April 4, 2024

Joe Polish

Joe Polish is the Founder of Genius Network, an exclusive group of renowned and successful entrepreneurs. He is an established marketer and has helped thousands of businesses, from large corporations to small family-owned companies, generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. 

Additionally, Joe is the Founder and President of Piranha Marketing and the host of three top-rated business and marketing podcasts, including I Love Marketing. He is also a passionate philanthropist and the Founder of Genius Recovery, which works to change the global conversation around addiction and recovery.


Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • [02:54] Joe Polish’s philosophy on the interplay of listening and giving
  • [04:41] Gauging the balance between helping and overextending oneself
  • [08:21] Joe highlights the importance of humor in overcoming challenges
  • [14:04] The role of atmospheric conditions in shaping one’s actions
  • [17:46] The distinction between pursuing opportunities and being an opportunist
  • [21:33] Joe’s insights into the biochemical aspects of addiction
  • [22:33] Dopamine as a driving force in our pursuits and decisions
  • [25:40] The necessity of remaining agile and forward-thinking in marketing

In this episode…

Networking is not only about making corporate connections but building genuine relationships with people who share your values and interests. The key to successful networking is to be a giver rather than a taker.

When you freely give your time, expertise, and resources, you create a positive impression and build trust with others. Marketing expert Joe Polish says that being a giver opens opportunities to collaborate, learn, and grow. When you help others succeed, you build a network of allies who will support you when you need support. 

In today’s inspiring episode of the Timeless Marketing Podcast, Brian Kurtz sits down with Joe Polish, Founder of Genius Network, to discuss his book and the power of being a giver. Joe talks about his book What’s In It For Them, how to be a giver and deal with takers, mentorship and networking strategies, and the Genius Network. He also explains how to attract and retain subscribers and shares AI’s impact on society.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Titans Xcelerator.

Titans Xcelerator is a private mentorship program for direct response marketers.

It is one of the most giving communities and serves as the de facto board of advisors and marketing insurance policy for over 250 of the best and brightest direct response marketers, copywriters, media buyers, marketing agencies, senior executives, anyone in direct response marketing, who is committed to growing and scaling their business.

And you don’t need to spend 10s of 1000s of dollars either. 

Titans Xcelerator is 1/10 of the price of most groups of its kind. 

And with a private membership, you’ll receive access to the full presentation from today’s episode, along with the Q&A and discussion that followed. 

As an added bonus, you’ll receive access to a vault filled with many more private calls just like this one.

The bottom line: you don’t have to grow your business alone. 

If you want to see how Titans Xcelerator can help you grow and scale your specific business, go to BrianKurtz.net/help.

Episode Transcript

Intro  0:03  

Welcome to the Timeless Marketing Podcast with Brian Kurtz, your connection to insights from some of the top direct response marketing minds on the planet.

Brian Kurtz  0:16  

Hey, it’s Brian Kurtz here host of the Timeless Marketing Podcast. Today’s episode is a clip from one of the two hour calls inside Titans Xcelerator, my private mentorship program for direct response marketers. Before we get to that, I have one question for you. Do you have a marketing insurance policy? If you don’t, you need one. And that’s why I created Titans Xcelerator, which is one of the most giving communities and serves as the de facto board of advisors and marketing insurance policy for over 250 of the best and brightest direct response marketers, copywriters, media buyers, marketing agencies, senior executives, anyone in direct response marketing, who is committed to growing and scaling their business. The bottom line, you don’t have to grow your business alone. And you don’t need to spend tens of thousands of dollars either. Titans Xcelerator is 1/10 of the price of most groups of its kind. I know because I hosted a group that was over $20,000 a year. If you want to see how Titans Xcelerator can help you grow and scale your specific business, go to BrianKurtz.net/help. That’s B-R-I-A-N-K-U-R-T-Z.net/help. 

And with a private membership, you’ll receive access to the full presentation from today’s episode, along with the Q&A and discussion that followed. As an added bonus, you’ll receive access to a vault filled with many more private calls just like this one. Again, if you want to see if Titans Xcelerator is a fit for you with no obligation, go to BrianKurtz.net/help. That’s B-R-I-A-N-K-U-R-T-Z.net/help. And feel free to email me directly. I respond to every email with questions about this episode or just to say hi, at Brian@BrianKurtz.net. Now onto today’s episode.

That’s a good segue to Joe, because I want to get Joe on here and I want to milk them for whatever I can milk them for today. And Joe, first of all, thank you for I mean, most of our speakers don’t come on as early as you do. And I know that you would, because that’s who you are. And you want to not just to see the group a little bit but, you know, you went into a breakout room and it’s just who you are. And I just love you. 

Joe Polish  02:52 

Love you too, thank you. 

Biran Kurtz 02:54

You know, you’re one of my favorite people in the world. But a lot of people say that to you, but I really mean it. All those other people, but I think that’s a good first question. Because you know, we’re gonna be talking about your book, which is phenomenal. Anybody in this group that doesn’t buy it, shame on you. It is How to Win Friends and How to Win Friends and Influence People for the 21st century. It really is. And so start with that, Joe, I mean, you are an impulsive giver. If there is such a thing. You are always like, someone asks you for something, someone says something, and your first reaction is how can I help you? And you start going through your Rolodex, you start texting people, you start connecting and doing all of that. 

How do you correlate that with sometimes someone and with genius recovery, which I know you want to talk about as well, sometimes you just have to listen to an addict who needs to vent. And I hate the word vent. Who needs to just talk about what’s going on with them without you saying a word or without you helping them right away. And your impulse is to just help, help help, which is my impulse to and a lot of the people in this group have that impulse. How do you weigh that in terms of you know, when to like, I guess when to shut up and listen first without helping, because you’re helping by listening, something like that? Do you ever think about that? Because David Bair gave me that in our breakout room, and I thought, I said I don’t listen enough sometimes. So start with that but also anything you want to open this discussion with about your book or whatever, but I think that’s a good question. 

Joe Polish  4:41  

Yeah, no, thank you. And it’s good to be here. And can you guys hear me okay as my is my sound alright? So yeah, you know, to answer that first question, you develop a spidey sense for it. I mean, I still am constantly trying to figure out how to gauge situations. There’s a bit of social intuitiveness that ends up getting developed, the more that you do social calibration, how to size up situations. The reason for my book, I didn’t write a timely book, I wrote a timeless book, at least on this one. It’s the fifth book that I’ve written. But it’s the one book that I wrote, not as a setup to try to position or sell Genius Network even though of course, I talk about Genius Network in there. And I talk about things I’ve done well that have worked to meet people. I talk a lot about cautionary tales of where I’ve made mistakes and where I’ve wasted. You know, chapter two, I talk about a thing called TAMEE. I don’t use the term TAMEE in the book, though, but I use it when I talk about it, which stands for what we can spend, which is our time, attention, money, effort, and energy. And I have wasted, as everyone here has, can point to areas of their life where they’ve wasted their time, their attention, their money, effort and energy trying to be helpful and useful to people that took advantage of them. 

So you know, like the Zig Ziglar line, you can get anything you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want. That has to be taken in a certain context, because you can help other people get what they want, that not only won’t do a damn thing for you, they’ll actually take advantage of you, they’ll steal from you, they will abuse you, they will lie to you, they’ll betray you. And when someone operates in life as a giver, you know, the downside to that is that you’re going to get taken advantage of. You’re going to be a target for narcissists, takers, sociopaths, psychopaths. And there’s a lot of these people in high places that operate that way that are really skilled at mirroring empathy, but they don’t have any themselves. And they are totally, their value system is operationally different than someone that is a giver. 

And so I wrote the book for givers of the world, to protect themselves and boundary themselves from takers. But also not blowing smoke up anyone’s acid by being nice and kind and wonderful that it doesn’t have a downside, because it does, and kindness is valuable and helpful, except in situations when it’s not. You have to deal with people at the level at which they respond. And some people respond to being treated, you know, in a certain way, and other people do not. And so, you know, you want to treat people the way not you want to be treated, but the way they want to be treated. And you have to make a judgment call if someone wants a hardcore kick them in the butt sort of person, if you’re in the quote unquote, business coaches and example, do you really want to do that? And then see, that’s not you know, people will often say, I want to join one of your groups because I need someone to, you know, kick me in the button. So it’s like, that’s not what I do. I don’t, I don’t want to do that. And I also, you know, I don’t want to enable people you don’t want to, you know, take the gifts of somebody’s pain and struggle away. You know, like that line. Don’t handicap your children by making their life too easy. And I say that as a person that doesn’t have kids, but I have a lot of clients that I think are kids so

Brian Kurtz  8:18  

And you’re like my kids, so it’s good. 

Joe Polish  8:21  

Yeah, no, no. And look, I’m a goofball. I mean, I like humor. I like fun. I like sarcasm. I like bantering. And so I try to bring, you know, life is painful. Life is hard. Not all the time, life can be wonderful and great. And there are times where, you know, it’s blissful. It’s awesome. We’re confident. And there’s other types of we’re desperate, we’re self centered, we’re depressed, you know, and I say that being a person who’s been in addiction recovery for over 20 years of my life with, you know, plenty of relapses, and plenty of, you know, bad days and bad weeks and bad months and some bad years. But I’ve also, you know, had an enormously wonderful life and I’ve had so many great things that I’m proud of. And so yeah, so the bottom line, the book is the title of the book is what’s in it for them, which is really the, the framing of how I have, I feel, you know, your thing about listening into your thing about being, you know, how do you judge situations with without spreading yourself too thin? And how do you determine what to give your time, potential money, effort and energy to? I think you will exert more energy being a taker than you will being a giver. 

One of my other books is Life Gives to the Giver, and the full quote is “life gives to the giver and takes from the taker”. It’s counterintuitive, but I have made more money, more genuine relationships. I’ve gotten more joy when I approach things with how can I create value for somebody first versus going at it with an agenda of tit for tat or I’m going to do something for them? Look, Robert Cialdini is a dear friend of mine. I mean, I understand reciprocity quite well. I mean, me and Robert have been friends for about 30 years. I just spent an hour and 45 minutes on Zoom with him and the two people that are taking over the Cialdini Influence Institute and helping them lay out the whole game plan. They just joined Genius Network. I understand a lot about persuasion and influence. I’ve studied it my whole life. And there’s trickery that is involved in a lot of marketing. And it’s really easy to get jaded when you spend your life studying persuasion. Almost everyone here, especially those that are skilled copywriters, you know, you kind of know the game, you kind of know the con. But there’s a big difference between really connecting with people and connecting with people, where you connect people by conning them, or you connect with them by writing emotional copy or saying emotional things and getting a crowd all frothed up. But you know, deep down inside, you don’t do what you’re saying you don’t follow what it is you’re saying. And you’re not just conning other people, but you’re conning yourself. 

And so the biggest con artists out there are the ones that actually aren’t even congruent with the shit that’s coming out of their mouth or coming out of their video sales letters coming out of their copy. And I’m not saying this to be demeaning to anyone or say any of this, what I’m saying is you kind of know it, you don’t need me to say it, you just need to listen to that voice deep down inside, you know that all of us have that, that intuition. And oftentimes people don’t hear it or feel it because they’re numbing themselves out with alcohol, they’re numbing themselves out with workaholism, they’re numbing themselves out with ways to try to block the darkness of that incongruent behavior. Everyone here wants something, no one would join Titans or be part of this or even my groups or anything, if they didn’t want something. Everyone here is giving of their time, their attention, whatever level, you know, and wherever that attention is. Some people are thinking about, you know, something else right now. But they’re sort of here. And there’s other people that are present at different levels. And that’s totally based on the overwhelm, the responsibility, the obligations that we all have in our lives, but everyone’s chiseling out a bit of time here to listen to me ramble about whatever I’m going to ramble about. I don’t really have like any set agenda or any talk, I’m just here to share what I feel might be be useful to everyone, and I’m happy to, you know, answer any questions about anything, you could ask me anything, there’s nothing off limits, politics, can ask me about anything, I don’t care. 

You know, the thing is, everybody wants something. When it comes to opportunities, we all want opportunities, I want to reach opportunities, I want to make more money, I want to get better clients, I want to have, you know, deeper love relationships, I want people to like me, I want to see things happen in the world that you know, are going to, maybe I could have some sort of impact or influence, I want to help people that struggle with addictions, I want to help entrepreneurs I like, you know, pontificating marketing ideas, all that sort of stuff. So we all want something. And we all have opportunities. The difference, though, between pursuing an opportunity versus being an opportunist, and opportunist, they show up with a want from other people, but their give is not as big as or equal to their want. And so the people that we tend to, like in our lives, are the ones that show up with a want, but their give is equal to or greater than their want. Si let’s take you Brian, both of us probably ramble too much and we probably talk too much, and we could probably both be better at listening. And I’ve gotten way better at that, because you kind of have to.

Brian Kurtz  14:00  

When you went on your sabbatical to, it’s like, I didn’t have as many people to talk to.

Joe Polish  14:04  

The downside of being a quote unquote connector. You know, which I really never called myself that it’s after, you know, I’ve heard that term describe me so many times, itt’s like Kinect, or whatever. You know, part of it is I just need to better connect with myself. I mean, when I went on my sabbatical, it was it was a fascinating exercise, and who are my real friends that are there because we’re just really, you know, inner circle type friendships versus who are acquaintances versus who are the fake friends versus who are the people that you know, just kind of were around because they, they really didn’t want to respect my sabbatical. They just really wanted something. So I could just tell by the tone by the text messages, and I cut off a lot of relationships in the midst of doing that, but I had to smoke out all the insecure parts of me that require external validation. to feel like I’m a decent human being, and believe me, I have low self worth low self esteem. There’s plenty of that.

You’ve heard me say this, I make jokes about, you know, anyone that writes a book goes on stage speaks, they want the world to like it. I mean, you know it, there’s some people that, you know, you’re sick as your secrets. I mean, that’s, that’s a term that comes down to 12 step programs, at least that’s the first place I heard it. And, you know, part of it is silent battles are the hardest battles to fight. And when you have to, it’s really easy to escape into workaholism, because workaholism is a respectable addiction. And, you know, you can get rewarded through status, through money, through performance. If people want to understand what’s going on with doing business deals and listening to podcasts and, you know, pursuing business opportunities, it’s a dopamine hit, you know, in the same way, it’s so much of this is biochemical. 

I mean, one of my newest friends is Dr. Ana Lembke, who wrote a phenomenal book called Dopamine Nation and, and it’s great. She’s a Stanford doctor that works with addiction, and addiction medicine and stuff. And I’m helping her with a Dopamine Nation workbook right now on how we can, you know, get legitimate forms of dopamine and not become so addicted to it. Addiction is a cause of trauma and lack of dopamine, and lack of biochemistry. Those are the two things that really lead to the vast majority of addiction. And I’ve done deep dives and all that, you know, I just, I just put up two days ago, my second interview with Gabor Maté, who’s one of the top addiction doctors in the world, and, you know, a good friend and that sort of stuff. But yeah, you know, so my, my advice, if you want to call it that, and treat anything that I say, like a 12 step group, you know, take what you like and leave the rest. I mean, I don’t know everything, I can only share things through my own experience and I often try to warn people as you read books, and as you learn stuff, you know, lasting happiness is our friend, Dave Packard said does not come from consuming values, it comes from producing values and producing more than you consume as the only justification for existence. So someone could consume my book or Gary Vaynerchuk stuff, or Tim Ferriss stuff, or Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, or Eugene Schwartz, or Gary Halbert, or Dan Kennedy, or you know, and you can try to say, that’s the way to live. That’s the way to think about employees. That’s the way to think about deals. But the question is, that’s someone else’s value system. 

I mean, I’ll share everything you’re going to hear me say, it’s only one guy’s perspective on how to do life, how to think about life, how to live life, but that’s my life. You know, I mean, I’ve not walked in everyone else’s shoes. And so, you know, Dr. Don Wood, who’s who I write about in my book, he’s one of my Genius Network members, he’s a trauma therapist, and he used to be a hockey player. And he’s now in his 60s, and he helps people that, you know, have deep trauma to recode some of the ways that they feel and think and perceive trauma. He has this very interesting line, where he said, if you understood the atmospheric conditions of somebody’s life, it would make sense why they do what they do. Is that Richard? Yeah, look at this guy. If you understood the atmospheric conditions, or Richard’s life, it would make sense why Richard’s the way, Richard is why Richard spends probably three hours a day, even at his age, studying and learning marketing, even though the guy knows more about marketing than like, you could put, you know, you can put a thousand of some of the top marketers, you know, alive and Richard probably knows more about most of them combined. But he’s still a student, you know, he’s a great student. But if you understood the atmospheric conditions of his life, you would understand why he has the political beliefs that he has, why he has the spiritual beliefs that he has, it all makes sense. 

And so I believe that you can change your own atmospheric conditions, I believe you can alter and if you do that you can alter the atmosphere around you. And I believe we can build a better entrepreneur, I believe we can build a better human. And so my goal is to help the givers of the world be more empowered boundary givers. And the people that won’t like my book or like my message because I simply talk too much shit about them are the takers as a world. Now that might be my own rationalization when anyone writes a bad review about my book, as I call it, they must be a taker because they don’t like my book. I mean, I know for a fact I purposely do things to attract who I want to attract and repel, who I want to repel. And it’s not that I don’t care about humans. I actually understand how someone could become a narcissist. I mean, it’s trauma based. Most of the people that are very, you know, doing evil things in the world, including many that are the world leaders. Right now, these are very traumatized abused people and unfortunately, they’re taking it out on other humans. And so I kind of get that it’s not an excuse for bad behavior. It’s not an excuse for hurting somebody. It just explains where it comes from. 

And so my whole thing is, you know how to help people when the right friends and influence the right people. I mean, Dale Carnegie’s book was amazing, I recommend that people read it. My book What’s In It For Them? would not exist without Dale Carnegie writing the book. When I was in my 20s, I went through the Dale Carnegie course you know, I mean, all that sort of stuff. There was that one chapter on don’t criticize, condemn or complain. And I always had an issue with that one because I love to criticize, condemn and complain. And I’m kidding. I like doing it in a very funny way, not a serious way. You know most criticism is just self hatred turned outward, when really, you know toxic criticism but yeah, so my whole thing is just what’s in it for them, ask that question and the chapter one of my book is be a pain detective because I think pain is one of the best entry points of identifying how to help someone and remove it for them. And if you can remove, eliminate or reduce someone’s unnecessary suffering, you know, there are certain suffering that’s actually quite beneficial. You know, I get into a cold plunge or a sauna almost daily. I’m gonna be speaking to a copywriter named Laura Catella. Her and Stefan Georgi, you know, they have a Copy Accelerator.

Brian Kurtz  21:29  

It is Copy Accelerator, I think. 

Joe Polish  21:33  

Yeah, she has her diamond day group and they’re both in my 100k group. And so, you know, I’m gonna go do a talk a little bit later today at her event, and then another one tomorrow, and I’ve got, you know, half the people that are at our event, or like Genius Network members that are speaking and stuff, but I’m gonna go get into 20 minutes of a sauna, I’ll get into a cold plunge anywhere between, you know, three to four minutes, it’s 38 degrees, and it it kind of sucks. You know, it’s in the beginning, it’s like, yeah, but the dopamine hit that you get because of it is quite exhilarating. And it’s really good for anxiety. You know, if you want, you know, chocolate will give you a 55% dopamine hit, sex will give you 150% increase in dopamine, cocaine will give you a 225% increase in dopamine. Cold plunges will give you a 200% increase in dopamine, amphetamines will give you 1,000% increase in dopamine, staring at your phone all day long is like a little dopamine cash register. Porn will give you a high dopamine hit. I don’t know the exact percentages, but it’s not going to be a good one. So there are certain ways to get dopamine and get feelings of woo, that are not good for you, that will lead to more ah, and there’s other ways to get into an ah, that’s going to give you a lot of woo, because what humans want is more woo and less ah, so everything that we do is an attempt to woo you know, I want money I want this I want that. 

So everything that you know copywriters and marketers know how to do is hijack people’s woo, and describe all the art and all the pain and all this if you don’t buy my stuff, do this, do that. And my whole thing is just be thoughtful about how you’re doing it. I mean, I quit hanging around a lot of marketers that are really capable humans, but their character is what I consider shit. And so there’s a big difference between capability and character, you know, Hitler had great capabilities. But, you know, what was his character like? I mean, I don’t think I need to go much into that one. Look at some of these people that are leading the world right now that are in high power positions in politics and tech. You know, it’s insane. You know, look at the fear porn and the propaganda that is being shoved out into the world and at scale due to technology. I’ll talk later today to the copywriters saying, you know, open AI with, you know, the AI copywriting abilities that in the last 72 hours have just really proven that, you know, for a low level copywriters, you’ve instantly become a commodity because now there’s an AI that can do a much better job of writing copy than most copywriters that you can hire can do. So the ability to be able to integrate in things strategically, is a whole is a whole nother.

Brian Kurtz  24:25  

Yeah, David Deutsch spoke at Titans Mastermind about how he uses AI to like be starting at a blank page to get a draft out and then he will improve it. And we were talking a little bit about IP and stealing of IP, AI, all of that. And David, just, you know, we got into this conversation of if you’re really a great copywriter and you’ve come up with great stuff on top of AI and by the time they’re ripping you off, you’re on to the next because you’re a good copywriter. And you always have to stay ahead. And you always have to be always wanting to achieve. And so you know, to complain about it, you know that AI is going to ruin your business is the lazy man’s way out or the lazy woman’s way out. It’s actually a great opportunity to start a promotion from a blank page, and then build on it with your skills. So everything you know every problem can be an opportunity, which I know you believe as well.

Outro  25:40  

Thanks for listening to the Timeless Marketing podcast with Brian Kurtz. Visit BrianKurtz.net and click ‘Podcast’ at the top of the page for a full transcript and show notes. If you’re interested in working with Brian personally inside of Titans Xcelerator, go to BrianKurtz.net/help to see how Titans can help you grow and scale your business. That’s B-R-I-A-N-K-U-R-T-Z.net/help.

About the author 

Brian Kurtz

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