People need to recognize that failure is just a part of life. No one is born extremely lucky to have it all or be free from problems. Dealing with failure is what it means to be alive. Once you start thinking like that, there will be no room for depression in you, and you can begin thriving for success. When you have nothing, you have everything.
Join John Solleder as he talks to Jordan Matthews, a business trial lawyer, litigator, and author who discusses his new book, Failure: When You Have Nothing, You Have Everything. Listen as he reflects on getting through his lowest points and how he honors his mother for everything she has done for him. Learn how to find success through failure, why you need to lift other people up, and how to discover your own purpose today!
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“Failure: When You Have Nothing, You Have Everything” With Jordan Matthews
It is always a privilege to have a guest on I’ve had before. This is a young man whom I have known well since he was four years old.
It’s been a whole three years.
I’m only three years older. I’d be happy with that. Unfortunately, it’s not the case. Jordan Matthews, how are you? First of all, a lot of stuff happening since the last we interviewed you, but one of the positive things is that you got your book out, Failure: When You Have Nothing You Have Everything. It’s a great title. How are you? Tell me about the book and what’s happening.
I’m doing great. I’m living life. I’m in the middle of a trial. I’ve got back to my office. I had a bunch of client emergencies and some family stuff. I was in my office. I’ve been up since 2:00 in the morning because I had a call with a partner of mine at 7:00, and I sent them an email at 3:15 in the morning. I’ve been going for a while, but I’m good. I’m in LA and super busy. I’m finishing up a trial and I’m going to go see some family for the holidays, and the book has been good to get that out. It was about a year and a half process in terms of putting it all together because my schedule was crazy busy. It was interesting because you know a lot about this, but it was tough.
My mother passed on September 25, 2022. It was about six weeks before it came out. She was aware that it was coming out. She got to see certain parts of it, but it was also a tough experience in many ways because she saw many things that were going on and she was a big part of my journey. It was tough for me because it didn’t feel like it was right for her to go right before that happened. That was a big milestone moment. She’s seen a lot of things, but at the same time, there was a part of it that, not that this is the purpose, but made the book that much better, in my opinion, because I felt like she completed it.
I wrote a dedication to her, which up the book, and it was my last letter to her, which covered that weekend that I got the surprise news. You got the surprise news as well that she had passed, and I had to fly back to Pittsburgh very quickly. It was a very surreal time. I spent seven weeks back there. She has been such an integral and meaningful part of my process. I felt a lot of love and support from her, even though I’ve gone through her passing, which has been difficult, but I think I’ve handled it better than I thought I would, probably, because I’ve dealt with this with my father. That gave me a little bit of a base.
The good thing is that everyone can have their own feedback. What is in there is my heart and soul. What is in there is a very raw, honest, truthful encapsulation of myself, my life, and my journey with close family and friends. It encapsulates a lot of very interesting things but in an authentic way. The feedback that I’ve gotten from people has been very important, meaningful, and authentic, which is the point. I feel comfortable and confident that that’s where it’s speaking from.
I want to point out to all our readers that I knew your mom. Jordan is Arlene Lowy’s son and my dear friend for many years. We are mourning her. She was an amazing influence, person and friend. I’ve known millions of people in network marketing. Your mother was unique. She was always there. I know you’re missing her. I’m missing her, but certainly not at the same level that you are. Thoughts and prayers. I still get people contacting me that are reading from different parts of the world. It’s shocking.
I know how proud she was of you. In our last interview, your mom was still here and she called me the same night about 10:00 at night. I get a phone call and she’s like, “I’m proud of my kid.” I’m like, “You should be.” You’ve led an amazing life. I want to talk about the book because it’s been said by lots of authors that we read because we want to know that we’re not alone.
We also write because we want people to know that they’re not alone. Let’s get into that a little bit. Let’s talk about the resilience that you’ve had. You became an attorney after spending some time on the other side of the camera, on the entertainment side of it when you first got out to LA when you were a little bit younger. Let’s talk about some of the experiences that you’ve had in your life. Some of them are super high profile. Let’s talk about some of the ones prior to that.
The book goes into a lot of pretty raw events. I started as an actor. I’ll jump into some of the larger deals. I moved out to LA in 2006 from New York and was attached to a lot of projects that never were getting made. In the middle of a financial crisis, I ended up raising $2 million, financing, producing, and starring in a film that I spent about 2 to 3 years on that we ended up selling to Lionsgate. It was a failing forward process. The movie bombed. We did sell it to Lionsgate, but I raised more money to do what’s called a theatrical four-wall release.
We released it theatrically in New York and LA, but then we had a piracy issue right before the movie came out, about seven weeks before the film was publicly released on May 30, 2011. I spent about one year in litigation. I met a very good colleague of mine who was my attorney at the time and represents Tiger Woods. He became my lawyer. To this day, I worked very closely with him. He’s an incredible lawyer.
It still opened up doors. It was a failing forward thing. It was a very tough thing. I lost millions of dollars. I personally guaranteed millions of dollars. I’d maxed out my credit, but I didn’t stop there. I ended up putting together about $600 million in financing deals with a major studio and a mini-major studio, both of which were public companies and then another mini-major studio, which was a private company that was trying to go for an IPO. They ended up going through bankruptcy.
I had what’s called a P&A or Prints and Advertising deal for marketing with another very large public company. We had a Tom Cruise project. I had Keanu Reeves, Jeff Bridges, and Ryan Reynolds projects. I had a substantial majority of the movies in Hollywood coming through my company at the time from the studios, but then I got stuck in my business partner’s divorce. He owned 25% of my company at the time, which meant that his wife owned 12.5% of my company based on the California community property.
That was how I ended up transitioning over to law after I met my wife and kids. One of the projects we had was with Walter Isaacson who wrote the book, Steve Jobs. That was a hit. At the time, we had a project for one of his books that were set up over at Sony with Alec Baldwin attached to it. That got tied up in the whole divorce proceedings as well.
We were launching a full-fledged studio, and I was 27 or 28 at the time. I was relatively young and was going for everything. After the litigation that I dealt with and everything falling apart on the original film that I put millions of dollars into, putting more millions of dollars additionally into this and this imploding and then having to start over where I had to move out of my house, I had to turn in my car. I had a family. I had a daughter who had been born. I decided to go back to school. I went to law school. I had to complete college.
Two years of my college degree during my first year of law school while my son was born to transfer to another law school. I gave up three years of income. I was able to finish at the top of my class the first year and then transfer to a better law school, got a Master’s degree, finished early, and took the bar. I didn’t pass it the first time. I had my entire family living with me, my sister-in-law and my nephew. It was an incredibly stressful pressure cooker of life. I had to move out of my house a week before the bar exam because everyone got sick, and I had to stay in a motel and sleep on a friend’s couch.
When I didn’t pass it, I missed a few points. It was incredibly depressing because my mother had flown in to go to my law school graduation, which was like a week later. It was bittersweet that I’m graduating from law school. I failed the bar exam, but then I had to spend $7,000 on a credit card that I didn’t have at the time because I had depleted all my finances to hire a private tutor. I did that and retook the test. It was like a six-month process I passed, then the law firm that I was at pushed me out and handed me a check for $3,000. It was 5 or 6 days before Christmas.
Within about two weeks, I renegotiated a deal. I was at a new firm, but I had to build everything from the ground up with all my relationships. Within about 4 or 5 months, I originated the Wynn case against Steve Wynn in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein fallout that came from the Wall Street Journal through the bombshell expose. It was the largest case against a CEO of a public company who had to step down as the Chairman of the Republican Finance Committee. That’s been about four and a half years of very intense litigation. We’ve been to the Ninth Circuit and the US Supreme Court, and there have been a lot of investigations that have been tied into it.
All of that fancy stuff is interesting and it’s cool, but it’s more about the dedication that I wrote. That was interesting. My mom passed on September 25th, and this is how it’s all related. Fortunately, about two and a half weeks before she passed, I went back to Pittsburgh. I only go back once a year. Usually, my mom would come out. I went back by chance and had an amazing week with her. It’s just her and I. We went on walks together. We sat out on her deck and had dinner together. It ended up going into this dedication that I wrote to her.
I’m there and she has a den on the first floor. It’s like a TV room. Anytime I came to visit, I would come and relax. It was my way to decompress. I’d sit on the couch. I’d lay on the couch, turn on some movies, and relax because I always go 24/7. That was my like, “I’m just going to chill out.” She would be in the house, come in, and make food. She’s a mom. She’d be in the house. It was nice. On the 1st or 2nd night, I maybe fell asleep with the TV on. I woke up. It was off. It turns out that the TV got busted. The bulb blew after many years. It was time to go.
The point of that was that she was telling me she wanted me to watch this movie. The movie she wanted me to watch was King Richard, the Will Smith movie, Richard Williams, and all that stuff. Being in LA and being in the entertainment space for the past years, you are jaded. I don’t watch that much stuff because I see all the behind-the-scenes stuff, the marketing campaigns, the politics, and the business of it, which is interesting, but it takes away from some of the stories. She wanted me to watch it.
We went up to her room one night. I’m sitting on a chair. We started watching the movie. I’m watching this story of this father doing whatever he had to do for his daughters to make it and to go take on the world and become what they had become. I sat there and looked over at my mom. She’s sitting on the corner of her bed. I was sitting in her chair and I looked over. She’s leaning intently forward, watching this like hypnotized and focused on this. That moment reconnected me with the way that I was brought up. That’s how fortunate I was that I had someone like that.
I was watching this movie, and I was like, “That’s what this person did for me. That’s what they did.” I look at it in everything I do now, and I see it so much more clearly. She reinforced and built such a level of confidence, self-esteem, and self-belief. I’ve even gone back and I’ve watched her Market American videos because she was at the top of Market America. She’s in a magazine like you. You guys have always been the heavy hitters. I’m like, “I grew up with this superstar mother who loved everything about me and how unbelievably fortunate I was for that.”
I was reminded of every single thing I have done because there has been much pain and failure. I’ve talked to people and I hear the pain and failure that they go through. What they have or what they experience often that I didn’t have is this constant rejection and this lack of a base that tells them that they’re nothing. They are nobody. They are nothing. They can’t do it. It’s a pipe dream, whatever you want to talk about. She instilled the exact opposite in me so that any time I failed at something, and that was the whole premise of the book, Failure: When You Have Nothing You Have Everything.
I would push myself to points of legitimately breaking where I’ve told people things like putting myself on the verge of bankruptcy, litigation, practical divorce, losing everything in my life, and estranging myself from people that were no longer the right people for me. Cutting people out of my life and being ruthless, but very spiritually connected to fully believing what I’m doing. It was reinforced by her. Every single time that I failed forward was so much because of her. Every single time someone said no to me, I didn’t listen, or I said, “I know I’m going in the right direction.” Everyone else that hears no are like, “I’m going in the wrong direction.”Every time someone says no to you, don't listen to them. Focus on going in the right direction. Click To Tweet
Every time I heard no, I’m like, “This is what it takes.” In fact, every single time she brought me up with this unbelievable multi-billionaire mindset. It wasn’t even about the money and had nothing to do with the money. It had to do with, if you’ve created that, you’re not attached to a job. You’re not attached to, “Am I going to please this person? Is this person going to accept me? Are they going to fire me? Are they going to terminate me? Am I going to be able to take care of my family?” You don’t care about that.
Most people look at people who have this extraordinary level of whatever you want to call success and they’re like, “They’re lucky.” You look at the details. I’m not saying that everyone wants it, but the reality is that they’ve been divorced. They’ve lost loved ones or businesses. They’ve failed, gone bankrupt sometimes and multiple times over. Once you start to accept that’s like what life is and you stop looking at it like, “I have problems,” you start realizing, “This is normal. This is what it is to be alive, make stuff happen and move forward,” and then there’s no room for depression and sadness. You’re like, “I’m doing it. I’m making it happen.” It started so much with her.
I’ll give you two instances and I love your reaction to this. When I was a kid, 16, 17, or something like that, there was a guy living down the street from me. His name was Frank Reick. He started a little company called Fluoramics. He’s an interesting guy. He’d begun at Syracuse University with an Engineering degree, but he always wanted to be an inventor. I’d always see this guy out underneath a car hood in all kinds of weather, nighttime, daytime, and weekends. He’s always out there playing under a car hood. His son had told me that he had this product that he had launched with tremendous success in the automotive industry.
It’s called Tufoil. I don’t know if Mr. Reick is still alive. I’m assuming he’s probably gone, but his kids are still certainly alive. I walked down the street, I said, “Congratulations. Your son told me about the success of your product.” He looked up for a second from the car and said, “Yeah.” He kept working. He said, “I’ll give you some advice if you want it.” “Sure.” I’ll take advice from anybody’s successful because my father wasn’t successful. He said, “I had a lot of well-meaning people tell me, ‘You should take a job. You got an Engineering degree,’ but I kept persevering. I have hundreds of inventions and patents.”
This is the first one that hit it big for me. He is 50 at the time and I’m 16 or 17. That was such a good example. Fast forward down the road, probably now here in Dallas, Fran Tarkenton, quarterback, four Super Bowls, comes to town, and he had written a book, What Losing Taught Me About Winning. I wound up sitting at the table with him because I had done a certain level of production in the company I was in.
I got to sit at this breakfast table with Fran Tarkenton. I was a Giants fan and still am. I remember when he was a Giants quarterback. He was biking the quarterback he got famous for. He was a Giants quarterback for a few years. We were talking and he was promoting his book. I’ll never forget what he said, “Those four Super Bowls are what made me.” Some people might say, “You lost four Super Bowls.” He got to four Super Bowls. Not too many guys can say that. He’s in a Hall of Fame. Not too many people can say that. He might be 5’10 if he’s lucky. Most of these quarterbacks nowadays are 6’3 or 6’4. They’re monsters.
He had a lot of success in business. His dad was a Baptist preacher. His dad told him, “If you don’t make the NFL, what are you going to do with your life?” In college, he started an insurance company. Long story short, the guy had all this business success. You or I would think of him as a quarterback. The guy’s a business guy. Maybe he’s equally good a businessman as he was a quarterback. Let’s come back to that whether it was Frank Reick or Fran Tarkenton. I love the concept of your book, because a lot of times, especially network marketing, which most of my audience are from.
They want to know about the person making a fortune and all the success like that person started the business last week and now they’re making X amount of dollars per month. They have this great life. They’re living in a big house and driving fancy cars. That’s a bunch of crap. The reality is, most of us struggled. Your mom struggled. I struggled. We struggled to pay the bills. You struggled and have struggled. If you had to narrow it down all the experiences, including at one point, going to bartending school where you thought, “I need to make a living, take care of my obligations,” where you were at.
All of that stuff that’s happened, even what’s happened to you recently because you lost your mom. You lost your cousin as well. Your family’s been through tremendous turmoil in 2022. Somebody’s reading this and they’re struggling with life, business, marriage, relationships, or with whatever it happens to be. What three things can you tell them that a game changer is to hang in there until tomorrow to make it a new day? What are those three things?
It’s interesting that you asked because I had some movers at my house. This guy who I’m working with was helping with the move. There was something about him that I was like, “Nothing wrong with moving. That’s awesome. Fantastic. This guy was a hustler.” That’s all that matters. He had such a mentality that I was like, “This guy could be doing like a lot of stuff.” We started connecting and talking. We talked about like things on a very authentic level.
I ended up giving to him my book. I don’t like to do that because I’m not trying to self-promote. I’m not trying to say like, “Read my book.” I don’t care about that. It was more like, I felt like we would be on a same similar wavelength. Maybe there might be some connection there or some way that something might be drawn from it. I don’t know that these are the three specific things, but this is something, as you were talking, I was thinking, “I want to talk about this.” I was saying to him, “I believe in three things, which is show up early, leave late, and walk the old lady across the street.”Live life by showing up early, leaving late, and helping the old lady cross the street. Click To Tweet
He was like, “That was simple, but that was perfect.” We had this moment when we were laughing. I believe in helping people that help themselves. Years ago, there was a college intern who was at my office, a college baseball player with a great attitude, an incredible guy, and a young kid, 21 at the time. At the time, I was maybe 36. One night, I’m working on Discovery. I was bringing him into big depositions with NBA players and all kinds of stuff going on because he had this work ethic.
I didn’t care whether he was from whatever law school or whatever, because he wasn’t. There were some other people that I probably could have pulled into it. This guy had such an incredible attitude like, “I will show up and I will do whatever it takes. Whatever you give me, I will do it 110% with a smile on my face, but authentically, I’m grateful.” I’m working on like a Discovery deadline. It’s like 11:10 or 11:30 at night. I got to get home so that I can get up at like 2:30 in the morning because I had a bunch of other deadlines. I was going to go home and like sleep for like an hour and a half.
I’m not suggesting that people should necessarily do that, although I can tell you that I often do that because I love what I do. It’s not like I’m always going. I sleep and catch up when I need to. I told this guy, “Go home.” He was like, “No.” He stayed. The next day, at some point, I saw him and he’s like, “I have this story for you.” I’m like, “What’s going on?” He indicated it was like a story that like I would’ve done or something that I would’ve done. He had been there until 2:30 in the morning.
He had to mail it out, but he couldn’t get down in the elevator because he had to have a security key card. He went out the front doors. In order to get to the mailbox, he had to crawl under the gate in the parking garage. He was able to get through, go all the way down, drop everything in the mail, and all the stuff, and then came back and they had to crawl under the parking garage again until he got out and got his car. I’ve been his mentor and a friend of his. He’s in law school. He’s doing incredibly. He’s about to graduate. He’s got a great position at a place. He’s getting every award left and right.
I don’t care that that’s what it’s about. What I do love is that he had this amazing mentality. The whole point that was interesting is I remember his first semester. He got his first grades and he didn’t do that well or what he expected. This kid went back and hustled like crazy. At the end of the semester, I wasn’t expecting this because he is a smart kid, but I knew what his LSAT scores were and I was like, “You’re doing fine, but there are some stronger ones.” He finished at the top of his class because of his will. He had it figured out.You can finish at the top of your class with just will alone. Click To Tweet
It’s that attitude and that willpower. Going back to that show up early, leave late, and walk the old lady across the street, that whole story encapsulates, “I don’t care how smart, talented, athletic you are, what school you went to or any of that stuff.” Usually what you find is the people who have the most meaningful level of success have this insatiable hunger to strive for personal development. They’re not doing it for someone else. They’re doing it for themselves and/or for a family or something like that, but they’re also challenging themselves. They are competing with themselves.
Showing up early and leaving late isn’t even in the conversation. It is automatically a part of their personality because they will do whatever it takes. It’s mixed with, “Walk the old lady across the street,” that ethic and the integrity of doing the right thing that you might have an opportunity to slight someone and get ahead, but you say, “I’m not going to do that. This is not right.” You don’t take the shortcut. You do it the right way. When you ask that question, that’s what comes to me.
Folks, we didn’t practice this. I could not think of a better answer or analogy because when you think about it, everybody you’ve known in your life and you’ve watched be successful, everybody I’ve watched be successful, that’s been their attitude, including your mother or your grandfather who I knew a little bit. That was their attitude.
It was like, “Get there early. Work your butt off and go home late. Go home when the job’s done not look at your watch.” That’s the difference between people that succeed in this world. Philosophically, they’re not sitting there. The hourly employee looks at their watch because they want the day to be over. The entrepreneur, great athlete, great entertainer, great musician, or great business person is, “Let’s get it done.”
I’ve worked with researchers in the medical field with the company I’ve been with now for many years. There’s one guy. He’s funny. He always says, “You should have been a medical researcher,” because my question to everything is why. I’ll sit there for hours listening to somebody talking about stuff I don’t even understand necessarily because I got to know why.
Walking the old lady across the street, don’t forget. We’re human beings. We’re only here for so long. The stuff that matters down the road is if you run the old lady over, that’s not the way to be. Walk across the street. Let’s talk a little bit about the book. The book is launched. I know where to get it, but why don’t you tell them where to get it, how to get it, and why to get it most importantly?
It’s on Amazon. You can get it on Kindle. Paperback is the easiest way to get it. It’s going up on a couple of other sites as well. The easiest way to get it is to go up to Amazon and pick up a copy. This is why. When my mom passed away, I went up to Facebook and I don’t have Facebook. I went up to her account. I had her phone, which we still do. I went up to her phone. It was linked to her Facebook. I saw all these outpourings of messages. all people were sharing wonderful thoughts about it.
There was this one message that stuck with me. I don’t remember the full details, but one guy was saying his first interaction with my mom was that he had been at this conference. It was his first time and he didn’t know what he was doing there. My mom, who had been at such a high level in not only Market America but in network marketing in general like you, came up to him and said, “You’re going to be big, kid. You don’t even know yet, but you’re going to make it huge and you’re going to do great.” He said, “You have no idea how much that moment helped me get through any of the tough times. Not only those words of wisdom, but that sense of genuine love, acknowledgment, and seeing someone.”
My mother had a real talent for seeing the potential in people before it was actualized. She had this amazing thing that she genuinely cared about. That’s what she did for me. I go back to this conversation I had with this guy who was helping me move. I felt like I’ve lived this way in my life at many moments. I realize it comes from my family and her in many ways. It is this wanting to see the best in someone, but truly see what they can be and giving them the strength of character to make a change in their life and do something.Mothers can see the potential in people before it actualizes. Click To Tweet
Sometimes they are just stuck in their environment. A book is a book. You don’t have to get the book. You can do whatever you want. It is what it is. I don’t like to sell things. I don’t like to do any of that stuff, but I can honestly say in the rawest, personal way that this is an authentic story of myself, of what I’ve gone through, which has been incredibly, incredibly painful.
The perseverance that I was taught by my mother is the through line that is such a big part of it, and from my father. I lost him when I was nineteen. When he passed away, I learned such a crucial message from him, which I felt as though he let go to allow me to live forward. He was struggling with alcoholism. His leaving and dying compelled me, especially at that point in my life to move forward.
When I gave this book to this guy, it wasn’t about self-promotion. It wasn’t about me or, “Look at the book that I’ve written. Look at what I’ve done,” nor do I want this to be about that. That’s not why I did this. I did this because years ago, when I was working with someone who was a therapist who became a consultant, we would talk about all these crazy stories, all these things that were going on that are like these insane, crazy stories, but he would watch me take one hit after another.
That is what I watched my mom take one massive hit, top of the company, thrown out, sleeping on people’s couches, doing whatever it takes, and building organizations to have them blow up financing things so that you’re helping other people and then they turn on you or whatever the case. The through line is that it is intended for someone to read a true, authentic story that will speak to people and give them a sense of meaning, inspiration, and why.
The last point I will say is exactly that. You asked, “You constantly say why.” A direct connection with that is that’s what my mother did, but the different point was she always would say to people that I was her why. It was she who had this inspiration and I feel grateful that I was a part of that process. Once you find that, I think that this book and this story encapsulates what you can do when you truly find your purpose. That’s the message that the book is all about.
Watching you grow up from the time you were a little guy, the first time I ever came to Pittsburgh to your mother’s house, you were her why. You were the reason that she got up with all the stuff that she went through that we and some other people know about. It’s not just the business stuff, but the health stuff. There was no time I talked to your mother including near the end when she didn’t know it was the end. I didn’t know it was the end. There was no time your mother wouldn’t end a conversation saying, “I love you. You got to go.”
Whether it was a 2-minute or a 2-hour conversation, it was always that way. Going back to watching you when you were at school, we’d be working and, all of a sudden, she could flip that switch from entrepreneur to mom. You would come home from school and I’d continue with the business stuff that we were doing. She’d be like, “I got to do my mom thing.” “Go do your mom thing.” She knew how to do that. Not everybody does because you were always her first priority. no matter what else was going on in her life, career, and her business, it was like, “I’m a mom first.” I had much respect for that. I didn’t become a parent myself until many years later. I did not do anywhere near as good a job.
One of many things I learned from your mother is this. I was in Colombia. Our company has opened down there. My son called me. I’m about to go on stage in front of 400 or 500 people. I don’t speak Spanish well at all. My son calls me and he was in Ottawa, Canada. He said, “I’m scared to blank. We’re playing with this physically huge team. What do I do?” I go, “You do what you’ve been trained to do, but you do what you fear most.” A couple of hours later, my wife was at the game and she sends me a text of him scoring his first goal in Canada.
This was in October of whatever year it was. I talked to my son later that night. He scored and the team lost. They were a terrible team he was on. He shared with me that, and I could tell he was depressed. I finished that meeting and I booked the flight at 6:00 the next morning from Columbia to Toronto, which was still a four-hour drive to where he was going to school. I showed up for practice that day. I’ll never forget this. I came out of the men’s room and he was coming in. He was supposed to be a few minutes later than that. It was perfect timing. He jumped in my arms. He was still a little boy then. He was a freshman in high school. He was fourteen. He was happy I was there.
If I was never around your mother, it would’ve been like, “Tough it out. Come on. You’re a hockey player. You’re up there for a reason and do your thing.” It was like, “No. I could tell my kid needed me.” My kid needed me more than my business needed me at that point. That was something I learned from your mother, but let’s go back to you because you learned a lot more probably than I did, certainly all those years. If you had to encapsulate one thing of all the hundreds of things from your mother, be it as a parent, an entrepreneur, or a leader in your profession, what would it be?
I have an answer that comes to me in a moment. She was the most loyal, loving, and caring individual I’ve ever known. I know what it is to be truly loved by someone. I feel very grateful for that. I never felt like anything I did was conditional to her. She made it very clear to me that I was her main focus regardless of anything. The journey together was amazing. There’s a big part of me that still does feel very unique that she’s still with me very much. I do feel that, not in like an overly esoteric way, but I feel like the essence of hers with me.
I have her ash on a necklace, which is bizarre in many respects. She never stopped believing in me. That is the biggest thing. She always believed in me. She believed that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. Everything that I’ve actualized is much a function of her belief and her love for me. That’s the message. It’s amazing what you can do when you not only find your purpose but when you pay it forward, and that’s what she often did. She always saw the best in others and shared a level of strength of character with other people that she didn’t even know in a very selfless way.It's amazing what you can do when you find your purpose and pay it forward. Click To Tweet
We had a service that you were at my house. My mother was Jewish. My father was Catholic. We had a Rabbi at the service. She was talking about doing things the way that my mother, Arlene, would do things. I’m trying to live that message, which is to selflessly try to give to other people. It’s not about not having it be about myself. I go back to this guy. I texted him afterward. I gave him a tip and all that stuff. I could tell that it was important for his family and his son.
He’s like, “Thank you much. It’s helpful.” I told him, “You have my number. Feel free to stay in touch. Stay in touch if you need anything or if I can help you in any way, shape, or form. You have great things that you can do.” I didn’t have to say that. I meant it. I have no idea how much that means to that guy, or if it doesn’t mean anything, maybe it’ll light some fire. He did say to me during the course of the conversation that he felt that there was a purpose. Sometimes you come across people and you meet someone and they reset you in some way.
That’s the golden life. In living that message from my mother and the experiences, message, and strength from my father, it’s great to have a career that I’ve built and to continue to build that and to focus on building a legacy and something I’m proud of and do work that I love and that I’m proud of. The most important work is encapsulated in the message of this book, which is not only to just pay it forward but to lift other people up and to show them that they can lift themselves up.
The last point I would make, which is directly related to my mother, is that a big part of this was wanting to pull back the curtain on success because I think people have this perception. Maybe not as much anymore, but in many ways, they do that when you’re successful, it’s because you’re lucky or whatever the case is. It’s about bringing back that mentality of doing whatever it takes to make things happen and helping yourself, and knowing that you have the ability to make choices in your life. They may be hard or difficult, you may not get the result you want, but you have the ability to make that choice and move forward and no one is necessarily going to do it for you.
Hand up instead of a handout. Failure: When You Have Nothing You Have Everything is a great title. I can’t wait to finally get a chance to read my autographed copy. I know how proud your mother is of you. We talked so many times about how important you were. Let’s have a little bit of fun here going away from this. Let’s go back to the Rabbi there in Pittsburgh. I have a few remembrances of that day. Before I get to the funny one, though, I did meet your other grandparents. I met your dad’s parents. They were sitting up by me. They were wonderful people. I enjoyed meeting them.
It says much about your mother because your grandmother made a point to say to everybody, “Even though Arlene and my son were divorced, we were still his grandparents.” Arlene never had any issue with anything time or anything else that you were spending with them. That spoke a lot about your mom, and the kind of person that she was. “This didn’t work out, but these people are still important to my kid,” and it said a lot about your mom, but here’s the funny one.
I always thought I was special. I know I was very special to your mom, but I always thought being Johnnie was a big deal because my own mother never called me Johnnie. That was funny because my Swedish grandfather’s name was John, and they used to call him Yani. I never met him. He was dead before I was born. I was always Johnnie and I’m always John. I’m not even Jonathan. I’m just John.
From the day I met your mother, she calls me Johnnie, and that was special to me. For Arlene, I was always Johnnie,” and the Rabbi said, “I hate to tell you this, Johnnie, but everybody in Pittsburgh, we had IE.” I had to tell people that I said, “All these years, I thought for Arlene, I was special, but I didn’t know Ron was Ronnie and your brother Ed was always Eddie.” It was adorable. I had a good laugh about that.
They would always call me Jordie. I never thought much about that because it sounds childish. I’m like, “Whatever.” It was what my family did.
It was tragic and yet I know your mom is not only proud of you but of her brothers that day, too. Everybody came together to remember what a remarkable person she was and the life that she had. Let’s talk about one other thing because you and I have much in common, bad and good. We both had alcoholic fathers, for better or worse. That does forge you in steel sometimes because you have to be a little bit tougher in a lot of respects than some of the other kids that don’t have that situation.
One of the other things that we have in common is our constant asking why has led us both to the cold water. I’ve been working now with a group of people in my company, introducing them to Wim Hof and the whole Cold water therapy and everything else. I know you’ve been doing that on your end for a while too. Why don’t you talk about that for a minute, especially with some of these late hours that you’re putting in?
I’ve been doing it for years. I would take cold showers. A lot of it links back to my father because I had some extreme experiences with him. They were very shocking experiences. He was an amazing person and a loving father. He struggled with what he struggled with and I grew up a lot quicker because of that. but there were some shocking experiences, and I think there’s a correlation because that cold is very shocking. I ended up getting into it when I started getting into meditation.
I have a friend of ours who was talking to me probably about the fact that he started doing these cold showers in the morning. He’s swearing by it. It’s amazing how much more productive he is, the energy he has, and how much more clearly he thinks. You have been doing this for a long time, but it is like a secret weapon. It not only makes you feel amazing. There is a legitimate endorphin dopamine trigger that goes off with it.
My synapses click more quickly. I can connect thoughts much more quickly n my brain. I’m much more clear-headed and articulate. The best and most simple way to say it is when you start your day with that, or even if you do it at any other point in the day, everything else seems much less difficult. Your ability to handle things is emphasized. There is a physiological experience.
Your nerves become stronger. Your capacity to handle stress becomes stronger physiologically. You handle things in a much more graceful way. It’s very difficult to be upset and sad after it. When you’re doing it sometimes, especially at first, you’re like, “Why am I doing this?” Especially if you’ve never done it before, it’s going to be shocking, but now I can’t go a day without doing it. Especially when it’s done, I feel alive, awake, and amazing. I swear by it.
It’s funny because I always did it after a workout since I started it. A couple of weeks later after your mom’s funeral, I was in Reno for a powerlifting meet, and Reno’s happened to be next to Lake Tahoe, which is not only beautiful but a lot on my mind, including your mom’s passing. I’m up there by myself. My wife and kids were back here. I went to Lake Tahoe after the weigh-ins. You go to your weigh-in a day before you do these things. I did that. I sped up there. It’s about one hour ride from Reno up to Lake Tahoe to find a spot that you can go in.
I went in there and the water was surprisingly not that cold. It wasn’t cold to me. There are people with winter coats on the beach looking at me like, “What is this guy doing in the water?” I’m taking pictures of myself and selfies. The next day after I lifted, I sped out of the meet. I was frustrated at the meet because it was supposed to start at 10:00 in the morning and it started at noon. I didn’t get at it at 4:00. It was getting later in the air. The sun is going down. I’m like, “I got to get over to Lake Tahoe. I’d get in the water.” I did it again.
I made a proclamation, “I need to do this first thing in the morning.” I roll out of bed. I have a pool, fortunately. Now, I roll out of bed at 5:30, 6:00, 6:30, or whatever time it is I get up, and it is right in the pool. I do my bodily functions. I go to the pool. I bring my two dogs with me. They run around and do their business, and I’m in the pool. I swim four laps. I spend extra three minutes.
To your point, the rest of the day, I’m alive and awake. Whatever else I got to do that day is not going to be like getting in 54-degree water. I might have some challenges in a day, but it’s not going to be like that. It’s funny but I know we’ve both had people who have converted to this. They thought we were nuts but they are now saying, “Wim or cold water therapy is part of my day.”
To wrap up, what does 2023 look like for you? I know you got a lot going on. The family stuff’s going on and all of that. What’s your goal in 2023? What do you get accomplished in 2023? You’ve had some amazing things in 2022. You’ve had some challenges. You also had some tremendous success. You’re a high-powered attorney now in the world that you’re dealing in. You’re dealing at the top echelon.
It’s good that someone thinks so. I’m doing what I love to do. I’m continuing to do very high-profile and high-level litigation that I enjoy. I enjoy the complexity and the challenges. We’re doing stuff like that. I’m going to continue having conversations about this book that I more from a perspective of trying to help other people and a big focus on that. I have another book that I’m in the process of putting together. That is going to be tied to some of the large matters that I’ve handled that are going to be interconnected with that. I’m working on a speaking opportunity. I’m doing some more in that realm, but it’s a bit of a sky’s the limit.
I’m doing every single thing that I want to do. It continues to grow and new opportunities come up every single day. I’m growing, continuing to grow, and working on amazing things. We’ll see what I decide to do in the future. I’m having conversations with people. I’ll leave it at that. Everything is continuing to grow. My practice and family are growing. The last thing I will say is that there is a big part of me that I have spent much of my life, career-oriented and that’s great. I’m doing it because it’s very purpose-driven. I love my family tremendously and want to give them a wonderful life.
Another part that I’m trying to focus on is spending some good quality time. I’ll finish with a thought. Take some time, appreciate, and enjoy the people around me. Not to go too long, but this is an important point when you ask about that. A month before my mom passed, she gave me a call. I was in my office. I was sitting in this chair and she says, “You might want to stop and smell the roses in a pretty cold manner.”Take some time and appreciate all the people around you. Click To Tweet
I said, “Who died?” She said, “JR Ridinger, the CEO of Market America.” I said, “What happened?” I don’t know if she knew the full details. My understanding is that he was on a conference call, and he got up. He had a pulmonary embolism and dropped dead. When I heard that, I was pretty cold to it. I take nothing away. I feel sympathy for his family. They were kind and generous to me when my mom passed. It was nothing personal in any relationship whatsoever, but it was a bit of that coldness that I’ve developed. I have an open heart, but you have to be very tough and resilient in order to deal with a lot of pressure at times.
My perspective was, “That’s part of life. It’s tough. I’m sorry to hear that, but I got to hop on a conference call and I got to handle some stuff.” This goes back to the year of 2023 on top of everything else that I’m doing. When my mom passed, I went back to the house and I was there with my family. I had the opportunity to work remotely for a bunch of weeks. I would be in the middle of a client matter, a motion, a deadline, or getting some serious things together. I would have some moments where I would sit up, stand up, go, and walk out to the deck.
There’s this big tree and I would look. There was a bunch in the front yard across the street, and it was the fall time. It was beautiful. Leaves were changing colors. Being in LA for a long time, I wasn’t used to the East Coast/Midwest nature. You can hear the crickets at night. There’s a deer in my front yard or backyard. The air smelled different. It felt different. I could hear the leaves.
Everything sounded, smelled, and felt very different. I heard things that I wouldn’t normally hear. I was frustrated. In some respects, I would say that it took that experience for me to learn that lesson. I’m grateful that I had an opportunity to see things through that lens. That’s a big part of how I’m living my life right now as well.
Sometimes we need to come to different things that get us to that point where we realize what’s important. I watched Limitless with Chris Hemsworth, the Australian actor that played Thor. During the course of the show, they found out that he has the brain profile on both his mom’s and his dad’s side of somebody who will get Alzheimer’s.
The guy is in great shape. He’s like every woman’s dream guy and everything else. He’s a good looking guy, and super rich and successful. He’s in his 40s. He’s got a couple of young kids. He’s taking some time off from acting because he said, “For the last years, all I’ve done is run all over the world. My career’s doing great.” It’s not that he’s got Alzheimer’s. He’s still a young guy. You can do a lot of things to prevent that, hopefully. Whether you’re at the top of your profession or the top of the world, sometimes it takes that realization.
I’ve had a few wake-ups calls myself where you say, “What you think is important may not be important. What you don’t think as important is probably more important than you think it is.” You’re lucky you’re realizing that a little bit younger. I want to wish you luck with this book. I know it’s going to be great. I know it’s going to bless a lot of people most importantly. That’s why with all the projects you’re involved with, you took the time to write it because I can relate, having done it a few times myself.
Writing a book is a labor of love. It is not something you knock out in five minutes. A lot of time and a lot of resources go into it. Thank you for doing that. People, read the book. That’s why we do these interviews. When people write books, this is somebody who’s had an amazing life. He’s overcome a lot of challenges. He’s super successful, but he also wants to give back and give you some lessons that are going to help you in your journey. Jordan, I’m going to give you the last word.
Thanks for having me on. It’s always a privilege. It’s always good to connect and a good conversation is what it’s all about. That’s the through-line of where I’m at in life and that’s been a privilege. I appreciate it.
Likewise. Thank you.
- Failure: When You Have Nothing You Have Everything
- Steve Jobs
- What Losing Taught Me About Winning
- Wim Hof
About Jordan Matthews
Jordan Matthews is a business trial lawyer and litigator with broad experience in the entertainment industry and business community. Mr. Matthews currently serves as lead counsel on multiple matters throughout the country and is actively litigating matters in California, Nevada and Pennsylvania. He handles matters in federal and state court and also has experience handling administrative proceedings with the California Labor Commissioner. He is actively involved in litigation covered by the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, CNN, and the New York Times, among others.
With extensive experience in entertainment and media law, breach of contract, fraud and interference, employment (wrongful termination and discrimination), and business law, Mr. Matthews represents a wide range of clients including producers, directors, production companies, athletes, entrepreneurs, C-level executives and high-net-worth individuals in the entertainment industry and business sector.
In 2010, he facilitated the litigation strategy regarding a breach contract dispute associated with $6 million in potential damages. He was involved with a breach of contract matter over a multi-million-dollar international oil deal. He also has broad experience related to partnership disputes and resolution.
Prior to becoming a lawyer, Mr. Matthews spent nearly a decade as a film finance executive and producer. He raised the capital to fully finance his first feature film, which was then sold to a mini-major motion picture studio and licensed to various international distributors. Later, he managed a team of top entertainment executives and formed several slate financing arrangements with various motion picture studios. The deals were valued around $600 million.
He interfaced with alliances per international closings of bank guarantees and standby letters of credit valued in excess of $3 billion. As an executive, Mr. Matthews also negotiated a $30 million prints and advertising arrangement with a publicly held company; and evaluated a $15 million equity investment into a cable enterprise.