Hundreds of Ways

How to Stay Focused in a Year of Crisis w/ CJ Johnson, Digital Marketing Consultant and Influencer

August 14, 2020 James Knight & Eliot Raymond Season 1 Episode 7
Hundreds of Ways
How to Stay Focused in a Year of Crisis w/ CJ Johnson, Digital Marketing Consultant and Influencer
Chapters
00:00:00
Intro
00:01:07
What CJ Does - Google NextGen
00:05:04
What CJ Does - GQ Insider
00:06:28
Empowering Emerging Generations
00:08:13
What Do You Want to be When You Grow Up?
00:09:36
How Technology Has Changed Entertainment
00:12:13
Monetizing Your Life
00:16:42
Hundreds of Ways to Live, Hundreds of Ways to Decide
00:17:15
Staying Focused in 2020
00:23:13
The Power of Routine
00:25:28
Parenting and Entrepreneurship
00:28:02
Explain Like I'm 5
00:30:14
CJ's Path to Entrepreneurship
00:32:07
Working at MTV
00:33:24
The Power of Social Media
00:34:51
What's Next for CJ
00:38:46
Opportunity in Times of Crisis
00:40:52
CJ's Media Recommendations
00:45:45
Consuming Valuable Content
00:47:05
Hundreds of Ways of Victory, Hundreds of Ways of Opportunity
00:48:38
Next Week on Hundreds of Ways
Hundreds of Ways
How to Stay Focused in a Year of Crisis w/ CJ Johnson, Digital Marketing Consultant and Influencer
Aug 14, 2020 Season 1 Episode 7
James Knight & Eliot Raymond

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

It's a simple question. But for being so simple, it rarely has a straightforward answer.

Maybe that's why we stop asking it so soon.

For most of us, the last time we heard the question was when we were kids—or maybe one last time at the end of high school. After all, having arrived at the terminus of our youth, haven't we grown up?

For CJ Johnson, that question comes up daily. And the answer keeps changing. At six, he wanted to be Batman. When that didn't pan out, he settled for the entertainment industry. But cameras brought egos and attitudes, and CJ wanted something better. 

His interests shifted from Hollywood Boulevard to Venice Beach, where LA's competitor to Silicon Valley—the so-called "Silicon Beach"—was separating itself from that area's bohemian past. CJ found himself shifting from entertainer to marketing consultant. But his journey was far from over:

"I was having more and more conversations as a consultant, as a marketer, and as an influencer. And I just kept getting asked more and more personal questions. And I realized my purpose: it has nothing to do with me being an actor, or writer, or director, or CEO. It has everything to do with inspiring someone."

With 31K followers on Instagram and a total social reach of over 10 million people, it's safe to say that CJ is inspiring more than just someone. And for good reason: his career has seen him co-found one of the top digital agencies in Los Angeles, become the "on-demand marketing guru" of Silicon Beach, and be recognized as both a Google NextGen Policy Lead and GQ Insider. 

On this week's episode, CJ shares his experience as an entertainer, marketing consultant, and influencer. He explains what it means to "empower emerging generations," how you can monetize your interests, and how to find opportunity in times of crisis. 

We also chat about:

  • CJ's work at NextGen and GQ.
  • How Technology has fundamentally reshaped entertainment.
  • The pros and cons of there being "Hundreds of Ways."
  • How to keep focused in times of crisis.
  • What it's like balancing the Influencer life with being a single dad.

You can find out more about CJ on his site, or reach out to him directly on his Instagram.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

It's a simple question. But for being so simple, it rarely has a straightforward answer.

Maybe that's why we stop asking it so soon.

For most of us, the last time we heard the question was when we were kids—or maybe one last time at the end of high school. After all, having arrived at the terminus of our youth, haven't we grown up?

For CJ Johnson, that question comes up daily. And the answer keeps changing. At six, he wanted to be Batman. When that didn't pan out, he settled for the entertainment industry. But cameras brought egos and attitudes, and CJ wanted something better. 

His interests shifted from Hollywood Boulevard to Venice Beach, where LA's competitor to Silicon Valley—the so-called "Silicon Beach"—was separating itself from that area's bohemian past. CJ found himself shifting from entertainer to marketing consultant. But his journey was far from over:

"I was having more and more conversations as a consultant, as a marketer, and as an influencer. And I just kept getting asked more and more personal questions. And I realized my purpose: it has nothing to do with me being an actor, or writer, or director, or CEO. It has everything to do with inspiring someone."

With 31K followers on Instagram and a total social reach of over 10 million people, it's safe to say that CJ is inspiring more than just someone. And for good reason: his career has seen him co-found one of the top digital agencies in Los Angeles, become the "on-demand marketing guru" of Silicon Beach, and be recognized as both a Google NextGen Policy Lead and GQ Insider. 

On this week's episode, CJ shares his experience as an entertainer, marketing consultant, and influencer. He explains what it means to "empower emerging generations," how you can monetize your interests, and how to find opportunity in times of crisis. 

We also chat about:

  • CJ's work at NextGen and GQ.
  • How Technology has fundamentally reshaped entertainment.
  • The pros and cons of there being "Hundreds of Ways."
  • How to keep focused in times of crisis.
  • What it's like balancing the Influencer life with being a single dad.

You can find out more about CJ on his site, or reach out to him directly on his Instagram.

James Knight :

Welcome to Hundreds of Ways, the podcast that celebrates entrepreneurship and lifestyle independence. This week, CJ Johnson discusses what it's like to be an influencer in a year full of crises and how he balances his career of many hats with being a single dad. So join us as we explore which of the Hundreds of Ways belongs to CJ.

Eliot Raymond :

Hey, James, Good evening. Good morning, Eliot. How are you doing? I am doing great today. Nothing to complain about. What about you?

James Knight :

It is really hot and really humid and I'm in a room with no fan or air conditioning. So things are great over here. But it's all good because we have another fantastic guest today.

Eliot Raymond :

We do, today we have CJ Johnson on the show and I'll give a little bit of background before he introduces himself. CJ is a GQ Insider, a Google Next Gen policy leader and a branding consultant that was recently named one of the top creative influencers to watch. Apart from those titles, CJ has one of the most impressive resumes I've ever seen. Ranging from music video producer to ad agency founder and I'm gonna let him dive a little bit more into it. But Welcome to the show, CJ.

CJ Johnson :

Hey, Elliot, James, thank you for having me. Appreciate it really glad to be here. Yeah, my name is CJ Johnson. All of those things that you just said I'm all those things. I would. I would like to add on there that I'm a dad. I'm a single dad of the six year old girl dad, the owner row Johnson call. I had to shout her out. She's my sidekick. And I'm gonna get a lot of trouble. Yeah. I have 15 plus years of experience in entertainment, and marketing, behind the scenes in front of the camera. Somehow it all transitioned into being an influencer, specializing in influencer marketing. And really, I guess if I could sum it up, since we're looking at this through the lens of an entrepreneur, I always wanted to be creatively inspirational to people. So I moved to Los Angeles originally to be entertainment. And it evolved because I live in West LA silicon beach. And there was this nice little sweet spot of nobody doing creative stuff for tech companies. So I slipped right in there, became my own boss and then created an agency out of that and I specialize in influencer marketing and creative content before there was even a thing of influencer marketing and creative calm. Yeah. So a lot of the growth marketing strategies that we use now when we incentivize Ambassador programs, promo discount smiles are part of that I was the on demand marketing guru. It was me and a lift guys, the Uber guys, CD guys, everybody, we would get together. Yeah. And it evolved after that. And it as it evolved, I became a leader in the space always wanted to be socially aware. And I became a Google Next Gen policy leader. A lot of people don't know what the hell that means. So real quick, what that means is basically Google put together team of all stars from all around the United States, policy, tech media, we're all people of color. And it's every shade of the rainbow. There's why people do but not a lot for the record, and we talk about what the future of work and technology and how that all plays a role in our communities, especially communities that don't have a lot of access. So that's what it is. And I'm part of the the media part of the team. So when it comes to policy stuff, I'm being taught policies, and then I'm endorsing policies. And also, if I want to write an op ed or do certain things, Google by the support of Google behind me, as a GQ Insider

James Knight :

To build up what CJ just said about that next gen team, I mean, the next gen team being on it is a huge deal. And some of the people on there are just like CJ brilliant and fantastic people. So yeah, so if you're not familiar with next gen, if you haven't heard it before, CJ told you about it right now, definitely check it out, because like you said, really at the forefront of a lot of media and policy and really just bringing some of the greatest minds together, across fields to kind of work on these problems together.

CJ Johnson :

Absolutely. And we have these quarterly summits and we all have like ongoing dialogue with each other. And sometimes it can be a huge headache to be honest with you because but but but but the cool thing is that for me as an entrepreneur, and just even as somebody that has access as an influencer, I'm able to kind of explain in a very simple way, why things happen the way they do bad and good. You know, when we're like, defend the police, if people are like, what you want to take money away from the police, and then there's somebody else, it's like, No, that's not what that means. Well, I'm the person that's like, behind the scenes, not only dealing with the building, right, and then also people that are trying to make these things actually happen and what they have to go through and fight through. And that's that in itself is very rewarding. As a GQ Insider... Sorry, go ahead.

Eliot Raymond :

No, no, please

James Knight :

No, no, please. Yeah, right.

CJ Johnson :

I was just pumped and ready to say something.

Eliot Raymond :

I was so excited to respond to that. But I want to get I want to hear what you've got to keep going.

CJ Johnson :

Put a pin in it Eliot.

Eliot Raymond :

That's what James is always telling me.

CJ Johnson :

Real quick... You can put pin in becoming a GQ insider that was really me taking it all the fashion lifestyle kind of like the cool aspects. I suppose that my lifestyle being a digital nomad, and yeah, all of that just sort of on the outside, it may look like a lot, but it's something that as an entrepreneur I was always building to. So it's actually like, Okay, great. I wanted access to politics and technology. I've already been talking about technology through the lens of a creative and a brand new consultant. And now as the GQ Insider, it's just awful circle. That's all. That's all it is, at the end of the day.

James Knight :

And you have a photo on your site for everyone to go check out this. I mean, it's like right below the fold where you could sell anything with that photo. You look so awesome...

CJ Johnson :

Oh thanks! Oh my god.

James Knight :

It's like you're like pure authority in that photo. I mean, like, whatever. Just attach that photo to any marketing campaign.

CJ Johnson :

James, first of all, James, thank you so much for saying that. We need to get some like some quotes and takeaways all over the internet. So my ex girlfriend can see that specifically for her.

Eliot Raymond :

So...

CJ Johnson :

We'll retarget the ads.

James Knight :

We'll have her on next episode and we'll really rub it in, how well you're doing?

CJ Johnson :

Perfect. She's my top referral for your next guest.

Eliot Raymond :

Okay, so there's a lot to break down there. Everything you just covered. That's fantastic intro and I'm so glad that you kind of brought up all these different things that you do, because you're one of those entrepreneurs from an outside lens, how I see it that gets to do a lot of cool stuff. And so again, not to break down there. But before we kind of dive into everything and go deep on some of those career transitions and the different things that you've done, I've want to first ask about what I've seen on your website. And when you first open the page, the first thing that you see is a quote that says Empowering emerging generations. And correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that may tie in is kind of like a through line to all the different things you do you just mentioned about your desire to make an impact. Can you tell me a little bit about what that means the line emerging, so empowering emerging generations and what that means to you?

CJ Johnson :

Absolutely. So at the end of the day, each and every one of us as a human being wants to leave a mark on this planet before we die. We want to live a life of purpose. Doesn't matter if it's this grand purpose or not. We just want to know that our life has some sort of meaning to it. The reason why I say that is because I feel like discovering what your purpose is, is one, hugely fundamental to like life's journey, but to it's something that people struggle with. And for me,

Eliot Raymond :

I'd argue, everyone...

CJ Johnson :

Everyone... I try to choose my words carefully because there's always some asshole out there. That's like, not me. Not me. Brother, maybe you!

James Knight :

there are some psychos out there who figured out coming out of them, they shut out of the womb, they shut off. And they were like dialed in, but like...

CJ Johnson :

I knew what my purpose was from jump brother, look at where I live.

James Knight :

I knew I wanted to work for Goldman Sachs as an investment banker. From the week I was born.

CJ Johnson :

I was seven years old in Kindergarten, like hey guys, what I'm gonna do when I grew up, will be the president of Goldman Sachs. Nobody has that conversation. Then I was six years old, I wanted to be Batman firmly for getting up on the stage on the stage of graduation. What do you want to do when you grow up? I want to be Batman and my parents really. So when I say that I understood, I didn't know what it meant. I just knew as a kid, I wanted to make people laugh, entertain them and inspire them. And as I grew up, I was firmly about I'm going to be in the entertainment industry. When I moved to Los Angeles. I moved to Los Angeles. I was in the entertainment industry, and I really didn't like it. Most disclosure, I love the process of creativity, but I do not like dealing with bullshit and fake people and narcissism and egos. It's just a lot. And unfortunately, that happens in politics and technology too. So I never was able to escape that trip. So in saying that, what I was understanding as things were evolving, and as I was having more and more conversations as a consultant, as a marketer, and as an influencer, I just kept getting asked more and more personal questions. And I realized I was like, you know, honestly, my purpose. It has nothing to do with me being an actor or writer, director or CEO, and the next Steve Jobs, it has everything to do with as long as I'm inspiring someone.

Eliot Raymond :

And that's one of the things that technology in a way is enabled and especially you being familiar with the entertainment industry, back in the day, you had 112 Movies 1210 polls that were released every year and those were marketed to address the widest audience they could. And now with technology, we have the ability to have all these different niches and they're not per se generations, but they're emerging like, I don't know what the word is sort of Use but yeah voices and all sorts of different groups out there that can find their niche instead of this one kind of narrative that's sold by Hollywood or sold by the media or whatever it might be. And I love that idea of helping find those emerging generations, not just Generation Z or millennials, but those different groups find their voice and propel them forward, move them forward. It's great.

CJ Johnson :

Eliot, I'm glad that you said that... real quick. It's one of the reasons why my resume reads the way that it does. And I've been able to wear so many hats. It isn't necessarily because I wanted to do that. It's because I was put in at a disadvantage, not having access in the beginning, not having access being black, and having to play by these traditional rules. And technology came out, right when I was graduating college. So here's a great example of what I'm talking about. Please. Yeah, when I was in college, I went to the Art Institute of California, Los Angeles. And all they kept saying was you need to learn digital video. Now, up until At that point, everybody shot on film. Everything in this industry was done on film. I would be going to the cinematographers Guild, they would make fun of digital video. Probably don't even, I've ever probably don't even remember this. But the people that were shooting a digital video was Robert Rodriguez. George Lucas. Michael Mann. That's it. Nobody wanted to hear this technology. Right. And they kept shoving it. They're doing more good with this. And now.

Eliot Raymond :

Yeah, I remember having an internship back in the day when somebody one of my mentors, if you will, said, Don't ever shoot a video vertically.

CJ Johnson :

Right?

Eliot Raymond :

That is such ridiculous stuff, literally said, that is a sin in terms of storytelling in the world of video. Cinema like that is yes. They scoffed at Oh, yeah, look at you know, I know for some of the internet consumption is that's not a correct stat, but everything is you know, vertical?

CJ Johnson :

Everything is vertical and when I get notes from different campaigns and working on it will be like, Hey, can you make sure that this shot vertically? And I have to explain that to my creative collaborators? So your point, we have to have that be a conversation.

Eliot Raymond :

The world is changing. But yeah, great note there. Really appreciate you adding that in.

James Knight :

I want to go back to something real quick that you said a little bit ago. Something you touched on real quick was you had all these different things you wanted to do. You wanted to inspire people, and you wanted to figure out how to monetize that. And you talked about this friction there is friction of Okay, well, I want to monetize this but at the same time, I don't want to be seen as maybe overly commercial. No one likes to sell things don't like to be salesy. And and that's something that I think a lot of people going back to your conversation of people who are trying to figure out what they're doing. A lot of people have things that they want to do for a living, but they don't want to make it this salesy. I'm gonna monetize it, I'm gonna milk it. When we say that we want to monetize something. It's not about Oh, how much money can I squeeze out of this interest of mine is Hey, how do I make a living doing this so that I can continue doing it and so that I can continue delivering As content to the people that are interested in it.

Unknown Speaker :

one of the most difficult things about that is that we live in a society, specifically Western culture, we really put a lot of emphasis on capitalism and earning and working hard, right? So nobody ever says, live your dreams. Like that narrative is actually out there because of social media, we get to see different people's lives and we get to hear that that message of like, live a purposeful life and find your business. Why would you want to be in a cubicle and there's nothing wrong with working nine to five. wrong with that. I don't know where that narrative came from. I know people that are literally like, fuck being an entrepreneur. I don't. Yeah, and they're fine. They're comfortable. But to your point, what I've learned through a lot of these experiences and a lot of these consultations and just work and life, is that it's very scary to step into the unknown period. It's very scary to step into the unknown or something that you actually are emotionally tied to and invested in. Yeah, even even worse, right? Because if you're doing Dream fails, it's right. And it's real. It's really shit. I really, really wanted to become a professional dancer, that's all I ever wanted to do was become a dancer, and then you and then you know, try to be a professional dancer and it doesn't work out. Oh my God, that's a nightmare, just the thought of that gives you a diet. So when I talk about creative inspiration, yeah, that can be anything. So that's that, right. And we do this a lot as entrepreneurs, we have these ideas, and then we have more ideas. And then it's like, oh, I could do this. And then I couldn't do this. And then we want to, like prove something to ourselves and other people that were very smart. And then we can make a lot of money doing something. So we end up getting stuck, we end up getting stuck. We're in a way. And what I try to guide people to what I try to share with my own stories is that getting unstuck is very simple. And that's taking one step at a time. And what we do is we always look at the finished product, but we never really talked about the journey. That was always something that was very unsettling for me was that we talked about the beginning. Oh, it's gonna be tough. The road is the To be long, it's going to be hard. And then but don't worry, the end, you're going to get blah, blah, blah, blah. We never talked about the process and what that looks like. And the process is very up and down. It comes in waves. There's really high highs, there's low lows, you make a ton of mistakes, you fail at a lot of shit. So you get to see Oh, wow, he said all these amazing things. Dude, I've been doing this since I was like 18 years old, like trying to crush it with internships and working side jobs and like trying to manage school, then I have a child. How do I manage this with a child? What do I do with her? Okay, now COVID-19 hits, okay. I gotta figure out how to like keep adapting, and adapting to make sure that my dreams are coming true. So taking that one step, and being authentic, which we throw that word around so much. I hate it now because now people really don't. They know what it means, but they don't know how to put it into practice. So what that means is this, we talked about monetizing your dream. show people What you want it to show them? period, and then they will tell you if they like it or not. If they don't like it, try something new. If they do like it keep doing more of that is very simple. And then all of these things come into place, money, access, your ability to pivot into different things, if I dream in the beginning, was to be in front of the camera. Now I'm in front of the camera now, like that's literally most of my life. Is it as an actor? No. Am I on a TV show? Or a Netflix show? No. I'm here and I'm having the conversations I want to have right with the people that I want to have it with. This is what I want.

James Knight :

Yeah, we talk a lot about a hundreds of ways as the name of the podcast is as opportunity. But but sometimes hundreds of ways is also frightening. It's okay, well now I've got 100 of these. What the hell am I going to do tomorrow? But like CJ said, it's not about arriving. It's not about the destination. It really is about Taking these steps day after day, and recognizing when you're on your own, there is no arrival, it's always going to be something new. When you're gonna have a kid, you're gonna have to deal with Black Lives Matter, these things are just going to come up day after day. And you just got to keep moving.

Eliot Raymond :

And I think on that note of process, I'm really curious to hear what some of your strategies are for keeping that Northstar, whatever that goal is that you're moving toward when you are because on those highs of highs, it's great life is easy. You're living large, whatever it might be, but then all of a sudden, the low of low comes through and you you've got to keep figuring out how you're going to climb out of that trough. What for you is that Northstar that keeps you moving that keeps you heading in the right direction knowing that you're going to get out of that. And there's going to be another side that you're that you'll see.

CJ Johnson :

That's a really great question for me sometimes the Northstar changes, and I think that's something that you have to keep that in the back of your mind as somebody that's trying to adapt and live a purposeful life and live your dream and really be a high performer is that you have I understand that like, sometimes what inspires you will change because you're changing, you're changing every moment, you're growing every moment of the day. So this is what I make sure that I do, I make sure that I have a routine. And sometimes in a, in a life full of chaos. I just make sure that no matter what, it doesn't matter what part of the day I have at least a block of time, usually an hour or 20 minutes, whatever your life may be. I'm applying this method to any walk of life. And you make sure that you have at least 15 to 20 minutes of reflection. And that can mean anything you want it to mean. That can mean you just sitting in a room staring at a wall that can be journaling, that can you reviewing what's working, what's not working. And another component of that is asking questions, always asking questions. How do I feel? Is this working? Is this not working? Am I feeling stress? What Am I feeling stressed about getting that in front of you? So you're able to come up with a game plan of moving forward? 2020 was probably we talked about, like an example of pivot and things are going right. Well, look, I'm a keynote speaker. I'm a digital nomad. And my entire year is mapped out, everything is mapped out, and then within a week, it's all gone. Right projects where people owed me money, all of a sudden, they can't pay me or they pay me late. My daughter who she has a nice rhythm schedule, all of a sudden she has to be home. My ex wife who is completely anti social media, completely anti technology. Now she hasn't worked from home. I had so many different dynamics that I never would have been able to prepare myself for, except for the fact that I have that routine of consistency. And what I always like to tell myself is my North Star, I am an immovable object and I'm an unstoppable force, Bring it on, baby. Let's go bring it on. What do you got? What do you got? Oh, no money going in. Cool. I'm gonna figure something out because I wouldn't eat on my experience. I'm gonna lean on my imagination. I'm gonna lean on that hour of time that I had to like, Okay, cool. Let me figure this out for two seconds and show the world how smart I am. And then guess what happens? Things are starting to work out everything starting to come in play, and then boom, Black Lives Matter happens. And that was like it even weirder pivot because then all of a sudden, all of these insecurities that I have, as a black man are put out for the entire world to see. And people are actually choosing sides, like people are trying to like, sure, maybe I don't give a shit if you matter, and I'm kind of like I don't even know I had to have this conversation.

Eliot Raymond :

Right, right.

James Knight :

And then on the other hand, there's probably expectations that you keep being an influencer. And...

CJ Johnson :

Yes, yes, yes.

James Knight :

What are you gonna say about it? Yeah, we're waiting for your

Eliot Raymond :

Your thought leadership.

CJ Johnson :

All of that all of that. And by the way, that was also happening when COVID-19 hit because they're, again, empowering, emerging generation. So people were like, I got to hear from you. I got to know what you what you feel about things. And it was really tough to have these conversations and to be thoughtful about it. Also, keeping in mind that I'm an influencer. So I'm doing all these paid campaigns. tone deaf, I'm I can't do this. So hearing I'm having to turn down projects. So I'm turning out money that ad, you have to do that. I feel like those are the opportunities for you to show the best version of you, like obstacles and challenges define you. And this is one thing that I will say to you that I've been saying everybody and I hope anybody that hears this takes this on an experience like COVID-19 experience like Black Lives Matter or social issues where people really confronting you on the narrative of your life's journey. That's the time where your character shines. This is the opportunity for people to learn who you are. It is not when things are going well. In fact, when things are going well, you're usually bored and you want something else is usually when those challenges hit, that we find out who we really are. And that's the best part of this. That's the North Star the North Star is is being your best version. and understanding that these challenges will never go away. I always tell everybody is, again, a movable object, unstoppable force, but something else to keep in mind. We're actually at the beginning stages of a lot of things were the beginning stages of social movements were the beginning stages of COVID-19. We're at the beginning stages of people being like, oh, wow, I can be a digital nomad I can work from we're at the beginning stages of all of even technology, ai machine learning, we're in the beginning stages of it, which usually means what if we're talking about transformation and change, pain, pain, fear, insecurity, a lot of troubleshooting in the beginning and don't miss out a lot. notes. And the problem that we live in now is that we live in a culture of instant gratification. So we don't get that answer gratification, something must be wrong. And that's not true. Like, it's like almost like we forgot the process of being a human being.

James Knight :

Yeah.

Eliot Raymond :

And I think that's such a good note. And a really interesting segue to something you just mentioned is that where you live in an always on culture, everything is right at your fingertips. And not only that, but you're always supposed to be dialed in, whether it's for work, whether it's for entertainment, whatever it is, you're know about having a routine where you take some time for reflection, I think is so valuable, and especially for an entrepreneur who, as in my personal experience, you're always on, you're the last line of defense. So you're the person who people are always going to and so you never know when that next fire is going to pop up. So having that routine where you can take time, even away from social media away from texting, whatever it might be in this always on world to sit down and reflect what's working, what's not what needs to change, or just be quiet and tune all that out. But I think it's such a valuable and important note there. So thanks for bringing that up.

James Knight :

Something to keep in mind though is that when you're young and you're single, these routines can be easy to establish but but when life starts to get a little more complicated Look, when you have kids, everything changes.

CJ Johnson :

It changes. And you know, it's funny to say that because to your boy, James, is how you respond to things. It's how you respond, because life's always gonna throw shit at you. And being a parent is very strange to your boy, I usually wake up earlier than my daughter. And for whatever fucking reason, she decides to wake up the same exact time that I do. So I didn't get that time to myself. And I remember being like, a little bit frustrated with her because I'm like, you know, this is dad's time. And I was like, You know what, this is actually like a really cool moment for me to explain to her, Hey, you know what, dad's always going to need a little bit of time to himself in the morning. So he can do X, Y, and Z and this is your time also to do X, Y, and Z. And this is why we do that. And she's a kid so she can easily be like, whatever. But she was like, got it. I'm like, Listen, if that doesn't get that time, that's gonna be grumpy, and it has rugby, we're not gonna able to do all the things that you want to do, because they're just not gonna be in the mood to do it. And I'm gonna be tired and exhausted, I'm gonna be having to work bla bla bla, and she gets it. And she's also used to that, like, being an entrepreneur as well. She's had access to board meetings and laptops and all sorts of crazy stuff.

James Knight :

So I'd love to dive deeper into that, because you're the first guest we've had on I have two kids. And other than me, I don't know, anyone on the microphone who has children as well. So I would love to hear the challenges you've experienced being a father and how that affects your work life.

CJ Johnson :

Yeah, I would say that the traveling aspect of things is probably the most complicated because I have to like plan that out like a bear. Yeah. And it's really interesting because I have joint custody, so I have her 50% of the time, so 50% of the time. That's usually what I've got like, I don't have her on got like charting, I'm able to like, hey, and it can get confusing sometimes. Because then when I'm talking to her, her mom's like, we're in the world. Are you a business anyway? But I'm like I'm in Mexico. Yeah, I forgot your damn business but so, so I make sure that when she's out with me, I'm able to really fulfill really go hard, go hard, professionally, go hard personally, and really just like, have that time to myself. And when she's with me, I really make sure that she gets the best of dad. Like she gets dad time. She gets access, lead by example, like she is my assistant, she is my Padawan. She is my mentee, I have to make sure that I'm setting a great example for her to see what a man looks like a strong, educated, smart, successful man, also that she has a loving father. The challenges with that? This is just from my perspective, the challenges that I see is that the preconceived stereotypes types are notions that come with being a parent. So in a lot of business transactions, they might assume that I won't have enough time, they might assume that I'm not as hungry or available. It's quite the opposite. Because when you're a parent, you actually understand responsibility and leadership, like that, and patience, and you're always in trouble. So, so I'm constantly having to troubleshoot. So I always try to take lessons and apply different skill sets to different things that I'm doing. So I'm understanding that as a parent, okay, great. I'm understanding lessons and responsibility. I'm understanding lessons and patience. I'm understanding lessons even even how to explain things in a much more simple context. Because, you know, I'm talking to a six year old and she's like, What does blacklivesmatter mean? I have explained that to her where it makes sense. And then I'm understanding Oh, wow, there's a whole group of people out there that actually don't really understand what this means.

James Knight :

And then you go on Instagram and you realize that your six year old is actually more mature about the subject than them.

CJ Johnson :

Correct.

James Knight :

A lot of the people that are out there.

CJ Johnson :

Yeah, and a lot of other people and as a consultant, and as a speaker, and as a content creator, it gives me the opportunity to be like, okay, cool, I can simplify the language, I have to simplify the language. And then storytelling becomes an even bigger deal for me, because then I understand. Got it. Like if she can get it, that I can explain it to you in a way where you're going to get it even faster than she's going to. So I don't have to have these complex dialogues. It's probably one of the awesome skill sets that I have is that people are like, Oh, the way you're explaining it, I get it. Like, I thought it was way more complicated than that.

Eliot Raymond :

I think that's such a beautiful way to explain it. Because if you can have a five or six year old understand it, like bringing it down to that level, not down but just simplifying it to that level is really one of the best ways to communicate from your perspective as a thought leader, and being able to get that message out in a way that everyone can understand it. It's a great way to absolutely put it CJ you and I just got connected to suffering. conversation we've had. And I can already tell you have so much depth in different areas, I think we could literally be talking on here for three or four hours on this podcast. If not, longer.

CJ Johnson :

God willing, Eliot, God willing.

Eliot Raymond :

There's just so much that we could go into here. One of my hopes is that you say you do some mentoring work, especially with entrepreneurs, and some of our listeners, if it would be appropriate are able to reach out and get in touch with you, if that would be an opportunity just to ask questions and whatnot. One of the things that we really try to focus on here some of the tangible ways that people can see, everyone has a different path, everyone has a different journey to get to where they were. And we had a guest on recently who gave a good kind of perspective and that looking backward, everything makes sense of how I went from point A to point B. And that because I did this, it led me there and because I met this person, it led me there. But when you're in that space of not knowing what's next, especially with all this uncertainty in the world right now, it can be really confusing to see what door what path you're going to next. So I'm curious if we can rewind For a second and look back in that way and see kind of where you got started, and then kind of what your progression was in your career to get to where you are today. Can you walk us through that a little bit and tell us what that looks like and what some of those positions were.

CJ Johnson :

I've had a very beautiful journey. There were three circumstances that I guess for me, I could tie so much of like, what my life is like now from those three titles. The first was I was in intern at MTV Networks and series development. So that meant...

Eliot Raymond :

In Santa Monica?

CJ Johnson :

In Santa Monica, you know, boy!

Eliot Raymond :

I was intern at MTV in Santa Monica Really? Get out? When, what year? When? When? Back, I think, 2000... It was like early 2010.

CJ Johnson :

Okay, you're in 2010. I was in 2004. So I guess six years on you. But Elliott, you see what I'm saying? That's why I'm saying you all connected baby. You didn't see that coming. Did you?

Eliot Raymond :

I even did the research on your LinkedIn profile and...

CJ Johnson :

Do you know, such and such? Ah they probably don't work anymore. But...

Eliot Raymond :

Does MTV still exist?

CJ Johnson :

Does MTV still exist...

Eliot Raymond :

You were there at their height... You were there at there.

CJ Johnson :

So Eliot, I'm glad that you say that because because you probably know the difference then when I was there, too, when you were there, so I was there when reality TV was booming, so newlyweds the Osborne's real world. I was actually one of people that got Road Rules canceled, if you remember that shit. I was like nobody fucking watches Road Rules. They're like, what about Real World Road Rules challenge? Thumbs up. We love that shit. But nobody watches vocals.

James Knight :

CJ, why isn't that on your website? That should be like the top thing. "I got Road Rules canceled."

Eliot Raymond :

I cancelled Road Rules.

James Knight :

"No one fucking watches Road Rules."

CJ Johnson :

There's no there's, there's tons of dark seedy things out there that I've been a part of. The reason why I think that series was so awesome is that you know, he knows this, you're around all these executives. So I got to learn everything about like what you shouldn't say in a boardroom meeting when you shouldn't say in a pitch meeting story there. There's always there's always a fucking story. There's always a story. I say, you know, and there's all these like cool lessons learned because I just around all of this thing like what office politics look like at the highest level, and got to see that like, you know, we're not worried about this because we're this big machine and we have a whole legal department so we don't even cutting corners. How like big corporations can take your ideas how Viacom is a parent company of MTV, so people don't even know that like, MTV is related to b t is related to the h1 Nickelodeon. Like this isn't common knowledge and understanding. Oh, wow, the ecosystem works this way. And then also, I was A video editor at Mattel toys for five years. And that was another awesome learning lesson. Because while I was there, I was able to use all of these resources to my advantage to continue my path of being an independent filmmaker and being a creative. You have like a top of the line professional editing Bay, and voiceover sweetens and all that stuff. It's literally like cool, guys. We're just gonna shoot this come here, knock it out.

Eliot Raymond :

There's so much I want to respond to. Something that just really stood out to me is your traditional foundation that you have. And now you're in the startup world and you really eloquently segwayed how you grew from MTV and Mattel and these more traditional companies into what you're doing now. And you're still involved, I mean, on your website, talking about advising these fortune 50 companies. So having that foundation, I think is so relevant to your entrepreneurial path because you know, how to speak the language and how to communicate. But with that said, I mean back in '05, five top show was probably American Idol, right? And you know, that was bringing in 20 30 million views a week 30 million households. And now your social reach is at what 10 million people I think is what I read. And so how times have changed and seeing 15 years, you can go from having all of this, like, all of these gatekeepers that are holding keys to getting those 25 30 million views to your friends in the influencer world who are now racking up 10s of millions of followers and easily monetizing these channels that 10 years ago wasn't even possible. I'm super curious also, because one of the words you use to describe yourself as a futurist, what in your opinion is next, not only for you in your career, but what's next for the industry.

CJ Johnson :

So what's next for my career right now as I'm writing a book, and as a future is like, Oh shit, I'm so excited. write a book because, one, I love literature and I want somebody to have something to hold on to. But I'm more excited about doing an audio book because I know that people will listen to an audio book more than they will the book. And it just so happens that your man is an amazing speaker. I like to say that with grace with Grayson and respectability here, maybe I know my strengths. Also, I'm a visual storyteller. So one thing that's sneakily happening right now is that now podcasts are being filmed, you're gonna start seeing that with Joe Rogan. So essentially, you know, you're gonna have these podcasts that were whatsoever an audio situation, now they're gonna be a visual situation and an audio situation. So if you're able to get on top of that, and also somehow segue that into like a book, oh, my god,

Eliot Raymond :

You're telling us that midway through the podcast that we should have been recording this Why did you not to drop that knowledge up front?

CJ Johnson :

I mean, I'm all dressed up in my Henley,

James Knight :

CJ's future advice for the podcast is that we're doing the podcast wrong, everybody.

CJ Johnson :

Get on it. It's the next step. It's the next step, the next step is that entertainment is going to explode. content was always King, but now that a fight for your attention, so all the things that you're seeing that we're talking about now is going to be even bigger. There's a lot of human rights stuff that's going on around the world, a lot of social issues. economical issues are becoming a bigger deal, because a lot of the wealthy elite have gotten wealthier through this process, and the middle class is disappearing even more, and the poor are very poor. Now they're living off of stimulus packages, and unemployment. So in saying that, be mindful of that. Be mindful of digital nomads. That whole work from home is here to stay, at least for the time being me. I think people want this to be over with as soon as possible. But...

James Knight :

I mean Google just announced that they're not going to be having people like the office through summer of next summer. So we're now 12 months out from Google getting back to the office. And so that's 200,000 employees worldwide just at Google.

CJ Johnson :

Absolutely. So and as soon as they say that, what did you see the entertainment industry do every movie tentpole city, they're literally pushed it back. That's all you got to do to know where this is going. That's all you need to do is know where this is going. So be very smart about it. Everybody. Don't get scared. Don't get uneasy, don't get frustrated. Just understand. Okay, great. So what does that mean? That means that now you're going to have to be doing more things from home. So yes, if you're doing stuff like this dress up your home or move in or just No, no, honestly just in your investing now in your home and in your space. Absolutely...

Eliot Raymond :

James just pointed out his makeshift podcast studio.

CJ Johnson :

It's beautiful. And by the way, James, you're not the first I've seen that has done that sheet. I have a...

James Knight :

I have a beautiful paisley duvet cover hanging up on a whiteboard behind me. So that's what CJ's talking about. When he's talking about brushing up your living space. He was talking about what I'm doing.

CJ Johnson :

I have one friend who put up a sheet and then he wrote a book. So he has his books conveniently positioned behind him. I'm like, Damn, you just like the hard sale. 24 seven.

James Knight :

I love that you have your masks visible in the corner like it's super drives home the timeliness of this is that you've got two your two surgical masks hanging off of this wooden board in the corner. It's perfect. I gotta screenshot this.

CJ Johnson :

You got plants, you got the face masks, you got books, you got weights, you gotta dry erase board.

Eliot Raymond :

It's all within reach.

CJ Johnson :

You know, we gotta, we gotta we gotta let people know.

Eliot Raymond :

Exactly. I think one of the biggest things I'm seeing it's like the opportunity... not to be opportunistic about the terrible things that are happening... but for storytellers for thought leaders for marketers, brands. There's this captive audience right now. In America, in a world of people who are sitting at home, they're scared of fire. They're bored. They don't know what to do. There are no movies coming out, there's no TV, there's no sports. And that attention is ripe for the taking. And those communicate the messages that can communicate the stories that can engage that audience. There's massive upside there, again, without being optimistic, but there's so much opportunity there.

CJ Johnson :

Yeah, if you're a boy, I think what's something that we also need to be very mindful of? Is it like we talked about breaks, right and balance. Now you just have the opportunity to be more in touch with nature and explore your local community more. It isn't as bad as it was a few months ago. I'm just saying that the potential for this to continue and for chaos to happen just because of what's going on in the world. You need to be very mindful of that. I think that people really have to understand that this is an opportunity. Like you said Elliott like this is an opportunity to shine this is an opportunity to be your best version. This is your opportunity to save, invest, market yourself...

Eliot Raymond :

And not just to become a comedic, Tiktok influencer, not that there's anything wrong with that, but to bring some real value to people who need it now because there are communication channels to bring those stories and those, you know, we see so much negative news and we see who is it that just started the Good News Network. It's killing me that uh, oh, john Krasinski. Yeah, yeah, there's so much opportunity. I think Viacom bought that. And now they're turning it into an actual show.

CJ Johnson :

They did, yeah. And I Oh, by the way, you're gonna see more of that you're gonna see a list celebrities do more of that. And you're gonna see a lot of filmmakers, which is already a new trend. They're going to start doing home viewing stuff of their old TV shows and movies, you're gonna see more of that.

Eliot Raymond :

So CJ, I gotta say this has been one of the most enjoyable episodes I've been able to record yet. Just learning about the nuanced different stages of your career and how you progressed from place to place and some of the stories you've shared have been really influential just on my own entrepreneurial journey. I'm curious what sort of media inspired you or impacted you along that path that you think would be valuable to some of our listeners, whether that's books, movies, TV shows, whatever it may be?

CJ Johnson :

Surely, I would recommend, first of all, that you really take the time to watch documentaries, listen to podcasts, and read books that are much more biographical in nature. I found that just learning about leaders that are not necessarily in similar spaces, you just have like lifestyles, and careers that you aspire to be like, are very awesome to learn about. I think one of the most interesting stories that I learned about was Warren Buffett, I did not know a lot about Warren Buffett. And I challenge you if you don't know a lot about Warren Buffett to know why he's philanthropic in the first place is one of the most beautiful stories of love and romance that I've ever heard. And as far as As your daily intake, always be mindful of what you take in. I go to Twitter for my breaking trending news, Twitter, and I make sure to turn off there's a toggle in the settings to turn it off so it's not tailored just for you. So you're going to see what the world is actually talking about. So you see different perspectives. And don't spend too much time on there like maybe like 10 minutes, maybe 10 to 15 minutes of your day against a lot of time. Also, I would recommend listening to listening and watching morning brew, great email newsletters, they send out daily email newsletters, about entrepreneurial things stocks business great I love morning brew. Robinhood snacks, amazing monitor my favorite amazing blog. I love the guys there. I know the team. They're amazing Jane awesome. I love them. The whole Robin Hood organization is actually really cool guys. blabbity blabbity is is a great way for Thank you. It's a great way for you to understand what's going on in people of color sector. thing is social media, right? Because I know that's a part of our lives. If you're following different people on social media, I challenge you to try to follow thought leaders from different industries. And make sure that you're following brands that are popular brands from different industries as well. Like for example, I follow Kate appt in New York. I do not shop at Kate up. I do know that Kate Upton is considered one of the best brands on Instagram, and they're usually the go to brand. When people are talking about who doesn't write on Instagram as a company. People usually mentioned Kate Spade. So again, I have nothing to do with that. You want to make sure that you're well rounded, and you're able to see access of different avenues of success. We talked about tunnel vision because we already have it anyway. We're already in a bubble. Make sure that bubble consists of success and inspiration and positivity. One book I would recommend is the one thing, that one thing. It's an amazing book that talks a lot about minimalism and simplifying your lifestyle and what incremental steps look like. So again, everyone, remember that this is about growth. This is not about goal, we want to shift that whole terminology. And real quick just to back it up with the Instagram who you follow. Just remember all you have to do if you're not quite sure how to find different industries and different people, all you got to do is go to the profile, click on the upside down triangle, and all the profiles that are recommended. Those are usually what the algorithm Instagram algorithm says these are similar accounts. So that's how you're able to find maybe like, I probably say three or four different people from different industries. So for me, for example, I follow barstool sports. I'm probably not their demographic, but I but I'm interested in what they have to say I'm interested in that audience. And I follow Dave, the co founder of barstool sports. Again, not much demographic, but it's very good, that you're well rounded and the information that you take in so you, so you actually just know the different conversations that are happening. So when you're a business mind, you're able to make more grounded, well informed decisions. And on a personal tip, same thing, right? When I say fully awake, when I say empowerment, I say, choices, possibilities and understanding of everything that's going on. And you're being conscious of it. And you're willingly saying, Okay, I have given myself in a bubble. I'm gonna put myself in a bubble of success.

Eliot Raymond :

Juxtaposing that against an hour a day or 15 minutes a day to reflect on all of that and not have it all.

James Knight :

Something CJ said earlier on, we were talking about media and listen to podcasts, read books, we're gonna watch different television shows, watch documentaries, all of that. Something that he said was that there's no right answer here. But I think that there's a caveat there that you've just described, which is there's no Right answer in the meteor consuming as long as you're being critical about what benefit that media has to you. So if watching some stupid show on Netflix is the best way for you to relax at the end of the day, absolutely watch that show. But if social media if your Instagram feed is doing nothing but filling your head with imposter syndrome, and with FOMO, then get rid of it. Absolutely. So there's no right. There's no right answer. There's no wrong answer when it comes to consuming media. Other than that, it's actually giving you the value that you need and that it's providing you with something valuable. Absolutely ways

Eliot Raymond :

I could have said it better. I want to make one really quick. last note is I loved your heart of the Twitter function. I think for listeners who aren't familiar with algorithms and whatnot, Twitter can really easily drive you down a path where you're just seeing the same thing over and over again, and note about turning that functionality off. So you're seeing kind of a breadth of different opinions and views instead of just being served the same thing over and over in the same perspective can be a great way to come. Get out of that echo chamber and see a variety of perspectives. So great note there.

CJ Johnson :

Absolutely. And I would just like to leave your followers with this. First of all, amazing conversation. Thank you so much for having me on Jameson. Great to talk with you guys. Hundreds of ways, hundreds of ways everyone hundreds of ways of victory, hundreds of ways of opportunities. Let me just point this out to you for each and every one of you that may feel overwhelmed, anxious, really just pop and I just want to spend a little bit more. I want you to always remember something whenever. Let's just use science to our advantage here for a moment. There are 365 days in a year that's 365 opportunities for you to find success. That means there's also time for you to fail. That means there's also time for you to think about things that means there's all stuff for you to take a break 365 opportunities to live your best life, the average person makes 35,000 choices per hour. 35,000 choices, which means there's an infinite number of possibilities for you to reach the goals that you want to reach. I want you to always remember that and take that with you with everything that you do in life.

James Knight :

CJ, that was a fantastic way to end it. Thank you so much again for coming on. For anyone who's listening and wants to learn more about CJ, maybe get a hold of them. You can visit them on a site at cjjohnsonjr.com, we'll have that in the liner notes as well as find him on Instagram. You could always send him a DM on Instagram @cjjohnsonjr. CJ again one more time. I know. I've said it like 15 times already. But thank you so much for coming on. This was so much fun, and hopefully we can have you on again sometime.

CJ Johnson :

Absolutely, guys. Thank you so much for having me.

James Knight :

Next week we're joined by independent startup business consultant Julia Xu who shares how she made the transition from the corporate life at companies like McKinsey and Disney to working with over 30 startups in her first year as an independent consultant. Until then stay safe as you walk whichever of the Hundreds of Ways belongs to you.

What CJ Does - Google NextGen
What CJ Does - GQ Insider
Empowering Emerging Generations
What Do You Want to be When You Grow Up?
How Technology Has Changed Entertainment
Monetizing Your Life
Hundreds of Ways to Live, Hundreds of Ways to Decide
Staying Focused in 2020
The Power of Routine
Parenting and Entrepreneurship
Explain Like I'm 5
CJ's Path to Entrepreneurship
Working at MTV
The Power of Social Media
What's Next for CJ
Opportunity in Times of Crisis
CJ's Media Recommendations
Consuming Valuable Content
Hundreds of Ways of Victory, Hundreds of Ways of Opportunity
Next Week on Hundreds of Ways