** This letter to our Peaceful Media team members in Spring 2016 has been slightly edited to protect innocent bystanders.
Hi Peaceful loved ones,
This is going to be a doozy, so brew yourself a nice mug of herbal tea and nestle in to a cozy chair before you begin reading. 🙂
Before I spill a bunch of ambitious manifesto energy all over you, lemme first give you some backstory for context…
As you all know, Peaceful Media began in my parents’ basement. I was in state of shock. Depression had already set in. The world as I could see it was crumbling in on me. Originally, I’d called this business Jason Miller Media. But (thankfully) I had a moment of clarity where the inspiration hit me: “Jason Miller” is not what I want right now… What I really want in my life is Peace. What I wanted was to release the anger, fear, and resentment I was feeling. Not towards someone else, but towards myself. I wanted to find my way back to trusting myself.
But what you may not know, at least not with a lot of detail, is the backstory of how I got to that place. I won’t go into all the details here, but here’s the short story…
In 2007 I went through a master class called “Egoic Masturbation.” The instructor? Oh, that was me. Huge highs of landing ourselves on The Today Show a couple times, getting a six-figure book deal, speaking all around the country, getting hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars of sponsorship deals from major corporations, seeing our baby idea and all of our Project Everlasting work finally become a mature adult — oh man, I was feeling on top of the world.
The culmination — err, I guess you could call it the Egoic Climax — was in late 2007 where Mat and I got up to speak at a personal development retreat ranch in Northern Cal in front of about 750 people. Many celebrity authors and big name speakers had spoken on this stage, so I was fretting big time. Stakes were as high as I’d experienced in that realm.
But to my surprise, the audience made my life easy. These were the most enthusiastic, loving, cheerful people I’d ever seen in one room. Most of our stages up to that point were either corporations or churches, and the typical flow would be “spend the first 10-20 minutes warming up the audience, make them laugh and fall in love with us, then we’ll be smooth sailing to deliver our message.” Not this strange crowd in NorCal. No, they were laughing and cheering at things that were never intended to be crowd-pleasing. 75% of the room was crying by the end of the story and there was a mad rush to buy our books and films.
After the speech, I got hammered by these weird people coming up to me, telling me that I simply must attend the first seminar in the series of 3 that led up to that culminating annual event in NorCal. I was weirded out by all the attention and zeal. This is for sure a cult, I thought. But hey, these people were pretty damn rad and I hadn’t seen any lines for KoolAid throughout the week, so I said yes, paid my $497, and eventually found my way in Oahu for the “Basic” — the foundation for PSI Seminars’ guided journey to discover who you were put on this planet to be.
I was so thrilled by the feelings I experienced in Basic that I signed up on the spot for the 2 “next levels” of personal development experiences, both at that ranch in NorCal. Most people do not do all 3, let alone do all 3 within 3 months… But I did! I wanted to know more about my latent powers to self-heal, visualize, and manifest a life of abundance and flow. Yes, I was high on the KoolAid… But damn that was some good shit! I was the most loving, creative, confident, and powerful person I’d ever been.
It was in that state of mind that I decided I was going to buy 244 acres of raw land in a sacred place. Yes, the number was specific, and I kept asking people — whether I knew them or not — if they knew of a few hundred acres for sale. You think I’m kidding, but I’m not. I found my way into the home of the inventor of the Garden Burger. Mildly successful guy, ahem. No idea how I got invited to his intimate dinner party (probably because I was high on life), but I did and he happened to have 200+ acres of land on the coast of Maui. It wasn’t 244 acres though, so I knew it wasn’t the place…but my intuition said that I needed to go back out to Hawaii. I was simply listening for clues and saying yes to every door that opened.
I’m lying in a guest bed of a home in Oahu. Another new friend that welcomed me in. (Long story.) I’m devouring a book by Richard Bach about manifesting, flying, and, well, following your spiritual guides. I’m in a pure “I’m listening” state, doing tons of wild, wild meditation. No mushrooms were harmed in this Jason experiment, but you’d certainly be fooled otherwise. In passing, the Hawaiian host talks about some conflict he and his wife are having about her parents’ sheep farm off the mainland of the States. He’s asking me for marriage advice because, hey, I wrote a book on marriage. LOL.
Anyway, he wants to sell the place; she doesn’t. It’s creating a lot of stress. My intuition is on fire. I ask him how many acres it is. “Oh, somewhere around 40-45.” Ok, I think, it’s not 244, but I think there’s something going on here that I need to explore. (Actually, there was no “thinking” going on — this was all just pure feeling. A wonderful place to be, yes!) I ask him where it is.
“Orcas Island,” he replies. “In the San Juan Islands.”
I ask him for details about it. He tells me about the famous energy vortex around the island. His wife had an out of body experience once flying as a passenger through a triple rainbow circle while Pavaroti blared from the outdoor speakers of a bi-plane.
A bi-plane? Hmm. I asked him if he’d ever read Richard Bach’s book about bi-planes. His reply stunned me… “Oh yes, definitely. In fact, Richard Bach still lives on Orcas Island. That’s where he wrote Johnathan Livingston Seagull.”
I pardoned myself from the conversation immediately and went to his computer in the office. I started googling “Orcas Island homes for… — and Google autocompleted my search”. On the top right of the search results, I saw “Orcas Island Home for Sale by Owner; 3 bdrm 2 bath, views over water” and clicked.
When I filled out the contact form, I used my projecteverlasting.com email address. The owner responds within 5 minutes:
“Oh hey! Jason, strangely enough, I was in the NBC studios doing a story about one of my books the day you and your buddy were on the Today Show. I was watching your segment from the green room!”
About a week later I was on a road trip to Anacortes airport from which I took a spectacularly beautiful Cessna plane trip across the San Juans to meet Andre and see the home. I spent the night on a sleeping bag on the wood floor right beside the pellet stove. The moon was huge that night, shimmering over the sound. The next day I was approved for a $417,000 jumbo loan based on my stated income. Because of my book deal with Simon & Schuster, I’d made a little over $100k in 2007. I was supremely confident that I’d double that with the book I was going to sell and write from my new home overlooking the water. It was a $540k purchase. $10k I scrounged up from my savings; another $10k I borrowed from my dad (who was very, very resistant to this whole crazy idea btw); $25k I “earned” by pre-selling the rights to my next book to Andre, the seller; the rest I borrowed outright from Andre.
A few months later I was living in absolute bliss in my new home on Orcas Island. Riding my bike every day, meeting new people, hugging trees, finding my way into meditation circles in fields, weird parties with weird people on weird drugs. I was all good with life, except that I couldn’t figure out what I was going to write in my Magnus Opus of a book. Couldn’t figure out the clever marketing hook. Couldn’t figure out my framework. Couldn’t figure out how the hell I was going to pay this $2750/mo mortgage on dwindling speaker’s fees and no history of being employable.
The more I worried about money, the more impossible it was to feel inspired and creative. I went from blissful to terrified within 10 weeks and by the time my parents came to camp and visit me, I was exploring suicide in the bathtub. My pride was so massive…my conviction about my purchase decision so entrenched…my ego so shredded…I was sure that I would never recover my faith in myself, and therefore I just needed to disappear.
Mom and Dad found me bawling on the floor on their last day of their vacation. I was lying in the deck sliding glass door, half of my body on the deck, half in the house. Pretty symbolic of where I was at emotionally, spiritually… I could barely get any words out to them I was sobbing so hard. I remember telling them that I felt like I had two options: join the military or kill myself. And can any of you see me in the military?
Ultimately, they talked me off the ledge, gave me a soft place for my ego to land. Within a few weeks I was back in my parents’ basement. This is the story behind the birth of Peaceful Media.
If we stop to think about it, we have incredibly satisfying lives. Especially when you introduce the concept of relativity. We have a source of income. We eat well. We drink amazing water from BPA-free 5-gallon drums (thanks Earth H20!). We have most of our loved ones involved in our lives still. We are SO blessed.
And. And, I’ll speak for myself here, I’ve been playing life at a 6 or 7 out of 10. Living what Brendon calls the “Comfortable” life, which lands in between “Caged” and “Charged.” The Charged Life is where we can’t wait to wake up the next morning and begin creating, living, breathing, inspiring, teaching, loving some more because today is the best day of my life. I know without a doubt that I can become more. I can be more fully expressed — more loving, more playful, more inspired.
I also know that the two most scary episodes of my adult life were the result of me “playing way big” and “falling way hard”. Last year, the same “I’m a total fucking failure” story started repeating itself in my mind and, therefore, in my life. I was going broke again thanks to big, ambitious, risky adventure called Elevate Your Expenses. Once again I’d confidently purchased a half-million dollar home, once again borrowing from friends and savings to make it work, and once again I was staring at little-to-no income coming in…but my first child coming in less than 2 months.
I remember the first day of coming back from Hawaii, back into the Peaceful office for the first time in 8 weeks. Despite my rigorous “I am a great leader, I am a great leader, I am a great leader” chanting that morning, I felt like a pile of dried up dog shit walking into the office. I’m the worst leader in the world is all I could think. Finally, I just lied down on the blue standing mats on the floor next to Ben Turner and tried to fall asleep.
Nothing productive came from me for the next 2 months. I was exhausted from not sleeping, crying quietly to myself so that Megan wouldn’t hear my desperation. Finally, however, I decided to do what I did back in 2008: I shared my fears with someone I loved and hoped that I wouldn’t be further chastised for failing. Because my mind was already reliving the Spanish Inquisition of sadomasochist torment.
Megan, like my parents, gave me a soft place to land. But she was the first, and each of you managed to do the same. Bless your hearts. Seriously.
Megan and I received a desperately needed prepayment from [A Dear Friend] for work to help cover the gap and with that inch of mental untethering we all passionately worked together here to resurrect the business and regain our livelihood. It’s taken a good year and a half, but I can finally say that I’ve regained my faith in what we’re doing at Peaceful and, most importantly, in my ability to contribute to something great.
You each have your stories about how you got to where you are today. Yours is probably full of extreme highs and extreme lows as well. I can say with passionate conviction that I’m over the extreme highs and extreme lows. I want high-powered living that can sustainably create awesome results. Thankfully, I have a phenomenal teacher in my life right now who teaches people how to do just that. He also happens to be my favorite client and one of my dearest friends. Brendon and his High Performance Academy event got me excited again to go big, to be the fullest expression of myself, to be the best leader and husband and father I can be. All without drinking a drip of KoolAid. Can I get an Amen for that?
So it’s with this energy that I’d love to put a vision in front of you. Some of this might make you squirm a bit (as Megan did when I shared my download with her this weekend). But squirming a bit isn’t such a bad thing as long as we aren’t being drunken idiots and making business decisions without thorough, rational thought. (What a concept!)
I’ll start with this… It’s subtle, so watch closely. 🙂
For the last several years, Peaceful Media’s unique selling proposition has been: “We create online architecture for the world’s brightest difference makers.”
Today, I want to shift it to: “Peacefully promoting positive people, products, and ideas online since 2008.”
The key adjustment is nestled in the Whom. For whom do we work? That question is moot, in my opinion. It’s a shift in both the What and the Why.
What is the underlying quality of our work? Positive.
Why? Because it generates good. It makes a difference. It makes the world better. It may even save someone from taking a bath and never waking up again.
The shift is to go from working purely for others to working purely to putting a positive message out there. It gives us the top-level direction to create, promote, and monetize OUR positive people, products, and ideas.
The shift is to go from trading hours for dollars.
The shift is to go from NEEDING clients — even if they turn into raging assholes on the cusp of insanity — to SERVING our mission in the BEST forms available to us.
It means we can fire — and will fire — clients who do not match our values or treat our people with respect. Peace, [non-communicative client]. Peace, [egomaniac client]. Peace, [legitimate crackhead client]. Peace, [refusal to pay client]. We forgive you and we’re moving on with our mission.
Our mission is to Love More, Play More, Do More Good. You’re going to see that creed EVERYWHERE you look pretty soon.
You’re also going to see our Peaceful Media values listed everywhere you look in our external and internal marketing, onboarding, and communications. What you won’t see are contractors, vendors, or clients who do not diligently get in line with our values.
Here is a start on our values. I’m really looking forward to honing these with you and adding any / subtracting any that you feel we want and need:
– We communicate with care & respect
– We only work with respectful people
– If it’s not quality, we won’t sell it
– We invest in our peoples’ happiness & well-being
– We believe in hugging
– We intelligently & proactively design life balance
– We only promote positive people, products, and ideas
– Kaizen — we strive for continuous improvement and learning
– We live in the now while wisely preparing for the future
– We confidently, humbly own our results
– We build, measure, learn, and repeat the cycle
– We are world-famous for giving a damn
– Details matter
We can get all sorts of creative in the way we express those, but that’s the first list that came out of my pen.
I have come away from my 10 days of learning, growing, and thinking with some goals. They are big goals. And they involve each of you in different ways, so I’d like to have a tribal council to talk about them instead of sharing via email.
Lots to digest here, and much more to come, too. Onward and upward, hope we can all connect on a Skype soon.
Thanks for listening. 🙂