[00:00:00] Andrew Johns: So there'll be people that are 20 years deep into walking somebody else's path, and they're still thinking like, why am I not enlightened yet?
[00:00:19] Andrew Johns: Welcome
[00:00:19] Rob Pintwala: Actualize a podcast focused on the intersection of performance, ambition, and mental health. I'm Rob Pintwala, and I'm joined by my co-host Kim Foster Yardley.
[00:00:32] Kim Foster Yardley: Fixate on the wins and successes, our mission is to uncover the whole picture of the UN being behind the performance. Join us as we interview top performers across business sport, and the odds
[00:00:47] Rob Pintwala: Actualize is presented by first session.
[00:00:49] Rob Pintwala: Have you ever considered trying therapy or simply just wanna level up in your personal or professional life? I started first session back in 2019 to help Canadians find the right mental health professional for them. Since then, we've connected thousands of Canadians with the right therapist. And I'm really passionate about helping each individual find the right fit in the therapist for them.
[00:01:10] Rob Pintwala: We spend hours and hours interviewing therapists across Canada, and each one of them has a professional video for you to take a look at while you decide who might be the right fit for you. Check us email@example.com.
[00:01:23] Kim Foster Yardley: Actualize is also presented by the Mantle Game Clinic. The Mental Game Clinic was founded by myself, Kim Foster Yardley.
[00:01:31] Kim Foster Yardley: I combined my 20 years of experience as a clinical psychologist with my passion for sports psychology, and I built a team of therapists who specialize in working with high performers. Olympians and founders find us at the mental game, me.
[00:01:54] Rob Pintwala: Today's guest is Andy Johns. Andy speaks very modestly about his successful career at Silicon Valley where he worked at nine companies worth over 1 billion. He was an early employee of Facebook, Twitter, Cora, and was a president of Wealth Front. When Andy was a few years into his tech career, he discovered deep psychological pain stemming from childhood trauma that's now shifted how he approaches life.
[00:02:18] Rob Pintwala: In this episode, Andy shares his journey of self-discovery in healing trauma, his transition away from Silicon Valley and his current endeavor clues.life. Andy, it's great to have you on Actualize
[00:02:33] Andrew Johns: Yeah, happy to be here and happy to meet both of you for the first time, both you and and Kim.
[00:02:39] Rob Pintwala: Thank you.
[00:02:40] Rob Pintwala: Pleasure's all ours. Wanted to jump right in. From an outsider's perspective, you definitely appear to have a very successful career under your belt already in Silicon Valley and the tech world. And I wanted to ask you if you feel the same way, like, do you feel it's been successful?
[00:02:59] Andrew Johns: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
[00:03:01] Andrew Johns: I'd, I'd say the feeling that I have towards my career is definitely that it was successful that it served a great purpose for me for, you know, call it 16, 17 years, and that I'm thankful for the opportunity I had. But then it became clear a few years ago that its purpose had been served and that it was no longer A, a net positive thing for me in my life.
[00:03:32] Andrew Johns: And that's where I chose to walk away from it. But yeah, it, it, I think it was a success. You know, it, it certainly fits into the category of like, you know, play the game, win the game, and then once you've won the game, leave the game. And, you know, that's, that's one version of, of success. There are some folks that like to play the game and win the game and do that for the rest of their lives, and that makes them happy.
[00:03:55] Andrew Johns: But in my case it concluded with Leave the Game. And I'm, I'm happy about that.
[00:04:04] Rob Pintwala: Yeah, I love on your LinkedIn profile you have what a lot of people in the tech world would love to just, you know, spread out and, you know, like put all the company names and how long you were there and your titles and your responsibilities. But I, I love that you just have like these huge headliner companies all in one little segment on LinkedIn that just says, I worked at these companies and here's what I did in like two sentences.
[00:04:28] Rob Pintwala: And maybe just for a little bit of context for the listeners, like, do you mind just kind of briefly summarizing like what your career looked like, what it involved, and, and then I'd love to get into after that when you started to kind of realize it might not be worth continuing on.
[00:04:45] Andrew Johns: Yeah, so I, I. You know, growing up in a small blue collar community, I didn't really have any exposure to the world of technology to high finance.
[00:04:56] Andrew Johns: I remember being in college at UCLA and people talking about how they wanted to get investment banking jobs, and I remember thinking like, I have no idea what the fuck that is. And like, you know, I didn't go to a school where I had friends whose parents were you know, IBANs and stuff like that. So I, I really had no idea what.
[00:05:14] Andrew Johns: Most of these high esteem careers and positions were. And so college for me was an exploratory process of studying many things and working many random jobs just in an attempt to sort of discover the thing I was interested in. Nonetheless, by the end of college, I still didn't know what that was.
[00:05:35] Andrew Johns: I knew what I didn't want to do based on a few jobs and internships, but there was still a wide range of things I needed to explore. And I remember, like, I just listened to my intuition somewhat compulsively where, you know, college I, I had, I had graduated, I still didn't really have a job. I was continuing to work the campus job that I had as an undergrad, just doing what I could to pay the bills.
[00:06:00] Andrew Johns: And my intuition told me like I, I'm not gonna have an interesting career or find an interesting job just by playing the resume game and throwing my. My, my pretty uneventful resume into a stack of 500 other resumes to just get, you know, thrown in the trash. And so my intuition said like, screw it. You know, I'm just gonna start reaching out to CEOs of these companies and go direct to the source and see if I can spin up an opportunity that way.
[00:06:31] Andrew Johns: And that's, that's basically how I broke into tech. There was one CEO who I sent a cold email to and I'd done this quite a bit cuz I go to coffee shops on weekends and just, you know, email very successful people. And love that. The ones that I reached out to, it wasn't because of like the company that they're running or the industry that they're in.
[00:06:51] Andrew Johns: It was really just, I assessed who they were as a person and I thought, let me just go and work for somebody whose life I want mine to resemble. And let the rest sort of play out from there. And one of those CEOs responded. He was a philanthropist, he was a kind person, he was a serial entrepreneur, he was a former academic and professor.
[00:07:16] Andrew Johns: He was just a good guy. And he responded. He was the only CEO to respond, but he responded and he invited me to his office. And over the course of. About two months, he and I built a relationship. And then one day when I was in his office, he sort of flagged down one of his VPs and said, Hey, come on over here.
[00:07:34] Andrew Johns: And in me introduced me to that VP and said, you know, would you like a job working for him? And I, that's when I got into my first technology company. It happened to be a financial technology company, and I spent a couple years there in the run up to oh 7, 0 8, when things got rough. And I knew that like the company wasn't gonna be around too much longer.
[00:07:56] Andrew Johns: And that was, that was down in la. So I packed up all my stuff. I had about $30,000 of student loans and 800 bucks in my savings account and threw everything into the back of a U-Haul and drove up to Silicon Valley. I think there was, for no particular reason other than I'd, I'd received a taste of the interesting nature of building things with software.
[00:08:21] Andrew Johns: I was exposed to that for the first time and I wanted to pursue that. I think this overachiever antenna that I had in inside of me was constantly scanning the environment and looking for places where I could go and make my splash in the world. And I think it detected that Silicon Valley was one of those places.
[00:08:39] Andrew Johns: I was fortunate to have a brother who was living up there at the time, and he allowed me to crash on his couch for a bit until I could get my feet under me. And so that's what I did, and I just got scrappy and busy from the moment that I landed there. Made my way into my first job inside of about 10 days.
[00:08:58] Andrew Johns: Six months after that I scraped my way into a sp, a small but very interesting startup called Facebook. That was in oh eight and that was at a time when I joined. What was the. The growth team at Facebook, kind of a first of its kind team that was focused on trying to figure out how to grow the product and its adoption globally.
[00:09:22] Andrew Johns: After a couple of years at Facebook, I then went to Twitter when it was around, I dunno, a hundred ish employees, and did the same thing over at Twitter for a while before I left Twitter or after I left Twitter, I went to Cora and was one of the first 15 employees at Cora focused on growth and product again.
[00:09:43] Andrew Johns: And that was, I mean, I think it had 10,000 users at the time that I joined, you know, it was just coming out of its private beta. And so through that, through those first three opportunities, I got to see sort of various stages of the early explosion of social media. After that I was. Tired of the social media world.
[00:10:05] Andrew Johns: I didn't wanna work on that anymore. I felt like I'd explored most of the heart and interesting problems there. And spent a little bit of time as an entrepreneur in residence at Greylock Partners before I spotted this little wealth startup called Wealthfront in the FinTech space. Before, you know, before people were calling it FinTech, I think.
[00:10:27] Andrew Johns: And so I joined them just like Cora. We were about 15 of us working out of a former dry cleaner's office. And I was there for a handful of years and had a really great run there. Became VP of growth, VP of product and then I was the president of the company. I was next in line to be the c e o before I had a heart attack scare.
[00:10:48] Andrew Johns: That's the thing that propelled me to sort of take a, take a step away from, from wealth front and then following that because I thought it would, you know, be less stressful in, in a lot of ways it was less stressful than being an early employee at a startup. I, I, I went and joined two other folks and became the founding partner of the consumer side of a net early stage venture capital firm called Unusual Ventures.
[00:11:13] Andrew Johns: So, you know that that's kind of the highlight reel in a nutshell. I did a bunch of investing and advising along the way. But I, I stepped away from the venture firm and from executive roles and off of board seats and all that stuff beginning in the early part of 2021. And since then I've been on a, a new, a new journey that is continuing to unfold each day.
[00:11:37] Andrew Johns: So yeah, that's the, that's the background.
[00:11:40] Kim Foster Yardley: Okay. Thank you. I have so many questions, Rob.
[00:11:45] Andrew Johns: So I wanna go first. You know, I knew yours were gonna be great, Kim, so you go,
[00:11:50] Kim Foster Yardley: I mean, I actually made a note here as you were speaking, but you mentioned something called your overachiever antenna. I was just wondering what you were referring to me and I can ask my follow up questions after that.
[00:12:03] Andrew Johns: Sure, sure. So by overachiever antenna, what I meant was this really deep persistent subconscious drive to seek. External forms of achievement because it made me feel good. And what I've discovered through many years of turning inward and trying to understand myself is that the root of that drive to achieve in order to be loved, originated in some more challenging early childhood experiences.
[00:12:41] Andrew Johns: You know, my mom was she was bipolar. She was major depressive. She had significant trauma of her own type that was the underlying cause of, of those conditions. And she was in and out of psychiatric hospitals and on occasion rehabilitation as well. And. And so there was volatility in some of the early foundational years of my life and what I came to, what I've come to understand is how I internalized some of those challenging experiences as a kid, from the perspective that I thought that, you know, the, the abandonment or the neglect or the occasional abuse, I interpreted that as, you know, that's my fault.
[00:13:36] Andrew Johns: Right, the, the inherent narcissism of a child. And I don't mean that in a pejorative sense, you know, it's just that's the way the child's mind is wired, is what happens to them. They believe it's because of them. And, and so I adopted that belief and that in combination with cultural conditioning around achievement and success you know, I learned very early that if Andy was achieving, achieving Andy equals lovable.
[00:14:05] Andrew Johns: If Andy is not achieving, Andy is not lovable. And so that, that's what I meant by the antenna. It was the subconscious drive to seek Success really at any cost.
[00:14:18] Kim Foster Yardley: Hmm. I mean, Andy, it sounds like you've done significant mental health work mm-hmm. To, to gain these insights, and I'm sure they, they were hard one.
[00:14:28] Kim Foster Yardley: You've sh like in a very short couple of sentences you covered a lot of insight and I just wondered if you'd speak to that, that journey of yours, because it is hard one, I'm sure.
[00:14:40] Andrew Johns: Oh, yeah. Yeah. It's tough work. You know, it, it started for me it started my late twenties. It was actually while I was working at Twitter.
[00:14:49] Andrew Johns: I remember a, a, a gradual turned sort of sudden shift in my mood, and I just felt uneasy in a way that I hadn't felt in a really long time. And that uneasiness turned into panic. And it, it sort of hit me so suddenly that it was scary. I was worried about my health and my life and, and so I, I sought therapy at the time because I didn't know what else to do, and I had the deepest fear in my head as when I was suddenly struck with panic attacks and near constant anxiety and depression and intrusive thoughts that were violent and gory and scary in nature.
[00:15:39] Andrew Johns: Like I was, I was suddenly and uncontrollably. Getting these rapid images of like people I love and care about being hurt or dying, including myself. And when all that stuff set in, it was so disturbing that, you know, it was common for me to leave work because I, I was on the verge of a breakdown and I didn't want anyone to see it.
[00:16:04] Andrew Johns: And so I just grabbed my shit and walk out of the office and, you know, sort of pull my hoodie over my head and, and sob uncontrollably, you know, that was the, the wave of things for me for a while. And that, that's what propelled me into therapy where I then, for the first sort of two to three years of it, it was really just the, the sort of classic analytical process of trying to connect the dots between my, my present feelings and behaviors and emotions to the prior events that may undergird those, those behaviors and emotions.
[00:16:38] Andrew Johns: And that's when I started to develop a real understanding of how those childhood experiences You know, were, were deeply upsetting and had rewired my nervous system in certain ways, and that at some point I found a way to just cram it all down and cover it with a layer of achievement. And then eventually probably due to the natural cycles of the mind or what have you, it, it decided like, this is the time for this to all come out.
[00:17:07] Andrew Johns: And, and so it did. So I started therapy in my late twenties and on and off for the last 13 years, I've kind of been on this continuous journey of exploring different modalities, different philosophies, different clinical methods in pursuit of basically trying to find the answers to my own wellbeing. And in doing so, that personal pursuit has now turned into.
[00:17:39] Andrew Johns: Kind of the, the, the central focus of my life, both personally and professionally. And,
[00:17:46] Kim Foster Yardley: and do you think that over chin achiever at Tina has softened It
[00:17:51] Andrew Johns: has. Is it still there? Yeah, it's, it's definitely still there. And so the way that I think about it is, is, you know, if identity is this horizontal layer, you know, this sense of self is this horizontal layer.
[00:18:03] Andrew Johns: It's sort of the foundation through which the external attributes of one's life are then built on top of that identity layer. So the, the friends you have, the work you do, where you live, your hobbies, how you dress, all that stuff is built on top of identity. And a substantial part of my identity was rooted in that, that deeply held belief that achievement was, was how I sort of validated myself.
[00:18:29] Andrew Johns: And, you know, in order to.
[00:18:35] Andrew Johns: To take the volume on that achievement antenna or that, that reflex to achieve and, and to dial the volume down on it so that it was less of a part of that identity layer. I had to do a ton of work, really difficult stuff that was sometimes you know, sort of, I was editing that sense of identity and that aspect of achievement through talk therapy or through my own personal exploration of different sort of spiritual perspectives and philosophical perspectives that would lead to a lot of deep self-inquiry, or it was all the way on the other end of, of.
[00:19:15] Andrew Johns: You know, thoughtful, guided participation with the use of psychedelics to sort of introduce a big experience that may allow me that, that narrow window of time to sort of like break the identity piece loose a little bit and re-engineer it and reconstruct it. And so I've done a, a lot of stuff over the last 13 years between those two ends of the spectrum.
[00:19:39] Andrew Johns: But yes, it, it's, it's weakened, but it's still there. And I'm, I'm sort of at the stage of my journey where when I feel interested and compelled to work on some idea that as I start to approach that idea, it becomes a teaching experience in and of itself because I, I'm, I get to observe old patterns and old tendencies, reemerging, wanting to like, reassert themselves.
[00:20:09] Andrew Johns: And then I've gotta step back from time to time and say, woo. Like, I don't need to, you know, build a billion dollar company out of this thing. I can do this because it feels like I'm creating art and it's an enjoyable experience and I can have much more modest sort of commercial goals with this, and that's okay.
[00:20:29] Andrew Johns: But it's, it's a work in progress and I've, I've realized that, you know, if it, if I spent call it 30 years developing that programming around achievement, you know, I need to be patient because it's gonna take time to unwind that, that pattern.
[00:20:44] Rob Pintwala: I find it fascinating that even, even back in college, like right when you graduated, you were already indexing on like the personalities and the, what you thought of like the CEOs at these companies and wanting to kind of emulate, you know, their lives and, and then kind of like carrying that into, it sounds like when you were at Twitter in your twenties, you started therapy and you started to draw some awareness to this kind of stuff like, And you, then you worked for like two or three more companies and then started a VC fund.
[00:21:15] Rob Pintwala: So I'm curious about start like your next company, for example, after Twitter. Like, so you, you'd done some initial work at, and, and then you, you, you found another company at some point. Were you even thinking about kind of like work-life balance or whatever you wanna call it at that point? Like when you looked for your next company, were you like, what are their mental health benefits?
[00:21:37] Rob Pintwala: Or were you just like, I'm just gonna like do this work so I can continue to go at a, you know, buck
[00:21:43] Andrew Johns: 50 on the Yeah, I, I, I was the short answer is no, you know, I, I now realize that, you know, digging through an understanding of one's self happens in stages. There are many layers to it, and. It began as a process of just understanding myself at the surface level of, oh yeah, I have this trauma and so I have this, you know, these various forms of compensation based on that trauma.
[00:22:15] Andrew Johns: And, you know, I have a nervous system that's wired to be a bit more alert and vigilant than maybe most folks, right? So it started with a very clinical but high level understanding of self and then sort of working through the early process of like, not even really going deep. Into myself beyond that.
[00:22:36] Andrew Johns: But just trying to like I said, turn the volume down on those symptoms to make life more enjoyable and manageable. So that, that's really, that's what the first three years was, was just prolonged exposure therapy, emdr, which is a form form of trauma therapy. You know, trauma informed behavioral therapy talk therapy like that was in a little bit of medication to sort of regulate my, my nervous system, cuz my heart was always just pounding, pounding, pounding.
[00:23:05] Andrew Johns: It was, I was in some consistent steady state of, of alertness or panic, you know, that that was three years, that was hard. And, and at the time I wasn't, I wasn't thinking like, oh, I need to end my career in tech because I still had like a, a lot of. Financial insecurity, fears, cuz you know, when I was younger, we went through some rough patches.
[00:23:27] Andrew Johns: Our, our family was bankrupt in part due to the hospital bills from my mom, and then she passed. And so, like, you know, we, we were not in a good place for quite a few years as, as a family, me and my dad and my brothers. So I even carried with me that financial insecurity. And so like, I was not gonna stop until I felt like, okay, I'd earned enough.
[00:23:48] Andrew Johns: I'd made enough. I'm gonna be okay. And I didn't feel like that at the time. I hadn't made any of the money really, you know, and, and so I, I continued with the psychotherapy and trauma therapy with the objective of minimizing the trauma responses that I was experiencing day to day so that I could just return to the life that I'd been living, pursuing my career.
[00:24:14] Andrew Johns: But then, you know, over the years as I dug deeper into understanding myself, that's when the pursuit of a, a clinical psychological approach to, to healing myself and to understanding my place in the world, it crossed this invisible boundary into what I guess you could generally call spiritual or philosophical pursuits, where I kind of got to this point where I'd healed enough of the trauma, I dialed the volume down on those trauma responses.
[00:24:47] Andrew Johns: I felt more in control of my own mood and behaviors, and I was continuing to work and be successful. But then as I dug deeper into. Understanding myself and understanding my beliefs and where they came from. And that's when I went really deep into the work and it started to transform not only my perspectives of myself but my worldviews as a whole.
[00:25:14] Andrew Johns: And so less of my time now is spent kind of in a traditional clinical setting from a mental health standpoint. And more of my time now is spent. Kind of in pursuit of the big existential questions of life.
[00:25:31] Kim Foster Yardley: I think, I mean, Andy, just my thought when I'm listening to you now is I'm really, I have such admiration for you and your courage because I think I've been a psychologist for about 20 years.
[00:25:46] Kim Foster Yardley: So I've worked with loads of people and I, and I'm not judging this response. I think it's very human when we feel pain to want to resist its and flee. So no judgment on that cuz Absolutely done that myself. But I'm just, what I'm hearing is that you've had such a. You've, you've leaned, you've leaned into the pain.
[00:26:07] Kim Foster Yardley: And I, and I think that's, that's incredible that you've cuz these things, you've done the e emdr, the, the processing, even the deep philosophical questions in a different way. It does require us to really take a hard look at our suffering. And it can be very hard before it gets easier. Oh yes. Which the road
[00:26:26] Andrew Johns: least traveled.
[00:26:27] Andrew Johns: Yeah, very much so. And I think it takes courage. I appreciate that. Yeah. It, it, it has, you know, there have been these, you know, sort of fits and stops or fits and starts along the way where, to your point, you know, I might work on myself and do the, the difficult work for a year or two, and then I just kind of pull back, you know, and whether it's the old patterns taking over, it's me just taking a breather.
[00:26:54] Andrew Johns: It's just, you know, that's just the way it works. And I've sort of gone in and out of those periods of saying like, okay, Like I've, I've identified this part of myself, or I've now changed a fundamental aspect of my worldview that in order for me to move through this is going to require another six or 12 months of difficult rewiring.
[00:27:20] Andrew Johns: And I just seem to do that over and over again, and I kind of get the sense that it's not gonna be the case for me forever. I, I understand that there are really dangerous pitfalls associated with sort of imagine taking that achievement drive and applying it to to, you know, sort of self-improvement where, you know, then it's just a new treadmill.
[00:27:47] Andrew Johns: You know, you're constantly trying to make yourself better. And since you're not living up to this ideal version of yourself that you have in your head, You then introduce a form of suffering that is unnecessary because you're basically saying, I don't accept who I am and where I'm at right now, and I will only be happy if I reach this new level of you know, nervous system mastery or whatever it is.
[00:28:08] Andrew Johns: And, and so, you know, it, it's, it is a very difficult process. So much so that in some places, some cases I've seriously contemplated that free will may have very little to do relative to the big picture, and that to a meaningful extent, I've been on this path since I was in the womb and that this was preordained in a sense because I don't know many people that would say, Yes.
[00:28:50] Andrew Johns: To going down this path if they knew how hard it was and, and what it required if you really wanted to go deep.
[00:29:01] Kim Foster Yardley: D do you think you've surrendered to the process and, and what, and if you do, what has helped you to surrender? Because I think that's, that's super
[00:29:09] Andrew Johns: tough. Yes. That's a good surrendering.
[00:29:12] Andrew Johns: That's a great question. I have on and off, I surrender much more to it now than I did in the past. I had no surrender in me and I. You know, when I, when I think about surrender, just to interpret that for the folks that are listening you, I think especially through a Western lens, you hear the word surrender, and surrender has a negative connotation to it.
[00:29:33] Andrew Johns: It's a, it's a, you're giving up, you're capitulating and surrender, if I were to choose a different word for it for the western audience, is more of acceptance. And so surrender means become aware of the exact conditions in the present moment, accept those conditions for what they are, don't resist those conditions.
[00:30:00] Andrew Johns: And through acceptance, you then take action based on the acceptance of the truth of that situation and that I've come a long way on. Relative to in the past where, yeah, I, I, when I hadn't even contemplated the idea of like just allowing the pain or the suffering or whatever to happen. To the other part of your question around how have I been able to do that, I'd say two primary ways.
[00:30:30] Andrew Johns: One is, and, and for a lot of folks, this isn't a, it's not the silver bullet they're at, they're looking for, but one of the ways in which I do it is just small practice every single day. So it can be as simple as let's say I have a flight booked and then a day before the flight, the flight gets canceled.
[00:30:50] Andrew Johns: And I've been really looking forward to it, and maybe I had plans set up and it sort of throws a wrench in those plans. And, and especially with somebody like myself with you know, a A P T S D diagnosis where one of the symptoms of that is a, you know, there's a tendency to be volatile. You can react very strongly.
[00:31:11] Andrew Johns: You know, reward sensitivity is just different. And so is sort of like what I call calamity sensitivity. You know, if any, any little thing goes wrong, it's a big problem. And so I, it would, I could easily have a temper on something like that, and that's a form of resistance. And then the, the resistance through the temper makes the situation so much worse.
[00:31:34] Andrew Johns: And so it's in those small ways of practicing the little things every day. Where if you do that for, Years on end, you know, surrender actually becomes quite easy but it requires a conscious practice of it. The the second thing that really helped a lot, and I don't think I would be where I'm at had I not, is the selective and intentional use of indigenous ceremonies and medicines, namely pil psilocybin in Ayahuasca, ayahuasca itself.
[00:32:04] Andrew Johns: Was the medicine that truly taught me the message of surrender. And the way it did, it was very unpleasant. I I've heard some, I've heard some of those stories. Yeah. You just for a little context, I'm, I'm, I'm on the board of a nonprofit called the Heroic Hearts Project, and it started by a couple military veterans who had been struggling with their own either post-traumatic stress disorder and various disorders and addictions or traumatic brain injury.
[00:32:36] Andrew Johns: And they had sort of been through the ringer with the VA and trying to find every solution they could to alleviate their symptoms. And then in a last ditch effort, they went down to the Amazon and did Ayahuasca. And, and through that experience, it transformed them. And so they said, well, we've, you know, let's start this.
[00:32:56] Andrew Johns: The service through this nonprofit where we help other veterans who are struggling to get access to alternative therapies that aren't yet legal and approved in the us. And so that's what we do. And prior to me joining the board, they'd asked me to join, but I said, you know, I, I, I'd done ayahuasca in the past, but I want to be in ceremony with the veterans.
[00:33:17] Andrew Johns: You know, I want to sit in ceremony with warriors and I want to go through that experience. And once I go through it side by side with these people, then I'll feel like I've I'm ready. And I've earned my position on the board. So I went down to the Amazon in this is, when was that? I think it was December of 2021.
[00:33:39] Andrew Johns: And went through ceremony with, you know drill sergeants from the Marines and, and special ops folks from all sorts of different divisions, from rangers to, you know, seals and all that in the jungle, and a very intense experience. And on the first night I took a, a double dose because it seemed that that's what the plant was wanting me to do.
[00:34:07] Andrew Johns: And I had a very difficult and uncomfortable 36 hours of going through a really big journey in Ayahuasca where it culminated in me just having to sleep on the bathroom floor. Well, I say sleep more like lay on the bathroom floor. That's why it was 36 hours cuz I couldn't sleep. That was part of the experience.
[00:34:32] Andrew Johns: It kept me up the whole time. But I, I was going through this cycle of I would get very ill. I would purge, I'd then have to take a cold shower to kind of snap out of it and I'd laid back down on the bathroom floor and I rinsed and repeat and did that all night until 8:00 AM and that's why I say it delivered the ultimate message of surrender because through it, that's when I realized, Hmm, the only way that I get through this is to fully accept what is happening to me right now.
[00:35:04] Andrew Johns: And it would've been easy for me to freak out and resist and say, I don't want to do this anymore. I, I want the hallucinations to stop. I want the purging to stop. I want all that. But instead I laid there and I remember it being about 4:00 AM and I thought, okay, nail me to the cross. I accept. This is part of it.
[00:35:26] Andrew Johns: And a part of me sort of intuitively understood that the experience would end when the sun came up the next day and the jungle came alive marking the conclusion of my very difficult journey. And that's exactly what happened. And coming out of that, I felt reborn in a lot of ways. But it was through a very unpleasant, multiple purging experience where I realized the only way through is to just let go.
[00:35:57] Andrew Johns: And yeah, that's, that's the message that the medicine was trying to deliver to me. And for the first time I truly surrendered. And Yeah. And that's what brings me to where I am now. Yeah. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks very much. I mean,
[00:36:11] Kim Foster Yardley: I just, cuz your, your, your example is just telling us, or really illustrating firstly acceptance or surrender.
[00:36:19] Kim Foster Yardley: It's active, it's not passive. Yeah. And it's also something we do over and over. It's not just we do it once and then we're done.
[00:36:27] Andrew Johns: Yep, yep. And the, my favorite metaphor of, of ayahuasca in particular is the metaphor of the river and whitewater rafting. So, for example, if you ever go whitewater rafting, you'll meet with the guides and they give you safety instruction course beforehand.
[00:36:46] Andrew Johns: And one of the things they'll, they'll instruct you on is what to do if you get thrown overboard. And that's clearly the most dangerous experience. And usually what happens when people get thrown overboard is they struggle, they panic, and they try and fight the current. And it's when they're trying to fight the current that they burn out very quickly.
[00:37:07] Andrew Johns: They lose the energy and then they're in real trouble. And so the thing that they instruct you to do is, is to basically be like a mommy. You sort of just lay on your back, stretch your legs out, and cross your arms like this. And by doing that what you're doing is you're saying, okay, river, take me where you're going to take me and I'm not gonna fight, I'm not gonna resist.
[00:37:30] Andrew Johns: And the river's gonna run around the rocks and around the, the trees and the branches and the little eddies and all these things. And then eventually there'll be a point where the river. It calms down, it smoothen, and an easy and clear exit becomes obvious. And then that's when you make your exit is when the river lets you.
[00:37:52] Andrew Johns: And it's the, it's, it's a metaphor for how to approach the psychedelic experiences and that, you know, preparing and going into it and saying, I'm going to accept what this gives me, and I'm just gonna lay, lay back and cross my arms and allow it to take me where it wants to take me. But it's also a metaphor for life.
[00:38:13] Andrew Johns: And, you know, that that's, that's been my experience in realizing that. Yeah, like I, like I said earlier, is like I'm kind of under a deeper, deeper belief now that the path I'm on is at least somewhat preordained and that it's been difficult and it's been most difficult when I ignored. The direction that the river was trying to take me.
[00:38:44] Andrew Johns: And, you know, there were previous moments, like I mentioned, I was 35 at Wealth Front. I had a heart attack scare and had to go on two months of medical leave. That was the universe saying like, Andy, enough is enough. What the fuck are you doing? Like, stop. And I did stop a bit. I took like six months off, seven months off.
[00:39:07] Andrew Johns: And then the next thing I know I'm helping get a brand new venture firm off the, off the ground. I did that multiple times and I ignored the, where the water was trying to take me. And in every one of those situations, when I did, eventually I got into a bad place again. So now I'm, I'm, I'm trying to approach life very differently in that I'm, I spend much less time trying to analyze and predict what the future may be.
[00:39:37] Andrew Johns: And what I might be doing, and instead just try and experience each day and pay attention to the little signals I'm getting around where life is trying to take me. And then just allow that to happen. Hard though. Very
[00:39:52] Rob Pintwala: hard. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Thanks for sharing all that. That's an incredible sounding experience.
[00:40:01] Rob Pintwala: I'm at a pretty early stage of getting very, very interested in, in psychedelics when it comes to therapeutic approaches. And I've got a lot, lot to learn. But I wanted to bring it back now, now that you're building a product to, you know, in the realm of mental wellbeing and allowing folks to maybe aid in their self-discovery.
[00:40:22] Rob Pintwala: And I'm, I've, I've been doing that for about four years on a different scale, I think in, in, in more of a, Directed at therapy, but I'm, I'm always interested in trauma when it comes to, like, by the most basic sense, if someone's looking for a therapist in my experience observing, I don't know, like several thousand folks connect with a therapist, like many people don't associate with trauma in their life.
[00:40:52] Rob Pintwala: Hmm. And don't rec don't, don't go into like, they, they just look at some symptoms that are not allowing them to live however they were living or want to live. And maybe they uncover trauma. And I wanted, I'm wondering like how much you've thought about this like way back in your, when you started therapy in your late twenties, when you, did you know about your trauma at that point?
[00:41:17] Rob Pintwala: Or did it take some conversations in therapy to kind of set off a light bulb? And, and like, how do you think about that when thinking about how other people in the world are going through their journey of self discovery and, and that sort of thing? Like where does the trauma, like I know it's used a lot, the word traumas like used a lot these days.
[00:41:39] Andrew Johns: Yeah. Yeah. It, it can be yeah, there's, there, there's some pockets of, of humanity today that are sort of using it as like a, you know, like a identity label, right? So it can be overused. And there are other factors too. Like in my case, to answer your question no. I mean I was 26, 27, just kind of, you know, I'd been a straight A student.
[00:42:04] Andrew Johns: I played sports, I managed to have a good network of friends. Like, other than the difficulties of the first, you know, call it 10, 11 years after that, Thankfully I resorted to this, this drive to sort of dig myself out, and so much time had passed since then that I think it, it had just been smoothed over and it's almost like I just forgotten.
[00:42:30] Andrew Johns: Like of course I knew yes, my mom died. And yes, I remembered some memories that were that were disturbing and were the, the harder experiences for me as a kid. But I had sort of grown detached from it and was moving in a very positive direction. So, you know, I, I think there's a, a tendency, especially as a child, where through the protective and defensive mechanisms of the mind, it finds a way to block it out.
[00:42:57] Andrew Johns: And with enough time of blocking it out, you grow detached from it. The, the other is probably some element of, you know, being a man and within the culture of, of, you know, a blue collar, hardworking community within the culture of sports, within the culture of being a man in general you know, there's less opportunity and less encouragement to explore and express these things.
[00:43:21] Andrew Johns: And so, yeah, I, I think my, my personal experience as well of having worked with many other people at this point, especially a lot of men, is you know, to, to minimize, right? And, you know, for example, I was in a group therapy setting. And in on multiple occasions this had happened. I'm in group therapy with other men.
[00:43:44] Andrew Johns: We've got military folks, you've got CEOs, you've got world class physicists, like these are intelligent, capable, hardworking people. And on multiple occasions, when one of the men was talking about their childhood experiences and sort of going through a timeline of like, here's all the stuff I went through, these men had been raped.
[00:44:06] Andrew Johns: And they didn't even realize that what had happened was they were raped when they were children. And you see this, you know, 40 year old man realize for the first time. Oh yeah. Hmm. Yeah. I guess that's what did happen, right? It's just this tendency to minimize or to, to just sort of disregard the uncomfortable and the painful, or to find some excuse.
[00:44:38] Andrew Johns: To, to give it a label other than what had truthfully happened to them. You know, it's incredibly common. So, you know, and certainly I'm not the only person to, to minimize those prior experiences. But it, it's, it's really common I think for folks to overlook things because they're now thinking about those prior experiences through the lens of an adult, and they're not realizing like, wait, wait, wait.
[00:45:07] Andrew Johns: I need to put myself back into the lens of 10 year old Andy. And what was happening to 10 year old Andy was you know, shook him to his core. Like that was a big event. And he had the childhood capacities, not the adulthood capacities. And so I, I'd say that that is one of the most common forms of minimization is this sort of cognitive dissonance between an adult's perspective on what happened versus the child.
[00:45:39] Andrew Johns: You know, the inner child of them and their perspective of what happened. And yeah, usually what it, in the adult men that I see that come to those realizations, it's a big hit. And even when, like those adults, when the therapist says You were raped, that was not okay. Most of the responses are like, yeah, yeah.
[00:46:01] Andrew Johns: Mm-hmm. Yeah. That's about all you're gonna get out. It takes a while for them to realize, like, holy shit. Yeah. I went through a lot, a lot, a lot. I think also it's like
[00:46:12] Rob Pintwala: there's always gonna be someone whose trauma is objectively, you know, More extreme than yours, like no matter at what level, like you can always compare it to someone else.
[00:46:21] Rob Pintwala: And I think that's very common. Mm-hmm. With people across all genders and helps, helps them, or you minimize it. And I think that that's interesting because I feel like a lot of people don't invest the time in themselves because they just say look at all these other people. They got it way worse.
[00:46:43] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. Yeah.
[00:46:44] Andrew Johns: I'm fine. Right, right. Yeah. And that, that's yeah, that happens all the time. You know, especially like I've, I've participated quite a bit in 12 steps meetings and, you know, the, the universal thread. Underlying, most addicts, nearly all is some form of trauma, neglect, abuse. But yeah, that happens all the time cuz somebody will speak up and say, you know, I was kidnapped and then when I was kidnapped this happened and that happened and then this happened and then my brother was shot.
[00:47:15] Andrew Johns: And then you're sitting there thinking like, well I don't want to tell my story next, right? Because holy shit, that was rough. But it doesn't change the fact that when you were an eight year old kid, you went through what you went through and it left an indelible imprint on your psychology, your biology, and your behaviors.
[00:47:38] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. Yeah. That's amazing. I wanted to touch on as well, like motivation in your career and your life now. And this is based on my own experience, I think understanding. Where your motivation comes from. It sound, it sounded like you realized that that overachiever in you is based on wanting to be loved and achievement equal being loved.
[00:48:03] Rob Pintwala: When you realized that, did you like keep tapping into that or did you, like start to transition away from that as far as like as your career at least continued to progress? Were you trying to like fuel it with other sources of motivation or like where, where did, like I I find that's very difficult to make this transition, Yeah.
[00:48:23] Rob Pintwala: Of like where your motivation comes
[00:48:25] Andrew Johns: from. Yeah. Very difficult and I think there's some, some, some true and some false perspectives on what it means to sort of deprogram oneself from an achievement perspective or even just deprogramming a large identity and stripping away identity, right. Is cuz arguably the larger and.
[00:48:48] Andrew Johns: The more robust a an ego is, the higher the propensity that that person may do something of material success. And you see examples of this all the time with, you know, these big cults of the CEO type personalities, right? And whether it's a performer, a comedian, an actor or actress, or a scientist, like a big identity can be the foundation of somebody who does something that's, that's noteworthy, right?
[00:49:24] Andrew Johns: The, and so one of the interpretations then is like, well, if I do this healing work and if I look into myself and I start to understand myself and then rewire that identity, well then I'm gonna be less likely to achieve. And if that's been the way that you've been wired for a while, it's kind of a scary proposition cuz the ego is sitting there saying like, mm-hmm no, I do not wanna relinquish control, I want to keep achieving.
[00:49:52] Andrew Johns: Right. And it'll find a million ways to talk you out of, you know, trying to push into the background. And for me what happened was, you know, I continued to push, I had this heart, heart attack scare I had, I kept working really hard. I kept running into all sorts of difficult and stressful situations, but I kept pushing forward.
[00:50:16] Andrew Johns: But I reached a point where I was like, you know, talk therapy's not gonna do anything else for me where I'm at at this point, and that if I want to shift away from my, from my attachment to achievement, I, I need to find some other way of doing it. And, For me, that ended up being you know, a heroic dose of psilocybin in a guided experience.
[00:50:42] Andrew Johns: Because what it did was I went into that experience with a very specific intention. My intention was this. I said, I can't help, but I just keep pushing forward no matter what. I'm exhausted, and I don't know why, but I can't help but think that the death of my mom had something, something to do with it.
[00:51:05] Andrew Johns: That was my intention. I just wanted to understand the relationship between these two at a deeper level. Like I understood it intellectually through talk therapy, but I didn't understand it through like a real feeling of a shift of a break away from that sort of unhealthy attachment to success. And during that experience, going in with that intention.
[00:51:29] Andrew Johns: One part of the, of the journey was very, very difficult because it brought me back to one memory that I had that was very distressing to me where child Protective Services was called to do a safety check on me and, and like it was not a good day. And it brought me back to that day and I relived it through that experience and I let out a lot of pain stuff that I'd just been holding onto.
[00:51:58] Andrew Johns: But it also connected the dots between that traumatic memory and how I then through other memories and life experiences afterwards, I then saw the through line where it clicked and I had that op epiphany moment of like, ah, That's where this came from, from the abuse or the neglect from these specific days where it transformed me and it had planted the seed for this achievement drive a long, long time ago.
[00:52:30] Andrew Johns: And it planted it in the fertile soil of traumatic experiences. And when I saw that connection, that's when I felt a shift For the first time I felt myself disconnecting or disconnecting from work. I remember coming out of it, you know, it took me a few days to really kind of get my head right and start to recover from the experience.
[00:52:53] Andrew Johns: Cuz it, it was difficult. But then I remember thinking like, I was sitting in my office and I was like, I just don't give a shit about any of this. I don't care. I, I don't have to do this anymore. And I started the process of saying, okay, how do I gracefully find my way out of here? How do I land the plane and not crash it into the ground?
[00:53:16] Andrew Johns: Cuz that's not necessary. But it kicked off a process of roughly two to three years of me then starting to unwind my position and make my exit from, from my work. So that, that, that's how it, it played out for me. Yeah.
[00:53:33] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. That's amazing. It's, it sounds like, it sounds like the, the psychedelic experiences have been extremely impactful.
[00:53:39] Andrew Johns: They have, they have, you know, the, the, and I know that there's a lot of ongoing research and questions and, and rightful controversy and doubt in some places. We need to be very thoughtful with the use of these things. But my general opinion on it is like, If for some people a big experience is the thing that rewired them in ways that then drove them towards, say, a tendency towards addiction or mood disorders or what have you, then sometimes it might take a big experience to break loose from that pattern and start to move in a new direction again.
[00:54:18] Andrew Johns: And I've had big experiences, not just from psychedelics, from other things as well that have allowed me to like really have those epiphany moments and like create a fundamental shift in what my values were and who I believe myself to be. But psychedelics was the very first one that allowed me to have one of those big shifts and made me open more open in ways that I would've otherwise not been.
[00:54:49] Kim Foster Yardley: That's exciting. So then, so then Andy, connecting back to that idea of motivation, like what, what ins is like, what is fueling you? Or do you even need something to fuel you right now? Or you is, or is it like inspiration lead or, you know what Yeah, what keeps, keeps you
[00:55:09] Andrew Johns: spark, right. So now you know, the, the journey's it, I'm still in the thick of it.
[00:55:14] Andrew Johns: What I'd say is, like, I describe it as a, you know, a valley between two mountains. The first mountain being all the prior life experiences, the work, all that stuff. And then for those of us that, that feel compelled or received the call to go through this big transition, you have to get off the first mountain and enter the valley between the, the original mountain you were on and whatever the next mountain may be.
[00:55:41] Andrew Johns: Some refer to that valley as the liminal space. It's basically the period where you've got to sit in deep discomfort where the mind is trying to compel you often through clever ways to go back to the old way of doing things. Cuz that's what it's used to. That's what's secure, that's what's comfortable and familiar.
[00:56:05] Andrew Johns: But to be able to sit in that space and observe those compulsions and tendencies, begging you to go back to what you were doing and to not listen to them and to allow those programmed thoughts and behaviors and patterns to slowly fade. And during that timeframe, I still felt like the best analogy I'd used is like a husky looking for a sled to pull.
[00:56:34] Andrew Johns: Like I was so angry, so upset, I was irritable. I was depressed for a year and a half sitting in that valley because, I knew and thanks to great guidance from my therapist at the time, you know, she said, Andy, you've got to spend time sitting with this. Give yourself the time to deprogram away from those old patterns.
[00:56:58] Andrew Johns: Otherwise you're gonna find yourself on another treadmill just doing the same old shit and stay in that zone longer than you would like and treat every single thing as an experiment, at least for the next year or two, because you can't fully trust your emotions and, and reflexes right now. And she was so, she was totally right about that.
[00:57:23] Andrew Johns: And, and nonetheless, I still felt that pool and it's died down a lot. Like now I don't feel a motivation to do, to be an executive again or, you know, try and make few million bucks through some deal or something. I, I feel zero motivation towards any of that now, but that I'm two and a half years detached from the last time I was fully operating in that, from that perspective and go, go, go.
[00:57:53] Andrew Johns: So it took two and a half years for that like husky like mentality to dial down quite a bit. Nonetheless, there's still an ambition inside of me, and this is a part of me that I'm learning more about and trying to reconcile. This is, is really through the lens of the 12 steps in the Serenity Prayer, which is the prayer that said at the beginning and at the conclusion of all 12 step meetings.
[00:58:19] Andrew Johns: And the Serenity Prayer says, God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. And it's, it, there's, there's so much to be unpack in that, because it's basically my interpretation of it is it's saying, have the courage to change some things, move forward.
[00:58:44] Andrew Johns: You know, if you don't wanna be an addict, you can change that, right? But then also have the wisdom to understand the parts of oneself that make you who you are. And it's the two sides of the same coin, right? It, it's the, the same tendencies that may drive somebody towards higher rates of addiction and depression, and other forms of behavioral and mood disorders that are on the other side of the coin that makes somebody a superhero, that makes 'em a brilliant comedian, that makes him a great leader.
[00:59:17] Andrew Johns: And it's trying to reconcile the understanding of there are parts of myself I can change and parts I cannot. And the thing that I'm still slowly learning is this motivation piece. Like I still have a drive in me, but that drive is now being pointed in another direction. And I, I would like more of that drive to be pointed towards love, connection, community, my health and to some extent to work that serves a higher purpose, which is the reason that I got into doing the writing on mental health that I'm doing and now creating this product called clues.life.
[00:59:59] Andrew Johns: It, it's, it's kind of the integration of my past experiences personally and my past experiences professionally bringing those two together and realizing that like I am uniquely fit. To do this one thing that I'm now doing and I'm motivated to do it because I think that is an indelible part of what makes me me is I just have a drive in me and I'm learning to accept that, but I'm also trying to temper it and make sure that I'm pointing the drive towards serving others more so than I'm pointing that drive towards just serving myself and trying to make money.
[01:00:39] Andrew Johns: But yeah, you know, it's, yeah. You know, just one quick anecdote. Like my aunt who was my mom's sister, she gave me a handful of letters that her and my mom had shared with each other. Cuz you know, back in the day it's what you did. You wrote letters to each other and there was one letter I was reading through and it was my mom writing to my aunt.
[01:00:58] Andrew Johns: And there was an anecdote in there where my mom was talking about how she went and picked me up from swimming lessons. And I remember this day, I remember the specific moment Which is wild cuz I must have been, I don't know, five or six. And there was a part where at the end of the swim lesson, you know, in, in sort of the corner of the pool, you would swim from like point A to point B.
[01:01:20] Andrew Johns: It was like a, you know, a five meter swim or something. But that was the first sort of swim test. And I did that swim test. I didn't need any assistance. I got to the other side of the pool and I got out and then my mom asked like, you know, are you a swimmer now? Can you swim? Or, you know, how do you feel?
[01:01:38] Andrew Johns: And my response was, I'm ready to swim across the ocean. And I, I contemplate that. That's where I sit there and say like, that drive in me. Maybe it's just always there. And maybe it's epigenetic. I don't know. Some of it may be trauma born. But that's just who I am, you know? And so I'm not the, the Eckhart Tolles of the world where he would describe, like, you know, after his, his awakening, he went and sat on a park bench in London for two years and, and he's happy just sitting in his house by himself.
[01:02:13] Andrew Johns: That ain't me. Like, I like my downtime more than I used to, but I need to be around people. I'm a social creature. That mammalian part of me is very real. I have a drive in me. I want to create something that's beneficial. And finally, I find myself like pointing my motivation towards something that is uniquely my own, as opposed to, you know, just the next rung on the corporate ladder.
[01:02:41] Rob Pintwala: I love it. I love it around the, the theme of serving others. Like I imagine now that you've been writing and now that clues is live I imagine others have been reaching out to you, like I reached out to you randomly you know, to look to you as sort of someone who's done the work or doing the work as well, and maybe as you know some encouragement or someone to bounce those things off of.
[01:03:07] Rob Pintwala: My question is like, what sort of, like, what do you get out of that as far as, and, and now you're creating content to like, you know, set the framework for these explorations. What does it mean to you if others transform from, from your work?
[01:03:25] Andrew Johns: So to tie it back to the earlier part of the conversation of talking about the identity layer and how a lot of my identity was sort of rooted in kind of this like accidental perversion of me interpreting achievement equals being lovable.
[01:03:43] Andrew Johns: Yeah. But I think the. A big part of a healing experience for anybody. And especially for, for say, somebody who's been through addiction, like shame sits underneath addiction. Shame is the propellant that continues to push people through these cycles of repetitive habits and patterns that are self-destructive.
[01:04:06] Andrew Johns: There's some part of them that has at least a negative interpretation of self. And like in my case, you know, external validation was a way of rewriting that negative interpretation of self. You know, if I was neglected a bit as a kid or went through some, you know, traumatic experiences, I was interpreting that as well.
[01:04:29] Andrew Johns: It's cuz I'm not good enough. But if I was achieving then I was rewriting slowly one in blue ribbon at a time. That internal narrative of like, I'm good enough, I, I'm happy with the person that I am. And
[01:04:48] Andrew Johns: the, the, the service to others is a way to continue to rewrite that narrative as well. If, if one wants to remove a core of shame or a negative sense of self, one way of doing that is well go get in good shape. You're gonna feel better, right? Another way of doing that is well go do something good that helps others.
[01:05:14] Andrew Johns: I think there's something very primal about it too, that just naturally, from a pr survival perspective, it, it rewrites that internal narrative from a negative self-belief to something that's more positive. So that, that's part of it. It's also part of my own healing experience. It's, it's teaching me a lot along the way.
[01:05:38] Andrew Johns: The, every single time I get the opportunity to interact with somebody, it's teaching me more about myself, more about others, and I think improving my ability to feel empathy towards others and accept them for who they are. And it's, it's becoming an outlet for creative expression and exploration, you know? Yeah. I was a very hyper-rational person that sort of did everything based on rational means and objectives and now sort of this unique form of my own writing and clues.life is kind of my unique expression of myself that not only allows me to help others, but it allows me to do it in a way that's a reflection of me.
[01:06:21] Andrew Johns: That in itself is, and are you leading from, is a healing experience. That's amazing.
[01:06:27] Rob Pintwala: Yeah. And I love how, I'm just like aware of you of. Even it almost, you know, could come across as like, oh, as like, selfish, I'm doing this to like, you know, avoid that shame. But I think you bring up such a good point that like that's kind of the way the world works.
[01:06:46] Rob Pintwala: And, and another, like when I look at clues that life are you building it like for your younger self? Are you building it for sort of a, a person in mind and like what life experience are you thinking about it that way? Or just,
[01:07:01] Andrew Johns: just creating Yeah. Like a lot of entrepreneurs, you end up stumbling onto an idea based on solving a problem or providing a solution for a problem that you yourself face.
[01:07:14] Andrew Johns: And so in a sense, I, the idea behind clues.life came together over this last two and a half years of sitting in the liminal space in the valley between two mountains. Sort of sifting through the fog, looking for the footsteps of that second mountain. You know, that's kind of the way it works, is like you can see the, the first mountain behind you in the rear view mirror with perfect clarity.
[01:07:38] Andrew Johns: And then the valley is kind of like this gray period that you don't like to stay in, but is necessary to recover. And then the next mountain, whatever that next phase of your life becomes is, is, and the trail to it is shrouded in fog. And, you know, there's a word for this, the word's kati, WAMP, C O d D i w O M p l e, which the definition of a kati womble is basically like, like a, a serious and earnest trek towards an uncertain destination.
[01:08:08] Andrew Johns: And that's exactly what the journey is like beginning in the liminal spaces valley between two mountains. And it was during that time where the deprogramming of my old ways of acting and thinking, especially professionally started to fade away. And then something else started to emerge in its absence.
[01:08:25] Andrew Johns: And that something else was more of just getting in touch with like, I don't know. What do I want to do? What, what do I think would be cool? You know, what, what do I just wanna make for the sake of ma making cuz I just feel compelled to. And that's when clues that life sort of hit me where I realized, like, you know, since I was 27, I've, I've embarked on this journey of trying to find the truth behind who am I and why was I suffering?
[01:08:57] Andrew Johns: And that has transformed into not only want to understand those truths, but to understand the broader, bigger questions in life of like, How do you create a life of art? How do you make your own life art? How do you get through this increasingly abstract life experience and make sense of it all and find that meaning and that purpose that sustains you?
[01:09:23] Andrew Johns: And so I'm building this thing for 27 year old me where, you know, I've flown around the planet. I've done legal and illegal, you know, treatments and procedures. I've tried all sorts of stuff to understand the truth of my suffering and to reduce that suffering. And not everyone gets that opportunity, not, not everyone has the resources to go on such a broad exploration.
[01:09:49] Andrew Johns: And so my goal with clues.life is to kind of do that exploration for people to pull together the best knowledge, wisdom, and tools that we have regarding mental health. And the pursuit of a life that you would, that as somebody would determine as fulfilling, is to pull together all that information and put it into one place to make it easier for other people to discover the clues to creating the life that they want for themselves to creating a life that is absent of their own trauma and suffering, or that is healed from it, to create a life that breaks them free from whatever sort of cultural programmed expectations they may have.
[01:10:32] Andrew Johns: And that spans the range from ancient eastern indigenous spiritual systems and philosophies and medicines all the way up to modern clinical neuroscience and everything in between. And I'm trying to through my own journey and exploration cover. As much of that material as I can and pull it all together into one place that makes it easy for others to go on their kwale and to discover there are so many other ways of being and living and healing that they have never even heard of.
[01:11:11] Andrew Johns: And so it's gonna take a long time to do that. I'm doing it myself. But I spent the last four months kind of building together the infrastructure that would allow me to publish that much information at large scale in a very clear, simple, artful and humanized way that others can appreciate. So I kind of view it as like the ultimate kind of map of.
[01:11:38] Andrew Johns: Self and of life discovery that is not meant to replace professional therapists or other healers of other types, but can become a very good compliment to that person and is sort of like a farmer's almanac of sorts of you know, life wisdom. So yeah, I, I, I just, I finished the building out the infrastructure for it.
[01:12:00] Andrew Johns: I, I launched the very minimal, the MVP of it about two weeks ago. And it's a part of what I do every single day now is spend at least an hour or so reading, researching, collecting more of this knowledge and wisdom from all these different walks of life and publishing it on clues do life for other people to access.
[01:12:25] Rob Pintwala: That's such an incredible endeavor.
[01:12:28] Andrew Johns: It's right now, that's when I knew it. It was, I was like, Yeah, I was, I was actually in Thailand last September and I was in a shower and it hit me and I was like, huh, there it is. That's the language, because it, it's also consistent with my fundamental view, which is that nobody has a monopoly on truth, and there's no one way, one way of living or healing or transforming.
[01:12:54] Andrew Johns: Some people transform and change themselves and find the life that they want by through military conscription. They get in there and they adopt discipline and structure and you know, these are the Jocko Wilks of the world. And I think, you know, you'd probably say he is living a very meaningful, fulfilling life.
[01:13:12] Andrew Johns: And then there are others that discover that through Daoism or Buddhism or Hinduism and lean more in the direction of not building up a greater, stronger sense of self, but actually working in the direction of eliminating a sense of self, right? Like there's no one way to do it. And I have deep respect for that, is to allow the individual to find the path that works for them.
[01:13:39] Andrew Johns: And that's why I called it clues.life. And there's the, the tagline is basically like helping you discover the clues to the life you want. And the, the very fact in that the act of me creating this is also a process of me identifying more clues for myself, or in many cases, identifying clues that may not resonate with me in my personal approach, but for others it will.
[01:14:03] Andrew Johns: And so I'm gonna publish it and make it available. It's like the, it's like such a, it's like an anti perspective. Yeah. It's like the anti guru. You know, it is because so many people fall into the false trap of they get a teacher or a guru or something like that, and then they do their best to mimic that guru.
[01:14:24] Andrew Johns: They copy what they say, how they dress and all that. And the point isn't to follow somebody else's path to Bangkok, so to speak, the pa the point is to find your own path to Bangkok. And so people fall into the trap of subscribing to a guru so much that they don't realize that all they've done is adopt somebody else's identity as opposed to creating their own that serves them well.
[01:14:49] Andrew Johns: And that's a trap
[01:14:50] Kim Foster Yardley: I think I, I don't if it was Joseph Campbell that said if you, if you know the steps of the path, it's not your path Exactly. Because someone else
[01:14:59] Andrew Johns: has walked it. Exactly. And there, there's probably a good chance that somewhere I. In your programming, you would, yeah. It's not your path that is somebody else's.
[01:15:12] Andrew Johns: And so there'll be people that are 20 years deep into walking somebody else's path and they're still thinking like, why am I not enlightened yet? You know, it's like, well, because your ego is clever and it convinced you to just copy somebody else's identity. It's such
[01:15:29] Rob Pintwala: a big insight. It's a, it's a, I find just the way that you speak about your experiences, it's very you really minimize your own ego, like just the way that you're coming about it.
[01:15:38] Rob Pintwala: And I, and I'm not saying that it's a, I think that's a, an admirable thing. And I think when I look at your product that's, I know it's just an m v MVP here, but you know, it just looks, first of all, it's beautiful and looks like there's some trendy art and probably some AI involved. Oh, yeah. But also, you know, it's, it's just the fact that you're just enabling folks to draw their own conclusions and draw their own path.
[01:16:02] Rob Pintwala: And accepting that. I mean, that's a huge unlock for me, even just like, yeah. Wow. I've, I've tried to follow lots of people's paths and I do that intermittently and if someone seems interesting, and then I'll follow them and then I'll find someone else. Yeah. And that's an endless, endless loop.
[01:16:16] Andrew Johns: But
[01:16:17] Rob Pintwala: I think a lot of folks, a lot of folks can get
[01:16:19] Andrew Johns: on.
[01:16:19] Andrew Johns: Yeah, there's, there's, there's a wisdom to be acquired from other people for sure. But yeah, it's that distinction between like, I like this nugget of how they, you know, talk about the role of sleep and wellness. Okay, great. But do I know need to then go and become a sleep expert, like this person? No, I don't need to.
[01:16:42] Kim Foster Yardley: think also, Andy, something that you're saying is so important is about tuning in. And that tuning in isn't the big moments necessarily, but just those decisions you make every day. I really like that as well in terms of like connecting them into your own path by really in those small choices you make every day.
[01:17:05] Kim Foster Yardley: Yeah. To surrender. Except yeah, do slightly differently. That actually culminates in something different over time.
[01:17:13] Andrew Johns: Totally different, very, very different. My life now versus three years ago is just completely flipped on its head in, in every way. I even know, look, I even got a tattoo, you know, like, and that the thing you do when you hit a midlife crisis, right?
[01:17:29] Andrew Johns: But yeah, it is, that's why I said earlier is like, I think for the majority of humanity, free will plays a very minimal to non-existent role. Most of what people do is a reactionary response based on the prior programming they've received, because the brain is fundamentally an autobiographical organ where it tells its own story through what it compels you to do.
[01:18:01] Andrew Johns: And it, it, it, it, it's always telling the story of what happened to you in the past through the autobiography of like the very next day you're living right? And so you can observe this in simple interactions, like really pay attention the next time you go to a coffee shop or you're in conversation with somebody and see how often people pause and create a bit of an awkward silence when they're asked a question.
[01:18:27] Andrew Johns: It is very rare and. For me, that's a window into the, the standard state, which is the reaction aism of most folks, which is as soon as somebody says one thing, you immediately respond based on this reflex that has been programmed, didn't you? You see this in political discussions all the time. Right? And I think you're observing something closer to, or the full expression of free will in those moments when somebody pauses and they contemplate and they reflect, and then they make a choice and they act.
[01:19:07] Andrew Johns: Everything else is just an instinctive reaction based on prior programming. I love that. Oh,
[01:19:13] Rob Pintwala: mm. Maybe maybe to, to to, to maybe draw, draw things to a close. Unless, Kim, you have another question, but I got one. Yeah, I got, I got one more question about your, Perspective on, I mean, you've lived you know, you've, you've, you've, you've got one mountain behind you and there's another mountain in front of you.
[01:19:35] Rob Pintwala: But lots of people on that mountain behind you are still pursuing things on that mountain, you know in this world. And what is your, do you have perspective on, on societies, I guess in the west here, our desire to, to, to do this work? Do you think there's more people on this path? Do you think it's do you think there's things shifting?
[01:20:02] Rob Pintwala: Or do you, do you have a perspective
[01:20:04] Andrew Johns: on that? Yeah. Yeah, I have a a couple, yeah, have a couple thoughts on it. You know, when I look at the world, I see two broad camps. One group is a group that is conditioned around the growth and the development of these super identities, and that's typically more in the west, where we talk about, you know, the David Goggins of the world.
[01:20:35] Andrew Johns: No, no Dig at him. I think I, I admire him in a lot of ways, but you know, his path to healing through childhood trauma wasn't therapy. It was to create a new super identity, one that served him better in this world than his old identity. And in that way, he healed himself by transforming himself and building this indestructible identity of what he would say is, I want to be the baddest motherfucker on the planet.
[01:21:05] Andrew Johns: And he became that. And he suffered deeply through that process. But it was a, it was a combination of suffering plus the intentional creation of a large, strong identity that was the source of his transformation and success. And so generally I look at the West as a culture that that endorses the development of a strong sense of self.
[01:21:37] Andrew Johns: And then there are other cultures around the world where it's kind of the opposite direction. It's the eradication of self because it's the perspective that the self is the root of all suffering. And there's real genius in that, right? So for example, if somebody has zero political affiliation and they happen to be in a conversation with a few folks who are politically PO polarized, and one of 'em says to that person, oh, well you're just a, a dumb Trumper, but the person has zero political affiliation, like that part of their identity doesn't exist.
[01:22:13] Andrew Johns: Well then it's like shooting an arrow at a, at a ghost. Like there's nothing to hit if there's no identity, there's no form of suffering other than the standard sort of physical forms of suffering that we experience in life through illness and injury and all that stuff. And so I look at the world through these broad lenses of the identity builders and the identity destroyers, and they both serve a really interesting purpose where.
[01:22:45] Andrew Johns: I then look at the two combined and I think like I'm actually glad that the West is going through its process of, of identity-based suffering right now in the sense that it's gonna teach us a lot. And you see this with younger generations who are saying, well, look, my parents and my grandparents, like they suppressed individuality for the sake of conforming towards this person who would get a 30 year mortgage and work in a factory for 30 years in service of building a great country.
[01:23:20] Andrew Johns: And that has come with a lot of virtues as well. The, the technologies that we've introduced, some of them have gone awry, but many of them are responsible for the alleviation of tremendous suffering around the world. It's irrefutable to say that capitalism has not lifted hundreds of millions of people out of abject poverty and food insecurity, or direct starvation in illness, in early child mortality over the last a hundred years.
[01:23:49] Andrew Johns: There's an easy argument to be made there. Now it comes with dire consequences as well, because now we have a very sick population because we have illnesses of abundance as opposed to illnesses of scarcity, and I think we're gonna learn important lessons from that, or at least I hope we do. But in the broad lens, I look at the potential for great balance that could come out of a recognition that it's really powerful to.
[01:24:21] Andrew Johns: Go in the direction of eliminating a sense of self. And it's also powerful to go in the direction of producing this super structure. And that the answer is the balance somewhere in between. Because for example, if we said, our goal as a civilization is to make sure that we don't die and we know that it is an inevitability, that something catastrophic is gonna happen on our planet.
[01:24:45] Andrew Johns: Therefore, if our goal is to not disappear as a species, we need to become multi-planetary. Then in order to do that, don't you need a lot of technology and technology as the byproduct of the incentive schemes and the mechanisms of capitalism? Absolutely. If you have an entire global population that's focused on the eradication of self and because the self is eradicated and there's no motivation and drive to create and produce anything, and instead we all sit in caves and meditate.
[01:25:18] Andrew Johns: Well then we're just sitting around waiting for a boulder to hit us. And then that's the end of the story. Now, on the other side, if you have the entire planet completely obsessed with the identity of self in creating these super structures, and then because these identities are so firmly rooted, we're basically involved in a constant ideological war of like ideological bloods and Crips, well then that's not the answer either.
[01:25:45] Andrew Johns: You know, that gets, that becomes perverted and goes in the wrong direction. So for me, I'm not negative about the future. I'm not one of those that says, oh, capitalism is bad. We gotta get rid of the consumerism of the west and da, da, da. Like clearly changes need to be made from the perspective of sustainability and also because we're learning that to an extent and beyond that extent, material possessions don't do much in terms of improving quality of life.
[01:26:14] Andrew Johns: Like, I think we'll learn those lessons and hopefully revert to the middle a little, a little bit. And, and so all that is to say if the west becomes a little more balanced in the direction of eliminating IDE identity, and if, if, if the east becomes a little more le bent in the direction of like, well, let's have some identity, not none at all, because that identity may be the rocket fuel that propels our technology that allows us to sustain a civilization, then to me the answer is clearly some balance in the middle.
[01:26:47] Andrew Johns: So my, my general sense is, is like I think things are going according to plan to whoever's behind this great master plan that we live in, that we call reality. And yeah, I'm not with the alarmists that think that humanity is nothing but mold on bread. I don't buy it one, one bit. I think that's ideological nonsense.
[01:27:12] Andrew Johns: That was a great
[01:27:12] Rob Pintwala: explanation and I find it even more fascinating now that you're heading to the east soon to I'm sure gain, gain some more of that perspective of Yeah, yeah. Getting rid of the self.
[01:27:22] Andrew Johns: That's exactly, Andy, thank That's exactly why I'm doing it, man. I'm putting my, I love that. I love that.
[01:27:27] Andrew Johns: Putting myself in a place to where I'm continuing to sort of balance out that sense of self. And, you know, I may find myself right back here on the west, but I'll go explore. I'll try. Very cool.
[01:27:40] Rob Pintwala: Any particular, anything scheduled? Like are you, are you doing any planned?
[01:27:46] Andrew Johns: Nope. I just bought a one way ticket or anything like that.
[01:27:48] Andrew Johns: Hawaii, which is where I am right now. I've got a month, at least a month here, I have some work planned with a therapist and a healer that's, that's based here in the islands that I've worked with in the past. So I'm preparing for the next step in my journey and digging a little bit deeper. And then after that we'll see.
[01:28:09] Andrew Johns: I'll buy a one way ticket somewhere else and, and just try and really make sure I'm doing it because that's what it feels like the river is asking me to do.
[01:28:18] Rob Pintwala: Amazing. All right, Andy. Well thank you very much for your time today. And Yeah. Besides clues.life, and for those who aren't, Maybe tech savvy, like.life is the.com In your in your product where else can people find you?
[01:28:33] Andrew Johns: Yeah, you, you can also find me at andy johns.ck.com. And you know, I tend to publish there. I'm starting to pick up the pace there. So I tend to publish once every seven to 10 days, and every day I'm publishing something new on clues.life. So yeah, those would be the, the two big places. I'm, I'm, I'm a reluctant user of social media at this point.
[01:28:57] Andrew Johns: But if you want to find me on, on Twitter or some of my podcast interview on YouTube, you can also find firstname.lastname@example.org on both platforms.
[01:29:06] Rob Pintwala: Incredible. Okay, Andy, I'll hit pause there and safe travels.
[01:29:23] Rob Pintwala: Thank you for listening to this episode of The Actualize Podcast. You can find the show notes for this episode as well as all other episodes at first session.com/podcast. If you like this podcast, please leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform. Thank you again, and we'll see you next time.