Episode 111 – Coffee N5 – Find out What Happens When You Apply Pressure to Your Life with Jason Feifer

What is the “thing” that all successful people do? Lara Schmoisman sits down with Jason Feifer, author and creator of Build for Tomorrow Podcast and editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur Magazine, to discuss navigating change for success.

What you’ll learn:

  • Why being BAD at something is necessary in finding success
  • The four phases of change and where most people give up
  • How to expand your time every day
  • The purpose of doing things for the first time

For more information on Jason and his new book, visit his Instagram, LinkedIn, or his website

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Lara Schmoisman  0:03  

Hey everyone, welcome back to coffee number five. My coffee is ready and it’s hot and warm. And I was thinking today I O with thinking and through coffee that I had what you guys know I was always in a Burj when by Pioneer and everything I tried, but not because I really want to be a pioneer or because I like to try new things. And I had to learn by myself. And like, for example, for this digital world when I started, it didn’t exist. So I wasn’t able to go and take classes, which is then I ended up teaching about digital mediums, which is great. But I always had to adapt, I had to be aware of the innovations and I still do every day. We have new things and we need to adapt. And I think that that’s one of the things that keeps me on my tippy toes in one hand, but in the other hand, it keeps me young, and I always need to keep learning and learning and learning. So today we invited Jason Feifer I think I said it right? No, I didn’t. So how


Jason Feifer  1:17  

Feiffer like like Pfeiffer like Michelle Pfeiffer.


Lara Schmoisman  1:21  

Michelle Pfeiffer. Okay, so we’ve got Jason Feifer. Welcome, Jason. Jason has an incredible career. He’s not only one of the editors in chief of entrepreneur, he also wrote an incredible book. I, it’s your that is up. Coming up now in September, right?


Jason Feifer  1:43  

That’s right out September 6,


Lara Schmoisman  1:45  

September 6, so I can’t wait to hear more about your work and to be in the land. But tell us more. How do you come up with this concept about? I mean, at some point, you had to come and hit your say, I will really want to write about this. What happened?


Jason Feifer  2:02  

So Well, thanks for having me. The book is called build for tomorrow and action plan for embracing change adapting fast and future proofing your career? And to answer your question, it really goes back to the moment in which I became editor in chief of Entrepreneur Magazine, which was in 2016, I started to get this question all the time, whenever I would be on podcasts or speaking at events, or whatever anybody would be asking me something. And the question was, what are the qualities of the most successful people that I was meeting because the thing is, I am just so fortunate to be able to meet with the most successful people in the world, and also just the smartest Main Street entrepreneurs. And so I should be able to pattern match and see what it is that’s driving success across. So such a such a such a broad spectrum of people. And I didn’t really know the answer to this at first, it was really interesting question made me think, and I thought I should know the answer to what it is that drives the most success. And so I started to talk to people, I spent years talking to people studying it, exploring this idea and trying to figure out what it was that all these people had in common. And the answer I came to realize is adaptability. That is the thing that they all have in common, whether they are running global companies, or they’re just succeeding in their local community, the people who were able to adapt to change, the smartest and the fastest, were the ones that were the most successful over the long term. So then the question, of course, is, well, how are they doing it? And I was clear in talking to people that the most successful or rather, it was clear that the that adaptability is nothing you’re born with, you know, it is, it is something you can learn across time. And so how do people learn it? And what were they doing and I struggled to figure it out until the pandemic because the pandemic hit this moment of reset for everyone all at the same time. And then you could see some people get ahead, and you could see other people get stuck. And I came to realize that change happens for everybody in four phases. Phase one, panic, phase two adaptation, phase three new normal phase four wouldn’t go back that moment where we say, I found something so new and valuable that I wouldn’t want to go back to a time before I had it. And that is the thing that everyone needs to get through. But that everyone moves through different pieces, a lot of people get stuck at panic. Maybe they even give up a panic, or a lot of people get really comfortable at new normal. And they say well now finally I found some kind of comfort and I’m not going to push myself any further. But the most successful people were the ones that were able to get to wouldn’t go back. And that is the reason I wrote the book because I saw these people doing it. And I started to understand the mindset that they had, the tools that they were using, the way that they were approaching moments of big change, and I felt like this is something that’s really helpful for everyone and I want to record it.


Lara Schmoisman  4:58  

Absolutely. Um Let me ask you a question because I honestly believe that everyone can change everyone. And I, but I also believe that it gets harder. If you’re, you leave a gap, you need to adapt as things happen, otherwise that gap gets bigger and bigger and bigger.


Jason Feifer  5:18  

Right? Right. So


Lara Schmoisman  5:21  

how do you do it? I mean, give us some tips here some juicy details on how you get there. I mean, the fear and the panic is totally true. I’ve seen it in the pandemics so many people hating on I cannot do this for in zoom, I know that people say, Okay, let’s give it a try and


Jason Feifer  5:41  

see how it works. That’s right. So look at you know, there are a lot of strategies, and we should talk about a whole bunch of them. But I think the overarching thing is that if you feel like you are not adaptable, now is a great time to just start training yourself for the future. This isn’t something that you just switch on. And it isn’t just some kind of order of buttons to push, at which point you will be able to navigate change. There are lots of things that you can think about now and things that you can do. But what I found is that the most adaptable people have over time taught themselves, all of these different ways to think and approach their career and their work. So that they are building adaptability into what they do. So I mean, let’s let’s talk about something that people can do for the future. And then also something that people can start to do right now.


Lara Schmoisman  6:30  

Let me ask you a question for you. To that, because Sure, something that it triggered for me. I mean, I like in education, there are a lot of people coming out the college. And I see that do you think that education is preparing us to be to adapt to change?


Jason Feifer  6:48  

Oh, I think that that’s it’s too broad to make a statement about that. I mean, you know, there’s, there’s, for every single person who goes to have some kind of educational experience has a different educational experience, right. And for as much as we want a cookie cutter things. The problem is that we have roughly cookie cutter solutions for infinite problems and experiences. So I think that there are some people who will have learned quite a lot from their educational experience. You know, I mean, I’ll give you one, for example, unlike most of the cabbage is a personal example, unlike most of the kids who I went to high school with, who went to college, if they went to college, they went to college locally, and they went to college with people that they already knew. I didn’t, I went to a I grew up in South Florida, I went to a random little liberal arts college in Worcester, Massachusetts, where I knew absolutely nobody. And that was a great experience, it enabled me to hit reset on the way that I thought of myself, you know, when when you’re, as anybody, I’m sure has had this experience. By the time you’re done with high school, you’ve been with the same kids for a long time. But you have evolved as a person. But because you’ve been with the same kids, everyone has this perception of you as how you were four, eight years earlier, and it feels very limiting. And it locks you into a way in which you’re going to act and relate to other people. And I found it to be just an amazing help to leave that environment leave literally everybody I knew and go to an environment where I was able to, to redefine myself and explore. And that was a, it was a it was a altering experience. But other people might not have had that. Or they might have done something totally different. Maybe they went to a local college, but they also put themselves into different circumstances where they were able to learn something anyway, the point is, I don’t think that I could really blanketly say, education, just as a, as an institution does or does not shape us. I think that ultimately, the best thing that we can do during our education is the same thing that we can do during our careers. And that is to be putting ourselves into situations where we learned something that we didn’t know, or that nobody was asking us to learn that. That is the key to me to having a career that evolves. I mean, just to kind of move into into like, post education. Give you an example. I I came to realize over the course of my career that I was doing this thing, I didn’t have language for it at the time, but now I do. I call it work your next job. What I realized was that in front of me in front of you in front of your listeners right now, everybody has two sets of opportunities. Opportunities had a opportunity to be opportunities that A is everything that’s asked of you. So you show up at work. And you have a job to do you have a boss who’s expecting you to do things or you run your own company and you have certain KPIs key performance indicators that you have to meet. And these are the things that you’re judged on opportunities at B are the things that zero people are going to ask you to do. That nobody is judging you on at all, but that are available to you. All the things that are available to you that nobody’s asking you to do. That’s opportunities have been What could that be? Well, it could be something at work. It could be something that people joining a project, learning a new task, changing departments being involved in something, but it could also be something outside of work, learning how to podcast, for example, or learning a new skill, or whatever the case is, these are things nobody’s asking you to do. My argument is that opportunity set B is always more important, infinitely more important, it is always better for you to focus on opportunities have B, which is the thing in which you are exploring, creating, discovering, than it is to just focus on opportunities to a where you are fulfilling and checking boxes. That’s not to say, just to be clear, not to say opportunities to a is unimportant. If you ignore the fire,


Lara Schmoisman  11:08  

it’s really important to keep your job, right, the only way to grow is to create opportunities for yourself. That’s right. That’s right. Yeah.


Jason Feifer  11:18  

And that’s, and that’s what I mean, look. And so you can, you can do that at any time, you can do that, while you are getting an education, you can do that while you’re working. I you know why I’m talking to you right now, I’ll tell you, it’s because of a series of opportunity set B decisions that I made throughout my career I, when I was a Fast Company years and years ago, I was a print editor, there was a video department that started nobody asked me to be a part of the video department. But I put myself in front of the camera, I thought it’d be interesting. In doing so I learned how to talk on camera, I learned how to speak in this kind of microphone II voice. And that gave me the skills to speak on stage to eventually launch a podcast. And then when I was interviewing for entrepreneur, magazine editor in chief, one of the things they really liked about me was that I was able to go out and represent the brand to the public. That was all because I learned how to do this thing and Fast Company that nobody asked me to do. So the more that you push yourself, the more it will become habit to push yourself. And the more you will always think the things that are not in front of me are the things that I need to seek out. Again, that’s not something that you can just wake up and start doing today. But you can start to start doing it, you can start to just start thinking about it, maybe start making a list of here are the things that I find interesting, which one do I want to devote some time to now. And the more that you shift that focus, the more you will train yourself and the more you will start to learn skills that you do not know the ROI on for now, but that I am guaranteeing you will come in use later.


Lara Schmoisman  12:49  

Absolutely. I want to give you example, for example, an example for example, yes, I like I was an my artists have I know the story that went out in 2008, I really need a job. So I had all this career work in television and film in. In online, I did all the things in my life because I always was a go getter. And just I didn’t care as well in a learning. I never had a problem with it. But then in 2008, the economy hit on me as the job I want to a headhunter, friend of a friend who was working for agencies, and she told me with this resume, you’re never going to be working in an agency, nobody’s going to hire you. And what are you going to do to take us to that, of course, I cried a little. But then I realized that what that woman said, all those things that I learned and I taught myself got me to own my own agency in the future. You never know when things are gonna take you. And it was an I wasn’t employable. But it was an uninterrupted neuro and I was able to get my own agency because of those skills.


Jason Feifer  13:57  

Yeah, that’s wonderful. And that’s exactly what you should have done. Because, you know, there are a lot of people who would have been told, you know, you just don’t have the skills for this. And they would have said, Oh, well, I guess not. And that would have been the end and they would have pursued something else. But you can create your own opportunity. You just simply can. It is hard. It requires a lot of work. But it is the great opportunity in front of you. And it is really simply a matter of whether or not you’re going to dedicate yourself to fulfilling it.


Lara Schmoisman  14:28  

Yeah, and this is a job that you need to do forever. They it doesn’t stop. No, you need to know.


Jason Feifer  14:35  

But the thing is he but the thing is, is that it doesn’t sound that I mean, the funny thing is that if you’re not doing that right now than saying it doesn’t stop and they have to do it every day can sound really exhausting. But once you make it a habit, it’s not exhausting. It is just simply the way that you think it is. It is the equivalent to how you think now you don’t feel any different. It just is the way and this is this is the way that I operate. I mean I am constantly constantly putting myself into new situations. And I know that sometimes it can be very, very uncomfortable to do that to try something that you do not have mastery over. And to know that getting there getting that kind of mastery is going to be very difficult. I’ll tell you, one of the things that I learned along the way in putting myself into these kind of uncomfortable situations is I came up with this phrase is really, really helpful to me, I’ll tell you, maybe can be helpful for others. So as I told you, one of the things that I learned how to do was public speaking, was did not come naturally. I have no experience in it. never took any classes. But I was starting to go, I developed a skill set of speaking on microphones. And I had the opportunity, you know, people were inviting me and I thought, well, I shouldn’t turn this down. And so the very first time that I went to give a talk on stage to a group of entrepreneurs, I was in Scottsdale, Arizona, years and years ago, I was opening for Marcus Lemonis of CNBC as the Prophet. I was really nervous, I had never done anything like this, I had no idea how to hold myself, I had no idea what my, if my message was going to resonate. I didn’t know if Marcus was in the building somewhere and was going to listen to me make a fool of myself, I just, I didn’t know what was going on. And I’m standing there and I practice my practice. I standing there, I’m standing on the side of the stage. And this guy is, you know, whatever. He was the event emcee and he was introducing me, and I’m listening to him. And I’m thinking in a couple of seconds, they’re gonna walk out on stage, and it’s super die. And then this thought popped into my head, this is the line that I told you that I found so useful. And that line was waiting, I know, well, I gotta build up the I gotta build up the suspense. The line was, I can’t wait to do this the second time. I can’t wait to do this the second time. Like, once you think about doing something new like that, you start to realize that the thing that you’re about to do for the first time, it doesn’t matter if it sucks or not, because the entire point of it is simply to have gotten it done. To move on to the second time, because as soon as I think about, I walked out on stage, the second that I am done on stage, I know so much more than I did before. I know infinitely more, I know how people are going to react, I know how I’m going to be I just I know things I didn’t know before. And the only way to know that stuff is to go out and do it. And the only way to do it is to know that everything does not ride or die on that one time that you’re doing it that in fact doing it for the first time. The only purpose that it serves is to get you to the second time, because the second time is where you have more information. And you can calibrate and you can improve, and you can get to the point where it feels natural. And now every single time that I am facing some kind of moment where I feel unsure. i That is that is what I tell myself. And we have to be okay. You know, I talked to Ryan Reynolds, you know, star of stage and screw, I don’t know if he was stage, but star screen certainly. And, and he also has an advertising agency, a number of other companies, and he told me this great thing that I really love, which was that in order to be good at something, you have to be willing to be bad. And it’s true. In order to be good at something, you have to be willing to be bad. Again, this goes back to as we were talking about, it goes back to a mindset that you develop and a habit structure that you build. Because I understand that waking up one morning and just saying you know what, I’m going to do a bunch of things that are uncomfortable. The first time isn’t easy. But the more you do it, the more you prove to yourself that it is the only path and it’s actually a perfectly fine path, that once you go out and do something uncomfortable once it’s so much easier to do it the second time and the third time and the fourth time, because you start to understand your own capacity to adapt and to improve. And you start to trust yourself more. And that just builds upon itself to the point where you can start to do just about anything, and just know that the whole point of it is to get better at it.


Lara Schmoisman  19:27  

Yeah, absolutely. And I’m gonna bring back this conversation that we’re having today. The podcasts are sometimes life. Throw you something your way and you need to adapt again. And you had one of those days today. Yeah, and we had to you had to adapt and it’s keep learning from those experiences. You learn how to Swift and change things to adapt and to keep going because you cannot stop every time life throws you a curveball.


Jason Feifer  19:59  

Yeah, that’s right. That’s totally right. Right. So what you’re referring to is what we were chatting about before we started recording, which was I was telling you that this morning at 9am. So we’re recording at 424 on a Monday, and 4:24pm on a Monday and at 9am. This morning, I went to drop my three year old off at his daycare camp or whatever. And, and they came out and made this announcement that a kid in the school had tested positive for COVID. And so if your name is on this list, then you’re not coming to school for not sure how long yet. Turns out, it’s gonna be like three days. And, and my kid was on the list. So I had to take him home, I had to cancel a whole bunch of meetings. My wife and I had to rearrange our schedules. She’s with him right now. I’m totally scattered, because my brain is totally scattered. I hope you don’t hear that in the way that I’m answering questions. But maybe you do. That’s okay. Because that’s real life. Am I you know, I I’m very, very annoyed. I hate it to me, frankly, I think that the solution at this point to try to like keep kids skate safe is actually the problem. And that should just be able to go to school, because it’s just wreaking havoc on families, but but we got to deal with it. And so we do. And so I make I make decisions about what needs to happen today. And what what can change and move. And, and I could, I have to make a conscious decision for myself about how I want to feel, because I could feel very frustrated. And I did this morning, you know, what I did actually is I live in New York, I tracked down the email address for the New York City Department of Health, and I sent them an email saying this is crazy. And we have to stop disrupting families life, because kids need to be in school, but But after that, I got on with my day, or whatever version of my day I could have, and that is simply the best that we can do. And, and, you know, it reminds me of a line. I like to use a lot with my work, which is I will do the best work with the resources available. I think it’s a really important way to think, you know, I think oftentimes, we compare ourselves to what we would be like, or what our work would be like, if we had more resources, well, I, this magazine would be a lot better if I had double the staff, this job would be a lot better if I had double the budget. But you know what you don’t, you just don’t have that, right. It’s like, I this book would be a lot better if I had double the time to write it. But you know, what I didn’t, what I had was the time that I had the resources that I had. So let’s stop comparing ourselves against what we do not have and start instead saying, I will do the best work with the resources available. Very, very important. Of course, we will do the best work, we have to be conscious that the resources available are the resources available. You know, I I, when I started at Entrepreneur Magazine, I was shocked at how a magazine of high quality national magazine was put out with the size of the staff. It’s small, small staff, the straight up and, and I my career has been working in larger magazines with larger staffs. And and so I started to think back to like my first magazine job, I worked at Boston Magazine, my entire job as a junior editor was to edit eight pages, the magazine eight pages. That’s it every month. And I do that, what else did I do with my time, I started to wonder what do I do with my time. And then I realized, well, here’s what I do with my time, the editor in chief would come over to my desk, and he would have printed out a page that I worked on, he would have circled the caption that I wrote in the photo. And he would have said, you know, I think this caption can be funnier. And then I would have sat there for two hours trying to come up with every possible variation of a caption for this photo. And then I would come to his office with like 25 new ideas. And I would sit outside his office for 30 minutes while he wrapped up some other conversation. And then I would show it to him. And then he would circle the thing. And he would say that one and then that was the one that would go in the magazine. And you know what? Now, when I look back on it, I think what a waste of time. Nobody, zero people, zero people ever have picked up a magazine. Because the captions are funny. They just haven’t. They haven’t done it, it was not useful. It was not a useful spend of time or resources. And so instead, I’m going to look at the staff that I have my magazine, and I’m going to say, alright, we’re going to take our immense talents. And the people on this team are immensely talented. There aren’t that many of them, but they’re all immensely talented. And we are going to focus on putting our talents to the best use possible not means we’re not gonna spend a lot of time on captions, because nobody cares. Instead, we’re going to spend our time on other things. And we’re going to make the best thing that we can with the resources available because that is the only way to operate. I love that


Lara Schmoisman  24:42  

you said that because this is one of the things that I talk my programs a lot and I believe that any entrepreneur needs to know first you have resources and then you can start and work and I call resources time budget team. Knowledge if you have the Knowledge, it is something where you were saying before you need to adapt, unlearn what you need as an entrepreneur or a new business owner, what do you will need it to achieve it certain results? And can you do it alone? Do you need a team, the unit how much money you’re willing to put or you have to vote? If you don’t know your resources, it’s really hard to move on.


Jason Feifer  25:25  

That’s right. That’s completely right. And you also shouldn’t think of your like, you need to work within your resources, you need to understand your resources, you’re 100% Correct. But also do not underestimate your ability to maximize those resources. I hear over and over again, people tell me that limitations are in fact, their greatest strength. Having help. Just to be clear, Ryan Reynolds said that Ryan Reynolds, movie star runs an amazing ad ad agency, he told me that he loves small budgets. He was like, you know, if you’re given a large budget, you know, the first thing you do is you think, okay, how can I blow this budget? So should we have like, aliens coming down and blowing up buildings, which is not what we should do. But when you when you shrink your budget down, you’re forced to focus on what really matters, which isn’t the aliens blowing up the building. It’s the clever idea. It’s the thing that’s going to connect humanly. So you should you need to, you need to be able to not just live within your resources, but also see that as an opportunity to push yourself to be more creative. And by the way, you mentioned time, I’ll give you one, one quick thing that I found about time, you know, I do a lot. In addition to being the editor in chief of Entrepreneur Magazine, and writing and now marketing, this book builds for tomorrow, I also, I make two podcasts, do a lot of speaking and startup advisor, do some television development, have two kids? It’s a lot. And people ask me how I do it? And the answer is, because time is like a balloon. That’s how. So people often will say, if you know, people often will say I don’t have the time, if only I had the time, I only have the time Oh, I would write a book if only I have the time. But here’s the thing. If only I had the time doesn’t exist, there is no time where you will ever, quote unquote, have the time, where you will suddenly just like have open time in your calendar. That doesn’t exist. That doesn’t exist because of Parkinson’s Law, Parkinson’s Law states that work expands to fit the time allotted, it’s totally true. However much time you have to do the work is how much time that work will take you. So don’t think of yourself as waiting around to have the time because you will never have the time. Instead, what you do is you have to make the time which I really sounds Pat. But think of it like this. And this is why I said time is like a balloon. Nobody ever expands a balloon to fit air into the balloon. That is not how you blow up a balloon. You don’t you don’t expand the balloon, and then put air into the balloon. Instead, you blow air into the balloon and then the balloon expands. Think of time the exact same way. How will your time grow? When you put pressure on it. That’s how it will grow. Time expands under pressure. So the more that you add, the more you will be forced to think about all the inefficiencies you have in your current system, you will find ways to do that stuff better, or you will drop stuff that don’t really help you. And the more that you do that, the more you will ultimately, quote unquote, have more time even though it’s same amount of time.


Lara Schmoisman  28:31  

Yeah, yes. It’s not that you don’t have it. You just make the time for it. Yeah. And it’s also about what’s more important, right? This is making decisions.


Jason Feifer  28:43  

And it’s hard. It’s hard to know what’s more important until you are really forced to consider what is the best spend of the next 20 minutes. That’s when you really have to make these hard decisions. And if you don’t, then you will dawdle. Then you will spend time on Twitter.


Lara Schmoisman  28:59  

Absolutely. Jason, thank you so much to for being here having coffee with me. It was a pleasure and to hear about I can’t wait to get your work. I’m so pumped about it. And thank you. Hey, September 6, right.


Jason Feifer  29:14  

September 6, so yes, so so. Yes, September 6. I don’t know what else to tell you. Yeah. So whenever


Lara Schmoisman  29:21  

whenever you have your main wall set, put it will add it to the chapter notes so everyone can know where to find it.


Jason Feifer  29:29  

Yeah, fantastic. You can find it wherever you find books. So Amazon, your local bookstore, Barnes and Noble doesn’t matter. Again. It’s called build for tomorrow, a action plan for adapting fast. I probably messed that up. I you know, it’s funny, I gotta tell you, I’ve interviewed a bazillion authors and they always mess up their subtitle and I always think Why do you mess up your subtitle? It’s your book. And now I do it all the time. We hear it doesn’t have to get built for tomorrow and action plan for embracing change adapting fast and future proofing your career. Maybe one day I will have that memorized.


Lara Schmoisman  30:00  

wow you did a great thank you so much for having coffee with me and to you guys I’ll see you next week with more coffee number five thanks so much



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