Jason Feifer

and Robert talk about creating opportunities rather than just going along with the opportunities presented, the successful seek out connections and opportunities and challenges to help them grow. We also talk about the fake it until you make it, but you can’t fake who you really are, so why not put the energy towards becoming who you want to be.

A little bit about Jason...

Jason Feifer is the editor in chief of Entrepreneur magazine, author of the book Build For Tomorrow (out September 2022), a startup advisor, and host of two podcasts: Build For Tomorrow (yes, same name as the book) a show about the smartest solutions to our most misunderstood problems; and Problem Solvers, about entrepreneurs overcoming the odds in their business.

Prior to Entrepreneur, Jason has worked as an editor at Men’s Health, Fast Company, Maxim, and Boston magazine, and has written about business and technology for the Washington Post, Slate, New York, and others. Jason’s previous book, a romantic comedy that he wrote with his wife called Mr. Nice Guy, is currently being developed for television.

Check out more of Jason

Book - /Build-Tomorrow-Embracing-Adapting-Future-Proofing/dp/059323538X

Podcast - jasonfeifer.com/build-for-tomorrow

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Jason Feifer
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Show Notes

Robert Peterson 0:00 

I'm really excited about today's guest, Jason Feifer. Jason is the editor in chief of Entrepreneur Magazine, author of the book build for tomorrow, a startup advisor and host of two podcasts built for tomorrow, and a show about the smartest solutions to our most misunderstood problems and problem solvers. entrepreneurs overcoming the odds in their business. A private entrepreneur, James Jason has worked as an editor at men's health, Fast Company, Maxim and Boston Magazine, and has written about business and technology for The Washington Post slate, New York and others. Jason's previous book, a romantic comedy they wrote with his wife called Mr. Nice Guy is currently being developed for television, Jason Feifer and Robert talked about creating opportunities rather than just going along with the opportunities presented, the successful seek out connections and opportunities and challenges to help them grow. We talk about fake it until you make it but you can't fake who you really are. why not put the energy towards becoming who you want to be. Jason, thank you very much for joining me today. I'm looking forward to this conversation and just sharing all your wisdom with the world.

Jason Feifer 1:40 

Thanks, I appreciate it. Nice to be here.

Robert Peterson 1:43 

I love how in your bio, you talk about opportunity set A and opportunity set B and I love the way you share your journey that way. typically let every guest just share their journey. I'd appreciate it if you'd share yours from the perspective of those two opportunities.

Jason Feifer 2:00 

Sure. For context, for folks who aren't familiar with that, that's how you're talking about philosophy. I have called your next job. The idea of working your next job is that in front of each person in front of you, right now we have two sets of opportunities, opportunities, and opportunity set be opportunities to a is everything that's asked of you. everything that's at your job, you have roles, responsibilities, your boss expects things from you to do a good job, that's opportunity set A opportunity set B is everything that's available to you that nobody's asking you to do. that could be at your work, where you take on new role responsibility, join a new team, but it could be something outside of work where you, you take a new, take a class on a new skill, you seek out everything that is what you saw, it's funny, it's funny, I'm just gonna, I'm just gonna tell you is we're towards the end of an insane day, and I just like lost my place and what I'm talking about. I'm just gonna, I'm just gonna be real about that. Anyway, everything that's not everything, happiness is everything that is available to you that nobody's asking you to do. that could be outside of work. That could be inside of work that could be outside of work, you like podcasts, you decide to start a podcast, you are interested in learning a new skill, you take a class, the point of this is that every the point of this is that the greatest opportunities you will have, the greatest growth you will get is going to come out of pursuit of opportunity set B because opportunity set A is you got to do a good job or you won't keep your job. If you only focus on opportunities, you will only be qualified to do the things that you're already doing. Happiness is where growth happens, where you open doors, and you don't even know where they're going to lead, where you just give yourself more skills to be more valuable later on in ways you cannot even anticipate. anyway, that's the context, you would ask me how I have done this for myself. The answer is that I have really always been in every job that I've ever held. I have always been doing this kind of secondary thing. For a long time. It was freelancing for other magazines, which is where I built new skills and contacts and really accelerated my career. I've taught I've, I've launched viral websites. Right now I have my own media company. I produce a whole lot of media that makes me money, and I speak and I advise startups and I do a whole lot of stuff. The reason for that is because I just don't believe that you could possibly get to where you want to go even if you don't know where that is, if you only are satisfied doing the thing you're already doing.

Robert Peterson 4:44 

That's powerful. So, new book releasing, just released just released. Yeah, build for tomorrow, and it's really talking about looking at change in a completely different way. then most people feel like it. Most people dread change even though Change is inevitable. Yeah. they, and they don't see change as opportunity. you're trying to help people build resilience and see sea change as an opportunity for something even greater and even bigger than even they can imagine when they're moving into it,

Jason Feifer 5:18 

 And that just comes out of me observing that this is what drives people's success. Through being an entrepreneur, I get to meet with the most incredible people, and both very famous, but aljust, regular smart entrepreneurs who have started interesting businesses. What I have found is that the single quality that runs through all of them, and the thing that has driven the most success is that they are adaptable. They see failure as data, they process experiences as new sets of opportunities, rather than as loss, they do not see the world as fixed. Therefore, everything that changes is a reduction to what they already had. They see it as an infinite potential for growth. I wanted to understand what it was that they were doing. it doesn't seem to be something people are born with, it seems to be a skill that people can learn. I spent a lot of time years and years talking to people about this and following what they were doing and understanding the the the systems that they put in place for themselves and the the habits they had built in the mindsets that they had developed., ultimately came to my own theory of how change happens that it happens in four phases, panic, adaptation, new normal and wouldn't go back. I wanted to help anybody along that journey. That's where the book builds for tomorrow comes from.

Robert Peterson 6:50 

Well, I love that idea of not going back. when I talked with entrepreneurs that have a line with entrepreneurs crossed in their business, where they wouldn't go back. Yeah, I call it the no longer hireable line. they've gotten far into this space that they would never wouldn't take another job. Unless, I suppose some but for the majority, they're alright, I understand how to generate revenue, I understand how to create relationships, I understand I do these things, and why would I go to work for somebody else? Because I've put all these pieces together. I love that line. The wouldn't the wouldn't go back.

Jason Feifer 7:32 

Yeah, yeah. look, that you reach that in your own life. then you say, perhaps I'm on hireable. Now I've heard a lot of entrepreneurs say something like that to me. it is a thing that you can find within your business where you were doing something for a long time, and it was working, and then maybe it stopped working or it didn't work as well as it could or you identify that there was a better way to do it, or a new opportunity that you hadn't seized., and and you you ran some experiments, you tried something new, and you ultimately reached a wouldn't go back moment there. Whereas where you said, it turns out that I was crazily maybe does I've heard this all the time that, people say they were they were succeeding despite themselves, right, which is to say that they made the business was working, but they hadn't really figured out exactly how to serve their consumer, they hadn't figured out exactly who their consumer was, but they hadn't figured out the best way to run this business. The more in which they embraced that the thing that they're doing isn't the only way to do it, the more that they discovered that there was still a wouldn't go back moment for them, even if they didn't expect it.

Robert Peterson 8:39 

powerful. If this is a skill, and those are the four stages, what skills are necessary to build a pass move through those stages?

Jason Feifer 8:51 

Well, there are a lot of them. The first one that I always point people towards is that you need to understand the thing about you that does not change in times of change. Though I I like to describe it as the difference between your what and your why were? Well, people closely identify the output of their work with the thing that they're doing with maybe even their job title. the problem with that is that the those things are going to change those things are are are by their very nature changeable the way in which you operate is going to change the kind of leader that you need to be is going to change the perhaps even the thing that your company does is going to change and if you too closely identify yourself with any one way of doing these things then once there's some kind of disruption or adjustment, you're gonna feel lost and your instinct is going to be to try to hold on to the thing that already was because that's what you knew. Instead, we need to push ourselves to identify a core mission of ourselves, something that is deep inside of us. That is, it drove us to develop the skills that enable us to do the tasks, it's core that it simply just doesn't change even when everything else does. For example, I started as a newspaper reporter, I became a magazine editor, I make podcasts, I write books. my definition of myself to myself is not any one of those things anymore. It used to be., and I don't think that it served me very well, because when I thought of myself as a newspaper reporter, and then I decided I didn't want to be in newspapers anymore, I felt pretty stuck. I thought, well, I don't know what I don't know, if I'm not a newspaper reporter. Instead, I have this line for myself, which is I tell stories in my own voice. I tell stories, not magazine stories, not newspaper stories, or podcasts, or books. In my own voice, I'm setting the terms for the work that I want to do. I find that the more that we can come up with something like that for ourselves, or for our companies, because I've heard entrepreneurs have that for their companies, too, It's the difference between how we sell cupcakes, and how we bring joy to people with sweet baked goods. If you only sell cupcakes, what happens when people stop liking cupcakes? what we instead need to do is identify something that is not changeable, that is not subject to shifts in needs. I tell stories, in my own voice, there will always be people who need to do that. It's funny, I just, just this afternoon, in fact, somebody who had read my book, reached out to me to tell me their version. I'm just gonna like looking at my email, because it was cool. Yeah, this guy, this guy wrote to me and he said, he said, Here's what he came up with, during the exercise he wrote, I blend observations, facts and patterns to drive improvement. That's great. I love that observation. there will always be a need for that, or it doesn't matter, maybe different different observations, different facts, I guess. Certainly, there's never going to be a you're never going to run out of need for that skill. identify that. suddenly, when things change, you understand exactly how you're oriented?

Robert Peterson 12:22 

Absolutely. Well, I definitely appreciate that, that perspective on on facing change., and really, you're trying to help people advance themselves., and the identity we can get caught in identities, moms get caught in the identity of being a mother, and then when their kids move out there, they're lost and feel like they they haven't found themselves and yeah, and especially people in this current environment that identify by their title, right, we, we go to all these networking events and all of these happenings and it's always, well, who are you? Well, I'm, and we use our title instead of, I like that, finding an identity in something that's not tied to your job or to your company or to it's tied to purpose,

Jason Feifer 13:11 

Now, of course, that's something that really is most useful internally. I can totally understand when you're going out to a networking event. Nobody's going to just start speaking their their mission, Like if I said, If I said, somebody asked what I do and I don't say I'm the editor in chief Entrepreneur Magazine, I instead say I tell stories of my own voice that's gonna sound kind of weird and obnoxious but right what is what you what you just said reminds me of this. This thing we're when somebody asks you what you do at a party and you just say your title that it's actually an interesting possible missed opportunity, and I have this in the book

Jason Feifer 14:23 

I met this guy named Myron golden awhile ago, a high ticket sales coach, and he had made this really interesting point that most people miss a great opportunity when they explain what they do because they describe themselves in a way in which it doesn't compel anybody to do anything. Myron said. Byron said if people can only I just pulled up his quotes, I can quote him exactly who he said people can only decide whether or not they want it. do business with you, based on the fact that they hear what you say, and then they think I need that, or I don't need that. You want to be one of those two reasons, like hate me or celebrate me, but whatever you do, don't just tolerate me because I'm confusing., and that he had developed this formula, which was really interesting for how to describe yourself. He said, It has four qualities. '' number one, you have to have a self description that must be measurable, it must contain an exact quantifiable thing. then number two, it must be sustainable. should fit into a sentence spoken in about seven seconds, he says, third, must be understandable. you have to deliver it in a very basic three to 5/3 to five grade, fifth grade level, to avoid any confusion. Then fourth, it must be desirable. it must contain something that people already want. So, for example, Myron describes himself as he gave it to me, here's his sentence, I help high level entrepreneurs create high ticket offers convey high ticket, I'm sorry, I'm gonna say it again. I help entrepreneurs create high ticket offers, convey high ticket offers, and convert those high ticket offers. They can have six and seven figure days. Now you hear that you go back to his rules, and suddenly they make a lot of sense. So, gotta be quantifiable, There's gotta be a number in there, that tells you exactly what the payoff is going to be. Gotta be stainable gotta be understandable. it must be desirable., and I, I thought, boy, it's really interesting, because we rarely do that. I hear coaches all the time, who will just say I'm a, I'm a transformation coach. And what all I do is I gotta do is I help people transform, transform into what? For what purpose?

Robert Peterson 16:37 

From a cocoon to a butterfly. Yeah, exactly.

Jason Feifer 16:39 

Anyway, I love that because, the thing I love about those kinds of things is that you realize that everything around you could be improved by that, there's a way to think about and do better on even the smallest things that you do. when you think at a granular level like that, you really start to find opportunities that you've left, sitting around.

Robert Peterson 17:01 

Oh, absolutely. That's pretty powerful. The idea of compelling just even in your introduction, is pretty important. not I don't know that it's taught very much or, or encouraged. So, as editor in chief is your role in meeting with many, many entrepreneurs, successful people? How important is authenticity and, and character in today's business world?

Jason Feifer 17:33 

the kind of cliche answer is oh, it's important. I want authenticity to matter a lot. Actually, very interestingly, I have a researcher, she's a professor of entrepreneurship. Was she an assistant professor of marketing at the Tippie College of Business at the University of Iowa, and she does a lot of really interesting research on this question about authenticity, and, and she's working on a piece for me right now. What's been fascinating is hearing about all this research that finds that actually a founder's story and the feeling that that that that the thing that somebody's getting the product or service that they're getting is deeply connected in an authentic way to their founders story and mission. It's not just appealing, it's actually central to whether consumers buy what you're selling, like research actually confirms this. that's, then they have all these, all these really interesting ways to explore this and discover, like his, for example, funny, there's some research that shows lower serial numbers are preferred to higher ones, why? Because consumers feel like lower serial numbers are closer to the founder and therefore more authentic. Also, they did a study found, they surveyed chocolate lovers, I guess about Ghirardelli chocolate, and, and found that people, people preferred Ghirardelli chocolate that was made with domenico Ghirardelli, going into the founder of Ghirardelli, who died in 1894. not around to sell the product itself anywhere, but found that people preferred chocolate that was made using Domenico Ghirardelli's original process over chocolate that was made using a new process. isn't that interesting? Because there's something about the old original process, even though people don't know what it is they couldn't articulate it, they probably have, it probably doesn't make any difference in terms of the taste. The idea that the process is connected to the founder and that there's something more authentic about that product because it has a connection to the founder, drives consumer interest more. They really just show you that there's a world in which manufacturing Weighing excellence is very easy to come by, Everybody? Nobody can nobody. Every, every pair of scissors is just as good, There's no pair of scissors or cuts better. if you're not competing on manufacturing quality, you gotta compete on something else. The answer is you compete on story and you compete on you compete on that feeling that people have for the connection to the person who made the thing.

Robert Peterson 20:27 

Well, I love that I compete on a story, which means that you have to tell the story. Yeah. Your story has to be tied to, to you and then to the services that you offer., and stories are powerful, i One of the things that I try to help people with is the stories they tell themselves. the value of increasing the value that they tell themselves in their own story, which of course increases their value outwardly. Yeah, the love the power of story, obviously, in everything you do is about the story. yeah,

Jason Feifer 21:03 

very much. I communicate in stories, everything that I do, when people hire me to talk a lot and one of the things people always remark upon is that my talks are basically stories, stories with lessons rather than lessons with stories. the reason for that is because stories are what people connect to, they're what they're, they're the things that they'll remember, they're the ways in which information makes sense to them., and so, I have found that the most effective way to communicate anything, is not to just tell you the thing, but rather to tell you a story, and then then fix the thing to it that you can see how that story directly relates to the thing that you're working on right now.

Robert Peterson 21:49 

People remember it more and have a bigger impact than just telling them the thing. That's good. What has been the impact of writing your book?

Jason Feifer 22:00 

I guess we'll see. It's only been out a few weeks as we speak right now. The early impact has been a lot of what I anticipated, which is to say, the book, having a book is a really, really good excuse to, to just amplify yourself. All the big podcasts will have you on because you had a book. People will step up and do favors for you. Like literally today, we were. I don't know when this will come out. we're speaking on September 19, which is my book that came out on September 6, September 19. I'm still kind of in launch mode here. today, Michelle Pfeiffer, Michelle Pfeiffer posted a photo of herself with my book on her Instagram. How cool. just, there are no words for how cool that is., and so, like it is, it is an amplification vehicle. Also, the mistake people make with these kinds of things is they think, Oh, well, I need to amplify myself. I guess I should just get a book together. Then they slam a book together, they hire someone to write a book for them., and there's a disconnect there. Ultimately, what you really need to do is not put out a book, what you really need to do is figure out how to present your value in a way that's going to be compelling and useful to others. For me, right now, a book is doing that. It's putting me on the radar for a lot of people. That's great. That's, it'll probably lead to all sorts of great opportunitiesThe book itself has already been a great opportunity to come out on Penguin Random House, it's been really well supported to airport bookstores around the country. I'm really gratified that this book builds for tomorrow and reaches people like that. that the real power of it, I probably won't know for years.

Robert Peterson 24:02 

But it's exciting. Let's talk about the impact of hosting the two podcasts.

Jason Feifer 24:06 

Sure. So, it's very interesting. I host these two podcasts, the one I'll draw your most attention to is, has the same name as the book built for tomorrow., and it's a show that seeks to understand the things that we misunderstand. So, the most recent episode, I just did on on the phrase, nobody wants to work anymore and why that's BS., and, and I, as part of that, I go through literally more than a century's worth of people saying nobody wants to work anymore trying to understand what they were all talking about and what it has to do with now. The podcasts are funny. The podcasts are very hard, they're, if you do well, it's hard to make, they're hard to grow. hard to grow an audience. If you really understand what you're doing and who your audience is, you develop a listenership and you develop a connection or relationship with the audience that really matters. the thing that's been of great value to me with the podcasts as they make me a little money and that's fine but is it they really been an opportunity magnet? Like they've really just been? You it's like a beacon that goes out into the world about me, my ideas and my sensibility. people have responded, just the number of amazing connections with individuals and organizations that have come out of those podcasts is far surpassed whatever I would have made on ad dollars.

Robert Peterson 25:49 

Love the power of connection. Jason, you've been shared for 25 minutes with our entrepreneurial audience and you want to leave them with Jason's words of wisdom. What would you share?

Jason Feifer 26:00 

Oh, yeah, right, Jason's words of wisdom are go pick up your son before daycare starts charging you for extra time. That's, that's what's actually happening right now. I gotta go do that.. Final real words of wisdom for you. All I'd say would be to reconsider the impossible. What I find is that the greatest, the greatest ideas are not beamed down from Mars. They're not created by supernatural forces. They're actually often ideas that we had discarded, where we didn't take seriously., and, and, moments of crisis shift, shift our understanding of what's possible and force us to look beyond the things that we have thought we needed and into those things that we thought maybe were just too difficult. That's where I see people really transform their lives and their careers over and over again, and we always have that opportunity to reconsider the impossible.

Robert Peterson 26:52 

I love to reconsider the impossible. Jason, thank you very much for taking the time today. I appreciate your wisdom. Go out and find a building for tomorrow. We'll share all those things in the show notes. Thank you very much, Jason. Have a great day.

Jason Feifer 27:05 

Perfect. Appreciate it. Thanks a lot.