Welcome to another episode of “A Voice and Beyond.” This week, we are thrilled to introduce Brian Johnson, an accomplished entrepreneur and philosopher with over 25 years of experience. As the founder and CEO of Heroic, Brian has successfully raised over $20 million, building and selling two leading social platforms. His Heroic membership and coaching program have transformed the lives of tens of thousands globally, backed by research for their transformative impact.

Brian is not just a business leader, but also a digital influencer. His YouTube channel boasts over 225,000 subscribers and 20 million views, while his podcast has garnered 16 million downloads. He has been featured in the documentary “Finding Joe” alongside luminaries like Deepak Chopra and Tony Hawk. His latest venture, Heroic, launched its MVP Training Platform in April 2022, showcasing his expertise, which has been sought by institutions such as the US Military Academy at West Point. Brian has also been featured in Forbes, Fast Company, and The Wall Street Journal, and Brian regularly engages with global thought leaders on top podcasts.

In this episode, Brian and I dive deep into philosophical discussions around topics that are explored in his book, “ARETÉ: Activate Your Heroic Potential.” Brian explains how he combines ancient wisdom, modern science, and practical tools into a life-changing protocol, proven by leading well-being labs to create lasting impact. His approach offers a timely solution to universal struggles, providing actionable steps for not just surviving but thriving in today’s fast-paced world. Brian’s method is holistic and scientifically grounded, offering listeners a comprehensive roadmap to a more heroic life.

Tune in for this enlightening episode with Brian Johnson. It’s time to navigate life’s complexities, embrace challenges, and activate your heroic potential.

Are you ready to embark on a transformative journey that blends logic and intuition? Dr. Joyce Anastasia, an intuitive consultant with a PhD in quantum natural medicine is here to guide you. Visit www.leadbywisdom.com and unlock your full potential today.

Are you a singing teacher feeling isolated or second-guessing your lessons? The Vocal Process Teacher Accreditation Program, created by internationally renowned voice trainers Dr. Gillyanne Kayes and Jeremy Fisher, offers 57 hours of live online training and personalized support to help you unlock your full potential and enhance your students’ vocal development. To learn more, visit www.vocalprocess.co.uk.

Are you constantly battling with food cravings, struggling to resist temptation, and feel like you just can’t break the cycle? Visit www.DefeatYourCravings.com

In This Episode
0:00 – Sponsored Ad: Lead by Wisdom with Dr Joyce Anastasia
07:21 – Self-discovery and finding meaning in life
15:54 – Heroism, leadership and personal growth
24:28 – Sponsored Ad: Free Book ‘Defeat your cravings’ by Dr. Glenn Livingston
35:54 – Living a virtuous life and developing self-awareness
46:27 – Sponsored Ad: Vocal Process Teacher Accreditation Program
57:31 – Relationships, self-love and personal growth

Find Brian Online

Ready to reach a global audience with your product or service? We offer multiple opportunities for advertisement sponsorship on A Voice and Beyond. Email info@drmarisaleenaismith.com or visit the sponsor page to learn more.


Putting yourself first is important because it allows you to prioritize your own needs and well-being, which in turn can help you be more productive, creative, and fulfilled in all areas of your life. By taking care of yourself first, you are better equipped to care for others and contribute positively to the world around you.



Visit the A Voice and Beyond Youtube channel to watch back the video replay of this guest interview or to see my welcome video.

Episode Transcription

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 00:00

Are you ready to embark on a transformative journey that blends logic and intuition? Dr. Joyce Anastasia, an intuitive consultant with a PhD in quantum natural medicine is here to guide you. With her unique approach. Dr. Joyce bridges the gap between the intuitive and the logical, creating a paradigm shift that amplifies your impact on the world. Through her Wisdom Teachings and effective natural processes, Dr. Joyce evokes your greatest strength and unlocks transformational possibilities. Her services include quantum and remote healing, past life regression, divine intuitive sessions, Dream exploration, and ethical manifestation from vision to reality. Imagine shifting from feeling oppressed and controlled to embracing vulnerability and authenticity, transition from fear to courage, from overwhelmed to peace of mind, feel empowered to make those formidable decisions to create optimal outcomes with no harm. Dr. Joyce helps you identify and overcome limiting beliefs through integrative works that span many traditions, recognizing and celebrating the uniqueness in each one of us. In a safe and confidential environment, Dr. Joyce provides support for those in high levels of leadership and academia. With her guidance, you can drop the need for control, make powerful decisions and to have the courage to discover what’s possible for you. Take responsibility for your life and find peace with Dr. Joyce, Anastasia, unlock your potential and start your journey towards a more conscious and empowered life today. So if you’re ready to drop the control file, go to www.leadbywisdom.com and unlock your full potential.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 02:34

It’s Marissa Lee here, and I’m so excited to be sharing today’s interview round episode with you. In these episodes, our brilliant lineup of guests will include healthcare practitioners, voice educators, and other professionals who will share their stories, knowledge and experiences within their specialized fields to empower you to live your best life. Whether you’re a member of the voice, community, or beyond your voice is your unique gift. It’s time now to share your gift with others develop a positive mindset and become the best and most authentic version of yourself to create greater impact. Ultimately, you can take charge, it’s time for you to live your best life. It’s time now for a voice and beyond. So without further ado, let’s go to today’s episode.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 03:45

Welcome to another episode of voice and beyond. This week, we are thrilled to introduce Brian Johnson and accomplished entrepreneur and philosopher with over 25 years of experience. As the founder and CEO of heroic, Brian has successfully raised over $20 million building and selling two leading social media platforms. His heroic membership and coaching program have transformed the lives of 10s of 1000s globally, backed by research for the transformative impact. Brian is not just a business leader, but a digital influencer. His YouTube channel boasts over 225,000 subscribers and 20 million views. While his podcast has garnered 20 million downloads. He has been featured in the documentary finding Joe alongside luminaries like Deepak Chopra, and Tony Hawk. His latest venture heroic, launched his MVP training platform in April 2022, showcasing his expertise, which has been sought by institutions such as the US Military Academy at West Point. Brian has also been featured in Forbes, Fast Company, and the Wall Street Journal, and Brian regularly engages with global thought leaders on top podcasts. In this episode, Brian and I dive deep into philosophical discussions around topics which are explored in his book, our attai. Activate your heroic potential. Brian explains how he combines ancient wisdom, modern science and practical tools into a life changing protocol. proven by leading wellbeing labs to create lasting impact. His approach offers a timely solution to universal struggles, providing actionable steps for not just surviving but thriving. In today’s fast paced world. Brian’s method is holistic and scientifically grounded, offering listeners a comprehensive roadmap to a more heroic life. Tune in for this enlightening episode with Brian Johnson. It’s time to navigate life’s complexities, embrace challenges, and activate your heroic potential. So without further ado, let’s go to today’s episode.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 07:09

So with the work that you’re doing, what inspired this work? How have you come to do this work? And what is your WHY for doing it?

Brian Johnson 07:20

Yeah, I’ve always been passionate about understanding what it is that makes truly extraordinary people great, and who live, you know, really noble heroic lives. And you know, it’s kind of a long story too, in the short story, too. But I’ve just always been passionate about that, and have been obsessed about integrating ancient wisdom, modern science and practical tools, and have spent the better part of the last 25 years when I wasn’t building and selling a couple of businesses just trying to figure that out.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 07:47

Yes. Was there something in your own personal story that led you to this path because everyone has a story, I find what I love fascinating when I interview people, is their own personal journey that has taken them to this work to the work that they’re doing.

Brian Johnson 08:06

I think every good story starts at least for me, it started with pain, you know, just the suffering the challenges youngest of five kids, lower middle class, Catholic, super conservative family, my father struggled with alcohol, his father struggled with alcohol and edit his own life. So experienced a lot of pain and that kind of family of origin experience my own challenges. At one point 25 years ago, I’m thinking about in my own life, had the same intensity, the same passion, but none of these the skills that I’ve now I’ve kind of or the wisdom that I have studied over the last 25 years. And it’s it’s been an obsession, you know, just to try to figure out what is it that makes not only the great people great, but a truly meaningful, deeply joyful life? And yeah, so that has absolutely influenced me, and I’ll pass on different ways you can go from there.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 08:56

Yes, you have the wall behind you with some of those amazing philosophers and some very inspiring people. When you were at that point that you were so low, and a lot of people, when they get to that point, they find that there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. But for you, obviously, you discovered this greatness and you built the wall of greatness. How did you come to find these people? Did you go to a library one day or did you hear something that inspired you? Because perhaps then you can help other people who are in the same situation that you were in at that time?

Brian Johnson 09:40

Yeah, it’s your question. I think it was a constellation of a lot of things. But yeah, I spent a lot of time in library spent a lot of time studying and the very first book I ever read was called Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. The idea that I could actually, you know, change my life was deeply meaningful, but for me that depths of my despair at that stage of my life came after dropping out of law school. So dropped out of law school had no idea what I wanted to do. But one thing I wanted to coach a little league baseball team. So that’s what I did. I’m 2324 years old had a lot more hair, Marissa. And that was all I wanted to do is to work with these kids. And as it turned out, when I was working with these kids, I had an idea this is, you know, almost How long ago was that time flies when I’m fun over 25 years ago, right? That every single one of these teams would be using the web, the internet for everything in a matter of time. And I wound up creating a business that I never could have imagined out of that. So that idea of Joseph Campbell’s following your bliss at any given moment. If we slow down and think about it, there’s usually something that can inspire us will follow that Campbell says when you lose your bliss, your job is to find it find that thing that gets you, however excited even in the midst of the despair, I felt there was that one little kindling of passion that I had the courage to follow. And then that led to that effect. And one thing another thing, and I never could have imagined what came out of that I wound up creating a business that, you know, we want a business plan competition at UCLA as business school, I wound up hiring the CEO of Adidas to replace me at 25 years old, and I hired the law firm I would have wanted to work for before I would have graduated from law school. But I never could have imagined that when I stepped out and made that decision, which was incredibly challenging. So I think that was an important thing for me. But more than anything, if I could go back to that version of myself, I’d tell that version of me that the experience of feeling the pain and the uncertainty that I was feeling is normal, I thought something was wrong with me, I thought that was the only one who was experiencing that. So then I would have taught that version of me to focus on the basic fundamentals, eating, moving, sleeping, these basic things that plug us into something bigger than ourselves. So we have the mental clarity and psychological confidence to do the things we feel called to do. That’s now a very long answer to your short question. But those are some of the things that that I did then. And then this is my entire life. So now I work with some of the most elite performers in the corporate world in the military and sports have helped them ended blast to receive feedback from people that you know, who didn’t know if they wanted to live another day, who found meaning and purpose in the same exact body of work. So that’s kind of the yes, I’m still waiting. whatsoever in here. Yes,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 12:30

two things I picked up from that. Especially one was listening to your gut feeling. And it’s like listening, if there’s something that feels right to pursue it. And quite often, our brains get in the way of that. We don’t follow our intuition, because we talk ourselves out of things, don’t we?

Brian Johnson 12:54

We do it. And I mean, you know, you want to balance both. I think the intuition and the rational that when you know, and you have a deep insight that you have ideally pushed through the rational Lens, I’m not against, you know, and I’m actually a big advocate of checking that against reality, and seeing all right, well, what do you want? Perfect? What might get in the way of you getting that? What would you what’s your plan to go get it and then being willing to go pay the price to get it? So for me it’s a it’s a yes. And but I think that oftentimes, we’re either too afraid to take the risk. Or to put it bluntly, we’re too lazy to do the hard work. And I think, able to get clarity on what we really want. We trust that when we do the hard work to make that a reality, we’re still not guaranteed success. Joseph Campbell says when you follow your bliss, there is an opportunity to get bliss, there’s also an opportunity to experience a fiasco, but that’s a good life, then you realize that’s part of the process. You learn and you carry on, you know?

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 13:54

Yeah. So that inner voice that you’re talking about, is that not your intuition? What do you describe that in? What do you perceive that inner voice to be?

Brian Johnson 14:05

Well, I have a lot of inner voices and others, but yeah, I think there’s it in a wise, intuitive, bigger, higher version of ourselves. I would call that my Dymo. And my guiding spirit is the word the ancient Greeks used the ancient Romans called your Dymo. And your genius. They said that everyone had a genius a guiding spirit, right one wasn’t a genius. Everyone had that guiding spirit. So yeah, I think that voice is always present in this is my number one practice is how can I more consistently connect with it? And then I’ve got 50 other voices, some of which are more or less helpful, but I think quieting down, creating the stillness and the clarity such that we can connect to that wise best version of ourselves and then and then listen and then be willing to take, make decisions, take action, take risks, get data, some of it or From the wall, we continue to do our best to learn the process, right? Yes,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 15:04

yes. And the work that you’re doing, you have also raised in excess of $250 million, sorry, $25 million through crowd funding

Brian Johnson 15:19

your 120 5 million Marissa, that would help me right now, actually,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 15:23

and could I take 10% of that I would be happy. Maybe we could do this together, let’s join forces and make $250 million. But you did that through crowdfunding, and you made crowdfunding history? How on earth did you do that? Was that another voice telling you? This is what you needed to do? And what was the funding for

Brian Johnson 15:50

the good question. And then it’s actually there’s there’s the answers. Yeah, there were two moments kind of epiphany moments for me. But like I said, I’ve spent half of the last 25 years as a founder CEO, the other half as a philosopher reading, writing and teaching. As a as a philosopher I had, I’ve worked with a lot of people at this stage and and been blessed to help a lot of people, including coaches, we’ve trained at cetera. And then on election night, 2020, woke up in them in the US woke up in the middle of the night politics aside, and I had a pivotal moment of my background was social technology. So I had built and sold platforms like Facebook, before Facebook. And I had to wait a very long time for someone to create an alternative to Facebook that was grounded in more of these virtuous ideals and less of the attention economy. Anyway, I had a vision to create a company heroic public benefit corporation. And when we get that moment in the morning, I created in my mind the company, the next day, I started formally creating it, talk to some of my advisers about it. They told me about crowdfunding. Well, let me look that out. And then I learned that the crowdfunding regulations were changing from a maximum of $1 million of fundraising to 5 million, and I had an hid in the moment that we were going to be the first company to ever do it. I didn’t think we would, I knew we would. And yeah, that was a deep too deep insights in the span of about 72 hours. And then that sounds nice and warm and fuzzy, but we had to go do the work to do it. Six weeks later, we did all the work with the SEC, I sent out an email to our community that I had been blessed to serve for years, and told them about our vision and our mission to hopefully make a positive difference in the world. And in 24 hours, we had $5 million of expressed interest in 100 hours we had 10 known, we wound up making history raising 10 million, not five and but it was the accumulation of of, you know a decade of trying to serve profoundly. And my deepest inspiration on the kind of economic financial side is a guy named Eric Butterworth, who is my Angelo’s spiritual advisor wrote one of Oprah’s Favorite Books, he wrote a book called spiritual economics. And he said, You should never go after money or material things, you should be the consciousness through which money and material things can come to you when and as you need it. So that’s been my practice for a long time, but not, for me feels like perhaps a demonstration of His truth and felt blessed to have the support. We had 2500 ambassadors from 75 countries around the world, ranging from $100 Now to a million dollars, and it’s just been a blessing to have their support. And, you know, my work is to be worthy of that and to try to make them proud and make the impact that I’ve committed to doing with them.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 18:42

Where has that money gone to?

Brian Johnson 18:45

So right after that, then there’s a third epiphany. I heard about a company called Metalab that built slack Tinder Uber Eats, Elon Musk went to them to build his new business neurally. They’re the best in the world at building a product and 1400 companies go to them a year to build their product. And they work with 14. Well, we were one of them. They wound up investing in us and they built our app. And yeah, so that, you know, capital goes into building the company that hopefully has the product that’s worthy of a broad adoption.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 19:18

So a lot of your work is centered around the word heroic, heroic potential. And you’ve trained 10,000 Plus heroic coaches from over 100 countries. With through that work, what do you believe defines a hero? What qualities does a hero possess?

Brian Johnson 19:44

Yeah, I got my body tattooed with the design company that did it. You know, they’re like, Hey, we’re gonna spend a couple more weeks getting the tattoo. Right if you’re gonna go tattoo, it is this good. So that’s the final, the final version, right? Let’s go. Well, the Greeks are the ones So we came up with the word for hero. So in ancient Greece, when they named the came up with the idea of a hero, the word they chose meant protector. So a hero etymologically is a protector. And a hero, rather than a victim, a hero has strength for two they want to serve their protector, their secret weapon is love in the ancient world that was in the modern world, that’s the hero secret weapon. So that’s how I see the idea of being a hero. And that’s all of us are called. And we were living in historically significantly challenging times. And from which point you literally Marisa and anyone listening to this or the hero we’ve been waiting for. And I believe we each need to step up and do the hard work to craft our consciousness to be the people we’re capable of being in service to something bigger than ourselves. And then the t shirt I’m wearing and my tattoo on this side of of my, my body represents how to do that. So how does one show up and with heroically, in a single word you live with RNA. RNA is another ancient Greek word, it means virtue or excellence. But it has a deeper meaning something closer to being your best self, moment, to moment to moment, it’s the one word answer the ancient stoics would give you on how to live a good life, literally, one word, our Ted, be your best self moment to moment to moment. And as you know, in the book, I talked about this with my son, where in any given moment, I think you’re capable of being this if you’re capable being this and you’re actually being missed. And there’s a gap between who you could have been and who you’re actually being. It’s in that gap, in which regret, anxiety, disillusionment exists. When you close the gap. You live with RJ, you express the best version yourself, there is no room for that negative stuff. And you feel a deep sense of joy and meaning and purpose, which the Greeks called eudaimonia, which means good soul. It’s as if your soul advised you and you showed up in integrity with that best you and you feel a deep sense again, of joy, meaning purpose, etc.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 22:08

That’s amazing. I love that. I love that I think that’s so profound, but I really resonate with it. And the thing that came to mind when you were talking about that, about that best self is for me personally, when life throws you adversity, your best self changes. And do you believe that in life, our best self, or who we can turn up as our best each day changes? And the we also to have to be kind to ourselves and cut ourselves a break, when our best today? Perhaps wasn’t as good as our best self yesterday? Yeah,

Brian Johnson 22:54

I would say yes. And I think we want to practice self compassion, for sure. And I think we want to simultaneously hold high standards. And, you know, my, my kind of philosophy is grounded on the most loving thing we can do is to hold ourselves to high standards, then do the things we know we’re capable of doing. So oftentimes cutting ourselves a break, right, when we need to actually step it up a notch isn’t a wise thing to do. So if I’m getting hit by life, that’s not the time. I’m accepting that reality. I’m loving what is and then arguing with it. But then I’m using it as a challenge to step up and to try to do my best. You know, I’m in America, the Superbowl is coming up. It’s as if, wow, it’s the Superbowl time. That’s when I step up my training. That’s not when I dropped back on it. So that’s when I compassionately but wisely in frankly, fiercely, make sure I’m eating and moving and sleeping and breathing and focusing my mind and connecting with my family, and doing the things I know I need to do. And then that challenge becomes my opportunity to practice my philosophy and get stronger. Now, of course, day in and day out, our best is going to look differently, as Don Miguel Ruiz says, and four agreements, you know, always do your best, some days that will be better than others. But I think that there’s it’s an interesting balance, you know, it’ll mean different things for different people in terms of cutting ourselves a break and all that, you know, but yes, I think those challenges give us an opportunity to really forge a strength we may not have known we have

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 24:28

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Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 26:41

It’s incredible what we can do. There’s things for example, that I’ve achieved over the past, perhaps even five years that I never thought I would ever achieved. I completed a PhD, I wrote an academic textbook, I started a podcast, that’s become very popular. I’m doing a teaching tour in America. I mean, there’s so many things. And there are times I say to myself, when I get to that place of overwhelm, my immediate reaction is to say, what was I thinking? When I signed up for this? You know, like, get that when you start to feel those moments of self doubt. And we’re human beings. And then I say to myself, I can do anything I put my mind to. And I know I’m going to get it done. Because I always do.

Brian Johnson 27:40

That’s brilliant. Yeah. But then of course, you’re going to experience the doubt. You’re on a hero’s journey. Hero’s face dragons on hero’s journeys, those are pre, they’re not sidestepping lizards. Now, the more reps we go through, the more you do it, you did, which is good. I’ve obtained that dragon, I can jump on it and ride it. Now this fear is a sign that I’m doing the right thing, not the wrong thing. It’s a sign that I’m willing to take risks, and I have what it takes. But yeah, I mean, that’s that’s, that’s what we admire in the heroes we admire is they’re willing to take wise risks, then they show up in the face of the fear. That’s what courage is willingness to act in the presence of fear, fear is never gonna go away. And when we take on more challenges and more risks, we’re gonna feel more of that. But you get reps in, like, you’re going into the spiritual gym, and you realize, oh, wait, I can lift that weight, we’re good. And this is it. And this is why when life hits us, we want to be mindful. That’s the time to slow down, check it out in with the weights. And if you quote, give yourself a break, and you walk out of the gym, you lost the opportunity to get stronger. But I know that what you’re describing is exactly, in my mind, how we want to approach it, bring it on, is the mantra that yes, scientists advise my character, you know, Phil Stotts. It’s one of the big things we talk about a lot of No, no. And when we lean in, let me approach my challenges rather than avoid them. That’s what a healthy, flourishing heroic people do.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 29:08

I love that you talked about the gym, and those reps, because I feel that and my way of thinking about courage is that it’s like a muscle. And the way that you build muscle is through repetition. So if you’re going to build that courage muscle, you’ve got to do it in a repetitive way for it to become consistent

Brian Johnson 29:31

100% And you got to with just one of them more than you’re comfortable with. And yes, you don’t want to give it away. You don’t want to have too heavy or you want to find that edge. But if you keep on doing that, you’ll get stronger and stronger and stronger. And then every moment where you feel a little bit of that overwhelm or doubt or anxiety, whatever we all feel in our own idiosyncratic ways we want to lean in. That’s an opportunity to get a little bit stronger whether it’s in our dialogue right now, there are moments where we’re like, am I going to say that y’all say that? All right. When a potential exists outside of your comfort zone, how does it feel when you leave your comfort zone, by definition, it feels so uncomfortable. So then we want to get comfortable being uncomfortable, which we all know, then you get to practice it. So when you feel that it’s lean in bringing it on, this is a good thing is not a sign, something’s wrong with me. It’s a sign something’s right with how I’m pursuing my goals. And I’m supposed to feel this. Now when we practice. So when we get stronger, I’m in the gym. But I love that the repetition, the mindful, deliberate practice, it’s the same thing emotionally and psychologically, creatively that we do physically. Yes.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 30:37

And those challenges, I say, they’re, they’re our vehicle for personal growth. And when life throws you a whole bunch of challenges at the one time, it’s life fast tracking your personal growth. Okay, yeah,

Brian Johnson 30:53

let’s go. Yes.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 30:56

I yeah, I, I actually think about a lot of stuff I have, you know, I’ve been on a very kind of philosophical journey now for a number of years, because of the the obstacles that have come my way in life, it forces you to think, or otherwise, you just going to lie there in a fetal position somewhere in a corner, sobbing like a baby and never getting out of that, that mental space. I mean, you’ve you’ve got to try and kind of rationalize things and make sense of them. If you want to live your your best life. If you want to improve your life. You have to develop that mindset around the way life behaves itself around you, and the way that you can live your life and lean into these things that happened to you on on that life journey. Amen. Yeah. But let’s talk about your book. And thank you so much for sending me a copy. I love the way you’ve written this. I mean, this is a fat book. I mean, it is a very big book, Brian. But having said that, it is so easy to digest. You know, there’s each chapter is only like, a little page or two. But they’re just thoughts and opinions. And it’s a story. So, in your book, you talk about the most common challenges that people face today. And you talk about how we can navigate life’s complexities and those challenges. What do you believe, are the the greatest challenges that we face today? As a society or as or as humans? And how do we overcome those obstacles?

Brian Johnson 32:53

Yeah, I think the ultimate kind of challenge, if you will, and call that we all have is to express the best version of ourselves. And simply recognizing that that’s the ultimate game is the first objective in the book, most of us who have been seduced to believe that the game to play is chasing fame and wealth and hardness, all the extrinsic variables, in and of themselves, aren’t going to create a happier life. So simply stepping back from that, and realizing that Krishnamurti said It is no measure of health or well being to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. So in a society in which the vast majority of individuals are struggling, whether with a chronic disease or a mental health challenge, you want to step back and go, wait, maybe maybe I need to do things a little bit differently. So simply recognizing the first challenge is recognizing that the ultimate game is to show up and do the things we’re talking about right now. Live with virtue live with RNA being your best self, in service to something bigger than yourself, and what would a life of the meaning and purpose look like for you, then getting off of that kind of he Donek treadmill, and stepping back and really getting clear on who you are, when you’re at your best, what that might look like and how you might architect the life of the meeting. And then they get my coach Phil Stutz. I talk about a lot in the book. And he’s featured in the Netflix documentary called Staats, brilliant, brilliant human being. He says that his favorite teacher, Rudolf Steiner says, There are two main things that get in the way of us living a great life, fear and laziness. I think, accurate, you know, though, it’s that the fear of I don’t know if I can handle all that those challenges are and then the laziness. I don’t know if I’m going to do that work. So let me just now myself, let me go scroll through Instagram a little more. Or let me go watch that Netflix show or when we go to the liquor store or whatever it is that we do to avoid that. fundamental need. Abraham Maslow comes to mind as well. On my wall back there too. He He says that at a certain stage of our development, Maslow created a hierarchy of needs. Of course, if anyone this far into this conversation is this far in their development, you’ve gone up the hierarchy of needs, you have enough abundance of time and resources to be here with us today, then the need for you to actualize your potential. He’s as real as your need to breed. And to the extent you’re not, you’re going to suffer. So pay attention to that. And then again, lots of things we can talk about. But that’s, that’s the whole book is how do you more consistently express the best version of yourself. And this has been the theme of all ancient wisdom and faith traditions, it’s about modern science and the positive psychology where it is relative spent studying, broke down into these little micro chapters to help us get different distinctions about them.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 35:53

You and I are so much on the same page, when you were speaking, I, this is something that I’ve actually been thinking a lot about over the last week about, essentially, forgive me if I’m incorrect, and you can pull me up on it. It’s about live living incongruency, living your life in alignment to who you are, who you are meant to be, and to your core values.

Brian Johnson 36:29

That’s pretty much. That’s the challenge. Yeah. And then again, clicking on that refer to doing it for something bigger than yourself. I mean, this is the essence of it, I believe. And

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 36:39

earlier, you were talking about the voice. Now, through that last little bit of commentary and what you were speaking about, in the message that you’re sharing through the book, it’s when we are not in alignment, or we are not living life incongruency there is a voice within us that is telling us that this is not okay. This is not what we’re meant to be doing. This is what this is what I believe. And it’s when we don’t listen to that voice, that we become unwell, that we become diseased, that things there’s resistance in life, things are so much harder in life. And, for me, it’s not just a voice, but it’s also a feeling in my body. It’s even when at the most basic level, if I’m spending time with someone, and their core values do not align with mine. And there is a conflict there on that most basic level, I feel it in my body, I feel like I don’t have any energy. I feel like there’s a tension in my body. And that voice is telling me to get out of there. I mean, that’s just an example that comes to mind for me, or being in a workplace where you feel you don’t have energy, where you you lose your you’re not productive, you lose your creativity, that you have brain fog, you don’t feel inspired, you’re not in alignment with that that work environment or that task. Sorry, I’ve just gone on a tangent. There was just, I’m just sharing the things that were coming to mind while you were saying

Brian Johnson 38:42

to me again, to bring it back to the idea of that Demone the guiding spirit. And then I believe that the my fundamental job for myself is to find the things that I do that helped me be more connected to that best version of myself. Battle, a constant battle between the diamond the best version of ourselves and the demon voice which is the diminutive of Demone that got to experience the demon, the less than awesome spirit. So it’s that battle of voices in our heads that we want to be mindful of and noticing the the which one are we following you know, and to the extent follow the guiding spirit, the wise version of ourselves in the most basic fundamental things, the eating, the moving, the sleeping, the breathing, the focusing, the more we practice that the more clear we are in interpersonal dynamics, like what you described in career decisions. You know, there’s there’s an intelligence that’s there that I absolutely believe is present in our jobs include getting connected to that. So can we create the space such that that version of us can more consistently be expressed? Yeah, I mean, Ralph Waldo Emerson is on my wall back there. We named our son after him. He tells me Oh, man, it’s in my meditation every morning to As they sell, every heart vibrates to that iron string, you have the wisdom within you. And that’s a really key practice to develop that trust and be more attuned to it.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 40:11

So you outlined seven objectives in your book of how we can master these challenges, and the feelings that come along with them. So what are those seven objectives?

Brian Johnson 40:25

So we talked about the first objective, which is you got to know the ultimate game, the ultimate game, again, is to be your best self in service to something bigger than yourself to live with virtue, etc. Close the Gap. The second objective is forging anti fragile confidence, you want to develop confidence means intense trust, to be anti fragile is to use life’s challenges to get stronger, you can be fragile and break when life hits you. You can be resilient, which means you can handle more stress, then you break down then you bounce back. But what if you were the opposite of fragile? What if when you got hit by wife you got stronger? That’s an anti fragile? Rule number one have a good Hero’s Journey is it supposed to be hard. And again, the more you go through the ropes, the easier it gets, and the more gracefully you navigate challenges. But if you want to get rid of all challenges, you just got rid of all meaning. That’s when we grow and said, Oh, that’s objective two. The third objective is to simplify self development into what we call the big three. So Freud said, a good life comes down to your work and your love. If you get those right, you’re living a good life, to which I say yes, and if your energy isn’t great, because of poor lifestyle choices, good luck. We call that the big three, energy, work and love. And we help you systematically get clarity on that. The fourth objective briefly is to make today a masterpiece. You can’t set new year’s resolutions, be excited for a day or five, and then forget them until next New Years, you got to make today a masterpiece. And then today, a masterpiece. Today’s the day. The fifth objective is the art and science of behavioral change. So we need to master the process of installing and deleting habits. It’s a skill that can be taught and they can be mastered. And it’s very, very important. Objective six is to dominate what I call the fundamentals, the very basic things the eating, the moving, the sleeping, the breathing the focus on but I’ve already mentioned a number of times, when you do those six things objectives, I believe that you activate your superpower, I believe latent within all of us is this best version of ourselves. Gandhi talked about something he called soul force. We’re recording this a few days after we celebrated Martin Luther King Day in the US with Martin Luther King, his hero is Gandhi. He talked about so forth in his I Have a Dream speech. All of our heroes have one thing in common when you’re in their presence, you feel them. You feel the positive version of what you just described, when you felt enervated. When you’re in the presence of someone with integrity, you feel their moral charisma, they energize you and they’re very present. I want you and everyone that I have the opportunity to connect with to activate that. That’s our heroic superpower. It’s it’s expressed differently for everyone. But every single one of our heroes had it in common. They all had that ineffable moral charisma that you feel when someone’s living in integrity with their highest ideals. That’s the seventh objective. And again, it is kind of the the natural flowering and byproduct of living the prior six.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 43:29

Do you feel that as a society, we’re being set up to fail in all these areas? Up

Brian Johnson 43:36

deliberately? But yeah, I mean, and again, but this is a 2500 year old challenge. This isn’t like, oh my god, it’s amplified. And it’s more exacerbated today via technology and whatnot. But this is this is what Socrates talked about. This is what the Bhagavad is about. This is what the Dhammapada and Buddhism is about. This is what ancient Chinese philosophers talked about. Every great. Ancient Wisdom and faith tradition talked about this. So it’s a 2500 year old challenge. So yes, we’ve been seduced by the wrong game for 2500 years now. It’s just, you know, amplified to the nth degree. Yes.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 44:10

And what about our responsibility and our role as parents? In your book, you start off with a story about Emerson, your son, who didn’t want to go to a chess game because he knew he was going to lose the chess game. And then the story becomes, you know, it moves on from there. So what about our role as parents and the values that we can instill in our children and how we can help them develop their heroic potential?

Brian Johnson 44:49

Yeah, the word parents etymologically means to bring forth So as a parent, I have two kids and 11 year old and a seven year old, almost seven Eleanor Emerson. So my job is to help them bring forth the best within themselves. So then I’m only going to be able to do that to the extent I have a coherent life’s philosophy, and I have an idea of how I can personally show up as my best self. You can’t give what you don’t have very difficult to do that. So I think the first rule of parents thing is you got to be the change, you want to see the paraphrase gone. So are you living in Integrity with your highest ideals, kids, your kids are watching you, you know, and then they’re gonna do what you do now what you tell them to do. So we’ve got to practice living with wisdom, and discipline, and love and courage and gratitude and hope, and curiosity and zest, the virtues that science says are correlated with flourishing. And that’s a that’s a humbling practice. I mean, that is the hardest job I have to be worthy of my kids emulation. I mean, that’s, that’s that’s a very humbling standard. But I think we need to take that responsibility seriously and and do that hard work. And then of course, we create a culture in our family, whatever that looks like for each of us, where that’s that’s the norm, you know, and again, we got to pull outside of the culture that is teaching our kids something very, very different than what we’re talking about. But that’s that’s a heroic challenge that again, I personally take seriously and found that that using my son’s challenges as an opportunity to explain what could be complex ideas was a good way to start the book.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 46:27

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Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 49:06

Do you feel that with our youth today that perhaps, you know I feel that many of them feel very entitled? Because everything’s just instant, and they don’t have to work hard? So do you feel that they’re becoming? You know, you talked about laziness and fear being the two obstacles to someone reaching their full potential or their their greatness or heroic potential? Do you feel that the youth of today are being set up for failure? Because of lifestyle because of parenting these days is a lot of helicopter parents because everything is so instant. They don’t have to work for things. I mean, even they want to contact someone they just get on a phone and send a message whereas when I was growing up up, you had to call their house, you know, and maybe go through their parents,

Brian Johnson 50:05

I get enough going on within my own mind and within my own family that I’m focused on, you know, but that’s where I always start is let me try to do these ideas with more integrity, then let me challenge the individual to do so and get their consciousness right. So they can be better wise, noble parents. But I think it ultimately, yes, there we live in a world in which I do not believe any of us are being it was this isn’t the normative cultural standards, it could have been in a different trajectory in our world. But I think each of us needs to slow down, unplug, do the hard work to craft our own meaningful philosophy and then live in integrity with that, but then create a community of individuals such that together, we can, we can make a significant difference. But I dedicate the book to my wife to the reader, of course, the heater we’ve been waiting for, to my wife, my kids, but then to other parents and their kids like this is what gets me most excited. Is family units coming together, when the most positive feedback I’ve gotten on the book is parents who read it with their kids or kids 1112 year old kids who have stolen the book from their parents and stayed up late reading it. And that short form, you know, conversational stock, yes, has lent itself to that. Yeah, I think again, we live in remarkable times. But the fundamental challenge is 2500 years old, it’s just exasperated. And the solution to it is not abstract. It’s concrete. It’s me, it’s you, it’s the individual listening to this or watching this. And it’s easier to abstract it than it is to do the hard work and look in the mirror and figure out what we need you, the listener needs to do today, to be a better person to be a better parent. And that’s exciting for me, because that responsibility that agency, we need to really seize, you know, and show up like we mean it, you know,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 51:59

you talked about energy, I just want to quickly touch on because I talked about the meds, you know, that’s how I frame the important things in life, mindfulness or meditation, exercise. D diet, sleep, so And you touched on those. So what should they look like in someone’s life?

Brian Johnson 52:25

I love it med so then meditation, exercise, diet and sleep. So I say the exact same thing Oh my I say eating, moving, sleeping. I think breathing is an important thing. And then focusing, transcends and includes meditation. So that’s kind of my my five fundamentals which map over your, your meds. I mean, practically speaking, for me, sleep is the foundation of well being. So that’s my number one fundamental. Few are not getting seven hours of sleep per night, and not seven hours in bed, seven hours of sleep. And if you’re 90% efficient, meaning you’re in bed for eight hours, and you get seven hours of sleep, you’re winning, that’s a very good efficiency. So you need seven hours of sleep per night, if you believe the science that I believe, if you’re not getting that the fastest way to change your life is to get that and then prioritize your life such that you’re getting that I’m a different person on the west than an optimal amount of sleep. And then you know, movement we all know. Yeah, movement. We all know that. John Radiohead of Harvard says, exercise is like taking a little bit of red one and a little bit of Prozac. Tal Ben Shahar, you’ve taught the largest class and Harvard says any day you don’t move or exercise is like taking a depressant. But then nutrition is obviously you know, profound variable and our psychological overall well being. And then yeah, meditation, can you put your attention where you want when you want for how long you want, that’s the thing that frightens me the most with the next generation, they have no ability to do anything other than stare at a screen. Now I’m exaggerating to make the point. But that’s scary. And when you don’t have time, or the ability to step back and create the mental space, you can’t process, you know, the stimuli that we’re bombarded with. Yeah, but we’re fully aligned, obviously, on all those things. And it’s excited this, how are we can get a generate when we start focusing on

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 54:25

you know, when you saying you’re exaggerating about screen time? Well, I know, I’ve read somewhere and I think Jay Shetty talks about this that the average American watches four hours of TV a day, which over a lifetime and if you average that out over the average lifespan of the life of a human being turns out, it’s about 13 years of life is spent 1000

Brian Johnson 54:55

hours a year, you know, 8080 years. 80,000 hours passes So you know,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 55:00

1313 years of watching a lot of

Brian Johnson 55:06

heroes, you watched a lot of pseudo heroes. And the way I challenge our characters is you got to make a decision. Do you want to be entertained? Or do you want to be actualized? And that’s a decision. No, I don’t have time to sleep. Well, let me follow you around the night. What are you doing from eight 910 1112? One, and making the connection and seeing that that extra hour of sleep is gonna give you that energy to show up tomorrow, with more vitality and zest and clarity and all the other things.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 55:31

And you talked about love as one of the other fundamentals now. You said that the book is dedicated to your wife? What’s the and your children and the reader? But what is the thing about your wife? What qualities does she possess that you absolutely love?

Brian Johnson 55:54

Know what a great question. There are a lot of things I admire about my wife. She is an extraordinary human being. So yeah, going back 18 years, what arises for me and she’s behind me so I was gonna actually step back Oh, she’s

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 56:09


Brian Johnson 56:10

I’ve got I’ve got my wife behind me which is such a gives me tears and eyes, beautiful representation of all that she does. And I’m out here talking to you. You know, we homeschool our two kids she to natural births at home and she’s way more heroic than I am. No one will ever know it. You know, but yeah, she’s an extraordinary human being who makes me a better a better men.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 56:30

And the work that you’re doing on you, yourself. Obviously, you’re on a journey of personal growth each and every day, you’re wanting to become a better human being you’re doing that work on yourself. How important to you and to your relationship is that she’s doing the work on herself as well.

Brian Johnson 56:52

She’s as intense as I am. I didn’t get to the story, but but she was told by her family, you’re never going to find anybody that’s as intense as you are, you know, so that she can be even more intensely committed to these ideas than I am, if that’s possible, but we’re kind of

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 57:07

right there. You are in alignment. Yeah. And

Brian Johnson 57:11

I think again, that’s one of the big challenges I get my work is oh, what do I do with my spouse who isn’t as into that, and that I always come back to focus on you know, play your role. Well do your thing and and longer chat, but I’m blessed to be in relationship with a woman who is as into this and pushes me in her own idiosyncratic way. But that’s why I think a good relationship is Leo Buscaglia. So when we met one another, I was running a social platform before Facebook at the time, she found it to talk about intuition. She found this website, for whatever reason, her friend told her about it. And she wanted to find out who the CEO of the company was. So she found my profile on it. MySpace was big at the time. So it’s kind of like a MySpace. Yes, I had a MySpace, gotcha. Yeah, this platform was called zardes. And she found the she found my profile. And then she, you know, you had the books that you like. So she liked the books that I liked. And I liked a book called Love by weeaboo Scalia. Anyway, she finds my profile. And she says to herself, I’m going to marry this guy is literally what she says. And then she’s producing an event at UCLA. And she’s like, we got to get this company to sponsor us. And she playfully says to her business partners, because I’m going to marry the CEO. And her business partner says, Well, I know him, you want me to tax them. And he literally text me, goosebumps right now. Anyway, long story short, she had moved from Chicago, in the US, literally five blocks from my house, when she came out to run that conference. So we met first dates, 18 hours long and 18 years ago. So you talk about intuition. That would be one of the thing that I admire my wife. He’s got an incredibly powerful intuition. So she’s my primary guide in life and a lot of other things. But that’s a fun story that demonstrates some of her power there.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 59:02

Yes. That’s a beautiful story. I love that. I love that. It’s funny. When I met my husband, I saw him in the distance. And I said to my girlfriend, who I was out with that particular night, he’s the one and we ended up getting married. We’ve been together over 30 years. So Oh, my goodness, us women. We are crazy human beings. Much of this work.

Brian Johnson 59:31

Let me go back to Leo Buscaglia. didn’t finish my thought there because I’ve got my origin story. So we had both read this book by Leo Buscaglia called love. Leo Buscaglia says any relationship that doesn’t consist of two individuals supporting one another in actualizing, their potential together is attachment not well. So that became the core ethos of our relationship that we both love that book. I’d never dated a woman who would read that book she’d never found the guy that wrote that book. And that’s kind of the guiding light for us is we are committed to actualizing our potential individually, coming together as a couple to actualize it and support one another in actualizing, our potential while now being blessed and challenged to do that with our two kids, which made it infinitely more challenging, as you know, I’m sure to maintain all those moving parts. But anyway, that’s, that’s our kind of relational kind of conception of love. Yes.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:00:27

And it’s hard to love someone else, too. If you don’t love yourself, and I know a lot of people probably think that’s vanity. But it’s important to, if you don’t care for yourself, how can you care for somebody else? How can you share a resource that you don’t possess for yourself? I mean, we have to do the work on ourselves first. Yeah.

Brian Johnson 1:00:54

And I think that part of that includes being loving, you know, and giving that love. But yes, it’s very difficult to give to someone that what you do not give to yourself on a consistent basis. But yeah, again, so important that we take care of ourselves, and again, to live in integrity with our ideals, which will include being good partners, you know, and striving to both give love and be worthy of the love that we received.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:01:21

In your life, what would be a deal breaker not talking about your relationship here? But you obviously have a very structured routine life? It sounds like very disciplined. What would be a deal breaker for you? Or what is something you absolutely would not do in your life? That would not be incongruency, with who you are as a human?

Brian Johnson 1:01:47

There’s a long list of things that are Marisa, I mean, my commitment is can I be my best self? Can I live with virtual not perfect? I’m never going to be perfect. There are no perfect people. But yeah, I don’t know if you want a specific like, you know, no,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:02:00

just a couple of examples of just,

Brian Johnson 1:02:04

you know, my dad and his dad, my brother drink enough alcohol in the last few lifetimes, you know, like that isn’t? I don’t need that. Yeah, yes. Whatever. But I mean, humbly, though, we all have our own kryptonite. So we all have our own challenges. So again, that common humanity of All right, well, where do we kind of struggle? And how do we tighten that up? But yeah, I’m simple. You know, I do the same simple things and feel blessed to do what I do professionally feel blessed to have the family I do. And outside of that, I’m a pretty boring guy.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:02:41

I kind of feel the same. So you’re not alone there. We’re gonna start wrapping this up, Brian. But if there was something that you would like to share with the listeners, like, either a piece of advice or something, you feel that one small thing that they could do that they could change in their lives to make a big difference, and to allow them to embark on that journey of achieving their full potential.

Brian Johnson 1:03:11

Yes, right. So that question in two parts, one, anything we just discussed that may have resonated with you, whoever’s listening or watching this, like, think about that? Why did it resonate? And how can you move from theory to practice on it, but then think about, my one thing that I would encourage you to think about is the one thing you think, would most positively change your life. So when you step back and think and I do this all the time, anytime I want to go next, next next level, or if I’m feeling a little bit overwhelmed, and I want more stability, I asked myself this question. What’s the one thing I know I could start doing that if I did, it consistently would most positively change my life? And then what’s the one thing I need to stop doing that if I stopped doing it would most positively changed my life and the reality is stopping that negative habit is actually the fastest way to change your life. You can pile on a lot of good stuff. But if you’ve got a block of kryptonite in front of you that’s draining you of your power. You have a tough time moving forward. So yeah, that would be my encouragement. Think about that plus one, start the minus one stops, and then have fun giving yourself that gift of deeper discipline and the joy that follows

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:04:23

What’s your legacy? Do you believe I want

Brian Johnson 1:04:27

to be alive in this moment, you know, and do my best but my mission in life tattooed on my body so it’s, it’s, you know, the 5120 51? Can I help create a world in which 51% of humanity is flourishing by 2051? It was inspired by Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology, we’re obviously not going to do it alone. But can I play my role well, to help create that world, that’s That’s the mission to which I’ve dedicated my life and, you know, do my best day in and day out to see what I can do to help move that move us toward that. You

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:04:57

are Brian, you’re doing an incredible old job, what are you up to next?

Brian Johnson 1:05:02

Same old thing I’m gonna unplug this is wait for me, your your your I don’t know how many hours ahead of me but I never stopped doing anything. It’s late. So it’s 510 I’m usually done at five and the winters, family time is up for me Max going to bed early is out for me next waking up early, feeling great meditating, doing what’s important for me then and then another great day. That’s, you know, that’s my next steps in the most immediate sense.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:05:25

Well, I’m gonna make sure you get to your next we’re going to finish this up, we’re going to share all the links to you and your work your book, your website, in the show notes for our listeners to find you. I truly appreciate you I appreciate the work that you’re doing. So much of what you spoke about absolutely 100% resonated with me. It’s a lot of the things that I think about in my life, there are things that I check in on consistently in my life, I don’t always get it right. And, and now I try not to be hard on myself when I don’t. It’s just like, Okay, we need to work on this now. Hey, check that you’re doing okay, there, this thing here. Now we’ve got to step it up. So 100% I resonated with what you spoke about, the work you’re doing is incredible. I wish you all the very best. And you know, I hope our pods meet one day, it’d be great to meet you in person. And, yes, just best wishes on what you’re setting out to achieve. And I’m sure you’re going to get there because you’ve got the heart, the soul, the passion, and that deep desire to do it.

Brian Johnson 1:06:47

God bless you, I appreciate you and admire all the gear up to you and happy to be on the same heroic quest with you. So thank you for having me. And it I look forward to Crossing Paths in the future.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith 1:06:58

Thank you for your time, Brian, go to bed. Thank you. Bye. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of a voice and beyond. I hope you enjoyed it as now is an important time for you to invest in your own self care, personal growth and education. Use every day as an opportunity to learn and to grow so you can show up feeling empowered and ready to live your best life. If you know someone who will also be inspired by this episode, please be sure to copy and paste the link and share it with them. Or share it on social media and use the hashtag a voice and beyond. I promise you I am committed to bringing you more inspiration and conversations just like this one every week. And if you’d like to help me, please rate and review this podcast and cheer me on by clicking the subscribe button on Apple podcast right now. I would also love to know what it is that you most enjoyed about this episode and what was your biggest takeaway? Please take care and I look forward to your company next time on the next episode of a voice and beyond.