Brian Johnson and the Hero’s Journey to Build Heroic

Are you following the herd or taking the lead?

What’s driving your chronic dissatisfaction and frustration?

And how can rubbing people the wrong way be an indicator that you’re on the right track?

Heroic Public Benefit Corporation founder, Brian Johnson returns for part 2 in our series. Today we talk about trolls, anger, and using our deep fear of being misunderstood for a greater good.

When we see someone do the extraordinary, most of the time we only see the impressive outcomes while the gritty, uncomfortable, awkward stuff stays in the shadows. This series is a behind the scenes look as Brian undergoes his own hero’s journey to bring Heroic into the world.

As a coach, I help people navigate this uncertain, challenging terrain everyday, and my hope is that by witnessing Brian’s ups and downs, we can take away some wisdom for our own journeys.

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

In this interview:

  • Why do we criticize people who are more courageous than us?
  • How to tell if you’re playing the victim?
  • How can anger and criticism be used for good?
  • Are you defensive or curious?
  • Can you learn to challenge others without vitriol?


  • Ken Wilber “No one is 100% wrong.”
  • How to address toxic comments on social media?
  • What kills a democracy?
  • What is Cosmic Rage?
  • How to combat the erosion of common decency?


  • What’s beyond attention economics?
  • Why become a Public Benefit Corporation?
  • How do you act in a sacred environment vs social media?
  • What’s the difference between anger and aggression?
  • How to feel more full and satisfied on a daily basis?

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.