Life Lessons from a Bartender with Jason Harrell

Have you ever been a bartender? Or have you ever ordered a drink from a bartender? If so, have you ever received advice from a bartender? Have you ever interacted with a bartender that you found particularly interesting. To some surprise, most bartenders have other jobs, side hustles, where they are also generating profit. They work tirelessly to live their lives according to their standards, and feelings of motivation and inspiration play a large role in this. On today’s episode of the James Swanwick Show, James talks to a bartender about the good, the bad, and the lessons learned from bartending.

Grab a stool, as the author of The Bartending Therapist, Jason Herald, talks about society from a bartender's perspective. Jason lives by the motto, “the bar is a metaphor for life, it is a place that provides good times, memories, and life lessons.” Jason realized this when he started to bartend after leaving a career in sportscasting. When Jason entered the bartending scene, he did not realize that one day he would have a book all about his adventures with bartending, and life in general. Listen to this week's episode, as Jason explains valuable life lessons he picked up while behind the bar.

Key Points

  • Jason talks about life, and the lessons he has learned throughout, while hoping others can learn from them as well.
  • People need to be motivated, but more than just motivation, they need action.
  • Motivation without action results in nothing.
  • A sense of motivation and inspiration can be seen throughout Jason’s book, which persuade the reader to jump into action.
  • Often times people will ridicule Jason for being a bartender, and claim he does not have the authority to give advice on life.
  • His advice? People will always say “you are just a…” Do not let their negativity affect you.
  • Things Jason has learned from bartending:
    • One of the highlights is the people you get to meet.
    • For the most part, at the root of humanity, people are good. Sometimes people just chose to do shitty things.
    • Learn to maximize your time. Bartending allows you to work flexible hours, so you can work multiple jobs.
    • Take advantage of the diverse crowd and take time to network.
  • Moving moments: Big family get togethers, parties
  • Negative moments: Seeing teenagers have to pick up their intoxicated parents from the bar.
  • Different types of people that come in:
    • Drunk girl: An attention seeker, who will stand up on the bar, also known as the ‘hot mess.’
    • Drunk guy: Belts a very off-key “Don’t Stop Believing,” often having an alpha personality, yet still gets all the girls.
    • The wallflower: Comes in frequently, but does not say a word to others.
    • The creeper: Enters the bar, sits somewhere quietly, gets drunk, and then proceeds to make a move on the prettiest girl at the bar.
    • The regular: Comes into the bar frequently, where the bartender knows your order. Two types follow,
      • Prophets: people that are there every night that discuss what they are going to do.
      • Warriors: people that come in, eat, grab a beer, talk a bit, but are there an hour tops.
  • For bartenders it’s easy to break a conversation because they can simply say they have things to do, like cleaning.
  • If someone is bothering girls, Jason says he often times tries to get, said creeper, distracted enough to leave others alone.
  • Interesting fact about Jason:  He does not look at tips until after the customers leave because he does not want it to effect his work ethic.
  • Overall lessons learned:
    • Don’t have a preconceived notion on a person, nix the stereotypes.
    • Constantly calculating moves, trying to do tasks to save just a few minutes.
    • Always look to optimize time.
    • People come into your life, sometimes only for a moment, and once you can recognize that, you can witness something special.


For Jason’s Book: The Bartending Therapist

For signed copies of the book you can contact Jason here.


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