Jonathan – Digital Marketing -> World Traveler -> Leadership Coach

Jonathan – Digital Marketing -> World Traveler -> Leadership Coach

#17 - When leaving high school, Jonathan Miller took the route that many would say leads to success; he went to Wilfrid Laurier University, did co-op, and graduated with a business degree. His co-op secured him a good starter job in Toronto and it seemed like, at 22, he was at the beginning of a long career in marketing.  But just over a year into his career, he took a trip that changed his perspective on what mattered. Upon returning, he quickly realized he wanted more of that adventure and within 4 months he quit his job and bought a one-way ticket to Thailand.  Returning from his second big adventure, he worked his way up in the world of digital marketing, but when he and his partner had the opportunity to sell their house and leave it all behind for adventure number 3, they jumped at the chance. A journey that involved living in a van, philosophy books without answers, and rock climbing across North America, left Jonathan with the urge to build something himself.  Starting as a Communications Coach, he is now a successful Leadership Coach working with social impact founders in South Africa. 

Check out Jonathan’s story to hear how his career has unfolded.

Jonathan's Website: www.level7.is 

Jonathan's Podcast:  Mindful Communication Podcast. Soon to be renamed The Leadership Gap

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The below transcript is A.I generated with light editing and may not be 100% accurate.

Transcript
Jonathan Collaton:

Good morning, good afternoon or good evening and welcome to another episode of career crossroads. I'm your host, Jonathan Collaton, and on this podcast, I talked to one person each week to find out how it is that they got into their current career. First things first, though, so long 2020, the year that felt like seven is finally over, the Wicked Witch of the West is gone. Hopefully, many of you are looking forward to a much better 2021. Although it sounds like where I am in Canada, it's still gonna be a while before we can get COVID-19 under control. But moving past that, I hope that if you're the type of people that set new year's resolutions that you've started off on the right foot, I am definitely feeling energized for this year. And I have a bit of a grand vision for what this podcast could become, which is really, really exciting for me personally. So to get things started off on the right foot. Let's listen to this week's interview with Jonathan Miller. And then I will break it down a bit afterwards. Jonathan Miller, welcome to career crossroads. Thanks so much for taking the time today.

Jonathan Miller:

It is an absolute pleasure to be here with you, Jonathan.

Jonathan Collaton:

It's fantastic to hear. I don't know if you know this. But you actually have been mentioned on this podcast before not by name. But I told a story about I don't remember who exactly interview it was. But I was talking about being in a car, they were talking about being in a car and coming up with an idea. And I indicated that when I came up with the idea for this podcast, I was in a car driving to meet somebody. And that was you. And it was a little more than a year ago that we that we met up for the first time in a long time and had a really good conversation. And at that moment, when I knew that I wanted to do this podcast, I remember thinking, when you were telling me what you had, what your plans were coming up, I was like, Oh, I gotta get you on here at some point. So I'm glad that 12 months later, we've been able to make it happen.

Jonathan Miller:

And I'm thrilled that it's it's it's funny, you know, when you share that story, what comes up for me is like, it's it's the long view, you never know how everything is going to kind of shape together at the end, right? It's kind of remembering that we have this very short sight of like whether things are good or bad, and how they're gonna like work out. And it's that long view when you take a look at it now from 12 months ago, seeing how it manifests. Maybe there was no way you could have predicted how this how this would have turned out?

Jonathan Collaton:

No, absolutely. And so right now we're recording on what is Christmas eve of the end of the strangest year of all time. And you are calling me from South Africa. And we will get to that point. I think there's a lot of stuff we got to cover to get to the point about how you ended up in South Africa. So let's go back in time and start your career journey. I usually like to go back to when people were about 16 or so in high school, and find out what they were like and what interested them where were you raised what we're all about.

Jonathan Miller:

So raised in Thornhill, Ontario, Canada, which is like a suburb just north of Toronto, like the most major city in Canada, and, like pretty suburban standard life did French immersion. So I went to a French immersion school, that's maybe the one thing loved video games. And you know, it's funny, because I'm in my 30s now, and I look back to when I was 16. And I was just like, a punk 16 year old who thought they knew everything. And were really concerned, although they would never admit it. Jonathan at 16 was really concerned with looking good and avoiding looking bad and cared a lot about what people thought about him. He did things to look good, and to you know, appease what he thought other people would like. So that's kind of what he was. And there has been quite a journey to get here. He wasn't into anything in particular, either. I mean, he liked computers, but at the time, mostly he just liked watching hockey, reading books, playing video games. Yeah, nothing, nothing too crazy.

Jonathan Collaton:

Alright, so as you kind of approach the end of high school for a lot of people I've talked to, there's usually some sort of, if not pressure, a push in a certain direction by family or friends or something like that. And in the case of a lot of the people I've talked to so far, it's been a push towards university because you go to get a degree and then you can get a job and that's how you have a good life is what a lot of parents have kind of pushed those their children towards. So what was it for you? Obviously, I know You ended up at Laurier? Because that's where we met. But was that like a very simple, you know, you wanted to go to school, Laurier was an easy option, or what was the kind of path for that?

Jonathan Miller:

There was definitely, I wait, I mean, then I wouldn't have called it pressure. But I could see now there were influences on my life guiding me toward taking business particularly. And I had applied to a few schools. And I got into most of them, Laurie was a top choice. So I went there, they had a nice Co Op option, which I figured would be very advantageous toward getting a job because that was mostly my concern at that time at 18, which, you know, I guess can be a concern at 18. Although, you know, you have the whole your whole life to worry about getting a job. But back then it seemed really important. And I think those are also values and thoughts that were instilled in me, by parents, by mentors, etc. and still in touch with parents and mentors love them for just wanting the best for me. And so yeah, that's what I ended up doing moving going right into university. studying business was the choice at the time. And that's, that's what happened.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah. All right. And so, the Laurier experience, I know that you got involved in some aspects of it in terms of extracurriculars, because I, I'm pretty sure we met at the LRSP conference at Laurier, when I first started going to Laurier. And we've never discussed this in the times we've talked since then. But do you remember noodle chef or crazy chef, that game that we would play at leap?

Jonathan Miller:

I the name sounds very familiar.

Jonathan Collaton:

Because you were like the guy who ran that game. We were out on the field. And we it was, it's a long story, you and I have to catch up on that another time. But suffice it to say we had fun at university. And so at least I know I did. And I know the experiences we had together, they were a lot of fun. Was that kind of the was that the experience you had all the way through? Laurier, you had a fun experience on the extracurricular side? Was it always enjoyable? Did you get a lot out of it? And on the academic side, how did you find it?

Jonathan Miller:

In terms of academics? You know, I think that my Yeah, it was it was extracurriculars was a huge focus for me. Looking back, I don't think I really enjoyed what I was studying, I thought that's just like how it is like, you're just supposed to study something that you're not necessarily passionate about, but you kind of like and I liked it enough. I didn't like all the courses that I took, but it was part of the program. So I really dove into extracurriculars, I did a lot of extracurriculars, school was never that hard for me. So I also didn't have to study very hard in order to get okay grades. And that's all I was going for as well was kind of like just okay, grades B's, some C's, and just getting by. So the extracurriculars is definitely where I ended up spending my time. And in terms of what drove those extracurriculars. Yeah, I'd say it was a combination of interests, combination of that 16 year old still trying to look good, and you know, avoid looking bad. So that was a huge driver as well. Because looking back again, I'm in again, my 30s. And I'm confident that this conversation can happen again, in my 40s and 50s. Looking back, realizing that I was still just really trying to figure out who I was, and what I was passionate about, and where I wanted to go. And I had no idea. And here I was, you know, studying in this program that was going to possibly, but not dictate what would happen for the rest of my life. But it definitely dictated, you know, my career immediately after graduation. Heavily influenced, you know, who I hung out with what I got interested in that kind of thing. So I don't think that answered particularly your question. But that's kind of the the two worlds of the extracurriculars hugely involved in it. And then there's the academic side, which I wasn't super interested in. But I was committed to getting a degree and getting a job. And that's what I ended up doing.

Jonathan Collaton:

You know, it's funny to think that, like, I'm going through the same thing where I think I'm sure when I was in university, there were points where I thought like, this is whatever degree I get here will dictate the next 45 years of my life in the workforce, or whatever it's going to be. And here I am in my early 30s and realizing that that almost was never the case for me, even right out of university. And I know it was for you for a while. But you know, you said that you were you're just kind of wanted to get by in the program and you got good enough grades, but you weren't stretching to get A's or anything like that. You were just you were doing what you needed to do, but you were having a good time at the same time, knowing that you were in Co Op, did you find those experiences really valuable or did that sort of reinforced the idea that like, well, business is what I'm going to do to get a job but it's not necessarily what I love.

Jonathan Miller:

It was incredibly valuable, the experience the Last kind of thing right there that you asked. I wouldn't say applied. Again, it was one of those things where I was working jobs that were, the first job I worked with in finance didn't like it. Second job I worked with in marketing didn't like the workplace so much. The third job, I ended up getting along really well with my boss. And so I had a great four months there, and I thought, this is it. And I'm good at my job. And I'm super smart, and I can make my way around things. And Funny enough, that boss that I kept in touch with later, you know, 567 years later ended up working with him again, which is awesome. So, all in all, though, very valuable experience, valuable in that it actually puts you into the workplace. So you get some real tangible, like, this is how it looks like to work nine to five, it was valuable, because I made money while I was there, which is huge, because it helped me pay for a lot of school. And it was incredibly valuable, because I got a quick taste of what I liked and what I didn't like in the workplace, and how to be and how to interact. And those smaller things you might not learn in school, like how to write an email, and you know, those those kind of those things that they don't teach you in academia, but are actually really important to learn. So yeah,

Jonathan Collaton:

So important, the email thing in particular, because, like, as you know, I work at a university, and this comes up between me and my colleagues all the time that students have no concept of how to write an email in order to, to get their point across. And I'm like, I shouldn't cast a wide net and say it's every student, it's certainly not, there are plenty of students that know how to do it. But to give you kind of the idea of the percentages, I had a student recently emailed me with so much detail that gave me I was able to respond to one email that actually commended her for her email etiquette, because of how thorough she was in her email. Yeah. Whereas sometimes I get emails that are just like, hey, question, not signed off with any name. There's no other details. So it's great to hear that Co Op is one of the things that really teaches you those life skills, for sure. And for me, I think some of the extracurriculars I was involved in was kind of like a co op experience, and gave me some of those skill sets. So if you don't have access to co op getting involved in extracurriculars can at least bridge some of that gap. But I don't think anything beats Co Op. I, I really wish, the more I've heard about everyone else's experiences that I had that opportunity when I was in university. So I'm so glad to hear that it was such a positive experience for you. And so as you're wrapping up University, usually in that Christmas of your last year of university, at family gatherings, people get together and they say, oh, what are you going to do when you graduate? So I imagine that you like the rest of us experience that question. And so what was your answer? What was your plan for end of April, when you were done school, or whatever your regular cycle would have been?

Jonathan Miller:

Yeah. What ended up happening was I finished at the end of August, because I had a co op. So we went a little bit longer than usual, my schooling, and that last year, in my program, you specialize, I specialize in marketing, because that's what I thought I would like most. And so I figured I would get a marketing job. And that's, I also knew that because of the co op as well, so I did, I did enjoy those marketing jobs. So I ended up going down that route, whether I knew what that was going to look like or where I was going to go, not so much. But I knew it would be in marketing, because marketing is supposedly the most fun aspect of business. That's what I believed. And so that's where I was planning if anyone had asked me at that time.

Jonathan Collaton:

Now, some people will look countrywide or internationally for jobs. Being from Thornhill was your plan to move back home? Or were you kind of looking anywhere for any job as long as it interested you?

Jonathan Miller:

Well, Funny enough, before I even got a job, I was looking around the Greater Toronto Area. So this is Toronto and all of its surrounding areas, which is where a lot of jobs are. And I was doing like a little bit of a preliminary search. But what ended up happening was they had this opportunity to be a recruitment officer for the school with with Orion University, and recruitment officers. Basically, if you remember, in high school, there was those people who would come by from different universities. That's what I did. And I did that for it was a four month contract. And it's actually tons of fun because I got to stand up in front of people, which I love doing, and interact with lots of people all day, every day meet people from different universities, different high schools, I got to travel around. So it was a pretty cool job, no longevity to it no like playing afterward. But it was enjoyable enough that I wanted to do it. So I ended up doing that for four months afterward. I was mostly Yeah, I was applying to some jobs and ideally looking for a hookup of some sort. And that came in the form of a family friend who happened to run an ad agency in Toronto, which is where I ultimately wanted to work was in Toronto because that's where I'm from and that's where jobs are and it's Toronto is cool. Yeah, so that's where I was looking. And that's where the opportunity turned out.

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay, now, was that an easy process that job search because for some people, they say, when when you get to university, you might have to wait six months, 12 months before you can find a job that's either the right fit or just a job at all. And for me, I had to wait about eight or nine months before I found kind of a permanent job opportunity was eight months is when I started. But I remember that middle time, just working, whatever job I could get, I worked my old summer job for a while and I traveled then I worked at future shops selling cameras over the holidays, which I didn't know anything about. But you just have to work to make money. Right? So what was that like for you? Was it easy to kind of get that opportunity? Because you had gone to a great program at a great school? Or was it a little bit of a challenge?

Jonathan Miller:

So mine was a very specific instance, it was really easy for me. And the reason is, because here's the timeline in November, I met with this agency. And they had said, Yeah, we're probably going to hire somebody in the new year, like an account coordinator. And we would love for that to be you. And I said, Okay, great. But that's in the new year. And that's in like, January, February. And in December, I was doing a bit of traveling. So I was gonna go overseas and do like two or three weeks of travel. And the thing is, is that looking for other jobs as well was kind of tough because I was doing this travel December into January. And so I didn't do too much job searching, I was gonna, I did a little bit. But I was just basically going to wait until I got home, I was very fortunate enough that I could live at home, I could live at home with my mom. And it was comfortable. And it was easy. And we got along well enough. So that's what ended up happening. I ended up traveling coming home. And right before I started the serious job search this agency, I got in touch with them. And it turns out, they were ready to have me come in. And that's when I got started.

Jonathan Collaton:

Perfect. So yeah, nice and easy. Slide into that role. And you said that was in in marketing.

Jonathan Miller:

That's right. Yeah. So as an advertising advertising agency downtown in the agency, agency world working with clients like casino ramaa, which I'm not interested in gambling, so that was a, that was an interesting client to work on, and a few other clients as well, and just doing their ad and marketing campaigns. Right.

Jonathan Collaton:

So you're what 22 at this point in time, maybe 23. And you got the degree that you think's going to get you the career that you want, and then you slid right into a job that seemed to be a good fit, doing the thing that you wanted to do. So it seems like at that point, you know, in a typical career path that maybe generations before us might have gone down, you've got the next 45 years lined up ahead of you working in marketing. But I know that didn't happen. So what was kind of the the process there was the job early on, great was that job great. And then you move to another great job. And then things started to shift or kind of take me through that.

Jonathan Miller:

The job was great early on. Not only did I get to work in marketing on the advertising side, but they had just right after I started, they acquired a digital marketing agency, which I was super interested in. And so I made friends with all the digital people. And I said I wanted to work more on that stuff. And they put me on a bunch of digital clients, which was great as well. And about a year into my time there. I went back and traveled some more. And I just had such a blast. And when I came back, that's the only thing I could think of was traveling. And I knew that I had had friends who had done the long term travel stuff they did Southeast Asia and all that kind of cool stuff. And I'm like, I don't know how long I can stay here. And I lasted for about four more months. And not only was I not thrilled with the work, I was really underpaid. I had a colleague who started about a month or two after me and she got promoted, and I didn't so I was pretty demotivated because of that. And so I ended up leaving about a year and four months a year in six months after I started and bought a one way ticket to Bangkok, Thailand and left this advertising job to start kind of like this year long travel excursion.

Jonathan Collaton:

Wow, one way ticket eh? Alright, so I guess at this point, I'm gonna, maybe these are wrong assumptions, but from my experiences from friends who had Co Op programs, they didn't come out of school with a lot of debt. So they were able to save money early on, which then they could use on on things like traveling for a year. So I'm gonna imagine you had a bit of cash set aside that it was it wasn't like you had to go travel and pick up work as you went to you were able to kind of travel on some funds that you had. So it made it easier, more palatable to do that than somebody who didn't have those same resources. I would guess

Jonathan Miller:

that's right. I had funds. I had no student debts because of the co op programs. And I was living At home so as a saving a little bit of money, because I was commuting and I had an the the travels, what I did is I ended up doing like three, four months in Southeast Asia. I also did five months in, like a work to live situation. So my costs were very, very low. And then the last few months, I definitely ended up calling my mom asking to borrow some money, which she very I'm very grateful she she lent me some money there. And I was very quick to pay her back once I once I got my next job.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah, I've I've been in that experience before. I need some money to get not home. I already had my ticket, but I needed to bridge the gap of sorts.

Jonathan Miller:

Exactly.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah, and and I guess Of course, you did say you were underpaid in that role. So it's not like you were just flush with cash and could travel the world on first class tickets or anything like that you still have to scrimp to get by a little bit right when you're trying to travel for nine months, or however long it was for you. That's a you got to put a lot of resources into that.

Jonathan Miller:

Absolutely. Southeast Asia was super cheap. And I traveled very, very cheaply there. And then the work to live situation, very little cost. And then my last stop was in Europe, and I did I pretty much couchsurf the entire time, I stayed in very few accommodations. I did car, car ride share programs, like all over the place. There's one, I based a lot out of France, and I'm fluent in French. So I was using this service called COVID advantage. And it was like way cheaper than train tickets and airplane tickets. So that really helped minimize costs and just eating a lot of baguettes.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yes, that would ahh..., which is like not a bad thing either. Right? So so delicious. Okay, so you get back from that trip. And at that point, you would work for fun doing the math right here? Was it about a year, a year in four months? And then you traveled for nine months? And then you come back?

Jonathan Miller:

Yeah, I traveled I traveled for actually a whole year. So almost as long as I had worked.

Jonathan Collaton:

Okay, wow. All right. So you come back. And I don't imagine you would left with a job waiting for you when you returned. So when you get back, what was the the plan now that you realize that things like the traveling were so much, so much more enjoyable? Maybe then work or at least it was more what you wanted to at that point in your life? How do you kind of come back from that and decide like, okay, now I gotta go back to work.

Jonathan Miller:

I think the context that I had was that I would come back. And the context was, you work, that's what you do, I came back to Toronto, and that's what I did before. So that's what I'm gonna do again, I'm gonna get another job, maybe save a bunch of money, and then see how it goes, maybe I'll quit again, maybe I'll travel. Who knows. But like, it was a very clear that the only option I had was to get a job again, and to get it in marketing. Because that's where my experience was. And that's kind of how I had it. That's what the reality was, for me at the time. very fortunate. I have a horseshoe at my bum apparently for getting jobs because I got back home on a Thursday. And on a Monday, I emailed this guy that I used to work with at a co op. And like, within two hours, he sent me back he said, Send me back an email said perfect timing. I'm looking for someone just like you to fill a role. So the next week I was in his office, and he was telling me about what kind of stuff I would do. And a month later I was in the office working.

Jonathan Collaton:

Not bad eh? So that's a great easy transition wen you get back.

Jonathan Miller:

I got I got super lucky. Super, super lucky.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah. All right. So was that the same type of work was the digital marketing, which you would said you were interested in?

Jonathan Miller:

Yeah, it was digital marketing at a huge consumer packaged goods company. And it's funny because I don't really think I had the experience for what it is that this guy was looking for. But he trusted me because we had worked well together. And he just knew that I can get the job done. And, and I did.

Jonathan Collaton:

Fantastic. So how long were you in that job before things started to shift again?

Jonathan Miller:

So that was that stunt lasted for about three years. So I had two different roles. One was as a digital project manager, so it was way more focused on execution for the first year and a half, two years. And then the latter part for about a year and a bit was a marketing manager. So it was more strategic. And then around that three year mark, that's when I left.

Jonathan Collaton:

All right. So why that's the big question. Why is it that you left that role?

Jonathan Miller:

There were a number of reasons. And it started about one year into the role. I met a girl and we fell madly in love. And so one thing that we did express to each other soon into our relationship was doing this long term travel thing again, I'm like I did it. It was the best. I'd love to do it again. She wanted to do it as well, we're like, right. And so we kind of kept that in the back of our heads is something to do well, two years later, we had been together for almost two years. We were living together at this point, things are going really well. And my values had really diverged from what What it is that I was doing at work, I was very unmotivated, very uninspired. I was getting paid well, but I was bored. And, you know, I was working for a meat company. And I had by that point turned vegan. So it was just there's a lot of things pointed to like, I need to get the heck out of this. Also meeting her, she was a huge influence on me in terms of opening my mind to what life is really about, I started thinking much larger about what kind of life I wanted to live, what kind of impact I wanted to have those kinds of questions as well. And so just going into the same job just because it was convenient. I started to question that line of thinking. And so it was a very natural break on November 2000. And I think it was 15. To quit my job there, my phone contract was coming up, my lease was coming up, her work contract is coming up, it was like divine intervention that Nova and the winter was coming, and we want to escape the winter. It was divine intervention that it was time for us to depart and go on a little adventure together.

Jonathan Collaton:

Alright, so what type of adventure was that?

Jonathan Miller:

The first year we lived in a van. So we are really into rock climbing. And we love going to national parks and stuff like that. So we bought this old school van. And we traveled around North America, checking out national parks, cities, we spent five months in the states a few months in Mexico, which was awesome. And then a few months in Canada, like BC and Alberta, and then drove back. And then we spent another year and a half traveling through Asia. So it ended ended up being a two and a half year journey all around North America and East, South and Southeast Asia. And it was obviously I mean, two and a half years is a life changing experience. And we really set off to have it be a journey to better understand who we were and what we wanted to do. So I remember, soon after a trip started, I immediately started diving into books, I thought books, that's where I'll find the answers to what it is that I want to know. And I started reading philosophy and like, oh, philosophy, people will have answers there. They didn't have answers, because I read these philosophy books. And then I knew a bunch of philosophy, which is really I mean, it was really nice, didn't necessarily give me any answers. So yeah, I'll kind of put a pause there just to kind of throw it back at you. But that's kind of how the logistics of it worked out. There's obviously much more to a two and a half year journey, which was absolutely life changing and formative in terms of creating the confidence and the opening to actually move away from what it is that I was doing into something that I was truly passionate about, which is something that I'm working on today.

Jonathan Collaton:

So the first question I have about that was were you driving around in a Volkswagen Westphalia?

Jonathan Miller:

No, we weren't. We looked at the Volkswagen Westphalia, they're pretty small. So we got a GMC van door 1984 GMC Vandura with a pop top got a little kitchenette inside a table that turns into a bed, it was incredibly comfortable. We had it, we had several breakdowns. So I don't recommend old vehicles when you're going on long road trips. But when it was working, it was an absolute dream come true.

Jonathan Collaton:

So right when COVID-19 really hit, my wife and I were about to go on a two month trip through Southeast Asia. When that couldn't happen, we immediately were just like, Let's buy an RV. And we'll just drive across Canada. And we were looking at these old like 1980s RVs. And my father in law is a diesel mechanic. So we thought we can buy a piece of crap RV and fix it up ourselves. And it'll be great. But maybe I'll have to take your advice about not buying old vehicles. And we didn't pull the pull the trigger yet on that but something we might look at in the future. Because kind of what you're doing, or what you did, I should say is something that's interested me and my wife as well as like, how can we? How can we find a way to not just work because that's what we're supposed to do but really enjoy our life in a way we didn't think was possible before. And knowing that it's worked for other people that you can, like, don't be afraid to leave a job you have because you want something different. You know, I think the advice A lot of people have gotten previously because I've certainly gotten that before is well like you have a stable job. Why would you leave that job you you know why don't leave the good pension or good benefits or anything like that, like stay within for me to university and just do something different, but I have other interests that I want to explore to write and so if I can find a way to do those things Much like it sounds you did, like you get to go rock climbing for months and months on end and drive around in a van like it's doable, which is I think the important message for people to get here. As long as you work hard, and do a good job, at the jobs you're in, you can find something else afterwards. I know, that's maybe not the right time to say that, given the way the economy is right now. But you were proud, that was what 2015 when you left. So at 2015, it was a lot more reasonable to leave and come back and find another job. And you know, I'm sure things will bounce back. And that'll be an option for other people. Maybe not next year, but maybe the year after that, it'll seem like a more reasonable plan. So I'm glad that you got to experience that. And hopefully a lot of other people will get to experience that at some point, too. Because traveling just full time for that long is like an amazing experience. I can only imagine from my my smaller trips. But yeah, you can hear me rambling on because I'm super jealous of you right now. So that's what all this is about. Alright, so you're reading all these philosophy books. They're not giving you the answer. But I know from stuff you've said to me in the past that one of the things that you and your wife had to sort of navigate when traveling around a van is, that's a really small space to be living together in in less than one rooms worth of space. And so how did you sort of overcome that? And how did that lead to what you ended up sort of working on next? Because and correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that's sort of what you've told me in the past. That's where the connection of what you ended up doing came from?

Jonathan Miller:

Yeah, there was a pivotal kind of, not maybe a single event, I described it as a single event, or it rarely is just like this one eureka moment, it's usually a series of moments that kind of lead to it. But definitely, you know, I had a strong relationship with my partner at the time. Nothing abnormal in terms of like, you know, a couple I'd say we got along like, really well, actually living together being together for a couple years. But yeah, when we were in the van, there were a few incidences that happened, where we kind of got at each other. And it was really odd. And we couldn't quite figure out what it was. And to keep a Well, I'll tell you the basically, the one moment that kind of like turn things around was, we were cooking dinner. And I said to Laura, my partner while she was mining the service that hey, can you pass me a potato? And she turns and she snaps? And she says, Can't you see I'm doing something right now. And I was like, Whoa, what is going on? Because that had happened a few times already. And she she said, I don't know, I don't know what's going on. So there was a huge moment in that she had the wherewithal to realize that she had snapped for no reason. Whereas, you know, I'm guilty of this as well, like, I'm just more importantly, just being right about the fact that I get to snap at the other person. But she had the wherewithal to bring it to bring it back and go, Oh, I don't know why I snapped. And we ended up talking about it. And it was this, this thing, this, this unspoken, urgency around the request, that was a misunderstanding. I said, Hey, can you pass me the potato and she heard, stop what you're doing, and pass this thing immediately. And what I meant is, hey, whenever you have a chance, pass this potato to me. And so when I add it in, when you have a moment, moving forward, it made a huge difference. And it actually disappeared the problem and I thought, hey, this communication thing is super cool. So I started getting really into communication. And it helps that I have a partner who's just as committed to being the best version of herself as I am. And she's committed to that for herself so that she can have an extraordinary experience in life, but also so that the relationship goes really well. Because if she's working on being the best version of herself, then I get to benefit from that as well. And by me working on being the best version of myself, she gets to enjoy, like the company of a really fantastic human. So it's a commitment that we both have there. And it's made a huge difference. So yeah, we got I got really into communication started practicing all these systems. And that's where I kind of got introduced to the world of personal development and coaching and that kind of thing. I did a meditation course while we were on our, our journey while we were in Asia, that was life changing. I'm still meditating to this day. So there were a lot of kind of like pivotal aha moments that had happened that had moved me into this direction of like working on myself, which is something I didn't realize, but I was really interested in all the time. But it the kind of formalized it and crystallized it a little bit. So when I came back I had some more direction in terms of where I wanted to go.

Jonathan Collaton:

Fantastic. So when you do get back, knowing what you're now interested in what you realize this is what I want to do you want to find a way to turn this into a career. How do you do that? Because unfortunately, it's the way it is but money rules the world and you got to bring in money in order to pay rent to buy food to pay for the internet connection that's helping us have this conversation today. So how do you take what you're now interested in and monetize that? and turn it into a career really, when what you had kind of indicated before was, after you came back from your first trip, you went back into marketing, because that was the skill set you had. That was what your experience was in. So how do you shift that To try and end up working in something that you realize is what is really, really interesting to you?

Jonathan Miller:

One thing, one misconception around entrepreneurship in general, is people have it that they are like, entrepreneurs, like go bust or go home kind of thing. Like they just go all in to these things. And that's a myth. A lot of entrepreneurs have backup plans. Most entrepreneurs start businesses based on side jobs that they have, like they they kind of have like a passion on the side that they're running. And so they just work on that for a while, until it becomes big enough that they can just quit their job. That's actually the most common entrepreneurial path. And yeah, there are entrepreneurs who kind of like go all in, but a lot of them have like a heft of experience. The the I remember hearing like the CEO of Southwest Airlines was like a litigation like a lawyer for nine years as the CEO of this airlines until finally the board of directors managed to plead enough with this individual that he would quit his job as a lawyer and run Southwest Airlines full time. So there's this there, there is like a backup plan. And we did too, we had, you know, four to five years of work experience under our belt, where we could easily go back into Junior roles if we really needed to, we had a nice nest egg coming back. I mean, we didn't travel the world, two and a half years on like a diamond eneko, we had savings, I had a house I sold it, we had some investments made some money off that. I mean, we and and we still traveled on the cheap. So we came back with enough of a nest egg to actually knowingly transition out of what it is that we were doing, because we were both interested in moving into this personal development space. So right when we got back, again, crashed with my mom bless her, she allowed to stay there for free, that makes a huge difference having that family support. So I recognize my privilege in that kind of situation there. And continue doing more personal development work which we had budgeted for. My wife at that point had signed up for coaching schools like a coaching program, which is a hefty fee, that's like 10 to $15,000. So she signed up for that. And the way we kind of made it work with money is that she did go back to working a job. There's just something that fell into her lap from before we left, her boss really wanted her to come back, she got a one year contract there. It was not ideal for her it was really, truly a sacrifice for our relationship. What it did is it gave me the ability to work full time on my projects. And it allowed her to go to coaching school and to live comfortably. With my mom this this the key thing is that we ended up staying, living with my with my mom for a year and a half. And the first few months were really, really hard we'd contemplated moving out, which is a huge expense, and how do we move out we would not have been able to do what we are doing today. But we also really went to work on that relationship, especially me. And I can say with absolute confidence that where I was when I came home from my trip to where the relationship is now, with my mom, it's completely unrecognizable. Just the level of love and cooperation that existed in that household by the time we left was nothing I had experienced before in my family. So it's not like, Yeah, I just want to kind of show that like all along all along with the sacrifice is a lot of work to change my perspectives and to accept people as they are, and to love them no matter what makes a huge, huge difference. So I don't know how that kind of tangent happened. But I thought I'd throw that in there.

Jonathan Collaton:

No that's great, because that actually really ties into some things I've spoken to some other people about or if not spoken directly to them about, like I think this is the first first kind of to the point conversation about the fact that at a certain point, your career isn't just only about you anymore, it affects other people. And if you have a long term partner, now you've got someone you can work with on figuring out what makes the most sense, not just for you, but for them. And for the two of you together and like my wife and I are dealing with that right now. In fact, as she's transitioning to a new job and we temporarily have moved in with her parents because I realized that with the way COVID currently is I don't think being in Toronto over the winter is going to be a whole lot of fun. And I have aspirations about what I want to do as an entrepreneur down. on the line. And so instead of us just moving into a different apartment in Toronto, right now, we decided to come here. And it helps her spend more time with her family who we haven't been able to see a whole lot recently. And she gets to find it as her new job is permanent work from home, which affects the size of the apartment we need in Toronto. And rents are falling. And there's a whole lot of different things going into that. But a big part of that is we have to figure out like, Can we, as a couple decide that it makes the most sense for both of us to make this change. So you can make this job change, and then maybe I'll be making a job change, maybe not, who knows, there's, you know, a lot of time to figure this all out. But it's, you have the kind of the closest experience, I think, to what I'm dealing with in terms of, it's not just about you and your job all the time, you've got to work as a team to figure out what makes the most sense for both for both partners. So I appreciate hearing that, because I think it's, it's more relevant for a lot of people than just the straight, I jumped from this job to this job to this job, because it was a better pay a better title a better whatever. Like there's more to it than that. And, and that's a perfect example of that. So, as you said, entrepreneurs have backup plans, and it's not just full force into what into what they're doing. So obviously, you had that plan with your partner, she was going to work you were going to build up your thing. How long did that sort of take before you felt like what you were doing was a self sustaining career path where you could just jump full force into that and have that be your future?

Jonathan Miller:

We gave ourselves a deadline of about a year, she had a year contract. And she said, I'm not working longer than this. And we got to make it work. And in that year, I did not make my business work. It didn't happen. We had lots of training, lots of practice, lots of experience as coaches both of us, but we still hadn't made it happen. We had managed to bank a bit of savings. And we're still in the discovery of how do we know when we've like, quote, made it comfortably. Now, since then, since she left her job, it's been now just over a year, we had our first year working both of us full time on our businesses, she is still kind of really ramping up her business, I have been now kind of like the breadwinner with my business. And I've been quite successful with my business. And next year is looking to be a huge year already. We have a bunch of contracts signed up set up for the beginning of the year. So it just kind of worked out like that. But we took a I mean, I'm kind of digressing here. But we took a huge risk in that. She worked, I worked to get my business up and running. It was really hard. It was a slog, I ended up hiring a coach, which made the biggest difference for me to get up and running. And then yeah, after her year long contract kind of came up, she left. And then we both kind of hopped on an airplane and headed to South Africa, which is where I am now for a cool opportunity here. And we have just been hustling to make it work. And we did. We made it work.

Jonathan Collaton:

Fantastic.

Jonathan Miller:

It's incredible.

Jonathan Collaton:

Yeah, that's it's amazing that you can like what I what I heard from you there is you didn't make it work when you set that deadline. And at first it didn't work and didn't work. But you had to sort of just keep pushing through and find a way to I think when you find something you really, really want to do. You've just got to keep working at it. And I mean, you you've got more practical experience than this at this than I do. So I mean, what was that, like when you realize that that one year deadline where you're like, I have not succeeded to the point where I thought I needed to be in order to make this sort of jump to doing this forever? How did you reevaluate or what was the the process there of deciding? Well, the one year it didn't work, but we're gonna keep going like, how do you make that choice?

Jonathan Miller:

It was a pretty grueling process. I just, I don't know if there was kind of like a moment, but I knew that I wasn't pushing as hard on my business as I could. I was working a part time marketing job as well, just to make some extra cash. I was doing a lot of personal development work, which was now looking back, absolutely formative and had I not done that. I don't think that this last year would have gone as well as it did and the next year is shaping up to go even better. So yeah, there was a point where I just I was just in breakdowns constantly. And you know, I have a I have a wife who's a coach, and she would see me constantly in breakdowns and I just remember a conversation one point she's like, that's a like, I just I want you to hire a coach and I'm like a lone wolf. So I'm like No, I'm gonna figure it out on my own. Because that's how I grew up my whole life is trying to figure everything out on my own. Very, very ineffective. Not that it's bad, not that I can't figure it out on my own. It's just like way faster to hire somebody to help you figure it out. So I ended up hiring a coach, who has been the kind of like a mentor and a coach, she's highly experienced. And like within a month of hiring her signed on, one client signed on to clients signed on three clients, got to South Africa, signed on seven clients, and I've just been building my practice since then. So, um, yeah.

Jonathan Collaton:

so two things. I want to ask about that then. And because it's come up a little bit before that, like you had the nest egg before, which is what allowed you to travel and I don't, you know, know how much you want to get into to money about this. And not that I'm really asking about that. But I guess, was there a point for you where like, the money didn't matter, because at least you found the thing you wanted to do. And it might take longer to make the sort of money you needed to make for for that to be a long term thing. But it didn't matter? Because that was what you wanted to do?

Jonathan Miller:

That's a very complicated question, because I still have things about money, you know, and these are like long term patterns that I developed growing up a lot of scarcity in my household, kind of like a fear based scarcity mentality, lots of conversations about money, which is why I went to business because that's how you make a lot of money. So there's a whole whole lot of stuff that I I have deconstructed like where I am now is like, like unrecognizable to where I was even a year ago. And I'm still kind of making sure that I'm putting that into check. So to answer your question, I don't know, money was a huge topic of conversation. For the beginning of the business, we had a nest egg coming here, of course, a nest egg. And we knew we could survive like basically a year, if we had no business whatsoever, which I mean, we're working full time in our business. So we knew something would happen. So we knew we were good for a year. And that's kind of the mentality. And we just took this massive leap of faith, that things would work out that we had confidence in our own abilities to make something happen for ourselves. And we had the support network with I had a coach, he had a coach, that we were just going to make things happen. We have a little bit of family here in Cape Town, South Africa as well, which was just wonderful to have some guides. And that's what we ended up making happen. We stepped outside of our comfort zone, we dismissed our fears. And we refuse to live in scarcity and step into this abundant mindset. And it's just been rolling since then.

Jonathan Collaton:

Perfect. So I know you don't have a lot of time left. I know you've got something else you got to get done, because you're a busy guy in South Africa now. But can you talk a little bit about then like the practical side of what it is that you do as a as a business? What is your job? And in terms of working with clients? You mentioned? Like what do you do day to day.

Jonathan Miller:

So nowadays I'm a leadership coach, and I work specifically with social impact founders, so founders who are running businesses that actually solve problems around society, and it's I just work with just super cool people just absolutely lighten me up. And some people who are not social impact founders, some people who are just really, we connect well, and who gravitate to me and who want to make things happen in their lives. So what that normally looks like is conversations, where I ask really powerful questions, I listen to what might be going on in the background that they can't see, highlight blind spots, so that we can bust through assumptions, limiting beliefs, you know, that voice in the back of your head, that little Gremlin that says, I'm not good enough, I'm not enough blank, blank, blank, all those kinds of things. Yeah, we just kind of acknowledged that, put that to the side and ask what's really important to us and what we really want to do, and just really empower my clients to make their life as absolutely incredible as possible, because we have but a brief flicker on this planet's. And I think that there's no time to waste and that's why I took this really bold move of starting this business of leaving Toronto to for South Africa, having not set foot on the on the continent, not having a solid business at the time. And just doing it anyway. Living limiting beliefs like one that I actually love that you brought up earlier, I see it as like a limiting belief. Maybe people will disagree and that's that's their choice, but like that now is not a good time to leave your job that you know, that that that's a belief and whether it's serving you or not is it's up to you. It's a belief that I think I would have held for a long time again, you know, bless my mom. She grew up in a very different Time, or she know, she grew up in Israel, there was lots of wars there. So she, she was an immigrant to Canada. So money and security and safety are really important to her. And so I grew up with that mentality as well. But I'm busting through that. And I've seen the payoff on the other end, and it's worked out swimmingly for me now, is it going to work out swimmingly for everyone? Maybe not, but maybe it will. So what's important to entertain both of those options, because as long as you're willing to ruminate on what's not gonna work, you want to make sure to spend just as much time ruminating on what would be possible if it does work.

Jonathan Collaton:

Fantastic advice. I really like that. Now, if people are looking for someone who does what you do, and they think that you're the guy for them, where can they find your business? How can they get in touch with you?

Jonathan Miller:

Well, you're I know, you're gonna include this in the show notes. But the best place to reach me right now is level seven, the number seven is, and this is kind of like a newer venture, I was working under the label mindful communication for a couple of years. And just in the last few months, my wife and I somehow didn't do this before. But we finally joined forces realizing that we were really passionate about working with the same kind of group of people. So that's what you'll find on the website. We'll also have a podcast coming out. Yeah, I really, even if anyone just wanted to have a conversation about what I do, or what's possible for them with a coach, and it might not be me, because I just might not be the right person. Maybe they want a career coach, like a career coach who runs a podcast, you know what I mean? Like, with the name, Jonathan, who knows, he's also a very valuable resource. So if you're looking to have a conversation with somebody, though, you can always reach out of course, level seven is Yeah,

Jonathan Collaton:

perfect. And so because you mentioned shownotes, that shows that obviously, you know how podcasts work, because you you do have your own. And so I know you've been talking about rebranding that recently, but you do have a good backlog of episodes that I hope are still gonna stay online so people can can listen to them. And you're nodding along, which is great news. And so what's the current name right now? Or if you're about to change that? Where can people find that?

Jonathan Miller:

current name is the mindful communication podcast, we're planning to change it to the leadership gap. So it's going to be expanding from just communication more to leadership and total, not sure when the first episode is going to be released. Just because like I said, January is turning out to be a pretty wild month, we wanted to get the podcast started ASAP. But there's lots of opportunities opening up for us. So we're gonna take advantage of those and let the podcast follow later.

Jonathan Collaton:

That's great to hear. And whenever you do update that name, I'll make sure the update goes into the show notes as well. So thank you so much for sharing all this crazy experience that you've had, because maybe not crazy, you crazy to me, though, to think you've done all this great traveling, you got a degree in one thing, and now you, you found a total interest in something else. And now that's what you're working towards, you've moved to South Africa. So there's a lot going on there. And I want to wish you success in everything you end up working on in the future.

Jonathan Miller:

Thank you very much, Jonathan. I appreciate those kind words.

Jonathan Collaton:

Alright, so that is Jonathan Miller's career journey up to this point in time. And I knew about the early jobs and the travel and South Africa. But I didn't know how it was all tied together. So I'm really, really happy he got to tell that story today. And now, we need to reflect a bit about what he said and what we can learn from it. So to start - take risks, Jonathan left his first job, 14 months in with a one way ticket to Thailand, which is something a lot of us have probably dreamed about. But not all of us have done. And many people might say it's bad to have a gap on your resume, particularly that early into starting your career. So that's certainly one risk that he took. Then he left his marketing manager job when his value shifted away from those of the company. And the work was no longer fulfilling. Leaving a job in itself isn't totally risky. But he went and lived in a van and traveled through Canada and the United States then spend some time traveling through Asia. And yes, there was a nest egg. But there's no guarantee that that nest egg will get you through the whole thing. And there's no guarantee that work will be available when you come back. So that's risk number two. Then just one year ago, Jonathan and his partner packed up and moved to South Africa, from Canada, which is a very, very long way. And prior to leaving, he admitted that he hadn't really gotten his business off the ground exactly the way he had hoped. But he kept pushing through and kept trying at his business. So that's definitely risk number three. And in Jonathan's case, all these risks did pay off. He did find work when he came back from Thailand. And again when him and his partner stopped traveling with the van and through Asia. And now that he's in South Africa, his business is booming, and he sounds incredibly happy about what he's doing. Now, all of these different pivots that Jonathan made, where risks and risk does involve some level of fear. But from my side of things, all these pivots are in the name of adventure and have a better life. And in my opinion, that is 100% worth the risk. Yes, your career is important. But I think that you should work to live and not the other way around. So if you can find a way to live your life the way you want, even if it means selling the house and quitting that job, things that on the outside might seem like maybe taking a step back. If that's a better fit for you, you should do it. If that's what's going to make you happier in your future career, you should do it. Now, tied to this is the idea that sometimes your career will need to align with your personal values. And when Jonathan became a vegan that was working for a meat product company, that was one of the contributing factors for why he left because as he said that his values were just not the same as they were. And travel is another value that obviously we've talked about already, but it's something that was so important to him, that his Jobs had to be compatible with that. And you heard me fangirl, like a 16 year old at a Justin Bieber concert over his travel experience and how jealous I clearly am of it. But the point is, he had to leave multiple jobs, one of which was well paying to chase his love for travel. And to make it work, he took some jobs while he was traveling, jobs that likely weren't as well paying or luxurious as what he was doing as a marketing manager. But you have to do what you have to do to sustain the life you want. Now, I could sit here for hours, and probably dissect some of the lessons that come out of that interview. So I'm sure I didn't cover all the things that you are now thinking after hearing it. So if there is anything that you took from that interview that you want to talk about, connect through the career crossroads, Instagram or LinkedIn pages, I think it would be really nice to create a little bit of a community vibe there and get people chatting about what they got out of each episode. Or you can also send me an email through the contact form at career crossroads. podcast.com. Now I mentioned 2020, the year of the Wicked Witch of the West is dead. And so personally, I'm, as I said, I'm looking forward to a better 2021. And so one of the things I want to do to feel better about the upcoming year is just give a bit of a shout out to all the people so far, who have left really amazing reviews for career crossroads. So thank you to Emily, Matt, Caitlin, and Nivethika I really appreciate all your kind words and it definitely helps other people decide whether or not they should give this podcast a shot. So if any of you want to leave a review, you can do so at the website I mentioned before career Crossroads podcast.com. I appreciate any and all support. Lastly, I ask that if you enjoyed this episode, you just share it with one friend, because you never know who might benefit from hearing that not everyone has their stuff together when they leave high school not everyone knows exactly where their whole career is going to take them. And that wraps up this week's episode. And next week, you will get to hear my interview with Yemmi, Yemmi was raised in Nigeria and attend to post secondary school both in her home country and then in Cyprus. So how did she end up working as an economist in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. You will have to come back next Wednesday to find out