Over the last 12 years or so since I started Copyblogger, I’ve had an amazing journey. Along the way, I’ve also been fortunate to watch the journeys of those who started about the same time, as well as those that broke out in the following years.
One of those people is my friend Jonathan Fields, author and the founder of The Good Life Project. In many ways, we’ve been on parallel paths even before we first met back in 2008 — he also practiced law, and like me, found it to be awful. And then we both turned to the digital world, built audiences, and developed products and services for the people who came on the journey with us.
Now in 2018, we’re both concurrently taking a moment to pause, reflect, and envision the next leg of our journeys. In other words, where do you go next once you realize that bigger is not necessarily better, and instead decide to aim for truly better.
The Show Notes
The Entrepreneurial Good Life, with Jonathan Fields
Jonathan Fields: Hey, I’m Jonathan Fields, a New York City dad, husband and maker. I create things — from companies to media experiences, even physical objects — that I hope in some way will move people and awaken possibility. And, yes, I am unemployable.
Voiceover: Welcome to Unemployable, the show for people who can get a job, they’re just not inclined to take one, and that’s putting it gently. In addition to this podcast, thousands of freelancers and entrepreneurs get actionable advice and other valuable resources from the weekly Unemployable email newsletter. Join us by registering for our Free Profit Pillars Course or choose to sign up for the newsletter only at no charge. Simply head over to Unemployable.com, and take your business and lifestyle to the next level. That’s Unemployable.com.
Brian Clark: Over the last 12 years or so since I started Copyblogger, I’ve had an amazing journey. Along the way, I’ve also been fortunate to watch the journeys of those who started about the same time, as well as those who broke out in the following years.
One of those people is my friend Jonathan Fields, author and the founder of the Good Life Project. In many ways, we’ve been on parallel paths even before we first met back in 2008. He also practiced law and, like me, found it to be awful. Then we both turned to the digital world, building audiences and developing products and services for the people who came on the journey with us.
Now in 2018, we’re both concurrently taking a moment to pause, reflect, and envision the next leg of our journeys. In other words, where do you go next once you realize that bigger is not necessarily better and instead decide to aim for truly better?
Jonathan, thank you so much for being here. It has been too long since we last caught up. We’ve known each other a long time.
Jonathan Fields: Yeah, man. I was actually thinking about this recently. Do you remember — I mean, we were trading emails — but do you remember the first time we actually met in person?
Brian Clark: God, it’s hazy. No, I don’t.
Jonathan Fields: I think I know why it’s hazy, actually, because I’m pretty sure…
Brian Clark: Yeah, those days, I know why too.
Jonathan Fields: I’m pretty sure that we met, I think it was in March 2008 in Austin, Texas at South By Southwest. You, me, Darren Rowse and a bunch of other early bloggers were driving around on the school bus with beer kegs planted in the middle of it.
Brian Clark: That sounds plausible. Actually, I do remember that now. And South By Southwest was kind of…
Jonathan Fields: It was quaint then. It was smallish.
Brian Clark: Smaller at least, and now it’s like the funny saying, “No one goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.” Yeah, that’s right. Then we, as a company, got into throwing those South By Southwest parties and those were also hazy. So, good times, actually.
Jonathan Fields: Yeah. We’ve known each other for like a decade now.
Where Did Your Journey Begin?
Brian Clark: Okay, I’m stepping on your journey, which I want you to relate for everyone, but what year did Career Renegade come out?
Jonathan Fields: Career Renegade came out in January of 2009. I remember that, because the fundamental message of the book was, “Hey, quit your job and do what you love.” And it came out literally in the single worst week in the history of the economy since the Great Depression.
Brian Clark: So a lot of people didn’t actually get the opportunity to quit their job.
Jonathan Fields: No, it was kind of a disastrous message to be sending out at that one particular moment in time. At the same time, it was also an interesting marketing challenge for me to reframe what it was about, since millions of people were losing their jobs and the jobs that they were losing actually didn’t exist anymore. So it was like reframing it as giving people permission to actually not go back to the same job in a different company, but really take that moment to explore, “What am I here to do?”
Brian Clark: Yeah, absolutely. Okay, so let’s go back a little before that. Because your entire pathway like mine…this is funny. Well, okay, so to spoil this part, Jonathan also used to be an attorney. About a month ago I had on Jordan Harbinger, formerly Art of Charm, now has his own show, and he’s a former attorney.
Then there’s a small group of attorneys that follow me on Twitter, great guys. I mean, they all are guys for some reason. But they seem to see, “Oh, look at all these former attorneys who have all gone into this space, this must be a thing.” Jordan responded to that comment and said, “That’s just confirmation bias. That’s what you want for yourself, so you see it everywhere.”
I thought that was kind of humorous, especially given what a nice guy Jordan is. It came across a little harsh. So talk a little bit about your version of that story.
Jonathan Fields: Yeah. I was a lemonade stand kid. I was an entrepreneur and for some strange reason or a series of reasons, I made a weird left turn and went to law school. I was very fortunate, did well in school, came out and ended up as an enforcement attorney for the United States Securities and Exchange Commission in New York, investigating insider trading and all this other crazy stuff under the veil of secrecy.
Then I split off to one of the giant firms in New York doing M&A and securities work and stuff like that for a short amount of time until my body rejected my career. I ended up with a huge infection in the middle of my body that ate a hole through my intestines from the inside out, when my immune system collapsed from the stress. I ended up in emergency surgery, and I was like, “I’m pretty sure that’s not supposed to happen.”
For me, that was a wakeup call. Had I loved the practice, I probably would have just changed the way I was going about it, just made a lot of changes. But I didn’t. And I really realized that I was killing myself for something that I had no genuine interest in. I started making a list of the things that I would rather be doing and they all involved entrepreneurship, making things and being creative.
I started plotting my course. I knew I was going to take a huge hit on my way out. So I started also saving a whole bunch of money, because I was at a point in my life where I didn’t really want to live hand to mouth anymore. Date certain came, and I went from making a substantial figure to making 12 bucks an hour as a personal trainer, so I could learn the fitness industry from the inside out and start to build some better mouse traps in that space.
Brian Clark: That’s fascinating. It’s especially interesting to me personally that you were the entrepreneurial type, as you say a lemonade stand kid. I kind of was in the fact that I would go out and mow lawns and collect bottles for the deposit, but that was really goal directed. I wanted to play video games and buy comic books. I didn’t think of it in a business sense, and I never thought of myself as an entrepreneur at all.
So when I finished up college, law school was just like, “It’s either this or get a bad job,” which is not a good reason to go to law school either. But I did really well there. But once I got into the practice, I’m like, “No way. There is no way I’m ruining my life doing this.”
Then once you quit and you have to sink or swim, that’s when the tendency came out of me where I’m like, “I really like just doing this,” because you do get to make stuff. And I think we share that in common.
Jonathan Fields: My essential nature is to be a maker. I walk down the street and I’m like, “There is a problem that can be solved. There is something that can be created.” For me, what I’ve realized is, yes, I do love the process of entrepreneurship. I like creating businesses, I’ve done it a bunch of times over, as have you at this point.
But also, I like making art. I literally spent half of March of this year in some guy’s small ramshackle studio in Pennsylvania learning how to build a guitar from scratch, an acoustic guitar, just because I was missing making physical objects with my hands. I’ve been so knowledge-based and sort of business-oriented, I was jonesing to do that. So I took out the month and I was going back and forth half of every week, making stuff.
It’s part of my nature, and it sounds like it’s a part of you too. When we get too far from that essential nature, stuff just doesn’t work right.
How Creativity Plays a Role in Entrepreneurship
Brian Clark: I want to get back to your path, because it’s interesting how that personal trainer, $12 an hour job evolved.
But one comment on that. I mean, I don’t by any means call myself an artist, but do you feel that you have to have an aspect of that propensity, if you will? I don’t know what the right word is, but an artistic inclination, maybe an artistic soul to the extent that the most important things to me still are music and books and film, even though I don’t create stuff like that. I almost think I don’t, because I hold it in such high regard. But I do enjoy creating businesses. I’m just driven that way. Any act of creation, it resembles any other act of creation.
But do you think it’s important for entrepreneurs to have an element of that in them as opposed to the stereotypical, “I’ll do anything to make a bunch of money and cash out” type?
Jonathan Fields: Yeah, I think that drive has to be in there. To me, it’s the creative impulse. It’s the drive to make an idea manifest, to see something or feel something and just know that this needs to in some way come out of my head and be real in the world.
For you, it’s like your canvas is business, but you have a deep appreciation for music as do I. The funny thing I just mentioned, I just built an acoustic guitar. I’m a terrible guitar player.
Brian Clark: Me too.
Jonathan Fields: I mean, I really suck. I’ve been playing my whole life and I’m really bad. But I know what really beautiful guitar sounds like — Stevie Ray Vaughan and B.B King and classic blues players. I have their lyrics and their songs memorized. But I have more of the impulse to make the physical thing with my hands than to devote myself to hearing what I conceive or want to play in my head, and then developing the skill set to let it get out of my fingers and the instruments.
I think you do have to have that impulse, but how it gets expressed and what the channels and the mechanisms and the skills and abilities that we draw upon are just completely unique to each person. And some people change over time. I think if you have that impulse…We have seasons where sometimes it’s applied fiercely to one particular thing. Like right now, you may be in a season where that impulse is really showing itself in the form of business.
But you may hit another season where 10 years from now, it starts to show up in your life in a very different way. I think you see that in a lot of people who’ve been invested in the process of creation over decades and decades and decades.
Brian Clark: Yeah. I’m back to the season — I mean, I went from wanting to become a writer who became an entrepreneur who could write, who launched something based on my writing that turned me into a CEO, which made me not write. You know what I’m saying?
Now my season is “I’m back to writing now.” Is there ultimately going to be a business purpose behind it? Yes. But it’s a little more manifesto-ish than you might think, and this is stuff that’s pending.
You’re right. I like the word season, because it’s not some static linear thing. You go through your ebbs and flows and I think some of those periods could be deemed more highly creative than otherwise. Although everything about entrepreneurship ultimately — the decisions you make, the people you hire — it impacts the end result. It’s an ultimate act of creation.
Jonathan Fields: Yeah. You’re the maestro. You’re sitting there conducting a symphony with analyst variabilities, from the tonality of the instruments and the one luthier who made the cello to the skill of the person, to the background, to the quality of the sound in the room. You’re the person who’s taking it all in and helping shape it into what you hope it can become.
Jonathan’s Path from Attorney to Personal Trainer to Business Owner
Brian Clark: I want to talk a bit about this transition from attorney to $12 an hour personal trainer.
$12 an hour personal trainer to learn. I love that right there in the essence that so many people want to jump ahead to the glory and don’t understand that sometimes you achieve something way bigger down the road by a little bit of knuckling down, being humble and learning. Talk about that phase.
Jonathan Fields: Yeah, I’ve always been a very physical person and I’ve always been fascinated by the world of wellness, fitness, lifestyle. I always knew that the health and fitness industry was really badly broken and to this day remains really badly broken. The stats generally are that 80 – 85% of adults in the US will not join or stay members of a health club, yet some 95% of the same people say that exercising on a regular basis, three to five times a week, is a must to live the life that they want to live. There’s some massive disconnect between what people know and want and what’s being offered by the industry.
Exactly to your point, I was coming out of a job where I had business jobs, I had legal jobs, I had analytical jobs, I had communications jobs. I could very well have said, “Well, let me go see if I can find a management position in a bigger company in the industry.”
But to me, I wanted to understand what’s going right and where are things breaking down on the most fundamental point of service in this industry, so that I can then reverse engineer how to do it better, and then build my own thing. That’s why I went and got a job as a $12 an hour personal trainer rather than trying to step in at a mid-level management thing, because it wouldn’t have given me what I needed. It wouldn’t have given me the raw material.
Like you said, I had a long-term perspective. I wasn’t looking to create something tomorrow. I was looking to really understand the industry. The fact that I was making 12 bucks an hour was less of an issue, because to me, I was getting paid something to get an education in a space that was brand new too, and that was okay.
My job was basically to just devour knowledge while I was there and figure out what was broke, and then figuring out how to fix it. And that’s what I did. I took that and the problems became really clear to me pretty quickly. From there, I went out on my own and about a year later, I opened my first facility, a fitness facility, which was about a 5,000 square foot private training facility. It was like a George Costanza opposite state. It’s like whatever the mainstream industry was doing, we did the opposite.
In doing that, we were surrounded on one side by a 40,000 square foot fitness club and a 25,000 square foot fitness club. Within the first year or so, I think we were generating more service revenue in a month than the average big box club was generating in a year. It was really by not being constrained by what everybody else was doing and coming in completely fresh and doing something very different.
How Did That Endeavor Develop and Evolve?
Brian Clark: Yeah, that’s fascinating. Where did you end up in that endeavor? And how big a part did yoga play at that time? Which was kind of ahead of its time, maybe not for New York City, I’m not sure, but certainly mainstream United States.
Jonathan Fields: Yeah. For me, about two and a half years into that company, I sold my interest in the company to an investor group. I had been doing yoga in the background. Our physical facility was outside of New York City, and I lived in New York City and I was getting tired of a bunch of things that I wanted to be back full time in the city. So I exited that company and then got really fascinated about the world of yoga and the business of yoga in New York. I realized there were a lot of issues in that world as well.
On September 10th, 2001 with a three-month-old baby, married and a new home, I signed a six-year lease for a floor in a building in Manhattan, the day before 9/11, with the goal of opening what I hoped would become sort of like the premier, a bit of a rabble-rouser approach to creating a yoga center in New York City.
We all know what happened the next day. It was mass devastation. There was nobody who lived here, and I’m a longtime New Yorker, nobody got out without having lost somebody that they knew that day. It was absolutely devastating. And I had to make some decisions about whether I was going to try and launch a new business into this abyss of pain. It was a really tough decision.
But there was also never a greater need for community and for healing in New York City than there was then. And that, along with a number of other things, led me to go ahead with it. We opened about eight weeks later in a very different way. I had planned a big fancy fitness launch and celebration and party and you couldn’t do that in New York then. We opened in a much gentler, inviting way.
Because of what we were doing and creating, because of the deeply welcoming and opening vibe that we created, we grew very quickly. In the early days, the location was actually two avenue blocks away from the pier where a lot of the relief workers were being staged for Ground Zero. We would just send people down there and say, “Just come.” We’d send people on the street and say, “Don’t pay. Just come and be part of the community. Here’s a place for you to just breathe and cry and be with other people and meditate and move your body. Do whatever you need to do.”
We grew nicely and we were able to serve in a way that I never conceived we’d be able to serve. That company grew pretty rapidly. It became a pretty substantial community and business and adding floors and a whole staff of teachers and managers, and trainings and then branching into media back in the day, where you actually created videos on videos. Good old VHS, and then DVDs.
I found myself not only running a company, but also being a teacher and producing media and being featured on media. And that was a whole different adventure for me as well.
How Did You Go from Business Owner to Author?
Brian Clark: Yeah, and at that point, you can sort of see where the idea for the book Career Renegade came from. You fit the mold as much as anyone. I remember that you and I had an extensive conversation. You were kind enough to interview me for that book. Was that really the next step? Or were there interim ideas?
Jonathan Fields: That was kind of it. I was seven years into running the yoga center and I was getting itchy again. And I didn’t even realize I had become really interested in writing. I’d done a lot of writing. I had studied a lot of writing for influence and writing for business and copywriting at that point. Again, you and I have these bizarre parallels. I was fascinated by writing to change human behavior.
I was very fortunate and able to sell my first book deal to what was then an imprint of Random House. And I kind of made the decision. The business was doing very well and so I had the opportunity to once again exit, to sell the company, and to really focus all of my energies on creating media, being online, speaking and building more digital endeavors than physical endeavors.
I actually still really miss having physical spaces. There’s something kind of magical and very tangible about it. In the world that you and I tend to operate in, even if you have an office with some people in it. I can’t remember whether you guys have a physical space. Our team is distributed around the country.
Brian Clark: So are we.
Jonathan Fields: Yeah. So even though we have people (we see each other virtually on a pretty regular basis), it’s just very different than walking in the door and having this Norm from Cheers thing happen where it’s like, “Hey.”
Brian Clark: Yeah, no, it’s weird. I had an early interest in real estate after I segued out of law. But ultimately, the digital life as an entrepreneur is so much more manageable than dealing with physical spaces and the expense and overhead that that entails. But yeah, there is something you miss about it.
Jonathan Fields: Yeah, I look at it, and I’ve been out of the physical space-based entrepreneurship for 10 years now, because it was 2008 when I started working on that first book and exited. But I’ll tell you, I’m still called to it.
There is still as much, if not greater, opportunity in the fitness and wellness industry right now. It’s slightly less broken than it used to be, but it’s still really broken, and I have a lot of ideas on how to fix it. But they all involve in some way, shape or form physical locations, and I’m just not quite ready to go back there yet and lock myself into that paradigm. Who knows, maybe I’ll end up partnering with some other people to make it happen.
Why Did You Begin Good Life Project and How Has It Evolved?
Brian Clark: It is interesting the increase in wellness resorts, fitness retreats, that type of thing. I know you incorporate some of that into your annual events, which I want to talk about. Is it the right time to move forward to Good Life Project?
What you did when you started that with video to me was an example of real professional media by someone who would not be considered in the normal media world. This is something all of us know we’re doing. We’re creating media even though some people own blogs or own YouTube. You know what I’m saying? But that’s short-sighted, because it really is a different form of media production and audience building obviously.
When you started Good Life Project and did your video, sit down interviews, I was so impressed, so blown away. And I know that was hard. So, talk about why you did it and then what it evolved into.
Jonathan Fields: At this point, it’s the beginning of 2012. I’ve got two books under my belt and I started jonesing to create media on a different level in the virtual space. Everything seemed to be going shorter and shorter form, but I wanted to do long-form media. I wanted to do in-depth conversations and I wanted to do them on video. Like you mentioned, I wanted to produce them with broadcast quality.
Something sort of snapped in me in a weird way in 2012 and I basically said, “Anything I put out into the world can’t just be another thing. It has to in some way raise the bar.” And so I said, “If we’re going to do video, we need to raise the bar.”
I decided, “We’re going to film on location with a three-camera shoot and a crew and do this on a whole different level,” because something happened and I just didn’t want to put anything into the world that didn’t represent something truly extraordinary. Not just in the core content but in the production value behind the content too. And it needed to represent the aesthetic that I had in my mind.
You’re right, that wasn’t easy and it cost a lot of money, and we were traveling…
Brian Clark: But you killed it. It’s almost like, “Okay, is this sustainable?” Maybe not, but did it serve an incredible purpose for the brand? It’s just so meaningful to so many people to this day with your summer camp for adults, which I want to talk about in a bit. It was impressive and it showed a level of commitment to quality. I think other people are like, “How do I get by? How do I do this video thing on the cheap?” And you’re like, “No, how do we do it exceptionally well?”
Jonathan Fields: Yeah. Well, it’s also the thing in me that says, “If everybody’s zigging, I want to zag.”
Brian Clark: Exactly. I live by that.
Jonathan Fields: It’s like, “Okay, so if that’s what everyone’s doing, then that ain’t going to last for long.” It’s just not what I want to do. And you’re right, because we were so different and producing at such a different level, we gained a vast audience pretty quickly and started to grow pretty rapidly.
The other thing that I did simultaneously with that is because I knew I wanted to be able to fund that level of production, we started rolling out. We launched this company called Good Life Project in the beginning of 2012. There are essentially two legs in the stool or three legs in the stool. There’s media, there’s education and there’s community.
I knew in the early days that I wanted to fund a very high level of production on the media side. I knew we were going to have to fund that through the education side of the company. So we started to produce trainings and intensive year-long programs and gatherings and stuff like that, largely focused on conscious business founders and helping them figure out how to build and scale businesses that were not just about money (money is certainly important), but also about, in some way, letting the thing that they were building become aligned expressions of who they were and what was meaningful to them. And that worked well.
So we launched the first program. We sold out pretty quickly. That funded the media and that program kept renewing on an annual basis, getting bigger and bigger and filling faster. And that funded a couple of years of video production.
Then something happened and I got interested in audio. As soon as that bug bit me, I was more or less done with video. There were a whole bunch of things about audio that really just lit me up in a way that video never did. Video was kind of a really interesting challenge, “Let’s produce something beautiful and extraordinary and raise the bar.” But then audio, there was something much more visceral about it, much more intimate, much more deep that drew me to it immediately.
We basically shifted gears pretty quickly and it surprised a lot of people, because they were like, “Well, you’re out there leading the game with video, why would you wind down the video side of your media company and start with podcasting?”
Brian Clark: Was this 2014 essentially? The year podcasting went bananas?
Jonathan Fields: Yeah.
Brian Clark: So, good timing.
Jonathan Fields: Exactly. It was like killer timing. We started really doubling down on podcasting a couple months before everything went bonkers. This was before Serial, which basically was a flag in the sand of podcasting where everything changed.
So while I like to think that we’re producing pretty high level on the production side and stuff like that and we’re doing good things, I also completely acknowledge that we got lucky as hell. There was a timing element that I couldn’t have planned and being able to sort of ride pretty close to the crest of that wave for a number of years now has been super helpful to us. Getting in just before everything went crazy.
Brian Clark: Yeah, you work hard, you get awful lucky. It’s not really a mystery. You don’t know exactly how it’s going to work out, but you put yourself in that position.
How Does Good Life Project Look Today?
Brian Clark: Let’s fast forward a bit, 2012 to 2014 to the last couple of years, Good Life Project. Just explain what it encompasses these days.
Jonathan Fields: Yeah, it’s grown in a lot of interesting ways. The podcast has really taken off. We’re in the process right now, sort of in development on one or two other podcasts that we’re now probably about to grow to broader media production. Almost like a media studio to a certain extent where it’s not just the Jonathan Fields show, but there’ll be some other stuff that I’m pretty excited about doing.
The programming side has been really interesting, because we kept growing bigger, bigger programs. Then last year, I actually hit a point where coming into the third quarter or right in the middle of the third quarter of last year, we were doing good. The company was doing great, so many things were humming along, and I was completely burned out on a personal level.
I just kind of stepped back and I said, “Some stuff has to change here,” because it’s not okay for me to be out there talking about building a company that’s aligned with the way you want to live and then hitting a point where I felt like I was out of integrity or I felt like I would be pretty soon if I kept on the path.
We had built a lot of personal service and community and gathering-based programming. That early training for conscious founders had grown into a collective with a lot of different people that I was supporting over the course of any given year.
We had also been building an adult summer camp, where every year some, now over 400, people would come and we would take over a kid sleep away camp. For three and a half days, it’s just this incredible gathering which blends everything from conscious careers to movement to lifestyle to relationships and all the crazy fun stuff you do at camp.
We hit the end of last year, and I think this is something that a lot of us don’t own up to publicly, because we feel like we have a certain reputation. We want everyone to know that everything we’re doing is successful and our life is successful and behind the curtain, it’s not. We’re still human beings, we struggle. We have relationships, we have health, we have mindset, and we change as human beings over time. And sometimes we get locked into building something that doesn’t evolve with us.
For me, that’s what I saw happening. Also, because my business partner is also my wife, our relationship, everything is intimately intertwined with the business. So we really just kind of hit pause towards the end of last year and said, “We have scaled this to a point where we’re sort of tapping out on our humanity the way that it’s being built.” I was becoming a primary constraint in the growth of the company and I realized that we couldn’t scale. We couldn’t scale income, we couldn’t scale impact much further without it completely wrecking me. So we decided we need to completely reenvision what this company is and how it’s going to move forward.
We literally wound down the vast majority of the educational side of the company, which involved live programming, live events, trainings, some online stuff, in the name of me actually having the bandwidth to be able to go deep back into my maker’s cave and extract all this process and intellectual property from my brain and build new scalable interventions and offerings and products that would go out into the world and help people in a very different way. Where I was no longer the primary constraint in both our growth and in my ability to live the life that I want to live.
We’ve spent about the last nine months now doing it. All this new stuff, the media has continued to grow nicely and that’s monetized, and we’re still envisioning new products on that side. But our programming side and the educational side of the company, we’re just about to start releasing, in micro-doses, tastes and betas of some of the new stuff that we’ve had in development. Again, it’s a long-term perspective.
So I know what we’re releasing and the general schedule of what is going to be for the next three years. I know what we’re doing this year. I know the evolution of that in 2019, I know the evolution of that in 2020. And I hold it loosely, because I know that things will change once it all interacts with real life human beings. But at least, I have a pretty strong long-term opening vision around it. That’s kind of the moment that we’re in right now.
Brian Clark: That’s fascinating. We could have spent the entire episode talking about that, because as you say, we have been on this weird non-communicative parallel path before we even knew each other. But I’m in a similar space, right? Part of it is we both seem to be people who will let our ambition run us at a certain point instead of the other way around.
When I started Copyblogger, it was supposed to be no employees, nothing but joint ventures, partnerships, audience. I did that for a good solid four years and had an incredible life. Then my ambition got me to merge all those companies together. And then we went on our last eight-year path where I never had any aspirations to create an eight-figure business or have 100 employees. But I just did the next year, because I let myself do it, right?
Now, I’ve been exploring these thoughts on this podcast, kind of ad hoc. And I’m always quick to say I don’t regret a damn thing, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to readjust at some point, right?
Jonathan Fields: Yeah, no doubt. It’s not about saying, “Well, this was all wrong. I completely screwed up. I should’ve been doing something else.”
Brian Clark: But that’s how I learned everything by going in a direction. How do you know what your next step is if you don’t go through the journey that teaches you? And, pay attention, there is no wrong answer if it’s the right answer for you.
Jonathan Fields: Right. I think so many people are terrified of making the “wrong choice,” so they never get started. I think what you’re saying, what I’m saying and to me, the truth is, especially in the early days, it really doesn’t matter if you’re right or wrong. What matters is that you get in motion because you’re building. You cannot correct course from a dead stop. There’s no course to correct until you’re in motion.
But once you’re in motion, you’re like, “Okay, so now I’m getting data. I’m getting feedback. That’s just telling me that either this is right or this is wrong, or I was right or I was wrong.” Then once you’re getting that data, you can use it to redirect. But if you’re just sitting there at a dead stop and not taking action, then there’s no data, which means there’s no movement, and there’s no adaptation and there’s only stagnation and neurosis.
I think that’s where so many people get caught. It’s like, “You will screw up. You will make a million left turns when it would’ve been better to go right.” But the only way to know that is to actually move and make the turns and be observant and pay attention. And then, hold it loosely enough so that when the market or the universe or the community you want to serve tells you you weren’t right, that you’re willing to listen and say, “Oh, okay, I get it now. And thank you for telling me the direction that makes more sense to go in.”
Brian Clark: Yeah, I think that’s just an exceptionally key piece of advice right there. Lessons learned, what not. You have to do it to figure it out, and getting started – that’s the key at any phase. People think about getting started at the beginning of the whole journey. No, you get started about every three to five years or whatever your thing is, right?
Brian Clark: Can you give us a little bit of a glimpse of what’s coming or is it a little under wraps at this point?
Jonathan Fields: Yeah, it’s a little under wraps, but the very early stages will either be emerging when this airs or just about to.
One of the questions that I’ve learned over the years is that the question that people have been coming back to me to ask for some reason, I don’t know why, literally since the yoga days, was, “What should I do with my life?” When they ask me in particular, especially now, what they’re really asking me is, “How do I find and do work that is deeply meaningful that lets me feel like there’s a strong sense of purpose behind it, that I’m fully expressed, and that I can spend a significant amount of my days in that sort of glorious state of flow?”
What I realized was that over the years, we’ve actually developed a ton of process and ideas and strategies engineered towards entrepreneurship, engineered towards helping entrepreneurs build companies that do that for them. But all these same ideas are completely relevant to anybody. Whether you’re an employee or working for an organization or a foundation or volunteering in some sort of community movement, it’s all the same stuff.
It’s all about how to figure out: what is the essence of who I am? We started this conversation and I said, “My essential nature, the source code for me for meaningful work is I make things that move people.” I know that about myself. What I started to realize was that we developed a ton of process around this that would be super helpful to let people answer those fundamental questions and then build their living, whether they wanted to be an entrepreneur or an employee, around the deeper essence or essential nature of who they are and how they find meaning in work.
So we’ve been developing those tools and programming and stuff like that. We’re literally just entering private beta on that right now. In very short order, the early stages of that will begin to be public. And then we will probably pretty quickly over the course of the rest of the year start to roll out some of the additional programming that I hope will be super helpful in helping people figure these things out.
It’s just so important to me if I can can create something that helps somebody discover the fundamental nature of work that gives them a deep sense of meaning, like they have a strong sense of the work that they’re here to do. And then help guide them in figuring out how to do that in whatever job or work they choose. That’s a pretty cool thing to be a part of.
Brian Clark: As usual, I’m right there with you, brother. That is the thing. I don’t know if you have to wait until you’re 50 to figure that out, but if you could help people at whatever stage, especially if we can stay healthy and given the prospects of maybe lifespans extending, “What are you going to do with the rest of your life?” becomes the question. The meaning and the purpose are what’s key, not necessarily the dollar amounts.
Where Can We Find You?
Brian Clark: Let people know where they can find you, Jonathan, so that when these things start coming out, they may be in a position to benefit from it.
Jonathan Fields: Yeah, absolutely. Pretty much the easiest place to find me and all the stuff that we’re developing and working on is at Goodlifeproject.com. You’ll find our media, the podcast, the programming and stuff like that. And for anyone who’s just interested in me personally, I’m pretty much @Jonathanfields anywhere you look online.
Brian Clark: Sounds good. All right, everyone, this was great stuff. Good stuff for me to catch up with my buddy. But also, just in general, this is the important stuff. Thank you for listening and as always, keep going.