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Today I got to speak with Jason Portnoy.

Entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and author Jason Portnoy began his career at PayPal, working closely with technology icons like Peter Thiel, Elon Musk, Max Levchin, and Reid Hoffman. He served as the first Chief Financial Officer of Palantir Technologies (NYSE: PLTR) and later founded Oakhouse Partners, a top-performing venture capital firm. Jason is sought after as a trusted advisor to technology company CEOs and has spoken on topics ranging from executive leadership to the intersections of technology and humanity. He holds engineering degrees from both Stanford University (MS) and the University of Colorado (BS).

This is gonna be an awesome conversation!

Our Guest

Jason Portnoy

Hacks to take away:

  • Find a place to tell all of your secrets.  Your secrets will hold you back.
  • Act in alignment with yourself so you do the things that you’re interested in and passionate about.  When you do, you will become so happy and so fulfilled that you become radiant.
  • As an entrepreneur, your business, your creation, is a reflection of you.  If your business is blocked it means you are blocked in some way.  Keep doing your internal work toward personal growth and then your business will also grow.
  • Your business can’t grow faster than you grow, and it can’t get bigger than you.  Keep working to expand yourself.
  • When you focus your attention on a smaller number of things, you become a lot more powerful.

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Read Full Transcript

Jason Portnoy 0:00
Because none of us are just anything. You know, that's a story that we build around ourselves and an identity that we give ourselves. But that's just a creation. And if you can challenge those creations and strip them away, then you can really let your light shine.

Junaid Ahmed 0:21
I'm Junaid Ahmed, host of hacks and hobbies podcast, and digital presence advisor at humblezone. This episode is brought to you by poem studio mastery. I launched a consultation and course program to help podcasters and course creators to create a space in their homes, they'll reduce the friction of creating content and appearing their best when showing up on camera. The pandemic gave us a lot of issues, but this one is here to stay. We're now so much closer to our audience. Thanks to video becoming more popular and affordable. I help guide folks who want to create Hollywood worthy studios to not only capture great content, but also build more confidence, more authority and be more comfortable in front of the camera. If I can do it, you can too. And with my help, you can do it faster. So if you'd like to learn more, visit home studio And how you too can create a home studio that brings out your personality, professionalism, and possibilities.

Thank you for tuning into hacks and hobbies with your host Junaid were visited by our amazing guests coming from all walks of life want to learn their story, their struggles and their journey on how they got to where they are today. So stick around.

Today I get to speak with Jason Portnoy, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and author Jason Portnoy began his career at PayPal. Working closely with technology icons like Peter Thiel, Elon Musk, Max Levchin, and Reed Hoffman. He served as the first Chief Financial Officer of Palantir technologies, and later founded oak house partners, a top performing venture capital firm. Jason is sought after, as a trusted adviser to technology company CEOs, and has spoken on topics ranging from executive leadership, to the intersections of technology, and humanity. He holds engineering degrees from both Stanford University, and the University of Colorado. This is going to be an awesome conversation. And we're gonna go deep into the mind of Jason Portnoy. Jason, thank you so much for coming on to the podcast.

Jason Portnoy 2:55
Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Junaid Ahmed 2:57
When we first met, it was through a connection, my good friend, Andy got us connected. And we, you know, had a conversation. And because of automation, we were talking earlier, apparently, I totally forgot. I have a follow up automation email that sends out like, Hey, would you like to be a guest on the podcast? And they didn't even think about that. Because there. And so I'm like, Yes, I would love to be a guest. Yeah, because I was thinking of asking you, but then the automation did the work for me, because a lot of the times were like, I don't know if I should ask, I don't know if this is going to work. But I'm glad that it did. Good.

Jason Portnoy 3:34
Yeah, me too.

Junaid Ahmed 3:36
So what I like to start with and guys, you definitely need to pick up the book is to you just to start with a little bit of origin story on how it all started. I know we all come from different backgrounds, different neighborhoods and whatnot. But how did where did you get started? Where was that first? entry to the real world that opened up your eyes?

Jason Portnoy 4:03
About greatness? You know, starting off with a small question. Well, we haven't said the title of the book yet. The book is called Silicon Valley porn star. I feel like I have to tell people these days, there's nothing pornographic and yes, there isn't. But and there is a reveal early on that explains where the the porn star name comes from. But you know, very fundamentally, it's my story because a humble kid grew up in the suburbs of New Jersey. Both of my parents worked white collar jobs. I had a sister who was five years older than me. And we were pretty close. But you know, she was doing her thing with her friends and I was kind of a normal kid played soccer. Did Boy Scouts, you know, thought I wanted it was interested in math and science. And so then I went off to college and studied engineering and, and then I went off to graduate school at Stanford. We're in California. And then I felt that was kind of during the Boom. And then I kind of fell into job at a company that later became PayPal. And I was kind of lucky to be in the right place at the right time. Yeah, I know. We make our own luck to some degree. And I'd worked very hard in school to get into Stanford and be in the middle of thing, but still felt very lucky. And I got swept up in the whole Silicon Valley thing and Pay Pal grew and I was working with these really incredible creators that we all know today. They were not household names before. But Peter Thiel, Elon Musk, Reid Hoffman, Max Levchin, amazing creators who've gone on to create lots of amazing things after PayPal. And as a kid, you know, I was still really young, it's kind of only in my mid 20s. And I started making a bunch of money. And I kind of went off the rails at that point. And it turned out, I had some, some traumas from my childhood that I didn't really understand had had been as traumatic for me as they had been. And so when I started to experience the success, and get a taste of the money, and the excitement, and all of those things that we all kind of feel like we want. It was like a kid. I don't even know getting candy or something. And it was like, I just couldn't have enough on this journey. That I don't want to go too far.

Junaid Ahmed 6:38
Yeah. No, that's, that's a great start. And it's interesting, you mentioned, right, you got the taste of money at, you know, mid 20s, you're in the right place at the right time. But it wasn't just that, right. It was also your curiosity into, okay, a lot of people are going to college, but before they go to graduate school, they have had some experience, so maybe I should apply. So that was a really good turnaround, right? Like, maybe I should apply, maybe I should get some experience. And that's where you had done enough work in your in your college work, that you had read all the right books where the conformity CEOs like okay, yes, you earn. Let's go for lunch.

Jason Portnoy 7:23
Yes, we had breakfast, I tell the story. In the book, we, I got invited to breakfast with the CEO of this company. And I had never met a CEO before and I was very nervous. I didn't know what to wear. I didn't you know, and I was I got my resume printed on this very fancy paper. And we went had breakfast. And pretty much he didn't even look at my resume. Yeah. And by the way, this is Peter Thiel, who you know, who's now very famous. He wasn't famous then. But he didn't even look at my resume. All he did he No, he asked me a lot about myself. And then when I told him, I had traveled around Europe that summer with my girlfriend and read a bunch of books. He asked me what books I had read. And that became the only thing we talked about. He wanted to know, like, what were the books? What did I learn from them? And, and I joke, I guess I read the right books, because then I got, yeah,

Junaid Ahmed 8:18
that's a really good story and day, it lead into what it really takes to connect with people, right? It's not your resume is not what you did. It's how you live your life, and what experiences do you extract from your life? So that's what we want when we're when we're hanging out with other people. We want to see, have they had the same experiences that I've had? Are they the same curious person that I am, we want to find ourselves and other people. And the more we do, the more we're like, oh my God, I want to work with this guy more.

Jason Portnoy 8:57
Hmm, that's so true. I feel like one of the things I've learned over the years is how important it is to be really true to myself. And to just be myself and not try to be what I think other people want me to be, or how I think they want me to be. And I think the mechanism for this is that when you get to know yourself very deeply, and you you know, act in alignment with yourself so you do the things that you're interested in, because you're interested in them not because you think it's gonna make you more interesting for someone else. Right. When you do that, you become I feel like you become so happy and so fulfilled, that you become like radiant, yeah. And then you become a bright light and people are attracted to that light. It it feels good to be a Round. You know that light? Yeah. And so yeah, I'm always recommending to people, follow your heart, follow your passion. And if you do that, this comes up a lot in relationship context, I feel, you know, someone's like, trying to find the right person to be in a relationship, whether they, yeah, don't go looking for someone, just be the best version of yourself, and those people will get attracted to

Junaid Ahmed 10:27
you. Yeah. And that is so true. And to, to piggyback off of that, that's a clubhouse term. We've been hearing recently, just recently, Taylor Swift was on a show. And apparently, some of the top 10 songs are Taylor Swift songs. Now, she has been creating content for the past 20 years. And she's only 32.

Jason Portnoy 10:52
She's amazing. She's amazing,

Junaid Ahmed 10:55
right? Because what she did is like, she's like, I love writing. And the more I write, I find that I like it even more, and they go deeper and deeper. So she keeps doing the work that makes her happy, which creates even more gold and even more better things that den she gets to share with the world.

Jason Portnoy 11:15
Yeah. Yeah, I think I think she's amazing, incredible, incredible creator. Yeah. And so this is a, it's a good lesson, I think, for entrepreneurs as well, that if you're, if you're doing something entrepreneurial, don't necessarily do the thing that you think other people want you to do, or that you think the customers want you to do. Or there's I suppose there's a fine line in some of these places. But really, at the core, it's what is the thing you're really passionate about, because if you're that passionate about it, you're going to show up for that creation every day, with the energy and the and the excitement that is required to move it forward. Right? Because I think as an entrepreneur, a lot of times you're trying to convince, you know, convince customers to use your product or convince partners to partner with you on something or convince employees to work at your company. And if you're not bringing that energy and excitement and enthusiasm, you can't expect anyone else around your creation to have it either. Yeah.

Junaid Ahmed 12:24
No, you're so true. And that's why when when you wrote the book, you know, Silicon Valley, pornstar, you're opening yourself up, right? You're Yes. And that's where people connect, like, Hey, if you're opening yourself up, guess what, I'm going to open myself up and connect with you. Because you've shown me you're human. That's right.

Jason Portnoy 12:45
And so like a big part of my book, even even just the cover, you know, I didn't design the cover, I had a cover designer that helped me. And she showed me lots of different options. But when I saw this option, I just saw like a heart bursting open and light coming out. And I was like, okay, that that has to be it. But the probably the most, there's so many lessons in the book. Yeah. But one of the very important ones is that well, and just for the listeners, I'll just go through a little bit more of the story, to give them more context. But so I had this amazing thing happened to me in Silicon Valley, kind of working alongside these amazing creators, made lots of money when I was young, kind of went off the rails, and it started with pornography. It then went into hookups. You know, first it was Craigslist, and it was x escort websites. And all the while I was dating, and then engaged, and then married. And these things were still happening in the background. And I was so I was now cheating on my wife. It was just a really bad situation. And this persisted for a long time. And at some point, I got caught. And I realized I had a serious problem, and that I couldn't stop. And I wound up going to a 12 step program. And that helped turn me around or you know, really changed my life. I had a life coach that I was working with, who also was instrumental in me, changing my life. And now I've been kind of climbing out of that. And growing from there. I actually feel like I've lived two separate lives. And my healing though, to come back to where I was where we were earlier. Yeah. My healing only started when I started telling the truth. And I stopped keeping secrets. And what was really interesting about that was keeping the secrets meant I wasn't in my integrity. That was affecting all of my relationships, but it was also affecting my own own power. Because I was it wasn't in my power, you know. And as I started sharing my secrets and telling the truth and healing, I was able to access more of that power. And I feel like I had been successful prior to that, you know, by these external measures. But after that, I continued to build a venture capital firm. And I was much more successful on a lot of different fronts, because I think I had access to a lot more of my my own power.

Junaid Ahmed 15:37
That is so well said, because when you're holding on to a secret, it's like you're holding on to it. So an example that I remember is the teacher saying, How much does this glass way as a glass full of water? And everybody's like, Oh, 16 ounces, 12 ounces, like no, this is weightless, because I can put it down anytime I want. But if you hold on to it, for hours on end, you're going to start feel numbness in your arm and your shoulder. And eventually, your arm is going to give out a row. And that's essentially what happens when you're keeping on to those graduates, to those secrets to those things that are taking unnecessary space in our minds. Yeah. And they're essentially, then suffocating of our own power.

Jason Portnoy 16:29
Yes, my life coach likes to use the example of a jar of marbles. And we have the marbles represent our attention particles. Yeah. And if you spill the marbles out on the floor, and they're going all over the place, that's like your attention is scattered in all of these different directions. Maybe you're just too busy, because you're over committed to different projects. Maybe you have secrets, or something, you know, things you don't want to tell or grudges or, you know, you're not forgiving someone for something, whatever. As you gradually take these marbles and start putting them back in the jar, you feel your power kind of condensing and coalescing, and then it becomes more like a laser. Right? Once you aggregate all those attention particles, then you become more like a laser. And wherever you focus your attention becomes, you become a lot more powerful.

Junaid Ahmed 17:26
Yeah. I like I like that. And one thing that an entrepreneur should talk about is niching. Down and which is the same thing, right? You're focusing your energy on just one thing, that you're passionate about that, you know, it's going to be profitable, and that you know that you're have perfection in it.

Jason Portnoy 17:44
Yes. And then you and then you build from there, the name of my first venture capital fund was subtraction capital. Wow. And the whole point was that having been in entrepreneurial environments, as an employee, and as an executive, I learned kind of firsthand that the best way to succeed was to focus on a smaller number of things, just to get more focused. And so subtraction capital was all about this concept for entrepreneurs that, you know, it wasn't about doing more, it was about doing less, but doing a smaller number of things better.

Junaid Ahmed 18:23
I liked that. And in chapter eight, you have a little quote by Bruce Lee, one does not accumulate, but eliminate it is not daily increase, but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity. I think that's, that's probably the beginning of that chapter that you just mentioned

Jason Portnoy 18:39
about. That's exactly right. That's exactly right. Yeah.

Junaid Ahmed 18:43
I love that this is so cool. Man, I feel I feel very honored to be able to have the conversation with you and talk about the different journey that you've been on the living the two lives, right? It's very, it's very interesting, because our minds are so powerful. They have immense energy to be able to cut out the things that are affecting us. And when you give it the ability to let go of those things that are holding it back. What you're able to do is truly monumental.

Jason Portnoy 19:18
That's right. And I feel like when I think about entrepreneurship, so after I went through all of those things, and really changed my life 100% And, and I say this in the book, I'm not proud of the things that I did, but I'm proud of who I am today. Yeah, you know, and I learned a lot from that journey there. You know, I did a lot of things, again, that I'm not proud of, but I learned a lot. And when I then started to take that into the work I was doing with entrepreneurs. It really changed things. It really changed the conversation. It changed my understanding of entrepreneurship and I got to the point where it felt to me, like, entrepreneurship was a way of manifesting something in the world, that was a reflection of you. Right? If you're the founding CEO of some company, your creation is a reflection of you. Yeah. And. And that means that your creation is also going to reflect back, any places where you're blocked, or where you're limited, or you know, where you have a limiting belief or where you have a fear. And so, it turns out, if you look at someone's entrepreneurial creation, and there's an area where they're stuck, and the business won't grow in that dimension, that says that there's something inside of them that they have to work on. And if they work on that, with a coach or a therapist, or interested investor, like it was, in my case, most of the time, yeah, all of a sudden, it starts to, you know, if you work on that inside yourself, it starts to show up in the physical manifestation of your company. So if you feel like your company is blocked, it's not growing as fast as you want, or you can't retain the right employees, or you seem to hire the wrong employees all the time or something like that. Yeah, the answer to all of those things is inside of you.

Junaid Ahmed 21:27
I'm getting chills right now. It's answering a lot of questions that I've been having, why can I not go past this level? In my own company? Right? It's because I feel like I'm not good at sales. And that's only because I'm not on a lot of sales calls. Right? So. So maybe that's maybe that's one of the reasons or maybe it's a past that's haunting me. Because back in 2000, was it seven or 2000 2001, I was working for this company. And I came in as a salesperson. And all I had to do was cold calls. Now had never done this before. Actually, I've done similar thing before where I would call subscribers and like, Hey, would you like us to send you the latest catalog for blah, blah, blah? So in this one, I was like, Hey, how hard could it be to sell use computers to use laptops to people and turn out it was really hard. I only lasted for three months at this company. And they're like you, you're not meeting your quota, though, okay. But I feel like that haunted me, because, number one, I didn't have a mentor. I didn't have any training on sales. I didn't have anybody telling me oh, you should do it this way. And I didn't know to ask for help, either. Because knowing who I am, I'm self, self sufficient self, you know, learning and assembling and taking computers apart and technology parts. So I've had that already. And I would look over to the tech side, because there's a tech department that would assemble and you know, fix computers. I was like, Can I transfer there? And they're like, no, no, we already have it for so that wasn't the interest extremely. So I'm wondering if that's keeping me from thinking that I'm not a good salesperson,

Jason Portnoy 23:16
maybe. And, you know, I didn't intend for this to be like a coaching call. We can go there if you want. It's okay with me. That might be the case. But my guess is that it's something deeper? Yeah. My experience, usually is that most of us, myself included, are not going deep enough. We're still trying to solve these conundrums with our head. And usually, the answer is in our heart. Yeah, usually is in our heads.

Junaid Ahmed 23:59
It's most likely in our I mean, it's absolutely in hard because human beings are being the feeling we like to feel and you know, we buy on on impulse, because I want to have the latest iPhone with a 48 megapixel. Right, that feeling and whatnot. So you actually had maybe there's some hard element that that I'm missing. But thank you, thank you.

Jason Portnoy 24:22
Oh, no problem. No problem. Can I say more on this? Yeah, of course. Yeah. So not only I mean, it's a hard thing. Sometimes. I'll describe it as like a conscious brain versus a subconscious brain. Sometimes it's about feelings and emotions, which maybe heart is a summary for those things. But I was listening to a neuroscientist talk one time about the difference in computational power between our conscious brain and all the other stuff, you know, feelings, emotions, subconscious, whatever you want to call it, and he put a dot out on a whiteboard in the front of the room. And he said, you know, if this is the computational power of your conscious brain, what is the computational power of everything else, you know, the information value of everything else? And everyone guessed, you know, 10x 100x 1,000x? And he said, No, their research suggests that if the.on the whiteboard is your conscious brain, the size of the Earth would represent all the other information that's out there, by comparison. And so it turns out, when you tap into that, you get a lot more computational power, and a lot more information. And, and I think it helps drive, you know, answers to these conundrums. Yeah, in a different way. It's a different way of solving the problem, but I think it works.

Junaid Ahmed 25:57
Now. You're You're, you're right. And in so many ways, because so that was that was the past, right? That's what I kept thinking. But the more I entered and, and took into my own hands, what I knew, I know, I've converted a lot of people to start using Apple devices. Right, so I've done that have, I've helped people, you know, go from one thought to having more thoughts. So I think I've overcome that little bit. But I still have deeper to go for sure.

Jason Portnoy 26:34
Yeah, well, do you have so a coach or a mentor or a therapist that you work with?

Junaid Ahmed 26:40
I do I have a coach that I work with, and he's like to do the work and keep digging deeper? Ask have those conversations have those? Yeah, build those relationships?

Jason Portnoy 26:53
Yeah, well, that's good. I mean, I encourage everyone to have someone Yeah, that is a safe place for them to explore these things. And, you know, someone to kind of call you out on your BS, and push you out of your comfort zone. And push you you know, I think it's really important.

Junaid Ahmed 27:13
Now, 100%, and that's why athletes have coaches, because they want you to be performing the top level and in your, in your sports. So why not? Right. And

Jason Portnoy 27:27
yeah, that's right. And even at the top level, so Tiger Woods has a coach, Michael Phelps, you know, how to coach. You know, the coach, there's, there's limits to what we can do on our own. Yeah. And so I'm always encouraging entrepreneurs, to surround themselves with, you know, great mentors, coaches, therapists, whatever. So they can continue doing that internal work, because it manifests as growth in their business. I often tell CEOs, that if you're the founding CEO of a business, that the business can't grow faster than you grow. Oh, wow. And and it can't grow bigger than you grow.

Junaid Ahmed 28:14
And you have in place. Yeah, that's

Jason Portnoy 28:17
right. That's right. You have to keep growing. You have to keep expanding, if you want your business to expand. Wow.

Junaid Ahmed 28:26
I love that. Well, Jason, we've had a really deep conversation, we got to learn about your journey, your origin story, got to learn about your amazing book that I'm still reading and finishing. There's so many lessons to learn in there. And I'm sure the audience is gonna enjoy listening and reading the book as well. I'm waiting on the audible version. So let me know when you're working on that.

Jason Portnoy 28:51
Yeah, I actually just scheduled my recording sessions for my audiobook for mid November. Nice. So yes, I'm excited to do that. I'm a little bit nervous, because it's weird to hear yourself Adel. But I'm also excited. It'll be nice to have that done.

Junaid Ahmed 29:09
I love it. I will take a quick break. And then when we get back, Jason's going to share three hacks to take away. So stick around, we'll be right back. I'm Junaid Ahmed, host of hacks and hobbies podcast, and digital presence advisor at humble zone. This episode is brought to you by home studio mastery. I launched a consultation and course program to help podcasters and course creators to create a space in their homes. They'll reduce the friction of creating content and appearing their best when showing up on camera. The pandemic gave us a lot of issues, but this one is here to stay. We're now so much closer to our audience thinks to video becoming more popular and affordable. I help guide folks who want articulate Hollywood worthy studios to not only capture great content, but also build more confidence, more authority and be more comfortable in front of the camera. If I can do it, you can too. And with my help, you can do it faster. So if you'd like to learn more, visit home studio And how you too, can create a home studio that brings out your personality, professionalism, and possibilities. Welcome back, guys. We've been speaking with Jason Portnoy, mazing, human, good friend of mine now, I can say that. Yeah, Jason, thank you so much, man, you've got three hacks to share. And we were talking in the greenroom there. These are some really good ones. So let's hear it.

Jason Portnoy 30:53
Okay, well, the first hack, I feel, and it's hard to know what you know what order to put these in. But three things that have been really impactful for me. Number one, when I learned to simplify, simplify, simplify, simplify. I mentioned earlier, the name of my first venture capital firm was subtraction capital, you know, based on this concept of doing fewer things, and focusing more attention on fewer things so that I could do them better. And what's amazing to me is how difficult that is to do. Because even when I feel like I'm simplifying, sometimes I pick my head up, and I realize, oh, my gosh, I'm spread too thin again. And then I have to simplify, simplify, simplify. And then I get lazy, again, I start committing to too many things are distracting myself with projects. And then again, one day I wake up, I feel like I'm spread too thin. My attention is more like a floodlight, instead of a laser. And I realize, okay, I need to simplify again, and get back to that laser. So simplify and subtraction is a big one. I think another one for me, is the importance of not keeping any secrets. And I know, again, like when I was living a life where I was keeping secrets, I was not in my integrity, and it was affecting my power. I was just, I didn't I wasn't as powerful as I could have been, when I was keeping secrets. And in my case, my secrets involved, you know, an addiction to pornography and sex and cheating on my wife. I know that that's not everyone's secret. I do feel like, unfortunately, in our society these days, pornography has become so common. But I also feel like most men, mostly it's men consuming pornography. And when they do, they're usually don't talk about it. Yeah, they usually keep it a secret from their girlfriend, spouse, boyfriend, whoever is in their life. And that means they're keeping a secret. And that's going to erode their power, it's going to pull them out of their integrity. And so that's another hack, like find a place to tell your secrets. It could be a journal, it could be a coach, a therapist. It's not a friend or a family member, or certainly not a co worker, you know?

Junaid Ahmed 33:34
That good? I could go wrong in so many ways.

Jason Portnoy 33:38
Yes, exactly. Simplify number one. Number two, find a place to tell your secrets and and figure out why you're keeping secrets. And the third one, what were we talking about in the green room? I can't remember the third one.

Junaid Ahmed 33:52
I think it was about challenges.

Jason Portnoy 33:56
Keep clients That's right. Keep climbing. Thank you so much. It's how turbo for me to forget that my, the publishing company I started to publish my book was called Honest climb media. And in my book I talk about, I had to start climbing my mountain climbing my spiritual Mountain, which is another way of saying I had to start going on that inward journey, and understanding who I was, and challenging everything about myself. And all the assumptions I thought made a lot of sense. And I encourage people to stay, continue to do that challenge everything in your life. Sometimes I meet people that say, Well, I do XY and Z, but that's just who I am. And, you know, in one breath, they're telling me I'm not getting what I want out of life in this area could be relationship, work, family, you know, kids, whatever. And then in the next breath, they'll say, Well, I do this thing, but that's just who I am. And they don't see the connection. And it's fascinating that they do They don't see the connection. They feel like it's two different things. And I say you have to challenge that, that you know, you're not. You can't say that's just who I am. Because none of us are just anything. Yeah. You know, that's a story that we build around ourselves and an identity that we give ourselves. But that's just a creation. And if you can challenge those creations and strip them away, then you can really let your light shine. And, and that, again, makes you more powerful. I feel like powerful is kind of a theme for

Unknown Speaker 35:36
me. Yeah, I think so. Yeah. I love it. Well,

Jason Portnoy 35:38
it's actually I mean, it's a theme in my own life. I mean, this is one of the things I'm working on right now is allowing myself to grow and expand and be more powerful and not be afraid.

Junaid Ahmed 35:51
Now. That's so true. And so many stories in so many movies, talk about this power and how it's acquired by being good or being bad, right? So you got to find that integrity with the moral uprightness that you mentioned in the book. I mean, I love that. Love that. Because I talk a lot about moral, you know, being being a dad to four kids, and I gotta set that tone for them. You know, they look up to me, so I got to make sure that everything that I'm teaching them or being it's, it's mirrored in our moral uprightness.

Jason Portnoy 36:30
That's exactly right, because they are so tuned in. Because they haven't been, you know, covered over with all the indoctrinations from a lifetime in our culture and society. They're so tuned in to your energy, that, even if you think you're hiding something from them, you're not. They feel it. They know it. They can't put words to it. Right. But they know it. I mean, I go through this with my own kids.

Junaid Ahmed 36:59
Yeah, absolutely. I love that. My God, Jason, this has been so much fun talking with you, and you share your wisdom and your journey with us and being an open book, like literally your book right here. Right?

Jason Portnoy 37:13
Yeah, thanks.

Junaid Ahmed 37:16
I've got some quote cool questions, I like to ask my guests towards the end of the episode. So are you ready? All right, yeah, let's do it. What is the one hobby that you wish you got into?

Jason Portnoy 37:28
Ha, that's a good question. Martial Arts. I really wish I knew karate Kung Fu and it really anything. And I started to try a couple months ago, actually. And I was so sore. I was like, I am going to injure myself. So you know, starting in my 40s, I'm not sure if I can do that. I'm still going to try. But I really wish I had done that when I was a kid. I think having that mastery over your body is really cool.

Junaid Ahmed 37:59
It is really amazing. Because you now in tune, like your mind and your bodies is in tune. It's like believe it, the software and hardware, you know, they gotta work together.

Jason Portnoy 38:11
I believe it. Did you study martial arts at all.

Junaid Ahmed 38:14
So I studied a little bit. Back when I was 19. I did some jeet kune do like only for three months. And then I moved out to California. And I didn't get it didn't find that same place so did can do is something that Bruce Lee invented. Now it's also called, you know, it's also known as kickboxing, but I never really got back into it. But I always wanted to so

Jason Portnoy 38:40
but even I bet even just those three months were impactful. Right? Very. Yeah. Isn't that crazy? Yeah. So

Junaid Ahmed 38:47
impactful that one of the Maxim's thing Bruce Lee used the word humble. So impactful that I use that humble as my company, humble zone.

Jason Portnoy 38:57
That is so crazy. At the very beginning, I was going to ask you to tell me why you use that name, because I noticed it. That's amazing. I love that you

Junaid Ahmed 39:06
said 20 years ago or so is when I formed a company humble zone. Because I really felt that we all need to be humble. We all need to think before we act and you know all those things. And that just stuck to me and I've been trying to find the maximum I just have still haven't found it. And I knew it was like in this booklet. I found a booklet the PDF version, but I still couldn't find that maxim but it was. I lived by that for for many, many months, many, many years.

Jason Portnoy 39:38
That's cool. Thanks.

Junaid Ahmed 39:41
Next up, what did you want to be when you were a child?

Jason Portnoy 39:47
When I was a child, I wanted to be a Formula One racecar driver.

Junaid Ahmed 39:53
Oh my god. And I go back to that future.

Jason Portnoy 40:00
Yeah, so as an adult, I've gone and done like kart racing. You know, and I love that. Yeah. But yeah, I think I miss my window to be a Formula One driver.

Junaid Ahmed 40:12
You know that they're making these go karts really fast now, especially all electric ones. Yeah. Yeah, amazingly fast and really fun to drive around. Hi, next up. What is your favorite movie or TV show?

Jason Portnoy 40:28
My favorite movie? I'm gonna actually this is interesting. You asked this question because I was thinking about this earlier today. My favorite movies, because the place I'm in in my journey right now, we didn't talk about this. My book on the surface is about this Silicon Valley executive struggling with porn and sex addiction. And then he comes out of it and stuff. But this is like a surface level story. There's a story right underneath that is about a boy trying to mature trying to grow up in a culture that kind of perpetuates like an immature model of adulthood. In a lot of ways. It's a big topic to bring up towards the end, but and so I feel like a big part of my journey right now is, and part of my book was this boy, even though he was 35 years old, he was still very much a boy, trying to understand how to transition into more adult male consciousness. And this still persists as part of my journey. And so this is a I love movies like gladiator Dances with Wolves. Yeah. The The Last Samurai, with Tom Cruise, like stories of men who are embodying this kind of warrior energy that I see as is like, very mature. They're in service to the world around them. They don't they're not trying to take from anyone. Yes, Ron live. What's up? Yeah. Cute. Now they're, they're like trying to live in harmony, but they're also standing up for something that they feel strongly about. And I love movies like that.

Junaid Ahmed 42:12
Thank you so much, man. Gladiator was one of my favorites as well, especially, like every single scene was just so nicely set up. And the other ones that you mentioned as well, just it's really serene, like, the hero's journey, right? Yes. The hero's journey.

Jason Portnoy 42:30
Yes. Which is my book is a version of the hero's journey when you get to the end. Yeah. It's like I, I went on that journey. And part of a big part of the hero's journey as Joseph Campbell, who coined really that phrase time Yeah, is at the end of the journey, how you try to share what you learned, or what you experience. And that's, that's what we're here doing today.

Junaid Ahmed 42:54
I love it, man. I love that. Wow. All right, next up. What movie would you choose if you got to play a character in it?

Jason Portnoy 43:05
Oh, man, these are hard questions. So it's like a movie that's already been made. If I got to play in it, which one would I want to play in? You know, I'm gonna say something a little goofy right now. But I just saw this movie bullet train. With Brad Pitt. I want to go see that. And I it was entertaining, for sure. And it just looked like a lot of fun. It looked like he was having a lot of fun. And so I thought, Man, if I was going to act in a movie, something like that would be fun.

Junaid Ahmed 43:37
Awesome. I loved loves it'll

Jason Portnoy 43:38
lowbrow relative to the rest of our conversation. No,

Junaid Ahmed 43:41
it's you need both. You need both right? You can't be old deep all the time. You need the whole balance. That's right. I love that. Thank you. Next question. Who is your favorite superhero?

Jason Portnoy 43:54
Oh, that's easy. Superman. Superman. So there's a period in my journey is probably after the the book ends. But I was really struggling to find good role models. Good adult, mature masculine role models. Yeah. And at some point, I realized Superman was a great role model. Yeah, he was strong. He was kind. He was in service to the world trying to help, you know, all of those things. And so I went on Amazon and I bought a Superman doll and stood him on my desk. Nice. And he was my role model. Yeah.

Junaid Ahmed 44:33
I love that. There's so many commonalities, because yeah, Superman is is just amazing. And he's of a different world. Yeah, it's true to this world servicing and being in service. Because if you look at Jesus, if you look at all the prophets, what are they doing? They're being service to the man.

Jason Portnoy 44:56
Yes, they are. And they're, they're tuned in Wow, that's all Another conversation. Yeah,

Junaid Ahmed 45:01
I know, we're setting up crumbs here. You know, maybe there we got a future version. Yeah. Last question. If you were a board game, what would it be?

Jason Portnoy 45:15
A board game, man. I don't play a lot of board games. If I was a board game, maybe maybe chess? You know, there's something. There's a simplicity to chess. But obviously, it's also has many, many layers. Yeah. And I would hope that I'm have some depth that I have a lot of different layers. But I'm not trying to present as complicated. Right? Um, yeah, I'm, I hope I come across as, you know, approachable and connectable.

Junaid Ahmed 45:59
Now, from everything you've shared, and the conversation that we have you, you are very approachable, and very kind. I mean, a lot of people don't have an understanding of human being psychology, no matter what level you get to. Underneath, we're all humans, we all have the same doubts in our minds. I was talking to my mastermind group earlier today. And they're like, you know, a lot of creators have this blockage. Like, it's not just creators, a lot of artists, a lot of like, you just put a name next to it. The underlying factor is we're all human beings, and we all feel and have the same doubts about ourselves.

Jason Portnoy 46:46
Mm hmm. So true. Yeah. So,

Junaid Ahmed 46:49
Jason, thank you so much for taking this time. And speaking with me today on hacks and hobbies. I'll be sure to include the link to your book, people can go check it out. It's on Amazon. It's on all the different places that you could find. And Jason, what's the best way for people to connect with you?

Jason Portnoy 47:08
Just through my website, Jason There's a place there where you can send me a message and I love hearing from people. I've gotten lots of emails from people from all over the world telling me the book was impactful and really helped them and sometimes we get into dialogue, email exchanges, sometimes we schedule a call and talk for a little bit. Yeah, it's been really fun to hear from people.

Junaid Ahmed 47:32
I love it, Ben, thank you again so much, and we'll catch you in the next

Jason Portnoy 47:36
one. Sounds good. Thanks.

Junaid Ahmed 47:40
Congratulations, you made it to the end of the episode. Thanks so much for listening to our guests on this episode. Please send me an email at Junaid at hetson to tell me what you loved about our guests today. You could find links mentioned in this episode on the hacks and website.

Transcribed by

Junaid Ahmed has been a user experience designer for over 15 years. As a UX professional, he uses the user-centered design philosophy to come up with solutions. Trust the system, it works!

“People say that we only live once, but I believe in living every day!”

Junaid has been interviewing people from all walks of life on his podcast Hacks and Hobbies.