Brian Johnson and the Hero’s Journey to Build Heroic

Do you have a sense that something is rumbling in your soul, trying to get out?

Do you feel confused about who you are professionally?

And are you waiting until you feel ready, or are you building the world you want to live in?

Philosopher and CEO, Brian Johnson is back. This time he’s set his sights on an ambitious goal to create a company that will change the world. The Heroic Public Benefit Corporation is a platform that will provide the tools for optimal living as well as an online community that will become the answer to The Social Dilemma.

At the time of this recording, Brian’s raising $11 million to get the ball rolling, and Heroic stands to be the first company in history to raise $5 million through crowdfunding. There’s so much more to his grand vision, and you can learn more by visiting

Now if you’re like most of us, you may have a sense that there’s something calling you to the next level of your life. Perhaps you’re not clear about the role you’re supposed to play or maybe you just don’t want to rock the boat.

Brian is no different. And so as Heroic finds it’s footing in the world, he’s agreed to pull back the curtain and let us in on his personal process. Throughout this series of interviews, we’ll ride along with Brian through his hero’s journey — and find our own gold along the way.

In this interview:

  • Heeding the call to go big
  • Dealing with ambivalence
  • “Am I a philosopher or a CEO?”
  • “What one can be, one must be.” Maslow
  • Walt Whitman, “Simmering, simmering, simmering…to a boil”
  • “What kind of world do I want to live in and what am I going to do about it?”
  • Building the answer to The Social Dilemma


  • Confronting self-doubt
  • Meditation to increase personal power
  • Phil Stutz and leaning into the things that scare you
  • Does pain or discomfort mean something is wrong?
  • Wanting to find the hack, cheat code, or short cut
  • How do we know if we’re on the “wrong” path?


  • Trusting yourself instead of doing what makes others feel comfortable
  • The key to becoming anti-fragile
  • Hustling and success that makes us “weak”
  • Burning ourselves up and out in order to impress others
  • Is ambition a dirty word?
  • Living and working in service of something bigger than yourself
  • No more waiting to lead

Click here to learn more about Brian Johnson’s project Heroic.

About Brian Johnson

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 looked into a range of Ph.D. programs but couldn’t find one that integrated everything I wanted to study, so I playfully (emphasis on playfully) decided to give myself my own Ph.D. in Optimal Living—integrating ancient wisdom, modern science and practical tools across a range of domains (from nutrition and psychology to business and peak performance) to Optimize and actualize.

As part of my made-up program’s 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 “dissertation” was a simple book called A Philosopher’s Notes and a class I taught called “Optimal Living 101” (which became an integrated part of the curriculum at Harvard-Westlake).

Of course, the learning’s never over so I continued studying and practicing. Over the last decade, I’ve created 600 PhilosophersNotes. I’ve also created over 50 Optimal Living 101 master classes on everything from Optimizing your Energy and Confidence to your Productivity and Purpose and over 1,000 “Optimize +1s” sharing wisdom in super-short daily bursts.

These days I continue to study, embody and teach the fundamentals of Optimizing while sharing what I’m learning with our growing community of Optimizers and Optimize Coaches from around the world.

When I’m not doing that, you’ll probably find me hanging out with my wife Alexandra and our two kids, Emerson and Eleanor, or on the trail on our ranch outside Austin.

Click here to learn more about Brian Johnson’s project Heroic.