What If Chase Jarvis Interviewed YOU
Generally, successful people get interviewed. If you could be interviewed by someone you admire, what would you talk about?
I have been following the photographer and entrepreneur Chase Jarvis for about 15 years. His was the first commercial photography portfolio I saw online and one of the first creative blogs I ever read. I downloaded and used his precursor to Instagram app (Best Camera) and actually resisted Instagram when it came out as he did, though for different reasons. I have become a student of Creative Live, his online training school, and I have watched almost all of his Chase Jarvis Live interviews and podcasts. To say I am a fan is an understatement but in essence, I greatly admire his drive and focus as a creative entrepreneur.
The interviewees for his live show and podcasts have also been successful creative entrepreneurs. They range from business people, to social scientists, to musicians to CEOs. People like Sir Richard Branson, Brene Brown, Gretchen Rubin, Arianna Huffington, Tim Ferris, Seth Godin, Adrian Grenier, Austin Kleon, the list goes on and on and on. Anyone who is an creative “influencer” has probably been on his show. As I was listening to one of the latest conversations with Scott Belsky, I started to think about what it would be like if Chase Jarvis interviewed me. You see, everyone he interviews has accomplished something exceptional and they did it in an unusual way. They bucked a trend, introduced a new concept, saw the world in a different way. In addition to their day jobs, all of them have written a book, which is usually why they get interviewed. However, the show is not just about promotions. It’s about Chase’s core belief that we can all live the life we want, doing the creative things we love, we just need a little push in the right direction. The people he interviews talk about their journey to accomplish just that.
So what if I was one of those people? How would the interview play out? This is my dream.
It starts out with an introduction.
Leni Johnston is an award winning eco-lifestyle and fine art photographer with a studio in Toronto, Canada. She is a dedicated environmentalist and uses her photography to encourage people to support the environment by making different life choices. But she is more than just a photographer.
Her first book, “Feminism and the History of Fashion” is a New York Times best seller. Following a lifelong dream, last year she co-founded a sustainable fashion line for active women over 40 and they just opened their flagship store in a LEED certified renovated factory in Toronto. Not only are all the clothes in the store eco-friendly but they are all made locally for fair wages. In addition, there is a section of the store where women can order bespoke clothes, a rare choice for women in any country.
She is here to talk about her latest book, “What Success Looks Like in a Sustainable Society”. This book discusses the difference between what today’s society says success should look like (big car, big house, accomplished children with lots of grandchildren, expensive clothes and jewelry) and what success would look like in a society that believes in low impact living.
The day before the interview I would have travelled to San Francisco and Seattle to get a tour of the Creative Live studios and Chase’s photo studio. We would have gone out to dinner and discussed the joys of travel and our photo gear and the challenges of backing up images from our 40MP cameras to the cloud.
The interview itself would have followed my journey from not studying fashion design at a local college as I wanted, to a degree in Political Science. We would have commiserated on our shared belief that expensive university degrees don’t always point you in the direction you need to go as a creative individual. Then we would talk about the challenges of photography as a career especially in these days of image saturation and how important it is to diversify. We would discuss how it’s no longer important to have just one job or title and how liberating and dynamic it is to say you have two or three areas of interest in your career.
Eventually, we would talk about the book and where it came from. And I would mention that it all started when I realized that children would not be a part of our family. We are taught as women that having kids is our primary purpose. It is our job to create life. And we are frowned upon if we don’t. And then there are the ways western society defines a successful woman as someone who does and has it all. Big career, expensive clothes from high end designers, sky high heels that you are supposed to wear everywhere so you still “look feminine”. But none of that felt right to me. I’m a photographer and an active person. I love fabric and clothes and looking good but only if I can get still get shit done. And when I really started paying attention to the environment and I came to understand that, the version of capitalism we live in now, the one that revolves around the drive for a profits at all costs, was truly killing our planet, I started reading about sustainable economies and how they would change society.
In a sustainable economy, businesses start to see “how we can turn a profit” and “how we can minimize our impact” as two sides of the same coin. (1). As companies start to change how they produce goods, and the population understands the importance of the natural environment for their survival, non sustainable activities and products would no longer be supported and would fall out of favour. Driving gas guzzling vehicles and living in 20,000 sq ft homes would be seen as wasteful if they even existed any more. Success would not be defined by how much stuff you have but how you use what you have and how little an impact you have on the environment. Interestingly enough, one of the hardest impacts on the environment is more people, so having fewer or no children would be applauded not questioned. With the latest UN report stating we have only 12 years left before we see catastrophic changes to our environment, the future does not look promising. The point of the book was to show that a sustainable society could be something to fight for not something to fear. But change is needed now.
Finally, Chase would ask me about my daily habits (something he does with all his interviewees) and how they contribute to my drive for change. I would mention that I follow active meditation as I like to keep moving and that I capitalize on the fact I am a morning person by getting up super early to get things done. I would talk about how I’m a fan of Dwayne Johnson (The Rock) and I admire his incredibly disciplined early morning work out routine. As a result I use his hilarious alarm clock app (Rock Clock) to wake me up in the morning. Exercise is mandatory as you get older, I would say. It’s just as important as a good night’s sleep. And of course, I eat local, organic food and drink lots of water.
This flight of fancy might seem like a strange thing to write about but it actually came out of a personal analysis of what I felt a successful life would look like. I knew that for me it wasn’t about things anymore, it was about life experiences, helping people and it had to be low impact. And even though I feel strongly about protecting the environment, I don’t want to live in a cabin in the woods growing my own vegetables and making Kombucha – though that would be nice once in a while. So, if I could do things differently from what I have been taught, what would I do? And how could I impress Chase Jarvis in the process.
If you could describe your version of a successful life, what would it look like?