Jason Harris is Co-Founder and CEO of Mekanism, an award-winning creative advertising agency. Jason is the author of The Soulful Art of Persuasion that highlights the 11 habits you need to become more authentically or soulfully persuasive. He proves that persuasion is not a dirty word, but the most positive, productive, and ethical way of changing peoples’ minds through the cultivation of character building habits.
Become a person with more fulfilling experiences and more authentic personal relationships! Tune in to this episode to learn the power of positivity and persuasion, collaboration, storytelling, building lasting relationships, and actionable habits that you can implement to become a master influencer.
Why did you write The Soulful Art of Persuasion? What was the inspiration behind it?
He’s an avid reader, listener of podcasts, and loves reading business books. As an entrepreneur, he’s figuring out how other people approach business and sales, so he consumes that type of content. It dawned on him that there’s something different about the way he approaches business and the principals he follows compared to everyone else’s approach. He saw transactional, short-term methods of building a business rather than relationship and long-term focused methods. He had a different angle and a different thing to say in the business book atmosphere. To Jason, the idea of being a soulful persuader and influencer is being an influencer in your personal and professional sphere.
What are the core principals of your book and how did you develop these principals?
Jason worked at a lot of different companies before starting his own and he felt like he didn’t respond well to a lot of the company cultures he was experiencing. There wasn’t much of a space where people could feel truly themselves and be original, so he learned a lot of what he wanted to create and the ways he wanted to work from seeing what other people were doing, both positive and negative. He kept a journal of these ideas and beliefs until he developed the four core beliefs that he follows to this day. The four principals are: be original, be generous, be empathetic, and be soulful. His inspiration also came from books he was reading, the way people made him feel, and seeing success growing from long-term relationships.
How did you decide that those four, out of all the principals we could live by, were essential?
The 11 habits he mentions in the book fall under these categories. Being soulful came last to him, but the other three came from a balance of business, how he wants to pursue his life, and the type of person he wants to be. Some of the habits came naturally to him and some he had to practice and develop over time.
What’s an example of something that was not natural for you?
Jason isn’t a naturally generous person. He says he was born on the more self-absorbed and slightly selfish side. Through work and growing up and his experiences, he realized that it’s a characteristic that’s really important.
When working with big brands, how do you tell a story that can build a sense of trust, but that is also not transactional?
You can’t always do that. They’ll send you a brief of what to talk about and then you come up with the creative work off of that brief. You have to absorb what they’re saying and what they want to accomplish, then crack the creative and spit it back to them with ideas that position the brand in a way that you feel is right. It’s always a dance with what you feel the audience will respond to and what the brand thinks they will respond to. He tries to embody the principals of being original and knowing the audience.
Do you think the art of storytelling in a way that connects with the person or brand applies to long-term relationships?
Definitely, 100%. When he talks about relationships, there are personal and professional relationships and you have to approach them in a similar fashion.
Can you share with us your journey and how you got to where you are now?
Jason is an odd duck in the sense that he knew he wanted to be in advertising at the age of 12 or 13. Both his parents were teachers so he grew up in an academic household. He was a TV junkie and would always break down and study the stories in between the shows he watched. He realized that must be a fun job to create those advertisements and the first time he thought he was persuaded was around the same age when the band KISS transported him through storytelling.
Stories can be from your heart, your life, books you love, music, and movies. Success in a lot of areas is built on storytelling techniques.
Did you get your degree in advertising?
Jason got his degree in economics to make his parents happy, then he hustled to get his foot in the door at a design firm, then a few advertising agencies doing direct mail, strategy, and production. He got a feel for how business is done and what it’s like through these different areas of the companies. With a decade of advertising under his belt, he started a production company, and then a couple years later, he co-founded Mekanism which has been around for over 10 years.
Looking back, had your journey been a bit confusing but now makes sense?
Yes, when you start out, it meanders a lot and he did have aspirations to open his own company after college. He didn’t know exactly what area or that he wanted to be CEO but he had that entrepreneurial spirit. It’s interesting how your journey can be both focused and flexible. The hardest thing is figuring out the industry you love and what skills you have that you can apply in that industry.
What’s an obstacle, fear, or limiting belief that you feel like you encountered in your journey of figuring out the path that you really wanted to be on?
For Jason, he likes to have control. When he moved to having partners, from having all the control in his own company, the limiting thing for him was: can he learn to let go and let other people take the reins and control their areas? That was a really hard thing for him to learn and he feels like he’s good at it now, after a few years of learning.
How do you build trust?
Today more than ever, trust is so important because we’ve gotten so entrenched in our beliefs. We watch the stations and follow the social media that are going to tell us what we believe is right. We have to try and open this view about the idea about empathy and understanding and being curious about other people. That builds trust. When we, in business, think about techniques like mirror matching our audience to help sell something, that’s not building trust, that’s not being vulnerable or showing who we are. When you’re allowed to tell stories to people you might not even know, that allows them to do the same, and it allows trust to be built. Listening and trying to learn more than you might be judging other people also builds trust.
Empathy allows you to collaborate better. That’s another aspect of persuasion, joining forces with other people. Look at other people and see that we’re really not that different from each other. Seek the common ground and approach everyone as an equal, thinking about collaboration.
Can you share one or two of these 11 habits that can be really simple and practical that we can apply today?
One thing Jason always thinks about in business is this notion of never be closing. It’s an idea of shifting your thinking, when you’re thinking about any deal, and going against the transactional way of thinking that will sabotage your attempts at persuasion. Thinking about building a relationship rather than closing the deal. If you do that, the impact of what you’re actually trying to close magnifies.
Another thing is trying not to let your relationships drop to zero. Think about reaching out to five people every week to keep those relationships going. When it comes to social media, how do you think about sharing your interests with everyone vs reaching out and sharing with a particular person or group of people that would care about that issue.
Could you post something on Instagram and share it personally with another person?
Either way, it’s the ability of thinking about it as an act of generosity and thinking of who might benefit from this piece of knowledge and the connection. It’s the mindset that makes a big difference.
Can you share a story of a time where you didn’t have a relationship with somebody but you wanted to foster one and the process you went through to make that happen?
Jason shares about a business relationship where he met an interesting guy at a conference, how he wrote him a letter about how great he thinks his brand is and sent him a Mekansim hoodie. That meant a lot to him and about six months later, they decided to put the business up for review and threw Mekansim into the mix because he had that memory on his chest all the time. Now, they’ve been working together for over six years.
Let me know if you agree, I think complementing people is so underused.
Jason agrees! Reach out to your role models to express your thoughts and the impacts of the business on you personally. Let them know you’d love to have a follow-up conversation about it, that’s how you build a relationship. There’s so few people who do that nowadays and when someone does that, it’s super powerful. Part of persuasion is that awareness of the other person and generosity, acknowledgement, and research on who you want to network with can be very similar to complements.
What’s a question you ask yourself a lot in terms of business in order to move it forward?
He’s always thinking about: are the messages that we’re putting into the world positive stories? Are we filling the world with more positivity or are we just adding to the negative noise?
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
This idea that business is a marathon and not a sprint. Building your career doesn’t have to happen as fast as you think it has to happen. Allow yourself to realize that you can take time with it. Allow yourself to know that relationships do take time and work and you always have to exercise that muscle.
I think the essence of business is relationships, what’s your take?
Yeah, that’s all it is. It’s relationships with people and that’s it.
Any last thoughts?
The idea of soulfulness in business – something that’s helped Jason is trying to be inspirational in whatever career or industry he’s in. It does help you become more influential and feel good, putting positive things out there and inspire by giving back. Direct your skill(s) towards something that’s bigger than yourself, like teaching tennis in low-income areas. It’s a very important aspect of success.
Do you use the word intention in your work?
He doesn’t but now he’s going to because he really likes it and it’s important!
Connect with Jason + Get his book: www.thesoulfulart.com
Jenny Fenig is the creator of the Get Gutsy movement, is a coach to spiritual women on a mission. Jenny’s mission is simple: help you touch more lives with your message and cash in on your calling.® After a successful (and stressful!) corporate career managing public relations campaigns for the biggest brands in the world and then producing premium business conferences, she realized she was far too much of a rebel to be employed by someone else. Freedom is her top value. After a successful corporate career in New York City, Jenny quit her 6-figure job to do what she was put on this planet to do: coach gutsy leaders to rise to their next level. She does this by empowering you to tune in, do less + make more.
The death of her 12-year-old sister Julie taught her not to stress about stuff that doesn’t matter. Surviving her death as a 16-year-old high school girl made her who she is today.
In this episode, we talk about how to connect with nature and why it’s important, how to do more in less time, how death can be a catalyst to create more meaning and so much more. Listen up with an open heart and mind.
It appears that missions have been a big part of your life. What would you say your mission is now?
Jenny’s mission is to remind women that they are magic makers and to reclaim the word “magic”. Magic is working with nature and the seasons to create something beautiful and sustainable and that helps make the world better. We do that so gloriously. We are designed that way. It’s such a trip!
When we rely on technology exclusively to fill us, then it’s really easy to disconnect from what’s really going on. So her mission is to remind women that they have wonderful gifts, talents and creations inside of them to bring forth and bring language and context to. They can put them into a very intelligent container, price them, sell them, and receive abundance for doing so… what a wonderful thing, that we can do this from home and on our own schedule! We have the tools to be able to create this magic and create whatever life we want.
Would you say that magic has an element of creation?
What if we’re not feeling the magic?
Be you. Know that when it’s time, transformation is beautiful. The butterfly doesn’t start out as a butterfly, it starts out as a caterpillar. The caterpillar just rocks the caterpillar life and when it’s time, boom! The cocoon starts being created, but then the cocoon has to get really tight and that’s also uncomfortable. These transitions are very uncomfortable and sometimes we want to rush through them, but nature never rushes. So can we get our cues from nature and say when the time is really right? Can we trust the timetable and know that it’s working and that we’re on the right path?
We’re all trained for instant gratification. We need all these conveniences and we think that can be applied to everything, but it’s just not the way that it works. We have to come to a place where we are so deeply connected to our intuition, our own inner knowing, that we know it’s working and it’s working because we are still showing up and doing the work. Making it easier doesn’t mean you’re checked out and not doing the stuff that you know you need to.
Children are often more connected to magic and at some point, it seems we get cut off. When did you reconnect with magic?
Space camp was a reconnection to the magic and Jenny would do things where she felt like she was in her genius. Being around people who are like her. Jenny moved to NYC after graduating and worked for a public relations agency. That’s what she thought she was meant to do. She was disconnected, she wasn’t treating her body well, she was drinking too much, and she realized it wasn’t working for her anymore. Jenny realized she was running from her feelings, the grief from when her sister died of cancer in high school, and never really stopped to process that because she didn’t really know how.
“Whatever I choose to do, I’m good at it,” she says. That’s her story and it works until it doesn’t, then you have your feelings to deal with. She came face to face with that voice within and that’s when she rediscovered her magic because that’s when she chose to trust that voice instead of pushing it away. She broke down into tears at work and asked for the support she needed. She took a little time off work which was an act of reclaiming herself and being available for herself.
Was there a moment when you lost your sister that you felt like you lost faith or magic?
She lost her faith in God when that happened. It wasn’t a huge part of her life and she didn’t have a strong upbringing in a religious context but she had a sense of God and her sister was a huge believer. Jenny saw her sister’s peacefulness around her death and towards the end, she saw her ability to find her way. Jenny found a diary of her sister’s that mentioned the moment she found God and Jenny wondered how.
Having three loved ones die in a short amount of time in her teenage years, especially her sister, made her sad, pissed, and confused. She wanted answers. She still felt them but couldn’t see them and because she was just thrown into the depths of it, she learned what she knows now and that the connection to source energy never dies. The classic religious environment never did anything for Jenny. She found her way on her own and she has yoga to thank for that. Through that practice, she found peace and the ability to not need alcohol or drugs to experience a feeling. She wanted to feel that through healthy habits.
How has your experience with death helped you to live a more meaningful and fulfilled life?
It’s been everything! Jenny watched her 16-year-old sister take her last breath and learned that time waits for no one and you don’t know what your last day is going to be on this planet. We must not just squander our time, complain, and bitch about getting older, we have to be better stewards of our time and stop wasting it on things that don’t matter to us anyway.
On a spiritually cosmic level, she knows that her sister was here for the time that she was because that was her journey and for Jenny, what a wonderful teacher she’s been. Her sister helps her get out and share this message. Her sister is championing it til the end. Jenny has a really distinct understanding of time, uses it really well, and can teach it to you too!
How do you think losing your sister has impacted you as a mother?
Jenny is able to tune into what this is really about and this gift that we’re given as a parent to guide these beings along as they guide us along. Let’s be real, we probably learn more from our kids as they learn from us! It goes by quickly and they’re absorbing it all. She’s not saying she doesn’t have moments of fear of something happening to them but she doesn’t entertain long periods of time in that realm of fear. Jenny tries to think of the big picture. So much suffering comes when we attach to a form or arrangement being the way it’s always been. When the time came around for her son to pursue homeschooling, she felt like it was a gift from her sister. She hears the voice of her sister just telling her to enjoy it and not to get too into her head.
With the state of the world right now, people can use the fear of death to not do something. When there’s so much fear around getting sick and ultimately dying, how do you recommend that people don’t let the fears stops them from living, but rather help them have more agency over their time and their life and create more magic in their life?
Every day, be intentional about the design of the day. How do you want to experience today?
Today is going to be _________. Call it in! Call in the value of the day. So much of the time it’s about adapting and then not getting attached to form. That’s where the suffering comes from. It’s a slippery slope. We can show up for what’s up and have some sort of spiritual practice that where you can come back to your center. This is the time to get it! You just may not have found it yet, but it’s there. For Jenny, the “there” has been through her body. We have a partnership with our bodies and they deserve to be nourished, loved, adored, honored, and listened to. All is well.
You’re a mom. You’re homeschooling. You have three kids. We’re moving along with this theme of time and it influences so much of how we live. What would you suggest are some key ways to talk about time?
There’s always enough time. I have plenty of time. I always get it done.
You have to know your own defaults. Hers is anxiety and instead of going to the place of not having enough time to get things done, she goes to the place of recognizing how lucky she is to have all these projects to work on; that she gets to help her son with this particular assignment.
If you’re alive, you have time. It’s a partner to you. We’re here, we’re alive, we have time. Are you harnessing your time intelligently or have you surrendered into the squandering of time? Notice your tendencies when you feel overwhelmed. Are you scrolling on social media? Are you comparing and despairing? Are you reading every news article and going down rabbit holes?
Prioritize what needs to get done today. Do it now, don’t wait til later. Once you do, you’ll start seeing things just get done!
What’s an action step that you would offer the listeners to take?
Get to know the moon. Really get to know her, she has your back. The moon is in us! Whether you’re in your bleeding years or not, we have the same cycle as the moon, which is pretty epic. Know that our own rhythmic, energetic cycle and hers are connected. You should know when the new moon, first quarter moon, full moon, and third quarter moon are. It’s usually in the printed calendars! All of her launches and projects work with this code and the season, but at least know it for yourself, you don’t necessarily need to build it into your business. You’ll know yourself more deeply and understand why at the new moon, you don’t really want to hang out with your family!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
This quote from The Velveteen Rabbit: “It doesn’t happen all at once, you become. It takes a long time.”
Tell us how we can get in touch with you and find out about your work.
Visit her website: jennyfenig.com
Follow her on Instagram: instagram.com/jennyfenig/
Free Reclaim Your Time Template: https://jennyfenig.lpages.co/schedule-template/