How to Discover and Nurture Your Creativity

How to Discover and Nurture Your Creativity written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Chase Jarvis
Podcast Transcript

On this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I chat with photographer, director, artist and entrepreneur Chase Jarvis.

He has won numerous awards for his creative work, and he is the founder of CreativeLive, an online learning community featuring classes taught by Grammy winners, best-selling authors, and other leaders in their creative fields.

Jarvis is also the author of the book Creative Calling: Establish a Daily Practice, Infuse Your World with Meaning, and Succeed in Work and Life. It’s his book that we discuss today, covering everything from a definition of what creativity is to a deeper look at how to tap into your creative impulses by establishing certain habits in your everyday life.

Questions I ask Chase Jarvis:

  • What is creativity?
  • Is there a common thread that unites all forms of creativity?
  • What role does mindfulness play in establishing creative habits?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • How curiosity and creativity are interrelated.
  • How to infuse changes into your daily life to cultivate creative habits.
  • Where listening fits into your creative calling.

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Chase Jarvis:

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Intercom. Intercom is the only business messenger that starts with real-time chat, then keeps growing your business with conversational bots and guided product tours.

Intercom’s mission is to help you provide simple, quick, and friendly service for your customers. When you can give your customers the one thing they’re looking for, you’ll generate amazing results for your business.

Want to learn more and take advantage of a 14-day free trial? Just go to

Content Marketing, Employee Advocacy, and the Future of B2B: Michael Brenner on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]

Michael Brenner, content strategist, shares tips from his upcoming B2B Marketing Forum presentation, “Content Marketing Is the Future of B2B: Case Studies for Success,” and shares insights from his book Mean People Suck: How Empathy Leads to Bigger Profits and a Better Life. Read the full article at MarketingProfs

Transcript of How to Discover and Nurture Your Creativity

Transcript of How to Discover and Nurture Your Creativity written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Back to Podcast


John Jantsch: Hello, and welcome to another episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Chase Jarvis. He is an award-winning artist, entrepreneur, one of the most influential photographers over the past decade, founder of CreativeLive. Some of you may remember that I’ve had a couple programs on CreativeLive. He’s also the author of a book we’re going to talk about today, Creative Calling: Establish a Daily Practice, Infuse Your World with Meaning, and Succeed in Work + Life. Chase, thanks for joining me.

Chase Jarvis: John, super-good to be on the show. What is it, long-time listener, first-time caller or something? Happy to be on. Thanks for having me.

John Jantsch: Let’s talk a little bit about CreativeLive, if you don’t mind. For listeners that might not be familiar with it, just to kind of tee up the quick what is it?

Chase Jarvis: Sure, it’s the world’s largest learning platform specifically for creators and entrepreneurs. That’s our target. Those are the people that are in our tribe. They identify as creator, or entrepreneurial, or creative curious, or entrepreneurial curious, and it’s where folks like yourself, like Tim Ferriss, Brené Brown, Sir Richard Branson, Pulitzer Prize winners, New York Times Best Sellers, the best of the best go to teach. Specifically, the high-quality, high-caliber experts that we have on the platform, the super-high quality production, and then the area of focus, again, for creators, and entrepreneurs, small businesses, and side hustlers that is a… It’s where we go. We got more than 10 million people on the platform. It’s a thriving community, and it’s been around for 10 years. It feels like a blink on the inside, here, but it’s a great, great community. We’d love to have anybody come take a peek. You can either buy a-la-cart classes or subscription. There’s 24 hours a day, seven days a week, there’s free content there, too.

John Jantsch: I, as I mentioned, did a, as you and I were talking before we jumped on here, five six years ago did a program on Duct Tape Marketing. I’ll will say, I mean, the most fun I’ve had doing that, obviously, the most professional… It was actually a little brutal, though because we did 18 hours over three days live. That was a little brutal, but very fun. I have a confession or admission. Craig Swanson, your co-founder, is that what you’d call him, told me that 10 years ago when you guys were cooking up CreativeLive that he bought one of my first courses, which was, getting ready to date myself here, a three-ring binder with CDs and that kind of thing sent to him for marketing purposes. I always kind of… He may have been completely BSing me, but I always hold that up as one of my greatest honors was that I was there at the beginning in some fashion.

Chase Jarvis: You were. Yeah. We talked about it and how to put your products out there in the world, all those entrepreneurial secrets that you’ve been cheering with your tribe for years, we definitely deployed them in launching CreativeLive.

John Jantsch: Well, that’s one of my biggest badges of honor, there.

Chase Jarvis: Aw, come on [inaudible] I’ll take it.

John Jantsch: In Creative Calling, I got the sense that maybe we need to define, or redefine, what creativity even is or means for a lot of folks.

Chase Jarvis:  Yeah. I’d love to, and that’s one of the points that underscores the book. I believe a couple of things, and it’s really clear in the book. First of all, that there’s creativity inside of every person. Culturally, we have historically thought of creativity equaling art so activities, painting and drawing. Just know, now, that that’s not true, that creativity is everything. It is the decision. Anytime you’re putting ideas together to form something new and useful, that is creativity. You created dinner last night. You’re creating a family right now. You baked a cake. You are building a business. All these things are wildly creative. By extension, it’s easy to see then that creativity is in every person. We have it at birth. It’s one of the things that separates us from the other species on the planet. It’s also something that gives us unlimited possibility. Right? Limitless, rather.

Chase Jarvis: To me, that has historically been a challenge of creativity and why people… I mean, just think of your own experience as you’re listening to this and you go back. You were either sort of anointed, oh you’re creative or you’re not creative. Or when I was told, I was in second grade, and they said, “Chase, you should focus on sports, not on art.” I carried that with me for 20 years. I’m trying to [inaudible] and redefine around creativity around what it really is, which is the ability to create something new and useful. Look, all you have to do is ask any first grade classroom, “Who wants to come to the front of the room and draw me a picture, or who wants to create anything,” and every hand goes up. It’s very clear, just empirically, that creativity’s in every person.

Chase Jarvis: The second principle is really that creativity is a habit. It’s not a skill. It’s a way of being in the world. It’s a way of operating. It’s a practice, not a product. A good way of thinking about it is it’s a muscle that we develop. Like all muscles, the more you use them, the stronger they get. If you believe, one, that everyone’s creative in some way, shape, or form, two, that we have this creative muscle and that if we use it more, we develop it, the last thing I ask you to believe is, and this might be the part that is jump, where it’s the same exact thing.

Chase Jarvis: Creating businesses, creating a meal, playing the piano, drawing, taking photographs, writing, the muscles that we use in doing that, in small projects on a regular basis, I would even say daily, we’re creating on a daily basis, it’s the same set of muscles that we use to create our life. It’s just at a different scale. To me, that’s the big leap that the book… It takes us beyond creativity with a small C to think about creativity as this amazing human super power.

John Jantsch: So would you admit, though, that there are, I’m not sure of the right term, I’m going to say forms of creativity. In other words, there are definitely people that can look at nothing and create something from it. I’ve never been able to do that, but I can look at something and create something else. Does that makes sense? Am I talking in circles? I think that’s where, I think, a lot of people have to come to grips with is that this muscle, or whatever it is that you’re talking about, takes so many shapes and forms. But is there a common thread, maybe, that kind of unites all of that?

Chase Jarvis: In the same way that we learn in different ways. Right? Some people are visual. Some are auditory. Some are really tactile. The same is true for creativity. It takes different forms, and it usually has to do with some things in our childhood, or our upbringing, or our particular DNA, but to me, I’m agnostic to how you best activate it. To me, that’s a personal exploration. In the book, I invite you and show you some ways of going about doing that. I’m trying to get you to flip the bit. There are people that… We were, again, sort of categorized, usually really early as kids. My second grade teacher told me that I should focus on sports. Second grade, and I listened to her. It’s understandable because the people around us, our parents, our peers, our teachers, our career counselors, they have our best interests in mind in their mind, but it’s doesn’t always translate to what we actually should be doing or what’s true for us. Even, as either young people or sometimes very late in life… I did learn this until well into my 20s, that, basically, how to listen to that intuition.

Chase Jarvis: This is the calling part of the book, and when I say creative calling, it’s not necessarily like, “I was called to be a painter.” It’s, “I am a creative person and there’s a way that I’m supposed to express my creativity in the world. Maybe it’s building a business, writing a book, or any number of ways.” Culture has all these shoulds that we should be doing. Right? We should get this kind of job. We should make this much money. What I’m trying to get us to do is to unlearn that, and learn to listen to that whisper that we all have inside of us, and then take action. For you, John, you can look at something and make something else, wildly creative. The act of taking literally nothing and making something, that’s maybe just a slightly different angle, but fundamentally, it’s the same muscle. That’s what we want to strengthen.

John Jantsch: I’ve always suggested that curiosity is really such a huge driver of any success that I’ve had. I do think that, and there’s a lot been written about this lately, but do you think there’s a real link between that idea of being curious and being creative?

Chase Jarvis: It’s the same thing. All I’m asking you to do… The difference of curiosity is intellectual. I think creativity is active. The way I talk about it in the book is action over intellect. If you’re wondering if you’re creative, you can sit there and think about all the ways you might be creative or you can just start writing. You can just start writing, figuring out the business plan. You need to take action in order to explore that creativity. You’re absolutely right. They’re super-tightly intertwined. To me, that’s the thing that most people miss is go back to all the shoulds that the culture tells us, what’s been missing from the narrative is that, historically, creativity’s been this whimsical thing that you’re naïve or at least slightly crazy if you pursue it. But I argue just the opposite, that it’s so foundational. It’s as fundamental as exercise and nutrition. It’s what separates us from the other species on the planet.

Chase Jarvis: Ultimately, therefore, it’s as practical as hell. It’s super-practical. If you can create new neural pathways, and you can find ways to connect unlikely things, or, in John’s case, you can look at something and see how it could be something else, the more you start to use that muscle, the more options open up in front of you. It’s a pretty, from a logical extension perspective, it’s not a big leap. It’s just a bigger cultural narrative than we’ve been sold. That’s part of what I’m trying to get people to do. The reality about the curiosity part is that we all have these moments in our past where things were in line with the way we saw them for ourselves where we were listening to that whisper or that call that’s inside of us that we should be doing something. It’s when life felt effortless, when you were around people that supported you. Whether that’s at a particular job, or a time of life, or when you were doing something in your past, I’m just suggesting we listen to that and do more of it. In your word it might be curiosity. In my word, it’d be creativity, but we walk to that thing. We explore it through action, not just intellect.

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John Jantsch: I want to get into a couple of the actual practices to develop these habits but I want to ask one more question around that. I think a lot of us lose this ability to be curious and creative because we’re just going through the day, slugging through our stuff. Life comes at you and you’re not practicing that. To what degree does a level of paying attention, mindfulness, come into establishing these habits?

Chase Jarvis: It’s massive. I call it the creative mindset. Any sort of mindfulness around it, it very much has to do with intention. You’re going to go home, and you’re going to cook dinner tonight. Ostensibly, there’s two ways you can go about it. You can think of what you’re creating as okay, I just need to execute this thing, to your point, get through my list or whatever.

John Jantsch: Right.

Chase Jarvis: Then, there could be a moment of awareness, literally a moment, where you do one thing differently. You change something. You add a spice. You present it in a different way because a lot of us, we cook the same things all the time because it’s easy. We get in a habit of doing that. It’s the simple act of changing that just a little bit, and then doing that on a regular basis through awareness every day, that you realize that you actually have agency over your life. It’s sort of creativity with a capital C. In these small, daily ways, awareness and practicing it, so, again, awareness of hey, look it… I can either just bust out this meal or I can change one thing, present it in a more beautiful way, fill in the blank, whatever it means for you. Then, if you did that three or four times throughout your day, you start to realize that you have this powerful agency over your life.

Chase Jarvis: The cool thing is this. I’m not asking you to move to Paris to get a new set of friends. No berets, no cigarettes, no paints. This is not required. That’s an old, archaic definition of creativity. So is the fact this, the idea of the starving artist. That’s just a horrible myth that has no real bearing on creativity. When you look at it, in fact, this is the part that also kills me, you look… Who are the people that inspire you? Who are, even if it’s just your… It doesn’t have to be Richard Branson. Maybe it’s your neighbor. They live with integrity and they’re incredibly mindful. They tend a beautiful garden. Whoever the people that you look up to, or aspire to, or… Here’s the thing. The life that you’re looking at, it didn’t just happen. It was created.

Chase Jarvis: We talk about finding happiness. We don’t find… You don’t stumble into that. You create it. You cultivate it. With just a simple shift in mentality and, to go back to your original question about how do we do that, it absolutely is an awareness. If you start to become aware of it. It’s amazing how many opportunities you have throughout your day. We’re not talking about adding extra time and going to the art supply store. Sure, you can do that, and that would be helpful to have a practice that looked like that, but it’s not required.

John Jantsch: Let’s talk about some of the practices that you litter throughout the book that help people develop some of these habits. What are some of the things that people could inject into their routine that would shake it up a bit?

Chase Jarvis: I look for things, initially, again it’s a… The most important thing is the awareness that… You already mentioned that. It’s sort of like if you have a mindfulness practice or a meditation practice, the goal is not to keep your mind from wandering. The mind is designed to wander. The meditation practice is actually bringing your attention back to your mantra or whatever your focus should be. That’s the same thing with the creative practice. You can’t just be constantly in open, creative mode. Otherwise, you might not get as many things done as you wanted to get done. But if you can, when you realize that you’re not in that creative mind space or the creative mindset that I talk about in the book, the simple act of returning to it on a regular basis.

Chase Jarvis: The way I like to start is small. I’m not asking you… Say you have a vision for yourself like someday… I’m an engineer right now, and I work at Google, but someday I want to open a café. The distance bet where you are right now and a café is pretty far. It’s probably a couple thousand hours’ worth of work. When people think about that, they get depressed, and frustrated, and they know there’s too many hurdles between here and there. But what if you started baking, and every Sunday you cranked out a few scones, and you sought out some single-origin coffee, and you held brunch for your close friends, every Sunday for four or five weeks. That is an amazing first step toward getting oriented around your life as a café owner. I would argue more importantly, and more fundamentally, to explore your relationship with cooking.

Chase Jarvis: The same could be true with building a business. Right? You don’t actually have to get the POS system, and rent a space, and have all these things to create a small business. So what would a small business, what’s the minimum viable product? What’s a way to get started simply? If you apply that same thinking to a day, it’s what is the lightest way that you can embrace that creativity. I talk about taking pictures just intentionally. One, or two, or three, or five pictures on your afternoon walk maybe at lunch time or on your commute. Morning pages is a great way to engage your mind. This is widely written about. Just a few minutes of time in the morning to write out what you intend for the day or to create something simple. It can take any of these forms or the, for example, the concept that I mentioned earlier about just how to think about creating the meal just a little bit different than you would otherwise.

Chase Jarvis: If you can do that in small, useful ways on a regular basis, you start to realize that it is actually a muscle, and it starts to become more natural. The more natural it becomes, the more leverage you can create in your life.

John Jantsch: One of the practices that I’ve intentionally done that I think probably fits into your practice is… I’m a child of the ’70s music. That’s how old I am. It’d be very natural for me to go into my Neil Young and Jackson Browne, and just listen to that all the time. I intentionally can seek out Spotify Release Radar and just make, not make myself because I enjoy it, but really make sure that I’m listening to the new stuff that’s coming out. I feel like that… I don’t know that I look at it as, “Oh, this is going to make me more creative,” but I do feel like it keeps you more relevant, maybe. Would that fit into, I mean, would that be a type of a typical sort of simple thing?

Chase Jarvis: Yeah. That’s a great thing. The only thing I would change rather than that being a little bit passive is what if you’re picking up the guitar for five minutes? I don’t know if music was ever in your past.

John Jantsch: I play the guitar. How did you know?

Chase Jarvis: See, that’s the thing when you talk about curiosity. We can all find something in our past that really brought us a lot of joy. When life got “practical,” then we had to, for some reason, we had to stop doing that. I don’t know what we go doing instead, pay attention to the stock market, or grocery shopping, or I find it’s hard to-

John Jantsch: Facebook.

Chase Jarvis: … Yeah, Facebook. I find it hard to believe that those could actually be more important than cultivating the most powerful muscle that the human has at their disposal, which is their creativity.

John Jantsch: What about teaching, speaking writing? I always find that that forces me to innovate, forces me to be creative, and to just go out and see what other people are doing.

Chase Jarvis: Absolutely, and that hits on two really important points. One, how that broader definition of creativity really is conversing and collaborating on an idea. Teaching a subject, that’s a wildly creative… I mean, just think of the most important and powerful motivating teachers you had in your career. They were wildly creative, and they presented the material in a dynamic way. That’s part of what you loved about them. I think, A, you hit the nail on the head on that on. Then, as a corollary to that, community aspect is huge. I put the book into four parts, a framework, if will. It’s a creative process that works for any individual project, building a business, or baking a cake, or anything to living your life. That’s the structure is IDEA.

Chase Jarvis: IDEA. The first one is imagine what’s possible. The second one is design a system of steps to get you there. The third one is E, is execute. You’re executing that plan. None of this should be really surprising. This is what we all do every day with every project. The part that I think is missing, and which you touched on, is A. I talk about it, the amplify. What we need is we need a community to help our ideas fly. Nothing happens in a vacuum. For those people that you’re looking to your left and to your right, and their creative ideas whether it’s a business or some venture, when they’re successful and you’re not or when they’re getting traction and you’re struggling, the reality is probably they’ve spent a lot more time and/or put more effort into cultivating a community that’s both ready to receive their work and is happy to be a participant in the collaboration between creator and receiver of that gift.

John Jantsch: Visiting with Chase Jarvis. He is the author of Creative Calling. I’m going to throw one more out for you to let you categorize this. I’ve been getting a lot of creative ideas from people I don’t agree with lately. By actually practicing empathy and trying to understand maybe where I’m wrong, trying to understand where they’re coming from, what role does listening to play really just in general in your creative calling?

Chase Jarvis: I mean, listening functions… First of all, it’s a hugely powerful lever. It functions in two ways. The first way is in being open to ideas [inaudible] them. Right? You talked about being-

John Jantsch: Yep.

Chase Jarvis: … sort of like having [inaudible] by not being hard. The reality is that everything around you was created. We forget that. This is how we’ve put creativity in the weirdest box. Everything around you, if you’re jogging when you’re listening to this, the park bench you just ran by, the light pole, the food you just had, the can of Red Bull that you’re drinking right now. Everything was designed. It means it was first envisioned, and then it was designed, and then someone built it. Usually it came out in a drawing first. Whether it’s listening or just observing, that’s a huge piece of the creative process.

Chase Jarvis: We need some raw input in order to create an output. Listening is a great form of that, and it also does exactly what you talked about. This is sort of point two, is I like saying, “If listening is meaningful to you, what if you’re listening to other people? I like to be the fan that I wish I had.” It goes back to that idea of community. Right? If you want to more likes on your Facebook posts, or your Instagram posts, or maybe a better example is you want more people to use your product, what are you doing to use the products of others in your peer group, your friends? What are you doing to provide feedback, and to support, and show up? That’s part of… It’s not in a transactional way, but in a way of building community over time that whether you’re listening or you’re contributing to what someone is saying with a product or an idea by participating in that product, it all matters. I think community is a huge piece of this process that we overlook and, specifically, how it ties into listening.

John Jantsch: So, Chase, where can people out more about your work, about CreativeLive, about Creative Calling?

Chase Jarvis: Creative Calling, it’s wherever books are sold. It’s dropping right now. If you pre-order, we’re doing a really cool thing at CreativeLive. You’ll get access to an exclusive class. I’ll have some super-fancy, world-class guests, and that happens… You just go to… Buy it wherever you want to buy it on the internet. If you go to, there’s a couple different links there. One link will get you to the CreativeLive class where you can just upload your receipt. That will allow you to be a participant in that. Again, that’s probably the best stuff around the book. CreativeLive is just, and I’m @Chasejarvis all over the internet.

John Jantsch: Well, Chase, it was great catching up with you. Hopefully, we’ll bump into you next time I’m out on the road.

Chase Jarvis:  Awesome. Looking forward to it. Thanks a lot. I’m excited about what you’re working on, too. You’re always up to cool stuff, and I appreciate you having me as a guest on the show.

John Jantsch: Well, thanks, Chase.

The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur Reading: September 18

The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur Reading: September 18 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur – September 18

It’s time for another episode featuring a reading from my upcoming book, The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur, due out in October 2019. If you’ve been following along, you know that the book is structured as 366 daily meditations for entrepreneurs, with readings from famous Transcendentalist authors and commentary from me on how it all relates to the entrepreneurial journey.

Today’s Reading: Find Your Gifts

But the great Master said, “I see/No best in kind, but in degree;/I gave a various gift to each,/To charm, to strengthen, and to teach.//”These are the three great chords of might,/And he whose ear is tuned aright/Will hear no discord in the three,/But the most perfect harmony.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – “The Singers” The Complete Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1854)

Poetry is hard for most so here’s the full context of what goes on in The Singers. There are three musicians and people can’t figure out which one is the best so the great Master assures them they are all great for different reasons and if you listen with that in mind all you can hear is the most perfect harmony.

Okay now go reread the stanza above and it may be much more lyrical.

So, how do you find harmony in a world of difference? How do you find yourself and your place in the band? 

Or to quote Deepak Chopra, “There are no extra pieces in the universe. Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill, and every piece must fit itself into the big jigsaw puzzle.”

Your values, the things that mean the most to you in life right now, are the keys to understanding your gifts. The musicians in the poem above employed their gifts to charm, to strengthen, and to teach.

How about you? Journal, get alone, ask your three closest friends. Don’t sweat it –  as long as you are actively looking – your gifts will find you.

Final Thoughts

I think there’s a lot of pressure today, particularly on entrepreneurs, to prove their success and self-worth. To some degree, that’s why you see so much nonsense on social media.

Deepak Chopra says, “there are no extra pieces in the universe,” and that idea that we’re all unique, connected, and here for a purpose? It’s powerful. I don’t know that I’ll ever find my purpose and my gifts, but I think it’s cool to live with the idea that I can relax because I’m meant to be here. My job is to insist on myself and never copy.

With that in mind, I leave you with today’s challenge question: When was the last time you got lost in the present and time disappeared? What were you doing?

Want to learn more about The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur? Click here.

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Intercom. Intercom is the only business messenger that starts with real-time chat, then keeps growing your business with conversational bots and guided product tours.

Intercom’s mission is to help you provide simple, quick, and friendly service for your customers. When you can give your customers the one thing they’re looking for, you’ll generate amazing results for your business.

Want to learn more and take advantage of a 14-day free trial? Just go to

Developing Habits to Become a Master Influencer

Developing Habits to Become a Master Influencer written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Jason Harris
Podcast Transcript

On today’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I sit down with CEO of  the creative agency Mekanism, Jason Harris.

Mekanism has worked with major global brands including Ben & Jerry’s, Peloton, HBO, and MillerCoors. Their campaigns have won numerous creative awards, and under Harris’ leadership, the agency has been named to Ad Age’s A-list and has appeared on their list of best places to work twice.

Harris is also the co-founder of The Civic Nation Creative Alliance and author of the book The Soulful Art of Persuasion: The 11 Habits That Will Make Anyone a Master Influencer.

Harris stops by to discuss the 11 habits that he outlines in his book, and shares how cultivating these habits can help you to become authentically persuasive in this age of distrust.

Questions I ask Jason Harris:

  • What is a master influencer?
  • How do we actually engage our authenticity and originality?
  • Which of the 11 habits do you have the most difficulty practicing?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • How habit plays a role in becoming influential.
  • Why empathy is crucial for healing divides and bringing together opposing viewpoints.
  • How to become your own personal Jesus.

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Jason Harris:

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Intercom. Intercom is the only business messenger that starts with real-time chat, then keeps growing your business with conversational bots and guided product tours.

Intercom’s mission is to help you provide simple, quick, and friendly service for your customers. When you can give your customers the one thing they’re looking for, you’ll generate amazing results for your business.

Want to learn more and take advantage of a 14-day free trial? Just go to

Transcript of Developing Habits to Become a Master Influencer

Transcript of Developing Habits to Become a Master Influencer written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Back to Podcast


John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Jason Harris. He is the CEO of award-winning creative agency Mekanism and the co-founder of the Creative Alliance. But he’s also the author of a book we’re going to talk about today called The Soulful Art of Persuasion: The 11 Habits That Will Make Anyone a Master Influencer. So Jason, welcome to the show.

Jason Harris: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

John Jantsch: When I first got sent this book, I was a little nervous because if I’m going to develop 11 new habits, how many habits am I going to have to break?

Jason Harris: Well, you know, some of those habits-

John Jantsch: I mean bad habits. I mean, of course.

Jason Harris: Of course bad habits, but some of those habits you’re already going to naturally be good at. So yeah, hopefully it’s not too taxing.

John Jantsch: So, let’s define… you and I were talking before we started the show, especially in the context of the way business is done today. What actually is a master influencer?

Jason Harris: So you know, I define master influencer… it’s a great question because you typically, sometimes when you hear the word word influencer in the marketing advertising sector, you think of someone on YouTube or someone using social media to make a point or build an audience. But to me, we’re all influencers in our own way and every day we have these micro inflection points of persuasion, whether it’s at work and you’re getting someone to buy off on your idea or an interview where you’re landing a job. Or you’re trying to convince your significant other to take a vacation you want to take, or your kids to get ready for school, or your teacher to take your assignment late.

Jason Harris: Whatever it might be, in all walks of life we’re all sort of having these micro moments of persuasion all day long. And to me the idea is that any one of us can get better at influencing the people we’re trying to win over by these learned behaviors or habits. And so to me, an influencer, all of us are influencers in one way or another. All of us are persuading all day long and we can be better or worse depending on our viewpoint.

John Jantsch: So I like that you use habits because I think a lot of people think about influence and they quickly go to techniques and tricks and tips even. But let me ask you this, so while I like the idea of habits, I think some people might question what is soul got to do with it?

Jason Harris: So soul to me is the crux of the whole book, but to me it’s the foundation of how you move through influence and how you move through these habits because soul to me is the idea that you’re coming at it from a place of authenticity and from your true core and from your belief system, and you’re being a true persuader by building trust. And to me, soul is all about your character and what you stand for, and without that persuasion and these habits could come across as sales gimmicks. But if it’s coming from who you are as a core, that soulful piece is the piece that makes it different.

John Jantsch: So sometimes people learn better this way. What would you say the soulful art of persuasion is not?

Jason Harris: It is not? I don’t think it’s that… it’s not a book on how to close a quick deal or make a quick sale. It’s not an always be closing book. That’s what it’s not.

John Jantsch: All right, so let’s dig into a couple of them. You break the 11 habits into four practices or behaviors. I’m forgetting-

Jason Harris: I call them principles.

John Jantsch: Principles, right. So the first one, be original, which of course is not an original thought necessarily, right? I mean everybody kind of gets that. But I think what I love about the way you’ve broken it down is it’s one of those things that it’s such a puzzle. I mean, how do I be original? Okay. You be yourself. Well that’s not very original. Or that’s not very creative or that’s not very whatever I say it is. So how do you get this? And we love these words like authenticity and things today. I mean, how do we actually do this?

Jason Harris: Well, the founding concept behind being original is that you’re coming from a place of honesty and you’re giving people a real glimpse of yourself. Your unique personality, your idiosyncrasies. You wear those on your sleeves or sleeve, I should probably say. But it’s about understanding who you are, and if you don’t fundamentally know why you’re different than everyone else, and it’s that famous Oscar Wilde quote, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken,” that’s at the core of it.

Jason Harris: And it all starts, the principle and the habits falling underneath that principle all start with you leaning into your true character and you shouldn’t have a work persona or a school persona, and then your real personality comes out when you’re with your three closest friends. The idea of being original is that you’re always coming from this authentic place and people understand who you are, what makes you tick.

Jason Harris: You lean into all of those characteristics on all of those things that make you different. So that’s at the heart of it. And there’s more ways that I talk about in the book of how you can do that, like storytelling. The persuasive power of storytelling is one of those, and that’s really all about understanding stories from your life that made you the person that you are. It’s about talking about role models that inspired you and why. It’s talking about… even pop culture movies and books that speak to you, and the reason why they speak to you. Those are all part of… makes up who you are as a person.

John Jantsch: I think there’s a lot of pressure on people to not be themselves because let’s face it, some people feel like, “I’m not that influential. I’m not that interesting. The real me is kind of boring, so I have to put on a mask and be the influential me.” So what do you say to that person that feels like, “Hey, no, I have to have this different game when I’m in front of the team and I’m trying to sell them.”

Jason Harris: I think that’s patently untrue. I think people, even if you find that your real personality might be a little bit boring. I think you would lean into the fact that you’re more of a stoic person by nature or you’re more straight forward, but sort of play that up, like lean in and push as hard as you can on the things that you’re trying to avoid. People today have a really, really good bullshit detector, and so if you’re putting on a mask and you’re trying to win over your team by acting in a way that you aren’t really, because people see you at work, they’re going to know who you are in your real life. I think that will go against soulful persuasion because you’re being an actor and unless you’re a really hell of a good actor, it’s not going to be coming from an authentic place and it’s going to have the opposite effect of inspiring people.

John Jantsch: Yeah, and I think we’ve all encountered somebody that we maybe just completely disagree with their point of view or how they approach things. But we can appreciate the fact that that’s who they are and they’re just being who they are. And I have a… I hope he’s not listening. I have a neighbor that just says the most straightforward stuff that you’re like, “Wow, did you really say that?” But then you’re like, he does… That’s him not being filtered. That’s him. And I can actually appreciate that in some ways, even if I don’t fully agree with what he’s saying.

Jason Harris: Yeah, that’s a good point. And if your neighbor’s trying to inspire a team, he should be up front about, “Hey I know I’m super straightforward and this is super base, but this is the way that I approach things and here’s why.” And I think it’s about showing your… it’s like opening the kimono and letting people really see the real you and that’s the most powerful thing you can do. People respect that.

John Jantsch: So there’ve been countless books on this idea of storytelling, and you touched on it already a little bit, but would you say that in your experience, people that have mastered this art of being an influential, can I have a couple core stories that they lean on that really say a lot about what they believe?

Jason Harris: Yeah, definitely. And those should be memorized and practiced and rehearsed and they should become… that’s part of the habitual nature, is it’s ingrained in you so you can call on them at any time. You make a good point, you don’t have to have a list of 30 stories that are right for any moment, but you have to have a handful that you can call on when the time’s right that let people know a little bit about you.

Jason Harris: And at work we have a lot of… built an ad agency here and we have a lot of stories through building the company that are folklore that we tell from time to time when there’s new people that join us that the story is a metaphor for the beliefs that we have and they get passed down. And those are really important in an organization or for your personal brand that you have those personal stories and those antidotes. Even if you don’t have a ton of those, you can still transport people through storytelling by telling familiar stories that are either books or films or mythology that speak to you and you can articulate why they speak to you and why those are important lessons. And sometimes even a familiar story can really help persuade people because they, “Oh, I know this one, I can relate to this one,” versus a story that only you know about.

John Jantsch: So you mentioned this earlier and you have a whole chapter on this idea of ‘never be closing’. There’s no question that that habit will make you more likable. Will it make you ultimately more effective if your job is to meet a quota?

Jason Harris: Yeah, well that… I get this question a lot because ‘never be closing’ to me is the idea of letting go of short term transactional thinking and focus on building meaningful relationships. And I think business is a marathon, not a sprint. And if your goal is to hit those quotas and get your bonus and go quarter to quarter, you might do that for some time and you might hit those goals and you might follow the Glengarry Glen Ross principles and you might close a lot of deals because you’re just trying to get them to sign and you’re trying to hit that number in the spreadsheet. But over time, losing out on a couple of those bonuses, maybe feeling like you’re falling behind will ultimately pay off in compound interest over time. Because this idea of never be closing means you’re doing what’s right for the client or customer and you’re building meaningful relationships, and a lot of it is spending that energy in relationship building even if you’re not sure that there’s an immediate sales to be had or immediate goal, but over time they will respect you more.

Jason Harris: You will keep those relationships going. They will become referrals for you and you will end up being way more successful following that path than playing the short game. I think playing the long game is ultimately where success comes from in business. So we’ve all been down and out and had to do that one sale or we were going to… our business was in trouble or we were going to go out of business, but I truly believe that not hitting those goals or failing a little bit or having to lay people off or not getting that promotion because you didn’t hit those numbers, but focusing on playing the long game with those relationships, it might not be that you’re going to hit those huge jumps in the short term. But in a marathon you’re going to win out.

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John Jantsch: Yeah, and I think that’s a point worth repeating that everything you talk about in this book is really for somebody who’s playing the long game and not… you don’t develop habits of becoming a master influencer because you did some thing. It’s really a way to live your life, isn’t it?

Jason Harris: It’s an approach to life and it’s approach to relationships that and why. I love that you picked up on habits and how that’s different because these can be learned habits. We’re not all born telling great stories, just like we’re not all born being open about ourselves, or we’re not all born as generous people or some of the other principles, but you’re going to naturally have some of those already. But the other ones, the other habits you have to work on, and by working on them, like building any muscle over time, they become habitual and natural, and you don’t have to think about them anymore. But you have to work on them and they’re not going to… you’re not going to read this book and all of a sudden you’re Mr Persuader, Mr and Mrs Persuader. But if you look at the ones that you need to hone in on and you really make it a habit to practice those, they will become natural to you over time.

John Jantsch: And I think it’s a great point. I think a lot of people look at a book like this and think, “Okay, I have to do all these things.” And really, if you adopted one or two of these habits, actually at a level far greater than you do today, you’ve made progress, haven’t you?

Jason Harris: You’ve got. Yeah, you’ve made leaps and bounds of progress and that’s why this book to me is action oriented. It’s not a bunch of case studies about how people successfully persuaded someone else because that doesn’t help the reader. These are designed to really, they’re sort of illustrative examples and research and psychology examples. But at the end of the day there’s concrete ways that people can work on these skills. And it’s really, for me, by trial and error because I’m 20 something years into advertising and marketing career where I’ve failed plenty of times, and I’ve gone after short term games and I’ve let relationships drop to zero and I’ve done all these mistakes. And it’s only by seeing that from the lens of what’s worked that I was able to put this down.

John Jantsch: Well you started to wander into the next question I was going to ask you, is there a habit in the list of 11, and of course people can go to your website, they can go to Amazon and other places and see actually the 11 listed. But is there a habit that’s hardest for you?

Jason Harris: I would say for me the hardest habit was this idea of giving something away in every interaction, which is under the principle of generous, which is the general idea behind that one is that whenever you cross paths with someone you should always try to leave them a little better off than they were. And so whatever you give it should be about them. So it could be give your time, advice, it can be connecting them with someone else. It can even be stuff, it can be gifts. It could be when you pick up an interesting book that you read, you buy one for someone else. It can be sending them a text of something that you saw versus just posting on social media for everyone. It’s telling people that you’re thinking about them. Those are acts of generosity and for me I would not really always be thinking about other people in that way.

Jason Harris: I would be more self aware and focused on the task that I need to do. And if connecting someone with that person wasn’t paying off for me, I didn’t see the value in it. Or finding that half hour for someone to come in to my office or for me to take a phone call and give someone advice. I would say that I was too busy and that was really, really hard for me to change that mentality of being habitually generous and giving, giving something away because you don’t know, it’s not a clear connection of where that generosity pays off.

Jason Harris: You just have to put in to the universe and know that it does always pay off in some way. Whether it pays off by you feeling good about being a better person or it pays off by a business lead down the road. It does always pay off into something, and that was something I had to really learn because I wasn’t connecting it to what could possibly happen in the future. I was looking at it as, “Well, my time is valuable and this person can find someone else to get advice from or another connection. I don’t have time for it,” and so that was something I really had to work hard at, really hard at.

John Jantsch: Yeah, I had a guest on a previous show talk about this similar concept and when you’re trying to form these habits, he had what I thought was kind of a neat tip. So based on what you just talked about, this idea of every time you have a meeting, have this in mind or have something that you can give and he actually put them in his calendar. So when he had meetings with people scheduled, he’d actually look at his calendar ahead of time, say “Okay, what can I give here?” And then he would get it ahead of time. And I thought that is… once you adopt that habit, that is a very practical, tactical way to live it.

Jason Harris: Yeah, and it really… I’ll tell you a quick story. I have a thing in the book called the million dollar hoodie. And this is when it crystallized for me, I had met someone from Ben and Jerry’s at a conference and I was like, “Oh, this guy… I really like this guy,” and took his card. I sent him some Mekanism hoodies from my agency. He wore that hoodie all the time. It was very soft, comfortable. He liked it, whatever. It had our logo on it. 10 months later they were looking for a new agency and just because he was wearing that and someone had mentioned about the hoodie, he was like, “Oh yeah, I met this guy from this agency.” He put us into the pitch. We won the business and we’ve been working on it for six years and that’s when I thought, if a hoodie can generate a win and I wasn’t thinking about that at the time, habitually doing that.

Jason Harris: And whenever we go to any business meeting now, we’re always bringing little gifts, whether it’s a notebook or a hoodie or sending people books afterwards or a follow up, something. It really makes a difference because you’re just being generous without expecting anything in return, and it makes people feel good. And that’s when it dawned on me, I always think of the million dollar hoodie as like this, that’s a great specific reason to give stuff away. Not that it always has to equate to money or business, but that’s sort of my story about it.

John Jantsch: Yeah, people who are listeners to my show know I say this all the time, I think that the universe has a great scorekeeping mechanism and if you give without the thought of getting, at some point it’s going to come back around. So, the fourth principle, and we’re about out of time, but I just want to throw this out there. Empathy. I feel like as a country, at least in the United States, we’re probably as divided right now as maybe we’ve ever been or been since the 1800s. And empathy really is a lot about understanding somebody else’s point of view. How, again, you may or may not agree with me on this point of, it feels like we’re very divided politically, socially. So how can empathy in some ways heal that divide?

Jason Harris: Yeah, I totally agree with you. I think we’ve never been more divided, more partisan as a country either. There was a study that came out recently again, in the 1960s there was 5% of families, like people that had sons or daughters, 5% would be upset if they married someone from a different political party. And then in 2016, the number was 65%. So just shows you in that short time frame how divided we’ve become from a political viewpoint standpoint, how partisan we are.

Jason Harris: And so to me, empathy is really all about developing a natural curiosity for others and listening and learning more and seeking out collaborations. Trying to join forces with people from diverse backgrounds and different areas of expertise. And it’s shifting the mindset of seeing people as more similar than different. And I always have this in the front of my head, which is that humans are 99.9% the same DNA. we’re made up of the same DNA. There’s 0.1% that makes us all different.

Jason Harris: And if you start with that framework, whenever you’re going into a conversation or a meeting or whatever, we all want the same things. We might have different viewpoints that are strong and we might not agree on on all the points, but from the basis of where we’re starting from, we are all after the same thing. And we are all that similar that you just have to try to develop that mindframe of, “Wow, we’re all the same. Let’s dive into those few key things that are different from us,” versus, “Oh man, we’re all so different. It’s impossible for us to get along.” I mean, that’s just a mental shift that I always like to practice.

John Jantsch: Well, and if you do in fact have all the answers, where’s your room to grow? Right. All right. So the last chapter I’ll let you leave us on. It’s my favorite, and I’ll let you just describe what you mean by that we have to become our own personal Jesus.

Jason Harris: So for me, personal Jesus is really all about this idea of where, to me, where soulful really resonates is when you marry skill with purpose. And skill is really about, all of us are only going to have two or three things that we’re really, really skilled at and really knowledgeable at. And we should always make sure that we hone those. And then every few years we should be trying to develop new skills and learning and growing. Not that they’re going to become, we’re going to master them, but it just keeps us fresh. And when you match the two or three things you’re really skilled at and you’re living skillfully, and you match that with purpose, that’s where you hit inspiration.

Jason Harris: And inspiration is really about mirroring things that you are good at with things that you could give back. And if you look at, you have two lists and you write down on one side the two or three things you’re really skilled at. Like in your case it could be marketing for small business podcasts, whatever it might be. And then you mirror things that you care about in the world that could be improved. I don’t know what those would be for you, but if you have a list of those three skillful things and those three purpose oriented things, and you look at those two lists long enough, you’re going to come up with an idea of how to blend your skills with purpose, to be inspirational to other people. And I think really if we’re all just about money and business and success, then we’ve lost the big picture. And that to me is a critical element of being soulful.

John Jantsch: Speaking with Jason Harris, the author of The Soulful Art of Persuasion. So Jason, where can people find out more about you and the book?

Jason Harris: You can check out, that has every place you can buy. It has a little bit more about me and I have some sample reading materials on there that people can check out if they’re interested.

John Jantsch: Awesome. Well, I appreciate you stopping by. Did I mention I wear an extra large hoodie? I don’t think I mentioned that.

Jason Harris: You did now, it’s in the mail.

John Jantsch: Awesome. Well, Jason, hopefully we can catch up with you next time. I’m in New York, so thanks so much.

Jason Harris: Absolutely. Thank you John.

Producing Useful Content Is the New SEO

Producing Useful Content Is the New SEO written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

A great SEO strategy has a lot of moving parts. For small business owners, it can be difficult to keep pace with the ever-changing elements that go into optimizing your content for search engines. After all, Google alone uses hundreds of metrics to rank pages for search results, and they keep those metrics (and how exactly they’re weighted and used) under tight wraps.

So if you’re already busy running a business and don’t have time to stay up to date on all the ins and outs of SEO, I have a shortcut for you. Focus on producing useful content, and in the process you’ll check off a lot of SEO boxes.

Why Should I Focus on Producing Useful Content?

Search engines like Google and Bing are so ever-present in our lives that it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that they’re also just businesses. They want to be helpful to their users, just like you want to solve problems for your customers.

For a user visiting a search engine, they want to enter a query and get a useful response in the fastest amount of time. So search engines have a vested interest in putting the best content front and center on their first page of search results.

To do so, they look at hundreds of metrics. Some of these are common knowledge, but for the most part Google doesn’t release details on their metrics, so even the greatest SEO expert can’t be 100 percent sure how Google is ranking sites. There are factors like dwell time (how long a visitor stays on a given page), click-through rate (how many people click on your blue link on the SERP), and number of external links that we know are a part of SEO.

But rather than driving yourself crazy trying to focus on each of these specific factors involved in ranking, creating great content will inherently check those boxes. If your content is useful, people will want to click on your link in SERPs. They’ll stay on your page for a while, combing through the rich well of information. And your meaningful content will be backed up by research from other reputable sites, which you’ll link out to. Just by focusing on creating a well-researched and informative piece of content, you’ve already ticked off several SEO boxes in the process.

What Does Useful Content Look Like?

Okay, so you want to create useful content, but you’re not sure where to start or what it looks like. It’s best to start by doing some keyword research. Knowing the keywords that your audience is using to search for your products or services, or for general information on your field, can help you to hone in on content topics that will address their biggest questions and concerns.

Let’s say you run a lawn care service, and you discover that a lot of people are searching for green or pesticide-free alternatives to maintaining a great lawn and garden. This gives you the opportunity to highlight your environmentally-friendly offerings on your homepage, build out your product pages for your green lawn care services, and create a blog post about why green lawn care is important to you and why your services work so well for your clients and the planet.

So the first step to creating useful content is understanding what your audience wants to know. Next, you should shake up how you tell your story. Think beyond the written word when it comes to content. Today’s consumers want image-rich blog posts, videos, infographics, and podcasts. Content is only useful if it’s in a format that’s easy for your viewers to digest. That means it’s time to think beyond just blogs and consider other media.

How Can I Get the Most Out of My Content?

Once you understand how to produce useful content, you want to maximize its reach and effectiveness to get even greater SEO results. That’s where hub pages come in.

Hub pages are ultimate guides to a given topic that’s relevant to your business. Returning to the lawn care example, you learned in your keyword research that customers are concerned about green lawn and garden care practices. That’s a pretty broad topic to cover, from reducing water waste to natural alternatives for chemical pesticides to selecting the right mix of plants for soil health—the list goes on.

A hub page can become the go-to section of your website for everything related to that topic. You create “The Ultimate Guide to Green Lawn and Garden Care,” and build a table of contents that covers all of the major subtopics. You include links to your relevant blog posts, videos, and podcast episodes, plus link to a number of relevant posts from reputable outside sources.

This page is a gold mine for your prospects and customers. They come to your hub page and read multiple articles, share links with their friends and neighbors, return again after a few days to learn even more on the topic, and spend a long time on the page sifting through all the great content.

These hub pages address a lot of the major SEO metrics, and search engines realize that readers love them. Pretty soon, this page is ranking at the top of the first page of SERPs, and you’re getting even more eyeballs on your great content.

Building hub pages around your most relevant topics is the final piece in the content creation puzzle. It ensures that your meaningful content is all housed together, and rather than relying on each individual piece of content to carry its own weight, the hub page elevates all of your content simultaneously and gets you noticed in SERPs. By starting with smart keyword research and ending with a well-structured hub page, you set your business up for content success.

Weekend Favs September 14

Weekend Favs September 14 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you to check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from an online source or one that I took out there on the road.

  • StoryChief – Unify the content creation and distribution process.
  • Outfield – Maintain communication between the office and field reps and gather data on their efforts.
  • ImportDoc – Integrate Google Docs into any website.

These are my weekend favs, I would love to hear about some of yours – Tweet me @ducttape