Ep235 – The Art of Charm: Really Mean It


Recently, I appeared on Chris Ryan’s Tangentially Speaking podcast and afterwards had a conversation with Euan Grant in the Mixed Mental Arts Facebook Group. Euan said something really interesting:

“Have started listening to Hunter Maats on Tangentially Speaking and like the thought of podcast hosts being on the MMA pod, those that have interviewed many experts, what have they ‘the common person’ learnt? Like when Hunter does a review show with Bryan.”

I liked Euan’s idea a lot and, fortunately, I had an interview already scheduled with Jordan Harbinger of the Art of Charm podcast. And so, off we went.

It turns out that although on the surface our podcasts seem very different there are a lot of common threads there. Jordan started his podcast to answer his own questions. I highjacked Bryan’s podcast and turned it into a show where we could both talk to our intellectual crushes. And, inevitably, in doing hundreds or in the case of the Art of Charm probably close to a thousand episodes, we’ve learned a lot that has caused us to evolve far beyond what we originally started doing. Both podcasts have come to focus heavily on why humans behave the way they do. While the internet is full of articles promising that this “one weird trick” will teach you to be charming, Jordan offers a more sobering and realistic reality. If you want to win friends and influence people, a firm handshake won’t do it.

Why?

Because the human brain evolved to spot bullshit. Social intelligence is humanity’s superpower and much of that is devoted to figuring out who is trying to manipulate us, cheat us or otherwise dupe us. The real art of charm is to mean it. It’s the result of countless hours of work on yourself.

As Abraham Lincoln said, “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” In the end, the human brain’s hinky meter is amazing at spotting when something is off…even if sometimes as Jordan and Hunter discuss you sometimes foolishly override it.

In the last episode, Bryan and I talked about how the key to surviving and thriving in the Information Age is to put the white belt on. Although I couldn’t have anticipated it, this interview with Jordan ended up being the perfect follow up because it debunks the very notion of shortcuts. There are more and less effective ways to learn but there is no circumventing the work on yourself and on the challenge in front of you. Putting the white belt on every day is the first vital step to really entering on the path to mastery in any area.

And that’s where Jordan’s skills become especially useful as we build more Mixed Mental Arts dojos. Jordan knows how to run a successful, profitable podcast. What happens when those skills are combined with the knowledge we’ve picked up about cultural evolution to make an even better Mixed Mental Arts? Well, I’d like to find out.

Mixed Mental Arts belongs to no one. It’s an ever evolving approach. The more heads we put together the better this will all get. Euan’s suggestion was a brilliant one. Can we unite the podcast clans?

Right after being born in Saudi Arabia, I was taken to the Callen house. Since then, Bryan and I have travelled the world with our Citibank fathers and somehow ended up in LA together. There we’d run into each other at family gatherings and do something that no one else in LA seemed to be doing: we talked about books. Since Bryan was kind of a big deal, Hunter and Bryan hatched a scheme to use his podcast to get on their favorite authors and professors. Out of that evolved Mixed Mental Arts and this tribe. For me, the marriage of entertainment and education is a return to how things used to be before our culture split story into two separate things. It’s exciting to be able to build on the work Katie O’Brien and I did for The Straight-A Conspiracy and expand it out to every area of life. While I play a series of roles in the Mixed Mental Arts community (including Shitty Dutch Uncle and Bryan’s #1 fan) my favorite role is as Toto who pulls back the curtain and let’s the world see that there are no wizards…only men and women who try and puff themselves up to seem important.

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