Jon Levy is a behavior scientist best known for his work in influence, networking, and adventure. He is the founder of the Influencers Dinner and The Salon, and author of The 2 AM Principle: Discover the Science of Adventure.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?
I grew up in NY and spent my summers in Israel. It was pretty average for a geek who was incredibly unpopular and really loved science. I felt more comfortable with Star Trek and programming than I did around girls.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
There have been a few times that were tough. When my father got sick or a really bad breakup. I have very specific rules for how I handle these situations.
From a scientific standpoint, we know that these things cause happiness:
- Social interaction
- If you are a person of faith, have faith
- Be a contribution
If there is ever a moment when things look bad, I make sure I get ample sleep, so that I can emotionally regulate. I contact my closest friends and tell them that I need them and ask my best friend to come and stay with me for a few days.
I make sure that I exercise daily and I eliminate all drinking because it disrupts sleep patterns. I rely heavily on my community and I am unabashed about asking for support or speaking to experts and professionals.
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
How anything you want in life is a byproduct of who you know and how much they trust you. The most important thing you can do is meet the right people and develop a reputation of integrity and trust.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
Follow your dreams, and do what inspires you. This is terrible advice because most people have no idea what their dreams are. It is rare that people truly know what they want. Putting that level of expectation on somebody is harmful, because they’ll always feel like they’re failing.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
I dedicate a significant portion of my time to running The Influencers, a secret dining experience and community with some of the most exceptional people in our culture. I have made some of my closest friends and most important business contacts as a byproduct of building this community. I attribute all of my success to that.
What is your morning routine?
When I’m writing a book, before I even brush my teeth, I throw everything that I have on the page. After I brush my teeth, I do 20 minutes of transcendental meditation. Then I review today’s critical objectives. I outline 3 things I must get done during the day, make breakfast and look over my inbox to see how quickly I can be at Inbox Zero. In the process, I assign tasks to my team and dive into work.
I wake up whenever I am fully rested. I don’t set an alarm and have blackout curtains. According to sleep researcher and author of The Power of When Michael Breus, each individual is predisposed to wake up at a certain timespan. Sleep is the bedrock of our health and productivity.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
I’m obsessed with designing systems, this is especially important for productivity or management. I believe if I screwed up or someone from my team screwed up – chances are the system wasn’t good enough. If we can build a system for management or organization. It will minimize the number of issues we have.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
- Understand what doesn’t need to be done. People often do things that are unnecessary.
- Accept the fact that I am not the best person to be doing most tasks. If I hire and organize well, the task will be done better and faster, at a lower cost.
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
- Peter Pan. It might sound ridiculous but I find J. M. Barrie’s vision of living a life of wonder, remarkable and inspiring. It was a big influence in writing The 2 AM Principle
- For the field of behavioral science, brilliant books that stand out are: Robert Cialdini’s Influence, Dan Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow, and Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
“The fundamental element that defines the quality of our lives, are the people we surround ourselves with and the conversations we have with them.” and “The size of our life is in direct proportion to how uncomfortable we are willing to be.”