In this episode I sit down with Jordan Hart, author of ‘Steel Rainbow: The Legendary Underground Guide to Becoming an ‘80s Rock Star.’
You might be thinking, “what does a rock ‘n’ roll book tell us about resetting our lives?” Nothing, really. The book won’t help you change your life, but the story of how it was written might.
Jordan Hart is a normal guy. He was born in the ‘80s to a father who loved the leopard-print-pants-and-teased-hair music craze of that time. Naturally, Jordan grew up listening to Hair Metal.
Fast-forward 23 years. Jordan went the traditional route of graduating from college and getting a full time job. During his 9-5 routine he started to crave owning his own business. After months of planning and preparation he parted ways from his fulltime job and became a self-employed graphic designer at the age of 25. Jordan loved his new lifestyle, until it came to an abrupt halt.
Suddenly, Jordan started having pain when he took deep breaths. He figured it was just stress or a cold. Then, after a couple of days of pain, he began coughing up blood. Alarmed, he went to the hospital and was told he had a pulmonary embolism (a blood clot had traveled from his legs, passed through his heart, and showered into his lungs). He also learned he would be in the hospital for the next week, and recovering on bed rest for several months.
That was Jordan’s life changing moment.
When it came to his time on bed rest, he had two options – laying around and feeling sorry for himself, or making the best out of his free time by focusing on something positive. He took option two and dedicated a few hours each day to writing a humor book about Hair Metal, which was an idea he had four years earlier but never had the time to develop.
Jordan Hart shares his story, some life changing moments, lessons he learned, understanding how the universe works, tips on believing in yourself, and making the best out of the worst situations.
To heal himself he created something that made him laugh just for fun, and ended up getting an international book deal out of it.
This episode of Operation Self Reset reveals how a positive attitude can help you achieve anything, and how laugher is always the best medicine.
-Quitting your 9-5 day job and working for yourself.
-Making decisions and going with your gut.
-Feeling comfortable about taking chances when it comes to your life, job, and way of life.
-Leaving your current job on good terms.
-Understanding life is precious.
-Finding the message of greatness in dark times.
-Using the power of laughter to heal.
-Understanding that things happen for a reason and how to capitalize on unfortunate moments.
-Hustling every day.
-Making things happen yourself – no one will hand your dream to you.
-Meeting people and putting yourself out there.
-Taking criticism and moving past it.
-Extending your hand to make connections.
-Fulfilling your dreams.
To get your free signed copy of Steel Rainbow please go to the video on You Tube. Jordan Hart will personally sign each and everyone. I will ship them out to you 100% FREE. Please read the bottom of the video to find out how you get your FREE Steel Rainbow book.
You’re listening to Operation Self Reset with Jake Nawrocki. It’s time to change the person you are to the person that you want to be.
Welcome back to Operation Self Reset. I’m Jake Nawrocki, and I want to say personally, from the bottom of my heart, thank you guys so much for taking the time and listening to this podcast. I don’t know if you have listened to some other podcasts before, the other episodes 1-7, because this is number 8, but it’s amazing. It’s been one month since the launch of this podcast, and I’ve already had over 25,000 downloads. I don’t even know if that’s good, but that’s a lot more than I was expecting one month in. And I’ve connected with about six of you guys out there, emailing back and forth, giving you guys suggestions. The communication has been awesome. I hope to continue to talk to you guys out there. You know who you are.
Another fun fact: I gave away already two Mission Belts from Nate Holzapfel who started the Mission Belt company. I bought two of the belts, I put them online, and two of you guys snatched them up. You know who you are. I hope you guys are using them. Keep those pants off the ground and keeping them on your waist. And I just hope to keep on improving and hope I’m giving you guys some awesome content you can use to transform your life. Without you guys listening right now, there would be no podcast. So thank you again so much. I hope to continue to meet many of you guys out there. If you guys have a question, if you have a concern, if you want to just reach out to me and ask me something personal, feel free to. I don’t want to make this feel like I’m some celebrity and you can’t get in contact with me. I want to be personally almost like your friend. You need some help being inspired, you need motivation, you want to figure out ways to transform your life. Send me an email. Let’s talk. Let’s talk about it. I have some great resources. I don’t have every single answer, but I know that I can find it for you guys and maybe just give you that little extra to change your life in the direction that you want to. So again, guys, thank you so much and keep on listening.
As you guys know, the last couple of podcasts have been mostly interviews. The last one was my father on Father’s Day. I hope you guys really enjoyed it. The guy can ramble and talk for hours on end, but I think he brought some really good value to you guys listening to help you in whatever direction that you needed, and it was personally really cool to have my dad on there. He has done so much great stuff for myself that I figured why not bring him on here and let him speak to the world? So I hope you guys enjoyed that one.
So today I bring to you guys another great interview with Jordan Hart. He is the creator and author of Steel Rainbow: The Legendary Underground Guide to Becoming an ‘80s Rock Star. Back-story on Jordan Hart: he and I went to high school together. Great friends. Just from day one we were on the same page. We understood each other. We were the jokesters. We were doing some crazy stuff. Time progressed. We went to college together. Funny little story: you guys listening out there have heard many, many times, “Never room with your best friend cause it’ll ruin a friendship.” Well, we lived together for one semester, and it went great. We had a great time. Jordan went his own way. I went my own way. We kind of lost connection there for a little bit, but we came back together within the last I’d say three, three and a half years and we’ve been on the same page just like if we were in high school. And Jordan has a story that I wanted to put on this podcast, actually, number one. I wanted him to be the number one episode because he truly inspired me to do this, to do this podcast, to provide information for you guys out there.
So you’re probably thinking, “What’s so great about Jordan Hart?” Why did I, Jake Nawrocki, want to put him on podcast number one to kind of launch this Operation Self Reset? Well, he has a story that he’s gonna share with you guys that literally is super inspiring. Actually, I don’t even want to say it cause I’m gonna ruin it and I’m gonna give you the CliffsNotes version, and then you’re gonna listen to the interview and be like, “Dang it, Jake! Why did you ruin it?” So I’m just gonna right into this interview. This is Jordan Hart. He’s the creator of Steel Rainbow. You guys can check it out on Amazon and also, too, go to OperationSelfReset.com/podcast008. You’ll get all the links. You can find his book, find out about Jordan. And enjoy the podcast. Really just listen to what Jordan has to say about his life and the events that happened that created or allowed him to make this book. So here we go. Here’s Jordan Hart.
Jordan, welcome to the podcast and thank you so much for joining us.
Thank you for having me. I guess before we get started I would just like to comment on how great your logo is.
Well, if anybody out there is needing a logo, Jordan Hart is a graphic design artist and he did create my logo. So I hope you guys love it and appreciate it because this guy worked his butt off in creating a clean, precise, and just inspiring logo. Thank you for that, Jordan.
Thank you very much for the plug. I appreciate that.
No problem. No problem. So let’s get right into this. Kind of give us a brief little history on how you came to obviously creating the book and everything like that, but who is the real Jordan Hart and how did you get inspired to become who you are today?
I’ve kind of always wanted to be a business owner in some sense. Just as a kid I started cutting grass when I was like seven to get side cash for comic books and action figures ,and I just kind of always liked being my own business owner—the prospect of that. So I was always really into art and drawing and through high school kind of figured out that graphic design would probably be a good option for me to pursue because a lot of graphic designers work remotely with technology today either as freelancers or as business owners. So after high school, I attended the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design which is the art school here in Milwaukee, and I got my degree in communications design and began working in the local advertising scene as a young art director.
Nice. And so being in the art scene and everything you really found your true calling. I know, being your friend through high school and stuff like that, graphic design is something kind of unique, especially to your parents. They weren’t prepared for you to say I want to pursue something that they weren’t familiar with.
Yes, exactly. Both of my grandparents emigrated here in the late ‘50s from Europe and both of my parents did not have a four-year college degree. So I was the first one of my family to actually go to a four-year university, and graphic design was something I really wanted to do. It seemed like the best of both worlds: you could be artistic but you could also have a normal—or what people consider normal—8-to-5 job. You can pay the bills. It pays pretty well and still be creative. So, they were super excited just for me to go to college in general. And I have an older cousin that was a graphic designer. She kind of inspired me a little bit, and they knew the cool stuff she did so they were all for it.
Alright, so then you obviously graduated college. You got your “normal job.” Tell us the process of how that felt and the pressure you just felt of being in that type of setting and when did you realize that this wasn’t a good fit for yourself?
When I first started, you know when you’re young you’re all about trying to prove yourself, trying to get respect of the established people, your coworkers, your senior level management, all that. So I was working a lot, at least 50 hours a week, which was totally expected and fine, and it was perfect with me. But as the years started going by, I just really had that itch again to be a business owner and kind of do my own thing. I had a lot of friends, so I was kind of torn because I really enjoyed seeing my friends all day and I worked in advertising and you wear shorts, jeans, whatever you want. It was like the coolest day job you could have, but I just always felt that allure of having your own schedule and being your own boss and signing your checks. That fire just started to grow a little bit. So after two years, I know you were kind of in a similar place, so we took a couple of night classes together on entrepreneurship and running a business effectively, setting up an LLC, all that stuff. And that kind of just really grew it even more.
That rolled into taking the classes, preparing yourself, kind of understanding the business world, that slingshotted you into creating your own type of gig. Once you pulled away from your 9-to-5 job, what was kind of going through your mind when you were going through these classes and thinking to yourself, “You know what? I might want to do this for myself. I might want to pull away and do my own personal thing.” What was kind of going through your head at that time?
It was a lot of excitement and fear at the same time I guess you could say. It’s so exciting to be your own boss and okay, well, it’s a nice day so I’ll take a 3-hour lunch and that just means I’ll work an extra 3 hours tonight. You know what I mean? And that to me is fine. I love that flexibility, but then at the same time I was like, “Holy cow. I don’t know how much money I’m gonna be making every week, let alone every year.” And it’s like when you work that 9-to-5 you have direct deposit. It’s so much easier to budget. You know exactly how much is coming in. So that was the scary part. It’s always the scary part is money. That’s what it always comes down to no matter what you do. So I was getting a little bit nervous about that, but then in the end I wanted to be my own boss. I also wanted to start my own nerd-related website that I had always wanted to do and cover things I love like movies, comic books, action figures, random gadgets, marshmallow shooters, all that kind of crazy stuff. And really to fully dedicate myself to run a good website with new content every single day, I knew that I had to start my own business because I couldn’t work on that while another company was paying me. I didn’t feel that was right. That’s when I decided in 2010 that it was time to branch out.
Nice, and when you decided to branch out, was your family really giving you the thumbs up? Were your coworkers excited for you? What was kind of going on around you, the expressions people were giving towards you and also, too, how were you reacting to that?
My close family was very supportive because they have known me. They’ve known this was always something I wanted to do. I always talked about it. My wife was actually the best. There was a couple of times where you like freak out. You’re like, “Holy cow. I don’t know if I can do this.” But she was always there to keep me on path and say, “You can do this. I believe in you. You’re gonna do great.” So I really owe a lot to my family for really supporting, and what I kept thinking about is how my grandparents came here. They didn’t know a word of English. They had no money. They had a couple of cousins, but that’s it. And they were able to live great lives and come here and accomplish so many things. So certainly me as a 25 year old starting my own business, I still think it was nothing compared to what they and so many people that have come to America or have gone to different countries, not necessarily America, but immigrants that they do. So I kind of use that as my inspiration. But my coworkers and other people in the industry thought I was nuts. Usually in advertising, if you work with a freelancer as this called self-employed person, it really is just a person that’s in between jobs. They either got fired or laid off from one job, so until their next opportunity presents itself they kind of just freelance in this kind of advertising-design purgatory until they get the next line up. So for someone as young as me to have the things I had, to walk away from that to go freelance, people thought I was nuts. But deep down in my heart, I knew it was what I wanted to do and I just thought to myself, “Well, maybe being a freelancer by choice and not because of losing my job or being forced to might give me a certain kind of edge over everyone else.”
Did that add any pressure to you? Did you feel like you were making the right decision with your coworkers being in shock and saying, “This might not be a good move for you”? Were you second-guessing yourself, and if you were, how did you overcome that?
I was second-guessing myself big time. I’d be with my wife or with my family and they’d all be like, “You can do it! Awesome!” and then I’d go to work or talk to my friends at lunch and they’d say, “You’re a moron! What are you doing?” So it really was a rollercoaster ride, and I was really just freaking out a lot of the time. But I just figured, you know what? I just have to do it. And I’m just gonna do it, and if it doesn’t work out, I have enough connections, enough friends that I can always go back to working for someone full time. But we didn’t have a house payment. We were living in an apartment. We didn’t have any kids. I was like if there’s ever a chance to do it, I’ve just got to do it now or I’m always gonna regret it.
Do you have any suggestions for somebody out there that wants to venture out but the fear of the unknown, like you said about they don’t have the direct deposit, they can’t budget their money well because they don’t know if they’re gonna have a lot of money coming in or not enough money coming in? Do you have any suggestions for them?
I guess my number one suggestion is to have a game plan in order. And that’s kind of the advantage you have if you are coming from a place where you work full time and you want to start your own business. You can really set everything in order. So obviously you’re gonna want to save every penny before you do this and in the horrible situation that you don’t have any money coming in there’s a little reserve for you to live off of. You really want to game plan that, and you also want to keep your connections. You know what I mean? You don’t want to be like, “See you dudes later! I’m out of here. I’m starting my own business. See you on the other side!” And then run out of town hoping never to see these people again, because you never know if things are gonna go bad or if things are gonna go good. And it’s just like you just want to have as many connections as you can and regardless in anything.
Yeah, for sure. It was just kind of like the last podcast I was talking about is going out there and meeting people and talking and interacting with others and keeping those connections in your personal black book and just making sure that you have good relations because you never know what’s gonna happen in your life and you might need to access those people again or for the first time. Alright, cool. So you kind of ventured out. Obviously, you got over the heartache of realizing is this for you or it isn’t for you. I don’t want to ruin it for the people listening to this but tell us what happened in the next upcoming months after you ventured out on your own and I think things were going well but then kind of a big bump in the road.
Yeah, a major bump in the road or like a sinkhole, I guess you could say. More of like a sinkhole. So I started my own business in the middle of October. Okay. And things are going great. I had a bunch of clients lined up cause I lined up the clients before I quit. I guess that’s one thing too that I would suggest is set up your connections before you start your business because that’s really just gonna help you transition as well. So business was going great. I was running the website which was going great and then starting in January I began teaching at the Milwaukee Institute of Design one class a week. So it was about, each class is three hours long, twice a week, so about six hours of teaching and about two and a half hours of prep work. So by the time January came, in less than two months I was putting in about 80 to 90 hours a week. Just getting up super early, working late, hardly seeing friends or family. And I was okay with that because I wanted this so bad. I wanted to be successful so bad I was willing to work this much and to do all these different things. So February comes around and it’s the end of February and I start feeling a tightness in my chest. And I’m like, “Okay, whatever. This is just stress. Obviously, I’m working way too much. I just need to relax a little bit.” And this tightness kept going, kept going every day for about seven days. It was just getting worse, and I remember one day I was sitting at my computer working and all of a sudden my heart starting beating really fast and then my left arm went numb and I was like, “Okay. And I got like a cold sweat and everything.” And definitely a red flag, but when you’re 25 years old you don’t.
Yeah, you just shake it off.
Yeah, you think you’re invincible. Whatever. I’m way too young to have a heart attack. I mean, that’s the signs of it. So I was like, “Oh, this is just an anxiety attack or something. I’m just, again, working too much.” So two days later, the pain is getting so bad where I can’t even sleep flat in my bed. I’ve got to lay on my side. I’ve got to prop pillows up and I was like, “Maybe I’ve just got like a really bad cold or something.” I’m like, “What is going on?” And I wake up in the morning and I go to clear my throat, you know, like phlegm, like [throat clearing 17:17], you know like everyone does, and I spit it out in the sink and when I looked into what I spit down it was about a tablespoon of blood. Not fresh blood—dark blood. And I’m like, “Okay. What do I have? Black lung?”
Second red flag.
Second red flag. And now I’m freaking out, like, “Do I have tuberculosis? Do I have black lung? What is going on?” So I went to the hospital and they put me right in the emergency room. The pain was so bad actually that I couldn’t even stand up straight, so I was hunched over just looking really pale, awkward, hunched over, and they ran, they did a bunch of x-rays and some CAT scans, and I’m sitting there—and they gave me stuff for the pain—with my wife, and they come in and they go, “Jordan, have you been on any flights lately?”
And I said, “No.”
And they said, “Okay. Do you have a history of, all this family history stuff?”
“Do you smoke?”
“Do you drink?”
“Are you active?”
“Yes, I run four miles a day.”
“Okay, well, we hate to say this, but you have several blood clots in your lungs. You have pulmonary emboli. It’s called pulmonary embolism.”
What had happened is a blood clot had formed in my leg, had traveled up through my leg, passed through my heart and that’s why my arm went numb and it was beating fast is that was passing through my heart. And once it got through it just kind of, they called it showering into a bunch of different pieces scattered throughout all my lungs, all my, both my lungs, and that’s why I was having trouble breathing. That’s why I was feeling out of breath. That’s why I was feeling pretty dizzy. And I’m in a state of shock.
And they’re like, “You’re gonna have to go under a bunch of tests and evaluations. You’re gonna be in the hospital for probably a week, all this stuff. We’re gonna leave you now and let you talk things over with your fiancé.”
And I’m sitting in there and I’m just freaking out. Like, a blood clot? Are you kidding me? I was a huge fan of Deadliest Catch. I mean I still am. And that’s what Captain Phil died from was a blood clot, and it’s like holy cow, seeing what he went through. So naturally, I’m thinking, “Am I gonna die?” And I’m freaking out, having an anxiety attack, and the nurses are coming in. I was like, [fast breathing sound 19:39]. You know what I mean? Just being crazy, but you’re 25 years old. I never did a drug in my life. I don’t smoke. I had maybe five beers a month. I ran four miles a day. I just did not see this coming. And it was a major blindside, especially with how good business was running.
Obviously, you’re kind of given a whole flashback of your life. You’re trying to think of what went wrong? Why is this happening to me? Can you dive a little deeper into some of those feelings that were going on?
Oh, yeah. As you touched upon, we’ve been best friends since high school just because of our laid back, positive, there’s always something that could be worse or—you know what I mean? And for the first time in my life it was just like getting leg swept, just brought right to the ground. And you’re just like, “Holy cow.” Everything that you thought was important before doesn’t matter at all anymore, and everything that you thought you aspired to be or what you’d wish for, it’s just like everything changes. And it was tough. I’m not gonna lie. I pride myself on being a positive guy and I was in the hospital, I was in so much pain I really didn’t have time to think about it, but once they told me I was gonna be okay and they’re gonna put me on blood thinners and all that stuff and I’m not gonna die like I was afraid of, things got better and I focused on healing.
But it was actually settled in when I came home from the hospital because it was the end of February and for people that live in the Northern Hemisphere, they know February is just, the weather is kind of stinky. It’s either really cold and snowing or kind of cold and raining, at least here in Wisconsin. And it’s just a dreary type of month, and I’m at home on bed rest for two months about. So I’m sitting in my apartment alone in horrible cloudy, rainy, snowy weather, in pain, thinking, “Oh my god, how could this happen to me? Why me? Why me?” That’s what I just kept thinking. I take care of my body. I just finally pursued my dream of starting a business. Things were running great and then as soon as I thought things were perfect and I was super happy in my life this just happens. And I had to stop completely working for six weeks. I couldn’t work with all my clients and everything that I’d worked so hard to get and I just had to sit around and basically heal. And when you’re sitting alone, trapped in your apartment for two months, your mind starts racing. It was a tough time for a couple days.
Yeah, I can only imagine the difficulty of hearing the doctor saying that stuff to you and then for you to come back home to your apartment here and lying around and thinking to yourself, basically you have time to just kind of lie around and relive your life a little bit. And you’re really considering and thinking about all this different stuff that’s going through your head. One time that I came over here, you shared something that you didn’t want too many people to find out about, and it was really inspiring for me because obviously I came here because I knew you were down in the dumps, things weren’t going well, you were really kind of depressed and just feeling achy. You couldn’t sit up for more than ten minutes at a time, and you were just run down. And the one thing you showed me really made me think, “Wow, this guy is on the right path to success.” Do you mind sharing that? What was that one thing you shared with me?
Yeah, so after I was in the dark zone for three or four days after I came home from the hospital, something inside of me just snapped. It was just like that “Aha!” moment. It was like, “Okay. I don’t have it that bad. I’m gonna be okay. I’m gonna make a recovery. Imagine all the poor people out there that have either died from this or died from anything, and I just kept thinking about all the kids in Children’s Hospital.” I was 25 years old. I had no reason to feel sorry for myself. If I was eight or if I was nine and you’re just a little, innocent kid that’s a major different story. So I was like, “I need to just snap out of this.” So I successfully snapped out of that. I just kept thinking, “Okay, I’ve got two months all to myself.” And I definitely caught up on video games which was great cause you know I love my video games. But I was like, “I’ve got to do something. I’ve got to make myself laugh.” I always feel that laughter is the best medicine. It’ll make you feel better. There’s all those studies saying laughter heals you. You know what I mean? So I was like, “I just need to make myself laugh and heal and just start seeing the silver lining on everything. And I’m just lucky to be here and I’m not gonna waste my time. I’m gonna do something that makes me happy and makes me proud.”
When I was in college, I always had this idea for a book. I grew up listening to hair metal, like ‘80s rock, Van Halen, Motley Crue. My dad loved it, so naturally whenever I was with him in the car or at his work, that’s what we were listening to. So I always had this love for ‘80s rock music. And when we’d be in college in the design studio and stuff I’d play it. I noticed everyone would laugh. My classmates would laugh. My teacher would laugh. The janitor would laugh. Everyone was like, “Yeah, I remember that” cause it was just so ridiculous. It was just a ridiculous period—the hair, the outfits, the song lyrics, you name it. And I always had this idea for a humor book about becoming an ‘80s rock star would just be funny because it’d be so easy to write. So I was like, “You know what? I’m gonna do that. I’ve got two months to myself. I’m gonna write this book.” I’m a horrible writer. I tested below average in reading on my high school ACTs. All through grade school I was in the slow reading group. And I was a designer. I hardly wrote. I know nothing about writing books. I hardly read. I had no connections in the writing industry or the book industry and I was like, “I don’t care. What’s the worst thing that could happen? It doesn’t get published but I have a good time writing this and it makes me laugh every day while I’m sitting in my apartment. Then that’s totally cool with me. That’s all I need.” So I just started writing in my notebook and then doing some sketches, and you came over to visit probably about a week after I had started working on it and I was like, “Hey, what do you think about this?” And I showed you, and you are by no means an ‘80s rock fan at all.
True. Very true. I embrace the ‘80s. I’m just not a huge fan of the ‘80s.
Yeah, exactly and you were sitting there chuckling. Now maybe you were, I can tell when you’re fake laughing, you know what I mean? So I was like, “Okay, he’s genuinely laughing. He’s not fake laughing. Maybe I have something.”
I wasn’t laughing because I was like, “Oh my god, if I don’t laugh this guy’s gonna go off the deep end or something.” So I was honestly laughing. It wasn’t out of guilt: “Heh, heh, this is funny. Keep laughing, Jake, so he doesn’t freak out and go into even more depression.”
Yeah, exactly, so I was like, “You know what? Maybe there’s something here.” And after you left that day, I just went into hyperactive mode, sitting in my chair and writing more and more each day and coming up with things. And I started noticing the more I wrote the better I started feeling, and as a business owner there are certain books everyone says you should read. And one of the books I had read was Think and Grow Rich. And I remember the thing that stood out the most to me about that book was how they kept reiterating that life’s best opportunities always come in the form of a misfortune or right after a misfortune and that was kind of the gist of the book. And he said all the people that have been successful, they hit their biggest success of their life the step after the worst failure of their life. And I said, “Well, certainly that could apply for me.” I mean, necessarily I hadn’t failed anything, but I had a major personal issue going on, and I said, “You know what? Maybe this happened to finally let me write the book.” I had the book idea for five years and never did it and now I had nothing better to do. So I was like, “You know what? Maybe this is why I’m sick, just to write this book and to heal up.”
One great thing that I love about Jordan, during this conversation and also when he was writing this book not once did he say, “I’m writing this book so I can gain a million dollars and become a top ten bookseller and all that stuff.” He never even thought of it like that. He thought, “You know what? I need to make myself laugh because that brings personal joy and pride to myself.” And like he said, laughter brings healing powers and it brings different elements into your body that your body craves and needs especially in times when you’re going through a struggle and obviously he’s not a book writer. It’s not like he’s already written ten other books that got published and put here or there. So when you wrote this book and it was formalized and you finished it—and you made the illustrations because you are a graphic designer and they were awesome—what was the next step? Were you kind of nervous, “Should I put this out there? Should I not publish this?” What was the next step after you wrote this?
The next thing I did is I had written a draft of it and I was like, “Well, I think it’s kind of funny. Maybe someone else is gonna think it’s funny too.” And, again, we go back to I have no industry connections at all, so I was like, “Alright, so what should I do now? I know I want to send it out to get it in front of people but how should I do it?” And I had been researching online and they’re like, “Well, if you want a big book deal you need an agent, but usually agents don’t work with first time authors unless they’ve written something before”, so it was like this big catch-22. And I felt like I didn’t need help to sell it. As weird as that sounds, I’m not trying to sound arrogant, but I just had this gut feeling. I was like, “I can do this.” You know what I mean? Like, why not? So what I did, I was feeling better—this was about two months now after I got sick. I went to Barnes and Noble with my wife and I went to the humor section with my little notebook and I grabbed every single book from the humor section and wrote down the publisher. So I had this huge list of publishers, and I’m surprised no one stopped me. There was just this man sitting in the book section writing notes on every single book and putting it back. So luckily no one was like, “Hey, what are you doing over there?” And then I would’ve ran away screaming.
Yeah, yeah, exactly, so I did that and then I came home and then I looked up every single publisher I had online. And I wanted to see who would accept an unsolicited submission, and that’s usually what the major publishers only select solicited submissions which means you’re using an agent. So unsolicited is coming directly from the writer or author, and there are only a handful of big publishers that do that. So I had the list down to about five and what I did is I designed a little packet of my book, like a little, I designed up a little comp. I think it was like a 48-page preview book that had the rules, how I was envisioning it would be laid out with the illustrations. And then I typed up just like a little background document that provided the history of hair metal, how the ‘80s are kind of coming back now, what kind of audience would like this, what kind of similar books there were or weren’t, and just like similar titles. Cause I knew from working in advertising, just having a good idea isn’t enough. You need to convince people that people are interested in this idea, people are gonna want to buy your book. So I hada bunch of research on the Guitar Hero. They did an ‘80s game and it was a huge seller, so I had those numbers and then referenced—LMFAO was big at the time and they are dressed just like hair metal guys with the bright colors and the zebras and everything. So I just kind of gathered everything that I could and May ran around, and I mailed out these packets to five publishers and I got rejected from four and one even said, “To be honest with you, Mr. Hart, for a humor book it didn’t make me laugh once.”
Wow. That’s hard and cold, man.
I know, and I was just like, it was just like the Adam Sandler, “Like, a simple no would’ve been just fine.”
Yeah, good point.
But I was like, “You know what? That’s just their opinion and it’s not meant to work.”
Gosh, this guy not only did the research on trying to figure out how to get a deal done but without an agent, without having connections, he did this all by himself. And even though he got a rejection letter from them saying it didn’t even make them laugh for a humor book, that is still an accomplishment. Not too many people get any feedback from anybody that they send out material to. So that’s a huge success there. So you sent it out to five people. Four of them said no. So what happened with the one publisher?
So this was great. I was actually in San Diego at Comic-Con. It was my first Comic-Con out there as an attendee, and I’d always wanted to go to Comic-Con, and through getting sick I just really realized how precious life was and I kind of made this, you know, promised myself I’m gonna do all these things that I always wanted to do but just never, like, “Oh, that’s gonna cost too much or I can’t afford to take off work for that.” You know what I mean? I was like, “I’m going to Comic-Con this year.” So I’m at Comic-Con—heaven on earth for me, being a fanboy. And I get an email and it’s titled Steel Rainbow—which is the name of the book, big reveal there. Steel Rainbow, Lyons Press. It’s available at Barnes and Noble or Walmart.
There you go, push it! Push it out there!
We can do that later. Sorry guys. So it’s titled Steel Rainbow, and it’s coming from a publisher at Lyons Press. And I’m like, “Ok, here’s another rejection. Great. But at least I’m at Comic-Con.” And it says, “Hey, Jordan. I was looking through recent submissions and your book Steel Rainbow stood out probably because the cover was completely yellow with black tiger print.”
Nice. Very classic. Yeah.
Which I had done on purpose cause I knew it would be next to all these other submissions so I wanted to make it really bright to make it stand out. So I purposefully made it bright yellow, so it grabbed the editor’s attention. And she says, “It stood out. It seems like a really interesting concept. I love all the background research you’ve done, and it seems like there is a market for it. Would you be willing to give me a call tomorrow?” So I remember sitting in my hotel room just screaming like a little girl because I knew that was it. I just knew in my heart that this was the one break I needed and I knew it had to go through a bunch of pitches internally and all that stuff for them, but I just really felt like it was just meant to happen. And I emailed her back and said, “Hey, I’m at Comic-Con. I’ll be back on Monday. I’d love to catch up.” And I gave her a call. We talked for almost an hour, but it just felt so great and then I just started getting that feeling like, “This is why I got sick. This is why it happened.” Had I not gotten sick, I would’ve never written the book? It was always just an idea I had, but getting sick forced me to write the book and now this was happening. And again I go back to Think and Grow Rich that the best opportunities in life come after the worst disasters, and I’m living proof of that.
Yeah, like I spoke and you understand too, is sometimes you can’t see the dots moving forward, but you can see the dots connecting behind you. And, yeah, you nailed it on the head, man, understanding why you got sick and the reasoning behind it to really put yourself in this position to get a book deal, not even have the connections and to even just get a phone interview. And at that time you didn’t even know what was the outcome, but you knew within yourself that this was meant to be. Everything is coming together; it’s just really meant to be. So when you had that first conversation and do you mind sharing what kind of unfolded from there?
Yeah, so we had the first conversation where it was more of her and I just kind of getting to know each other, talking about the market, talking about the book, explaining why a 25 year old is a hair metal expert, which is pretty uncommon, and she got a kick out of that. And this was the last week of July and she said, “Okay, well, we have a couple of sales meetings, and I need to pitch it internally to three different groups: the sales group, and”—I can’t remember who the two others were, but I knew it had to go through three pitches. And each one [36:33] so if you got shot down in one of the pitches then it was done, so the next week it makes it through the first one and the week after that it makes it through the second one. I’m like, “Oh god, this might actually happen.” And then the third and final pitch was actually when I was on my honeymoon.
So I got married and my wife and I had gone on a honeymoon to beautiful San Diego again, and she’s like, “Well, the pitch is gonna be on that Tuesday.” My editor knew I was on my honeymoon, and she said, “Well, we’ll talk when you get back.” I’m like, “Ok, yeah, fine.” So I’m on my honeymoon and just all Tuesday that’s all I could think about. Even though I’m sitting on the beach staring at the Pacific Ocean just enjoying life, getting a nice little tan, I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. So I sent her an email on Wednesday. I was like, “Listen, I have to know. I’ve accepted that if it doesn’t go through, I feel like I’ve accomplished so much already that it’s not gonna ruin my honeymoon.” And she replied back that said, “We’ll have a nice, long conversation when you get back” with a smiley face, “Things are gonna work out.” And, and that just made my week. And then I just remember tearing up when that happened. I was just like, “I finally understood it. I finally got it.” I was like, “This is really why I got sick.” And it’s just crazy how things work out. If you want something hard enough and especially if you work hard enough, you can really do anything.
Yeah, that’s so true. And understanding that sometimes when we read these books and we hear these suggestions of things happen for reasons and if you dream it it will come to you. At the time, you don’t believe it at all. You just feel like this is a bunch of BS. I’m wasting my time reading this book, all that stuff. But when things really do happen in your life and when they really come into your lap and you take them to your advantage and you use them for good instead of bad, amazing things can happen. This is just unbelievable. So after the honeymoon, you get in contact with her. Obviously, she gave you the smiley face. Everything’s gonna be all right. What was the next reaction, the next step that just slingshotted you into stardom?
So I came back and we had a conversation. She said, “Everyone loved it. We’d like to make you an offer on the book.” And I was like, “Oh my god, yeah, that’s great.” So we did that and the book was in the draft stage. She’s like, “We would like to have everything in 30 days.” And that was the full book as well as all 50 illustrations in the book, and I had only done about 20 of them. I’m like, “Yeah, sure I can do that.” And then for that whole month, I averaged four hours of sleep a night between my design work to pay the bills and then work to get this book done. I just was in this crazy work mode, but it was just so much more different. I didn’t even think like, “This is what it was like before I got sick. Maybe this was the reason I did get sick.” I didn’t think that. This is like it happening. I’m not gonna blow this opportunity. So, yeah, I slept four hours a night and worked, yeah, whatever it was, 30 days straight. Saturday, Sunday, everything. And I kind of just went off the map, but this was such a life changing opportunity I knew that if I didn’t give it everything I would regret it.
Alright, so what happened after the 30 days and after you giving them all the material and them kind of looking at the stuff?
So after I handed everything over and my crazy work mode actually allowed me to get everything to them two days earlier which was great cause then I was just like so relieved. My editor looked over everything, and she really liked it and, of course, there were subtle tone changes and everything like that, but I would say the final product of what I envisioned my book to be became true, which was awesome. So as an author, if you do get a cash advance it’s once you hand over the first draft of the book. So it’s kind of like a signing bonus if you will, but it’s just a cash advance of the money that you’re gonna make once the book comes out. A lot of publishers will give that to you when you hand over the first draft, so I knew I was gonna get that and I knew what amount it was gonna be, so that wasn’t a surprise.
So she said, “This is great. I’ll send your cash advance tomorrow.” And I’m like, “Okay, great. It will take a while to come in.” And after I got off the phone with her, I had received my medical statement from when I got sick, and it was all the charges from when I was sick, the amounts and everything and it was a pretty hefty amount and I was like, “Okay, well, whatever. I’m just not even thinking, right?” So I was like, “Oh, I’ll just have to pay this somehow. It’ll be fine. I’ll just work more design hours or whatever.” And a week later, that cash advance comes from my publisher and I open it up and this is like the Twilight Zone music is playing, like the coolest but creepiest but mind blowing thing ever. You know I open that check and I see the amount and like I knew that was the amount I was getting. And then it just was like, ding! In my head with the Twilight music and I went and I grabbed my medical bill money that I owed, and my cash advance was about $150 more than all of my medical bills. And I was like, “Holy cow.” So I truly feel that I got sick to write the book because the book literally paid for all my medical bills.
Now, if you guys didn’t catch that, Jordan got sick before he was married to his current wife, and he was on his own because he did run his own business. He was on his own self insurance. And at that time, you weren’t thinking you were gonna have a blood clot go through your body so you didn’t get the most expensive, the most intense health insurance for a single guy. So when you got sick, you got hit with a lot of bills just because your insurance didn’t cover a lot of that stuff, so that was unfortunate but obviously the amazing thing and the thing that you and I talk about a lot is the universe brought this together. To have a bill in that amount of money and to have a check come to you from this book deal in the exact amount of $150 more is just mind boggling. Like you said, Twilight music, whatever you want to call it, if you believe in the universe or you don’t, either way that is remarkable. So after this, after you got the check, you were just in a really good state of just bliss. What slingshotted you after the success of the book? What kind of rolled into great things for you?
Yeah, so that all happened in October, and my book Steel Rainbow: The Legendary Underground Guide to Becoming an ‘80s Rock Star came out on June 1st of 2012. And it was a lot of fun. It had gotten some pretty decent press of people excited about it, and a lot of different stores had picked it up. Big stores like Barnes and Noble to Walmart.com to, like, cool, little shops in L.A. like Book Soup and everything. It was just so surreal to see someone that had struggled with reading and writing his whole life is now an author. It’s so weird. I see people from grade school or people from high school and they’re always like, “I heard you’re an author?” Like a question. You know what I mean? I play a lot of pranks, so I think a lot of people think it was a prank, but it’s always a question. It’s never like, “Hey, I heard you’re an author!” It’s like, “I heard you’re an author? Is that right?” To which I say, “Yeah, crazy, isn’t it?”
But it just goes to prove that if you set your mind to anything and you work hard enough, anyone can do anything. So after it came out, I had some book signings and stuff like that. And right around the corner was the 2012 Comic-Con which I had gotten invited to, to do a book signing in the autograph section. So that was really for me just the most surreal thing ever. I had decided the year before that I’m finally gonna go to Comic-Con and just do it because I just always wanted to be there, and that’s where I first got the email about the book and then to exactly a year later I’m sitting behind a desk at my own booth signing copies of my new book Steel Rainbow and people are actually interested to learn about it and to get autographs and I’m signing next to movie stars like Eric Roberts and all these people. It was just so surreal but it was just so awesome at the same time.
For you guys out there, if you surround yourself with the right people and you surround yourself with likeminded individuals that will push you towards greatness, whatever that is. I’m not saying you need to write a book. I’m not saying you need to start a business or quit your job and start your own little firm but whatever your little niche is, your little passion, whatever it may be, you set yourself up with the right people, you’ll set yourself up for success. So just mind-blowing. Now how did you get invited or how did you start making connections for writing for the Huffington Post, for Geek Magazine, and all those online kind of blogs and stuff?
A little bit of luck but at the same time it’s more of just that same hard-working, I feel like taking matters into my own hands type thing. So the Huffington Post had received a copy of my book in hopes that they would do a review of it or something. For whatever reason, they didn’t want to review the book, but I got an email from the person who received it that said, “We don’t really do book reviews or this isn’t the kind of book we do reviews on, whatever, but I personally think it’s hilarious and we would love if you could guest write an article with illustrations from the book and with content from the book. So it’s kind of almost like a preview of your book, and we’ll put it on Huffington Post.” And I’m like, “Of course!” And my first thought is, “Oh my god, I’m writing for the Huffington Post.” And I’m freaking out because again, I’m just very insecure as a writer, and I’m like, “Oh, man, how am I gonna do this?” And again then I just like snapped out of it. I’m gonna step up and I’m gonna do this and I just focused on writing a good article. I have a really good friend who used to be a copywriter—well, he is a copywriter—but he used to be my partner in advertising. He helped me a lot. He taught me a lot, so I really owed a lot to him and that article came out. And then I was like, “Well, I wrote an article for the Huffington Post. I wonder if I could write an article for Guitar World, the biggest guitar magazine.” I sent them a copy of the book and I said, “Hey, here’s this article I did for Huffington Post. Would you mind if I did a guitar version one for you guys?” And I wasn’t looking for money or anything; I was just looking to promote the book, get publicity. And they’re like, “Well, yeah, if you don’t want to do it for money, sure, go ahead. We’d love to have you write it.” So then I got in Guitar World. And I was like, “Wow, this is really fun.”
Fast forward to fall, I was thinking what’s a good way just to keep writing cause I really enjoyed writing, and I’m not sure if I want to do another book yet or anything. So I was like, “Hey, maybe I can just start writing for the Huffington Post comedy section?” So I just went to HuffingtonPost.com and they had names of the editors there and just by rule of deduction I sent essentially the email equivalent of a cold call to one of the editors saying, “Hey, I’d really love to write for you guys and I have a couple of ideas. Here they are. What do you think?” They got back to me, like, “Yeah, that’d be totally great. We’d love to have you come write for us.” And the same exact thing happened for Geek Magazine essentially. I was at WonderCon a couple of months ago in March and one of their high editors was there at their booth. They had a booth and I went up to them and said, “Hey, I write for the Huffington Post. I wrote this hair metal book, and I’m a huge nerd as you can see cause I’m here at WonderCon. I have a couple ideas for articles for you guys. Is it cool if I run them past you?” And the guy was like, “Yeah, sure. Go ahead.” And sure enough I had an idea for an article and they’re like, “Yeah, we love it.” And that’s how I parleyed that into a contributor spot with them.
Yeah, we can learn a lot again from Jordan. Just by putting yourself out there and asking people. Sending those cold emails. Yes, sometimes they’re not gonna respond to you. Sometimes they might not even get it. But just taking the initiative and just putting yourself out there and trying to reach and extend yourself further and be the person that you want to become by just writing because you just love it. The passion is there for Jordan, so he contacted the Huffington Post, Geek Magazine, and he also put himself out there. He was at WonderCon. He went to the booth and he stuck out his hand like we just talked about and meeting people face-to-face and showed, “I love what I do. I love this. I love this whole atmosphere. Can I write for your magazine or your website?” “Yeah, sure. We would love that.” And, boom, here he is today writing for these guys. Do you have a couple of tips for people out there looking—this is obviously called Operation Self Reset: Changing the person you are to the person you want to be—do you have a couple of tips for people to kind of take, not only from your story but just kind of life lessons that you have learned throughout the process that they can input and implement into their own personal lives today or weeks ahead?
Sure, yeah, I think I could have a couple of them. By no means am I an expert or anything like that. But I guess I could share a couple of things I try to live by and base things off of, and I guess the most important part of it is having that support group, whether it’s your family, your significant other, your friends. Even if it’s just one person. You get one like-minded person that is just on the same wavelength as you and the same way of thinking, it really makes all the difference because no one’s always super positive. We’re not robots. You can’t be positive all the time, and you can’t not have fears. Fear is a very big part of life. So to say that, “Well, don’t be scared to take risks” and “Stay positive,” yeah, those are good things to try to do, but I think they’re both impossible and what that support person or that support group does is they’re there just to pat you on the back and say, “You can do it. You can do it.” You know what I mean? In my life, especially for my wife who is my biggest fan and having you as my best friend since high school, I just have all these great people that I’ve met in college and former co-workers and you and my wife and my family, and their support is what helps me focus and helps me stay on track.
Another great quote that I learned from your father actually, what is it? Maybe 15 years ago? “Tough times never last; tough people do.” I thought of that a lot when I was sick and writing the book. No matter how crappy you feel now, it’s bound to get better. However you want to look at it, what is it, I think the Dark Knight they always say, “The night’s always darkest before the sunrise” or “before the light,” whatever. There’s a million different ways to look at it, but it’s all the truth. It’s all about the way you want to look at something.
Awesome. Very good tips, man. And like you said, you can’t be positive all the time, and you can’t always push that fear down below. But like you said, we can try and sometimes it’s not gonna work so that’s why we do need those people around us to kind of give us that little kick in the pants to kind of stay on track and to keep motivated. Well, guys, there’s a couple of tips that you guys can use today to kind of restart your lives, changing the direction that you want to go. And, again, thank you so much to Jordan Hart, Steel Rainbow. Jordan, can you tell the people where to find the book?
Yeah, you can get the book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, in Barnes and Noble, and any major book website that you want to go to.
And also, too, how can people contact you—on Facebook, Twitter?
Yeah, probably the easiest way is on Twitter. You can follow me or tweet me. It’s just Jordan_Hart.
Awesome, man. Great story. Hopefully you guys listening to this got some inspiration. Jordan, thank you so much for being on the podcast, and we hope to talk to you soon.
Thank you very much. Good to see you as always.
Thanks again, Jordan, for coming on the Operation Self Reset podcast and sharing that story with all of us out there. Jordan, in the deepest, darkest time of his own personal life, he found it within himself to keep motivated, to keep on plugging along, and to find what made him happy. And that was laughter which rolled into Steel Rainbow and look at him now: a book deal, he’s writing for the Huffington Post, and just kicking butt in life. And that personally inspired me and I know you guys listening had to have gotten some great value from that interview.
At the end of all interviews that are done on the Operation Self Reset podcast, I try to pull away seven tips from that interview that I can implement in my life today to speed it up, to transform it, to put myself in a direction of success. And one of the tips that I want to share with you guys right now because I feel it’s so important is understanding things happen for a reason. It’s kind of a loaded tip because take a second and think back on your own personal life. There had to have been moments when you were at a very low moment in your own personal life. For me, for example, it was going through bankruptcy and then also, too, having a child going to be delivered within the next couple of months. I was personally kind of freaking out. Now, all of us go through different things, different emotions and everything like that. I’m not saying mine is better or worse than any of your situations out there, but I’m just telling you kind of the outlook that I have. Understanding things happen for a reason, I rolled that into now this is my opportunity to help people that are in the same situation as myself. And look at what has happened. I’m already at podcast number eight. I’m already a month in. Things are going great. I’m having a great time doing this. And sharing these stories with you guys out there—I know it’s helping you progress and change and reset your life. So I have done my due diligence in letting things happen for a reason and letting it go. It’s out of my control. Yes, I guess in my situation with the bankruptcy, sure, could I have negotiated a better deal? Sure, yeah, of course. But it didn’t happen that way. So it’s out of my control and look at what progressed because of it. It’s unbelievable, and that’s a tip that I want to pull away and keep putting into my own personal life because I feel it’s that important.
Now this is pretty cool of Jordan Hart. He loves this podcast. He did the graphic design for the logo, and he’s helped me out on a couple of angles dealing with this project and because of you guys listening out there he wants to give away ten Steel Rainbow books. All you have to do is go to the YouTube channel which is YouTube.com/operationselfreset. Go there. You’re gonna find a video that I and Jordan made and you will find all the details on how to get your hands on a personally-signed Steel Rainbow book sent to your door 100% free. All you have to do is go to the video, like it, and then go to OperationSelfReset.com/podcast008 and at the bottom in the comments you can write anything that you loved or hated or that you wish the ‘80s were still here or you wish the ‘80s never happened. A comment just about the ‘80s, whatever you want. Good or bad. And I will be sending a personally-signed book from Jordan Hart, Steel Rainbow, to your door. So thanks to Jordan for doing that. But, again, there are only ten of them to give away. So the quicker you jump on it, the quicker a book is going to be coming to your door.
So there you go guys, that kind of sums up Jordan Hart’s story about Steel Rainbow, a remarkable journey. Great guy, and again if you guys want to find the resources or the tips or the tools that Jordan has used throughout his life or to just get more information on Jordan Hart, feel free to go to OperationSelfReset.com/podcast008. There you’re gonna find all the links, all the tools, and everything Jordan and I talked about in this interview. Also, on the Operation self Reset homepage, you guys can find a newly-drafted, Seven Super Easy Ways to Reset Your Life. It’s a simple-to-use guide to help you transform your life today. All I ask in return is your email; it’s signing up for our email list. All you have to do is give me your email, and I will send you this free PDF: Seven Easy Tips to Transform Your Life. It’s great. A lot of people found a lot of great value out of it. Give it a try. Maybe not every tip will be beneficial to your own personal life, but I know a couple of them will help you change in the direction that you want. So feel free to go on over there: OperationSelfReset.com. And it’s on the homepage. It’s on the right-hand side. It’s just a sign-up box, and I’ll be sending you that free PDF.
So there you go, guys. Thanks again for taking the time and listening. I know this was a longer podcast, but the value and the story that was included in this one I think was well worth it. Again, like I stated in the introduction, if you guys ever need anything, we’re talking anything related to resetting your life, transforming it in the direction that you want, changing the person you are to the person you want to be—email me. Seriously. Already so many of you out there have done it. I provided some great value to you guys and I know I can help you transform, reset, change, whatever it is in your life today. Just send me an email: email@example.com. I will personally get back to you. Also, too, feel free to follow me on Twitter: OpSelfReset. Every day I put a positive quote out there to enlighten and inspire you guys to take action and to live life to its fullest.
And I want to leave you guys today with a quote that Jordan Hart left us in that story and in that interview and it’s: “Tough times never last; tough people do.” And I know you guys listening out there might not feel you’re the toughest SOB around, but you’re able to get through events and certain things in your life and that just makes you outright the toughest person I personally know. So keep on doing it. Keep on kicking butt and keep on moving forward because at the end of every horrible, horrible rainstorm there’s always sunshine and rainbows. So that’s what I’m gonna leave you with today: sunshine and rainbows. Take it easy. We will see you on July 4th. I have a July 4th special interview coming to you guys. Take care and we will talk to you soon. Thanks again.
If you have a question you’d potentially like answered no matter if its constructive criticism, praise, or just feedback in general, feel free to visit my voice mail page to quickly and easily leave me a message. You can also always send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org; I will get back to you as soon as possible.
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