Brian Johnson


After selling my first business (eTeamz) over 15 years ago (at 26), I had enough money to take a little time off to figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up. I became a lover of wisdom-a philosopher. My quest? I was obsessed about understanding what makes great people great. What is it about that .0001% of people in the world who truly optimize their lives, actualize their potential and give their greatest gifts in greatest service to the world? (And… enjoy the process!)

I read a ton and traveled a bit, studying Socrates in Athens, Aurelius in the Danube of Hungary, Jesus in Jerusalem, and Rumi in Konya, Turkey. I started sharing what I was learning via a daily newsletter that quickly went from a couple hundred friends to thousands of people.

After several years of reading, writing, and thinking, I needed to make some money again but didn’t feel like going the typical self-help route so I created my second business (Zaadz). After selling that a few years later, I had enough money to take a little more time off. I decided to give myself a Ph.D. in Optimal Living-integrating ancient wisdom, modern science and practical tools to optimize and actualize. As part of my Master’s project, I distilled 100 of the best books on optimal living into 6-page PDF summaries (and 20-min MP3s). I called these “Philosophers Notes’ and created a profitable business sharing the wisdom I was learning as a demonstration that we can get paid to do what we love in service to the world. My Ph.D. dissertation was a simple book called A Philosopher’s Notes and a class I taught called “Optimal Living 101” (which is now an integrated part of the curriculum at Harvard-Westlake).

Over the last decade, I’ve created 500 Philosophers Notes. And, I also created over 25 Optimal Living 101 master classes on everything from Optimizing your energy and confidence to your productivity and happiness.

In other news: I also have a podcast called Optimize (that launched as the #1 podcast on iTunes and has been featured as the #1 Health podcast with over 8 million downloads). Then there’s the YouTube channel (with over 125,000 subscribers and 12.5 million views). And, I was featured in the documentary Finding Joe alongside Deepak Chopra, Laird Hamilton and Tony Hawk and contributed a chapter to Be the Solution alongside Whole Foods CEO John Mackey and Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus. All after graduating Phi Beta Kappa from UCLA where I studied Psychology and Business

Flourish by Martin Seligman

Flourishing. That's where it's at. Brian Johnson takes a quick look at Martin Seligman's latest book on the science of well-being, Flourish. Martin Seligman is the godfather of the positive psychology movement and in his new book, he describes the science of well-being.

Abraham Maslow’s Motivation and Personality

Another slice of wisdom from Brian Johnson and his Philosopher’s Notes. This time from the work of Abraham Maslow. As we ascend his hierarchy of needs, taking care of the basics like food/shelter/safety and moving up through love and self-esteem we reach a place where we literally have a need to fully express ourselves—to, in Maslow’s words “self-actualize.”

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

Brian Johnson and his reviews “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” by Dale Carnegie. If you've ever had a worry or two, I think you'll dig some of my favorite Big Ideas from Dale Carnegie's classics book "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living"!

The 12 Hows of Happiness

The 12 Hows of Happiness by Brian Johnson…another mini chapter from his Philospher’s Notes.

On Blisters and Bliss

A video excerpt from "A Philosophers Notes" discussing the importance of paying attention to the fundamentals if you wish to achieve your goals.

Mis-takes, Bagels, Perfection & Flying

Michael Beckwith tells us that even enlightened beings burn their bagels on occaision. Rumi tells us that there is no worse pretense than the pretense of perfection. Maslow tells us that there are in fact no perfect human beings. I often consult their wisdom when I find myself all up in their stuff because I just did something silly or when I'm struggling with something that was so clear just the other day.