Keith Kahn Harris Joins Us On The Steve Jobs Inspired Join Up Dots Podcast
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Introducing Keith Kahn Harris
Keith Kahn Harris is today’s guest joining us on the Steve Jobs inspired Join Up Dots podcast interview.
He is someone with a fascination for unusual facts and I guess characters and communities across the world.
From a young child, he always had a interest for the obscure.
And as we have found time and time again on Join Up Dots, he has now taken this childhood interest and created a career around it by travelling around the world to cultivate his curiosity of the obscure.
Keith Khan Harris is an expert in what he calls “small worlds”, such as the Extreme Metal scene, and the British Jewish community, he loves to research and participate in these communities, and after graduating as a sociologist at University found himself drawn again and again to these worlds.
How The Dots Joined For Keith
But what became clear is that there are huge commonalities within these small groups,.
As he developed this interest, by investigating the Luxemburg water-skiing scene, interviewing the most powerful politician in Alderney, and even jumped across the water to meet the Icelandic special forces known as the Viking squad.
So what got Keith going in this direction, and how has he managed to create a life that is both hugely fascinating, but anything but usual?
Well let’s bring onto the show to start joining up dots, as we discuss the words of Steve Jobs with the one and only Mr Keith Kahn-Harris.
During the show we discussed such weighty topics with Keith Khan Harris such as:
How as a child he would love noting more than having his head deep inside the Guinness Book of Records to find obscure facts at breakfast time!
How he loves his work, but put up with the drudgery of the administration, just to keep on creating!
How there are more Tigers in Texas, USA than anywhere else on Earth!
How he has an “Evernote” of ideas that he would love to pursue, but unfortunately doesn’t have the time!
How he would tell his younger self to not worry so much about marriage, and having a family, and just go out and enjoy themselves!
What he would class as the mark he has left on this planet when his time on the planet is up!
Keith Kahn Harris Books
How To Connect With Keith Kahn Harris
Of course you can also listen to thousands of episodes in our podcast archives here
Audio Transcription Of Keith Kahn Harris Interview
When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling. Join Up Dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK. David Ralph.
David Ralph [0:26]
Yes, hello there. Good morning to you. How are you? How are you? How are you? The sun is shining. Its glorious. It’s the 22nd of July summer’s gone, the World Cups gone. We won’t talk about that if you’re an Englishman Wimbledon we’re not we’re not going to talk about any of that kind of stuff. We’re only going to talk about positive forces in our life. And today we have got a man who is he’s he’s a fascinating character. He really is because he’s got a fascination but unusual facts and I guess, characters and communities across the world. From a young child, he always had an interest buddy obscure, and that’s we found time and time again and Join Up Dots. He’s now taking this childhood interest and created a career around it by travelling around the world to cultivate his curiosity of the obscure an expert in what he calls small worlds such as the extreme metal scene and the British Jewish community. He loves to research and participate in these communities. And after graduating as a sociologist at university, found himself drawn again and again to these small worlds. But what became clear is that there are huge commonalities within these small groups. And he developed this interest by investigating the Luxembourg water ski scene, interviewing the most powerful politician in orderly and even jumped across the water to meet the Icelandic Special Forces known as the Viking squad. Honestly, I’m not making that up. So what got him going in this direction? And how has he managed to create a life that is both hugely fascinating, but anything but usual? Well, let’s find out as we bring on to the show to start Join Up Dots about 100 only Mr Keith Kahn Harris. How are you today, Keith?
Keith Kahn Harris [2:03]
Oh, great. Thanks for the very affusive introduction.
David Ralph [2:09]
I know it’s not usual for an Englishman to be like that. Is it? I
Keith Khan Harris [2:12]
David Ralph [2:14]
We like to go low key in England. It’s the way we do it. But I can’t I can’t hold back my excitement when I press record. It’s like a different me that comes out. So you have got a fascinating tale, sir. But But before we start, and all this sort of fascinating stuff. It is. It is quite freaky, isn’t it? It is quite weird the scenes, but you have delved into and have become experts in and it’s that kind of and I quote, I’m doing the old rabbit sort of quirky quoting things here. It’s that freakiness that really appealed to me. I love it. I really do love it. So can you go right back in time. And when you was a small child, were you the kind of kid that always used to get the Guinness Book of Records, facts for Christmas, and all those kind of 110 things that you never knew you didn’t know kind of books?
Keith Khan Harris [3:08]
Well, actually, as it happens, I do remember. So very strong memory in my childhood, reading the Guinness Book of Records over and over again, usually over the breakfast table. So yes, I was that exactly that kind of kid. I mean, today, it’s changed completely. Because now when I’m curious about anything, then I just look on Wikipedia, which is fantastic. One of the things I love about the contemporary web, is that as soon as you’re curious about something you can satisfy that curiosity, immediately, although that that leads to some problems as well. I mean, there’s it the instant gratification isn’t always good. But yes,
David Ralph [3:52]
I was that child is true about instant gratification, because I was saying to one of my colleagues the other day, but I remember when I’m younger, you know, I’m 44 years old, I’m not old by any stretch of the imagination. But certainly compared to the last, say 1015 years, I remember sort of going in looking for records, for example. And if anybody doesn’t know what a record is, it is a big black thing with a hole in the middle that you used us or play music on. It was like an early relative CDs and stuff. And I used to hunt for these records. And I used to go into shops and perform through and try to find it. And when you did find it, it was it was the greatest feeling in the world. But as you say, with instant gratification, you go onto Amazon, you put in a couple of words, and you just find it. And it’s that that surge of the kind of unusual it difficult to get, which is not as good as it used to be, even though it’s so much easier, isn’t it?
Keith Khan Harris [4:46]
Yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s also misleading, because sometimes you can find out the basics about something. But finally add anything more still takes work. And that’s certainly the case with some of the things that I’ve investigated, where there’s a smattering of information online, but you really have to dig deeper if you want to find out more about it. But yes, I mean, we have lost something clearly in the instant availability, but we’ve also gained as well. And that’s, that’s pretty much the nature of social progress. Anyway, that it’s kind of two steps forward one step back.
David Ralph [5:27]
Well, what do you have we lost from the internet? Obviously, we have gained more than we’ve lost. But But are there any things that you kind of go? in the good old days, when I was a child and I had to do my homework, if you were like me, and you had to go down to the library and look open a book and all that kind of stuff? You know, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. But I’ll have any things that you kind of think, yeah, it used to be better before we had this this portal to the world.
Keith Khan Harris [5:54]
Well, actually, early this year, I published a series of articles on the web, ironically enough, precisely that is you but applied to the global metal scene, which which I’ve done a lot of writing about and research on over the years. And I’ve said that yes, it’s in many ways, it’s Heaven, as soon as you’re interested in in a particular sounds, you can go and investigate it, which was, and it was much more difficult to do that in the past. In part, because certainly with extreme metal, everything was so underground, that it was extremely difficult to get. But we’ve lost a lot with that as well. And then we’ve lost this sort of sense of seems like shape anymore, because everything moves so fast, everything is so instantly available, that there aren’t the same sense of structure. Everything seems to be exploding in every different direction at once. Everything seems to be happening at once. And that’s quite a bewildering world. And it’s quiet. It’s it also, it also lack that sense of of, I’m not sure how you describe it. It lacks that sense of reward for investigation, which is which has always been one of the most rewarding things about life, generally, that the knowledge has often been in the past very hard one, it still is to a certain extent, of course, in some fields, but when knowledge isn’t hard one it flattens out cultures really to, to an extent. And that’s a shame really.
David Ralph [7:34]
So when you were investigating if we went back to your first one, which was was it the British Jewish community, or the extreme metal scene, what was the first small world that you go and vote in?
Keith Khan Harris [7:45]
its extreme metal scene, although it’s not quite as small as it once was. That was matching my PhD thesis, which I completed. I did that between 96 and 2001. Based on case studies is all extreme metal in Israel, Sweden, and the UK, although the Israeli thing was pretty small, then it’s still quite small today.
So yes, that was the first one I looked at.
David Ralph [8:14]
And for all our listeners, and I’ll be honest, a bit me, what is extreme metal.
Keith Khan Harris [8:21]
extreme metal is metal push to its limits is things like death metal, and black metal and doom metal, often very fast, often quite impenetrable, uncompromising, dealing with transgressive, often disturbing things, that kind of thing.
David Ralph [8:39]
So is it just a terrible noise? Is it is it one of these places where it’s just like screaming, shouting guitar? Or has it got a good cartoon? I feel stupid, even saying that fact.
Keith Khan Harris [8:54]
Chickens are often overrated. I mean, you don’t something some of it has more teens than others. But think extreme metal generally sells to people who aren’t familiar with it, it does sound like like a noise. But when you get to know it, you can appreciate it. Often, it’s often technically very sophisticated, although you again, you have to listen carefully to hear that. And it has a complexity and a subtlety, even that, that might surprise people, but you do have to put in the hours to actually find that out.
David Ralph [9:26]
And so how do you do that? How do you get yourself to be submerged in a scene like bear? Do they accept you instantly? Or is there a kind of reluctance to that sort of outsiders? Because I suppose in certain ways, he was a journalist, I know who’s your PhD, but you weren’t going in there to sort of investigate?
Keith Khan Harris [9:47]
Well, I was both an insider and an outsider. Because I’d always had a fondness for extreme metal, I was never very involved in in the extreme metal scene as such, and I listened to lots of other music. So really, investigator involved me just pushing myself a few steps further along the continuum involvement. And one thing that helped is that I, I started writing for an extreme metal magazine called terrorism, which gave me a certain status within the scene as well. So actually, it really wasn’t difficult. The difficult thing was, as I was doing this, when, when the internet wasn’t quite as developed as it was today. So after getting hold of people that I wanted to speak to an interview wasn’t quite as easy as it would have been, if had I done the same research today. So it wasn’t and people actually extremely friendly in that world, you might not think it but they are. It’s, it’s quite a nice community, or at least in my experiences.
David Ralph [10:47]
So how do you do that? You know, we also programmes on online, connecting. So how did you do but how did you find these people, if you didn’t have that ability of LinkedIn, and email and all kinds things that we find ourselves drawn to now?
Keith Khan Harris [11:03]
Well, there was a certain amount of it even then, I mean, people did have email addresses in the late 1990s. Although not everyone did. It actually the process of contacting people was actually very useful. Because just to contact people, there was no substitute for talking to people, you talk to one person can puts you in touch with another person, another person like that. So in order to contact particular individuals, you’ve got to become part of the same. And that was a really useful process for me. And main meant that I came to understand how it works.
David Ralph [11:39]
So we all live networking, which is this kind of skill about we are losing somewhat, aren’t we? Because it’s so easy to jump onto LinkedIn. You know, I connected with you on LinkedIn, or was it LinkedIn or email? I can’t remember. But it was it was I found you bought you sounded fascinating, sent out an email, and I didn’t get off my chair wants to do it.
Keith Khan Harris [12:00]
To be honest, I’m not sure I missed your days in that respect, in the sense that it was extremely frustrating, not be able to get in touch with people. It still is today. I mean, not everybody is an open book. And LinkedIn doesn’t often make it easy to contact with strangers, or at least it makes it quite complicated to do it. So it’s not it’s not it’s not quite as simple in every case today. And But no, I don’t really miss that. I like, you know, so much of my work today involves getting in touch with lots of different people. And I like being able to do that much more easily than the past. Although, although real world networking is still really important. I mean, often the reason I’m trying to get hold of people would be to say can we meet? And I don’t think real word real word networking has has a toll diminished importance. In fact, it’s probably even more important now than it than it’s ever been.
David Ralph [13:01]
Do I normally ask this at the end? But do you love your work? Because it is, it’s a career that you’ve really cultivated Avenue from almost nothing? And is it something that is work? Or is it a hobby? Or is it just a hybrid of the two?
Keith Khan Harris [13:18]
Well, I would say I love I do love my work. I’ve been privileged to carve out a career when I can follow my enthusiasm. But I love every single aspect about it. I mean, I think that every in every single career, most people have to do at least some aspects of it, which are annoying or difficult or whatever the sort of, sometimes they’re the more administrative tasks or sometimes they’re just the legwork that you have to do. So, yeah, it’s not. It’s not always fun. But ultimately, I’m very happy with what I do.
David Ralph [13:53]
So is it more of a hobby, even a career or career and hobby?
Keith Khan Harris [13:58]
I would say that everything in this kind of career when you spend your life writing, researching and doing the sort of stuff I do that, that I don’t know what the differences between hobby and life, there’s, there are some interests that that I’d never pursued in a more in terms of writing and stuff. But a lot of things eventually turn up in something or other than I’m involved in. I don’t have anything that I do purely as a kind of civilian, if you use
David Ralph [14:32]
the words you just said really sort of resonate with me because I’ve been having a lot of conversations recently. And Richard Branson is a big hero of entrepreneurs across the world and successful people and why not because he’s Uber successful, and he seems to love what he’s doing. And whenever he’s, um, he’s taglines, or one of these quotes, but he keeps he said many years ago, was I don’t consider work, work and play play. It’s just living. And that certainly resonates with me now doing this. But certainly when I was a nine to fiver, I would never have dreamt about work and work and play and play could mix. It was something that very much was kept separate. And so you kind of almost unknowingly buy into that already, don’t you?
Keith Khan Harris [15:16]
I do. Although, I mean, as I say, I mean, there is a certain amount of drugs work that I have to do. There are sometimes meetings that I don’t particularly want to go to there are sometimes annoying administrative tasks that I have to do. But you know, that’s just life. I mean, it. It’s I don’t see, unless you’re incredibly wealthy and incredibly privileged. I don’t see how you could expunge that from your real life. It’s part of what it is to be human, I think,
David Ralph [15:45]
Well, I think a lot of people do get rid of it now, don’t they? We’ve sort of virtual assistants and people from China and the Philippines doing a lot of their social media work and their online drudgery as you say, but it’s a huge a lot to do in this show. I love doing this. I love talking to you. And I say this a lot and many other shows. If I could take away everything and just have the conversations, wow, utopia. But you can’t you have to do a certain amount of other stuff, which is drudgery. But I do think there is there’s a point where you can start outsourcing all the things that you don’t like, and for many times, these people are so well trained. And they like terminators, they will just pass it out for you at a minimal cost.
Keith Khan Harris [16:27]
Yes, that is possible. But actually, the counter argument is that sometimes the sort of more routine routine tasks are actually quite comforting. I mean, I remember yesterday, I was very tired, I had a long to do list. All of which seemed a bit daunting. But the first thing I did yesterday was enter mine and my family’s passport details on to the booking for for, for a holiday polygamous family in August, and that took 1015 minutes. So actually, it was quite calming, and it had sort of way, sometimes administrating your life actually gives you a bit of breathing space too much with them. And it’s just a pain.
David Ralph [17:15]
So it’s a where you’re going on holiday in August.
Keith Khan Harris [17:19]
It’s not that exciting. My my wife is actually from Texas, and we’re going to Texas to see how far away.
David Ralph [17:27]
So we’re talking the D, which we do. And we’re talking about America and not not the DIY store that we have in
Keith Khan Harris [17:34]
No, not the dry store. We’re talking about Texas. Yes.
David Ralph [17:38]
Now that’s exciting in that, oh, you know, going to text I tell you a fact about Texas. This is a good one. And this is something you can start investigating. So when you get out there and you’re bored, you can just start whizzing around. Do you know there’s more tigers in Texas than any other place on earth?
Keith Khan Harris [17:54]
They’re not wild tigers are there?
David Ralph [17:55]
No, they’re not. But they’re there. They’re captive. But if you take all the Tigers on earth TechStars has a more with him and he is the second with me Mr. Keith Harris. So you will you will cling to this and this will make you attractive at parties when people
Keith Khan Harris [18:11]
I will try it out. I will definitely try that.
David Ralph [18:14]
If I was told, if you want to buy a tiger cub, how much do you reckon it costs?
Keith Khan Harris [18:22]
David Ralph [18:23]
Now, you know that’s not how it works. You know, he gave me a finger and then I will tell you if you want well.
Keith Khan Harris [18:28]
And I think it’d be in the thousands as bad as much as I can say,
David Ralph [18:31]
well, you would, wouldn’t you apparently $500 will buy you a tiger cap. And so in Texas apparently they’ve got quite a fascination of having these tiger cubs because they’re cute. And it’s a is a tiger of God. But of course they get big and you got us all get rid of him. But yeah, more tigers in Texas, that that’s that is why you got up two days in it and got on the mic. So
Keith Khan Harris [18:54]
what my son when he was younger, he’s 11 now but when he was younger, he used to be really into horses. And he used to save up his pocket money when when you first start out in pocket money to he wanted to buy a horse. And I kept telling him that actually, it’s not expensive to buy a horse. What’s expensive is keeping the horse. And I think that’s probably the case with Tigers as well I’d imagine.
David Ralph [19:19]
But a tiger can kill you and a horse can’t well suppose it can. But no, don’t go there. If anyone’s out there at the moment. And they’re saying to their mom and dad. That man on the radio he’s just said I could buy a tiger for 500 they do grow up like like Yeah, we do grow up. So would that be a small well that would fascinate you’re always that just kind of a mad fact how do you differentiate between your your worlds but appeal and drag you in? Like the Viking squad the Icelandic special forces which I didn’t even know that I had one.
Keith Khan Harris [19:55]
Have to burst your bubble there. I didn’t get as far as laughing the the book that I was writing because the crowdfunding ran out but at least I found out about it. That was
David Ralph [20:04]
a TED talk. I I watched the whole 20 minutes of user talking on the TED and TEDx. TEDx.
Keith Khan Harris [20:15]
Know it did happen. I mean, I was crowdfunding this but the best water skier in Luxembourg. And I managed to fund two chapters the one on all the in the Channel Islands and the one on Luxembourg. And the next one I wanted to go to was with Iceland. And it was not point that I the money ran out. But you know, I still had a blast. So you know what the hell?
David Ralph [20:35]
So let’s jump back on to that. So how did that come about? The Luxembourg water skiing scene chapter one of this book but you decided that you were going to part funded crowdfunding or whatever to go around the world investigating the small world? How did that first factor come up Luxembourg walking saying
Keith Khan Harris [20:56]
and it used to be a joke that I even because I’m over the last few years I’ve achieved me I’m it’s not boasting really to say that I’m one of the top Global Scholars, global academic scholars in the study of heavy metal. Because most of the quite a few of us they’re not that many of us, compared to some academic fields. So I used to say, Yeah, well, I’m quite important in that field. But ultimately, it’s just like being the best water skier in Luxembourg, meaning just a silly way of saying a big fish in a small pond. And the idea just came to me three years ago, what about actually finding out about the best water skier in Luxembourg? That’s where the idea came from the idea being that I know nothing about it. And I’d find out about it. And I approached there was a new crowdfunding, book publishers, that’s new then it’s been going a while now called unbound. And I have I had a
fairly loose come tax
with the guy who was running that john Richardson, who somebody else I knew knew him. So I sent a one page proposal and he loved this and he signed me up but it was just part of the problem with the whole thing was was that because it involves a lot of travelling, it was a very big ask in terms of crowdfunding and it and it stalled after a while but you know it’s fine I can I had a blast and I did get to meet the best was scaring locks and then
David Ralph [22:39]
was he was he kind of just okay
Keith Kahn Harris [22:42]
well, you know, the way interesting storeys there is that if I did I couldn’t prove my point which is that you can choose small folds at random and you will find if you dig deep enough you’ll find interesting storeys and pop the interesting storey was the two kinds of interesting storeys I found that one was that Luxembourg, surprisingly enough had both in the 60s had a world champion and a European champion in in waterskiing and that is quite small but tight knit but kind of overachieving. loves the waterskiing thing but then there was a horrible schism in the 1970s when it split into two rival national waterskiing Federation’s and I met leads to this your guy with European champion was guy who john commerce and the woman the world champions called Sylvie Huisman and their two families fell out over this split. And I tracked down both of them. Today, I met them both. And the pain was still there. I mean, which was really interesting. And the other storey was the water skiing in Luxembourg. And actually in other places around the world to discovery kind of losing ground, to wakeboarding in the same way that that sort of conventional skiing is losing ground to snowboarding. So there’s this kind of said there are actually very few serious water skiers in Luxembourg now. But the guy that who I anointed the best water skier in Luxembourg, he he’s he’s now in the you know, he’s in the top hundred in the world in in, in in the veterans category. Which isn’t bad. It’s certainly better than I can do and what scheme
David Ralph [24:31]
and was he? Was he surprised but this Englishman was investigating him? Was it kind of out of business? This is crazy, or was he kind of aware of his status over there in his small world
Keith Kahn Harris [24:47]
to some extent, but I think it was, I mean, he, he was somebody who worked very hard for this waterskiing thing. I mean, he spent that was one either belly spring, some of the Norton’s doing was teaching was going over his, his practising over and over again. And also teaching, teaching young people how to water ski, and running the water skiing club that you belong to. And, and it’s hard work, you know, people who are dedicated to what they do, it’s not always fun. And it’s, that’s what I mean. So the book, try to drag you in with a sort of a silly title, but actually is making a serious point about the dedication of people. It’s
David Ralph [25:37]
fascinating to me that there are so many small worlds, I think I’m a small, I’m a weird person, I think I started to think that I’m weird. I love the global concept of it. But I kind of like that, within that globe, within the world that we live on, there’s so many little areas of our life and communities and techniques and and whatever you could say about are going on in these small world. Now, in the introduction, I said, there’s commonalities across these communities. Would that be right? Or if I just kind of assume that there must be because these are small groups?
Keith Kahn Harris [26:17]
I think, Rocky of these things, these are these small worlds and what people live their lives in.
And they’re often sort of,
you know, people sometimes look down their noses, certainly some kinds of small worlds. But you know, this is the way life is live this what’s GIFs come comfort and Homeland Security and meaning in what can often be a very alienating sort of world. I’ll give you another example is my son. second title talks about my son? He’s now into Warhammer tabletop gaming. And what is that? So a Warhammer? Warhammer? It’s,
you know, you have these sort of model figures and you play ball games with them.
Yeah, except it’s sort of fantasy rather than soldiers. Anyway, he’s very into that. And there’s this sort of dimly aware of it before he got into it. But now he’s into it. And there’s this just enormous world of this sort of stuff going on. And it’s incredibly it’s an incredibly welcoming world. And it’s given my son a lot of an enormous amount of pleasure, but also self confidence. And which is quite weird.
David Ralph [27:37]
When they is, isn’t it? You know, so many people go with the mass approach to stuff. But I think that actually the one and the comradeship that’s come from going niche, doesn’t it?
Keith Kahn Harris [27:53]
Yeah, I mean, to some extent, these days, everybody’s a nation. I mean, it’s, it’s the, in a small world, so less obscure than they once were, they’re much more discoverable. And, you know, in some niches are bigger than others, in a way I’ve always seen in terms of my personal life, is that the way to a happy life really, is to find that niche. I mean, it’s a fairly banal point. And I think it’s important.
David Ralph [28:18]
But what do you think he’s been now because I mean, that’s been our to
Keith Kahn Harris [28:23]
know bits, maybe it’s one of these truths that that so much in, it’s just in front of your nose that we sometimes forget, you know, to me,
David Ralph [28:32]
Oh, I know exactly what you mean, this, that’s what this show is all based about, is based about the truths that we can all see. But no one can see until they smack us in the face. And one of the things you know why I jumped straight on to the Guinness Book of Records reference, it has come up time and time and time again, but anyone that I have spoken to, but become successful and find their passion, or just doing in an adult sense, what I love doing as kids, and it’s amazing, but we go on this path where we go to University College, get our degrees, or whatever, and we go into jobs, just because we think it’s a career, which is rewarding, and then hate it. Because we’re not actually playing to the things that we love doing. And I keep saying it to everyone, look back at what you love doing as a child. And now there’s so many options out there, there’s so many avenues that you can you can travel down, especially in the online world, where a lot of these passions can be created into a career that is, like yours, half Well, a third, love, a third work and a third drudgery. But as better than nine to five days of total drudgery, which so many people have
Keith Kahn Harris [29:47]
been Yeah, let me also give the counter argument is the big downside of making a career out of what you love, is the you never have juicy, you never off. It’s it’s constant that never ends. As silly as the pace of my life, there’s always something new I could be doing or should be doing. It’s never come to the end of anything, can’t see any particular projects, but not to the end of the bigger project. And sometimes actually, you know, be quite nice to just clock off the end of the day and do something I enjoy.
David Ralph [30:23]
Now. you’d hate that. You, I, you’re late. You’re laying there on your sofa, and you’re watching Telly and you’re thinking to yourself, I’m only watching this because the wife wants me to watch it. I wish I was doing something else. I bet I bet you’re like that. And
Keith Kahn Harris [30:41]
I sometimes like frogs in the TV, I can’t deny that. But it’s certainly true that I’m probably that by I’m drawn to doing something that I’m passionate about. And I probably be quite happy if I wasn’t doing that.
David Ralph [30:58]
Absolutely See, it turns you around. You like your counter arguments, Mr. Keith can have a spot on turning you around. And I’m gonna play the words of Steve Jobs. Now, we normally do this round about the sort of half hour mark, because it is a fascinating speech. And it is the theme of the whole show. And for somebody like yourself, I think these words are gonna gonna have huge resonance with you. So this is Steve Jobs. And I want to hear your point of view on these and whether you think they’re true, or whether you think they’re total rubbish. This is Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs [31:30]
Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leaves you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [32:06]
Is it simplistic? Or can your path go all the way back to the breakfast table in the Guinness Book of Records and all that kind of stuff?
Keith Khan Harris [32:15]
I think it depends on the individual. I think for me, that is the case. I think if you can join the dots relatively easily with most aspects of my life. Certainly looking backwards. I’m not sure that’s the case with everybody that some people’s lives sort of gimbal between different enthusiasms, the time the coffee knitted up,
Unknown Speaker [32:38]
Keith Khan Harris [32:40]
And sometimes things don’t things fail to hear. I mean, things have failed to get here in my own life that they’ve been projects that I’ve taken that have proved to be blind alleys, although sometimes very enjoyable, blind alleys. So I think it’s sometimes true, but maybe not always true. What is definitely true, though, is that when you look back on your life after when you’re at a certain age, and I’m 42 Now, a lot of things that didn’t seem to be clearer, clear, at the time become clearer in retrospect. And actually, that’s why I’m enjoying being middle aged a lot more than I thought I would. Because, you know, a lot of a lot of stuff actually starts to make sense. And like,
David Ralph [33:32]
what, what kind of things do you look back on now with clarity, because you are 42?
Keith Khan Harris [33:39]
Well, I’ll give you one example.
I it took me only until relatively recently, I could, I didn’t there was one aspect to myself that I didn’t understand, certainly as a kid and a teenager, and and even into, into my 20s, which was that sometimes I wanted to be alone. And sometimes I was very good dairies. And I didn’t understand the relationship between those two sides of me, really, they seem to be so different, that they didn’t make sense. And then gradually, I, I recently found the term unbelievers that that describes people like me, and that there are others who who, who can be gregarious, who lived in the various and also like being alone. And that it is something that that is more common than perhaps I thought, at the time, and, and that’s fine. And that is just me. And so now, what I want to be alone, I don’t sweat it. When I want to be with other people, I don’t sweat it either. Because I recognise that I need both things, and that that neither of those things cancel the other.
David Ralph [34:56]
Online that totally though, and I, I think it’s always been a weird thing. I’ve been a trainer. So I’m always getting up and doing training courses. And I have a switch, I can switch mentally bang. And then I’m the force of the room. And I can do my my presentation, my show whatever, and then withdraw into myself. But when I withdraw into myself, I don’t want to talk to anyone, I just want to sort of be my own little box, doing my own little thing before I’ve been happy to flip that switch and burst out into the world again. And I’m very much like that on the mic. If you hear me on the mic now. Yes, this is me. And if you hear me in a social situation, there’s no difference. It’s pretty much the same. But the bit in the middle, that’s my own time. And I now look at that. That’s the way that we recharge ourselves ready for the big stuff. You know, you can go hell for level all the time, could you you’ve got to have those quiet times when you reflect and you sit there and you recharge yourself and you don’t have kids bothering you in the white bothering you and work bothering you and all that kind of stuff. But when you do then go right, I’m ready to go. Bang, you’re on 100% saying because you’ve had that time. That’s that’s the way I think of it anyway.
Keith Khan Harris [36:05]
Yeah, exactly. I mean, it may be that actually, the most of us are? Actually, I’m not sure.
But certainly, it’s probably more common than I once thought,
David Ralph [36:18]
is a small world. But I think we could do a combined investigation. I think near because I’ve never heard a word and Bieber until then. You aren’t changing me. So where do you get these ideas from? You’re creating this life. And it’s very much a world of your own creation? Is it this case that you you kind of just something piques your interest you’re sitting watching Telly and something is said and you think, Oh, I never heard of that? Or is there a structure to what you’re developing. So when you look back on your life work, you could go yes, I could actually Join Up Dots. And my work is complete.
Keith Khan Harris [36:59]
I think increasing now that I’m kind of restricted to just three pressure time to my two principal, writing and research interests, which is Jews and metal, and sometimes both together. It’s it’s and so there’s that, and also the necessity of making a living, kind of which is more serious and more urgent, because I’m older now and I have a family sport and all that kind of stuff. It means that I’m a I’m a little less free than I then I once was. And also once you start on on this sort of process of becoming expert in certain things, which has taken me a very long time, then it then it starts to take on a momentum of its own, and project lead to other projects and stuff like that. So I still have having said all that I still have a file in Evernote, I keep lists of other books, I want to write other things that I want to do. And I hope to get around with other points and it just keeps growing and growing and growing. And it’s you know, it’s some point, hopefully, there’ll be some some new interest from that, but I can perceive I can’t stop myself thinking things just pop into my head all the time. It just kind of restless energy to, to what I’m doing, which isn’t always helpful. Sometimes it’d be easier just to be a bit more focused. But you know, ideas still come and still excited me. I mean, I think he of trying to get some of these ideas out out there because it’s actually getting a little bit frustrating that I have to prioritise work the serious stuff, and sometimes can’t do these more whimsical things. The writer philosopher George Steiner wrote a book a few years ago called my unwritten books, which was he’d written many books in his lifetime. It was a book basically, where each chapter described a book that he had once hoped to write, but for, for various reasons, had to abandon the project will never had time or so on. And I’m thinking of writing something similar myself. In fact, maybe we should all do that maybe that everybody who has built they’ve got a book in the morning, or, in my case, several books in them should, should should get out the books, they’ll never right. Or at least in summary form. I mean, I’ve written and published four books, I’m very proud of that. There are another 50 to 100 books that I like to write and will never write.
David Ralph [39:47]
I always fiction or nonfiction. Which Which way do you go?
Keith Khan Harris [39:52]
No, no, no, it’s not fiction. I mean, I’ve never written fiction. They’re practically all nonfiction. Although I’ve had the old fiction idea, but I think that is one area I’m not gonna go into because I think if you want to write a fiction, but you’ve got to be absolutely passionate about it, and I’m, I have the occasional twinge of desire to write fiction, but it I don’t think it’s ever going to happen. I did have a very good idea for fiction, but I couldn’t. I could never pull it off. Do you want to hear it?
David Ralph [40:25]
Yeah, go for it.
Keith Khan Harris [40:27]
You know, if you remember the book fatherland by Robert Harris, yes. It’s a book. It’s a thriller, based on the premise set in the 1950s, but it’s set in Germany by the Nazis and won the war. And there’s actually it’s almost like a sub genre itself, there are plenty of books that take their premise that the Nazis had won the war. And I quite like books like that are quite likely transitive histories and stuff. But I thought of writing a book, a fiction book, faith, which written with the premise that the Allies had won the war, but from the perspective of a Nazi in Germany that had won the war. Right. So what would it be like if we were living in a world in which the Nazis had won the war? Would there be people writing dystopian thrillers about what would happen if the Allies had won the war in Germany? And probably think I’m absolutely nuts now. Now, you’d have to be a brilliant, brilliant writer to pull something like that off. And I don’t think I’m a brilliant writer, certainly in terms of fiction.
But it’s it’s an idea that I quite like
David Ralph [41:45]
the idea. It’s a good idea, I think.
Keith Khan Harris [41:47]
I think people would actually find it. Some people would find it grossly offensive. Actually, the idea that the Allies winning the war was actually a dystopia
David Ralph [41:58]
by Martin Amos called times era,
Keith Khan Harris [42:01]
times era, yes. Yeah. So you know, there are there are, you know, it’s just a sort of different take on the on. It’s a different take on the idea of alternative futures and stuff. But you know, that that is one book, I will never write, although I’d like to write a couple of pages, some sometime on it. Maybe somebody else can pick up the idea.
David Ralph [42:25]
Absolutely. Where you got a huge audience listening here. I bet that somebody scribbling away thinking, I see it, that’s the idea I’ve been waiting for. And
Keith Khan Harris [42:36]
if they are good luck to you, and I look forward to read here,
David Ralph [42:39]
that that takes the pressure off your win that it would if you can lay down on the sofa vegging out knowing that you’ve got a few days off because someone somewhere is doing your work. Perfect. That’s the life we want. So with yourself, what you aiming for now keep so you are focused on the British Jewish community and extreme metal singing and all that kind of stuff. And even though I’m talking to you with you, and you’re talking with such passion, in my head, I kind of think, how is there enough to write on here to build a career, that that’s where my brain doesn’t kind of operate? I think to myself, How can you do this day in day out on such small, small world?
Keith Khan Harris [43:20]
What I mean, the Jewish world is, is pretty big. I mean, it’s 15 million people around the world, 3000 in the UK, a lot happening with it. And there are a lot of different facets with it. And they’re not that many people doing that kind of research in Britain. So there’s plenty of Skype in Britain for doing that. And in terms of metal, it’s actually bigger than you think we’re talking about millions of people worldwide, and it’s changing all the time. One thing that I’ve really enjoyed the last few years, I mean, might might, my book came out in 2007. But since then, I’ve been kind of tracking the changes in the scene. And so you know, in that respect, you could write about it non stop, because things are always changing.
David Ralph [44:00]
Well, just to kind of the style of music or the characters, or how is that kind of changing,
Keith Khan Harris [44:06]
partly the aesthetics and the music itself, but also the circumstances in which it resides? I mean, we’re living in the extreme extreme metal scenes are different today, to when I was doing my PhD because of the impact of the internet and who knows what developments will affect it tomorrow, ditto in the Jewish world. The Jewish world changes as the rest of the world changes, and it’s constantly changing at a very fast pace.
David Ralph [44:33]
Have you lost any of your hearing going to extreme metal.
Keith Khan Harris [44:39]
I wear earplugs now. And actually said most people, because
David Ralph [44:44]
because I went to a tribute band many years ago, it was a status quo tribute band. And it’s not exactly metal, but you know, the clothes got their place. And this this pad was so loud, it my ears rang for three days afterwards. Now, I’ve lost over sort of high range of my my hearing I can’t hear. So if I’m in a sort of field or abroad and people say oh, listen to all those crickets, Kaneva moto is absolutely blocked out. So were you aware that that kind of noise could cause you problems when you were a young man? Or did you just saw ploughing through it like I did thinking it’s gonna be loud.
Keith Khan Harris [45:22]
I was vaguely aware of it when I was when I started going to keep things but I think generally, there’s more awareness of it. Now, whether you’re a teenager or somewhere in my age, I mean, you go to gigs, look just metal gigs, other forms of music. And you will see people wearing earplugs, it’s also because they are plugged technology is actually got better. They’re plugged in get now that that the problem with earplugs has always been they feel throughout. They actually, it doesn’t just make everything quieter, it also cut some of the rain. Now you can get a plug that don’t do that. If you look at any band on stage these days, not any band, but most bands, they’ll be wearing earplugs.
David Ralph [46:06]
Yeah, I must be because when I realised my hearing adapter bit, I had to go to this gig. And I was really Oh my god, I can’t lose any more my ears. I’ve got to protect them. And I realised that when I had the earplugs in, because it kind of hold the volume by sounded terrible. And when I sort of took them out, I send it away again. And it was it was that volume that kind of increase the quality somehow because I couldn’t hear the intricacies of the music.
Keith Khan Harris [46:33]
Yeah, exactly. I mean, you know, you have to, you’ve got to make the sacrifices these days.
David Ralph [46:40]
You do you do. And just before we bring you to the end of the show, and I put you on the mic, when we send you back to have a one on one with your younger self. I want to send you forward. So when you saw like 19 you’re laying on your bed. What What do you think the world is going to remember Keith can Harris What would you like to say that was my mark?
Keith Khan Harris [47:02]
Well, I’m kind of satisfied with having published books. I’d like I’ve published four plus a few editing collections. I would like to publish more. But you know, even if, you know, I never publish anything else. You know that? That’s, that’s my that’s my mark. And I think that’s a great thing about book. So there you do have to I mean, one of one of the sobering facts is that when you do publish a book is that you realise that every year, hundreds of thousands of other people are also publishing books. So I’m not I’m not making any illusions about my books is still going to be read in 100 200 years time. But at the very least, they’ll be in a library somewhere, probably a digital tool library. And it will be there probably for the indefinite future. And for me, that’s enough.
David Ralph [47:51]
I wrote a book once and I’ve never published it. And it was the process of writing it one of my colleagues said to me, oh, you’re always writing things. Why don’t you write a book and I went, I might do one day when you’re never do it. So I went, Okay, I will, I will. And I’m going to start now. And I was lucky, I was in a job up in a city where you could get away with days and not doing anything at all. And so I’d sit there writing this, this book, and it went from one page to 20 pages to 40 pages all the way through. And it became such a chore because what I’ve realised now, if anyone is going to write a book, unless you’re a lot better at it than me, which I bet you probably are. Just write it, just write the storey, boom, get it away, I started editing as I was going. And I found then that I had read the book 600 times. And it became boring to me where when somebody picked it up fresh, it was a good storey. And I had that same vision but or it would be in the British Museum, and my mark would be left this book, but I’ve got it on a disc, and I’ve never published it on or move on.
Keith Kahn Harris [48:52]
Well, I think the difficulty is about books and not are not writing and editing them.
David Ralph [48:57]
It certainly was a case of my artist got sick death of going over this storey trying to sort of find areas I hadn’t quite got, right, he just lost its fruit to me probably if I started now, I haven’t looked at it for 10 years, I probably got this is pretty good. I should get it out there. But um, maybe maybe one day, maybe one day. So that’s your mark, that’s your mark on the world, but you’ve left your books. And that’s that’s a great thing to leave, isn’t it? Because so many people do come and go on this world, and they don’t leave anything behind. I heard only 1% of the world’s population ever leaves their Mark 99% just come and go. And nobody remembers them.
Keith Kahn Harris [49:35]
Yeah, I mean, it doesn’t mean that if you don’t, I mean, having kids, of course, is another way of leaving your mouth. But to some extent, we will leave our mark because the world is a single system. And you take one personality, unless it’s a hermit living in a cave. You know, we’ve all had an impact. I mean, some impacts may be bigger than others. But everybody, the world is different. For every person having it in it.
And going I should be quite comforting. I think it’s, I find it comforting.
David Ralph [50:08]
Well, let’s come at you together. And that’s it. Let’s go. I’m gonna I’m gonna put you on the mic. Now, this is a sermon on the mic, and I’m going to play the theme tune and as it’s playing, this is when you will be transported back in time to have a one on one with your younger self. And if you did walk into a room and you saw a young key, what age Keith, would you choose? Would it be the five year old sitting with a Guinness Book of Records? Would it be the university key? What kind of advice would you give them. So this is the Sermon on the mic.
Unknown Speaker [50:42]
Here we go with the best of the show.
Keith Kahn Harris [51:01]
I think what the self that I’d like to address would be my university age self, or at least myself in the first few years of my 20s. And I suppose the thing that I would tell them would be to reassure them that at some point, I do get married and have a family.
Unknown Speaker [51:24]
Because that was
Keith Kahn Harris [51:24]
one of the things that I was very irrationally worried about.
That, that I’d never find someone, and I did find someone. And I’d like to tell myself that when I’m younger, so I can have a bit more fun when I was single, and not overlap with so much anxiety. But I also tell my younger self, something that I’ve learned, since having children really, which is if you put that thought of yourself to one side, if you’re happy and confident with your home life, then the rest of yourself can really flourish. And that by not worrying so much about my social life and my love life and stuff like that, that would free me up for all sorts of wonderful things that I could have done in my university is in my teens and my 20s that I didn’t do because I was spending so much time worrying about social and romantic methods. And that’s, I think, what I’d like to tell my younger self. So that’s my sermon on the mind.
David Ralph [52:36]
Well, I hope he’s listening young key, pay attention, get out there and have affairs and start because the family life is going to take care of itself. Just have fun. I think that’s true for everyone, isn’t it? I think when I look back on my sort of younger days, I think there was part of me that was very flippin and whatever come my way, was fine. But I remember having those same thoughts thinking, not that I was never going to get married by kind of had a social timeline where I thought, oh, I’ve got to move out from home at a certain stage. Wouldn’t it be terrible if I’m in my 30s? And still living with my mom and dad? And wouldn’t it be terrible if I got to this age, and I kind of had those kind of mental benchmarks. But in all honesty, life happens. And it all takes care of itself, doesn’t it?
Keith Kahn Harris [53:20]
Yeah, exactly. And actually, one thing that has surprised me about going being older is that actually, as I said earlier, that the real pleasures in being in your 40s, and that, I think I had this model of, of life when I was in my teens, and when I was in my 20s that this had to be the best days of your life. And maybe it can be the best days of your life. And indeed, some of them were the best days of my life. But actually, life doesn’t stop after that. And actually, there are real pleasures. In being middle Asian, they’ll probably be great pleasures and being old. And I think young people sometimes forget that. Alex, it’s been a very pleasant surprise for me.
David Ralph [54:03]
I’m looking forward to being my dad’s ag 76. And he just walks around saying what he wants, and he seems liberating, but he doesn’t really care.
Keith Kahn Harris [54:11]
Well, it’s like that. There’s that problem when I’m older, where you know that when you’re old, you do what you want, or at least that’s the plan.
David Ralph [54:20]
And I think he’s living the fantasy I really do. Keith, how can people connect with you?
Keith Kahn Harris [54:29]
I am on twitter at Keith Harris.
And I have a website which is harris.org Kh n hyphen h a double r.org
David Ralph [54:43]
I will have all those links on the show notes is thank you so much for spending time with us today. And joining up the dots of your life. Please come back again when you have more dots to join up because I believe it but joining those dots and connecting our past is the best way to build our futures. Keith, thank you so much.
Keith Kahn Harris [55:00]
Thank you Good luck with the show.
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