Best Self Magazine

Interview: Jonathan Fields | The Good Life

Jonathan Fields, The Good Life, photo by Bill Miles

Jonathan Fields

The Good Life

Interview by Kristen Noel, September 12, 2016, New York City

Photographs by Bill Miles


Do stuff that matters.

~ Jonathan Fields

Kristen:           About a year or so ago, our paths almost crossed professionally. At that time, I didn’t yet know who you were, but I was intrigued. As I do, I started in on my research. And I have to say — you had me at trampoline.

Jonathan:         [laughing] Apparently we have a lot of people at trampoline.

Kristen:           To clarify for our audience, I just want to explain that there you were jumping up and down in a video. Looking straight at the camera you said, “I’ve got to talk to you about something really serious.” In that moment, you completely had me with your whimsy, your playfulness, and your down to earth sensibility. I had to know more.

Your bio feels like a roadmap leading to the culmination of this new book about to released, How to Live a Good Life: Soulful Stories, Surprising Science and Practical Wisdom. New York City dad, husband, award-winning author, speaker, media producer, camper, serial entrepreneur, and founder of the mission-driven media and education venture, The Good Life Project.

Let’s begin with your telling us how the son of a hippie, potter mother and a mad academic father goes on to become a corporate attorney and ultimately a man jumping on a trampoline…

Jonathan:         …in bare feet.

Kristen:           In bare feet, guiding thousands to live purposeful lives.

Jonathan:         Yeah. It’s interesting because I turned 50 this year. I’m at a point in my life where it’s like that famous Steve Jobs’s quote, “You connect the dots looking backwards.” You have to have lived enough of life to actually have dots, to see how they weave together.

Kristen:           I love that.

Jonathan:        I’ve started to reflect a lot and wonder what has been the throughline with all of these things that I have done. When I was a kid, I was an artist. I made my pocket money painting album covers on the back of jean jackets.

Kristen:        Do you think we’re hardwired to be entrepreneurs?

Jonathan Fields, photo by Bill Miles

Jonathan:         I don’t think we’re hardwired as entrepreneurs. Actually, I don’t even love to use the word ‘hardwired’ anymore, because there’s so much rewiring that can happen. I think a lot of us are predisposed by the time we reach adulthood. We’ve wired ourselves in a way where we’re more comfortable living in a place with sustained uncertainty.

I wasn’t one of the people wired to sit comfortably in that space. I’m breathed by creation and the creative process, but I always suffered pretty greatly along the way. It took me many decades to really understand what I needed to do to be in that place.

Kristen:           Well one of our writers, Nan Tepper wrote, “I got here as fast as I could.”

Jonathan:         Yes.

Kristen:           You practiced law.

       I did, which was a bit of an aberration for me because I was also an entrepreneur as a kid. I was always figuring out ways to mix craft and entrepreneurship to earn a living. I figured I didn’t know if I’d practice, but I knew it would give me a great set of skills no matter what. It gave me the opportunity in a career that I stayed in for about 4-1/2 years — but it was also during that same window of time that I actually ended up in the hospital in emergency surgery with

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