Season 1
44 Minutes

Ep. 30 | Paul Zelizer | How I Became a Mindful Social Activist

Paul Zelizer, 53, is one of the first global business coaches to focus on the needs of conscious entrepreneurs and social impact businesses. He is the former Director of Social Media for Wisdom 2.0, one of the premier mindfulness brands in the world.

In 2017, Paul founded the Awarepreneurs community when he saw the need for more honest conversations about combining conscious business practices with the dynamism of the social impact movement. Paul is also host of the popular Awarepreneurs Podcast. 


To help make this podcast more accessible to those who are hearing impaired or those who like to read rather than listen to podcasts, here are our show notes.

These show notes come via the service. The transcription is imperfect. But hopefully, it’s close enough – even with the errors – to give those who aren’t able or inclined to learn from audio interviews a way to participate.

Paul Zelizer  00:00

I wound up in a little town in Dixon, New Mexico was about 2,000 people in the whole valley right across a horse pasture for me was a guy named Soren Gord Hammer. Who now the world knows is the founder of Wisdom 2.0. I had done all this stuff with my mindfulness background trying to help the community around reducing domestic violence and ending intergenerational violence, substance abuse patterns. Sarna started program for incarcerated teens teaching meditation and yoga. His marriage fell apart. My marriage fell apart, he needed to reinvent himself. I needed to reinvent myself. He started us in 2.0. I started a coaching business we were hanging out.

Achim Nowak  00:45

Hey, this is Achim Nowak, executive coach and host of the MY FOURTH ACT podcast. If life is a five act play, how will you spend your fourthact? I have conversations with exceptional humans who have created bold and unexpected fourth acts. Listen, and to be inspired. And please rate us and subscribe on whatever platform you’re listening on. Let’s get started.  I am so happy to welcome Paul Zelizer to the My fourth act podcast. Paul is one of the first business coaches to focus on the needs of conscious entrepreneurs, and social impact businesses. He is the former director of social media for wisdom 2.01 of the premier mindfulness brands in the world. In 2017, he founded aware printers because he saw the need for more honest conversations about combining conscious business practices with the dynamism of the social impact movement. He hosts these conversations in his aware printers community, on and on his very popular aware printers podcast. Welcome, Paul.

Paul Zelizer  01:58

Thanks so much for having me, Achim, it’s such an honor to be here.

Achim Nowak  02:01

It’s great to be with you. Part of what we’re going to talk today is about is how we get to where we are and where we go from where we go. And one thing that struck me as I was reading the introduction, a lot of the things that you’re doing now, Paul, they didn’t even exist in the world when you were growing up. So you, you somehow found your way into this. So if I may go back to your childhood for a moment before any of this was in our consciousness? Who did you think you want it to be when you grew up when you were a boy?

Paul Zelizer  02:33

That’s a great question. Again. There are layers to that. But I think it’s pretty hilarious. When you look at what I do. My mom was self employed therapist, she moved back to school when I was 11 years old. And my dad was an accountant, functionally a CFO, although he didn’t have that title at the time. My mom was having way more fun than my dad. He she was working for herself and doing deep work. In many ways. I’m a second generation conscious entrepreneur, although we didn’t have that vocabulary for it back then. I took notice and now it’s hilarious that, you know, I originally got trained as a psychotherapist came into the coaching world, and now we’re in the business world. So in some ways, I kind of borrowed from both of them and made my own, but definitely started more in the realm with my mom got to create her own path for her career. And was having much more fun than most of the adults in my life whom were there was an upper middle class Westchester County, growing up experience. Most of them had a lot of things and seemed very miserable. And I didn’t know.

Achim Nowak  03:53

Were you conscious, even as a boy of the fact that your mom was having more fun? Or is this something you see in hindsight, or no, I

Paul Zelizer  04:02

totally could tell. I mean, I didn’t have all the vocabulary. But she was making up work she did, developing your intuition. And she got into actually doing some training for IBM world headquarters is not far from where I grew up. So for IBM and other companies on dealing with difficult people and stress management and she was having a blast, and it was literally my very first job was making my mom made self hypnosis cassette tapes. I’m dating myself or her clients, you know, using hypnosis to stop smoking or dealing with stress or to sleep better, does my first job I think I got 25% or 25 cents per cassette tape, and we’d go over and flip it over halfway through and then put on the label. It was literally my first job and just talking to her about what she was doing. I had some sense because I literally worked for her in the small way about what she was doing and what her new courses were on which tapes we needed to make and what labels we need to stick on envelopes etc.

Achim Nowak  05:01

What a cool mom to have. I’m just one last question about your mother is. I get that you thought she was doing cool stuff it. Did other people around you did your friends. Did they all think you had a cool mom? Or did they think your mom was a little weird.

Paul Zelizer  05:17

She was definitely out of the box mostly walked in to world, we would say here in New Mexico, in for much of my time growing up in my middle school and high school years. So I was co captain in my junior high school football and lacrosse teams to help people that your mom is doing healing the inner child work when you’re the captain of the football cap on the football team. So yeah, I was paying attention. And I was actually reading some of her psychology books when I was like 12 years old, her spiritual books. I was stepping into the mainstream world of masculinity in America, football and lacrosse and context sports and working out in the gym and go to parties on the weekend. So wasn’t an easy dance that I was doing in early teen and later teen years. Yeah.

Achim Nowak  06:09

You mentioned that you study to be a psychotherapist. And I want to make a little leap to something I mentioned introduction, which is social media director for wisdom 2.0. And I’m going to ask like a silly question. But how does a trained psychotherapist become the social media director for wisdom 2.0, which is an amazing event. Tell us the story of how that came about. Because it’s not an obvious leap.

Paul Zelizer  06:36

My life is not linear. If you’re looking for linear paths, I am not going to some other podcast listeners. So the short story is divergent paths that we were mentioning earlier, my teen years got more and more divergent. And I got into some trouble with drugs and alcohol and later High School. Not in common. But that was my story in a very wise woman said to me, look, Paul, here’s the deal. After a particularly bad night, where I did some things that I was really embarrassed about, we sat down and talked. And she said, here’s the deal, you are wired for poignant experiences. And this goes one of two ways. You either live a life full of a lot of drama, and conflict, and probably addiction, and probably die on where there are these things that are called awareness practices, which will help you live a good life kind of be of service to other people and realize what your values are and bring them into the world. I don’t really care. There’s a lot of different kinds of them, but I hope you choose that path. She wasn’t trying to recruit me for her guru or her latest like, program. She didn’t want me to do anything other than to understand my own nervous system. It was genius. And I heard her and it’s 17 and a half or whatever I was I started learning about meditation and spirituality and one thing led to another and eventually I wound up Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We were 12 miles down the road from a guy named john Kabat Zinn. Many people will know in this podcast divorce, considered the grandfather of the modern mindfulness movement, or one of the grandparents, whatever you call him. He was very influential in that program. Many of my professors were his earliest students, and it was a program steeped in awareness based human change. Fast forward however many years 12 or 13 years, no more 15 years. I wound up at a little town in Dixon, New Mexico, was about 2,000 people in the whole valley right across a horse pasture for me was a guy named Soren Gord hammer, who now the world knows is the founder of wisdom 2.0. I had done all this stuff with my mindfulness background, trying to help the community around reducing domestic violence and ending intergenerational violence, substance abuse pattern sarnat started program for incarcerated teens teaching meditation and yoga. His marriage fell apart, my marriage fell apart, he needed to reinvent himself, I needed to reinvent myself. He started as in 2.0, I started a coaching business we were hanging out, we got online at a time where these conversations were, there was very many fewer, shall we say, available conversations and leaders around this and we just happened and we got on Twitter in 2008 when there wasn’t much conscious business conversation that was easily accessible. And suddenly we were getting invited to Google to learn about Search Inside Yourself before that was something they were talking about publicly and Zappos talking about positive psychology and business etc, etc. So we were just I was in the right place at the right time. That’s the honest answer team. It was not through genius in my own it was synchronicity.

Achim Nowak  09:57

Excuse me, that out obviously, that’s the nice part about it. I want to test an idea with you because of the story of who you how you and Soren met. In this small town, the synchronicity of what happened and how you found each other is really interesting. And I believe that these opportunities for synchronicity happened to all of us all the time. And we often just don’t. Don’t notice. And you two noticed, you want to talk a little bit about the how you noticed each other and how you came together. And because me, it’s a story that’s possible for many of us, even if we’re not in a small town in New Mexico.

Paul Zelizer  10:36

Absolutely. I can remember the day one of my neighbors bought, we lived on this little farm that we bought with some friends. He came home one day, and I just met this guy, the local library. My daughter was then about three. And Soren son was born. Turns out talking about synchronicity on the same day as my daughter to heart. He said, I just met this great guy at the library, and he’s going to start coming to this little parent run the kids education thing, kids camp that we had in the town. And so we had our kids and they were playing and like literally suddenly, two, three days a week we were hanging out like in this being engaged dads and taking our kids and reading books and coloring and doing our projects. And we started spending a lot of time. We went camping with other families together. It was just a whole pack of us that had been raising kids. And Soren and his now ex wife just fit right in. And suddenly we were all hanging out just the way that is common in that particular northern New Mexico environment.

Achim Nowak  11:40

What I hope our listeners take from this wonderful story you shared that something pretty magical can happen when their white people meet in a town of 2000 people and something as influential as wisdom printers, which is a gorgeous gathering place of mindfulness and innovation and technology started there with Soren we’ll talk about where printers in a moment, you know, where printers is something that evolved out of your journey with Soren and what was created there as could be anywhere if the right people meet notice each other and are willing to play with each other my assessment of this

Paul Zelizer  12:18

totally and there was also certainly a definitely an inner readiness, shall we say again, at that time, it had a 15 year career in community or close to By that time, a 15 year career in community mental health and I loved that work. But it was very challenging, and mostly a nonprofit environment. So it didn’t pay that well. And I was really tired. compassion fatigue and secondary trauma. They’re they’re very real things if anybody doesn’t know what they are, look them up. But very real things that after 15 years, I was dealing with a lot of it, I had to find some you know, I still had a three year old. I didn’t have like some giant bank account that I could like stop working for three years. While I figured it out, I had to find the next iteration of my work. So I was doing a lot of work to be ready for the next iteration of being of service look like in my life. And it was it wasn’t an easy transition. But I was certainly preparing the ground because I knew something had to change. And I was actively trying to do my part to contribute to that change.

Achim Nowak  13:31

A word from your sponsor. That’s me. I invite you to go to the website associated with this podcast, fourth, you will find other equally inspiring conversation with great humans. And you will also learn more about the my fourth act mastermind groups where cool people figure out how to chart their own for tax. Please check it out. And now back to the conversation. I think many folks have a sense of I want there to be another iteration of me or how I am of service to the world. And sometimes we don’t know what that is and what I’m hearing from us. You both sought it and it also emerged. Can you give us a sense of how you stepped into your next iteration and how you knew that this is the next iteration?

Paul Zelizer  14:29

It’s a great question again. I knew that. So eventually I wound up divorced from my daughter’s mom. And I knew that there was a big draw for me to go to California where you go back 15 years ago ish or 14 years ago. There was much more happening in the realm of entrepreneurship and conscious business and anything New Mexico’s a small place one of the most rural states There wasn’t a lot, especially 15 years ago, there’s very little happening here. But my daughter was here. And I couldn’t find it in me to move and leave her. She was young. She was six when her mom and I got divorced. And I didn’t want to be one of those dads that saw his kid two or three times here, I just, nope, I can’t do that. So I knew that somehow I had to figure out the internet was growing people were just starting to do some healing work and coaching work on the internet. And so I found my way into the spaces that I was the first iteration was the world of energy psychology. Because that world, people were more embracing of doing work over the internet back in the time when my counseling and psychology peers were like, you can never do good work unless it’s in person in the same room, one person at a time. And I was like, I literally can’t do that anymore. So you’re telling me I’m sunk? And they’re like, pretty much Yeah. It’s like, okay, we’re done next. So I started looking in the realm of coaching, and energy psychology. And I was one of the first people in New Mexico to get certified in certain energy psychology modalities. And one of the reasons was, it made sense to me. And there was room for the energetic spiritual part of the human being, which is something that’s important to me. But also those modalities. Were very embracing of the new ways of working, going back 2089 2010, when most of the world was still very dubious, shall we say that that was a thing that you could do meaningful facilitation of human change over the internet.

Achim Nowak  16:39

Because you’re you’re walking us into both curiosity and personal exploration. But you’re also walking us in this conversation into a different way of working and being an entrepreneur. And one of the core entrepreneur questions often is, well, I have this thing that I’m really drawn to, and I’m passionate about. Especially if I’m in New Mexico, like how the heck do I get clients? Right? How did that work out for you? Could you walk us through that? Because this is for anybody who’s listening. You all know that question?

Paul Zelizer  17:10

Oh, it was so painful to keep. Let me just be really real honest. Yeah. Some vocabulary I now have that I didn’t have at the time. But if anybody knows the book mindset by Carol Dweck, yes. fabulous book and one of the like the core framing, there is a difference between what she calls a fixed mindset and a learning mindset. So I knew I wanted to do this, I kind of had to figure out how to market on the internet and how to grow an internet business. wasn’t trying to give private jet plane rich or just like a good quality life. We can eat good food, make sure everybody has health insurance and my daughter volleyball camp, you know, like a good quality. I have a decent car. My fixed mindset was, I’m a counselor. Yeah, I don’t know anything about this. I don’t know about marketing, I don’t know, business. I have zero training in this. I went beyond that. I was almost like, I didn’t feel like I had the gene. Business. success was a gene and I didn’t get I get people I get emotional intelligence. Now we know that emotional intelligence is like 5x more important than intellectual intelligence, you your formal training. But I was in this very fixed mindset. The gene, I didn’t get it. And so I’m just going to have to stress and struggle and bite my group down and just figure it out. Just kind of what I did. It was not fun. It was stressful. I did fortunately get my last Social Work gig was just fell in my lap. The federal government Social Work contract in this very strange but very well paying opportunity just literally came my way through my network. I said yes, it was 20 to 25 hours. And that allowed me some resources to get some training and start to iterate my way into that version of Paul as an internet entrepreneur, mostly leveraging coaching and energy psychology tools, mostly, but not 100% around business with entrepreneurs. So very early, and it was Nassi. I started, like we go to the gym, if you’re actually doing something, eventually you start to get at least a little bit fitter. Okay.

Achim Nowak  19:27

What I’m thinking about as you’re talking, it’s interesting. Thank you. And I first stumbled on each other years ago on LinkedIn, this is my memory. And I remember reading what you wrote about your public voice, which was about all of these things. And I remember noticing right away, His voice is unique. And what Paul is saying is different. And now as you’re talking, I realized what went into you becoming that voice and owning that voice, which is really cool. And then Voice prompted you or you return reach out to me or me to you and remember how it happened. It’s been so long ago, but I’m just saying this to everybody, it’s got to be at least 10 years, it’s been that long and the courage to to own that voice and I can be hearing how you walked into it. The other thing I’d love for you to talk about because I don’t think it’s a natural thing for many people, but you at some point became a community gatherer and community builder. I hope you don’t mind those labels to be the wonderful labels. You do it so beautifully. How did Paul’s elizur you know, psychotherapists, social worker in a shift, if when you the mindset into Oh, I can be a community builder. I can do that.

Paul Zelizer  20:43

Yeah. Aware printers. If you look at our core values, we have four of them in communities, one of them so you’re not telling stories that don’t feel true, right? Let me just say that, even though my first career was in the realm of technically community mental health now that think of the word community, our mental health system is historically been very, very individual focused. Yeah. I’ve lived in New Mexico since 1993. And the community mental health work, I did hear a lot of it was on the puzzles. Indian reservations is what they’re called in New Mexico, they’re oftentimes called pueblos. In the small, mostly Hispanic, Latino towns in northern New Mexico, the grandmothers, Hispanic grandmothers in the Catholic church who are worried about their teen grandsons, who engaged in certain behaviors, and I was the guy who had a license and a mental health degree and was willing to sit down and talk. And didn’t just say, well, this kid is like depressed. And this kid is like anti social behavior, just like there’s a lot of things that are contributing to the issues that the communities in northern New Mexico are dealing with. And I was willing to hold it as a community issue rather than a pathology and one person issue for the most part. So I started getting access to an invited into, we have fabulous, you know, people talk about the Obamas, and how they came out of the community organizing tradition of Chicago, New Mexico has a fabulous community organizing tradition, it looks different than black Chicago, it’s mostly native Hispanic, like not next, more rural state, but our community organizing infrastructure is off the charts. And I was invited into that it’s been 15 years or so. And I got online, and people were like talking about building community. I’m like, wait, I know how to do that. I’ve had some of the best mentors in there. They’re not famous because New Mexico doesn’t do that people do the work. They don’t like let me tell you how awesome I am. But I literally have had some of the best community organizing training that you can’t buy. So certain things were happening online. And people were using vocabulary that actually was very familiar to me. And I had a lot of training. And I saw how it worked in communities. Some of them have been around for 1000 plus years. I just started doing what I had been mentored to do. And it turns out that with some tweaks, a lot of that works online. So it was a lot of experimentation and iteration. It was one of the things that helped differentiate me, I wasn’t just looking at one client at a time now, in social entrepreneur world, everybody wants to talk about ecosystems, right back is fabulous. But go back 15 years, nobody online was talking about eco systems. But I had very real embodied mentoring about how you build ecosystems for certain intended outcomes. And I just think started to move in positive directions for my clients, and for those communities.

Achim Nowak  23:56

Very cool. Let’s talk about aware printers, which is your current playground. I remember when you founded it. You were also one of the first people I knew who was on Patreon, you had a membership community that was still very new when you went there. It’s much more common now. Let me ask it this way. What have you learned about being a space holder for community, especially community where members are willing to commit financially to being there? What do you love about it? And what might occasionally be challenging about it?

Paul Zelizer  24:37

That’s a great question. And just for context, if people have some granularity, look, global community, certainly more heavy in North America, Europe, but we have members of Pakistan, Africa, pretty global 282 members at the moment, so social entrepreneurs and plastic. So just so we can like what What is it? Right?

Achim Nowak  25:00

What is it? Yeah,

Paul Zelizer  25:02

it’s an affordable membership community 282 people. So that’s what it. So now back to your question, what I’ve learned is a few things. One is, I’m working less hard than I did in the past to try to sell it or make people desire it. And it’s one of my biggest lessons in the past year. I’m so appreciative of the community experiences I’ve had, and continue to have a wanted for everyone. But in the past, I’ve worked really hard and didn’t, didn’t always serve me. And it didn’t serve the community. So one of the things I’ve learned is, these days is there, it’s a service to provide it, I hold it more lightly. That’s what what I am can be challenging if 282 members, it’s not like we’re all trained in the same like modality or like School of Business Growth, we’re not from the same cultures, we’re all different genders were all what we’re actually trying to do in terms of making the world a better place. It’s I’ve heard it been called as a coalition with a coalition is more, when you have more diverse groups that come together, it’s harder to create communities like that, then communities where people have something that’s very, very similar that binds them together, whether that’s a CrossFit community, and even though crossmen might be in Latin America and China and London, that CrossFit mindset a modality Byler, you know, a religious background, everybody’s meditating, or it’s contemplate of Christianity, whatever, that binds people together and everybody, we don’t have that. Well, we have instead of we’re trying to be a generous, inclusive community, where people share what’s working and what’s not working. And because we’re very diverse, it’s both our strength, it can be incredibly challenging at times. So you asked, like, what’s working, that diversity and that spirit of generosity and that spirit of not having, here’s how you do it, that works for us. But it also creates a great deal of challenges, because we don’t have that same like, well, in Step three, we’re all going to do this. Some people have eight figure businesses, and some people are trying to get their first client, how people are going about it really is. There’s a wide range. Yeah, both one of our biggest strengths and one of our biggest challenge.

Achim Nowak  27:37

When I cough one more time, good. One of the things I admire about you and I want to put some language out and and I think our listeners here already, I see you as somebody who was continuously giving himself permission to stay mindful of what’s emerging for him, rather than having the fixed mindset that we talked about earlier. And what I’m hearing and correct me if I’m wrong, that you have a playground where you focus on social entrepreneurship, on conscious leadership. But also you come from mindfulness and spirituality, and I’m all those things can sometimes emerge easily or not. And therefore, I want to put maybe a personal judgment on as somebody who’s played a lot in the mindfulness spirituality world. When it goes to the dark side, it can become sort of narcissistic, rather than community centered, and it’s all about my personal evolution, but not a larger consciousness. Would you just talk about how those things play together in your space? And also how you relate to these various streams that commingle?

Paul Zelizer  28:49

It’s a great question again. Yeah, there’s quite a bit of research about how much certain narcissistic tendencies show up in the so called spiritual world. Another language I like better than that. There’s a wonderful spiritual coach named Kat Kim, who talks about the challenges and problems with consumer spirituality. Yeah, spirituality that’s designed as part of the livelihood of the person who’s bringing it into the marketplace, I highly recommend that essay by Kat Kim. It’s just fabulous.

Achim Nowak  29:29

I bet you read it on your recommendation. And that’s it.

Paul Zelizer  29:33

Right? You know, I deeply appreciate how certain practices resource myself and others, I meditate every day. These days, I do seven minutes. So it’s pretty crisp. And I don’t miss too many days, haven’t missed too many days and many decades lashes for a long time. So it’s very important to me, and I’m deeply concerned about those patterns, because these practices that wind up in the marketplace are oftentimes they’re taken. And I use that word very literally, they’re taking from cultures where they have a community and an ethical foundation. And they’re taking from that community and ethical foundation and run through a lens that has certain financial benefits for somebody who’s teaching it in the modern marketplace. And oftentimes, the community and ethical how its packaged and delivered, it’s very light, if it’s there at all. Yeah, that’s concerning to me. And we talked about it before we hit record, it came to the point where again, I’m going to keep meditating. But I’m literally, I still make most of my money. We haven’t talked about it yet. But we’re printers I love and I will keep doing it. I love the podcast, I love the community. It’s an active service. And I, I do make money. I make about a quarter my living through air printers, three quarters of my living, I do one on one consulting for what historically, I’ve been languaging as conscious business owners, and moving I have a new website that’s in development, I’m very intentionally moving into the realm of social entrepreneurship. And the reason for that is that I love the granularity of social entrepreneurs. And by definition, social entrepreneurship is asking how do you want to make the world better in some very granular way. And at this point in my spiritual journey, 30 plus years into it, I thought, and what’s going on in our world? Taking a leader of a company that’s doing harm in our planet, in our communities and teaching them to meditate? It’s not aligned to me. Yeah, I want somebody saying, Hey, we need to look at our food system, or, you know, we need to look at good quality health care, access to communities that have historically not had good quality health care act, very, very granular ways of working to make the world a better place. That’s what Paul’s elizur is excited about these days. And I again, I have more vocabulary, I feel more settled in myself, not worried about if I’m going to starve if I say that out loud. Or if I, you know, move in a direction and somebody from Qantas business world is like, Well, wait, you just said something that’s not entirely positive about our space, then I hate you now. Like, all right, well, whatever, I

Achim Nowak  32:34

don’t care. Yeah. Two thoughts. I want to talk about your podcast, because you inspired me to do my own. So you’re my own personal inspiration. But before we go there, I love your focus on social entrepreneurship. And, in my mind, it’s also combined with you being very conscious about your re alluded to creating an everyday life that nurtures you and makes Paul’s elizur happy. And a lot of your choices are so because people might listen to you go. He’s just the social activist student. And you are. However, I think of you as somebody who’s very clear about the lifestyle he wants. And he makes choices accordingly. So could you talk a little bit about the lifestyle, you creating that that nurtures you, so you can be of service in the world? Yeah, absolutely.

Paul Zelizer  33:29

And this is where my attention to spirituality shows up. It shows up in the realm of core values, what I want daily in terms of my time and what I want for other people, which is that feels aligned. I’ve been continually iterating the latest iteration of my life is that I work no more than 100 hours a month, which basically breaks down to 25 hours a week. But that’s not exactly how it works. But it works so good for me. I work about 32 hours a week, basically three weeks, a month. And then one week, for instance, next week, my girlfriend and I are going up to Colorado and I’m totally off the grid. So every four to six weeks, try to make it more to four but it depends what’s going on in my life. So if I’m totally transparent, I just I’m off the grid for at least a week, sometimes more like 10 days. And that can be an oftentimes it’s in nature as much as I can passively allow it to be. which feeds me and as part of my spirituality, the last big trip I did was with my adventure buddy and we did the trans Catalina trail which is on Catalina Island right off of LA, this fabulous wilderness there. We did a 70 mile trail running trip and 40s it was exquisite. And the whole trip was like eight days. So I do something like that almost every month. That is a reminder of kind of who I am like a mentor of mine says, you want to do something on a regular basis where you forget what you do for work. Yeah. And that, for me is that thing when I’m like on a trail running trip, and we’re three days, and there’s bison right there in the ocean, we’re sleeping on the ocean. And it was exquisite. When I’m in the Hilo wilderness, which is the largest wilderness in the lower 48. In New Mexico, you have to go to Alaska to get wilderness of that size. anywhere else. I’m a different person. And I remember who I am in a way that my day to day life, which I love, I live in downtown Albuquerque, right? I’m the paradox, right? I’m a nature guy who lives in downtown Albuquerque, because, again, values, I can walk everywhere you can walk to the grocery store, the farmers market, and, you know, to the restaurants or whatever, I almost anything I want, I can walk to So from an environmental and values perspective, I can live a certain lifestyle that’s aligned, I might not get in my car for four days, I work from home, etc, etc. And then I go have these wilderness experiences where I forget who I am, what I do for work. And occasionally in the Grand Canyon, you get cell phone, and if there’s an emergency, maybe a client can get me but if they can’t, I will get to eventually is like literally, if I come up to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, I got reception, I got a text that says it’s a crisis, I’m going to respond, but it might be three days. And I love before I can get back to you. And so I just know that and I don’t apologize that, you know, this is how my life works. And oftentimes people who are interested in working with me, they love that they’re like, yeah, I want that I’m working way too hard. I’m not designing a life that works for me. And even though your life might be totally, I run ultra marathons, clients hire me who don’t want to run marathons, but they love that I have found a way to create a lifestyle that has certain values, front and center. And when I’m with my clients, I try to be really with them. But I also have found ways to build in a pause that makes me a much happier human. Yeah.

Achim Nowak  37:18

And I’m also hearing because you make it sound easy. And I believe it actually is, but you gave yourself permission to create this, you know, and I hope that our listeners go What are some things that I can give myself permission to? Because the moment I do doing it is probably not going to be that hard. I want to rap, we do need to talk about the podcast because you inspired me to do mine. I believe in the power of conversation. I already know my podcast is much younger than yours that it’s so different from what I thought it would be. And my personal joys from these conversations are different from what I had anticipated. So would you just tell our audience, what are the joys and gifts you receive from hosting your awareness burners podcast?

Paul Zelizer  38:18

I have somebody who’s taught me a lot. Her name is Lisa Renee Hall. And Lisa is a How do you even describe, she’s a mystic and activist in her own way. This is a black woman in Toronto, who helps people unpack unconscious bias through the power, very intentional writing practice. One of the things Lisa said to me, I’ve been one of the reasons first patrons like I think I was number two, just 13 or 14 or 1500 office, right? One of the places that is probably never gonna see me out on a sign. You never used to be out on the street with a sign protesting in that way these days. It’s just not my form of my form of activism is the process of helping people unpack really sticky, challenging intergenerational stuff around race and gender and all these hard issues with care and intention, in a way that she hadn’t seen a lot of unconscious bias and diversity, equity inclusion, we’re down. That’s her activism. And podcast is my activism these days. And the reason I say that is when you look at in a modern economy, what do we do as humans, adult humans, more than anything else, I love trail running. I love my girlfriend, I love to eat. I love to garden. I love to sleep except maybe sleeping. I do. I spent more time working than any of those and many ways all of them put together, I love my friends, I love my family. In a modern economy, adults work more than almost any other or probably more than any other activity that we do. And when we do our work, that isn’t aligned with our values, that’s how we get the world that we have, where our waters polluted, and, you know, the whole western US is on fire and etc, etc, etc. The simple act from where I sit now, of helping humans who want to find ways and we know from the research, a huge number of modern humans are going to work and they don’t feel aligned with their values. It’s not what they really are on the planet to do. So my podcasts, all they do is find great people. You’ve been one of them again, you’ve been Yeah, we’re doing awesome work. That’s deeply aligned with their values. And it’s kind of like if anybody knows the NPR podcast, how I built this. It’s like the how I built this a social entrepreneur, like something that has meaning. How do you build it? How do people find you? What was the origin story? What are your revenue streams? How do you market it, I give it away for free. That’s my activism. Because if more humans are doing work that’s aligned with their values, we will have a world that looks radically different than the one where we’re living now.

Achim Nowak  41:24

Here’s a question I asked every guest, and it’s going to be the last question before I direct everybody towards finding you. The based on what you know, now, Paul, and what you’ve learned on this exquisite journey that you describe for us. And the question is not about rewriting history. But if you had chance to whisper into young Paul’s ear and given some wisdom and guidance based on what you know, now, like, as if you were his guardian angel, what would you say to?

Paul Zelizer  41:54

Oh, goodness, much of my, I’ve had the experience multiple times the chemo, of being early, and not knowing I was early, I got the conscious business world, the mindfulness movement, or like it’s a social entrepreneur. Right? early, right. We had a fabulous guest recently. And she said, it’s not necessarily wrong. It’s probably that you’re early. And so much of my life, I’ve been early, and that’s been painful, just and now. It’s awesome. Because I’ve been in the social entrepreneurship and conscious business space for a really long time. And people are trying like Anyway, it was really painful being younger Paul and being early over and over and over

Achim Nowak  42:39

again. So to our listeners, it’s okay to be early. If you can relax into it. Yeah, we can relax into it. Yes. Paul, where would you like to send our listeners who go Gosh, I want to learn more about what Paul does. So where do we find you?

Paul Zelizer  42:58

My podcast is my activism and key answers. You can just go to first part of the word awareness. Second part of the word entrepreneurs, or any app that you listen to podcasts on, you can get a sense who I talked to and what I’m passionate about. We literally published Episode 217 this morning so you can get a sense of what I’m up to.

Achim Nowak  43:19

They’re wonderful. Thank you so much for this conversation. Paul. It was just a joy for me.

Paul Zelizer  43:25

Thanks so much again, and it’s so good to see you rock and I knew you would but so good to see you rocking this media.

Achim Nowak  43:33

Thank you. Like what’s your hurt? Please go to my fourth act calm and subscribe to receive my updates on upcoming episodes. Please also subscribe to us on the platform of your choice. Rate us give us a review and let us all create some magical fourth acts together. Ciao


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