Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you on this specific path?
I’ve been a meditator for over 16 years now. And it has made a dramatic difference in my life, ridding me of panic attacks in my early 20’s, and helping me years later when my wife (then girlfriend) and I almost broke up. I credit meditation for saving our relationship as it made me aware of specific behaviors I was doing that caused serious harm to our relationship.
Can you tell us about your “Big Idea”?
The whole idea behind my brand is to transform the way people think about the “type of person who meditates.”
Most people think that if you meditate you’re a new ager, hippie, or Buddhist in training. I am none of these things, and I know some people don’t meditate because they don’t want to be put in some box and labeled like this. That is what Ordinary Dude Meditation is about—bring the benefits of meditation to a new group of people who normally wouldn’t get it.
I want to be clear that I have nothing against Buddhism or people who consider themselves hippies/new agers. Many would say I used to be a hippie myself. And my wife is Buddhist. In fact, Buddhism introduced me to meditation over 16 years ago. I’m fond of Buddhism. But I want to keep it out of my books, for the most part, because I know some people have no interest in it, but can still benefit from the amazing health and psychological benefits of a regular meditation practice.
Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this idea? Can you tell us that story?
Actually, I came up with the idea thanks to one of my mentors Carol Tice. At the time I was in her Freelance Writers Den (because I am a freelance writer also) and I was going through one of her trainings about writing a book, and she suggested to write what you know.
I know meditation incredibly well as I’ve been doing it since I was 19, so I thought, “Why not write a book about it?”
Once I decided on the meditation idea, I knew I didn’t want to write just another meditation book. I wanted it to be different and speak to an audience that has not tried meditation—those who were turned off by how it’s depicted in mass media.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
1.Be prepared for an incredibly long road with many twists and turns – Once I finished my meditation book, I thought it would take off immediately. Boy, was I wrong. The original launch did horrible and I fell into a slump for months after. But then I experimented with several different marketing tactics until it finally started selling 100+ books a month around a year and a half later.
Though I’ve been at this for nearly 5 years, my books have been ordered over 10,000 times and my business is profitable, I still don’t consider myself a success. In my eyes, I am a ways away from where I want to be.
2.Health is the lifeblood of an entrepreneurs business – People say money is the lifeblood of an entrepreneur’s business, because he/she needs it to keep the engines firing. But I would say health is the real linchpin. Poor health costs you time, money, and productivity.
For me personally, meditation has improved my health over the long run, but it’s not the end all be all of health. Even meditators still have to take care of themselves, eat a good diet, don’t drink too much, get enough sleep, etc. To be completely honest, I have had numerous health issues (probably more than any time in my life) over the last few years.
Again, while meditation has helped (I practice every day), I was using it like an injured professional athlete who takes drugs to compete at a high level. My diet, lack of sleep, 6 day workweek, and affinity for booze have likely been the biggest contributors to my own self-inflicted health issues. While beer is on a few of my books’ covers, I don’t drink nearly as much as I did when I started this journey in 2015. Don’t get me wrong, I love a cold one as much as the next dude and still drink a handful of times a month, but it’s nothing like I used to.
I take much better care of myself now, and I wish someone would have told me to be more mindful of this when I started.
3. Your journey will take a toll on those closest to – Entrepreneurs are depicted as sexy by the mass media. A young, bold business tycoon whips up a brilliant idea and becomes a millionaire. So cool, right?
The reality is there is a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that go into making that business. While you’re young, it will have less effect on those around you, because let’s face it, young people typically don’t have families yet, nor are there parents old enough where they are having health issues.
No doubt, my business has had an impact on my loved ones and they sacrifice too. Sometimes, I actually think my journey is probably harder on my wife, parents, friends, and family than it is on me. I don’t see my family nearly as much as I’d like, I’ve had to tell my wife that “I can’t go on holiday with her” because I need that money to put towards the business, and I’ve completely lost touch with friends that I wish I hadn’t.
Starting a business affects everyone around you. I wish I had known this at the start so I could have at the very least set the expectations of the people closest to me, so they wouldn’t be disappointed as much.
4.Be careful of how many projects/commitments you take on – If meditation changes your brain, I would say entrepreneurship does the same thing. I look at time incredibly differently than how I did when I started. You always hear people say “time is the most valuable resource,” but how many of us actually believe it?
I always said I did, but I really didn’t until maybe a year or two back. As an entrepreneur, how you use your time is so, so important.
When I started out, I split time between freelance writing, my meditation business, and studying Thai (I live in Thailand). It was a mistake. That year was my most unproductive year as an entrepreneur. To make matters worse, I didn’t do very well at any of those three businesses/projects—I was in a constant state of distraction.
These days, I am much more focused. I no longer study Thai, I say “no” to the majority of freelance writing projects that come my way, and I predominantly keep my attention laser focused on my meditation business.
Time is so important. And it’s not just in a business sense. I am much more careful about who I spend time with in general these days and am very careful about accepting requests from potential business partners.
5.You DO NOT have to be everywhere and be everything – I feel like this kind of statement is often said in entrepreneur communities and by business owners, and I just think it’s a lie.
To go along with the last point, being everywhere and everything is a recipe for little to no results. You will spread your attention so thin you’ll see little progress.
No, you don’t have to be active on every social media platform. No, you don’t have to say “yes” to every potential business opportunity. A lot of entrepreneurs suffer from “shiny object syndrome” and just try to be everywhere and everything. Don’t do it. This kind of mindset will catch up to you.
I like the advice I heard from Ramit Sethi years ago, where he basically said you should “get really good at one thing and ignore all the rest.” Get used to saying the word “no” because if you don’t, you can end up sabotaging your own business.
Which principles or philosophies have guided your life? Your career?
You only live once – I believe that we all get one life—that’s it.
And for that reason I want to make this life as impactful and meaningful as possible. I could die tomorrow and I’d seriously be happy with the life I’ve lived. At 36, I have written for international TV, traveled the world visiting nearly two dozen countries, married the girl of my dreams, authored four bestselling books, and have lived a very colorful life.
Don’t get me wrong, I want to live a long life (89 years old to be exact) and there is still much I want to do on this Earth. But despite the many ups and downs I’ve gone through, life has been great for me.
In fact, those ups and downs, and the belief that “I only live once” are the very reason I can confidently say I have lived a complete life at such a young age. I have taken many risks that most people would veer away from…writing multiple books, starting a business, following my dream girl to Thailand, living in a dining room for a year to save up money to travel the world, etc.
Taking each of these risks has involved discomfort and pain, sometimes a lot, but the payoff has been a life I’m proud of and feeling that at this point I’m playing with house money.
Pay extra attention to how you treat people, especially when you say “no” – There is a common belief that when you say “no” or need to address a problem, that you have a right to be a dick about it. I really don’t like this mindset and I’m sad that I hear it repeated often on social media, in person, and even from influencers.
You can respectfully say “no” or even ask someone to change their behavior without being a jerk. Instead of being critical, be constructive. Instead of saying “no” like an asshole, clarify your intention that when you say it, you’re not trying to hurt their feelings. Getting rejected hurts, but if you’re respectful about it, that person will look at you in good favor.
Though I slip up from time to time, I do my best to be respectful to others because there’s no reason not to. We are all human. So be mindful of your actions and words.
What’s next for Ordinary Dude Meditation?
This past month I finally finished my mindfulness book series, consisting of An Ordinary Dude’s Guide to Meditation, An Ordinary Dude’s Guide to Habit, and An Ordinary Dude’s Guide to Enlightenment.
While I love writing books and would love to spend more time on that, I also want to create ways to help people meditate consistently. So I’m working on building a better blog and then rolling out some services to go along with the books next year.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
My Twitter handle is johnnytweiler. Admittedly, I’m not very active on the platform right now, though that will likely change in the near future.
My Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/ordinarydudemeditation/
But the best place to reach me is at my website: www.ordinarydudemeditation.com