Listen. We all want to be heard, but we don’t listen. It always amazes me that we spend so much time teaching public speaking, but we don’t teach people how to listen. If everyone wants to be heard, and no one is listening, it makes no sense to speak. My life changed when I was taught how to listen. And yes, I had to be taught.
As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jonathan Troen.
Jonathan Troen is a Life Mastery Coach and creator of the Self Love Revolution.
His mission: To help people find the joy inside of themselves.
Jonathan spent 20 years in the music and entertainment business, living the life of his dreams, with amazing success on paper. But he still wasn’t happy. He also found out; he wasn’t alone. So, he went on a mission to find out why. Once he learned the secrets of true happiness and success, he had to share it with other entrepreneurs. This is the birth of the Self Love Revolution.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
I spent 20 years in the entertainment industry. I was living the life of my dreams, interviewing the biggest stars in the world, interviewing my idols. I lived 3 blocks from the beach and could watch the sun set out my window. It was the dream life I worked hard to create for myself.
The problem was, I wasn’t happy. And I couldn’t figure out why. I kept having this story that when “X” would happen, I would be happy. And then X would happen, but I still wasn’t happy. So, then I made up something else, thinking when that would happen, then I would be happy. And then it would happen, and I still wouldn’t be happy. This kept going on and on. Until I just stopped one day, and realized, it’s not all these things outside of me that need to change. It was me.
I had this story in my head no matter what I accomplished or how successful I was, I just wasn’t good enough. So, no matter what I did on the outside, it wouldn’t be good enough for me. I was own biggest bully.
And here’s the crazy thing — I discovered I wasn’t alone. We’re all our biggest bullies. So many of us live in this internal world where we don’t think we are good enough.
So, I set out to change my relationship with myself. Which also changed my relationship with others, with by business, with money, with all of it.
All of a sudden, I was good enough. Everyday. And this is a beautiful feeling. And now this is something that needs to be shared.
And as a serial entrepreneur, I know the how entrepreneurs especially can beat themselves up, even when they put everything — blood, sweat, tears, money — into their businesses. They do so much. And yet, at the end of the day, it’s not enough. In order to be successful, not just in money but in all aspects of life, entrepreneurs need to begin to be kind to themselves. This kindness will actually make their businesses more successful!
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
Self-Love goes against so much of what we taught in school and in life. In school we were taught that if we worked hard enough, we would be successful. And if we’re successful for long enough, then we can be happy. So, we end up pushing happiness out into the future, believing it will come someday. And for so many, it doesn’t some. This is what the mid-life crisis is.
Self-Love completely reverses the equation. Self Loves teaches, be happy now, and happiness comes from within. And when you are happy now, you are successful, because that’s what you actually wanted in the first place. And when we’re happy and successful, it’s easy to work hard and contribute to others.
I would actually call Self Love an act of civil disobedience. We are taught to follow others and live life according to other people’s values. Self-Love throws this out the window. Self Love demands that we live life according to our own values. And when we honor our values, we are guaranteed to live a joyous life.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
It’s funny in retrospect. I had already been a Success Coach for a few years, so I had learned about the Inner Critic, confidence techniques, how to take action, so many important things. I thought I had it figured out. And then I came across Louise Hay’s teachings of Self Love. She said, look in the mirror and tell yourself, “I love you.” I thought, that sounds cool. So I went the bathroom, looked in the mirror, and tried to say the words “I love you”. It turned out, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t look myself in the eyes, and the words wouldn’t come out my mouth. I tried, but I just couldn’t do it. I ran out of the bathroom and crawled onto the floor in my living room, not knowing what just happened.
The truth is, I didn’t know I didn’t like myself. If you would have asked me, I would have said, Of course love myself. It was at the moment I realized something big had to change.
We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
I mentioned Louise Hay above. Also, Thich Nhat Hanh. He teaches, “There’s no path to peace. Peace is the path.” That means there’s no destination. We can’t get there. Instead, we already here, and we can choose to live how we want each and every day. And everything we need, for peace, happiness and freedom, is actually already inside of us.
Also, my first yoga teacher, Chris Stein. I started yoga for physical reason after a surgery. But the truth is, it had a much greater impact on my mental awareness and resilience.
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
Disrupting an ecosystem isn’t always good. Disrupting the vast swaths of nature so we can extract more from our home planet, I would say this isn’t great. And it’s not an act of Self Love, since it’s destroying your own home.
Outside of that, I think almost everything is distruptable. Education is disruptable and needs to be disrupted. Businesses whose sole goal is to raise shareholder value is being disrupted right now by B Corporations, who focus on People, Planet, and Profit. And notice the order, People are first.
And that’s the thing about Self Love. Self-Love comes from place of compassion. It’s the opposite of how we’ve been trained, and even how we evolved as a species. We’ve evolved to fear things. Fear is big part of our daily lives. The news media industry, which needs a major disruption, is based around this — they sell fear. And fear is what drives the people to want more and more. If we have more, people think they are safe. Fear drives us to want more, at any cost.
When you live in a state of Self Love, that fear begins to fall away. Profits are no longer simply a way to protect yourself, they are a way to share with and uplift those around you. The goal is to create wealth that you can share, and to help as many people as possible along the way.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
- Listen. We all want to be heard, but we don’t listen. It always amazes me that we spend so much time teaching public speaking, but we don’t teach people how to listen. If everyone wants to be heard, and no one is listening, it makes no sense to speak. My life changed when I was taught how to listen. And yes, I had to be taught.
- I am enough. We all are enough. I was always taught you had to keep going after something more. Someone was always doing better that you, so we had to work hard to catch up. And this was exhausting. And even when I was very successful, there was still someone, many people, doing better than I was. So, it was an ongoing path that only led to failure, or at least the inner feelings of failure. Once I accepted, I was enough, I saw the world differently. And, I also began to see others differently. I used to look at others as if they weren’t enough. This was basically a way to make myself feel good about my own deficiencies. I see people now and know that each and every person is enough. And this outlook has brought more success into my life than ever.
- Kindness is a Business Model. I learned that from Seth Godin. I didn’t know Kindness could be a business model. And when I heard him share that, I immediately adopted it. No matter what my business, Kindness is my business model.
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
This is such an interesting question in this context, because we’re back to the assumption that there always has to be something more. That what we have right now isn’t enough.
My truth now is, that everything here right now is enough.
But to answer your question, my goal is to share my Self Love Revolution 50,000 revolutionaries. 50,000 people who are also ready to disrupt this world together. And after that, or simultaneously, I want to work with teachers and educators, so we can bring these philosophies of Self Love, Self-Compassion and Emotional Resilience into the education curriculum.
Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?
So many. I have 3 bibles, as I call them, because I re-read them regularly, just as you would the bible. My bibles are The Four Agreements, by don Miguel Ruiz; Peace is Every Step, by Thich Nhat Hanh; and A New Earth, by Eckart Tolle. I learn something new every time I read these.
The talks that have had the biggest impacts on me are Brene Brown’s Ted Talk on vulnerability. I know so many people have seen this already. I don’t think I understood the word vulnerable before watching that talk. I’ve become a huge fan of hers. Also, Ken Robinson’s talk, Do Schools Kill Creativity. I’m a huge supporter of public education, yet I do think it needs a disruption. And he outlines perfectly one of the big issues.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
People often ask me about mantras and affirmations. I have a new mantra that came to me this year. My mantra is, “I have your back.” And while I say this to other people, I mostly say it to myself. There’s a Nathaniel Branden quote, “No one is coming to save you.” But the truth is we all need help. And that help can start with ourselves. I used to beat myself all the time, tell myself I wasn’t good enough and remind myself of my failures. Now I constantly tell myself, “I have your back.” I celebrate my successes, and no matter how bad my mistake or failure, I treat myself like a friend. I always have my back.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
The Self Love Revolution is that movement. Honestly, right now I can’t think of anything more important to dedicate my life to. I live, breath, and die Self Love every day. So many people are unkind to themselves. So many people shame themselves, whether it’s about the way they look, what they do for a living, or how much money is in the bank. And when we shame ourselves, all those things get worse. And when we are unkind to ourselves, we are less kind to other people. We need to start building ourselves up. We need to have our own backs, so we are strong. And then take this strength and share it with as many people as possible.
How can our readers follow you online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!