Brian Johnson Optimize Philosphers Notes

If life is a pain in the ass sometimes, does that mean you’re doing it wrong?

Do you believe you should be in a different place in life other than where you are right now?

And do you have someone in your life that challenges you, supports you, and holds you accountable?

Philosopher and quintessential optimalist, Brian Johnson is back. And today we discuss what makes our lives harder than they need to be, why our inner critic is never going away, and why he blames me for his $2 million dollar business experiment.

In this interview:

  • Dealing with Information Overload
  • What are you afraid to say no to?
  • What’s your “soul-aching yes”?
  • The trap of trying to be “the best”
  • What’s the whole point of life?


  • Why the inner critic will never go away
  • What are we doing to make life harder than it needs to be?
  • When doing what is best for you is what you most enjoy
  • Being an optimalist vs perfectionist
  • What simple shift has impacted Brian’s brain

Mentioned in this interview:

  • Phil Stutz and Part X
  • Ray Dalio and our relationship to striving
  • Julia Ross The Mood Cure for anxiety, brain chemistry
  • Steven Pressfield and Brian’s 2 million dollar “life lesson”

About Brian Johnson

(From Brian’s site)

After selling my first business (eteamz) over 15 years ago (at 26), I had enough money to take a little time off to figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up. I became a lover of wisdom—a philosopher. My quest? I was obsessed about understanding what makes great people great. What is it about that .0001% of people in the world who truly optimize their lives, actualize their potential and give their greatest gifts in greatest service to the world? (And… enjoy the process!)
I read a ton and traveled a bit, studying Socrates in Athens, Aurelius in the Danube of Hungary, Jesus in Jerusalem, and Rumi in Konya, Turkey. I started sharing what I was learning via a daily newsletter that quickly went from a couple hundred friends to thousands of people.

After several years of reading, writing, and thinking, I needed to make some money again but didn’t feel like going the typical self-help route so I created my second business (Zaadz). After selling that a few years later, I had enough money to take a little more time off. I decided to give myself a Ph.D. in Optimal Living—integrating ancient wisdom, modern science and practical tools to optimize and actualize. As part of my Master’s project, I distilled 100 of the best books on optimal living into 6-page PDF summaries (and 20-min MP3s). I called these “PhilosophersNotes” and created a profitable business sharing the wisdom I was learning as a demonstration that we can get paid to do what we love in service to the world. My Ph.D. dissertation was a simple book called A Philosopher’s Notes and a class I taught called “Optimal Living 101” (which is now an integrated part of the curriculum at Harvard-Westlake).
Over the last decade, I’ve created 550 PhilosophersNotes. And, I also created over 50 Optimal Living 101 master classes on everything from Optimizing your energy and confidence to your productivity and happiness.

In other news: I also have a podcast called Optimize (that launched as the #1 podcast on iTunes and has been featured as the #1 Health podcast with over 8 million downloads). Then there’s the YouTube channel (with over 125,000 subscribers and 12.5 million views). And, I was featured in the documentary Finding Joe alongside Deepak Chopra, Laird Hamilton and Tony Hawk and contributed a chapter to Be the Solution alongside Whole Foods CEO John Mackey and Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus. All after graduating Phi Beta Kappa from UCLA where I studied Psychology and Business.