This episode is brought to you by Organifi. They have taken the inconvenience and expense out of juicing, so we can get high quality, organic green juices fast and easy. It quickly dissolves and is super-easy to use. It will help you sustain your energy throughout the day. To get 20% off your order, use the coupon code “unbeatable” at the checkout on organifi.com
This podcast is also supported by Ample. Ample is a new company that has brought you convenient and healthy meals in a bottle. The Ample meals aren’t just protein shakes, they are complete meals, including fiber and healthy fats as well as protein. Mark loves Ample and tries to have at least one Ample meal every day. Check them out. With orders of fifty dollars or more, listeners can use the code “unbeatable” on amplemeal.com to get 2 bonus meals on your order.
“…ancient philosophers were warriors of the mind. Modern philosophers are librarians of the mind. They organize and catalog, but they don’t actually live this stuff.” –Brian Johnson
Brian Johnson (@_Brian_Johnson) talks about his career as a philosopher or “lover of wisdom,” an author and as an entrepreneur. He and Commander Mark Divine talk about his journey, his latest venture with “optimize.me” and creating a facility for people to discover and be at their best. We all want to live with virtue and excellence. Discover what you can learn from Brian’s career and his approach to philosophy and personal performance.
The Neurohacker Collective have recently come out with Qualia, an extensively researched nootropic that combines natural ingredients with the best synthetic ingredients to maximize our capacity to think effectively. When you purchase an ongoing subscription for Qualia at neurohacker.com, enter the code “unbeatablemind15r” to get 15% off the price of a monthly subscription.
Love the Unbeatable Mind Podcast? Click here to subscribe on iTunes. We’d love your feedback, please leave a rating and review.
Other episodes of our podcast that you might be interested in are Mark’s podcasts with Ryan Holiday, Cal Newport and his discussion with Mitch Horowitz.
Transcript & Shownotes
Hey folks. Welcome back, this is Mark Divine with the Unbeatable Mind podcast. I’m so stoked to have you here today. Listening wherever you are, in your cars, or at home, or jogging on the beach. If you are jogging on the beach, then good for you. What a nice thing to be able to do. Maybe you’re in the mountains or in the cities, it doesn’t matter. At least you’re jogging.
So, before I get going with Brian Johnson, who is a really, really neat guy. Going to be a fantastic program today. Let me remind you to please rate the podcast, cause that’s how people find us on iTunes and whatnot.
And I’m recording this right around the holidays, it won’t be played around the holidays, but just let me say, I’m thinking about you and have a wonderful holiday. And if you’re listening to this in January or February, just hope you had a good holiday. (laughing) It’s awkward, right? You never know when these things are going to play.
All right, Brian. Awesome. Thanks so much for your time. My guest today is Brian Johnson, who is an entrepreneur, and a philosopher and someone who’s really, really passionate about the types of things we do at Unbeatable Mind. He’s the founder of a company called “Eteamz” which I believe was sold to a San Diego company. I’m just trying to remember the name of it, and it’s escaping me.
Brian Johnson: Exactly. Active.com.
Mark: Active! Yeah, and I met the founders of active and then I remember when Eteams was rolled up or purchased by them. So we’re going to talk about that.
And you’re a Southern California guy. You went to UCLA. You studied philosophy and business? How cool is that? Philosophy’s one of my favorite subjects. You’ve got a book out called “Philosopher’s notes: On optimal living, creating an authentically awesome life and other such goodness.” That’s an awesome subtitle.
So all sorts of cool things. You’ve got a program now called “Optimal Living.” at optimize.me. So you’ve done a lot of neat things, and I have a sense, Brian, you’re just getting warmed up, right?
Brian: Yeah, I appreciate that and first just thank you so much for the invitation. As you know, just a big fan of your work. “Unbeatable Mind,” “Way of the SEAL.” Huge inspirations for me and just thrilled to be chatting. And, yeah, this is… I feel like it’s all been warm-up for now. Just hitting my stride and spend half my time in philosopher’s mode and half my time in CEO mode, and now just ready to really combine the two. And do what I’m here to do.
Mark: Awesome. Awesome. Yeah, we met when I stumbled across a “philosopher’s note” on Unbeatable Mind, right? And I reached out and I said “How cool is that?” And I love the concept. I had actually been–like a lot of busy executives, this why you started it. There’s so many books that I wanna read. And I don’t have really the time to listen to audiobooks. Unfortunately, because I’m a big fan of audiobooks. And I’m a big fan of podcasts. But the way I’ve structured my life, I just don’t have a ton of time to do that kind of stuff. So I enrolled or… I’m not sure what I did. I can’t remember if it was a subscription or a package where I bought a hundred of your notes. And they were really easy to digest. So what you’ve done is reviewed some of the best books out there that have some… you think are going to impact. And then you condense them into like a 4 or 5 page what you call “Philosopher notes,” right?
Brian: Yeah, exactly. I mean, same problem that I had when I am in entrepreneur mode. It’s tough to find the time to read, so the basic idea with that was… “Philosopher’s notes” was “Look, I’ll pull out those sections those sections that you asterisk and underline and fold the page over on. The big ideas, I call them. That can change your life.
And then set out 5 to 10 of them together in a 6 page of pdf, record it as a 20 minute mp3, and here you go. Here are some ideas that can really impact you. And I’ll connect them to other authors. And “More Wisdom in Less Time,” is the tagline that we use to help people out.
Mark: Okay. More wisdom in less time. That’s kinda contrary to what, you know… how wisdom is developed. (laughing) You know what I mean? It takes time to develop wisdom. So I wonder, you know, if this is the thing that just popped in my head. So you can push back on it. If by just hitting… like skimming the surface that we’re doing ourselves an injustice. Have you had any thoughts on that? Because to me some of my biggest insights were when I went really deep with a single book, or really deep with a topic. And when I skim the top. It’s interesting, but I tend to not give it the time to really let it sink in.
Brian: Yeah, so many things we can talk about there. From skimming books–I don’t skim books. When people say they read a book or whatever a day. “Okay. Are you really reading that book?” Cause there’s reading and there’s a flipping through a book and skimming it. So I’m all about going deep.
And then for me, when I say “More Wisdom, Less Time,” it’s kind of to your point, you need to go deep. And I think what we both unquestionably agree on, it’s not about the theory, it’s not about the ideas. It’s about the practice and it’s about the application. So for me it’s about consistently hitting these ideas from different angles. You say it differently than, you know… a different teacher’s going to say the same basic idea. So what I want to do is give our audience again different vantage points on the same ideas. But then really challenge them to go deep by applying it in their lives. And then introduce them to titles they may not otherwise be familiar with yet. And then encourage them, you know, “go deep into this one if it’s resonating.” Obviously, everyone’s not going to have the time to read. I don’t even have the time to read today, that I did a month ago before I really changed my life a fair amount. I was a hermit. That’s all I did was read and write and think. Now, I’m stepping back out and… I need this stuff, so we actually have a team of writers who are going to create something called “optimize notes.” They’re going to be very similar to philosopher’s notes, but written by a group of great writers and editors and I’m going to be the number one consumer. And the intention that we have with that is: help people apply these ideas. Introduce them to great teachers, great ideas and challenge them to live in integrity with their highest values.
Mark: Nice. Okay. So that sounds like we have something to talk about in what’s next. What’s in the next phase of Brian Johnson’s business and philosophy of life? But let’s go back more toward kinda the beginning.
You know, who were you when you were younger and how did you get interested in philosophy and what were some of your early influences that kind of craft who you are as a person?
Brian: Yeah, you and I have some parallels with the “Big 6” I think it was when I was going through it. Accounting.
Mark: No kidding. All right.
Brian: yeah, the super-quick biographical sketch is youngest of 5, super-conservative, Catholic, blue-collar family. First generation college student. Super-smart, skinny little kid. Went to UCLA and thought I’d get a PhD in Psychology. Realized that wasn’t quite it for me. Wound up getting swept up in Arthur Andersen’s recruiting net. I interned in auditing and tax. Then I worked in business planning and business consulting. I literally think I hold the record for most service lines in less than a year.
Mark: That doesn’t surprise me. I went into audit and then I went into something called “special services.” Which was a division of their consulting at Arthur Andersen. So “special services” pre-… kind of was a harbinger of my Special Forces career. Except in accounting.
Brian: That’s cool.
Mark: Wait, so you had a PhD in Psychology and then got hired by Andersen?
Brian: Yeah. I thought about doing it. So when I was getting my undergrad, I actually did psychology and business. And I thought about getting my PhD and was very seriously moving that direction. But realized I’d frankly go nuts if I was in another 6 year program.
So I left and I joined Arthur Andersen. And I knew before I even started that that wasn’t where I wanted to be long-term. I figured law school would be my escape valve. And studied for the LSAT. Wound up going to up at Berkeley briefly. Knew I didn’t want to be there. That was just kinda my way out. And then I kinda blew up a lot of my life. I ended a relationship of 5 years and dropped out of law school in basically the same 24 hour period of time.
Mark: Good lord.
Brian: Had no idea what I wanted to do other than burn my resume and quit thinking about that for a moment and work with kids. To coach a little-league baseball team. That’s all I wanted to do. Give back to the community. Step back, see what I wanted to do.
Long story, little shorter…
MBA of life[10:30]
Mark: So you were in the mid-twenties at this stage.
Brian: This is 23. So I’m 23 and moved back in with Mom, to her great delight. Back in the day. And I coached this little league baseball team. And out of that came my first business. I had this vision that in a matter of time… this is 1998… every single team and league in the world is going to be online. Using the web for everything: schedules and standings and pictures that gramma and grandpa can check out, that sort of thing. And no one was doing anything. On Yahoo there were literally a few dozen websites.
Mark: Yahoo groups. Yeah, yeah.
Brian: Yeah, anyway, we created that. One of the first content Management Systems that a team mom could use to create a site. We won the Andersen school at UCLA’s business plan competition. Raise 5 million dollars. Hired a guy who would up winning “Apprentice.” The CEO of Adidas replaced me as the CEO.
And kinda that traditional dot-com story. Then the market collapsed and we wound up bringing in a bank. And got 2 offers, one from Active.com, another from another business. Went with Active. And integrated there. But that was kinda the prelude.
Mark: Was there any upside in that, just out of curiosity? Or was it kinda like a fire-sale, and that was a good resume builder and you move on?
Brian: Yes, and… So I call that my 5 million dollar MBA. And our investors wound up… I think they got like 2 or 3x. It took them 10 years. But we won, you know. It was a modest win, but a lot of businesses there wound up as a zero, so we were happy about that.
And the business endures. It’s profitable, it serves 3 million teams around the world. Little league baseball used our technology… And more importantly, I got enough to make a few years off and figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up, you know?
Mark: Did Active keep the brand? Or did it just get absorbed?
Brian: They did. You know, it’s funny, because I actually wanted them to absorb it. I thought that the Active brand was the long-term brand. But we wound up keeping Eteamz and it’s still there. eteamz.com. Yeah.
Mark: Right on. Well that’s always gratifying to see a business that you started endure and have a life. Nice.
Brian: Yeah, and then obviously capitalize the lessons, and bring that to the next venture, right?
Mark: yeah. So what came after that? You stayed in entrepreneurship, obviously, because that’s a big part of your life now. But what other businesses were you involved in after Eteamz?
Brian: Yeah, well actually I took several years off, and I just read and I wrote and I travelled a bit. And became a philosopher. A lover of wisdom. And really over the last 20 years I’ve spent half the time in founder/CEO mode, and the other half in philosopher mode. But basically I ran out of money, and I was ready to create again. And created my second business…
Mark: (laughing) That’s awesome. You need like a benefactor, like the old days. Just so you can go around the world and think.
Brian: It’s called a profitable business. I now have one. It’s good but I have thousands of benefactors, and thank-you to all of you who chip in 10 bucks a month to make it possible.
Brian: But anyway, I did that for a few years and then I started my 2nd business which was basically… when I was raising money for that, I had whatever magazine open… Business Week or something… and it was part Myspace which was huge at the time. Murdoch had just purchased Myspace. And part people who wanted to change the world. So the green movement was obviously really exploding, this was early 2000s. We raised a few million dollars for that, and ran that. A lot of fun. And then wound up selling that to a company called Gaiam, which is a big company in the…
Mark: I know Gaiam from all the videos that they produced. You know, they were kind of an early proponent to promote yoga and tai-chi and chi gong in video format.
Mark: So you sold your business to Gaiam?
Brian: Yeah, then same thing. I had enough to take some time off. And I wound up this time going full-in to philosopher’s mode. Gave myself a PhD. Kind of looked at different programs. Nothing met what I wanted to do, so decided to just take my own time. Integrating old-school philosophy, modern-day positive psychology, business, nutrition. All the thing that we’re so passionate about. Things I think you need to know about to optimize your life in the 21st century, and created “Philosopher’s notes” as a Masters for that, wrote the book as a PhD. And then got back into creating what we’re now operating.
Mark: So are you moving away from the “Philosopher’s note” brand? Into the optimize.me brand?
Brian: Yeah, so optimize.me is our brand now. Our business is Optimize Enterprises. We’re a public benefit corporation which we’re really proud of. And “Philosopher’s notes” will still be a very important part of what we do, but just one facet of it. And then we’ll have the optimize notes. My background, as we’ve already discussed a little bit, is the social side. So a big thing we’re doing in Q1 is launching basically a social platform for people who want to optimize their lives. So the idea there is Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, they’re all awesome. But wouldn’t it be cool if there was a place exclusively about optimizing your life. That’s what we’re building. So we’re really excited about that. And then fold that in with the wisdom, and we think that’s the way to go about fulfilling our purpose of helping people optimize their lives. So we can truly change the world together.
Philosophy and Mentors[16:57]
Mark: So let’s talk about philosophy. First, your personal philosophy. How would you characterize your personal ethos?
Brian: If I had to summarize my personal ethos in one word, it would be the Greek word arete. So arete directly translates as “virtue” or “excellence.” But I like kind of unpacking that a bit. Basically striving to do your best and express the highest version of yourself moment to moment to moment. And this idea… the Greeks said that if you want eudaimonia not just the hedonic sense of pleasure, but a true sense of flourishing, you need to express the highest within yourself. They called that arete. When you have arete, you have a sense of deep joy and flourishing in the true sense of happiness. And I like to say that there’s a gap that exists when you’re capable of doing this–and I’m showing Mark the hand, and then a lower hand. And when you’re only actually doing this, there’s a gap, and that’s where regret, anxiety, disillusionment, depression exist. And it’s your 20x. It’s what are you really capable of? And in this moment are you showing up? It’s not a theoretical thing. It’s this moment, you have an opportunity to fully engage or not.
So that’s my approach. And integrating again ancient wisdom, modern science, common sense, virtue, mastery and fun is how I like to summarize what I’m all about.
Mark: And who were some of the biggest… like you’ve read probably most major philosophers and who–either what individual or what “genre”… it’s probably not the right word… of philosophers has influenced you the most?
Brian: I think Mark Divine’s a pretty cool guy. (laughing) He’s got it.
Mark: (laughing) I don’t know anything about him.
Brian: He’s a pretty good guy. No, I love your stuff, cause you integrate… I’m a big fan of Stoicism and Aurelius and Seneca and Epictetus and all that. Which is, of course, the core of modern cognitive-behavioral therapy. And what really works from a scientific perspective. So that’s a real deep part of my practice in my work.
Of course, that wisdom is that good throughout all the ancient traditions. The Bhagavad-Gita, the Dhammapada, etc. And then I really love connecting that with modern science. So I like ancient wisdom, of course. And anything preserved that long has something worth paying a lot of attention to. But then when we can empirically validate the fact that living with virtue is the cornerstone of happiness, well that’s amazing. And we can literally quantitatively, empirically analyze that. And so I like to connect those two. So Sonya Weiber-Meersky is someone I really love. I just fell in love with Barbara Frederickson. I loved her “Positivity”, but her “Love 2.0” is probably the most transformative book I’ve ever read. Just the science of love in a moment-to-moment basis.
We can go through a list of great people, but that’s the basic kind of bookends, if you will, for me. Of what inspires me.
Mark: And, you know, I want to come back to science in a bit, because I think for you and I and what it means to be human, there’s a real existential question about what it means to be human facing us in the next 30 years, right? So I want to come back to that. But before we hit that up from a philosophical perspective not a possibility perspective. What about mentors? So it’s one thing to have a teacher that you’re inspired because his words have survived the test of time. And it’s another thing to learn something experientially, and it’s yet another to learn something from another person’s example. So who have been your mentors? Where the presence of that individual has changed you?
Brian: Awesome question. The first guy that comes to mind… I’ve been blessed to have a number of them in quite different roles… but the first guy that comes to mind in this context is John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods.
Mark: I know John. I met him a few times.
Brian: Yeah, I met John virtually when I read his debate with Milton Friedman. I don’t know if you’ve seen his debate, in Reason magazine, but it’s worth reading. He’s a big… if you know John, you know he’s a big free market libertarian. Huge fan of Friedman and Von Mises and all these guys, but he debated Friedman in Reason magazine. And he basically was debating Friedman on the idea that love is the secret sauce to successful business. Whereas Friedman would say, “Look, your only stakeholder that matters is your investor group. Period. Anything else is violation of your fiduciary responsibility to that stakeholder.”
Mark: So Friedman has a transactional view of economics.
Brian: Yeah. And Mackey is saying, “Look, we need to transcend and include that. Of course the investor needs to do well. We need profits to thrive. And I am committed to optimizing each of my stakeholders. Society, my partners, the investors, customers and employees. He has this SPICE model. Anyway, I read his debate and I literally was almost weeping. Because it was the first example I had seen of… and I have so much ambivalence about how to use… how to integrate my business and my spirituality. My philosophy and my heart.
And so I read this and the comments were amazing. These people whose kids were going to college on their investment in Whole Foods, how much they believed in him and his commitment to love and business.
And then, fast forward I had an opportunity not too long after that to meet John. We hit it off. He wound up becoming a friend and mentor and investor in our last business. And just a really powerful model for me of what business can do on scale. Driven by virtue and driven by love.
Mark: He calls that “conscious capitalism” which is a nice kind of framework for that. And then he talks about I think the quadruple bottom-line. I think he referenced 5 but the quadruple bottom-line would be to make sure that you are profitable, so your investors and shareholders have their return. But also you’re transformative for your staff and the entire supply chain. As well as supportive for the environment. And the community at large. And you could extend that to global community for a company like Whole Foods.
And there’s probably some stakeholders in there that I’m missing. But everyone must win, so it’s very much of an integrated point of view. Not a linear… extract, manufacture, discard and rinse/repeat kind of point of view which is nice.
Brian: Yeah. Yeah. He has a declaration of interdependence.
Mark: Oh is that right? Awesome. So who else? I think John’s a great one. I like him a lot.
Brian: Yeah, a new… newer. Now it’s several years old, but a friend and mentor and investor of ours who’s offered some just catalytic support. As I said, I’m kind of coming out of a hermit mode over the last few years. I’ve just been reading and writing and deliberately doing that. The elections kind of shook me up, kinda made me really step back and look at… to me it was a call to leadership. Independent of politics. My joke is, no one is sitting around saying, “Wow! We just had an opportunity to select from two of the most noble, virtue based leaders of our era.”
Mark: (laughing) You didn’t?
Brian: Yeah, right. So for me that was just a call to leadership and just checking in on, “Who am I? What am I here to do?” Long story short, again, a theme for me is community. In what we’re doing with our business. We’ve done a lot on wisdom, and now we want to do on the community. For us it’s inside/out via wisdom. And outside/in via community. So I figure we’d get a small footprint in the small town we live in. In Ojai. Planned on doing this, but figured it was longer-term. Again, a long story short, wound up finding out that there’s a church for sale here in Ojai on 5 acres, 28,000 square feet. 1,000 person sanctuary. A lot. And things moved really quickly and it became an opportunity that really was fresh and present.
And your question was about a mentor. So I called up a handful of my dear friends and investors and supporters. And one of the first guys I called was a guy named Kirte, who’s a high-end attorney working with elite founders and that sort of thing. I get halfway through my story of what the opportunity was and how long I’ve been thinking about this. 15 years I’ve had this vision. Of doing something like this.
He stopped me halfway through and he says, “You must do this. Here’s my check. You go call a few of your friends. And come back to me if they don’t respond the way they should. And I’m gonna take care of you. As long as I’m alive, this is gonna be something that we’re going to do in a phenomenal way.”
And it was just one of those heart-opening moments of being seen and met and supported on every level. The energetic and the vision and the practical. And it’s been a beautiful thing. I now jokingly call him… he’s Indian, so I call him my swami-guru. And I learned the difference between those two. But anyway, he’s been a big support and mentor and just opening me to the possibility of what we’re here to do and just walking into that dharma.
Mark: That’s fascinating. I think it’s also fascinating that you actually found a church, which comes from the structural field of religion. And you’re going to repurpose it for teaching philosophy. And optimizing life. So you’re going to use that as a platform for doing more… for building community and doing some teaching of seminars and probably film studio and that type of stuff?
Brian: Exactly right. We’re going to call it the “Optimize Oasis in Ojai.” I’m going to present live lectures. Live-streamed to our audience which obviously is online. We’re already starting to invite some of my friends, truly world-class teachers. Separate conversation for us. I’d be honored even to just have that conversation about having your presence in our community. And really integrating a mind/body spirit. I’m into Spartan races these days, and that’s kind of my thing. So we’re actually gonna draw up… it’s on 5 acres, there’s a whole acre not being used. We’re gonna draw up an obstacle course training. Ben Greenfield, chatting with him who’s supported me in a number of ways. A true world-class facility, leaning into the kind of ancient, Plato, Aristotelean mind/body thing.
Mark: We need to talk. Because I’m moving away from the facility actually for at least the next phase, because I’ve had a facility for 10 years now. And it’s been the epi-center of SEALFIT and Unbeatable Mind. And what I’ve found is that it’s gotten in the way of our operations. Because it’s become so incredibly distracting and fun to always be chasing the next WOD, and a ton of guests. And a lot of people listening are going, “No! Don’t give it up!” Well, the universe is telling us to give it up, because the city’s been coming down hard on us, and we have neighbors complaining about guys walking down the street with kettlebells and they think it’s dangerous.
At any rate, and our landlord basically isn’t going to renew our lease. So there’s a minor practical detail there, right? (laughing) So without owning it like you, we’re kind of like stuck so it’s fascinating. So maybe we’ll just move up to Ojai, and co-locate at the Optimize Oasis.
Brian: (laughing) That is fantastic.
Mark: My only caution there would be just to pay attention to how you structure things so that the facilities management doesn’t bury your business. Cause that… One of our clients has been through tons of SEALFIT training and is a coach in training. I’ll tell this quick story. He used to run Mario Andretti’s winery, and his job was to make and sell wine. But of course Mario Andretti had the wine room and the tasting room, and the wine club and the restaurant and all these things which were tangential. As a facility. And 90% of Mike’s time was spent on all that stuff which didn’t contribute any profit or revenue, but it was a lot of fun. So he never had any time to make and sell wine.
So when he launched his own business as a vintner, he basically leased all his equipment and bought his wine… his grapes from other growers and he makes and sells far more wine than Andretti ever did. And he does it with like, 3 people. I guess it goes back to how do we want to run our business? Applying the Keep it Simple method.
I applaud you. It’s neat to have a center of operations where people can come and you can do the training. But we need to employ the KISS principle when you organize….
Brian: Keep it super-simple. And I’m just going to give a shout-out to my right-hand guy, who actually is in San Diego. I’m able to do what I do, because he’s just a Ninja operating genius. His name’s Evan Shoemaker and just a brilliant guy. I don’t use email for example. So haven’t seen an email in a long time. And my whole thing is systems. I didn’t use an iPhone for the whole year. I just got a new one two weeks ago. And now I’m back into it.
But my whole thing is systems, and to your point, what are we really going to do? Where’s the value created? Waste no time on the tangential, ancillary stuff that creates no value. Plus, we’re blessed, because our business makes money online. So we don’t need the offline facility really to do anything for us. Yet, we’ll run one workshop and cover the bills for the year. And then everything else is kinda gravy for us.
And just keeping it super-simple to your point. But then, also using it. As a community base, we’re really proud to be where we are. We want to create an icon, a real landmark in Ojai. That people can be proud of. A world-class lecture series that impacts lives here. The people that live and breathe in this community, while serving our virtual community. And, to your point, keeping it super-simple in the process.
Mark: Nice. Yeah, sounds like you got a handle on that. I’m excited.
Science and Being Human[32:32]
Mark: We don’t have much time left, but I want to come back to this idea of what it means to be human in a world of accelerating scientific progress. And I’m assuming you and I are both gonna be here in 30 years, right? When artificial intelligence and human intelligence is theoretically able to merge. And we’re going to have like a mass consciousness. Humans able to connect through neural networks with all other humans. So there’s so many ways… and I don’t want to spend too much time on this… but there’s so many ways it’s going to change civilization that people just have no idea.
And to me, frankly, it scares me quite a bit, because I think it’s precious to be human. And I think humans have vast potential. And I don’t know why we’re racing to change our humanity because we think we’re not enough. You know what I mean? It’s a really interesting idea.
At any rate, I’m not sure if I have a question here. Just more to get your perspective as a philosopher. What do you think that’s going to be like in 30 years? When we start to merge, or we see vast segments of our population merging with AI and changing what it means to be human? Cause that’s the essential philosopher’s puzzle, right? What does it mean to be human? That’s the question. What is the meaning of life? What does it mean to be human? I think therefore I am, or is it “I am because I think?” And where are we going with technology?
Brian: Again, so many ways we can kind of visit that and explore that and unpack that. For me the cornerstone of being a philosopher is a love of wisdom. And wisdom for me is a very practical knowledge of life. It’s less about the speculation in the future per se and more about this moment. What’s the right way to live right now?
And, more importantly, am I in integrity with that? And the true philosopher… I love the idea of the Stoic ideal, you know? I forget the commentator but he was saying that ancient philosophers were warriors of the mind. Modern philosophers are librarians of the mind. They organize and catalog, but they don’t actually live this stuff. But you look at an Aurelius, you look at a Seneca, you look at an Epictetus, those guys were warriors. And those are the metaphors they used. Same guys… Plato and Aristotle came back to today, they wouldn’t want to meet a philosopher, they’d want to meet a world champion boxer, who was master… mastered their body and obviously we’d want to see the same mastery in the spiritual mind, etc. But for me it starts with that. The moment to moment to moment.
And when I hear you pose that question, I think of my son. 4 years old. Emerson. And as my wife and I look to cultivate his virtue, and give him the context in which he can truly flourish, and give his gifts in greatest service to the world, whatever those wind up being. You know, there’s the mind/body optimization, so we’re really passionate about the basic fundamentals. And when you talk about AI it’s still going to come down to the fundamentals. You’re never going to get a pill or an injection or whatever that’s going to change your basic fundamentals. That are optimized via everything that we all talk about. The nutrition, the movement, the sleep, the focusing of the mind. So he has had a total of about 5 minutes is the longest screen-time he’s ever had, for example. We’ve decided that his attention, his ability to put his mind where he wants, when he wants for how long he wants is the most valuable asset. And it is becoming increasingly more valuable and more rare. Therefore that’s our… I don’t view our parenting competitively, but that’s one of his edges. And his assets that we’re going to cultivate.
So when I approach that vision of the next 30 years, I just feel… my short answer is I don’t know, and I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about that. But I do know that the individual who has mastery of themselves, across the domains that we all see as fundamental, is going to be the one who thrives. And they’ll be able to take that technology, and integrate it with virtue and love and do something good with it. And not use it as a Band-Aid, or accelerator or some weird distortion of humanity, but as an amplification of the beauty that’s inherent within all of us.
Mark: Well said. I really like that view and that vision. And it kind of syncs up with mine, and I’ve often said that Unbeatable Mind really is a way to take control of upgrading your own consciousness so that we can, you know, outpace technology and live a good life regardless of what’s going on on the outside.
Brian: Here’s one other thought. Do you know Joshua Cooper Ramo, and his work?
Mark: No, I don’t.
Brian: Okay, so you will love him. I don’t know how I… one of our members told me to read his book called the “Seventh Sense.” He is the CEO or co-CEO of the Kissinger Institute. Strategy, right? He wrote a book called the “Seventh Sense” and he basically says that the future is all about connection. It’s about networks. And if you wanna see who’s going to win, you gotta see who owns the networks.
And he has an idea that you have to be a gatekeeper. You have to be a hard gatekeeper and make sure you know what’s going and what’s going out. Anyway, when you talk about humanity, that comes to mind. I think each of us as individuals need to be better gatekeepers of the information we allow into our lives. The constant drip of social media, news, etc. is toxic. Obviously, our limbic system can’t handle it, etc. etc. Secreting those hard gates is more important than ever, for us as we evolve. Such that we actually know who we are as we expand into all this unknowable potential, right?
Mark: I love it. I think that’s a great segway to kind of move on. We’ve been at it for some time, so why don’t we… let’s let our listeners know where they can find you. What’s next? What’s the best way to engage with some of your work, Brian?
Brian: Yeah, super-simple. optimize.me is the place that has everything we do. You can sign up for our membership. It’s 10 bucks a month. Our whole thing is give the best to the most for the least, and really astonish people with the amount of value they get in our program. And we also have an app. Once you signup… well you can go to the app. optimize.me/app. We’ve got a podcast called “Optimize.” We’ve had Mark on it a couple times… or once. We’re going to do it again. YouTube, all that stuff. But optimize.me is the simplest way.
Mark: Awesome Brian. Super-cool conversation. Love what you’re doing. You’re awesome. Ojai is right up the road. I’ve actually only driven through it, I’ve been to Santa Barbara a few times. But I can’t wait to get to Ojai. I can’t wait to see Optimize Oasis.
I’m serious about that. And I’m in in terms of whatever you want me to do. I’m in. And so we’ll work to support you.
Brian: Right on.
Marks: Awesome buddy. All right folks, you heard it. Brian Johnson. I highly encourage you to check out optimize.me, and check out his book “Philosopher Notes.” And also just his philosopher notes, cause they’re really, really useful. Standby for some really cool things from Brian and we’re going to support each other as well. And thanks again also for your amazing time and attention. I know that you’ve got a lot going on, in this distracted world. But this stuff is important, and it helps us declutter and focus on the right things.
And I love, Brian, that you don’t do email. I’m gonna try to figure out how the heck to do that. I’m working on getting an assistant who can handle all my email. My whole thing is what can we say “no” to in service to the bigger “yes.” That’s my aim for 2017.
Brian: Amen. We’ll swap systems ideas.
Mark: That sounds awesome. All right folks. That’s it. Train hard, stay safe, have fun. And do the work. Day-by-day, in every way. Getting a little bit better.
(laughing) Coach Divine out.