“20 Minutes of Successful Niche Secrets – EPISODE 24”,
Where I Interview Jason Hanson from “Spy School”
“PODCAST – EPISODE 24,” Today we talk about a really cool niche which was born out of Jason's experience with the CIA. While he loved working for the CIA, Jason realized that it was really a single man's game, and as he began to start a family, he branched off and created his own business based on his unique skills and experience. Have you ever thought about how you can protect yourself in real estate? Listen in on this podcast to find out not only how Jason created his niche and took off, but also how you can keep yourself protected and safe while meeting clients and performing Open Houses.
Glenn: Hi! It’s Glenn McQueenie, and thanks for joining me once again for our 25-Minute Success Series Podcast. So today, we’re going to do something completely different. I’m recording this down in Arizona today, and I’m here with Jason Hanson. How are you doing, Jason?
Jason: I’m doing fantastic.
Glenn: Great. So Jason and I know each other through the Genius Network, which is run by Joe Polish. And Jason has got a really, really cool niche market, and we’re going to get into that. But before we do, I just want to give you a little bit of Jason’s biography. Jason Hanson was born to serve. After graduating from Radford University, Jason joined the Arlington County Police force, and shortly after, Jason set his sights toward the Central Intelligence Agency. Unfazed by more than 2,000 applications they receive every day, he applied for the opportunity to serve his country, and once accepted by the CIA, Jason spent nearly a decade at the Agency, where he was grateful to work with such great men and women protecting the United States of America. He won the CIA Exceptional Performance Award in 2005 and 2008, and after about 10 years, he realized that Intelligence is more of a single man’s game, and he wanted a family, so he resigned from the Agency. Then he decided to focus on creating the Spy Escape & Evasion company, where he is the CEO. So Jason, welcome, and let me just ask you this: what made you come out of the CIA and find that niche market, where you decided to create your own spy school company?
Jason: Yeah. So the Agency’s a wonderful place to work. They treat you like Gold. I had a wonderful time. But as anyone will tell you, it’s a single man’s game. I knew plenty of guys who were either miserable in their marriage, or were divorced, or never saw their kids. And I was single at the time, so it was great, but I didn’t want to be single when I was much older and be miserable. So I left the Agency in 2010, and now I’m married. I’ve got three young kids. But I love what I do. I’m very passionate about personal protection. When I left the Agency, of course, I needed a job. I needed a way to make money. So I started Spy Escape & Evasion, where we’re teaching the average person spy secrets. So Intelligence Officers are very blessed to have incredible training, and most people never get access to that. But I say, “Hey, listen. You don’t have to go spend 12 months passing a polygraph, getting a top secret security clearance, which is a long and painful process.” I can teach you the stuff that Intelligence Officers need to know to stay alive. And so that’s what we do now as a company.
Glenn: Wow. So you started that, and now you’ve branched out to running, I think you’ve got a Spy Ranch, you’ve got Cyber Security. You’ve got a whole bunch of things. So just tell me how you branched out to that. What do you do at the Spy Ranch?
Jason: Sure. So at the Spy Ranch, we do evasive driving. So we teach people how to ram vehicles, how to do 180 turns, we have pistol courses, rifle courses, escape and evasion courses. So we work with celebrities, corporations, the average Joe, and we customize a lot of the stuff. So you just mentioned, we have a lot going on. People come to us and say, “Hey, we need this,” and then we give them that. So as I said, we’ve got corporation divisions, celebrity divisions, evasive driving training divisions, and cyber security divisions. And as long as it’s legal, and as long as we know how to do it – we’ll take care of it. We’ll make it happen.
Glenn: And you parlayed that into a big media thing, too, right? You’ve been on the NBC Today Show, Dateline, Rachael Ray, Fox & Friends, Forbes, NPR, The Huffington Post, and then I think it was last year, you started your own one-man show on the Las Vegas Strip at Stratosphere called “Spy Escape & Evasion.” So tell us about what that’s all about.
Jason: Yeah. So I’m very fortunate. I have a great PR team. We’ve been in, as you mentioned, numerous media, and that, of course, helped spread the word and gets people into our training. And then you mentioned the Las Vegas stage show, Stratosphere, which is a bizarre story, because never in a million years did I think we’d be doing that. But I was training a group of executives, teaching them the spy skills that we do, and this guy approached me afterwards and said, “Hey. I own a lot of businesses in Las Vegas. I own a lot of stages and stage shows. How would you like to put on a 75-minute stage show?” And since I believe life should be an exciting adventure, I said, “Sure.” So now we’re doing a stage show on the Strip, and it’s fun. And it’s teaching people the real spy skills in a shorter format that’s easy to remember, and anybody can afford to come to a stage show.
Glenn: Right. So what I love is you got into one niche first, and then you got really good at that. And then through great marketing and PR, you got what you do out to the public. That started to spur complementary niches, like the Spy Ranch, and then that leads you to your next. I mean, who gets their own Las Vegas show?
Jason: Never in a million years did I think it would happen. Believe me. I wish I could say I had some master plan for that, but I certainly didn’t.
Glenn: Well I think it’s just so great. So I guess many of the real estate agents listening to this are going, “Okay, Glenn. I listen to a lot of your podcasts, but I have no idea why we’re talking about spy schools.” And I think the whole point is that what Jason really did was he brought his natural strengths, skills and Intelligence that he had learned through the CIA to a target market of people who would need that type of protection and that type of knowledge. And he didn’t try to go teach police officers, because they’re not going to need that market. He said, “You know what? Corporations, celebrities – they’re the people who get stalked. They would get harassed.” What else happens to them? Why do they have such a need to be so aware and learn all of those spy skills?
Jason: Because they’ve got targets on their back. If you’re a billionaire, people want to kidnap you. They want to kidnap your child, because they want ransom because you’re rich. And for celebrities, it’s the same thing – they’ve got money. They want to kidnap you. They want to harass you. So the company originally started training corporations and training celebrities – these guys who have targets on their back. And then a few years back, I was very fortunate to go on the show Shark Tank, and that opened us up to the masses. So now we’re training everybody you name, every background. And what I always tell people is, “Listen. I don’t care if you’re a Democrat. I don’t care if you’re Republican. Everybody on the planet wants their family to be safe. Nobody wants their wife to be kidnapped. Nobody wants to have a home invasion.” So we take all the stuff from the spy world that can be easily applied to how you live every day, because I no longer work for the Agency, but I still do all the stuff that I learned. And because my job is more unique than most – we get crazy people, we get stalkers, we get death threats – but I use this stuff every day to keep myself safe, to keep my wife safe, and to keep my kids safe. And it’s easy to do. A buddy of mine likes to say, “Spying is common sense on steroids.” And that’s why I can take anybody (I don’t care who they are, but anybody who wants to be safer), whether it’s Grandma who’s 85-years-old or a 19-year-old college student, and I can teach them the spy skills. That way they’ll be safer than 99% of people out there.
Glenn: So what would you do for realtors? Because it’s becoming a big issue right now, where you will hear that realtors (especially female realtors), seem to be more of the target. They tend to have glamour shots, and a lot of times they’re acting alone. They’re doing Open Houses alone, they’re going to meet people, they take a listing, someone calls off the sign and they would go out and show. I know a lot of them will now meet them in the office. But what are some of the tips that you would give to not only female realtors, but male realtors, on how to be aware and how to keep themselves safe?
Jason: Yeah. There are three different things that we really teach realtors when we’re working with them, and one is, we teach them human lie detection skills.
Jason: It’s much easier to detect deception than most people think, so we do that right off the bat. That way, when you’re meeting someone, and you’re talking to them on the phone, you can ask them questions, and you’ll immediately know, “Is this person legit? Is something wrong with them?” And I’ll share with you right now, probably one of the best lie detection techniques – and I’ll use it on you – is called the 3-5 second rule. And what I mean by that is human beings are terrible liars. If I ask you a question and you’re honest, you’re going to answer me very quickly. Your face is going to look honest. You’re not going to be scared. Dishonest people try to buy time, so they’ll stutter, trying to buy time for their brain to conjure up the lie. Plus, if we’re face-to-face and I’m looking at you, I can see you look nervous on your face. I can see you exhibiting those lying details. So here’s the question I’m going to ask you, Glenn. I’m going to put you on the spot right now. When’s the last time you stole something?
Glenn: Oh, 40 years ago.
Jason: Right. And what did you steal?
Glenn: I think it was a chocolate bar, I’m pretty sure.
Jason: Yeah. So the reason I ask you that is it’s one of the common questions I ask when I’m hiring employees. I ask employees, “Tell me the last time you stole something,” because most people say, “Oh, in fifth grade I stole a candy bar.” “In sixth grade I stole Snickers.” We’ve all done it. We’re all humans. But I had a potential employee, not too long ago – she went white in the face and started shifting in her seat. And I was like, “Holy smokes, listen (and I’m trying to be nice). Don’t worry about it. We’ve all made mistakes.” And then this young woman says to me, “Okay. Well, at my last job, I stole a bunch of office supplies from my employer because I wanted to start a competing business. I decided not to start that business, so I’m here to apply for a job.” Clearly I didn’t hire that woman. But the way I see this, and teach people, is you can ask them any kind of question you want. So, I think I told you this earlier in the day today. Criminals, when they’re casing neighbourhoods, they’ll knock on doors and pretend to be salesmen. And when somebody answers, they want to see: first, does it look like a single woman, someone vulnerable? Second, does it look like they’re rich? So they peer over the shoulders to see if they have expensive art or gadgets. If somebody knocks on your door, “I’m a salesman.” Ask them, “How many vacuums have you sold today?” Honest person – quick answer, such as, “It’s been a great day. I sold 100 vacuums” or “It’s been a terrible day. I’ve sold two vacuums.” A dishonest person will look nervous on the face and start stuttering. Now you know they’re not really a salesman. They’re there to do something bad to you. So if someone approaches me, and I’m a realtor, and maybe I’m in a house, say, “Oh, how many houses have you looked at?” or “How long have you been thinking about buying a house?” A person with bad intent is not going to be prepared. You’ll see the nervousness in their face. They may start stuttering. Whereas if somebody’s legitimately looking for a house, they’ll say, “Oh, this is the fifth house we’ve looked at today” or “Oh, my wife and I have been trying to find our dream house for six months.” So of course there are a lot more lie detection skills than that, but that’s one of the first things we teach off the bat. And there are questions you can ask over the phone. That way you don’t end up in those dangerous situations in the first place. Then we teach them some very simple tools to carry and other things when they’re having an Open House and all they do. But again, it’s stuff that anybody can do, and it prevents the attack because you can see the danger ahead of time. That way, you know immediately to walk away, or to not even meet that person in the first place.
Glenn: Right. That’s great advice. Even at an Open House, it’s a very vulnerable situation. Sometimes we’re sitting there by ourselves for hours, and sometimes they’re really busy, and being busy can cause other problems. I think of the 28 years and the thousands of real estate Open Houses I’ve done, I had a theft occur at one – and unfortunately it happened to be my next-door neighbour, which is the worst-case scenario. It was a total deception, I realized afterwards. The husband was there asking me all the questions, and the wife took off with the kid, which you’d think would be normal. But in hindsight it was completely clear to me that he was just trying to occupy my time as much as he could so that the place could be cased properly, and they stole this beautiful diamond pendant. They were people who had been divorced, got together, and she had taken her engagement diamond and made a pendant for him, and was planning on giving it to him. So it was just the worst thing.
Jason: Yeah. Bad thing to get stolen!
Glenn: So what would you say to help some realtors for safety, even at their Open Houses?
Jason: Again, we have methods we use, but some people aren’t comfortable. One of the things we do is we always say, employ cameras – or at least have a sign when they walk into an Open House that just says, “For your safety, everything is being recorded.” And you can buy, of course, Dropcams very inexpensively. We teach people how to never turn your back. Never have somebody follow you up the stairs. You are always polite, and say, “No, we want you to see the house first. This is going to be your house.” Never go in a basement, following somebody. So there are all these different little things they can do, and some people aren’t comfortable with them, because they don’t want to put up a sign that says cameras. But I say, “Put it up.” It’s just like putting a sign in your front yard that says you have a security system. It’s proven. It’s a huge reduction when a thief is casing a neighbourhood and he sees somebody with an ADT sign versus no sign. Think about that guy who’s coming in to steal a pendant. When he sees, right when you walk in the Open House (maybe on the door, maybe on a table or check-in, however you want to do it) that, “This house is under video surveillance. For your safety, every room is being recorded” – even if it’s a lie, if I’m a thief going in there and I see that, I’m like, “Crap. I’m going to go do another Open House,” because thieves are lazy. They’re looking for the path of least resistance. So if they know there are 10 Open Houses that day, and they quickly go to all 10, and you’re the one with the sign that says, “Hey, everything’s being recorded,” and the nine others have no sign, he’s going to go choose another Open House. And our goal is to make sure you’re the person who’s not chosen. And it’s easier to do than most people think.
Glenn: Right. Well I’ll tell you, that’s terrific, Jason. I think the last part I would ask you about for agents and agents’ safety is, how important is it to get people from online to on the phone? It’s one thing to be texting people, another thing to be emailing. But I think it’s really important, especially if a buyer wants to come see a property. What advice would you give them, apart from meeting at the office? What other advice would you give them as far as just listening to their voice or the cadence of their voice or how they are on the phone?
Jason: Yes. So there are obviously two huge reasons to talk to them on the phone. One: you’re incredibly busy like I am. You don’t want to go waste your time with somebody who is not going to do anything. Two: you always screen people over the phone because that’s when you know, “Okay, this is a bad person.” And it all goes back to the lie detection. That’s where it all starts. So you can ask them right off the bat, “How many houses have you looked at today?” And you’ll know, right off the bat, “Okay, is this person legit? Is there anything wrong?” You can ask them questions like (if it’s a guy), “Hey, will you be bringing your wife today? Will you be bringing any kids? I just want to make sure. I like to bring treats or popsicles,” because then you’ll know, “Okay, this is a single guy coming and he says he doesn’t have a wife, he says he doesn’t have any kids, and I asked him how many houses he looked at and he didn’t answer very quickly. I probably shouldn’t go meet this single guy.” Because we know that predators prey on single women. So one of the questions I would always ask, however you’re comfortable phrasing it, is, “Who will you be bringing with you today? Will you be bringing your wife with you today, Mr. Johnson?” “Oh, no. I’m not married” or “No, I’m going alone.” Then I know it’s a single guy, and I’m going to be more on my A-game, meaning I’m going to bring somebody else with me, or I’m not going to go, or I’m going to make sure I have self-defence tools. So I think screening, you can eliminate 99% of the problems. It’s just kind of a transition – like the dating world, when I was single. These days, people text and never talk before they meet. I would always jokingly ask before I went on a date, “How many guys’ tires have you slashed?” And I’d say it funny. And most women would laugh and think it was funny, and that would be it. True story – one time I had a girl go silent on the other end, which of course, is a sign of dissension. And I said, “Oh, hey. Don’t worry about it. I’m sure it was a crazy guy who deserved it” (still joking). And she said, “Okay. I’ve never slashed a guy’s tires, but I did key my boyfriend’s car one time.” Did not go on a date with that girl. So people need to get out of their comfort zones and ask these questions. And they can pretend to be humorous like I was, but find out, especially, “Okay, is this guy bringing his wife and his kids, or is he coming single?” When you ask these questions, you learn a lot, and I’m all about making sure you’re never in that dangerous situation in the first place. The last thing I want you to have to do is use some of the self-defence moves I teach you, because that means somewhere before that, the process was screwed up where you didn’t screen them properly.
Glenn: Right. So catch it. Do most of the work upfront.
Glenn: Then you’ll save all of the hassle. So what are some self-defence things that you would consider? Or even, what are some tools they have in their purse that can be very effective defence things? And then my final question is: would you be open to (if we did get a big group of people), coming up to Toronto and teaching that?
Jason: Yeah, absolutely. I’m trying to think. The last time I went up to Toronto and trained somebody was about five years ago. But if you put together a big group, I would certainly be happy to do that. And as far as tools – it’s not going to make a ton of sense here – but the tactical pen. And I’ll pull it out here. They won’t be able to see it, obviously, but it’s a self-defence pen, made of a harder metal. I’ve flown all over the world with it. It’s legal, because it’s a regular writing pen, but we have had numerous lives saved from this thing. We had a woman who two men tried to kidnap at a gas station and she fought them off with this.
Glenn: So if I was to describe that to the people listening, it looks like a greyish, gunmetal pen with a hard cap.
Jason: That doesn’t feel good if you’re stabbed.
Glenn: That doesn’t feel good if you’re stabbed, as he just pushes it against me. Okay.
Jason: So we train people how to use this because I can personally tell you, when you’re in a dangerous situation, you don’t want to have to remember 97 different ninja moves. You’ve got to keep it simple. Everybody can grip a pen. Everybody knows how to stab. And I can tell you story after story of women who have stopped attackers with this. Canada’s different than the U.S. A lot of the people in the U.S. we trained, especially realtors in Texas – they’re carrying a gun. They’re carrying a knife. Most people are not going to carry a gun or knife, but everybody’s going to have a pen. So we take these devices, which anybody can use and show you the simple moves. You can walk around with this in your hand, whereas you’re not going to walk around with a gun in your hand. That way, if something happens, you’ve got the move immediately. You can stop that attacker. So we lead everybody from the lie detection down to the tools down to the self-defence. All of that. That way, you’re covered in every area if, heaven forbid, anything should happen.
Glenn: Well Jason, I can’t thank you enough for joining me today. It’s been great, not only listening to how you got into this niche by bringing your natural strengths to a target market, but just how you created all these complementary markets that all feed off the first one. If you had screwed up your first market, then the rest of these businesses would have all failed, right? So I just love how you rolled them all together, and now you’re traveling around the world, opening up more Spy Schools. I just want to say thank you so much. I’m so grateful for your time. Any last bits of advice you want to give to our listeners?
Jason: Not that I could tell them this quickly, so thank you very much for having me. And please be safe – especially the ladies. You’re the target. Screen those guys ahead of time. That way, you never find yourself in that crazy situation in the first place. So that’s probably the best advice I can give right now.
Glenn: You’re awesome. Thank you so much, Jason. I really appreciate your time.