What happens when you mix a behavioral scientist with Indiana Jones? As Lewis Howes, New York Times bestselling author of The School of Greatness, said, Jon Levy is what happens.
Podcasting and behavioral science might at first glance appear to be two diametrically opposite ideas, have actually become one man’s supplementary marketing strategy in a rising career centered around influencers, public speaking, and high-profile consulting. It’s often said that true innovation comes from thinking outside the box, and when it comes to Jon Levy, nothing could be more accurate.
Perhaps best known for his work as human behavioral scientist, Levy’s research has been primarily focused on two niche areas of the behavior: The Study of Influence (what causes people to make the decisions they make) and The Study of Adventure (identifying what causes people to live fun, exciting, and remarkable lives.) His wealth of knowledge in both dimensions of behavior have helped him to create groundbreaking models of engagement to earn the respect of influential people. Not surprisingly then, his achievements have solidified him a place as one of the top consultants for businesses looking to create meaningful and lasting relationships.
“If the relationship matters, that’s when companies come to me. I design the experience, the initial meetings, the overall interaction.”
In his book, The 2AM Principle: Discover the Science of Adventure, Levy helps readers take a step-by-step approach to creating meaningful, adventurous, and fulfilling lives we all dream of. Yet, what differentiates Jon from his fellow colleagues and scientists, and has perhaps been his greatest asset, is his ability to think creatively.
In fact, to truly understand how this self-proclaimed “geeky” high-schooler found himself crowned one of the “41 Most Eligible Bachelors in America” by Elle Magazine, we’d have to rewind the clock back nearly ten years – circa 2009.
It all started with a secretive dinner party….
Twelve invitations were sent to highly influential or cultural significant people – Nobel Prize Laureates, Academy Award Winners, Olympians, etc. These people, all strangers, met for the first time at a designated location and worked together to cook a meal with Jon. The catch? They weren’t allowed to share what they do for work or reveal their last names, that is, until dinner starts. What followed was nothing short of a great conversation and the budding of a brilliant business idea.
“What occurred to me from these relationships, was that there was really great content here… So when we started designing the podcast, we asked, ‘What’s a format that is uniquely ours, that no one has ever done before?’”
Out of that thought, Influencers, Jon’s creatively-designed podcast, was brought into fruition.
Utilizing his knack for original concept designs, Levy decided to format the podcast so that it had just the right hint of originality, while still providing a reliably satisfying listening experience.
“Each of our episodes is split up into two parts. The first part is a standard interview with these thought leaders, which of course provide great insights and information…The second part, about five minutes or less, we have an anonymous interview.”
During this anonymous interview, Levy’s guest provides clues about his/her identity which will be revealed to the audience in the next episode. Here is where Levy does a phenomenal job at engaging his listeners; at the end of each episode he offers an exclusive invitation to his highly secretive, highly selective dinner and cocktail party in which guests will have the opportunity to connect and network with any number of successful individuals from all walks of life.
Talk about a hook!
But of course, we had to ask… why podcasting? Why not pursue an alternative form of marketing and promotion?
Jon explained that the podcast really began as a way for him to keep the relationships he formed with his dinner guests, active and mutually beneficial. By creating and hosting a platform on which he could invite these guests to return, he was able to offer them a value-added experience in the form of brand promotion. In return, Levy accrued more and more experience as a competent interviewer and was able to continually expand his network capabilities. Thus, what started as a fledging side project has become an invaluable addition in Levy’s marketing arsenal.
As for mistakes made along the way? Jon admits that his experience creating and implementing a podcast from scratch was not always a smooth one. When asked if he had any tips to pass along to the podcaster just starting out, he shared these pro tips:
1) Don’t Be Afraid to Get Help
“I think I spent about a year and a half trying to figure out how to do it myself, and that was a terrible idea. It was more expensive than hiring someone.” Sometimes, the added assistance of having a company or group of people that knows the podcasting and production world in-and-out can help save you needless expenses and headaches. Don’t be afraid to reach out and get help when starting your podcast, it can really make a difference in the time it takes to get started!
2) Try Something and Let it Fail
As podcasting becomes more and more popular, the necessity of getting your content out there and started as quickly as possible is inherent. Your first attempt doesn’t have to be your final production. It’s alright if your podcast flops on the first try, but hesitating to start can result in missing what might have been an opportune moment. You can be afraid to fail, just don’t let that stop you from trying.
3) You Can Afford to Dabble
As Levy puts it, podcasting is “something you can dabble in at very low risk and very low cost compared to other things…like publishing a book.” People often get in the mindset that if you start a podcast, you’re going to have to podcast forever. But that’s simply not true. Don’t be afraid to give a try, even if you’re not sure where it will take you or how long your stamina will last. “I gave myself a year”, Levy says. Just because you start doesn’t mean your locked in for life. Don’t let that thought intimidate you.