John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker, and best-selling author of Duct Tape Marketing, The Referral Engine, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine, and SEO for Growth. He’s also a supportive colleague whom I admire.
His newest book, The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur: 366 Daily Meditations to Feed Your Soul and Grow Your Business taps into the wisdom of 19th-century transcendentalist literature and the author’s own 30-year entrepreneurial journey to challenge today’s entrepreneurs to remain fiercely self-reliant while chasing their own version of success. I interviewed him by email recently about this new work.
About the Book:
The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur is a collection of 366 meditations designed to both inspire and challenge the reader through a practice of daily soulful reflection. The book is anchored with readings and quotes from some of the original and most impactful entrepreneurial writing ever created. Authors and essayists such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Henry David Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, and Walt Whitman encouraged individuals to trust and develop the gifts that only they could bring to the world. The book challenges you to think deeply about why you are doing the work you are doing and living the life you are living.
Q: What is a Self-Reliant Entrepreneur?
It is many things, but in a way, it is simply someone who believes that their life is a work in progress. It is someone who trusts so fully in their unique gifts and vision that they are able to follow that dream without fear of what others think or say.
It is someone who finds purpose and meaning in experiences that allow them to master their craft. It is someone who succeeds by being utterly resilient while remaining faithfully congruent. And finally, it is someone who understands the impact they wish to have in the world and uses that as the ultimate decision-making tool.
Q: This book is wholly different than your others. Was there a personal experience or motivation that lead you to write it?
This is my sixth book, and yes, my previous five were related to some aspect of marketing. The short answer is that I wrote this book because I needed some inspiration.
I’ve had an amazing journey as an entrepreneur and writing this book allowed me to explore that journey in ways that I hope can ultimately inform others. Selfishly this is also a body of literature that I thoroughly enjoyed in high school and college and the structure of this book gave me the excuse to go revisit it in a new light.
Q: What makes the vein of mid-19th Century literature you chose relevant for today’s world?
Think about what was going on in American around 1850. The country was culturally and politically divided to the degree that a civil war was soon to break out, women were marching in the streets demanding respect and equality, and abolitionists were calling for an end to slavery.
The writings and teachings from this era were an attempt to encourage massive social reform that could only begin with individuals who believed in themselves enough to make choices and decisions that were right for them. It was, of course, at the time seen as a radical counterculture movement.
It’s not too much of a stretch to suggest that the political and cultural climate of today in America bears some resemblance to the divide that existed in 1850. So perhaps, this book is part movement. What the heck, maybe an army of self-reliant entrepreneurs is one of the keys to moving towards something that looks more like unity.
Q: How does this book differ from others on mindfulness and meditation?
While mindfulness and meditation show up as highly recommended tools in this book, I wouldn’t say this book is limited to those ideas. The mid 19th Century writers cited throughout were some of the first American writers and speakers to embrace practices such as solitude, journaling, mindfulness, and even the act of nurturing a deeper relationship with nature. So, as someone strives to achieve their own definition of self-reliance practicing present moment awareness and using meditation as a tool to quiet the noise in your head, just might be good ideas to try.
Q: What did you learn while writing this book?
When you write a book this personal, you can’t help but come away a different person. I know that may sound a bit dramatic, but writing this book was a bit like putting my entire entrepreneurial experience, good and bad, under a magnifying glass—and mostly that was a very good thing—you know, like therapy.
Another thing that struck me throughout the process was just how timely so much of the writing seemed. I often found myself wondering how they could have been written 150 years ago. So, maybe times and technologies have changed, but the human condition remains the same.
Q: What will readers gain from reading your book?
I don’t know. See, that’s the ironic thing about writing a book that proposes to teach someone how to be self-reliant, the “self” part of the equation is 100% on the reader. This is a collection of ideas that readers must make their own through daily practice and honest examination.
Q: How can this book help entrepreneurs develop their businesses’ brand purpose?
It’s funny but perhaps the simplest theme of this entire work is – build a better you and you’ll build a better business. I think that’s the most authentic way possible to develop a true brand purpose.
Q: How do you see this approach to entrepreneurialism affecting the different generations? Do you think Boomer entrepreneurs (like us) will embrace it as readily as Gen X or Millennials?
In the writing of this book, I shared parts with a range of readers spanning different generations and it has been interesting to witness the different ways they approach the entries. While I make a huge generalization here, Boomers seem more focused on the idea of impact, trying to reconcile what mark their journey might leave on the world and how they embrace the joy and happiness that a bit of this wisdom suggests. They know what they know and now they are doing some accounting.
Younger generations seem completely energized by the message of self-trust and the challenge that still awaits. Sometimes they don’t yet know what they don’t know, and consequently, bring a beginner’s mind and energy to embracing these old texts they seem new to them.