A few years ago I had the distinct honor of meeting Jon Levy. He is described as a behaviorist, he is also a writer, consultant, speaker, and a celebrity best known for his ability to influence others. He is quite fascinating. Jon created something called the Influencers dinner. He created this secret dinner at his home for people in society who are powerful, and smart and who are opinion leaders in their field.
All with the intention to change the World and social thought for the better.
I was invited to his home by a very prestigious businessman named Roget Romain in New York City. He kept urging me to come to New York from Los Angeles specifically for this event and I could not figure out why it was so urgent. He told me that Jon hosts these dinners for influencers and asked that I go to see articles written about him online by Business Week, Forbes and The New York Times. I started to wonder exactly what kind of dinner are we talking about here?
I arrived in New York and the plan was to go to Jon’s home then go to an event that he named Miror to sing for about 200 people. When I arrived at his home I met 11 other people. I was told not to tell anyone my last name and I could not tell them what I did for a living. This was very fascinating already. His home was beautiful and very warm. Not too over the top. I walked in an immediately spotted actress Rose Mc Gowan. She was the most popular person in the room and obviously, she could not really play the game. As everyone knew her name and the fact that she was an actress.
I was told that we would be cooking dinner. I laughed to myself at the thought that I arrived at this massive flat in the center of the City and I would be cooking dinner for strangers. I am not a great cook so I must admit it was quite uncomfortable to think about. Jon explained the process. We would all work together in small groups creating a meal together. As I worked with each person and spoke to them it was very challenging to start the conversation with them without asking what they do. So other factors had to come in play. Mostly for me, I just tried to stay present and focus on how the person communicated and gave instruction about what we were working on. I observed how they dressed and their interaction with me as a gage of trying to figure out where they were from or what they did for a living. When we finished cooking we were all instructed to sit at his dining room table. The fun began. We all sat and discovered who the person was that we had the honor of cooking with and my mind was blown as it was uncovered that I had just chopped chicken and cooked steak with the founder of Viacom Media Network. HOLY SMOKES! What? So you can understand why it was important not to know this guy as I asked him to hand me the cutting board.
My mind was blown by this experience and so I asked Jon if he would share with my readers how he came up with this genius idea and what were his goals. As you may know for the past few weeks I have been working on a course about How to Become a Genius.
For the next few weeks, I will be featuring great minds to understand how they apply their genius traits in their fields and how they can help you operate as a genius. In the following interview, Jon answers these questions and I immediately see the way he applies the 24 traits of a genius to his life.
1- How did you come up with the genius idea of the Influencers dinner? Genius trait 11 Enterprise.
The idea for the influencers dinner came after I was sitting in a seminar and the seminar leader said that the fundamental element that defines the quality of our lives are the people we surround ourselves with and the conversations that we have with them. So I got really curious how much I could impact my life by surrounding myself with the most extraordinary people in our culture I spent about a year modeling their behavior. And trying to understand what would cause them to engage with me and I discovered that there are these 4 basic traits that cause them to connect with me and by applying them I could build a relationship. And so I created the dinner out of that. 12 people invited and they are not allowed to talk about what they do or give their last name. They cook dinner together and when they sit down to eat everybody gets to guess what everybody else does and they find out that they are the editor and chief of a major magazine. An Olympian, A Nobel laureate, a famous actor and so on. And its been pretty extraordinary. I have hosted over 1500 people across over 172 dinners in 9 cities in 3 countries.
2-How do you think you have been able to influence others who are very powerful in their field to come to your home to cook you dinner and clean your floors? A sense of humor, genius trait #18, imagination, genius trait #24
I believe that the most influential people in our culture are inundated with request. Everybody is after something from them and they have experienced it all so nothing is new. What I fundamentally did was I flipped the model on its head. Instead of trying to win people over with high-end luxurious experiences I get down to the basics which is the human aspect. I create something very novel that is fundamentally different than anything they have ever done. So it is new and interesting. I curate it very well because in actuality the most influential people in our culture spend most of their time with their staff. They don’t get to be around other influential people especially across industry. And it’s very generous I don’t ask anything of anybody. It’s all a gift. I think those of the traits that actually have people come together around my events. The other thing is that, since it’s not luxurious since its very clearly a community-sourced experience, it’s very fair to have people chip in their efforts and cook and clean and so on.
3.- When looking for influencers to join you for dinner what exactly do you look for in an individual that helps you decide to have them at your home for such an auspicious occasion? Perception, genius trait #16 and Ability to Judge, genius trait #7
I actually don’t pick the dinner guest, I did in the early days but as the concept expanded it just became clear that I wasn’t an expert in enough fields and as a result, I needed to get experts in the fields to say if somebody is influential or not. We define influence based on 3 characteristics. Your ability to impact an industry through either thought leadership, position, or previous success. So thought leadership would be if you are a professor or writer on the topic, Position is, you hold an actual position at a company, you are the CEO, CMO, artist whatever it is. And then previous success would be if you won an award, you created some kind of hallmark experience. Whatever is it that the status of the industry respects. Did you win a Grammy, an Emmy an Academy Award and so on.
4-What inspires you and how do you transform this inspiration into something new? Willingness to take chances, genius trait #9
That’s a tough question for me. What inspires me? I think I am inspired by helping others create a new future. I am best at that is by creating new futures through relationships so by introducing people to one another so that it could impact the quality of their lives, their communities and hopefully one day the world. And as far as my willingness to take chances I think that I’m both on the genetic and on the social end of the spectrum very high on that but when you take the purpose outside of yourself its much easier. So I take risk and chances for a greater purpose and then it’s easier for me to put myself in that situation rather than having my excuses or justifications, the greater purpose is more important.
5-Have you been able to build businesses with these powerful people after your dinners? And if so what has been your biggest win when it comes to your dinner? Persuasion genius trait #12 and versatility genius trait #19.
Fundamentally anything we want to accomplish is a by-product of who we are connected to and how much they trust us in that capacity. The dinner allows me to connect with almost anyone I want and to build trust quickly with them. Its a really intimate experience and we get to bond over a joint activity. And as a byproduct of my work with the influencers dinner, I have been hired by many companies to help develop private communities or develop community around their brand. And those are probably my biggest successes because it allows me to apply my knowledge and flip the marketing model on its head. So instead of it being all about luxury and buying people off its about creating deep and meaningful connections between people and brands.
6- Please tell my readers about the Salon and what that entails. What are your goals for the future?
The Salon is called Miror its a Latin word for wonder. About 60-100 people attend each time. For the first hour or so there are cocktails and then we surprise people with 3 speakers. It could be a former member of the Roots performing, you performing Stacy. Or it could be Bjarke Ingels the famed architect, Larry Wilmore (comedian) speaking, Bil Nye, The Science Guy. A very wide range. And then we have cocktails and people can talk about whatever they want at that point. In the first part, you can not talk about work or give your last name. And it’s just a wonderful way to bring culture into the zeitgeist. So bring ideas forward that are important to be shared or bring attention to rising talent. Our goal for the future to make this accessible to the public at large. Most great content is only available to those who have access and money. We want to make it available to the public and really be able to shift the cultural conversation, to help make the World better.
I want to take a moment to thank Jon for contributing to this article. I know he is doing what he has intended and that is using his Genius to make a difference for the better.
Some useful links:
- Jon website: http://www.jonlevytlb.com
- Wikipedia link about Jon: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jon_Levy_(behaviorist)
- Genius Course: http://bit.ly/2VplDf9
Leave me comments about what you think below. Tell me hat you think about the course. Has this aritcle been useful for you?
This article was so arresting! I’m definitely going to do the Genius course, as soon as I have more time available. Loved the Influencers’ dinner part too.
Thanks so much!!!
Fantastic article. Insightful and really got my creative juices flowing!
Thank you!! I’m glad!!
AWESOME! Thanks for reading