TSP084 | Jon Levy – Transcription

TSP085 | Stacie Shaw – Transcription
TSP083 | Robert Friedman – Transcription

John Livesay:

Welcome to The Successful Pitch. Today’s guest, Jon Levy, is the author of The 2 AM Principle, and he said, “At 2 am, you should either have an epic adventure, or time to go home.” He really defines what an adventure is, including having some excitement, some risk, and some growth for you, personally, at the end of that adventure, and it sounds very similar to what the entrepreneur’s journey is.

When he talks about having fun, he says, “You create the fun. You don’t go out and have fun.” We really go through the epic model. Establish, push boundaries, increase, and continue that really will help you craft the right message when you get in front of an investor. He said, “The quality of our lives is defined by the people we surround ourselves with and the conversations we have with them.” He’s the expert at that as he hosts these secret, invitation-only, influential dinners that has changed his life and the number of people he’s met.

Most importantly, I think, he talks about routines are the enemy of excitement, when to have a good routine and when to change it up. Finally, he writes about Ben Franklin saying that, “People will like us more if we ask them to do us a favor, but there’s a good way and a bad way to do that.”

The interview begins in 45 seconds right after this information on how you can get funded fast.

Are you a founder struggling with your investor pitch? Do you need warm introductions to the right investors to get your startup funded? Do you need a funding road map to get you there fast? All of this and more can be found in Crack the Funding Code. Join host, John Livesay, and Judy Robinett, bestselling author of How to Be a Power Connector and board member of Illuminate Ventures, on their free Crack the Funding Code webinar. Simply go to judyrobinett.com – that’s J-U-D-Y-R-O-B-I-N-E-T-T dot com – and click on the webinar tab to see how to tap into their network of investors from around the world. There’s a link in the show notes as well. You’re only one click away from getting funded fast.

Hello, and welcome to The Successful Pitch Podcast. I am very excited to have Jon Levy on today, because Jon is the author of the 2 AM Principle. He is literally a human behavior scientist, a consultant, and keynote speaker. He is the expert on influence, networking, and most importantly for me, adventure, and that’s the element that people don’t usually have in their lives, let alone in their business. So, he’s going to give us some great tips on how to have your business become an adventure and what that does for your world. He’s known for having these incredible dinners that the New York Times has written about, and how that transforms your life when you give people a reason to get together in a unique situation. Jon, welcome to the show.

Jon:

It’s great to be on. Thanks for having me.

John:

Well, one of the things that I really find so fascinating about you is starting with your Twitter handle, not just your name, but the initials after it: TLB. Would you tell everybody what that stands for and why? Because, I think that’s a really fun place to start.

Jon:

Absolutely. So, I was about 17 years old. I was about to graduate from high school, and I was kind of thinking, “What do I want next?” and I noticed that a lot of the adults around me were seeming unenthusiastic about life. Kind of like the only reason that they got out of the bed was that they didn’t die the night before, and I wanted to understand why it is that I can hang out with my nieces and nephews and they’re excited about everything all the time. Then, there’s a certain point where things kind of changed.

So, I went back and started reading a lot of children’s books, and one of them that I read was Peter Pan, and Peter Pan has this group of rambunctious kids that go along with him on his adventures, and they’re called “The Lost Boys”. So, I wanted to dedicate my life to wonder and adventure, and in the hopes that suggests that same excitement that we see in youth is retained throughout life. So, it serves as a constant reminder that, in admiration of these characters, that it’s JonLevyTLB, or The Lost Boy.

John:

Isn’t that great? Well, one of the things I’m constantly telling my clients when they’re pitching for funding, is you have to be memorable and you have to brand yourself in a way that people instantly get who you are and what you do, and you do that better than almost anybody else I’ve ever had the pleasure of interviewing because it’s so specific, and it pulls people in. Can you tell a little bit about how you started the idea of these incredible salon dinners?

Jon:

Sure. So, just to give the listeners a sense of what these dinners are, 12 people are invited at a time, none of them know each other. They’re not allowed to talk about what they do or even give their last name. They cook dinner together. When they sit down to eat, they get to guess what everybody else does, and they find out that it’s a famous author sitting across a Nobel Laureate, the president of a television network sitting across from the editor-in-chief of one of the top magazines in the world, or a two-time Olympic gold medalist sitting across from a famous actor or actress.

So, I hosted about 900 people across close to 100 dinners and everything you could imagine from members of royalty through Grammy-award, or Tony, or essentially, any kind of award-winning artist, or even fields medal winners, or mathematicians. So, it’s developed into this community that’s pretty wild and incredibly humbling to spend time around.

John:

It’s so interesting because investors say all the time, “If you can’t figure out how to get a warm introduction to me, you probably can’t figure out how to get to your customers.” You have some amazing ideas not only of what you’ve done and how it’s changed your life. But, also, you have some suggestions, I think, from listening to some of your other interviews on how people can not have to spend a lot of money and make it their own, right?

Jon:

Oh, without a doubt. So, one of the things I suggest is that if you want to connect with people, the first thing is it’s not about networking. So, networking brings up ideas of people at conferences handing out business cards and trying to find clients. It’s a very one-way interaction, where I’m trying to collect as many names, or people for a specific objective, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just not a very powerful context to be in.

The reason is that if you look at research by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler. They wrote a book called Connected, and it’s all about the surprising impact of our social networks. And what they started off studying was the obesity epidemic. They were curious if it passes from person to person the way a cold does, or if it’s a percentage of the population kind of like Alzheimer’s. You don’t get Alzheimer’s because you’re hanging out with somebody who has it. It’s not contagious.

What they found was obesity actually transfers from person to person. If you have a friend who’s obese, your chances increase by 45%. Your friends who don’t know them, 25% increase, their friends by 10%, and their friends by 5%. Which means that if I meet somebody extraordinary — what they also actually found was, that everything passes through our networks like that, from happiness, to voting habits, to smoking habits, exercise, all that.

So, this also means that if I meet somebody extraordinary, it’s not only important that I get to know them and spend time with them, but that they end up spending time with my friends, because that will lead them to having a positive impact on my friends, who will, in turn, have a positive impact on me. So, it’s less about networking and more about community building.

John:

I love that. We’re going to tweet that out. “It’s not about networking. It’s about community building,” and what you’re describing, Jon, sounds like the ripple effect in the whole waves, the physics behind it right?

Jon:

It’s absolutely that, that if you can find the right people and bring them together, then by having a positive impact on each other and being able to change the cultural conversation taking place, you can achieve, essentially, whatever it is that you want for your life, your business, your community.

So, the mission of the Influencers became to impact the quality of our members’ lives, their communities, and hopefully, one day, the world with the understanding that by bringing extraordinary people together, we would be able to have further and further reaching goals. Not only that, but the age or the time when a single human being could have a dramatic impact on the world has kind of changed. Now, you need such a diversity of knowledge and experience to create major impact.

So, what you need to look at are groups of people from varied backgrounds. So, I’m a huge supporter that, let’s say, you have a startup, right? It’s a tech startup, you’re used to hanging out with tech people. Adding another tech person might be nice, but it won’t necessarily increase your knowledge. You all are reading the same books, you’re all hanging out in the same social circles. It’s a bit of a stagnant experience. But, adding somebody in finance, adding somebody in medicine, all these people that bring new ideas that can trigger inspiration and also expand your second-degree network significantly.

Because, a study was done that looked at how people actually get their jobs, and what they found is that most people get their jobs based on loose ties, so the people you kind of know, because there are far more of those than the people that we know closely. So, if we diversify our communities, then it increases, in general, the number of people that we kind of know or have ties to.

John:

Right, it’s so valuable. Well, speaking of reading the same kind of books and not reading the same kind of books, the 2 AM Principle is a very different kind of book for people to read and I love the title. So, let’s start with that. What does it mean? The 2 AM Principle?

Jon:

Well, let me start off with I spent a lot of my life searching for adventure. Last year, I went to all seven continents. Every ideal big travel project like I once did one where, every month, I travel to the biggest event in the world, wherever it was, and what I found is that there’s this kind of line in the sand where either things become completely exceptionally fun and exciting or you should just go home. There’s no benefit. In New York, that line is 2 am. So, the book title is “The 2 AM Principle: Discover the Science of Adventure”, and the 2 am principle is that nothing good happens after 2 am, except the most epic experiences of your life.

So, if you’re going to stay up past that point, you better make it incredible, and also know that, in different cities, it’s a different time. So, Chicago, it might be 1 pm, and certain Latin American countries, it might be 3 o’clock or 4 o’clock in the morning because you don’t even go out until 2.

John:

Got it. Well, in your book, The 2 AM Principle, you have a great definition of adventure. Would you break those three concepts up for us?

Jon:

Oh, gladly. One of the things I really was happy with, when I was looking to define adventure was, as an entrepreneur, to find the incredible overlap that it has with the entrepreneurial experience. So, as I see it, an adventure is an experience that is one, exciting and remarkable. Now, this is important because, as a society, or as a species, we’ve passed down our knowledge through an oral history. So, if it’s not worth remarking about, actually speaking about, it’s not culturally significant. As an entrepreneur, if what I’m doing isn’t remarkable, if it’s not worth talking about, it’s not relevant as a company.

John:

I love it.

Jon:

So, if you’re pitching, if you’re selling, whatever it is, you have to really be able to express that element of what you’re producing that is remarkable that people will then talk about. Two, possesses adversity and/or risk, preferably perceived risk. So, what does that actually mean? Well, in an adventure, you have to overcome an obstacle, but people often confuse these dangers, like climbing Everest, with perceived risks, like going parachuting. Now, the important thing is that, as an entrepreneur, there’s always this impression that we take on immense amounts of risk. But, if you look at the most successful entrepreneurs, they mostly take risks that are highly mitigated, highly calculated. Did you ever read Originals by Adam Grant?

John:

Yes.

Jon:

Excellent book, and Grant is a brilliant researcher and writer. One of the things I loved is he shares the story of the founders of Warby Parker, and these people are brilliant, because what they did was they kept their, I think, jobs and internships long past the point that Warby Parker was profitable and showing signs of success, and the reason was that there’s no need to take on the additional risk, that you can have a startup without throwing everything else aside that does great and that makes money and grows at a healthy pace, and once it’s fully established at a point where you can support yourself and you’re not spending your time worrying about how are you going to pay for lunch, or you’re stuck eating Ramen noodles, then you go full-time into it.

John:

It’s almost like the Maslow Principle, right? Get the basics handled of food and shelter and then you can start doing self-actualization. The Originals really talks about you can be yourself. Don’t think that if you’re not an early bird, you’re not going to be successful. That’s, I think, a big sink with what you’re all about too. It’s like be who you are, and no matter what time of day that is, then you can work, right?

Jon:

Without a doubt. People often ask me for advice on networking and so on, and one of the things that I often emphasize is that there’s this perception that the right way to be in American culture is this extrovert that is a larger than life personality and so on, and there’s no real evidence that that makes you more successful. In fact, you just have to be respectful of if you’re an introvert, that’s the way you are and you have to just take on different practices.

John:

Right. So, be remarkable, mitigate your risk, and then the third part of an adventure?

Jon:

Yeah, it’s exciting and remarkable, it possesses adversity and/or risk, and the third is it brings about growth. The person you are at the end is distinct from the person who started. Meaning that if you look at any great journey, it’s not necessarily reaching the objective that’s important. It’s the growth that the characters take on or experience as a byproduct. They get to be expanded versions of themselves.

John:

That really explains, in a new way for me, that whole phrase that I heard as a kid and never really understood, which is it’s about the journey, not the destination, and when I was a kid, it was like, “What are you talking about? These car rides are boring. I want to get to where we’re going.” Now, the way you framed it, I totally understand that it’s about the growth you experienced during that journey, not just arriving at whatever location you’re getting to.

Jon:

Yes. So, I go out on these wild adventures. I’ll like drop myself off in a foreign city, and I won’t have a place to sleep, I don’t know anybody, I don’t speak the language, and either I convince somebody to put me up for the night, or I sleep on the street. So, I have a clear mission and an objective, and it’s not necessarily about the success of it. If I have to pull an all-nighter and just walk the streets, I’ll survive. I’ll be fine. But, the type of person that I have to be in order to get a stranger to take me in is an expanded version of myself.

John:

A-ha! This is what fascinates me about you, Jon, and how it relates to getting investors to trust a startup to invest with them is they have to trust them first. You’re giving an extreme example of someone having to trust you that they just met you to invite you to spend the night on their sofa or what have you. It really is a microcosm of what’s going on when someone’s getting an investor to trust them to give them all this money, right?

Jon:

Without a doubt.

John:

Yeah, what’s an expanded version of yourself? How could someone take what you do – or I’m going to have you tell what you do – to expand yourself and then go, “Huh, so the next time I’m in front of an investor, or even just connecting with people at an event, how can I be an expanded version of myself to break down the initial trust issues?”

Jon:

So, one of the things I do as a practice is that if something scares me and it’s not going to kill me, it’s probably a good idea to do it.

John:

Well, that’s like that opening to your book, right? Tell that story really quick, because that’s so riveting.

Jon:

Okay, so it’s about 9 o’clock in the morning, July 7th, 2014. I’m in Pamplona, Spain and I’ve just made it through the running portion of running at the bulls, and I end up at the stadium, and inside — well, there’s this really weird thing called the “winner effect”, which is if you have a success, your body fills with testosterone to kind of prep you for the next battle so you have a higher chance of winning. The problem is that if you keep winning, and keep winning, and keep winning, you flood with so much testosterone that you don’t make really good decisions, and in nature, animals spend too much time in the open.

John:

Vegas?

Jon:

Yes. No, that’s exactly it. And they’ll get killed or they’ll get into unnecessary fights and die. So, in my case, what I thought would be a really good idea would be to run up to a bull and smack it. So, I do that a couple times, and then I realize, “Do you know what would be super cool? Is if I let a bull jump over me at the entrance. So, that’s how they get in and out. So, I take the safest position I could and the bull comes in full speed and it slips and tries to make the jump, but I realize I’m totally in a bad situation, and it misses its jump and lands on my back and crushes me, and I lose all feeling in my torso, and literally everything goes silent, time stops, and I’m pretty sure, in that moment, that I might be paralyzed, because I can’t feel anything, I can’t move.

So, I have this internal conversation where I’m like, “Okay, Jon, you’ve decided to live a life as this adventure and it may have totally screwed you. You have to be okay with the fact that you did this, and that it was just a fluke and you may not get out of this, and you may be in a wheelchair for the rest of your life.” I was like, “Okay, I can handle that,” and then time started again, and I somehow managed to stand up and search for medical assistance, but nobody could help me because they were literally dragging bodies out of the way from people who were hit 10 times worse than me.

Eventually, what we found out is that, I went to triage, and that it had crushed my left shoulder, and luckily, miraculously, nothing was broken, but the pain was so intense, I started going unconscious, and I ended up needing wheelchair service at the airports and all that, and six months of physical therapy.

John:

Woo! And a great opening to your book.

Jon:

Absolutely well worth it.

John:

Oh man! Thank you for that. I just had to let everybody hear that story personally, because reading it is a page-turner. So, now back to how do you, so we can learn from you, create an expanded version of yourself to create trust in a stranger to let you spend the night on their sofa.

Jon:

So, there’s a few things. One is I — well, there’s two ways to kind of look at it. One is understanding the science behind it, and the second is understanding the practices that fulfil on that. So, from the practices standpoint, I speak to everybody. I speak to everybody and embarrass myself pretty consistently, and the reason is that I’m willing to be uncomfortable. I believe that the scope or the size of your life is in direct proportion to how uncomfortable you’re willing to be.

John:

Oh, that’s fascinating. “The bigger your willingness to be uncomfortable is, the bigger your life will be,” would that be accurate?

Jon:

Yes. So, your tolerance for discomfort will define the size of your life. So, I am willing to be incredibly uncomfortable and it’s something that I embrace. I know not everybody’s like that, but I’m very clear that most of the concerns that I have are completely perceptual. I might end up feeling like a jackass after, but those feelings will fade. But, what I’ll learn in the process about engaging people is invaluable.

So, that’s kind of the practice. Now, the science behind it is interesting. So, there’s certain things that clearly make people trust you more, in general, assuming you don’t have a creepy smile. But, there’s also some interesting characteristics, like the “Ben Franklin effect”. The Ben Franklin effect, we all know that if I do you a favor, you’ll like me more. That’s reciprocity, right? These are general rules. They don’t apply to every single person, but in general.

Then, the Ben Franklin effect, Franklin had this contentious rival, politically, and rather than trying to win him over, he decided that what he would do is ask a favor, and that way, the rival will have to invest effort into their relationship. So, he asked to borrow this very book, the man does it, and what happened was his demeanor totally changed after that point, because now he’s invested into the relationship rather than fighting something.

So, I’m a strong believer in asking people for favors, because, one, it will get them to invest into the relationship, and two, then it will make you more likely to invest into them. So, it serves to build community, which is something that I’m always committed to. Now, when you’re asking for favors, there’s additional research that suggests that you should stack them from small to large, meaning, if I can get you to invest a little bit of effort, you’ll then invest even more effort, because I am seen as somebody worthy of your effort. So, if I wanted to ask a stranger for complex directions, I would first ask them for the time, and then for the complex directions, because once they’ve invested, they would be more willing to invest more.

John:

Love it. That’s so valuable because it’s almost counterintuitive to think, “Well, how can I ask somebody I don’t know a favor, but you’ve really explained it well.” Well, before I let you go, I want to dive into this last topic, because it’s so fascinating for everybody, which is, “Routine is the enemy of excitement.”

Jon:

So, I’m a huge fan of routines for productivity. I get up, I do my first most important thing every morning, I knock it out, and then I have routines for everything from fitness to communication habits. But routine, fundamentally, is not an exciting experience, because the more we’re exposed to something, the less novel it will be. So, if you want to lead an exciting life, you have to be willing to go outside of your routine. You have to go explore things that are novel and different from what you’ve already experienced.

John:

That’s great. Well, the other thing that’s a big takeaway from your book, and I highly recommend everybody get a copy instantly is you don’t have fun. You create fun, and the moment you stop creating it, it will disappear. I think that totally shifts everyone’s perspective, right? Like, if you go to Disneyland if you’re in Disneyland — you go, “I’ve had fun here before,” or I hear it’s a fun place. They brand it as the most magical place on Earth, I better have a lot of fun. Guess what? You could be miserable at Disneyland. You have to bring the fun, right?

Jon:

Yeah, it’s a mental state, it’s an attitude, and it’s something that requires practice. People often are surprised by the amount of effort I put into insuring my own happiness, but it is a lot of work. Our natural state isn’t happiness. We have to work at that the way that we work on our relationships, the way that we have a fitness routine for our health and wellness. Everything is a practice that’s deserving of its time and attention.

John:

And the benefits are so worth it, like you said. If you want to have a small life, stay in your comfort zone. If you want to have a big life, constantly push yourself. I can’t thank you enough, Jon. The book is the 2 AM Principle on Amazon, and wherever books are sold. Your Twitter is @JonLevyTLB for the Lost Boys, and how else can people follow you and keep track of your adventures?

Jon:

On Snapchat, Instagram, you’ll see completely insane photos, sometimes of my great friends that I met through the dinners, traveling around the world, and you can also find me on my website, jonlevytlb.com. J-O-N-L-E-V-Y T like Thomas, L like Lion, B like Boy.

John:

Love it. Thanks so much.

Jon:

Thank you.

John:

Thanks for listening to The Successful Pitch Podcast. If you liked the show, please go to iTunes and write a review, and encourage your friends to write reviews too. It really helps get the word out.

You know, people say that the longest distance is between someone’s mouth and their wallet. People can tell you they’re going to invest but when it comes time to write the check, they don’t do it. So, how do you get people to say yes and then follow through? Visualize yourself on the left side of a riverbank and you have to cross the river, and on the other side of the river is where the funding happens.

So, first, you make up your idea and then you make it real and then you make it reoccur. Once you start dipping your toe into the water to get to funding, that’s where I can help. I get you across that river faster than you would on your own with a lot less frustration than you will get when you hear a bunch of no’s and you don’t know why. So, if you want some help getting funded faster with less frustration, go to my free funding webinar, sellingsecretsforfunding.com/webinar and sign up and get in depth information on how you can get funded fast. Thanks.

TSP085 | Stacie Shaw – Transcription
TSP083 | Robert Friedman – Transcription
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