[0:00] Do you ever wish you could have more fun in your business? If so, you’ll want to turn up the volume on this episode with our expert guest, Jeff Harry, as he explains the ins and outs of tapping into our real selves through play. 


[1:28] How Jeff and Yong Connected


[1:49] Jeff’s Origin Story – his life before becoming an expert on play


“I think a lot of times, we’re constantly looking for external validation. But really what we’re looking for is to claim our own self-worth.” – Jeff Harry


[8:19] “With every decision you make you either claim who you are, or you end up chasing your worth for the rest of your life.” – Viola Davis


[10:09] Jeff’s definition of play 


[11:28] “Don’t you want to get paid to be yourself?”  – Steven Worley


“Why wouldn’t we be focused on making more play in our lives?” – Jeff Harry


[13:00] How Jeff helps people that have lost play in their lives reclaim it


[16:03] Step 1 to rediscovering your play


[16:22]  Step 2 to rediscovering your play


[17:40]  Intuition + Your Inner Child + Inner Curiosity 


[19:37] Taking lessons from the dying 


[20:07] An exercise you can do today to discover your awesomeness 


[21:42] What are Tipsy Storms and why Jeff recommends them


[25:13] Come share your biggest takeaways, ahas, and watch the video version of this interview inside the Arena of Awesome.



Be sure you’re subscribed to the podcast or are part of the Arena of Awesome so you don’t miss Part 2 of this interview, Tapping Into Your Real Self Through Play with Jeff Harry next week.


Read Full Transcript

Yong Pratt 0:00
Do you ever wish you could have more fun in your business? If so, you'll want to turn up the volume on this episode. Our guest today shows individuals and companies how to tap into their true selves, to feel their most happiest, and to address their most challenging issues through play. Jeff Harry, an international speaker, and a top 100 Hr Influencer of 2020 has been featured for his work on play in the New York Times, AJ plus SoulPancake, the San Francisco Chronicle and CNN. I, for one, cannot wait to dive into this interview about play.

Yong Pratt 0:40
Have you ever felt like there was something missing in your business, something holding you back from the success you're seeking? If so, you are not alone. For nearly 20 years, that's exactly how I felt as a business owner. It wasn't until I discovered Human Design, that it all became clear. And it turns out that I was the missing piece in my own business. Join me on this journey of discovering the real me and hear stories from other business owners building businesses around all of their awesomeness. I'm Yong Pratt, and it's time my friend to Amplify Your Awesome!™

Yong Pratt 1:24
Welcome to the show, Jeff.

Jeff Harry 1:25
Oh, I'm so excited to talk about this.

Yong Pratt 1:28
Absolutely. And I'm so glad my friend our mutual friend Amy Iseman connected us so we can have this awesome conversation today.

Jeff Harry 1:37
Yeah, let's get into it. Okay,

Yong Pratt 1:39
So I want to know. I want you to take us back before you were working in this field of play. What did your life look like before? And how did you get into this particular field?

Jeff Harry 1:49
Yeah, so so I'll tell my origin story, right? So do you remember the movie Big?

Yong Pratt 1:56
I do.

Jeff Harry 1:57
So I saw that movie when I was in third grade. And he went and danced on a piano and then got offered a job at a toy company. And I didn't know that was a job in third grade. And I was like, that is what I'm going to do with for the rest of my life. That's just it. So I started writing toy companies in third grade. You know, by fifth grade, I was writing them on my word processor. And I was spamming before spam was the thing I was sending so many letters. And because of this, you know, by sophomore year, a toy company wrote me back told me to go into mechanical engineering. I should have never listened to them. But I did it anyway. And I kept going. And then I eventually got into the toy industry. I eventually got into my dream industry. And I don't know if you've ever gotten exactly what you wanted, and then been so disappointed when you get there. But like, that's what happened. I was in a cubicle and padded walls, and I'm like, Why are these walls padded? You know, no play. No fun, no adults that are having fun. No high fives. No toys. No kids, like I was like, we might as well have been selling microwaves or socks. So I'm like, What am I doing here? I remember leaving New York coming to the San Francisco Bay Area, you know, piddling around figuring out because I was going through my quarterlife crisis, right? Or I'm like 22, 23 and bumping into an organization that was teaching kids engineering with Lego, they were just playing for a living. And I was like, I want to do that. It only paid $150 a week, but I was like, they're playing. And that's what I want to do. I want to play. That's all I want to do. Right? So I worked with them. And then over the next 15 years, we grew the largest Lego inspired stem organization like in the US. But we did it by just playing by, we didn't have any clue what we were doing. We were making it up as we went along. We picked cities, because they thought we thought they were fun. We picked people because they were fun. We failed miserably and experimented all the time just trying things out. You know, because we were one of the first stem organizations back in like 2004 stem wasn't even a thing back then. So we're just trying stuff out all the time. And then we got the attention of Silicon Valley, you know, around like 2011 or some 2010, 2011. And they were like, hey, do you do team building events? And we're like, of course we do. Even though we didn't, we would just say yes to everything in words. And then for the next like seven to 10 years, maybe? Yeah, about that time. Um, you know, I worked with Facebook, Google, Adobe, you know, Netflix, all these top organizations in the world. And all of them talked about agility, and disruption and innovation and all these buzzwords, right. But when I was in those spaces, I was like you have not created a play full environment, a play oriented environment for people to actually take risks. You want them to think outside the box. But you've built the walls of the box so high that they can write even at these innovative organizations. So I created Rediscover Your Play, to combine positive psychology and play to address the bigger issues underlying that they were struggling with, like dealing with toxicity at work through play, how to have hard conversations, how to deal with office politics, how to talk about race and racism at work, how to deal with your inner critic, how to get your staff in flow, like all these issues that could be addressed, serious issues that could be addressed, but addressed through play.

Yong Pratt 5:40
I love this and before we talk about your definition of what play is, I'm curious to know, when you were little and you're in third grade, and you're writing these toy companies, and you're getting responses back? What was your family's response to that? Were they supportive? Did they wonder,

Jeff Harry 5:56
They just thought I was weird. You know, like, like Jeff wants to send more letters. Buy more stamps, you know. It keeps them busy, you know, he's not tearing up the house.

Yong Pratt 6:07
Well, I love that in a roundabout way. They were supportive by providing you with the tools, you needed to send these letters. So I really do like that. I'm always curious to know how people's childhoods shaped the way they are as business owners, because sometimes, you know, it's a direct reflection, reflection, sometimes it's the opposite way that they were raised. So I love that you had that support, and sort of the side by side way, you know, going through life.

Jeff Harry 6:30
Right, right. And don't get me wrong, like, my dad was a cardiologist. My mom is a nurse, like, you know, they pressured me to go into medicine, you know, when I and then I was like, Well, I don't want to go to medicine, I was like, I'll do mechanical engineering. And I probably did that for my father. But the whole time, I was like, I'm gonna be a toy designer, this is what I'm gonna do, you know. And actually, just to tie into this, because I think this is something that's interesting is, I remember, when I finally got the approval of my dad, it was maybe five or six years into building this Lego inspired stem organization. And all of a sudden, I'm making like six figures doing it, which I never thought that was even a possibility. I was getting paid $150 a week before that, right. But I remember, I felt really proud and really excited. And I was sharing this thing with him. And then all of a sudden, because I accepted that, like, I didn't actually need his approval anymore. That's what I felt his tone changed. And he started to talk to me as an equal. And I was like, wow, this is a fascinating thing. I think a lot of times, we're constantly looking for external validation. But really what we're looking for is like, for us to claim our own self worth.

Yong Pratt 7:44
Yeah, and that's such a subtle, subtle shift. And, but a really big distinction, when we can be comfortable in who we are, and be proud of the things we do and aren't always seeking for external validation from parents or from loved ones. That changes everything. So I love that you were able to now see eye to eye he could see what you were doing. Because you deeply loved and were passionate about what you were doing. That energy probably translated to him, and he probably felt what you were feeling. And I bet at that moment, he probably saw you in a whole new light.

Jeff Harry 8:19
Yeah. And I think of the Viola Davis quote, like, you know, with every decision you make you either claim who you are, or you end up chasing your worth for the rest of your life. How many people do you know chasing their worth? I always ask my clients like, Who are you trying to impress right now? Right? Like, if you're trying to impress someone that you won't care about in five years? Why are you trying to impress that person? We did that in high school? How did that work out? We don't care about those people in high school anymore. So what are we doing trying to impress people, when really what we should be focused on is like what impresses us like, what what makes me come most alive. I always reference the Howard Thurman quote, don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes me come alive because what the world needs is for more people to come alive. So like, let's explore that and see where that takes us.

Yong Pratt 9:09
I love those quotes and I'll definitely have to go in and share those what I put together the Show Notes for this episode, because those are things people I think need to print out and put by their computers and look at every single day, because it's so easy for us to lose sight of those things. Getting really wrapped up in in getting stuff done being productive, doing more working longer hours. Tou know, hustling, struggling, doing things the hard way, when you know, you're sharing that when when you follow your passion, things happen. The money happens. This like joy happens. It is like magic and people probably who are listening may not believe that it's possible. However, this season of the podcast is really all about this. What are the different ways that you can show up as yourself the real self all of yourself in your business and really use those quality to propel your business forward.

Jeff Harry 10:02
Exactly, exactly.

Yong Pratt 10:05
So I want to know, how do you define play.

Jeff Harry 10:09
So I define play as any joyful act where you're fully present in the moment, where there is no purpose, there is no result. You don't have anxiety about the future, you don't have regrets about the past. You're just fully in the zone like fully in flow. And play can look like a drastic amount of things. I think a lot of people think like, is it hula hooping? Is it basketball? Is it sports, and it's just like, plays any joyful act, where you're like, I'm feeling like you're creating, right. And I and, and I give the example of a client of I had that was a lawyer that said, um, you know, I don't play I don't play at all, never play. And I was like, Well, what do you do? And she goes, I help businesses that hate each other, and people that hate each other, come to agreements on one thing, and I was like, oh, tell me more. And she was telling me, I was like, that's your play. So like, everyone's play is different. As long as like, you know, you're doing it because you forget about time, you know, you'd like, like, you would you would do this, even if you weren't getting paid to do it. Like that is what I see when I define play.

Yong Pratt 11:19
I love that. So it makes me think that there are literally no mistakes when it comes to play. Because everyone it looks different. Right?

Jeff Harry 11:28
Right. Right. And, and it's this idea that ties into what you said earlier, like my business mentor, Steven Worley says, you know, don't you want to get paid to be yourself? Like, isn't that at the end of the day, what we want to do, not our professional self, not like, you know, like this pretend self, but just you just paid to be you, right? And like, when you are in play, and you're really getting into flow, that is when you're producing your best work. So why, you know, and also, if you just think about, like the importance of play your favorite moments in your life, most of them, if not all of them are play moments. So why wouldn't we be focused on making more play in our lives?

Yong Pratt 12:08
Yes, so true. And again, because I think when we're kids play is a natural thing. But then we reach this, I don't know what it is a magical age, where society says, You don't get to play anymore. And I remember things from my childhood when it wasn't acceptable to play anymore. So I even even though I really wanted to play, I wanted to go do these things, because I enjoyed them. But they weren't realistic. They weren't productive. They weren't leading me to whatever goal I wanted to set. So I kind of neglected that part of myself for a very long time. And when I rediscovered it, it was it was like one of those, those aha moments where all the, you know, the spotlights are shutting down, the sun is shining. It's like, Oh, my gosh, this is this has been missing from my life. So how do you help people who are like me, who had been conditioned to think that place stops when you grow up? Whatever that looks like?

Jeff Harry 13:00
So that's a great question. So there is a moment when you left the playground, and then you never came back. Yeah. And we never even knew that was going to be our last time at the playground. So I first tell people to have a certain level of compassion for themselves, when it comes to the fact that they haven't played in a while. And when adults asked me like, Why do adults not play as much? I always tell them the answer 148,000 No's. And what I mean by that is, by the time you turn the age of 18, studies have found that you've heard the word no 140,000 times. On top of that, maybe you've only heard the word Yes, maybe eight to 10,000 times depending on how you were raised. So you're first dealing with all of that, right? Then you go to school as a kid, right? Where you're told to raise your hand, you're told to ask for permission all the time. And then parents and adults and teachers should on you all the time, like you should do this, you should do that you should major in this. They even tell this to you when you're six years old, and they're like, you know, what you shouldn't do when you grow up. And you're like, I'm six, like, Can I just be an astronaut right now? And they're like, No, I'm telling you what you need to do. You know, finally, you get out of those elementary school years, you get to your teen years, and we may not have had to deal with this as much as this generation. But you know, you're then constantly bombarded with media, or social media that is telling you that you're not enough, you know, and you get more information in a day telling you you're not enough, then people in the ninth 1950s got in a year.

Yong Pratt 14:38
Oh, my gosh.

Jeff Harry 14:39
All of this is happening, that you think about it. It is such a rebellious revolutionary act to play. Because again, people are telling you, you're too mischievious You're too much. You're too weird. Why do you have to do that? Why do you have to start a podcast? Why do you have to create a video like that doesn't make sense. Like it's not logical, right? So you're hearing all of that, that, like anything you do that is play oriented, that is you is really hard to do. So if you're doing that you should give yourself a ton of credit for fighting all of that, because that's all we're fighting, first and foremost. So like, we have to give ourselves a little, you know, a bit of compassion for that, you know, so then getting into the tangibles of like, how do we tap back into that play, is I learned this from my play mentor, Gwen Gordon, who would say, you cannot play while you're in an anxiety ridden state or an anger state, or, you know, you have to actually become you have to soothe yourself to a certain extent. And the way you learn how to soothe yourself is from the person that took care of you the most. So their nervous system and in a way you are adopting their nervous system, like how they took care of themselves is how they take care of you. So if you you know, like, if you have a little trauma, you have to also like, be able to recognize that and let go of that, right.

Jeff Harry 16:03
So first learn how to soothe yourself. So I, you know, I go in the shower, I have a ridiculous amount of ideas. When I'm in the shower. Other people go walking, they go running, other people do morning pages, write three pages in a row, other people dance, something where all of a sudden, you get a surge of ideas, and you're just like, I'm just fascinated, right?

Jeff Harry 16:22
Um, then the second step of that is, is I challenge people to get bored, which is really weird for a play person to say. But this is what I mean by get bored. I mean, block out, stop scrolling on social media, stop binge watching Netflix, and I'm not saying forever, I'm talking about one to two hours. And if you tell me you don't have enough time, I want you to look at your phone, because your phone says how long you've been on your phone that day. And it's the average I think I looked it up recently is, is about five hours, three to five hours. So you do have time, you know, and but you block out that noise because I know when I'm creating when I make I make a lot of tic Tock videos, when I've scrolled and watched a lot of Tik Tok videos. I don't want to create, because I just assume the world has already made everything. Have you ever felt that way you're like, well, everything's already been said. So there's no reason for me to say anything, right. But when you're not consuming when you're able to block that noise out, that's telling you to be someone else besides yourself, and you get super quiet and super bored. Think about when you were a kid, your best ideas came when you were bored, your most dangerous ideas. Also your best ideas. So you get super bored.

Jeff Harry 17:40
And then you start to strengthen the muscle of listening to your own intuition, your inner child, your inner curiosity, and then it's gonna whisper something to you really quietly. But it's gonna whisper something that is both gonna sound really exciting, but also really scary, because you're gonna have to step outside your comfort zone. And it's gonna whisper something like, create a video, start a podcast, email that person you've been putting off for six months, start that side business, you know, like, do that thing that you've been constantly wanting to do, but you're just like, I don't know, if I could do it, you know, you know, do do that. Follow that curiosity. And it takes you to some magical place that you didn't know we would take you to.

Yong Pratt 18:29
So good you, there's so much to unpack in that. And I want to just dive into the point that you made about getting quiet with yourself and hearing hearing yourself and just listening to yourself. Because I think part of the problem, I guess not a problem. But part of what we deal with as humans in society is, of course, the external expectation that we we get so accustomed to, to waiting for clues outside of us to take that next step to get uncomfortable. And those things that get us uncomfortable, are nowhere near how uncomfortable we could get if we just take that time to slow down and listen. So are you recommending that we do this on a daily basis? How often do you recommend blocking everything out? So you can just be with yourself?

Jeff Harry 19:15
Whenever you whenever you want whenever you want to get into that flow state. I mean, again, right, everyone playing with it yourself, see what like resonates with you. The whole point that I'm trying to communicate is we have to practice starting to listen to ourselves. We have not built that muscle up. We've built every other muscle to listen to everyone else.

Jeff Harry 19:37
And like let's learn from the dying. One of the top regrets of people on their deathbed is I wish I had the courage to live the life that I wanted to live, not the life that others expected of me. So people on their deathbed are warning us or telling us how to create our businesses how to do our how to live our lives. You know, let's learn from That right, you know, and then here's another challenge. And people are like, Oh, you know, well, I don't know, I can't get bored. It's too loud, blah, blah, blah, okay, fine.

Jeff Harry 20:07
Let's try another exercise that you can do with your friends, which makes it even more exciting. You know. So here's a challenge. And this is hard. But this is how you find out about your awesome is you reach out to three to five of your friends. And if you're running a business, maybe you reach out to your clients, because maybe you're close to them or your colleagues, but reach out to three to five people that you are closest to, and you're going to ask them these two questions. What value do I bring to your life? Like? And what I mean by that is like, why are we friends? Like, what do I do for you? Because I think a lot of times we don't know the value that we bring to people's lives. So what value do I bring to your life? And then the second question is, when have you seen me most a lot? And, and a different way of asking that would be like, when have you see me most creative, most playful? When if you see me at my most awesome, you know, when have you seen me most engaged most present? All of those fall under the question of what, when have you seen me come most alive? And what value do I bring to your life? And when you get the answers back? Oh, man, it's just so delicious. There's just so many ideas that they give you and they give you drastically different perspectives. When I did this exercise, that's how I got my the name of my organization, rediscover your play. Because people would be like, well, you helped me rediscover, you know, something I forgot about myself or someone else's, like you can be permission to play. And I kept hearing it over and over again, different ones that I was like, do I help people rediscover your play? And then people are like, yes, that's what you do. So boom, so so this is another practice you can do.

Jeff Harry 21:42
And then between you getting bored and listening to yourself, and all of these ideas, now you have like a plethora of ideas. And you're like, well, what am I supposed to do with all these? Well, I recommend the tipsy storm. That is where you hop on a zoom call with your with your really great friends. And maybe you get a little tipsy beforehand, little alcohol, chocolate, little ice cream, whatever you do to get into the zone. And then you brainstorm with your friends, how do I implement all these play ideas, and then you just write all of them down, you don't criticize him, just listen to all the ideas, you write them all down on a huge whiteboard or piece of paper, you know, and then you go to bed that night, you get over your hangover, whatever you're dealing with, right? Your chocolate, your chocolate hangover, you wake up in the morning, and you look at that list. And the thing that most resonates with you, you take action on that. And that is another way in which you can tap back into your play.

Yong Pratt 22:40
This idea of a tipsy storm is brilliant. So for those of you listening, if you can pause, I don't often ask you to pause these episodes. But if you could pause right now, go to your social media, take these questions and post them. I want you to come back to my website and share with us the feedback you get. Because I think you'll be pleasantly surprised or maybe overwhelmed with the amount of people who you probably haven't connected with a long time, they're going to come in voice their opinion. And maybe they've been silently watching you in the background, admiring what you do, and you don't even know it. But the fact that you're opening up this conversation, you're asking them for feedback, you're asking them when they've seen you at your best. People love to share their opinions. So I want you to pause, go to that and come right back.

Jeff Harry 23:25

Yong Pratt 23:25
If you're not gonna pause, make a promise to yourself, at the end of this episode, you're literally going to pop over to whatever favorite platform you're on, go ask these questions. And we definitely want to hear the feedback because

Jeff Harry 23:38
it's exciting. And I'll say this, so so post the question of like, What value do I bring to your life and, and whenever you see me most live, so that you can get the feedback from social media and from those people. But I recommend when you're talking to your three to five closest friends call them. And the reason why I say call them is because you want to hear the energy coming back. And also, it's really difficult. It puts you it challenges you to like, hear all this love that is coming back to you all this great energy. I think you're like, Oh my gosh, you might even cry because you're like, Oh my gosh, this is what I do for people like I can't believe I do this. You know, so definitely call your closest friends. But also go ahead and post that on social media.

Yong Pratt 24:25
Yeah. And I think you know, you'll get a combination of a lot of different things. And I know even just yesterday, I was talking to a good friend and and we were talking about things and she said, Do you realize I've been waiting for years for you to create this thing and you just never have so I'm telling you now that I want this. Could you just do it? And I thought I said I think I've heard it through the years. I just wasn't in a place to receive it yet. But now that I'm receiving it and I acknowledge that she says okay, this is such a gift, use it. Yes. Listen to those close friends. Don't listen to the randos out there, but listen to Those close friends, let them fill you up, let them light you up, let them help you light your way to whatever next great thing that is going to be happening in your life. Yes, yes, yes.

Yong Pratt 25:13
So what did you think? Are you as excited as I am about adding more play and more fun to your everyday? If so, come show your biggest takeaways, and aha is inside the arena of awesome. You can also find there the video version of this podcast, you can see Jeff on camera, and you can check out his cool bow tie, as well as the fun things that he has in the background of this video to ensure that he gets to play every single day. Make sure you're subscribed to this podcast or are part of the arena of awesome so that you can catch part number two of my interview with Jeff Harry, as we dive deeper into tapping into your real self through play. I'll catch you next time. Cheers.

Yong Pratt 26:01
Thanks for tuning in, do the Amplify Your Awesome™ podcast. Let's continue this conversation inside my Facebook community, the Arena of Awesome while it's still free and open to new members, come share your biggest takeaways and ahas. Plus, every week inside the Arena, you'll get access to me and I may even share content I don't share anywhere else. Until next time, my friend go out there today and Amplify Your Awesome™!



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Tapping into your real self through play - Yong Pratt - Jeff Harry
Tapping Into Your Real Self Through Play Part 1