Jonathan Miller - Conversations with Artists
What is the art of what you do?
"My art is listening. I was always a great listener."
How do you do that? What's your background?
"My background is theatre. That’s the world I was brought up in, and I translated that background to live event production and business consulting. To understand how I got here you need to hear the whole story."
Theatre - behind the scenes?
"Both, in front and behind. I started behind the scenes, and then was asked to try acting. That’s what brought me to NY. I went to school for acting in NY and paid my way through school doing the technical work.
I went to a very theatre-driven high school in Port Orchard, Washington. We had a really great teacher who taught us how to build sets, how to focus lights, about electricity, how to act, how to write -- basically how to do everything one would need to do to create a play from an idea. That education got me into the National Conservatory for Acting, where I learned how to act at a different level, but it was never really my dream to act. When I started acting in high school I ended up being the lead, and it was great, it was fun, but it was a lot of work."
Did you know at the time this wasn’t your dream?
"No, not as clearly as I do now. I was on a cross country trip from Seattle, and one stop was in LA. My girlfriend at the time was friends with a very well known casting director who was casting roles for a big budget film for Paramount Pictures. She brought me into the studio and had me do a screen test and read some lines for this movie -- it was the real deal. The casting director said “you don’t look great on camera - you should really stick to theatre.”
The movie was Forrest Gump. It was for the part when he’s running across country and he steps in shit and the guy turns to him and he says “it happens sometimes” and the guy makes “Shit Happens” t-shirts. That was the part. Afterwards a light bulb went off in my head and I thought 'I don’t have to do this because what I really like to do is to make money, and to do projects.' I realized that I love business and people. This is really the evolution of where I am today. So I came back to NY and I basically abandoned acting and started focusing on production. I worked my way up in that industry and within a very short period of time - maybe 6 years - I had my own company with 9 million dollars in revenue per year - doing 22 events per week all over the Tri-State area."
"There’s a lot more to the story than I can tell here, but I built this company seemingly overnight, and I later figured out that the entire company had been built without integrity. I’ve gone over it in my head and I talk to people about it, but it’s still a difficult topic. I was cut-throat in my actions and then in 2008 everything completely exploded in my face. I spiraled downhill, turned to alcohol and became very unhealthy.
I was in court battles for five years. My ex-partner and I sued each other. I was greed driven; wanting something so badly I did anything to get it. As I said my passion was money so I was driven to do whatever I could to get it.
I then floated around for a while and got another big property, and thought “I’m going to do this thing right.” And then the owner started to cheat me, so I turned back into that cut-throat guy. I began to examine why my history was starting to repeat itself. It had been so amazing, 10, 20 million dollar events and then I blew it. I thought I had climbed out of a hole, but I was right back at the bottom of the hole. My marriage was suffering, my son was suffering -- terrible times."
"So I said, 'I’ve got to start with me' and I began working on transforming myself. On January 1st, 2014 I made a New Year’s resolution that I was going to change my life and get to where I wanted, create the life I wanted, but I knew I had to change myself first. I changed my diet, I changed everything. I stopped drinking alcohol. Started eating healthy, started exercising. I was 240 pounds and thought if I lost weight maybe it would help save my marriage.
Instead, that was the last straw. My wife was not supportive; she wanted me to go get a job and kept telling me I would never keep the weight off. But I was driven to keep going forward. I lost the weight, started to do CrossFit and told my wife that I wanted a divorce. I moved out and then in 2015 I landed a consulting job with a life coaching company. I went to them with an idea to help others transform their lives using the CrossFit model of group. In CrossFit you work out in a group; you all get results so it’s supportive. I thought 'we can do the same thing with coaching.' I worked with them all year, trained with them intensively throughout, and that’s where the true art of how to transform yourself came to me. I started to hone in on it."
"Ultimately I decided to go create it myself. But first I needed to go make money, so I thought I would work my theory on how to transform your life and get what you want. Within 3 weeks I had a job that paid me exactly the amount of money I wanted and was easy enough so that I could go create the vision I had of helping people transform on a massive scale."
Are you working on it?
"I’ve been working on it this entire year. It’s called Evology Fitness. I've partnered with some amazing people in the fitness word and together we have created an immersive fitness experience. Through fitness-programed inspiration and a suite of breathing and stretching, people experience a physical and mental work out that will, through practice, help one be the best version of themselves."
During those tough years what were the underlying emotions?
"It was like being a drug addict. Money was the drug. Getting the deal was the drug. In the events business every event is a deal. You make a deal and you’re like, 'where’s the next deal?' so it's an empty victory. When I was making that kind of money I felt like a rock star, but thinking back on it, it was a massive lesson that drove me to where I am now. At the end of the day you have to be thankful for your journey because that’s what you can choose to impact the world with."
You started to transform yourself physically, how did you also transform yourself internally?
"Once I got to a good place physically, I knew I had to work on my state of mind. The biggest thing I honed it down to is - I knew I had to keep myself operating from a place I call my personal honesty. It might not be the truth, but it’s what I know is right - what is real to me. And I have to hold everything to that standard. Its a tough place to live sometimes because you can’t sell out. It’s a lie if you do. You can’t not tell the truth, because it’s a lie. Sometimes its hard, sometimes its fun, sometimes it’s sad, but it is where the magic happens."
What magic have you seen happen?
"Anything that you think might be a problem, if you approach it from the angle of personal honesty it dissolves and you move past it. By not doing it this way you create walls and obstacles that keep you from where you want to go. Living this way takes courage, but it can be a hard place to find. Sometimes it will take months to figure out what the truth is and when you do figure it out, you have to deal with it."
Is it possible that even if you don’t know what to do, you can still be full of wisdom?
"I think the wiser you are, the more you realize that you don’t know shit. I think the wisest people realize how little they know. Wisdom is how you are in the world and how you choose to be."
Why is money so important to you?
"A huge part of money is about energy and freedom and that's what's important to me. Time is our most precious asset. We all get the same hours in a day. With money you can accomplish more in those hours than you can without it. As the saying goes, 'Time is Money' therefore 'Money is Time.'"
If you could go back and tell that 8 year-old-you something that would change the course of events in your life, what would you tell him?
"A huge part of me is thankful for my journey just as it was because it’s made me who I am and if any part of it were different I don’t think I’d be who I am today. It’s been a monstrous, awesome journey. I would tell 8 year old me: 'Buckle up its going to be a bumpy ride.' Then I’d say: 'I am proud of you. it’s going to be alright, believe in yourself. It’s not always going to be easy, but believe in yourself and it will be worth it.'"
How do you listen to people?
"I hear them, I listen for their personal honesty. I then ask them if what I understand is correct."
You’re living your dream - you’re helping people be all they can be.
"I’m beta testing it. I tell those who will listen about transformation, how to do it so it doesn’t sound overwhelming. I tell them how and why I did it. It took me over two years to make real change. There’s no end to one’s evolution, and that’s the first lesson. There’s no end, so don’t look for it. Just enjoy the journey, because it’s just a journey."
In a way you’ve completed one canvas of your life and now you’re picking up a new brush and are painting a new canvas.
"I was the first canvas and I was able to repaint the picture. To be married for 20 years and then completely change my life took the most courage of anything I’ve done - ever. I left everything behind -- just took a few bags, my car and three dogs with me and my son.
One thing I have learned is if there’s something that’s bothering you - you either take care of it, or stop being bothered by it. We as a species come up with an entire list of reasons why not to do something, and invent a thousand reasons why it can’t be done. When in fact all you have to do is commit to it and do it. You’ll spend six months worrying and agonizing over something that will only take 30 minutes to remedy."
Where are the bright places now? What’s the vision for the recreation, what jewel have you come back with?
"To love my life. The beauty in it is that it truly is just a game that we play every day. I don’t take it so seriously. Yes, sometimes I get upset, or cranky or tired. But you need to look in the mirror and laugh at yourself. So now I live the best version of myself as possible at this stage and continue to challenge myself.
Every now and then you get off center, and unbalanced - it’s not always easy to maintain. But there’s a quote I like to use “it’s consistency is the mother of success.” The Rock used that. I don’t know if it’s his quote, but I read it and thought, it’s so true. If you can be consistent in anything you do in life, you will be successful at it. And that's true even in failure - it works both ways."
Are you scared of the other Jonathan?
"Yes he’s scary, I keep him on a leash. We must respect our dark side."
Where are you going to be 5 years from now?
"I will be known as the guy who transformed full-being fitness into a THING."
Would you say that the art of what you're doing, where you’ve come to in life, is you're practicing the art of transformation.
"Correct. We are all our own piece of art. I can’t recreate a version of you - you have to do it yourself. I did it through a journey and I thought 'how do you take these elements and show someone how to do it themselves?' You can go listen to Tony Robbins talk and be inspired for a month, and then go back to your old ways. You need it in your head 24/7 in order to effect lasting change. You can’t transform the whole planet. But if you can transform 3% of it you can change it."
Who is the real Jonathan Miller?
"The real me is that wide-eyed kid from Seattle, who believes that he can change the world.
The 10 billion dollar question is how I’m going to do it. I have to just keep moving forward with my ultimate dream at the center of everything I do. That’s how I’ll get there. Focus on where I want to be and keep looking for ways to get there. I might not find the shortest route, but eventually if I am consistent, I’ll get there.
I look back at the dark days, and realize I was not the best version of myself. But there are hundreds of people who to this day that are employed and have families and make money because what I did and how I trained them. That’s the thing I’m most proud of from that time."
"I use the past as a reference point. It was 5 years of darkness. Now it a lifetime of light."
Jonathan Miller is an entrepreneur and Founder of Evology Fitness - a new experience touted as fitness for the body, mind and soul. Jonathan is an expert in transforming executives and distressed company turnarounds and is a highly sought after business strategist.
To find out more about Evology Fitness, contact Jonathan via email at email@example.com