there’s important conversation that’s been started around that and it’s going to continue and I think that we’re going to see a real focus on sustainability going forward.

J:
Love it, love it. Okay. I think we’re at the point in the discussion where we want to jump into the final segment of our show that we call the four more. And that’s where we’re going to ask you the same four questions that we ask all of our guests. And then the more part of the four more, we’re going to let you tell our listeners where they can find out more about you, your awesome podcasts. Obviously, people know about the magazine, but we can talk about that and anything else you want to talk about. Sound good?

Jason:
Sure. Yup.

J:
Okay. Question number one, I’ll take that one. What was your very first or your very worst job ever? And what did you take from it that you’re still using today?

Jason:
Well, my very first journalism job was at a tiny newspaper in North Central Massachusetts that I quit after a year. And what I took from it was that nobody was coming to me. I worked this job, I hated it, I had dreams of like The New York Times calling me. And then eventually, I realized like, “New York Times isn’t going to call me. I got to leave this paper. And I got to go prove myself to The New York Times,” which is exactly what I did. I sat in my bedroom for nine months and I cold-pitched every newspaper editor I could find. And eventually, I got myself… That took a little more time to get into The New York Times. But I did get into the Washington Post in those first nine months and then The Boston Globe and a couple other places. And that stuck with me ever since. You can’t sit around and wait for people to come to you. You got to go to them.

Carol:
I think that’s a great, great takeaway. Okay. Our second question is, Jason, what is the best piece of advice you have for budding entrepreneurs that you haven’t mentioned yet today?

Jason:
Oh, man, well, we’ve covered a lot. Haven’t we today? Listen, I’m just going to be really simple about it and just say go for it. I think a lot of people sit on the sidelines, they analysis paralysis themselves. And what they fail to appreciate despite how many times you might see it in books, but really I’m here to tell you that it’s true is that there’s no possible way to launch with something perfect. And the best thing that you can do is put something imperfect out in the world and learn from it and go from there. And once you do that, it just becomes a lot easier to do that.
Constantly having listened to you earlier in this episode, I told you that I put the phrase champion of change in my social media bios even though I’m not really sure I liked it. Why did I do that? I don’t know, I wanted to see how people would react to it. To be honest with you, I wanted to see how it felt. It’s like you put a shirt on, you see if anybody likes it. And you just learn. You just put things out there, you learn, and that’s the only way to do it. So go do it.

J:
Love that. Okay. Question number three, softball here, what’s your favorite business book or what’s your favorite book that many of us may not have read, but we should be reading?

Jason:
So it’s funny that should be soft ball, but the honest truth is that I don’t read business books.

J:
Okay. What do you read?

Jason:
What do I read? Well, these days, nothing, to be honest with you. I don’t have time for it. Between all the things that I’m doing and two kids and a pandemic, I don’t have time for reading. But I do listen to podcasts and I’m going to tell you where I think you should go. So what you should do is you should go find a podcast called StartUp. It was produced by Gimlet, which is a production company that is now owned by Spotify.
And you should go to the very first season of startup because very first season of startup is the most raw, honest accounting of what it's like to start a business that you will ever, ever hear. It is the guy who created Gimlet, the production company, chronicling his attempt to create Gimlet, which means that he is recording interview. He's recording meetings with investors, he's recording his discussions about his equity split with his co-founder, he is recording his very panicked conversations with his wife about income. I've never heard anything like it. It's unbelievable. It's hosted by a guy named Alex Blumberg and you should go check it out.

J:
Love it.

Carol:
Okay. So our fourth and final question, which tends to be one of my favorites, is in your personal life or your professional life, wherever you want to go with it, what is something that you’ve splurged on along the way that was totally worth it?

Jason:
Oh, hmm, that’s interesting. I feel like there are two ways to answer that. One is to go really big. And the other one is just tell you a random thing that I buy for myself. I don’t do a hell of a lot of splurging, to be honest with you. So I’m going to go with the small thing, which is that I eventually just started saying, “You know what? I’m going to buy this expensive bottle of scotch, I’m going to buy this expensive bottle of scotch because I like it and it’s okay to buy it.” And it’s like as long as you’re being reasonable with your finances, is it okay to spend $75 on a bottle of scotch that’s not going to last very long when you’re drinking basically every night as I am? I think that the answer is, yes, that’s totally fine. So I don’t know, if this wasn’t lightening round, I could sit back and come up with some more meaningful answer. But I think the one that I’m going to leave people with is go buy the bottle of scotch.

Carol:
[crosstalk 00:40:27]. That’s awesome. And there’s nothing wrong with a “small type of thing.” My big gold splurging in case anyone’s interested is there’s a very specific uni-ball, pink rollerball pen that I am in love with. And they’re out of stock all the time. But if I have to spend like $14 for a pen, I will go with find that $14 pen because it is my favorite pen to write with in my entire world.

Jason:
I love it.

Carol:
So sometimes it’s those simple pleasures that are beautiful-

Jason:
Get that pen.

Carol:
That’s right.

J:
Awesome. Well, that was the four and this is the more part of the four more. Can you tell our listeners where they can find out more about you? Tell us about your podcast and I guess maybe your favorite magazine.

Jason:
Yeah, sure. So Seventeen magazine is really great. Yeah, well, I mentioned before, but I’ll just reiterate Pessimists Archive, that show about how change happens, please go check that out. You can also find me jasonfeifer.com, J-A-S-O-N-F-E-I-F-E-R.com. You can sign up for my mailing list there, the Feifer five, the five greatest insights in entrepreneurship that I came across that month. And then also feel free to reach out to me on particularly LinkedIn and Instagram. I say this big thing, and then I do really pay off on it, which is that I respond to every DM. So you can find me on Instagram at @heyfeifer, H-E-Y-F-E-I-F-E-R, or LinkedIn. My name is Jason Feifer, if you don’t know by now. And reach out to that conversation we were having about personal brand stuff. I’m pretty active there and always looking for good feedback.

J:
Awesome. Jason, this was fantastic. Everybody, all the things Jason just mentioned will be in the show notes. So go check out our show notes. Thank you so much for being with us. We really appreciate your time. We really appreciate all of your insights and your wisdom. Thank you.

Jason:
Hey, you bet. Thanks, guys.

Carol:
Thanks, Jason. Talk soon.

Jason:
Bye.

Carol:
Seriously, how awesome was that episode? Of course, Jason has so much great insight from speaking with so many entrepreneurs every single day, all of these years throughout his career. I’ve got to tell you though what really resonated with me this episode was imposter syndrome. I loved how he shared that, even somebody he spoke with really recently who’s like Jason said at the very top of his game, the best in his industry suffers from it as well. So it was a really great reminder that we just need to dig in and overcome that. And just overall, so many great messages.

J:
Yeah. And I love the discussion about the StartUp podcast at the end. And so I need to second, third and fourth, his recommendation. If you haven’t listened to StartPp, and again, that’s the name of the podcast, it is absolutely fantastic. It was started by… or the podcast was done by the founder of Gimlet, which is the podcasting company. And it’s just an amazing insight into what it takes to start a business. And it’s motivational, it’s educational, just a great, great podcast. So listen to all the BiggerPockets Podcast first, listen to all of Jason’s podcasts second, and then go listen to StartUp because it’s just absolutely fantastic. All righty. Well, are we good for this week?

Carol:
Let’s wrap it up, baby.

J:
All righty. Everybody, thank you so much for tuning in. Hope you have an amazing week. Stay happy, stay healthy. She’s Carol, I’m J.

Carol:
So here’s the deal. We all doubt ourselves, but just go for it, get out there and do it today. Do you like that?

J:
Nice, I like that.

Carol:
Thank you. Everybody, have a super week. We are so impressed with all that you’re doing and we’re so grateful that you keep tuning in. We’ll talk to you next week.

J:
Thanks, everybody.

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