Thu, 27 November 2014
2:23AM The podcast, Season #1, Episode #14 - AJ Leon, Chief Misfit - breaking all the rules, building a global business, becoming a socialist entrepreneur
I first met AJ via an interview I did with him 2 years ago. Within a year of that interview AJ and Melissa Leon were guests in my home on the first stop on their global pre-book launch tour. AJ's story is the one many want to be able to tell, but few have the courage to enact. Evacuating the trap of the soulless job and the lure of lots of money and stepping into the abyss, determined to forge paths created at the intersection of the life wanting to be lived and work wanting to be expressed.
The 2:23AM podcast project is about interviewing people who are re-writing the rules of business and life and following their journey over the course of a few years. AJ is truly the first to occupy this space, as we now have two years of his journey captured in audio. Please take the time to be inspired by the first interview.
Enjoy this episode.
Bio, in AJ's words
'I used to be an unremarkably average financial executive in Manhattan. I made six figures, had an outrageous bonus package and a corner office overlooking the greatest city in the world. The problem was I didn’t care about any of these things. I was passionless about my work. And of course, I hated myself for trading the hours of my life away for more money at every turn. On December 31, 2007, I left my six figure, crazy bonus, Manhattan corner office job. Not for a raise. Not in a vertical move to another company. Not to get a change of scene. But to stop, once and for all, living some other dude’s life. That day I realized two things. There was more to life than working a job you hate, and more importantly, there was more to me than could ever be expressed in a place with so many rules.'
Now AJ runs about 6 businesses with 20 staff all with no fixed address.
*The best dressed gypsy in the world
*Million Miracles with Sight Savers
*Runs a company that maps to his interests
*The act of making things is intoxicating
*Three people trading bagels back in 2008
*Desire to create a team that sticks together forever
*Profitability takes the passenger seat
*Build a company around the life he wanted to lead
*Evacuated a life plan that had gone horribly wrong, started Misfit with nothing
*Wrote letters to his younger self, introduced himself to his younger self, the dreamer
*A life of purpose and meaning and adventure..
*Everything he did at Misfit was something he would be proud of
*All staff at Misfit Inc..."You will never ever work on something you are not proud of"
*Socialist Entrepreneur - most companies are created to serve a founder, but not in Misfit, AJ pays himself no more than 20% higher than the lowest paid staff, is the 7th highest paid person in the company at present (20 staff from around the world)
*Hard to define what we do...a name and a community and 6 different businesses that extend from it...the opposite of all 'traditional' business advise
*There is always room at Misfit for Innovation and R@D
*Big student of history - The Rockefeller's etc...they built things...so invested hugely in learning how to build digital platform's...then no matter what idea he had he could build it
*Creative digital agency provides the seed capital to do the other things
*There are still economic gradients in areas of high poverty...the successful farmers in a village in sub Sahara Africa adopted a strategy where the majority of his acreage was with the subsistence foods, and a small percentage was for new crops that may or may not take off
*Best quitter in the world when he needs to be
*85 year old Cuban grandmother has always told him...keep moving forward, never stop
*Original recording with AJ, telling his story of creating Misfits Inc (very inspirational)
If you love this episode please rate the show on itunes...it supports getting the word out to more people...in gratitude.